Part VI. Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) Cosmology: An Ideology of Leadership Based in the Sacred Directions of Twisted Gourd Symbolism– the Source of Living Water–and the Mythology of the Stone Ancients


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Part II: Mexico

Part III. The Maya Connection: Details of the Relationship Between the Twisted Gourd, Sacred Directions (axis mundi), and Empowered Rule

Part IV. The Sky-Water Bicephalic Bird Serpent and Amerindian Cosmology: “Twisted” as a Metaphor for Divine Fire-Water Connections and Transformation

Part V. A Comprehensive Concept of Cosmological Order: the Centerplace and Sacred Directions, Continuity and Consistency of Twisted Gourd Symbolism and Ideology of Leadership

Part VI.

Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) Cosmology: An Ideology of Leadership Based in the Sacred Directions of Twisted Gourd Symbolism and the Mythology of the Stone Ancients, the Source of Living Water

Summary of Findings
Kopishtaiya and the War Twins
Lambdoid Cranial Modification-The Gallina Case

Corn had been domesticated in the Rio Balsas region of Guerrero, Mexico, by 6,660 BCE (Hastorf, 2009) and had diffused into the Four Corners region of the American Southwest by 2100 BCE (Merrill., et al., 2009). In solving for pattern the early corn agriculturalists called the ancestral Puebloans who became known as the Keres, Zuni, Hopi, and Tanoan speakers of the historical period shared a common cultural pattern that ethnographically and archaeologically was identifiable at the Basket-maker to Pueblo transition (BM III-PI) and defined by Pueblo I, 750-900 CE, as a distinctive “Anasazi” cultural pattern. Evidence suggests that in the beginning, rather than being an important part of the food economy, maize was primarily a ritual plant used to prepare beverages for ritual feasting and for gift exchanges (Staller, et al., 2016). Atole, a ceremonial beverage made of corn and cacao by elites, was one of those beverages. Evidence early in Puebloan development tends to support those findings with the discovery that early decorated pottery at the 8th-century Site 13 in the Alkali Ridge community at the border of southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado during the BMIII-PI transition may have had cacao residues (Washburn, et al., 2013; map; Washburn’s findings are disputed). Undisputed is the fact that special ceremonial cylinder vessels with cacao residues were found in the ancestral northern burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito (Washburn, et al., 2011; Crown, Hurst, 2009). The ceremonial cylinder vases were dated to 900-1000 to 1130 CE and in form and function correlated to Maya cylinder vases with hieroglyphic text that stated the vases were used for cacao consumption by elites.

There is every reason to believe that ritual related to the growth cycle of corn and imported from Mesoamerica shaped what is referred to as ancestral Pueblo culture. “Like the natives in isolated pockets of Mexico and Guatemala, our living Pueblo people still are perpetuating on this northern periphery their derivative form of basic concepts once common to all Mesoamerica” (Ellis, Hammack, 1968:42). As Krober observed (1917:140), “…a single, precise scheme pervades the clan organization of all the Pueblos. It is almost as if one complete pattern had been stamped upon the social life of every community in the area.” As indigenous sources attest, “The Moquis and Zunis have an identical religion, and depend upon each other for help in their sacred ceremonies”(Bourke, 1884:193), and they had a secret ritual language (ibid., 191) that has been identified in this report as Keresan. Frank Cushing identified an early merging of nomadic seed gatherers with an “elder nation” that introduced maize ritual to them, and it was the latter culture called the People of Dew with whom they became “one people” that defined what is known as “Zuni” today. Cushing identified the People of Dew as “comparatively unchanged descendants of the famous cliff- dwellers of the Mancos, San Juan, and other canyons of Utah, Colorado, and northern New Mexico” (Cushing, 1896:343). A consensus of opinion developed around the idea that the seat of ancestral Puebloan culture had developed in southwestern Colorado (Roberts, 1930; Morris, 1919, 1927; Potter, 2010), a view that this research report came to strongly support, but I amend the conclusion with the fact that what developed in southwestern Colorado was authorized maize ritual by Keresan priests, the only ancestral Puebloans to claim supernatural blood ancestry, who had a legitimate claim to authority based on their direct celestial descent from the author of life and sustainer of corn agriculture, the Plumed Serpent. The great cosmic serpent that was the snake of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram that narrated the Twisted Gourd symbol had been co-identified with the Milky Way, whose symbol was the checkerboard pattern, was the Sky father of the Corn mother and celestial north pole of the axis mundi at the celestial House of the North, where Four Winds as the Plumed Serpent (Awonawilona) authored the six sacred directions (Cushing, 1896). All of the findings in this report argue for the fact that the “glory hole” demarcated by the rotation of the Dippers around the polestar was regarded as the source of “living water,” an idea that permeated all Puebloan ritual that centered around the medicine-water bowl. I further argue that the antecedent to the ritual complex that was identified as Keres (Ellis, 1967, 1969, 1988; Ellis, Hammack, 1968:42) came from the upper Gila River in the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone, which probably was a site of ritual initiation into the Snake order (Hough, 1914; Martin, et al., 1952), a “mother ship” the Bonitians maintained contact with through the exchange of Tularosa pottery that was found associated with Pueblo Bonito (Pepper, 1920). Initiation sites were instituted among ancestral Puebloans through the establishment of four Keresan “Chi-pia” locations sited at the SE, NE, NW, and SW corners of the Chacoan sphere of influence.

santa Fe Tlaloc

Tlaloc (Maya: Chaak), the goggle-eyed storm god of Mexico, Jornada Mogollon  rock art in Otero county, New Mexico (map; image courtesy of Polly Schaafsma). Tlaloc is shown as a personified thunderstorm. The goggle-eyes represent the pools of water on earth through which the Snake could see into this world. The Zapotec expression for a thunderstorm means “water comes down, fire comes down” (Seler, 1901:15), a fire-water construct that expressed the igneous : aquatic paradigm of creation. The Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram that was the basis of Twisted Gourd symbolism and the “Chaco signature” results in lightning, the sine qua non for the storm god and divinity. The Chacoan’s visual program went a step further and, foregoing images, portrayed the qualities of an invisible god that materialized as morning dew, wind, clouds, rainfall, lightning, thunder, and the rainbow.

“The image of Chaak explicitly links ancestors with instigators of rain, a common trope or explanatory narrative in much of later Mesoamerica, even into the American Southwest [Tlaloc/Chaak images from the Jornada Mogollon]. But what is striking is the generality of these ancestors, unlike Classic practice, which specifies their identity through name glyphs. If the Classic period acclaims kings, the Preclassic obscures them behind the trappings of myth and divinity. … no written text or spoken narrative has explained the images, which, instead, speak in more basic form as a world model common to Mesoamerica” (Houston, Taube, 2008:138-139).

Three-stone place-east wall in plaza
Pueblo Bonito Plaza, east wall. The quadripartite symbol was a pan-Amerindian representation of the fourfold division of nature and divinity as expressed by the metaphor of the Plumed Serpent and its Venus avatar, the warrior to the sun. This particular form was often seem in Hopi ritual where it was described as a squash blossom, the epitome of the sun-water cycle of life (Voth, Dorsey, 1901:pl. XLVII; Stephen, 1936a:426). Among the Keres the sun was thought to stop for a meal when he was directly overhead (Dumarest, 1919:222). We also know from the Zuni-Keres origin myth (Cushing, 1896) that the sun was born of the spirit of water that was defined as the Maker and Doer of the sacred directions. Combining that idea with the vertically triadic (Three Stone Place) and horizontally quartered nature of the cosmic Plumed Serpent (quadripartite symbol) as the Puebloan’s axis mundi and basis of the six directions, we may cautiously infer that this architectural motif referred symbolically to those foundational concepts given its central and public placement.

Snake king emblem glyph-kanulaLeft: “Ka-nu-la,” the phonetic spelling of the Mayan regal emblem glyph of Calakmul rendered on Kerr vase K1901, which refers to the dwelling place of the divine Snake lords of Calakmul as constituting “bodies of water, including springs, streams and lakes” (Helmke, Kupprat, 2016:fig. 1i, pg. 40-41). Those bodies of water constituted the realm, spirit and supernatural power of the Plumed Serpent for both the Maya and the ancestral Puebloans. Although the ancestral Puebloans did not have a written language, their iconography featured both the T sign and the conjoined “double arrow” sign of the Hero War twins. Therefore,  is it possible that the occupants of Pueblo Bonito wished to associate their supernatural ancestry with the legendary power of the ancient Snake kings and the mythology that justified it? Could the name of Pueblo Bonito have been related to ka-nu-la, “snake water”? Was sipapuiny, the “water that is given” that was offered by Snake woman and the Snake-Antelope chief to give new life (Stephen, 1929:44, 48) the meaning of ka-nu-la?

The ideology of rulership associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism that sparked the Maya’s cultural development in the Mirador with the Snake kings had taken root c. 100 BCE-200 CE in Chiapas and among the Zapotecs of Monte Alban and at Teotohuacan, where there was no visible cult of personality  that constituted a basis of leadership. One of the first clues to Puebloan cosmology and its continuation of an ancient tradition of an ideology of leadership based in the sacred directions was found in language. Among the Acoma Keres, time and space are unified in the one word for winter solstice and southeast corner,  koamicŭkŭ, the direction of the rising sun on the winter solstice (Stirling, 1942:69 fn 54). The power of inspired speech on the part of a ruler came through naming his god, literally breathing with his god and its qualities, during ritual, and this was characteristic of ancestral traditions that had survived among modern Puebloans. The Chacoan visual program was dominated by Twisted Gourd symbolism, and its cosmology of Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud was foundational to Puebloan culture. While Twisted Gourd symbolism had an Andean origin,  the evidence linking foundational aspects of ancestral Puebloan culture to the Mesoamerican cosmovision and the foundational corn myth preserved in the Popol vuh (Tedlock, 1996)– 1) the cosmological basis of the axis mundi in the tri-partite Plumed Serpent, 2) the linking of Twisted Gourd symbolism to an ideology of leadership as the breath and dew of life, and 3) the ancestry of the supernatural Hero War Twins as a model for ritual governance of the corn life-way– provided the basis for looking to the Maya pre-Classic period to find the oldest roots of ancestral Puebloan ideology, roots that were at least 1,000 years older than the Great Houses of Chacoan culture and characterized the anonymity of Chaco’s leadership and their tutelary deities.

That Chacoans preserved the sanctity of their highest offices rather than any image of a particular leader that held high office is seen in the placement in the ancestral burial crypt of an exceptional flute marked with the classic Twisted Gourd symbol and two forms of the crook cane that were found in room 33. These were the symbols of tutelary deities who empowered high office. The type IIa crook cane was throughout the Chacoan world associated with Snake chiefs in the Snake-Antelope society and with snake ancestry in the Keres Antelope clan, the only clan among Puebloans occupying the top position of religious and political authority that claimed direct descent from a supernatural ancestor. All clans claimed a patron deity as a spiritual father or mother, but only Keres clans claimed direct descent by blood (Stirling, 1942:3), and that supernatural entitlement ultimately was vested in the snake blood of the Keres Antelope clan. The Keres were the authors of the ancestral Puebloan’s corn life-way in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. As will be discussed at length below, three artifacts–the flute, the crook cane, and the conch– obviously were very important to Pueblo Bonito’s identity as a regional Centerplace of the sacred directions, but only one of those artifacts, the conch,  the voice of primordial water, was placed directly with the body of one of the presumed founders of the Bonitian dynasty, which were the two male sub-floor burials in room 33 that were interred with a wealth of turquoise.

The artifacts that symbolized access to the supernatural ancestor–canes and flutes, both “breath of life ” symbols of the Snake– were placed with 12 members of the family in room 33, six females and six males apparently paired to represent the six directions of sacred color-coded Corn maidens. The single most important identifier of male #14 was the conch shell, which in the Snake-Antelope ceremonies represented the CNP (Stephen, 1936a:699) and the right to summon the Chief of the Chiefs of the Directions, the Above-Below deity of the axis mundi. The Keres actor who could summon the Chief of Chiefs–Heshanavaiya, the seventh direction Snake-Cloud that directed the six directional Cloud Chiefs– was the Kapina  society’s medicine man called the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia) who invoked the supernatural warriors of the six directions led by the Tsamaiya, the warrior of the all-important north. This suggests that like Tiyo, who was the first Snake chief of the Antelope kiva, the Tsamaiya also embodied Heshanavaiya, Ancient of the Six Directions, a primordial horned Serpent and patron of Keres Kapina medicine priests who were descended from the Stone Ancients, literally animal powers and the wisdom of a former world that in this world existed as stone fetishes that could take human form. A co-identification of Tiyo and the Tsamaiya medicine chief cannot yet be securely established, but it would make sense if Tiyo and the Tsamaiya were two names, e.g., not two different actors, for the “clan ancient” of the Snake-Antelope society whose “father” was Heshanavaiya. In effect, the Tsamaiya warrior like Tiyo personifies Heshanavaiya and manifests as a lightning celt or axe, and in that sense is parallel to the Maya’s patron of kings K’awill, aka God K and GII, who is personified by a lightning axe, which is the connection between GI and GIII of the Maya’s axis mundi (see Maya Connection). This may explain GIII’s explicit association with the checkerboard pattern. GIII was the Jaguar (Fire) God and night sun nadir of the axis mundi. As one of the trinity of animal lords this supernatural entity could transverse boundaries between the liminal and visible realms. The combination of dark for the sun as it passed through the watery underworld and light as it passed through the daytime sky is a holistic image of “all” or “complete,” which were space-time attributes of the sky-water Plumed Serpent whose sign was the quadripartite K’an cross.

One reason why it was important to pursue the precise identity and function of the actors that constituted the authority of the Tsamaiya ideological complex was because of the evidence for it in the crook canes and conch shell found in the ancestral burial crypt of Pueblo Bonito and the tcamaias that were found at Pueblo Bonito and other great houses (see Ancestral Tsamaiya Warrior). The Hero War twins and their myth of origin (Cushing, 1896) were integral to the authority of the Tsamaiya and Awona complexes that are discussed at length  in this section, and their weapons that included the tcamahia constituted the supernatural basis of serpent lightning and thunder. The latter are the two themes that dominated the iconography of Chacoan pottery, and identifying the gods responsible for it will be an important element in the ideological assemblage by which the identity of the Chacoans will be established and the point at which the Hero War twins entered the political picture of Pueblo Bonito determined.

Going forward we’ll meet Heshanavaiya many times as the nadir horned Plumed Serpent because as the Ancient of the Directions and the primordial ocean he was the foundation stone of the axis mundi. There will also be a further exploration of the idea that Tiyo as the clan ancient (deified human ancestor) of the Snake-Antelope society related directly to the Hero/War Twins as the mediating supernatural patrons, because the Hero/War Twins were sons of the Sun but their grandfather was the Plumed Serpent aka Awonawilona, Breath of Life, and Four Winds (Cushing, 1896; Stevenson, 1904) who established the sacred directions, which explains why their lightning weapon called the tcamahia was on Heshanavaiya’s underworld Snake-Antelope altar (Fewkes, 1894) and why to this day the relic is regarded with such veneration. As confusing as all of this may sound, it is important to begin to make a mental map of these supernatural lineages extending from the Plumed Serpent with their multiple names that related to the male qualities and supernatural relationships that a leader who was born to lead and to embody the corn life-way was expected to possess. The one male in all of ancestral Puebloan mythology who embodied those qualities was the Acoma Keres Tiamunyi of the Antelope clan ( (Stirling, 1942). His supernatural grandfather established the axis mundi of the world that extended to the “roads” called the six sacred directions, while his father was the rainbow Plumed Serpent, the seventh direction as the centerplace that united all the directions into a rainbow of power that constituted the corn life-way under the authority of the Tiamunyi by virtue of his ancestral supernatural kinship ties. The Tiamunyi was the Keeper of the Roads who ensured that the rules of the roads would be followed. In a story that will be unfolded over many words and examples, the Tiamunyi had a Twin alter ego called the Tcamahia, a supernatural warrior. A great deal remains to be discovered about that pair. Although the view is still very much through-a-glass-darkly, the pattern of a Warrior-Priest/King has emerged with a strong association to the mythical Hero/War Twins, the Maya’s model for divinely sanctioned governance.

In a nutshell, the briefest way of defining the Tiamunyi’s identity is that he was the spiritual leader of the corn life-way through the power of his grandfather and grandmother, Spider woman, and his aunt and wife, the Corn mother. His military proxy was empowered by his father, the rainbow Serpent Heshanavaiya, through the Tcamahia, the patron and clan ancient of the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute societies. Tiyo, the first Snake chief of the Antelopes to be initiated by Heshanavaiya, is given the Snake’s name as his adopted father, which distinguishes him from Tiamunyi who has a blood relationship with the all-directions rainbow Serpent. Tiamunyi and the Corn mother gave rise to the corn maidens and the clan system (Stirling, 1942:13-14). Tiyo and Snake woman, Heshanavaiya’s daughter, gave rise to the Snakes. Through Heshanavaiya, that makes Tiyo’s wife, the Snake woman, the half-sister of the Keres Tiamunyi, and all of Tiyo and Tiamunyi’s  children were cousins who probably maintained the elder brothers (Antelopes)-over-younger brothers (Snake warriors) hierarchy. The overarching concept that links both the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia) Snake warriors and the Tiamunyi’s Corn people side of the family, again through the Ancient of the Directions Heshanavaiya, is the Stone Ancients, the snake masters whose descendants occupied the land of the Tsamaiya on the Potrero de Vacas near the Keres modern Pueblos. These very likely were the supernatural bloodlines authorized by origin stories that were reinstantiated by rituals like the Snake dance that wove together the Great Houses in the Chaco sphere of influence. This represented an alliance between the Keres and the proto-Hopi through the Tsamaiya ideological complex. The Zuni were also assimilated into the Chaco world under the umbrella of the Stone Ancients and the Plumed Serpent, not through the Snakes but rather through the Awona ideological complex that represented the Above and the wind in the cosmic scheme.

The fact that the Keres Tiamunyi was called the Tcamahia (Tsamaiya, Stone Ancients, supernatural warrior of the north) in the Acoma Keres origin story, a group that moved from southwestern Colorado which was the NE corner of the Chaco sphere of influence and into the northern Rio Grande region surrounding the village of the Stone Lions, becomes more significant in light of what was happening in the NW corner around Navajo mountain (Tokonabi), from which the people who preserved their story in the Snake legends migrated south out of southern Utah (Stephen, 1929:37, 45). “The Acoma were said to be Hopi who had learned to speak Keresan; the early language of the people who came to be referred to on First Mesa as Snake-Sand clan was said to be Keresan. It was believed that all these peoples and other Keresan-speaking people called Kawaika, ‘Laguna people,’ lived together at Toko ’nabi, near the junction of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers. …The songs of the Snake-Antelope, Flute, Wuwuchim, Mamzrau, and Singers societies are said to be in Keresan, which only means, of course, that now and again a Keresan word is used. Of these words perhaps the most significant are Ka’toya, the horned or the two-headed mythical snake which is patron of the Antelope society and chamahia, the term for the implement-weapon, the hoe-ax placed on the Hopi Antelope society altar and on the Acoma Kapina society altar” (Parsons, 1936:554-555). Keresan was the language of ritual, the “language of the underworld” and the Stone Ancients. The cosmic Snake (horned Plumed Serpent), Tsamaiya (Stone Ancient, mythical warrior), the tcamahia (mythical weapon, “warrior spirits, anthropomorphic beings of an earlier age, turned to stone,” Parsons, 1936:555), the Keres Kapina society whose tsamaiya altar was founded by Spider, the grandmother of Tiamunyi and the Hero/War Twins whose weapon was the tcamahia, and the Puma together established the integrated system of sacred directions and law-and-order enforcement of the corn life-way that defined ancestral “Pueblo culture” and continues to define traditional values to this day.

The parallels between the Keres Kapina society altar and the Hopi Antelope society altar for the Snake ceremony are striking. Pueblo rituals spread by virtue of initiation and ownership of an orthodox altar, its songs (supernatural prayer lines), and the recipes for its medicines. “The sand painting drawn for Dr White as that of the Fire society I am strongly inclined to think is actually that of the Kapina society. It is almost a replica of the Hopi Antelope society altar painting, particularly that of the Second Mesa Shunopovi society. The medicine drink of the Kapina chief was ground-up snake droppings in water. This medicine gave strength and the ability to dream the future. The society gave power to men going to war. The Kapina society of Laguna used red stained prayer-sticks, as do the Hopi Snake-Antelope societies and war societies in general.  Several other traits identify the Hopi Snake-Antelope societies as Keresan societies. The Antelope society chief of Shipau’lovi said to Stephen: ‘Spider woman is my mother; she is the mother of all.’ ‘This is the position given Spider in Keresan mythology. The Bear and Lion impersonations at the Snake initiation and the impersonations of the chiefs of the Directions (Cloud chiefs) by the Antelope chiefs are characteristically Keresan and so is the dedication of infants to the societies. Again the rites of emesis and of depositing offerings in a circuit over four days are characteristically Keresan” (Parsons, 1936:556-557). The Sia Keres have Spider woman (Spirit, caretaker, teacher/guide) as the mother of the celestial All-Father Utsita (Ut’set, Stevenson, 1894:40), who is the dominant actor in the Acoma Keres origin story for providing the seeds of the material world that his daughters, the Corn mother (wife of Tiamunyi) and her sister (mother of Tiamunyi), will plant (Stirling, 1942:1).

Spider Woman. Left: Far View Great House, Mesa Verde, Colorado, 900-1300 CE (Franke,1932:fig 2); Center: Poshu Pueblo, Chama river, New Mexico, 1421-1479 CE (Jeancon, 1923:fig. 12; Right: Sikyatki, Hopi First Mesa, Arizona, 14th-15th century CE (Fewkes,1898: pl. CLXI). Fewkes assessed that this symbol had something to do with the sun, while Jeancon said that it was a Navajo symbol for Spider woman. Ancestral Puebloans began living at Far View House 200 years before the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings were built and therefore predated the Navajo by at least 600 years. The Navajo assimilated much of Puebloan ritual, which suggests that this symbol was a Puebloan symbol for Spider woman. Poshu Pueblo appears to have been a post-Chaco trade and ceremonial center judging by the wide variety of pottery sherds found there, including potter y associated with the Keres presence on the Pajarito plateau near the village of the Stone Lions. Both Poshu and Far View were sites with Snake-Antelope towers, while at Sikyatki the story goes ‘the Snake-Antelopes were not allowed to build them. At all three locations the symbolic context was the checkerboard pattern and the double-headed serpent bar which, as mentioned several times, when enfolded became the Chaco signature. What is clear is that the symbol was carved into stone at Far View early in the development of Chaco Pueblo culture as one of the early signs of skilled masonry and persisted on decorated pottery across time and distance.

It is important to keep in mind that the design and function of the Antelope altar was reproduced from Heshanavaiya’s altar in the underworld (Fewkes, 1894:115). That being the case, and since the Kapina (Spider, fire) and Antelope (Snake, water) altars were strongly related, we can confidently conclude that the Hopi’s mythology of Heshanavaiya was derived from the Keres Kapina altar although that fact is nowhere mentioned, e.g., this co-identifies Spider woman and Heshanavaiya as one androgynous deity signifying “Ancient of all directions” that was functionally regarded as a male-female creator pair. If we view the Acoma Keres and Hopi Snake legends as bookends of the axis mundi, there is a Keres Snake-Spider axis (sky-earth, Above-to-Center) that planted the corn life-way, and the Hopi Snake-Spider axis (Center-to-Underworld) that sustained it. This Above-Center-Below cosmic axis appears to inform the origin of the Tsamaiya ideological construct in the Keres Kapina Tsamaiya altar, where there are life-sized Tsamaiya (male) and Tsamahia (female) feathered idols. Both of the terms are part of the warrior’s invocation by the Keres Tsamaiya medicine priest during the Keres and Hopi Snake dances (Table 1). Moreover, as will become increasingly clear as the discussion proceeds, this supernatural entity that manifested the cosmic law of the igneous-aquatic paradigm will also be recognized in the Zuni’s “all container” creator Awonawilona in the SW corner of the Chaco sphere. It bears repeating: Awona refers to “roads” (Stevenson, 1904:88), and awilona refers to “them having, e.g., leader” (Parsons, 1920:97 fn 2).

In the Acoma Keres origin story, Spider woman and the Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North surrounding the polestar create the Corn mother and the corn life-way that emerges on earth. The nadir Plumed Serpent Heshanavaiya and Spider woman again work together to form its protection through the sacred warrior. Heshanavaiya has on his altar in his underworld Snake-Antelope kiva the tcamahia, which he gave to Tiyo along with his name, and Tiyo became the first Snake chief of the terrestrial Antelope kiva. The tcamahia is associated with the Keres Kapina society altar called the Tsamaiya aka Tiamunyi (Stirling, 1942:38-40), and therefore Heshanavaiya had in his possession an ancient weapon associated with the Hero/War Twins from an earlier, mythical age. This indicates that the two supernaturals called the Ancients of the Directions, Spider woman and the horned Plumed Serpent, had long had a working relationship as the patrons of the corn life-way. This tight relationship between Spider woman, Heshanavaiya, the Stone Ancients, the Hero/War Twins, the Snake-Antelopes, and ritual items such as the tcamahia is referred to in this report as the Tsamaiya ideological complex. It is called an ideological rather than a ceremonial complex because the key point was that it had the authority of the supernaturals that constituted the axis mundi of the corn life-way and therefore signified the basis of rulership with its divine lightning powers of life and death, e.g., powers that were embodied in human actors that claimed supernatural ancestry through direct (Antelopes, “older brother,” Pueblo I).or indirect (initiation, Snakes, “younger brother,” Pueblo II) descent.

The conch, like the flute, represented the voice and generative power of primordial mother sea that from the deepest level of the underworld manifested in the horned Plumed Serpent of the CNP during ritual as his authoritative voice. The most auspicious occasion on which to blow the conch was at the winter solstice, the middleplace of the year when the sun was resting in the SE at sunrise and needed to be encouraged to begin its journey north towards spring (Fewkes, 1898b:83-84). The CNP, celestial North, was the place of beginnings, and a cosmic journey marked by Alkaid in the Big Dipper of the seven Corn and Dew maidens who would appear in summer as the food of this world began there. At the end of the day it was the cosmology of sacred directions that the Bonitian family represented that counted, because by supernatural blood ancestry they embodied the sacred directions of the axis mundi that ensured the birth of the Corn maidens, their daughters, as summer corn. The Zuni and the tribes that became the Hopi were younger brothers to the Keres, and they provided curative and military services that protected the Center so that the supernatural authority of the corn life-way could be sustained.

As amply illustrated for the Maya, a system of cardinal and intercardinal directions was a cosmology and an ideology of leadership that was associated with the transmission of the Twisted Gourd symbol, which was displayed in the context of Maya kingship by 300-150 BCE and displayed on mortuary pottery made at a Zuni priestly center up through  the 16th century (Smith et al., 1966). The most enduring elements of the Twisted Gourd symbol set that were derived from the original Twisted Gourd symbol were used by the Keres on 20th century pottery with revivalist designs that featured the interlocked “Chaco signature” and double-headed serpent bar. In other words, the idea that had endured in the American Southwest from Twisted Gourd symbolism was that a hereditary Snake-Antelope priesthood could connect the Above, Middle, and Below planes of the cosmos as an axis mundi and bring rain and the necessities of life to their people.

As Krober observed (1917:140), “… a single, precise scheme pervades the clan organization of all the Pueblos. It is almost as if one complete pattern had been stamped upon the social life of every community in the area.” What follows is a reconstruction of the cosmology of the ancestral Puebloans based for the most part on ethnographic reporting on the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi from the late 19th through the mid-20th century. As Stevenson observed among the Sia Keres, the men who knew the myths and the full creation story were old then but nevertheless represented the best hope of recovering what remained of ancestral knowledge and traditions that  was uncontaminated by the intervening Spanish and American intrusions.  What this material constitutes is an organization of ethnographic material from sources known to be important in the development of Puebloan culture which is related to the sacred directions as a cosmology. Leslie White (1962), for example, presented excellent documentation that related sacred directions to Sia social organization and the physical representation of a cosmology in the built environment of a puebloan community (ex. fig. 12, 1962). Frank Cushing did the same for the Zuni. Therefore the origin stories were woven together with the ethnographic and archaeological material in order to get at the underlying directional ideology and then solved for pattern according to which the world was thought to operate under the hereditary leadership of supernaturally endowed Horn and Snake clans. A general overview will be provided first, which is followed by a detailed examination with references of the most important elements of the axis mundi and how it’s cosmology was materialized in the sacred directions of ceremony.

The cosmology of the ancestral Puebloans was in essentials, and still is to traditionalists,  the same as for the Mexicanized Maya. A brief outline will suffice to explain how the horned Plumed Serpent of the CNP could be called upon by mother sea to get Heshanavaiya, an underworld  horned Plumed Serpent but nevertheless all-directions rainbow serpent, to breath life into the sun at the winter solstice to get it to move north upon request, while also sending snow and hail to the high places that would ensure a water supply for the new life to come. The ancestral Puebloan world was round and surrounded by oceans. “Under the earth is a system of covered waterways all connecting ultimately with the surrounding oceans. Springs and lakes, which are always regarded as sacred, are the openings to this system. …The underground waters are the home of   …the horned serpent. Within the earth are the four enclosed caves which the people occupied before coming out into this world—the four wombs of earth mother. The sky (a’po’yan-e, stone cover), solid in substance, rests upon the earth like an inverted bowl. The sun has two houses, in the earth and in the sky. In the morning he “comes out standing to his sacred place”; in the evening he “goes in to sit down at his other sacred place.” The sun also travels north and south, reaching his “left hand” (i. e., southernmost) sacred place at the winter solsticial rising. …[T]he sun is called “father,” the earth “mother”; and the people are believed to have originated within the earth in the fourth “womb.” …There was, however, a mythic age, “when the earth was soft,” during which things now impossible took place. During this time animals could become human, and humans could change into animals” (Bunzel, 1932d:487-488).

The legendary J.W. Powell, director of America’s new Bureau of Ethnology, credited Zuni ethnographer Frank Cushing with discovery of the cultural significance of the sacred directions in Puebloan ritual, which Cushing documented in the Zuni’s creation story (Cushing, 1896) and his monograph on Zuni fetishes (Cushing, 1894).  Now, with a century of acquired ethnographic and archaeological material since the work of the pioneer anthropologists, the six-point system of sacred directions can be recognized as a well known Mesoamerican cosmological model that was represented by Twisted Gourd symbolism as an ancestral Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram. Ancestral Puebloan ritual that had been preserved as the wisdom of the Stone Ancients contributed detail to the model that had previously been undocumented.

Frank Cushing detected two key paradigms of the ancestral Puebloan’s system of sacred directions that had been established by the Keres and disseminated under their instruction, the knowledge of which provided a framework for interpretation of the hierarchical scheme of sacred directions that when looked at schematically operated like spinning a top. Sky father (Above) was cold and Earth mother (Middle) was warm (Cushing, 1896:380), and the cold weather of the north was the pivotal point of renewal upon which life depended (Cushing, 1896:356, 368, 370). “[F]or the masterful, all conquering element, the first necessity of life itself, and to all activity, is the wind, the breath, and its cold, the latter overmastering, in winter all the other elements as well as all other existences save those especially adapted to it or potent in it, like those of the totems and gods and their children of the north” (Cushing, 1896:370).  Many archaeologists have noted the primacy of north in the Chacoan’s built environment, and we have the Keres’ creator deity Utsita, father of the Corn mother, at celestial North to explain why. The terrestrial mountain of the north from the Keres’ origin myth was Mt. Taylor, Kaweshtima (North Mountain; “place of snow” (Anonymous #6, 2007), which was the contact point that established the watershed between the celestial House of the North, which was the region of space around which the Big Dipper rotated, and earth. The Snake that connected the celestial House of the North, cardinal north at Mt. Taylor, and the nadir House of the South was the horned Plumed Serpent, wherein the horn was a sign of “spiritual power” of the watery element Tzitz (Bandelier, 1882:292), and the Tzitz hanutsh were the Water clans who embodied that power during ritual (Bandelier, 1918:28). Inspirited water was medicine and, among the Keres, Zuni, and the Kayenta clans that became the Hopi, the Water clans (rain-cloud people) whose patron was the spirit of Water, the horned Plumed Serpent, knew how to make different medicines that when animated by the language of the underworld, which was Keresan,  could summon the clouds, cure, or strengthen warriors. It was called Mystery medicine, and its preparation was the first phase of any ritual.  If you mixed snake feces with it one could see into the future and understand how to read the signs by seeing through the terrestrial water bodies (goggle-eyes) of the great Serpent.

Keres Spider society medicine priests knew the secret recipes of the six directions and mixed the medicine or initiated others who were authorized to do so. By definition and by supernatural endowment those priests who were wizards of the water were Snake masters whose patrons were Spider “Diviner” woman, Ancient of the Six Directions, and Heshanavaiya, Ancient of the Six Directions as the horned Plumed Serpent. Others were Spider society fire masters, an extensive topic that will be mentioned but briefly in this report. The Spider-Utsita (sky-earth) creator pair known to the Keres that established Keres speakers as the Centerplace of the axis mundi was known to the Zuni as Awonawilona, the breath of life, the Above and four-winds aspect of the great Serpent. The same idea of the breath of life is understood throughout Mesoamerica as the “teotl” of life, the idea that the creator of life was embodied in the wind and air of life as the wisdom of the Plumed Serpent. Awona refers to “roads” (Stevenson, 1904:88), and awilona refers to “them having, e.g., leader” (Parsons, 1920:97 fn 2). The idea of the sacred directions of water, sun, and wind creating the earth and then interacting with it is therefore built into the central concept of deity, and the keepers of the roads were its priests. “Spider” is said to be equivalent to Awonawilona, and in that relationship of “roads”  is the equivalence of the spider’s web with the spider positioned in the center of the web and the k’an-kin symbol, both of which were embodied in the idea of a living, sentient, wise, and moving Plumed Serpent, the indexical symbol for which was the quadripartite symbol.

The Snake chief of the underworld Antelope kiva among the Hopi knew the Below power of the great Serpent and  called it Heshanavaiya, who was the cause of warming the wind that was created by the rotation of the Big Dipper around the celestial House of the North. As sun-water constructs, the three were each in their own right a cosmogram, a kan-k’in symbol of inspired, radiant water that formed the N-S celestial axis mundi and the powers of the cardinal directions that intersected the axis mundi. They were a tri-partite Snake of a vertically organized triadic cosmos that as the axis mundi could be understood as a sentient water tree rooted in the warm, watery underworld whose canopy was the cold but well-lit Milky Way, which was the House of Clouds and a celestial rainbow.  However, it was the Above occupant(s) of the celestial House of the North that had pride of place as the Plumed Serpent of the northern circumpolar region (NCP) at the polestar in its role as the Four Winds of earth generated by the movement of the Big Dipper as it moved the sky vault, with which the Keres creator deity Utsita (“nothing lacking” basket of all seeds, lightning) was co-identified..

Long after the Chacoans had left the stage the Plumed Serpent finally could appear among the Hopi and Zuni as a big, roaring six-directional mechanical Snake puppets with rows of teats that could suckle the corn people like a mother (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 171). Among the Acoma-Laguna Keres and the Zuni, the image below of a celestial Serpent was at last, I believe, a picture of Awonawilona/Star of the Four Winds as the horned Plumed Serpent’s head in the Milky Way celestial House of the North (CNP). Although he was rarely if ever depicted as such, Katoya, the patron of the Keres Antelope clan and the later Snake clans, was described in the early literature as a two-headed horned rattlesnake called the Plumed Serpent of terrestrial North. The great cosmic Serpent as the Milky Way of Meso- and South American mythology was a bicephalic Snake and generally pictured as such in a two-headed  arch. This indicates that there was an underlying mythological context of the cosmic Snake that as the axis mundi acted across the triadic realms,  but what we see in the rare image of Puebloan art is the emphasis on one or two clan’s role in its seasonal work of their patron, also called Four Winds of Chi-pia (#2). Lightning (Utsita) and wind (Four Winds) as aspects of the Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North both appear as tools of the Plumed Serpent’s Venus avatar during the winter solstice ceremony and during the fertilizing lightning of the Horn-Flute ceremony. The fertilizing lightning of Heart of Sky/Utsita/Shotukinunwa who occupied the celestial House of the North could also become the destructive power of war (Stephen, 1936a:XLI; 1936b, 1080).

pottery mound plumed serpent with dual flint feathers

The Nature of Color: Blue, the Color of Sky (Air, Space) and Water
The Keres creator god,  the Sky Father called Awonawilona as Four Winds the Plumed Serpent with a fertilizing lightning aspect called Heart of Sky, was the celestial head of the axis mundi in the celestial House of the North that centered on the polestar, an ideological legacy of Chaco Canyon at Pottery Mound (LA416) on the Rio Puerco, NM, 1350-1500 CE, a Pueblo IV Acoma-Laguna Keres site (Ellis, 1969:166) just 40 years prior to first contact with Spanish conquistadors. Also incorporated into this rainbow (all-directions) image are the colors yellow (north), red (south), white (east), and black (Above, Below). The eagle feathers represent the breath of life from Four Winds, the Four Winds Plumed Serpent. The buccal pucker indicates the wind aspect of the Snake, while its zig-zag form indicates lightning. The horn represents the ancestral Mountain/cave wisdom of the cosmic Plumed Serpent. The Pottery Mound site is now managed by Isleta Pueblo.

This image is from a Keresan ceremonial center and clarifies the meaning of the name “Star of the Four Winds,” a quadripartite fetish suspended over Zuni medicine altars that anciently had its origin in another Keresan ceremonial center on the Potrero de Vacas, e..g., Chi-pia #2. The question was whether or not “Star” referred to the northern polestar (Four Winds) or to Venus, the avatar of the Plumed Serpent and warrior to the Sun which was associated in Puebloan mythology with the Hero/War Twins as the warriors. Here it clearly refers to Venus. The white star  (east) with the black face (night sky) and red fire triangle on its northern point reiterates the iconography of the celestial House of the North seen on the Zuni Galaxy altar (Stevenson, 1904:pl. CIV). It looks like there may once have been a checkerboard Milky Way band around this Snake’s neck, which was associated with Iatiku, the Corn mother, who was made by the lightning-struck blood-seed of her father, Utsita (CNP lightning of the axis mundi). If there is a meaning to the orientation of the horn as a “plume” it is obscure. Both a forward- and backward-recurved horn appear on the Snake puppets in the Hopi’s Plumed Serpent ceremony in February (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 169). Since the male Plumed Serpent called Palulukon, e.g., the Plumed Sun Serpent (Dowd, 2015:65, fn 2), could also become the nurturing mother (-kona), the orientation may signify the gender difference. The design of the black-and-white eagle plumes grouped like the array of feathers on a chief’s headdress suggests a conflation of the knife feathers of the mythical Eagle-man of the Above (Knife-wing, Kwataka) and the breath of life of Awonawilona as the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds (CNP), which was always symbolized by eagle plumes. The Eagle-mandawn  was a war bird as well as a teacher of the performing arts, such as sword swallowing and fire magic, which were associated with the powers of Mystery medicine made in the first light of the Morning Star, the avatar of Four Winds..

It is notable in the ethnographies across the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi how often snow and green grass were associated, as in “Through you shall come rain, snow, and green grass” (Stephen, 1929:38), where the “you” was the Snake chief of the Antelope kiva that was instituted by Heshanavaiya in the underworld. Hopi “workmen personating the Snow Katcina [wore] masks on which were depicted the heads of plumed serpents,” and “the plumed serpent was a mask covering the God of Cereals [germ god], whose form was that of a man” (Stevenson, 1898:37). These illustrate the fact that the Plumed Serpent was associated with both snow (celestial House of the North) and the germination of plants in warm weather (nadir House of the South. Sun Spring “was the home of the Walpi Plumed Snake” (Fewkes, 1894:115), which is the life-giving  sun-water construct. Light and water were conjoined in the underworld of the Ancient of the Six Directions Snake chief of the ancestral Antelope kiva, which is seen in Tiyo’s movement from surface water down through the darkness of the Snake kiva to the bright light and color of the Snake-Antelope kiva, “where everything was white and cheerful, and many men were squatted around a beautiful sand pon-ya ; their garments and feather plumes were bright and gayly [sic] colored” (Fewkes, 1894:111). The dualism of the Feathered (sky, sun as fire and light, wind) water Serpent was always materialized in the cosmology of the corn life-way and its ritual as a light-water construct, which was the fulfillment of the life-giving igneous-aquatic paradigm. We see the sun-water construct again at the celestial House of the North of the Big Dipper in the Zuni’s Galaxy altar (Stevenson, 1904:432, pl. CIV), the paternal origin of the Corn mother and hence the Corn and Dew maidens (Cushing 1896:393-394) that followed from her union with the supernatural Tiamunyi. Again, the Corn, Snake, and Flute maidens are all color-coded versions of the yellow (four earths down, nadir) Corn mother, who was seeded into the womb of the earth by her father, a lightning snake called Utsita (Stirling, 1942). She represented herself in the power of her father as an axis mundi in the symbol of the Broken Prayer stick (Stirling, 1942:pl. 13, fig. 2). The aspect of the horned Snake that sustained the life cycle of all the maidens of the Big Dipper was movement of the sky vault that circulated cold wind from the celestial House of the North through the nadir House of the South where the wind was warmed to quicken the germinating seed.  That’s why the Germ god of the nadir mentioned by Stevenson was masked as the Plumed Serpent. We generally see the horned Serpent in only one of its aspects at a time, but clearly it worked as a two-headed serpent where its “head” with its spirit-filled horn appeared in both the nadir South and celestial North as the axis mundi. The Big Dipper does not move out its celestial House and therefore the big Snake had to be the perceived movement of the Milky Way that passed the celestial House of the North as the ecliptic that in pan-Amerindian thought moved between the Above and Below realms of the Serpent, which was represented as a rainbow serpent by day and serial black-and-white bars by night, e.g., the checkerboard symbol. The night sky seen from earth was at once the day sky of the underworld as the sun passed through the nadir House of the South after its terrestrial sunset, e.g., the underworld’s sunset in the east was the visible world’s sunrise. The “great Snake bears clouds upon his head” (Stephen, 1929:39), e.g., Clouds materialized the Snake as Cloud-Serpents, and the Milky Way symbolized by the  black-and-white bar was viewed as “the house of the clouds” (Stevenson, 1904:432), the image of which is seen in the crystallized cosmology of the celestial House of the North as a god house and ‘place of beginnings’ on the Zuni’s Galaxy altar (ibid., pl. CIV).

With these findings the ancestral Puebloans were securely placed within the international cosmology of the amaru, the big rainbow Snake that as the Milky Way produced the Dew of Heaven, e.g., the Tzitz of water that was especially potent in mist, spray and cirrus clouds, through the igneous : aquatic paradigm. The fertile Dew maidens themselves, created from the light of the stars of the Big Dipper’s Corn maidens reflected on terrestrial water are, to my mind, the most evocative and the clearest narrative in all of pan-Amerindian literature of how the “blessed substance” called itz by the Maya (Freidel et al., 2001), sami by the South Americans, and “dew” by the ancestral Puebloans was created by the life-giving light-water construct whose ideogram was the rainbow snake.

Piecing Together the Evidence

There is no doubt that the ancestral Puebloans and their descendants shared an ideology of Centerplace and sacred directions in the context of a vertically triadic and horizontally quartered cosmos in which supernatural ancestors and animal nahuals played important roles (cf. Pepper, 1920; Stevenson, 1894, 1904Cushing, 1894; Fewkes, 1895b; 1898b; White, 1962; Taube, 2000). Although both Cushing and Fewkes were attentive to describing ritual events that were associated with sacred directions, and both suspected a Mesoamerican connection, neither took the next step of inquiry that would have identified the shared cosmogonic origin as a basis for comparison between corn cultures where Twisted Gourd symbolism took root and established the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram as an ideology of supernatural ancestral origin in a ruling elite. Although Keres folklore mentioned a World Tree and the Milky Way as a celestial river, no further ethnographic detail was pursued to identify the cosmic axis mundi and thereby the ruling family that embodied it. The real task then was to recover among the Puebloans the cosmology that created the sacred directions to be the geometric coordinates of an earth-in-the-making, and then link those creation events to the ideology of ancestral leadership and the actual person(s) or office  in whom that religious-political power was vested.

Twisted Gourd symbolism dominated the Chacoan visual program, and the classic form of the symbol appeared on two artifacts at Pueblo Bonito, a unique flute and a phallic male effigy. Among all the zoomorphic ceramic effigies found at Pueblo Bonito and as petroglyphic art, and of the rare zoomorphic creatures that decorated Chacoan pottery but dominated the important origin stories, the Chacoan’s concern with horned animals in relationship to the serpent makes an important statement about their cosmology and ideology of leadership.  Few of us have ever stopped to inquire into why horned animals like the deer, antelope, and mountain sheep had horns, but the ancestral Puebloans did.

The importance of the horn is foreshadowed in the Tiyo legend of the Hopi Snake-Antelope society, where their tutelary father was Heshanavaiya. He is a horned Plumed Serpent, Chief of Chiefs of the ancestral underworld Antelope kiva, which associates all of the power of the cosmic Serpent with a horned animal in the context of an underworld kiva that was the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud House of the nadir. Two of his daughters as Snake maidens found the Snake houses of the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute societies. He is described by the function of his underworld altar in his Snake-Antelope kiva as it is re-iterated in the altars of the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute ceremonies, which includes a crook cane and tcamahia (Fewkes, 1894). The actor called Tiyo who becomes Heshanavaiya through initiation, and as Heshanavaiya is called the first Tsamaiya– notice the –aiya “life-giving” as in “giving birth to” stem–does not endure as a man, but his altar and ritual items that embody his spirit and empowers his office do, powers that are inherited by his offspring through Snake woman, and that is what is seen in the large collection of crook canes in rooms 32 and 33 at Pueblo Bonito.

In terms of a cosmovision, the Tiyo legend confirms through Tiyo’s cosmic journey the vertically triadic and horizontally quartered nature of the Puebloan cosmos, which is reiterated in the nature of Heshanavaiya, a horned water serpent (antelope-snake) who is the Chief of the Chiefs of the six color-coded cardinal points. Furthermore, the climactic moment of the Snake-Antelope ceremony comes when the Tsamaiya invokes the Chiefs of the Directions at the same moment the conch (CNP) is blown to invoke the Cloud-Snakes of all the directions (Fewkes, 1894). In effect, the Tsamaiya medicine man was a supreme cloud-maker, which had both benign and dangerous implications. This dynamic ritual was the basis of cloud-making for rain or war depending on circumstances, whereby the four sacred mountains that had their liminal counterparts can be seen as cloud factories that belched cloud-serpent deliveries to those leaders who had a pure heart and mind and good supernatural connections. Cosmologically speaking, the dynamic moment in ritual as invocation was a tinkuy, the encounter between sky and earth that answered prayer. The Plumed (Feathered) Serpent has been called the singularly most important contribution Amerindian thought has made to religious-political cultural studies, but the Snake-Antelope ceremony of the ancestral Puebloans preserved in microcosm what that was, what it meant, and why it determined social status.

Of the four language groups that comprise the modern-day Pueblos, the Keres and Zuni Puebloans in particular have ethnographic ties supported by archaeological studies with the ancestral Puebloan communities at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. The Great House associated with the two Great Kivas built by the Zuni c. 992-1204 CE (Damp, 2009:80) as Chaco outliers of a Zuni-Keres alliance, even earlier evidence from the Whitewater site in northeastern Arizona (Allantown, dated to 844-1016 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991) where the macaw form of the Twisted Gourd symbol was found in the context of the Chaco lambdoid cranial modification (Roberts, 1930:pl. 29, pgs. 140, 154; see Cranial Modification), and the Zuni’s creation myth leave no doubt that the Keres and Zuni participated in the development of Chaco culture as key players. Did the Kayenta proto-Hopi? The evidence of the Tsamaiya ideological complex described later says they did as warriors empowered by the Keres medicine priest called the Tsamaiya, but few weapons of any kind were found at Pueblo Bonito. Therefore, their actual presence at Pueblo Bonito remains doubtful. And yet, the pan-Amerindian Plumed (Feathered, Horned) Serpent has been called the singularly most important contribution Amerindian thought has made to religious-political cultural studies, but the Snake-Antelope ceremony of the ancestral Puebloans preserved in microcosm what it was, what it meant, and how it defined the social status of elites who shared its bloodline.

The evidence is even more secure for the Keres. The Acoma Keres origin story that supports ethnographic reporting of their presence in the Durango and Cortez region of southwest Colorado where Puebloan culture originated, along with proof of their kinship ties with the community called Sacred Ridge at Ridges Basin in the Animas-La Plata district of southern Colorado such that the Keres alone were allowed to reclaim skeletal remains under federal NAGPRA regulations for the repatriation of culturally significant artifacts, places them as the thought leaders and culture bearers at the Basketmaker-to-Publoan transition. Evidence that the Keres had played a significant role in Puebloan development also comes from the fact that their language of the “underworld,” Utsita’s language spoken through Spider woman, is the language of ritual of modern Puebloans (Miller, 2007) in the ancestral clans who were associated with the Keres and said that the Keres were their older brothers, hence higher in status. Members of the Hopi Snake-Antelopes and the Zuni winter solstice ceremony, for example,  do not know the language or meaning of the medicine songs they sing (Fewkes, 1895b:127 ; Stevenson, 1904:125). That’s a significant finding for two reasons. First, in both cases the language unknown to the participants, Hopi and Zuni, respectively, was Keres. This suggests that the meaning of the words had not been lost through time and attrition so much as they had never been known in the first place; humans may not have known what the words meant, but ancestral powers would have known and this suggests that there once had been a shared ritual language known to an elite inner circle.

As elsewhere in South and Mesoamerica, ritual language was a secret that was closely guarded by high ranking theurgists who shared songs in a ritual language known only to insiders (see Green, Green, 2010:61 for a South American example). Among the Keres, only the highest ranking member of the pueblo was based on supernatural lineage, and that was the lifetime office of the hereditary Tiamunyi of the Antelope clan (White, 1962:82, 127). Keeping the circle of officers around him small was one means by which access to the secrets of ritual in the language of the underworld and Stone Ancients, where the prime examples were the songs for medicine water and warrior’s invocation to the Chief of the Chiefs of the Directions, was limited.

Whereas the Keres established the cosmological basis of authorized ritual and claimed as their own the supernaturals associated with the corn life-way, the Kayenta Uto-Aztecan speakers of southern Utah who became the Hopi perhaps more than any group preserved as a cultural legacy in legends and ritual the cult of the sacred warrior and the political role the Hero War Twins played in social organization and regional governance. Without the work of the embedded Hopi ethnographer Alexander Stephen, the Tsamaiya  complex that documented the tremendous authority of Keresan medicine priests very likely would never have come to light. He made it possible to see the implications of the Keres Spider society’s altar regarding the significance of the Stone Ancients and their ancient lightning celt called the tcamahia,, the medicine lightning stone of the ancestral priest called the Tsamaiya who received the first one from Heshanavaiya.

The Stone Ancients and Chi-pia Locations

Chi-pia locations were “mist-enshrouded” (liminal) sacred places and god houses at the NE, NW, SW, and SE positions of the rising and setting sun in relation to the location of the Center, which was Pueblo Bonito and Mt. Taylor. They’ll be discussed in detail later but are mentioned here because SE Chi-pia #2 at the Potrero de Vacas shrine of the Stone Lions near the modern-day Keres Pueblos fortunately was preserved with enough detail in archaeological and ethnographic reports to reconstruct its function. Chi-pias were sites where supernaturals could emerge from and then depart from this world. Keres Tsamaiya priests were located there, and to be initiated as a priest at that site was to be initiated by a supernatural. The Tsamaiya priests were the descendants of the Stone Ancients, and Stone Ancients loom large in ancestral Puebloan cosmology and the rituals that developed with stone fetishes that represented the animal doctors of a former world. They relate to the facts that the sky was perceived as a stone cover, hence magic “cloud stones” that dropped from the sky as rain might, and to the mythic age at the beginning of this, the fourth world, “when the world was soft.” That is when stone had life and could speak, and the descendants of those ancient animal doctors in human form were Keres medicine priests called the Tsamaiya (Chama-hiya, Chamahai) who possessed medicine stones as animal fetishes and special stones like flint knives and tcamahias that retained their supernatural powers of a past world.  During the night the sun of this fourth world sets in its House of the West and passed into the underworld and  through the House (Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud kiva) of Heshanavaiya, which brought the power of light and water into the potency of Mystery medicine that was made by the lineage of the Tsamaiya priest who embodied Heshanavaiya.

There are at least two different stories that described how Stone Ancients were formed. One was a fiery conflagration that burned the surface of the earth and was caused by the Hero War twins through the authority of the Sun father (Stevenson, 1904:432; Cushing, 1896:388) in order to harden the surface of the soft new earth and rid the earth of dangerous creatures. The fiery conflagration turned the creatures to stone early in the formation of ancestral Puebloan culture, and at the same time accounted for the fact of ritual stone fetishes and idols that preserved the genius of clan ancients, such as the shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas near the modern Keres Puebloes. Another story involved the hardening of the new earth by a Keres Spider medicine priest who used a lightning frame, a ceremonial item associated with the Hopi Agave society’s Plumed Serpent and the Horn-Flute lightning ceremony where the patron was also the Plumed Serpent, which is also seen at Chetro Ketl in Chaco Canyon. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle since Spider medicine priests are common to both stories. Although none of the three known sites of shrines of the Stone Lions have been and probably cannot be dated, they are related to a mythological act by the Hero War twins at the instigation of their Sun father (Cushing, 1896:388) and signify a mythological landscape that is strongly associated with Keres areas of occupation in southwestern Colorado and New Mexico. No other language group other than Acoma and Laguna Keresan is associated with the origin mythology of the Stone Ancients who, like Keresan itself (“language of the underworld”), points to recognition by and retention of supernatural authority from a former and yet still present “misty” world, access to which occurred at a Chi-pia site. It is worthwhile mentioning that no other ethnographic research base speaks to the purposes of having a secret ritual language so thoroughly as does that of the ancestral Puebloans, which points once again in support of the hypothesized ritual language of Zuyua, the trade in valuable ritual items among social elites, and the role of Quetzalcoatl priests who served those elites (Lopez Austin, Lopez-Lujan, 2000; Tedlock; 1996:362). As will be discussed in detail later, the “language of the underworld” would also have been the language of the all-encompassing Sky father (Cushing, 1896:379; Stirling, 1942:1) whose seeds  from the celestial House of the North (“House of Stars”) at the northern polestar of the axis mundi created the Corn mother and the corn life-way, including the six sacred Mountain/caves and trees. A cross-cultural comparison with the Incas of Peru, for example, would be an informative study in governance by the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud Center, both terrestrial and celestial, in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism for an interested student.

The Zuni Hle’wekwe (wood, fire) society, who spent a long period of time on the Potrero de Vacas, provides a second clue to the identity and purpose of the Stone Ancients. The great prize that they returned with to their people was the beast gods of the six directions and the “wisdom” snakes of the six directions, e.g. the animal doctors of the former world as living stone fetishes that empowered Mystery medicine. The potency of those stone animal fetishes came from Poshaiyanne, author of Mystery medicine, and his Po priests who were turned into the stone fetishes by the “Divine Ones” (the name of the War twins prior to the foundation of the Zuni Bow priests) when they emerged on the Potrero de Vacas. Ergo, the Stone Ancients include the animal doctors, lords of the sacred directions of a past world and available ceremonially in this world as stone wi’mi. No rain, war, or curing ritual proceeded without their assistance, which explains the authority of medicine chiefs like the Tsamaiya. As to Poshaiyanne’s identity, his birth, function, and apotheosis as Aldebaran is documented in the Zuni’s origin myth, where the Zuni equate him with the People of Dew who are their “elder brothers” (Cushing, 1896), and in a Sia Keres legend Poshaiyanne calls the Keres Tiamunyi his elder brother (Stevenson, 1894:65). This confirms that the People of Dew were Keres, the origin of Poshaiyanne was Keres, and the Zuni origin myth that documents their merger with the Keres is in fact integral to the Keres origin myth documented by Stirling (1942). Notably, in the Sia Keres legend, Poshaiyanne took all of the Tiamunyi’s “Houses,” e.g., all of his land, which may speak to a conflict wherein a younger brother, the Po priesthood whose tutelary deity was the Star (Venus) of the Four Winds Plumed Serpent, at some point overturned the Keres Tiamunyi. The lands were won through gambling, which in mythological terms meant a demonstration of the will and favor of the Hero War twins who were the patrons of gambling, the Tiamunyi, and through the male aspect of the Tiamunyi and the Awona ideological complex, Poshaiyanne.

We are told that the Tsamaiya Spider priests living near the Shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas in the “land of the Chama-hiya” (Tsamaiya) were the descendants of the Stone Ancients (Stephen, 1942:44; 1936a:675, 679, 707). It is clear that Stone Ancients were created by a fire early in the mythological emergence of humans on the terrestrial surface, but the mythology extends well beyond the stone fetishes of the beast gods and the fact that the Stone Lions embody the “all-sacred master” Poshaiyanne, the author of Mystery medicine (Cushing, 1896:381; Stevenson, 1904:432). Also killed in the great fire were the Corn maidens (Stevenson, 1904:57-58), which is to say that the great fire ended a mythological period when the ancestral Puebloans had personal contact with their deities. This is an exact parallel to the story in the Maya’s Popol vuh when tutelary deities were turned to stone by fire (the first sunrise) and were seen no more  except as stone idols and fetishes (Tedlock, 1996). This strongly suggests that references to the “Stone Ancients” (the Tsamaiya, e.g., Chamahai) claim an association with this “new beginning” under the dominion of the Hero War twins, who acted in concert with the Sun father to destroy life and establish the centrality of the beast gods in ritual among the survivors.

The shrine of the Stone Lions was also the second place of emergence of the ancestral culture hero Poshaiyanne, who authored Mystery medicine and was himself incarnated in the Stone Lions. If we take the Snakes as a model, which are supernaturals wearing snake skins like a costume (Fewkes, 1894; Stephen, 1929; Cushing, 1894), then all the animal doctors are disguised anthropomorphic supernaturals, just as Poshaiyanne is disguised as the stone pumas at the shrine and as stone pumas on the Snake altar and on Mystery medicine altars. The Tsamaiya was sanctioned by a Keres Spider society altar, which is described in the Acoma Keres origin story (Stirling, 1942) and by White (1943:309). Keres Mystery medicine was sanctioned (authorized, empowered) by the Star of Four Winds whose fetish hung over Mystery medicine altars. Going forward these will be referred to as the Tsamaiya (Heshanavaiya, nadir) and Awona (Four Winds, CNP) ideological complexes, respectively.  Both were Keres in origin, both related to the predatory beast gods of the Stone Ancients and the “glory hole” created by the rotation of the Big Dipper, both had magic stone fetishes, and both were related to the Hero War twins as the Stone Men with magic weapons. Together the two ideological complexes extended from a tri-partite Plumed Serpent (axis mundi), which was especially active in winter solstice ceremonies, and created ancestral Puebloan ritual culture related to war, curing, and cloud control. Venus appears for the last time as the Evening star before the winter solstice and appears after the winter solstice as the Morning star, a fact that was of great interest to the Keres, Hopi, and Zuni and hence of great interest in terms of reconstructing the ancestral Puebloan’s cosmology. One thing that is substantiated by the Tsamaiya and Awona ideological complexes is that ancestral Puebloan cosmology was unified and shared over a wide area in which Twisted Gourd symbolism dominated the visual program. The “Chaco signature” of a snake-cloud (CNP, Awona as the established sacred directions, celestial House of the North) interlocked with a snake-mountain (Nadir, Tsamaiya, Heart of Earth) by lightning that was derived from the Twisted Gourd symbol perfectly fits this Above-Below construct ideologically and creates a Keresan terrestrial Mountain/cave Centerplace with a strong claim to all-directions supernatural authority.

Keep in mind that the Shrine of the Stone Lions is Poshaiyanne’s emergence point #2 (possibly #3) and that he is incarnate in the Puma of the North and his priests are incarnate in the other directional animal fetishes. The first Tiyo story where the hero traveled down the Colorado and into Mexico indicated that Tiyo was the  scion of a Puma chief at Tokonabi (Fewkes, 1896), which multiple sources attest was a region dominated by Keres Pumas and Horns.  In a later version of the Tiyo story that is set in historical time, the hero travels up the Colorado river and acquires his snake maiden from Spider Woman at the headwaters (Stephen, 1929). Together they  journey with Spider woman to the Potrero de Vacas where the hero is initiated as the Snake chief of an Antelope kiva by a Tsamaiya priest, who says that he had been waiting for him. The latter is a trope that indicates the actor is a seer, and if we didn’t already know that the Tsamaiyas were snake masters we would know it then. But there is more to it. The mythic Tiyo from Tokonabi had puma blood by birth, and became the first Tsamaiya. In the second round of Snake stories by Stephen the region around Tokonabi is described by Spider woman as a Snake stronghold from which the Kayenta Hopi were driven off. Her two daughters were Snake maidens that were given to the Youth, just as Heshanavaiya gave his Snake maidens to Tiyo and his brother in the first Snake story.  In the first story where the Snake mysteries came from Mexico, Tiyo first visits the House of the Sun prior to his Snake initiation by Heshanavaiya, and in the second cycle the Youth (Tiyo) is first taken to the House of the Sun (Chi-pia #4) northwest of Tokonabi and then to Chi-pia #2 in the SE on the Potrero de Vacas where he is initiated as a Snake by a Tsamaiya (Heshanavaiya) medicine priest.  The very strong association among the Keres between Spider and Snake, as reflected in the creator pair Spider woman-Utsita, is reflected again here,  where the inference is that Spider-Utsita and Spider-Heshanavaiya are the same creator pair or are a complementary pair.  The first pair created the Corn mother and hence the Corn and Dew (water, flutes) maidens, and the second pair created the Snake mother of the Snake and Flute maidens. The supernatural Tiamunyi was the father of the maidens in the first pair. The Tsamaiya, the male aspect of the Tiamunyi, was the father in the second pair. These appear to be two versions of one story that relate to the identity and credentials of the Tiamunyi, and this evidence supports the idea that there was a form of dual governance early in the development of the ancestral Puebloan’s hierarchical culture.

Po priests and the Tsamaiya were under the authority of the Hero War twins as the male aspect of the Tiamunyi. The significance of this can be appreciated by recalling the Zuni origin story where it was said, “And of men and all creatures he [the Sun father] gave them [the Twins created from sunlight striking a foam-cap] the fathership and dominion, also as a man gives over the control of his work to the management of his hands” (Cushing, 1896:382). In other words, the male aspect of the Tiamunyi instituted under the dominion of the Hero War twins through the Tsamaiya complex gave him the power of infallible speech and supernatural powers over war and hunting that were sanctioned by the Sun itself. This may have been a layer of supernatural authority that was superimposed on an earlier form of governance wherein the Tiamunyi received his authority from the Corn mother. In an Acoma Keres folktale, “Masewi Abandons Iatiku,” the Corn mother, a god maker (Stirling, 1942), was unable to make it rain on her own after the Hero War twins, feeling unappreciated, withdrew their power from her and the people starved. After a long tale about how they were begged to return, with a promise of a pleasing gift they finally did and saved the day (White, 1932:150). The reframing of the Keres origin story suggests that during a period of drought a revised form of governance that emphasized the male traits of war and hunting was introduced by the Hero War twins, to which the Tiyo legend (Fewkes, 1894) and the Snake-
Antelope legends (Stephen, 1929) attest.

The Hero War twins were the grandsons of Spider woman and the sons of the sun, while the supernatural Tiamunyi (clan ancient) was the grandson of Spider woman. Therefore, when War captains and, later, the Zuni Bow priests, embodied the War twins as their patron as their initiation they were in effect embodying the lineage of Spider woman and the Tiamunyi. The Puma association noted in the first story infers that Tiyo’s father may have been a Puma medicine man, a Po priest who incarnated the puma of the north. The puma is the war chief of the Snake altar that required the Keres Tsamaiya to make the Tcamahia invocation, which is discussed later. This brings us full circle to a closer look at the Tsamaiya as a puma bloodline, a Spider society medicine priest who was descended from the Stone Ancients, as was Poshaiyanne. The multiple parallels  suggest that the lineage of Tsamaiyas were probably Po medicine war priests, and were sanctioned through the Spider society’s Tiamunyi (Tsamaiya) altar which is described in the Acoma Keres origin story (Stirling, 1942) and by White (1943:309).

While it is obvious that there are missing pieces of information that would help to connect-the-dots of these stories, what is clear is that the Snake was intertwined with the supernatural ancestry of the Corn mother and her husband, the supernatural Tiamunyi and ancestor to the human Tiamunyi, than what was at first apparent. The tri-partite axis mundi comprising the horned Plumed Serpent as Utsita/Four Winds, Katoya, and Heshanavaiya explains the Spider-Snake ancestry that runs through the Corn and Snake mother and the supernatural Tiamunyi’s dynasty of the Corn, Flute/Dew, and Snake maidens, but does not yet make it fully comprehensible. It was easier to think of the Corn and Snake mothers as separate families, but clearly because of the consistent Keres Snake-Antelope connection between them they are not. The two mothers are sisters related by blood and endowed through the Plumed Serpent as a father acting at the CNP (celestial House of the North) and nadir poles of the axis mundi but are distinguished between a generative function in the Corn mother’s lineage and a war function that can make it rain in the Snake mother’s lineage.

The main conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the Plumed Serpent as the Ancient of the Directions and father of the Corn and Snake mothers, was the overarching male deity of the Keres and by extension the Bonitians. Second, the Keres Spider society of medicine priests, whose patron was Spider woman, also the Ancient of the Directions and mother of the Corn and Snake mothers was, in effect, represented in the Spider society’s medicine bowl, which was the Centerpoint of the sacred directions on all altars and dominated the ritual life of the ancestral Puebloans. This was the Keres pantheon of the Stone Ancients that included the Hero War twins as the Stone Men, Heshanavaiya as nadir of the axis mundi, Rattlesnake as the center, and Utsita/Four Winds at the CNP from which the seeds of life were sown through the World Tree. Although tree iconography was generally lacking among the ancestral Puebloans except for the Gallina and the dogwood clan sign of the Zuni’s pekwin, the fact that the seeds of life from Utsita ended up in the Corn mother’s burden basket that she brought to the terrestrial surface from the underworld clearly suggests that they in fact had a concept of the Tree of Life as did all Mesoamericans who had adopted the corn life-way. The actors Tsamaiya and Poshaiyanne were connected through the puma, the animal lord of the directional beast gods and doctor of cardinal north, and acted on the terrestrial plane. The shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas was identified by Hopi informants as the land of the Tsamaiya, e.g., land of the Stone Ancients, and Zuni informants identified the same location as Chi-pia #2, a god house, Shipap, and SE House of the Sun for initiation into the order of Mystery medicine. The “great God” of Chi-pia emerged there, who was represented on the Zuni Galaxy altar as  Four Winds (polestar turns the sky vault with the Big Dipper) and the breath of life from the celestial House of the North. Like Four Winds, Paiyatamu, god of dew and dawn,  also had two aspects as frosty wind from celestial North and fire from the nadir, which we’ve already seen several times as the agency of the tri-partite Plumed Serpent acting in the three realms of the triadic cosmos, e.g., the Keres axis mundi.

It is important to point out that this axis mundi functions like the axis mundi embodied by  Mesoamerican rulers whose visual programs on pottery and architecture featured Twisted Gourd symbolism at sites known to be centers of veneration for the Plumed Serpent, such as Cholula, Mitla, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and El Tajin (see Twisted Gourd sites and Maya Connection). Never before, however, has detailed information been available like the ethnographic information provided by the ancestral Puebloans to understand how the World Tree functioned as an aspect of supernaturally endowed rulership.

Archaeological Dates that Help to Date the Ideology

The first two ideological constructs that were developed to reconstruct the Above-Below cosmology of the ancestral Puebloans included the color-coded sacred directions associated with the axis mundi and the Tsamaiya warrior’s complex that had applications in both rain and war rituals. Those constructs were framed by known dates that placed both ideas within the same time period as the rise of Pueblo Bonito as a central authority and its deoccupation by 1150 CE three centuries later. These included the assemblage of Twisted Gourd symbolism, miniature bows and arrows (ceremonial gifts to the Hero War twins), the crook canes, flutes, macaws, and the tcamahia in the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone c. 650-850 CE (Martin, et al., 1952:349Hough, 1914); the sub-floor burial of males #13 and #14 in room 33 of Pueblo Bonito that displayed much of that Pueblo-Mogollon assemblage, which took place between 781 and 873 CE (Kennett, Plog, et al, 2017); the appearance of Twisted Gourd and macaw symbolism at the Zuni Whitewater site in northeastern Arizona between 844-1016 CE (Allantown, Robinson, Cameron, 1991); the building of the Zuni Great house associated with the Great Kivas as Chaco outliers 992-1204 CE (Roberts, 1932; Damp, 2009:80), which had a sophisticated program of Twisted Gourd symbolism and the War twins hourglass symbol; the appearance of macaws at Pueblo Bonito 900-975 CE (Watson et al, 2015) in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism; the appearance of macaws c. 895–1020 CE in the Mimbres culture (ibid.) and Hero War twins iconography on Mimbres Mogollon pottery c. 1000 CE in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism; the dating of ruins  where tcamahias were found that include Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl 989-1117 CE, and Aztec ruin 1051-1135 CE, which dates the ideology of the Stone Ancients and the tsamaiya complex; the occupation of the Jemez mountains bordering the Calles Valdera by the Chaco-affiliated Gallina between 1000-1275 CE, the building of Gallina Snake-Antelope  towers by c. 1059 CE and their possession of Mystery medicine by c. 1190 CE (Ellis, 1988:40; Robinson, Cameron, 1991); and the discovery of nearly identical phallic male effigies displaying the classic Twisted Gourd symbol at both Pueblo Bonito and Mitchell Springs Great House at a site that was occupied 650-1240 CE in southwestern Colorado, a key ancestral Puebloan site for both the Keres and Gallina peoples. The Mitchell Springs effigy was dated c. 1000-1050 CE based on Cortancos pottery (transitional Cortez plus Mancos) typology, and the Bonito effigy to Red Mesa B/W 875-1050 CE based on a guess that it was Red Mesa ware like much of the early pottery in Chaco Canyon and at Pueblo Bonito. Finally, there was Wukoki (“Great House”), where the Tsamaiya complex was documented and the presence of a Tsamaiya medicine priest noted (Fewkes, 1894:117), and the building of Kookopnyama on Antelope mesa c. 1272 CE, a Laguna Keres enclave near Hopi First Mesa (Robinson, Cameron, 1991) after the Kookop clan’s sojourn in the land of the Keres Laguna Stone Ancients, which dates the introduction of the Snake-Antelope Tsamaiya complex among the early Hopituh. Taken together, it appears that Twisted Gourd symbolism as a dominant visual program was introduced on Red Mesa pottery at or near the time that the Tsamaiya complex, macaws, phallic ceramic effigies, and the Hero War twins were introduced into ancestral Puebloan culture.

