Ngalyod [The Rainbow Serpent]

(Aborigine – Australia 8000 BCE)

About the Aboriginal Australians:

Australian Aborigines at an event commonly called a corroboree. This ceremony consists of much singing and dancing, activities by which they convey their history in stories and reenactments of the Dreaming, a mythological period of time that had a beginning but no foreseeable end, during which the natural environment was shaped and humanized by the actions of mythic beings.

It has long been conventionally held that Australia is the only continent where the entire Indigenous population maintained a single kind of adaptation—hunting and gathering—into modern times. Some scholars now argue, however, that there is evidence of the early practice of both agriculture and aquaculture by Aboriginal peoples. This finding raises questions regarding the traditional viewpoint that presents Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples as perhaps unique in the degree of contrast between the complexity of their social organization and religious life and the relative simplicity of their material technologies.

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“[Our history] is in the land, the footprints of our Creation Ancestors are on the rocks. The hills and creek beds they created as they dwelled in this land surround us… We remember it all; in our minds, our bodies and feet as we dance the stories. We continually recreate the Tjukurpa (the Dreaming Law).”  -Nganyinytja (Pinjantjatjara)

Long ago in the Dreaming, the earth was silent and the giant Rainbow Serpent slept in the darkness. All the animals were asleep inside her waiting to be born. Then one day the Rainbow Serpent woke up and emerged from the darkness to wind her way across the land. As she slithered back and forth, her massive body carved out the mountains and valleys, creating hollows for the lakes and channels for the rivers.

After she created the forms of the landscape she returned to the darkness and called out the frogs. They emerged slowly from their slumbers with their stomachs full of the water they had stored for their long sleep. Then the Rainbow Serpent tickled their stomachs to make them laugh, which released their water across the land, filling up the rivers and lakes. When the grass grew and the flowers blossomed and the trees bore fruit, all the other animals woke up and followed the Rainbow Serpent to this beautiful land. Some lived on the grassy planes, some on the craggy rocks, some in the trees, some in the rivers and lakes and some in the sky. They formed their own tribes and were happy in their new home.

Then the Rainbow Serpent created some new laws to help solve any disagreements in a fair manner, but despite this some of the animals would still argue and complain. The Rainbow Serpent was unhappy with the behavior of these ungrateful creatures and announced, “If you keep the law you will earn the right to human life, but if you break the law you will be turned into stone and sleep forever.” So those who broke the law were turned to stone and formed the rocks and boulders of the mountains. But those who kept the law were rewarded with human life and a tribal totem representing the kind of creature they used to be: a kangaroo, emu, wombat, snake, frog, bird, fish and so on.

As people, they recognized one another and knew which tribe they belonged to by their totems. They lived in harmony and loved the life and land that the Rainbow Serpent gave them, confident in the belief that it would always be theirs and that no one could take it from them.

The First Bushman

(San – Zimbabwe, 3000 BCE)

About the San:

The San trace their roots to the Kalahari Desert region of southern Africa. Several ethnic groups who historically survived through a hunter-gatherer lifestyle comprise the San people. The language of these groups is similar in origin. At one point in history the San were known as Bushmen, a term that most scholars today regard as racist. Controversy still surrounds the naming of these peoples. Other terms such as Khwe and Basarwa also have been used to describe these groups. Since the 1970s anthropologists have preferred to call them the San, although Khoi-San and Khoisan are also commonly used. The Khoi (formerly called the Hottentots) differ from the San in that they are taller and have made their living through agriculture instead of foraging.

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Water in the African desert regions is so precious, that for those who depend on it, it can assume divine properties.To the Bushman, water is the ancient symbol of life. In it he can revitalize himself and make a fresh start. The gods and their creatures lived in the Sky, for Rain and Flame was one.
Flame created earth, and his mate Rain carried the rainbow as a girdle around her waist.His legendary hero, Mantis, appears at the time of the beginning of the world, when the face of the earth was covered with water.

Mantis was send to find the purpose of all life, and ask the bee to guide him.

Mantis was carried over the tumult of the dark and turbulent waters by the bee. (bees, as honey makers, are an image of wisdom).

After many a day of searching, the bee, however, became wearier and colder as he searched for solid ground, and Mantis felt heavier and heavier.

The bee struggled bravely, as he flew slower and sank down towards the water.

At last, the bee saw a great white flower, half open, floating in the water, awaiting the sun’s first rays.

He laid Mantis in the heart of the flower, and planted within him the seed of the first human being. Then the bee died.

But as the sun rose and warmed the flower, Mantis awoke, and there from within him, from the seed left by the bee, the first San was born.


(Mesopotamian – Sumer, 2750 BCE)

About the Sumerians:

Scholars credit the Sumerians with creating the world’s first true civilization, and indeed the list of their accomplishments is impressive. Sumer, located in the southernmost region of MESOPOTAMIA (present-day Iraq), is considered the birthplace of WRITINGCITIES AND CITY-STATES, SCHOOLS, the WHEEL, large-scale ARCHITECTURE, and the earliest system of numbers. Sumerian civilization had a major impact on the political and cultural development of the entire Near East.

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[1] Gilgameš spoke to Ut-napištim, the Faraway:
“I have been looking at you,
but your appearance is not strange – you are like me!
You yourself are not different – you are like me!
My mind was resolved to fight with you,
but instead my arm lies useless over you.
Tell me,
how is it that you stand in the Assembly of the Gods, and have found life?”

[8] Ut-napištim spoke to Gilgameš, saying:
“I will reveal to you, Gilgameš, a thing that is hidden,
a secret of the gods I will tell you!
Šuruppak, a city that you surely know,
situated on the banks of the Euphrates,
that city was very old, and there were gods inside it.

[14] The hearts of the Great Gods moved them to inflict the Flood.
Their Father Anu uttered the oath,
Valiant Enlil was their Adviser,
Ninurta was their Chamberlain,
Ennugi was their Minister of Canals.

[19] Ea, the Prince, was under oath with them
so he repeated their talk to the reed house:
‘Reed house, reed house! Wall, wall!
O man of Šuruppak, son of Ubar-Tutu [i.e., Ut-napištim]
Tear down the house and build a boat!
Abandon wealth and seek living beings!
Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings!
Make [the seed of] all living beings go up into the boat.
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.
Roof it over like the Apsu.’ [i.e., the firmament in the primordial waters]

[32] I understood and spoke to my lord, Ea:
‘My lord, thus is the command which you have uttered
I will heed and will do it.
But what shall I answer the city, the populace, and the Elders?’

[36] Ea spoke, commanding me, his servant:
‘You, well then, this is what you must say to them:
“It appears that Enlil is rejecting me
so I cannot reside in your city,
nor set foot on Enlil’s earth.
I will go down to the Apsu to live with my lord, Ea,
and upon you he will rain down abundance,
a profusion of fowl, myriad fishes
He will bring to you a harvest of wealth,
in the morning he will let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat!”‘

[48] Just as dawn began to glow
the people assembled around me.
The carpenter carried his hatchet,
the reedworker carried his flattening stone,

[two lines destroyed]

[54] The child carried the pitch,
the weak brought whatever else was needed.
On the fifth day I had laid out her exterior.
It was a field in area,
its walls were each 10 times 12 cubits in height,
the sides of its top were of equal length, 10 times 12 cubits each.

[58] Then I designed its interior structure as follows:
I provided it with six decks,
thus dividing it into seven levels.
The inside of it I divided into nine compartments.
I drove plugs to keep out water in its middle part.
I saw to the punting poles and laid in what was necessary.

[65] Three times 3,600 units of raw bitumen I poured into the bitumen kiln,
three times 3,600 units of pitch […] into it,
there were three times 3,600 porters of casks who carried vegetable oil.
Apart from the 3,600 units of oil for the dedication,
the boatsman stored away two times 3,600 units of oil.

[70] I butchered oxen for the carpenters,
and day upon day I slaughtered sheep.
I gave the workmen beer, ale, oil, and wine,
as if it were river water,
and they made a party like the New Year’s Festival!

[75] I set my hand to the finishing of the ship.
The boat was finished by sunset.
The launching was very difficult:
They had to keep carrying a runway of poles front to back,
until two-thirds of it had gone under water.

[80] Whatever I had I loaded on it:
whatever silver I had I loaded on it,
whatever gold I had I loaded on it.
All the living beings that I had I loaded on it,
I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat,
all the beasts and animals of the field and the craftsmen I had go up.

[87] [The sun god] Šamaš had set a stated time:
‘In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat!
Go inside the boat, seal the entry!’

[89] That stated time had arrived.
In the morning he let loaves of bread shower down,
and in the evening a rain of wheat.
I watched the appearance of the weather:
the weather was frightful to behold!

[93] I went into the boat and sealed the entry.
For the caulking of the boat, to Puzur-Amurri, the boatman,
I gave the palace together with its contents.

[96] Just as dawn began to glow
there arose from the horizon a black cloud.
[the storm god] Adad rumbled inside of it,
before him went Šhullat and Haniš [Sack and Suppression],
heralds going over mountain and land.

[101] [The god of destruction] Erragal pulled out the mooring poles,
forth went [the war god] Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.

[103] The gods lifted up the torches,
setting the land ablaze with their flare.

[105] Stunned shock over Adad’s deeds overtook the heavens,
and turned to blackness all that had been light.
He shattered the land like a raging bull, broke it into pieces like a pot.

[108] All day long the South Wind blew,
blowing fast – and then the Flood came,
overwhelming the people like an attack.

[111] No one could see his fellow,
they could not recognize each other in the torrent.

[113] Even the gods were frightened by the Flood,
and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu.
The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall.

[116] Ištar shrieked like a woman in childbirth,
the sweet-voiced Mistress of the Gods wailed:
‘The olden days have alas turned to clay,
because I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods!
How could I say evil things in the Assembly of the Gods,
ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people?
No sooner have I given birth to my dear people
than they fill the sea like so many fish!’

[124] The gods -those of the Anunnaki- were weeping with her,
the gods humbly sat weeping, sobbing with grief,
their lips burning, parched with thirst.
Six days and seven nights
came the wind and flood,
the storm flattening the land.

[129] When the seventh day arrived,
the storm was pounding.
She who had been struggling with itself like a woman writhing in labor,
the sea, calmed; the whirlwind fell still; the flood stopped.

