Meaning in the Cosmos
The winter solstice was an important event for the Hopi because
it marked the coming of the Kachinas. Kachinas were spirits that the Hopi
believed carried the prayers of the people. Some kachinas were also thought
to help hunters, increase animal herds, and influence long life and happiness.
The Hopi even had a kachina who represented the sun; he was called the
According to Hopi myth, the kachinas lived in the mountains to the west
for six months of the year. Then they would return following the winter
solstice after being summoned by the Hopi in secret prayer ceremonies.
It was the kachinas' job to act as a messenger between the world of the
spirits and the world of the humans.
Another of the kachinas' jobs was to discipline the Hopi children and
teach them about religion. Each young boy and girl was given a wooden
kachina doll, called a titu in Hopi.
Additional kachina ceremonies were held during the first half of the
Hopi religious calendar from winter solstice to mid-July. The last ceremony,
the Hopi Home Dance, marks their return to the clouds above the mountains
for six months.
Pleiades: The Hopis called the Pleiades constellation the Chuhukon,
meaning those who cling together. They believed that they were direct
descendants of the Pleiades, which were also known in some myths as the
Seven Sisters. They believed that when they died their spirit would return
south to that constellation.
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