Zuni Great Kivas-hourglass-Roberts fig 24
Ceremonial cup with the hourglass symbol of the Hero War twins, Zuni village of the Great Kivas c. 928-1204 CE (Roberts, 1932:fig. 24). This form of the hourglass symbol was also recovered from Wallace Pueblo 1040-1120 CE, a Chaco Great House near Cortez, Colorado, a site with tcamahias, jog-toed sandals, and an anthropomorphic phallic sky effigy with a Milky Way checkerboard cape (Bradley, 2010a).

Ancestral Supernaturals that Established the Sacred Directions of the Corn Life-way: The Sia and Acoma Keres Origin Stories

In an early attempt to put a growing stack of ethnographic reports on a between-pueblo comparative basis, Jesse Walter Fewkes, a Hopi specialist, set out to compare the information Mrs. Stevenson had published on the Sia Snake dance (Stevenson, 1894), who were located near the Rio Grande, with his own report on the Hopi’s Snake dance, the Keres version reputedly being the oldest surviving ritual among the Puebloans that pre-dated the introduction of the kachina cult (Fewkes, 1895b). He suspected that if he could filter out local detail in a comparison between the Hopi and Sia Snake dances that were separated by distance and language he would discover the aboriginal cosmology of the Puebloans. It was a reasonable idea. He collected information about the sacred directions and the associated deities, but he failed to inquire as to how sacred directions existed in time and space, and why. They weren’t abstract concepts to Puebloans. They were living laws of nature governed by the Plumed Serpent and Spider woman, both Ancients of the Six Directions who parented the Corn and Snake mothers.  In brief, it was hard for a white scientist at the turn of the 20th century to imagine that there was a relationship between religion, social order, and geometry, which embodied the people’s supernatural and physical relationship with the seasons. That relationship, defined as an ecocosmovision and a spiritual ecology in this report, constituted the Puebloan way of life. Ironically, although he was thwarted in his effort to make a meaningful comparison between the two ceremonies he does begin to see through to the aboriginal concepts he sought without seeming to realize it. He observes,  “The cultus of the world-quarter gods occupies a prominent place in Sia, as in other Pueblo myth and ritual. …These six direction supernaturals, whether god, warrior, [wo]man, animal, or tree are of early origin in Sia cosmogony, …and a similar conception is common to all the Pueblos and to many other peoples. …Why, it has been asked, is world-quarter worship so widely distributed among different people? No satisfactory answer has been given, but the theory that it is a direct outgrowth of sun worship at solstitial risings and settings is not more absurd than many suggestions that have been suggested” (Fewkes, 1895b:125, 127-128). It was much more than sun worship, but sun worship is not an entirely inaccurate way to describe a Centerplace ideology of leadership, the supernatural authority of which was based in the convergence of all the sacred directions in the centerplace of the axis mundi, which was embodied in the Tiamunyi and his wife, the Corn/Snake mother, and their progeny, the Corn, Snake and Flute/Dew maidens.

What he didn’t recognize in the facts at hand, e.g., the context of the corn life-way and the Snake dance as the oldest ritual and Keres as the oldest language in the Anasazi Puebloan sphere and the language of Snake ritual, is that for those facts to be true there had to have been a Keresan-speaking Snake woman to found the Snake cult, and Snake women were the daughters of Spider Woman and the supreme Heshanavaiya.  The Maya precedent is germane to that point. During the late Formative and early Classic periods the rise of men who had an ancestral right to rule served at the pleasure of their wives who supplied the fertile royal blood of dynasty and battle (source: “the royal Snake women who brought to Sak Nikte’ the Powers of Creation and War,” commentary on the Dallas Tablet at La Corona). The hieroglyphic commentary on the Corona (Sak Nikte, White Flower) stela was important because it preserved the fact that three women born to Calakmul Snake Lords, the preeminent dynasty among the Maya that was founded at El Mirador where the Twisted Gourd first appeared c. 300-150 BCE, were sent to Corona over time to marry Corona kings and extend the Snake dynasty over a larger territory. The great foundation myth of the Maya preserved as the Popol Vuh documents the unraveling of a Teotihuacan-influenced Mayan dynasty with a Feathered Serpent cult, e.g., the sovereign Plumed Serpent was the supreme creator,  over the fact that the bartered brides became too expensive (Tedlock, 1996:183-184; also see Mesoamerican Royal Marriages). What Pueblo Bonito had in common with all of these Mesoamerican cultures was the Twisted Gourd’s cosmology of sacred directions as the basis of an ideology of leadership and now the weight of evidence that says their overarching deity was the horned Plumed Serpent. The leadership traits that were associated with the Twisted Gourd’s ancestral Snake-Mountain/cave–Cloud symbolism from its entry into the Mesoamerican sphere centered on royal access to the cosmic Snake, and specifically a cloud or “vision” Plumed Serpent associated with the Milky Way, as the empowering agency of rulership. As we’ll see soon, the specific location in the sky was the celestial House of the North around which the Big Dipper rotated.

Laguna Keres ceremonials were largely degraded and governance had been Westernized by the time American ethnographers entered the field in the Four Corners region, and for that reason the tribe for the most part was overlooked. That is unfortunate due to the many references to the Laguna Keres and the Keresan ritual language relating to the Stone Ancients (Chama-hiya, Chamahai) in the land of the Tsamaiya, who are important actors when it comes to understanding how the sacred color-coded directions functioned. However, Parsons found that Laguna Keres ceremonialism corresponded “in general and in striking details with that of Sia as described by Stevenson, with that of Cochiti as described by Dumarest, and with the account at large of Bandelier” (Parsons, 1920:88).

The Sun led the pantheon of the Laguna, Sia, and Cochiti Keres, and the “Sun and Kopishtaiya,” where the kopishtaiya were the War twins, Morning star, deceased Bow priests, and the rainbow, cloud, and lightning beings of the cardinal directions, was the common refrain of prayer, but the Corn mother fetish called the iatiku resided at the heart of Keresan ceremonial life. At Laguna as elsewhere where rain and war were related at the winter solstice ceremony (the invocation to freeze an enemy works equally well to end the agricultural cycle and begin a new year), the iatiku was associated on an altar with a crook cane and the tcamahia, the magic stone fetish, which was dressed and anthropomorphized with paint much like the iatiku, except the phallic colors turquoise and yellow were used (Parsons, 1920:118; Bunzel, 1932c:1016 fn 2). The tcamahia belonged to the War chief, who wore the face paint of the Hero War twins who empowered warrior societies. The chief owned the Broken Prayer stick that gave him as the law-and-order branch of governance access to the World Tree of all sustenance (Parsons, 1920:118-119 fn 1).  Supernatural power and authority that balanced sustenance with sacrifice was vested in the Centerplace, the ideogram of which was the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud, e.g.,  the realities of the a triadic cosmos defined by its location in space suspended between the Above  and Below  in one powerful symbol that would bend to the Tiamunyi’s prayer assuming he sustained a “good heart.” What was a good heart? A heart filled with the pure light of the sacred directions that was the basis of ritual and the pleasing beauty of the rainbow which was the outcome of proper ceremony. The rainbow was the dew and the breath of life. Therefore, the paired corn-ear fetish and the tcamahia seen together on an altar at both Laguna and Hopi was the clue that indicated agriculture, curing, and war were integrally related and sustained by the mother-father role of the Tiamunyi. This makes sense, because the one stable element in the ancestral Puebloan’s dualistic cosmovision of sky and earth, male and female, and war and curing was the six color-coded sacred directions, with the Centerpoint, or Chief of the Chiefs of the Six,  inferred as the seventh direction. The Tiamunyi was the embodiment of the axis mundi and sacred directions by birth. The sacred directions and the prime objective of uniting Sky and Earth never changed, but wi’mi (secret ceremony) changed according to circumstances and seasons. But the content of rainbow ceremony was the domain of the Tiamunyi, and its conduct was under his authority through the Hero War twins.

One difficulty in comparing the Acoma Keres and Zuni creation stories is that both have a strong overlay of kachina material that has been inserted anachronistically into older stories, which then read as if the current situation has always been the case. On the other hand, this is a good thing, because mythology is generally an art of transcend-and-include, which means that the old ideas are still there in slightly new forms of dance drama and masks, which prove to be an affirmation of the old ideas about the nature of reality and the role of ancestors. The ritual core surrounding the corn life-way as fruitful fields that signified abundant rain and the normal sequence of seasons as the solstices did not change over time. The symbolism on several kachina masks and the actor it represented are the only survivals of the clan ancients of extinct clans like the Squash clan (Fewkes, 1903). In the case of the kachinas, this meant a change in ritual organization for half of the year that proved to be a renaissance of ancestral Puebloan culture in a post-Chaco world. Well into the 20th century the Acoma Keres Tiamunyi was still considered to be a god-like theocrat whose word was absolute law because his mind, heart, and breath were supernaturally endowed by his grandmother, Spider woman, and his War chief could still identify and kill witches under the supernatural authority of the Hero War twins, also the grandsons of Spider woman. The political and religious authority the Tiamunyi held was founded upon myth-based ideological constructs that sought to unite seen and unseen worlds and find the balance between them. The comparative study of this symbolic world is difficult and requires on-going refinement as new evidence comes to light that clarifies an ideological construct. This applies particularly to the nuanced mechanics of the supernaturals associated with color-coded sacred directions. On the other hand, the same can be said for the study of building technologies and material culture at excavated archaeological sites which is equally symbolic, and yet this approach to date has yielded little or no fruit concerning the ideological world of their builders.

We’ll begin with the subject of trees and mountains, because for the Keres the sun and moon were pre-existent but the surface of the earth was a tabula rasa for two supernatural sisters, with Iatiku alone becoming the Corn Mother, who emerged from the lowest level of the underworld (náyáawv́ni, womb of the earth) and into the light, where the Acoma Keres children of light would be born. For the Sia Keres the people emerged with the Corn mother and a male chosen to lead the people, e.g., their story was a subset of an established  cosmogony. The Acoma Keres went into great detail about their cosmogony, and of the surviving origin stories were the only ones to do so. Although the Acoma and Laguna Keres and the Acoma and Sia Keres had early, close, and intense ties that resulted in more similarities in their shared culture and ritual programs than differences (Goldfrank, 1964:681), this is a significant difference because the Acoma Keres were more interested in establishing the supernatural birth of their leader, the Tiamunyi, which strongly suggests that this branch of the Keres once held a central role in the governance of a wider Keres community for which they established the axis mundi through their own supernatural ancestry. The Hopi Snake-Antelope ceremony, which had its origin among the proto-Hopi at Tokonabi in southern Utah is an example of their widespread influence. The ceremony is  Keres in origin, but what is diagnostic is the fact that the axis mundi of the ceremony is the Keres axis mundi, which indicates that the Hopi, as they attest, bowed to Keresan authority as the younger brother.

The Acoma Keres story goes to great lengths to establish the Tiamunyi’s supernatural credentials as both an Antelope and a (rainbow) Snake. According to Puebloan cosmology and the Tiyo legend that rainbow serpent, Tiamunyi’s father, can be none other than Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions and patron deity of the Snake-Antelope society. The Acoma Keres axis mundi therefore extends celestial N to underworld nadir from Utsita, the Tiamuny’s maternal grandfather, to Heshanavaiya, his father. In the Tiyo variants Spider woman, Tiamunyi’s grandmother, is also referred to as the Ancient of the Directions. Tiamunyi’s maternal grandfather was Utsita, the supreme lightning god, Spider Woman’s consort, and the CNP of the Keres axis mundi of empowered rulership. The word for sun in Acoma Keres is usràatra (“sun, clock, watch,” Keres Language Project), and so the first task for the supernatural sisters Iatiku (Corn Mother) and Nautsiiti (mother of all plant foods except corn; mother of all people except the Keres) upon emergence and after learning how to feed themselves was to coordinate space with time  and orient themselves to their point of emergence. They did that by creating four sacred mountains and trees around their point of emergence. Then Iatiku came into her full powers and created the “Spirits of the Seasons,” which she positioned  at the cardinal points of the first four sacred mountains (Stirling, 1942:14) as the horizon markers for the path of the sun. In other words, it was the Acoma Keres who established the system of six sacred directions as a functional aspect of the Puebloan’s ecosystem, which at Pueblo Bonito was centered at Mt. Taylor, and placed the Tiamunyi of the Antelope clan at the Center (navel of the earth, Mt. Taylor) as the basis of their supernatural authority. As a sidenote, the Acoma Keres origin narrative that sketches out the sacred directions and the supernatural agencies of a divine corn mythology accomplishes precisely what the San Bartolo murals accomplished in the Maya’s Formative Period.

In the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica, which included the Olmec, Maya, Izapan, Mixtec, and Aztecs to name a few, depictions of world trees in their directional and central aspects described the fourfold nature of the axis mundi that connected the Above, Middle, and Below planes of the cosmos. The well known Tree of Life carved into Izapa Stela 5 c. 300 BCE-100 BCE and the five directional World Trees in the San Bartolo murals c. 300-100 BCE, both thought to illustrate creation myths, indicate that a widely shared cosmology of sacred directions connected to and extending from a cosmic World Tree Centerplace as a fundamental aspect of creation events was well established in the Formative period.

In the Acoma story the details of how the axis mundi was established are different from the Mesoamerican case but functionally the end result is the same. There was no recognizable tree in a visual program, with a possible exception discussed next, but like the Mesoamerican case the Acoma’s axis mundi was established between three foundational deities, which were three aspects of one plumed Serpent, that connected the Above, Middle, and Below and were associated with maize and lightning. The axis extending from celestial North to the womb of the earth in the nadir was key to establishing the sacred directions. Closely parallel to the Mesoamerican case of how Kawiil, patron deity  to Mayan kings, wielded a lightning ax that connected them to the axis mundi, the Acoma Keres’s axis mundi deity that empowered the Keresan ruler, the Tiamunyi, keeper of the roads, had a lightning ax called a tcamahiya. Although no one refers to Puebloan rulers as god-kings, in Acoma’s case the first Tiamunyi, the supernatural grandson of a supreme lightning deity and Spider Woman and son of the rainbow, was endowed with power by the same means and to the same extent. Surely it was the intent of the Acoma Keres origin story, which shows its Mesoamerican origin in so many details, to infer that. No doubt we possess only a small fraction of the pieces of a much bigger picture by which to begin to pull together a story of how the ancestral Puebloans viewed their world. But some pieces fall together in a way that is revealing, and that was the case during the search for the Acoma Keres ‘s world tree and axis mundi, which confirmed beyond doubt the agency of the Mesoamerican Plumed Serpent in its traditional roles.

What is important to keep in mind is the mythological construct of the Shipap, the Mountain/cave as the centerplace of the cosmos.  The Keres origin stories are brilliant in that a supreme lightning and by extension thunder deity plants his seed in the womb of the earth (Spider woman) as a blood clot, and from that seed arises Puebloan culture through the Corn mother. Although the topic of fire was too complex a subject to pursue in this report, it is still useful to note its importance in the symbolism of the red blood-clot. It is the seed of life from a Snake father, and so we can presume it is his blood, that is developing in a dark cave that formed from the misty void before the creation of the sun. The red color suggests that the potential of fire and light was inherent in the first seed, which eventually materialized in actual color-coded corn seeds, and it was planted in the south (red) relative to the father who was in the celestial House of the North  which foreshadowed the axis mundi of the Plumed (sky, sun) Serpent (earth, water). She returns to her birthplace four levels down under the Mountain of the North later in the story, a yellow world and the womb of the earth, which in retrospect allows us to know how the Mountain of the North  figured into Keres cosmology of the axis mundi.  Utsita existed four “skies” up and Iatiku “in the power of her father” existed four earths down. Although Iatiku’s imagery trains us to see her as an ear of corn, she is in fact the daughter of a Spider, whose symbol was the quadripartite symbol, and the lightning bolt aspect of a Snake from the celestial House of the North, which will be discussed in detail in the section on the Awona ideological complex. Between those light/sky and water/earth polarities existed her supernaturally endowed offspring in the middleplace. Iatiku’s name means “bring to life,” after her father who was called the father of life, and she and her sister in effect planted Puebloan culture as seed-thoughts from her father. Nautsiti (n’audiisi, to plant a thought, Keres Language Project), was a second aspect of the father. He was generative lightning combined with his thoughts (rumbling thunder) that could be planted in the womb of the new earth as a blood clot (Stirling, 1942:3), which resulted in corn agriculture that came with a set of instructions based on the nature of the Sky deity and his consort, e.g., the sacred directions and the axis mundi, a kan-k’in symbol.  The thought-blood-seeds planted manifested the result, e.g., his supernatural daughters in the context of the earthly, androgynous diviner, protector, and preserver Spider (see Brinton, 1881:616).  The sovereign power of the Plumed Serpent/Heart of Sky, which is what Utsita turned out to be in his co-identification with the Zuni’s Four Winds and the Hopi’s Shotukinunwa, in the context of an overarching  magical power of the creative thought of a supernatural Snake formed the nexus of supernatural power in both Mayan and Puebloan foundation myths. Creative thought as the rumbling of thunder and lightning was a language of “water talk” understood by Spider woman, and the spoken form of that underworld language was Keresan.

sia terraced medicine bowl-stevenson-sia war twins fig 52
Sia medicine (“wáawá”) bowl of the Koshairi society (White, 1962:fig. 52).  Of all ritual implements, the terraced medicine bowl with water and lightning symbols most closely reiterates the ideology of the heart of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism. According to a Laguna informant, “The [four] sacred mountains form a ‘basket’ containing Laguna Pueblo lands. When you are within the basket… the mountains are there to protect us (anon. #6:43).”

map of the world -white 1962 fig 12

Sia Cosmology: “Everything in the world above is arranged according to directions. There are six cardinal points: north, west, south, east, zenith, and nadir; sometimes a seventh, the “middle,” i.e., the middle of the earth and the whole cosmos, is included also. These points constitute a ritual circuit, in the order just given, which is followed in songs and rituals : one addresses the north first, then west, and so on. Each direction, or cardinal point, has a color and a mountain. And at each lives a weather spirit, a warrior, a woman with an appropriately colored face, an animal, a bird, a snake, and a tree” (White, 1962:fig. 12; cf. White, 1942, p. 83, for comparative data and more comprehensive treatment).

Co-located with the house of the Fire Society in the southeast is the mythical Mawakana Rainbow House/Cave, which is the name of the Sia Keres ceremonial chamber. The Flint-knife and Koshairi societies are the leading societies and their patron deities are the Hero Twins (White, 1962:234). The most important deity in Sia cosmology is “Prophesying Woman” (White, 1962:p. 113); differently spelled Tsichtinako, Tsityostinako, Tse-che-nako, Sussistanako, aka Thought Woman and, in secular settings, she is referred to symbolically as Old Spider Woman. “In the beginning were Tsityostinako and her daughters, Utctsiti and Naotsiti. There were clouds and fog (he-yac) everywhere. There were four worlds. The bottom world was Yellow. Above this was a Blue world. Above that was a Red world. And on top was the White world. Tsityostinako and her daughters were in the Yellow world” (ibid.:115). Prophesying Woman was the most important deity not because she was the most powerful but because as the speaker for the supreme male deity she was the wisest and most accessible deity.  Polling across Keresan pueblos a composite picture of this deity is as a man-woman arachnid-like being who whispers guidance into the ear of important supernaturals like her grandsons, the Hero Twins, whose father was the Sun. “She lives at Shipap in the Yellow world, …but she is everywhere, like God,” (ibid.:113). Spider Woman can’t be seen but she is the one “who put the idea into their heads” (White, 1962:p. 115). This supernatural being has a strong parallel with the grandmother of the Hero Twins in the Maya’s Book of Life, the Popol Vuh, where she is called the “Grandmother of Day, Grandmother of Light,” a diviner-daykeeper pair. Ethnographers and epigraphers have been confused about the gender of the latter just as they have been about the Puebloan’s Spider Woman. According to the Mayanist Dennis Tedlock, “…contemporary diviners (of either sex) are symbolically androgynous, female on the left side of the body and male on the right” (Tedlock, 1996:217). This is also the case for a Puebloan tiamunyi or cacique, who follows in the footsteps of the first god-man in the terrestrial world, the supernatural Tiamunyi (Stirling, 1942:13).  In Puebloan culture he is a male who dresses as a woman for his accession to office and thereafter is referred to as Mother/Father of his community.

In the above diagram and beginning in the North, useful spiritual beings were created in the underworld prior to emergence. Since animals were regarded as the first doctors, anthropomorphized animal powers became the first supernatural patrons of the Keres’ curing, rain, and hunting societies. Caiyaik, a mountain lion man who was conjured 10th, is the patron spirit of the Hunters’ society and lives in Cloud-robe House between the place of emergence [often called a sipapu; shipapu technically refers to the fourth or yellow level of the underworld, not the celestial-terrestrial interface where emergence occurred known as Gauwatsaicoma] at the edge of the world and the White House, “the place in all Keresan origin myths where the people lived after their emergence and where they obtained most of their institutions and other cultural items. In the northwest corner live the spirits of the dead: “Any spirit is maiyanyi. Maiyanyi is that which makes a plant grow or an animal live. … A person becomes a maiyanyi after death” (White, 1962:p. 113); the terraced bowl used on the Snake-Antelope altar to make the mystery medicine is referred to as a “ghost” bowl, because it is the infusion of the spirits of color-coded directional plants, birds, and the beast gods, etc., that create the secret recipes of Mystery medicine water. The modern pueblo of Sia is located in the center of the Earth, as are all Keresan pueblos, including Zuni (White, 1962:p. 112) and Hopi. In the southwest corner is the westerly White House where Spider lives in the form of a woman as the head of the Kapina society that initiated war chiefs. Spider woman was the founder of the Kapina society (Stevenson, 1894:26, 39-40, 69).

Also six-directional in the Sia Keres cosmology were six mountains (Stevenson, 1894:77), the North, West, South, East, Above, Below, which were occupied by the Hero Twins and six directional warriors called the Tcamahia. Four terrestrial mountains were co-located with the Spirits of the Seasons at the cardinal directions, while the Above and Below mountains clearly suggest a celestial N-S axis that extends through a centerpoint.  All of the categories of the directional supernaturals are associated with the directional mountains. Each of the six world trees, for example, exist at the summit of its corresponding directional mountain (ibid., 28); at the center of each mountain is a clear spring of water and associated with each mountain is a Cloud ruler.

These supernatural powers of the directions correspond in kind to Sia’s social organization, e.g.,  directional healing and rain societies that answer to the Spider through her daughter Iatiku. Therefore, the nature powers of the directions are invoked by the appropriate society to do the will of the creator (Stevenson, 1894: 69-73). For example, all snakes of the world answer to the liminal Chief of the Snakes, the liminal realm being referred to by Frank Cushing as “the ancient sacred place of the spaces,” who is invoked by the appropriate Sia Snake chief acting as the agent of Iatiku and the androgynous Spider. In this way all created things are interconnected in a web that is operationalized through a chain of command that serves the interests of the Centerplace where balance is maintained between the Seasonal Spirits. Even corn was brought into the six-directional system so that one of the most important aspects of their cosmology, the integrated themes of the Corn Mother and Mountain of Sustenance, was expressed in daily life: “These primitive agriculturists have observed the greatest care in developing color in corn and beans to harmonize with the six regions — yellow for the North, blue for the West, red for the South, white for the East, variegated [ed.: rainbow] for the Zenith, and black for the Nadir” (Stevenson, 1904:350).


ML015471 Cupisnique, Peru, terraced bowl c. 800-200 BCE. The terraced bowl represents the four sacred mountains of the cardinal directions and was known in South and Mesoamerica from the Formative period and later among the Puebloans of the northern region of the American Southwest. As observed by ethnographer Zelia Nuttall in reference to the ways in which the four sacred mountains of the cardinal directions are represented in pyramidal architecture, ceramics, and symbolic ornamentation, “I venture to maintain that this remarkable edifice [House of Doves at Uxmal] not only afforded facilities for astronomical observation but constituted in itself a great prayer for rain wrought in stone and addressed to the Lord of Heaven by a devout people. In corroboration of this inference, besides the foregoing data, I point out that to this day the Pueblo Indians associate the step pyramid form with beneficent rain and even give this shape to the edges of the sacred bowls which are carried in the ceremonial dances by the ‘ rain-makers.’ According to Mr. Cushing the Zuni’s compare the rim of such bowls to the line of the ‘ horizon, terraced with mountains, whence rise the clouds.’ He was likewise informed that the terrace form represents ‘the ancient sacred place of the spaces,’ an expression which, though somewhat vague, seems to corroborate my view of the Uxmal building. The Zuni statement that the terrace form figured mountains leads to the subject of so-called ‘ mountain worship.’ In ancient Mexico, at the approach of the rainy season, religious ceremonies are performed in honor of the mountains which were looked upon as active agents in the production of rain, because they attracted and gathered the clouds around their summits. The tops of mountains were thus regarded as the sacred place where the sky and heaven met and produced the showers which vivified the earth. Pilgrimages and offerings to mountain summits formed a part of the duties of the Mexican priesthood, but in the cities the pyramid temple served as a convenient substitute for the mountain” (Nuttall, 1901:131-132).

In the Acoma version, Spider woman grew the seed of a supreme male deity by the name of Ūch’tsiti. The seed had been nestled in a clot of his blood deep in the womb of the earth and was his daughter Iatiku (Sterling, 1942:3); blood (red), water (blue), and lightning (yellow, white) was the recipe for rainbow life.  That establishes the first theme of the origin story which was the power to “bring to life” by thinking and verbalizing, i.e., by fiat, the trait bestowed on Keres rulers by Iatuki who had created everything with her word because she was “made in the image of Uchtsiti” and her word was “as powerful as his word” (Stirling, 1942:5); “the word” and color were correlated. It was also to Uchtsiti that she gave thanks for making everything possible (ibid., 10).  Iatiku was told, “You will never see your father, he lives four skies above, and has made you to live in this world” (Stirling, 1942:5). Uchtsiti, then, was the supreme deity behind the scenes for whom Spider was the speaker to his daughter Iatiku, his agent who learned the language of Spider. After invoking the four sacred mountains to appear at the cardinal points, beginning with “Kaweshtima kot” (North Mountain) so that the Keres would always know where Iatiku could be found, Iatiku and her sister Nautsiti created the Keres’ material culture and landscape. Nautsiti then introduced evil into the world through disobedience to Uchtsiti by being impregnated by a rainbow serpent and bearing twins. The sister and one of the male twins drop out of the story with that act, and Iatiku carries the dualistic origin story forward by adopting the second male twin who became her husband, Tiamunyi. This type of intra-family marriage alliance was well known among the Maya as discussed in the Maya Connection section where an aunt-nephew marriage was associated with transmitting the right to wear the Twisted Gourd symbol within a dynastic lineage

A serpent that escaped from the seed basket unobserved (beyond the sisters’ control) tempted Iatiku’s sister, Nautsiti, into an encounter with the rainbow serpent, which introduced a spirit of evil into the world presumably through her act of disobedience (Stirling, 1942:11-13). The serpent’s name was Pishuni, pronounced pịshv́vná, which refers the color purple or pink in the Keres language. Not only are purple and pink outside of the color range of the yellow-blue-red-white the sisters had been working with, but the serpent rainbow motif introduces the first mention of the rainbow and snakes in the Acoma’s story. To add to the mystery of the power of colors, “The Antelope people paint themselves pink all over their bodies; their faces are painted with ya‘katca (reddish brown) and with stcamu·n (black, sparkling) put on over the red under their eyes. The house of the Antelope clan (or cacique’s house) at Acoma is pink, too” (Stirling, 1942:72, note 65 ). The baffling idea that a religion of rainbow medicine is associated with a rainbow that introduces evil into the world (sin, disease, both related to improper ritual and bad behavior) may be explained by an idea that runs through the Puebloan worldview: the disease sender was also the diseases curer (Stephen, 1936a:83). It’s a curious balancing act that may also explain the fact that the Acoma Antelope clan stands alone in its status and authority by holding the middleplace, and their special color is pink, a balance of white (east, cool dawn, rising sun) and hot red (south; war paint, Stephen, 1936a:583). The idea of restoring balance or being the ones who could achieve balance is reflected in other ways as well, such as the magical staff (yapi) that braces the quiver of the War Twins and gives them strength that also could be used to bring to life those they had killed (Stirling, 1942:97). The other side of the coin was the idea that the evil spirit (Pishuni) was introduced into the world as yet another empowerment of the Tiamunyi, which is  is supported by text later in the origin story (Stirling, 1942: 83) wherein it was the Hero/War Twins who had to be punished and humiliated for wrongdoing (wanton killing, abuse of authority, ibid., 84, 86). Part of the solution to restoring balance was to institute the scalp dance, a ritual that placed murder in the realm of governance by properly honoring the spirits of the dead and giving them a respected role in the community in a way that made it possible for the warrior to maintain his honor and be called manly (ibid., 85, 89, 90). 

Another idea to consider, however, is that the “evil spirit”  and the power to overcome it pointed to an even more profound inference of “improper ritual.”  “The image [Pishuni] came to life itself, and with power of its own. It came to life in the form of a serpent…” (Stirling, 1942:11). On the one hand, the idea that a horned water serpent that occupied streams and springs was animated by the same wild spirit that animated the phallic flute player of petroglyphic art and could impregnate an unsuspecting female is an important theme of Puebloan folklore. On the other hand, there is Pishuni’s “otherness.” He was not part of the established pantheon of the corn life-way. He impregnated the Corn mother’s older sister who became the mother of all other people outside of the Keres and all other foodstuffs other than corn, the Seed of seeds. He became the supernatural prototype of male leadership and authority as the husband of the Corn mother. In other words, his “otherness” through his father in the context of his strong supernatural ties to the axis mundi of the corn life-way through his grandfather made him the cure of improper ritual. The implication is that all other people who were not born into or did not willingly adopt the corn life-way, e.g., proper ritual, were evil and, worse, potentially witches. The agency through which these cures were effected and the properly constituted water of the medicine bowl protected was the Hero War twins.

As a sidenote, this and other stories like it suggest that the transition to the kachina religion required that the Hero/War Twins be publically subdued and made to confess to wrongdoing as preserved in the people’s stories (myth), which suggests that the Hero/War Twins had been part of a previous regime that had been rejected, which points to the Chacoans. Part of that transition was the seamless way in which the kachinas were made the Cloud deities (ibid., 80, 57), which previously had been under the authority of Heshanavaiya (Ancient of the Six Points) and the Hero/War Twins. While evidence-based reasoning does not rise to the level of fact, the Acoma Keres origin story tells of a Tiamunyi who was born to wield supreme supernatural authority through the sovereign Plumed Serpent (his father was the rainbow serpent Pishuni, grandfather was Heshanavaiya/Four Winds) but who came to share that authority with the kachinas (although he had the last word) after the kachinas had killed the ranking fire priest who had established the Corn mother’s fire altars that empowered ritual and authority (ibid., 76). 

We know that these mytho-historical events took place beginning around 1054 CE and developed through 1550 CE because of Chupadero B/w and Glaze A pottery at Pueblo de las Humanas at Gran Quivira (Hayes, et al., 1981). Chupadero B/w represented the apex under which the design traditions of Reserve, Tularosa, Red Mesa, Puerco, Cebolleta, and Mimbres Black-on-white styles coalesced. Recall that Red Mesa was prominent at Pueblo Bonito, and Puerco was known to be associated with the Acoma/Laguna Keres. Glaze A in the chronological sequence of Rio Grande Glaze Ware dated to 1315-1425 CE, but there was an earlier and unprecedented type of glazed pottery on the Pajarito Plateau around Tyuoni (Kidder, 1915). In the Acoma Keres origin story, the Keres migrated south out of southwestern Colorado, first to White House (thought to be Chaco Canyon or Aztec, Hunt, 2015) where famine forced them to move (Stirling, 1942: 47), Tule lake in Catron county just north of the Valley of Fire (ibid. 75, see map), which was a territory where Mogollon and Pueblo cultures overlapped probably due to the mutual use of Zuni Salt lake in the region; to Tyuonyi in Frijoles canyon on the Pajarito plateau, which was the land of the Stone Ancients (Tsamaiya ideological complex/Kapina fire priest/snake masters, People of Dew/Po priest)–Tyuonyi included a great community house, three small pueblos, pit houses, and numerous “small-house ruins” on the adjacent  mesas, which would include the Gallina (Hewett, 1909b: 671; Douglass, 1917a); and finally to Acoma (Hakko) near the Rio Grande as “the chosen people” where they restored their altars and ceremonies and are currently located (ibid., 90).

There are notable parallels between Tyuonyi and Pueblo de las Humanas (Gran Quivera)– both displayed Twisted Gourd symbolism as the dominant visual program, built circular subterranean pit houses, and had remarkably similar (and rare) circular pueblos as antecedents to rectangular structures (Hayes, et al., 1891: 1)– and between Pueblo de las Humanas and the Gallina who lived not far from Tyuonyi– the Chacoan lambdoid cranial modification, tri-notched ax, and a distinct variant of the Chaco signature that the Gallina and the Jornada Mogollon shared.

In light of the evidence for the notable role the Acoma Keres played in establishing the corn life-way as the authoritative agency for the rain, war and healing rituals of Zuni and Hopi ancestral Puebloans (the Acoma Keres leadership claims to have been born first and “of the gods,” and therefore they were the “older brothers” of the Hopi and Zuni), this changing of the guard just after the depopulation of Chaco Canyon requires serious scrutiny that could establish as fact that the Keres (possibly with a Piro and/or Jornada Mogollon connection) were Bonitians who had scattered to the four winds under duress, likely taking the Quetzalcoatl cult of dynasty with them north to Aztec pueblo and south to Tyuonyi, Gran Quivira, Salado, and Paquime, all places where Twisted Gourd symbolism and images of the horned Plumed Serpent took root again. Alternatively, the Acoma Keres may simply have left Pueblo Bonito during a long drought reestablished the ceremonial cult on the Pajarito plateau at Tyuonyi, and the population from the San Juan Basin and Mesa Verde followed the queen bee. This might explain why Keres Puebloans still make pilgrimages to Chaco Canyon to worship, as noted by Dr. Ellis.

That said, however, the cultural relationships between the Keres, the Piros of Humanas (“Jumanos”) Pueblo, and the Jornada Mogollons remain to be worked out. There are a few facts that suggest the Chacoans had long-standing and influential ties with these ethnic groups living in a cultural area that extended southeast of them from Albuquerque to northern Mexico, which included 1) in the post-Chaco world the Salinas pueblos became “thoroughly Anasazi”  by the 12th century (see map 2, Hayes, et al., 1981: 6, 12); 2) the pottery tradition of the Anasazi was clearly materialized in the Salinas Province during the 11th century CE by Chupadero B/w (ibid, 12);  and 3) “The first architectural phase of the Gran Quivira area was that of the pithouse, which showed up around A.D. 800. The pithouse occupations were characterized by a high percentage of Jornada Brown ware, but there was also some affiliation with the Anasazi peoples at this time, for some Lino Gray sherds were associated. The Chupadero Black-on-white pottery horizon probably began during the end of this phase” (Caperton, 1981: 10). 

For now, begin to notice in the above cosmogram and throughout this report references to the rainbow. Rainbow is a resolution of complements in the igneous : water paradigm and the sky-earth complement that undergirds much of Puebloan symbolism. Rainbow is a term that applies to the centerplace where all the color-coded paths (spirits) come together in the medicine bowl of a kiva’s altar, where the kiva is the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud that sustains the relationship between water and fire. In the above diagram, “Also in the southeast is a tunnel, or cave, called Mawakana (no English equivalent); the ceremonial chamber of the Fire society is called mawakana GacDiyats (rainbow) Kai (house)” (White, 1962:113). In the Keres Snake-Antelope ceremony preserved by the Hopi at First Mesa, the Antelope medicine chief is called “(makwanta) or Chama’hiya” (Stephen, 1936a:707), which confirms that the Chamahai living on the Potrero de Vacas at the Shrine of the Stone Lions were rainbow medicine priests of the Spider society’s altar. An initiate representing the supernatural Tiamunyi was named the Tcama-iya with power over the spirit warriors of the six directions. This  also explains the association of a wood clan (Kookops, tutelary deity Maasaw the fire god) with the initiation ceremony that took place there (Stephen, 1929:45), because the rainbow state was created in the mist of water and fire under the patronage of the lord of all prey animals, Mountain Lion.


Mt Taylor-emergence

When the Keres say that Iatiku’s Shipap was the Mountain of the North, Mt. Taylor, “where she could always be found,” they were referring to Pueblo Bonito’s front yard. Pueblo Bonito is the centerpoint of the Anasazi Puebloan territory shown as the shaded area in the map inset (detail from Sofaer, 1997:fig.9.1). The seven Keres-speaking pueblos are now grouped to the southeast along the Rio Grande roughly 100 mi. from Chaco Canyon, and Mt. Taylor is north of them. Pueblo Bonito was precisely oriented along a N-S axis aimed at the polestar. As all mariner’s know, if you know where due north is one can work out all the others directions regardless of whether it is night or day. In light of their ability to locate cardinal north with precision it does not seem logical that Bonitians would have referred to Mt. Taylor as North mountain since it was SW of them. Rather, I believe “North mountain” referred to sacred directions and the axis mundi, where Mt. Taylor was the mirror of the celestial House of the North.  “They had already learned while underground the direction nŭk’ŭmi (down) and later, when they asked where their father was, they were told tyunami (four skies above) (Stirling, 1942:3). A later portion of text describes the north as the all-directions terrestrial access point, and combined with the fact of the “left side” (underworld, female) suggests that the ritual invocation of the sacred directions to connect the realms was made from an interior position within Iatiku’s ancestral Shipap, e.g., the intent was to access the timeless cosmological constant of liminal space regardless of one’s particular location at a particular moment in time. Mayan ritual was also sinistral (Bolles, 2003: texts 6 & 8).

In terms of cultural landscape, the Mountain of the North from the Keres’ origin myth is Mt. Taylor, Kaweshtima (Kawe’sh’dyema, North Mountain; “place of snow;” ka’-wish-ti-ma, the spring of the North, Stevenson, 1894:128), where Shakak the Spirit of Winter (Spruce of the North) now lives (Anonymous #6, 2007); the ceremonial circuit of life always begins in the North and moves West, South, and East. In Acoma folklore Shakak battled with the Spirit of Summer from the South Mountain to establish the two complementary seasons (ibid.). From the above diagram, the supernatural locus of power or axis mundi prior to emergence and the establishment of additional layers of order included Spider woman as the agent of an unseen male lightning power; Spider woman’s two daughters, of which Iatiku/Ut’set was significant as the Mother of the Keres people; and the birth of the Tiamunyi, Iatiku’s husband, and the creation of the iariko, the corn-ear fetish of the Flint society that embodied Iatiku’s supernatural power (see White, 1962:table 28 for those to whom supernatural power was distributed through the iariko). Notice that the southern hemisphere of the Sia world is Spider in the SW and Fire in the SE; a supernatural rainbow cave existed in the underworld beneath Fire.

Details of Iatiku’s Fire and Sand Altars (Stirling, 1942:pl. 8-2, pl. 10-2): “Fire society altar. The frame (green), ichini, is the house of everything [emphasis mine] on the altar; on right end, Masewi (face yellow; hair black; three feathers white; body brown and black; diagonal twisted rope white); on left end, Oyoyewi (face blue, otherwise coloring same as Masewi) [Hero War twins]; the arc (buff) is the Milky Way; over it the middle figure is Iatiku (yellow face, 3-lobed tan headdress, feathers white); on each side Kuishanako, Blue women (blue faces; forehead white with curved black stripe; headdresses, green triangle in stepped black design topped with white feather); the next two are Kuganinako, Red women (red faces; headdress, orange triangle surmounted by green ball; black petals on either side suggest fleur-de-lis; feathers, white); the two end ones (tall) are Kochininako, Yellow women (faces tan, body and headdress green, feather white). (These women are the mothers of the first-born girls, clan mothers, the first to be born after Iatiku.) The feathers (white, black-tipped) from the horizontal bar represent rain; under the Clouds (white, rims red fringed with black, feathers white) the lines and the suspended feathers (white, black-tipped) also represent rain; at each end, lightning (red); the five corn fetishes at the bottom are honani (Iatiku) (see footnote 80 p. 31); in front, the medicine bowl (white with tan design; inside white with yellow border); on each side, left paws of bears (black) and stone points (gray, brown) used for killing; in front, stone fetishes (black, gray, brown) of Bear, Lion, Wolf. etc.”

Note that the color-coded females of the four cardinal directions, two on each side of the Corn mother, are the daughters of the Corn mother (earth) and Tiamunyi, her husband (sky). The Dew maidens that we first hear about in the Zuni origin story (Cushing, 1896) are reflections of the Corn maidens as the seven stars of the Big Dipper on water, which is the integration of sky with earth and represented a fertilizing power. In Keres folklore the female protagonist is nearly always Yellow woman who is co-identified with Iatiku, which sustains the primacy of the North in storytelling.

What is glossed in the informant’s description of this altar are the stone fetishes, which are the Beast Gods of the six directions (Lion of the North, Bear, west; Wildcat or Badger, South; Wolf, East; Eagle, Above; Shrew, Below) and the “wisdom” snakes of the six directions, e.g., the animal doctors of the former world in their context (wisdom snakes) as living stone fetishes that empowered the medicine bowl. The supernatural animal powers of the six directions were necessary for any successful act of curing, hunting, or war. Beast god also refers to the idea that a divine personage became the eagle (or cougar, bear, shrew or white wolf) to increase the sensory or physical powers of the medicine priests. The yellow lion of the north sustains the primacy of the North in Snake-Antelope ceremonies and in Mystery medicine ceremonies wherein the author of Mystery medicine called Poshaiyanne is incarnated in the stone lion fetish. Why was the North yellow? “North is designated as yellow with the Zunis, because the light at morning and evening in winter time is yellow, as also is the auroral light” (Cushing, 1896:369). Why does North have primacy? If you look at the terrestrial plane as a quincunx, the sunrise moves annually from southeast (winter solstice) to northeast (summer solstice) along the eastern border, and the December solstice when the sun was in the southeast was the middleplace of time. It is the winter solstice upon which everything hinges as the death of plants in the preceding autumn are restored to new life in the spring. The celestial House of the North was the source of hail, snow, and new soil for fields, and the cold wind of the celestial North hence cardinal north that delivered that freezing weather system, the seeds of which were retained by the Zuni Hle’weke (wood) society  (Cushing, 1896:371, 380). The wind from cardinal south was warm because of the perpetual Summerland (Cushing, 1896:442) of the House of the South in the underworld, and therein lived Heshanavaiya of the nadir called Ancient of the Six Directions: “I cause the rainclouds to come and go, and the ripening winds to blow…” (Fewkes, 1896:111). “Thus the north is the place of wind, breath, or air, the west of water, the south of fire, and the east of earth or the seeds of earth; correspondingly, the north is of course the place of winter or its origin, the west of spring, the south of summer, and the east of autumn” (Cushing, 1896:370). The Corn and Dew maidens as corn and water represented human flesh, and rainbow corn kernels as the seventh direction at Alkaid in the Big Dipper represented the flesh of all the regions, meaning the people who lived in the four quarters of the Zuni’s world whose bodies were equated with corn (Cushing, 1896:395, 397). The Chacoan world was quartered as well, the chief piece of evidence being the primacy of North in the Bonitian’s cosmology and the quadripartite panel on the plaza of Pueblo Bonito. Because the ancestral Puebloans ate color-coded corn and shared a community of thought about its rituals and cosmology they were one people comprised by four quadrants, and according to the reason and the season “one or another of the clan groups of one or another of the regions will take precedence for the time” (Cushing, 1896:370).

The move to establish the primacy of the North can be tentatively dated to the building boom between 1030-1130 CE, when Pueblo Bonito was repositioned along the N-S cardinal axis (Munro and Malville, 2011). Construction of Casa Rinconada was begun in 1070 CE to observe the Big Dipper and likely the position of the rainbow Corn maiden, Alkaid, during the winter solstice. The “rainbow” that macaw feathers represented (red, blue, yellow, white) showed up at Pueblo Bonito between 774 CE (Heitman, 2015:221) and 900-975 CE (Watson et al, 2015) before Pueblo Bonito was rebuilt, which is likely when the ideology of Centerplace rulership related to the rainbow sacred directions, hence production of dew,  the “blessed substance” and who was responsible for it, moved into high gear and resulted in the Chaco Phenomena.

By definition a wooden slat altar was a fire altar and a sand altar was an earth altar, and Hopi and Zuni slat and sand altars were modeled after the original Keres forms. We know this because the (proto-) Hopi and Zuni chiefs received their initiation, altars, and authorized ceremony from Keres medicine men at Keres-owned Chi-pia (“Place of Mist”) locations, where Chi-pia #1 was the hot springs near Cortez in southwestern Colorado (Cushing, 1896:426; Stirling, 1942:28-30).pl. 8-2), Chi-pia #2 was the shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas (Stephen, 1896:44), Chi-pia #3 was west of the modern Zuni pueblo (Cushing, 1896:392-394, 418-423); and Chi-pia #4  was northwest of Navajo Mountain in southeastern Utah (Stephen, 1929:37-38). Notice that these locations mark the SE-NW winter and NE-SW summer solstices. While ethnographic reports rarely go into the identity of the daughters of the Corn Mother, by heredity the Corn maidens were co-identified with the Snake maidens and the Flute maidens (Fewkes, 1897); the daughters of the hereditary leadership at Pueblo Bonito were very likely prized as brides to establish new Great Houses associated with Pueblo Bonito. One of those brides took a phallic effigy wearing the indexical Twisted Gourd symbol that was a mirror image of the one at Pueblo Bonito to Mitchell Springs, Colorado c. 1000-1050 CE; it takes  a bride with supernatural ancestry to found another dynasty that can claim the same supernatural ancestry, e.g., it cannot be done through her brother. The nearby Chaco outlier (within 5 miles) was called Wallace Pueblo which possessed a phallic male effigy that wore the checkerboard pattern (Bradley, 2010a) as also seen on the effigy recovered from the Aztec ruin (Morris, 1919:fig. 56aFranklin, Reed, 2016). The checkerboard pattern represents the sky and the Milky Way and so apparently the Wallace effigy represented another branch of the “Twisted Gourd family,” a parallel to the Sky clan from the Acoma Keres origin story that was founded by the Corn Mother’s second daughter (Stirling, 1942:13), which suggests a war function. In the origin story the first son of the Sky clan became the first War Chief who owned the broken prayer stick, e.g., an individual with the power of the Corn Mother’s supernatural lineage as the axis mundi (Stirling, 1942:25-26). Significantly, stone tcamahias and stone jog-toed sandal effigies were also recovered from the Wallace site; at Aztec Pueblo, tcamahias, stone jog-toed sandal effigies, woven jog-toed sandals with “power” designs, and a trilobe ax were recovered (Morris, 1919).

Notice the association of the Hero War Twins, Masewi and Oyoyewi, with fire and stone knives on Iatiku’s fire  altar, a model for the medicine societies that would follow that were devoted to the cult of sacred war, curing, and cloud control.  The role of the Hero War twins and the role of the animal doctors of the six directions referred to as the “beast gods” are essential to understanding the Tsamaiya and Awona complexes as extensions of Keres authority over their Kayenta (proto-Hopi) and Zuni neighbors, respectively.

Taken together, it appears that Uto-Aztecan speakers (Kayenta, e.g., proto-Hopi) were recruited by the Keres in Chaco’s northwestern quadrant to extend Keres influence, and the stone tablet, cloud stones,  and tcamahia were the wi’mi of that group. In one of the Snake legends the Youth, who begins his journey as Corn Youth, encounters the Big Rattlesnake (Katoya, chief of Snakes) that guards a tributary of a river (ibid., 46), a story that culminates in more Snake warriors. Likewise, in the southwestern quadrant where macaw iconography had appeared on PI-PII Whitewater pottery (Allantown, dated to 844-1016 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991) the Zuni encounter the People of the Dew (Keres Chacoans) and exchanged the power of their muetone and kaetone fetishes (water seeds) for the higher religion of the “elder nation” who introduced them to corn seeds and the ritual of corn agriculture (Cushing, 1896:392-395). The elder brothers, the People of Dew, say that they have corn seeds but need the Zuni’s ceremony to provide water to grow it (ibid., 391). Then the Hero War Twins appear in the Zuni’s story to found the Dogwood-Macaw’s Bow priesthood.

Any Centerplace is defined by its periphery as the radius of the circle or the four acute right triangles of a square (quincunx), and so it is to the four corners of the ancestral Pueblo periphery, the Houses of the Sun at the intercardinal points, that we turn to learn more about what went into constituting the Centerplace of a Chacoan sphere of influence. In this report the term “Chacoan sphere of influence” has been used to roughly define the area over which black-on-white pottery with Twisted Gourd symbolism exclusive of any other decoration outside of the motifs of serpent-lightning and Mountain/cave dominated the visual program. Since the land surrounding Pueblo Bonito could not support the entire ancestral Puebloan population, no doubt the smaller satellite ceremonial centers called Chi-pias from the four corners sent their chiefs to the Centerplace to create the strongest regional expression of all-directions rainbow medicine at key times during the year. This may explain why Chacoan pottery focused exclusively on black-on-white pottery with lightning, thunder, and fire symbols; making lightning for the light-water tinkuy of the ritually conjured rainbow medicine was the purpose of Pueblo Bonito and their visual program that united the theurgists of the Chacoan world. The keepers of the faith and traditions–lightning-makers– met at the Great Kiva (Mauharots) to conjure the Maia’nyi [life spirits of the roads] in part by playing the all-directions flute (o’kaiyatan) [Keresan terms from White, 1943] that was found in the ancestral crypt at Pueblo Bonito. That is what the visual program indicates were the main concerns of the ancestral Puebloans. The designs on Chaco pottery and the artifacts left behind by the occupants of Pueblo Bonito to guard and sustain the heart of the Chacoan world after the Great Houses had been ritually abandoned tell us a great deal about what was important to them.

The Hero War Twins and the Broken Prayer Stick

Iatiku created life in all things using her father’s thoughts and words via Spider Woman, and it was the ritual language of prayer and song that she transmitted to the chosen ones that connected them with her directional nature powers. Songs brought altars to life as well as the effigies that were placed upon them. The implication is that when one was endowed with ancestral, supernatural lightning power words were “charmed” and the word said was the result manifested, and Iatiku represented the power of her father, Utsita, a CNP lightning deity. Curing power was an “inside” communal function associated with Iatiku, while “outside” communal functions were associated with the tsa’tia hochani, the war chief and executive officer, whose office was empowered by the broken prayer stick made by Iatiku for the first War chief and called the hachamoni kaiok (Stirling, 1942:26). The tutelary deities of the war chief and his assistant were the Hero War Twins.hachamoni kaiok-broken prayer stick-axis mundi-owned by tsa'tia hochani-the war chief

Left: The Broken Prayer Stick of the War Priest/chief made of willow, Hachamoni kaiok. “explicitly represents the axis mundi” (Taube, 2000). “It was said to be the ‘pole upon which the world rests’ ” (White, 1932:46 fn 32). “The face (yellow, hair black with white feather on top) represents Iatiku; the feathers are eagle down [refers to Spider Woman], and under them is cotton; body brown; first necklace, shells; second, coral; third, coral beads with three abalone-shell pendants (Stirling, 1942, pl. 5 fig. 2). The broken prayer stick embodied Iatiku, the Corn mother, and Iatiku was the “image” of her father Uchtsiti (Utsita), a supreme lightning deity and creator, and her “word will be as powerful as his word” (Stirling, 1942:5). [íyátìikụ, creator]. Iatiku’s hair was cut straight across the brow to represent the Milky Way (Stirling, 1942: 55:30).  Iatiku was not associated with turquoise so much as she was with shells and by extension the ancestral Shipap, which represented the primordial ocean and place of beginnings of which the Milky Way was a visible aspect.

Iatiku herself made the broken prayer stick emblem of office for the first War Captain (tsa’tia hochani), who took the burden of all rule that was unrelated to the establishment of ritual. He was initiated by the chief priest of the Kapina society. “[Broken Prayer Stick]  has the four trails marked on the four sides. This would extend from the earth up to the sky. She gave it to him and told him, ‘When you hold it clasped in your hands, you are drawing all the people together so they will not be scattered. With this you will have great power over all the rest of the people. You will have them tucked under your arms… [same as “tucked under your wings” [Stirling, 1942:27, note 64; cf. Popol Vuh, Tedlock, 1996:46, where being tucked “under their arms” referred to “suckling” a deity as in a mother-child relationship], and their minds will be tucked in your temples (meaning ‘you will do their thinking for them and speak for them; you will be their mind’).” Regardless of whether or not this infers the Puebloans practiced human sacrifice to “feed the gods” as did the Maya, it does indicate that the War captain had the duty to enforce ritual that fed the gods, because the cosmos was sustained by reciprocity. “Then Iatiku taught him his prayers. His prayers should always start from Shipapu [near Cortez in southwestern Colorado]. After coming up from Shipapu, they should start from the north and take in the west,  south, and east” (Stirling, 1942:27). [italics mine: likely the origin of pan-Puebloan sinistral ritualism and why it always began with north]

That the chief priest of the Keres Kapina society initiated the war captain is an important point. What we need to know is the functional identity of the high priest of the Kapina society, keeping in mind that Oak Man (“Fire Medicine man”) built the Tsamaiya altar that represented the “male” aspect of the Tiamunyi, which is the altar that was built to initiate the war captain. Among the Hopi the chief priest of the Kookop clan initiated the war captain. Based on the first appearance of the Kookop clan in Hopi legends as part of the initiation of a tower-building Snake chief of a Keres Antelope kiva on the Potrero de Vacas where the Village of the Stone Lions was located, e.g., the land of the Tsamaiya (Chamahiya, Stone Ancients, Chi-pia #2), and 1) the fact that from that location the Kookop chief accompanied the group to establish Kookopnyama and Sikyatki on Hopi First Mesa (Stephen, 1929), 2) the (now) Hopi Kookop chief to this day retains the hereditary right to initiate the war chief (Whiteley, 2008:65, part I), and 3) the “father” of the Kookop (wood people) is the fire god Maasaw, we can at least cautiously infer that the Kapina chief was a fire(wood)  priest who also revered Maasaw, e.g., Oak Man and Maasaw functioned as the same deity although that is nowhere mentioned in Pueblo lore. Although Spider woman was the founder of the Keres Kapina society,  among the Hopi Spider woman and Maasaw were so tightly linked together in their association with war that we could also cautiously infer that the Keres Oak Man and Spider woman as complements had the same function in the Keres Kapina society as did the Hopi parallel of Kookop and Maasaw in the Snake-Antelope ceremonies. Since the Keres Kapina and Hopi Antelope altars are so similar as noted by Parsons, this suggests that the Hopi Antelope society’s altar with all of its tcamahias was authorized by the Keres Kapina priest. It follows that the Keresan language of ritual of the Hopi Snake-Antelope ceremonies was also the language of the Tsamaiya priest (Keres asperser) who invoked the supernatural Tsamaiya warriors at sunset during the Snake dance. This is tedious detail but it provides evidence for a number of significant implications beyond the conclusion that the Hopi Kookop clan was Keres in origin and Oak Man and Maasaw represented the same agencies of fire, purification, sacred wood ashes that “decharm” the spirits, and regenerative role of death. The Hopi Kookop chief was the medicine chief to the Antelope society’s altar, and therefore the Kookop presence at Kawestima (e.g., Tokonabi, Navajo mountain in southeastern Utah) along with the Snakes and Spider woman (Stephen, 1929) where the Tiyo legend originated (Fewkes, 1864) 1) supports Ellis’ view that the Keres controlled that war-like region; 2) the “spiritual chief of the Snake people” was called Chama’hia (Ellis, 1967:37), e..g., the Kapina society can be co-identified with the land of the Chamahia–the Stone Ancients– and the Keres Tsamaiya medicine priest (male altar ego or twin of Tiamunyi) with the supernatural Tsamaiya (Tcamahia, Chama-hia) warrior; and 3) the Tsamaiya medicine priest, now understood as a fire priest from the ranks of the Keres Kookop clan, was explicitly associated with the elder Hero War Twin who was embodied by the war captain. Ergo, the Tsamaiya priest of the Kapina society must have incarnated the younger Hero/War Twin, who was supernaturally associated with the predatory feline in the heart of the Mountain/cave, e.g., death, which makes sense for the Tsamaiya ideological complex where the object of the cult was sacred war and hunting (male aspects of Tiamunyi). The thematic parallels between Oak Man as a fire medicine priest (Stirling, 1942), Maasaw as a fire god who carried a wooden club as a weapon (Malotki, Lomatuway’ma, 1987), Snake warriors who only used clubs as weapons (Stephen, 1936a), and the tcamahia club (lightning celt) that was the weapon of the Hero/War Twins (sons of the Sun) point to a foundational role for the fire god, the terrestrial aspect of the Sun, in the Tsamaiya ideological complex and the Snake-Antelope (Kapina) ceremonies. And, once again, we see that the agency of ritual was to make the fire (Sun) : water (cosmic Snake) connection.

The multiple references to the Milky Way and the fact that Iatiku was to all intents and purposes her father Utsita, a supreme lightning deity of the CNP who gave her a basket of world-forming seeds to bring up from the underworld and plant with the help of Spider woman, might suggest that her father was a god of the Milky Way, perhaps similar to or co-identified with the Mexican hunting god Mixcoatl “Cloud Serpent,” who was strongly identified with the Milky Way and father of Quetzalcoatl.  An axis mundi was a World Tree that extended from the Above through the Center and was anchored in the Nadir of a triadic cosmos. That was the vertical  “pole” through which a horizontal Centerplace system of six color-coded sacred directions functioned.

The broken prayer stick was a ceremonial fetish that was the Keres War chief’s supernatural endowment which represented the axis mundi and access to it through the auspices of the divine pair, the corn mother and her husband: It is the center pole, four earths down and four sides up, which holds the skies and the earths in place so they will not give way or slip aside. Skies and earths are meant to last forever and this keeps them in place”(Stirling, 1942:pl. 13, fig. 2). “Up” would seem to infer straight up, as in zenith, but as will be illustrated up meant the northern celestial pole (NCP), e.g., the celestial House of the North centered on the polestar, and by extension “down” referred to a House of the South in the underworld in a system of six directional mountains that were “houses,” where each in its way was a sustenance mountain. The Classic Maya also conceived of a celestial house of the north to which a central axis extended and penetrated heaven at the NCP (Freidel et al., 2001:75).

The Tiamunyi was the mother-father of his community, and the law-and-order branch of governance represented his male aspect. The conclusion from this is that the Keres had a form of dual governance invested in the Tiamunyi (“inside,” ritual authority based on his supernatural authority) and war chief (“outside”). “Outside” and under Keres authority there were Kayenta (proto-Hopi) warriors and Zuni warriors. The Kayenta Snake-Antelope warriors were regulated by the authority of a Keres Spider medicine chief called the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia). The Tiamunyi altar called the tsamaiya altar that empowered the Tsamaiya actor was related to war and had no curing function (White, 1943:309). Zuni Bow warriors were directly established by the Hero War twins, but the god they invoked for assistance was an all-directions wind god called Unahsinte, a Whirlwind whose complement was a rainbow that appeared in the aftermath of ruin Cushing, 1896:420). The Zuni viewed themselves as being one people with the Keres People of Dew, and among the Keres the Whirlwind was the spirit of the great water serpent  (Bandelier, 1890: 292). Therefore, by description and function this Zuni wind god of war appears as a “seventh direction” storm, the center of the six directions, after which another seventh direction construct appears, the rainbow, which points to the seventh direction rainbow serpent Heshanavaiya. Recall the chakana with the Serpent at the center of the ancestral Mountain/cave, which was the navel of the cosmos.

The pan-Mesoamerican symbol for the wind god, Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl, was the wind jewel, a spiral form derived from a cross-section of a conch shell. In short, although we aren’t given information concerning the nature of the storm powers that are summoned by the Hero/War Twins in the Zuni Bow warrior’s invocation, nor is the identity of the Plumed Serpent anywhere explicitly revealed, the evidence strongly suggests that Unahsinte is the wind god, the Plumed Serpent. In the Zuni origin myth, the nondual creator Awonawilona manifested out of fog as the Sun and with Foamy Water sired the Hero/War Twins.  Awonawilona, a name translated as “roads,” established the sacred directions to found the triadic structure of the cosmos. Likewise, in the Hopi and Keres origin stories the Twins were  sired by the Sun. Heshanavaiya, rainbow Plumed Serpent and chief of all the directions, was the progenitor that linked through kinship the Hopi Snake warriors with the Keres Antelope priests in a supernatural alliance related to the Stone Ancients and the Hero/War Twins. Here, Unasinte, patron of the Zuni Bow warriors who are considered to be in spirit the descendants of the Hero/War Twins who gave Zuni bows the power of the bow the Sun father gave to the Twins, is revealed to be the grandfather of the Hero/War Twins, Awonawilona.  Awonawilona and Heshanavaiya are the same rainbow “seventh direction” Plumed Serpent acting at opposite ends of the axis mundi, which the Keres called Utsita, who was the maternal grandfather of the Tiamunyi.  Conceptually, Awonawilona (“all-container”), Utsita (“nothing lacking”), and Heshanavaiya (“ancient chief of all directions”)  were all cut from the same cloth. Despite the confusing plethora of names in different languages, the fact is the Keres, Hopi and Zuni all shared the Mesoamerican rainbow Plumed Serpent as a patron war god, the Keres and Hopi through blood relationships and the Zuni through adoptive or spiritual relationship. In the final analysis, the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi all shared the same supernatural agency for the cult of the sacred warrior, which is the Plumed Serpent, the Hero/War Twins, and, by virtue of the Hero/War Twins, the Stone Ancients.

While it may never be known with certainty whether or not the ancient Chacoans had one Warrior-Priest (Tsamaiya/Tiamunyi) as a leader or a dual governance  under a priest-king and war medicine chief, the two actors survived historically to form the type of dual governance comprised by the spiritual leader (tiamunyi, pekwin, cacique) and war chief who embodied the elder Hero/War Twin that has been documented among all the Puebloan tribes. The relationship between the broken prayer stick (power of the axis mundi) of the war chief and the equally legendary Tsamaiya of the Tiamuni was the means to integrate the “outside” male functions of hunting and war into the corn life-way that was founded upon the Corn Mother. The corn life-way based on Iatiku finds its authority in a line from the Acoma origin text: “Iatiku thought for a long time but finally she noticed that she had the seed from which sacred meal [basis of the directional ‘spirit roads’ of ritual] was made in her basket and no other kind of seeds [emphasis mine; people who don’t eat corn and possess the sacred meal are “others”]. She thought, “With this name I shall be very proud, for it has been chosen for nourishment and it is sacred. So she said, “I will be Corn clan.” In other words, when the people eat corn they will eat Iatiku. (Stirling, 1942:4). All of the altars that will be described below reiterate how Iatiku, the mother of the Keres Puebloans, and her sister, the mother of other people, brought their seed baskets from the underworld, emerged at Shipap, and sowed all that would be represented by Iatiku and her husband who dwell in Sustenance Mountain. Altars, and the ceremony of medicine-water–making (wi’mi,  priestly knowledge) associated with the altars, are not associated with the kachina cult per se although certain masks were introduced later as part of the wi’mi. Overarching the aboriginal phase is the phase that began with the introduction of the War twins into the male aspects of ritual through the Kapina and warrior societies that were associated with an “outside” priest. The outside functions of the pueblo fell under the authority of the War Priest/chief who enforced proper ritual and guarded the pueblo, which was embodied in the inside high priest (tiamunyi, cacique, pekwin), and directionally oriented sacred springs and “high places,” i.e., the four sacred mountains.  

As an institution the importance of the broken prayer cannot be overstated. “Before this the Antelope clan was ruling everything” (Stirling, 1942:26). The origin story indicates that as the Antelope “state” expanded in population and territory, an institutional mechanism that introduced a more complex governing structure was required, and that was the dual-governance represented by the supernatural authority of the Hero War Twins that survived into the modern era. And, as the Zuni origin story indicates, this form of governance at some point underwent a radical shift from a model of cooperation to a model of force (Cushing,1896:381-382, 417-418). According to a Hopi Snake legend, the latter version of the Twins was a killer of false gods (Stephen, 1929:39), which is the version of the Twins the Navajo inherited (Nagaynezgani).

After the creation of the broken prayer stick by Iatiku (supernatural authority) all matters external to religious orthodoxy, sun watching, and land assignments, or the office of Tiamunyi, fell under the office of the tsa’tia hochani. According to a Cochiti informant the position was filled by a commoner (Dumarest, 1919), a fact reiterated among the Hopi among whom warriors were commoners who could work their way up the social ladder through bravery (Nequatewa, 1936:36-37). His word was the law in the “country,” e.g., everywhere outside of the pueblo. Falling under his authority, e..g., those who “answered to the broken prayer stick” and the supernatural authority of the Hero War Twins, included  Eagle man (Hunting Society), Iatiku’s (curing, all directions) slat altar, Tiamunyi’s (war, hunting, all directions) tsamaiya altar, and the kopishtaiyas (stone effigies that could be placed on either Iatiku or Tiamunyi altars because both associated with the Hero War Twins), which will each be discussed at greater length below.

Compliance to proper all-directions ritual fell to the War/Country Chief. There was a distinct before-and-after organization, and the Zuni origin story attests to the fact that one set of “beloved” twins who had originally come from the sky as the “Twin brothers of light” (Cushing, 1896:381) had been supplanted by the aggressive Hero War Twins who represented the Above and Below and functioned at the Middleplace through a War Captain. All four actors were sons of the sun but functioned differently, as if they were the nexus of two conflated mythologies. The Twins of light lifted their Sun-father into the sky to light the fourth world; the War Twins must  seek their Sun-father and earn their way into their empowerments of cloud-bow, lightning arrows, and fog shield.

The category of kopishtaiya supernaturals, in particular, signaled that this was a form of dual governance, the development of which came with the introduction of the Hero War Twins as the sons of the Sun and grandsons of Spider Woman, which gave them the highest credentials in terms of supernatural authority and  legitimacy. Although there was a long history in the rock art of the region for the category of spirits called kopishtaiya, the first mention of them in the Acoma origin story is in conjunction with the kachinas, which was to say that they were not kachinas and lived in the west as cloud beings (rainmakers) from January to June.  Iatiku owned the element of fire and Tiamunyi controlled Flint, e.g., lightning.  Likewise, the tiamunyi represented all kopishtaiya, and only his War Chief could paint them with supernatural designs (sidenote: The “manly” brown paint called iakatcha used to paint the kopishtaiya prayer stick came from the Hopi (Stirling, 1942:pl. 14-1e), which signals another layer in a regional balance of power with other language groups that was maintained through ownership of the different assets of ritualism. This also points to the use of mineral (stone)-based paint that was under the control of the tiamunyi, and carbon–based paint that was under the control of Iatiku and Oak (fire) man. Kookop clan members were ritual specialists in the uses of wood/ash and by extension ashes, hence carbon paint; the tutelary deity of the Kookop was Maasaw, who was represented by the black-purple corn fetish in the rainbow ritualism that brought the corn of six different colors together). The nearly exclusive use of mineral-based paint on the pottery of Pueblo Bonito suggests that the Tiamunyi lived there). The tiamunyi could be replaced if he didn’t follow the rules. There was a balance of power concerning proper ritual that drew more clans into the affairs of the Pueblo, but still among the Acoma Keres this was under the overarching authority of the supernatural Tiamunyi. It was a complex web of relationships between the fetishes that drew supernatural power into an altar, e.g., the wi’mi or ceremony, that balanced the power of the Tiamunyi and War Chief; one sign of the ultimate supernatural authority was that all officers carried a crook cane of office, and those canes bespoke the power of the supernatural Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions and the tutelary deity of the Antelope clan.

Teotihuacan-Dominguez fig 38 cropped

The cult of sacred war (Taube, 1992a), Teotihuacan’s Puma War Serpent as the horned Plumed Serpent at the heart of the ancestral Snake-Mountain/cave (Dominguez, 2009:fig. 38). Notice the recurved horn. This may have been the model for the ancestral Puebloan’s horned Plumed Serpent who similarly endowed the sacred warrior with the power of the the Ancient of Directions, the horned Plumed Serpent called Heshanavaiya.

The Snakes and Antelopes as a ceremonial alliance were warriors wielding bow and war club, respectively. Their respective tutelary deities under the patronage of Spider Woman were Heshanavaiya (all-directions horned serpent of the nadir) and Katoya of the cardinal North mountain (Plumed Serpent, Heart of Sky, gateway to all directions), a horned rattlesnake also called the Plumed Serpent, which was the only effigy found intact at Pueblo Bonito other than a bowl in the form of a coiled rattlesnake. The wooden snake effigy appears to have been made from cottonwood root, a water tree associated with the Snake-Antelope ceremony as described earlier, from which most of the wooden ritual items of the Snake order were made, including prayer sticks. Likewise, a rattlesnake effigy bowl was the only effigy bowl found in rm 33 (Pepper, 1920:fig. 69b).  This begs the question: were the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute alliances, expressed as the Tsamaiya ideological complex, e.g., a cult of sacred war, an extension into the American Southwest of the Feathered Serpent cult of Sacred War (burning water symbolism in fire ceremonies, the Puma War Serpent, quadripartite symbol, and Spider Woman) that was integral to Teotihuacan’s international  religious-political cosmogony and economy? (Taube, 1983; 1992a).

Pueblo Bonito rm 33 -pepper 1920-fig 69b-snake bowl

Ceremonial Snake bowl, the only effigy bowl from rm. 33 but found above the sub-floor burial (Pepper, 1920:fig. 69b). The reed mat near it may have signified a Place of Reeds, which was a Shipap, a place of emergence of gods. The Snake bowl may signify that Pueblo Bonito served as a council house of the serpent  mat (Nielsen, Helmke, 2014).

The Broken Prayer-stick belonged to the War Chief and is co-identified with the Hero War Twins because they connected the power of the Broken Prayer stick (axis mundi) with the War Chief. Of all the names for the Hero War twins, perhaps the most revealing historically in terms of their ritual function and cultural authority is the Zuni’s aiyahut (Parsons, 1920:91 fn 7), which is referred to as the “peacetime” name for the twins. It has the aiya reference to life-giving while at the same time we know the twins remained strongly related to the Tcamahia lightning stone and rainbow weaponry and the Stone Ancients. Pan-Puebloan constructs like the Hero War twins tell us that while an enduring  community of thought developed c. 1000 CE around Keresan cosmology, hence ritual, of the Star of the Four Winds, Hero War twins, and Chiefs of the Directions who dwelled at the Place of Mist, it was wi’mi that allowed a plastic adjustment within that rigid framework to circumstances. In a system where symbols had a living power and names were vocal symbols, invoking one name rather than another was part of the wi’mi that conjured and directed spiritual power according to intent. The naming of things also provides insight into the nature of social hierarchies in the early agricultural communities– it was a social hierarchy of priests who had the authority to name and to speak to the gods.