[133] I looked around all day long – quiet had set in
and all the human beings had turned to clay!
The terrain was as flat as a roof.

[136] I opened a vent and daylight fell upon my cheek.
I fell to my knees and sat weeping,
tears streaming down my cheeks.
I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea,
and at twelve leagues there emerged a region of land.

[141] On Mount Nimuš the boat lodged firm,
Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
One day and a second Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A third day, a fourth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.
A fifth day, a sixth, Mount Nimuš held the boat, allowing no sway.

[146] When a seventh day arrived
I sent forth a dove and released it.
The dove went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.

[150] I sent forth a swallow and released it.
The swallow went off, but came back to me;
no perch was visible so it circled back to me.

[153] I sent forth a raven and released it.
The raven went off, and saw the waters slither back.
It eats, it scratches, it bobs, but does not circle back to me.

[156] I sacrificed: I offered a libation to the four corners of the world,
I burned incense in front of the rising mountain.
Seven and seven cult vessels I put in place,
and into the bowls I poured [the oil of] reeds, cedar, and myrtle.

[160] The gods smelled the savor,
the gods smelled the sweet savor,
and collected like flies over a sacrifice.

Just then the Mistress of the Gods arrived.
She lifted up the large fly-shaped beads which Anu had made for their engagement:

‘You gods, as surely as I shall not forget this lapis lazuli around my neck,
may I be mindful of these days, and never forget them!
The gods may come to the incense offering,
but Enlil may not come to the incense offering,
because without considering he brought about the Flood
and consigned my people to annihilation.’

[171] Just then Enlil arrived.
He saw the boat and became furious,
he was filled with rage at the Igigi gods:
‘Where did a living being escape?
No man was to survive the annihilation!’

[176] Ninurta spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying:
‘Who else but Ea could devise such a thing?
It is Ea who knows every machination!’

[180] Ea spoke to Valiant Enlil, saying:
‘It is yours, O Valiant One, who is the Sage of the Gods.
How, how could you bring about a Flood without consideration
Charge the violation to the violator,
charge the offense to the offender,
but be compassionate lest (mankind) be cut off,
be patient lest they be killed.

[187] Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that a lion had appeared to diminish the people!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that a wolf had appeared to diminish the people!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that famine had occurred to slay the land!
Instead of your bringing on the Flood,
would that Pestilent Erra had appeared to ravage the land!

[196] It was not I who revealed the secret of the Great Gods,
I only made a dream appear to Atrahasis, and thus he heard our secret.
Now then! The deliberation should be about him!’

[198] Enlil went up inside the boat
and, grasping my hand, made me go up.
He had my wife go up and kneel by my side.
He touched our forehead and, standing between us, he blessed us:

[202] ‘Previously Ut-napištim was a human being.
But now let Ut-napištim and his wife become like us, the gods!
Let Ut-napištim reside far away, at the Mouth of the Rivers.’

[205] They took us far away and settled us at the Mouth of the Rivers.

[To Gilgameš] Now then, who will convene the gods on your behalf,
that you may find the life that you are seeking!
Wait! You must not lie down for six days and seven nights.”

[209] Soon as Gilgameš sat down (with his head) between his legs
sleep, like a fog, blew upon him.
Ut-napištim said to his wife:
“Look there! The man, the youth who wanted (eternal) life!
Sleep, like a fog, blew over him.”


(Egyptian Mythology – Egypt, 2494 BCE)

About the Ancient Egyptians:

Ancient Egypt is known for its advances in the arts, architecture, sciences, technology, and religion. Its rich history includes records of kings and pharaohs, periods of prosperity and decline, empires and conquests, and the construction of grand structures.

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Osiris (left) and Atum (right), from the tomb of Nerfertari (New Kingdom, 19th dynasty); wall painting

A god of the earth and vegetation, Osiris symbolized in his death the yearly drought and in his miraculous rebirth the periodic flooding of the Nile and the growth of grain. He was a god-king who was believed to have given Egypt civilization.

Osiris was the first child of Nut and Geb, and therefore the brother of Seth, Nephthys, and Isis. He was married to his sister, Isis. He was also the father of Horus and Anubis. These traditions state that Nephthys (mother of Anubis) assumed the form of Isis, seduced him (perhaps with wine) and she became pregnant with Anubis.

The oldest religious texts refer to Osiris as the great god of the dead, and throughout these texts it is assumed that the reader will understand that he once possessed human form and lived on earth. As the first son of Geb, the original king of Egypt, Osiris inherited the throne when Geb abdicated. At this time the Egyptians were barbarous cannibals and uncivilized. Osiris saw this and was greatly disturbed. Therefore, he went out among the people and taught them what to eat, the art of agriculture, how to worship the gods, and gave them laws. Thoth helped him in many ways by inventing the arts and sciences and giving names to things. Osiris was Egypt’s greatest king who ruled through kindness and persuasion. Having civilized Egypt, Osiris traveled to other lands, leaving Isis as his regent, to teach other peoples what he taught the Egyptians.

During Osiris’ absence, Isis was troubled with Seth’s plotting to acquire both her and the throne of Egypt. Shortly after Osiris’ return to Egypt, in the twenty-eighth year of his reign, on the seventeenth day of the month of Hathor (late September or November), Seth and 72 conspirators murdered him. They then threw the coffin in which he was murdered into the Nile, with his divine body still inside.

Isis, with the help of her sister Nephthys, and Anubis and Thoth, magically located Osiris’ body. Upon learning the his brother’s body was found, Seth went to it and tore it into fourteen pieces and scattered them throughout Egypt. Isis once again found every part of his body, save his phallus (it had been eaten by the now-cursed Nile fish). She magically re-assembled Osiris and resurrected him long enough to be impregnated by him so that she could give birth to the new king Horus.

Seth of course was not willing to surrender the throne of Egypt to the youthful Horus and thus a tribunal of gods met to decide who was the rightful king. The trial lasted eighty years. Eventually through Isis’ cunning she won the throne for her son.

Osiris meanwhile had become the king of the Afterlife. He was believed to be willing to admit all people to the Duat, the gentle, fertile land in which the righteous dead lived, that had lived a good and correct life upon earth, and had been buried with appropriate ceremonies under the protection of certain amulets, and with the proper recital of certain “divine words” and words of power. His realm was said to lie beneath Nun, in the northern heavens or in the west.

It is as the King of the Afterlife that Osiris gained his supreme popularity. He was originally a minor god of Middle Egypt, especially in comparison to the gods of Heliopolis and Hermopolis, etc. Noting his increasing popularity, and sensing that Osiris would one day eclipse the adoration of their own gods, the priests of these cities adopted him into their own cosmogonies.

The elements of his story was seen as symbolic of real events that happened in Egypt. With his original association to agriculture, his death and resurrection were seen as symbolic of the annual death and re-growth of the crops and the yearly flooding of the Nile. The sun too with its daily re-birth and death was associated with Osiris. His rivalry with his brother Seth, the god of storms and the desert, was symbolic of the eternal war between the fertile lands of the Nile Valley and the barren desert lands just beyond. The pharaoh of Egypt was called Horus, while his deceased father was the new Osiris.

Several festivals during the year were held in Egypt, in celebration of Osiris. One, held in November, celebrated his beauty. Another, called the “Fall of the Nile” was a time of mourning. As the Nile receded, the Egyptians went to the shore to give gifts and show their grief over his death. When the Nile began to flood again, another festival honoring Osiris was held whereby small shrines were cast into the river and the priests poured sweet water in the Nile, declaring that the god was found again.

The name “Osiris” is the Greek corruption of the Egyptian name “Asar” (or Usar.) There are several possibilities as to what this name means, “the Strength of the Eye”, is one. Another is “He Sees the Throne”. The oldest and simplest form of the name is the hieroglyph of the throne over an eye (there are at least 158 versions of the name). At one point the first syllable of the name was pronounced “Aus” or “Us” and may have gained the meaning of the word usr, “strength, might, power”. At this time the Egyptians supposed the name to mean something like the “strength of the Eye” (i.e., the strength of the Sun-god Re.)

Another possibility raised by an ancient hymn’s author is that the name “Unnefer” (another name by which Osiris was known) comes from the roots un (“to open, to appear, to make manifest”) and neferu, (“good things”). The author then wrote these lines in his hymn to the god, “Thy beauty maketh itself manifest in thy person to rouse the gods to life in thy name Unnefer”. In any case, even to the ancients, the origin of Osiris’ Egyptian name is a mystery.

Osiris was usually portrayed as a bearded, mummified human with green skin and wearing the atef crown. His hands emerge from the mummy wrappings and hold the flail and crook.


(Hebrew – Babylon, 1440 BCE)

According to Jewish mythology, Lilith was Adam’s wife before Eve. Over the centuries she also became known as a succubus demon who copulated with men during their sleep and strangled newborn babies. In recent years the feminist movement has reclaimed her character by re-interpreting the patriarchal texts that portray her as a dangerous female demon in a more positive light.

Lilith in the Bible
The legend of Lilith has its roots in the biblical book of Genesis, where two contradictory versions of Creation eventually led to the concept of a “first Eve.”

The first Creation account appears in Genesis 1 and describes the simultaneous creation of both male and female human beings after all of the plants and animals have already been placed in the Garden of Eden. In this version, man and woman are portrayed as equals and are both the pinnacle of God’s Creation.

The second Creation story appears in Genesis 2. Here man is created first and placed in the Garden of Eden to tend it. When God sees that he is lonely all the animals are made as possible companions for him. Finally, the first woman (Eve) is created after Adam rejects all of the animals as partners. Hence, in this account man is created first and woman is created last.

These obvious contradictions presented a problem for the ancient rabbis who believed that the Torah was the written word of God and therefore it could not contradict itself. They, therefore, interpreted Genesis 1 so that it did not contradict Genesis 2, coming up with ideas such as the androgyne and a “First Eve” in the process. According to the theory of a “First Eve,” Genesis 1 refers to Adam’s first wife, while Genesis 2 refers to Eve, who was Adam’s second wife.

