Like many of those who have fallen under the spell of the Southwest, I have become fascinated by kachinas. In June (deo volente) we are going on a Kachina tour of the Hopi villages sponsored by the Crow Canyon Archeological center. It may depending, on the auspices, include a kachina dance.

The kachinas are the spirits that bring rain. Hopi religion is full of symbols of rain, water, and life. In the painting above (and photographs are forbidden) the men are wearing ruffs of spruce and holding evergreen boughs – as in all cultures, the evergreen is a symbol of everlasting life. Their headdresses are stepped like cumulus clouds. Their gourd rattles imitate the sound of rain hitting the earth.

The Hopis and Zunis insist the kachinas are not gods. They are the messengers that carry out prayer to heaven and bring the rain from heaven. Anthologists tend to beweak in Greek, and I don’t know if anyone has remarked that messenger = angel.

The kachinas do not look like the limp-wristed angels of devotional art. However, if one remembers that cherub and griffin are cognate, the appearance of the kachinas is logical. When an angel appeared, his first words were “Fear not.”

My personal kachina is the badger, Honan in Hopi. He is a digger, but also he also cures, since he knows the roots of the healing herbs. He has teeth, and is a protector.

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