Chiefs of the Sacred Directions: An Ideology of Leadership Based in
Supernatural Ancestry that Created the Sacred Directions

In the international tradition that for every directional category there was one head hochani (Ho medicine priest) who as the seventh direction directed the other six, the “arch ruler” of the cloud people of the world  was the Ho-channi, e.g., head priest (Stevenson, 1894:38).  One must keep in mind that the Mountain Lion of the North, lord of all prey animals and guardian of Iatiku’s Shipap, and Katoya, rattlesnake of cardinal north that figures largely in the empowerment of the Snake-Antelope alliance through the axis mundi and who guards Heshanavaiya’s underworld Antelope kiva, will have a part to play in the work of the Ho priest. As mentioned previously, no ritual for rain, curing, or war worked without the assistance of the directional beast gods, the Stone Ancients of a past world (read: underworld) who served as intermediaries between gods and men. In the Cochiti Keres corn myth the kopishtaiya, e.g., the thunder, lightning, and rainbow deities that are all cloud beings that were represented visually as stone idols,  speak to the Corn mother in the same way as does Spider (Thought) woman (Dumarest, 1919:213), which is an important clue to the identity of the supernatural that empowered a Centerplace medicine bowl.  The first time we hear of the language of the underworld is that spoken by Utsita (CNP of the axis mundi) to Spider woman, who conveyed his thoughts to his daughters. The head priest of the cloud people relates to the Chiefs of the Directions, who are the primordial Stone Ancients that controlled the clouds of the world, where the Chief of Chiefs was Heshanavaiya, and their descendants were the Tsamaiya medicine priests who were empowered by the tsamaiya of the Keres Spider society’s Tiamunyi altar. Spider woman was the tutelary deity of the Spider society’s Tiamunyi altar upon which the fetish that empowered the Spider medicine priests sat, therefore the Ho-chani of the Spider’s Kapina society has to be the Tsamaiya, whose ceremonial name was Heshanavaiya, Ancient of the Six Directions. He owned the tsamaiya palladium on the Tiamunyi altar and only he was allowed to possess it. It gave him, as Heshanavaiya, the right to invoke the Warrior Chiefs of the Directions through the Tcamahia (Tsamaiya) of the north. Since Ho- described a centerplace and  a seat of rulership, we are given Spider woman and the Tsamaiya Hochani, who embodied the nadir of the axis mundi, as the supernatural “arch rulers” of the medicine bowl as a microcosm of the powers of water, plants, and animals, etc. from the four cardinal directions. This Keres medicine man was the asperser of Mystery medicine water in the Snake dance, a ceremony that honored Heshanavaiya and his daughter, Snake woman, and her mother, Spider woman. The supernatural patron of the Snakes as the head Snake of the Six Directions was Katoya, the horned Plumed Serpent of cardinal north in the form of a rattlesnake that carried a bank of clouds on his head, e.g., cloud chiefs and snake chiefs are highly correlated. Katoya’s kiva was a terrestrial Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud place, the mirror of which in the Above was the celestial House of the North where the Cloud Chiefs were located (see Zuni galaxy altar, Stevenson, 1904:pl. CIV), which had their six-direction terrestrial counterparts. Presumably the House of the South as the nadir had the same arrangement as a complementary mirror in the underworld, which is what the Zuni’s galaxy altar illustrates. Although it may be difficult to keep the image in mind, the axis mundi is one Plumed Serpent that works in the Above, Middle (Katoya), and Below in different seasonal roles and during war time. Cloud-making is therefore directed by the action of the Tsamaiya who invoked the Warrior Chiefs of the Directions as the horned Plumed Serpent (Heshanavaiya) through the axis mundi. As the Tsamaiya medicine chief and as an aspect of the Tiamunyi, his was a very powerful role. He represented the power of the state and orthodox ritual that required a Keresan initiation in the language of the underworld, which we can now presume to call snake/cloud talk. As indicated in the Tiyo legend (Fewkes, 1894) and in the historical Snake dance (Stephen, 1936a), he was a traveling Keres medicine man, which is evidence that supports his role as hereditary Puma Ho-chani of the Keres Kapina medicine society, of which there would have been only one at a time.

Hantilipinkia-six toed human-phito by Bob CatesLeft: Ancient rock art of Hantilipinkia, where the Zuni received the rites of war from the Hero/War Twins (Cushing, 1896; photo: Bob Cates).

This begs the question–what was the difference between a Ho- priest and a Po- priest (Poshaiyanne, probably Po- chani)? Did the healing spirit of the Bear doctor empower Ho priests? The Puma spirit that was embodied in a stone feline fetish was co-identified with Poshaiyanne, which raises another question– did the six-toed human footprints preserved in the rock art of Hantlipinkia and Chaco canyon and the six-toed Puma preserved in the rock art of Puerco Pueblo refer to the teacher of rites and war, Poshaiyanne? Furthermore, the younger brother of the supernatural Hero/War Twins complementary pair embodied the Puma and the echo of its roar at the Village of the Stone Lions on Potrero de Vacas (Stirling, 1942) where Poshaiyanne and the animal doctors (beast gods, vital Stone Ancients) of the six directions emerged, which may infer an important relationship or co-identity between the Po priests and the Hero/War Twins. Bear (west) and Puma (north) were the supreme animal doctors of the cardinal directions, and it was only through the auspices of those animal lords materialized as stone fetishes for an altar that any rite for weather control, healing, or war would prove to be effective (see Zuni animal fetishes, Cushing, 1894, and kopishtaiya).

Sidenote: It bears repeating that Spider was the ho-na-aite of the prestigious Keres Kapina society (Stevenson, 1894), and Ho- (five) is a Mayan concept that refers to the supernatural centerpoint of a State conceived of as an encircled quartered cross within a larger encircled quartered cross (Nuttall, 1901:fig. 27). In other words, the cosmic context of the State and the supernatural empowerment of its Centerpoint (ancestral Mountain/cave) was the Plumed Serpent. Spider Woman was the grandmother of both the Tiamunyi and the War Twins, and mother of the Corn and Snake mothers. Therefore, in stories that say a kopishtaiya stone idol speaks, it is in the same sense that Spider Woman “speaks” to the War Twins or to the Corn mother (thought transference), and so the actual supernatural agency of the kopishtaiyas is strongly suggestive of Spider Woman, the co-creator with Utsita (for whom she spoke) of  Puebloan material culture. In fact, since eagle down represents Spider Woman, the real power behind the Iatiku broken prayer stick which is covered in eagle down may be Spider Woman as the Centerpoint “all directions” deity. Iatiku is explicitly described as an intermediary in the Acoma origin story, the immediate agency, as it were, of her father (Plumed Serpent) who spoke through Spider woman in the Keres “language of the underworld.” This strongly suggests that the Spider is yet another terrestrial manifestation of the all-directions Plumed Serpent. The center of the broken prayer stick effigy was an ear of corn covered in eagle down. Among the Zuni, the mi’li of the Mystery medicine order that represented Awonawilona’s breath of life was similarly a perfect ear of corn encased in feathers. The parallel between the two, where Spider woman is often described as Awonawilona’s counterpart, is striking, especially sense Utsita is co-identified with the Four Winds deity (Plumed Serpent) of Zuni Mystery medicine altars.

Sidenote: The idea that a commoner could work his way into the cycle of ritual that defined the upper tier of society, the ennobled priesthood, had historical antecedents in the ranking of warriors at Teotihuacan, among the Maya (Tedlock, 1996:188-189), and later the Aztecs. The Zuni Priests of the Bow and the Keres and Hopi Horn guardians (Nequatewa, 1936:22) are very close parallels to the Maya case. The latter has diagnostic value, an example being the Keres Tsamaiya medicine chief who gave a newly initiated Hopi Snake chief a crook cane that signified his loyalty as a “protective friend” when placed on the west side of the Snake chief’s village. The act identified The Tsamaiya as a member of the Horn society (Stephen, 1929:45); members of the Two-Horn society protected east and south gates.

The Tsamaiya Ideological Complex

Chavin-Peru-bird and classic step fret integrated--Bennett

Integrated classic and bird forms of the Twisted Gourd, Chavin de Huantar, Peru (Bennett, 1944). The association between Twisted Gourd symbolism and stories of the Stone Ancients, one of which survived in the K’iche Maya’s Popol vuh and another in the Zuni origin story, may hold a clue about why Twisted Gourd symbolism was accepted internationally as the sine qua non of supernatural empowerment and an ideology of leadership based on color-coded sacred directions signified by the rainbow. The association between the Stone Ancients, Heart of Sky, and the Maya Hero Twins comes at a defining moment in both origin stories when the Hero Twins make the new fourth world safe for humans, and in the aftermath the gods of the previous world are turned to stone. This mythology was crystallized in the American Southwest as the Keresan Tsamaiya ideological complex. The power of the Bonitian dynasty was its association with the Stone Ancients, the Tsamaiya snake masters who spread Keres influence. Whereas the Keres Tiamunyi descended from the celestial Plumed Serpent as Heart of Sky, his Tsamaiya medicine priest who was co-identified with the Sovereign Plumed Serpent descended on his mother’s side from the beast gods of the former world that had been turned to stone, specifically the puma that ruled the predatory beast gods, which was a concrete demonstration of the continuity of the Tiamunyi’s lineage from a past world into this current fourth world through the power of stone fetishes that represented the old gods.

The Tsamaiya complex that comprised a myth-historical Tsamaiya medicine priest who empowered later medicine priests, crook canes, flutes, and a legendary relic called the tcamahia that were associated with the institution of the Snakes, Snake-Antelopes, and Horn-Flutes was sanctioned by the Keres Tiamunyi altar that featured male and female tsamaiya fetishes and was owned by the Keres Spider society (Stirling, 1942:part IV). Out of the mythology of the Stone Ancients the Tsamaiya complex developed the supernatural authority of a military unit whose supernatural patrons were the Hero War twins, e.g., the cult of the sacred warrior. The cult of the sacred warrior related to the male aspect of the hereditary Tiamunyi which, extended to other groups, fell within the authority of the cacique or pekwin who had wisdom but not the blood ancestry of the supernaturals who ensured the success of corn agriculture, which were the same powers necessary for war, curing, and cloud-making. In other words, if you were not Keres you were a “younger brother” who by definition was placed in a position of regional service and tribute. My hunch is that even the priestly masters of the fire, water, earth and wind aspects of the six directions from other language groups would not have the song of the seventh direction to complete one’s access to the creator supernaturals of the Tiamunyi’s lineage. The Hero War twins of the Tiamunyi’s lineage (Cushing, 1896; Stirling, 1942) empowered his War captain and his assistant, who were called by the supernatural’s names, along with six officers. Collectively the war leadership was called the tsamahiye, e.g., the same name as the tcamahia, the supernatural stone fetish that retained the power of its ancestral owner (Parsons, 1920:66). By extension having the same name meant having the same entitlements.  The tcamahia  was the weapon of the War twins and part of the wi’mi of Heshanavaiya’s altar in his underworld Antelope kiva (Fewkes, 1896). Because Heshanavaiya as the horned Plumed Serpent was the seventh direction and the Chief of Chiefs of the Cloud people he could act anywhere, and so his magical stone when found in a ruin meant a warrior who had had the great snake as a patron had lived there. If found elsewhere then Heshanavaiya or the spirit of the dead warrior could have dropped it from the sky so that you would find it. The relic was the sine qua non of the ancestral sacred warrior and the lightning snake’s virility. Its possession surely meant that your prayers would be answered if you were male. Notice that there is not a single story that says a Puebloan woman pined to find one, because even if she did she could not use it, talk about it, or contribute it as wi’mi to any ceremony. I’m still looking for a story that says a maiden found one, but placed the picnic blanket where her boyfriend would find it. Discussed later is the Keres-Zuni Awona complex which, like the Keres-Kayenta Tsamaiya complex, was led by the Hero War twins who empowered the two top Bow priests named elder and younger Brother as the parallel to a Keres or Hopi War captain and his assistant. This point is mentioned here to establish the overarching authority of the Hero War twins and the roles they played in protecting ceremony and the community in the name of the Tiamunyi, roles that were first established in the Acoma Keres origin story, the Corn mother’s first House of Everything fire altar that was made in the power of her father, and the Tiamunyi’s (Tsamaiya) altar that was made in the power of Spider woman, altogether the creators of the corn life-way.

The central role of the Hero War twins in the Tsamaiya ideological complex that began among the Kayenta people living in southern Utah survived into the historical period among the Hopi Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flutes societies, where their function as guardians of the citadel was seen in Hopi social organization up through the end of the 19th century when the cult of the sacred warrior was brought to an end. The quartered cosmos was reflected in four lead societies, which were the Singers, in whom the “general direction of ceremonial rests,” Wu’wuchim (“the ancients, the thinkers”), Agaves (“the destroyers”), and Horns (“the heralds”), where in time of peace the Horns controlled the Agaves” (Stephen, 1936a:XXXIX). “The societal organization for defense [in 1883 was] pictured as concentric walls with the Agaves representing the outermost wall, then the Horns, the Wu’wuchimtu, the Singers and, as the fifth and sixth innermost walls the Snake-Antelope societies and the War society” (ibid.).

No tcamahias were recovered from the burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito, but of two recovered by Judd one was from room 347 (1954:fig. 65); a third was found at Pueblo Arroyo (ibid., 244). Compare this to seven recovered at the Aztec ruins while Morris notes they were “fairly abundant” in the small ruins surrounding the ceremonial centerplace (Morris, 1919:24, 25, fig. 12; annex, 1924) and four from Chaco outlier Wallace Pueblo (Bradley, 2010). Four of the seven tcamahias Morris found at Aztec were from the southeastern corner  of the main pueblo, but it is unclear whether they were found in the earlier Chaco stratum or a later Mesa Verde stratum. Nevertheless, it appears that the tcamahia accompanied Chaco’s northern expansion. The Snake was the “adopted brother” of the Antelope (Stephen, 1929:39) and gave the Antelopes a fighting force that specialized in hand-to-hand combat, while the Antelopes had the songs and bow. From the Hopi’s point of view, that development happened at Tokonabi near Navajo Mountain in southern Utah, and it is in their Snake stories that the Tsamaiya as a leader is first mentioned in connection with the elder War Twin.

Origin of the Supernatural Authority of the Tsamaiya in the Altar of the Keres Kapina Society.

“It happened that a man came and wanted to be a chaianyi. So Oak Man [Fire medicine man] told (him) he would be Kapina chaianyi. Oak Man asked Iatiku what this Kapina was going to represent. Iatiku said he would represent Tiamuni (her husband). Iatiku left it to Tiamuni to say how the altar would be made. So Tiamuni instructed Oak Man to make a tsamai’ya. Tiamuni told Oak Man to gather two ears of corn, one to represent the male (long), the other the female (small). The male was to be named tsamaiya; the female, umahia. The materials needed were the same as for making honani [Iatiku’s corn-ear fetish], except that more feathers were necessary. He was to get feathers from as many birds of prey as possible. After this was done Tiamuni came and instructed Oak Man how to make it up and he blew his breath into the corn ear and closed it with cotton. It was made up like the honani except that the “seat” [depression carved out in the bottom of the corn cob or stone effigy] was abalone shell wrapped in cotton. It was then wrapped halfway up from the bottom with buckskin (Stirling, 1942:37-38; pl. 13, fig. 2). When Tiamuni blew in his breath he put in flesh from bashya, “kangaroo mouse.” This was the first flesh animal given Nautsiti and Iatiku to eat. It was, therefore, to represent all animal food. This would insure the people of always having meat. If a man wishes to go on a hunt, he should go to his altar as it represents all food animals. Tiamuni, being a male, the breath he blew in represented bravery, initiative, strength, and long life.”

Notice that the male tsamaiya embodied the same qualities the Antelope crook cane of office was said to represent and impart through a spiritual power described as breath. Also, Oak man (Fire), a species that represented the Above and Below in the Keres directional system of world trees (Fewkes, 1895b), initiated the Kapina altar for Iatiku. Although the Tsamaiya ideological complex will be fully explored to the extent possible given the linguistic barrier, what is certain is that its three chief elements- a lightning celt, Kapina medicine priest, and association with the Stone Ancients and the Hero War twins– all extend from the clan ancient of the Acoma Keres Antelope clan, the supernatural Tiamunyi who was the Corn mother’s husband and nephew. As the grandson of Spider woman, the Tiamunyi was related to her other grandsons, the Hero War twins. It is important to keep his supernatural ancestry in mind (grandfather was Utsita, who has been co-identified with the Plumed Serpent in the celestial House of the North; his grandmother was Spider woman; his father was the rainbow serpent, and his mother was the Corn mother’s sister), because the Tiamunyi altar called the Tsamaiya altar represents the Tiamunyi [emphasis mine]. The stone lightning celt, the tcamahia (tsamaiya), was the weapon of the Hero War twins, and therefore wherever the tcamahia is found in an archaeological setting it is diagnostic for the authority of the hunting/war complex that extended from the Acoma Keres Tiamunyi. The Kapina medicine priest called the Tsamaiya who acted in his name empowered  Snake-Antelope warriors by invoking the supernatural warriors of the seven (six plus center) directions (Table 1), with primacy going to the warrior of the north, the Tcamahia (Tsamaiya). The Kapina medicine priest called the Tsamaiya also initiated the war chief (tsa’tia hochani) and made the Broken Prayer stick for him, which gave him access to the cosmic power of the Plumed Serpent as the axis mundi. In the Acoma Keres origin story, in former days the war chief was always chosen from the Sky clan (Stirling, 1942:25) which, in the order of origin of clans instituted by the Corn mother, came second only to her own Sun clan (ibid., 13) and was followed by water and fire, e.g., together the basis of the elements of creation and structure of the sacred “roads” of the cosmos. Together the husband-wife pair– the Tiamunyi and the Corn mother– constituted the Above and Middle in the vertically triadic cosmos in terms of ritual and the axis mundi itself in terms of empowerment because of their supernatural ancestry. Tcamahias and ritual items found on Snake-Antelope altars were found at Pueblo Bonito, and these are diagnostic for their cosmology of the corn life-way, their association with the Stone Ancients through supernatural kinship ties, and their dynastic system of governance under the Tiamunyi, the Tsamaiya, the Hero War Twins, and the war chief.

The Stone Ancients were called the Chama-hiya (Tsamaiya) and therefore are the fundamental mythological basis of the Tsamaiya ideological complex of the Bonitians. One other detail that has a bearing on the relationship between the Acoma-Laguna Keres (Bonitians) and the Stone Ancients comes from Zuni mythology, whose origin story dovetails with the Acoma Keres origin story and who claim to have been one people with the Keres People of Dew. The Zuni claim that they were not destroyed in the fiery holocaust caused by the Hero War twins that swept the earth and created the Stone Ancients “because their bodies still retained the hardness of iron, the condition in which they were when they came from the underworlds to this world; but the Corn maidens were destroyed and many animals were burned and converted into stone, some of them becoming diminutive [fetishes]” (Stevenson, 1904:58). Presumably the Keres claimed a similar advantage or a better one– their supernatural ancestry and kinship with the Hero War twins protected them as the Keepers of the Roads– to explain the fact that they survived the holocaust and became the elder brothers to the other ancestral Puebloans. It was the Snake-Antelope legends that preserved the stories about the presence of the Stone Ancients on the Potrero de Vacas (Chi-pia #2) near the Acoma and Laguna Pueblos  as well as the role of the Tsamaiya medicine priest (Stephen, 1929, 1936a,b; Fewkes, 1894), which ties the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute societies as “younger brothers” directly into the Keres Tsamaiya ideological complex through the Snake and Flute dances as its ceremonial expressions among the Kayenta (proto-Hopi) Puebloans.

kapina altar-figure 3-Stirling 1942

Left: Kapina sand altar that is named Tsamaiya for the Tiamunyi as the mother-father of the people encircles a crescent moon (Stirling, 1942:38, fig. 3). “Then Tiamuni instructed him how to make the sand painting (ha’atse tsitiă chăn, “earth drawing”) for this altar. The drawing was to be made the same as for the honani altar [Iatiku’s corn-ear fetish altar, a fire altar] excepting that tracks of the different game animals are put on the center of the figure of the earth, which is to be gray, and the direction colors for north, south, east, and west are added. The male Tsama’hia on the left facing the altar represented the the father of the people. The female umahia represents the “mother” of the people. So Tiamuni taught him songs different from the ones sung before the altar of Iatiku. This altar was not to cure the sick like that of Iatiku, but was to give strength to the people.” It is notable that both names were included in the invocation to warriors made by the Tsamaiya medicine priest of this altar during the Snake ceremony at both Walpi and Sia (Table 1). For more detail about the Kapina (KaBina) altar consult (White, 1932:42,48). For example, although the Tiamunyi was the most powerful spiritual and political leader, he was not allowed to make his own altar. The Kapina medicine chief (Tsamaiya) must make it for him, which represented a balance of power that in fact favored the authority of medicine priests according to Leslie White (1932:51-52).

Another significant detail is the altar featured the stone fetishes of the predatory animals headed by the puma and flint, a lightning talisman. As I worked to understand the orientation of this altar, I realized that the informant could easily have used the cardinal directions to describe the placement of the fetishes, but didn’t. In general, among all pueblos the left hand was associated with the underworld and female (Parsons, Beals, 1934:503) and the right hand with male and sky, which would mean that the fetishes directionally may have referred to the conjoined agency of an Above (tsamaiya) and Below (umahia) celestial power that appears to have been an aspect of the axis mundi. The invocation itself suggests this was the case (Table 1). These fetishes were said to be nearly as tall as a human, and the male form was reiterated in the smaller tiponis (10″ base, 27″ length) of Snake and Antelope chiefs (Dorsey, Voth, 1902:209-210). The fact that the tiponi of an Antelope chief was basically a red buckskin base with a quadripartite symbol holding a yellow (north, ancestral Mountain/cave Shipap) jasper tcamahia enshrouded in eagle feathers suggests that the tcamahia itself was a deified representation of the supernatural warriors led by the Tcamahia of the North who as the Stone Ancients served the patron of the Snake-Antelope society, Heshanavaiya, who was the Ancient of the Six Directions and the Plumed Serpent of the nadir (primordial ocean). (Recall the design of the first kiva mandated by the Corn mother, wherein the north portal was the supernatural access point to the axis mundi, Sun, moon, and all directions, Stirling, 1942:19).

The Kapina society undoubtedly had several orders in addition to the snake masters, but given the presence of tcamahias at Pueblo Bonito the order related to the dynasty that I argue occupied Pueblo Bonito was a Tsamaiya order whose clan ancient of the ancestral Tsamaiya medicine priest was the warrior chief of the North whose grand)father was the horned Plumed Serpent. Any reference to the Stone Ancients (Chama-hiya, e.g., Tsamaiya) by definition infers the Hero/War Twins who brought about the circumstance of their creation in the mythological holocaust of fire that burned the surface of the earth. The Hero/War Twins were the grandsons of the Plumed Serpent and sons of the sun who carried the tcamahia as a lightning weapon. Therefore, it is very likely that the ancestral Keres Tsamaiya medicine priest may have been viewed at the first earthly embodiment of the Hero/War Twin. That tentative conclusion is supported by a Snake origin legend that recounts their association when one of the Tsamaiyas “reached So-tcap -tu-kwi (a place near Santa)” and met with the elder Hero/War twin (Fewkes, 1894:117). This explains why it was that only the Kapina society, e.g., the Tsamaiya medicine priest, thereafter had the authority to initiate and appoint a war chief (Keres, Hopi) or the chief Bow priests (Keres, Hopi, Zuni) who assumed the names of their patrons, the Hero/War Twins.

The Kapina society’s altar supports virility and male daytime activities- hunting, farming, war–and this basic purpose of tsamaiya-related references (lightning celt, tcamahia warriors as hunters, perhaps stone jog-toed sandal effigies, etc) to strengthening are, like kopishtaiya effigies, references to supernatural lightning-makers and their powers of wind, water, thunder, heat, cold, etc., whatever was necessary to be a successful predator. The tsamaiya and umahia idols were made of the feathers of birds of prey to indicate that the powers of Sky and the skills of predator hunters will be invoked.  Lightning, like a rainbow, is a manifestation of both light and water or, seen in  zoomorphic terms, the Plumed Serpent that is the axis mundi. What the text does not make plain is that this is the altar of a Keres Kapina medicine priest called the Tsamaiya who we meet in the Snake legends as a Stone Ancient of a Chi-pia location, a hochani who is not a warrior or hunter but rather the head medicine priest who was empowered by ownership of these important idols, and the songs that animated them, to invoke the supernaturals who would strengthen a killer, e.g., a warrior or hunter. The Tsamaiya was a snake master and therefore by definition a cloud-maker. Recall from the Introduction that Sun and Cloud, the latter extended and elaborated through the concept of the lightning makers,  Kopishtaiya, iconic stone fetishes that were under the hierarchical control of the Hero/War Twins, Tiamunyi, and war chiefs. Sun and Cloud were the basics conditions of life. The Tsamaiya was an aspect of the Tiamunyi in much the same way that the Plumed Serpent was a tri-partite axis mundi. To say that a Tsamaiya hochani was a cloud-maker is to say that he possessed the powers of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud/lightning ideogram and all that it implied in terms of access to the ancestral Ancients that created and sustained the world. Through the supernaturals who listened to him and acted on his behalf he had access to the range of cosmic possibilities that were described in Tiyo’s shamanic flight and the importance of the gift of the rain cloud that was given to him by Heshanavaiya  (Fewkes, 1894).

The Kapina society’s altar supports virility and male daytime activities- hunting, farming, war–and this basic purpose of tsamaiya-related references (lightning celt, tcamahia warriors as hunters, perhaps stone jog-toed sandal effigies, etc) to strengthening are, like kopishtaiya effigies, references to supernatural lightning-makers and their powers of wind, water, thunder, heat, cold, etc., whatever was necessary to be a successful predator. The feathers of birds of prey indicate that the powers of Sky and the skills of predator hunters will be invoked, and the corn-ear fetish infers that the power of the axis mundi makes that possible.  Lightning, like a rainbow, is a manifestation of both light and water or, seen in  zoomorphic terms, the Plumed Serpent that is the axis mundi. What the text does not make plain is that this is the altar of a Keres Spider medicine priest called the Tsamaiya who we meet in the Snake legends as a Stone Ancient of a Chi-pia location, a hochani who is not a warrior or hunter but rather the head priest who was empowered by ownership of these important fetishes, and the songs that animated them, to invoke the supernaturals who would strengthen a warrior or hunter, e.g., a killer. The Tsamaiya was a snake master and, as such, a cloud-maker. Recall from the Introduction that Sun and Cloud, the latter extended and elaborated through the concept of the Kopishtaiya iconic stone fetishes that were under the hierarchical control of the Hero War twins, Tiamunyi, and war chiefs, were the basics conditions of life. The Tsamaiya was an aspect of the Tiamunyi in much the same way that the Plumed Serpent was a tri-partite axis mundi. To say that a Tsamaiya hochani was a cloud-maker is to say that he possessed the powers of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud/lightning ideogram and all that it implied in terms of access to the ancestral Ancients that created and sustained the world. Through the supernaturals who listened to him and acted on his behalf he had access to the range of cosmic possibilities that were described in Tiyo’s shamanic flight and the importance of the gift of the rain cloud that was given to him by Heshanavaiya  (Fewkes, 1894). 

Perhaps more than any other actor whose function was preserved in Puebloan legends the work of the Tsamaiya indicates exactly what was being advertised in a visual program dominated by Twisted Gourd symbolism and the “Chaco signature.” The Tiamunyi was the speaker for the sun, an astonishing title in its own right, while at the same time his male aspect was also represented by the Tsamaiya warrior ideological complex. In essence, therefore, the Tiamunyi represented the sun with all of its generative aspects and he was the defender of the sun, which equated him with Venus as the avatar of the horned Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North called Four Winds. Although this will have to be verified by linguistic evidence, these findings strongly suggest that the identity of the warrior of the North called the Tsamaiya (Ancestral Tcamahia Warrior) was in fact a materialization of the Venus avatar of Four Winds who was known in Mesoamerica as Quetzalcoatl. This leads to the exciting prospect in cross-cultural studies of Twisted Gourd symbolism that the quadripartite symbol, which was associated with the sun, the Plumed Serpent, Venus, and the Hero War twins, not only was indexical for a pan-Amerindian cosmology under the influence of Teotihuacan but that the stone lightning celt itself, which so much earlier was associated with the axis mundi in a quincunx form (Marin, 2012), was the material representation of the martial power of Venus wielded by the Hero War twins in Snake-Antelope ritualism and hence the Tsamaiya (Venus) medicine priest acting as the Tsamaiya warrior that empowered them. This also explains why the Tsamaiya aka Stone Ancients were known as “snake masters.” The chief war priest, the medicine man called the Tsamaiya, embodied the Plumed Serpent as the “strengthening” power of the tri-partite axis mundi (review the Keres Kapina altar and its extension to the Broken Prayer stick of a war chief who was appointed and initiated by the Kapina medicine priest) that was crystallized in the strengthening role of Venus. This line of reasoning associates the Keres Antelope clan and the Keresan ritual language not only with their supernatural ancestry in the Plumed Serpent but also their mythological deer-antelope “lightning man” (perhaps representing all horned mountain animals) with Venus and the sun, a diagnostic mythology that may yet point to their formative Mesoamerican, perhaps even Peruvian, roots.

Perhaps more than any other actor whose function was preserved in Puebloan legends, the work of the Tsamaiya indicates exactly what was being advertised in a visual program dominated by Twisted Gourd symbolism and the “Chaco signature.” The Tiamunyi was the speaker for the sun, an astonishing title in its own right, while at the same time his male aspect was also represented by the Tsamaiya warrior. In essence, the Tiamunyi represented the sun with all of its generative aspects and he was the warrior of the sun, which equated him with Venus as the avatar of the horned Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North called Four Winds. Although this will have to be verified by linguistic evidence, these findings strongly suggest that the identity of the warrior of the North called the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia) was in fact a materialization of the Venus avatar of Four Winds who was known in Mesoamerica as Quetzalcoatl. This leads to the exciting prospect in cross-cultural studies of Twisted Gourd symbolism that the quadripartite symbol, which was associated with the sun, the Plumed Serpent, Venus, and the Hero War twins, not only was indexical for a pan-Amerindian cosmology under the influence of Teotihuacan but that the stone lightning celt itself, which so much earlier was associated with the axis mundi in a quincunx form (Marin, 2012), was the material representation of the martial power of Venus wielded by the Hero War twins in Snake-Antelope ritualism and hence the Tsamaiya (Venus) medicine priest acting as the Tsamaiya warrior that empowered them. This also explains why the Tsamaiya aka Stone Ancients were known as “snake masters.” The chief war priest, the medicine man called the Tsamaiya, embodied the Plumed Serpent as the “strengthening” power of the tri-partite axis mundi (review the Keres Kapina altar and its extension to the Broken Prayer stick of a war chief who was appointed and initiated by the Kapina medicine priest) that was crystallized in the strengthening role of Venus. This line of reasoning associates the Keres Antelope clan and the Keresan ritual language not only with their supernatural ancestry in the Plumed Serpent but also their mythological deer-antelope “lightning man” (perhaps representing all horned mountain animals) with Venus and the sun, a diagnostic mythology that may yet point to their formative Mesoamerican, perhaps even Peruvian, roots.

In the Kapina altar associated with the Tiamunyi and Spider woman, the foundational idea that Iatiku is corn and Tiamunyi is meat grows clear: together the supernatural couple represents provision of the basic foods of the Puebloans, where corn is nurture and meat is strength. A book could be written about the importance of this simple altar. Its name is Tiamunyi, the most powerful male in Puebloan culture because of his supernatural origin, which was direct descent as a bloodline from the creators who established the axis mundi. The altar sanctioned a second Tiamunyi, an aspect of the first, called the Tsamaiya, a Spider medicine priest and spiritual twin, as it were, of a man whose word was law. The Tsamaiya’s role can be appreciated when it is realized that in the medicine bowl the power of the sacred directions–the cosmos– came together. The medicine priest historically was always behind the power of the king, with Merlin being a prime example. The Tsamaiya was a Magician, just as the Hero/War Twins were referred to as Magicians by both the Maya and Puebloans.  The Tiamunyi had two fetishes, male and female, of which only the purpose of the male was pursued in this report because it had a recognizable, datable archaeological outcome, the lightning celt called the tcamahia. Into that single artifact is woven the origin of the corn life-way, the supernaturals who created it as a system of sacred directions, and the supernaturally endowed males who had the authority to speak to their relatives (the creators). The nature of the tcamahia and the reason it was valued open the door to the Stone Ancients, which was the mythology behind the authority and power of the Tsamaiya who was a descendant of the Stone Ancients– the puma, lord of the powerful predatory animals and ancestral medicine doctor was his nahual. Into the Tsamaiya’s story is interwoven the authority of the  Hero War twins, “And of men and all creatures he [Sun father] gave them the fathership and dominion, also as a man gives over the control of his work to the management of his hands” (Cushing, 1896:382). The Sun father turns over the keys to the castle to his twin sons (one person), but the Sun father also had a father, and we finally get down to the power of the tcamahia and other stone fetishes when we find him as the basis of the axis mundi and understand the kinship between the supernatural Tiamunyi and the Hero War twins who shared the same lineage at the beginning of time. Their heritage was continued in human actors who would lead their communities in historical time. For those who are interested in Joseph Campbell’s work in the Power of Myth, to my mind there is no more poignant and compelling myth in literature than the birth, death, and apotheosis of the Hero Twins (Tedlock, 1996). It takes many months to sit with them and walk in their shoes and, although through a glass darkly, begin to see things the way they saw things. Although the lesson about what one sees is transient, but what one does not see is not, is the oldest story on earth, the color, humor, violence, and ingenious craziness of their story still shakes one out of the complacency of what we think we know.  In that sense one lives the myth that informed  a pan-Amerindian cosmovision and the lives of millions of people. Through their epic exploits one sees a model of social order and governance emerge and learn the identity of the “Trues” that will guide the fully lived human journey, which is a story of wisdom and enduring life.

While the archaeological record and ethnographic reporting focused on the male tcamahia (Tsamaiya) as the father of the people, the altar is balanced by the smaller  umahia, the mother of the people. To clarify a point that is easy to overlook in the Keres origin story, the founder of the first  war altar was a priestess who initiated a male priest. A woman from the Spider clan established the first Kapina altar (just as Snake woman established the Snake altar, Stephen, 1929:50) and then initiated the first Kapina priest as a medicine man who selected and initiated the war chief. “Here is my mother. You will keep our life stored here and we will be forever dependent on you and nourishment will be from you.” So Tiamunyi handed the basket to the woman who was to be Kapina chaianyi” (Stirling, 1942:39). One is hard-pressed to find this actor in ethnographic reports. Since the Zuni and Keres referred to themselves as one people, the Kapina priestess may be a parallel to the extraordinary Priestess of Fecundity of Zuni ceremony, but too few details are available to reach any conclusions about how the political power of the Priestess of Fecundity over the pekwin (she could dismiss him), or the Kapina priestess’ over the Tiamunyi, was justified.

The supernatural pair called the Stone Men and War gods, in this report the Hero/War Twins, integrated the Above and Below sacred directions in the triadic cosmos of the ancestral Puebloan ideological system of leadership. They are described as very short, youthful spirits whose lightning bolts could crack open the earth to make a canyon or destroy its surface to make life safer for the emerging Puebloans. The legends about their power and malicious play in the service of their grandmother Spider woman are anecdotal and of increasing disinterest as Puebloan governance adopts a Westernized outlook. The fact that they were the supernatural patrons of War captains is passed over quickly because War captains are no longer feared. However, it is in the Tsamaiya and Awona ideological complexes where their pervasive authority through the male aspect of the Tiamunyi comes to light.

Their supernatural ancestry begins with the creation of the sun out of mist through Thought (Cushing, 1896:379). They were born of a ray of sun and the foam of moving water (note the life-giving light-water construct) and together they were instructed by their Sun father to be the masters and instructors (fathers) of all creatures (Cushing, 1896:382). Their hourglass symbol represented magic arrows given to them by the Sun, the stone of which was sentient, protective, and contained lightning. Their bow was a rainbow, and they carried a fog-making shield. The elder brother represented the Above, while the younger brother represented the Below, and together they met at the center, which is the inference of the hourglass symbol. It is important to keep in mind that they, by supernatural birth, are equal parts sun and water, where the water was foaming and moving, e.g., they are light-struck-foaming-water rainbow children and a fulfillment of the igneous : aquatic paradigm that constituted the basis of eternal life of men, gods, and nature itself. Foaming water is water stirred by a torrent or wind, and it’s a pan-Amerindian concept of fertility and “dew,” the blessed substance, the essence of the living, sentient quality of the ancestral Snake-Mountain/cave (Stuart, 2007), the “high place” the Twins always occupied.  The image of a mountain with rivers crashing down its sides gives one a sense of just how much “dew” surrounded the four sacred mountains. We are not told as we are in the Maya corn myth preserved in the Popol vuh that the Plumed Serpent was the Twins’ grandfather, rather we are shown. The social context for both was the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud metaphor of Twisted Gourd symbolism. When we learn that the ancestral Puebloan’s axis mundi and Tree of Life was a tri-partite Plumed Serpent with a zenith called the Four Winds lightning deity, a Plumed Serpent wind god that was invoked by the Zuni Twins in their establishment of Zuni Bow warriors, it leaves little doubt about the international identity of that deity and its similar relationship to the Zuni and Maya Twins. Likewise, in the Acoma Keres origin story, Utsita speaks only through Spider woman, who was the grandmother of the Twins for the Keres and the Hopi. From the many stories in which she advises and assists her grandsons it is only logical to infer that she was still speaking to them on behalf of the supreme Utsita, who will be co-identified with a tri-partite Plumed Serpent in the Zuni Awona section, where the Plumed Serpent is Heart of the Sky. Likewise, the ancestral Puebloan’s Plumed Serpent as Heart of Sky, a tri-partite lightning and whirling storm deity who occupied the celestial House of the North, was the Maya Twin’s grandfather in the Popol Vuh, “After this [heroic task assigned by Heart of Sky] the two boys [Hero twins] went on again. What they did was simply the word of the Heart of Sky” (Tedlock, 1996:81). The “word” of the Maya’s Heart of Sky was transmitted by lightning (ibid., 99), just as Utsita, the Keres celestial north pole of the axis mundi, as lightning spoke to Spider woman from his location in the celestial House of the North.

Chak with tcamahia K521Left: The lightning ax, a tcamahia,  wielded by the major Maya rain and thunder  god Chak (K521), an image interpreted by Tedlock as the elder Maya Hero Twin dressed as the Thunderbolt god in a scene on a Maya vase that depicts he and his younger brother playfully killing a dog and bringing it back to life as part of their strategy to defeat the gods of death in the underworld (Tedlock, 1996:136). In Maya mythology the Hero Twins were the sons of the Maize god and grandsons of the Plumed Serpent who, as Heart of Sky, materialized as three different forms of lightning, the strongest being the Thunderbolt god that was personified by the Maya as Chac, by the Mexicans as Tlaloc, and by the Zapotecans as Cocijo. Notice the curvature on the hafted celt, where little doubt now remains that Maya mythology was the inspiration for the claw-type IIb crook cane in the assemblage of crook canes found at Pueblo Bonito and seen as a petroglyph associated with a Venus glyph (Hero/War Twins) at Wupatki. In the scene below twin serpents form the haft, which supports the idea that the hafted tcamahia as the weapon of the Hero/War Twins and the Snake-Antelopes was associated with the Plumed Serpent, lightning, and storms and inspired by the mythology of Heart of Sky as preserved in the Popol vuh.

Dumbarton panel 2-tcamahia with cauac glyph hafted by serpent

Dumbarton Oaks Panel 2: At Palenque the artist who carved this panel is thought to be the same artist who carved Pacal the Great’s sarcophagus lid in the context of the Twisted Gourd symbol. In this scene, a Palenque lord holds aloft in his left hand a tcamahia hafted by serpents and carved with a cauac (storm) glyph. It appears to be related to a mythological event in which the Maize god participated in an “ax (chopping)” ceremony (Coe, Benson, 1966). We know that the lightning celt was associated with the introduction of maize agriculture into the American Southwest (Taube, 2000), and together these scenes provide insight into the Hero Twins/Maize god mythology of the stone lightning celt that accompanied the spread of maize agriculture. “The old stone hoes are not called hoes, only chama’hia. They are implement (hoe) and weapon (axe) combined, the war god’s weapon — chama’hia Pu’ukonhoya turnipiadta, Pu’ukonhoya’s weapon” (Stephen, 1936a: 625).

Tcamahias room 30 Wallace-Bradley 2010a fig 4.3.11
Left: Tcamahias found in situ at Wallace Pueblo (Bradley, 2010a:fig. 4.3.11), just five miles from Cortez in southwestern Colorado where the ancestral Shipap of the Acoma Keres was located and where the second phallic Twisted Gourd effigy was found at Mitchell Springs.

What the evidence points to is that 1) the Maya’s corn myth was influential in shaping the ancestral Puebloan’s corn life-way, conception of the axis mundi as the tripartite Plumed Serpent. and the Above-Middleplace-Below (axis mundi) role of the Hero  twins as the grandsons of the Plumed Serpent, and 2) the Popol vuh informs many details of the Tsamaiya and Awona complexes, such as the fact that the tcamahia was the weapon of the Hero/War twins just as an identical version of the tcamahia was the weapon of the Maya Hero twins (Tedlock, 1996:136); devotees of the Star of the Four Winds god of Chi-pia, e..g., the Plumed Serpent, were sword swallowers like the Hero twins (ibid., 132); and the four Chi-pia locations of the ancestral Puebloans, “misty” god houses protected by the Puma, were places of initiation where the chiefs of leading clans received their gods that were set above all other tribal gods [emphasis mine] because of the “greatness of their day [association with the first dawn and its herald, Venus], and greatness of their breath of spirit”  (ibid., 159). So, the introduction of agriculture for both the Maya and Pueblos came with this singularly important ritual complex of “newness” that comprised the first light, first day as a unit of ritual time; the enduring power of the ancient gods that was preserved in the stone of the Fourth world as the breath of life and lightning;  the supernatural grandsons of the creator gods (water and light) who established law and order (Hero Twins); the use of  smoke from a consecrated substance such as “copal from the east” to venerate the triad of gods that were associated with these beginnings (ibid, 160); and, importantly, the interconnected states of dark and light were equally necessary for sustained life, a fact reflected in the light/dark identity of the Hero Twins (same with the Tiamunyi/Tsamaiya pair) and in the idea that a seed moved through the triadic stages of dormancy to germination (underworld phase) to growth (upper world phase) with which they were associated in the Popol vuh.

In that light, the significance of the tcamahia, a stone lightning fetish that was both a gardening tool (Tiamunyi) and a weapon (Tsamaiya) as the agency of the fertility : sacrifice dyad that kept the world in a materialized state, becomes quite clear. As a ritual “male stone” fetish it is hard to imagine a more potent icon other than the female corn ear itself that demonstrated the cosmic significance of the corn life-way and the fact that it took death to sustain all life. That cosmogony and ideology of rulership as mediated through the Hero/War Twins is materialized by the Antelope altar, whose mystic first chief was Heshanavaiya (horned Plumed Serpent, Ancient of the Six Points, Maker of the roads that, in its sun aspect, finished the roads), as the first medicine- and road-making stage of the Snake-Antelope ceremonies (Stephen, 1936a: fig. 365). In that diagram we also begin to understand what the ancestral (mythological) “white house” was in Keres folklore– as the outside border of four colored borders that defined the sand (earth) altar of color-coded clouds, lightning snakes and the puma, it enfolded the rainbow centerplace that was the medicine bowl where these powers came together. It meant “everything included,” and by extension it referred to the new sun of the Fourth world that rose in the east (white) and transformed darkness into light. Also by extension we begin to understand the importance of Venus as the avatar of first light and materialization of the Plumed Serpent as the sun in terms of creation events. In this single illustration we can also count a minimum of four metaphors that materialized the cosmogonic igneous : aquatic paradigm– the sovereign Plumed Serpent, the Tiamunyi-Tsamaiya pair (reflection of the Hero/War Twins), the tcamahia/corn ear pair, and the white house. In this group we can also include the Twisted Gourd symbol (geometric form of the Moche’s Tinkuy) and the checkerboard, kan-k’in, and quincunx patterns.

To clarify, the Maya images associated with the tcamahia do not necessarily mean that there was a direct transmission of Mayan mythology via sons or daughters of the royal family at Palenque to the Bonitian dynasty at Pueblo Bonito. What these images do infer about the two dynasties that shared Twisted Gourd symbolism is that the ideology of rulership associated with the Twisted Gourd symbol as the “place of living water,” as did the four Puebloan Chi-pia sites that surrounded Pueblo Bonito as the center of the quincunx, e.g., the centerplace of four solstitial positions of the sun (“roads”), referred to the ancestral Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud narrative of ancestral supernatural descent co-located with a Shipap where there was access to the “living water” of the Plumed Serpent that was both the spirit of the primordial ocean and Heart of Sky, e.g., an axis mundi. The social cohesion engendered by the corn life-way that we see among the ancestral Puebloans, however, does commence with an encounter between a residential People of Dew, the Keresans who authored the ritual necessities of the corn life-way, and semi-nomadic tribes, the Zuni and Hopi. In the Keres and Zuni origin stories, therefore, we have clues as to the means of transmission from Mexico of the ritual complex of the corn life-way in the Maya/Nahuatl form as preserved in the Popol vuh in which it had evolved as the religious cosmology of the sovereign Plumed Serpent–the cosmogonic sun-water construct and author of the cosmological sacred directions that connected the earth with the liminal realms. Corn had been in the northern Southwest for at least a millennium before the early signs of the Plumed Serpent cult as Twisted Gourd symbolism appeared in cave ritual in the Pueblo-Mogollon archaeological zone. That was no later than the Mogollon 3/San Francisco phase of 650 to 850 CE, during which period we also see the rise of the ceremonial complex at Pueblo Bonito.

No doubt there had been an earlier expression of the corn-life-way, perhaps related directly to sun worship and an egalitarian social structure, that had been supplanted by the more science-driven knowledge base of the Plumed Serpent cult with its ideology of rulership extending from the celestial House of the North through the axis mundi that tied the sacred directions directly into social organization and status based in supernatural ancestry. The fact that the quadripartite symbol of the Plumed Serpent marked the Basketmaker-to-Pueblo I transition as the emergence of an international religious iconography on ceramics in the cradle of Puebloan culture certainly supports this conclusion (Roberts, 1930). That said, based on the repositioning of the old Pueblo Bonito of 850-860 CE from an orientation to the winter solstice sun in the southeast to the new Pueblo Bonito of 1030 to 1130 CE with a perfectly aligned North-South axis (Munro, Malville, 2011), it appears that, while the cosmovision of the first dynastic Puebloans may have evolved, the same family lineage(s) based on a single female founder occupied Pueblo Bonito as the centerplace of the cosmovision for over 300 years. The founding male #14, apparently sacrificed ritually, was buried in the ancestral crypt at some point between 781 and 873 CE (Kennett et al., 2017:fig. 2). The face of male #14 was oriented to the southeast, while his body was oriented to the N-S axis, and he appeared to have had a slight lambdoid compression, three details that cautiously suggest he may have been from a Pueblo-Mogollon group with the bighorn mountain sheep clan that had added the horn to the “horned” Feathered Serpent, which both the Jornada and Mimbres Mogollon venerated.

Among the ancestral Puebloans, it was Snake woman from Chi-pia #4 in southeastern Utah who, as the wife of the Snake chief of an Antelope kiva and descendant of the daughter of Heshanavaiya (the mother of all Snake clans), said she could give others access to the living water of the Shipap at Chi-pia #2 on the Potrero de Vacas (Stephen, 1929:44). The group she traveled with went on to settle Hopi First Mesa, where the building of Kookopnyama (Kokopnyama) c. 1272 CE approximates their arrival about 150 years after the depopulation of Chaco canyon. The Acoma Keres from Chi-pia #1 in southwestern Colorado near Cortez settled Chi-pia #2 (Stirling, 1942). Although the founding of the Keres pueblos along the Rio Grand in New Mexico are not well dated, Acoma is roughly dated to 1000 CE, about a 150 years before the depopulation of Chaco canyon and coeval with the Gallina living near them who had Chaco ties and all-but-certain Keres ties in southwestern Colorado (Ellis, 1988), where the Keres had a foothold prior to 800 CE in the Rosa-phase Sacred Ridge community. A unique clan sign from the massacred Sacred Ridge community survived at Aztec pueblo and as rock art in the Largo canyon region the Gallina occupied in New Mexico; the Gallina were Rosa-phase descendants. The arrival of the “Late Bonitians” coincided with the enlargement of Pueblo Bonito during the building boom between 1030-1130 CE, when the building was repositioned along a North-South axis (Munro and Malville, 2011), e..g., the axis mundi formed by the Keres Four Winds Plumed Serpent at the celestial House of the North, the Keres Katoya Rattlesnake Plumed Serpent at the center, and the Heshanavaiya Plumed Serpent at the nadir. If the tower-building Gallina were Keres survivors of the massacred tower-building Sacred Ridge community, then it is unfortunate that they were pursued and killed again in New Mexico, but their apparent demise in New Mexico by 1250-1300 CE coincides with the move of the Snake-Antelopes with a Keres Kookop clan to Hopi First Mesa, where Maasaw refused to let them build any Snake towers. Obviously, the Snake towers were regarded as potent ceremonial loci, and the Gallina had built hundreds of them in Chaco’s southeast quadrant near Chi-pia #2. Twisted Gourd symbolism on Red Mesa B/w pottery at Pueblo Bonito between 875 CE to 1050 CE indicates that it wasn’t the Late Bonitians who introduced the religion of the Plumed Serpent, but it does appear that the Late Bonitians very likely were kinfolk from the Mesa Verde region of southwestern Colorado, e.g., the Acoma Keres from Chi-pia #1 in the Cortez region, where the second phallic Twisted Gourd effigy was found at Mitchell Springs. The realignment of Pueblo Bonito coincides with their move to Acoma, the relocation of the Chaco-type Gallina (with the lambdoid cranial modification) from southwestern Colorado to within 60 miles of Pueblo Bonito, and evidence that the Snake-tower–building Gallina had a ceremonial presence inside of a Pueblo Bonito kiva while Acoma Keres Snake-Antelopes were buried inside the Bonitian crypt. In short, the evidence points to a conclusion that while Chaco’s Bonitian founders may have originated with Pueblo-Mogollon traders (map), the second-wave Late Bonitians appear to have come from southwestern Colorado among the same Keres who founded Rosa-phase Sacred Ridge. The Rosa-phase Gallina who migrated south from that region and resettled near the Keres in New Mexico appear to have been part of that dynastic family. The historical thread that connects the center at Pueblo Bonito with the corners of the NE (Chi-pia #1), SE (Chi-pia #2), and NW (Chi-pia #4) quadrants is the concept of the ancestral “place of living water,” which appears to have been co-identified with Twisted Gourd symbolism and a Keres Snake bloodline.

Finding: These are all associations related to the Tsamaiya ideological complex and the mythology of the Stone Ancients (Tsamaiya, Chamahiya snake masters) located at Chi-pia #2 in the SE corner (winter solstice sunrise) of the Chacoan polity, which happens to have very strong parallels with the Keres’ category of the kopishtaiya lightning makers down to and including the Plumed Serpent, Hero/War Twins and Venus. This suggests that the Stone Ancients and kopishtaiya were two names for the same mythology, perhaps at two different points in time, such as before and after the introduction of the kachina religion at some point after the 13th century CE. In the following section note the claw type IIb crook cane that is the emblem of the kachina “father” of the Kopishtaiya with a stepped bank of winter clouds on his head (Stirling, 1942:pl. 14-1d), who directed the Kopishtaiya from the SE place of the rising winter sun. Along with the tcamahias found at Pueblo Bonito, the claw type IIb crook cane, which was found in Pueblo Bonito’s dynastic burial crypt and also at Tularosa cave in the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone 650-750 CE, provides conclusive evidence for the Keres Tsamaiya ideological complex and the Snake-Antelopes with the Horn-Flutes (Below and Above houses of the axis mundi, respectively) at Pueblo Bonito by 781-873 CE.

Merchant god with cylinder vessel cacao-Tedlock 1996 pg 135

The Maya Merchant God (God L) sits on a dais in an underworld scene while a woman on his right prepares the food of the gods, foamed (wind god) cacao, from a cylinder vessel (Tedlock, 1996:135) such as found at Pueblo Bonito. This image was taken from a Maya cylinder “Princeton” vase (K511), a ceramic form that promoted the association of cacao with the nourishment of gods among social elites that consumed the beverage ritually. In Maya mythology, God L.was also the maternal grandfather of the Hero Twins. Dozens of these cylinder vessels were found associated with the burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito and, when tested, cacao residues were found.

Based on the primacy of the idea of the chiefs of the six color-coded directions with a seventh as the rainbow to lead them all, and the fact that Keres, Hopi, Zuni, and Tewa regional systems likewise were each organized into seven pueblos, we can confidently presume that the role of Pueblo Bonito in the Chaco system was as the seventh direction of six associated Great Houses in Chaco Canyon, the master rainbow, as it were, of four rainbow systems at its NW, SW, SE, and NE corners, e.g., the Chi-pia or “misty” rainbow places where gods emerged and departed. Chi-pia #2 in the southeast corner at the position of the winter solstice rising sun where one of the shrines of the Stone Lions was located fortunately has been preserved in Puebloan memory and its function and importance documented by ethnographers. In terms of the directional system, the winter solstice in the southeast corner was the middleplace of time that divided the year into the snow and hail of winter (North), and the rain and lightning of summer (South). Between those two the seeds that were preserved by priests, whose fundamental role was as seed-keepers, were planted and harvested.

This idea is preserved among the Zuni in their system of three ettone (pl., ettowe), the sacred fetishes brought from the underworld by the chiefs of leading clans (“seeds of the priesthoods”) that represented the seeds of winter snow, hail, and new soil (muetone, North, ettone of the Hle’wekwe Wood fraternity); the seeds of summer rain and thunder (kaetone, Center, ettone of the House of Houses, Macaw fraternity); and the chuetone of the South, the ettone of the  Newekwe Galaxy fraternity, seeds of all food (Cushing, 1896:387). Note that these three prized emblems of authority form a north-center-south terrestrial mirror of the celestial House of the North-Center-Nadir axis and together form a quadripartite cross, the symbol of the sun-water Feathered Serpent, that connects through the House of Houses (Centerpoint) associated with the Macaw that originally had its “house” in rm. 38 at Pueblo Bonito (Pepper, 1920) where a goddess figurine was also found (Pepper, 1905: pl XXVIII). The Puebloan case adds clarifying insight into the meaning of the pan-Amerindian quadripartite equal-arm cross, which up to now has been vaguely defined as referring to the “quartered nature” of divinity and/or the cosmos. Clearly it is a three-dimensional cosmogram involving intersecting North-South celestial and terrestrial  axes wherein the earth is suspended at the Centerpoint as if in the web of an orb-weaver spider.

Note also that the chuetone that was stuffed with “all seeds” had a conceptual parallel with the Corn mother’s corn-ear fetish (honani, iariko, tiponi) that had honey, “dew” that represented all flowering plants, stuffed into its base to represent an enduring abundance of “all foods” (Stirling, 1942:.31-32). Also connected to this ideological complex was the Keres First Father (“nothing lacking”, “four skies up,” all waters) who manifested himself as the sun and whose blood clot generated the earth as he planted the Corn mother in the four-fold womb of the earth (ibid., 3). Dove-tailing with this cosmogony is the Zuni’s First Sky Father, Awonawilona (“container of all,” all directions, breath of life), who occupied the celestial House of the North and with his “thoughts” created seven corn seeds that manifested as the lights of the Big Dipper and the directional corn and dew maidens (Cushing, 1896:379-381, 392). Taken together the evidence suggests that the identity of the goddess figurine in room 38 with the macaws of the Middleplace was either the Corn mother that was planted in the womb of the earth by the First Father or one of the corn maidens, an idea borne out by kiva art discovered at Pottery Mound (Hibben, 1975; LA 416, near Isleta Pueblo (Southern Tiwa speakers; see “Who Were the Piro?” Leap, 1971) west of Los Lunas, NM, occupied 1350-1500 CE) that represented unmarried girls as the singing corn maidens wearing the Corn mother’s signature ritual haircut that symbolized the Milky Way (Stirling, 1942:107, fig. 8).

Kiva art from Pottery Mound (Hibben, 1975; LA 416, near Isleta Tiwa Pueblo west of Los Lunas, NM, occupied 1350-1500 CE) that represented unmarried girls as the singing corn maidens wearing the Corn mother’s signature ritual haircut that symbolized the Milky Way (Stirling, 1942:107, fig. 8). The maiden on the left holding macaws stands on a stepped mountain symbol surrounded by star symbols and zig-zag lightning frames extending from a medicine bowl while her sisters carry symbols that were associated with the celestial House of the North and the Big Dipper. On the lower right is an illustration of the Corn mother’s ritual “banged” haircut that represents the Milky Way.

The chuetone, a dried gourd containing seeds, plays a central role in the origin story of the nomadic Zuni’s meeting with the Keres People of Dew, which was when the Corn and Dew maidens first appeared as the seven stars of the Big Dipper, gave the Zuni color-coded corn seed, and Paiyatamu  as the God of Dew and Dawn (Venus) enters the Zuni visual program (Cushing, 1896: 393-397). In the Zuni’s origin story the first act of organization was a social and ritual division into Summer (South) and Winter (North) moieties. Based on the fact that there were two Zuni great kivas as Chaco outliers (Roberts, 1932), we can presume that the two kivas represented the Zuni’s summer and winter division of the year  (“Thus first was our nation divided into the People of Winter and the People of Summer” (Cushing, 1896:386). The primacy of the north (winter) ettone extends from the primacy of the House of the Seven Stars (Big Dipper, CNP) as the “place of beginnings” in the ancestral Puebloan’s cosmology of corn ritual (Cushing, 1896), which is also seen in Zuni organization through the Pekwin (hereditary, Macaw-Dogwood clan), who is the speaker for the sun and the rain priest of the Zenith (Stevenson, 1904:28 fn 1), and the head rain priest of cardinal North, the Kia’kwemosi (ibid., 26).  The Pekwin “owns” the rainbow Corn maiden of the Zenith, and the Kia’kwemosi “owns” the yellow Corn maiden of the North (ibid., 54).  Once again this is a clue that Mrs. Stevenson substituted her understanding of “Above” with “zenith,” e.g., “directly overhead along the meridian,” which is incorrect. The yellow Corn maiden has been described as a star in the Big Dipper (Cushing, 1896:392-393), which can be described as “Above” but never as the zenith. Understood correctly this points to an Above-Below emphasis on the axis mundi and the rotation of the sky dome as the cause of winter and summer and as the critical operational point in ensuring a successful harvest. In other words, the celestial House of the North was the point from which the sky vault was rotated to create cold winds from Four Winds and warm winds from Heshanavaiya that killed or quickened agriculture, respectively. Ritually, the  design of the celestial N-S axis mundi crossed by the intercardinal solstitial paths of the sun make quarter-sections important as seasonal markers when the sun moved south to north and back again along the horizon and the ecliptic intersected the centerpoint of the axis mundi  during the solstices (review the kan-k’in symbol).

Notice that the “seed” form of soil, rain, thunder, and hail reiterates the baskets of seeds that the Sky father gave to the Corn mother and her sister to “plant” (Stirling, 1942:1). At this point the broader concept of “seeds” again comes to the foreground among the Zuni as it did among the Keres as we recall Iatiku’s basket of seeds from the underworld, which were the materialized “thoughts” of Utsita, the Sky father of life, acting from the CNP as the place of beginnings, from which all Puebloan material culture was created, especially its ecological foundation in four sacred mountains each with a sacred tree (Stirling, 1942); the cosmological connection with the winter “seed” stars, e.g., the Pleiades, and the seven stars of the Big Dipper (Corn and Flute Dew maidens) that consecrated, quickened, and fertilized the seeds of the next crop; and the water-worn stone water seeds and medicine stones of the Stone Ancients that retained the memory and spirits of supernaturals of past worlds. The fundamental metaphors were water seeds and corn seeds, where corn seeds were medicine seeds that when placed in water from sacred springs made life-giving medicine water. The annual dance of the Corn and Dew/Flute maidens, where the breath of Paiyatamu’s flute signified the fertilizing wind generated by the rotation of the Big Dipper and the dance of the Flute/dew/water maidens, revivified the moment preserved in mythology when the clan ancients first “danced and  breathed of the sacred medicine seeds” (Cushing, 1896: 394).

Fundamentally, the preservation and growth of the “seed of seeds,” e.g., color-coded corn, embodied the entire ancestral Puebloan ritual program and the duty of thanksgiving to the gods without underestimating the importance of other foods, particularly meat. And yet meat and corn were connected through the concept of seeds, because antelope and its ilk required grass seed. In this scheme we also begin to understand the primacy of North in the ancestral Puebloan system as documented in the Acoma Keres origin story (Stirling, 1942), because the winter solstice was the pivotal point upon which everything else depended. It matters not that actual snow in the region of Chaco Canyon generally came from the southeast. In the liminal space of the kiva, North was where the altar indicated it was (Stephen, 1936a:pl. XVII). The system of sacred directions was international and codified by the kan-k’in sign, where the cardinal equal-arm cross that established the axis mundi as the sacred tree of life was superimposed on the intercardinal paths of the sun. Keeping in mind that everything on the terrestrial plane was mirrored in the liminal realm that surrounded the earth, it worked internationally because a Puebloan sipapu could tap into the ancient liminal system from any point on earth and become a cosmic rainbow centerpoint for the duration of ritual.

Without going into a complicated and controversial topic too deeply, the only concept of evil among Puebloans was a “bad heart” (Dumarest, 1919). The one thing that could thwart a good harvest that had been ensured by proper ritual, conducted by priests who were pure of heart, and guarded throughout by the Hero War twins was witchcraft. The Twins were sons of the Sun, and Paiyatamu was the dawn sun, and so there are examples in Puebloan folklore, including the work of the sacred clowns who embodied “reversals,” where supernaturals related to the sun could ritually reverse the consequences of evil. But in cases of malevolence that involved the injury or death of a neighbor or contamination of seed, the Hero War twins and the Bow warriors they empowered were responsible for finding and prosecuting witches. While the historical accounts of abuse of power by the Bow priests of the Zuni and their counterparts among the Keres and Hopi, the War captain and his minions, focus on their excesses while operating under the supernatural agency of the Above-Below Twins, the fact remains that without the hourglass symbol of the Twins as an archaeological marker and the ethnographic accounts of their exploits we would have little or no sense of how law and order was supernaturally sanctioned by the system of sacred directions. Moreover, the Twins were given the power to rule the earth because they themselves answered to a higher power, and that was the power of the Plumed Serpent out of whose mind and mists their sun father had been formed. Keep in mind that the Plumed Serpent was a twin who was pictured as equal parts bird with shining (sun-struck, colorful) feathers and cosmic water serpent, e.g., the primordial embodiment of fire, water, wind, and earth.

Masewa elder Twin-Cochiti-Dumarest fig 32Left: Masewe, elder War twin, carved in the stone form of a kopishtaiya amulet, Cochiti pueblo (Dumarest, 1919:fig. 32; also at Laguna, Parsons, 1920:97 fn 4).

The cults of the sacred warrior that were established among the Kayenta proto-Hopi and the Zuni guarded ritual against the destructive influence of witches and the borders of a community against enemies. As one of the Snake legends documented, Keres authority also meant Keres support: “Chamahai also gave them the crook that the Youth might place it on the west (?) side of his village [Snake chief of an Antelope kiva] that he and his people might know from this that the Chamahai would ever be their protecting friends” (Stephen, 1929:45). Warriors and warrior societies were empowered by the supernatural authority of the Twins, who in terms of governance answered to the supernatural Tiamunyi (husband of the Corn mother) who was embodied by a human tiamunyi (cacique, pekwin) on earth as the chief and mother-father of a community. We don’t know if the rules of the corn life-way, which were the sacred “roads” defined as statutes, that were established by the Keres were forced upon the Basket-makers and later upon other ethnic groups that moved into the region. The encounter between Keresan priests and the Zuni was peaceful and cooperative, according to the Zuni origin story, and resulted in the “happy” formation of one people from the Zuni nomads and Keres People of Dew (Cushing, 1896:398).

I believe the location where the Zuni nomads met and merged with the settled Keres People of Dew, “Shipololon,” was Chi-pia #3 that was located west of the Zuni’s current location (Cushing, 1896:392-394, 418-423). Among all Puebloans only the Zuni and the Gallina are known to have adopted the Chacoan lambdoid cranial modification of Pueblo Bonito, Whitewater, and the Chacoan Pueblo I and II settlements in southwestern Colorado (Lange, 1941:66-69) near Chi-pia #1 in an area known to be ancestral to the Keres. Both groups were associated with Chi-pia #1 just as both groups were associated with priestly initiations taking place at Chi-pia #2 near the modern Keres pueblos, which suggested that the lambdoid cranial modification was probably associated with the People of Dew and Chi-pia “places of mist,” which were permanent shrines that provided underworld access to clan ancients of the Keres and their supernatural blood lineage. The lambdoid cranial modification was prevalent at the Great Houses of the Zuni Village of the Great Kivas, a Chaco outlier. That site was built and occupied between 992-1204 CE (Damp, 2009:80) long after the Zuni-Keres merger with the Keres People of Dew at “Shipololon,” but coeval with the Gallina who built their first Snake-Antelope round tower in the land of the Tsamaiya near Chi-pia #2 by 1059 CE and possessed the “Great God” Mystery medicine no later than 1190 CE (Ellis, 1988:40). In other words, there is a strong relationship by 1000 CE between the “Great God” of Keresan corn ritual, the order of Mystery medicine, and priests with the lambdoid cranial modification at Chi-pia locations, which surely means Pueblo Bonito was the central Chi-pia location where the “Sacred Brotherhood” of high priests met after they relocated from Chi-pia #1 in southwestern Colorado (Cushing, 1896:426). As described in detail in this section, the “Great God” identified at Chi-pia #2 was the Plumed Serpent that established the Keres axis mundi and integrated the supernaturals associated with the establishment of corn ritual with Mystery medicine (which was the real control on ritual through Keres-initiated medicine priests). In short, it appears that the lambdoid cranial modification was associated with Toltec-style Quetzalcoatl priests who venerated the Plumed Serpent, as also seen in important ceremonial locations in Mesoamerica such as Chichen Itza and the Vera Cruz region (Tiesler refs).

A comparison of the names for the Tiamunyi altar (yaoni, stone, Stone Ancients), the Warriors and Chiefs of the Directions that are summoned by the Tsamaiya of the Sia and Hopi Snake dances (Fewkes, 1895b:126), and the “Ancients,” the Owa (stone) people who ‘own’ the Chiefs of the Directions (Stephen, 1936a:707),  shows that the actor called the Tsamaiya (male aspect of Tiamunyi) and the stone celt called the tcamahia (male stone) are co-identified with the Warriors and Chiefs of the Directions as the Owa or Stone people who were “of the Stone when it had speech and life, and these people [Tsamaiya Kapina medicine priests] were spread to the four corners of the earth,” which I interpret as the four Chi-pia locations. Spider woman was one of the Ancients of the Six Directions, and with Heshanavaiya in a league of their own. We can confidently presume that the Tsamaiya counted among the Ma(t)ki Spider priests, the great wizards “whose knowledge was the sum and substance of all the others” Bandelier, 1890:155). Heshanavaiya, the father of the Snake medicine chief of the Antelope kiva, was also associated with “the male rock,” a painted stone called the great butterfly (Stephen, 1929:44), where the butterfly had snakes on the right and left and was called the black butterfly tile or cloud stone (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 339). Stephen translates Heshanavaiya as “it fell from the clouds” (ibid., 617), which is similar in meaning to the  phrase used to describe where the tcamahia celt, the weapon of the Hero War Twins, came from, “sacred piercers fallen from the Above (ibid., 707). Both the Laguna and Acoma Keres are referred to by Hopi informants as Chama’hiya (ibid., 675; Stephen, 1929:44), which securely co-identifies the Keres with the “Stone Ancients.” The Laguna Keres language of the Snake-Antelope and Flute songs  (Stephen, 1936a:713, 718) was the “language of the underworld” (Ellis, 1967:38). The Hopi Snake medicine priest of the underworld, the “spiritual chief of the Snake people,” was called Chama’hia (Ellis, 1967:37), which co-identifies Heshanavaiya with the Chama’hia snake masters, the Stone Ancients and the ancestral Keres Spider priesthood. The terms Chama’hia and Tsamai’ya are synonymous, and therefore the actual supernatural authority of the Tsamaiya  in the “land of the Tsamaiya” (Chamahai, Chama-hiya) on the Potrero de Vacas was Spider woman, who spoke for Utsita in the Keres language of the underworld. As documented previously, Utsita and Heshanavaiya as the horned Plumed Serpent were the CNP and nadir ends of the axis mundi, respectively. Herein we begin to see why a Tiamunyi-Tsamaiya altar was a Spider society altar. Spider woman was the mother of Utsita’s daughter, who was aunt and wife to Tiamunyi, and therefore Tiamunyi’s maternal grandmother. Heshanavaiya as the rainbow serpent was Tiamunyi’s father, and when the Tsamaiya was initiated as a Spider medicine priest, the Snake chief of an Antelope kiva, it was a father-to-son transmission of ancestral supernatural power. The supernatural power was all-directions Snake medicine water, the life-giving power of the axis mundi. That’s why the legendary Tiyo’s name was changed to Heshanavaiya, his father’s name (Fewkes, 1894). The Tiyo legend, therefore, has to be the youthful backstory to the Tiamunyi Antelope chief of the Acoma Keres origin story. Moreover, as the Plumed Serpent, the “sky stones” of the Tiamunyi altar, such as the butterfly rock, a “cloud stone,”  that Heshanavaiya dropped on Tokonabi, was of the nature of a foundation stone for the Snake order in the NW quadrant of the Chacoan world (Stephen, 1936a: 617). The tcamahia that Heshanavaiya gave Tiyo from his underworld Antelope kiva was therefore instituted in Puebloan culture by the Keres Tiamunyi as a Snake medicine stone. It signified the lightning bolt called Utsita, which can now be interpreted as an aspect of the Plumed Serpent of the CNP which parallels the Maya case of Heart of Sky as the lightning of the Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North (Tedlock, 1996:65).

With male #14 in the Bonitian northern burial crypt (room 33) there was found a “long inlay of red stone” (Pepper, 1909:231; red “snake” pigment, Stephen, 1936a:650), which could describe a medicine stone used to make snake pigment, especially in the context of the conch that was buried with him, which we now know was the “zenith” (CNP Plumed Serpent) ingredient of the medicine water of the Snake ceremony that was sucked and drunk from to gain the benefits of the medicine (Stephen, 1936a:699). Also found at Pueblo Bonito were two tcamahias, while others were found at Pueblo del Arroyo and Spruce Tree House in Mesa Verde (Judd, 1954:243-245, fig. 65). The tcamahias are diagnostic for the Tsamaiya ideological complex, which provide strong evidence to identify male #14 as either the Keres Tiamunyi or his Tsamaiya. The fact that the tcamahia, miniature bow-and-arrow sets that became a primary expression of veneration of the little Hero War twins, decorated flutes, the type IIa and IIb crook canes, macaws, and Twisted Gourd symbolism were all found as an assemblage in the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone in the San Francisco phase 650-850 CE suggests that the tcamahia, War twins, Plumed Serpent, Stone Ancients, Tiamunyi, and the Tsamaiya, e.g., the Tsamaiya ideological complex and cult of the sacred warrior, were associated from the beginning with Chaco culture and the ancestral Puebloan corn life-way (Martin, et al., 1952Hough, 1914).

