The Hopi religious calendar begins anew each year in November with the Kelmuya season. Only those who have been initiated into "manhood"
may participate in the ceremonies, which celebrate the creation of our present world, the Fourth World.
Kelmuya (November) Fourth World Creation, Month of the Sparrow Hawk

         Kelmuya marks the beginning of the Hopi life cycle because it commemorates the start of the Fourth World—the world we live in today. In
this month a young male is given a new path of life towards becoming a truly aligned Hopi person. The ceremony is sacred, therefore rituals are
done secretly. The initiated society members prepare for the ceremony by purifying themselves to clear their thoughts. The ceremony is
completed with a public dance in which people can offer silent prayers to supernatural beings. We also pray for all mankind that life will be
pleasant, peaceful and everlasting. The fire of life is lit and the emergence from the underworld is remembered. We pray that we will continue to
grow in this life. Some high priests who have completed their religious instruction are initiated and ordained into the spiritual leadership as well
during Kelmuya.

Kyaamuya (December) Winter Solstice Season, Month of Reverence
         After the emergence from the Third World to this present one, the keeper of the earth, Maasawu, warned us that in order to live on this
earth and maintain sustainable living conditions, we must learn and practice how to pray and conduct ceremonies. During this time there is much
respect paid to the spirit beings. Wise elders tell stories of the past that provide important moral guidance for maintaining the high standards of
Hopi life. This is the only time we make requests for material goods. We observe the sunrise and moon around the winter solstice to set the time
for the Soyal Ceremony, which confirms and begins the life plan for the year. The Soyal Ceremony is the second most sacred ritual for a healthy
and successful life. Also during Kyaamuya, the first katsinam appear to promote the procreation of human life. Rituals in the kiva include silent
prayers, fasting and eating sacred foods. Once the rituals have been completed, people begin preparing for the winter social dances.

Paamuya (January) Winter Social Dances
        This month is reserved for winter social events. In the Paamuya dances we imitate animals that roam in the woods and mountains, which are
now covered in snow. These dances represent prayers for snow on Hopi fields or for hunting. The Buffalo Dance is most often performed,
including Hopi and other Pueblo versions. The dances are held in the kiva or in peoples' homes at night or in the plaza during the day. This
month is specifically set aside to rid our lives of the crazy emotions and be joyful in an outrageously loud manner. We do this to eradicate all the
wildness we have in ourselves in order to prepare for the solemn religious ceremony that follows in February.

Powamuya (February) Purification Month
       After the period of excessive joyful fun, mortals are now ready to accept the spirits, the katsinam. Powamuya is the most complex Hopi
ceremony. The initiated men pray to the katsinam to appear among us so that all humans may continue to grow and mature. The ceremony
begins when a katsina high priest—the Ahöla—comes at sunrise to bless all the houses. He "opens" the kiva so that the divine katsinam will visit.
Whipper katsinam travel the villages at night to see whether the people have maintained the Hopi standards of good conduct. These katsinam
whip the young children to purify them or introduce them to the spirit beings. Then the children are taught respect for the spirit beings and learn
the katsina beliefs. If and when there is disobedience, there are bitter consequences: hard whippings by the katsinam. Whipper katsinam come
with yucca branches as their weapons. In a severe case of disobedience, the jumping cholla cactus might be used.

        Men perform rituals in the kivas in preparation for the dance day. On that day, other katsinam appear at sunrise with beautiful gifts for the
people, including a small bundle of bean sprouts, whose miraculous appearance in the middle of winter suggests that crops (food) will be plentiful
in the coming season. Children who have behaved well and listened to the teachings of the katsinam are given many traditional gifts such as
dolls, rattles and moccasins.
        Then the mean ogre katsina spirit—a female—comes to remove the last doubts and continue purifying the people. They demand that the
women make a lot of special, sacred food for them that is really hard to prepare or takes a lot of time. If we do not bring enough food, the ogres
say they will come and eat the children! The peacefulness of the village is shattered, and the night is filled with strange and terrifying hoots and
snarls. Everyone looks inside themselves to see what they may have done wrong during the year to bring these terrible ogres here. At each
house and kiva, everyone is loudly and publicly ridiculed for not living up to the high standards of Hopi life. Once these punishments are over, a
special blessing is given to everyone by the kiva men and a social dance is held to heal things. The ogre family is forced out of the village.