Eventually this idea of a “First Eve” was combined with legends of female “lillu” demons, who were believed to stalk men in their sleep and prey upon women and children. However, the only explicit reference to a “Lilith” in the Bible appears in Isaiah 34:14, which reads: “The wild cat shall meet with the jackals, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow, yea, Lilith shall repose there and find her a place of rest.”

Lilith in the Talmud and in Midrash
Lilith is mentioned four times in the Babylonian Talmud, though in each of these cases she is not referred to as Adam’s wife. BT Niddah 24b discusses her in relation to abnormal fetuses and uncleanness, saying: “If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings.” Here we learn that the rabbis believed Lilith had wings and that she could influence the outcome of a pregnancy.

BT Shabbat 151b also discusses Lilith, warning that a man should not sleep alone in a house lest Lilith fall upon him in his sleep. According to this and other texts, Lilith is a female succubus not unlike the lillu demons referenced above. The rabbis believed she was responsible for nocturnal emissions while a man was sleeping and that Lilith used the semen she collected to give birth to hundreds of demon babies. Lilith also appears in Baba Batra 73a-b, where a sighting of her son is described, and in Erubin 100b, where the rabbis discuss Lilith’s long hair in relation to Eve.

Glimpses of Lilith’s eventual association with the “First Eve” can be seen in Genesis Rabbah 18:4, a collection of midrashim about the book of Genesis. Here the rabbis describe the “First Eve” as a “golden bell” that troubles them in the night. “’A golden bell’… it is she who troubled me all night…Why do not all other dreams exhaust a man, yet this [a dream of intimacy takes place] does exhaust a man. Because from the very beginning of her creation she was but in a dream.”

Over the centuries the association between the “First Eve” and Lilith led to Lilith’s assuming the role of Adam’s first wife in Jewish folklore.

The Alphabet of Ben Sira
The oldest known text that explicitly refers to Lilith as Adam’s first wife is The Alphabet of Ben Sira, an anonymous collection of midrashim from the medieval period. Here the author recounts a dispute that arose between Adam and Lilith. He wanted to be on top when they had sex, but she also wanted to be on top, arguing that they were created at the same time and hence were equal partners. When Adam refused to compromise, Lilith leaves him by uttering the name of God and flying to the Red Sea. God sends angels after her but they are unable to make her return to her husband.

“The three angels caught up with her in the [Red] Sea…They seized her and told her: ‘If you agree to come with us, come, and if not, we shall drown you in the sea.’ She answered: ‘Darlings, I know myself that God created me only to afflict babies with fatal disease when they are eight days old; I shall have permission to harm them from their birth to the eighth day and no longer; when it is a male baby; but when it is a female baby, I shall have permission for twelve days.’ The angels would not leave her alone, until she swore by God’s name that wherever she would see them or their names in an amulet, she would not possess the baby [bearing it]. They then left her immediately. This is [the story of] Lilith who afflicts babies with disease.” (Alphabet of Ben Sira, from “Eve & Adam: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Readings on Genesis and Gender” pg. 204.)

Not only does this text identify the “First Eve” as Lilith, but it draws upon myths about “lillu” demons that preyed upon women and children. By the 7th century, women were reciting incantations against Lilith to protect themselves and their babies during childbirth. It also became common practice to inscribe incantations on bowls and bury them upside down inside a house. People who ascribed to such superstitions thought that the bowl would capture Lilith if she attempted to enter their home.

Perhaps because of her association with the demonic, some medieval texts identify Lilith as the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, by the early 1200’s works of art began to portray the serpent as a snake or reptile with a woman’s torso. Perhaps the best-known example of this is Michelangelo’s portrayal of Lilith on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in a painting called “The Temptation of Adam and Eve.” Here a female serpent is shown wrapped around the Tree of Knowledge, which some have interpreted as a representation of Lilith tempting Adam and Eve.

Feminist Reclaiming of Lilith
In modern times feminist scholars have reclaimed the character of Lilith. Instead of a demonic female, they see a strong woman who not only sees herself as man’s equal but refuses to accept anything other than equality. In “The Lilith Question,” Aviva Cantor writes:

“Her strength of character and commitment of self is inspiring. For independence and freedom from tyranny she is prepared to forsake the economic security of the Garden of Eden and to accept loneliness and exclusion from society… Lilith is a powerful female. She radiates strength, assertiveness; she refuses to cooperate in her own victimization.”
According to feminist readers, Lilith is a role model for sexual and personal independence. They point out that Lilith alone knew the Ineffable Name of God, which she used to escape the Garden and her uncompromising husband. And if she was the proverbial serpent in the Garden of Eden, her intent was to free Eve with the power of speech, knowledge, and strength of will. Indeed Lilith has become such a potent feminist symbol that the magazine “Lilith” was named after her.


(Hindu – India, 1200 BCE)

About the Hindu:

Hinduism is a major religion that is believed to have originated on the Indian subcontinent between 2300 and 1500 b.c.e., making it possibly the oldest religion in the world. Hinduism is the third most practiced religion on Earth, with about 900 million followers, about 90 percent of whom live in India.

The religion consists of several varied ideas, beliefs, texts, traditions, rituals, and practices. Hence, it is sometimes described as a way of life or as a family of religions. Hinduism has no specific founder. Its name, given by the British in the 19th century, is based on the word “Hindu,” which refers to inhabitants of the Indus Valley, near present-day Pakistan.

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O Kali, my mother full of bliss! Enchantress of the almighty Shiva!
In Thy delirious joy Thou dancest, clapping Thy hands together!
Thou art the Mover of all that move, and we are but Thy helpless toys.

— Ramakrishna Paramhans

The goddess Kali is one of the most popular Goddesses in Hinduism. Her sensational and extraordinary appearance is watched with awe and fear by devotees. Birth of Kali is a subject of constant debate for scholars and people who want Goddess Kali to fit into their logics. But what they forget is the freedom that each individual has to define the Supreme Truth. For many people Brahman the Supreme Truth appears in the form of female energy – Goddess Kali. And she means many different things to her worshipers.

There are few common factors in the origin of Goddess Kali – she is associated with Shiva or Durga and she is born to annihilate evil that is of unimaginably terrible nature. She is also a human representation of extreme fury that Nature can unleash.

In Devi Mahatmya, Goddess Kali is said to have emerged from an angry forehead of Goddess Durga. In this form she is believed to be the manifestation of Durga’s anger. She vanquishes Demons Chanda and Munda and later the demon Raktabija. It is said that Goddess Kali after killing the demon still continued her destruction and finally Lord Shiva had to lie on Kali’s path. Goddess Kali stepped upon him and soon she realized her mistake and this cooled her down.

It is widely believed especially in South Indian state of Kerala that Goddess Kali appeared to vanquish demon Darika – who ruled the three worlds and started eliminating all that was good. Sage Narada informs about Darika’s activities to Shiva. An enraged Shiva opens his third eye and from it emerged Goddess Kali. This origin of Goddess Kali is popular in Kerala where is worshipped as Bhadrakali. The fight between Darika and Kali shook the entire universe and after a prolonged fight she kills Darika.

Another legend suggests that Goddess Kali is an incarnation of Goddess Parvati and in this form she is the wife of Lord Shiva. Kali is the terrible and violent form of Parvati, who is otherwise ‘Shanta swarupini’ – in compassionate form.

It must be noted here that all the demons that Kali fights are of terrible nature. One demon was able to produce thousands of demons from a singe drop of blood and therefore She had to drink the blood to vanquish him.

Symbolically, Goddess Kali represents the harsh realities of life – the violent Nature and the violence in living beings. She shows the need for discrimination and dispassion and that good and evil arise from the same source and to spiritually progress we must overcome the terrible and violent side of life.


(Greco-Roman Mythology – Greece, 700 BCE)

About the Ancient Greeks:

Ancient Greece (c. 12th century b.c.e.–600 c.e.) was a period in Greek history which saw the flourishing and circulation of Greek arts, culture, and politics. This era is typically divided into four periods, which mark major turning points in the development of Greek and, ultimately, of Western civilization.

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I. How Fire Was Given to Men

In those old, old times, there lived two brothers who were not like other men, nor yet like those Mighty Ones who lived upon the mountain top. They were the sons of one of those Titans who had fought against Jupiter and been sent in chains to the strong prison-house of the Lower World.

The name of the elder of these brothers was Prometheus, or Forethought; for he was always thinking of the future and making things ready for what might happen to-morrow, or next week, or next year, or it may be in a hundred years to come. The younger was called Epimetheus, or Afterthought; for he was always so busy thinking of yesterday, or last year, or a hundred years ago, that he had no care at all for what might come to pass after a while.

For some cause Jupiter had not sent these brothers to prison with the rest of the Titans.

Prometheus did not care to live amid the clouds on the mountain top. He was too busy for that. While the Mighty Folk were spending their time in idleness, drinking nectar and eating ambrosia, he was intent upon plans for making the world wiser and better than it had ever been before.

He went out amongst men to live with them and help them; for his heart was filled with sadness when he found that they were no longer happy as they had been during the golden days when Saturn was king. Ah, how very poor and wretched they were! He found them living in caves and in holes of the earth, shivering with the cold because there was no fire, dying of starvation, hunted by wild beasts and by one another–the most miserable of all living creatures.

“If they only had fire,” said Prometheus to himself, “they could at least warm themselves and cook their food; and after a while they could learn to make tools and build themselves houses. Without fire, they are worse off than the beasts.”

Then he went boldly to Jupiter and begged him to give fire to men, that so they might have a little comfort through the long, dreary months of winter.

“Not a spark will I give,” said Jupiter. “No, indeed! Why, if men had fire they might become strong and wise like ourselves, and after a while they would drive us out of our kingdom. Let them shiver with cold, and let them live like the beasts. It is best for them to be poor and ignorant, that so we Mighty Ones may thrive and be happy.”

Prometheus made no answer; but he had set his heart on helping mankind, and he did not give up. He turned away, and left Jupiter and his mighty company forever.

As he was walking by the shore of the sea he found a reed, or, as some say, a tall stalk of fennel, growing; and when he had broken it off he saw that its hollow center was filled with a dry, soft pith which would burn slowly and keep on fire a long time. He took the long stalk in his hands, and started with it towards the dwelling of the sun in the far east.

“Mankind shall have fire in spite of the tyrant who sits on the mountain top,” he said.