While Stephen was the first ethnographer to document the relationship between the Tsamaiya, the tcamahia, and the Stone Ancients as snake masters and medicine priests of the Antelope altar, the first anthropologist to detect an association between the Tsamaiya ideological complex and its Mesoamerican cultural context was Florence Hawley Ellis (1967, 1969; Ellis, Hammack, 1968).

Table 1. Domain of the Ancient of the Six, the all-directions Chief of Chiefs, Heshanavaiya (Fewkes, 1894:108), the ancient horned water serpent (Stephen, 1936a:XLVII fn 8).


Stirling, 1942:37-40

Tiamunyi altar; patron was Spider woman

White, 1962:111

Sia Snake dance, “Warriors of the Directions”

Stephen, 1936a:707

Hopi Snake dance, “Chiefs of the Directions,” the Chama’hiya Stone Ancients

North Tsamahia


NW Chama’hiya


West Tsamai’ya (male) Cinohaia NE Chima’hai’ya
South Yumahiya SE Yo’mahi’ya
East  Umahia (female) Awahiya SW A’wahi’ya
CNP Beyahara Conch, omyuka (ibid., 699)




[Horn-Flute patron. germ god (ibid., XLI]
The invocation to the warriors of the six directions is preceded by a song cycle that addressed the Cloud chiefs of the four cardinal directions. Ultimately, among the Hopi the object of prayer and the supernaturals to whom prayers are addressed reduce to four colors as Cloud chiefs, “west: Siky’ak, oma’uwu Yellow Cloud; south: Sa’kwa, oma’uwu Blue Cloud; east: Pal’a oma’uwu Red Cloud; north: K’wetsh oma’uwu White Cloud” (Mindeleff, 1891:129). The fact that Mindeleff consistently was one-off moving counter-clockwise in his association of color with direction indicates he was simply mistaken and the Hopi did not have their own system of color-coded directions. The pan-Puebloan system except for the Rio Grande Tewa (Ortiz, 1969) is North=yellow; West=Blue; South=Red; White=East. While other rituals relied on intermediaries to address the Cloud chiefs, the Tsamaiya ideological complex addressed them directly through the power of the patron of the Snake-Antelopes and Horn-Flutes, the Ancient of Directions as the Chief of chiefs and Plumed Serpent, and his Kapina  medicine priest, the Keres Tsamaiya. Fewkes gives the following for the invocation by the Tsamaiya in the order N, W, S, E: Tca-ma-hi-ye, a-wa-hi-ye, yo-ma-hi-ye, tci-ma-hai-ye (1894:92).

In the international tradition that for every directional category there was one head honcho (hochani) who directed the rest, the “arch ruler” of the cloud people of the world (kopishtaiya) was the Ho-channi, e.g., head priest (Stevenson, 1894:38). By definition that must be the “arch ruler” and rain priest of the North, the pekwin for the Zuni and the tiamunyi for the Keres.  Since no actor acts alone in the directional ideology of leadership, one must keep in mind that the Mountain Lion of the North, lord of all prey animals and guardian of Iatiku’s Shipap, and Katoya, rattlesnake of the North that figures so largely in the empowerment of the Antelope-Snake alliance and guardian of Heshanavaiya’s underworld antelope altar, will have a part to play in the work of the Ho-priest. In the Cochiti Keres corn myth the kopishtaiya, e.g., the thunder, lightning, and rainbow deities that are all cloud beings and represented visually as stone idols,  speak to the Corn mother in the same way as does Spider (Thought) woman (Dumarest, 1919:213), which is an important insight and clue to the identities of the occupants of a Centerplace. The head priest of the cloud people relates to the Chiefs of the Directions, who are the primordial Stone people that controlled the clouds of the world, and their descendants, the Stone Ancients and the Tsamaiya of the Tiamunyi altar. Spider woman is the tutelary deity of the Spider  society’s Tiamunyi altar upon which the fetish that empowers the Tsamaiya sits, therefore the Hochani of the Spider society has to be the Tsamaiya. He owns the tsamaiya palladium. Since Ho- described a centerplace and  a seat of rulership as discussed in the introduction, we are given Spider woman and the Tsamaiya Hochani as the supernatural “arch rulers” of the Centerplace, and both are of the Stone people who included the Cloud Chiefs and kopishtaiya of all directions. This Keres figure is the asperser in the Snake dance, and the supernatural patrons of the Snakes are the Snakes of the Six Directions, whose Hochani is the Plumed Serpent of the North. Clouds are therefore directed by the combined action of the Chiefs of the Directions and the Plumed Serpent. Because the Tsamaiya Hochani ruled the clouds, this  also inferred that the Centerplace he occupied  at the Shrine of the Stone Lions was a mist-and-cloud place, e.g., Sustenance and Snake-Mountain, which describes Pueblo Bonito.

Spider Woman was the grandmother of both the Tiamunyi and the War Twins. Therefore, in stories that say a kopishtaiya speaks it is in the same sense that Spider Woman “speaks” to the War Twins (thought transference), and so the actual supernatural agency of the kopishtaiyas is strongly suggestive of Spider Woman, the co-creator with Utset of  Puebloan material culture. In fact, since eagle down represents Spider Woman, the real power behind the Iatiku broken prayer stick may be Spider Woman as well; Iatiku is explicitly described as an intermediary in the Acoma origin story. All kopishtaiya images I could find were effigies made of stone or wood but not clay, and so clay effigies fall into another category.

The kopishtaiya  have both curing and war functions, and all kopishtaiya answered to the Broken Prayer stick of the War captain. He answered to the Hero War twins who were themselves kopishtaiya. In terms of the kopishtaiya’s  “water system”  category (rainbow, lightning, thunder, and cloud beings) they relate to the sun because the most notable members are Paiyatuma and the Hero War Twins, sons of the sun. Paiyatuma was called Sun Youth, but youth referred to the young sun of dawn. For all intents and purposes Paiyatuma was the light of the sun, where the sun was a disc made of shell or leather. The various “paiyatumas” referred to the light at different times of the day or more technically to the position of the sun at different times of day. The Hero War Twins were the sons of the sun with light and dark (night sun in the underworld) aspects, e.g., they constituted an Above-Below axis of power. In general all good things related to the sun would be kopishtaiya, and the Tiamunyi embodied the kopishtaiya as the father of his community. As effigies, I believe they served 1) as a portable effigy that represented the Tiamunyi, and 2) as an ideological bridge between the Tiamunyi and War Twins and, later, the kachina cult, and so it is important to keep in mind that they are under the direct authority of the Tiamunyi and the War Twins, which by extension infers the supernatural agencies of those two entities.

The power of the Antelope clan, then, appears to be its possession of the secrets of “dew,” the essence of the mystery medicine and the faith therein of divine assistance that emanated from the shrine of the Stone Lions. The author of mystery medicine was called Po’shaiyanne, e.g., the chaianyi or priest of Po. The meaning of Po is unknown. Chaianyi is a Keresan word for a singing priest, a medicine man, that was instituted through Oak man (fire) as the supernatural basis of Iatiku’s slat altar, and this was how this actor was integrated into the Keres ideological system. The chaianyi sang through the power of the prey gods of the six cardinal directions, hence Po’shaiyanne’s stone lions were his empowerment as a world teacher. According to Zuni creation mythology he emerged from the bowels of the underworld as did Iatiku and her sister, fully formed as “the foremost of men” but with no word about his supernatural parentage (Cushing, 1896:381). Although the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi associated him with the Twins and therefore he answered to the War Chief, it is not clear if the “medicine of the dew” was forced upon other groups through the War Twins, e.g., a War Captain. The fact that several Zuni stories document the seeking out of this medicine suggests that the later association with the War Twins (not the Zuni’s Twins of light) was a matter of law and order, e.g., virtue and obedience were required for the medicine to work as a “strengthening” agent.

The fact remains that the Zuni creation story has a lot to say about Poshaiyanne, who along with the Twins of light guided the Zuni into the current world, and the Acoma origin story is silent on the subject although the Keres own his place of emergence at the village of the Stone Lions and likely his place of emergence in southwestern Colorado as well. What is significant, then, is that with Poshaiyanne and the People of Dew the Zuni origin myth continues the story of corn that the Acoma Keres origin story began. The Zuni corn maidens were embodied color-coded corn just as Iatiku’s daughters were embodied corn as the founding mothers of the color-coded corn clans, and the People of Dew are thereby identified in the Zuni myth as  the proselytizing missionaries of the corn life-way with its color-coded ideology of leadership.

Paiyatuma’s quadripartite power was distributed over the intercardinal directions and he, for all intents and purposes, was the sun. Both Paiyatuma and Poshaiyanne are included in the  class of  Keresan “-aiya” gods, life bringers, which are related to naiya, the corn Mother known as Iatiku (Taube, 2000). The tentative chronological placement for the Hero War Twins, mystery medicine, and the people of the dew (Po’shaiyanne’s priests) is roughly 1000 CE. As a sidenote, Iatiku’s spirit is in corn, but she is not corn per se. She alone carried the corn seed from her father, in a woven basket that symbolizes her mother, Spider Woman (Stirling, 1942:4). In light of the fact that her father was a lightning serpent, I suspect there may be a complementary relationship between -aiya and ya’ai, the latter term meaning both sand and the center-to-nadir Earth Serpent of the sacred directions (Stevenson, 1894:69). Since Iatiku exists at the fourth and deepest level of the underworld, and the Earth Serpent also extends to that location, both terms refer to the life-giving primordial ocean and infer that the ancestral Mother is the primordial sea, the realm of the bicephalic Serpent. Po’shaiyanne shared that supernatural context and his ritual function appears to have been to extend a mythological rainbow event involving the god of dew and the introduction of color-coded corn seeds from the nocturnal  field to the nocturnal altar of a kiva where the six directional corn cobs are arranged around the medicine bowl on an altar.

The Tewa word for the Calabash people was Po-towa (po-, squash), which with the Turquoise people constituted the winter-summer moieties (calabash-winter and turquoise-summer are both verdant water symbols that constituted the annual water cycle of the Keresan Cochiti and Santo Domingo pueblos, all Tewa pueblos, and “probably at other pueblos” (Robbins et al., 1916:100). The significance of any calabash metaphors cannot be overlooked because of the significance of the calabash as an iconic reference to the resurrected corn god in the Popul Vuh’s myth-history of the rise of maize agriculture (Tedlock, 1996:36, 97-98, 225, 250, 259-260, 338-339, 356). The fact that a culture hero called Poshaiyanne implemented the “rainbow” corn life-way centered on mystery medicine (rainbow lightning produced the “dew of heaven” in the sacerdotal terraced medicine bowl centered on an  altar; see Bandelier, 1890:310, Tewa “Pose-ueve, or the dew of heaven;” Paiyatuma as Zuni god of dew and music,  Shi’pololo kwi as a place of dew, Stevenson, 1904:32, 48-fn b) across the language groups that comprised the ancestral Puebloans is an ideological complex that parallels the Maya’s ancient corn myth of the corn god and the Hero Twins too well to be a coincidence: the master of “dew of heaven” associated with that story was the first water wizard Itzamna (Hagar, 1913Freidel et al., 2001: see refs. to itz, “blessed substance;” rainbow Milky Way as “road of dew,” Bassie, 2002). Also, the Tewa word for water is p’o, which associates with the ceremonial gourd used ritually to carry pristine water from a sacred spring that is used to make medicine water (Robbins et al., p. 67, 101), e.g., a name that would be a fitting allusion to six-directional medicine and Poshaiyanne’s function that is associated with Paiyatamu and the People of Dew. The strong parallel between the first known supreme creator deity of the Maya,  Itzamna (“He who receives and possesses the virtue or the spirit (rozio, dew) or the nature of heaven,” “I am the (spirit or the) dew of heaven and of the clouds, ” Hagar, 1913:17) as a sun-water construct that is all but identical to the nature and function of the Zuni’s Awonawilona and the Keres Plumed Serpent-Spider woman pair warrants a thorough cross-cultural study to fully articulate this foundational concept of “dew” that was associated with rulership, a celestial great house, the idea of the reflection of starlight on water (ibid., 22), axis mundi, dawn, and the Milky Way. The significant presence of pumpkin-shaped forms in Peruvian and Mesoamerican art where Twisted Gourd symbolism was fully developed was an obvious iconic reference, but a reference to what has remained obscure. What the Puebloan evidence suggests is that the seed-filled pumpkin was a metaphor for the earth with its cave-womb at the navel of the cosmos which was the source of seeds. This conclusion resonates with the Acoma Keres Puebloan origin story wherein the Corn mother and her sister were planted as “god seeds,” so to speak, in the womb of the earth by First (Sky) Father and with Mayan origin myths of the archetypal Sustenance Mountain/cave that was broken open with a lightning bolt to reveal its seeds.IV Ca 34457 pumpkin

A “Pumpkin World” Michoacan mortuary vessel from the Colima culture, Mexico, 250 BCE to 250 CE, IV Ca 34457. Ethnologisches Museum der Staatlichen Museen, Berlin. Compare to similar Moche forms 200 BCE-600 CE, ML032066, ML006476.

In the Puebloan stories there is a consistent association of –aiya actors (Keres: “give birth”) and rainbow/caves with hot springs as places of dew/mist as in Paiyatuma (Payatemu, Paiyatamu) as the ancestral supernatural Sun Youth of summer.  Poshaiyanne is the deified culture hero paired with him in Zuni myth, which was received from the Keres, and both possessed a magic flute that had power over vegetation and game, respectively. This pairing is functionally similar to the complementary kachina (summer, west, rain makers) and kopishtaiya (winter, east, cloud beings embodied in stone) and the respective ideology of the complementary fertility (rising sun is in the NE, summer) vs. strengthening (rising sun is in the SE, winter). Moreover, the entire feather system (color, direction, communication, each type of feather associated with a deity) that was introduced by Poshaiyanne is actualized in the -aiya figures like  Paiyatamu, literally the new daily sun of dawn,  who is associated with macaw feathers (Stirling, 1942:pl. 1). Spider woman with the Corn mother, Iya-tiku, owns white eagle down (Stirling, 1942:pl. 5-2). Cloud beings (kopishtaiya) are associated with turkey and macaw feathers in the southeast (Stirling, 1942:pl. 4-2). The Antelope clan altar is associated with turkey and stiff (strong, manly) eagle feathers (Stirling, 1942:pl. 3-1). The eagle was a bird of the sky and high mountains, e.g., Above, while the turkey with poor flight skills was a bird of the mountains and plains, e.g., the middleplace (Stirling, 1942:10). The latter in association with the crook cane indicates just how precise the messaging system with feathers could be, because the white-with-black tip eagle feathers directed the crook cane proper, while the black-with-white-tip male turkey feathers were affixed only to the tip of the crook, the hook. White-with-black-tip feathers also referred to a war bird with flint feathers, while the crook cane embodied the breath and spirit of the all-directions rainbow Snake, Heshanavaiya (Fewkes, 1894, Tiyo legend), and its tip, the target, e.g., whatever the prayer was in the form of a breath (like-in-kind with the tutelary Snake)–its charged “word” was to be directed to and materialized “here” and with “strength” with the assistance of ancestral Antelope and Snake chiefs who had once owned the canes. The plumes were both messenger and compensation paid to those for whom the message was intended (Stevenson, 1894:74).

If these are the correct associations, it would place Poshaiyanne and his mystery medicine at the shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de las Vacas, with the Squash winter moiety, Hero War Twins, and the kopishtaiya that were always associated with the Hero War Twins and that could only be painted by the War Chief. The Zuni’s creation myth also identified an earlier site for the emergence of Poshaiyanne, which was at “Hot Springs,” the Shipapulima in southwestern Colorado (Cushing, 1896:426; “Sacred City of the Mists Enfolded,” “Middle of the world of the Sacred Brotherhood”). Poshaiyanne is again identified with a winter moiety by a branch of the Zuni (the “People of Winter” led by the younger War twin). After learning from Poshaiyanne, the Zuni migrated to Ta’iya, the Place of Planting, which Cushing identifies as Las Nutrias, a circular pueblo (Hough, 1903:296). The Acoma Keres, who place their emergence in southwestern Colorado, migrated south and established a second place associated with Poshaiyanne on the Potrero de las Vacas, the village of the Stone Lions, which is where Stevenson noted the Zuni continued to venerate as a pilgrimage site (Stevenson, 1904:407). According to Zuni mythology the Divine Ones (holders of the paths of life) visited the Shipapolima where Poshaiyanne lived and converted the medicine men who emerged with the culture hero into the prey gods of the directions (Mountain Lion, north; Bear, west; Badger, south; White Wolf, east; Eagle, zenith; Shrew, nadir), which explains Poshaiyanne’s connection with the Mountain Lion of the North (guardian of the Shipap, master of prey animals, and gate of the north wind), the culture hero’s power over game and hunting success, and the essential role the animal gods play in creating the rainbow mystery medicine. “Others were converted into rattlesnakes and ants to preside with wisdom over the earth” (Stevenson, 1904:49). The order of Mystery medicine pays homage to the sun and moon, deceased priests of the order who become warrior guardians of the altars and medicine, the prey gods of the six directions. “Poshaiyanki is to be equated with the Hopi muyingwuu or germ god, sometimes called goddess” (Parsons, 1923:192), although I am not at all convinced that identification was correct. There are similarities between the two concepts but nothing more, and the same could be said of any deity that had something to do with corn seeds. The Jemez Puebloans directly associate Poshaiyanne (spelled Pest-ya-sode in Towa, “First Brother”) with the mountain lion and rainbow and the teaching of male culture and strategic warfare (Reagan, 1917). 

This scenario once again suggests that the archaeological evidence that placed the origin of Pueblo culture in southwestern Colorado at the Basketmaker-to-Pueblo transition is essentially correct. From that region came the basics and rulebook of the corn life-way. Furthermore, it supports Ellis’ observation that religious societies that held the Mountain Lion as central and sacred probably represent an early, if not the  earliest, stratum of the beliefs that came to define Pueblo culture; she places the Snake as a second wave of influence from Mexico (Ellis, 1969 :176), which corresponds with the introduction of cotton seed into the region. However, a distinction must be made between Snake as a primordial water mythology and Snake as a “crisis-oriented” political movement via the Nahua-Maya Toltec cult (Jansen, Perez, 2007). There is ample evidence through Twisted Gourd symbolism (“Chaco signature,” water connectors, checkerboard, serpent-mountain lightning) on Red Mesa B/W pottery that the snake as a water mythology crystallized the Basketmaker-to-Puebloan transition at Chaco Canyon between 875-1050 CE after Lino B/W (Tusayan, 600-850 CE) and La Plata B/W (Chaco-Cibola, 550-750 CE) antecedents had appeared in the Four-Corner’s region. The ancestral Puebloans were familiar with the mythology of the ancient bicephalic serpent and its formative role in Twisted Gourd symbolism. However, the fact that in a Hopi story of the origin of the Snake-Antelope society the hero travels to Mexico to acquire the Antelope and Snake altars, Snake brides, and emblems of authority suggests that ancestral Puebloans also became familiar with the Toltec-influenced political environment in Mexico. In a later version of the story the hero acquires his snake maiden from Spider Woman in southwestern Colorado. Together they  journey with Spider woman to the Potrero de las Vacas where the hero is initiated as a Snake Chamahai medicine chief of the Antelope Society’s altar by an Antelope Chamahai medicine chief who represented the Tiamunyi. Keep in mind that the Shrine of the Stone Lions is Poshaiyanne’s emergence point and that he is incarnate in the directional animal lords, principally the Mountain Lion of the North. The first story suggests that the puma-antelope alliance (Tiyo the first Antelope chief initiated by Heshanavaiya is the scion of a Puma chief at Tokonabi) very early on was associated with the supernatural origin of the Tiamunyi through the rainbow serpent as detailed in the Acoma origin story, the corn life-way, and their all-directions rainbow medicine altar (Stephen, 1936a:749-750). The latter directly follows from an ancient pan-Amerindian mythology that saw a triadic cosmos governed supernaturally by an archetypal trinity of animals (Snake, Feline, Bird) that were incarnate in the Centerplace rulership of a Mountain/valley Lord. The key metaphors of this mytho-political basis of rulership were the Milky Way arch as a rainbow and Serpent Lightning that encoded the Snake-Mountain/cave ideology of Twisted Gourd symbolism. 

What is sorely needed is a linguistic analysis of all –aiya personal and place names for their association with cardinal directions and any descriptive references to squash (historical association with Snake-Flute cult) and turquoise moieties in that context. For comparison, Mayan –siyah verbs can be read as “birth, or born” and are associated with the act of conjuring (Alexander, n.d.:8) Also of great interest will be to see if the cranial lambdoid vs. occipital distinction is correlated to the squash and turquoise (winter/summer) moieties and snake towers. At Pecos the predominant cranial modification was occipital (see Cranial Modificati. n) in the context of snake worship and a winter/summer moiety system (“”The torreon. . . . on the hill is referred to by these people as their round house and was considered in the past even more sacred than the kivas. It was here that they went to pray for rain and, according to Siegal, this structure, although partly ruined, today still is used for this purpose.” Kidder, 1958:270).

Based on the evidence from Tularosa and Bear Creek Caves in the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone that the Hero War Twins saga began there, as did the tsamaiya  complex, in the San Francisco phase 650-850 CE and moved north to Pueblo Bonito (Martin, et al., 1952:349Hough, 1914; Parsons, 1918). To recap, the Keres Kookop clan, which automatically infers their tutelary father Maasaw the fire god, was strongly associated with Spider woman at Tokonabi, which the Kookop call Kawestima  (Fewkes, 1911:7; Whiteley, 1989:[17] 380; Whiteley, 2008:990), on the Potrero de Vacas as described above (Stephen, 1929:40), and at Sikyatki (Stephen, 1929:42). These events clarify the location from which the Kookop clan migrated from Potrero de Vacas to Hopi First Mesa with the Snakes and Snake-Antelopes, followed by the Flutes. It was not from Jemez Pueblo as has been cited in ethnographic reports, which would suggest that the Kookop clan spoke a Tanoan language when they are now known to have been Keres. The Snake-Antelopes who were part of the foundational events that happened on Antelope and First Mesas described themselves as having the power to quell all disturbances and evil speakers with their rain bow of power (Stephen, 1929:45). The rain bow of power was one of the empowerments given to the elder War twin by his Sun father, and he tests it “at a pool near Mt. Taylor” (Stephen, 1929:19), that is, next door to Chaco Canyon and roughly 80 miles from where the Chamahai snake masters (Stephen, 1936a:707) were located on the Potrero de Vacas. We are to understand, then, that the Chamahai priests, now co-identified with the Stone people and  medicine-water priest called the Tsamaiya who can be viewed as a Merlin figure, invest a Keres Snake priest from Tokonabi with the endowments of the Chamahai snake masters, a Keres Spider medicine priesthood that authorized the Tiamunyi tsaimaya altar (Stirling, 1942:37-38).  In light of the dates for when Kookopnyama was built on Antelope mesa c. 1272 CE and when Kin Tiel was built c. 1276 CE, which a Zuni wood clan that also occupied Potrero de Vacas claimed as theirs, this statement about regional warfare accords with the general trend of an upswing in violence during the Pueblo III period 1150-1350 CE when Chaco Canyon residents were on the move after building activity ceased in Chaco Canyon c. 1150 CE. There is evidence in skeletal remains at a number of sites in the region of both violence and physiological stress (Bradley, 2003), possibly related to food shortages and drought conditions. Several of the Tiyo legends cite the fact that lack of rain motivated the journey to seek the Snake rites, and so this entire ideological assemblage of Antelope, Snake, and Flute chiefs and the tsamaiya priests that were distributed to four directions, claimed to have Poshaiyanne’s (also four directions) secrets of mystery medicine, and the power to appoint a war chief may be the marker of Pueblo Bonito’s ritual response to environmental stressors during the 11th-12th centuries and the social fall-out when conditions failed to improve. The massacre of the tower- and shrine-building Gallina on the border of the Chaco precinct (Hibben, 1951Douglass, 1917a,b), the authority that Maasaw had to deny the building of Snake-Antelope towers on First Mesa and very likely the ritual associated with them as a sign of the “Snake’s doom” (Stephen, 1929:42), stories about how Poshaiyanne and the Snakes taught people how to fight (Stephen, 1929:72), stories that hinted at child sacrifice associated with the Snake-Antelope towers (ibid., 39; Kidder, 1958:227-228), and stories of the violent end of Snake woman (Stephen, 1929:50) all tend to point to the Snake warriors and their ceremony as being a social problem by the middle of the 12th century after having been touted as the bringers of light and life (Stephen, 1929:48) and reformation (ibid., 37). This raises questions about whether or not Snake may have been edited out of the Acoma Keres origin myth, or purposely hidden to protect ritual secrets, and characterized as bringing an “evil spirit” of disease (Stirling 1942:12) in light of Cochiti Keres stories, an apparent slander on their neighbors, that Sia Snakes were turned to stone for sexual impropriety and Pecos Indians (Towa speakers) moved to Santo Domingo (Tewa speakers) to get away from the Pecos Snake people (Benedict, 1931:15, 16), just as some of the proto-Hopi had to move to get away from the Snakes at Tokonabi (Stephen, 1929:37). It is notable that the visual program on pottery at Pecos Pueblo was characterized by Twisted Gourd symbolism (Kidder, Amsden, 1931) and they had an enclave of people with the lambdoid cranial modification living there that persisted well into the historical period (see Cranial Modification). In other words, the governing structure of the ancien regime of Chaco Canyon endured for another 500 years.

Everything about the Chiefs of the Directions system of sacred, color-coded paths based in the paths of the rising and setting Sun that were cross-connected from celestial North to South by an avian Serpent and governed by reciprocity was hierarchical in nature. Chiefs knew the roads, and the way to encounter the supernaturals that were the makers and finishers of the paths of life was defined by kinship ties, wherein humans, plants, animals, insects, birds, stones, and the natural elements of fire, wind, and water each had their Chiefs with warrior protectors in the Above, Middle, and Below realms of a triadic cosmos. It was from the Centerplace as the House of Houses with a House of Everything fire altar, where the Above and Below came together, that the rules of the road, social organization, and authority extended (Cushing, 1894; Stirling, 1942). The Above and Below were connected, wherein underworld spirits such as Snake people could in the form of low clouds drop into the terrestrial plane (Fewkes, 1894:116) and likewise emerge on the terrestrial plane through a Chi-pia ceremonial center, the home of gods and a primary access point between this world and the underworld, as did Four Winds and his attendants (Stevenson, 1904:407).

Based on the primacy of the idea of the chiefs of the six color-coded directions with a seventh as the rainbow to lead them all, and the fact that Keres, Hopi, Zuni, and Tewa regional systems likewise were each organized into seven pueblos, we can  presume that the role of Pueblo Bonito in the Chaco system was as the seventh direction of six associated Great Houses in Chaco Canyon, the master rainbow, as it were, of four rainbow systems at its NW, SW, SE, and NE corners, e.g., the Chi-pia or “misty” rainbow “places of beginnings” where gods emerged.  There was Chi-pia #1 near Cortez, southwest Colorado, the “Sacred City of the Mists Enfolded” (Cushing, 1896:426), where the People of Dew originated (ibid., 348) and the Acoma Keres people emerged in the heartland of the region where many believe ancestral Puebloan culture first developed. Chi-pia #2 was in the Sandia mountains in the southeast corner of the Chaco world, in relative terms at the position of the winter solstice rising sun where the shrine of the Stone Lions was located. Fortunately it has been preserved archaeologically as well as in Puebloan ritual and its importance has been documented by ethnographers. In terms of the directional system, the winter solstice in the southeast corner was the middleplace of time that divided the year into the snow and hail of winter (North), and the warm rain and lightning of summer (South). Between those two the seeds that were preserved by sun and corn priests, whose fundamental role was as seed-keepers, were planted and harvested. Chi-pia #3 was located west of Zuni, which Fewkes surmised was near Chevlon Pass and that Squash and Cloud (Patki) clans migrated to the Hopi from that location (Fewkes, 1899d:89), but the Zuni place of initiation and the Hero War twins that instituted the Bow warriors and the first Zuni societies is clearly stated to be Hantlipinkia (Stevenson, 1904:410 fn a; Cushing, 1896). Chi-pia #4 is not so well defined ethnologically as a “place of mist” but important Snake-Antelope initiations took place there, which was northwest of Navajo mountain in southeastern Utah that Spider woman called the House of the Sun (Stephen, 1929:37). Relative to the other three Chi-pias it would have represented the winter solstice sunset in the northwest.

This scenario  suggests that the archaeological evidence that placed the origin of Pueblo culture in southwestern Colorado at the Basketmaker-to-Pueblo transition is essentially correct. The region around Cortex has been described by the Zuni as a Shipap-olima (Stevenson, 1904:407). From that region came the Acoma-Laguna  Keres’ rulebook of the corn life-way (Stirling, 1942), and it is only now with hindsight that I realize the Keres as a people associated their Shipap (place of emergence) with Shipap-olima, place of emergence of gods, which explains their sense of chosenness. Furthermore, it supports Ellis’ observation that religious societies that held the Mountain Lion as central and sacred probably represent an early, if not the  earliest, stratum of the beliefs that came to define Pueblo culture; she places the Snake as a second wave of influence from Mexico (Ellis, 1969 :176), which corresponds with the introduction of cotton seed into the region. However, a distinction must be made between Snake as a primordial water mythology and Snake as a “crisis-oriented” political movement via the Nahuatl-Maya Toltec cult (Jansen, Perez, 2007). There is ample evidence through Twisted Gourd symbolism (“Chaco signature,” water connectors, checkerboard, Snake-Mountain lightning) on Red Mesa B/W pottery that the snake as a water mythology crystallized the Basketmaker-to-Puebloan transition at Chaco Canyon between 875-1050 CE after Lino B/W (Tusayan, 600-850 CE) and La Plata B/W (Chaco-Cibola, 550-750 CE) antecedents had appeared in the Four-Corner’s region. The ancestral Puebloans were familiar with the mythology of the ancient bicephalic serpent and its formative role in Twisted Gourd symbolism. However, the fact that in a Hopi story of the origin of the Snake-Antelope society the hero travels to Mexico to acquire the Antelope and Snake altars, Snake brides, and emblems of authority suggests that ancestral Puebloans also were familiar with the Toltec-influenced political environment in Mexico.

Wukoki Pueblo and the Tsamaiya Complex

Wupatki National Monument was first inhabited around 500 CE and its many settlement sites were built by the Cohonina, Kayenta Anasazi (Wukoki), and Sinagua. That is, it was a ceremonial-administrative center much like Pueblo Bonito that brought together at least four different language groups. Architecturally Wupatki was a Sinagua multistory pueblo dwelling comprising over 100 rooms and included a large community room and a Mesoamerican ball court, making it the largest building for nearly 50 miles. The Anasazi never adopted the ball court in the Chaco sphere of influence, and neither did the Hopi in the post-Chaco era; nearby Inscription Point, which is primarily Kayenta Anasazi rock art (Weaver, et al., 2001), shows no sign of ritual related to Mesoamerican ball courts in that multicultural setting.

Claw crook petroglyph-inscription point-Jones fig 1-2010

Left: Claw-type (type IIb) crook cane petroglyph with serial fire signs and a mountain lion at Inscription Point, across the Little Colorado River from Wupatki National Monument, AZ (Jones, B.M.,2010:fig. 1). Rock art at Inscription point was associated with the Kayenta Anasazi (Weaver, et al., 2001). Hopi oral tradition strongly associates the Rattlesnake clan and the Snake dance with Wupatki and Wukoki (Ferguson, Loma’omvaya, 2011:154). This supports the idea that the type IIb cane was associated with the Puma-Snake clan in the tsamaiya complex as preserved in the Snake legend, which was based on the marriages of two supernatural Snake maidens with Tiyo and his brother, the former being the first Snake chief of the Snake-Antelope kiva and son of a Puma chief from Tokonabi. Those lineages are reflected in this petroglyph. The frequency of the three-triangle black-and-white motif among the Gallina and at the Mitchell Springs site and Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde suggests an association with a fire god and possibly the myth of the three-stone hearth of Mayan and Mixtec belief, which signifies the archetypal Mountain/cave Centerplace with a hearth at its center. Among the Maya the celestial complement to the hearth at the center of the Mountain of Sustenance was the hearth in Orion; major Maya ceremonial and administrative centers called themselves Three-Stone Places.

Claw crook and venus petroglyph-inscription point-Jones fig 4-2010

Right: At Wukoki, which was built by Puma and Snake clans who owned the Keresan Snake-Antelope ceremony (Fewkes, 1894). An anthropomorph holding a type IIb crook cane appears to be conjuring a spirit that is attached to the coiled snake on the left. Below them are an archer and a Venus symbol, Inscription Point, AZ  (Jones, B.M., 2010:fig. 4). In light of the fact that the Star of Four Winds fetish seen on Zuni medicine altars associates Venus with the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds in the celestial House of the North, this particular form of the Venus petroglyph may in fact be a rebus for that association between Venus and the winds of the cardinal directions, which are both aspects of the Plumed Serpent.

This image provides substantive evidence that the type IIb crook cane was ritually associated with Snakes. Venus is an avatar of the Plumed Serpent that is associated with war, and the Plumed Serpent was the patron of the Snakes as the rattlesnake Katoya. See Johnson, 1995, for an overview of Venus symbols as rock art in the Lower Colorado river region. Although 22 macaw skeletons were found at Wupatki (Watson, et al., 2015), there was no macaw symbolism associated with these images, which suggests that the macaw beak or talon was not the inspiration for the claw-like appearance of the type IIb crook cane. That said, the type IIb was the only crook cane found in the macaw aviary at Pueblo Bonito, room 38, where the female fertility effigy was also found in the northeast corner, which is the position of the summer solstice sunrise. She is decorated with nested rows of hachured triangles, which is a symbolic reference to fire, mountain, and warmth (germination). As described in the introduction, the position of 12 green military macaw skeletons in the center of room 38, which was located midway along the north-to-south division of Pueblo Bonito, along with ritually buried macaws in the east and southwest, the position of the summer solstice sunset, a hoe (Pepper, 1920:fig. 22), exquisite effigies of a frog and birds, shell trumpets, and deposits of water-worn pebbles suggest a perennial summer of abundance. Cushing suggested that the ceremonial use of water-worn concretions, “seeds of water” and therefore of life itself, may have been associated with myths of the Stone people (Cushing, 1876:359). “And in the bowl they put dew of honey and sacred honey-dust of corn-pollen, and the ancient stones—ancient of water whence water increases” (ibid., 434). The idea that small polished pebbles were “seeds,” ya’ōni, in the next case the seeds of mountains (Stirling, 1942:8), is also found in the Acoma Keres origin myth and embedded in the Keres’ conceptualization of the Tiamunyi (as Tsamaiya) Spider altar. By extension this ideological complex refers to the nadir, Muiyingwa—god of the interior of the earth and maker of the germ of life. Taken together the context suggests that the female effigy was associated with dawn, summer, and fertility, which also describes the symbolism of the Flute virgin in the Horn-Flute ceremony and the Snake-Mountain/cave lord effigy with the fire-sun symbol that was found near Pueblo Bonito. In the context of the seed stones the room itself may have been conceptualized as the Corn mother and her basket of seeds that emerged from the heart of the ancestral Mountain/cave. The construct also inferred “torrents of water,” as in cascading down a mountain, because that was where water-worn stone was found. Once one begins to notice all the stone fetishes that were associated with the Keresan Snake-Antelope order and the Tsamaiya (Chama-hiya)–the Stone Lions of the Potrero de Vacas, masonry Snake-Antelope towers, the setting of the “heart” stone that founded Acoma, animal fetishes, the male cloud stones of Heshanavaiya, the water-worn colored pebbles that were used to make medicine waters, folkloric survivals of a cult that did not have the right stone fetish and had to use a real frog, the Keres’ stone kopishtaiyas, etc– draws attention to the mythology of the Stone people running through pan-Puebloan ritual. All of the stone fetishes related to the tsamaiya complex have magical powers related to protection, abundance and good fortune, and all are characterized by lightning as an aspect of water worship. The kopishtaiya are here associated with the tsamaiya complex because they are stone effigies that as a category of supernaturals (lightning, thunder, rainbows) are grouped with the Hero War Twins who serve them and they “speak” through thought transference, which is how Spider woman communicated with her grandsons, the Hero Twins. This capacity for thought transference between stone fetish and ritualist increasingly characterizes the Puebloan Stone Ancients and strikingly characterizes the “genius” of the Maya Stone Ancients (Tedlock, 1996:161, 163), and both cases are associated with the first dawn and emergence of the fourth sun.


Shotu-Fewkes 1895c pl 1
The celestial House of the Star god Shotukinunwa, the Heart of all the Sky as the Plumed Serpent,  on the Hopi Oraibi Flute altar (Fewkes, 1895c:pl. 1). The life-size anthropomorphic figure is shown in the context of a celestial bank of six clouds and rain-cloud lightning snakes of the six directions as on the Zuni Galaxy altar of the Great God, the Star of the Four Winds. Like the Keres creator god Utsita, the lightning god associated with a “nothing lacking” basket of seeds, Shotukinunwa is a lightning god associated with the god of all germ seeds on the Flute altar. The swallow-tail form of the three birds on the top of the celestial panel reiterates the swallow-tail purple martins on the top of the celestial panel of the Zuni Galaxy altar that portrays the celestial House of the North of the Star of Four Winds, the Plumed Serpent.

The reference to Venus in the Wukoki  petroglyph is significant, because during the Snake, Snake-Antelope and Flute ceremonies in mid-August, Venus rises in the east several hours before dawn just as Orion is at the zenith and the Pleiades mark the hour of night (Stephen, 1936b:813). The  Plumed Serpent called Shotukinunwa, a star god, is the patron of the Horn-Flutes, and the Flute society’s ceremony honors Muiyingwa, the germ god of all seeds who occupied Flower Mound in the deepest level of the underworld. Muiyingwa enters the Snake legends during Tiyo’s cosmic journey when the sun carries Tiyo through the underworld and into the dawn (Fewkes, 1894). In the presence of the Big Dipper, the moment when Orion and the Pleiades, the seed stars,  move into the correct position marks an important moment in the Flute ceremony (ibid., 802, 815, 868, 1160). Underneath the cottonwood bower that is constructed to represent the Snake sipapu in the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute ceremonies, during the Flute ceremony a stone cover is removed to reveal a hidden niche into which prayer feathers are placed and medicine water is poured (ibid., 813).

A Hopi story set at the Wukoki pueblo in Arizona (located in Wupatki National Monument; c. 1106-1215 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991) recalls that there was an official called Tcamahia among the Puma and Snake clans that traveled to Wukoki (Fewkes, 1900b:589): “As the offspring of the two Snake women did not get along well with the children of other clans at Tokonabi, the Puma, Snake, and Horn clans migrated southward. They started together, but the Horn soon separated from the other clans, which continued to a place 50 miles west of the East mesa, and built there a pueblo now called Wukoki. The ruins of this settlement are still to be seen. While the Puma and Snake clans were living at Wukoki one of their number, called Tcamahia, left them to seek other clans which were said to be emerging from the Underworld. He went to the Upper Rio Grande to a place called Sotcaptukwi, near Santa Fe, where he met Puukonhoya, the elder War god, to whom he told the object of his quest. [Incidentally, this is the same region from which the Hopi later recruited Tewa fighters whose patron was the Hero War Twins, who still occupy Hano on First Mesa.] This supernatural shot an arrow to a sipapu, or orifice, in the north, where people were emerging from the Underworld. The arrow returned to the sender, bringing the message  that the clans to which it was sent would travel toward the southwest [coming from southwest Colorado], and that Tcamahia [Tsamaiya] should go westward if he wished to join them. He followed this direction and met the clans at Akokaiobi, the Hopi name of Acoma, where, presumably, he joined them, and where their descendants still live. In answer to a question as to the identity of Tcamahia, the narrator responded that the name signified the ‘Ancients,’ ” which was synonymous with Stone Ancients, a fact that Cushing noticed (Cushing, 1896:359).

The Village of the Stone Lions and the Tsamaiya Complex

Notice that the ancestral Puebloan “organizational plan” which associates the Tsamaiya and the older Hero War twin (sun, sky) is immediately implemented to establish a new community based in the tsamaiya complex and ritual stone assemblage, e.g., an unfathomably old supernatural ancestry that pointed back to the origin of the world and the role of the Hero Twins, the Magicians who transformed the soft surface of the earth into stone with their magic arrows and rainbow to create a habitable home for humans and animals. The stone assemblage is in contrast to wooden ritual items and Iatiku’s wooden slat altars, and has a direct antecedent in the Popol vuh myth when the gods were transformed into sentient stone with the appearance of the first dawn (Tedlock, 1996:161). The Tsamaiya as an actor, literally a personified lightning celt, refers to the origin of the Chamahai among the Stone people, who “knew all concerning Snake ceremonies” (Stephen, 1936a:707), and who had traveled south from the region north of Tokonabi where Spider woman lived among the Snakes (Stephen, 1929:36). The fact that a Tsamaiya traveled all the way from Tokonabi to Acoma to meet an “emerging” people points to the exclusivity of the office, which was continued into the historical period when a Keres Tsamaiya priest had to be summoned to a First Mesa Hopi Snake ceremony as the cloud maker. Chamahai (Tsamaiya) were positioned at the northeast, southwest, southeast, and northwest corners of the ancestral Puebloan sphere as the Chiefs of Directions who controlled clouds, e.g., they were an expression of the Snake-Mountain/cave metaphor. The individual called Tsamaiya was a priestly office established by the Keres Spider “strengthening” altar and two fetishes called tsamaiya, the palladia of that office, which represented the male and female aspects of the Tiamunyi (Stirling, 1942:37-38). The lightning celt called the tcamahia represented the “father” aspect and was in the category of supernatural sky or cloud stones (hoak’a yaoni) related to war; skystone was also the name of a black war paint combined with specular hematite (Stephen, 1936b:1307), e.g., it had the shiny, reflective surface of a divine one. The “butterfly tile” of Heshanavaiya, supernatural father of the Snake-Antelope chief,  that fell on Tokonabi and empowered the Antelope altar, is another sky stone (Stephen, 1936a:617). Painted  tiles featuring cicada flute players are also displayed on Flute society altars (Stephen, 1936b), and a Tokonabi Youth with a Snake wife carries Heshanavaiya’s butterfly-and-snake stone by way of introduction to the Laguna Keres Chamahai living in the southeast quadrant of Anasazi territory at Potrero de Vacas (Stephen, 1929:44), where the Keres’ Shrine of the Stone Lions is located.  The entire war machine of the Snake, Antelope, Horn, and Flute alliance is associated with Spider woman and the Hero War Twins and was first empowered through the Spider tsamaiya altar. The tsamaiya war complex is securely identified in the NW, SW, and SE quarters of the Chacoan sphere of influence at Tokonabi, Wukoki, and the Potrero de Vacas. The stone totems of the primordial Stone people and the wooden slat altars and sand paintings initiated by Iatiku the Corn Mother for the world of the fourth sun combine in that alliance to govern the system of vertical and horizontal sacred directions. The association of the type IIb crook cane with the Snakes from the Chamahai lineage (see Wukoki section), and the association of the type IIa crook cane with the Antelopes, both of which are found in rooms 32 and 33 of Pueblo Bonito’s burial crypt but with the type IIb in -greater abundance, place the tsamaiya complex at Pueblo Bonito by 900 CE at the latest. The specific association of the type IIb with the dynastic family and in room 38 with the macaws and the earth goddess effigy indicates that the dynastic family identified themselves with the Stone Ancients, e.g., the Tsamaiya (Chama-hiya, Chamahai) priests and snake masters and their pantheon of directional supernaturals (Heshanavaiya and Katoya, Spider woman, Sun father, Hard Substances woman/White Shell woman, Muiyingwa). The Tsamaiya snake masters living on the Potrero de Vacas who swallowed snakes and had Spider woman as their tutelary deity through the Acoma Keres Spider society’s Tsamaiya altar were identified as snake masters by the Hopi. Through more ethnographic evidence it has come to light that Keres Spider medicine priests also were sword swallowers, a ritual activity grouped with snake swallowers, who owned the pigments used to color ceremonial footwear, wool and feathers (Parsons, 1920:99 fn 4). This provides additional detail regarding how the Stone Ancients were conceptualized and supernaturally animated through ritual. While Spider woman appears to be at the bottom of it all, she works through Snake as the Chief of the Chiefs of the Directions and the ritual stone and wooden items associated with him.

The following pentagonal form, a form that is associated with the Snakes (Mindeleff, 1891:17; built by the Snakes at Tokonabi, Fewkes, 1911a:3), may indicate that the pentagonal form itself may be a reference to the Stone Ancients, which is seen also at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, in the form of a pentagonal  observatory and a Zapotecan tomb, at the Whitewater archaeological site in northeastern Arizona (Powers et al., 1983:233), and as a pentagonal fireplace in room 42 at Pueblo Bonito (Pepper, 1920).

Stone Lions-Potrero de las Vacas-Bandelier

Left: Shrine of the Stone Lions inside the pentagonal form of the Snake, Potrero de las Vacas, New Mexico (Bandelier, 1890 part II:154). This Chi-pia #2 site (place of emergence of gods) is very sacred and a continuing destination for pilgrimage by both the Keres and the Zuni. The site may pre-date the interest of both groups and possibly may have been built by the Piros, e.g., southern Tiwa Puebloans and the northern branch of the Jornada Mogollon. Nevertheless, the site is owned by the Keres and was once associated with pilgrimage to attain the secrets of  rainbow mystery medicine from the Great God of Chi-pia, the Plumed Serpent as the god of the four winds and his avatar Venus. Likewise, in South America, “The Inca also associated the puma, ‘with times and places of transition and transformation [sharing] this trait with other animals like the amaru (serpent, dragon) and the uturuncu (jaguar)’ ” (Smith, 2012:46, citing Zuidema 1985:183).

No other shrine in the Puebloan system is associated with such important pan-Puebloan ritual practices, which begs the question: did the Centerplace move from Pueblo Bonito to Tyuoni, the major Keres enclave just six miles south of the shrine, during the post-Chaco migration as the ancestral Puebloans re-distributed themselves along the Rio Grande? Or, had the location always been under Keres control during the Chaco era? The evidence suggests the latter. The Acoma Keres origin story states that they left southern Colorado led by the Hero War twins and moved south where they established Tyuoni in Frijoles Canyon on the Pajarito plateau (Stirling, 1942), likely under a form of dual governance (Hewett, 1909:337). This important Chi-pia location in the southeast of the Chacoan sphere of influence was in the place of dawning of the winter solstice sunrise where Tyuoni referred to “medicine bowl” (wa-tyuonyi, White, 1962:156), which means the Keres still considered themselves to be the “heart of the cosmos” of the corn life-way in a ritual sense. Bandelier noted that Tyuoni was also a “word having a signification akin to that of treaty or contract, where several parties negotiated land claims” (Bandelier, 1892:145), which was similar to what the Popol vuh called the Place of Advice where one tribe set itself up as the ones who would seek the counsel of the gods about the place of dawning (Tedlock, 1996:47, 352). In other words the Keres dictated the terms of how Tanoan Jemez and Tewa migrants from the Mesa Verde region (Bernhart, Ortman, 2014) would occupy their territory around their shrine of the Stone Lions on the Pajarito plateau, and then the Tewa successfully fought the Keres for control by destroying Tyuoni and disabling their political hierarchy (Bandelier, 1918). In support of this conclusion Sia Keres pueblos were abandoned due to warfare in the area the Jemez ultimately settled (Bandelier, 1882:196). Likewise the Chaco-Gallina who were strongly associated with the Keres in the Durango region of southwestern Colorado (Ellis, 1988) were driven off by 1275 CE just as the Jemez were establishing their presence in the region of the Pajarito, but the Gallina had settled there first by 850 CE and had built their first Snake-Antelope tower in the region at Rattlesnake Ridge c. 1059-1090 CE. In other words, the Chaco-Gallina (Judd, 1954) who were Keres medicine priests and Snake-Antelopes living in the land of the Keres Tsamaiya (Stone Ancients) date the presence of the Keres on the Pajarito plateau to the Chaco era.

A second line of evidence that establishes the antiquity of the Keres presence at Chi-pia #2 comes from the ancestral Puebloan culture hero, Poshaiyanne. The first mention of the all-sacred master Poshaiyanne (Po priest), the culture bearer of the corn life-way and author of Mystery medicine, is in the Zuni origin story, where he is described as the “forthcoming from earth as the foremost of men” (Cushing, 1896:381). Before his ascent from the ocean of the nadir through the four wombs of the underworld and the not-yet human creatures to reach the light of day and “seeking the Sun father” (ecliptic), Cushing says of him, “he who appeared in the waters below,” which is how the Flute-Dew maidens from the stars of the Big Dipper were described (ibid., 434) as light reflected on water. He had ascended as Aldebaran, the “Broad star” associated with the Pleiades that was venerated by his Po medicine society, Poshaiyanki (Stephen, 1936b:861). The act of creation after Poshaiyanne was the birth of the Hero War twins, and they sped after the “sun-seeking” Poshaiyanne (Aldebaran) along the ecliptic toward the west to the House of Generation (Cushing, 1896:382), the House of the Sun at sunset. His ascent from the “nethermost sea” strongly suggests that he was an anthropic aspect of the Sovereign Plumed Serpent, who was incarnate as the primordial ocean at the nadir and the Milky Way at the zenith, a river that carried the sun by day and night.

The second mention comes when the Zuni Hle-wekwe winter clan travels to southwest Colorado led by the Hero War twins: “[The Zuni People of Winter] became far wanderers toward the north, building towns wheresoever they paused, some high among the cliffs, others in the plains. And how they reached at last the “Sacred City of the Mists Enfolded” (Shipapulima, at the Hot Springs in Colorado), the Middle of the world of Sacred Brotherhoods (Tik’yaawa Itiwana), and were taught of Poshaiaink’ya ere he descended again” (ibid., 426), where descent meant a return to the underworld where the Corn mother and the Sovereign Plumed Serpent along with other deities of the corn life-way derived from the Plumed Serpent existed.

The third mention comes from Matilda Stevenson who, while studying the Zuni, discovered that the Shipapulima “place of beginnings” (a permanent shrine) was no longer in southwestern Colorado (June solstice sunrise) but had moved to Chi’pia #2 (Sandia mountains, winter solstice sunrise) and the Keres ceremonial center at the shrine of the Stone Lions, and it was there that Poshaiyanne emerged a second time and Zuni medicine priests went for their initiation into the order of Mystery medicine (Stevenson, 1904:407).

A fourth, indirect mention comes from Snake woman after her husband’s initiation as the Snake chief of an Antelope kiva in the land of the Tsamaiya Stone Ancients on the Potrero de Vacas where the shrine of the Stone Lions is located (Stephen, 1929:44), when she wanted Hummingbird to give it to others living south of Acoma pueblo, e.g., recruit them into the Snake order: “Take this sipapuini (water that is given) that my people may drink of it,” where sipapuini referred to the life-giving “misty” water of Shipapulima. The god of dew and dawn, Paiyatamu, was the anthropic Great God of Chi-pia #2, and his association with Poshaiyanne and the People of Dew, who were the “priests and keepers” of sacred color-coded corn seeds that established Zuni corn ritual and made them Priests of Corn (Cushing, 1896:396-397, 445), leaves no doubt that Keres Po priests were the bearers of the Keres corn life-way as the “elder nation” to their “younger brothers,” the Zuni and Hopi (ibid., 343). There were at least three known shrines of the Stone Lions, one not far from the Potrero de Vacas on the Potrero de los Idolos (Dumarest, 1919:207 fn 1) and another at the first  “White House” where the Acoma Keres began their migration south from southwestern Colorado (Stirling, 1942). His apotheosis as Aldebaran requires a deeper inquiry into ancestral Puebloan cosmology since Poshaiyanne was incarnate in stone puma fetishes, which suggests that “seeking the Sun father” somehow associated the ecliptic with the puma, which was the traditional Maya cosmology of the “night sun” related to the younger jaguar Hero Twin and the path of the sun through the underworld (see Maya cosmology).

The reference to “Mesa la Vaca” comes on pg. 41 (Stephen, 1929in the second variant of the Snake story and is told by a member of the Kokop (Kookop) clan, the guardians of the west gate of the Antelope altar. Potrero de las Vacas in the San Miguel Mountains (lat. 35°51’50.57″N, long. 106°51’31.68″),  which is described in great detail (Harrington, 1916:416 citing Bandelier) because that is the location of the Shrine of the Stone Lions where the Zuni said the world teacher and maker of mystery medicine, Po’shaiyānne, emerged.  This was the “land of the Chamahai” (Tsamaiya Stone Ancients) and the place where a Snake was initiated as the chief of an Antelope kiva by a Laguna Chama-hiya (Tsamaiya) priest. In the Acoma Keres origin story the migrants are told they’ll know they have gone far enough south and reached their Centerplace when they call out and hear an echo (Stirling, 1942: 47), and “echo” is another pan-Mesoamerican name for the archetypal feline (Maya: jaguar, balam) from the Heart of the Mountain and for the younger War twin (Hopi: balenquah).  Cañada Honda, part of the Potrero de las Vacas, is distinguished by its superior echo (Harrington, 1916:416, 419).  Although the Hopi once had an order of Mystery medicine and still had a small survival of a Po curing society in the late 1800s, Poshaiyanne fades from view in the Hopi Snake story, but the fact that the water Snake woman offers is his indicates that she is intimately connected with the Stone Ancients whose descendants lived as the Chamahai on the Potrero de Vacas. A final piece of evidence that confirms that the Tsamaiya (Chamahai) Antelopes and Snakes were co-located with the shrine of the Stone Lions, which is the group that traveled to First Mesa and Sikyatki,  is architectural. The Lions face the east, but the stone enclosure is in the form of a pentagonal snake head; its axis is SE-NW, the path of the winter solstice sun (Bandelier, 1890 part II:154). The only other group that claimed to have built pentagonal structures are the Snakes (Fewkes, 1911:3); a pentagonal structure is part of the Chaco outlier site near Allantown, AZ (Whitewater site: Powers et al., 1983:233). Since Twisted Gourd symbolism dominated the visual program in the Chaco sphere and at Monte Alban, it raises the question of whether or not the pentagonal form of Building J, an observatory with a zenith tube, one of the oldest structures at Monte Alban and the only one that does not follow a strict N-S alignment,  could provide a clue to a celestial body that may have been associated with the Twisted Gourd, since the great water serpent is integral to the way the symbol was designed. It appears that Building J was built to observe the movements of Capella in the Auriga constellation, which signaled when the sun would move directly overhead as it traveled north. Is it possible that Snake-Antelope towers, essentially a monumental zenith tube in form. were designed to capture that kind of solar event? A pre-Classic tomb with a vaulted roof of an elite individual, possibly a king, was found at Wakna in the Mirador, the region where the Twisted Gourd had been introduced in the context of Chicanel pottery and triadic temple assemblages; a very similar architectural format was also found as the earliest tomb in the Mundo Perdido complex at Tikal (Hansen, 1998:93, fig. 22).

If any doubt remained that the aforementioned figure of the ancestral twin, the Tiamunyi/Tsamaiya that objectively appears to be a female : male construct, represented the dawn of creation and the raising of the world tree it is dispelled by the description of the barefooted, lavender-painted (mineral paint composition: Stephen 1936b:1194-1195) noble figure wearing a crown of cottonwood boughs and bark accessories (a water tree) as the Chamahia asperger (distributor of medicine water) in the Hopi’s Snake-Antelope ceremony in the middle of August who invoked the Tsamaiya warrior of the cardinal directions  (Fewkes, 1894:73, 92). As an interesting historical sidenote, according to the Maya the day of creation of the fourth world (fourth sun) under the auspices of the sovereign Plumed Serpent was August 13, 3114 BCE (Freidel et al. 2001), and it is interesting that the Snake dance, the oldest Puebloan tradition, celebrates the origin of the Snakes at that time. The Zuni/Keres People of Dew origin story (Cushing, 1896) and the Maya’s origin story preserved in the Popol vuh (Tedlock, 1996) agree on the fact that the sun god was born of the primordial mist of the sovereign Plumed Serpent, which took form as Heart of Sky, the triadic sky god that materialized as three forms of fire– lightning thunderbolts (Above), sheet lightning (Mountain/cave, earth, and meteors that were associated with the underworld fire god (Bassie, 2002:48-52). The first dawn revealed the anthropomorphic young sun god that was preceded by the Morning star, also a detail that was shared by Mayans (Tedlock, 1996: 47, 161, 287, 304) and Puebloans (Cushing, 1896:432-434). The tutelary deity of the Puebloan Snake dance, now preserved in the historical period by the Hopi although it was formerly practiced by many Pueblos, celebrates the initiation of new Snakes and the sovereign Plumed Serpent (Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of Directions, Heart of Sky), who also happens to take a triadic form to create an axis mundi. Ergo, it does not appear to be a coincidence that the biennial Snake and Flute dances, as a complementary pair of clan ancients that were descended from supernatural Snake mothers (daughters of Heshanavaiya), are always scheduled to take place on or near August 13, the day the sun of the fourth world was born of the cosmic Serpent and the day Teotihuacan also celebrated the birth of the new sun. In fact, Teotihuacan was called the “city of water and fire” where the sun god was born, the very definition of the mythological “place of mist” known to the Maya and to the Puebloans. All three cultures shared Twisted Gourd symbolism that visually defined the topocosm and actors that constituted a place of mist, which as discussed was a fire : water construct as an extension of the pan-Mesoamerican igneous : aquatic paradigm, the very nature of the cosmic Plumed Serpent. 

According to Fewkes the date of the ritual was scheduled according to the position of the sun relative to a local horizon marker, which also would have been the marker for the rise of Venus. Fewkes didn’t state if it was the sunrise or sunset position of the sun that was of interest in order to determine the start date of the ceremony, but that would be a valuable piece of information to have in terms of placing Puebloan ceremony in the context of the ancient Mesoamerican cosmovision that integrated sacred time with sacred space as an organizational principle related to the path of the sun, which established the basis of rulership and ritual practice .  Recall that the Twisted Gourd was an emblem of the Snake lords of El Mirador who believed that the sun of the fourth world first rose on that day. August 13 is the date of one of two annual the zenith passages of the sun in the tropical region known as the “260-day latitudinal band,” which is the “14.72° N latitude in what is today southern Guatemala and Northern Honduras” (Green, n.d.: 1). The August 13th and April 30th zenith passages marked the zenith (“Above”) reference pole of the axis mundi in the system of sacred directions in the 260-day latitudinal band, wherein 260 days defined the ritual calendar that coordinated agricultural activities with veneration of the gods responsible for the creation of the material world and the growth requirements of plants. Specifically, the April 30th and August 13th zenith positions of the sun were mirrored by February 9th and November 1st positions of the sun that marked the nadir (“Below”) reference pole of the axis mundi. It is the zenith-nadir axis that defined the sacred directions as the organizational principle that integrated space and time in early agricultural societies by marking time as a function of the path of the sun god (see Green, n.d.:fig. 14). By correlating the sun’s zenith passage with a known sunrise or sunset horizon marker on a local sacred mountain, the spiritual (liminal) and material functions of the triadic cosmos could be known and ritually accessed, and this system was signified by the kan-k’in and checkerboard symbols related to Twisted Gourd symbolism. The fact that the Snake and Antelope dances venerate the Snake-Antelope patron  Heshanavaiya as the Ancient of Directions, and Heshanavaiya the horned Plumed Serpent is integral to the Puebloan concept of the axis mundi, strongly suggests that even while important details remain obscure the Snake-Antelope ritual alliance with its known Mexican predicate points back to a shared cosmology that first crystallized in the 260-day latitudinal band during the pre-Classic period. In the northern temperate region (Chaco Canyon, 36° N latitude), the Hopi Snake dance of 1881 was observed August 13-22, but by the summer solstice the sun had already approached as close to a zenith position on the meridian as it will ever get at 36° N latitude. By August 13 the ecliptic crossed the meridian at noon at a position slightly more distant from the zenith of the sky than that of June 21, but on August 13 Venus made its last appearance as the Morning star which wouldn’t be seen again at dawn until just after the winter solstice (more detail). According to both Mesoamerican and Puebloan mythology Venus was the warrior to the sun as an avatar of the Plumed Serpent, and therefore it may have been the sunrise position of Venus as herald of the new sun on August 13, not its vertical position in the sky nearly 4,000 km north of the 260-day latitudinal band, that the ancestral Puebloans associated with creation events of the fourth world over which the Sovereign Plumed Serpent presided, which is a pre-Classic Mayan mythology and cosmogonic construct (Tedlock, 1996:159-161). 

The fact that the Snake dancers wear a kilt with a serpent surrounded by rainbow bands (Milky Way) adds support to the idea that Tiamunyi/Tsamaiya’s birth via the rainbow serpent resulted in a compelling enhancement of the supernatural basis of authority of the Antelope-Snake society (Stirling, 1942Fewkes, 1894:79). Stepping back and considering the Acoma Keres origin story of the  Tiamunyi from the Antelope clan, the Snake legends of Tiyo the first Snake-Antelope chief called Heshanavaiya (Fewkes, 1894:115), and the story of how “one of the Tcamahias” [Antelope Chamahai medicine priest] left the Snakes at Wukoki to go to Acoma, where he was to meet the Keres who were migrating south from southwestern Colorado,  the stories dove-tail and it becomes clear that 1) Pishuni (pish-, Zuni for North, Stevenson, 1904:75) in the Acoma story is the combined Heshanavaiya of the Hopi stories (nadir) and Four Winds at the celestial House of the North of Zuni mythology, which constitutes an axis mundi snake, 2) Tiyo, the Antelope chief called Heshanavaiya is associated with the Keres Tiamunyi through the Tcamahia who moves from Tokonabi to Wukoki to Acoma where he confers with the elder Hero War Twin (e.g., he has a law-and-order function), and 3) since the Keres moving south already had a hereditary Tiamunyi, then the Tcamahia from Tokonabi had to have been the Chamahai priest who resided over the Kapina altar called Tiamunyi/Tsamaiya (war functions, appoint the War chief whose tutelary deity was the Hero War Twins (Stirling, 1942:37); Land of the Chamahai story, Stephen, 1929:44), then 4) by 1000 CE, when Acoma was established at its current location, the Acomans had a dual form of governance comprised of a hereditary tiamunyi as the Antelope religious leader (female aspect of the supernatural tiamunyi) and a Tcamahia medicine chief who appointed the War chief (male aspect of the supernatural Tiamunyi). This is significant. It infers that the regional form of governance was a dual organization during the period called the Bonito phase.

The snake, macaw/parrot, buffalo, and ant clans that are mentioned in the Acoma Keres origin myth were excluded from descent via the daughters of Iatiku and Tiamunyi (Stirling, 1942:13), and the Keres Snake-Antelopes-Flutes of the Snake legends look to the Snake maidens as their mothers. The distinction of looking to Iatiku vs. Snake woman as clan founders becomes important in light of the content of the burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito where the two types of crook canes and all the flutes were found. Heshanavaiya empowered Tiyo, the first Snake-Antelope chief, with his tiponi that contained a tcamahia, and a second tiponi from Katoya’s Snake kiva went to Tiyo’s younger brother, who taught the mysteries to the Blue Flute family of the Horn people (Fewkes, 1864:117). The Antelope Chamahai priest gave the Snake chief from Tokonabi his crook cane of authority (Stephen, 1929:45), which infers the crook cane was authorized for the Chamahai, which confirms that the Chamahai priest represented the Tiamunyi through the empowerments of the Spider altar (Spider woman was Tiamunyi’s grandmother). The conclusions I draw are 1) there was in fact a dual form of governance reflected in the burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito and the division of the plaza, and 2) the crypt contents point to Snake woman as a dynastic founder and supernatural patron whose son was a Snake chief of an Antelope kiva. Since females established cultural traits like the head shapes of their lineages, the lambdoid cranial modification is attributed to the Snake clan. The lambdoid cranial trait is seen in the four corners of the Chacoan world (Alkali Ridge, southwestern Colorado, Jemez highlands, Whitewater and Zuni Great Kivas) and represents the centerplace at Pueblo Bonito. Whether or not the trait signified blood relations or in time became a statement of social identity by identifying with the Snake ideology of the Chacoan founder remains to be determined. It may be that Keres as a ritual language, the language of Spider woman and the underworld, wove together the four corners through song lines, and the cranial modification identified Keresan speakers–“Like the Snake songs, those of the Antelope are all in [Keres] Laguna language (Kawai’ka lavai’yi)” (Stephen, 1936a:713).

Any information about how the Snake society has evolved over the years is helpful when it comes to understanding the state of affairs when Pueblo Bonito was the centerplace of the ancestral Puebloan’s world: “Long ago the Snake society and Antelope society were confined to men of the Snake clan. Not all the Snake clan, now, are of the Snake society, it is optional…” That said, all but three were Snakes (Stephen, 1936a:714). Heshanavaiya has more secure associations with the rainbow because as Ancient of the Six color-coded Directions he is by definition a rainbow.  Fewkes spelled out his name phonetically as Hí’-ca-na-vai-ya, for which the pronunciation of the Keresan term ìikʾani is a close match for the first three syllables. The word means “vine,” as in pumpkin vine, and together iik’ani-vaiya would be “vine, bringer of life,” like the invisible snake umbilicus that drops down from the Milky Way to connect Chichen Itza to the cosmos.

The equivalence of vines and snakes, where both are living outcomes as metaphors for the liminal water connections within the triadic realms that yield the breath of life and the vital substance, is made apparent in the complementary acts of the Snake-Antelope and Snake chiefs in the Snake dance. Vines feature prominently in the Snake-Antelope ceremony, and the Snake maiden’s bower is made from cottonwood foliage and corn stalks. The Antelopes carry the vines  around in their mouths just as the Snakes carry the snakes. If there is something to this, it would make Heshanavaiya an ephemeral rainbow that brings vegetation to life, which is in his job description. This is the definition of the vital essence “sami” that arises from the amaru, the rainbow colors that are the essence of the Feathered Serpent,  and the vital essence of rainbow breath that is displayed in Hopi kiva art and sand paintings. On another note, this could also explain why the Flute clan was historically associated with the now extinct Squash clan.

In Meso- and South American symbolism, anything like a vine (twisted rope, umbilical cord, blood vessel, long stick, branches, roots, river, penis, etc) was a like-in-kind manifestation of the spirit of the water serpent. In this sense attaching feathers to a carved wooden effigy, i.e., the familiar prayer-feather stick, was a “feathered serpent.” The equivalence of the cosmic umbilical snake-vine that produced the breath of life and vital substance also birthed ancestral deities with whom rulership was associated, which was a theme that was firmly established in Maya art as seen in the famous “Na-Ho-Chan Pot” (Kerr vase K688; Schele, Villela, 1993:fig. 2; Maya Connection“conduits of spirit,” McDonald, Stross, 2012) and  the serpentine umbilical cord that was associated with each of the ancestral deities at Chichen Itza (Foster, Wren, 1996:259). Also, at this point it is helpful to recall the first known association of the vine (cat’s claw as the snake) with the Twisted Gourd (Snake-Mountain/cave) serving as the connector of realms in a religious-political visual program, which is seen in the Cupisnique phase in Peru c. 1200-800 CE (ML040330).  From Peru to the American Southwest, these are the cosmic equivalences to which the Twisted Gourd symbol referred as an archetypal Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud/lightning ideogram that was at once a place, spiritual process, and outcome that sustained the material world transmitted through divine rulership in places where the symbol was displayed on regal clothing, worn as a nosering, and announced by sacred architecture and landscape. Unproven as yet but very strongly suggested by all the international evidence is the conclusion that interlocked Twisted Gourds, from which the Chaco signature was derived, represented the connection between the celestial House of the North and the liminal cosmic navel of the earth (Na Ho Chan, “Five Sky”) in the ancestral terrestrial Mountain/cave and all that the connection inferred.

Combined archaeological data and ethnographic reporting and a comparative approach to ceremonial paraphernalia does result in a legitimate, verifiable basis upon which to rise above conjecture concerning early Puebloan development in the northern Southwest. That is, the approach is valid within the context of the Twisted Gourd’s ideology of leadership based in the sacred directions. Without that firm foundation in a cosmogony and cosmology, which has been established beyond doubt among the Puebloans, Mexicans, and Maya, much of the ritual and associated ceremonial objects have little if any meaning. George Pepper and others thought potsherds from Pueblo Bonito showed evidence of a Toltec influence from the Zacatecas region c.  1000-1200 CE (Roberts, 1930:28). The above evidence indicates  that the ceremonial objects of the Snake-Antelope-Flute fraternity’s ritual (crook canes, slat and sand altars, deer heads, puma fetishes, paints, specular hematite, tobacco, rattles, parrot feathers, flutes, bird whistles, medicine bowl) parallels the ceremonial objects buried with the occupants of rooms 32 and 33 at Pueblo Bonito (crook cane, flute, medicine/food bowl, bed of sand, yellow ocher) and found in surrounding rooms (parrot feathers, wooden flutes, yellow ocher and specular hematite, mountain lion claws, deer remains, bird whistles). For comparison here’s the list of the emblems of lordship in the Feathered Serpent cult among the K’iché Maya (Tedlock, 1996:179): “Canopy/throne, bone flute, bird whistle, sparkling powder, yellow ocher, puma and jaguar paws, head and hoof of deer, leather armband, snail-shell rattle, tobacco gourd, food bowl, parrot feathers, egret feathers.” This is the political charter for governance associated with the Twisted Gourd at Palenque beginning with the reign of Pacal the Great’s Jaguar-Snake son, K’inich Chan Balam II (Freidel et al, 2001:69).  

It’s instructive to read the explanation given by a Hopi Snake chief of the Antelope society and a knowledgeable informant about the relationship between the Hopi and Keres (Stephen, 1936a: 713, 714):

“No other village people except the Hopi have the Snake societies, perhaps they may have had and forgotten them, but they have none now. The people who lived at To’konabi and moved away from there altogether were Snake clan, Sand clan, Laguna (Kawai’ka) clan, the people now of Laguna and the A’kokabi, the people of Acoma.
The Snake, the Sand, and the Laguna all spoke the same tongue, which is now spoken by Laguna and other villages on the Great River (Rio Grande). But the Acoma spoke Hopi talk. …Then the Snake clan spoke Laguna, now they speak only Hopi; then the Acoma spoke Hopi, now they speak only Laguna.”

