The Kokopelli legend is considered to be the Anasazi spirit (and symbol) of fertility who brought well-being to the people. This spirit assured success in hunting, growing crops, and human conception.
This figure is so prominent in Native American mythology that he has been compared to Abraham in regards to Judaism or to Paul in regards to Christianity. It is believed, from the study of the history of Kokopelli, that Kokopelli has been worshiped since at least the time of the Ancient Pueblo.
The first known images of him appear on pottery that date sometime between AD 750 and AD 850; however, the earliest known petroglyph of the figure dates to about A.D. 1000. Kokopelli’s image has lasted the test of time and has even entered onto the commercial scene.
The legends and history of Kokopelli vary greatly from tribe to tribe, and different scholars seem to have different opinions about his origins. Nevertheless, the Anasazi, who were first to claim Kokopelli, regarded him as a fertility symbol; not just for people, but for plants as well.
The Kokopelli Legend of a Good Harvest
For that reason, he was always welcomed during the planting season. The Anasazi were primarily farmers that grew corn, beans, and squash on the Colorado Plateau. They believed that a visit from Kokopelli guaranteed a good harvest when time came.
The belief in the Kokpelli legend as a harvest deity spread throughout the Ancient American southwest. For example, Navajo legend describes Kokopelli as the God of Harvest and Plenty. Even though he was a minor god to them, he was well respected because he brought abundant rain and food to people.
Even his image is directly linked to his fertility in agriculture. Kokopelli is always depicted with a hump on his back. This hump is not a physical handicap, but rather a large sack of seeds.
The history of the Kokopelli legend was that he would travel from village to village spreading seeds and knowledge on how to cultivate them. In that aspect, Kokopelli is very similar to Johnny Appleseed, a figure in American mythology (or tall tales) known to spread apple seeds across America. However, Kokopelli’s seed of choice was corn. Yet, Kokopelli was not only spreading seeds from his magic sack, he was also the ancient Anasazi’s version of the stork.
Kokopelli and Fertility
In some Kokopelli legends, he kept babies in his sack. Just as with the seeds, when he came to visit, Kokopelli would also leave behind children. It is this legend that drives the idea that Kokopelli was a fertility deity connected with human conception. One such legend states:
. . . everyone in the village would sing and dance throughout the night when they heard Kokopelli play his flute. The next morning, every maiden in the village would be with child.
Many of the early petroglyphs seem to support this idea. The image we see today on t-shirts and coffee mugs has been altered slightly. This alteration is in Kokpelli’s clothes. On most popular Kokopelli merchandise, he is clothed.
However, most of the ancient petroglyphs portray Kokopelli nude, or, at the very least, with no pants. Kokopelli was also often depicted with an over-exaggerated phallus. A symbol that is commonly associated with human fertility throughout the ancient world.
Even today, Kokopelli is revered and always welcome into the homes of modern day Native Americans and countless others who know the Kokopelli legend Those who know the legends also know that Kokopelli was much more than just a fertility deity. Always depicted with his headdress and flute and always in what appears to be a dancing pose, Kokopelli is also associated with lightheartedness and good times.
There are other legends that describe him with a mischievous side. Nothing evil, just a prankster. A spirit along the lines of Puck from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
A fertility god or merry prankster; either way, Kokopelli has been around for more than 3,000 years. With his recent commercialization, its looks as though he will be with us for a long time to come.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com