He reached the place of the sun in the early morning just as the glowing, golden orb was rising from the earth and beginning his daily journey through the sky. He touched the end of the long reed to the flames, and the dry pith caught on fire and burned slowly. Then he turned and hastened back to his own land, carrying with him the precious spark hidden in the hollow center of the plant.

He called some of the shivering men from their caves and built a fire for them, and showed them how to warm themselves by it and how to build other fires from the coals. Soon there was a cheerful blaze in every rude home in the land, and men and women gathered round it and were warm and happy, and thankful to Prometheus for the wonderful gift which he had brought to them from the sun.

It was not long until they learned to cook their food and so to eat like men instead of like beasts. They began at once to leave off their wild and savage habits; and instead of lurking in the dark places of the world, they came out into the open air and the bright sunlight, and were glad because life had been given to them.

After that, Prometheus taught them, little by little, a thousand things. He showed them how to build houses of wood and stone, and how to tame sheep and cattle and make them useful, and how to plow and sow and reap, and how to protect themselves from the storms of winter and the beasts of the woods. Then he showed them how to dig in the earth for copper and iron, and how to melt the ore, and how to hammer it into shape and fashion from it the tools and weapons which they needed in peace and war; and when he saw how happy the world was becoming he cried out:

“A new Golden Age shall come, brighter and better by far than the old!”

II. How Diseases and Cares Came Among Men

Things might have gone on very happily indeed, and the Golden Age might really have come again, had it not been for Jupiter. But one day, when he chanced to look down upon the earth, he saw the fires burning, and the people living in houses, and the flocks feeding on the hills, and the grain ripening in the fields, and this made him very angry.

“Who has done all this?” he asked.

And some one answered, “Prometheus!”

“What! that young Titan!” he cried. “Well, I will punish him in a way that will make him wish I had shut him up in the prison-house with his kinsfolk. But as for those puny men, let them keep their fire. I will make them ten times more miserable than they were before they had it.”

Of course it would be easy enough to deal with Prometheus at any time, and so Jupiter was in no great haste about it. He made up his mind to distress mankind first; and he thought of a plan for doing it in a very strange, roundabout way.

In the first place, he ordered his blacksmith Vulcan, whose forge was in the crater of a burning mountain, to take a lump of clay which he gave him, and mold it into the form of a woman. Vulcan did as he was bidden; and when he had finished the image, he carried it up to Jupiter, who was sitting among the clouds with all the Mighty Folk around him. It was nothing but a mere lifeless body, but the great blacksmith had given it a form more perfect than that of any statue that has ever been made.

“Come now!” said Jupiter, “let us all give some goodly gift to this woman;” and he began by giving her life.

Then the others came in their turn, each with a gift for the marvelous creature. One gave her beauty; and another a pleasant voice; and another good manners; and another a kind heart; and another skill in many arts; and, lastly, some one gave her curiosity. Then they called her Pandora, which means the all-gifted, because she had received gifts from them all.

Pandora was so beautiful and so wondrously gifted that no one could help loving her. When the Mighty Folk had admired her for a time, they gave her to Mercury, the light-footed; and he led her down the mountain side to the place where Prometheus and his brother were living and toiling for the good of mankind. He met Epimetheus first, and said to him:

“Epimetheus, here is a beautiful woman, whom Jupiter has sent to you to be your wife.”

Prometheus had often warned his brother to beware of any gift that Jupiter might send, for he knew that the mighty tyrant could not be trusted; but when Epimetheus saw Pandora, how lovely and wise she was, he forgot all warnings, and took her home to live with him and be his wife.

Pandora was very happy in her new home; and even Prometheus, when he saw her, was pleased with her loveliness. She had brought with her a golden casket, which Jupiter had given her at parting, and which he had told her held many precious things; but wise Athena, the queen of the air, had warned her never, never to open it, nor look at the things inside.

“They must be jewels,” she said to herself; and then she thought of how they would add to her beauty if only she could wear them. “Why did Jupiter give them to me if I should never use them, nor so much as look at them?” she asked.

The more she thought about the golden casket, the more curious she was to see what was in it; and every day she took it down from its shelf and felt of the lid, and tried to peer inside of it without opening it.

“Why should I care for what Athena told me?” she said at last. “She is not beautiful, and jewels would be of no use to her. I think that I will look at them, at any rate. Athena will never know. Nobody else will ever know.”

She opened the lid a very little, just to peep inside. All at once there was a whirring, rustling sound, and before she could shut it down again, out flew ten thousand strange creatures with death-like faces and gaunt and dreadful forms, such as nobody in all the world had ever seen. They fluttered for a little while about the room, and then flew away to find dwelling-places wherever there were homes of men. They were diseases and cares; for up to that time mankind had not had any kind of sickness, nor felt any troubles of mind, nor worried about what the morrow might bring forth.

These creatures flew into every house, and, without any one seeing them, nestled down in the bosoms of men and women and children, and put an end to all their joy; and ever since that day they have been flitting and creeping, unseen and unheard, over all the land, bringing pain and sorrow and death into every household.

If Pandora had not shut down the lid so quickly, things would have gone much worse. But she closed it just in time to keep the last of the evil creatures from getting out. The name of this creature was Foreboding, and although he was almost half out of the casket, Pandora pushed him back and shut the lid so tight that he could never escape. If he had gone out into the world, men would have known from childhood just what troubles were going to come to them every day of their lives, and they would never have had any joy or hope so long as they lived.

And this was the way in which Jupiter sought to make mankind more miserable than they had been before Prometheus had befriended them.

III. How the Friend of Men Was Punished

The next thing that Jupiter did was to punish Prometheus for stealing fire from the sun. He bade two of his servants, whose names were Strength and Force, to seize the bold Titan and carry him to the topmost peak of the Caucasus Mountains. Then he sent the blacksmith Vulcan to bind him with iron chains and fetter him to the rocks so that he could not move hand or foot.

Vulcan did not like to do this, for he was a friend of Prometheus, and yet he did not dare to disobey. And so the great friend of men, who had given them fire and lifted them out of their wretchedness and shown them how to live, was chained to the mountain peak; and there he hung, with the storm-winds whistling always around him, and the pitiless hail beating in his face, and fierce eagles shrieking in his ears and tearing his body with their cruel claws. Yet he bore all his sufferings without a groan, and never would he beg for mercy or say that he was sorry for what he had done.

Year after year, and age after age, Prometheus hung there. Now and then old Helios, the driver of the sun car, would look down upon him and smile; now and then flocks of birds would bring him messages from far-off lands; once the ocean nymphs came and sang wonderful songs in his hearing; and oftentimes men looked up to him with pitying eyes, and cried out against the tyrant who had placed him there.

Then, once upon a time, a white cow passed that way,–a strangely beautiful cow, with large sad eyes and a face that seemed almost human. She stopped and looked up at the cold gray peak and the giant body which was chained there. Prometheus saw her and spoke to her kindly:

“I know who you are,” he said. “You are Io who was once a fair and happy maiden in distant Argos; and now, because of the tyrant Jupiter and his jealous queen, you are doomed to wander from land to land in that unhuman form. But do not lose hope. Go on to the southward and then to the west; and after many days you shall come to the great river Nile. There you shall again become a maiden, but fairer and more beautiful than before; and you shall become the wife of the king of that land, and shall give birth to a son, from whom shall spring the hero who will break my chains and set me free. As for me, I bide in patience the day which not even Jupiter can hasten or delay. Farewell!”

Poor Io would have spoken, but she could not. Her sorrowful eyes looked once more at the suffering hero on the peak, and then she turned and began her long and tiresome journey to the land of the Nile.

Ages passed, and at last a great hero whose name was Hercules came to the land of the Caucasus. In spite of Jupiter’s dread thunderbolts and fearful storms of snow and sleet, he climbed the rugged mountain peak; he slew the fierce eagles that had so long tormented the helpless prisoner on those craggy heights; and with a mighty blow, he broke the fetters of Prometheus and set the grand old hero free.

“I knew that you would come,” said Prometheus. “Ten generations ago I spoke of you to Io, who was afterwards the queen of the land of the Nile.”

“And Io,” said Hercules, “was the mother of the race from which I am sprung.”

Pan Gu and the Egg of the World

(Chinese – China, 220 CE)

In the beginning was a huge egg containing chaos, a mixture of yin and yang — female-male, aggressive-passive, cold-hot, dark-light, and wet-dry. Within this yin and yang was Pan Gu, who broke forth from the egg as the giant who separated chaos into the many opposites, including Earth and sky.

Pan Gu stood in the middle, his head touching the sky, his feet planted on Earth.

The heavens and the Earth began to grow at a rate of 10 feet a day, and Pan Gu grew along with them. After another 18,000 years the sky was higher and Earth was thicker. Pan Gu stood between them like a pillar 30,000 miles in height, so they would never again join.

When Pan Gu died, his skull became the top of the sky, his breath became the wind and clouds, his voice the rolling thunder. One eye became the Sun and the other the Moon. His body and limbs turned into five big mountains, and his blood formed the roaring water. His veins became roads and his muscles turned to fertile land. The innumerable stars in the sky came from his hair and beard, and flowers and trees from his skin. His marrow turned to jade and pearls. His sweat flowed like the good rain and the sweet dew that nurtures all things on Earth. Some people say that the fleas and the lice on his body became the ancestors of humanity.

Popol Vuh

(Maya – Central America, 250 CE)

Now it still ripples, now it still murmurs, still sighs, and is empty under the sky. There is not yet one person, not one animal, bird, fish or tree. There is only the sky alone; the face of earth is not clear, only the sea alone is pooled under all the sky. Whatever might be is simply not there.There were makers in the sea, together called the Plumed Serpent. There were makers in the sky, together called the Heart of Sky. Together these makers planned the dawn of life.

The earth arose because of them. It was simply their word that brought it forth. It arose suddenly, like a cloud unfolding. Then the mountains were separated from the water. All at once great mountains came forth. The sky was set apart, and the earth was set apart in the midst of the waters.

Then the makers in the sky planned the animals of the mountains — the deer, pumas, jaguars, rattlesnakes, and guardians of the bushes. Then they established the nests of the birds, great and small. “You precious birds; your nests are in the trees and bushes.” Then the deer and birds were told to talk to praise their makers, to pray to them. But the birds and animals did not talk; they just squawked and howled. So they had to accept that their flesh would be eaten by others.