“The Hopi Snake Priest of the Underworld is known as Chama’hia, ‘the spiritual chief of the Snake people’ ” (van Roggen, 2016:table 12.5).  In other words, the Tsamaiya medicine priest, the stone lightning celt called the tcamahia, the Stone Ancients who were snake masters (Chama-hiya), and the horned Plumed Serpent called Heshanavaiya who initiated Tiyo into the Snake-Antelope mysteries as the first Snake chief of the Antelope kiva are all co-identified. Any one element infers the others. We have to remember that this is chapter two of the Snake story. No longer must Tiyo travel to the Gulf of California for the Snake-Antelope mysteries because the real object of the quest–to gain the altar, wi’mi  and founding females for the Snake lineage and patronage of  Heshanavaiya and Katoya, the rainbow serpent and rattlesnake of the North, had been accomplished in the “long ago.”  This version of the story runs parallel to the version Fewkes reported, but a Tokonabi Youth goes up the Colorado river to find his Snake bride, and together with Spider woman they journey to the land of the Chamahai, the masters of snake ceremony living on the Potrero de Vacas with the Shrine of the Stone Lions at Chi-pia #2 where Poshaiyanne had emerged with his Mystery medicine.  We known from another Snake legend that Heshanavaiya’s  Snake maidens that founded the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute altars and lineages already possessed the secret emetic that cured snakebite. Poshaiyanne’s rainbow mystery medicine was different and not exclusively associated with the Snake-Antelopes. Mystery medicine orders were associated with the most powerful  clans at Zuni and were known among the Tewa as well. The Youth, prior to his initiation as a Snake chief, carried a painted rock with him that represented Heshanavaiya as a form of introduction to the Chamahai priest, who therefore must have considered Heshanavaiya to be his own patron. This is confirmed when he gives the new Snake chief weasel skins, which are part of the standard of Antelope and Snake kivas where Heshanavaiya was patron (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 403; Stephen, 1929:45; Fewkes, 1894:47-48). The painted stone itself appears to be one more fetish that was associated with the tsamaiya complex, others being the tcamahia, the cloud stone Heshanavaiya dropped on Tokonabi, and, described later, a flint knife that also was dropped from the sky. Since there is good evidence that the tsamaiya complex extended from the Pueblo-Mogollon archaeological zone, stone tablets, referred to as “magic tablets,” were “peculiarly characteristic of the archeology of the Gila Valley” (Hough, 1914:31), which as described appear to be more ritual fetishes from the Stone Ancients.

The crux of the Chamahai story was that a protective alliance was formed between the Antelopes, Snakes, and Chamahai snake masters that involved a ceremonial alliance of their supernatural patrons, Heshanavaiya, e.g., the horned Plumed Serpent, and Spider woman. The cosmological significance is that one ceremonial complex represented two Ancients of the Six Directions and the axis mundi.  As important as that is in terms of defining the Tsamaiya complex and establishing the basis of authority of the Keres, equally important is the finding of a ceremonial conflation of lightning celts (tcamahia), corn cobs, feathers, and the Plumed Serpent, an ideological complex that extends back to the Formative period Olmec culture (Taube, 2000). Historically there is a consensus of opinion that the Kookop clan that built Kookopnyama and Sikyatki came from the Jemez region that the Gallina occupied adjacent to the Chamahai, and the Snake legends confirm that was the case. The Gallina were known to have practiced Mystery medicine, and they were Snakes and fire priests (Ellis, 1988). This opens up the possibility that the Kookop, Gallina, and Chamahai (Tsamaiya) were the same people. If that is the case, and the evidence strongly suggests that it is, then for the first time in pan-Amerindian studies we have a case study that with archaeological, ethnographic, and chronological data informs the ceremonial basis of the corn life-way and how it spread from Mesoamerica into the Four Corners region of the American Southwest.

Why the Potrero de Vacas? It was the place of echoes, as foretold in the Acoma Keres origin story (Stirling, 1942:81), which according to Mesamerican tradition inferred the roar of the feline from the heart of the Mountain/cave and also a name that signified the younger War twin according to both Mesoamerican and Puebloan tradition. “Posh’aiankya was the term applied to the northeast, it is of the language of the Below [Keresan]” (Stephen, 1936a:282). The Laguna Keres Chamahai were also of the northeast and spoke “Northeast talk,” and so this association suggests once again that that there was a relationship between the emergence of Poshaiyanne the culture bearer on the Potrero de Vacas and the fact that the Chamahai were located there. This thread of an underworld language and Northeast talk that runs through so many stories suggests that songs in the Keresan language were in fact a medicine, and presumable contained words and ideas that contained the –aiya stem, “born, bring to life.” As a culture bearer Poishaiyanne distributed the beast god Mystery medicines, slat altars, and sand paintings to the societies (Stevenson, 1904:410), which tells us how community-forming Keresan ideas were spread.

This key story shows the development of the Snake-Antelope alliance into a fraternity that included a fire god and a wood clan through the Kookop. The Chamahai gave the Youth his crook cane as the “keeper of the west gate” of his village on First Mesa, which referred to the protection of the Chamahai and the keeper of the songs that animated the life of the Antelope altar–the Kookop chief was the keeper of the west gate of the Antelope altar on First Mesa (Stephen, 1929:40). This was the society with Keresan ceremonies that traveled from the Potrero de Vaca to Hopi First Mesa where they built Kookopnyama and Sikyatki.  The antiquity of tcamahias found as relics at many ancestral Puebloan Great Houses that once were owned by ancestral Snake and Antelope chiefs, that once represented war and hunting empowerments from the supernatural War Twins and  Tiamunyi and his lineage (Stirling, 1942:37), now were delivered to the living as “sky stones” from the ancestral Stone warriors of the Directions (cloud makers) and persist to this day as the wi’mi of Antelope, Snake and Flute altars.

The Continuity of the Tsamaiya Complex as Ancestral Tradition on Hopi First Mesa

The Keres origin of this association of clans that migrated to and lived together at Sikyatki on Hopi First Mesa and became foundational to Hopi ritual has been explored at length because it identified key aspects of a six-directional cosmology and construction of power that was shared across the Chacoan system and persisted long after the Center of the Chacoan system had physically been abandoned. Mesoamerican influence continues to inform that fire-water ideology of the Centerplace.

Kawaika macaw-Hough 1903 pl 94

An antelope-macaw effigy from Kawaika, a Laguna Keres settlement on Hopi Antelope Mesa (Hough, 1903:pl. 94). The black face mask inferred the black facial paint on the upper register of the face that identified a Snake Antelope warrior; black facial paint on the lower register identified a Snake warrior (Stephen, 1936a:581, fig. 327; see also Stephen, 1929:45). Below the facial mask is a reference to rain drops. Notice that the feathers on the wing infer the sharp “flint-wing” of a war bird.


Sikyatki mortuary pottery (Fewkes, 1898:fig. 265, pl.CXXIX), a simple polychrome on the left and from a black-on-white phase of the right which no doubt preceded the masterful Sikyatki polychromes of the 14th-16th centuries. These images provide information regarding the pantheon of supernatural power that the Keres migrants brought with them to Hopi First Mesa. On the left is a coyote nahual framed by the moon and a black, cigar-smoking (cloud making) god with a huge foot “the length of a forearm” (Stephen, 1936a:150) as shown in the image, a diagnostic trait of Maasaw      (Nequatewa, 1936:24), as is “he is always black” (Stephen, 1936a:150). The association of “hard substances” strewn in the foreground, the coyote, moon, and a fire god clearly points to the Kookop clan and their tutelary deity Maasaw. The image on the right is a rattlesnake as the Plumed Serpent wearing flint-like feathers, which are shown later on a beautiful Keres kiva mural, and so this is Katoya of the north, supernatural patron of the Snake society. If you look closely the Kookop nahual has a rattlesnake umbilicus extending just beyond his spine, which associates him with Katoya and explains how a Kookop priest achieved a nahual state of transformation associated with fertility. Likewise wooden images of the Hero War Twins characteristically were carved with a penile projection from their navel to suggest the same thing: “serrated projection from the umbilicus to which plumes are attached, symbolic of clouds and lightning. All varieties of seeds are deposited in the cavity before the projection is inserted” (Haeberlin, 1916:36).
Left: Maasaw as the Flute Player, Kawaika-a, Antelope Mesa, Jeddito black-on-yellow pottery bowl, Peabody Museum #38-120-10/18127. Right: Maasaw as the “Sword” Swallower, Sikyatki (Fewkes, 1898:pl. CXXIX-f). Flute music could make corn grow (Voth, 1905:29), and Maasaw as an agriculture and fire god could make corn grow, too (Fewkes, 1903:38). Kokopelli was thought to be an international god of fertility and fire, a description that fits this image of Masaaw. Notice the iconic three-dot face as the clan sign for Maasaw, the skeletal form, and the big feet, all characteristics of Maasaw. Snake and sword swallowing were like-in-kind snow and rain rituals but more typically war rituals (Stephen, 1936a:83) that were nearly extinct by the time ethnographers arrived in the late 19th century (Stephen, 1936a:33, 707). The dark figure on the right holds a rattle that appears to be a Ya’haha rattle carried by a Keres YaYa priest who invoked the six-directional Sumaikoli warriors (Stephen 1936a:fig. 206) to come from the Shipapolima on the Potrero de Vacas. The skeletal figure swallowing a tree again fits the description of Maasaw serving in the Spruce tree swallower’s order of the Great Fire society (Stevenson, 1904:485). Hopi First Mesa was known to have been settled by Keres colonists, but what is not commonly known is that there was a Zuni colony there as well.

The fact that it is Maasaw swallowing a tree in this Sikyatki  image  (Fewkes, 1898:864) is revealing. There was a Zuni colony amidst the Keres colonists on Hopi First Mesa (Stevenson, 1904:411, fn b). The swallowing of fir trees comprised the initiation into one order of the Hle’wekwe, the Zuni wood society of the Great Fire fraternity (ibid., 515), an entitlement given to the Zuni at the Shrine of the Stone Lions. These images suggest that the Zuni Hle’wekwe (spruce) and the Kookop (cedar) combined their ceremonies at  Sikyatki to revere the fire  god Maasaw, landlord of all Hopi territory but who had a cult following among the Zuni (Stephen, 1936a). This indicates a continuity in the foundation of Sikyatki of the origin of Keresan ritual as the foundation of community that began with fire and wood, a fact documented by the first and only slat altar, the House of Everything shrine mandated by the Corn mother as the fire curing altar of the Keres Fire Society (Stirling, 1942:pl. 8, fig. 2).  What characterized the Ma(t)ki, the priestly masters of the House of Everything altar, was dramatic performance that included swallowing snakes, swords and arrows, jugglery,  and eating fire or “playing” in it. These wizards could also defy gravity with the use of eagle down. The supernatural patrons of the Ma(t)ki were Spider woman and a fire god, which the Hopi called  Maasaw (Fewkes, 1901:439; 1906:667; Stephen, 1936a:148, 182), but while we don’t know the name of the fire god in the other Puebloan language groups we can presume since ritual was Keresan in origin that all the names pointed to one god. All of these ceremonies extended from the Keres– the image shown above is reminiscent of Acoma types: “Swords at Acoma consist of shaped and smoothed spruce saplings with foliage left at the top” (Vivian, 1978:55, citing Parsons, 1939). In the microcosm of Sikyatki there were Keres, Zuni, and Hopi wood societies who were fire worshipers that founded the new community. Because of the precedent set by the Corn mother, this likely was the model for community building among ancestral Puebloans in the Chacoan sphere of influence.

The religious and political institutions that governed the ancestral Puebloan world when the Chacoans still occupied Pueblo Bonito persisted in the Keresan dominated institutions on Hopi First Mesa, where Sikyatki evolved into the centerpoint of that movement. Sikyatki was built by the Kookop clan, fire priests who venerated Maasaw. Nasyunwebe, a Kookop from a cedarwood-coyote lineage who narrated the Snake legends of the Chamahai, was the fire medicine priest for the Snake-Antelope ceremony, but he did not have the same function as the Tsamaiya, the Keres cloud-maker and snake handler who was called to the ceremony. The Snake chief of the Snake-Antelope alliance was supernaturally endowed through the rattlesnake of the north, Katoya, and the Snake altar. The Tsamaiya medicine priest and snake handler was supernaturally endowed through the Stone people (Chamahai), the Chiefs of the Directions, and the Tiamunyi Spider altar.  This adds substantial support to the idea that a Keres Spider lightning priest, the Tsamaiya, who was descended from the Stone warriors of the six directions,  retained his rights as the legitimizing authority for the Snake, Antelope, and Flute ceremonials. His authority was vested in the ritual stone items that were placed on those altars, especially the palladium called “father” that contained a lightning celt, as well as the lightning celts called tcamahia and the crook canes that originally had come from Heshanavaiya.

There remains an obscure relationship between fire and the Tsamaiya, perhaps a matter of establishing ritual purity with ashes that also repel witches, but in the figure of the Tsamaiya the powers of Spider woman acting through the Corn mother were subsumed under the authority of the Tiamunyi’s altar (Stirling, 1942: part IV). A clue about the role of the central hearth and fire in establishing communities is seen in Iatiku’s first fire altar that was created by Oak man (Stirling, 1942), which is supported by the fact that Keresan Wood societies with the patronage of a fire god founded the Great House at Kin Tiel (Zuni Hle’wekwe) and at Sikyatki on Hopi First Mesa ((Kookop). It is notable that the Zuni Hle’wekwe society did not display the Star of the Four Winds mobile fetish (celestial House of the North at the polestar) over their altar. The Hle’wekwe altar instead looked to the Pleiades and Orion for its celestial assistance (Stevenson, 1904:pl. CVIII). Among the Maya, Orion’s belt was a fire-stick that was turned by the rotation of Heart of Sky in the cosmic hearth between Orion’s legs (M42 galaxy) (Freidel et al., 2001:79), which was the first Three Stone Place that had established the fireplace as the foundation of a Mayan home. Taken together, the evidence suggests that the oldest god in the pantheon of early complex agricultural communities, the old, old fire god of Teotihuacan (Winning, 1976, 1979), was very early seen as the founder of agricultural communities that had adopted Twisted Gourd symbolism which connected the ancestral celestial Mountain/cave of origin (House of Stars) with its terrestrial mirror in the Mountain/cave of the North. At the heart of the terrestrial Mountain/cave was a hearth, which was materialized ritually as the fireplace of a kiva (Stirling, 1942:19). It may be that the means to make fire, the first gift of the gods to humans even before the new sun rose, would always be revered first (ref. Tohil, Tedlock, 1996) as seen in the Hopi winter solstice (new sun) ceremony (Fewkes, 1898b) where the Great Serpent was worshipped and yet the ceremony was called the feast of fire (Bourke, 1884:196).

The old-old god of Teotihuacan and the Aztecs was the Fire God Huehueteotl, shown above supporting his trademark censer with  interlocked Mountain/cave (Twisted Gourd) symbols, the form of which was also seen  on Chacoan phallic effigies. The younger form of the old-old god was “the Central-Mexican deity Xiuhteuctli, Lord of Fire, and supreme lord among the Tlaloque” [rainmakers]. In addition, he is the Guardian of the Hearth in the center; and, most importantly, patron of the merchant guilds” (Akkeren, 2012:7). The censer shown on the left was the form of house worship of the old fire god that Teotihuacan exported to other communities along with its ideology of authority.

The Kookop founded the ill-fated Sityatki pueblo (Fewkes, 1900b:586); female Kookop survivors from Sityatki and Awatovi ended up at Oraibi and reestablished the lineage, which maintains an ancestral right to appoint the War Chief (Whiteley, 2008:65, part I). At Walpi, the Kookop occupied the Half-way kiva (ritualists of the Middleplace) and were referred to as Firewood people and “descendants of the former inhabitants of the pueblo of Sikyatki,” who displayed as a Sikyatki relic a squatting, two-foot stone statue of the elder War Twin (Fewkes, 1898b:11), the supernatural patron of the War Chief. The name for the Kookop clan (translation by various ethnographers: “burrowing owl,” “charcoal.” “cedar,” “all-fuels,” “firewood,” “yellow wood,” “fire;” vernacular: “redheads,” most likely because the members of the warrior society they founded at Hopi were the only ones allowed to wear a red headband as an emblem of Massaw, the “red-headed god,” referring to both flames and rabbit blood) is derived from  k’ok’op, a Keresan ritual word for  “night owl” (White, 1943:355), e.g., the word alluded to sorcery and darkness although these days the Kookop say the word refers to the black-throated sparrow (Malotki, Lomatuway’ma, 1987:195), whose facial markings reiterate the facial paint on the lower face of a Snake clansman (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 327). The Kookop clan’s ancestral supernatural patron is the fire/war/death spirit called Maasaw (“ghost,” “skeleton”), which legitimates the clan’s authority through the Fire society that was one of the first five clans (sun, sky, water, badger, fire) established by the Corn Mother in the Acoma Keres origin myth, upon whose Fire altar the Hero Twins presided (Stirling, 1942:13; 29, pl. 8-2).

Left to right: Kokoknyama pueblo War Twins hourglass symbol (A212941) in the context of the neighboring Laguna Keres (“Chamahai”) pueblo of Kawaikaa with War Twins symbol (A213155), checkerboard Milky Way (A213139), and a star with a single horn in the center (A213142). After conquering the Zuni pueblo of Hawikuh in 1540,  the Hopi were visited by the Spaniards. A small party of soldiers entered Hopi country and it was Keres Kawaikaa warriors who offered resistance (Nequatewa, 1936:127, fn 19), which is the duty of a warrior society and likely the terms under which the Hopi had agreed to let Laguna Chamahai, supernaturally empowered warriors, occupy their territory. Artifacts from the Hough and Gates Expedition to Arizona 1901; digial images courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution. The double-arrowhead “hourglass” symbol instantly recalls the double-headed arrows that were given to the Twins by their Sun father (Nequatewa, 1936) and from that foundation extend associations with Spider Woman, Maasaw god of fire, and Hard Substances Woman and Mü’iyinwu  (supernatural patrons of the materials arrowheads are made from and the ability of the Twins to turn things into stone), e.g. the dualistic Above-Below Twins who act at the Middleplace are powerful Magicians with access to the Above, Middle, and Below. The fact that the hourglass form can infer fire/sun, birds, and butterflies of the Above and Middleplace as well as the powers of the underworld points to the once far-reaching influence of the political office they empowered, the War Captain, and the warrior societies they founded.  Among the Keres the axis mundi through which they operated was the broken prayer stick; among the Hopi it was the fire god of war Maasaw. The story of the Orayvi (Oraibi) Split is a historical event wherein supernatural warfare was conducted by Maasaw, Spider Woman, the Twins, and the Kookop clan (magical use of ash) against the United States (Whiteley, 2008). The historical  context describes how the ideological complex of the Hero War Twins, Milky Way and Venus (Plumed Serpent) functioned with supernatural sanction.

Associated with Sikyatki were three “Kawaika” (Laguna Keres) pueblos named named Chakpahu (Bat House, “speaker spring”), Kookopnyama, and Kawaika (Hodge, 1907:232). This reference to a possible Bat lineage is the only known reference to bats in Puebloan ethnographic studies that are otherwise visually prevalent on Mimbres Mogollon pottery. The only other visual reference to bats is seen on the Zuni Galaxy altar where bats hang from the celestial House of the North array, which could indicate subordination to the cult of the Plumed Serpent or refer to a mythical event related to the Hero Twins, such as their ordeal in the Bat House that was preserved in the Popol vuh (Tedlock, 1996). Other Keresan sites included Kukutcomo,  Lululongturkwi (“plumed serpent mound”) and Nesheptanga (Hodge, 1907:778), together comprising the typical seven-village plan that is also seen among the Keres, Tewa, and Zuni. The Coyote clan occupied Kukutcomo, which was situated on a mesa above Sikyatki and had two round kivas, the only known circular subterranean structures in Hopiland (Fewkes, 1911:26 fn a). According to a Hopi legend, Maasaw, the fire and death god and first house builder,  invented that form (Stephen, 1936a:150). Since the Acoma Keres origin myth says that the Corn mother was the first house builder and invented that round subterranean form as the model for a kiva, which was associated with the Corn mother’s first fire altar and the first corn-ear fetish that embodied the Corn mother (Stirling, 1942:part II), the ancestral memory of both Keres and Hopi suggests that fire worship, and by extension the sun, was the oldest form of worship among the ancestral Puebloans. In the Acoma Keres origin myth, the sun was pre-existent, but the Zuni received their cosmology from the Keres and in the Zuni myth the sun was condensed out of the fiery heart and misty nature of the cosmic Serpent, the Ancient Maker of the Sacred Directions. In only one Hopi story does Maasaw have anything to do with creating the new sun of this world (Malotki, Lomatuway’ma, 1987:55).

The Kookop wood phratry included Eototo (Hodge, 1907:430); Hoko, Juniper clan (ibid., 556); and Ishauu (Coyote), Kwewu (Wolf), Sikyataiyo ( Yellow-fox), Letaiyo (Gray-fox), Zrohona (small mammal), Masi (Masauu [Maasaw], dead, skeleton, Ruler of the Dead), Tuvou (Pinon), Awata (Bow), Sikyachi (small yellow bird), and Tuvuch (ibid., 562). Eototo, whom Fewkes identifies with Maasaw, was the tutelary deity of Sikyatki (Fewkes, 1903), and has very striking parallels with  the ancient fire god of Mesoamerica, a fact pointed out by the highly regarded Mesoamerican symbolist Eduard Seler, who associated Eototo with Ueueteotl (Huehueteotl, “Father of the Gods,” who existed before the birth of the sun and “from whom springs all life”), the Old Old God of Teotihuacan and forerunner of the Mexican fire god Xiuhtecuhtli (Seler, 1901:25, part 9). Eototo is personated by the chief of the Kookop clan during the winter solstice rites (Fewkes, 1901:449, fn 1), which indicates a clear association between the fire god, the new sun, and new life. During that rite he invokes the spirit of the  Plumed Serpent, which indicates a clear association between fire and water and an awareness of the igneous : aquatic paradigm, the essence of life that ultimately expressed itself as a rainbow and dew.

Kookop clan members were ritual specialists in the uses of wood/ash and by extension ashes, hence carbon paint; the tutelary deity of the Kookop was Maasaw, who was represented by the black-purple corn fetish in the rainbow ritualism that brought the corn of six different colors together). The nearly exclusive use of mineral-based paint on the pottery of Pueblo Bonito suggests that the Tiamunyi lived there). The tiamunyi could be replaced if he didn’t follow the rules. There was a balance of power concerning proper ritual that drew more clans into the affairs of the Pueblo, but still among the Acoma Keres this was under the overarching authority of the supernatural Tiamunyi. It was a complex web of relationships between the fetishes that drew supernatural power into an altar, e.g., the wi’mi or ceremony, that balanced the power of the Tiamunyi and War Chief; one sign of the ultimate supernatural authority was that all officers carried a crook cane of office, and those canes bespoke the power of the supernatural Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions and the tutelary deity of the Antelope clan.

In the Hopi’s New Fire ceremony the association between the fire/war god Maasaw, the fire of the new creation that is celebrated in the middle of November at the end of the liturgical year, and the Antelope-Snake dance that is celebrated in mid-August is stated (Fewkes, 1895a:438 fn 1), wherein it becomes clear that the interwoven web of ritual that existed across Pueblos was founded upon fire, the basis of life through the close relationship between fire and sun (Fewkes, 1922:592). This recalls the fact that the first altar authorized by the Corn Mother was a fire society altar and the corn life-way extended from that foundation. Based upon a wealth of architectural and archaeological evidence Fewkes’ suggests that the Great Kivas of the Chaco expansion were for fire worship (ibid., 610). The web-like nature of ceremonies that reiterated creation events and renewed them annually was accomplished not by tribe or clan per se but rather through a network of high-ranking priests who claimed ancestral rights to the power that came from the supernatural patron deities via their fetishes. The web of relationships between tribes was sustained by the fetishes (wi’mi, ceremonial power, around which secrecy was maintained) a chief owned through the societies to which he belonged and that he could contribute to an altar,  which constituted the authority of ceremony and by extension to tribal and inter-tribal status. One way to describe this network of the highest-ranking priests that each contributed to different ceremonies that were owned by chiefs would be to compare them to the U.S. military’s ranking of one- to four-star generals. One clue that possession (or not) of a vital ritual item constituted the power of ritualists was provided by a Zuni informant who noted that a Cochiti rain ceremony lacked the stone frog (Dumarest, 1919:188, fn 4), i.e., it lacked the genius of stone totems that came from the time of the supernatural ancestors which apparently a priest could not simply manufacture if one was needed.

Fourteen “tcamahias” as supernatural stone objects found in this world but created in a past world formed part of the Antelope altar in the Snake Dance at Walpi, and when the tcamahia was ritually invoked it referred to the warriors of the six directions (Fewkes, 1911b:65, fn b): the stone effigies, the lightning celts/tsamaiyas, provide a ritual locus that invites the genius of the warriors of the six directions to enter and empower an altar.  And yet, when the first tsamaiyas were created  it was in this way: “So Tiamuni instructed Oak Man [fire] to make a tsamai’ya. Tiamuni told Oak Man to gather two ears of corn, one to represent the male (long), the other the female (small). The male was to be named tsamaiya; the female, umahia. …It was made up like the honani [Iatiku’s fetish] except that the “seat” was abalone shell wrapped in cotton. It was then wrapped halfway up from the bottom with buckskin” (Stirling, 1942:37-38). It also had mouse meat in the depression made in the corn cob to represent all meat sources, not seeds that represented all plants. In other words, the tsamaiyas were like Iatiku’s iarikos but now there were male and female versions that came to be associated with war and hunting. The Hero War Twins could bridge male-female categories: among the Sia Keres they were involved in curing, hunting, and war (White, 1962).

Tsamaiyas are generally long, slender celts that are narrower on one end, but they do have a variety of forms within this type.  Ellis saw at Laguna: “Two of the specimens given to me for examination were 12 to 14 inches in length, about two and one-half inches wide and three-fourth inch thick, and rounded at both ends (Ellis, 1967:39).

“Tcamahias appear to be chiefly a San Juan-Mesa Verde trait, which spread south into Chaco Canyon and via the Kayenta region  into Hopi country” (Woodbury, 1954:167).

“Legends say that the snake dance is the cult of the oldest people of Tusayan. These facts mean something or, rather, several things, one of which is that the original Tusayan cult has kinship with that of the Keresan, the oldest of the linguistic stocks of the Pueblos” (Fewkes, 1895b:141). Because of the antiquity of the ceremony, perhaps as early as the introduction of corn seeds into the American Southwest, and the complex interaction of the different groups that comprised Puebloan culture, there are missing pieces of information in the leap from yet another corn-ear fetish, this time embodying the genius of Tiamunyi, and the stone celts (tcamahias) that were said to be the weapons of the Hero War Twins (Stephen, 1936a:625, 706).  The term also  referred to the six warriors of the six mountains among whom for the Sia were “Samaihaia of the North,” listed first; “Yumahaia” is listed for the south mountain (Stevenson, 1894), which likely is the female umahia mentioned in the Acoma origin story. White (1964:111) has different spellings for the directional warriors as given by a Sia informant: “Warriors.—North, Tsamahia; west, Cinohaia; south, Yumahiya; east, Awahiya; CNP, Beyahara; nadir, Keyachara. In addition to these are Tsarahoya whose location is “everywhere” and Aiwana for whom no place was designated. Masewi and Oyoyewi, the twin war gods, are the heads of this group; they live in the east, in the Sandia Mountains.  The tsatya gowatcanyi, the present-day helpers of the War chiefs, bear the names of these warriors of the north, west, south, and east, respectively. All 10 of these warrior spirits are “armed; they protect the pueblo against witches (kanadyaiya), sickness, and ill will.”

The Keres Shipap where Iatiku emerged is in the Mountain of the North, where the  Mountain Lion (Puma) of the North is the master of all game, and the Snake of the North is called Katoya, who guards the underworld Snake-Antelope kiva of Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions and father of two Snake maidens, when the Antelope and Snake clans aligned ceremonially to form an earth-sky union, which was materialized in the marriage of the Snake maiden and Tiyo the first Antelope chief. We’ve learned that the founding female of the Snakes and Flutes [Fewkes’ version of Tiyo legend where he travels down the Colorado River] were two  supernatural Snake maidens procured from either Heshanavaiya or Katoya on that trip. The first Snake maiden married Tiyo, son of a Puma chief, who now had the right to be called Heshanavaiya, the supernatural patron of the Antelope altar. Presumably, then, the first bride was Heshanavaiya’s daughter. The second Snake maiden married Tiyo’s brother and introduced the Snake rites to the Horns and Flutes, so presumably the second bride was Katoya’s daughter since Katoya is the patron of those societies.  As a sidenote, this feline-snake motif is the mark of a divinized Centerplace ruler with access to all directions as seen in the Moche’s Aia Paec and the Maya’s Chan Balam II.

The materialization of Heshanavaiya through ritual items includes his cloud stone on the Antelope altar shown below as a Butterfly tile (Stephen, 1896a:fig. 338; Fewkes, 1894:43) that was dropped from the sky over Tokonabi (Navajo Mountain), and next to it is the Black Butterfly, the male stone (Stephen, 1896a:fig. 339) that is mentioned in Hopi Tales (Stephen, 1929:44) in association with the Chamahai living at the Shrine of the Stone Lions.  Laguna are the Chama’hia and invoke clouds at the northeast [male tsamaiya]…the Yomahi’ [umahia, e.g., female tsamaiya, Stirling, 1942:38] invoke clouds at the southeast) cited in Hopi Tales (Stephen, 1929:44). The Mountain Lion-Antelope-Snake-Horn-Flute clans as an ideological tsamaiya complex appears to be the vanguard of Chaco culture during its expansion period or even earlier: Wupatki Pueblo 500 CE-1225 CE both preceded and succeeded the occupation of Chaco Canyon.

Left:  Brown Butterfly “female” stone. Right: Black Butterfly “male” stone (Stephen, 1936a:figs. 338, 339). In Hopi Tales, through Spider Woman Tiyo finds his Snake maiden at the headwaters of the Colorado River and then journeys toward the land of the Chamahai (Laguna Keres) at Potrero de Vacas near Cochiti Pueblo where his encounter with the Chamahai medicine chief, the Tsamaiya, involves the painted stone, e.g., the male rock, with the “great butterfly and on either side the snakes” (Stephen, 1929:44). I do not believe the association of the black butterfly with Heshanavaiya and the hourglass symbol that looks like a black butterfly with the Hero War twins is coincidental. Both are part of the tsamaiya complex and the one would refer to the other. Why was an all-directions rainbow serpent associated with a black butterfly? One possible answer is that the twins represented the Above and Below  but they acted at the middleplace where Heshanavaiya also acted as Ancient of the Six Directions (warm winds, movement of mountain animals, etc). Like other paired supernaturals the association of the twins and the rainbow serpent with the black butterfly may have addressed arcane seasonal issues related to directional color symbolism. The butterfly is a perennial sign of spring, and even a black one (Above, Below) would reference the powers that brought spring about. Flower Mound was after all located at the nadir with the germ god. Tiyo’s cosmic journey took him there, where he was assured that the germ god would always heed his prayers. Veneration, therefore, would have been required.

Ethnography: “If a person has been good during his lifetime,” according to one informant, “Utctsiti will give him another life and return him to this White earth in the form of a swallow, butterfly, henati-hayac (cloud fog), or a bird—except a crow, owl, or blackbird” (White, 1935:198-99).[the reference is to the four colored worlds through which mankind ascended: yellow, blue, red, white]

The Snake-Antelope ritual speaks to the origin of the tsamaiya assemblage–the celt, the warrior, the power of the Keres Spider society to appoint the War Chief, and the supernatural power of the Tiamunyi, whose other name is Tsamai’ya the over-arching ruler and keeper of the paths.  All of that is tsamaiya per the usual practice of personifying a set of likenesses with one actor whose name is capitalized as in Kopishtaiya ritual for all kopershta’ia (White, 1932:86-88); Paiyatuma for all the payatyamu, etc., perhaps with slight variations in spelling and pronunciation to indicate which form is meant). Ellis concurs (1967:42): “When we piece this evidence together,  it becomes apparent that the stone tcamahia probably is symbolic of the supernaturals, especially those concerned with hunting and warfare. … a skinning knife  would fit the symbolic interpretation: as a skinning knife it could represent the spirits of hunt or warrior personages. …The similarity of the terms associated with the artifact and the officer [War Captain]  in the Hopi, Keres, and Tewa tongues, and the parallelism in symbolic concepts, suggests old, perhaps close contact between these peoples” (see Parsons, 1936).

The supernatural power behind the Antelope altar was Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions that directs the Plumed Serpent of the North and other directional snakes. All the “-aiya” life-bringing gods are ritually fed pollen and honey, a like-in-kind substitute for the blood sacrifice of Mayan ritual; these substances fall under the category of “dew.” Presumably the -aiya witches are just the opposite, e.g., not life-giving but destructive of life.

“The seed corn must be planted, for it does not grow save in the earth. There is a power in the earth that makes corn sprout, but this power is connected with that of the sky. In other words, there are two cosmic agencies that appeal to the farmers—the sky and the earth. These are magic powers to which are assigned sex, male and female, and the Indian, knowing that to a union of sexes he owes the birth of his own life, ascribes the origin of all life to the same powers” (Fewkes, 1920:493). 

Whether called cloud stone or sky stone, Hopi and Keres, respectively, Heshanavaiya’s stone, which appears to be particularly associated with the Hopi Flute clan (Stephen, 1936b:784) referred to the sky in the sky-earth equation. This evidence infers, I believe, that the rainbow serpent was also the Milky Way, the rainbow ladder across which the Keres passed when entering the underworld of the kiva and the beam that held up the kiva roof as described in the Acoma Keres origin myth. As it was for the Andeans and the Maya, the evidence suggests the ancient sky-water serpent for Puebloans was associated with the Milky Way.

The antiquity of the Tiyo legend, and what it meant in terms of introducing Heshanavaiya and the Plumed Serpent into the corn life-way, also goes a long way toward explaining how it was that the dot-in-square symbol (quincunx) at such an early date co-identified the serpent and a kernal of corn as the symbol moved into the northern Southwest: it was an indexical symbol in the corn life-way for the role of rain via the Serpent who was at once water,  cloud and cloud-mover (Taube, 2000; Hayes-Gilpin et al., 2004:42-43), which associated those life-sustaining processes with centralized authority (see Quincunx).  Among all the ancestral Puebloans the fact that Keres-speakers in their origin story show the development and ownership of the three preeminent ritual items of the corn lifeway–the corn-ear fetish, feathered prayerstick, and the tsamaiya assemblage, all directionally oriented powers– has important implications regarding Puebloan cultural origins and the Basketmaker III-to-Pueblo I and II transition.

In light of the fact that the Keres language and the Keres snake dance also appear to be the oldest expressions of Puebloan ritual and therefore authority (Fewkes, 1895b:141), the conclusion that it was Keres speakers who were the bearers of Chacoan culture and influence has to be seriously considered. One piece of evidence that supports this observation is the fact that it is an Acoma Keres theurgist who is summoned ritually using the kiva’s floor drum, a dug-out cyst in the floor covered by boards and stomped on by priests as described in the Acoma origin story, who then actually shows up to actualize the Hopi’s antelope-snake and antelope-flute ceremonials as an asperger (rainmaker). He casts a priestly blessing of charmed water with an aspergill, and calls out “Awahia, tcamahia!” the Keres’ invocation to warriors of the six directions (Fewkes, 1900b:589).  This fact becomes very significant in the pairing of six perfectly formed, directional corn ears with their “husband,” a used ceremonial aspergill, on the altars of other important Hopi ceremonies that honor the sun and moon (Voth, 1912). The pairing of husband and wife is Corn, the spirit of Iatiku, and Tcamahia, the spirit of Tiamunyi. The nature of Tiamunyi’s parentage is manifested symbolically on the altar by the rainbow clouds, tsamaiya, and also the aspergill (makwanpi) because Tiamunyi’s father is revealed in these objects as all-directions Heshanavaiya, the supernatural rainbow serpent that empowers Antelope altars and Tcamahia altars that invoke the divine ancestral couple (Stirling, 1942:37), who signify a fertile union of fire/water and earth/sky. Whereas color-coded corn is the Seed of seeds, the retired aspergills once were saturated with rainbow medicine, the sine qua non of Puebloan cosmogony and cosmology. Although there are many references to the rainbow and rainbow mystery medicine in ancestral Puebloan folklore, I found only one footnote alluding to the contents of one of the rainbow medicines called na-hu, a recipe from Spider Woman (“pacifies all angry animals as well as the snake”) that was made from six plants in the colors of the cardinal points (Fewkes, 1894:110 fn 1). The aspergills are also important because they once were the wi’mi of the Chamahai (Tcamahia), the Spider medicine priests equal in power to Iatiku called makwanta [(“The asperser of the medicine water, the Antelope medicine chief, is called ‘(makwanta) or Chama’hiya’ ” (Stephen, 1936a:707)].

The Feather Serpent, as always, signifies the genius of all forms of moisture. The tie-in to rainbows and serpents comes from the Hopi in a story that continues the Tiyo legend (Fewkes, 1864:111): the origin of the Snake clan was from a Rainbow (all-directions Heshanavaiya) deity who dropped them on Navajo Mountain, which is located on the Utah-Arizona border: “At the general dispersal my people lived in snake skins, each family occupying a separate snake skin bag, and all were hung on the end of a rainbow, which swung around until the end touched Navajo Mountain, where the bags dropped from it; and wherever a bag dropped, there was their house. After they arranged their bags they came out from them as men and women, and they then built a stone house which had five sides,” and the first snake house among the Hopi was called batni, “moisture house,” “a well” (Mindeleff, 1891:17, 18).

The area into which the Hopi Snake clan was said to be dropped was occupied by the Keresans: “The mountain lion, whose spirit is associated with war and hunting, is represented in the Hopi Snake ceremony as Mountain Lion Man. The Snake clan is said by Hopi originally to have been of Keresan people from the Navajo Mountain area of northern Arizona; its ceremony pertained particularly to warfare ” (Ellis, 1969:166). This story is supported by the foundation myth of the Snake people, the legendary journey of Tiyo the youth who married the supernatural Snake virgin. In one version Tiyo leaves a territory (Tokonabi, Navajo Mountain) owned by the Antelope and other Horn people, with whom the Puma were associated, and journeys down the Colorado river (Fewkes, 1894:107). The story suggests that it was a Puma male who married into the underworld snake society whose father was a supernatural snake, the great Heshanavaiya, Snake chief of the underworld Antelope kiva. The story supports the supernatural ancestry of the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute alliance and offers many parallels by way of explaining the origin of the Antelope-Snake ceremonial; the mention of the pink stone food bowl in the House of the Sun especially recalls the association of the color pink with the Antelope clan (ibid., 114; Stirling, 1942) and dawn.  One line delivered by the Sun father may even allude to the basis of the Chaco’s black-on-white pottery designs: “when you display the white and the black on your bodies the clouds will come” (ibid., 115). By the end of his initiation Tiyo, the first Snake chief of an Antelope kiva,  has been given the name of Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Six Directions, and his access to the supernatural extends from the sun to the lowest level of the underworld where germs for all plants were produced. Tiyo and the Snake woman returned to Navajo Mountain to found the Snake lineage.  Tiyo was the son of a Puma chief who becomes the Snake master and medicine chief of all directions. The centrality of the Mountain Lion in the sand paintings of the Snakes during their part of the Snake-Antelope ceremony at Hopi (ibid., 54-55) and among the Sia Keres infers a larger myth cycle that is centered on the Shrine of the Stone Lions, in which the culture hero Poshaiyanne was incarnated.

The Ancient of the Directions is an appropriate name for the ancient sky-water realm of the rainbow serpent, and as such Heshanavaiya is represented on the Hopi’s Snake-Antelope altar shown below as the prominent “butterfly tile” or cloud stone fetish that provides him with a place to occupy during the ceremony (Stephen, 1936a:617, fig. 338; Flute society stone clouds, Stephen 1936b:784). It also goes a long way toward explaining how a Puebloan community was knit together ritually over an area extending from southern Colorado to southern Utah and down into Arizona and New Mexico. Ultimately, the Twisted Gourd’s ideology of the Centerplace and sacred directions expressed itself among Puebloans as it had in South and Mesoamerica: the serpent as the fertilizing genius of water, mist, ice, clouds, and lightning permeated the qualities of the six directions, and when it met with the earth in the centerplace of Sustenance/Snake Mountain life happened. These stories also begin to suggest that a dominant Keres Antelope clan spread as Antelope-Snake/Flute alliance in an older brother-younger brother relationship.

That there are as yet undiscovered associations between ancestral sites in the north that served to initiate members into the Snake/Flute-Antelope society and the post-Chacoan reorganization where the Acoma and Laguna Keres still played a key role, and whose influence was felt into the early 20th century, is suggested by a sequence of events that begins with a story in Hopi Tales by a knowledgeable and trusted insider (Stephen, 1929). In the story of the origin of the Snake-Antelope society, a youth leaves Tokonabi and travels up the Colorado River to its headwaters where he meets Spider Woman, just as Tiyo met Spider Woman when he reached the end of the Colorado in Mexico. Details of the story are mentioned elsewhere in this report, but what is pertinent here are the places to which Tiyo travels during his initiation and acquisition of a Snake maiden to found his lineage. The most significant of these locations is the land of the Chamahai near Santa Fe, NM, (e.g., the Laguna Keres are the Chamahai according to Hopi informants).  In a variant of the story the Antelope-Snakes left Utah and Colorado and after several diversions they journeyed south to the “Mesa la Vaca” (ibid., 41). There are two potential sites in New Mexico for a Mesa de las Vacas, one of which is just north of Mt. Taylor and south of Chaco Canyon [Google Earth Pro: lat. 35°29’48.10″ long. 107°47’54.22″W), but based on  details from the story the second site near Acoma Pueblo  fits better. It is important to understand this site in detail, because the Snake-Antelope group identified at that site as the Antelope Chamahai priests were the same group that  traveled directly to Sikyatki on Hopi First Mesa with the Flutes on their heels but they were not allowed to build their round Snake-Antelope towers (ibid., (ibid., 42, 45). Significantly, that Snake chief is given his crook cane of authority by the Chamahai with the agreement that he place the crook on the west side of the Snake-Antelope village (ibid., 45). The agreement was that the Keres Antelopes and Snakes, empowered by the Hero War Twins, Chamahai priests, and supernatural warriors of the six directions, would protect the new colony among the Hopi. Historically this is accurate because the Hopi storyteller was from the Kokop-Coyote clan, protector of chiefs and keeper of the west gate of the altar of the Antelope Society (ibid., 40). Nevertheless, it was the Kokop clan that was decimated in the attack on Sityatki by the Bear clan, who rivaled the Snakes in claims of seniority as to which group was the first to occupy First Mesa. Ironically, in 1906 it was a member of the Kokop clan who led a resistance movement that tried to depose the Bear chief due to his association with Americans who interfered with Hopi ritual in an historic stand-off with a battle-ready U.S. military force (Whiteley, 2008).

Early in the”Hopi Tales” saga of the Antelope chief told by Wiki, a Snake clansman and Antelope chief, and Nasunawebe, fire medicine chief of the Antelope Society’s altar and Kookop-Coyote  clansman, a story similar to the Tiyo legend reported by Fewkes (1894) is repeated, but this time the action takes place at the headwaters of the Colorado river. Tiyo is initiated as the Antelope chief, and with a Snake bride he heads back to Tokonabi where he founds a new Snake house  (Stephen, 1929:37-38). Snakes from that group built round masonry towers as Snake houses on the way to the Chamahai (Stephen, 1929:41, 42), but weren’t allowed to build the Snake-Antelope towers on Hopi First Mesa as attested by archaeological evidence.  Before proceeding, it is important to point out that in the Snake story told by Nasyunwebe as the Kookop medicine priest (cedarwood-coyote lineage, tutelary deity was the fire god Maasaw), the Snake woman mentioned in his story was the daughter of Spider woman, not the daughter of Heshanavaiya who, with the first Snake-Antelope chief, founded the Snake, Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute clans. The Snake daughter of Spider woman is associated with the Chamahai snake masters, Laguna Keres that lived on the Potrero de Vacas who descended from the supernatural Stone people, the Chiefs of the Directions. It is the supernatural Chiefs of the Directions, co-identified with the six directional Hero War Twins, who are invoked in the Snake-Antelope ceremonies by the Tsamaiya and are represented on the altars by the lightning celt. Nasyunwebe’s is the only account in Puebloan folklore that calls round masonry towers Snake-Antelope towers and identifies the land of the Chamahai as the Potrero de Vacas. (Actually, the stories said “Snake towers,” but the context was a Snake chief of an Antelope kiva who had a Snake wife, hence I refer to them as Snake-Antelope towers.)

Additional background also must be inserted here before continuing that informs the relationship between the Kookop (formerly Kokop) clan and Spider woman. As inferred in the Tiyo legend documented by Fewkes (1894), Spider woman comes first and foremost in the story, while the goddess Huruing wuhti, Hard Substances woman, played a secondary role. Several ethnographers opined that Spider woman superceded Huruing wuhti in a transcend-and-include strategy and assumed her powers. Unlike the war cult of Spider woman, Maasaw, Wind, and the War Twins (Stephen, 1936a:83, fig. 67), however, Huruing wuhti has no obvious associations with conflict. The “hard substances” she owned included ritual  items of wealth such as shell and turquoise, and also the Moon and stars, but as a creatrix who preceded the dominion of Spider woman, she accounts for much information that otherwise would be obscure, such as a link between “hard substances,” ritual stone objects, and the Stone people.  In a myth that associates the Kookop and Coyote clans, Huruing wuhti, the consort of the Sun,  is identified as the mother-creatrix of the two clans (Voth, 1905:8-9, 273-274). The first Kookops are the  Burrowing Owls, which further supports a Keres origin for the clan because “night owl,” a creature associated with far-seeing and magic, is how the Acoma Keres defined the word kokop (k’ok’op, White, 1943:355). The Kookops who are integral to the Snake-Antelope story are the cedarwood-coyote lineage, whose tutelary deity and father was Maasaw the fire god. Their relationship with the coyote is further informed by a Sia Keres legend, where the coyote has the power to speak to fire (Stevenson, 1894:65).

The Kookop and Spider clans together founded the Hopi’s warrior society at Oraibi. The Kookop clan’s tutelary deity is Maasaw, the fire and death god. The “good” Maasaw is still a guide to travelers (Judd, 1954:331); the feast of Maasaw, “the red-headed spirit,” is celebrated at the New Fire ceremony (Fewkes, 1895a:440);  he is called Big-Skeleton man who owns the earth and fields (Voth, 1905:81); and he was a bad landlord who was superseded by Shotukinunwa, the Plumed Serpent (Stephen, 1929:53) whose House is located in the northern polestar region.

It is important to keep in mind who Nasunawebe was as a ritualist and informant. His Kookop clan was Keres, they settled Hopi First Mesa, and the Kookop clan retained a hereditary right to appoint a War chief into the 20th century. Nasunawebe introduced the Chamahai into Tiyo’s story, which was key to understanding the tsamaiya complex. The Chamahai medicine men were supernaturally legitimized by the Keres Spider society altar called Tiamunyi as described in the Acoma Keres origin myth, which still is the altar required to initiate a War chief (White, 1932). Once initiated, the War chief embodied the Hero War Twins, whose weapon is the tcamahia lightning celt. The Tiyo stories foreshadowed that relationship in the fact that the actor called the Tsamaiya left Wukoki and traveled east to meet with the elder War Twin near Sante Fe (Fewkes, 1894; Stephen, 1929). The high priest of the Tiamunyi altar is the actor called the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia). Keeping that in mind, we are told by Nasunawebe that after some troubles the Snake-Antelope family makes its way south to find new land.  After building many Snake houses (towers) en route,  the Youth and his Snake wife travel to Acoma where they are unwanted. They leave Acoma and find his brother’s clan where they spend many days (Stephen, 1929:44). The two “brothers” would obviously have shared the same mother and would be of the same clan, but the more important inference is that his “brother” is a War Captain empowered by the Hero War Twins. This is a myth-based origin story that becomes myth-history, and the apparent conflation of the identity of the Youth and his brother with the  War Twins in a geographic location that is charged with supernatural power is part of the mystery of such stories. What we know for sure is that the Hero War Twins with their well described supernatural pedigree are put forward as a model of governance, which, based on what happens next, was probably a mandate. A short distance north of the Potrero de Vacas was the land of the small-house people that was occupied c. 800 CE (Robinson, Cameron, 1991) with a cultural peak 1050-1300 CE by the Gallina, and it is at this juncture that the Kookop clan joins the Youth, Spider woman, and the Snake wife and they travel south to the Chamahai on the Potrero de Vacas (Stephen, 1929:44).  After an initiation, the entire group with the Kookops then travels to Acoma and beyond to spread the Snake order, and we are to understand that this was a fighting unit, because as described earlier the Chamahai (Tcama’hia) priests were Spider society medicine priests that represented the male aspect of the Tiamunyi (war and hunting) and provided the supernatural authority to appoint a War chief and empower war activities. The story then relates that “the wars began again” and the group moved to the Hopi (ibid., 44), where the earliest Keres colony is dated to c. 1275 CE and was built by the Kookop (wood) clan, who served a fire god (Kokopnyama, Robinson, Cameron, 1991).

A revealing phrase in the saga of the Snake order documents the fact that the Snake order was introduced into ancestral Puebloan culture: “So they called upon her husband [Tiyo] to give them songs whereby they, too, might invoke the rain god of his wife’s country [Heshanavaiya in Mexico]. But she said, no, not until a son was born to her could the altar of her rain god be raised in a strange land” (Stephen, 1929:50). This line of inquiry opens the door to learning more about the identity of the Snake tower builders because there happens to be over one hundred towers in the area occupied by the Gallina warriors just north of the Shrine of the Stone Lions and co-extensive with the land the Keres occupied as the Chamahai on the Pajarito Plateau. The Gallina built tall, round towers, which means they were Snake-Antelopes, as documented in the Hopi  Snake stories, and the Keres owned the Snake initiation through the Snake-Antelope chiefs. Snake-Antelope towers were built at Ridges Basin, Mitchell Springs, and La Plata, all sites associated with the ancestral Keres’ areas of use. Since the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi all practiced rainbow mystery medicine we don’t know which language the Gallina spoke, but what is significant about the identity of the Gallina as Snakes is that 100% of them displayed the lambdoid cranial modification, which for the first time associates that trait with the Plumed Serpent the Keres called Katoya. That in turn informs the identity of the Bonitians who predominantly displayed the same cranial modification and associates them with the Snakes. This tentatively suggests, then, that the occipital form characterized the Antelopes. The Gallina, who as a group are thought to have evolved from a Rosa phase, which characterized the Ridges Basin group as well, moved south as did the Keres from the area around Cortez, CO, and re-established themselves just north of the Keres in New Mexico in an occupation that extended  to within 60 miles of Pueblo Bonito.

In the text of the Dallas Tablet of La Corona the Maya’s idea of an elite woman was that she be the “bearer of war and creation” (Freidel, Guenter, 2003), an idea borne out among ancestral Puebloans in the primacy of the story of the Youth (Tiyo) and the supernatural Snake maiden, a priestess who initiates warriors under the authority of Spider Woman and who founded the dynasty of Snake warriors. The story is told as a Hopi story but constructed with Keres antecedents and authority; a Hopi informant, the Antelope chief and member of the Snake clan, said, “He had no name with us, we speak of him only as Tiyo, youth.” The snake is intimately involved in the Keres story of the Corn Mother’s sister as well. Throughout South and Mesoamerica the serpent had always represented water in all of its air/sky, earth and underworld forms, and now among the ancestral Puebloans we see that serpent by the 10th century in the form of a two-horned serpent decorating a humpbacked effigy found just miles from the Whitewater site in Arizona, the latter “very similar” to the one found near Pueblo Bonito (Ellis, Hammack,1968:41) and included at the conclusion to this section. The humpbacked deity represents a Mountain of seeds, including seeds for producing children, and a fire god, e,g., he is a personified Earth Lord and Mountain/cave of Sustenance (see Lambert, 1957, for a fuller discussion of Puebloan and Mesoamerican humpbacked deities). This is the ideological complex that is represented by the Twisted Gourd symbol and its primary iconic derivatives, the double-headed serpent bar and the serial zig-zag Mountain lightning snake. This is another example of following the connectors– “charged” water and lightning in the context of the Mountain/cave– to detect a cosmogony and cosmology related to the axis mundi and sacred directions as the basis of ritual and political authority.

As a sidenote, the co-identity of feathers and horns is also seen among the Huichol people (Lumholtz, 1900), and Ellis points out the similarity between the 10th century two-horned serpent of the ancestral Puebloans associated with Chaco Canyon and the Huichol’s two-horned serpent (Ellis, Hammack, 1968). In all essentials the ancestral Keres and the Huichol people shared the same cosmogony as the basis of authority, down to the Twisted Gourd symbol set (Lumholtz, 1900). This is not to say that the renowned Huichol theurgists occupied Pueblo Bonito, although they may have, but it does confirm the fact that Twisted Gourd cosmogony and cosmology  traveled as a coherent, intact teaching of a mystery-medicine shamanism embedded in an occult comprehension of color-coded “sacred directions” and Centerplace that reproduced itself as a culture changer in numerous places where the Twisted Gourd symbol took root. Based on the fact that worldwide the mystery of the light-water interaction that created a rainbow enchanted and informed people’s ideas about the nature of reality, it is perhaps no accident that one of the key metaphors of the tradition was the ritual creation of a rainbow that served as a “ladder” and bridge not only to transcendent religious experience but also from nomadic to agricultural life-ways and ultimately to hierarchically organized corn life-ways.

Recall from the Maya creation story in the Popol Vuh, in part a corn life-way story but for the most part a charter for supernatural governance under the Hero Twins, and Karen Bassie’s analysis of Maya creator deities (2002) that lightning was the primary aspect of deity and it played a key role in the initiation of creation events and thereafter as an aspect of the sacred directions over which deities and rulers had power. Water as a serpent deity was present in three states–space, mist, and liquid (ocean). Although lightning is generally considered to be an aspect of space-sky, there had to have been a lightning quality in ocean water because it had a shiny blue-green color before the sun was created. Celestial lightning connected with the blue-green color and that union created the Maya’s axis mundi. The terrestrial world was raised by fiat and the first humans kings were made from corn meal by a daykeeper/diviner deity to be the intermediaries between the divines and the people.  The team of creator gods stepped back at that point as actors and embodied themselves in stone (stone must have been thought of as a very hard form of fire-water). Henceforth, stones of certain shapes and colors had a living “heart” of fire and water, which made greenstones very valuable. Heart of Sky and his grandsons, the Hero Twins, are referred to as Magicians by the Maya. In this report the first human rulers and the lineal descendants who followed them are called “Magicians” because they carry the traits of their spiritual parents. Due to their ancestry the Keres’ Magicians were born to rule because they were spiritually kin to gods and created for a purpose, which was to be useful by doing their parent’s will; that idea is also preserved in the Popol Vuh (Tedlock, 1996:67-68).

In the Acoma origin story Tiamunyi is identified with the  tsamai’ya  (Stirling, 1942:37; Sacred Texts pl. 13, fig. 2), which are male and female versions of the Corn Mother’s corn-ear fetishes but associated with war, hunting, and the War Hero Twins. From that point there are also lightning celts and supernatural warriors of the six directions that are versions of tsamaiya but with a plethora of translation and/or spelling problems; it is unclear linguistically in ethnographic reports if it is the Tiamunyi in his role as Tsamai’ya (corn fetish), the lightning celt, or the warriors that are being referred to. Each has different functions, authority, and directions. Nevertheless, the supernatural Tiamunyi, the offspring of the supreme male principle as a lightning and rainbow entity, is embodied in a supernatural lightning ax as a sign of his catalytic presence in ritual. I believe that axe is the model for the lightning celt, and the directional warriors were developed as an extension of that idea. At the center of the ideological complex is the all-directions rainbow Tiamunyi, the ancestral ruler of the middleplace where he was born, and the human tiamunyi that incarnated the “arch-ruler” of the Keres people, the Antelope chief of a clan that considers itself to have been “chosen” by the ancestral supernaturals of the corn life-way (Stirling, 1942:90). That said, the Antelope’s Snake order was the group that rushed into battle armed only for hand-to-hand combat with an axe while the Antelopes “sang” (Stephen, 1936a:714) the songs they taught the Acoma (Stephen, 1929:44), which suggests that Tiamunyi’s mythological lightning axe,  the lightning celt of the supernatural warriors, and the found object placed on altars that “dropped from the sky” called the tsamaiya (however spelled and pronounced, the category of supernatural objects called sky- or cloud-stones, hoak’a yaoni) are all associated (Stirling, 1942:38), and the yaoni came from the underworld as the yaoni (stone) in Iatiku’s basket that created Kawestima, the mountain of the North (Stirling, 1942:8). The fact that the Hero War Twins in Puebloan mythology were responsible for turning things into stone and for rain falling as arrowheads, and the tcamahia represented them as the male aspect of the Tiamunyi, suggests that at some point around 900-1000 CE whatever the lightning celt had represented previously it was assimilated into the Snake-Antelope ceremonial alliance as an all-directions part of Heshanavaiya’s rainbow wi’mi, particularly in its inclusion in the palladium of Antelope chiefs who enjoyed the patronage of the War Twins and Spider Woman (Dorsey, Voth, 1902). 

Tiamunyi’s name is also a sacred word and therefore a human tiamunyi was recognized by by his supernatural ancestors when he spoke; this is obvious because like his mother and Corn-Mother aunt/wife he was reared in the language of Spider Woman, e.g., Keresan (Stirling, 1942:1). The first Tiamunyi had the lightning in his blood of ancestry and therefore, like the Hero War Twins, the supernatural grandsons of Spider Woman, he also had a supernatural ability to hear her thoughts. By extension a Tiamunyi’s lineal descendants inherited his power when they took office and accepted the crook cane; this is another strong parallel with the Maya where political power was vested in lineages directly connected with the creation of the material world and whose natural affinity with those creator deities could be transmitted to offspring; when Maya kings “took” their supernatural snake-jaguar patron K’awiil with his lightning axe during their accession to office (double-headed serpent scepter), they incarnated and animated that lightning power. These ideas are ancient and were transmitted into the American Southwest with corn seeds and the corn life-way; see Taube, 2000, for an extended discussion on Mesoamerican and Puebloan parallels that associate lightning celts, maize fetishes, and the axis mundi with the corn life-way, which clearly had both farming and war aspects. The tcamahia lightning celt has its parallel in K’awiil’s lightning axe.

Brinton, 1881:626 may have an explanation that relates the “giant” Stone chiefs of the directions to the directionally color-coded tcamahia that is generally 10″-16″ long. “Among the Northern Indians the notion prevailed that each species of animal included one enormous one, much larger than the others, to whom others were subject, and which was the one who often appeared to the Indian in his “medicine dreams.” This was apparently, from the expression of Father Coto, also the opinion of the Guatemalan tribes, and to this mythical giant specimen of the race they applied the term hu-rapa-rakan, “the one exceeding great in size.” This idea of strength and might is of course very appropriate to the deity who presides over the appalling forces of the tropical thunder storm, who flashes the lightning and hurls the thunderbolt.”]

The overarching supernatural authority of the Sun, Spider Woman, and the Hero Twins unified Hopi and inter-tribal ceremony, the relationships between which are outlined in the following Hopi creation story (a synopsis, no provenience) that closely parallels the Acoma Keres creation story. In this boiled down version of much longer myths we may have the heart of the creation story of the ancestral Puebloans and the occupants of Chaco Canyon, to which Keres Puebloans still repair to venerate the Sun:

“In the beginning there were only two: Tawa, the Sun God, and Spider Woman (Kokyanwuhti), the Earth Goddess. All the mysteries and the powers in the Above belonged to Tawa, while Spider Woman controlled the magic of the Below.

There was neither man nor woman, bird nor beast, no living thing until these Two willed it to be.

In time they decided there should be other gods to share their labors, so Tawa divided himself and there came Muiyingwa, God of All Life Germs and Spider Woman divided herself and there came Huzruiwuhti, Woman of the Hard Substances (turquoise, silver, coral, shell,etc.).

Huzruiwuhti became the wife of Tawa and with him produced Puukonhoya, the Youth [elder Hero Twin], and Palunhoya, the Echo [younger Hero Twin], and later, Hicanavaiya [bicephalic serpent, awanyu, Ancient of the Directions, tutelary deity of the Antelopes and the Tewa], Man-Eagle, Plumed Serpent [Katoya, Hopi and Keres serpent guardian of the North gate and tutelary deity to the Snake clan] and many others.

Then did Tawa and Spider Woman have the Great Thought, they would make the Earth to be between the Above and the Below. As Tawa thought the features of the Earth [Tawa is here associated with the Keres supreme lightning deity Utsita, which suggests that Utsita’s “lightning” came in the form of light rays], Spider woman formed them from clay. [inspiration for clay effigies and fetishes and later, after a dramatic fire swept the earth and turned clay to stone, stone fetishes].

Then did Tawa think of animals and beasts and plants, all the while Spider Woman formed them from the clay. At last they decided they had enough, then they made great magic and breathed life into their creatures [magical mystery of rainbow medicine and rainbow breath of the prey gods]. Now Tawa decided they should make creatures in their image to lord over all the rest [this is inaccurate; there is nothing in Puebloan ethnography that suggests human supremacy, only fitness for the task of serving the creators through obedience]. Spider Woman again formed them from clay.  Again the Two breathed life into their creations. Spider Woman called all the people so created to follow where she led.

Through all the Four Great Caverns of the Underworld she led them, until they finally came to an opening, a sipapu, which led to the earth above.” [In the Acoma Keres origin story it is Iatiku and her sister who, acting through the power of Utsita and Spider Woman [Thought, Prophecy Woman], carry these objects from the yellow fourth world through the sipapu to the earth’s surface, the White World of the new sun.]

Additional context for the Hopi Puebloans regarding the three tiers of social status and the hierarchy of gods comes from an informant who belonged to the One-Horn Society.

“First Class, Mong-cinum–Leaders of kivas, priests and High Priests.
Middle Class, Pavun-cinum–Hold no office but belong to societies and take part in ceremonies.
Low Class, Sukavung-cinum–Do not belong to any societies nor take part in ceremonies.
These classes refer only to the men. When a woman marries, she is classed with her husband”  (Nequatewa, 1936:125). High priests constituted royalty (ibid., 23).

Hierarchy of Hopi gods (Nequatewa, 1936:125-126):
1. Sotukeu-nangwi, the Supreme Being, or Heavenly God, who is served by all other gods.
2. Powerful deified heavenly bodies, such as the Sun, Tawa, etc.
3. Mui-aingwa, the Great Germ God of the Underworld, creator of life; and his servitors
4. Masauwu, the Giant God of the Upper World, God of Fire and guardian of Death. [Evil Maasaw represented by the Kookop clan, good Maasaw by the Kwan (Malotki, Lomnatuway’ma, 1987:122, 202). Maasaw as the god of the Middle with paradoxical life-death attributes represents an Above-Below axis mundi (ibid., 16 ). The Kookop “own” in the ritual sense Spider Woman, the Hero War Twins, and the black-throated sparrow (ibid., 195). They led the Hopi people out of the underworld “(ibid., 197); the language of the underworld was Keresan (Ellis, 1967:38).
5. The Kachinas, or spirits of the ancestors and of the animals and plants.
6. The Ancient Monsters and the familiar household gods

Pueblo Altars Related to the Tsamaiya Complex

The Flute Player as rock art was in the region by 600 CE and Chaco Canyon was part of the “Flute Player’s route” that extended into Mexico (Carol, Hers, 2006:316), as attested by Flute Player icons on pottery sherds from Pueblo Bonito and the Aztec ruin (Judd, 1954; Morris, 1919) and at Mitchell Springs in southwestern Colorado. The antiquity of the Flute Player icon, appearing as it did as part of the corn life-way and Basketmaker-to-Pueblo transition, leaves little doubt that the Antelope-Snake-Flute cosmological complex with its strong phallic component was part of that development. 


stephen 1936b-flute society-medicine water altar-fig 426

Slat Horn-Flute society altar with painted tiles featuring flute-playing cicadas (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 426). The overarching imagery of the altar refers to the germ god Muiyingwa, shown on the far left, in the company of the Flute maid with a stepped cloud symbol on her head. Flower Mounds, where Muiyingwa lives in the inner sanctum of the Mountain of Sustenance, are represented along with the color-coded mountains of the directions.

Flute tiponi-seeds symbol Stephen 1936b fig 434Left: The Horn-Flute society’s altar for the summer ceremony that alternated every other year with the Snake dance confirmed beyond the shadow of a doubt the meaning of the dot-in-square symbol as a conflation of snake (water) and corn (sun) symbolism. In the image on the left the base of the Snake tiponi used in the Flute ceremony by the Snake chief, whose patron deity is the rattlesnake Katoya, shows four corn-ear symbols, below which is a quadripartite symbol and under that a small cavity where different types of seeds were stored (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 434).

(Stephen, 1936b:784-799, fig. 426): Re: Flute Society making the medicine-water altar. Altars are cosmograms that originate in the underworld. They are created by the Mother-Fathers along with their ceremony (directional design of altar, physical movement, sounds, songs, effigies, fetishes) and given to the ancestral theurgist during an initiation, which was Tiyo in the case of the original Snake-Antelope alliance, as a means of communication with a patron deity that controls the nature powers that occupy the six color-coded directions. The seventh direction is the center of the altar, which symbolically is located in the center of the Mountain/cave that the kiva and sipapu represent.

The Flute ceremony was a lightning ceremony. Left: Maize fields and a lightning bolt are conflated to represent a fertile maize field that is associated with the Flute Society. The design in turn points to the Chaco signature of interlocked hoes on the right (tcamahias; see Judd, 1954:fig. 65). The design is painted  on wooden boards that represented prayer offerings from the Blue Flute society (Voth, 1912:pl.LVI). Tcamahias are lightning celts, and lightning striking a field “is regarded as the acme of fertilization” (Stephen, 1936b:864. The dark part is green, the light part yellow, which suggests green and ripened corn. In Hopi mythology the  Flute chief and Spider Woman created the sun of the fourth world (Voth, 1905:16). Right: Notice that the Flute’s design is complementary to the stepped and interlocked triangles of the Chacoan lightning signature, e.g., the stone tcamahia was a supernatural lightning celt and symbolic of the fertilization of a field by the lightning serpent (Pueblo Bonito, Judd,1954; A404479 Smithsonian Digital Archive). Tcamahia was the name of a supernaturally empowered (by Katoya, the Plumed Serpent) Snake chief who was ritually associated with the Hero War Twins. The symbol for the Hero War Twins was an hourglass symbol, which was recovered on mortuary pottery from room 326, one of the four rooms (320, 326, 329, 330) in the western burial chamber at Pueblo Bonito (Judd, 1954:pl. 54-l2). Room 326 was also notable for securely associating the bifurcated basket with female burials. If the hourglass symbol does prove to place the Hero War Twins in Pueblo Bonito, their lightning powers and association with the life cycle of corn through the theme of resurrection as documented in the Popol Vuh will provide evidence that the bifurcated basket from the earliest phase of Puebloan development and the arrival of the Twins mythology by PII had achieved a synthesis at Pueblo Bonito. Designs similar to the Flute Society’s are also seen on Mesa Verde II water jars and as a wall mural at a Pueblo III site in Montezuma Creek, Utah (Smith, 1952:fig. 7h).
Left: Flute virgin effigy with a cloud symbol on the head, Horn-Flute altar (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 422); Top, right: Female fertility effigy, Pueblo Bonito, room 38 (Pepper, 1906:pl.XXVIII); Bottom, right: effigy fragment, Pueblo Bonito, room 170 (Pepper, 1906:fig. 13c). The fact that a type IIb crook cane was found in the macaw aviary of Pueblo Bonito in a “perennial summer” setting with a pipe with a flared rim (Pepper, 1920:fig. 19a) that appeared to reiterate the form of the flared flutes in the tiles of the Horn-Flute altar (Stephen, 1936b:pl.XII) invited a comparison between the female fertility effigy and the Flute virgin, for whom the cicada flute players played.

The form of the face and facial features comparing the three images have obvious similarities. Equally important is the idea of “cloud serpent” that the context-specific images should convey. In the Snake legends, Snake face paint is described as covering the lower part of the face with black paint as a symbol of the cloud serpent (Stephen, 1929:43). In Tiyo’s cosmic journey, the supernatural Snake-Antelope chief tells Tiyo “when you display the white and the black on your bodies the clouds will come” (Fewkes, 1894:115). The design of the cloud tiles (“cloud stones”) on the Horn-Flute altar (Stephen, 1936b:pl. XXI) are similar to both the painted area on the Flute virgin’s chin and the decoration shown on the sherd in the lower right. All three images suggest rain from the  cloud serpent, an idea supported by the fact that the face paint of the Snake, Corn and Flute maidens is identical across the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute ceremonies (Fewkes, 1894:122), wherein rain in the goal of ritual. Among the Zuni, the face paint of those initiated into the Mystery medicine order of the Great Fire society is the same as the face paint of those who are initiated into the Fire order of the Sword division of the same society as described by Matilda Stevenson (1904:509): “Later in the morning- the chins of the male members of the order are painted black and streaked with white, symbolic of rain clouds with falling rain.” In other words, the face paint on the Chaco example takes the symbolic cloud form still recognized across the Puebloan world as the expression of fire-water ritual that will result in rain.

