My recent foray into the document folder turned up bits of writing from one of my favorite blog events from Aprils past –the A to Z Challenge. They’re pretty interesting, if I do say so myself. I’ll be sharing a few until life quiets down around here. I hope you enjoy. Scroll back to read earlier From The Stacks posts.
K for Kokopelli
I’ve mentioned before that I am a world drummer. My husband and friends gather regularly to make music together. Besides a variety of drums, we have all sorts of percussion instruments, flutes, and unusual rhythm makers from all over the world. Sometimes we make music indoors, other times we drum and dance in the moonlight. As we have the largest yard to accommodate such a gathering, we host full moon drummings at my house. That includes the notable Blue Moon — those extra moons in the year. More times than not we entrain when we really get going — that is, our brains synchronize. Some future post I’ll explain the science behind that. One of the amazing things about entrainment is the ability to all stop together without any lead up to let you know the music is winding down. It also leaves you feeling rather high to have your brainwaves mingling with other brainwaves.
Gotta love science. 😀
It was after such a brain bonding on a full moon night that I saw something on the moon. People often see things on the moon, images like the rabbit, the man in the moon, the sitting woman. Depending what image your culture says is there, that’s what you’ll see, just as we see things in cloud formations. This flight of fancy is called pareidolia. There’s science behind this too. Humans are hard-wired to look for faces. I suspect it has to do with bonding, as in, baby and mother bonding. But I digress. Back to the moon…
So on that wild drumming night the moon was huge and bright, so bright in fact that at 2:30 in the morning you could hear birds making little chirping sounds as they tried to determine if dawn had come early. I looked at that moon and saw him. It wasn’t the rabbit, the woman or the man in the moon face. It was Kokopelli. I was seized with an overwhelming case of surety that told me that sometime in the past, an aboriginal storyteller in North America looked up and saw the dancing flute player.
Ive scoured the web looking for a comparable moon to show here and gave up after so many pages of images. Online images don’t show a clear Kokopelli. This is a rough attempt to show what I saw. It takes skill to draw with a computer’s mouse and that’s a skill I just don’t possess.
Who is Kokopelli?
It’s said Kokopelli is a Kachina, a spirit being in the pantheon of Southwest Native American deities known for music, dance, and mischief. The ancient Anasazi considered him a god but his origins are thought to be older still. Ancient rock carvings and paintings, a.k.a. petroglyphs, date him at 3,000 or so years.
Depending on which peoples you ask, the humpbacked dancing flute player has different meanings attributed to him. Generally, this kachina is thought to carry a sack on his back like a traveler or trader. In legends, the sack carries everything from unborn babies to seeds to other gifts. His flute is said to be a nose flute (yes there really are such things). The melody on his flute would bring rain, melt snow, and the change the seasons.
In keeping with those babies on his back, he’s also associated with replenishment and fertility. Some of the petroglyphs show him dancing with a substantial erection. Legend says when Kokopelli played his flute everyone would sing and dance all through the night. Come morning every maiden in the village would be with child. There have been no such surprises for my drummer friends.
Here’s an example of the nose flute
K for Krakatoa
It began that May in 1883. In the Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra, a series of volcanic eruptions rocked western Indonesia. But one eruption mid-summer changed the face of the globe.
It came with a paroxysmal explosion – that is, a sudden and extremely violent explosion, that blasted the island apart with the force of 13,000 atomic bombs, and hurled a trillion cubic feet of pyroclastic (super-heated) rock, pumice, boulders, and ash into the air. The sound of Krakatoa’s eruption was heard 3,000 miles away in Australia and is considered to be the loudest sound the world has ever known. It even ruptured eardrums 10 miles away. Many were left deaf.
The release of volcanic pressure was followed by the cone’s collapse. When it formed a submerged caldera, it unleashed powerful tsunamis 136 feet high. According to different sources, the whole event killed between 36,000 and 120,000 people and destroyed 165 villages and towns. For months ships traveling across the Indian Ocean saw skeletons floating on rafts of volcanic pumice. Most washed ashore on the east coast of Africa.
Ash clouded the sky and changed the weather around the world. It’s been estimated that 1% of the sunlight bathing the planet was blocked for two years. The resulting decrease in absorbed radiation caused the upper layers of the oceans to cool and thereby contract. This caused the sea level to drop worldwide. The lingering ash painted sunsets so red and ominous, it looked as if the sky was ablaze. For three months, firemen were regularly called out in New York City and nearby towns thinking they had evening fires to fight. Holy cow.
Simon Winchester discusses his book Krakatoa with NPR’s Melissa Block.
All I can say is wow.
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