The makers tried again to form a giver of respect, a creature who would nurture and provide. They made a body from mud, but it didn’t look good. It talked at first but then crumbled and disintegrated into the water.

Then the Heart of Sky called on the wise ones, the diviners, the Grandfather Xpiyacoc and the Grandmother Xmucane, to help decide how to form a person. The Grandparents said it is well to make wooden carvings, human in looks and speech. So wooden humans came into being; they talked and multiplied, but there was nothing in their minds and hearts, no memory of their builder, no memory of Heart of Sky.

Then there came a great destruction. The wooden carvings were killed when the Heart of Sky devised a flood for them. It rained all day and all night. The animals came into the homes of the wooden carvings and ate them. The people were overthrown. The monkeys in the forest are a sign of this. They look like the previous people — mere wooden carvings.

“Talk Concerning the First Beginning”

(Zuni – American Southwest, 700 CE)

“All kinds of beings were changed to stone. We find their forms, sometimes large like the beings themselves, sometimes shriveled and distorted. We see among the rocks the shapes of many beings that live no longer. ” –Zuni elders, 1891

Yes, indeed. In this world there was no one at all. Always the sun came up; always he went in. No one in the morning gave him sacred meal; no one gave him prayer sticks; it was very lonely. He said to his two children: “You will go into the fourth womb. Your fathers, your mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, society ̂pekwins, society bow priests, you will bring out yonder into the light of your sun father.” Thus he said to them. They said, “But how shall we go in?” “That will be all right.” Laying their lightning arrow across their rainbow bow, they drew it. Drawing it and shooting down, they entered.

When they entered the fourth womb it was dark inside. They could not distinguish anything. They said, “Which way will it be best to go?” They went toward the west. They met someone face to face. They said, “Whence come you?” “I come from over this way to the west.” “What are you doing going around?” “I am going around to look at my crops. Where do you live?” “No, we do not live any place. There above our father the Sun, priest, made us come in. We have come in,” they said. “Indeed,” the younger brother said. “Come, let us see,” he said. They laid down their bow. Putting underneath some dry brush and some dry grass that was lying about, and putting the bow on top, they kindled fire by hand. When they had kindled the fire, light came out from the coals. As it came out, they blew on it and it caught fire. Aglow! It is growing light. “Ouch! What have you there?” he said. He fell down crouching. He had a slimy horn, slimy tail, he was slimy allover, with webbed hands. The elder brother said, “Poor thing! Put out the light.” Saying thus, he put out the light. The youth said, “Oh dear, what have you there?” “Why, we have fire,” they said. “Well, what (crops) do you have coming up?” “Yes, here are our things coming up.” Thus he said. He was going around looking after wild grasses.

He said to them, “Well, now, let us go.” They went toward the west, the two leading. There the people were sitting close together. They questioned one another. Thus they said, “Well, now, you two, speak. I think there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. If you lotus know that we shall always remember it.” “That is so, that is so,” they said. “Yes, indeed, it is true. There above is our father, Sun. No one ever gives him prayer sticks; no one ever gives him sacred meal; no one ever gives him shells. Because it is thus we have come to you, in order that you may go out standing yonder into the daylight of your sun father. Now you will say which way (you decide).” Thus the two said. “Hayi! Yes, indeed. Because it is thus you have passed us on our roads. Now that you have passed us on our roads here where we stay miserably, far be it from us to speak against it. We can not see one another. Here inside where we just trample on one another, where we just spit on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another about, you have passed us on our roads. None of us can speak against it. But rather, as the priest of the north says, so let it be. Now you two call him.” Thus they said to the two, and they came up close toward the north side.

They met the north priest on his road. “You have come,” he said. “Yes, we have come. How have you lived these many days?” “Here where I live happily you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” When they were seated he questioned them. “Now speak. I think there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. So now, that you will let me know.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that you may go out standing there into the daylight of your sun father we have passed you on your road. However you say, so shall it be.” “Yes, indeed, now that you have passed us on our road here where we live thus wretchedly, far be it from me to talk against it. Now that you have come to us here inside where, we just trample on one another, where we just spit on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another about, how should I speak against it?” so he said. Then they arose. They came back. Coming to the village where they were sitting in the middle place, there they questioned one another. “Yes, even now we have met on our roads. Indeed there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, I shall always remember it,” thus they said to one another. When they had spoken thus, “Yes, indeed. In order that you may go out standing into the daylight of your sun father, we have passed you on your road,” thus they said. “Hayi! Yes, indeed. Now that you have passed us on our road here where we cannot see one another, where we just trample on one another, where we just urinate on one another, where we just befoul one another, where we just follow one another around, far be it from me to speak against it. But rather let it be as my younger brother, the priest of the west shall say. When he says, ‘Let it be thus,’ that way it shall be. So now, you two call him.” Thus said the priest of the north and they went and stood close against the west side.

“Well, perhaps by means of the thoughts of someone somewhere it may be that we shall go out standing into the daylight of our sun father.” Thus he said. The two thought. “Come, let us go over there to talk with eagle priest.” They went. They came to where eagle was staying. “You have come.” “Yes.” “Sit down.” They sat down. “Speak!” “We want you.” “Where?” “Near by, to where our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, stay quietly, we summon you.” “Haiyi!” So they went. They came to where käeto·‑we stayed. “Well, even now when you summoned me, I have passed you on your roads. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that I shall always remember it,” thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests shall go out standing into the daylight of their sun father. You will look for their road.” “Very well,” he said, “I am going,” he said. He went around. Coming back to his starting place he went a little farther out. Coming back to his starting place again he went still farther out. Coming back to his starting place he went way far out. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. He came. To where käeto·‑we stayed he came. After he sat down they questioned him. “Now you went yonder looking for the road going out. What did you see in the world?” “Nothing was visible.” “Haiyi!” “Very well, I am going now.” So he went.

When he had gone the two thought. “Come, let us summon our grandson, cokäpiso,” thus they said. They went. They came to where cokäpiso stayed. “Our grandson, how have you lived these days?” “Where I live happily you have passed me on my road. I think perhaps there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, I shall always remember it,” thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests are about to come outstanding into the daylight of their sun father. We summon you that you may be the one to look for their road.” “Indeed?” Thus he said. They went. When they got there, they questioned them where they were sitting. “Even now you have summoned me. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go forth standing into the daylight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” Thus the two said. He went out to the south. He went around. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. A second time he went, farther out. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. A third time, still farther out he went. Nothing was visible. A fourth time he went, way far, but nothing was visible. When he came to where käeto·‑we were staying, the two questioned him. “Now, our grandson, way off yonder you have gone to see the world. What did you see in the world?” Thus the two asked him. “Well, nothing was visible.” “Well indeed?” the two said. “Very well, I am going now.” Saying this, he went.

When cokäpiso had gone the two thought. “Come, let us go and talk to our grandson chicken hawk.” Thus they said. They went. They reached where chicken hawk stayed. “You have come.” “Yes.” “Sit down.” “How have you lived these days?” “Happily. Well now, speak. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now, when you let me know it, I shall always remember that.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the sunlight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” So they went. When they got there they sat down. There he questioned them. “Yes, even now you summoned me. Perhaps there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, you will look for their road.” “Is that so?” Saying this, he went out. He went to the south. He went where cokäpiso had been. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. A second time he went, farther out. He came back to his starting place, nothing was visible. He went a third time, along the shore of the encircling ocean. A fourth time farther out he went. He came back to his starting place. Nothing was visible. To where käeto·‑we stayed he came. “Nothing is visible.” “Haiyi!” Yes, so I am going.” “Well, go.” So he went.

Then the two thought. “Come on, let us summon our grandson,” thus they said. They went. They came to where humming bird was staying. “You have come?” “Yes, how have you lived these days?” “Where I live happily these days you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” When they had sat down: “Well, now, speak. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, you shall be the one to look for their road; for that we have summoned you . . . .Is that so?” Saying this, they went. When they got there, he questioned them. “Well, even now you summoned me. Surely there is something to say. It will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. When our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, go out into the daylight of their sun father, that you shall be the one to look for their road, for that we have summoned you.” Thus the two said. He went out toward the south. He went on. Coming back to his starting place, nothing was visible. Farther out he went. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. Then for the third time he went. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. For the fourth time he went close along the edge of the sky. Coming back to the same place, nothing was visible. He came. Coming where käeto·‑we were staying, “Nothing is visible.” “Hayi!” “Yes. Well, I am going now.” “Very well, go.” He went.

The two said, “What had we better do now? That many different kinds of feathered creatures, the ones who go about without ever touching the ground, have failed.” Thus the two said. “Come, let us talk with our grandson, locust. Perhaps that one will have a strong spirit because he is like water.” Thus they said. They went. Their grandson, locust, they met. “You have come.” “Yes, we have come.” “Sit down. How have you lived these days?” “Happily.” “Well, even now you have passed me, on my road. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now when you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have come to you.” “Is that so?” Saying this, they went. When they arrived they sat down. Where they were sitting, he questioned them. “Well, just now you came to me. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. So now if you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” “Yes, indeed. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have summoned you.” “Indeed?” Saying this, locust rose right up. He goes up. He went through into another world. And again he goes right up. He went through into another world. And again he goes right up. Again he went through into another world. He goes right up. When he had just gone a little way his strength gave out, he came back to where käeto·‑we were staying and said, “Three times I went through and the fourth time my strength gave out.” “Hayi! Indeed?” Saying this, he went.

