THE PROPHECY OF MASAU'WU
07 - The Visions (excerpt from 'Montezuma's Well', Chapter 7)
'Its voice flies flaming and dripping flame
Slowly across the dusty sky
Its voice burns in a rich heap
Of mountains that seem to melt'
‘And the Phoenix has Come’, from Selected Poems 1957-1981,Ted Hughes
Mescal Canyon closed around my consciousness, drawing me into deep dream state. The wind whistled up from the dry plains of Tuzigoot and played the most strident of fiddle noises against violin bridges of myriad rocks. At the end of the deep section of canyon the full force of undissipated wind crashed against the rocks with the resounding thud, thud of drums. The air was alive with Phi and i began casting the seasonal sigil, six distinct lines which began at half moon base, drawn through the air, and connecting at the point of starting. I chanted rhythmically in phase with the sigil. Then i reverted to my time-honoured pattern of the mountains, sacred lake, cycle of life, birth canal of Mother Earth, the river flowing away, and the blessing of peace on earth.
The air was intoxicating and imbued with the sacred smoke of the peace pipe. i lit my pipe, preparing it for when the ancestors came to me. i drifted into the euphoria of darkness, eyes wide open, but all around black. I could sense someone was sitting down beside me. He spoke:
'Do you remember me?'
'I know the voice. You Toby, you were with me in the Superstitions at the Circlestone. Why are you here'?
'You can sense me but you will not see me. I cannot assume your form at this time. I am here to tell you of the prophecies of my people. It is important that you know. They are not intended to be secrets. They are a way out of these worldly imbalances, koyaanasqatsi. There is much to tell you, and it will be your role to tell as many others as will listen by your writing of it down'.
Toby's diction was precise. He no longer had the peculiar manner of speech of one who was speaking English as their second language. It was as if he was conveying wisdom from another source.
'Masau’wu has always said that there will be a time when you will come to two paths. You will be given wisdom before you make your choice of path. Seek your wisdom for directions to lasting peace or the destiny of fate! The latter is the end of this world as we know it, and it is as depicted on the sacred tablet of the Fire Clan. It can be prevented, but there are those that wish not for everlasting peace but for temporary wealth and power. They do not care if our Mother is raped and destroyed. Masau’wu has foreseen the path of this civilisation in its current form. The rulers of the civilisations of this earth have chosen the path of mass destruction. You will learn more of the future when you drink from your well, at some future time. Close your eyes and I will call upon the spirit to enter you and you can see the history of the four cycles that have brought mankind to this point in time. Prepare yourself Kokopilau. There is much you, and those you know, have to do to help to purify this earth'.
Toby was beside me - familiar and my vehicle. I drifted into the deepest of meditative states, and the wind abated. It was no longer cold.
There was light before me, and a vast desert, expansive, endless, timeless, and whirling in spiral vortex motion. At the end of the whirling there was infinite space, stretching beyond all human understanding. And then a desert scene, windless, neither searing hot nor blindingly cold, uninhabited, layer upon layer of endless sands.
It was Tokpella, the endlessness of space, endless, infinite, no wind, no shadows, for there was no light. It was Po, the darkness of the far off Pacific, the time before Rongo-ma-Tane separated the Earth Mother Papatuanuku from the Sky Father Ranginui and held them apart with a single cabbage tree.
In the beginning there was only Tokpella, or Po, the infinity of space itself. And scatterings of sparkling Star Seed, each sparkle an individual seed, waiting to be born, connected by thin filaments of adenine, guanine, thiamine and cytosine - deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA umbilical cords. Scattered by Black Coyote perhaps, or Kokopilau the land fertiliser as he played his flute by another epoch's sipupani, their entrances and exits into negative and positive time, their birth canal, burial chamber and star gate.
But in a far corner of Salt Canyon at the junction of the Colorado and Little Colorado is the place - Sun Clan call this the place of emergence of all people into the Fourth Cycle. But it is not necessarily the way of the rope. That will be revealed later by the old man who feeds the fish at Wet Beaver Creek.
