Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don’t Worry, Be Hopi: Guest Post by Author Shannon Baker!

Hi all!  Please welcome my friend and fellow Midnight Inker Shannon Baker to Killer Hobbies today.  Take it away, Shannon!

I’ve been lucky to have lived in some pretty terrific places in the last ten years counting the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon as my backyards. I am looking forward to setting down some deeper roots in 348 days when we plan to move to Tucson. But in the interim, we’ve taken up temporary residence in rural Nebraska. While I thought I’d escaped from here long ago, I have to admit to one thing that’s made the stay bearable.
I haven’t been able to plant a garden for several years, either because I lived in a townhouse without a yard or because I lived in Flagstaff where the growing season is five days and volcanic rock for soil. I’m particularly excited this year because after researching and writing about the Hopi tribe in Northern Arizona, I have a whole new appreciation for gardening.

Traditional Hopi culture is ancient and intricate. When Hopi emerged from the Third World to the Fourth, where we live now, they were given instructions from their Spiritual Guide (I won’t use his name here because a traditional Hopi friend asked me not to put it in print). Among other things, he told the people to live simply, practice self-denial and self-sufficiency. Along with telling them how to live, he gave each of about 30 clans a strict calendar of ceremonies and rituals and encouraged them to blend with the land and celebrate life.
The Guide gave Hopi responsibility to balance the entire world by maintaining the ceremonies and living according to His instructions. Hopiland is a microcosm of the world so what happens there will be intensified in the world. As it happens, young Hopi are leaving the reservation, decimating some clans, causing others to take up the slack. Climate change, severe weather disturbances, increased social conflict and cosmic dangers are the result of this lack, according to some Hopi traditionalists. This imbalance is telling us the Fourth World is nearing its end and with it, most of us will die.

But we don’t need to panic. Because the Guide predicted this state of affairs and He also gave the People a way to forestall or even halt disaster. There is a whole list of instructions that deal with living simply, being kind to each other and respecting Mother Earth. Of course, there’s more to it than what I’ve said but that’s for another day.

This summer, I’m interested in one particular instruction. He told us--all of us--not just Hopi, to:


According to Hopi, the subsistence cycle contains four phases: planting, cultivating, harvesting and thanksgiving. This is the ceremonial cycle. For Hopi, farming is not just a chore, it’s sacred. Through the cycle, you grow ever closer to Mother Earth and the rest of creation.

We’re told to plant in good humor and to sing to the seeds, and later seedlings and plants and to harvest in thanksgiving. If we do all of this, the bounty of the garden is not counted in pounds of vegetables but in health and healing of the planet and mankind.

Those are pretty lofty ideals for my little backyard vegetable garden. I won’t admit to singing to my plants. I might just hum or whistle and sing a ditty under my breath, you know, as I do most of the time anyway. I don’t talk to them, either. Not any more than I talk to myself regularly.
Mostly, I’m excited to see them grow noticeably from early morning to evening. I’m trying not to be too alarmed by the summer squash, zucchini, and acorn squash who are overtaking everything and soon will start banging on my back door. So far we’ve enjoyed carrots, beans, beets, squash, peppers, more radishes than is prudent. The tomatoes are turning red ever so slowly but are so close!  

If I’m doing my part to save mankind, that’s a nice side effect.
Do you have any “instructions” on living for a more spiritual or environmental or happier existence?


Shannon Baker writes the Nora Abbott Mystery Series, a fast-paced mix of murder, environmental issues and Hopi Indians published by Midnight Ink. A lover of western landscapes, Baker can often be found backpacking, skiing, kayaking, cycling, or just playing lizard in the desert.  Tainted Mountain, the first in the series is set in Flagstaff, AZ and is a New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards finalist. She serves on the board of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and is a member of SinC and MWA. Visit Shannon at

Nora moves to Boulder and  lands a job as an accountant at an environmental non-profit. But the trust is rife with deceit and corruption. Nearly half a million dollars is missing and one person has already been killed for knowing too much. Complicating matters are Nora's uninvited visitors: her mother, Cole Huntsman, and a Hopi kachina that technically doesn't exist. As the body count climbs, Nora races to stop a deadly plot to decimate one of the planet's greatest natural resources.


sheri levy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sheri levy said...

Wearing a splint on a finger and found spelling errors!!Redid!!
Wow! This sounds very interesting. I grew up with grandparents who were missionaries with the Hopi Indians in the 40's. Thanks for sharing this!!

Linda O. Johnston said...

Welcome to Killer Hobbies, Shannon. The Hopi culture and traditions sound fascinating, and how fun that you can follow one of their important instructions and plant things!

Tracy Weber said...

Thanks, ladies! Shannon's books are awesome!