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Legend of Kokopelli

The Kokopelli Legend

Kokopelli is a tantalizing, seductive figure seen in pictographs and petroglyphs across the Southwestern USA. Popular culture has picked up the figure, dressed it up and used it to sell all manner of arts and crafts, advertise hotels, restaurants, realty agencies, night clubs, and more. But the figure of Kokopelli has been literally dressed up. Kokopelli is always seen with a dress or some kind of clothing. The petroglyphs tell another story of Kokopelli, whereas the popular culture has covered Kokopelli to increase his respectability in the pseudo-moralism of Western culture. Kokopelli has his own wisdom teachings to confer, but we must set aside our own prejudicial programming to get to the deeper meanings.

A petroglyph is an image or design cut into a rock surface without the use of pigment or coloring. In canyon country, desert-varnished sandstone was most commonly used. In desert areas, this brown or black varnish builds up on Kokopelli and receptive female at Galisteo Basin of New Mexicorocks after prolonged exposure to the elements. The tool usually used to produce petroglyphs was agate, chert, or jasper, very hard rocks that can tear into the dark varnish of iron oxide and magnesium oxide that forms on rock surfaces in arid regions.

Once we get past our own filters and biases we can see that the true Kokopelli had a very deep interest in sexuality. According to The Continuum Encyclopedia of Native Art by Hope B. Werness, Kokopelli images have been associated with childbirth and coitus (p.166). It seems that his flute-playing might not be purely for the arts as we know them. Perhaps there is another art.

In his book, Kama Sutra, Deepak Chopra helps to pry free the deeper significance of this enigma. For many people the experience of romantic love is their first experience of spirituality, although they may not know it." Spirituality and sexuality are deeply intertwined, but probably most people don't get very far along that path.

Rock art found in Canyon de Chelly shows Kokopelli reclining but still playing his flute with a very receptive woman prepared to mate..The First Level of Love is Attraction. The Law of Attraction states, “To be attractive, you have to be authentic. What makes a person attractive? The wisdom traditions tell us that attraction first and foremost comes from naturalness." Nothing is more beautiful than naturalness. Kokopelli seen in the petroglyphs was quite natural...au naturel as the French would describe it. Kokopelli exudes that naturalness. So much so that many people reading this might discover they have an attitude that will stop the exploration of their own authentic nature. This usually happens when you are living according to the expectations programmed into you or from your own perceptions organized around ego. It's this programming that blocks many from even the first level of love. A close-up of the rock art found in Canyon de Chelly shows the famous Kokopelli reclining as he plays his flute with a receptive woman close by.

Enchanted female with Kokopelli in the neighborhood at Rio Grande River canyon near Bandolier National Monument, NM 1350-1680The Second Level of Love is Infatuation. "This law states that infatuation exists to open the door to a deeper, transcendent reality. Infatuation happens when the attraction between two people is so intense that it transports them beyond ordinary perception and the ordinary world becomes enchanted." Kokopelli is an enchanting image, and not just because of his music. Kokopelli exudes sexuallity. And so do other figures in the same petroglyph panels. This petroglyph in Rio Grande River canyon near Bandolier National Monument, New Mexico at first glance was a jumping, cavorting figure until I saw the birthing figures also portrayed on their back with legs spread. In La Cieneguilla Kokopelli is shown in coitus with such a figure. Clearly, Kokopelli was a sexual icon and his search for the deeper meaning of it all was an infatuation, an enchantment with the transcendent. Still, many people get hung up on the infatuation, seeking more and more of the transcendent through the enchantment they've discovered. There is more. Kokopelli knew that there was more.

Kokopelli in Southern Utah at Sand Island near Bluff.The Third Level of Love is Communion. "The Law of Communion says that communion is contact of soul with soul. Communion is the sharing of spirit. Therefore, communion is the basis of trust. In this stage, lovers move into territory of the unknown, taking from each other what they did not possess alone." Here the construction of the Ego becomes the obstruction of the Heart. If you feel ill at ease sharing spirit with a mate, you might examine your fear of the unknown. This sharing of spirit might not be possible if the other has rejected spirit. Kokopelli continued his search for the woman with whom he could share his spirit in Southern Utah at Sand Island near Bluff.

Kokopelli in Canyonlands National ParkThe Fourth Level of Love is Intimacy. "The law of Intimacy states that in true intimacy flesh merges with flesh, and spirit with spirit. In intimacy, sexual energy and spiritual energy are recognized as one. Sexual energy is seen as the creative energy of the universe."  Kokopelli experimented with intimacy. Because of Kokopelli's creative energy he was sought for successful harvest, a successful hunt, fertility, and ecstasy. He is renowned for his experimentation with intimacy...but he discovered that it was not possible without a mate who could meet him at this level. Kokopelli continued his search in Canyonlands National Park .

The Fifth Level of Love is Surrender and Non-Attachment. "The Law of Surrender says that losing yourself in another person is the best way to find your true self. Surrender is the result of relinquishing the ego’s last claims to separation. Surrender and non-attachment open the door to the miraculous, because miracles exist outside the realm of I, me, and mine." Ego is a most powerful barrier to spirituality as well as sexuality ... same thing and indistinguishable. Ego is learned as well as instinctive. "You've got to be carefully taught to hate and fear" are the words in the Oscar and Hammerstein musical, "South Pacific." It's got to be drummed in your dear little ear," sings Lieutenant Cable as he confronts with disgust the prejudice he was taught back in Philadelphia PA and Princeton NJ. "So far away from coconut palms and banyan trees and bamboo huts and Thompkinese." At long as you are attached to your prejudices and programming, the spiritual journey will be stunted and twisted. When you can let go of these self-expectations learned from the expectations of others, then you can journey into the next level of spirituality.Bird-like Kokopelli at LaCieneguilla

The Sixth Level of Love is Passion. "The Law of Passion says that higher reality is experienced in the merging of the masculine and the feminine in one’s own being. Passion for life and passion in love are the same thing. This is because life, in its essence, is love." The Star Elder has told us that the gift of passion came from the genetics of the Bird People and that humans are Children of the Feather. In Western culture, people wearing feathers are often considered to be a bit ..."tribal"... "primitive". Kokopelli often seems to be depicted wearing feathers or plumes, honoring passion in our true nature as Children of the Feather. This is one of the many petroglyphs of Kokopelli at La Cieneguilla.