Tokpella or Po. The darkness. Well there was Tawa the Sun Spirit who chanced along next, he and a handful of lesser gods. Tawa was the only existence in full. He looked upon Tokpella, endless space, and gathered all the elements of it, and then he put substance into it all, thus creating the FIRST WORLD.
The FIRST WORLD was only inhabited with insect-like creatures, and these dwelt in the darkest of caves deep down in the earth.
Tawa decided to send his messenger Soyangwamuti, Spider Grandmother, into the FIRST WORLD.
He told her emphatically to prepare all living creatures for the change that was coming. Spider Grandmother, in the wishes of Tawa, went down to the FIRST WORLD.
Spider Grandmother spoke to the creatures in the darkness:
'Tawa, the Sun Spirit who made you, is unhappy because you do not understand the meaning of life. He says creatures fight amongst each other. They see but do not comprehend. Therefore I will change things. I will make a new world, and I will perfect all things that have life in them.'
Spider Grandmother led these creatures out of the darkness. She led them to the SECOND WORLD, which was in a great cave above the FIRST WORLD. They transformed into dogs, coyotes and bears. They had fur on their bodies, webbed fingers, and a tail at their rear. The dogs, coyotes and bears began to fight in the SECOND WORLD.
Tawa watched from above.
He sent Spider Grandmother back to the SECOND WORLD. The creatures' bodies were changed. The fur, webbed fingers and tails disappeared. The atmosphere was made lighter, and water was given to moisten the fields. Spider Grandmother said:
'You are people. Do not injure one another; you must forget evil. You are of endless space; try to understand the meaning of all things'.
Then Spider Grandmother left them.
The people made villages, they planted corn, and they lived on. They were in harmony, and grateful to the Sun Spirit. But all was not yet perfect. There was a chill in the air and grey light.
Spider Grandmother came back to them. She taught them to weave blankets and cloth. She taught them to make pots from clay. The pots broke easily as there was not enough sun to bake them. The corn lacked lustre because of the grey light.
And then the hummingbird came.
The hummingbird had been sent here by Masau’wu.
Masau’wu was ruler of the UPPER WORLD, caretaker of the place of the Dead and owner of the fire. The people needed warmth. Hummingbird showed the people how to create fire with a drill. The people saw the corn aided by the warmth of the fire. Many fires were lit.
A fire got out of control and burnt down a house. The undried pots inside the house were made hard by the fire. The people now understood pottery. They now knew the means of correctly firing it. The people learned how to cook meat in pots over the fire. The people who kept the secret of the fire were the Firewood or Fire People.
There were sorcerers, powakas, in the land. ‘Po’ is eternal darkness and ‘wakas’ are the boats that carry the knowledge. These sorcerers carried the knowledge of darkness. They practised bad medicine, and sought to turn the people away from virtuosity.
Adultery was rife. Men gambled in the kivas instead of attending to the corn, children were left untended, and babies went unfed. There was stealing and dissension. The people had forgotten the meaning of life. The people began to believe that they had created themselves.
And Tawa the light said to himself:
'You are really all gods, germinated Star Seed, but you are not the Creator'.
Changes came to the land. The cornstalks withered, the rivers became sluggish, and springs dried up. Clouds drifted over the fields but there was no rain. The squash and the melon stopped growing, and there was sickness in many houses.
Those who respected Tawa worried about the turn of fortune. There was chaos and evil everywhere. Those who respected Tawa met in the kivas to discuss the ills of the THIRD WORLD.
Tawa saw the plight of the land. He sent Spider Grandmother to deliver a message to the people who were afflicted.
'All the good should leave this place, leave the powakas and their evil behind.'
But where were the people, those with respect for Tawa, to go?
One day an old man heard footsteps in the sky. The old man discussed this in his kiva. It was decided that a messenger be sent into the sky to check on the footsteps. The chiefs and medicine men who had respect for Tawa met in the kiva and decided who would go into the sky. They filled their pipes with tobacco and passed it amongst themselves until all were at peace, tranquil.