When he had gone the two thought. “Come, let us speak with our grandson, Reed Youth. For perhaps that one with his strong point will be all right.” Saying this, they went. They came to where Reed Youth stayed. “You have come?” “Yes; how have you lived these days.” “Where I stay happily you have passed me on my road. Sit down.” Thus he said. They sat down. Then he questioned them. “Yes. Well, even now you have passed me on my road. I think there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, that I shall always remember.” Thus he said. “Yes, indeed, in order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go out standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have come to you.” “Hayi! Is that so?” Having spoken thus, they went. When they arrived they sat down. There he questioned them. “Yes, even now that you have summoned me I have passed you on your roads. Surely there is something to say; it will not be too long a talk. When you let me know that, that I shall always remember . . . . Yes, indeed, it is so. In order that our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, the society priests, may go forth standing into the daylight of their sun father, we have summoned you.” Thus they said. “Hayi! Is that so?” Saying this, he went out. Where Locust had gone out he went out. The first time he passed through, the second time he passed through, the third time he passed through. Having passed through the fourth time and come forth standing into the daylight of his sun father, he went back in. Coming back in he came to where käeto·‑we were staying. “You have come?” Thus they said. “Yes,” he said. “Far off to see what road there may be you have gone. How may it be there now?” Thus they said. “Yes, indeed, it is so. There it is as you wanted it. As you wished of me, I went forth standing into the daylight of my sun father now.” Thus he said. “Halihi! Thank you!” “Now I am going.” “Go.” Saying this, he went.

After he had gone they were sitting around. Now as they were sitting around, there the two set up a pine tree for a ladder. They stayed there. For four days they stayed there. Four days, they say, but it was four years. There all the different society priests sang their song sequences for one another. The ones sitting in the first row listened carefully. Those sitting next on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last on the fourth row heard just a little bit now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of the dry weeds.

When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things they arose. “Now what shall be the name of this place?” “Well, here it shall be sulphur‑smell‑inside‑world; and furthermore, it shall be raw‑dust world.” Thus they said. “Very well. Perhaps if we call it thus it will be all right.” Saying this, they came forth.

After they had come forth, setting down their sacred things in a row at another place, they stayed there quietly. There the two set up a spruce tree as a ladder. When the ladder was up they stayed there for four days. And there again the society priests sang their song sequences for one another. Those sitting on the first row listened carefully. Those sitting there on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting there on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last distinguished a single word now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of some plants. When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things there they arose. “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be called soot‑inside‑world, because we still can not recognize one another.” “Yes, perhaps if it is called thus it will be all right.” Saying this to one another, they arose.

Passing through to another place, and putting down their sacred things in a row, they stayed there quietly. There the two set up a piñon tree as a ladder. When the piñon tree was put up, there all the society priests and all the priests went through their song sequences for one another. Those sitting in front listened carefully. Those sitting on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting behind on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting on the fourth row distinguished only a single word now and then. This was because of the rustling of the weeds.

When their days there were at an end, gathering together their sacred things they arose. Having arisen, “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be fog‑inside‑world, because here just a little bit is visible.” “Very well, perhaps if it is called thus it will be all right.” Saying this, rising, they came forth.

Passing through to another place, there the two set down their sacred things in a row, and there they sat down. Having sat down, the two set up a cottonwood tree as a ladder. Then all the society priests and all the priests went through their song sequences for one another. Those sitting first heard everything clearly. Those sitting on the second row heard all but a little. Those sitting on the third row heard here and there. Those sitting last on the fourth row distinguished a single word now and then. It was thus because of the rustling of some plants.

When their days there were at an end, after they had been there, when their four days were passed, gathering together their sacred possessions, they arose. When they arose, “Now what shall it be called here?” “Well, here it shall be wing‑inner‑world, because we see our sun father’s wings.” Thus they said. They came forth.

Into the daylight of their sun father they came forth standing. Just at early dawn they came forth. After they had come forth there they set down their sacred possessions in a row. The two said, “Now after a little while when your sun father comes forth standing to his sacred place you will see him face to face. Do not close your eyes.” Thus he said to them. After a little while the sun came out. When he came out they looked at him. From their eyes the tears rolled down. After they had looked at him, in a little while their eyes became strong. “Alas!” Thus they said. They were covered all over with slime. With slimy tails and slimy horns, with webbed fingers, they saw one another. “Oh dear! is this what we look like?” Thus they said.

Then they could not tell which was which of their sacred possessions. Meanwhile, near by an old man of the Dogwood clan lived alone. Spider said to him, “Put on water. When it gets hot, wash your hair.” “Why?” “Our father, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, into the daylight of their sun father have come forth standing. They can not tell which is which. You will make this plain to them.” Thus she said. “Indeed? Impossible. From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can recognize them.” Thus he said. “Do not say that. Nevertheless it will be all right. You will not be alone. Now we shall go.” Thus she said. When the water was warm he washed his hair.

Meanwhile, while he was washing his hair, the two said, “Come let us go to meet our father, the old man of the Dogwood clan. I think he knows in his thoughts; because among our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, we can not tell which is which.” Thus they said. They went. They got there. As they were climbing tip, “Now indeed! They are coming.” Thus Spider said to him. She climbed up his body from his toe. She clung behind his ear. The two entered. “You have come,” thus he said. “Yes. Our father, how have you lived these days?” “As I live happily you pass me on my road. Sit down.” They sat down. “Well, now, speak. I think some word that is not too long, your word will be. Now, if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall live.” “Indeed it is so. Our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, all the society priests, into the daylight of their sun father have risen and come out. It is not plain which is which. Therefore we have passed you on your road.” “Haiyi, is that so? Impossible! From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can recognize them.” Thus he said. “Yes, but we have chosen you.” Thus the two said. They went. When they came there, “My fathers, my mothers, how have you lived these days?” “Happily, our father, our child. Be seated.” Thus they said. He sat down. Then he questioned them. “Yes, now indeed, since you have sent for me, I have passed you on your road. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. Now if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall always live.”

Thus he said. “Indeed, it is so. Even though our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, łhe·‑eto‑we, have come out standing into the daylight of their sun father, it is not plain which of these is which. Therefore we have sent for you.” Thus they said. “Haiyi. Well, let me try.” “Impossible. From afar no one can see them. Where they stay quietly no one can tell which is which.” “Well, let me try.” Thus he said. Where they lay in a row he stood beside them. Spider said to him, “Here, the one that lies here at the end is käeto·‑we and these next ones touching it are tcu‑eto·we, and this next one is łhe·‑eto‑we, and these next ones touching it are mu‑eto·we.” Thus she said. He said, “Now this is käeto·‑we, and these all touching it are tcu‑eto·we, and this one is łhe·‑eto‑we, and all these touching it are mu‑eto·we.” Thus he said. “Halihi! Thank you. How shall be the cycle of the months for them?” Thus he said: “This one Branches‑broken‑down. This one No‑snow‑on‑the‑road. This one Little‑sand‑storms. This one Great‑sand‑storms. This the Month‑without‑a‑name. This one Turn‑about. This one Branches‑broken‑down. This one No‑snow‑on‑the‑road. This one Little‑sand‑storms. This one Great‑sand‑storms. This the Month‑without‑a‑name. This one Turn‑about. Thus shall be all the cycle of the months.” “Halihi! Thank you. Our father, you shall not be poor. Even though you have no sacred possessions toward which your thoughts bend, whenever Itiwana is revealed to us, because of your thought, the ceremonies of all these shall come around in order. You shall not be a slave.” This they said. They gave him the sun. “This shall be your sacred possession.” Thus they said. When this had happened thus they lived.

Four days—four days they say, but it was four years—there they stayed. When their days were at an end, the earth rumbled. The two said, “Who was left behind?” “I do not know, but it seems we are all here.” Thus they said. Again the earth rumbled. “Well, does it not seem that some one is still left behind?” Thus the two said. They went. Coming to the place where they had come out, there they stood. To the mischief‑maker and the Mexicans they said, “Haiyi! Are you still left behind?” “Yes.” “Now what are you still good for?” Thus they said. “Well, it is this way. Even though käeto·‑we have issued forth into the daylight, the people do not live on the living waters of good corn; on wild grasses only they live. Whenever you come to the middle you will do well to have me. When the people are many and the land is all used up, it will not be well. Because this is so I have come out.” Thus he said. “Haiyi! Is that so? So that’s what you are. Now what are you good for?” Thus they said. “Indeed, it is so. When you come to the middle, it will be well to have my seeds. Because käeto·‑we do not live on the good seeds of the corn, but on wild grasses only. Mine are the seeds of the corn and all the clans of beans.” Thus he said. The two took him with them. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. They sat down. Then they questioned him. “Now let us see what you are good for.” “Well, this is my seed of the yellow corn.” Thus he said. He showed an ear of yellow corn. “Now give me one of your people.” Thus he said. They gave him a baby. When they gave him the baby it seems he did something to her. She became sick. After a short time she died. When she had died he said, “Now bury her.” They dug a hole and buried her. After four days he said to the two, “Come now. Go and see her.” The two went to where they had come out. When they got there the little one was playing in the dirt. When they came, she laughed. She was happy. They saw her and went back. They came to where the people were staying. “Listen! Perhaps it will be all right for you to come. She is still alive. She has not really died.” “Well, thus it shall always be.” Thus he said.

Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither. To the place called since the first beginning, Moss Spring, they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed. Four days they say, but it was four years. There the two washed them. They took from all of them their slimy tails, their slimy horns. “Now, behold! Thus you will be sweet.” There they stayed.

When their days were at an end they came hither. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, seeking Itiwana, yonder their roads went. To the place called since the first beginning Massed‑cloud Spring, they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed quietly. Four days they stayed. Four days they say, but it was four years. There they stayed. There they counted up the days. For käeto·‑we, four nights and four days. With fine rain caressing the earth, they passed their days. The days were made for łhe·‑eto‑we, mu‑eto·we. For four days and four nights it snowed. When their days were at an end there they stayed.

When their days were at an end they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, hither their roads went. To the place called since the first beginning Mist Spring their road came. There they sat down quietly. Setting out their sacred possessions in a row, they sat down quietly. There they counted up the days for one another. They watched the world for one another’s waters. For käeto·‑we, four days and four nights, with heavy rain caressing the earth they passed their days. When their days were at an end the days were made for łhe·‑eto‑we and mu‑eto·we. Four days and four nights with falling snow the world was filled. When their days were at an end, there they stayed.

When all their days were passed, gathering together all their sacred possessions, hither their road went. To Standing‑wood Spring they came. There they sat down quietly. Setting out their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. There they watched one another’s days. For käeto·‑we, four days and four nights with fine rain caressing the earth, they passed their days. When all their days were at an end, the days were made for lhe‑eto:we and mu‑eto·we. For four days and four nights, with falling snow, the world was filled. When all their days were at an end, there they stayed.

