What do the Hopi’s know about the end of the world?

 

The beautiful and sacred Hopi country landscape.
The beautiful and sacred Hopi country landscape. Photograph: Redstone Tours

 

WE’VE ALL READ the Book of Revelation.

Or we’ve heard it preached in air-sucking sermons.

It’s all about damnation.

Hellfire.

Brimstone.

Hope.

Resurrection.

And the end of the world.

When I was a child, I would listen to a Sunday night preacher condemned us all to the lake of fire, and I figured he was talking directly to me.

I don’t know how many sins an eight-year-old could store up in his worthless soul,

but I figured I was guilty of them all.

Until now, however, I did not realize that the Hopi Indians of Arizona had their own prophesies about the world coming to an abrupt and violent ending.

They didn’t call their book Revelation.

But, for me, it was a revelation.

The words came from an old chieftain who said his name was White Feather.

He said: “My people have tired of the old ways — the great ceremonies that tell of our origins, of our emergence into the Fourth World, are almost all abandoned, forgotten, yet even this has been foretold. The time grows short.

“My people await Pahana, the lost White Brother, [from the stars] as do all our brothers in the land. He will not be like the white men we know now, who are cruel and greedy. We were told of their coming long ago. But still we await Pahana.

“He will bring with him the symbols, and the missing piece of that sacred tablet now kept by the elders, given to him when he left, that shall identify him as our True White Brother.

“The Fourth World shall end soon, and the Fifth World will begin. This the elders everywhere know. The Signs over many years have been fulfilled, and so few are left.

“This is the First Sign: We are told of the coming of the white-skinned men, like Pahana, but not living like Pahana men who took the land that was not theirs. And men who struck their enemies with thunder.

“This is the Second Sign: Our lands will see the coming of spinning wheels filled with voices. In his youth, my father saw this prophecy come true with his eyes — the white men bringing their families in wagons across the prairies.”

“This is the Third Sign: A strange beast like a buffalo but with great long horns, will overrun the land in large numbers. These White Feather saw with his eyes — the coming of the white men’s cattle.”

“This is the Fourth Sign: The land will be crossed by snakes of iron.”

“This is the Fifth Sign: The land shall be criss-crossed by a giant spider’s web.”

“This is the Sixth sign: The land shall be criss-crossed with rivers of stone that make pictures in the sun.”

“This is the Seventh Sign: You will hear of the sea turning black, and many living things dying because of it.”

“This is the Eight Sign: You will see many youth, who wear their hair long like my people, come and join the tribal nations, to learn their ways and wisdom.

“And this is the Ninth and Last Sign: You will hear of a dwelling-place in the heavens, above the earth, that shall fall with a great crash. It will appear as a blue star. Very soon after this, the ceremonies of my people will cease.”

The signs have been interpreted this way:

The First Sign dealt with guns.

The Second Sign foretold of pioneers crossing the land in covered wagons.

The Third Sign meant the coming of longhorn cattle.

The Fourth Sign described railroad tracks.

The Fifth Sign provided a clear image of the nation’s electric power and telephone lines.

The Sixth Sign was interpreted to mean concrete highways and their mirage-producing effects.

The Seventh Sign prophesied of oil spills in the ocean.

The Eighth Sign focused indicated the “Hippie Movement” of the 1960s.

The Ninth Sign envisioned the U.S. Space Station Skylab, which fell to Earth in 1979. According to those who saw it fall, the Skylab appeared to be burning blue.

As the chieftain said: “These are the Signs that great destruction is coming. The world shall rock to and fro. The white man will battle against other people in other lands — with those who possessed the first light of wisdom. There will be many columns of smoke and fire such as White Feather has seen the white man make in the deserts not far from here.

“Only those which come will cause disease and a great dying. Many of my people, understanding the prophecies, shall be safe. Those who stay and live in the places of my people also shall be safe. Then there will be much to rebuild.

And soon — very soon afterward — Pahana will return. He shall bring with him the dawn of the Fifth World. He shall plant the seeds of his wisdom in their hearts. Even now the seeds are being planted. These shall smooth the way to the Emergence into the Fifth World.”

Same message as the Book of Revelation.

Different words.

I’m not Hopi.

I still feel guilty.

If life is a novel, however, the Hopi’s are writing the end.

 

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Caleb Pirtle

    One of our great mistakes is believing that we possess the one true religion, whatever it is. We will find, with time, that every culture has its own tales and prophecies that seem to coincide perfectly with the words we have been given.

  • Gae-Lynn Woods

    Amen, Caleb. Great post.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Gae-Lynn: I’d rather be a Hopi than a Baptist.

  • jack43

    For those who have been denied the privilege of hearing a truly righteous Hell Fire and Damnation sermon, I recommend a delightful little film “Cold Comfort Farm”. It’s one of those things my wife and I chanced upon on a cable network broadcast and watched in fascination. It’s light comedy including a paternal father figure who preaches at the local parish in England as his congregation cowers at the images he conjures up. Really, watch it…

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Jack, Cold Comfort Farm is now at the top of my list. I grew up in a Pentecostal Church and would go home on Sunday night singed by the fires of hell. Those boys can scare you.

Related Posts