Awatobi mural 1 detail

Ritual sex simulated between underworld actors in kiva mural art at Awatobi associated the motifs of an ear of corn with a phallic appendage and likely a supernatural corn maiden in a fertility theme (the blackened hands are suggestive of the blackened hands, feet, and chin of the maiden in the Snake/Antelope and Flute ceremonies (Stephen, 1936b:852);  note the haircut on the female that is securely associated with the Keres Corn Mother, Iatiku, and her Broken Prayer stick (Stirling, 1942:55 fn 30; pl. 5 fig. 2). Awatobi was the largest village on the Hopi’s Antelope Mesa (maps 1-3, Woodbury, 1954) that many scholars now believe was a non-Hopi community that comprised Keres Antelope-Snake priests and warriors and significant macaw iconography.  As a side-note, the one-footed dark actor seen in polychrome Awatobi art above was also seen next door and earlier (black-on-white pottery phase) in Sikyatki art as a dark, cigar-smoking (fire, cloud-making), underworld deity with one big foot and a spotted feline or hybrid puma-coyote nahual (Fewkes, 1898:fig. 265); the similarity in form and color of the supernatural in the two underworld scenes may point to an association in function or even co-identity between Maasaw the fire/death god who has young and old aspects and Muiyingwa the germ/life god who is the underworld sun. Black or dark gods are rare in Mesoamerican art, black one-footed deities even more so; they are associated with whirlwinds and the twirling fire-stick. Also notable is the fact that Maasaw has a secure association with black/purple corn (Malotki, Lomatuway’ma, 1987), which is shown in the above image. Compare this actor’s headdress with the headdress of the tall male in the Gallina hunting-magic mural shown earlier. Taken together this scene does suggest a fertility theme wherein an actor personifying a fire and/or germ god ritually “unites” with the corn maiden, who personified her Corn Mother (Iatiku) and the spirit of corn. This is another fire : water theme, the basis of life

Between the early and late cultural expressions of the enduring idea of the sky-water serpent come the Puebloans at the transition point c. 750 CE when the social trajectory they chose led to the complex social ideas that were reflected in Chaco Canyon. The Plumed Serpent is a manifestation of Sky in all of its aspects, the primary ones being sun, wind, water and liminal space, and there is no doubt at this point that the ancestral Puebloans were expressing these conccepts as an ideology of leadership at the Centerplace. It is therefore crucial to understand how the primordial state was extended conceptually and expressed iconographically in sun-water-wind-earth relationships that embodied the genius and agency of the Serpent. Alfredo Lopez Austin, the great Mesoamericanist who was among the first to see the cosmological and cosomogonic patterns in the details of Mesoamerican myth, has reduced these elements within a space-time frame to the igneous : water paradigm. Arguably this is the most difficult ideological complex to identify and explain in all of South and Mesoamerican art. Like a cosmic tag that speaks to a larger truth behind any given image, it is subtle, silent, and often manifested as one small detail added to what appears to be an otherwise literal narrative. Only the wise, the ones born to lead, are expected to spot it and understand it. Following Lopez Austin and Jesse Walter Fewkes, who first tackled the topic among the Hopi (1920), the following takes a first step toward seeing how the ancestral Puebloans embodied the foregoing Mesoamerican traditions in their Horn-Snake-Puma-Flute concept of Centerplace and the ancestral symbology of the crooked cane and flute. Expressed locally, what is seen on an altar as an expression of ancestral connections and wi’mi are objects that had an origin in the Otherworld, are associated with ruling supernatural powers, and whose genius is being called into the present by a sacred altar that displays objects those spirits will recognize. An important point made in the Acoma origin story is that the altar itself was created by deity for just this purpose.

hopi-antelope altar oraibi detail

Antelope clan sand paintings illustrate the goal of ritual and the centerpoint to which all the “spirit roads” led. Surrounded by the directional nature powers animated by the Corn-ear Mother and the rainbow water powers animated by the Father, the overarching powers of the Corn-ear Mother and Rainbow-Lightning Father stand in the North as the rainbows clouds manifest serpent lightning with horns as the “child” of the ancestral parents of the Keres and the Antelope clans that were part of other Puebloan communities. Notice that the creation of the “sacred child” occurs within the context of the sacred landscape, which is the relationship between cosmogony and cosmology, respectively. Notice that all aspects of the Centerplace are cast in rainbow terms as an association between white-red-blue/green-yellow directional colors that converge in a narrative of the center which is surrounded by yellow, the Shipap, the Mountain of the North. The frame of the heart of the creation (“at all times true”)  narrative, which is an altar constructed within a kiva, is white, the color of the east where the sun first rose.

Antelope altar-mishingnovi-voth 1902 pl. XCII--antelope snake-tiamunyi ref ellis 10th century horned snake

Hopi Antelope sand altar, Mishingnovi,  with the snake heads pointed east (Voth, 1902: pl. XCII). White, north; Blue-Green, west; Red, south; White, east. Notice that the yellow of the north where the Corn-ear Mother emerged and created the Keres’ world also represents the yellow of the first underworld where she was incubated as Utsita’s seed and to which she returned.  The appendages on each snake head represent male and female genitalia (Fewkes, 1894:22). An effigy of the Mountain Lion of the North is always placed next to the tiponis of the Antelope and Snake priests on the west side of the altar. After days of preparation, the ceremony began with cloud-making (smoking), building a network of power through the exchange of kinship relations while sitting at key gateways around the altar as a pentagram, and waiting for the zenith position of the noontime sun to begin the song cycle (ibid., 29-30), The fact that the Corn-ear fetish as the embodiment of the Corn Mother became the supreme pan-Puebloan priestly badge of authority and along with the Mountain Lion as the master of game and color directional symbolism formed the basis of ritual suggests that the Keres’ origin story played a highly significant role in Puebloan cultural development and social organization. Heshanavaiya and corn are also reflected in sand altars. In the Snake legend of Tiyo in the underworld, Heshanavaiya takes a pinch from each color in his Snake-Antelope sand altar and says that the colors represented the different colors of corn Tiyo’s prayers would bring (Fewkes, 1864:115).

Hopi checkerboard sky-Mindeleff fig36

A Hopi mural on an external wall of a War chief’s house adjacent to a plaza at Second Mesa’s Mishingnovi is a rare example outside of Keres Antelope clan ritual that used pink symbolically, seen here as part of a checkerboard pattern (Mindeleff, 1891:fig.36, 146).  Among the Keres pink was reserved for the Antelope clan and the tiamunyi’s home (Stirling, 1942:72:65), which suggests that this kihu was associated with the Antelopes and with authority.  Stephen documented the fact that the home and kihu of a First Mesa Hopi War Chief, at the time a member of the Reed clan in the Snake Society, was decorated with the checkerboard symbol next to symbols for the Milky Way and Venus, i.e., the Plumed Serpent. No doubt remains that the Hopi Snake ceremony came from the Keres, and  we can conclude from this Hopi iconography that the checkerboard symbolized the Milky Way as the rainbow water serpent, which was the Ancestral Tiamunyi’s father.

dominguez-rancho perez-TG checkerboard-croppedLeft: A cosmogram of the religious-political Mountain/cave centerplace–a witz Mountain/cave, aka chakana and place of mist– in the language of Twisted Gourd symbolism in the Maya built environment, Rancho Perez, Yucatan Peninsula, Classic period Rio Bec-style architecture (Dominguez, 2009). This building, the seat of a royal lineage as the nexus between politics and religion as signified by the Mountain/cave centerplace, illustrates the cosmology represented by Twisted Gourd symbolism which equated the archetypal Mountain/cave of the Twisted Gourd symbol with the entrance to a witz Mountain/cave as materialized by this building, wherein were the Centerplace of the axis mundi as the cosmic navel.  The rainbow centerplace represented the convergence of the six color-coded roads (cardinal north, west, south, east and celestial Up, Down). The Hopi called the Plumed Serpent “Heshan-avaiya,” the Ancient of the Six Points (directions), which was symbolized by the quadripartite symbol. Superimpose vertical and horizontal positions of the quadripartite symbol–the cosmic Serpent– and you’ll see many of the elements of Twisted Gourd symbolism, such as the Milky Way checkerboard sky, the chakana, the kan-k’in, stepped frets and triangles, and stair cases (moving between the Above and Below). Mentally picture that cardinal and celestial North are the same point when the quad cross is moved from a horizontal (terrestrial) position to a vertical (celestial position), which reveals the nature of the axis mundi. In its vertical position, cardinal north becomes North as the zenith, the celestial House of the North, the home of Sky Father (cosmic water Serpent) who created the Sun god out of his own essence to establish the creative law of the cosmos, the igneous : aquatic paradigm as the unity of sun and water. This is symbolized by the twisted ropes (snakes) in the upper right section of the image, which signifies the fire-snake that is associated with the underworld; the symbol is seen between the eyes (pools of water) of the Jaguar Sun God of fire in the underworld, aka one of the trinity of animal lords and GIII of the Maya Triadic Deity GI-GII-GIII (see Part III-Maya Connection).

Snake society altar-Stephen 1936a pl XVIII

Mountain Lion of the North with rainbow breath in the center of the Hopi Snake society’s sand altar (Stephen, 1936a:pl. XVIII). The rainbow associated with the “lifeline” into the heart indicates that the lord of the north as the Chief of the predator animals was connected to the axis mundi and had the breath of life that extended from the celestial House of the North where  Four Winds was connected to the nadir of the axis mundi in Heshanavaiya. The axis mundi comprised as one tri-partite Plumed Serpent the Four Winds (CNP, Father Sky, Heart of Sky), Katoya (center), and Heshanavaiya (nadir), the Ancient of Directions as mother sea. Recall from the Introduction that Father sky and Mother sea were seen as sky-water and ocean-water that completely surrounded the terrestrial plane as the realm of the Plumed Serpent. When Sky father rotated the Big Dipper the seasonal four winds blew that created the breath of life.

In the post-Chaco world clans capable of ruling from the Centerplace as identified among historical Puebloans include Maasaw for the Hopi (Firewood clan, the Kookop, Malotki, Lomatuway’ma, 1987; the Hopi parallel to the Keres Oak man/Fire man), Macaw for the Zuni (Macaw-Dogwood clan, Cushing, 1896; the Dogwood is not native to the northern Southwest and does not thrive in the Puebloan sphere when imported), Towa’e (Hero War Twins) for the Tewa (Ortiz, 1969:61), and Antelope for the Acoma Keres. In light of the slat altars (fundamentally fire houses) that are still used across the Puebloan sphere, a notable Keres influence that is still seen among the Hopi and Zuni, especially the survival of the Hopi’s elaborate Flute altar with a documented Keres origin, and in light of the fact that the Hero War Twins formed the basis of dual governance at modern pueblos, an institutional development that appears no later than 1000 CE, the evidence suggests that the Snake order that was highly represented in rooms 32 and 33 at Pueblo Bonito retained its dominion at the heart of Puebloan culture into the modern era, each pueblo politically autonomous but united ritually with the others through a shared community of thought of great antiquity. In other words, an indigenous comprehension of the nature of reality did not change over time although wide-area centralized governance and the between-pueblos authority of the Hero War twins did. The fact that all Pueblos of the modern era have the same cosmology of color-coded sacred directions, the same Hero War twins that constitute a division of authority between “inside” and “outside” functions, and the same means of communicating with and gifting the gods with directionally appropriate colored feathers and yet now operate autonomously attests to the fact that Chaco’s central authority was constituted by that same pattern but had a higher caste system of priests that were related to the dynastic family.

And why did it start with a mercantile cult? I can think of nothing else but a pan-Amerindian version of Asia’s Silk Road along which merchants traveled and a river of ideas flowed that could account for the facts of  a multilingual Puebloan culture with a touch of the Huichol’s rainbow deer here, a bit of Puuc-style core-and-veneer masonry there, a Veracruz-type cranial modification associated with traders, and a pinch of Palenque’s interest in polydactly as a sign of a snake-jaguar, “all directions”  Centerplace ruler. All all of these ideas were reflected in the Anasazi culture that developed at the periphery of Mesoamerican influence in the northern Southwest. The thread that ran from South America to North America and shaped a new world religion that embraced these ideas was Twisted Gourd symbolism. The Twisted Gourd’s ideology of rainbow medicine at the Mountain/cave  centerplace of color-coded sacred directions was a strong umbrella beneath which local wi’mi could establish their axis mundi and tap into its power grid without losing its coherence as a cosmovision of divine order. If one ponders the image in the Maya Connection section of the imposing snake-jaguar, black merchant god preserved at  Cacaxtla who wore the regal cape of authority that was covered with Twisted Gourd symbolism, or spends some time with the Moche’s Aia Paec who was crowned with the symbol, solving for pattern points to the Milky Way river of life that was encoded in Twisted Gourd symbolism as the inspiration for how the corn life-way that transformed the Americas could be sustained through knowledge: “Thus the name, ‘Plumed Serpent.’ They are great knowers, great thinkers in their very being” (Tedlock, 1996:64).

Knowledge was associated with the wisdom of the vision serpent which no doubt was an idea linked with rainbow medicine and the meeting of the minds of men and gods that was attained through ritual at the Centerplace. In that “cloud” state empowered speech and action were possible, just as in the stories of how Iatiku and her sister brought from the underworld baskets of seeds and, one at a time, cast them in the appropriate direction and saying “mountain” or “tree” created the material world of the ancestral Puebloans (Stirling, 1942:1). A story with that same, powerful idea along with the role of the Hero Twins in the creation was in place no later that 300 BCE among the Maya, which was preserved in the Popul Vuh: “And then the earth arose because of them, it was simply their word that brought it forth” (Tedlock, 1996:65). Key to the idea for both Maya and Anasazi was the time of the dawning, the first movements of the creation and lighting of the world, and that was the state proper ritual recreated. In Iatiku’s House, the first fire altar, the dawning was recreated and needs could be fulfilled by virtuous speech and performance. What remains to be proved is the co-identity of the deity that empowered Iatiku, her father Utsita, and his counterpart in the Mayan world, Heart of Sky as the chief lightning aspect of the Plumed Serpent (Bassie, 2002). This is important because with that secure linkage symbolism related to the Hero Twins can be more accurately identified, and with that ability to read the symbolic narrative the advent of law and order (virtue) that the Twins personified among the ancestral Puebloans can be studied. Heart of Sky as three types of lightning represents something of a science (alchemy) of lightning and aspect of rainbow medicine which I believe is encoded on the cylinder vases at Pueblo Bonito and reiterated on the Old Bonitian’s bifurcated baskets (lightning-cleaved Corn Mountain of Sustenance) that are marked by the Old Bonitian’s trademark lightning signature. The baskets were associated with female burials (Judd, 1954:306, room 326; pl. 88; it had been “developed expressly for religious purposes” (ibid., 307) to preserve “the ritual of some long-dead cult” (ibid., 315), and the cylinder vessels with a libation ceremony that presumably was associated with male ritual. The two taken together suggest a reenactment of the dawning when Utsita empowered Iatiku through Spider Woman and infers that the Bonitians may have had male and female ceremonies related to “two baskets of seeds and little images [effigies] of all the different animals (there were to be) in the world” (Stirling, 1942:1) to which the Bonitians added cacao seeds (cacao and corn are co-identified in Mesoamerican visual programs).

Assembly of the symbol set related to lightning and heat and associated with the dawning is required.  The bifurcated basket is the oldest known artifact securely related to ancestral Puebloan ritual at the Basketmaker-to-Pueblo transition. It is both basket and effigy as mentioned in the origin story and so those symbols form the basis of the assemblage. The “hotspot” where most of these baskets were found is described by Judd (1954:309): “Thus the six specimens under consideration were all found within a 40-mile radius of the point where the San Juan River crosses the 110th meridian,” e.g., in the vicinity of Navajo mountain (37°02′03″N 110°52′10″W).  Recall that this vicinity is called Tokonabi and Kawestima, where the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute societies under the tutelage of Heshanavaiya and Katoya originated. Keresan groups who migrated to Hopi territory and established their pueblos at First Mesa, Antelope Mesa and the Jeddito valley established the Antelopes, Snakes, and Horn-Flutes in those places (Stephen, 1936a,b; see Mamzrau society with a slat altar and a Keres origin, 1936b:864).

As stated in the introduction the fact of the Twisted Gourd’s presence in the northern Southwest, its presence at Pueblo Bonito in a context of power, and the symbol’s persistence in Tusayan/Hopi, Zuni, and Keres art strongly suggests that it came as an ideology of leadership and those ideas were reflected in the burials in rooms 32 and 33, the ceremonial contents of the ancestral crypt, and interpreted in the context of the Keres origin story, i.e., the corn life-way. Petroglyphic images of flute players in the northern Southwest go back at least to 1000 BCE (Patterson, 2018b). In that context and given the preeminence of the Corn Mother mythology,  I begin by presuming that music as ritual in the corn life-way c. 750 CE had Mesoamerican antecedents.  Flutes or flute players arenot mntioned in the Acoma Keres origin story as documented by Matthew Stirling. This is in spite of the fact that Zuni ethnography credits the Keres as being the source for the two Flute Players that are very important to Puebloan mythologies, Payatamu and Po’shaiyanne (Stevenson, 1904:111, 409). The former flute player is described as the son of the Sun and god of music, while the latter is a supernatural culture hero to the Zuni who emerged at his Shipap near the Keres’ Shrine of the Mountain Lions as the preeminent medicine shaman and tutelary deity of the Beast gods. He traveled to the Zuni to initiate them into the secrets of mystery medicine, which constituted the origin of Zuni’s curing societies.  Poshaiyanne has a magic flute and his prayer-stick offering is marked by the stepped symbol for clouds at one end, which among the Hopi was referred to as  a “Keresan” (Laguna) prayer stick (Fewkes, 1895b:18; see example, Fewkes, 1894:51).  It is interesting, then, that a large petroglyph of the Feathered Serpent with a cross for a tail in the form of a “lightning serpent,” where the cross represents the sky, is found on the Pajarito plateau as shown below near Tshrige (Tschrega), which the Tewa claim as an ancestral village. It may suggest that there is an association between the Keresan prayer stick, the Feathered Serpent, the identity of Po’shaiyanne, and the Snake-Puma “mystery medicine” which is related to the centerplace as the axis mundi and Tree of Life.

pajarito--plumed serpent showing cross on tail like Hopi altar-detail

Tshrige Cliff petroglyph of the Plumed Serpent on the Pajarito plateau, New Mexico (Hewett, 1904:648).
Formative Period Juxtlahuaca Feathered Serpent with a quad cross for a tongue, which very likely was among the first wind signs to be associated with the Plumed Serpent  (photo courtesy of M. Lachniet). The Juxtlahuaca caves preserved the earliest, most accomplished deep-cave paintings discovered so far in Mesoamerica, which may date to 1200-900 BCE uncalibrated. Near the serpent was a red baby jaguar and on the floor in front of the serpent was cut an artificial  river, a 250-ft canal, that together represented the same ideological assemblage in the context of the Snake-Mountain/cave as the center of a triadic cosmos that was seen at Chavin de Huantar in Peru and at Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico. The early idea that rivers and clouds symbolized by the snake emanated from caves very likely was the source of the indexical symbol of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud that crystallized among the Maya in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism.

Fewkes 1894 pg52-Snake dance-cross-shaped wupopaho

Left: The wupo-paho from the Snake-Antelope ceremony, which recreates the Tiyo legend of the founding of the Snakes,  was made by the Antelope chief from weathered cottonwood root gathered from the Grand Canyon where the sipapu of the Hopi and Coconino was located and then placed on the trail that leads to Zuni and Acoma (Fewkes, 1894:52). During his cosmic journey of initiation as the first Snake chief of the Snake-Antelope kiva, Tiyo was given the same paho by his father, a Puma chief, to give to Spider woman who would be his guide (Fewkes, 1894:108).

The connection between leadership and the Antelope (brings water and grass, opens trails; the Tiamunyi’s supernatural ancestry), Flute (sun, water), and the Horned/Serpent may be the Rainbow Serpent of the Keres origin story, where the rainbow comprises the colors of the six directions that came to Iatiku’s sister as a form of steamy rain for the conception of Tiamunyi. The rainbow adds the transformational “crossing over” dimension to everything it is associated with, which so far includes supernatural procreation, the ladders into and out of the subterranean kiva, and the Milky Way. The Plumed (Feathered, Horned) Serpent is without doubt the international superstar of interdimensional beings. Polly Schaafsma (2001) writes: “The horned serpent continues to be revered as an important deity among the Pueblos and is known by various names among the different linguistic groups, including Kolowisi (Zuni), Paaloloqangw (Hopi), and Awanyu (Tewa). … The serpent may be associated with the four (or six) directions, the colors of which the snakes also assume. Nevertheless, the Pueblo horned serpent is primarily a water serpent, an ambiguous entity both feared and respected. … His home is in springs, ponds, rivers, and ultimately the oceans, all believed to be connected under the earth’s surface, and … may cause torrential rains and floods.”

Walter Fewkes writes: “Of all objects on a Hopi altar most important and constant is the badge of office or palladium, known as the tiponi [Corn Mother, iariko, tsamai’ya], of the religious society which celebrates the rites about it. The Antelope altar has for the first seven days two tiponis, the Snake and Antelope. When the Snake altar is constructed the Snake tiponi is taken from the Antelope kiva to the Snake kiva, where it forms the essential object of the new altar. … The two tiponis are separated by a stone fetish of the mountain lion. These two objects of the societies, called ‘mothers,’ are the most sacred objects which the altars contain, and their presence shows that the altars are the legitimate ones. Each is deposited on a small mound of sand upon which six radiating lines of sacred meal are drawn by the chief. …There were several stone images of animals on the Antelope altar at Walpi, which were distributed as follows on the western border of the sand mosaic near the tiponis: the largest, representing a mountain lion, stood between the two palladia of the society. It was upon this fetish that Wiki rested his conical pipe when he made the great rain-cloud smoke after the eighth song in the sixteen-songs ceremony, as elsewhere fully described” (Fewkes, 1900b:980).

The entire kiva represents a sipapu, the place of emergence into this world. The Walpi Antelope altar for the Snake dance brings together the ancient bird, mountain lion and serpent nahuals in the sacred precinct of the ancestral altar that extends from the North to the crooked canes, and all are united by lightning and surrounded by the secret language of the flute/singers (not illustrated) to express a cosmovision of origin of the Pueblo people and their access to the powers that made them and established the rules of engagement. The crooked canes are painted black and represent dead Antelope chiefs who are offered the appended and precious red plumes of the South; the staffs are arranged around the altar in such a way that each cardinal gateway and animal fetish has a protective and strengthening crook overhead (Fewkes, 1894:23). Stephen was told the crook canes on the Antelope altar as well as the arrows and prayer stickes were brought from Tokonabi by the Snake clan and the crook canes represented “the old men of the Snake clan” (Stephen, 1936a:594). The mountain lion, the prey animal master of the North, is placed between the two preeminent fetishes on this altar, the corn-ear palladium of the Antelope and Snake chiefs, to guard them. These details not only are important in establishing the web of  six-directional powers but also the relationships between the elements and animal gods on the one hand and the theurgist on the other. These relationships are spelled out in the Acoma origin story, and the objects (found and made) that empower these relationships within the sacred precinct of the kiva, and within the kiva the locus of power in the center of the altar, are arguably the most important aspects of an origin story.

antelope at hopi with butterfly tcamahia altar-cropped

Above: “Rainbow House” Antelope Altar  of the Snake-Antelope society (Stephen, 1936a:747).  The crook canes represent a prayer for long life as also seen on Zuni and Keres altars Stevenson, 1894:17; 1904:111). They also represent deceased members of the fraternity (Fewkes, 1894:23) and “The crooks are the old men of the Antelope kiva of the Underworld seen by the Youth” (Stephen, 1936a:638) but he is also on record as saying the crooks represented the Snake clan (ibid., 594).  What this meant was that the crook cane represented a Snake chief of an Antelope kiva and the chief of the Snakes, respectively.  Upon taking office, the officers  breathed in the power of the canes—to get a new spirit (Parsons, 1920:pg. 126, note 1). Lightning bolts: “Those of the north and south are male and those of the east and west female” (Haeberlin, 1916:40). The crook cane and the crook form of the headdress of the patron of the Horn-Flute society both represented the horn of spiritual power called Tzitz that was seen on the  Plumed Serpent, and the symbol of Tzitz was the whirlwind. Katoya, the horned rattlesnake totem of the Hopi Snake society and the Acoma Keres Antelope clan was called Tzitz Shruy (Bandelier, 1890: 292), literally a snake with great spiritual power. The Plumed Serpent was a pan-Amerindian metaphor for sky-water, and Keres Water clans who embodied the spirit of  the Plumed Serpent were called Tzitz hanutsh (Bandelier, 1918:28). Five of the seven Hopi pueblos performed the Snake dance and it is no coincidence that the patron of the Antelope fraternity, the horned Plumed Serpent called Heshanavaiya, was represented on the altar by horned lightning snakes from the cardinal directions.

The patron of the Snake ceremony is the Feathered Serpent that is associated on the altar with the zig-zag lightning serpents of the four cardinal directions that emerge from clouds within a rainbow band that defines a centerplace; the colors of the cardinal directions are north = yellow; west = green/blue; south = red; east = white (Fewkes, 1900:pl.XLV). The Keres share those directional colors. The Antelope altar at Mishongnovi was in essentials the same (Dorsey, Voth, 1902). The Antelope society chief refers to his tiponi as “my father” because it contains a tcamahia and the feathers of birds of prey and not an ear of corn like the Corn Mother’s fetish (Stephen, 1936b:1050). The tcamahia, e.g.,  a sky stone, within the tiponi that is enshrouded with feathers from birds of prey relates to the original Spider altar made by the supernatural Tiamunyi, Iatiku’s husband: “The foundation of this [Spider] altar is of hoak’a yaoni (sky stone) to represent the sky” (Stirling, 1942:38). The Chama’hiya (Chamahai) were from the Stone People–“The chama’hiya shinyumu are originally of the Stone People, Owa’nyumu, Owa’ shinyumu, of the Stone when it had speech and life, and these people were spread to the four corners of the earth” (Stephen, 1936a:707).

The evidence shows that the crooked cane was associated with the Snake-Antelope clan and the lineages associated with that ancestral clan, especially the Snake, Flute, and Puma clans. The presence of over 300 ceremonial crooked canes at Pueblo Bonito in the context of a ritual burial indicates that a Snake-Antelope clan, Tcu’-tcub-kiva (Snake-Antelope chamber), occupied Pueblo Bonito and played a central role in leadership. In the underworld, Katoya, the Plumed Serpent of the North,  was the tutelary deity of the Snake kiva and answered to Hi’-ca-na-vai-ya (Heshanavaiya, Hecanavaiya), a Snake, the Ancient of the Six Directions, who was the tutelary deity of the Antelope-Snake kiva (Fewkes, 1894: 108, 111). Heshanavaiya said to Tiyo after his descent into the underworld that was aided by Spider Woman, ” I cause the rain clouds to come and go, and the ripening winds to blow, and I direct the going and coming of all the mountain animals; before you return you will desire many things, ask freely of me and you will receive” (ibid., 111). Heshanavaiya had also given Tiyo two tiponis, one for his younger brother: “Ti-yo’s younger brother went with the Horn people, and taught these mysteries to the chief of the Blue Flute family of the Horn people” (Fewkes, 1894:117). In the Twisted Gourd’s ideology of leadership based on the six directions, the snake-antelope-flute lineage and the two maids who brought corn and rain formed the basis of leadership at the highest level of Chacoan society and supernatural authority. According to the Tiyo myth their children are the ancestors of the Snake and Flute people. The Snakes and Flutes are of one blood because their mothers were from the same Snake people.

The Snake chief of the Antelope kiva’s’s crook cane became the emblem of high-status theurgists. It was the sine qua non of “giving life.” It is made of wood, which represents the fire, strength and function of  the world trees of the sacred mountains that were established by Iatiku and her sister from seeds and images in the sowing basket in the first lines of the Acoma origin story. It has the bent form of an aged person, which represents a long life among the living and the departed, but its wi’mi that ensures eternal life, wisdom, and strength comes from the serpent of the cloud, mountain cave, and lake that also is represented throughout the Mesoamerican sphere as a serpentine crook scepter made of wood. The crook cane has the wi’mi of the attached eagle feathers of the zenith that represent Iatiku and the sun and its complement, the iridescent turkey feathers of the earth that represent water. Clearly the male turkey is a rain bird, which is also the case for its Maya counterpart known as the “jewel bird” and the disguise of the rain god (Seler, 1903:75). The combination of the Antelope priest of the Middle and the Snake wooden cane is a union of heaven and earth that will always be able to sustain a community.

Since the Snake-Antelope chief or the Horn-Flute  chief was also village chief (Stephen, 1936a)–the only Antelope or Horn village chief among the Hopi– this suggests Keres influence and a parallel to the Tiamunyi, whose father was the rainbow serpent. The Snake and Antelope chiefs both recognize a Snake as their tutelary father, which recalls the two tiponis Heshanavaiya gave to Tiyo to found the Snake-Antelope altars through the Snake maidens and by extension the Horn-Flute society. Heshanavaiya “Ancient (snake) of the Directions” and chief of the underworld Antelope kiva was patron to all horn altars, which then formed the younger brother, the Snakes and Flutes. He represents “all directions” and hence Centerplace ceremonial power.  The significance of this finding is that the recurved canes are associated with Antelope-Snake and Horn-Flute chiefs and no other, and the “father” of Antelope and Horn chiefs is Heshanavaiya, which puts Heshanavaiya, a rainbow serpent, directly into the burial crypt at Pueblo Bonito with crook canes and an “all colors” (all directions, rainbow) flute that was placed in the North of the crypt. Katoya, the rattlesnake of the North, is patron of the  Keres Antelope clan, flute lineage of the Horn Society, and the Snake clan and society. The tutelary rainbow deity suggests that the crypt complex itself was viewed as an ancestral rainbow kiva, like the Keres’ kiva that Iatiku mandated (Stirling, 1942:19), which was extended to  the Snake-Antelope-Flute rainbow sand altars. The fact that Snake dancers wear a kilt with rainbow symbols, which like the crook cane points to the genius of Heshanavaiya for the Antelope society and Katoya for the Snake society, supports the idea (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 355). The only detail to work out with additional evidence is if the crook cane type IIa represented the dominance of the ancestral Keres Antelope clan, where the father of the Antelope chief Tiamunyi was a rainbow serpent, or the Tusayan-type Antelope society, where the rainbow snake master was Heshanavaiya who initiated  an Antelope chief from a Tokonabi Puma lineage (Tiyo legend, Fewkes, 1894). In other words, the Keres Antelope chief of the Acoma Keres origin story arrived at his position by blood kinship very early in the creation story, while the Tusayan Antelope chief arrived at his position through the Puma clan, which very likely was associated with the Keres Antelopes of Tokonabi but was not named among the first clans who were instituted  by the Corn mother, mother of all Keres.  Hence, Puma, the animal lord of the North, was an “add-on” that was introduced as the Keres people grew and as the Puebloan’s ritual and social organization was developed. It is a younger brother in the Keresan hierarchy, but being Keresan it is still older brother to the derivative Snakes and Flutes in the ritual system of sacred directions with the primacy of North. The fact that the Puma of the north is the War chief and animal patron of all Tusayan-type warrior societies suggests this– it is unlikely that the Keres would have invented a warrior defense system under the Hero War twins over whom it had no legitimate supernatural authority. Seen in this light, the fact that Tiyo, the scion of a Puma chief, had to go to the the Gulf of California for his initiation by a rainbow serpent into the Antelope kiva strongly suggests that the first human Keres Antelope chief, the Tiamunyi, keeper of the roads and rainbow center of the kan-k’in symbol, did likewise.

Antelope clan altar -Stirling 1942-pl

The simple Acoma Keres Antelope clan altar with “power over all directions” (Stirling, 1942:pl. 3, fig. 1).  Oak crooks (brown) with eagle feathers (white with black tips); turkey feathers (white with black tips) on end of hook.  The Antelope signified the ability to find water, and the recurved cane represented the personification of water and the breath of life, the Snake. Ideologically, therefore mythologically,  the Snake-Antelope Tsamaiya complex was built into the corn life-way from the beginning.

This leads to the conclusion that there were three types of Keres differentiated by supernatural parentage, one the older Antelope brother and one the younger Puma-Snake chief of an Antelope kiva and younger still a Snake chief. Based on the evidence, the Keres Antelope clan extended itself through the Tsamaiya complex of the Tiamunyo altar, in which the older brother established ritual around the medicine bowl and the younger brother defended it through the supernatural patronage of the Twins. The father of Tiamunyi’s lineage was the rainbow serpent and his mother was the sister of the primordial Corn mother, while the Tusayan Antelope chief’s spiritual father was the rainbow serpent who likewise gave him the authority of the Antelope kiva, but his children would be the progeny not of the Corn mother but of Snake woman (Heshanavaiya’s daughter) and  Puma. Undoubtedly there are many gaps in an outsider’s understanding of how the ancestral Puebloans managed to keep track of the Antelope heritage of the first mythical Antelope chief whose father was Heshanavaiya, but we know that the overarching authority of the first myth-historical and human Tiamunyi was systematically maintained. The possession of a chief’s palladium, ownership of an altar, and recipe for the secret Mystery medicine undoubtedly were the means.

This leads to the roles of the Above (older brother) and Below (younger brother) Hero War twins and how they were integrated into the protective function of the warrior societies–inside as the defense against witches and outside as the defense against enemies. This is the male aspect of the Tiamunyi, the authority of which was maintained through the tsamaiya and Awona ideological complexes, the first of which can be detected archaeologically by the revered stone fetish of the Stone Ancients, the tcamahia, and the hourglass symbol of the Twins. The defense aspect of the Awona complex was based in the power of wind, and diagnostic symbols were related to the spiral. Awona means “road,” and the Star of the Four winds of both Tusayan (Tsamaiya)  and Zuni (Awona) complexes that was located at the shrine of the Stone Lions and Stone Ancients, Awonawilona as the life-giving breath, was the maker and finisher of the sacred roads, while the Tiamunyi was the keeper of the roads in both his male and female aspects.

The act of creation in the Zuni origin myth begins in a vacuum of space wherein Thought existed, from which extended a misty, cloud-like state. “Before the beginning of the new-making, Awonawilona (the Maker and Container of All, the All-father Father), solely had being. There was nothing else whatsoever throughout the great space of the ages save everywhere black darkness in it, and everywhere void desolation.In the beginning of the new-made, Awonawilona (Maker of Roads) conceived within himself and thought outward in space, whereby mists of increase, steams potent of growth, were evolved and uplifted” Cushing, 1896:379). Like many other Mesoamerican myths, what happens next involves an interaction between Sky father and a layer of water beneath the steamy cloud that is rich in a foamy pond scum, which is the genesis of the Earth mother and her children, and then comes the creation of the sun and lifting of the sky. It is important to link that pan-Mesoamerican creation myth, where the Maker had various names,  with the sky-water creator deity that was the sovereign Plumed Serpent, the patron of kings and author of knowledge (magic), wisdom, and life-way (“roads”) of the liminal and visible realms. In attributes and functions, especially those related to the sacred directions and to the wind, which throughout Mesoamerica came from caves at the four cardinal directions as symbolized by the quad cross to create a movement like a whirlwind, one of the names for the Plumed Serpent called Heart of Sky, Awonawilona (roads, breath of life, where breath and wind were synonymous) resembles the Mexican wind god Quetzalcoatl and his Maya counterpart, Kukulcan. “The designation by which Quetzalcoatl was known to the Maya was Kukulcan, which signifies “Feathered Serpent,” and is exactly translated by his Mexican name. In Guatemala he was called Gucumatz, which word is also identical in Kiche with his other native appellations. …In Mexico Quetzalcoatl, as we have seen, was not only the Man of the Sun, but the original wind-god of the country. The Kukulcan of the Maya has more the attributes of a thunder-god. In the tropical climate of Yucatan and Guatemala the sun at midday appears to draw the clouds around it in serpentine shapes. From these emanate thunder and lightning and the fertilising rain, so that Kukulcan would appear to have appealed to the Maya more as a god of the sky who wielded the thunderbolts than a god of the atmosphere proper like Quetzalcoatl, though several of the stelæ in Yucatan represent Kukulcan as he is portrayed in Mexico, with wind issuing from his mouth” (Spence, 1913: ch. IV). Likewise, the ancestral Puebloan’s creator deity Awonawilona, evolving from thoughtful darkness to plenipotent mist, then “took upon himself the form and person of the Sun, the Father of men” (Hodge, 1907:971), who then sired the Hero/War Twins. In the concept of the primordial All-Container god who is Sky/space and Father of all that will be there is the notion of “nothing lacking,” which is precisely the idea that was associated with the Keres First Father Utsita (Ūch’tsiti), the father of the Corn mother and her sister (Stirling, 1942:1, fn 1-4).

Notice that the curved staffs set into shaped clay clan pedestals on both the Keres Antelope altar and the Hopi Snake-Antelope altar reiterate the Snake-Mountain/cave plus Cloud (eagle plume) motif of the Twisted Gourd. It is a fulfillment of the igneous : water paradigm, and in six-directional ritual the rainbow is its apotheosis. On the Snake-Anteolpe altar, the netted gourds, a sacred ritual vessel throughout Meso- and South America, contained pristine water gathered ritually from sacred springs (uncontaminated snake-water). The diamond pattern of the net was made from “twisted” cords (serpent-ropes) that represent the pure spirit of water that connects the triadic realms. Among Puebloans it is the origin story, the altar, and the outdoor shrine that give full expression to a pan-Amerindian ecocosmology of the cardinal directions and directional spirits that ensouled the world.

Notice the “butterfly tile” on the Snake-Antelope altar, also called a cloud stone, standing in the back of the altar; the fetish represents  the spiritual essence of Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions (Stephen, 1936a:617, fig. 338) and father of Katoya, also known as the Plumed Serpent, the Snake of the sacred North Mountain in the Keres directional system. The Acoma Keres call the fetish a sky stone (hoak-a yaoni), the foundation of the Keres Spider altar, because “it represents the sky” (Stirling, 1942:38); the Hopi call the fetish a cloud stone and it is associated with the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute societies (Stephen, 1936b:784). Among the Hopi the Snake-Antelope society is not the same as a wider constituency called the Horn-Flutes (Stephen, 1936a:714) whose ritual emblem is the recurved helmet shown earlier, but the recurved element as such is a pan-Amerindian symbol of the Feathered Serpent (Nuttall, 1901:34). That recurved element  represents the Plumed Serpent as Tokonaka, Heart of the Sky who is synonymous with the star god Shotukinunwa. It is the judge of the breath bodies of the dead (Fewkes, 1900a:68),  the war bonnet of the Agaves (Stephen, 1936b:1181), and it is related to the recurved horns of a mountain goat that refer to “watchman” (tu’wala, Stephen, 1936b:1313). What the recurved cane and helmet share in terms of Mountain/cave (kiva) ritual is the genius of the breath of the serpent, which can be beneficial or destructive. When aroused the breath element can take the form of the snake, antelope-snake, puma-snake or bird-snake as clawed/fanged lightning.

stevenson-pl XV-1894-sia-snake altar
Partial Sia Snake altar for rain ceremony (Stevenson, 1894:pl. XV, pg. 76-85). Every Keres slat altar is a cosmogram that indicates by directional spirit roads made of consecrated corn meal in relation to the orientation of the altar which directional power is being invoked to enter the fetishes on the altar and assist in the appeal to answer prayer. The sand altar showing the centrality of the Mountain Lion amidst lightning serpents and placed between the two large snake fetishes is  shown below oriented to the North (Stevenson, 1894:pl. XIV). This ceremony occurs after the planting of the corn; it is to provide supportive weather and protection. Notably, the wi’mi included the miniature bow and arrow of the Hero War twins, two tcamahias and two ancient stone knives placed by the medicine bowl (Stevenson, 1894:77; Fewkes, 1895b:134). Also note the quadripartite structure of the two overhead mobiles, which correspond to the Star of the Four Winds mobile over Zuni Mystery medicine altars and the Hopi Flute society’s altar.

Sand painting Snake altar-Stevenson-Sia 1894 pl XIV

Left: Sia Snake altar sand painting with Puma pointed North surrounded by lightning serpents. The sand painting on the Hopi Snake altar is all but identical  in symbolic references, and like the puma in the Hopi’s war kihu it breathes out a rainbow of color (Fewkes, 1894:55). However, there are significant differences between the Hopi and Sia altars in the way in which each was empowered supernaturally during the all-important preparation of the medicine water and the “charging” of the sand painting in the first half of the ceremony. The Snake-Feline (puma, wildcat, jaguar, e.g., Heart of the Mountain as embodied in the Hero War Twins) supernatural connection is significant in cosmological terms as the Otherworld-Earth basis of supernaturally endowed leadership. The iconography aligns with South- and Mesoamerican ideology about the nature of Centerplace rulership with the consent of the triadic animal lords. In the final analysis, the fact that both the Hopi and Sia altars extend from the power of the puma and Hero War Twins, and both feature tcamahia relics and an appeal to the Snake Chiefs of the Six directions beginning with the rattlesnake, the chief of the North (Stevenson, 1894:77) indicates that genetically the ceremonies were related in spite of significant differences in the pantheon of gods that were involved in the  preparation of medicine water. The key finding from the comparison of the two ceremonies concerned the identity of the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia). In the Hopi ceremony, in spite of the presence of a powerful Snake-Antelope priest whose supernatural patron was the chief of Snakes, the Tsamaiya medicine priest had to be called from a Keres pueblo to officiate in the invocation to the Snake Chiefs of the Directions. In the Sia Keres ceremony he is embedded as the ho’naaite with a dual appointment in both Spider and Snake societies. He both initiated new snake dancers (third-degree of Snake division, Stevenson, 1894:89) and he invoked the zoomorphic Snake Chiefs during the Snake dance itself (ibid., 80-81), which means that the medicine priest called the Tsamaiya (Tcamahia) was a Spider medicine priest with a third-degree or better endowment as a snake master. For both rain and war functions as facilitated through “cloud-making,” e.g., the role of the Tsamaiya, the necessary relationship between the zoomorphic Snake chief of the North (water delivery) and the ancient Cloud chief of the North (water director at the Mountain/cave), who is head of the Stone people (Tcamahia, lightning), is also revealed in his invocation (ibid., 81).

His identification as a very high-ranking (supernatural endowments) Spider medicine priest places him among the Ma(t)ki whose knowledge “was the sum and substance of all the others,” which included the Keres YaYa fire priesthood whose patron was Spider woman Bandelier, 1890:155). Therefore the “land of the Chamahai” (Stephen, 1929:44-45), on the Potrero de Vacas with the Shrine of the Stone Lions, was the land of the Tsamaiya, who was a Spider medicine priest descended from the Chama’hiya, the Stone people, among whose ranks were the Hero War Twins whose knife was the tcamahia and who turned things to stone.  Poshaiyanne, immortal, the high priest of dew, the “noblest of men” and the master of all ancestral Puebloan medicines and rites, whose priests were present in stone images of the animal lords, by definition had to be a Ma(t)ki, and he emerged at the Shrine of the Stone Lions. This entire line of inquiry is tending toward the conclusion that most or all of the Ma(t)ki were descendants of the Stone Ancients, e.g., the Cham’hiya (Tsamaiya) the Chiefs of the Directions who were chiefs of the high places, the sacred mountain peaks called Chi-pia wherein dwelled the storm clouds and all the other chiefs of the directions. By extension this begins to point to the authority of Pueblo Bonito and who the occupants had to have been to exert that central authority.

Stephen, 1936a:766): “The altar he makes is the same as the sketch I showed him of the Hopi Snake altar. Lion (to’hoa) is War chief (kale’takmonwu) and is always depicted on the Snake altar.”

(Stevenson, 1894:76-77): The Sia Snake altar, “Three of the ya’ya are placed immediately in front of the altar upon a paralellogram [sic] of meal, which is always drawn at the base of the altars, and is emblematic of seats for the ya’ya [Mothers]. An image, 8 inches high, of Ko’chinako (Yellow Woman of the North) stands to the right of the ya’ya, and a wolf of red sandstone, its tail being quite the length of its body, which is 6 inches, is placed to the left of the ya’ya, and by the side of this wolf is a bear of black lava, and next an abalone shell; two cougars of red sandstone, some 12 inches in length, are posted to the right and left of the altar; an antique medicine bowl, finely decorated in snake, cloud, and lightning designs, is placed in front of the three ya’ya; two finely polished adzes, 12 inches long, are laid either side of the medicine bowl, and by these two large stone  knives; two ya’ya stand side by side in front of the bowl, and before each is a snake’s rattle, each rattle having twelve buttons ; the sixth ya’ya stands on the tail of the sand-painted cougar; a miniature bow and arrow is laid before each of the six ya’ya; eight human images are arranged in line in front of the two ya’ya, these representing Ma’asewe, Uyunyewe and the six warriors who live in the six mountains of the cardinal points, the larger figures being 8 and 10 inches high and the smaller ones 4 and 5, the figure of the Warrior of the North having well-defined eyes and nose in bas-relief. This figure is decorated with a necklace of bears’ claws, a similar necklace being around its companion, a clumsy stone hatchet. Most of the images in this line have a fringe of white wool around the face, symbolic of clouds….Bear-leg skins, with the claws, are piled on either side of the altar, and by these gourd rattles and eagle plumes, in twos, to be used by the members in the ceremonial. A necklace of bears’ claws, with a whistle attached midway the string, having two fluffy eagle plumes fastened to the end with native cotton cord, hangs over the north post of the altar. The ho’naaite wear this necklace in the evening ceremony. …a buckskin medicine bag, an arrow point, and an ancient square pottery bowl are grouped in front of the snake fetich [sic] on the north side of the altar. …When the altar is completed the ho’naaite and his associates stand before it and supplicate the presence of the pai’ataimo and Ko’pishtaia, who are here represented by images of themselves, these images becoming the abiding places of the beings invoked.”

The tsamaiya complex is sky, stone, lightning and “male” in relation to its complement, the “female” corn, sun and earth complex, where fire (sun, lightning)  is common to both. Both terms have the Keres “-aiya” that relates to giving birth. Both terms relate to the Antelope clan and by extension horned animals. Other mountain animals would include the predators of horned animals, the  bear, wolf, and puma. Overall, it appears that the Tsamaiya, a Spider medicine chief who had the authority to initiate Snakes and invoke the zoomorphic Snake chiefs of all the directions, whereas the supernatural high priest of the zoomorphic Snake chiefs who initiated the first Snake-Antelope chief is Heshanavaiya, have a great deal in common as two sides of one ceremonial coin.  In fact, Heshanavaiya appears on the Snake-Antelope altar as a living, sentient painted rock, and so he can be counted among the Stone people as the supernatural Tsamaiya, who also manifests in the stone lightning celt, the tcamahia. Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of the Directions, is the bottom line of the tsamaiya complex, and the Spider medicine priest, the Tsamaiya, the high priest of the Keres Spider society’s tsamaiya altar (Stirling, 1942:part IV),  is his human incarnation. The male ritual item of the Sia Keres Spider society called the lightning frame, which hardened the new earth’s surface and made roads, is part of the tsamaiya complex that extends from the Stone people. The fact that so far there are two Ma(t)ki priests related to the Stone people who are part of the Spider society suggests that the “voice” of living stone is that of Spider woman, aka Thought woman and the A’wonawilo’na, the collective thought (wisdom) of air and space itself, which in Mesoamerica was the main attribute of the Feathered Serpent, patron of royalty.

Note in the upper right corner the rack of willow sticks extending from the wall just below the ceiling that fits Pepper’s description of a “rack” in room 33 made of willow sticks extending from the wall just under the ceiling (1909:247, pl. VII). Ritually collected willow sticks are used to make prayer sticks, especially the Broken Prayer Stick of the War chief that signifies the axis mundi and the genius of the Corn Mother; in Keres mythology the cottonwood and willow are “water trees” (Stirling, 1942:pl. 9-1), a term used in South and Mesoamerica to denote the World Tree as the axis mundi. The idea of placing a valued ceremonial item in a kiva in the “sky” (associated with the Milky Way ceiling beams, Stirling, 1942) is not inconsistent with Judd’s idea of safe-keeping, although the difference between a practice in a kiva and the home is the rigor of attention paid to traditions associated with an origin myth in the former: “Slender implements such as spindles, drill shafts, and planting sticks doubtless were thrust for safekeeping between adjacent ceiling poles just as they are in present-day Pueblo homes. We found necklaces and other ornaments among the fallen roof timbers of more than one kiva (Judd, 1954:46). Another interpretation is that the objects were placed there to gather supernatural power for their tasks; among the Hopi women placed willow prayer sticks in the ceiling to “feed the house” (Stephen 1936a:94 fn 2). 

Left: Personified willow prayer stick (hachamoni) before the plume offering has been added, Sia Keres pueblo (Stevenson, 1894:pl. XIa).
Center: War god prayer sticks from a Laguna Keres War god shrine (Parsons, 1918:fig. 46).
Right: In the context of miniature bows and arrows in Bear Creek Cave, Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone, these appear to be War god prayer sticks c. 650-850 CE (Hough, 1914:fig. 196, 197). “The head of this idol [War god] is covered with a white cone-shaped cap called the cap of fog or clouds. A lightning shaft shoots out of the apex of the cap” (Haeberlin, 1916:36).

Ethnographic detail from a Hopi (Walpi) winter solstice ceremony: “At the extreme right of the row of tiponis and corn symbols there was the wooden dome-like object which was seen near the Sun shrine the morning after the night ceremonials. As it stood on the altar I noticed nothing but the wooden base, but when I examined it closely at the shrine it was found to have inserted in the top, where there were holes for that purpose, several wooden crooks not unlike those placed in clay pedestals about the Antelope altar at Walpi. To the end of each of these crooks there was tied a feathered string, which united it to the main arm, at the base of which there were turkey feathers, a cornhusk wrapper, and a prayer-stick or paho. From the base of the wooden pedestal which supported these crooks there was stretched along the ground, extending toward the point of sunrise, a long feathered string resting on a line of sacred meal” (Fewkes, 1898b:80).

The Magic Flute.

In light of the above it is reasonable to assume that the Puebloans had adapted one or more Mesoamerican stories about the origin of music, such as the sun-water battle outlined above , i.e., a battle between Light and Dark, that brought celestial music to earth in a personified, empowered  form of wind, the flute. In fact, it is in the Olmec tradition that we first hear of the sun-wind connection at all; the later Mesoamerican tradition is all about the wind god as Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl, the bringer of rain clouds but nevertheless always the power behind the “face” of the sun that is represented as a sun shield. We see a trace of these mythic connections in the Hopi Flute Society, whose tutelary deity is the Sun and whose fraternal brothers are the Snakes (Fewkes, 1900b).  Voth also noted that all Hopi flute players wear an impressive symbol of the sun made from eagle feathers on their backs; “The sun plays a very conspicuous part in the Hopi religion. There is, as far as I know, no secret or altar ceremony where some prayer offerings for the sun are not prepared and deposited. But in no other society’s ceremonial does the sun cult occupy such a large part as in that of the two Flute orders, the Blue and the Drab” (1912:109, 123). Since there is a broad consensus that the Hopi received their Antelope-Snake-Flute rituals from the Keres, we’re still talking about what appears to be the earliest origin story that was reflected in the design and contents of the ancestral crypt in Pueblo Bonito. And, by virtue of the fact that “humpback” is iconically represented as the Mountain of Sustenance personified as the Earth Lord whose interior cave possesses the germs of all seeds, we can confidently assume that humpbacked flute players are associated with the Mountain/cave of Sustenance even when they are not phallic, the point being to equate the male and the sun as half of the fertility equation that produces both corn and Puebloans who were made by a Corn Mother/supreme lightning deity/rainbow serpent.

To sum up, in this ideological assemblage of “Ancient of Six Directions” associated with the ancestral Antelope altar there are Spider Woman, her equivalent Hard Substances woman (precious stones and shells), Heshanavaiya, and Katoya the rattlesnake of the North. The medicine altar that authorized the Antelope altar was the Chamahai (tsamai’ya), the Keres Spider society’s altar (Stirling, 1942:part IV). The Stone warriors from a past age were invoked as cloud makers with the warrior’s cry by the Tcamahia (Chamahai priest, a cloud maker) during the Snake-Antelope ceremony, which indicates a capacity to ensure a good snow pack or hinder one’s enemies. Also part of this ideological assemblage on the Chamahai side are the Hero War Twins, Maasaw, and the Kookop Wood people. While a Zuni Wood-Crane clan was known to be in the area venerating Poshaiyanne and could possibly be represented in Chamahai ritual, the fact that the Kookop Wood clan that did migrate to Hopi First and Antelope Mesas and built Kookopnyama and Sikyatki claimed no Zuni descent but did claim Keres descent from Tokonabi (Kawestima) (Stephen, 1929:40; Whiteley, 2008:989-990), a location that was important to Spider woman, Snake, and Kookop clans (anon. #6, 2007:17) argues that the Kookop Wood people were living in the vicinity of the Shrine of the Stone Lions as kin of the Youth (Stephen, 1929:44; Stephen, 1936a:717, Nashunwebe, Kookop clan, medicine chief of Antelope society, hereditary right to appoint the war chief) who was initiated as an Antelope Chamahai medicine priest and charged with bringing to life the Antelope chief’s altar and Snake ceremony at the new colony in Hopiland. Besides, the Snake-Antelope ceremony requires stone or clay pipes as cloud blowers. Walter Hough commented that the Zuni did not use ceremonial pipes but they are part of the ceremonial assemblage in Bear Creek  cave (Hough, 1914:111).  Both elbow and cloud-blower types were found along the Piedra in Roberts’ study of the Basketmaker-to-Pueblo I transition in southwestern Colorado (Roberts, 1930:141), a region known to be a Keres region of occupation and place of emergence referred to in this report as Chi-pia #1. Like the Zuni origin story, the Acoma Keres origin story does not mention ceremonial pipes, only reed cigarettes, and the presence of the pipe in the Snake-Antelope ceremony which is conducted in Keresan supports the idea that the ceremony united two different peoples in the region around Tokonabi where the Tsamaiya complex developed, because the Hopi claim to have had the pipe from the point where they first encountered Maasaw at their emergence (Stephen 1929:40). “Cloud-blower” pipes may be uniquely associated with the Snake-Antelope ceremony, which the Zuni did not possess, but which were found in the Keres land of the Chamahai on the Potrero de Vacas (Stone Ancients) which was a site that was intimately associated with the Snake-Antelope ceremony. The Chaco-Gallina of that region who built Snake-Antelope towers and possessed  Mystery medicine with excrement also possessed finely crafted ceremonial stone elbow pipes, which strengthens the connection of ceremonial pipes with the “big cloud-making” of the Snake-Antelope ceremony that was so copious it could visually cover the sand altar and medicine bowl.

Pepper 1920 fig 84 pink sandstone effigy pipe

A very unusual effigy pipe made of pink sandstone was found in room 38, the Bonitian’s macaw aviary,  and its color and bifurcated form call attention to it (Pepper, 1920:fig. 84). “The bowl is at right angles to the stem and raised upon a platform bifurcated in front as shown in the figure. The general appearance, from a three quarter view, is that of a figure with the torso bent upward and the arms doubled under the body, the remaining portion extending backward and forming the stem of the pipe. Directly back of the platform, there is a ridge which conforms to the angle of the back part of the bowl. If the pipe is held by the stem and viewed from the base in a three quarter position, it has the appearance of an animal form, the head being represented by the platform, the ears by the upper part of the platform; this part being the portion that is divided and the bowl forming the body. What it was made to represent is however problematical. The pipe measures 14.5 cms. in length, the stem 9.3 cms., the platform 4.3 cms. in length and 3.3 cms. in width” (ibid., 192).

Notice that this is an identical power structure that was established in the Acoma Keres origin myth through the hereditary Antelope Tiamunyi and the medicine chief of the Kapina society. This allows us to presume that, no matter what other positions or clan affiliations were associated with the Snake and Antelope societies, this particular pair from Tokonabi that extended Keresan ritual into Hopi First and Antelope mesas had Keres blood, because that was the legitimate ancestral supernatural authority in the region through the Tiamunyi and the corn life-way that was as old as the Keres presence in the area. It is through the protective Tsamaiya (Chamahai) altar (Stephen, 1936a:585)  that Keresan and Nahua speakers are unified in a ceremonial structure, where the Antelopes were the dominant group (ceremonial “older brothers” of the Snakes) and the Mountain Lion patron of the Snakes was the “watcher,” the protector of all (ibid., 673).

For the most part the tcamahia made of yellow hornstone or black slate has only been found in the San Juan drainage and at Awatobi (Parsons, 1996:333). They have been observed on Antelope altars, on a Powamu (corn germination) altar with crook canes, and on the altar of a Zuni rain chief (Ellis, 1967:36). Native informants have described them as knives that cut wind and rain knives dropped from above by the Chiefs of the Directions, e.g., the Ancient Stone people embodied in the Chamahai, the latter described as Snake-swallower prototypes of sword swallowers or as the asperger (cloud-maker) in the Snake dance. As mentioned several times from Fewkes’ version of the the Tiyo legend, the first Snake-Antelope chief called Heshanavaiya had command over the Cloud Chiefs of the Directions, who are the Ancient Stone People of a former world. The Tsamaiya initiated by the Chamahai medicine priest had command over the Chiefs of the Directions that ultimately were under the authority of the Tiamunyi, the human male principle, which explains the phallicism and the themes of manliness and fertility that are traits of this ideological complex. Together the Antelope chief whose ceremonial name is Heshanavaiya (underworld, sky, rainbow) and the Tsamaiya medicine priest (terrestrial cloud-mountain connection through the six-directions Stone Ancients) brought heaven to earth in the rainbow medicine bowl through the six-directions lightning celt (tcamahia) that empowered it.  Snakes, war and rain as well as seed germination are associated in this complex, and the Snake-Mountain icon through Twisted Gourd symbolism represented the tsamaiya complex.

Among the Keres the Antelope clan remained powerful at Acoma well into the 20th century and had a Snake dance at least up through the Spanish conquest; at Sia there remained the Snake clan with a Snake dance but with no apparent connection to the Antelope clan by the end of the 19th century. The Tiyo legend has many variants (Hopkins, 2012) and the migration legends raise more questions than they answer (Fewkes, 1900b; Mindeleff, 1891). One thing is consistent across stories– wherever the aggressive Snakes went there was a persistent pattern of social divisiveness; in several stories there were ambiguous hints that could be interpreted as child sacrifice without, however, conclusive support from archaeological evidence (Malotki, Gary, 1999). 

The next level of proof would involve analytical linguistics for the terms used to name or describe main supernatural actors associated with the Antelope-Snake-Flute-Puma complex. No such studies are available. The few terms I could match with the new online Keres Language Project is a start but requires a Keresan language specialist to confirm. The first syllables in Tiamunyi’s name, for example, may be derived from the last syllables in Ūch’tsiti’s name,  tsíyá, “it has been born,” which to an ethnographer who didn’t speak Keresan would have sounded like Sia (Keres Language Project).  This may have significance in terms of an association with the rainbow that is “born” from light and misty water as an aspect of the sky realm of the serpent. Another possible derivation of tiamunyi, also spelled tiamuni, is from hiamuni, “path,” standardized spelling híyâani; this suggests that the Tiamunyi was the “holder of the paths” or perhaps “born as a rainbow road.”  The rainbow (kastiatsi) signifies the ladder by which entry is gained into the Keres’ primary subterranean kiva (mauharo kai, dark underworld) and the Rainbow Trail that leads up to Acoma (Stirling, 1942:20-21, fig. 1), a white city on a mesa much like Monte Alban in Oaxaca. The phallic and fertile symbology of ritually entering into the heart of Snake-Mountain via a rainbow where Iatiku lives in the fourth yellow level of mauharo kai where things are “brought to life” is unmistakable. As a sidenote, the Keres white house built on a high place recalls the famously beautiful “white” people of the Chachapoya culture, the Cloud Warriors of northern Peru, who built their ceremonial centers on ridge tops in the rain forest, painted their ancestors embodied as imposing sarcophagi set into inaccessible cliffs white, and wore rainbow-colored turbans.

Although there are still missing pieces of the mythology that would provide a clearer understanding of the relationship between the actors called Tiyo and Tsamaiya, the fact that Tiyo, the clan ancient of the Snake-Antelopes, acquired the name of their patron, Heshanavaiya (Fewkes, 1894),  and Tsamaiya, the Kapina medicine priest, was named after the supernatural warrior of the north called Tcamahia (Stone Ancients), and a war chief and his assistant (Keres) as well as the top two Bow warriors (Hopi, Zuni, Keres, Tewa) acquired the names of their patrons, the elder and younger Hero War twins (Stone Brothers), still point to one conclusion. The cult of the sacred warrior was empowered by the mythology of the Stone Ancients and under the dominion of an arch-ruler called the Tiamunyi, who had supernatural kinship ties to the Hero War twins and his father, the rainbow serpent (Stirling, 1942), who has been co-identified with Heshanavaiya as the Ancient of the Six Directions and horned Plumed Serpent (primordial ocean) at the nadir of the axis mundi. To “enter the water” was to die, which strongly suggests that the cult of the sacred warrior as the Tsamaiya ideological complex constituted the Below aspect of the life-death-rebirth cycle through the “sacrifice” aspect of the fertility : sacrifice dyad, e.g., the agency for reciprocity between humans and the gods. Next, the Above aspect of the fertility : sacrifice dyad will be discussed as the Awona ideological complex. What the two ideological complexes had in common were the Plumed Serpent, the Hero War twins, and the Stone Ancients as animal fetishes of the predatory beast gods.

The Big Dipper and the Awona Complex

This report has produced strong evidence that cardinal North had primacy in the kan-k’in system of sacred directions because it pointed to celestial North, the polestar. Keres priests transmitted to the Zuni their system of sacred directions and ritual, and fortunately Frank Cushing as an embedded ethnographer was able to document it. The Big Dipper was the home of the supernaturals who ripened and fertilized seed that had gestated in the womb of the earth. The tri-partite Plumed Serpent included Four Winds in the celestial House of the North, Katoya the rattlesnake as terrestrial North, and Heshanavaiya, the Ancient of Six Directions, anchored the axis mundi in an underworld Antelope kiva that was nadir and heart of the earth. Heshanavaiya: “I cause the rain clouds to come and go, and the ripening winds to blow” (Fewkes, 1894:111). The underworld kiva was guarded by Katoya, the rattlesnake of the terrestrial North. That’s the Tiyo legend of how the Snake-Antelope alliance of Keres Spider medicine men and Kayenta Rattlesnake warriors from Tokonabi was formed to protect the Chacoan state (Fewkes, 1894; Stephen, 1929:45). Keep in mind that Heshanavaiya of the nadir, the cause of ripening winds, was integral to the function of Four Winds from whence the ideas of ripening and fertilization flowed as the spirits of the Corn and Flute maidens. These “ideas” were personified by the color-coded Corn and Dew/Flute maidens as the stars of the Big Dipper, whose dance signified ‘so it will be,’ which in fact was true because of the rotation of the Big Dipper that moved the sky vault. All three snakes were horned serpents called the Plumed Serpent, and I take the three to be aspects of the cosmic serpent, the Milky Way, whose agency was distributed over the six sacred directions as the earth was formed from the void of space.

Casa Rinconada-fig 2-Munro et al

The cardinal north-south axis of symmetry aligns with Polaris at the largest Great Kiva in Chaco Canyon, Casa Rinconada (Munro, Malville, n.d., fig. 2, photograph courtesy of Tyler Nordgren). Another very important piece information was yielded by the Aztec site.  Its tri-wall tower monument was aligned to view Alkaid during the second half of the 12th century, as was the West Ruin Great Kiva (ibid., 154). Alkaid is the bright star at the tip of the handle of the Big Dipper, which provides direct evidence that the Snake-Antelope towers and the Snake and Antelope societies that used them were interested in that asterism, which is parallel to the association between the Plumed Serpent, e.g., “Heart of Sky,” and the Big Dipper rotating around what the Maya and ancestral Puebloans revered as the celestial “House of the North,” e.g., the north pole, the celestial anchor of their axis mundi and a shamanic portal called the glory hole (Freidel et al., 2001:71, 73, 75). There is no doubt that the ancestral Puebloans had a well developed mythology surround the Big Dipper. The Jemez Puebloans preserve in their origin myth a reference to the Big Dipper as being the Great Bear in the house of the north, whose earthly representatives are ruthlessly hunted in revenge for an ancient assault on their mother, the Moon, as she was dipping water from a river with a gourd (Reagan, 1917:46). In their annual bear dance and sacred hunt (as of 1917), the Jemez celebrated  a classical celestial drama of how the Moon’s son of the Sun rescued her by leaping with her into the Sun’s house in the west (sunset) with the supernatural help of two heroes from the Above who became the Morning and Evening stars, guardians of the sun’s rising and setting, as a reward (ibid.,50). The Sia Keres also refer to the Big Dipper as Bear (Stevenson, 1894:37).

While the Tsamaiya complex identified the origin of the Snakes clans in the NW quadrant around Chi-pia #4 that traveled to Chi-pia #2 for initiation by the Tsamaiya, the Awona ideological complex identified Zuni clans that traveled from the SW quadrant to Chi-pia #2 for initiation. These included curing priests of the Mystery medicine order that fell under the patronage of  Achiyalatopa (zenith; stone sky knives) and the Star of the Four Winds. One fact that was revealed in the Zuni ethnographic material about the Hopi was that the Hopi Snake society once had an order of Mystery medicine, but it fell into dispute and its secrets were given to the Zuni (Stevenson, 1904:567). It is unlikely that any further details will come to light, but for comparative purposes the important detail that did come to light was that the militant Tsamaiya complex involved the supernatural authority of three snakes that comprised a tri-partite Plumed Serpent, with an emphasis on the nadir, Heshanavaiya, as did the Awona complex but with an emphasis on the celestial north pole and the wind aspect of the Plumed Serpent in the celestial House of the North. Both complexes were under the authority of the Hero War twins and the male aspect of the Tiamunyi.

Significantly, Alkaid was mentioned in the Zuni origin story that described the first meeting of the Zuni with the Keres People of Dew where the Big Dipper was identified as the home of the color-coded Corn maidens, the Dew maidens, and the Four Winds deity (Cushing, 1896:392-393).  This is when the Zuni received color-coded corn seeds and became farmers. Alkaid was the rainbow Corn maiden  that led all the rest, and she came first in ceremony (ibid., 396), which would have been a seasonal performance to “perfect the corn seed” for planting. By observing the transit of Alkaid  through the meridian from Pueblo Alto at midnight the Bonitians would have had the information needed to measure “the exact length of a day, when it was repeated the following evening, [and] it would also define the precise length of a year the next time the Big Dipper completed its circuit of the northern heavens and its handle again pointed downwards toward the Earth as it transited the meridian” (Malmström, Pullen, 2012). Likewise, Alkaid crossed the meridian very near the zenith at midnight on the spring equinox. In other words, in terms of both performance ritual and knowing exactly when the solstices and equinoxes would occur the Bonitian’s investment in observing Alkaid paid a great dividend. This is an important step closer to interpreting the Twisted Gourd as a symbol that once was associated with the Big Dipper and the celestial House of the North, e.g.,  the Heart of All the Sky called the Plumed Serpent. This was the celestial mirror to the Heart of Earth, the hearth at the Centerplace of the Mountain/cave of Sustenance wherein the supernatural basis of an ideology of leadership was developed around the Twisted Gourd symbol. Just as in Mesoamerica, this was the all-important CNP-nadir construct that established the axis mundi that poured abundance through the celestial glory hole directly into the terrestrial storehouse that was Sustenance Mountain, which is precisely what the dance of the Corn maidens (ripening) and the Flute custom of the Water/Dew maidens (fertilizing) signified, wherein the flute was the “sacred instrument of seed” (Cushing, 1896: 445-446).

The rotation of the Big Dipper around the polestar marked out a region of space the Maya called Heart of Sky and celestial House of the North that was occupied by Heart of Sky, the tri-partite lightning aspect of the Plumed Serpent. “Cardinality is a repetitive theme in the Chacoan cosmos and its architecture. The major road entering the canyon from the north appears to have been intentionally aligned approximately along the meridian. The major dividing wall in Pueblo Bonito as well as the axis of its Great Kiva are oriented north-south. It may have been highly important that rituals, daily activities, or sleeping were carried out in parallel with the larger cosmos” (ibid., 4). “The elaborately engineered Chaco Great North Road was constructed to commemorate celestial north” (Solstice Project). The Maya called the dark polestar region the “glory hole” through which sustenance (corn seeds, etc) entered this world (Freidel et al., 2001:51). According to the Zuni creation myth, Paiyatamu, sun god of dew and dawn, played his magic flute and his foster children, the color-coded Corn maidens and Dew maidens, materialized in the dawn light from their homes on the “seven great stars” of the Big Dipper (Cushing, 1896:393), which is a striking parallel to the Maya myth and indicates that the Zuni, a Chaco outlier, saw the polestar region as a “glory hole,” too.  This interpretation was confirmed in the co-identification of the Hopi’s patron deity of the Horn-Flute Society called Heart of Sky and the Zuni’s  Star of Four Winds that hung over most of the Mystery medicine altars, and both were associated with the northern polestar and the Big Dipper.

The primacy of celestial North and cardinal north in all aspects of ancestral Puebloan ritual is explained by the fact that the winter solstice was the middleplace of the year when the previous agricultural cycle died by freezing weather and the new cycle began with those conditions that increased the snow pack and brought torrents of water down in the spring to renew the soil.

Left: An illustration from the Popol vuh by Karl Taube of the god of the glory hole at Heart of Sky, the CNP aspect of the tri-partite Plumed Serpent (Tedlock, 1996:65; Bassie, 2002). Right: A sculpture from Copan of the god of the glory hole represented as sitting in the center of a foliated cross in the form of a swastika of water-laden wind (Parry, 1893:35; also Nuttall, 1901:222). He holds a water bowl in his right hand above which are water seeds that Nuttall takes as water scrying. A mythological  example of water scrying among the ancestral Puebloans was the reflection of the stars of the Big Dipper on water that materialized the Zuni Dew maidens (Cushing, 1896:434).
Left to right:  The “coil” petroglyph from Hantlipinkia (Stevenson, 1904:pl. VII); the secret seal of the Zuni (Stevenson, 1904:561); Four Winds, a variation of the secret seal conformed to the shape of a bowl, Zuni Village of the Great Kivas (Roberts, 1940:pl. 32). The Zuni strongly identified themselves with the wind.

A few additional details about how wind was symbolically materialized by the Zuni can be gleaned from ethnographic accounts about the Whirlwind. The genius of the fertile water snake was the whirlwind, called by the Zuni Tzitz Shruy (Bandelier, 1890: 292). It’s a simple spiral form called the “coil” seen at Hantlipinkia as a petroglyph where the Bow priests were initiated by the War twins (Stevenson, 1904):pl. VIII). Stevenson revealed that the Zuni also squared the coil to make their “secret” seal that is seen as petroglyphs and on pottery (Stevenson, 1904:561, 586 fn a).

“The coil, often conventionalized into the square by the Zunis, the significance of which they carefully conceal, is their seal, and “wherever found it surely indicates that the A’shiwi have passed that way and were at one time the owners of the land.” We meet the Whirlwind again as the seventh direction  in the Zuni’s warrior invocation intoned by the Hero War twins to initiate and empower the newly instituted Bow priests, where it is seen that, like all ritual, it is a sinistral process of words moving in a N-W-S-E direction that stirs the four cardinal directions into a vortex of wind that manifests the full power of the god of the Four Winds, the Plumed Serpent, as a hurricane (Cushing, 1896:420). In solving for pattern, it must be noted that this ritual “stirring” process of animating the benevolent and destructive powers of the terrestrial four directions sees the celestial North-nadir axis as a cosmic stirring stick passing through the terrestrial centerpoint that works equally well for wind and fire. In light of the identification of the polestar as the god of the Four Winds in the next section, the role of the Big Dipper in moving the sky vault around the “stirring” stick of the axis mundi to create the four winds becomes paramount in the cosmology of the ancestral Puebloans. The “stick” was the length of the Plumed Serpent extending from the polestar to “Sanshuwani “ Below, and in that image we begin to understand the identification of other objects, such as crook canes, smoke, ropes, and firesticks used to kindle ritual fire, with the “breath” or wind of the Plumed Serpent. The like-in-kind breath of a priest that could invoke the directional powers of the Plumed Serpent with authority must therefore infer that the priest was by lineage through Snake woman, or kinship through initiation as in the case of the two leading Zuni Bow warriors who embodied the Hero War twins, a Snake. In other words, in terms of an ideology of leadership, we’ll always look for a kinship relationship between the leading ritualist and the axis mundi, the Plumed Serpent.

