Copyright 2006 by Gary David.
Presented with permission of the author.
Articles by Gary A. David
The Anthills of Orion: Ancient Star Beings of the Hopi
by Gary A. David
Who are the Ant People?
All across the American Southwest we find petroglyphs (rock
carvings) or pictographs (rock paintings) depicting entities with
spindly bodies, large eyes, and bulbous heads that sometimes project
antennae. These eerie figures are frequently shown in a “prayer
stance,” their elbows and knees positioned at right angles, similar
to the ant’s bent legs.
Ancestral Hopi petroglyph located in northern Arizona
Do these rock drawings represent a race of Ant People? Do they
actually record ancient encounters between humans and an alien
species? Are the creatures truly “alien,” like those of the 1947 UFO
crash near Roswell, New Mexico? Or are they some crypto-biological
anomaly native to our planet? If not, then are they merely
psychological manifestations--creations of the collective
unconscious? Let’s examine the evidence.
“Those that are of Orion” is the apparent meaning of the term
Nephilim from Genesis 6:4 of the New English Bible. Masonic
researchers Christopher Knight and Robert Lomas claim that the root
Aramaic word nephîliâ is one name for the constellation. The
Nephilim, of course, are familiar to readers of Zecharia Sitchin.
This prolific scholar translates the Sumerian root NFL (not the
American football league!) as “...those who were cast down upon the
Earth!” The King James version calls them “giants in the earth.”
Just before the great flood “the sons of the gods,” interpreted as
either fallen angels or the Watchers, mated with “the daughters of
men” to produce these giants. It may be more than a coincidence that
Nephilim sounds much like the Hebrew word nemâlâh, which means ant.
In this case, morphology rather than size is the primary factor.
If the Nephilim are indeed “of Orion,” the Ant People could
actually be those who were cast down from the skies, perhaps from
Because the constellation rises due east, one might think that
the name Orion was derived from the word orient. In actuality, it is
formed by dropping the initial "m" in the Indo-European stem morui.
Astoundingly, this word means ant. Perhaps the constellation was so
named because its narrow, anthropomorphic waist suggests the insect.
The Hopi term for Orion is Hotňmqam, which literally means either
“to string up” (as beads on a string) or “trey.” This could refer to
the three stars of Orion’s belt but also to the tripartite form of
the ant: head, thorax, and abdomen. These shiny, bead-like sections
of the ant’s body may have their celestial counterpart in what the
Hopi consider the most important constellation in the heavens. The
appearance of Orion through the overhead hatchways of Hopi kivas
(semi-subterranean prayer chambers) still synchronizes many annual
Kiva at San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico. Ancient Hopi kivas
round like this but later became rectangular.
When Orion dominates winter skies, the ants are deep in their own
“kivas” (hills). Although this seems contradictory, the zenith and
the nadir are actually one shamanistic axis comprising the
Underworld. Two separate realms exist in the Hopi cosmology: the
surface of the earth as the site of human activity and a combined
sky/underground region as the home of the spirits, in particular the
kachinas. (For the Hopi a kachina is a masked spirit that can assume
the form of any physical object, phenomenon, or living being.)
Both the ant mound with its dark tunnels and the kiva with its
sipapuni (a hole in the floor symbolically linking it to the
Underworld) embody the nether plane. This paradoxically arches
upward across the skies to serve as home to the star spirits.
Figure adapted from an illustration by Petra Roeckerath,
Stories of Maasaw, A Hopi God, Ekkehart Malotki and Michael
Lomatuway'ma, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1987
The Hopi god of death, the earth, and the Underworld is named
Masau’u. Like the ants, he possesses knowledge of both the surface
of the earth and the chthonic regions. He wears a mask with large
open eye-holes and a large mouth. His huge, bald head resembles a
summer squash, and his forehead bulges out in a ridge. His feet are
long as a forearm, and his body is gray. This color is essential,
since his name comes from the Hopi word maasi, meaning gray. In
fact, this description from Hopi mythology is uncomfortably close to
contemporary images of extraterrestrial Greys.
Masau’u is also the terrestrial equivalent of Orion, whose name,
as we said, means ant. The Hopi believe that distances are
insignificant to Masau’u because he can traverse the entire earth
before morning comes. What better way to express Orion’s movement
from the eastern to the western horizon during the night?
The Hopi word for ant is anu. In the same language naki means
friend, prayer feathers, food offerings, or sand--a nexus of
concepts pertaining to this insect that sometimes flies. A
combination of the two words (anu-naki, or “ant friend”) may be
related to Sitchin’s Anunnaki. The Babylonian sky god was also named
Anu. One Sumerian cylinder seal from around 2250 B.C. shows the
pantheon of primary deities wearing peaked hats. The Hopi sky god
Sotuknang, closely associated with the earth god Masau’u, also wears
a pointed headdress. Like their Middle Eastern counterparts, these
American Indian divinities were present at the creation of the
universe and continued to be instrumental in the culture’s
Anu (or Danu) was also the appellation of the Celtic mother
goddess and patroness of the dead. In addition, Anu was another name
for the Egyptian city of Heliopolis, where the benben stone of
meteoric iron was kept. Furthermore, the Egyptian word anu meant not
only products, revenues, or something brought in but also gifts,
tributes, and offerings. This refers to both the ants’ ability to
store provisions and the reverence given to the Ant People. In any
case, their influence is global.