The men in the kiva created a messenger. First the medicine men created a bird out of clay. The clay bird was placed on top of a piece of kwatsiavu cloth, the cloth chosen by a bride. A sheet of ova cloth was placed above the bride's cloth. The medicine men held the edges of both cloths and moved them up and down. When they checked underneath the ova cloth there was a living swallow sitting there on the bride's cloth.
The men told the swallow its purpose. The swallow flew upwards and found a hole in the roof of the kiva. The bird lost strength and returned to the medicine men.
They decided to make a stronger bird. They repeated the process with the kwatsiavu cloth and the ova cloth. It was a white dove. They sent the white dove through the hole above:
'Ask the person above for permission for the people to come up.'
The white dove returned to the medicine men and told them that there was nothing alive above.
The medicine men were determined to find the maker of the footsteps. They repeated the ceremony with the cloths and created a hawk. The hawk went up. It returned and told them the same story as the dove.
The medicine men next made a catbird. They said to it:
'Go and find out who made the sound of walking.'
The catbird reached the place where the hawk had reached. He went past it to a place where there was sand and mesas. He came to a lone house where he found Masau’wu. The catbird recognised Masau’wu as being he of the sunken eyes, hairless head, burnt face and two painted lines on the bridge of his nose. Masau’wu wore two necklaces – one necklace was fashioned of four strands of turquoise, and the other was of bones. He had been sent here by Tawa of the light, long ago, as there was no other place for him. The catbird told Masau’wu about the wishes of those below. Masau’wu considered the matter and then told catbird:
'Go and tell those people, those with respect for the light of Tawa, to come above.'
The catbird went to the chiefs and the medicine men of the people. The Chief of the Fire People, the Firewood, spoke first in the kiva:
'He is our relative, so we'll go.'
Then the men in the kiva realised that sipupani, the doorway in the sky, was difficult to reach. It was far above, and unlike the messenger birds, they could not fly.
At the moment of that realisation Spider Grandmother appeared with two warrior gods, Pogangahoya and Palongawhoya. Spider Grandmother said to the medicine men:
'We will help you through sipupani.'
The warrior gods were sent to find chipmunk, the planter. When they returned with him, Spider Grandmother told chipmunk to make a path to the sky. The chipmunk planted sunflower seeds in the central plaza and exhorted the all the people to sing so that the seeds would grow. Chipmunk warned them if they stopped singing the sunflower would stop growing. The singing was called 'Sing, sing' by the Spider Grandmother. The people sang but just before the sunflower reached sipupani it was bent over with the weight of its blossom.
Spider Grandmother told the people to try again. This time a spruce seed was planted. The people sang but the spruce did not grow tall enough. A pine seed was planted next but it too did not reach sipupani.
A bamboo seed was planted. The people sang and the bamboo grew. Each time they ran out of breath a joint would form on the bamboo stalk. They would commence singing and the bamboo would continue to grow. After much singing Spider Grandmother declared:
'The bamboo has passed through sipupani.'
The road to the UPPER WORLD was finished and the people rested. Spider Grandmother told the people:
'The journey will be long and difficult. You must learn to distinguish between good and evil. You must discover the meaning of life. You must try out new ways. Only the good will depart from the THIRD WORLD. The powakas must stay behind. You will create and choose new ones above. More of what is expected of you, you will learn above. In the UPPER WORLD you will learn to be true humans.'
Spider Grandmother sent the people home to prepare for the journey that they would make in four days time.
On the fourth day all the people gathered at the foot of the bamboo. All the chiefs were there - the village chief, the singer, the crier and the war chief.
Spider Grandmother came to the bamboo road accompanied by Pogangahoya and Palongawhoya. Pogangahoya had lightning arrows in right hand and a thunder board in his left. Palongawhoya, the younger warrior, had a buckskin ball in his left hand and a nahoydadatsia playing stick in his right hand. Spider Grandmother went up first. The Firewood people followed her. Then the others began climbing.
Mockingbird called out:
'Pashumayani. Be careful.'
Soon the bamboo road was covered with the bodies of people. As they emerged through sipupani Tawa of the light greeted them at its entrance.
