The Secret Beauty of the Kachina

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments

by Jane St. Clair

Kachinas live in the San Francisco peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. They come and visit the Hopi people during the first half of every year.
San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, Kachina home

Dolls and dancers are called kachinas but they are not kachinas — they just represent them.

Kachinas are actually spirits.

Most kachinas are good and helpful, . kachina with corn . but some are mean and even dangerous.

As a human being you too are a spirit, and the Hopi believe you began in the Underworld when you were born, and you will return there when you die.

Animals, plants and all living things have spirits or kachinas. Owls, foxes, rattlesnakes:
Owl kachina 11….Fox Kachina 1….Rattlesnake Dancer Kachina 1

eagles, crow, bear, deer, corn and fruit– all have kachinas but then so do clouds, rocks, mountains, lakes, and other natural things. To the Hopi, all of these are alive, spiritual and interconnected. The Hopi say all things have two forms: their visible form in the Upper World, and their kachina who lives in the lower world of the spiritual.

A kachina can show itself in this world. For example, if you see clouds form over a mountain — it is a rain kachina.

Rain Kachina Over Mountains

To carve a kachina doll is to perform a sacred rite. You have to find a water-seeking cottonwood root or else it has to find you. You have to sense the spirit of the kachina before you make your first cut. You may meditate over the wood first. You never burn or destroy a real kachina doll — not even their wood shavings. One Hopi artist said selling your dolls would be like selling your children. Hopi give real kachina dolls to their children not as toys but as a way to teach them about kachinas.

A carver of the kachina connects to the spirit world when he works. An impersonator of the kachina does the same when he dances. The spirit of the kachina comes over him when he wears the costume,Old file pix of Kachina Dancers 1 and as he dances, he loses his human identity. It is something like the spiritual miracles that occur during the Catholic mass.

The Hopi people ask the kachinas to carry prayers to the gods during their annual visits, and to ask for rain and harvest and other blessings.

The Hopi strive to live the Hopi way with every moment of their lives in harmony with their community and nature. In some Hopi dances, clown kachinasmudhead kachina act in un-Hopi-like (Qahopi) ways. If they goof around too much, they may face discipline from another kachina to bring him back to the Hopi way.Ogre Kachina Kidnaps Kids 1 Hopis who stray too far from the Hopi path may be in danger of losing their children to ogre kachinas.

Kachinas are powerful magic so I don’t wish to write more about them.

The secret of their beauty is that the meaning they embody is beautiful.

eagle dancer

“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life. But to feel the affection that comes from those … who are watching over our sleep and solitude, over our dangers and our weakness — that is something still greater and more beautiful because it widens the boundaries of our being and unites all living things.” —Pablo Neruda.

Tags: Arizona · AZ