In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hopi Baby Naming Ceremony

The Hopi baby naming ceremony like many other ceremonies practiced by the Hopi seems to date back to The Old Testament time period/Law of Moses. Although there are many ceremonial practices that are part of the birthing process I will just briefly focus on the end portion of that ceremony and in particular the actual naming of the baby.

On the twentieth day after the birth of the baby the mothers hair is washed with yucca suds by her Godmother (her husband's mother's sister) and the baby's aunts, who also take turns washing the baby's hair. This shows that the newborn is accepted into the family. Up to this point the baby has been kept indoors and has not seen the light of the sun. The mother's sister holds the baby in her left arm, waves two corn ears over the baby's chest and says, "May you live always without sickness, travel along theSun Trail to old age, and pass away in sleep without pain," and then, by "strick custom," pronounces the baby's name. By this time the other aunts have already given the baby a name as well but the name pronounced by the mothers sister is the one that sticks or that the child will be know by until receiving another new name during the Wuwuchim ceremony. The name pronounced relates to her and to the baby's father. The baby belongs to its mother's clan but it is named for its father's clan.

The naming of babies is an Israelite custom as can be seen all thoughout the book of Genesis. Similarities can be seen between this Hopi tradition of family and friends involvement in the ceremony and with Ruth bearing her child and the involvment of Naomi and their neighbors in Ruth 4:16-17 in the Old Testament,
And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it.
And the women her neighbours gave it a name, saying, there is a son born to Naomi;(Ruth's Mother in Law) and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Thus we see that the name of Obed was actually given by her neighbors (probably including Naomi) not by Ruth directly. Once again this being an Israelite tradition.

After the naming ceremony, the baby is taken to the edge of the mesa and is presented to the sun. The baby is held in the right arm of the Godmother. As the sun rises, the Godmother uncovers the baby's face with her left hand. With the other hand she takes a pinch of cornmeal and breathes a silent prayer onto it. Then she rubs some between the baby's lips and throws the rest to the rising sun. She sucks the meal from the baby's mouth and blows it towards the east four times. She then takes the two special corn ears and describes a counter clockwise circle facing east and brings them to the baby's chest four times. Then she calls out the baby's name so that God may hear and recognize the baby. For a more detailed account read Helen Sekaquaptewa's book "Me and Mine" or the autobiography of Don C Talayesva entitled "Sun Chief". Here is a link to a more recent version of a Hopi Naming Ceremony with some great pictures.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

LDS Scholars offer rebuttal to the question of Horses in the Book of Mormon.

This is a video that I stumbled across on the youtube channel. This is a great video because it has some of the standard rebuttles for the more common issues that most anti Mormons like to throw around. I think Daniel C. Peterson, John Tvetdnes, and Brant Gardner and many of these other scholars do such a great job handling these issues in such a professional manner. I have had the opportunity to speak with a few these guys online and quiz them about some of my Hopi findings and ideas and they have proven to be completely professional in handling my questions and giving me added insights even when there were isssues that we may have disagreed upon (which were very few!). Anyways I hope you enjoy this quick video as much as I did.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Book of Mormon when compared to Mayan diety impersonation and divine kingship rituals

Most Mormons are familiar with the phrase in Alma 5:14, "Have ye received his image in your countenances?" but recently I stumbled across some added insights on this phrase as well as one of King Benjamins opening remarks when he preached to his people upon the newly erected tower at the temple in Mosiah 2:10-11, he says, " I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind"

These two phrases or scriptures take on added meaning when placed in the midst of the Mayan civilization. Alma the youngers question of receiving the Lords image in your countenances takes on a whole new meaning when compared to to the Mayans ancient diety impersonation rituals, where kings and high ranking officials would actually put on engraven masks of their gods and impersonate them believing this would make them divine. When you take this in consideration along with the Mayan kings belief in "divine kingship" a litteral belief that the kings actually became divine beings especially when dressed in their masks and religious paraphanilia.

It would make since why King Benjamin would start his great speech or address to his people by reassuring them that he was mearly a human being and nothing more, also subject to the frailties of man completely removing himself from the pagan belief of being a divine king. This also help the understanding of Alma's question about receiving the Lords image in your countenances, because these were a people or a mixture of people who had either in the past had believed in or knew surrounding societies of people who believed in these pagan beliefs on becoming a god upon placing these pagan ceremonial masks on and practicing pagan sacrifices (sometimes human sacrifices) to their gods. This would be something Alma would have been preaching against when asking the Nephites if they had received the Lord Jesus Christs image in their countenances.

The first picture above is from the movie Apocolypto which painted a picture of a very blood thirst society which may not have always been the case in the Mayan civilization but it did have perfect examples of some of these costumes and masks and headdresses believed to add divine power. I find this ironic when compared to the beliefs of the Hopi on their kachina masks which I previously posted about. It becomes easy to see how a society (the Mayans and others) could easily mix teachings or fall away from beliefs of representation in to a full fledged belief of divine kingship. Thus we see one more piece of evidence that when certain senarios in the Book of Mormon are placed in the mesoamerican setting it only adds authenticity to the book and once more this is something that wouldn't have been known during Joseph Smith's time. Mear coincodence? I think not!

