2 February 2012
The text Disenchantment: A Religious Abduction by Sam Gill discusses the Hopi Kachina initiation. Gill hopes to achieve a clear grasp of the initiation and possibly “suggest an alternative interpretation based on the point of view that the ritual does what is does which is to initiate the children into their religious lives by revealing to them the nature of the Kachinas.” (Gill 74) The initiation is for children near eight to ten years of age. The children, through this initiation, are allowed to enter the Kachina society or Powamu society. The celebration of the Powamu society is the first ceremony of the year where the Kachina appears and takes place once every few years.
The important part of the ritual begins while the children are in the Kachina. The initiated are comforted by their mothers. The fathers enact the tale and return of the Kachina to the human world of the Hopi, as well as whip the initiated with “Tungwup Kachinas.” (Gill 75) These rites of passage are created to teach the children that the Kachinas no longer visit the villages, but are tales and impersonations of the fathers behind these Kachinas. Once the children have endured these rites of passage they may begin to help perform these initiations unto other children. One of the earliest authors that wrote a book on this topic referred to the whipping of the initiate’s as “a kind of payment for the secret knowledge the initiates gain in the rites.” (Gill 75)
These whippings occurred on the sixth day of the nine day initiation. During which, the initiates are not allowed at any cost to see their fathers faces in the Kachina masks. The initiates are then forced not to eat salt or flesh for four days. After enduring the initiation which is the ninth night, the newly made members are allowed to see their families participating in the Bean Dance. The villagers and family members are witnessed by the new...