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Mongwa : The Owl Spirit


At a glance

Origin Hopi Mythology
Classification Spirits
Family Members N/A
Region United States of America
Associated With Ancestors, Clouds, Wind, Rain



The Mongwa is a kachina or spirit that symbolises intelligence and wisdom. The Hopi believe that the wisdom and intelligence of the Mongwa kachina help them keep their fields free of rodents. They are also a frequent character in the various traditions and rituals performed by the members of the Hopi tribe and their main role is to knock sense into kachina clowns.

The term Katsina or Kachina refers to the various spirits that are revered by the Hopi and other peoples. There are hundreds of these in the tribe and they are also known to be used in sacred dances.

Physical Traits

The Mongwa is considered to be a natural spirit that is represented by the Great Horned Owl and the ceremonial masks also tend to be inspired by the physicality. There are other kachinas that are represented by owls like the Screech Owl (Hotsko), Spruce Owl (Salap Mongwa) but are different from the Mongwa.

Powers and Abilities

The Hopi believe that kachinas are divine spirits present in features of the natural world such as clouds, winds, thunder, and rain. They are also ancestral spirits that help connect humans with the spirit world.

The Mongwa is considered to be an enforcer of the law who helps keep law and order within the Hopi tribe and maintain the balance of nature according to some experts.

Modern Day Influence

There are many rituals performed in the Hopi tribe, some of which are only performed by priests. Other times, the people who are initiated to personate the kachinas perform complex symbolic acts. All Hopi children are initiated into the Kachina Cult where they learn that the kachinas are not really the spirits but their fathers, older brothers, and uncles assuming spiritual identities

Various representations of birds and feathers are also commonly used in the visual art forms of the Hopi tribe. In rock art, birds are often depicted in layers of paintings. In addition, feathers and birds are also highly stylized in various forms of art, such as basketry, pottery, and textiles. The Hopi Way of displaying and perpetrating the life force of our world is also carried out through these representations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does Mongwa mean?

Mongwa refers to a spirit in Hopi tradition symbolized by the Great Horned Owl. It represents intelligence, wisdom, and plays a role in keeping fields free of rodents.

What does the owl mean in Hopi Kachina?

The Hopi Kachina owl, Mongwa, symbolizes wisdom and protects crops. Its sharp sight translates to mental clarity, while its hunting prowess guards against crop-destroying rodents.

What is the kachina religion?

Kachina isn’t a religion, but core to Pueblo cultures. Kachinas, spirits of nature and ancestors, connect people to the divine. Dances with Kachina masks bring blessings and balance.


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