Mockingbird Yawpa started to designate tribes. First Hopi, then Navajo, and then the Apache. He gave them the directions of their migrations. He sorted people into other tribes. There were Pauites, Zunis, Supais, Pimas, Utes, Comanche, Sioux and White Men. Mockingbird said:
You shall be a Supai and speak Supai language. You shall be a Paiute. You shall be a Hopi. You shall be a Hopi and speak Uto, the language of Aztecs. You Hopi will fight imperfection and evil, and you will journey long to fulfill the prophecy of Masau’wu.'
While the ascent into the UPPER WORLD continued the people camped near sipupani.
Finally the stage was reached where all the good people had passed through sipupani. The chiefs gathered at its entrance and called down the hole to the bad people and their powakas.
'Go back. We came up here because of you. You are not welcome up here.'
The bad people and their sorcerers continued climbing. Palongawhoya and Pogangahoya grasped the bamboo and pulled its roots from the ground. They shook it firmly and all the bad people and the sorcerers fell back to the ground of the THIRD WORLD.
After the two warriors were satisfied that only the good people had emerged into the UPPER WORLD they paused to take a long look around. It was vast but had a monotonous look about it. They took the ball and playing sticks and began the game, nahoydadatsia. As the game progressed mountains were created, and where the players passed trees and grass sprang into being.
Tokonave, Black Mountain was created. (It was later called by the White Men Navajo Mountain.) The game passed on to Neuvatikayo, called the San Franciscan Peaks by the Bahanas. Hills, mountains and mesas were created everywhere. The game progressed as far as Muyovi, the Rio Grande. Here, where the players turned, were created salt beds. They returned to sipupani.
Spider Grandmother asked them where they had been. They told her of Tokonave, South Neuvatikayo and Muyovi. They proudly declared that the UPPER WORLD was now good to look at.
But there was still a greyness of light, grainy, and it was not possible to see far. Pogangahoya looked at the poor light and said:
'We need light in this place.'
Palongawhoya agreed, and added:
'And warmth also.'
Spider Grandmother agreed with them. She gathered all the people together. She instructed them to take a piece of buckskin and to cut it into the shape of a disk. They did so, and then fastened the disk over a large wooden ring. The disk was painted with white clay speckled with black. The people put the disk onto a piece of kwatskiavu bride's cloth, and then began to sing as instructed. They sang as they jettisoned it into the sky. The harder they sang the higher the disk went. They sang louder and louder until it disappeared. It soon emerged from the edge of all things and began to move slowly overhead.
It was not yet light enough, although it was warm enough to grow corn.
Spider Grandmother asked the people to try again.
This time, when they made another disk, they painted it with egg yolks and they sprinkled it with golden pollen. They painted a black and red face on it, and then fastened silk around the edges of the wooden ring. Lastly they attached abalone shell, paua, to its forehead. They threw it up with kwatskiavu cloth, singing in their fullest voices, until it disappeared. The disk shone brightly in the sky. All the land was visible, and the people could see for miles.
There was now a SUN and a MOON.
The SUN moved across the sky to the west, and when it went down at the edge of all things the light faded before the MOON rose.
Coyote sneaked in that night, sniffing at the things that had been used to make the SUN and the MOON. He couldn't eat any of these things so he became irritated and threw them into the sky. Thus the STARS were created. He then picked up the paint pots that the people had used to create the disks of the SUN and MOON and threw them in all directions. These are the same landscape colours that you can see today.
After another four days the people were ready to leave their camps near sipupani. The son of Kikmangwi, one of the chiefs of the village, fell sick and died. After they had buried him they met. At the meeting it was determined that there must be a powaka, a sorcerer, amongst them. It was told to them that any sorcerer would have a black spot on their nose. None of the chiefs had any medicine in their belts to root out the sorcerer. Kikmangwi threw the corn-shaped ball in the air. It went up, up, and descended, falling upon a young woman's head. She was the last of the people to come through sipupani. The angry chiefs questioned her. Just as they were going to throw her through the hole she convinced them that the chief's son's body was cold but his spirit lived on in the THIRD WORLD. She told the chief that his son was down below playing a ball game with other children. Kikmangwi was undecided at first. After deliberation he decided to let her stay in the UPPER WORLD, as she had already contaminated the place by her presence.
