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Revisiting Hopi Prophecies
Are we entering the Fifth World?
An Indian magazine, Down to Earth, asked me a few questions about the Hopi prophecies — “about what the Hopi Native Americans of Arizona can teach the modern world which is warming incredibly fast.” The published article is here. My full responses are below. These responses were compacted a bit for the medium, and then further compacted for the final article. Still, I hope readers will find it interesting. For those who know my previous work well (particularly 2012), it may be a little redundant!
1. Can Hopi prophecies, which were passed orally over centuries, be seen as accurate commentaries on the current state of global affairs?
It seems to me that this is the case, but one has to explore this carefully. Certainly the Hopi were aware that we were entering a time of intense transformation that they saw as the bridge between two worlds — the Fourth World and the Fifth World. Similarly the Aztecs in Mexico talked about about the shift from the Age of the Fifth Sun to the Age of the Sixth Sun. Sergio Magana is a good chronicler of this tradition and its prophetic knowledge. The Hopi and other indigenous traditions understand that modern industrial Capitalist culture has thrown the world radically out of balance and unleashed an ecological catastrophe. We need to change our ways and way of understanding on a very deep level. Indigenous cultures provide templates for this.
2. As you quoted in a 2005 article, Peter Whitely said that 'Hopi environmentalism is a redundancy'. Would it be fair to compare the Hopi's lived environmentalism with the modern movement that began in the West?
I don't know if you can compare them. Many indigenous cultures like the Hopi integrated an ecological ethos into their way of life and language. There is a theory that the Hopi long ago chose to live in a high desert environment where nature was delicate so that they would be forced to attune their perceptions in a way that would lead to their spiritual growth. We should turn to indigenous cultures in this time of crisis and enlist their help in redesigning our broken systems that are endangering humanity's future.
3. Are we really going into the Fifth World as the Hopi believe?
Myth is a different way of understanding reality. Myth is more of an analogical way of thinking rather than a linear one, but that doesn't make it incorrect. We may be moving toward extinction or we may avert the worst possibilities by coming together into one human family through this universal catastrophe that is starting now. I believe that this coming together into one human family would be the transition into the Fifth World, as we break apart the individualized ego structure and recreate a harmonic relationship to the Earth and the cosmos.
4. What can the rest of the world learn from the Hopi about saving the planet? And what can the Hopi learn from the rest of us?
I don't think the Hopi have much to learn from us. They were forced to be acculturated, forced to have roads and forced to have their lands mined for minerals etc.
I think we can learn an entire different mindset and language and way of life and being from cultures like the Hopi. For example, they don't think of time as we do. Their language doesn't discuss past, present, and future but instead talks about "subjective" and "objective" aspects of reality: The subjective is the unmanifest, the not-yet-emergent. The objective is the tangible world we currently see around us. This is actually more precise according to the current understanding of physics. I think the modern world needs to regain humility and see how we have failed despite our over-application of intellectual thought, and we need to learn from indigenous wisdom traditions.