The material posted here is derived from The Native American Flute Book by Bob Edgar.
You can get the book from the flute maker, Stephen DeRuby. Call 1-800-4-FLUTES


(from The Native American Flute Book by Bob Edgar)

Just as there are myths concerning the origin of the flute, so there is a strong, powerful oral tradition regarding the original Flute player who brings prosperity to the people and the land through his music. In the Southwest, this figure is depicted as Kokopelli, the Humpback Flute Player.

(from Chaco Canyon - photo by Daniel Bianchetta of Esalen Institute)

The Hopi usually depict Kokopelli, the Humpback Flute Player, as a stick figure in the act of walking. He has antennae on top of his head. He is usually bent forward, blowing into a flute that he holds between his hands. His back is bowed, filled with sacred cargo. Kokopelli is a traveler. His luggage or humpback contains the seeds to be scattered. His flute calls the rains to nourish the seeds.

The Hopi say that Kokopelli is the antidote for Panayoikyase (an Ancient Being, or Power, which is full of destruction of the earth, of the people). Kokopelli calls forth the energy necessary to defeat Panayoikyase with the magic of his flute, awakening that power within people’s hearts.

Although masses follow him as he plays his flute, he is not like the Pied Piper because he does not lead masses to their suicide. He inspires the emergence of new life.

Kokopelli is also a fertility symbol. He carries the whole cycle of regeneration within his nature. The seeds in his sack belong to plants and flowers but metaphorically they are cultural and spiritual seeds as well. It is Kokopelli’s responsibility to spread them. Then with the music of his flute, he creates warmth to bring the rain and heal the Earth. This gives the seeds the special energies they need to sprout and grow. Their germination is represented by a sprouting life energy symbol in the form of a four directional spiral in many Kokopelli cave paintings.

There is a connection between Kokopelli and Pan. Both provide through their music a link for humanity to the rest of nature. Also between the one’s horns and the other’s antennae, they are both pretty “horny” characters. In fact, Kokopelli is often depicted with a huge erection instead of a flute. Sometimes the flute he is playing actually is his erection. This aspect of Kokopelli lets us know without doubt that he is a fertility symbol as well as a celebration of the erotic part of our human nature.

Both Pan and Kokopelli are symbols of the Trickster. Pan is known as the Trickster and the Coyote is an animal often associated with Kokopelli. The petroglyph depicted above and below, are photos, taken by Daniel Bianchetta, of petroglyphs found in the Southwest. The photo above depicts both Kokopelli and Coyote.

Another animal associated with Kokopelli is the Cricket because this insect makes high pitched music when calling for its mate. The flute is frequently connected to courting. Kokopelli is also associated with the Hummingbird. The Hummingbird’s beak looks like the flute coming out of Kokopelli’s mouth and this bird plays an important role in cross pollination and the spreading of joy.

(from Chaco Canyon - photo by Daniel Bianchetta of Esalen Institute)

If you are drawn to the flute, maybe Kokopelli is wanting to share his magic with you and be one of your Spirit friends. Maybe there are sacred teachings that your flute carries for you to discover. Perhaps Kokopelli wants to play with you and wants you to play. Although a continuing symbol of regeneration, he is not the serious type.

Relax, have fun, and discover the Magic Flute.

© Carol Proudfoot-Edgar 1995


 This page was revised on March 1, 2000