It was known that good and evil were everywhere, from the beginning to the end of time good and evil must struggle against each other.
The chiefs agreed that the woman sorcerer could stay. They told the woman that she could not come with the people, but she could go anywhere else she liked.
The mockingbird Yawpa announced:
'There is something still to be done - the selection of the corn!'
Yawpa placed ears of corn on the ground. These included, among many others - yellow, white, red, grey, speckled, stubby-eared with blue kernels. And there was not quite corn, the kwakwi grass with seeds at the top. He announced further:
'Each brings with it a way of life. The yellow corn, for instance, led to a life full of enjoyment and prosperity, but the span would be small. They who select the short-eared blue kernels will have a life full of work and hardship, but their years will be many.'
The Navajo took the yellow corn. The Sioux took the white. The Supai selected that corn which had yellow speckled ears. The Comanche took red corn and the Utes took the flint corn. The Apaches were the second last to choose, and they selected the longest variety. The Hopi had no choice at all. The corn left for them was the blue corn with stubby ears. Their life would be one of hardship, but it would be a long-lasting one.
Spider Grandmother told the people that there was one more thing to be done. She went to sipupani and covered it with water, so that it resembled an ordinary pond. With Tawa of the light's permission she moved it away to another location, so that it could not be uncovered until it was needed again for a mass entry into another future world.
Spider Grandmother told the people that this was the last day of the tribes together, for tomorrow they must separate.
On the morrow, at the first rays of the light of Tawa, the SUN, the people began to depart. Mockingbird gave the Navajo, Paiute and Apache directions and they departed. Then went the Zuni, Supai, Pima and Utes. Only the Bahanas, the White Men, and the Hopi, remained near sipupani.
The Hopi saw the powaka woman with the Bahanas. She had been told by the Hopi and the other tribes to go her own way. The Bahanas invited the sorcerer woman to go with them, and they departed for the south. The leader of the Hopi knew that the Bahanas would grow strong because of the powaka with them. But they would learn both good and evil. The Hopi would leave the evil ways behind but they would continue to watch the Bahanas carefully.
The Hopi did not go far from the sipupani of the transition from the THIRD WORLD to the UPPER WORLD. They went to the deepest part of the known earth, the grand canyon of the Colorado River, at the base of South Neuvitakoya, the San Franciscan Peaks. The Hopi knew their land from this point on as the FOURTH WORLD.
And time passed.'
Toby had finished the story of the four worlds. But he had not concluded the prophecy.
'Kokopilau, it is important that you listen to the next part of the prophecy. You know what has transpired since the beginning of the FOURTH WORLD. All has gone wrong. The FOURTH WORLD is corrupt, almost destroyed by the greed of the Bahanas. They have robbed the people of all the four corners of the world, they have stolen their land, ruined their culture, and now threaten complete destruction with the deadliest of weapons. But all of them are not bad, our future as an independent people depends on that fact.'
I could not move, only listen. The voice Toby channelled continued:
'When the chiefs saw the powaka woman leave with the Bahanas they were worried. It was the sorcery of her kind that had ruined the THIRD WORLD.
Masau’wu came to the chiefs and said:
'It is said that at some distant time certain Bahanas whose names are not yet known will arrive amongst us from the direction of the rising SUN bringing friendship, harmony and good fortune to our people. When the time is right they will appear. Let us watch carefully. Let the dead be buried with their faces towards the east so that the people will meet the Bahanas when they approach.'
One of the chiefs, the elder of the Fire People, was suspicious and expressed concern.
'How will we know that they are not powakas? They may trick us. They may destroy our way of life and give cruelty instead of harmony.'
The chief of the Fire Clan took a flat piece of dark coloured desert stone, about four inches square, and carved a picture of a man on it. The man was headless.
Other symbols on this side included the symbol of brotherhood, indicating the three persons who will come to help. Below this was the meandering path of life that can be determined by life choices.
