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Book of the Hopi (Book)

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Review by Cynthia Sue Larson "www.realityshifters.com" (San Francisco bay area, CA USA)

Frank Waters' excellent BOOK OF THE HOPI is probably the most complete collection of Hopi stories, language, rituals, and photographs in one place. Waters wrote this book with assistance from thirty-two Hopi elders back in 1963. Much time has passed since then, and while the way of the Hopi remains mostly unchanged, access to their sacred ceremonies and rituals has been greatly reduced in the last several decades.

While BOOK OF THE HOPI was written through the eyes and ears of an outsider, it contains much of the spirit of the Hopi, and countless fascinating insights. One such example is the explanation of how one sacred ceremony (the Ya Ya) was profaned and is no longer performed, since much of its powers were taken for evil. "When you receive a wonderful power and use it for evil you lose the power. You have to use it for good to keep it." I love the richness of information contained in this little book: symbols, the tablets of the clans, a glossary of Hopi words, thrilling tales about the creation of the worlds, and detailed descriptions of sacred objects such as the Paho (prayer-feather). This attention to detail is marvelous, but it's the heart of BOOK OF THE HOPI that makes me feel at home with the Hopi and at one with their spirit.

The source materials for Frank Waters's writing are the lands and peoples of the Southwest. In Waters's novels and nonfiction works Indians, border mestizos, New Mexican Hispanics, Chinese immigrants, and whites (who run the gamut from tourists and hard-rock miners to Indian traders and atomic scientists) move across powerful Western landscapes dominated by mountains and deserts. That Waters chose to set his books in the Southwest when he knew that doing so was a virtual prescription for keeping them off best-seller lists speaks both to his deep attachment to his native region and his determination to write about what he knew best. Yet, Waters was no mere local colorist. Equipped with a thorough knowledge of American Indian religions, Buddhist philosophy, and Jungian psychology, he examined in his writings the dualities inherent in human existence and posited that these dualities might be reconciled through the mystical monism characteristic of the indigenous religions of the American Southwest and the religions of the Far East

Other Details

384 pages
Penguin (Non-Classics); June 30, 1977
.76 LBS

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