For more information on this check out the following link provided by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute from their DVD "The New World, Journey of Faith".

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thanks to those who supported the Hopi Outreach Bicycle Program

I'd just like to thank everyone who helped in supporting the Hopi Outreach program as we gathered new and used bikes as well as cash donations (which were in turn used to purchase more bikes). Although I wasn't able to go and help with the dropoff this year due to finacial and schedule conflicts I hope that this will be a routine occurance in the future. Once again thanks to all who participated.
Pictures coming soon!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Book of Mormon and Hopi ceremonial sash both use the Hebraism Chiasmus as proof of antiquity.

In the late 1960s, a young Latter-day Saint discovered that an ancient form of Middle Eastern poetry was found throughout the Book of Mormon, suggestive of its ancient Semitic origins. This poetical form, chiasmus, a type of inverted parallelism, reaches highly artistic heights in the Book of Mormon and is difficult to ascribe to chance. Yet the information available to Joseph Smith when the Book of Mormon was translated provided nothing to guide him in crafting such structures. Could this be part of a growing body of evidence for ancient Semitic origins for the text?

Chiasmus is a form of parallelism used as a poetical structure in some ancient writings from the Middle East and Greece. The word chiasmus derives from the Greek letter chi (X) which symbolizes the top-to-bottom mirror image reflection achieved by elements of text. An example of a very simple chiasmus is found in Psalms 124:7:

We have escaped as a bird
From the snare of the fowlers
-The snare is broken
-And we have escaped.
for a more complex chiasmus example we will look in the Book of Mormon,

Mosiah 3:18,19:(Men will drink damnation to their souls unless)
(a) They HUMBLE themselves
--- (b) and become as little CHILDREN
------(c) believing that salvation is in the ATONING BLOOD OF CHRIST;
--------(d) for the NATURAL MAN
----------(e) is an enemy of GOD
------------(f) and HAS BEEN from the fall of Adam
------------(f') and WILL BE forever and ever
----------(e') unless he yieldeth to the HOLY SPIRIT
--------(d') and putteth off the NATURAL MAN
------(c') and becometh a saint through the ATONEMENT OF CHRIST
---(b') and becometh as a CHILD
(a') submissive, meek and HUMBLE.
These same chiastic structures merged with deep symbolism can be found on the Hopi ceremonial sash.

The ceremonial sash is tied to the right and joins the design in the ceremonial kilt, also worn to the right. The image on the sash is a visual chiasmus. Some have said that the design on the ceremonial sash is a face, similar to the Broadace Katcina mask. The pair of red lozenges (diamond or rhombus shapes)are said to be two eyes, and the zig-zag design in the band at the outer edges are said to be teeth, lions teeth. When looked upon in this sense it does appear to resemble a face, even upside down. And this face is indeed a mask, hiding the sacred motifs behind it, which are recognized as readily as a familiar face by only the initiated. What unmasks the facade and reveals the meaning within the design of the sash are the parallel white bars in the black lines between the eyes and teeth.

Without going into to much detail the top portion of the zig-zag represents the stars in the firmament with the black spacious universe behind the next line is the the black line with pairs of bars representing the pairs of witnesses with passwords to he heavens as well as a duel symbol for "the word" for the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword (Rev. 2:12).
As stated earlier in the kilt worn by the Hopi Snake Priest the two white bars also represent the two or more witnesses or books combined to instill all truth. The red lozenges with white triangles represent those whose garments have been made white through the blood of the Lamb. The hook and the crook symbols in short represent the spirit of revelation and the spirit of prophecy as the crook brings things out of heaven, such as the voice of angelic revelation, while the hook brings things out of the earth, such as the voice of prophetic writings. As the visual pattern repeats itself in reverse order the meanings duel in nature mean virtually the same although some may be used as a voice of warning where as the zig-zag at the bottom also represents the weaping and whaling and gnashing of teeth brought upon by those banished to outter darkness. All of this is followed by the fringe and ribbons at the bottom of the sash. The wearing of the fringe can be traced to the American Indians' forefathers, the Ancient Israelites. The purpose of the fringe is explained in the Bible,

37 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
41 I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.

Since the Hopis are the Mother Nation, theirs is not a "ribbon of blue" but a ribbon of red, the same color spoken of in an earlier post of the snake dancers feathers in their hair to represent the color of the seed of Jacob, where as the color blue represents the color of the Israelite nation.
As can be seen in the Chiasmus whether in the form of poetry or Hebrew word or phrase formation or Hopi visual testament it serves the purpose of stating and restating in reverse order, so as to reaffirm the truth or point of the chiasm. It is interesting that these are also common in Mayan text pre 1580. These stand as witnesses to both the ties between the Hopi whose ancestors trace back to the Mayans and those people of whom we read about in the Book of Mormon, (whom many look upon as one and the same) as well as the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
One last point that I found rather interesting while listening to Hugh Nibley's "Temples Everywhere" talk is that some of his colleagues from Israel one in particular Professor Shinar from Hebrew University was surprised to find that the Hopi called their sashes or prayer shalls the same thing they do in Jerusalem, a "Sheish"(spelling?).