When all their days were passed, gathering together their sacred possessions, and arising, hither they came. To the place called since the first beginning Upuilima they came. When they came there, setting down their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. There they strove to outdo one another. There they planted all their seeds. There they watched one another’s days for rain. For käeto·‑we, four days with heavy rain caressing the earth. There their corn matured. It was not palatable, it was bitter. Then the two said, “Now by whose will will our corn become fit to eat?” Thus they said. They summoned raven. He came and pecked at their corn, and it became good to eat. “It is fortunate that you have come.” With this then, they lived.

When their days were at an end they arose. Gathering together their sacred possessions, they came hither. To the place called since the first beginning, Cornstalk‑place they came. There they set down their sacred possessions in a row. There they stayed four days. Four days they say, but it was four years. There they planted all their seeds. There they watched one another’s days for rain. During käeto·‑we’s four days and four nights, heavy rain fell. During lhe‑eto:we’s and mu‑eto·we’s four days and four nights, the world was filled with falling snow. Their days were at an end. Their corn matured. When it was mature it was hard. Then the two said, “By whose will will our corn become soft? Well, owl.” Thus they said. They summoned owl. Owl came. When he came he pecked at their corn and it became soft.

Then, when they were about to arise, the two said, “Come, let us go talk to the corn priest.” Thus they said. They went. They came to where the corn priest stayed. “How have you lived these days?” “As we are living happily you have passed us on our road. Sit down.” They sat down. There they questioned one another. “Well, speak. I think some word that is not too long, your word will be. Now, if you let me know that, remembering it, I shall always live.” “Indeed, it is so. To‑morrow, when we arise, we shall set out to seek Itiwana. Nowhere have we found the middle. Our children, our women, are tired. They are crying. Therefore we have come to you. Tomorrow your two children will look ahead. Perhaps if they find the middle when our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, come to rest, there our children will rest themselves. Because we have failed to find the middle.” “Haiyi! Is that so? With plain words you have passed us on our road. Very well, then, thus it shall be.” Thus he said. The two went.

Next morning when they were about to set out they put down a split ear of corn and eggs. They made the corn priest stand up. They said, “Now, my children, some of you will go yonder to the south. You will take these.” Thus he said (indicating) the tip of the ear and the macaw egg. And then the ones that were to come this way took the base of the ear and the raven egg. Those that were to go to the south took the tip of the ear and the macaw egg. “Now, my children, yonder to the south you will go. If at any time you come to Itiwana, then some time we shall meet one another.” Thus they said. They came hither.

They came to the place that was to be Katcina village. The girl got tired. Her brother said, “Wait, sit down for a while. Let me climb up and look about to see what kind of a place we are going to.” Thus he said. His sister sat down. Her brother climbed the hill. When he had climbed up, he stood looking this way. “Eha! Maybe the place where we are going lies in this direction. Maybe it is this kind of a place.” Thus he said and came down. Meanwhile his sister had scooped out the sand. She rested against the side of the hill. As she lay sleeping the wind came and raised her apron of grass. It blew up and she lay with her vulva exposed. As he came down he saw her. He desired her. He lay down upon his sister and copulated with her. His sister awoke. “Oh, dear, oh, dear,” she was about to say (but she said,) “Watsela, watsela.” Her brother said, “Ah!” He sat up. With his foot he drew a line. It became a stream of water. The two went about talking. The brother talked like Koyemci. His sister talked like Komakatsik. The people came.

“Oh alas, alas! Our children have become different beings.” Thus they said. The brother speaking: “Now it will be all right for you to cross here.” Thus he said. They came and went in. They entered the river. Some of their children turned into water snakes.

Some of them turned into turtles. Some of them turned into frogs. Some of them turned into lizards. They bit their mothers. Their mothers cried out and dropped them. They fell into the river. Only the old people reached the other side. They sat down on the bank. They were half of the people. The two said, “Now wait. Rest here.” Thus they said. Some of them sat down to rest. The two said (to the others), “Now you go in. Your children will turn into some kind of dangerous animals and will bite you. But even though you cry out, do not let them go. If, when you come out on the other side, your children do not again become the kind of creatures they are now, then you will throw them into the water.” Thus they said to them. They entered the water. Their children became different creatures and bit them. Even though they cried out, they crossed over. Then their children once more became the kind of creatures they had been. “Alas! Perhaps had we done that it would have been all right.” Now all had crossed over.

There setting down their sacred possessions in a row, they stayed quietly. They stayed there quietly for four days. Thus they say but they stayed for four years. There each night they lived gaily with loud singing. When all their time was passed, the two said “Come, let us go and talk to Ne‑we‑kwe.” Thus they said. They went to where the Ne‑we‑kwe were staying. They came there. “How have you passed these days?’ “Happily. You have come? Be seated.” They sat down. Then they questioned them. “Now speak. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. If you let me know that, remembering it I shall always live.” “Indeed it is so. To‑morrow we shall arise. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, are going to seek the middle. But nowhere have we come to the middle. Our children and our women are tired. They are crying now. Therefore we have passed you on your road. To‑morrow you will look ahead. If perhaps somewhere you come to Itiwana there our children will rest.” Thus they said. “Alas! but we are just foolish people. If we make some mistake it will not be right.” Thus he said. “Well, that is of no importance. It can’t be helped. We have chosen you.” Thus they said. “Well indeed?’ “Yes. Now we are going.” “Go ahead.” The two went out.

They came (to where the people were staying). “Come, let us go and speak to our children.” Thus they said. They went. They entered the lake. It was full of katcinas. “Now stand still a moment. Our two fathers have come.” Thus they said. The katcinas suddenly stopped dancing. When they stopped dancing they said to the two, “Now our two fathers, now indeed you have passed us on our road. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. If you will let us know that we shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Indeed it is so. Tomorrow we shall arise. Therefore we have come to speak to you.” “Well indeed? May you go happily. You will tell our parents, ‘Do not worry.’ We have not perished. In order to remain thus forever we stay here. To Itiwana but one day’s travel remains. Therefore we stay nearby. When our world grows old and the waters are exhausted and the seeds are exhausted, none of you will go back to the place of your first beginning. Whenever the waters are exhausted and the seeds are exhausted you will send us prayer sticks. Yonder at the place of our first beginning with them we shall bend over to speak to them. Thus there will not fail to be waters. Therefore we shall stay quietly near by.” Thus they said to them. “Well indeed?” “Yes. You will tell my father, my mother, ‘Do not worry.’ We have not perished.” Thus they said. They sent strong words to their parents. “Now we are going. Our children, may you always live happily.” “Even thus may you also go.” Thus they said to the two. They went out. They arrived. They told them. “Now our children, here your children have stopped. ‘They have perished,’ you have said. But no. The male children have become youths, and the females have become maidens. They are happy. They live joyously. They have sent you strong words. ‘Do not worry,’ they said.” “Haiyi! Perhaps it is so.”

They stayed overnight. Next morning they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither. They came to Hanlhipingka. Meanwhile the two Ne‑we‑kwe looked ahead. They came to Rock‑in‑the‑river. There two girls were washing a woolen dress. They killed them. After they had killed them they scalped them. Then someone found them out. When they were found out, because they were raw people, they wrapped themselves in mist. There to where käeto·‑we were staying they came. “Alack, alas! We have done wrong!” Thus they said. Then they set the days for the enemy. There they watched one another’s days for rain. käeto·‑we’s four days and four nights passed with the falling of heavy rain. There where a waterfall issued from a cave the foam arose. There the two Ahaiyute appeared. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. Meanwhile, from the fourth inner world, Unasinte, Uhepololo, Kailuhtsawaki, Hattungka, Oloma, Catunka, came out to sit down in the daylight. There they gave them the comatowe Song cycle. Meanwhile, right there, Coyote was going about hunting. He gave them their pottery drum. They sang comatowe.

After this had happened, the two said, “Now, my younger brother, Itiwana is less than one day distant. We shall gather together our children, all the beast priests, and the winged creatures, this night.” They went. They came yonder to Comk?äkwe. There they gathered together all the beasts, mountain lion, bear, wolf, wild cat, badger, coyote, fox, squirrel; eagle, buzzard, cokapiso, chicken hawk, baldheaded eagle, raven, owl. All these they gathered together. Now squirrel was among the winged creatures, and owl was among the beasts. “Now my children, you will contest together for your sun father’s daylight. Whichever side has the ball, when the sun rises, they shall win their sun father’s daylight.” Thus the two said. “Indeed?” They went there. They threw up the ball. It fell on the side of the beasts. They hid it. After they had hidden it, the birds came one by one but they could not take it. Each time they paid four straws. They could not take it.

At this time it was early dawn. Meanwhile Squirrel was lying by the fireplace. Thus they came one by one but they could not take it. Eagle said, “Let that one lying there by the fireplace go.” They came to him and said, “Are you asleep?” “No. I am not asleep.” “Oh dear! Now you go!” Thus they said. “Oh no, I don’t want to go,” he said. He came back. “The lazy one does not wish to.” Thus they said. Someone else went. Again they could not take it. Now it was growing light. “Let that one lying by the fireplace go.” Thus they said. Again Buzzard went. “Alas, my boy, you go.” “Oh, no, I don’t feel like it.” Thus he said. Again he went back. “He does not want to,” he said. Again some one else went. Again they did not take it. Now it was growing light. Spider said to him, “Next time they come agree to go.” Thus she said. Then again they said, “Let that one lying by the fireplace go.” Thus they said; and again someone went. When he came there he said, “Alas, my boy, you go.” “All right, I shall go.” Thus he said and arose. As he arose Spider said to him, “Take that stick.” He took up a stick, so short. Taking it, he went. Now the sun was about to rise. They came there. Spider said to him, “Hit those two sitting on the farther side.” Thus she said. Bang! He knocked them down. He laid them down. Then, mountain lion, who was standing right there, said, “Hurry up, go after it. See whether you can take it.” Thus he said. Spider said to him, “Say to him, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to take it.’ So she said.” “Oh, no, I don’t want to take it. Perhaps there is nothing inside. How should I take it? There is nothing in there.” “That is right. There is nothing in there. All my children are gathered together. One of them is holding it. If you touch the right one, you will take it.” “All right.” Now Spider is speaking: “No one who is sitting here has it. That one who goes about dancing, he is holding it.” Thus she said. He went. He hit Owl on the hand. The white ball came out. He went. He took up the hollow sticks and took them away with him. Now the birds hid the ball. Spider came down. Over all the sticks she spun her web. She fastened the ball with her web. Now the animals came one by one. Whenever they touched a stick, she pulled (the ball) away. Each time they paid ten straws. The sun rose. After sunrise, he was sitting high in the sky. Then the two came. They said, “Now, all my children, you have won your sun father’s daylight, and you, beasts, have lost your sun father’s daylight. All day you will sleep. After sunset, at night, you will go about hunting. But you, owl, you have not stayed among the winged creatures. Therefore you have lost your sun father’s daylight. You have made a mistake. If by daylight, you go about hunting, the one who has his home above will find you out. He will come down on you. He will scrape off the dirt from his earth mother and put it upon you. Then thinking, ‘Let it be here,’ you will come to the end of your life. This kind of creature you shall be.” Thus they said. They stayed there overnight. The animals all scattered.