Ösömuya (March) Katsina Night Dances, Month of the Wind
        During this season, the katsinam perform beautiful dances at night in the villages to create a pleasant environment for all life forms so that
they will grow and so that rain will come to nourish the crops. The katsinam are always watching and listening for humble prayers and meditations
during the Night Dance season, which lasts from now until some time in July.
         Angk'wa means "appearance afterwards," and it is a series of these night dances performed during this period. On a certain night when the
people have entered the kiva and are waiting, the katsinam suddenly appear on the roofs of the kiva and announce their arrival with pleasant
sounds. The kiva chief invites them in, and they climb down the ladders and give gifts of food like baked sweet corn, that represent the
forthcoming crops of summer. They burst into singing and dancing in a prayer for all life forms, then just as suddenly, they stop and leave the
kiva and go on to the next kiva, and then a new group arrives. The dance series may go on until just before dawn. It is usually windy and cold.
The next day we have a great feast and families visit with each other. Katsinam may appear in the plaza during this time. Then someone, usually
it's a woman, may sponsor a katsina day dance at a future date to continue the entertainment and spiritual blessings. Such dances are usually
scheduled around the planting of crops. Katsina day dances are held from March through June.

Kwiyamuya (April) Early Spring, Month of Constructing Windbreaks
         This month is when the fruit trees are beginning to bud or blossom and weeds are starting to grow in the corn fields. It's time to prepare the
fields and plant certain crops, such as early corn—sweet (tawaktsi), yellow (takurqa'ö), and purple (wiqktö) varieties. The winds are very hard, so
kwiya, or windbreaks, are built to help the soil stay intact and protect the plants. The accumulation of sand between kwiyas preserves moisture
and keeps the seedlings from freezing. Women shell the seed corn, and the men plant them. It is a busy period, and racer katsinam—hototom—
usually appear to challenge adult and young men to races. These races test how well the men can run and symbolize their strength to tend to
their fields. Two female fertility beings participate in the race, which symbolizes and promotes the procreation of life. These racers bless the
people and encourage them to train for the tough races that are an important part of the activities that will come up in the ritual cycle.

Hakitonmuya (May) Early Planting, Month of Waiting for Warm Weathe
Pöma'uyis (early planting) is the season for planting Hopi indigenous beans (morivosi), called hatikou. They are red and yellow beans.
Other crops include Hopi pumpkin (paatnga) or squash (tawiya), and watermelon (kawayo). It is a time to wait (haki) for the warmer corn-planting
weather. Some of the main Katsina dance events, which focus on the bringing of rain for the sprouting of crops, are also happening.

        Men from all the different clans go and collect baby eagles and hawks to bring back to their people. The Hopis believe that these young
creatures are innocent and their hearts are pure and therefore they possess great spiritual powers. The young birds are adopted into the clans
and are treated the same as their children. They live with the families in the village.

Wuko'uyis (June) Planting Season
         This is the time we plant the sacred and the food corn—white, blue, red, yellow and dark purple—in large fields. This is also the time for the
rains to come that will support the corn's growth. After the plantings there are katsina dances. These dances give the Hopi farmers the
opportunity to pray for the coming of the rains, for an abundant harvest, and for a good and happy life. At night, the people in all of the villages
hear the Katsina songs coming from the kivas. Initiated men visit the kivas to smoke ceremonially and pray for rain and a plentiful harvest.
Preparations take place for the first day of the Tiikive' dance, when the katsinam appear in the plaza. Their arrival signals good fortune and
plenty of moisture. The katsinam dance and are served sacred foods and give gifts of food—samples of the coming harvest—to the people.
Clowns appear and emphasize good behavior by performing negative acts. At sunset, the dance is done, but will continue again the next day if
there is a sponsor. At sunset the following day the people reluctantly watch as the katsinam head home to their spirit world.

