Archive for the ‘learning from the Hopi people’ Category

What is Your Blue Star?

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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The Hopi people we met in Arizona on a spiritual tour with Carla Woody (http://www.kenosis.net) allowed us to see and photograph a petroglyphic symbol of a blue star that appeared long ago, to signal their way home. The story they told us was that when they emerged through a sipapu or opening in the earth in northern Arizona, they met Masau, the guardian of the earth, who told them they could inhabit this world if they would abide by his instructions.

He told them to make migrations into the four directions, and after spreading far and wide he told them they would be signaled back to the place of their emergence.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hopi_mythology)  According to the Hopi records they inscribed into petroglyphs and according to their oral tradition, they migrated far into Alaska and Canada, west and east to the oceans, and south into Central America. Some of them stayed there and became the Mayans; others stopped in the pueblos on the way back and created communities there. When the blue star appeared, some of them knew if was time to return to Northern Arizona, the place of their emergence, and to form villages there. These are the ones we visited.

It’s a powerful story, and one that traditional Hopis believe is truth, not myth. They are still following their original instructions and living simple lives, planting corn (some of them still by hand, with a planting stick) and faithfully continuing their kiva ceremonies. When the faithful ones pass on, they join the katsina spirits, who live on the sacred San Francisco Peak, near Flagstaff. Every winter solstice they dance and do ceremony to welcome the katsinas back to the villages. Every summer solstice, they give them a ceremonial sendoff.

In the photo above, taken on Hopi land, you can see an ancient symbol of the migrations–three of them–in a spiral that took thousands of years. To the right, you see a person, and in the middle you see the blue star.

The Hopi have come home. Life at home is not easy for them. Promises have been broken and they have suffered and sacrificed. But they are staying true to what is central to them, what has heart and meaning. That is the place home is–not just a physical location.

Where is home for you? When you arrive at the center of your being, which I know you have, what signs do you have that this is your inner home? Even if there are uncomfortable things, sacrifices, even suffering that has been involved in you returning home, hasn’t it really been worth it? Isn’t it what life is all about?

What is the “blue star,” the signal that tells you it’s time to return to your real self, to cease your wanderings, to return to being the one you where when you emerged from the womb and the one you will be the day you pass from your body? Is there a call, a signal that tells you it’s time to make your way to the center again? How do you hear or see or feel that call?

Never feel lonely about being called to return. You know that even if it doesn’t seem like it when you’re out in the grocery store or at the movies, other people are wanting to return home as well. Every human, I believe, has a longing for this. And I, for one, am grateful to the Hopi people for reminding me that right here in our own back yard, we have an example of spiritual lives grounded in significance.

 

A Hopi Feast

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

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I am still digesting a precious, bountiful and nutritious feast that has fed me in ways I can’t yet articulate well. In future blogs, maybe I’ll find more words to describe what I’ve gained from the spiritual travel to Hopi land with Carla Woody, spiritual mentor and founder of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and sharing indigenous wisdom. (kenosis.net) For the moment, Let me share with you the visible elements on this bountiful table.

On a literal level, this feast was prepared for us by Charlene Joseph, a Hopi woman from the village of Moenkopi. We were welcomed into her home to learn about the Hopi way of life, which is all about Spirit. Perhaps you can’t see Spirit in the photograph, but it is the major ingredient–the primary flavor in every event, every “dish” that is part of her family’s life.

This feast is a tradition the morning after the night Kachina dances, which we were privileged to attend. Char’s husband, Harold Joseph, is a leader in his clan and has successfully negotiated many improvements contributing to Hopi life. He generously shared with us the elements of spiritual life that can be shared, since some practices and beliefs are kept within the hearts and minds of the men who lead the kiva ceremonies at the center of the traditional Hopi way.

The big bowls contain the traditional hominy stew that Char began making the day before, along with yeast rolls that the women in our group helped make. My husband Jon loved the fried dried red chilis, as well as the fresh green ones, since nothing is too spicy for him. I especially loved the tiny tamales tied in a traditional form and made by Char and Harold’s daughter, who took some into the kiva with the other unmarried girls who dressed up to take the dancers special food and have privileged seating within the kiva.

Another platter contains piki bread, which unmarried women make for their puberty ceremony. It is very thin sheets–almost like filo dough–that they process on a stone tablet, as has been done for centuries.

Having been fortunate enough to travel far from home and to learn from many cultures older than our American one, it struck me again that the ancient Hopi culture is right here in my own back yard. It is an island surrounded by Navajo lands, east of the Grand Canyon. But from my immersion in Hopi ways for a short week, I feel I’ve been far away, out of space and time. I’ve been nourishing myself from the generous table of Native people willing to share a way of life that is inspiring, courageous, and an example for us all.

As I digest and integrate my learnings, I’ll be sharing with you some of the “translations” from the Hopi world to the one  the majority of us inhabit. There are adjustments and commitments we can all make that could align us more directly with Spirit, help us avoid some of the potential disasters Hopi people warn us about, and support us as we attempt to live out the kind of truth that can change our lives and perhaps even save the world.