The Seventh Level of Love is Ecstasy. "The Law of Ecstasy says that ecstasy is our original state. This Kokopelli with birthing woman in association with the sunis where we come from, the Garden of Eden, the state of grace to which we shall one day return. Ecstasy is the final stage of intimacy with spirit that flows through love." We are genetically equipped for this journey to intimacy, not just physically, but emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The Star Elder has told us that we were designed to become the Heart of the stars, a starring role in the universe, our stardom, because we have the incredible power to love deeply, infinitely and eternally. This petroglyph shows a woman giving birth as Kokopelli plays his flute toward a sun or star. Are we missing something by dismissing petroglyphs and legends as primitive musings of a lesser people?

For more than a decade I've wondered about the mysteries of sexuality and the meaning of sacred sex. I found some of the clues in the rocks. I discovered the story of Kokopelli....and Ice Flower.... and their whole community.

more kokopelli picturesA cool rush of high mountain air blew up the canyon to stir the embers of the communal fire into a whirlwind that exploded, filling the night sky with starlike sparks. The gasps of wonder from the mouths of the People echoed through the moonless night. Suddenly the light that the Fire-beings cast, gave enough light for everyone to see the masses of Cloud People who had gathered in the heavens to answer Kokopelli's call. Once again, the People cried out in awe at the magic of this half-god, half-man, Kokopelli. Even the sleeping babies awakened to the spectacle of Kokopelli's magic. Surely the long-awaited rain would feed the Three Sisters and the People would live. Kokopelli called out for everyone to gather up their clay pots so that the moisture could be collected for future use. The Thunderers called out that Rain was about to begin. 

kokopelli fire sticks graphicThe Fire Sticks gave quite a light show before Rolling Thunder broke the silent night. The only other sound was the scurrying of feet in yucca-fiber sandals running up and down ladders to grab the pots. One maiden stood entranced near the main plaza marveling at the lightening in the night sky while others around her became frenzied, running to and fro. Kokopelli looked at her beautiful, innocent face filled with wonder and approached her, still holding his flute like a child. She was filled with a sereneness that had piqued his curiosity.

"Why have you not gathered your pots?" he asked. "They are in place high on the mesa," she answered. When he asked the maiden her name, she replied, "I am called Ice Flower of the Winter Clan of White Corn." "Why are your pots already in place, Ice Flower?" he asked. "Because your flute called to me when you came up the canyon and told me you would bring the rain," she answered. Kokopelli was intrigued. He smiled in a knowing way as the maiden returned his smile. "So you are the one," he said. The People assembled for the Medicine Chief of the Eagle Clan's prayer of gratitude just as the first Rain People began to touch the Earth Mother.

Kokopelli took Ice Flower by the hand and led her to the Fire. All eyes were watching the couple as they made their way to the head of the plaza. When the prayer was over, Kokopelli placed the flute, wrapped like a child in Ice Flower's arms as a symbol that this woman would share his music and his seed.

kokopelli as a medicine manMagic was in the air and the child of this union would use the magic of this Medicine to assist the People in finding their way back to the stars. The legend of the Pueblo People tells that they crawled up from the underworld after creation. Meanwhile the spirits of their Ancestors went back into the underworld until it was time to walk the Earth again. Kokopelli spoke to them of a time before the Creation when each person was a spark of Fire from Great Mystery's Eternal Flame and had fallen to Earth to seed the Mother with fertile thoughts, ideas, and actions. He told them that they would all become like Fireflies in the Great Sky Nation on the day when the Toltec and Pueblo bloodlines came together as one.

The Aztecs say that Ice Flower brought a man-child, who became a great spiritual leader of the Eagle clan, into the world. His Medicine was the gentleness of his mother and the Fire of his father. Since Mesa Verde was abandoned hundreds of years ago, we are left with this question: did they leave the Earth and go to live in the Great Star Nation? If so, the fertility and abundance of Kokopelli shines on our world each night.

Now there's a whole different perspective on what is meant by enlightenment. We humans don't realize our enlightenment just to hang around to enjoy it. We have a whole universe to enlighten with our love. Humans have been especially gifted with this capacity and only a few have realized their true potential. Kokopelli and Ice Flower brought this knowledge of human capacity to their community and now enlighten the night sky.

You see...Kokopelli didn't just dance and play a flute. Kokopelli represented fertility, new growth, he carried seeds in his backpack, he was a wandering Lothario, a legendary Casanova. He is portrayed in the petroglyphs as a sensuous, sexual seducer and dancer. He danced a dream dance and spread his seed far and wide. He was appreciated and venerated for the many ways that he had touched their lives and were enriched by his presence.

The legend of Kokopelli can now be opened and understood by many more people who are ready to explore that portal to a new dream. After all, Kokopelli didn’t have the Internet to explore and to teach. We can now open the human community to their own potentials, a community of love....and....enlightenment.

We ARE the stuff of which stars are made.

 Stars aborning,
           we take flight
                  to find the morning
                       of our night,
                           to ride the lifestream
                        of our day
                     and dance a new dream
                 on our way
          to journey far beyond what seems
   beyond the worlds of our dreams. 

allen aslan heart

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