Given the absolute dominance of “directional” thinking in ritual actions, social organization, and validation of social status we can look to the supernatural seventh-direction Fathers and Mothers that were the agencies of the six sacred directions as the real or true world of the ancestral Puebloans. By extension the fact that each ancestral Puebloan language group was organized into  seven settlements, four sacerdotal societies, and, as Bandelier noted, four medicine societies organized as wind, water, earth, and fire suggests that the seven stars of the Big Dipper–viewed as a four-point gourd with a three-star-handle– moving around the polestar was a cosmic event that became encoded as a legal statute. Naturally, then, the clans that were affiliated through kinship with that statute rightfully constituted the “as Above, so Below” law of the land extending from the god of Four Winds. By the same token we can see the four Chi-pia centers at the NE, NW, SW, and SE corners of the Chacoan sphere of influence as the “gourd” surrounding the polestar, Pueblo Bonito. The convergence between Zuni and Keres ritual began in the NW corner of the Chaco world, as it did for the Kayenta Snake-Antelopes, and like them crystallized on the Potrero de Vacas in the land of the Chamahai, the Stone Ancients, where the obscure tribe called the Gallina help to date their journey.  A Zuni Cuwe’kwe (Cu-we people, great star, Morning star) prayer (Bunzel, 1932b:828), calls Mystery medicine, o’naya-naka, a life-giving father from Tcipia (Chi-pia), and Chi-pia as described in the main report was the place of first beginning in terms of spiritual “fathering” that was co-identified with the Keres Shipapolima where the “massed cloud blanket is spread out” (ibid., 829), e.g., the Shrine of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas:

My life-giving fathers,
o’naya-naka hom a’tatcu
At the place called since the first beginning Tcipia,
ka’ka, tci’maka  tci’pia
You dwell, where the deer stands…
ton a’teaiye, natsik e’lawa

Previous to the coming [emphasis mine]of the A’shiwi (Zunis) to this world through Ji’mit’kianapkiatea, certain others appeared coming through the same place, which the Zunis locate in the far northwest; and these others, by direction of the Sun Father, traveled eastward, crossing the country by a northern route to Shi’papolima (place of mist). After remaining four years (time periods) at Shi’papolima, this party of gods—for such they were or became—moved eastward and southward a short distance, and made their home at Chi’pia, located by the Zunis in Sandia (watermelon) mountain, New Mexico. This mountain is believed by the Sia to be the home of their gods of war, who bear the same names as the Zuni gods—U’yuyewi and Ma’sai’lema. The gods of Chi’pia comprise the group known to the Zunis as Kok’ko’hlan’na (great God): Shits’ukia, Kwe’lele, and Sumai’koli, with six Sai’apa warriors. Four years after these gods came to this world another party appeared through Ji’mit’kianapkiatea, consisting of Po’shaiyanki [Poshaiyanne], his associates, and the possessors of the secret of O’naya’nakia (Mystery medicine), with Po’shaiyanki, who figures as the culture hero of the Zunis, being the mythical founder [who is present on altars as stone fetishes of the beast gods who are ruled by Puma]. These also followed a northern route to Shi’papolima, where they remained. This place is held sacred by the Zunis as the home of their culture hero and of the Beast Gods. The Zunis believe the entrance to Shi’papolima to be on the summit of a mountain about 10 miles from the pueblo of Cochiti, N. Mex. Two crouching lions, or cougars, of massive stone in bas-relief upon the solid formation of the mountain top guard the sacred spot” (Stevenson, 1904:407).

Stevenson, M.C., 1904. The Zuni Indians: Their mythology, esoteric fraternities, and ceremonies, Bureau of American Ethnology 23rd annual report, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Available online:

Fig 6-swastika matsaki-1475-1600Right: Zuni Matsaki pottery, 15th-16th century CE, New Mexico. (Smith et al., 1966:fig.6). Recovered at Hawikuh, a name that appears to be derived from the name of the Plumed Serpent of the celestial North (see Huwaka, Sia snake ceremony, in Fewkes, 1895:118). Stories about the ancestral Zuni include an important detail about regional governance. In the centuries before the Spanish conquest, Bandelier reports that one great “lord” living at Hawikuh governed the Seven Cities of Cibola (Bandelier, 1880:130). Cushing elaborated on the importance of the number seven in the “mytho-sociologic” organizational system of the sacred directions and the Zuni’s “mythic conceptions of space and the universe”–there were six sacred directions comprising the cardinal directions and the Above and Below, and the seventh direction united them all in the Center (Cushing, 1896:367-368, 427). “The Zuni of today number scarcely 1,700 and, as is well known, they inhabit only a single large pueblo—single in more senses than one, for it is not a village of separate houses, but a village of six or seven separate parts in which the houses are mere apartments or divisions, so to say. This pueblo, however, is divided, not always clearly to the eye, but very clearly in the estimation of the people themselves, into seven parts, corresponding, not perhaps in arrangement topographically, but in sequence, to their subdivisions of the ” worlds ” or world-quarters of this world” (ibid., 367).

Notes: Ma(t)ki appears to reference Matsaki, the Zuni priestly center of the Seven Cities of Cibola. The Keres Great God Kok’ko who was Paiyatamu, in the context of the Star of the Four Winds, was the patron of the Zuni Great Fire fraternity. The Fire and Sword orders of the fraternity were devoted to rain and snow production, with no curing functions. The ritual languages of the Hle’wekwe society were Zuni and Acoma Keres (Stevenson, 1904:424). The  Fire and Sword orders were instituted at the Keres Shrine of the Stone Lions by the supernatural patron A’chiyala’topa, aka Flint- or Knife-wing and Stone Knife, an amorous, dangerous sky deity with flint-tipped feathers that was the Zenith (ibid., 530) who was associated with the rainbow and Milky Way. Knife-wing is also seen on pottery and as petroglyphs all the way from the Pueblo sphere through Three Rivers, the Jornada Mogollon  petroglyph site near the Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain archaeological zone, and into Texas and northern Mexico (Miller, Thompson, 2015:fig. 5), often associated with a stepped cloud symbol  in the context of Jornada Mogollon Twisted Gourd symbolism.

The Zuni Achiya or Stone Knife society has a parallel in the Keres Histian (Flint knife) society. The latter was one of four medicine priesthoods with similar altars (Fire, Flint, Spider, Giant) instituted by the Corn mother (Stirling, 1942:36) and likewise was one of the first transmitted to the Zuni through Poshaiyanne at the Shrine of the Stone Lions  (Stevenson, 1904:410, 530). In the Acoma Keres origin story, “Flint … was to combine the power as well of clouds and lightning,–flint is the tangible projectile of the lightning which comes from the clouds” (Stirling, 1942:40),  which associates Knifewing with the living, speaking stone of the Stone Ancients and the category of living stone ritual items, which so far include the tcamahia, sentient arrows of the Hero War Twins, aka the Stone Men (Parsons, 1996:208), animal fetishes of the Beast Gods, Heshanavaiya’s butterfly rocks, and likely the Gallina trilobe ax or club and the stone kopishtaiya. Tcamahias have also been referred to as stone knives that fall from the sky but Stevenson, who had to have been familiar with the tcamahia, offers no insight into the difference between the two. What we do know is that the supernatural patron of the Achiya stone knife was the mythical bird Knifewing who appears to have been sanctioned by the Keres Flint altar, and the tcamahia as the male aspect of the Tiamunyi was sanctioned through the Spider society’s tsamaiya altar. What the two have in common is that the societies were instituted at the Shrine of the Stone Lions and both were associated with the Hero War twins. The Tsamaiya altar of the Spider society referenced yaoni, e.g., sky, and stones that fell from the sky (Stirling, 1942:part IV), and so it may be that the three altars–Fire, Flint, Spider– were designed to work together supernaturally like other ritual triads such as the Snake-Antelope-Tsamaiya  complex. The broader category that would include both the tcamahia and the achiya would be the Divine Ones, the Stone Men, aka the Hero War twins (Stevenson, 1904:35), the original pair of which, according to Zuni legends that document a transition between the earlier Divine Ones to the tiny War twins at Hantlipinkia, descended from the sky  as “Twin Brothers of Light” (Cushing, 1896:381). The first pair according to Cushing and the second pair according to Stevenson were born of sunbeam and laughing water (foam), in either case an explicit reference to the divine igneous : aquatic paradigm, e.g., the Sun (fire) : Cloud (water) nature of existence as exemplified by the lightning bolt. While the Feathered Serpent was the preeminent expression of the cosmogonic sun : water construct, it was in its role as wind, an element that subsumed all the directions by moving the Cloud across the Sun, that it came to political power as the tutelary deity of elites. It is important to reflect for a moment on the latter light : water construct and realize how it was that the old priest-Magicians of the Americas believed reality would bend to chromatic ritual by those who were pure of heart and mind, because the purest in mind and heart was the cosmic Serpent, the grandfather of all elites, for which they were surrogates. While the Feathered Serpent was the preeminent expression of the cosmogonic sun : water construct– the Maya’s crystallization of the pan-Amerindian cosmovision, the antecedent of which was pre-figured in the radiant Milky Way arch that the Moche’s Aia Paec held over his head and wore around his waist as a snake belt– it was in its role as wind, an element that subsumed all the directions by moving the Cloud across the Sun– an idea that apparently came from Teotihuacan according to a consensus of Mesoamericanist opinion but also believed by the Incas, which gives one pause– that it came to political power as the tutelary deity of elites and the organized cult of Quetzalcoatl fire priests.

The clan ancient and culture hero Po-shaiyanne (Po medicine priest) has a parallel in the Mexican culture hero Ce Acatl Topiltzin, the clan ancient of Quetzalcoatl priests among whom the Feathered Serpent was conceived as a wind god, Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl, which was also represented by a conch shell. What the above text refers to is the transformation of Poshaiyanne’s first priests into the beast gods of the six directions, because the beast gods were and still are the animal doctors that are intermediaries between gods and humans (Cushing, 1894). All Keres, Hopi, and Zuni sand altars related to the work of the beast gods, and the directional beast gods were integral to the work of the Mystery medicine societies, as were the Twins, who as elder and younger Bow priests guarded the preparation of the Mystery medicine and the medicine priests. After Poshaiyanne completed his work and disappeared, he was embodied in the Puma, animal overlord of the North and patron of Po medicine priests. The next Zuni text infers the medicine-making and song work of the Po priests that was protected by the Hero War twins, who could invoke the Chief of Chiefs of the Six Directions as wind. In this example we begin to see that the emphasis of supernatural power was placed on song, wind, and breath from singers as the strengthening power that was inhaled directly from Awonawilona, a supreme deity that was a Maker/Doer of the Roads and breath of life, e..g., the spirit of the Plumed Serpent. While Spider woman was also characterized as an Ancient of the Directions, omniscient, and half of the Snake-Spider complex associated with war societies, Spider’s role was generally terrestrial-to-underworld, fire (the Keres Kapina altar), and debilitating and/or defensive medicines. It was the zenith Plumed Serpent as lightning from the Acoma Keres origin story that left his blood seeds with Spider woman to raise and train–the Corn mother and her sister, but as caretaker and never described as their mother–and create the material culture of the world. In that origin story the Plumed Serpent is clearly Spider’s superior. It therefore appears that the Snake-Spider pair was a cosmological construct that joined sky to earth, male with female, and water with fire.

Zuni Altars Associated with the Awona Complex

The Star of the Four Winds as a quadripartite fetish that represented Awonawilona was suspended over the Zuni’s Galaxy altar, and the Hero War twins who participated in those ceremonies as Zuni Bow priests were endowed with the supernatural power to summon the winds of the directions.  Awona (road) was associated with a rainbow called a son of the Sun (Stevenson, 1904:169), and there is no rainbow without both mist (Serpent) and light (Sun), unless it is light diffracted through a crystal, and there is evidence that crystals were used that way in Zuni medicine-making ceremonies as they are in Hopi ceremonies. The crystals represented purity of heart, like Awonawilona, and as medicine stones were touched in curing ceremonies (Stevenson, 1904:462). Cushing defined Awonawilona as the “the Maker and Container of All, the All-father Father” (1896:379), a nonmaterial spirit that existed in a black void. The first thing that he materialized through his thoughts was mist, and from mist he materialized himself as the Sun, which means that there was no sun without first there being mist, and together the rainbow. Stevenson said that Awonawilona was the “blue vault of the firmament” (Stevenson, 1904:23), e.g., the space in which the sun and all material life existed. That’s the checkerboard symbol, which is part of every Mystery medicine altar, but Stevenson was only partially correct. Cushing states that Awonawilona created the stars and spread them like corn seeds, creating in particular the seven seed-stars of the Big Dipper (Cushing, 1896:380). When the sky was raised by the Divine Ones with their great cloud bow (who later were renamed as the Hero War twins), Awonawilona became the “zenith” of the sky, (ibid.382) and the Big Dipper represented the “lights of all the six regions turning around the midmost one.” Again, it is unclear whether Cushing refers to the zenith of the sky, which is directly overhead, or the polestar. According to the cosmogram on the Galaxy altar shown below, I believe we can safely interpret “zenith” as being the center of the Milky Way black-and-white bar as the apex of the magical cloud bow, which is the celestial House of the North defined by the polestar and the rotation of the Big Dipper around it. The Zuni and Keres are one people (Cushing, 1896:398). Since we’ve been told in the Acoma Keres origin story that Father, the supreme lightning deity Utsita, is the zenith of the axis mundi, we can confidently presume that Utsita is the Heart of Sky at the CNP, which is the heart of Awonawilona, a name that means “roads” as the six directions. The Zuni’s Sky Father as an all-encompassing deity called Awonawilona, the breath of life, comprises the entire sky vault that includes the region of space around the polestar called the glory hole, but he is in fact acting from its center, the polestar as the seventh direction,  to create the six directions.  In other words, Sky Father defined Heart of Sky at the polestar and lightning aspect of the Sovereign Plumed Serpent (Freidel et al,, 2001: 59, 75, 105) who also materialized the creation with “words” (Tedlock, 1996:63). The mobile fetish called the Star of the Four Winds that is suspended over the altar also represents the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds by a quadripartite symbol appended with four eagle plumes and is the breath of life from Awonawilona. It thus refers to the polestar and the rotation of the Big Dipper that moves the sky vault and creates the Four Winds. Utsita’s lightning  is thus parallel to Heart of Sky’s lightning as the heart of the Sky Father, and it is the heart of Awonawilona that is the CNP of the axis mundi for the Keres and Zuni.

Before continuing the discussion of the Zuni’s Galaxy altar, it is notable that the celestial aspect of the Hopi’s Plumed Serpent is referred to as a Star and war god (Stephen, 1936b:774), zenith, great ruling spirit (Stephen, 1936a:96 fn 1), god of lightning, “the Supreme Being, or Heavenly God, who is served by all other gods” (Nequatewa, 1936:125-126), “heart of the zenith, the Sky god,” (Mindeleff, 1891), Sky father, Heart of the Stars, and Heart of All the Sky (Fewkes, 1895a) represented by the quadripartite symbol. Its name was Shotukinunwa (Sho’tokununwa), where sho– was pronounced the same way as chua-, snake. He was a tri-partite Plumed Serpent in that he acted as the Sovereign Plumed Serpent of the nadir, e.g., mother sea, in male and female roles (Palulukon, Palulukona) where he wore the one-horn recurved helmet made from a gourd, and as a Cloud Chief  that wore the one-horn recurved helmet ibid., 1936a:figs. 118, 145). In the Agave society’s ritual with the horned Plumed Serpent it is shown as a celestial Star deity (Loloekon) in the night-time ceremony of the winter solstice ceremony (Dorsey, Voth, 1901:pl. XXIX), and by day it was the underworld denizen of sacred springs and shown as a mother that nurses her children (Fewkes, 1900a:135; Stephen, 193a:298-299). The Star deity was associated with Venus as the avatar of the Plumed Serpent and sun carrier, while the spirit of water as lakes and springs was also the ocean itself (Whiteley, 2008:1120), wherein its roar during ceremony was the “water talk” of mother sea (Stephen, 1936a:16 fn 3). In short, he was the CNP-nadir axis mundi. As the avatar impersonator, “Shotukinunwa” encouraged the sun to move toward spring by physically moving a sun symbol while spinning it rapidly, which to me indicated the assistance of Four Winds that rotated the sky vault. The final medicine song of the night ceremony was to the Plumed Serpent called Loloekon (Dorsey, Voth, 1901:55), untranslated, but I’m guessing that the name referred to the Venus avatar, the good star (lolo-, good) of dawn and twilight in which the spirit of the clan ancient as Quetzalcoatl resided.

In comparing his description and images with the the Galaxy altar, I believe he as the  “great ruling spirit” and “heart of all the sky”can be securely co-identified with Awonawilona as the Star of the Four Winds and the polestar. As a Cloud Chief who shoots the lightning frame during ceremony, he was a rain-cloud lightning serpent by definition (Fewkes, 1895c:278), and his lightning aspect as heart of the stars is co-identified with Heart of Sky. As for the avatar, Venus is shown as the morning and evening stars that flank the sun on the lower Galaxy slat altar. What is significant about this finding is that in the co-identification of Shotukinunwa with Awonawilona, the latter can now be co-identified with the celestial Plumed Serpent as the Sky Father. Interesting in this regard is the fact that the Big Dipper is described as a water gourd (Cushing, 1896:392), and the one-horn gourd helmet itself is referred to as Shotukinunwa, who is co-identified with the celestial House of the North. The Chief of Chiefs and the six Cloud Chiefs are arrayed along the Milky Way bar on the celestial panel, where Stevenson identifies the Milky Way as a cloud house. Shotukinunwa is the patron of the Water-house clan (Patki, rain-cloud people). Taken together, the evidence infers that the one-horn recurved helmet of the Cloud people represented the Big Dipper, and the Big Dipper moving around the glory hole was seen as a water-house, wherein Four Winds moved the clouds at the command of the Cloud Chiefs, e.g., Cloud-Serpents. We’ll meet the Chief of Chiefs again as the horned Sovereign Plumed Serpent and Ancient of the Six Directions later in the discussion.

If the Twisted Gourd symbol (xicalcoliuhqui) was recognized as a symbol of the Big Dipper and a celestial House of the North, where “twisted” referred to its handle and “gourd,” coeval with the conch shell, was a water vessel, the remarkable journey over 4,000 miles and 3,000 years that it took the symbol to reach Pueblo Bonito while preserving the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud metaphor shows a continuity over time and distance that informed a pan-Amerindian ideology of leadership that originated with the polestar and its glory hole which was mirrored in the terrestrial Mountain/cave Centerplace where the ancestors of the corn life-way emerged on earth.

There is evidence in Peru that their astronomers had a sophisticated sky-watching program in place by 2000 BCE at the point of origin of the Twisted Gourd symbol (Buena Vista), where the Dippers announced the rainy season in December (Sparavigna, 2012). Although the movement of the Milky Way was tracked throughout the year with a series of rain stars as dark-cloud constellations (Green, Green, 2010; Urton, 2013), it was the Little Dipper that signaled the December solstice. Why? Although the Little Dipper made its appearance on the northern horizon only between December and March, its association with serial appearances of the Big Dipper, Draco and Cassiopeia, all of which can be seen low on the northern horizon all year, made it clear that they are all northern circumpolar constellations. They also had the advantage of being able to see the Southern Cross and the southern celestial pole throughout the year, whereas it could not be seen from Chaco Canyon (Stellarium software). In other words, the Peruvians had knowledge of the pole-to-pole axis of the earth 3,000 years before the concept of the axis mundi is apparent in the ancestral Keres origin story, but it is the central concept of kingship among the Maya as attested by the Cross Group at Palenque and Pacal the Great’s tomb by 690 CE, a location where both Heart of Sky and the Southern Cross can be seen.  The lid of Pacal’s sarcophagus reflects the celestial N-S axis and the E-W movement of the Milky Way with the World Tree as a foliated cross growing out of his body, and a large Twisted Gourd symbol is carved into the north wall of the crypt. The Twisted Gourd symbol was defined as a connector of realms in the triadic cosmos (a tinkuy, bridge, encounter) in Andean art, and its location and orientation in relation to Pacal the Great’s burial explicitly associated the symbol with the process of rebirth: “The sarcophagus lid, in its eloquent depiction of Classic Maya cosmology, is not a celebration of Pakal’s moment of death but rather an apotheosis monument celebrating his rebirth” (Mendez, Karasik, 2014).

The evidence points to a startling conclusion that what linked a pan-Amerindian ideology of rulership through Twisted Gourd symbolism was the axis mundi that extended from the celestial House of the North to its nadir in the fourth level of the underworld. Those who would lead descended from the celestial House of the North and embodied the axis mundi as they emerged at a terrestrial location. The fact that both the Maya as GI and the ancestral Puebloans as the Star of Four Winds  placed the cosmic serpent in the celestial House of the North and then extended that CNP deity through a tri-partite axis mundi (GI-GII-GIII for the Maya; Plumed Serpent as Four Winds, Katoya, and Heshanavaiya for the ancestral Puebloans) supports that conclusion.

Left: Pacal the Great’s deep shaft tomb. The Twisted Gourd symbol used as an Above-Below connector of the axis mundi that extends from the foliated cross growing from the king’s body behind the sarcophagus of Pacal the Great at Palenque c. 690 CE. The story of his apotheosis at death as a journey via the Milky Way into the celestial House of the North makes it clear that the Twisted Gourd symbol was viewed as the ancestral celestial “cave” of a major Maya king  (Freidel et al. 2001: fig. 2.12, 76, 85-92). It was also at Palenque where six toes (polydactyly) was associated with kingship, a motif that is also seen at Chaco Canyon and among the Keres and Zuni. Pacal is shown emerging from the jaws of the Feathered Serpent as he enters into his afterlife from the interior of the ancestral Mountain/cave. The discovery of Pacal’s tomb is regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century because it afforded a firm basis for understanding Maya history, mythology, cosmology, and the role of kingship. The Twisted Gourd symbol was a highly visible element in that narrative and established an important marker on the path of Twisted Gourd symbolism as it moved from South to North America.
Right: Twisted Gourd symbols at Labna as Puuc-style architecture that associates the witz Mountain/cave with the location of Labna as a gateway into the liminal or “misty” world.

The most significant finding, however, is the fact that for the first time in pan-Amerindian research the co-identification of Utsita, the Keres Father of life and father of the Corn mother,  with Heart of Sky, who played the same “fertilizing” role  in the Popol vuh for the Maya, the Keres Corn mother and her husband, Tiamunyi, who is the supernatural ancestor embodied by Tiamunyi, the “real” hereditary Snake-Antelope chief of the Acoma Keres, are shown as direct lineal descendants of the Plumed Serpent and the celestial House of the North. This indicates that the Acoma Keres Mountain of the North, Mt. Taylor (anon. #6, 2007:42) was the mirror of the celestial House of the North, because it was from there that the axis mundi “extended four skies above” and “four earths down” (Stirling, 1942:3; pl. 13, fig. 2; Taube, 2000),. The celestial House of the North was the Shipap that was a “place of beginnings,” and the axis mundi that extended from the celestial House through the Mountain of the North as the terrestrial navel of the earth was where the corn life-way was born (Stirling, 1942, pl. 5 fig. 2). In terms of a rough chronological bracket for when the Star of the Four Winds cosmology had to have been in place, the ceremonial crook canes owned by Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute chiefs that represented the horned Plumed Serpent’s “breath of life” from the axis mundi were placed in the Bonitian’s burial crypt between 781 and 873 CE (Kennett, Plog, et al, 2017), and the Zuni Great House associated with the two Great Kivas built and occupied between  992-1204 CE (Damp, 2009:80). The earlier dates between 873 and 992 CE are supported by the fact that some of the events involving the Big Dipper as described in the Zuni’s origin story took place at “steam mist in the midst of the waters, Shipololon K’yaia” (Cushing, 1896:390) prior to their occupation of Hantlipinkia (Cushing, 1896:390, 424) where the Mexicanized-Maya Hero War twins were introduced and the Zuni Bow priests instituted (Cushing, 1896:417).  These latter events roughly can be dated by the Zuni’s occupation of the nearby Whitewater site in northeastern Arizona  (Allantown, dated to 844-1016 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991). We can confidently presume that the celestial House of the North and Four Winds cosmology was in place well before the Bonitians invested in building their very large Great Kiva, Casa Rinconada, to observe the polestar and very likely Alkaid, the last star at the tip of the handle of the Big Dipper, by 1070 CE. As a historical footnote, the Aztecs also believed that their seven tribes descended from caves of the Big Dipper, which raises the possibility that they once lived in an area with the same corn mythology and ideology of leadership that influenced the ancestral Puebloans (Nuttall, 1901:56-57).

There is other evidence that co-identifies the Puebloan’s Plumed Serpent with the Sovereign Plumed Serpent of the Maya’s Mexicanized (Toltec-influenced) Popol Vuh, who was “Heart of the Lake, Heart of the Sea… in the sea of the primordial world, whereas the gods called Heart of Sky… are in the sky” (Tedlock, 1996:356). That is exactly what the Hopi’s Palulukon-Shotukinunwa pair represented as the nadir-polestar axis mundi, which is also what the Keres Heshanavaiya-Lord of the Four Winds pair represented. All four of these snakes were called the Plumed Serpent. Since these findings very strongly suggest that the eternally youthful Puebloan Twins whose grandfather was Awonawilona the Plumed Serpent (Cushing, 1896:381) were modeled after the eternally youthful Maya Hero Twins whose grandfather was the Sovereign Plumed Serpent (Tedlock, 1996) and who “obeyed the word of the Heart of Sky” (Tedlock, 1996:81), we can take this evidence as support for the idea that all of these snakes had a Mexicanized-Maya origin that was probably Toltec. This conclusion is supported by the odd fact that there are four bats arrayed under the celestial panel of the Galaxy altar (Stevenson, 1904:432), and the bat was the insignia of Tulan, an important Toltec initiation center into the cult of the Plumed Serpent (Tedlock, 1996:359). The Bat god was known only to the “Maya races and to the Zapotec-Mixtec tribes, who were allied to them in civilization, and possibly also in language, while to the Mexicans this cult was apparently foreign,” and the Bat god was associated with wind, fire, and the fire-stick (Seler, 1904b:235). The Bat god was also known to the Mimbres Mogollon and, as the Galaxy altar attests, to the Zuni. While the bats on the Galaxy altar may be a simple visual cue to “dark, ancestral cave,” e.g., the celestial mirror of the House of the North to the Keres ancestral terrestrial Mountain of the North under which the Corn mother still exists four levels down at the nadir of the axis mundi, the fact that the Mogollon had the Bat god in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism like the Maya, Mixtec-Zapotecs, Zuni, and the Mogollon invites a closer look by an interested student. The Bat god had both benevolent and sinister (slayer) aspects, but the interesting parallel with the Keres colonists who settled Hopi First Mesa, built Sikyatki, and built Bat House (Fewkes, 1898:581) is the Bat House in the Popol vuh  that was associated with the epic ordeal of the Hero Twins (Seler, 1904b:234; Tedlock, 1996:337).

Another parallel:  In the Maya version of the corn myth (Tedlock, 1996:65), the celestial Heart of Sky as a tri-partite lightning deity speaks “lightning” as the thoughts of the Plumed Serpent (also see Stephen, 1936a:16 fn 3 for the Hopi’s Plumed Serpent). As with Utsita (polestar-to-nadir of the axis mundi)  and Spider woman (Ancient of the Directions) in the Acoma Keres origin story (Stirling, 1942:1), only Spider woman could hear and understand Utsita’s celestial lightning talk, which becomes the “water talk” of the underworld and the Keresan language of the corn life-way. In short, the Plumed Serpent served as a tri-partite axis mundi for the Keres, Zuni, and Hopi, a fact that becomes very clear and logical with a review in the Introductory Peruvian and Maya Connection sections of the Above, Middle, and Below sky-ocean realm of the ancient bicephalic cosmic serpent that was a river of life as the Milky Way.

Zuni Galaxy altar-Stevenson 1904 pl CIV

The Zuni’s Galaxy fraternity (Newekwe) altar (Stevenson, 1904:pl. CIV), one of two Zuni societies that venerated the Great God of Chi-pia in the context of the  Star of the Four Winds, who occupied the red triangle in the galaxy bar. The seven stars of the Big Dipper surround the sun which is shown encircled by the Milky Way represented by the black-and-white bars  (Bunzel, 1932c:990) that support the house of clouds (Stevenson, 1904). The sun is the “eye of heaven” (Bancroft, 1875:285). Four sacred celestial mountains are associated with the celestial House of the North. Two figures of Pa’yatamu aka Bitsitsi, different from Paiyatamu the dawn sun, god of dew, says Stevenson, 1904:409 fn a, but see Cushing, 1896:439, 443. I believe that as in other examples where the clan ancient becomes the namesake of the god Bitsitsi was the human incarnation of Paiyatamu and played that role in Zuni ceremony related to the Corn maidens.) are contiguous with the Milky Way and lightning snakes in the upper array.  Pa’yatamu lives with the Great God Four Winds as a musician and jester to the Sun. The Milky Way on the lower slat altar is again represented by  black-and-white bars over and under the Sun, which is bracketed by the Morning and Evening Stars to its right and left. The quadripartite Star of the Four Winds mobile fetish with pendant eagle plumes represents the breath of life of Awonawilona and hangs over the altar  (ibid., 432).  It represents the movement of the Big Dipper. The array of mi’li at the foot of the altar each represent the breath of Awonawilona and a member of the order of Mystery medicine. The medicine was called o’naya naka, life giving (Bunzel, 1932b639). The breath of life from Awonawilona, e.g., the “blue vault of the firmament” (Stevenson, 1904:23), the space in which the sun and all material life existed that is everywhere present and can be cognized as sunlight (Stevenson, 1904:88). Awonawilona was also referred to as the “one who holds our roads,” which is a general reference to the sun (Bunzel, 1932b:648) because Awonawilona contained everything in the sky, while its breath of life referred explicitly to Four Winds, the polestar-Big Dipper complex  that rotated the sky vault. The large stone feline effigy near the medicine bowl is the incarnate “great father of Mystery medicine,” the mythic hero Poshaiyanne (Po priest) who emerged at the shrine of the Stone Lions, e.g., Chi-pia #2. Chi-pia #1 was in southwestern Colorado where he first emerged (Cushing, 1896:426). Other altar wi’mi includes Paiyatamu’s flute (god of dew and dawn who caused flowers to bloom with music), medicine bowl, and basket of prayer meal. The bird on the very top of the celestial panel is the swallow-tailed purple martin, the form of which is also seen on the Hopi Flute altar where the Venus star God Shotukinunwa, the Heart of All the Sky as the Plumed Serpent, presided. Taken together, the evidence strongly suggests that Hopi’s Shotukinunwa and Zuni’s Star of the Four Winds god are the same god and served as Heart of Sky in the celestial House of the North at the polestar. The evidence furthers suggests that these were Quetzalcoatl cults introduced from Mexico, an early form of which was in place at Pueblo Bonito between 774 CE (Heitman, 2015:221) and 900-975 CE (Watson et al, 2015) with the introduction of macaw feathers. To say “Quetzalcoatl cult” is to say “Cloud people” who had gone through a long stage of development and arrived at a theocratic stage of governance led by a cultic hero who exemplified the light and water qualities of the supernatural that had manifested itself in space as the visible world. A priest with the Quetzalcoatl title could literally install a governing House of Heaven by conferring the emblems of  lordship upon an acknowledged leader. The Po priests played that role among ancestral Puebloans and, like Quetzalcoatl priests, the cultic hero Poshaiyanne wore a conical cap (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 462) as did Shotukinunwa (Fewkes, 1895c:pl. 1). The Quetzalcoatl title followed a similar pattern of the priest being named for his patron, the Plumed Serpent (Mesoweb), as did the War captains and Bow priests who were called by the names of their patrons, the Hero War twins, where the elder Twin, Masewi, was a title and a role, the Masewi (White, 1932:99). In ethnographic reports, the trope used during an initiation ceremony wherein the supernatural patron endowed his protege with his power, was for him to say “I give you my mind, my heart,” where heart signified soul and breath.

The fact that the sun as a “sun eye” is grouped with the stars of the Big Dipper in the Milky Way sky band is significant. The Mayan royal title K’inich means sun-faced or sun eye and was directionally associated with north (Hagar, 1913:19-20, 22-23, 29), while at the same time the eye as a reflective symbol of deity was traditionally associated with pools of water as the terrestrial eyes of the spirit of water, the Plumed Serpent. “The heavenly bodies had important representation in the Maya pantheon. In Yucatan the sun-god was known as Kinich-ahau (Lord of the Face of the Sun). He was identified with the Fire-bird, or Arara [scarlet macaw], and was thus called Kinich-Kakmo (Fire-bird; lit. Sun-bird). He was also the presiding genius of the north” (Spence, 1913:ch. IV). While there are many significant parallels between Mesoamerican and ancestral Puebloan cosmogony, cosmology, and Twisted Gourd symbolism, especially the emphasis on the north and the fact that the Plumed Serpent among its many attributes was the “Man of the Sun” (Spence, 1913:ch. IV) and Four Winds, it is obvious that while there is no single,  comprehensive pan-Mesoamerican mythology that explains all of these disparate and yet widely shared traits and answers fundamental questions, like, how is it that the sun is grouped with the Big Dipper (because it is actually a person called Paiyatamu, lord of dawn?), all the bits and pieces finally point to the celestial north where Heart of Sky reigned as the Plumed Serpent and the Maker of the Roads of Life, including the path of the sun. “But we have already seen that the winds were often spoken of as great birds. …His emblematic name, the Bird-Serpent, and his rebus and cross at Palenque, I have already explained. Others of his titles were, Ehecatl, the air; Yolcuat, the rattlesnake; Tohil, the rumbler; Huemac, the strong hand; Nani he hecatle, lord of the four winds. The same dualism reappears in him that has been noted in his analogues elsewhere. He is both lord of the eastern light and the winds. …I tell you that he, our Father and Master the Sun, must have a. lord and master more powerful than himself, who constrains him to his daily circuit without pause or rest”” (Brinton, 1868:118; 181; 55). During the Hopi winter solstice when the sun has paused in the southeast and fervent prayers go out to encourage it to move north again toward spring, it is to the great celestial Plumed Serpent, Lölöekon, that the prayers are directed (Dorsey, Voth, 1901:55).

The association in the Zuni origin myth of dew as a terrestrial surface reflection on water of the seven stars of the Big Dipper that defined the celestial House of the North likewise is mirrored in the image shown above by a celestial panel enclosing the terrestrial earth (sand) altar, the center of which was the water of the medicine bowl with the Star of the Four Winds suspended over it. These findings suggest that K’inich as a royal title and the foundational concept of “dew” were understood  as centrally associated sun-water constructs related to the radiant tri-partite  Plumed Serpent as the axis mundi (“It seems difficult to explain this unless we regard Itzamna as a name of the Cosmic Spirit [Zuni: Awonawilona; Hopi: Heshanavaiya] which is the ultimate divinity of ancient America, and the other names as special manifestations,” …. such as “Kinich Ahau, Lord of the Sun Eye, … the greatest god of all,” Hagar, 1913:20), e.g., the Great God of Chi-pia #2  called Four Winds and his Venus avatar (Star of the  Four Winds deity, Lord of Dawn and Dew) as the Plumed Serpent that was the celestial northern anchor, the terrestrial middleplace in the ancestral Mountain/cave, and the nadir of the axis mundi. Since the cosmic Serpent known by the aforementioned names was the Milky Way river of life the South Americans called the amaru (see Is Heshanavaiya the amaru?), we can confidently conclude that the axis mundi was the Milky Way in its “stand up” or North-South position described by Linda Schele as the Wakah-Chan, the World Tree (Freidel et al., 2001).

The many strong parallels between the ancestral Puebloan’s House of the North and the Maya’s House of the North leave little doubt that the ideology of rulership associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism wherein the ruler embodied the axis mundi through supernatural ancestry was introduced into Puebloan culture either directly by elite Maya traders who traveled from the Yucatan peninsula and/or the Vera Cruz coast or by an unknown priestly group that promulgated Twisted Gourd symbolism and was common to both the ancestral PI-PII Puebloans and the Classic Maya Snake kings. Chief among the parallels were the construct of the celestial House of the North itself as part of the axis mundi and its primary occupant. Among the Zuni the name of the creator god Awonawilona who occupied Heart of Sky in the celestial House of the North directly referred to the maker of the sacred Roads (directions) that partitioned the cosmos (Cushing, 1896). Awonawilona was First Father who delivered corn seeds through Paiyatamu, while among the Maya First Father was the Maize god who occupied the celestial House of the North from which he partitioned the cosmos (Freidel et al, 2001:71-73, 75, 113, 130, 417-420, 426).

The Newekwe were “keepers of magic medicines and knowledge invincible of poison and other evil. …” (Cushing, 1896:388). “The Ne’-we-kwe, of whom the God of Dew, or Pai’-a-tu-ma, was the first Great Father, are a band of medicine priests belonging, as explained heretofore, to one of the most ancient organizations of the Zuñis. Their medical skill is supposed to be very great–in many cases–and their traditional wisdom is counted even greater. Yet they are clowns whose grotesque and quick-witted remarks amuse most public assemblies of the Pueblo holiday. One of their customs is to speak the opposite of their meaning; hence too, their assumptions of the clown’s part at public ceremonials, when really their office and powers are to be reversed” (Cushing, 1974 [1884]:3 fn 6).

The Newekwe was one of the first four societies instituted among the Zuni at Hantlipinkia, a social structure that was later reorganized by Poshaiyanne (Cushing, 1896:387-388).  Their language of ritual was Keresan (Stevenson, 1904:424), and their historical importance begins with the fact that they owned the precious chuetone. the all-seeds fetish of the southern clans, which means that after the introduction of corn seed they were the keepers of both grass and corn seeds. This group played a significant role in the Zuni origin myth by ritually interacting with the People of Dew to transform grass seed into six colors of corn, which represented the appearance of the Corn maidens and Paiyatamu, the dawn sun.  In other words, they are among the best documented societies ethnographically and their history from the Zuni’s first social organization to its reorganization or integration with Poshaiyanne’s Mystery medicine is preserved in ritual and in particular is reflected on their Galaxy altar. This is the only Zuni society known to have added human excrement to their medicine, and the “Great God” of Chi-pia #2 introduced it (Stevenson, 1904:430), which becomes important because a sample of it was found in an archaeological setting not far from Chi-pia #2 among the Gallina tower builders that was roughly dated by proximal sites to between 1190 and 1263 CE (Robinson, Cameron, 1991). Even more important, however, is the co-identity of the Great God with Paiyatamu, God of Dew and Dawn, who as the Morning star was associated with Quetzalcoatl. In his apotheosis as the Morning star after his death, Quetzalcoatl became the God of Dawn. It is with that co-identification in the context of the Star of the Four Winds fetish, which as the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds was the Heart of Heaven that moved the Big Dipper around the polestar to rotate the sky vault.

Thus the pantheon is finally identified that introduced color-coded corn as the Corn and Flute/dew/water maidens, e.g., corn ritual as the sacred directions, into ancestral Puebloan Chaco culture and became the basis for social cohesion through the corn life-way. The polestar as the Sky father of the Corn mother and grandfather of her husband, the Tiamunyi, gave birth to the Keres people and established the supernatural bloodline of the Tiamunyi as chief of the Keres Antelope clan and embodiment of the axis mundi. The implications of this are extremely significant  both in terms of Puebloan cultural development based in the sacred directions of corn ritual and in terms of Mesoamerican culture in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism that was anchored in the ancestral, terrestrial  Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram. That ideogram was known in both South and Mesoamerica and associated with rulership where Twisted Gourd symbolism took root, but what was not known until now was that the terrestrial mirror as the celestial House of the North was where the ideogram originated as “the place of beginnings.” It is this celestial origin of those born to rule that associated them with the breath of life, Awonawilona, which is represented by the Star of the Four Winds mobile fetish.

As indicated by its zenith position over the altar, I interpret the quadripartite “Star” in the Star of the Four Winds fetish to be a representation of Venus, the avatar of the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds and warrior of the sun, which is shown on each side of the sun in the lower part of the altar. Generally a simple explanation is the correct one, but that isn’t the case with the Star of the Four Winds fetish. It may refer to the Mexican culture hero Quetzalcoatl who became the Morning star and god of dawn in death, but its direct reference in ancestral Puebloan mythology is to Paiyatamu, the god of dew and dawn that is associated with the Morning star and with the celestial House of the North as attested by the Zuni Galaxy altar and the Zuni origin story. It may be that Paiyatamu is the direct parallel of Quetzalcoatl, which by description and function appears to be the case. As mentioned previously in the introduction, in Puebloan mythology the Morning and Evening star represented the elder and younger War twins, respectively, who through their supernatural ancestry integrated the creative potential of light and water and consequently all of the sacred directions and powers of nature. A higher level of categorization was the  kopishtaiya who were collectively known as lightning and rainbow makers, a category that included Venus and the Hero War twins. In either case, the war function of Venus especially as executed through the Hero War twins is entirely consistent  with the aggressive tactics used by the Quetzalcoatl cults of Mesoamerica to extend their political and religious hegemony over other polities (Jansen,  Perez,2007).

Notice the union of light and water in the actor called Paiyatamu, the god of dawn and dew. He lives in a fog/cloud (Stevenson, 1904:56), which is the matrix out of which the sun and all life was created by Awonawilona (Cushing, 1896:379).  His is a complicated role, for he integrates the dawn sun when dew appears with the Water/Dew maidens, his foster children, who are the reflected light on water from the Big Dipper where each of its seven stars was a Corn maiden. Notice that he is their “foster” father, meaning that he is ritually speaking their tutelary father. Their grandfather is Sky father, Awonawilona as the Plumed Serpent (Cushing, 1896:380), the Star of the Four Winds of Chi-pia #2, and through Heart of Sky (fertilizing lightning) the father of the Corn mother and grandfather of the maidens. The Dew maidens are the Flute maidens who dance for Paiyatamu (Cushing, 1896:445) to fertilize the water of life, which fertilizes the corn of the coming planting season, while their sisters, the Corn maidens, dance to ripen it.  Paiyatamu’s two assistants are frost (Shits’ukia) and fire (Kwele), e.g., his two roles as cold and heat that killed but then quickened the growth cycle of corn. Warm winds came from the South (Cushing, 1896: 442). Frost, snow, and the cold wind of winter came from the celestial House of the North at the winter solstice, the middleplace of the year and the turning from death to new life, hence the importance of representing on this altar the celestial House of the North and the role of the Big Dipper that turned the sky dome as the cold wind of winter gave way to the warm wind of summer. The same conflation of sun, water and sky dome that represented the breath of life from Awonawilona represented the breath of life from Paiyatamu’s flute and the fertile Flute (Dew, Water) maidens who occupied the Big Dipper, “fertile not of the seed, but of the water of life wherewith the seed is quickened, said Paiyatuma” (Cushing, 1896:434). Placing the sun as the “eye of heaven” in the celestial House of the North is a sun-water construct. Venus as the avatar of the Plumed Serpent and the warrior to the sun is another sun-water construct. The “rising of the Morning star” was key to the potency of Mystery medicine, the rituals of which were timed to the first appearance of the Morning star after the winter solstice, and the celestial event structured many other rituals as well (Stevenson, 1904:125, 130, 194, 453, 478).

Venus as Star of Four Winds-Stevenson 1904 pl CIV galaxy altarLeft: “The cross,” says Brinton, ” is the symbol of the four winds; the bird and serpent, the rebus of the air god, their ruler” (Bancroft, 1875:135). A freely moving mobile fetish called Star of the Four Winds was suspended from the ceiling as the Zenith over the Zuni’s Galaxy altar and Mystery medicine bowl, which was the only Star of the Four Winds on which multiple stars  appeared but not the Milky Way checkerboard pattern (Stevenson, 1904:pl. CIV). The specific location of the celestial House of the North and the role of the Big Dipper was the purpose of this altar, and not the larger Milky Way sky of Awonawilona, although that is indicated by the checkerboard bars on the slat altar and the galaxy panel. The design of the fetish is appended with four eagle plumes that represent the breath of life of Awonawilona, which are mirrored overhead on the main galaxy panel, and narrates the cosmology that is presented on the galaxy panel. This leaves no doubt that Four Winds was the polestar that moved the vault of heaven with the rotation of the Big Dipper and was integrally related to the  sacred breath of life. Awonawilona established the six sacred “regions” and the six color-coded corn seeds that represented them, along with the seventh rainbow corn seed that represented all of them as the centerpoint (Cushing, 1896:380). The Morning Star that appeared with the dew of early dawn was called the Great Star and was also integral to the breath of life that infused the making of Mystery medicine (Stevenson, 1904:27). The sacred directions, the breath of life, the dew of life, and the dawn of life were all terms that related to the creative qualities of the Plumed Serpent, which comprised the polestar-to-nadir axis mundi..

The Galaxy altar pictured above was a winter solstice altar that addressed the most important time of year and its cosmological events. Venus as the Evening star was last seen in the days before the solstice and reappeared soon after. At the same time, the Big Dipper stretched out along the northern horizon and placed Alkaid, the star associated with the rainbow Corn maiden and the first meeting of the Zuni with the Keres People of the Dew (Cushing, 1896:390),  directly beneath the polestar and aligned with cardinal north at dawn. In terms of an occasion for revivifying a foundational event in ancestral Puebloan culture, such as at Casa Rinconada which was aligned to observe the polestar and Big Dipper, one could hardly imagine a more significant setting.  This fetish as the quadripartite symbol Star of the Four Winds (Awonawilona) was co-identified with the Hopi’s Shotukinunwa, e.g., the horned Plumed Serpent, which confirmed the identity  of Four Winds as the celestial Plumed Serpent and the polestar of the axis mundi. This was significant because it demonstrated that Awonawilona, the sacred breath of life that was breathed in also as sunlight,  had a wind and water (serpent) aspect, which was a clear expression of the fire : water paradigm as the basis of life. It was significant also because the power of the wind was the empowerment given to Zuni Bow priests in their initiation by the War gods, the patrons of warrior societies, and so we see that wind is life-giving in Awonawilona as well as destructive when summoned for war as was also the case for the Hopi’s  Plumed Serpent called Shotukinunwa. Stevenson observed that a quadripartite symbol made of yucca stalks and placed on an outdoor consecrated path of meal was referred to as the Star of the Four Winds, and so its symbolism referred to the quadripartite form itself and signified the “Star” of the Star of the Four Winds fetish, e.g.,  Venus (ibid., 530). There is no conflict in the idea that the quadripartite symbol represented Venus, the Plumed Serpent called Four Winds, and Heart of Sky as the lightning aspect of the Plumed Serpent because these names all refer to the same entity.

We could call the breath of life from Awonawilona the cosmological basis for the element wind and Paiyatamu its anthropomorphic, local expression that could be materialized as wi’mi and would bend to performance ritual. The “breath of life” as a generative concept of a “breathlike vital force, perhaps related to wind” was first detected in a widespread Maya religious tradition and described by Mayanists who dated it to the Maya Formative period c. 300 BCE (Rice, 2007:29). In the ethnological documents and iconography that extend from South to North American there is nothing that has survived like the Zuni’s documented religious imagery on their Galaxy altar that explains the breath of life through cosmology, mythology, and related ritual symbolism that survived into the historical period. This incredible altar contributes immeasurably to our understanding of how a pan-Amerindian religious tradition developed and was materialized in a visual program associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism, which is the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram that is represented by the red triangle as a kiva.

“In a tablet on the wall of a room at Palenque is a cross surmounted by a bird, and supported by what appears to be the head of a serpent: “The cross,” says Brinton, ” is the symbol of the four winds; the bird and serpent, the rebus of the air god, their ruler.” …Others of his titles were, Ehecatl, the air ; Yolcuat, the rattlesnake ; Tohil, the rumbler; Huemac, the strong hand; Nanihehecatl, lord of the four winds. The same dualism reappears in him that has been noted in his analogues elsewhere. He is both lord of the eastern light and the wind. …His symbols were the bird, the serpent, the cross and
the flint, representing the clouds, the lightning, the four winds, and the thunderbolt.” (Bancroft, 1875:185, 267-268).

The Agave society’s horned Plumed Serpent may provide a clue as to how Venus functioned as the avatar of the Plumed Serpent and sun carrier in a third set of images of Shotukinunwa, where he is shown as a personified bank of clouds in celestial North discharging lightning snakes while Venus and/or Four Winds is seen as  a quadripartite cross above him (Stephen, 1936a:figs. 118, 145), wherein “lightning is a rain-cloud snake” (Fewkes, 1895c: 278). In the ceremonies of the Flute and war societies he carries a lightning frame that signifies his main identity as a lightning serpent at the “heart of the zenith” (Mindeleff, 1891:131) that can both fertilize and destroy, respectively (Stephen, 1936a:XLI; 1936b, 1080), In the underworld he also acts as Shotok Toko’naka, the judge of the dead (Fewkes, 1895a:445; Stephen, 1936a:336 fn 1), and at the nadir as “uncle to Muiyinwu,” the germ god and patron to the Flute society (Stephen, 1936b:798 fn 1; 1936a: XLI). The Flute society was a lightning society (Stephen, 1936a:XXXIX), and “Uncle” as a ceremonial relationship term signified that Shotukinunwa as fertilizing lightning was the elder of the pair and therefore higher in rank. In other words, he was the ancient horned Plumed Serpent and Cloud-Serpent with multiple traits whose agency extended from the celestial North to the nadir while also serving as the Venus avatar– he is the same tri-partite axis mundi that also belonged to the Keres and Zuni. The fact that he is the patron of the Flute society of the Horn clan from Tokonabi that was associated with the Tiyo legend and the Snake-Antelope society means that the Tsamaiya complex also shared the same axis mundi, which as the tri-partite Plumed Serpent comprised Shotukinunwa as the lightning deity of the celestial House of the North, Katoya as the horned rattlesnake of terrestrial north (center of axis mundi), and Heshanavaiya as the Ancient of Directions at the nadir. Together, the Flutes, Snakes, and Antelopes, respectively, formed a ceremonial axis mundi  that for the Snake-Antelopes was without doubt Keresan in origin and Parsons pointed out the Keresan features of the Flute society (Stephen, 1936a:XLVIII fn 1). Together this evidence confirms that the supreme lightning deity of the celestial House of the North known as Shotukinunwa to the Hopi, Four Winds to the Zuni, and Utsita to the Keres is the same Maya actor  who occupied the  celestial House of the North known as Heart of Sky. Likewise, Heshanavaiya  and Shotukinunwa as the horned Plumed Serpent of the nadir are co-identified with the Maya’s Sovereign Plumed Serpent who was the spirit of the primordial mother-sea. Using Maya terms for a strongly parallel concept, the weight of evidence concludes that the Keres instigated a pairing of Heart of Sky/Heart of Earth with Heart of the Lake/Heart of the Sea as the axis mundi that was embodied in the Corn mother and Tiamunyi who created the corn life-way. That pairing and corn myth was inspired by the foundational corn myth of the Popol vuh (Tedlock, 1996).

The ancient interpretation of the quadripartite cross as the embodiment of the four winds deity and the fact that Four Winds was a Mexican and Mayan epithet for the Plumed Serpent, lord of the dawn and four winds (Bancroft, 1875:118, 267, 464 fn 10), whose avatar was Venus, the Morning and Evening stars, clearly suggests that the Zuni-Keres (Chaco) cosmovision had a very close parallel in the pan-Mesoamerican cosmovision. The four winds deity, a bird-serpent, was called Quetzalcoatl in Mexico and Kukulcan by the Maya, with the Mayan deity being the more ancient. He was the “supreme god whose substance was as invisible and intangible as air, but who was also revered as the god of fire” (Nuttall, 1901:70), where the god of fire “dwelled in the midst of flowers” and snake worship was the earliest form of fire worship (ibid., 70). Among the Zuni live coals that were rubbed over the body or eaten ceremonially by the Great God fire societies were called “beautiful flowers” (Stevenson, 1904:140).

The fact that Casa Rinconada was oriented to observe the polestar and the glory hole of Heart of Sky where the Corn and Dew maidens lived with their father, the Star of the Four Winds, indicated that, like the Maya, the Chacoans “understood maize and divinity to be the same substance, a concept deeply rooted in their mythological past” (Freidel et al., 2001:55). One investigator found that Venus’ celestial motion was being observed at Aztec pueblo (Macgillivray, 2010), where Alkaid was also being observed, which indicates that the Chacoans were aware that the Plumed Serpent had different aspects related to sun and water, respectively, which came together in the actor called Paiyatamu, god of dew and dawn. Judging by the size of Casa Rinconada, the Chacoans like the Maya lived in the fourth world and wanted to stand together to witness the sky. “First Father started the constellations moving in circular motion ‘that sustains the very vault of heaven until the end of time’–until the next Creation. The gods wrote all of these actions in the sky so that every human, commoner and king alike, could read them and affirm the truth of the myth” (Freidel et al., 2001:113).

The six sacred directions–Above, Below, north, west, south, east– were viewed as mountains at those six points (Stevenson, 1894:77), therefore the celestial House of the North at the polestar was a mountain. It is necessary to be very clear about the identity of this Star of the Four Winds, its relationship to the god of dew and dawn,  and the attributes of the celestial House of the North because it and its actors are mirrored in the terrestrial Centerplace, which functionally is also the center of the axis mundi where all directions met in the ancestral mountain cave. Also recall the Hopi informant who said that the intent of all ritual was to bring the Sky father and the Earth mother together, and the Hopi, Zuni, and Keres achieved a common cosmological basis for ritual that achieved that in the fact that they shared the Plumed Serpent and the axis mundi. Both the Hopi with the Snake-Antelope society and the Zuni with their merger with the People of Dew attest that the Keres were their older brothers, and the cosmology described herein fell within the Chacoan’s period of influence. For that reason and with the weight of evidence developed later in this report I believe the Keres can securely be identified with the occupants of Pueblo Bonito’s burial crypt. Based on the fact that the Zuni shared the Chacoan’s lambdoid cranial modification and they had the macaw as the high-status Macaw-Dogwood clan (Cushing, 1896), they may have been at Pueblo Bonito, too, but the assemblage of artifacts in the burial crypt don’t suggest that they were included in the dynastic lineage. With secure identifications this information will prove to be useful for future comparative studies, particularly with the Maya who possessed Twisted Gourd symbolism the longest. The following describes the myth-historical Mexican priest Quetzalcoatl who personified the Toltec’s priesthood of the Plumed Serpent, whose counterpart among ancestral Puebloans was Poshaiyanne, the priest of Po and the People of Dew (Cushing, 1896):

“Besides the attributes of the sparrow, flint, and snake, there are others which ascribe to Quetzalcoatl the same properties, but less prominently. As god of the air, he holds the wonderfully painted shield in his hand, a symbol of his power over the winds. As god of the fertilizing influence of the air, he holds, like Saturn, the sickle, symbol of the harvest—he it is that causes the grain to ripen. It used to be said that he prepared the way for the water-god, for in these regions, the rains are always preceded by winds. It was on account of this intimate connection with the rain, which had already procured him the snake attribute, that his mantle was adorned with crosses. We have already seen that such crosses represented the rain-god with the Mayas, and are symbols of the fructifying rain. Consequently they are well suited for the god who is only air-god in the sense of the air exercising its fructifying and invigorating influence upon the earth. …As the sun is the eye of heaven, to whom the heart of the victim sacrificed to the god of heaven is presented, so it is at night with the moon, to whom the same tribute was paid at the feast of Quetzalcoatl. I merely refer to this here to show the connection of the air-god with the great heavenly bodies.” (Bancroft, 1875:284-285).

Stevenson 1904 pl XXVI

Zuni Great Fire society galaxy panel (Stevenson, 1904:pl. XXVI) also had the Great God of Chi-pia as patron through its aspect of fire. The Star of the Four Winds mobile over the Great Fire medicine bowl did not point to the Big Dipper as seen in the Galaxy society’s galaxy panel but rather to Eagle-man (Stevenson, 1904:410), a zenith lightning and fertilization deity. This altar verifies the fact that the Great God’s two aspects were ritually separated into North (frost) and South (fire, warm wind) performance rituals. The Great God was Paiyatamu, the foster son of the the Plumed Serpent, as seen throughout Mesoamerica, and the quadripartite Four Winds fetish is co-identified with the Plumed Serpent of the celestial House of the North and the movement of the sky dome.

The lightning aspect of the Star of Four Winds Great Fire society’s medicine was contributed by Heart of Sky because the Star of the Four Winds is in place but it as also contributed by a mythical Eagle-man and warrior of the Zenith with flint feathers, Achiyalatopa of Chi-pia #2, which was known to the Hopi as Kwataka. Cushing was of the opinion that Achiyalatopa “undoubtedly” was the early war god of the Zuni and was superseded by the Hero War Twins, patrons of the Bow warriors who carried Achiyalatopa as the shield they received at initiation (1894:40, pl. X, XI). Zelia Nuttall was of the opinion that the circumpolar constellation Cassiopeia, which is shaped like a bird in flight and in “constant agreement” with the position of the Big Dipper, was the celestial model for the war bird of Mesoamerica (Nuttall, 1901:25). Given the importance of the Big Dipper in the creation of corn ritual, its laws, and its authorized leaders among ancestral Puebloans I am very much inclined to agree with her.

By comparing the Milky Way bands from both altars, the Milky Way of the Galaxy society is the night sky, while the Milky Way of the Great Fire society is the day sky where the Milky Way is seen as a rainbow rather than stars. The rainbow Milky Way was well known to the Maya (Bassie, 2002), and like the Maya the ancestral Puebloans conceived of the Milky Way by day and night as a river that carried the sun through the daytime sky and then through the underworld at night. The two green generic figures capping the red posts on each side of the rainbow Milky Way are kopishtaiya, and the similarly blackened chin (storm cloud) and cloud stack on Achiyalatopa makes it clear that the Eagle-man, like Venus, the Hero War twins, deceased Bow priests, and all rainbow- and lightning-makers, was  categorized with the kopishtaiya lightning makers. Recall from the Acoma Keres origin story that all kopishtaiya were represented by Tiamunyi and could be summoned by the War captain who incarnated the Hero War twins, the counterpart of which among the Zuni were the elder and younger Bow priests. This law-and-order function of the War captain (Keres, Hopi) or high-status Bow priests (Keres, Zuni, Hopi) guarded against witchcraft and outsiders the preparation and consumption of Mystery medicine, which had applications in war, curing, and otherwise partaking of the various powers of the Directions. While there is overlap in nearly all the functions, the two ideological complexes that represented the Above (elder War twin, sky) and Below (younger War twin, underworld) functioning of the cosmos were the Awona and Tsamaiya ideological complexes, respectively, that together through their supernatural patrons formed an axis mundi through which the Centerplace was protected, empowered, and sustained.

Eagle Down-Star of Four Winds-Stevenson 1904 Pl LXVII

The quadripartite Star of the Four Winds mobile that was suspended above the altars of Zuni esoteric societies with Mystery medicine orders (note the array of mi’li) was appended with stepped cumulus clouds and eagle plumes. The example above is the Eagle Down society altar (Stevenson, 1904:245, pl. LXVII). This Star of the Four Wind fetish does have the checkerboard symbol for the sky vault on each arm. An anthropomorphic checkerboard appears again under the blue sky dome on the slat altar (Bunzel, 1932c:862, 990), just as it did in the Moche culture but with a bicephalic serpent. If you didn’t already know that you were looking at a celestial feature by virtue of its placement, the checkerboard symbol would confirm it. The same band is seen in the anthropomorphic celestial rainbow that arches between the kopishtaiya lightning-makers on its left and right, which collectively represent rainbow, cloud, thunder, and lightning deities, as well as the Hero War twins and the Morning star. The bottom of their faces are painted black, which symbolizes storm clouds, and the same face painting is seen on the avian sky deity Achiyatalopa with its knife feathers, the zenith of the sky in terms of sacred directions for war or curing rituals. As one of the Stone Ancients, it dropped its magic stone feathers containing the breath of life as cloud stones, similar to the case of the tcamahaia. Above them is the Moon mother again surrounded by the symbol of the checkerboard sky. On the lower panel are the Sun and Morning and Evening stars. The identity of the human female image next to the flared flute is unknown.

Shown in the bottom half of the altar are the beast god fetishes that were inhabited by the spirits of the primordial animal doctors of the color-coded six directions during ritual. They are arrayed in front of the mi’li, the fetish that signified membership in the order of Mystery medicine and direct access to the sacred breath and protection of the sacred breath of life, the Awonawilona. Success in war, rainmaking,  or curing was not possible without the supernatural support of the beast gods of the six directions. The Eagle Down medicine priest that Stevenson witnessed treating a case of smallpox noted that he called on the Star of the Four Winds in a prayerful invocation (Stevenson, 1904:528).  It was a case of the most respected Zuni healer and rain priest of that era who also had been initiated into the order of Mystery medicine invoking the cardinal beast gods over a four-night period to send pure wind to heal a serious illness. In other words, the priest was invoking the breath of life itself as the cure. The recipe for the Mystery medicine was not revealed, but elsewhere it was noted that cougar medicine, the beast god called the first night of the four-day healing ceremony and lord of all the prey beast gods, included a finely ground mineral deposit made by pure, dripping water, the stuff of which stalactites were made in caves.

The co-identification as the celestial Plumed Serpent of Shotukinunwa, patron of the Hopi Horn-flute ceremony, with the Zuni’s Star of the Four Winds, both of which had a Keres origin, also represents a Four Winds point of contact between the Tsamaiya and Awona ideological complexes, and likely there will be others. Together the evidence suggests that the Awona (Above) and tsamaiya (Below) ideological complexes defined the scope of the supernatural powers of the elder (Above) and younger (Below) Hero War twins, whose symbol was the hourglass crafted from two arrow heads that touched in the center to create a centerplace. The differences between the two complexes may be due to the fact that they represented two different aspects of the triadic cosmos that both belonged to the Serpent, and it follows their similarities were due to the fact that they shared the Snake in common. The Hero War twins, called the Stone Men (Parsons, 1996:208), are common to both realms and in fact unite them into one world. The Twins were essential to the medicine altars of the Stone Ancients that could sustain life or cause death, because without the conviction that the medicines were prepared without the influence of witchcraft they would be no better than poison. The Twins were essential to the role of the Zuni Bow priests, who were Knife warriors until they embodied the Twins and became Bow warriors.

Going forward, what we know with certainty is that the highest conception of divinity in the Tsaimaiya complex was the tri-partite Plumed Serpent axis mundi, which included the nadir horned rainbow serpent of the nadir called Heshanavaiya, who initiated the Snake chief of the Antelope kiva as the first Tsamaiya who, for all intents and purposes, can be considered to be the Tiamunyi’s twin brother. In the Zuni’s Awona complex, the highest conception of divinity was Awonawilona as the celestial Plumed Serpent and polestar, a supreme deity whose breath came as sunlight that could be inhaled, shared with a friend, or rubbed all over the body. The breath of life was both curative and strengthening, and it could be invoked to send rain clouds. The element of breath or wind except as a poisonous vapor from Spider woman or rainbow breath from a beast god is otherwise lacking in the Tsamaiya complex, but it is everywhere present in the Awona complex. Zuni Bow priests with no affiliation with a Snake clan or society had authority over wind through the War gods who, like the rainbow son of the Sun, were born of light and water (Cushing, 1896:381). Mystery medicine priests received the breath of life through consecrated feathers that were made into tiponi-like fetishes called mi’li, which all members of Mystery medicine orders received. Women alongside men played important roles in the Zuni Mystery medicine orders, but not in Hopi ritual associated with the Tsamaiya complex. Many questions remain, but taken together the Awona complex appears to be a newer layer of power and authority that was added to the ancient corn life-way through the Stone Ancient called Knife-wing who provided a parallel to the tcamahia in the ceremonial flint knife. The Mystery medicine priests were intimately involved in the ceremonies of the three societies that possessed the all-precious ettones. The evidence suggests that while the Mystery medicine orders could survive without the ettones, the societies that possessed the ettones would not function without Mystery medicine.

Adolph Bandelier commented on this when he observed that even though Laguna Keres ritual had disintegrated to the point where they no longer had a cacique (tiamunyi), there still remained a council of the cacique comprised of four medicine men, Tsha-ya-na, representing sun, fire and light, earth, and air and wind (Bandelier, 1893:24).  Of these four, the Awona complex clearly falls within the air and wind category of medicine. The Tsamaiya complex was an extension of the male aspect of the Tiamunyi, and it was his wife the Corn mother who said he could have an altar, and so I judge the Tsamaiya complex to be the earth medicine of the four. The Tsamaiya (Chama-hiya) were Laguna Keres medicine men who lived in the “land of the Tsamaiya” (Stone Ancients) on the Potrero de Vacas. According to Bandelier there should be two more orders of medicine men that will come to light. The Sumaikoli complex requires much more work, but they were master medicine men who had Spider woman as a patron, and so no doubt they will account for sun and fire and light, which will have overlaps with the Tsamaiya complex because of Spider woman.

The four medicines are broad concepts that will further help to refine the ideology of the medicine bowl Centerplace of the altars. Both the Tsamaiya and Awona complexes shared in common the all-important beast gods, the War gods, and they each had a magic stone fetish. Both required Keresan initiation at the shrine of the Stone Lions to found the societies, and both had missionary-like aspects by which the societies extended their influence. The Snake openly dominated the Tsamaiya complex, but as it turned out it dominated the Awona complex as well although it was nearly invisible.

In the traditional archetypal dualism of Sun and Cloud, wind that could fan fire and move the cloud as an active agency without moving outside of the archetype of the Plumed Serpent in its avian (sky) forms appears to have been an important and no doubt impressive form of ritual in the last decades of the Bonitian tenure in Chaco Canyon.

Co-identification of the Tsamaiya and Awona Supernaturals

The pan-Puebloan Paiyatamu, the god of dawn and dew, whose flute playing ripened corn and flowers through the maidens of the Big Dipper, was co-identified with the Hopi’s god of flutes, flowers, butterflies, and music for the Flute ceremony, Lelentu (Stevenson, 1904:413 fn a), although Stevenson was the only one to call the clan name for a flute, lenya, a god. Still, the co-identification points to the association of the flute with the breath of life and the florescence of life in spring and summer. Shotukinunwa, the star and lightning/thunder deity who wore the backward-curved horned headdress, was the patron of the Flute society of the Horn clan from Tokonabi who owned the flute altar and ceremony (Stephen, 1936b:770).  The ancestry of the Flute order of the Horn society was supernaturally related to the Snake-Antelopes through a Snake woman, one of Heshanavaiya’s daughters (Fewkes, 1894:116). It may be significant that the Patki water-house clans, which were said to have introduced Shotukinunwa as a “higher form of religion” to the Hopi (Fewkes, 1900b), stopped at the SW Chi-pia #3 on their way to settle among the Hopi, which Mindeleff located north of Homolobi at Kuma spring (Mindeleff, 1896:189). This suggests that the Patki clans may have picked up their “higher form of religion” from a Keres initiation center, which would explain why Shotukinunwa is co-identified with the Keres Star of the Four Winds of Chi-pia #2.

The big difference between the horned Plumed Serpent (Shotukinunwa) that was the patron of the Water-house (rain cloud house, e.g., the Milky Way, Stevenson, 1904:550) clan and Flute society and the Antelope-Snakes whose tutelary deity was an “ancient” nadir horned Plumed Serpent (Heshanavaiya) is that Shotukinunwa was represented as an anthropomorphic lightning deity who wore a horned helmet, while Heshanavaiya was never pictured and only briefly described as a horned Plumed Serpent, e.g., his horn was “real,” and he was six directional and therefore a rainbow serpent. The presumption is that the horn represented a horned animal, but the Water-house clan had no association with any horned animal outside of its participation in the Horn-Flute society. The headdress itself was called the horned Plumed Serpent (Fewkes, 1902), the “heart of all the sky” (Fewkes, 1895a:445). The Water-house clan allied with the Agaves (Kwan) to form the Agave society (Dorsey, Voth, 1901:pl. LV; Fewkes, 1900a:134), which is a fraternity of warriors (Fewkes, 1900a:135). The Agaves wore the recurved one-horn helmet (Fewkes, 1895a:445), and all members of the society carried a wooden effigy of Palulukon (pa– means water), who was identified as the Sovereign Plumed Serpent which is the primordial mother sea, e.g., the nadir “four earths down.” In the Tiyo legend (Fewkes, 1894), Heshanavaiya is at least three levels down, but because of ambiguity in the story his underworld Antelope kiva may be four earths down as well. He is described as the Ancient of the Six Directions, a description that would apply equally well to the Star of Four Winds who, it was said, associated six regions of space with the stars of the Big Dipper (Cushing, 1896:382). What this inquiry is getting at is chronology. Only Palulukon is documented as a Patki legend, but they stop at Chi-pia #3 and when they arrive in Hopiland they have a celestial Shotukinunwa that makes an axis mundi with Palulukon. This warrants further investigation but it may be insignificant because as shown previously the Snake-Antelopes had the conch (celestial Plumed Serpent) at the CNP in their Tsamaiya invocation at Tokonabi, which predates Hopi settlement of the three mesas. This means they had the Keres axis mundi with or without Shotukinunwa. That said, Ellis noted a transition from an emphasis on earth and the cougar, which the Tsamaiya  complex represents, to an emphasis on the Snake and  sky, which Shotukinunwa and the Awona complex represents. Comparatively the two can be viewed as a transition from the rainbow power of the magician-ruler, a shaman, to the authority of a state-sanctioned priest. The fact that Shotukinunwa is said to have come from the Gila valley which is the region from which the Tsamaiya complex appears to have first emerged c. 650-850 CE is part of its historical context. This case could potentially provide useful information about that transition because the anthropomorphic Shotukinunwa looks like he could be the clan ancient (deified clan ancestor)  to a Quetzalcoatl priest in a Toltec cult. His parallel in the earlier culture hero Poshaiyanne, a Po priest of Mystery medicine and “dew,” where both meet in the identity of the Star of Four Winds and an obscure relationship with fire warrants a closer look.

The Water-house clans were particularly associated with ceremonies connected to the solstices and equinoxes (Fewkes, 1899c:192), which by definition puts them in a leadership position regarding the relationship between sustenance and sacrifice and the life-death cycle. The fact that an aspect of Shotukinunwa was as a judge of the dead via one’s “breath body” indicates that its corollary, the breath of life, was well known but now there was a different twist to it. The connection between agave and the Plumed Serpent among the Hopi’s rain-cloud clans had a parallel in the very close association between the Star of the Four Winds god and yucca among the Zuni, a function of which was demonstrated by the yucca hoop that aided a theurgist in his transformation into a beast god (Stevenson, 1904:403, 530). Either something in the form of those species of cactus or its “foamy” products that were associated with the wind god, an alcoholic beverage in the case of agave and purifying suds in the case of yucca root, associate cactus with the horned Plumed Serpent and with Maasaw, a fire god (Stephen, 1936a:44-45). Similarly the Zuni Galaxy society’s winter ceremony had an Eagle-man called Knife-wing (Achiyalatopa), while the Hopi Agave society’s winter ceremony featured an Eagle-man called Kwataka, where in both cases Eagle-man represented the medicine power (or its lack) of the strength of the Sun (Fewkes, 1903:16). Both the Hopi and Zuni versions of Knife-wing dropped “feathers” during his performance that, for the Zuni, were represented by “medicine stones” on Mystery medicine altars (Stevenson, 1904:564).

