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Native American Legends

The Nature of Man

A Hopi Legend

The First People, then, understood the mystery of their parenthood. In their pristine wisdom they also understood their own structure and function: the nature of man himself.

The living body of man and the living body of the earth were constructed in the same way. Through each man ran an axis, man's axis being his backbone, the vertebral column, which controlled the equilibrium of his movements and his functions. Along this axis were several vibratory centers which echoed the primordial sound of life throughout the universe or sounded a warning if anything went wrong.

The first of these in man lay at the top of the head. Here, when he was born, was the soft spot, kópavi, the "open door" through which he received his life and communicated with his Creator. For, with every breath, the soft spot moved up and down with a gentle vibration that was communicated to the Creator. At the time of the red light, Tálawva, the last phase of his creation, the soft spot was hardened and the door was closed. It remained closed until his death, opening then for his life to depart as it had come.

Just below it lay the second center, the organ that man learned to think with by himself, the thinking organ called the brain. Its earthy function enabled man to think about his actions and work on this earth. But the more he understood that his work and his actions should conform to the plan of the Creator, the more clearly he understood that the real function of the brain was carrying out the plan of all Creation.

The third center lay in the throat. It tied together those openings in his nose and mouth through which he received the breath of life and the vibratory organs that allowed him to give back his breath in sound. This primordial sound, as that coming from the vibratory centers of the body of earth, was attuned to the universal vibrations of all of Creation. New and diverse sounds were given forth by these vocal organs in the forms of speech and song, their secondary function for man on this earth. But, as he came to understand its primary function, he used this center to speak and sing praises to the Creator.

The fourth center was the heart. It too was a vibrating organ, pulsing with the vibration of life itself. In his heart man felt the good of life, its sincere purpose. He was of One Heart, but there were those who permitted evil feelings to enter. They were said to be of two hearts.

The last of man's important centers lay under his navel, the organ some people now call the solar plexus. As this name signifies, it was the throne in man of the Creator himself. From it he directed all the functions of man.

The First People knew no sickness. Not until evil entered the world did people get sick in the body or head. It was then that a medicine man, knowing how man was constructed, could tell what was wrong with a man by examining these centers.

First, he laid his hands on them: the top of the head, above the eyes, the throat, the chest, the belly. The hands of the medicine man were seer instruments; they could feel the vibrations from each center and tell him in which life ran strongest or weakest.

Sometimes, the trouble was just a belly ache from uncooked food or a cold in the head.

Other times, it came "from outside," drawn by the person's own evil thoughts or from those of a Two Hearts. In this case, the medicine man took out from his medicine pouch a small crystal about an inch and a half across, held it in the sun to get it in working order, and then looked through it at each of the centers. In this way, he could see what caused the trouble and often the very face of the Two Hearts person who had caused the illness.

There was nothing "magical" about the crystal, the medicine man always said. An ordinary person could see nothing when he looked through it, the crystal merely "objectified" the vision of the center which controlled his eyes and which the medicine man had developed for this very purpose.

Thus the First People understood themselves. And this was the first world they lived upon. Its name was Tokpela, Endless Space. Its direction was west, its color sikyangpu (yellow), its mineral sikydsvu (gold). Significant upon it were kato ya, the snake with a big head, wisoko, the fat eating bird, and muha, the little four leaved plant. On this world the First People were pure and happy.

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