Sunday, January 04, 2015


Weather: Very cold mornings early in the week (Monday was 8 degrees on my porch). Then came the winds on Tuesday that were so strong it was the coldest so far this season in the house (56 in the backroom). By Thursday, that cold had met warm water and we got a little snow. Though I don’t understand how, I think the water was generated by tropical storm Jangmi, which drowned the Philippines about the time that airplane crashed in the Java Sea.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas. Rose stems; leaves on grape hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, alfilerillo.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach, apricot and apple; purple aster leaves; sandbar willow wood is rust brown.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe and weeping willows; more arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds.

Weekly update: Agricultural rituals begin on the eighth day of Soyal. At Walpi, an altar is erected in the Pátki clan kiva. The frame is covered by faux white, red, yellow, and green (rather than blue) corn flowers, and larger, yellow, squash blossoms. Clouds of raw, white cotton sit above.

In the afternoon, four messengers collect bundles of seed corn from each household, which are placed at the base of the altar. A water serpent sits on the mound behind the frame with his nose peaking through the flowers. At Oraibi, the corn flowers are mounted on posts planted on each side of the altar frame.

While private rituals are being performed in the Pátki kiva, two kachinas appear in the plaza from the northwest. The Mastop make advances to women, young and old. When they finish, four messengers emerge from the kiva with objects they bury at a sacred spring.

Singing in the main kiva continues through the night. Around two in the morning at Oraibi, members of the Agave Society bring in a picture with seeds attached to the edges with clay. The officiating chief scrapes the seeds into a tray with a corn cob and scrapes the bottom rows of flowers in the altar. At Walpi, the screen also has four corn flowers in the border.

After day light, the altars are dismantled and the ears of seed corn returned to women. The Qöqöqlom kachinas appear in the afternoon. Their dance, the first of the season, completes opening the kivas for the other kachinas who will follow in a few weeks at Powamu.

Like the hunting and warrior rituals discussed last week, these elements encapsulate layers of past practices. The surface may be Roman Catholic. Elsewhere, plants are blessed on Assumption Day in mid-August and animals on the feast day of Saint Francis in early October.

However, the group credited with introducing Soyal migrated from an area less affected by Franciscans than most. The Pátki, also called the Corn, Cloud, Sun, or Water clan, say they were driven from San Carlos in the Gila River valley of southern Arizona by destructive floods. Their ancestors were invited to use their powers during a great drought on Third Mesa. When the rains came, they were allowed to stay.

Andrew Stephen saw animal figures included in baskets at the Soyal altar in 1892. The blessed effigies were planted in corrals. Jesse Walter Fewkes saw miniature animals in the kiva of the Agave Society, one of the four organizations for adult men. In the 1930s, Mischa Titiev saw prayer sticks tied to the tails of farm animals.

The use of animal surrogates may be older than Soyal. The Hakataya, who lived in the drainages of the Colorado and Gila rivers southwest of the Anasazi and Hohokam, made split twig figures of animals that were deposited deep inside caves. Some have been recovered that are 4000 years old.

Fewkes believed the image on the screen represents Alosaka, a germination god introduced by the now extinct Squash Clan. The Patuñ originally lived along the Little Colorado river. Their practices have been continued, with modifications, by the Badger and Tansy Mustard Clans.

More overt fertility rituals permeate festivities. Before the four messengers leave the Pátki kiva to collect seed corn, they lay on the ladder and go "through the motions of cohabitation." The Mastop kachinas, who emerged from the Agave Society kiva, run up to women, place their hands of their shoulders, and make "little jumps with both feet" to the same purpose. Women, who shun the clowns, welcome these kachinas.

Notes: More on the annual Kachina cycle, the towns and observers, maybe found in the post for 21 December 2014.

Fewkes, Jesse Walter. "Tusayan Migration Traditions," Bureau of American Ethnography Report, 1901.

_____. "The Winter Solstice Ceremony at Walpi," The American Anthropologist 11:65-87:1898 and 11:101-115:1898.

Schroeder, Albert H. "Prehistory: Hakataya," in Alfonso Ortiz, Handbook of North American Indians, volume 9, 1979.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons.

Titiev, Mischa. Old Oraibi, 1944; quotation with "jumps."

Voth, H. R. and George A. Dorsey. The Oraibi Soyal Ceremony, 1901; quotation with "cohabitation."

Photographs: Fewkes noticed greasewood was burned in the celebrating kiva. Other types are sold in Española by men in pick-up trucks parked along the roads. Most offer it split and cut to length. In the last month, I’ve taken pictures of both quartered and unsplit fire wood to see the coloring and size.

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