The Agave society’s six-direction altar for their New Fire ceremony in August, during which the Water-house chief of the Agave society impersonated the fire god Maasaw, had a spearpoint at the Above of the medicine bowl and a fragment of a stalagmite to the west, which was associated with the shape of their one-horn helmet (ibid., 118). This is described as being a reference to the stalactites in the Salt Cave of the Grand Canyon that was the home of the fire god Maasaw (Fewkes, 1900a:88, 117), which the New Fire ceremony honored, and where the Hopi say they emerged. This is also where the Hopi say the Zuni emerged (Stephen, 1936a:498). There is a similar association between shamanism, deer horns, stalagmites, and cave ritual in Mexico (Kidder, 2009:22): “For the Quiche Maya the deer was a cosmological metaphor for the ―night‖ sun, which would enter a cave and travel through the Underworld and emerge in the east as dawn (Bassie-Sweet 1996). Deer petroglyphs also appear in several caves in the Yucatan and were thought to play an important part in cave rituals (Stone 1995:237). Finally, an inscription on a stalagmite from Naj Tunich cave led Stone to propose that the ancient Maya viewed the stalagmite as a deer-related spirit (Stone 2005a:265). I believe this ideological link between deer, shamanism, and caves was well known by the scribe and served as an avenue to reinforce their supernatural abilities and elevated status.”

The association between the liminal deer and the nigtht sun in light of the fact that the Jaguar Sun God was also the night sun established a predator : prey motif in the underworld that associated the daily birth of the sun with sacrifice, which was a fact of the indigenous religion as practiced and known among the ancestral Puebloans. The predator : prey theme and a Jaguar Sun God is also a tip–off to how the first agriculturalists viewed the underworld of the triadic cosmos–it was a long cave through which the personified sun passed in order to rise anew when ceremonies lit its fire again for the sunrise. From early representations of that sacred landscape we know that a Milky-Way river ran in front of the ancestral cave (see Cajamarca ) and below that was the primordial ocean (see the great goddess mural). The stalagmite-horn association also was the same form as the Mexican’s recurved mountain symbol of “cave of beginnings,” e.g., an ancestral Shipap, the sipapuni of Culhuacan which compared to the often transient sipapu of a kiva was a permanent shrine (Stephen 1936a:433) and site of pilgrimage. The symbol was so well known in Mexico as signifying an ancestral cave of origin that when the Aztecs would stick an arrow through the symbol to which local identifiers had been attached and publish it on their tribute list everyone knew the patron god of a citadel had been captured and the identity of a people wiped out. The ancestral Shipap or place of emergence of Central Mexico was the Cerro de la Estrella where archaeological evidence has documented that it was the site of New Fire ceremonies dating back to the early Classic period and the heyday of Teotihuacan that securely linked New Fire ceremonies with a mythic cave of origin (Helmke, Montero García, 2016). The predominant origin myth of Central Mexico stated that life on earth began with a “lithic blade or knife” that fell from the Above and upon shattering created the many gods (ibid., 80). When humans of the seven tribes emerged from the seven caves of origin the first ceremonial act was to drill the new fire, a ritual associated with the appearance of the Pleiades and the three-star asterism of Orion’s belt (ibid., 68). The fact that the New Fire ceremony of the Hopi that was owned by the Agave society  1) featured priests who wore the helmet with the single recurved horn that referred to a cave of emergence and the veneration of a fire god and the star god Shotukinunwa, a Plumed Serpent called Heart of Sky, 2) looked to the meridian passage of the Pleiades and Orion during the ceremony, and 3) featured a “lithic blade or knife” that fell from the Above on the altar of the medicine bowl indicates that the Hopi’s New Fire ceremony has strong parallels with the New Fire ceremony of Central Mexico (Fewkes, 1900a).

Helmke-2016-pinwheel glyph-Cerro de la Estrella fig 8Left: The kan-k’in symbol, also referred to as a “pinwheel” and Glyph E, was featured on an early Classic-period petroglyphic panel associated with a New Fire ceremony in a cave on the Cerro de la Estrella of Culhuacan (Helmke, Montero García, 2016;fig. 8).

These findings that associated the kan-k’in symbol with the cave of emergence and first fire that was dated to the early Classic by the context of Teotihuacan architecture and pottery sherds was concomitant with the appearance of the Twisted Gourd symbol in Teotihuacan on censers. This points to the association of the enduring Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram with a cave of origin and fire. My hunch is that the Mexican’s recurved mountain/cave symbol for a terrestrial place of emergence was anciently associated with the celestial House of the North viewed as a ‘cave of beginnings’ around which the Big Dipper rotated (Nuttall, 1901:fig. 26), which as the celestial north pole  of the axis mundi would allow emergence on the terrestrial plane from any cave or spring, or tree for that matter. After finally seeing a case of a creator couple, Iatiku and Tiamunyi,  that established the corn life-way for a people, a celestial origin at the celestial north pole of the axis mundi of those born to lead in the context of the role of ancestors only made sense. Twisted Gourd symbolism and the symbols that were associated with it was an answer to the question of status, which was to ask, Where is your root, who is your father, e.g., literally what is your “face?” (Tedlock, 1996:99, 141), because the “face” of a hereditary lord endured for all time through his sons. Only the peak of the social pyramid could claim that their father as a lord came from the place of origin with the ability to provide sustenance that the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud ideogram they wore signified.

All of the above strongly suggests that the Hopi Agave society’s Plumed Serpent of the celestial north pole (CNP, Shotukinunwa), which was represented by a quadripartite cross, shared key traits with the Zuni Star of the Four Winds deity, which was also represented by a quadripartite cross. Moreover, if we review the primacy of the middleplace Acoma Keres Antelope clan in ancestral Puebloan ritual, whose clan ancient was a horned rattlesnake called Katoya (Parsons, 1996:185 fn), keeping in mind that, cosmologically, the rattlesnake Katoya was an appropriate species to represent the center of the axis mundi (the triadic Plumed Serpent) for a people living in a desert environment, we begin to suspect that the chief of the Keres Antelope clan called the Tiamunyi, the supreme leader, was not just an Antelope chief but was a Snake chief of his Antelope kiva, just as in the initiation of the Snake chief of the Antelope kiva by Heshanavaiya in the underworld in the Tiyo story (Fewkes, 1894). The pattern crops up many times. Tiamunyi’s father was a rainbow serpent (Heshanavaiya, nadir, but he was the Ancient of Directions and could act anywhere) and his grandfather was Utsita, a lightning deity of the celestial north pole. The latter name either represents a collective name for the tri-partite Plumed Serpent as the axis mundi of the Broken Prayer stick (“It is the center pole, four earths down and four sides up”), and/or it referred to his location and archetypal function as a lightning creator. What was given by the story is the fact that he was located at the “zenith.” The Maya’s zenith was the celestial north pole (Freidel, et al., 2001), and the Zuni’s galaxy altar confirmed that the Puebloans followed suit even though “Above” could refer to the CNP or be a general reference to the sky overhead. What is clear is that the Puebloan’s ritual hand sign to the six directions referred to the celestial House of the North– the apex of the axis mundi– when ethnographers reported “Above, Below” for its meaning. What remained to establish was that he was the CNP lightning deity of the celestial House of the North, e..g., he fit the archetypal precedent set by the foundational corn myth that emerged from the area where corn was domesticated, which means he would be the mythical actor that played the role of  Heart of Sky in the Popol vuh and that the Hopi’s Heart of Sky also was that actor.

The evidence suggests that both answers reflect Utsita’s function– he represents the tri-partite axis mundi because he equipped his daughters, the corn mother and her sister, with all the seeds from the underworld necessary to establish the corn life-way. From the celestial House of the North he sent the ripening and fertilizing spirits of the Corn and Dew maidens, not to mention his first act which was to plant his seed in the womb of the new earth where Spider woman raised and trained his daughters. In the latter function he acted just like the fertilizing lightning deities Shotukinunwa and Four Winds. If the form of the horn or recurved mountain does associate all of these versions of one Plumed Serpent with its many attributes and triadic agency then the Snake-Mountain/cave form as a location that is at once celestial and terrestrial fits them all. This doesn’t mean that the form doesn’t also represent a horned animal. As the following image from the Mimbres Mogollon c. 1000 CE suggests, there is a an obscure, probably occult celestial and terrestrial association between the horned animal, especially the mountain sheep, the snake, and the Mountain/cave that has not yet come to light, but its origin in or around the Gila Valley or the Mogollon-Pueblo Blue Mountain Archaeological Zone (map) seems all but certain. It may be that the stalactite-horn association was associated with the Stone Ancients. The Popol vuh myth of how the gods and animals were turned to stone with the heat of the first sunrise which paved the way for the work of the Hero Twins in the new fourth earth had its origin among the Maya in the Formative period. The fact that Hero Twins iconography had appeared on pottery in the Mogollon area by 1000 CE and in the mythology of the ancestral Puebloans in the context of fourth-world ideology suggests that the Mesoamerican foundational corn myth was well-known and widespread in the American Southwest.

A326270-snake and antelope

A mountain sheep with the iconic Mountain/cave as its body, Mimbres Mogollon c. 1000 CE (A326270, photograph courtesy of the Smithsonian Digital Archive).


Iconic mountain sheep form on Mimbres pottery (no provenience, similar form at Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, Deming, NM). See Russell et al. 2017 for a stylistic analysis of Mimbres antelope/mountain sheep forms.

Heshanavaiya is based on a Keresan term, Shotukinunwa (shotu-, great star, Morning star) is a Hopi term, and the Zuni’s Great God (Kok’ko’thlanna) is generic, e.g., multiple languages disguised the co-identity of the various aspects of the horned Serpent, but shotu- means star and it is not referring to the polestar but rather the appearance of Venus. The celestial Plumed Serpent of the Hopi occupied the celestial House of the North as Four Winds and Heart of Heaven, and the Venus avatar acted seasonally according to its appearance and disappearance around the winter solstice. This is indicated by the Four Winds fetish with (frost, north, only the Zuni Galaxy medicine altar) and without (fire, south) the Venus decoration, where it must be remembered that the avatar of the Plumed Serpent is in fact the warrior of the Sun.  This relationship between the Plumed Serpent as Four Winds (CNP), the east-west path of Venus, and the Sun’s SE position at the winter solstice is enacted in the celestial drama of the Hopi winter solstice ceremony, in which seven societies participated.  Shotukinunwa as the Hopi patron deity of the Water-house (Patki) and warrior society wore the horn headdress as celestial North where the Cloud Chiefs are located, but during the winter solstice ceremony itself he wore the Star headdress of the Venus warrior (loloekon) to force the winter solstice sun to spin in the southeast and move north (Dorsey, Voth, 1901), which is still the wind function of the Plumed Serpent who moved the vault of heaven with the Big Dipper.

The seven stars of the Big Dipper manifested as the seven color-coded Corn maidens whose dance  represented the ripening of corn, and the dance of the seven Dew maidens as their reflection on water represented fertilization of the water of life (Cushing, 1896:434, 445). “In the native Maya chronicles the reflection of a star upon the trembling and moving surface of the water, is given as the image of the Creator and Former, the Heart of Heaven, and it was believed that the divine essence of life was thus conveyed to earth by light shining on and into the waters. …The preceding and other evidence, which is scarcely required, enables us to realize the full significance which the symbol of a bowl surmounted by the glyph ik = life, breath, soul, was intended to express and convey” (Nuttall, 1901:225).

Reading the Zuni origin story carefully, the Corn and Dew maidens that came from the Big Dipper acted with Paiyatamu, the God of Dew and Dawn, a Keres deity, through the agencies of fire and mist to give the Zuni the seed of seeds, e.g., corn, with particular emphasis placed on the seventh rainbow corn seed at the tip of the ladle of the Big Dipper, the star Alkaid, that pointed to the polestar. Corn was not only the supernatural basis of authority of the Keres Tiamunyi and his wife, the Corn mother, which established the axis mundi of corn mythology and ritual, corn was the substance of all flesh of those who consumed it (Cushing, 1896: 397). Far more than a metaphor, the idea that one’s flesh is corn lies at the heart of curing ceremonies through the power of the priest’s corn-ear fetish, the ability to receive succor from the Corn mothers,  and the ability to recover one’s heart, a single grain of white corn, that has been stolen by a witch (Dumarest, 1919). The points that will be developed next in terms of ancestral Puebloan cosmology are 1) the polestar was the Heart of Heaven in the context of Four Winds, which was the celestial northern polestar (CNP) of the axis mundi as the Plumed Serpent that rotated the sky dome, 2)  Paiyatamu as the God of Dawn and the clan ancient of the People of Dew (Cushing, 1896:397) is co-identified with the Mesoamerican God of Dawn, Quetzalcoatl-Ehecatl at his apotheosis as the Morning star after his death (“The Mexican legend tells of the wind god Quetzalcoatl that after his death or after his disappearance in the sea of the east he changed himself into Tlauizralpan Tecutli, the lord of the dawn, that is, the morning star, the planet Venus,” Seler, 1904b:286, 359), and 3) the ritual language of the songs of Paiyatamu in the dance drama that re-enacted the mythology of the Corn and Flute/dew/water maidens as well as the liturgy of the winter solstice ceremony was Keresan (Stevenson, 1904:125, 180, 183),  hence, based on that fact and a strong body of additional evidence I conclude that the “elder nation” of the People of Dew were Keres priests who introduced “celestial House of the North” corn ritual among ancestral Puebloans as the CNP of the axis mundi, because that was where the Sky father of the Corn mother and the grandfather of the Tiamunyi lived, and those Keres priests were Chaco priests as bearers of Chaco culture.

This is not inconsistent with the Acoma Keres origin story, wherein the Corn mother brought the corn seeds up from the underworld in her basket (Stirling, 1942). The celestial maidens represent the supernatural celestial process of ripening and fertilization, and both the maidens (celestial North) and baskets of corn seed (nadir) are featured in corn ceremonies. The Big Dipper that was arranged around the red triangle, the celestial House of the North, was described as a four-sided gourd with three stars for a curved handle, and  “‘Tis a sign, mayhap, of the Sky-father!…[and they placed the] dappled seeds far out at the end of the handle [a rainbow bridge into a Keres kiva, Stirling, 1942], that it might (being of the colors of all the others) point out each of them, as it were, and lead them all” (Cushing, 1896:392-393). In other words, to mirror a celestial constellation described as a water container that looked like Shotukinunwa’s recurved headdress (Stephen, 1936a:fig. 175), the rain priests placed rainbow colored grass seeds at the very tip of the handle of the Big Dipper form that they made on the ground, and their sprouted grass seed was transformed into the Seed of seeds, corn, by the priests of the People of Dew, whose tutelary deity was Paiyatamu. Shotukinunwa was an all-directions Sky father described as Heart of the Stars, Heart of the Sky and the Plumed Serpent, and the tokpela, a wooden quadripartite cross with serrated edges that represented lightning, hung over the altar of the Horn-Flute Society (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 424). The tokpela has also been associated with the Morning star as the avatar of the Plumed Serpent, and so this tells us that the quadripartite symbol for the ordering of the cosmos was also used to represent the polestar (Heart of Sky) and Venus (warrior to the rising and setting Sun), where both, of course, referred to the Plumed Serpent. This suggests that not only were the ancestral Puebloans familiar with the glory hole, they were familiar with the multiple meanings of the Maya word kan. Kan, as in the kan-k’in symbol,  referred to sky, snake, the number four, or yellow, and ancestral Puebloans used the tokpela accordingly to infer sky, snake, and four to equate the Star of the Four Winds as the Plumed Serpent with the Venus avatar as the Plumed Serpent, and equate the Plumed Serpent with the quartered cosmos. The fact that the Venus symbols and the stars of the Big Dipper are identically designed on Zuni medicine altars is, I believe, a pointer that they share one owner–the Plumed Serpent as Heart of Sky whose avatar was Venus.

The Star of the Four Winds fetish appended with eagle plumes indicates that the Star of the Four Winds is a significant part of Awonawilona’s breath of life, and Paiyatamu was its personification or ritual expression with the corn and dew maidens. The fact that the Hopi summer Horn-Flute society altar, the Hopi winter warrior’s society altar,  and the Zuni Galaxy society winter altar share in common as a celestial patron Heart of Sky, aka Shotukinunwa, the Plumed Serpent and Star of Four Winds, is notable because these cases represent multiple aspects of the Plumed Serpent.  Upon closer inspection this is a finding of major significance, because if you line up the three snakes associated with Snake woman in the Tsamaiya complex, you get Shotukinunwa as celestial North (Horn-Flute society), Katoya the rattlesnake of the terrestrial North (Snake society), and Heshanavaiya as the Heart of Earth and nadir (Antelope society). This is the classic lightning-based axis mundi of Maya kings that extended through an archetypal  Mountain/cave centerplace (Bassie, K., 2002; Bassie-Sweet, K., 2018). In the Popol Vuh, the sovereign Plumed Serpent called Heart of Sky who ruled the Magician Hero Twins also resided in the region of space circumscribed by the Big Dipper, a location that “orders the entire upper cosmos” (Freidel, et al., 2001:73, 75, 79). As another piece of evidence that points to the source of Zuni, Keres, and Hopi mythology about the Big Dipper, the Zuni knew what monkeys looked like and how they behaved from “far walkers” (Cushing, 1896:417).

The Awona Complex: Zuni Bow Priests

Frank Cushing was initiated as a Zuni Priest of the Bow, and therefore he was in an ideal  position to provide accurate detail regarding the law-and-order function of the Hero War twins and the part they played as protectors of ancestral rites and medicines. The order of the Bow priesthood was instituted at Hanthlipinkia, one of the famed Seven Cities of Cibola. The site is significant because it can be dated archaeologically, and the story is important for many reasons, which include the appearance of the Mayan version of the Hero War twins in ancestral Puebloan culture and it appears that the bow and arrow was introduced with them as a symbol of sacred war.

Cushing, F.C., 1896. Outlines of Zuni creation myths, Thirteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1891-92, Washington, DC. Available online:

They named the eight days for preparing.
The people returned to their houses.
The priests to their fastings and labors,
The Twain to their high mountain-places….

And the Twain Gods [Hero War Twins] still further instructed
The kin-priests, and knife-bearing warriors. [conversion to bows under Twins instruction]
Soft they chanted the sacred song-measure.
The magic and dread Shomitak’ya,
And whispered the seven fell names!
Then they painted the round mark of thunder
And the wavering trail of the lightning
Around the great drum, in the middle,
And on the hooped drum-stick of thunder.
And over the drum-head, with prayer-dust
They marked out the cross of the quarters.
As on the cloud-shield they had leveled
Fire-bolts to the four earthly regions. …

And the nostrils of each [singer] they [Hero War Twins] did breathe in,
That their own wind might mingle with man-wind.
Give power to men’s voices in battle
And strengthen men’s wills with endurance.
Then said they to the drummer and singers:

“Lo, now! Ye shall sing our dread song-line.
Like beetles that fall in hot ashes
Ye shall perish, ye singers and drummer.
But lo ! in the lightnings and wind-storms
Your beings shall join the beloved.
Your breaths, too, shall strengthen the warrior
And give power to the voice of the warrior,
Bringing peace to the Seed-priests and women.
And ye shall be foremost forever
Of our Chosen, the Priests of the Bow.
Lo ! The people shall see that we dread not
The coming of fire-blasts and thunder
With our name-fathers, fiercer than any
The Storm gods of all the six regions:

Ha’hl’tunk’ya, Wind God of the North;
U-heponolo, Wind of the West;
Oloma, Wind God of the South;
Tsailuhtsanok’ya—of the East;
Saushuluma, Wind from Above;
Sanshuwani, Blast from Below;
Unahsinte, Whirlwind of All!
By their breaths and fell power
We shall changed be, in being;
Made black and misshapen;
Made stronger with fierceness;
Made swifter with hurling;
Made crafty with turning;
Plunged deep in the waters.
And renewed of their vigor;
Clad anew with their foam-dress!
Yea, the power of the weapons
The Sun-father gave us
And the Foam-mother made us,
That ye be led upward.
Shall multiplied be
In the means of destruction
For the hands of our children,
Ye Priests of the Bow,
That men be kept living!
But to rock, age-enduring.
Grouped in song for our chosen,
O, drummer and singers!
Ye shall changed be forever!
The foot-rests of eagles
And signs of our order! ” (Cushing, 1896:420).

The names of the Zuni wind gods are found nowhere else in the ethnographic literature on the Zuni and will require a more exhaustive search. They may be Keresan names, but in any case sufficient detail is provided about their function which may prove to be helpful in co-identifying the wind god of the War twins with the god of Four Winds of Zuni medicine altars, which Bow priests protected, when other evidence comes to light. Frank Cushing was an embedded ethnographer with the Zuni for over two years and was an initiated Bow priest who was familiar with the god of Four Winds when he documented their origin story. However, at this point no direct comparison between the Chief of the wind gods, the seventh direction as the whirlwind named Unahsinte, can be made to the Chief of the Tsamaiya (Tsarahoya) for Snakes whose patron was Heshanavaiya. But what the story does establish is that it was the Hero War twins who formed a warrior society of Bow priests that could call on the wind god of the directions that after death and destruction appeared as a rainbow out of the vortex of the Whirlwind. What the two warrior invocations have in common are the Hero War twins who head the directional warriors (White, 1962:111). In the Zuni warrior invocation the Hero War twins call the directional warriors their “name-fathers” and associate them with a strengthening breath. Among the Keres the assistants of the War captains that embodied the War twins are called “tsatya gowatcanyi, the present-day helpers of the War chiefs, [who] bear the names of the warriors of the north, west, south, and east, respectively” (ibid.), where tsatya means breath (Davis, 1964:165 #69; tsàatsị, Keres Language Project).

That said, it was ancestral Zuni singers and a drummer who, in the course of the initiation of Bow priests, were turned to stone by the War twins and thereafter their collective breath empowered the Bow warriors (Cushing, 1896:420). In other words, human ancestors that were joined in spirit to the War twins become the supernatural patrons of Bow warriors along with an all-directions Whirlwind called Unahsinte. That is a pattern among the Zuni and Keres, wherein members of the tribe “enter the waters” (die) in a multitude of ways in order to establish a closer linkage with a supernatural and in doing so become the clan ancients. A good example is the clan ancient of the Zuni Neweke society, its first director Bitsitsi, who mysteriously disappeared into Ashes spring to become thereafter the namesake of the god of dew and dawn Paiyatamu, who became the Neweke’s patron.

It is worth mentioning that the Zuni, at least mythologically,  also had to sacrifice people to create an association with the Keres People of Dew and their version of the Hero War twins. The Twins eliminated the old songs by turning the singers and their drummer into stone, which is similar to the Keresan/Kayenta War twins who typically turned people into stone if they had an alien altar or were enemies. By turning the Zuni singers into stone their old song-lines (paths that connected the sacred directions) were destroyed and the voice of their spirits was incorporated into the voice of the two top Bow priests who incarnated the Hero War twins and infallibly spoke for them. This makes the Zuni creation story into  a work that describes their assimilation into the Chacoan world. It is helpful to work through Matilda Stevenson’s study of Zuni cosmology and realize that what is glossed in Zuni texts as the “Divine Ones” are the Hero War twins conflated with the sacred breath of Awonawilona, Spider woman’s Zuni counterpart. In other words, if I read the text correctly, the breath of the dead-turned-stone Zuni singers that now came through the Twins and hence a Zuni Bow priest was actually the breath of Awonawilona, who is further conflated with  the breath of life from the Star of the Four Winds and Paiyatamu that lived at Chi’pia with the Hero War twins. That’s why the songs and speech of the elder and younger brother Bow priests were infallible. These are all Keresan deities that had established themselves on the surface of the fourth world before the Zuni  arrived (Stevenson, 1904:407-408).

The encounter between the Keres and the Zuni after their union had been established did not always go peaceably, it seems. The legends tell of a battle between the Zuni and Sia Keres at Zuni Salt Lake (see Kwinikwa), where Zuni Bow warriors  vanquished the war magic of Sia warriors, which up through the 20th century was remembered in an elaborate ceremony owned by a society that was charged with remembering the victory. The importance of the ceremony may be due to the fact that the Zuni obtained two of their precious ettone for corn and water by conquest in the battle with the Kwinikwa (Kia’nakwe, Stevenson, 1904:164). The ettone they owned on their own was the ettone for snow, which was the ettone of the North that was owned by the Hle’wekwe society headed by the Crane clan of the ruling Dogwood lineage. The top Zuni rain priests thereafter possessed the three ancestral ettones that preserved the seeds of snow, water, and plants, and these emblems of office paralleled the authority and significance of the Hopi’s corn-ear fetish, the tiponi, which was instituted by the Keres who were the children of the Corn mother.

The symbolic narrative of the Star of the Four Winds mobile that was suspended from the zenith position and appended with eagle feathers that signified Awonawilona’s (sky dome) breath of life clearly indicates that the rotation of the Dipper was the means by which wind and breath moved through the four directions on earth by the movement of the vault of the sky dome.  These images from the Galaxy altar and Cushing and Stevenson’s documentation also reveal how the Zuni saw the Milky Way (long black-and-white bar) as a snake river beneath a celestial house of clouds centered over the Big Dipper in the House of the North, which can now be viewed as a water gourd. Birds of the CNP (four purple martins) perch on the clouds (ibid., 432), and in light of Shotukinunwa’s identification in his horned aspect as the polestar “glory hole” through which abundance flowed, which the Maya called Heart of Sky,  we have the most likely model for the celestial House of the North at the CNP that Casa Rinconada was built to observe and venerate, as was the tri-wall at the Aztec ruin. This goes a long way toward explaining how celestial North was often confused with cardinal north in Mesoamerican and ancestral Puebloan ethnography– the Big Dipper as the House of the North stretches out due north across the dawn horizon on the summer solstice. Among the Zuni, in addition to being the speaker for the Sun the pekwin was also head rain priest of the North, meaning celestial North as in CNP  (the kia’kwemosi), which is a sun-water construct, while other rain priests associated with the nadir and the cardinal directions (Stevenson, 1904:435).

The Galaxy altar presents a comprehensive mythological and cosmological picture of the relationship between the Tsamaiya and Awonawilona complexes through how the altars across ancestral Puebloan culture shared the supernaturals that formed the axis mundi. Poshaiyanne’s Mystery medicine made the center of ritual the medicine bowl on the sand altar, wherein all ancestral Puebloans shared the same six-directional beast gods and six snakes that animated Mystery medicine. The sky dome moved by virtue of Four Winds and the Big Dipper which circulated the breath of life through the axis mundi that existed between the CNP of the  sky vault and the Nadir of Heshanavaiya that could literally breathe in and out as the life of the World Tree. The slat altars among the Zuni while undoubtedly based on the original Keresan form do not display the Keres Corn mother’s fetish as an emblem of office associated with her “House of Everything” fire altar, which was an earth altar. Rather, the Galaxy altar from Spider woman’s Zuni counterpart, Awonawilona, the sacred road and breath of life that took physical form in sunlight, represented the Above of the cosmos, the vault of the Sky father. Together the two represented Earth and Sky. We know that the Keres introduced both forms that were sanctioned by priests who initiated others at the Shrine of the Stone Lions.  Stevenson recounted many times the simultaneous breath of life taken at key points of ritual by all Zuni participants, while if the Hopi did the same ritually ethnographers failed to mention it. We are also told  that the Zuni Hle’wekwe wood society, where sacred wood links fire to any ceremony and provides the necessary ritual ash for purification, occupied the area around the Keres Shrine of the Stone Lions for an extended period of time and then returned to their people amidst great fanfare and “exceeding greatness” (Stevenson, 1904:446), which strongly suggests that an important  initiation had taken place. What they returned with was the Beast Gods and snakes of the six directions, the key to making Mystery medicine with fetishes as the Stone Ancients and water from sacred springs. Keeping in mind that the animal doctors taught humans about the medicines in a former world and were now present as directional stone fetishes, one example from Stevenson’s monograph will suffice to show how and why it was done among all ancestral Puebloans (Stevenson, 1904:492-493), which points back to the authority of the first medicine bowl that was created for the Corn mother’s House of Everything fire altar (Stirling, 1942). It is the medicine bowl that brought all ritual to the Center where Earth and Sky met and brought Puebloan culture into one circle formed by multiple parts that kept their secrets but had their role in the system of sacred directions, which was medicine.

In that sense the Mystery medicine altars with mi’li fetishes that had an ear of corn at the center (Stevenson, 1904:52)  represented a House of Everything because all life extended from the breath of life the mi’li offered, which was breathed into the medicine bowl as the medicines were prepared. This was always done in the presence of the Hero War twins incarnated as Bow warriors who were physically present during a ceremony or the War twins were present in spirit as the idols they occupied on the altars. The Hero War twins protected rites and medicines  through institutionalized law and order made possible by the Tsamaiya (Below, Heshanavaiya) and Awona (Above, Four Winds) complexes. More study is needed but the Keres conception of Spider as a road-maker and diviner and the Zuni conception of Awona as a road-maker and breath that is physically materialized in sunlight are distinctly different perceptions of the everywhere-present sacred, and yet as already stated they are both Keresan concepts to which the Zuni and Hopi gave full credit. They both reached the same endpoint but by different routes, the Iatiku altar distinctly “Below” and the Awona altars distinctly Above,” which is obvious in a comparison of the emphasis on fire in Iatiku’s fire altar and the emphasis on wind and breath in the Galaxy Four Winds altar. The War twins are explicitly displayed on Iatiku’s altar and on Hopi altars, while on Mystery medicine altars the Twins are always inferred by the generic kopishtaiya figures (War twins, Venus, deceased Bow priests, rainbow, lightning, cloud as a category) but explicitly displayed only by Bow priests in whom the Twins were incarnate.  Apparently there were no prohibitions concerning showing and naming the Sun or his sons, the War twins, as actors. What was always inferred is the Serpent, which was present as netted gourds (a reference to the celestial House of the North?), sacred water from springs, and wind. As among the Keres there seemed to be the same prohibition among the Zuni against using one’s breath to speak of the serpent to ethnographers or even draw it, which in and of itself suggested that the avian serpent had a role equal to sunlight in manifesting the sacred breath of life referred to as Awonawilona, which was shown to be the case.

Awonawilona is an exquisite materialization of the fire : water paradigm as the breath of life that when fully documented will be the most explicit statement in all pan-Amerindian ethnography of how, precisely, the sacred breath was perceived and materialized in sacred directions medicine rituals associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism. Here we also have the second ideological complex extending from a central altar that stands with the Tsamaiya complex in representing the supernatural powers associated with the Above-Below powers of the Hero War twins who were governed by the Plumed Serpent, a tri-partite deity that represented the space, air and water of the cosmos through which the sun passed. It is no coincidence that the vertically tri-partite realm of the serpent is conjoined with the horizontally quadripartite journey of the sun during the year while each day it passed through the diurnal and noctural (underworld) realms to rise from a cave in the east. Those are the conjoined sun-water mechanics of the vertically triadic and horizontally quartered cosmos. These ideological assemblages that constituted the breath of life flowing through the House of the North and into and through this world were called the Tsaimaiya and Awona complexes that formed and defended it.

Together the Awona and Tsamaiya complexes are represented in the hourglass symbol for the Twins as their sphere of activity and the means by which they provided their agency, which now can be confidently interpreted as two triangular arrowheads, one for the upper world and one for the lower,  touching at the tips to create a centerplace. The symbol also has been interpreted as a scalp-lock, since the War twins founded scalp societies, but that does not fully represent the authority the Twins wielded.  Hopefully it will not be too confusing to point out here that whereas the Tsamaiya complex had the tcamahia stone that fell from the sky from the Tsamaiya of the Stone Ancients, the Awona complex had the sacred flint knife that fell from the sky from a Stone Ancient called Achiyalatopa. He was a mythical Eagle-man of the zenith with knives for feathers that can be seen over Mystery medicine altars, such as the Hle’wekwe (wood) society altar (Stevenson, 1904:pl. CVIII), whose public demonstration of supernatural endowment involved sword (wooden knife) swallowing. The Kapina medicine priests of Laguna also had an order of sword swallowers at one time (Parsons, 1920:100 fn 4; 109 fn 3). Sword swallowing under the patronage of the mythical bird of the zenith was supervised by Four Winds and explains why sword, tree, knife, and arrow swallowing was considered to be one of the most powerful ways to summon rain. Achiyalatopa was located right at the gate of the celestial House of the North where the seven Cloud chiefs lived. The fact that so few were injured in these dangerous rites was a sure sign of the protection of Awonawilona and that rains would follow. The counterpart of sword swallowing from the Awona complex was snake swallowing by the Tsamaiya (Chama-hiya) descendants of the Stone Ancients, the snake masters who anchored the Tsamaiya complex. The stone tcamahia and the ceremonial flint knife were thought to be endowed with lightning and the sacred breath of life through these supernaturals.

Left: Sword of the Hle’wekwe, whose two divisions are Sword and Spruce (Stevenson, 1905: 460, pl. CIX). “The swords, which are of juniper, are slightly curved, rounded at the end and are as long as from the tip of the middle linger to the elbow, this being the method of making the measurements.” The insertion of the sword down to the stomach at the level of the heart and then its rapid extraction was thought to produce a rapid onset of rain.
Right: Ceremonial stick from room 38, the centralized macaw aviary (Pepper, 1920:188, fig. 85). “There were four objects made of wood, two were ceremonial sticks; one of the type having a knob on the end was found on the floor of the northwest corner of the room, as was also the other one which is of the type with the end carved like a bear claw [type IIb]. There was a third ceremonial stick found slightly above the floor level of the northwest corner, Fig. 85. This stick seems to be complete. It is of the type having a knob and collar on one end, the knob is flattened and has a hole drilled through it. It is 36.5 cms. [14.5 in.] long, and between the carved portions, there is a wrap of yucca cord which fastens what seems to be a small branch with juniper leaves attached. Lying against the juniper branch are the ends of cords showing a series of knots, which would indicate that they had once held feathers.”

Knowing that three of the various snakes named Plumed Serpent by the Hopi actually constituted one tri-partite lightning Plumed Serpent functioning as an axis mundi across Above, Middle, and Below realms to empower Snake-Antelope, Horn-Flute and Zuni Mystery medicine altars through their magic stone tcamahias and animal fetishes and medicine stones now informs another revelation of this altar. As already described, the patron of the Zuni Galaxy society altar was the Great God, Paiyatamu as the expression of the Plumed Serpent of Chi-pia (Stevenson, 1904:432). Chi-pias were supernatural locations at intercardinal points where gods and mythic culture heroes emerged for ceremony and disappeared afterwards. The Chi-pia of the SE quadrant of the Chaco world was located in the Sandia mountains of New Mexico, and because of its sanctity the Keres ceremonial center was located a short distance away and close to Keresan pueblos, e.g., the village of the Stone Lions on the Potrero de Vacas. This was the location where the Stone Ancients the Hopi referred to as the Chama-hiya (Tsamaiya) snake masters lived, one of them being the Keres Spider medicine priest who incarnated the Ancient of the Six Points and could invoke the Chiefs of the Directions, where together the two Ancients, Spider woman and Heshanavaiya, represented the medicine power of earth. Recall that Heshanavaiya, a six-directional horned serpent of the nadir,  was the first Snake chief of the Antelope kiva in its underworld aspect and was the patron of the Snake-Antelope society on earth. Fast forward from mythic time to myth-historical time and he was a medicine man and snake master called the Tsamaiya who was a descendant of the Stone Ancients living on the Potrero de Vacas (Stephen, 1942:44) who spoke the Keres language.

We get down to the root of both the Awona and Tsamaiya complexes by the finding that the Plumed Serpent who occupied the celestial House of the North where the Cloud chiefs lived was a tri-partite lightning deity that as the axis mundi was patron deity of both complexes. They were two sides of one coin. The inevitable conclusion is this: the descendants of the Stone Ancients were the Laguna Keres priests who were the doctors of a past world that were first taught by the animal doctors. They now occupied the village of the Stone Lions, and they as Tsamaiya and Awona priests traced their supernatural ancestry to the Big Dipper, the home of their supernatural patrons that constituted the breath of life in the actual materia medica of the six-directional plants that the animal doctors developed. Heart of Sky was the vast region of space circumscribed by the rotation of the Big Dipper, the center of which was the polestar. The Laguna Keres at the village of the Stone Lions traced their primordial paternal ancestry to Utsita and their maternal ancestry to the Corn mother. The supreme lightning deity from the Keres Acoma origin story was called Utsita, a deity that now has been co-identified with the Four Winds of the celestial House of the North by the Zuni and Shotukinunwa by the Hopi. The axis mundi of the Broken Prayer stick was described as a “center pole, four earths down and four sides up”  (Stirling, 1942:pl. 13, fig. 2), which means it extended between Heshanavaiya and Four Winds.  It was a power also given to warriors under the authority of the Hero War twins. The power of the prayer stick  was directed to the Plumed Serpent.

We’ve already seen that the Tsamaiya complex was anchored in a Keres Tsamaiya Spider medicine priest and Tiyo the clan ancient who was called by the name of  the underworld rainbow serpent Heshanavaiya in the mythic age, the Ancient of the Six Directions whose daughters were the two Snake women who founded the Snake-Antelope and Horn-Flute clans. As far as the Zuni go, we are to understand that through the great Keres medicine priest Poshaiyanne and the people of dew the Zuni and Keres became one people. The Hopi make no claim to be one with the Keres people and in fact killed or ran off the Keresan colonists that settled on Hopi First Mesa who had founded much of ancestral Hopi ritual culture. The Zuni creation story is the only one that explicitly described the meeting of the two people, the transition from seed gathering to the corn life-way, and the memory of an important battle that was fought between the Zuni and Keres (see Kwinikwa). Although gaps remain, putting the two parts of the ancestral Puebloan world together through the Awona and Tsamaiya complexes we get the authority of the Hero War twins, Above and Below priestly organizations related to war, weather, and curing that were directly associated with the War twins, and a shared tri-partite axis mundi. The breath of life flowed through the glory hole at the Big Dipper; the sun-water cycle as the Milky Way river of life circulated it through the underworld where Heshanavaiya existed in the Antelope kiva as the roots of the axis mundi, the World Tree; and the canopy of the World Tree was the celestial House of the North.  The fullest expression of the breath of life, then, was as the life of the World Tree, and the World Tree in essence was a water tree, the tri-partite Plumed Serpent.

The Zuni Galaxy altar as a narrative “reads” as a Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud metaphor that is the celestial North of the northern polar region that was defined by the rotation of the Big Dipper through the power of the Star of the Four Winds quadripartite deity. From these galactic panels we can securely interpret the CNP red triangle as a celestial House of the North at the center of four celestial sacred mountains that mirrored the four terrestrial sacred mountains and their Centerplace on earth. This is significant because celestial “House of the North” terminology, hence iconography, mythology,  ethnography and archaeology, was very important in Mesoamerica among the Aztecs and the Maya. As mentioned several times, the House of the North at the northern polestar was called the glory hole by the Maya. The water stone had been set there upon which its lord, the Magician of Dew, sat enthroned with a celestial court, which proved to be the case among the ancestral Puebloans as well. That was the basis of the Mesoamerican system of six color-coded sacred directions, the mysterious dew associated with royalty and the essence of life, and their Three Stone Places of religious and political power on earth (see Maya Connection). The Zuni Galaxy altar proved that the ancestral Puebloans had assimilated that ideological construct, preserved the supernatural nature of the essence of life, Dew, and associated it with leadership at the Centerplace, and placed this ideological construct within the  overarching power of the Plumed Serpent. In this regard the ancestral Puebloans have preserved and vivified the meaning of an otherwise ambiguous phrase in the Popol vuh, “”As they put it in the ancient text, ‘The visible sun is not the real one” (Tedlock, 1996:161). The real one was the God of Dew and Dawn, which among the ancestral Puebloan was Paiyatamu, the anthropomorphic dawn sun. The reflection of starlight (ripening spirit of corn maidens) on water represented the Dew (fertilizing spirit) maidens. The “biological” father, as it were, of all the “maidens” in Puebloan ritual was the Ancient of the Six Points of the Nadir, father of the Snake women, and their spiritual father was Four Winds at the CNP, which produced the cardinal four winds that could alternately ripen and kill corn. Heshanavaiya, a horned serpent of the Nadir, and Shotukinunwa, a horned serpent of the CNP who also functioned as the lightning Star god Venus,  e.g., a precise parallel to Four Winds, were two aspects of one snake with several aspects (functions) called the Ancient of the Six Points (Fewkes, 1894) that formed the axis mundi and  the sacred “roads” that extended from it.

The equivalence of the Star of the Four Winds and the Star god has been demonstrated and shown to be the Plumed Serpent and its Venus avatar. The Maya called the region around the northern polestar the “glory hole” through which abundance entered this world, and as the location from which the Zuni Corn and Dew maidens emerged it is clear that the ancestral Puebloans, including the occupants of Pueblo Bonito, also viewed it in the same way. The co-identification of Shotukinunwa, Star god and patron of the Hopi Horn-flute ceremony, with the Zuni’s Star of Four Winds, and patron of Mystery medicine, both of which had a Keres origin, also represents a Heart of Sky point of contact between the Tsamaiya (Snake-Antelopes and Horn-Flutes) and Awona ideological complexes, and likely there will be others.

With the co-identification of the patron of the Horn-Flute ceremony and the Star of Four Winds fetish as the Plumed Serpent of the “glory hole” around which the Big Dipper circulated, the four pendant eagle plumes that represent the breath of life found on every Star of Four Winds fetish confirm that Awonawilona’s breath of life that is present in sunlight had both Sun and Serpent components, which again is a clear expression of the fire : water paradigm as the basis of life. This has implications for the interpretation of other symbols that internationally have been associated with the rotation of the Dippers, such as the swastika that was seen on pottery at the Whitewater site, which was a site associated with the Zuni, and in a nearly identical design at Pueblo Bonito and the Zuni village of the Great Kivas.

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The macaw was introduced in a visual program on ceramics at the PI-PII Whitewater site (Allantown, dated to 844-1016 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991) in northeastern Arizona as a black-and-white Twisted Gourd bird design that forms the black context for an arm of the swastika as shown in the upper left of the image and inset in red in the center for emphasis (Roberts, 1930: pl. 29b). The technique is called contour rivalry and shows an aspect of an object, often esoteric,  that is not otherwise visible to anyone but a shaman with “far seeing.” This form could be related to Pueblo Bonito’s rotator stamp, e.g., a stirring of the sacred directions in a sinistral pattern to make the rainbow, but the swastika in Mesoamerica has been associated with the Big Dipper (Nuttall, 1901), which also was important in the Zuni creation myth as the home of the Corn and Dew maidens who introduced color-coded corn (Cushing, 1896). This image was painted on the interior of a bowl, which typically represented the sky dome. Since the circumpolar Dippers are the only celestial objects that appear to rotate around a northern center, and the macaw was an instantiation of the all-directions rainbow, this image tends to support the idea that the ancestral Puebloans associated the macaw with the rotation of the Dippers and with rainbow medicine.

All elements of the two central Tsaimaiya (proto-Hopi) and Awona (Zuni) altars that legitimized rain, war and curing rituals were six directional with the seventh direction inferred or named as the center, and the directional system of power was under the authority of the Twins. Their presence at the Zuni village of the Great Kivas, a Chaco outlier, by the early 10th century and at Whitewater by the 9th century (844-1016 CE, Robinson, Cameron, 1991) confirms that this ideology of leadership with its integrated unit of a hereditary leader and his guardian, a Bow priest (Zuni) or War captain (Kayeta-Tusayan, Keres), was in place at Chaco Canyon from the beginning of its rise to authority as the Centerplace leadership of the ancestral Puebloans. The pattern of terrestrial hereditary leader and his protector, the supernatural Twins as sons of the Sun acting through the executive branch of governance that was the male aspect of Tiamunyi, who was the Sun priest, is announced in the cosmological relationship between the Sun and his warrior and herald, the Morning star, which is a pan-Amerindian construct (Tedlock, 1996:159). This, primarily, I believe was the reason that Venus was associated with war throughout Mesoamerica in areas where Twisted Gourd symbolism (Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud centerplace) was associated with the Hero Twins as a political charter for governance such as at Palenque (Freidel, et al, 2001:69). It may be helpful to point out that in the Popol Vuh, the Hero Twins sacrifice themselves and become the Sun and Moon (Tedlock, 1996:141), associations that persist into the mythology of the ancestral Puebloans wherein the Twins are the sons of the Sun and represent the Morning and Evening stars (Zuni legends) as warriors for the sun. Although the association of the moon with the Twins is obscure among Puebloans, or at least hasn’t yet been recognized by ethnographers, the fact that Puebloans still pay homage to the Twins at Chimney Rock in the northeastern corner of the former Chaco world where the lunar standstill was anciently observed indicates that there was an unidentified association. Likewise, a parallel event in the Popol Vuh and in the Zuni origin story wherein the new earth was dried by the heat of the new fourth sun (Tedlock, 1996:161) or dried by a great fire set by the Twins (Cushing, 1896:389) deserves a close cross-cultural study. The finding that the Puebloan tri-partite Plumed Serpent has a celestial aspect called Heart of Sky that so closely parallels the sovereign tri-partite Plumed Serpent of the Popol Vuh can no longer be overlooked. Its relationship to Chacoan cosmology as preserved among the Hopi, Keres, and Zuni holds great value for more deeply understanding a pan-Amerindian religion and ideology of leadership that was associated with Twisted Gourd symbolism.

This evidence points with confidence to the conclusion that the identity of the Plumed Serpent comprised three aspects– Four Winds as Heart of Sky (CNP), Katoya (middleplace), and Heshanavaiya (nadir)– that were in fact one tripartite lightning deity that formed the axis mundi by functioning in roles that extended across the Above, Middle, and Below realms. The finding that established the identity of the ancestral Puebloan’s tri-partite Plumed Serpent and beyond doubt established the fact of Mesoamerican influence on Chacoan ideology would be enough to generate new cross-cultural studies comparing Maya social organization with the ancestral Puebloans of the American Southwest under the influence of Twisted Gourd symbolism. And yet, of the two governing ideological complexes that were identified in this investigative report and tracked from their altar through ritual to public performance, the Awona complex that imparted the breath of life and wind of the Serpent that could be cognized as sunlight was found to be an exquisite materialization of the fire : water paradigm, the metaphor of which was the rainbow. The ancestral Puebloan’s concept of the breath of life as Awonawilona, a life-giving conflation of mist, sun, and wind, deepens the meaning of the ancient pan-Amerindian kan-k’in symbol that often was framed as a flower whose dew (“blessed substance”) and fragrance were divine attributes in the same class as the breath of life, whose kan-k’in symbol was the superimposition of the cardinal and intercardinal crosses.

As also seen in the Zuni’s sophisticated and coherent materialization of the Awona ideological complex (Stevenson, 1904), the sacred breath of life was idealized by the Zapotecans as central to their worship at a major site in central Mexico where Twisted Gourd symbolism was introduced by 100 BCE and dominated the visual program thereafter, e.g., Monte Alban and its priestly center at Mitla. The Zapotecan deity associated with the breath of life there was the Plumed Serpent. This points to two strands of influence that came together to influence ancestral Puebloan beliefs, one coming from the Maya, probably the Mexicanized Maya of the Vera Cruz coast where the lambdoid cranial modification was associated with a trade god and wealthy traders, and one from the Zapotecans of central Mexico at Oaxaca.

From a pan-Amerindian perspective, the fact that the design of the Water-house horn headdress of Shotukinunwa is familiar throughout Mexico as the symbol for “recurved hill,” as in ancestral Mountain/cave, warrants careful study. The myth of the Seven Caves of Atzlan as the supernatural ancestry of the seven tribes of Mexican people, which the recurved mountain represents,  and the rumor that the seven caves were actually the seven stars of the Big Dipper has never been confirmed. The Big Dipper and the glory hole it rotated around has been confirmed as a water-house among the ancestral Puebloans due to the fact that Four Winds circulated the vault of heaven from the CNP of the axis mundi, where the seven cloud chiefs lived in the House of Seven Clouds. Also, the Dew maidens were also called water maidens, and that celestial world was mirrored on the terrestrial plane. The ancestral Puebloan’s model for the CNP of their axis mundi as shown on the Zuni Galaxy altar in the context of the Zuni and Acoma origin stories cannot be a clearer narrative about the descent of the Keres elite from the celestial House of the North who emulated the Tiamunyi, Corn mother, and the maidens. The fact that the Zuni, a Chaco outlier, who assimilated Keres ideology and supplied the detail about the role of the Big Dipper in light of Casa Rinconada’s orientation and the abundance of evidence citing the primacy of celestial North in Chaco’s architecture leads to the conclusion that the Bonitians were Keres who traced their supernatural ancestry to Heart of Sky.

Transmission of the Forms of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud Metaphor that Signified a Centerplace of Rulership as the Ancestral Mountain/cave of Sustenance and Place of Reciprocity

Left: Scene of sacrifice by descent on the ancestral mountain of the Moche’s patron deity (Jones, 2010:fig.5.10). Center: Recurved ancestral Mountain/cave of origin of Culhuacan, a place of human sacrifice to the rain gods for over 1,000 years in central Mexico, shown being conquered by the Aztecs who assimilated the ancient ideology of rulership of central Mexico. Right: Recurved horn helmet with rain symbols worn by Hopi priests who venerated the horned Plumed Serpent referred to a cave of emergence.

The recurved ancestral mountain with its cave of origin as the home of patron deities who provided sustenance and required sustenance was an idea associated with the Twisted Gourd symbol as an indexical Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud/lightning metaphor by 1200-800 BCE in Peru, developed by the Moche during the Classic period, and formed the basis of the ideology of rulership in Mesoamerica and the American Southwest.

Top panel: South America, Tiwanaku culture, priestly center at Pisac. Bottom panel, left: Central Mexico, Zapotec culture, priestly center at Mitla. Bottom panel, right: Pueblo-Mogollon Blue Mountain Archaeological Zone, Arizona/New Mexico c. 700 CE and associated with cave rituals (Hough, 1914: fig 126).

Throughout South America and extending to the American Southwest in areas where Twisted Gourd symbolism took root the chakana, a quadripartite model of a triadic cosmos that comprised three interconnected, mirrored realms, indicated that the cosmic serpent, symbolized by both the spiral and the quadripartite symbol, occupied the center of the Mountain/cave of Sustenance that joined the Above, Center, and Below as the axis mundi, which was embodied in rulership through supernatural ancestry. The chakana furthermore associated the idea of “cloud house” and “cloud people” with the Twisted Gourd symbol as the generative aspect of the Snake-Mountain/cave-Cloud metaphor. The ancestral Puebloan example above provides strong evidence in a conflation of Twisted Gourd elements, quadripartite symbol, chakana, and swastika (Four Winds as the Plumed Serpent with the recurved horn signified by the rotating quadripartite symbol) that Puebloans, too, conceived of the cosmic serpent as being the mediating agency of the ancestral  Mountain/cave and was manifest in the triadic celestial, terrestrial, and underworld mirrored realms as the axis mundi. The cosmic serpent also surrounded the terrestrial plane and integrated the ideas of fertilization (irradiated water : sunlight, warmth) and water, e.g., sustenance, which was symbolized by a sky-earth sign of connection, the kan-k’in “pinwheel” symbol.

Scorse ranch-Hough 1903-pl 31

Left: The black-on-white pottery from the Scorse site, located at the other end of Leroux Wash from Kin Tiel, showed standard Chacoan symbolism, e.g., narratives assembled from the Twisted Gourd symbol set, as seen on this pitcher with the kan-k’in symbol on four sacred mountains in the lower register. The kan-k’in symbol writ large was the checkerboard pattern that signified the all-encompassing nature (container of all directions) of the primordial water serpent.

Thus far it has been suggested that the polestar region (Heart of Sky) around which the Dippers circle and Heart of Earth established an axis mundi that played an important role in Puebloan cosmology and ritual.  In Mesoamerica’s world view, Heart of Sky was the Plumed Serpent, and its avatar was Venus as the Morning and Evening stars. It is not a simple ideological construct, but it is a resonant one. Venus as the guardian of the rising and setting of the sun strongly associated the path of the sun with the provision of water, where it wasn’t either/or but a union of the two that was absolutely necessary for life. We see that strong association in the Ne’wekwe Galaxy altar which, as observed in 1904, represented in a local way a 4,000-yr-old cosmovision. As a sidenote, among the Maya Heart of Sky comprised three forms of lightning–the thunderbolt, sheet lightning, and the meteor–and Karen Bassie (2002, 2018) showed how those three forms were materialized as the axis mundi when personified by the GI-GII-GIII divine triad at major ceremonial centers. The U.S. Farm Advisor to the Jemez Puebloans did note the difference in representations of thunderbolt, sheet/flash (“which produces flowers”), and meteor lightning in their kiva art which invites further study (Reagan, 1917:48). Ethnographers did not pick up on those distinctions in Puebloan art or question if the Hopi’s Heart of Sky (Plumed Serpent) may have something to do with the Jemez findings. It may yet be possible to identify those forms in Chaco art, which will serve as another strong example of how Puebloan culture contributes to a fuller understanding of Mesoamerican cosmology.

In both Mayan and ancestral Puebloan cultures the idea of Stone Ancients associated rulership with the ownership and control over the production of stone ritual items that embodied the supernatural mediators between this world and a ritually accessed primordial state of creation, e.g.,  in the liminal space of the kiva with “fog seats” that provided a place for ancestral patrons and with altar wi’mi that possessed the spiritual power of the creators of the corn life-way. Stone was associated with the creation of the earth and the ancestral Mountain/cave as well as the mirrored celestial Mountain/cave, hence the existence of “cloud stones” (tablets, stone knives) that fell into the possession of ritualists from the sky (Hopi example: Stephen, 1936a:617; Zuni example: Stevenson, 1904:410).

Ritual Items that Inferred the Mountain/cave centerplace: Kopishtaiya, Macaw Feathers, Turquoise

poshaiyanne wimi-eldewr war twin-fig 461-vol 2 stephenLeft: Stone effigy of the elder Hero War Twin, part of the wi’mi of the now extinct Hopi Po’boshwimkya, a Zuni and Keresan curing society whose supernatural ancestral patron was Poshaiyanne  (Stephen, 1936b:fig. 461). This provides evidence that Poshaiyanne was conceptually linked to the category of “strengthening” supernaturals called by the Keresan term kopishtaiya (lightning, kupestuca, Davis, 1964:167, #219), a category of Stone Ancients that included the War Twins with whom Poshaiyanne was associated. Kipishtaiya were prominently displayed on Zuni and Keres medicine altars  and this form, the “Keresan” type according to Stephen (1936b:858 fn 1),  supports the conclusion that ancestral Puebloan “medicine” was a Keresan construct and “medicine,” whether for war, curing, or rain ritual, was always associated with the protective function of the Hero War twins. The flat, slightly upturned moon face with a mask-like appearance  resembles the Chacoan effigies, which are made of clay not stone. Did that make a difference in its meaning, or did clay simply make it easier to produce them? Nevertheless, the facial mask, size and pose of the Chacoan human effigies closely parallel the form of the kopishtaiya and provide a clue to the Keresan origin of the ideology that constituted the wi’mi of an altar. Once animated in that manner stone and clay effigies could continue to bless and protect a household or place where they were stored between rituals.

Turquoise is first mentioned in the Acoma origin story as an offering placed under the foundation of the kiva constructed with four world trees as pillars with ceiling beams as the Milky Way (Stirling, 1942:19); next as the eyes of fetishes of the prey gods (ibid., 23); Iatiku’s fire altar (ibid., 29-32); the ante in the first game of chance (ibid., 46); Turquoise Cave, Shuimi kaiya (notice the –aiya), a well-watered place with an abundance of antelope where they camped en route to establish Acoma (ibid., 79); and finally the War Twins, who received a turquoise and shell necklace as a gift from their father, the Sun, to enhance their “power to attract” in their role as rulers (ibid., 97). From this we can infer that turquoise equally referenced the liminal spirit of fire and water in stone, and not just water per se as an element although both turquoise and water have Above, Middle, and Below aspects. Importantly, it is in the move from Turquoise Cave, where Laguna ultimately would be located, to Acoma that the Macaw (parrot) is introduced, people learn how to count by tens, and the tribe is split in two (ibid., 47). As the story goes, the people must choose between macaw and raven eggs, which are totems of summer and winter, respectively; the Parrot/Macaw signifies the Middleplace.  In the Zuni creation story with the same scenario (Cushing, 1896:384-385), the Macaw/Parrot is the rainbow “mid-most” and becomes “the all-containing or mother clan of the entire tribe,” the “All,” the “Master of the House of houses” (Cushing, 1896:368, 375), which transcends other distinctions of clan; this took place at Hantlipinkya, where part of the Dogwood lineage  (keepers of the creation myth) became the Macaw-Dogwood, the lineage from which the sun priest, the pekwin (also the rain priest of the zenith) is chosen (Stevenson, 1904:40).  Since the Zuni are the only language group among the ancestral Puebloans who securely are identified as being part of the Chacoan Great Kiva system (Roberts, 1932; Damp, 2009:80, the Zuni Great House associated with the Village of the Great Kivas dated to 992-1204 CE), we can take their view of the symbolic, directional meaning of the macaw as Centerplace to be similar to if not identical with what the bird meant to the Chacoans where it was introduced at Pueblo Bonito c. 900-975 CE (Watson et al, 2015). It is therefore worthwhile to read Cushing’s brief summary of the entire directional system, which was the means of establishing corn ritual as the statutes of the six sacred directions  (Cushing, 1896: 368-370). The fact that a house of living macaws was located so close to the Bonitian crypt (room 38) but macaws were not included in the crypt (rooms 32, 33) in any form is suggestive of a change in the social order as to who represented the “All” as the Centerplace. As previously mentioned, the official titles of tiamunyi, pekwin, and cacique each reference “all the people” embodied as the pueblo, which may imply that there was one official who outranked those titles such as the “kaloomte” that was introduced among the Maya by Teotihuacan.

It remains to be worked out how macaw feathers fit into the concept of “making the rainbow” at Pueblo Bonito, e.g., when a ruler wore the macaw feathers he became the rainbow or the “blessed substance,” represented through the ideas of sap flowing through the axis mundi, the jeweled dew of dawn fertilizing corn plants, etc. The concept of avanyu (awanyu) as in Heshanavaiya,  “to change one’s skin,”  which is associated with shamanic transformation via the Milky Way as a rainbow serpent acting through the  North-South celestial axis (“the glory hole”) links the water Magicians in Central and South America to the Magicians among the ancestral Puebloans.  The Feathered Serpent as a rainbow serpent that effects this transformation is seen in the Mayan word for the feathered serpent, gucumatz: “The name Gucumatz is correctly stated by Ximenez to be capable of two derivations. The first takes it from gugum, a feather; tin gugumah, I embroider or cover with feathers (enplumar algo, como ponen en los guaypiles, etc. Coto. S. v. Pluma). The second derivation is from gug, feather, and cumatz, the generic name for serpent. The first of these is that which the writer of the Popol Vuh preferred, as appears from his expression: ‘They are folded in the feathers (gug), the green ones; therefore their name is Gugumatz; very wise indeed are they’ ” (Brinton, 1881:622). In other words, this transformation is effected by a change in color (“to change one’s skin”) associated with one of the supernatural animal trinity, the resplendent bird or Principal Bird Deity, that unites with the genius of the serpent and results in a change of name and identity.

The same idea that equates  avian costuming with supernatural rainbow power (color-coded sacred directions converge on the Mountain/cave Centerplace to make the rainbow) or that objects are “taken” by a ruler (as in Chan Balam II “takes” [embodies lightning] K’awiil during his accession ceremony) is first seen among the epi-Olmec at Izapa c. 300 BCE on the La Mojarra stela when the ruler acquired macaw feathers in a public performance that declared his kingly authority (Guernsey, 2010:169, fn 29). This is Tiyo the Snake-Antelope chief who becomes Heshanavaiya (avanyu), the Ancient of the Directions, deep within the interior of cloud-enshrouded Snake-Mountain where the Milky Way flows through the underworld.

 Detailed Look at Pueblo Bonito’s Material Culture
in Terms of the Acoma Keres Origin Story and the Tsamaiya Complex

The Keres Spider Woman, the co-creator with Utsita (lightning) of Pueblo material culture, was also behind the cult of war through the Tsamaiya ideological complex in the northern Southwest, but lacking explicit iconographic references to Spider Woman in Pueblo Bonito’s visual program on pottery we would expect to find her in their northern burial crypt as a cloud-like netted shield or eagle down feathers, which unfortunately are perishable materials. The circular forms made by slender wooden rods that were found in rooms 32 and 33 might have been her “cloud shields” at one time, especially given their context of the crook canes and flutes, but their deteriorated state does not allow any conclusions. The Spider clan sign is the quadripartite symbol, which is amply represented on Chacoan pottery, but the quadripartite symbol is also a pan-Amerindian symbol of the nature of the quartered cosmos and as such does not represent Spider Woman explicitly.  That said, according to Sia Keres origin myth, it was Spider woman as the Ancient of the Six Directions who drew the first quadripartite symbol. In a Snake-Antelope context cottonwood ritual items would refer to her and Snake woman (Stephen, 1929:43).  Otherwise, as important as Spider Woman is, she remains invisible for the most part in the visual program but not in the legends and origin stories. However, her male aspect Utsita, a supreme lightning deity, is present on Chacoan pottery that is covered in lightning bolts and fire and thunder symbols, and it was Utsita who established the primacy of lightning in the Acoma Keres origin story and ritual program (lightning-struck wood, flint arrow heads left by lightning strikes, magic medicine stones, etc.). In the first three pages of the origin story we are told that the father of life lives [my emphasis] “four skies above” (Stirling, 1942:3), e.g., he is Sky father, and the language of the underworld is that of his female aspect, Spider woman  who speaks for the Sky father and teaches his daughter the Corn mother in the Keresan language, which will become important as the ritual “underworld” language of Keres Snake medicine men of Spider society altars who authorize the songs of ritual and appoint officers. Little more is known about Sky father until he is again encountered in the Zuni origin story of their meeting with the Keres People of Dew, where he as Sky father is the Great God of the CNP, Four Winds.  

Pueblo Bonito represented Sustenance Mountain and, at its heart, the northern burial crypt, the ancestral powers described above that established the Anasazi Puebloan corn life-way. Even at this early stage of inquiry it is becoming increasingly clear that much of Pueblo Bonito’s material culture reflects a story of origin that emphasized the ritual power invested in objects by the Corn Mother and by extension her nephew and husband Tiamunyi. The Acoma Keres origin story reads like a step-by-step instruction manual that flags certain items that would materialize the presence of the Corn Mother and/or her husband in curing (Iatiku, fire, the iariko), strengthening (Tiamunyi, wind, water, breath, the tsamaiyas), and hunting/war functions (Spider, the tsamaiyas), which were the first three altars constructed. While other examples will come to light with further study I mention here three of the most important fetishes (not including the preeminent corn-ear fetish, broken prayer stick, and tsamaiyas) that were explicit fetishes of certain altars. These include the wi’mi that empowers the medicine bowl of the sand altar, i.e., the first square medicine bowl, flint-tipped lightning that leaves a supernatural arrowhead behind as seen on ceramics, and the crooked-cane of authority.

Left to Right:  “Lightning maker” cane of the  “father” of the Kopishtaiya, where “father” was the means to address all kopishtaiya  of the directions through one Chief (Stirling, 1942:pl. 14-1d). In the Acoma Winter ceremony, the Kopishtaiya, representatives of the lightning, thunder, and rainbow people of the SE,  would touch those in need of curing with the tip of a jagged wood lightning stick (Ellis, Hammack, 1968:34).

2. A “claw” Type 2  cane from rm. 33, hereafter called Type IIb. While the smoothly curved crook Antelope cane signified the breath of life and strengthening from the patron of the Snake-Antelope ceremony, Heshanavaiya, and dead Snake and Antelope chiefs, the spiked Type IIb cane, one of which was found in the NW corner of room 33 with a tall staff (Pepper, 1909), may have represented the Tsamaiya, the very powerful Spider medicine chief and snake master of the Antelope altar (Pepper, 1909:pl. 5, 1) who was a Stone Ancient and cloud-maker. Whereas the Type IIa was related to wind, the Type IIb was related to lightning. The Type IIb cane was also found in room 6a (1) and room 32 (12, NW corner, position of December solstice sunset), and Judd found eight more in the “western” burial crypt (rooms 320, 326), one of which was in the SE corner,  for a total of at least 20. One Type IIb crook cane was found with the fourteen military macaws buried in room 38, a room located at the center of Pueblo Bonito’s north-south axis.
3. Painted flute from room 33 (Pepper, 1920:fig. 68). The painted flute found in the NE corner of room 33 displayed the Twisted Gourd symbol as Snake-Mountain in colors of black, orange (red + yellow) and green (blue + yellow) in the Pueblo directional color system that represented “all directions” extending from the axis mundi. The circles probably refer to water/clouds as they do elsewhere in the context of Twisted Gourd symbolism; the cosmic Serpent was the embodiment of water and in Mesoamerica as among the Puebloans circular forms were masculine and associated with the wind god/Plumed Serpent. The highly vertical Snake-Mountain/cave design is very similar to a design found at Spur Ranch near Luna, New Mexico, about 20 mi. NW of Tularosa Cave, on a pitcher made of a Chaco-quality pure white paste in a form well known to the Bonitian founders and with “Chaco-type” water connectors  (Hough, 1914:fig. 104, pl. 9-1). This becomes more significant in light of the fact that a “magic tablet” in form like the butterfly-snake tile that represented Heshanavaiya in a Snake legend (Stephen, 1929:44) was also found at Spur Ranch (Hough, 1914: 31).
4. Rattlesnake effigy of Katoya, room 226 (Judd, 1954:fig. 78): This effigy is covered with cloud symbols, and in the Tiyo legend we read “does not the Great Snake  bear clouds upon his head” (Stephen, 1929:39). “The patron of the Antelope society is certainly Rattlesnake, yet he is referred to not only as Ka’toya but by a hybrid Hopi-Tewa term as Hish-avanyu, ‘ancient water serpent’ ” (Parsons, 1996:185). The Hopi Flute society also refers to Rattlesnake as Ga’toya, their patron (Stephen, 1936b:779) as does the Hopi Rattlesnake clan (Hopkins, 2012).  [Side note:  Avanyu may be a Tewa spelling or pronunciation but the term is Keres. Also, Katoya is the patron of the Snakes and Heshanavaiya is patron of the Antelopes (Fewkes, 1894).] Confusion about all the snakes is settled by the discovery that they are all aspects acting in the different realms of the triadic Plumed Serpent, the Puebloan’s axis mundi: Heshanavaiya (underworld), Katoya (terrestrial guardian of North Mountain, entrance to the underworld), Four Winds (celestial aspect of Heshanavaiya at the celestial House of the North).

Hough 1914 pl 19-type IIa and IIb crook canes-Bear Creek and Johnson cave

An array of the forms of crook canes found at Pueblo Bonito in rooms 32 and 33 (Pepper, 1909:pl. 5, 1) including the Type IIb “claw” cane were also found at Bear Creek Cave southwest of Luna at the headwaters of the Blue River near the historic Y-Y Ranch (map) at an elevation of 6400 ft (Hough, 1914:95, pl. 19), which was typical for the Anasazi ancestral Puebloans and corn agriculture farther north in the Four Corners region. Pueblo Bonito is 300 mi. north of Bear Creek Cave. The Mogollon type IIb is shown as the two examples on the right. The smoothly crooked form shown on the left is securely associated with Antelope chiefs in the Puebloan’s Snake-Antelope alliance, meaning that the Ancient of the Six Directions, the rainbow serpent Heshanavaiya, was the patron, and the smoothly crooked cane was also strongly associated with long-distance traders and a patron deity of long-distance traders who carried a crook staff. Clearly the type IIa and type IIb forms suggest different functions. I suggest that the spiked type IIb form represented the Snake in the Snake-Antelope alliance, whose patron was Katoya, the rattlesnake of the North, and the type IIa represented Heshanavaiya. Together, the type IIa and type IIb canes and the flute comprised a ritual axis mundi with Heshanavaiya in the south (Snake-Antelopes), Katoya in the center (Snakes), and the Plumed Serpent as the wind god (Horn-Flutes) of the celestial House of the North. A notable fact about the location of Luna is that it is approximately 5-10 mi. south of Escudilla mountain, the Mountain of Flutes (Shohko yalana) of Zuni legend (Cushing, 1896:426), which ties in with the painted cane flutes found in Bear Creek Cave. Recall that the form of Flute is co-identified with the form of Snake, both in the Hopi Snake legends and in Meso- and South American iconography, where the breath of the snake and flute is the life-giving breath of the primordial mother-sea, the Sovereign Plumed Serpent.

The crook and claw canes and the flute all point to wind aspects of the Plumed Serpent. The finding that Venus, the star of the four winds as the avatar of the Plumed Serpent, was associated with the complex at Wukoki and is seen again as the patron of the Horn-Flute ceremony, confirms the tri-partite axis mundi  as the Plumed Serpent and strongly suggests that the Plumed Serpent as the Mesoamerican wind god was the over-arching deity of both the Tsamaiya and Awona ideological complexes.

Pottery designs of mountain lions and snake effigies from the settlements in the vicinity of Bear Creek Cave in the Blue Mountain Mogollon-Pueblo archaeological zone (map) show a Puma-Snake context for the assemblage of crook canes and flutes found in Bear Creek Cave (Hough, 1914:figs. 81, 82, 117), which adds support to the idea that the spiked type IIb crook cane was associated with a Puma-Snake clan. Viewed from the back the curvature in the snake is not obvious. This form well represents an early description of the Keres bicephalic  serpent named Katoya as a fat chub about the length of a man’s arm and rattlesnake (Fewkes, 1894:110 fn 2). Effigies in this form with similar designs but without the curved body are well known at Pueblo Bonito, which suggests that the chub-type snake effigies decorated with Twisted Gourd symbolism may all represent the supernatural rattlesnake Katoya at the center of the axis mundi that the Keres associated with Mt. Taylor.
Snake-Feline Iconography. Left: Checkerboard pattern on a mountain lion in the slanted diamond style associated with the Milky Way-sky cosmic Serpent at Pueblo Bonito. Sherds featuring the hump-backed flute player, bighorn mountain sheep, and a water bird eating an anthropomorphic web-footed entity like the Zuni proto-humans were at emergence were also found (Judd, 1954: fig 50e). Right: Jornada Mogollon mountain lion at Three Rivers petroglyph site with the “netted” diamond pattern seen in Mesoamerica for the netted jaguar. The Pueblo-Mogollon “skeleton” version, the Jornada Mogollon netted version that infers the cosmic Serpent and “liminal,” and the Bonitian’s version of the animal as a nahual in the “place of mist” have notable stylistic and semantic similarities. Note the “cross” on its tail, an iconic marker for the relationship between the serpent and maize and, in this case, for the role of the predatory feline in the reciprocity between fertility and sacrifice.

pajarito--plumed serpent showing cross on tail like Hopi altar-detail

Horned Plumed Serpent, Pajarito Plateau, New Mexico. Note the “cross” on its tail, which was a distinctive trait of the Juxtlahuaca Serpent c. 1200-900 BCE and a variant of the Olmec-like trefoil (corn plant) tails of the Plumed Serpents at Hueco Tanks, Texas, where the horn curved forward