These sacred symbols are surrounded by a square. Outside the box at the top left hand side was the Fire Clan symbol, a half circle resting on its diameter. At the top right hand side, near the tablet's edge, was the division symbol, a 'v', which indicated the closing of the FOURTH WORLD, the FOURTH CYCLE.
On the other side of the tablet was the universal migration symbol of most mythologies, the swastika; the Hopi SUN symbol of a circle with three smaller circles inside it; the 'v' of division seen on the other side of the tablet; and another SUN blocked on its base and right hand side, indicating the closing or termination line of a cycle.
This was the Fire Clan tablet.
When the chief of the Fire Clan finished carving the tablet he broke it into two pieces. The large piece, already described, with the headless figure upon it, was given to the Fire People, the Firewood. He held up the corner fragment, then said:
'Let the Bahanas carry this piece of the tablet, and let them hold it in trust for the White Sisters and Brothers who will come. There will be a time when we forget what is inscribed on the missing corner. We will only know the secrets of the passage to the next UPPER WORLD, the FIFTH WORLD, when the Bahanas return with the missing piece. It will tell us the means by which we pass from the close of the FOURTH CYCLE to the opening of the FIFTH CYCLE.'
The chief of the Fire People, the Firewood, sent the fragment of the tablet to the Bahanas, who were already migrating.
The chief told his people:
'On a certain day, at a certain place, Bahanas whose names are not yet known will come from the east bringing harmony and good fortune to the Hopi. They will bring the fragment of the tablet with them. If the two parts of the stone tablet fit together and the tablet is made whole, then they are the ones.'
The leader of the Bahanas took the fragment from the messenger of the Fire Clan.
It was time for the Hopi to migrate. They never went far. The Fire Clan people, who had constructed the tablet, were permitted to lead the migration. They were not prepared to accept responsibility, so other guides were selected from within the Hopi.
Before they left Spider Grandmother told them:
'Remember sipupani. From here you will go on long migrations. You will build villages and abandon them. You will leave behind marks on rocks and cliffs to tell those who come, where you have gone. Tawa of the light will watch over you. Never forget him. Masau’wu is always here, as he was the one that invited you into his land. You must always realise the presence of death. Always recognise Masau’wu but on no account touch him, as you will lose the breath of life and go to Maski, the land of the Dead, from which you shall not be able to return.
Others you should recognise for they are here to help you are Muyingwa, the spirit of germination whose body is of maize; Huruingwuhti, the hard substances woman, who owns the shells, coral and metals; and Balolokong, the great water serpent, who controls the springs and brings rain.
In your travels you will learn all about the forces of nature. You will learn to navigate by stars, the SUN and MOON, clouds and fires in the night. Your corn, with the short blue ears, will be your guide. If the corn does not mature or grow you have gone too far. Return to from whence you came, build another village, and start all over again.
You have come from the THIRD WORLD for a purpose. Build kivas with sipupani in them so that you never forget the passage from the FOURTH WORLD or the passage to the FIFTH WORLD. It is the path by which the ancestors can come to you, in your homes, to share friendship, corn and tobacco. Compose songs of creation of the SUN and MOON, and songs telling of how the people parted company here. Only those who forgot why they came into this FOURTH WORLD will lose their way. Understand that it will be many. They will disappear into the wilderness of endless space and be forgotten.
Remember that your White Brothers and Sisters are coming, with the missing corner of the tablet of the Fire Clan. Recognise the Bahanas, welcome them, as they are of you. They will help you to overcome those who are under the sorcery of the powakas.'
These are the words of the Covenant of Masau’wu, in the light of Tawa, the Supreme Being.'
Toby sounded exhausted when he stopped channelling:
'Kokopilau, Masau’wu has told me that this is all you need to know now. I must return to the stars, to my people. You must endure. Listen to the shaman when they are teaching. They know many secrets. When you have learnt from them you will have the ability to fertilise the land with your love. You will return to your country and learn much more. Not yet. There is much to learn…’
Toby was gone. i fell into a deep sleep wrapped in a single blanket. Perched on the ledge overlooking the canyon i shivered unconsciously in the cold night air.