Ants played a crucial role in the survival of the ancient Hopi.
The Ant People’s great kiva provided sanctuary during both the
destruction of the First World, or First Era, by fire (volcanism or
asteroids) and the Second World by ice (glaciers). [For a possible
location of this, see “Lost City of the Dead in the Grand Canyon” at
Jack Andrews’ web site http://www.mysteriousarizona.com.] Only the
virtuous members of the tribe following a certain cloud by day and a
certain star by night were able to find the sky god Sotuknang. He
elected to save these migrating “chosen people” by leading them to
the Ant People for protection.
Ants are portrayed as generous and industrious, offering the Hopi
sustenance when supplies ran short and teaching them the merits of
food storage. In fact, ants have such thin waists today, the legend
goes, because they once deprived themselves of provisions. In
another account of the earliest eras, the Hopi themselves are
described as ants when they were “way underneath.” The word
underneath refers to both the Ant Kiva and the subterranean First
and Second Worlds. The previous Third World destroyed by a flood is
also conceptualized as being below ground, whereas our present
Fourth World is on the Earth’s surface.
According to a rather brutal Hopi myth of “Why the Ants Are So
Thin,” many ants were living east of Toko’navi, or Navaho Mountain
near the Arizona/Utah border. These insects are described not in the
allegorical manner of an Aesop fable but in an almost humanoid way.
During a Kachina Society initiation, two ants had dressed up as
fierce, giant Hu kachinas and flogged the ant children so hard that
they were almost cut through in the middle of their bodies, hence
their slenderness. Is this yet another reference to “giants in the
Ants are also associated with either warfare or hunting. The Hopi
believe that both traits are related to Orion in particular and
stars in general. This tribe also connects black ants with
witchcraft. The Hopi word Toko’anu (similar to the mountain’s name)
literally means flesh ant, the large dark red ant with a painful
sting. On the other hand, the Red Ant Society of the Zuni, a tribe
that lives near the Hopi, is associated with healing.
In Mesoamerica the Maya, who share many cultural traits with the
Hopi, tell legends of ant-like men building stone cities and roads
during the First Creation (World). These peculiar beings possessed
magical powers and could summon stones into proper architectural
positions by just whistling.
Archaeologist J. Eric S. Thompson writes: “Zayamuincob can be
translated as ‘the twisted men’ or ‘the disjointed men,’ suggesting
a connection with ‘hunchback.’ The word may also be connected with
zay, ‘ant,’ for there is also a Yucatec [Yucatan Maya] tradition of
an ancient race called chac zay uincob, ‘red ant men.’ They were
industrious like the ants which take out the red earth and make
straight roads through the forest.”
The reference to hunchback reminds us of Koko Pilau (Kokopelli),
the humpback flute player. This is the ubiquitous, insect-like
fertility figure of Southwest petroglyphs.
Kokopelli petroglyph at Homolovi State Park
Each February the Hopi perform the Bean Dance inside their kivas.
The fires are kept continuously ablaze, turning these underground
structures into superb hot houses. This ritual may commemorate a
time when the Ant People taught the Hopi how to sprout beans inside
caverns in order to survive. The Hu kachinas previously mentioned
are an integral part of this ceremony to initiate children into the
Ants resonate deep in our psyches as archetypal denizens of dual
worlds: the earth plane and the Underworld. Both linguistic and
mythological evidence indicates, however, that the image of ant-like
anthropoids is more than a psychological reaction to the tiny
Formicidae of the natural world. Why else would the mass media
consistently give ETs the characteristics of bugs? Unlike the vague
phantasms of dreams, Ant People appear terrifyingly real.
If these creepy creatures are an extinct or isolated terrestrial
species like Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster, we have yet to
uncover any fossil or skeletal evidence of their past existence.
Were the Ant People (nemâlâh) actually the progeny (called
Nephilim) of women who mated with rebel angels? Did an emissary from
Orion, whose name means ant, come to Arizona in order to become
Masau’u, the ant-like god of the Hopi? Were the Ant People willing
to save the virtuous humans from two different natural cataclysms
because the former saw the genetic reflection of themselves in the
latter? Were the kiva-like caves in which the Hopi found refuge
really the anthills of ancient star beings? These questions may in
the end be unanswerable. Nevertheless, the implications keep us
Petroglyph at Cottonwood Creek Ruin
near Homolovi State Park.
* * *
Published by Atlantis Rising, # 48, Nov./Dec. 2004
under the title “The Ant People of Orion”
Excerpt from The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American
Copyright © 2006 by Gary A. David. All rights reserved
* * *
Gary A. David is an independent researcher and writer living
in northern Arizona. The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the
American Southwest is now available from Adventures Unlimited Press.
This book discusses a correlation between the stars of Orion and the
Hopi villages and ruins in the Four Corners region of the US.
Recently Mr. David’s articles have appeared in Atlantis Rising,
Fate, and World Explorer magazines. He is also a published poet.
Articles by Gary A. David
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