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Current Update as of March 24, 2002

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Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

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Hopi: The Purpose of Prophecy

by Henry Reed

Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it. Those who ignore the future, however, may be condemned to relenquish it.

Does prophecy help us meet the future, avoid it, or is it self-fulfilling? The purpose of prophecy, according to the Hopi, is to give us a role as a co-creator of the future. Thus concludes Rudolf Kaiser in his new book The Voice of the Great Spirit: Prophecies of the Hopi Indians (published by Shambhala).

The Hopi prophecy has an honored place among other sources, such as the Book of Revelation, Nostradamus, and Edgar Cayce. What they share is a vision of global transformation, dramatic and systemic changes in the nature of life on the planet. Kaiser's scholarly book details the history and development of the Hopi prophecy and its relation to other prophecies, including the less well-known Mayan and Oglala Sioux visions of the future.

According to their creation myth, the Hopi were the first ones to inhabit this planet, actually being survivors from a previous age of people who were annihilated by flood. Ours is the fourth world or age. The others were previously destroyed when the population had progressed, as if on a regular cycle, from innocence to ego-centrism, materialism and greed, and finally to destruction. This fourth world is in its final stage, ready for destruction.

The first encounter with the Hopi's prophecy occurred when the Mormons attempted to convert them in the 1850s. It was then that they learned that the Hopis regarded the Mormons as the "Elder White Brothers," referred to in their prophecy as the returning savior. Some Hopi later changed their assessment of the Mormons and of the Europeans generally, for the white man was clearly not a savior. To this day, the Hopi argue the role of the European in fulfilling their prophecy of the "Elder White Brother," much as Christians argue whether a given influence is of the Christ or of the Anti-Christ.

The Hopi went more public with their prophecy in 1947, revealing the mention of a "gourd of ashes," which they interpreted to be the atomic bomb. Just as many Westerners believed that the atomic era put us on the edge of destruction, so the Hopi connected the bomb with the advance of their prophecy--especially in its apocalyptic aspects.

The Hopi prophecy has changed over the years. Kaiser traces these changes and explains them. According to myth, when the fourth world came into being, God created some writings on four stone tablets to give humankind a sense of its origins and destiny. The iconoglyphs on the stone tablets notwithstanding, the Hopi prophecy was an oral tradition, enabling the people to interact with it. Rather than making the prophecy invalid, this malleability makes it more alive to the Hopi. It lives within the people and grows with them. It is a means by which they find they can participate in the shaping of the future.

By living with the Hopi and interacting with them concerning their prophecy, Kaiser learned that it functions to remind them that they have choices and that those choices affect the future. Prophecy doesn't take away our free will, he learned from the Hopi, but gives us an opportunity to participate in the future by helping us envision the long-term consequences of our attitudes. Without prophecy, there is no future to contemplate; there is only fate. Humans who have no prophecy have thus surrendered their future to helplessness and unknowingness. To the Hopi, prophecy is God's way of giving us the opportunity to be team players in the future. (Digest by Henry Reed)


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