Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Mysterious Kokopelli


Popular culture has a way of finding an image, watering it down to the components it finds useful and then marketing it. It saddens me to see that happen to Kokopelli, one of our ancient American spirits. Perhaps because he is such a mystery, relatively undefined in a sharply delineated way, some have thought they could do with him what they desire.

I am quite partial however to this artistic, site specific, earth art depicting Kokopelli, shown above. Here he is honored as the primordial, primal, earthy, evasive though playful spirit that is fitting.

I doubt that you are unfamiliar with the image of Kokopelli. You see him on decals, souvenirs, pottery and as jewelry supposedly representing the Southwest. Far beyond being a marketing tool, the spirit or deity, however you chose to think of him, has much more to offer.


Clearly he is a trickster. We can't quite make out his original iconography in his earliest renditions which are petroglyphs. Does he carry a bag or sack on his back; is he hunched over or possibly humpbacked? It is difficult to decide. One thing that is very clear, he is joyful and he is visually excited in a sexual manner. Because of that, many of us take him as a fertility god, ready to rain down his blessings upon the earth.

I find myself thinking of Kokopelli every spring when I consider fertility of the earth the most. That is because Kokopelli is celebratory, he is very much alive--a lively figure that appears to be dancing while playing the flute. He fits with the pagan ideas of this season being centered on fertility, promise and potential. We too, usher in this season with lively dancing, music and general merriment. Planting seeds in the earth and looking forward to their yield.

Kokopelli is connected with the mysterious Anasazi culture. Today he is revered within Hopi culture, moreover, with his playful and highly sexual disposition he continues to capture the popular imagination, titillating all accepted into his realm.


A to Z April Blogger's Challenge K is for Kokopelli

2 comments:

  1. I have seen images of Kokopelli and I love those images, but I never knew his name or anything about him. Great post, Stephanie! :)

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  2. I'm so glad you found it useful Chrys!

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