Talangva (July) Summer Solstice Season, Month of Summer Warmth
         Through the rituals and ceremonies performed by the people, their hard work in the fields and the blessings of the katsinam, the plants
have blossomed. Humi uuyi (young corn plants), mori uuyi (young beans plants), paatang uuyi (young squash/pumpkin plants), kawayw uuyi
(young watermelon plants), sepala (peaches) and all other plants and wild spices are growing and are depending on the sun's heat and light to
mature. The biggest event of the summer is the sacred Niman Ceremony, which is performed at exactly midsummer. This is the time of the most
intense prayer and meditation, and kiva chiefs and priesthood leaders conduct rituals that benefit all humankind. There is a dance day where
hemis katsinam appear with stalks of corn and melons representing their rewards for the efforts and the goodness of the people. During the last
dance of the day, the Home Dance, the brides for the year are presented in their wedding robes to the katsinam, symbolizing that they will some
day join the spirits wearing their wedding robes. Afterwards the katsinam depart the earth, carrying the peoples' prayers to all directions. The next
day is the final ritual of the ceremonial cycle for the purification of life that began in February. The katsinam return to the world of the spirits, and
the eagles now accompany them, carrying prayers and observations of the village. The katsina season has ended. They have done their deed
here among the mortals, and it is now up to other spiritual forces to assist in the livelihood of the people.

Tala'paamuya (August) Summer Social Dances
         After the katsina spirits leave the Hopi world, the summer social dances begin with spiritual ceremonies by the Snake, the Bear and the
Water Clans. These events reach their climax in the Snake-Antelope Dance Ceremony or the Flute Ceremony, which are held on alternate years.
They are performed to bring the last rains of the summer for the growing crops, for a good harvest and to prepare the fields for the next season.
After that, boys and girls come to the plazas for many social dances, including the Butterfly Dance, to celebrate good crops and a good summer.
Other dances are held to honor other neighbor peoples—Navajo, Havasupai, Supai, Zuni, and Comanche. There are no katsinam at these
ceremonies, but they are public expressions of gratitude for plentiful food and a good life.

Nasanmuya (September) Harvest Season, Month of Feasting
       The fresh crops of corn, melons, vegetables, peaches, and wild greens are picked for a special family feast. Corn is roasted or made into
fresh corn mush and grit—a heavy cornmeal bread—or cooked while wrapped in the green husk. In addition to the fresh produce, usually meat is
cooked—mutton—which is either roasted, boiled into stew, or fried. Some jerked meat mutton or venison is cooked over hot coals. Other meats
include beef and pork. There is total happiness at this time. Katsinam and other spirit beings are thanked. Also during this time the Marawwimi (a
women's society) blesses the harvest season. Men who have been initiated into the Maraw society perform with them.

Toho'osmuya (October) Winter Solstice Season, Month of Harvest
         The majority of plants have now fully matured—usually corn, beans and some melons—and are ready to be harvested. The crops are
gathered by the men and brought to the women for caring and preparation for storage. It is also time for the women's ceremonies called Lalkon
and O'waqölt, which are Basket Dances. These dances serve as meditations for fertility and maternal happiness. Both use basket weavings.
Other ceremonial activities are performed by men who have been initiated into the Lalkon society. A footrace takes place to test the young men's
endurance and also to announce the time for deer and antelope hunting.

         Now that all of the rituals have been performed by the three women's societies, the ritual calendar has reached its end. The next year's
ceremonial calendar will soon begin.

Ferrell Secakuku
March 2005
Smithsonian Institute Online
Click here to view Index of Hopi Katsinam