Soyal and Setting the Mood
Soyal is a 16 day ceremonial period, practiced by the Hopi for generations, that is supposed to establish the mood for the coming year. All major Hopi ceremonies last 16 days. Other ceremonies may last 9 days. Like other ceremonies, Soyal begins with an expression of assurance that the ceremony will accomplish its purpose, and end with a feast of celebration and a public Kachina dance. The dance acknowledges the success of the ritual and shares its blessings with the other members of the village.
As we follow what the Traditionalists have done for all of their years, we come immediately to attitudes and feelings. "Soyal time," the Elders say, "is a good time to teach children to respect others, so they will continue to practice it throughout their lives."
"There must be no disturbing loud behavior or running during Soyal." Why not? Because loud behavior is self-centered. It interrupts others, and it disturbs the deities who are involved in the cycle as well.
Below are some ideas about creating your own Soyal and how to benefit from these ceremonies:
Make it a sixteen day period in January during which you will do the following things. While you are doing them, concentrate on attitudes and feelings that will bring you closer to loved ones and to the rest of the world. Remember that as you carry out these actions you will achieve a magnificent sense of inner peace.
As you work, your problems will either go away on their own, or solutions to them will come to you. You will fret less since everything is being taken care of. Beyond this, you will be building an inner strength that will shield you when future prophecies are fulfilled. Following the instructions will accomplish your survival in every way.
- Use wholesome words when you talk to or describe people. Uplift, and do not hurt others.
- Ask the Spirits to listen to you and to bring the rain of loving care down upon the whole world.
- Guard against disturbing or loud behavior.
- Teach children to respect others, and tell them why they should do this.
- Think of the earth as Mother Earth or Earth Mother, a Spirit person who is a living organism who feels and responds.
- During these sixteen days, do not dig in the earth, since Mother Earth is joining you in this Soyal period of peace and preparation.
- Talk with those who are close to you of the past, the present, and the future. Discuss what is going on in the world, and try to determine where it is heading. Do not postpone the strengthening of your bonds with family members. As Maasaw knew it would, this has become a neglected area in our way of life here in the United States, and it is something we need to correct.
- Review with yourself and these same close ones the Divine laws. These laws will vary with different cultures and religions. But we all know, or at one time did know, our own, and we know the Hopi laws now. Talking about them will refresh our minds about what we were taught to do, and will expose how far we have strayed from these mandates. If we do not do well at this discussion, we will know that we need to return to our Sources so that we can do better next year.
- Review your own conduct during the past year, and the conduct and attitudes of people as a whole.
- Make an honest self-examination, and see where you can make improvements. This is a touchy topic, and one that can easily be ignored. If we hope to do better than we have, we must take a good look at ourselves and be honest about what we find.
- Make plans for the forthcoming year. Prepare in advance the known and the unknown. This will include a review of the prophecies. Keep an eye on what is happening at Hotevilla, as well as around the world. What do YOU need to do to get ready for the Great Purification? It is wise to think this over.
- Remember that the Creator, Earth Mother, Father Sun, and the other Helper Spirits, the controllers of movement here and in the universe, are making their own plans, based upon the course the Great Play is following. Try to determine what this course might be, and prepare accordingly.
The February ceremony is Pa-Mu-Ya, a purification ceremony.