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Initiation and Shamanic Gift in Ancient Shamanic Traditions. Hopi Indians

Evgueny Faydysh

Nowadays when one speaks of the initiation rituals and the shamanic gift usually the main attention is paid to the fact that a shaman gets some paranormal abilities to influence the environment and other people. This attitude seems to be a result of the hard pragmatism and the ideology of the consuming society which become more and more common in our civilization. Much more important and deeper aspects of the initiation remain unattended.

They are especially well seen in ancient shamanic cultures which had left behind the stage of the extensive development, aspirations for force and power and the corresponding rituals of black magic. Such civilizations usually exist in ecological balance with the environment without destructing and destroying the nature. Studying their value system, their attitude towards the world may help our civilization to escape the dead end where we were led by the mass culture, consuming society that put the world at the edge of the ecological catastrophe and nuclear war.

One of the typical features of those ancient civilizations is treating a shaman as a carrier of the ancient knowledge, the significant element for the maintaining the harmony of biosphere and noosphere while the whole human kind is seen as a tool, realizing the idea of Creator in the material world. Such image of the world is typical for the most variable peoples, living in different parts of our Earth. In Siberia it characterizes the representatives of the most ancient ethnoses of this region. Nganasans and Hants can be an example. They used to have special rituals, aiming to maintain the ability of Earth's biosphere for self-recovering. The ritual of the White tent, described in a monography by Popov, is one of many such ceremonies.

In the beginning of this year I was lucky to meet in Arizona the shamans of one of the most ancient civilizations of North America — Hopi, called Pueblo or Navajo by spaniards.

During our short expedition my American colleagues represented me to the spiritual leader of the Spider Woman clan Martin Gashweseoma. We also had a chance to witness some initiative rituals and dances that took place according to the calendar.

Spider Woman is one of the highest Hopi Goddesses, creator and guardian of all forms of life on Earth, including humans. Her clan is one of the central in the Hopi tradition. Its leader is supposed to keep the ancient tablets which, according to the legend, were inherited from the previous civilizations, living on Earth before the world catastrophes.

One of the main missions of Hopi is to carry this knowledge, keeping the continuum between civilizations. The central task of the initiation is to join the world of Gods and spirits and the sacral knowledge which help to fulfil this mission.

It is important to stress that these texts contain the knowledge of not only past but also of future, including the possible collapse of the earthy civilization. According to Hopi, we now dwell the fourth Earth, three previous ones were destroyed, for the humanity had forgotten of its mission and got overwhelmed by chasing pleasures, struggle for power and nationalism. The most sad thing is that according to the texts we are now at the edge of the next fourth apocalypsis. All efforts of Martin and other people faithful to the Hopi tradition are to prevent it.

That is why before the beginning of the war in Iraq he made the press-conference where the ancient tablets were for the first time shown to white people. According to prophecies they contain the attack on Iraq is the beginning of the third world war. Unfortunately, this try to stop the war was not successful, so according to Hopi prophecies, the third world war has been going for ten years by now. Its next nuclear stage is supposed to start in the same region.

The interesting thing is that from the Christian point of view the war in the bay was not a usual military conflict because Eden according to Bible is placed on the territory of Iraq. This means that NATO army bombed Eden — one of the most sacred places of our planet. If we remember that Bible contains many stories in which the whole nations were destructed for much smaller wrongdoings Hopi prophecies have certain logic.

It is worth to stress that according to the tablets even the beginning of the nuclear war is not the end of the humanity. When we discussed this matter with Martin he said that prophecies spoke of the coming of half-god and half-human at the end of time — White Brother. If some critical mass of just people, remembering of their predestination to fulfil the idea of Creator, would still remain on Earth by that moment the history could be reversed and the harmonic and happy human society could be created. Yet, the chances grow smaller and smaller day by day.

Hopi's imaginations on cosmology, the creation and collapse of the three previous worlds, playing a significant role in the initiation, are of very importance. As it has already been mentioned the initiation itself is strictly connected with the process of creation and the role of human in micro- and macro-cosmos. Up to the certain extant its goal is to unify an individual and global cosmological processes, going beyond the bestial nature, the struggle for survival and procreation. Appropriately the obtained after the initiation magic abilities first of all served this highest predestination. From this point of view Indian tribes and other traditions, using the shamanic gift only for their own selfish purposes, have forgotten and lost the real sense of their human existence.

The basis of the initiation rituals is Hopi's imagination, stating that Divine beings are real parents of a human, while human parents are only tools, manifesting their strength. From this point of view the mother is Mother Earth and Mother Seed. A human is made of the flesh of the first one and is breast-fed by the second one. The father also has two faces. On the one hand, he was Tayowa — the creator himself, on the other hand, Sun — the Solar God.

Then variable initiation rituals, their role in obtaining the shamanic gift, awakening of paranormal abilities are described. Among others some special features of healing, daily use magic, the reasons of the appearance of black magic and harmful rituals are analyzed.

So, according to Hopi, primarily people did not know illnesses. Both, physical and mental deceases appeared when evil had come into the world. People or spirits, influenced by evil became the source of many illnesses (they were called people with two Hearts).

In order to find the reason a shaman consequently put his hands on the patient's energetic centers. He started with the head's top, then moves towards the center over the eyes, in the throat, breast near the heart and belly. He defined the source of the illness on the basis of the centers' vibrations. For such shaman-healer the development of the center of inner sight, placed between the brows, was the most important.

If the reason of illness was not connected with the patient's organism and laid beyond it the healer used the transparent crystal to find out who had put the spell. Previously the crystal was activated with the sunlight and then the healer examined each energetic center through it. At that moment he saw the source of the decease and often also the face of the two-hearted person who had put the spell.

Some special features of rituals, connected with the obtaining the shamanic gift and daily use magic, are described. They belong to Navajo — Hopi's closest neighbours, belonging to the relatively younger civilization. According to one version Navajo came from Siberia and Kuets, related to them now live in Tuva region. On their way from Alaska to Southern regions of North America they met Hopi and got under their influence, inheriting their mythology and majority of their passes and rituals.

As this happened several thousands years ago the two cultures have become complementary, for in each case different things have survived or have been developed and enriched by the personal experience. The interesting thing is that Navajo mythology and their rituals have a lot in common with the Tibetan tradition.

Unfortunately, Navajo Indians also have black magic practices. There are plenty of legends of skin walkers.

This way the study on the ancient rituals of the initiation of North America's native population enables better understanding of cultures that maintain harmonic relations with the natural environment, their value system and logic of the relations with the world of nature. The use of their experience by our modern civilization would help to create more harmonic and internally unified culture, overcome the negative experience of the consuming society. The study on the mechanisms of the awakening of paranormal abilities due to the initiation rituals also presents a great interest.

However, there is no much time to do that, for the remains of the ancient cultures grow fader day by day and are replaced by so called neo-shamanism — a strange mixture of show-business, primitive extrasensory practices and manipulative sects.


© Evgueny Faydysh. 2004.
© International Noosphere Institute. Alexey Ivanov, web-design. 2004.