The two went. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. Then they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they arose. Lhe‑eto:we said, “Now, my younger brothers, hither to the north I shall take my road. Whenever I think that Itiwana has been revealed to you, then I shall come to you.” Thus he said, and went to the north. Now some woman, seeing them, said, “Oh dear! Whither are these going?” Thus she said:

Naiye heni aiye

Naiye heni aiye.

In white stripes of hail they went.

Meanwhile käeto·‑we came hither. They came to House Mountain. When they came there they would not let them pass through. They fought together. A giant went back and forth before them. Thus they fought together. Thus evening came. In the evening they came back to Hanlhipingka. Next day they went again. In heavy rain they fought together. In the evening they went back again. Next morning they went again for the third time. Again they fought together. The giant went back and forth in front. Even though she had arrows sticking in her body she did not die. At sunset they went back again. Next morning they went. They came there, and they fought together. Still they would not surrender. The giant went back and forth in front. Although she was wounded with arrows, she would not surrender. Ahaiyute said, “Alas, why is it that these people will not let us pass? Wherever may her heart be, that one that goes back and forth? Where her heart should be we have struck her, yet she does not surrender. It seems we can not overcome her. So finally go up to where your father stays. Without doubt he knows.” Thus he said. His younger brother climbed up to where the sun was.

It was nearly noon when he arrived. “You have come?” “Yes, I have come.” “Very well, speak. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. So if you let me know that, I shall always remember it.” Thus he said. “Indeed, it is so. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, have issued forth into the daylight. Here they go about seeking Itiwana. These people will not let them pass. Where does she have her heart, that one who goes back and forth before them? In vain have we struck her where her heart should be. Even though the arrows stick in her body, she does not surrender.” “Haiyi! For nothing are you men! She does not have her heart in her body. In vain have you struck her there. Her heart is in her rattle.” Thus he said. “This is for you and this is for your elder brother.” Thus he said, and gave him two turquoise rabbit sticks. “Now, when you let these go with my wisdom I shall take back my weapons.’ “Haiyi! Is that so? Very well, I am going now.” “Go ahead. May you go happily.” Thus he said. He came down. His elder brother said to him, “Now, what did he tell you?” “Indeed, it is so. In vain do we shoot at her body. Not there is her heart; but in her rattle is her heart. With these shall we destroy her.” Thus he said, and gave his brother one of the rabbit sticks. When he had given his brother the rabbit stick, “Now go ahead, you.” Thus he said. The younger brother went about to the right. He threw it and missed. Whiz! The rabbit stick went up to the sun. As the rabbit stick came up the sun took it. “Now go ahead, you try.” Thus he said. The elder brother went around to the left. He threw it. As he threw it, zip! His rabbit stick struck his rattle. Tu ‑‑‑ n! They ran away. As they started to run away, their giant died. Then they all ran away. The others ran after them. They came to a village. They went into the houses. “This is my house;” “This is my house;” and “This is mine.” Thus they said. They went shooting arrows into the roof. Wherever they first came, they went in. An old woman and a little boy this big and a little girl were inside.

In the center of their room was standing a jar of urine. They stuffed their nostrils with känaite flowers and with cotton wool. Then they thrust their noses into the jar. The people could see them. “Oh, dear! These are ghosts!” Thus they said. Then the two said to them, “Do not harm them, for I think they know something. So even though it is dangerous they are still alive.” Thus they said. The two entered. As they came in they questioned them. “And now do you know something? Therefore, even though it is dangerous, you have not perished.” “Well, we have a sacred object.” “Indeed! Very well, take them. We shall go. Your fathers, your mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, you will pass on their roads. If your days are the same as theirs you will not be slaves. It does not matter that he is only a little boy. Even so, he will be our father. It does not matter that she is a little girl, she will be our mother.” Thus he said. Taking their sacred object they went. They came to where käeto·‑we were staying. There they said to them, “Now make your days.” “Oh, no! We shall not be first. When all your days are at an end, then we shall add on our days.” Thus they said. Then they worked for käeto·‑we. käeto·‑we’s days were made. Four days and four nights, with fine rain falling, were the days of käeto·‑we. When their days were at an end, the two children and their grandmother worked. Their days were made. Four days and four nights, with heavy rain falling, were their days. Then they removed the evil smell. They made flowing canyons. Then they said, “Halihi! Thank you! Just the same is your ceremony. What may your clan be?” “Well, we are of the Yellow Corn clan.” Thus they said. “Haiyi! Even though your eton:e is of the Yellow Corn clan, because of your bad smell, you have become black. Therefore you shall be the Black Corn clan.” Thus they said to them.

Then they arose. Gathering together all their sacred possessions, they came hither, to the place called, since the first beginning, Halona‑Itiwana, their road came. There they saw the Navaho helper, little red bug. “Here! Wait! All this time we have been searching in vain for Itiwana. Nowhere have we seen anything like this.” Thus they said. They summoned their grandchild, water bug. He came. “How have you lived these many days?” “Where we have been living happily you have passed us on our road. Be Seated.” Thus they said. He sat down. Then he questioned them. “Now, indeed, even now, you have sent for me. I think some word that is not too long your word will be. So now, if you will let me know that, I shall always remember it.” “Indeed, it is so. Our fathers, our mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, having issued forth into the daylight, go about seeking the middle. You will look for the middle for them. This is well. Because of your thoughts, at your heart, our fathers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, will sit down quietly. Following after those, toward whom our thoughts bend, we shall pass our days.” Thus they said. He sat down facing the east. To the left he stretched out his arm. To the right he stretched out his arm, but it was a little bent. He sat down facing the north. He stretched out his arms on both sides. They were just the same. Both arms touched the horizon. “Come, let us cross over to the north. For on this side my right arm is a little bent.” Thus he said. They crossed (the river). They rested. He sat down. To all directions he stretched out his arms. Everywhere it was the same. “Right here is the middle.” Thus he said. There his fathers, his mothers, käeto·‑we, tcu‑eto·we, mu‑eto·we, lhe‑eto:we, all the society priests, the society p̂ekwins, the society bow priests, and all their children came to rest. Thus it happened long ago.

The Kojiki [Chonicles of Japan]

(Shinto – Japan, 700 CE)

Before the heavens and the earth came into existence, all was a chaos, unimaginably limitless and without definite shape or form. Eon followed eon: then, lo! out of this boundless, shapeless mass something light and transparent rose up and formed the heaven. This was the Plain of High Heaven, in which materialized a deity called Ame-no-Minaka-Nushi-no-Mikoto (the Deity-of-the-August-Center-of-Heaven). Next the heavens gave birth to a deity named Takami-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the High-August-Producing-Wondrous-Deity), followed by a third called Kammi-Musubi-no-Mikoto (the Divine-Producing_Wondrous-Deity). These three divine beings are called the Three Creating Deities.

In the meantime what was heavy and opaque in the void gradually precipitated and became the earth, but it had taken an immeasurably long time before it condensed sufficiently to form solid ground. In its earliest stages, for millions and millions of years, the earth may be said to have resembled oil floating, medusa-like, upon the face of the waters. Suddenly like the sprouting up of reeds, a pair of immortals were born from its bosom.

Many gods were thus born in succession, and so they increased in number, but as long as the world remained in a chaotic state, there was nothing for them to do. Whereupon, all the Heavenly deities summoned the two divine beings, Izanagi and Izanami, and bade them descend to the nebulous place, and by helping each other, to consolidate it into terra firma. “We bestow on you,” they said, “this precious treasure, with which to rule the land, the creation of which we command you to perform.” So saying they handed them a spear called Ama-no-Nuboko, embellished with costly gems. The divine couple received respectfully and ceremoniously the sacred weapon and then withdrew from the presence of the Deities, ready to perform their august commission. Proceeding forthwith to the Floating Bridge of Heaven, which lay between the heaven and the earth, they stood awhile to gaze on that which lay below. What they beheld was a world not yet condensed, but looking like a sea of filmy fog floating to and fro in the air, exhaling the while an inexpressibly fragrant odor. They were, at first, perplexed just how and where to start, but at length Izanagi suggested to his companion that they should try the effect of stirring up the brine with their spear. So saying he pushed down the jeweled shaft and found that it touched something. Then drawing it up, he examined it and observed that the great drops which fell from it almost immediately coagulated into an island, which is, to this day, the Island of Onokoro. Delighted at the result, the two deities descended forthwith from the Floating Bridge to reach the miraculously created island. In this island they thenceforth dwelt and made it the basis of their subsequent task of creating a country. Then wishing to become espoused, they erected in the center of the island a pillar, the Heavenly August Pillar, and built around it a great palace called the Hall of Eight Fathoms. Thereupon the male Deity turning to the left and the female Deity to the right, each went round the pillar in opposite directions. When they again met each other on the further side of the pillar, Izanami, the female Deity, speaking first, exclaimed: “How delightful it is to meet so handsome a youth!” To which Izanagi, the male Deity, replied: “How delightful I am to have fallen in with such a lovely maiden!” After having spoken thus, the male Deity said that it was not in order that woman should anticipate man in a greeting. Nevertheless, they fell into connubial relationship, having been instructed by two wagtails which flew to the spot. Presently the Goddess bore her divine consort a son, but the baby was weak and boneless as a leech. Disgusted with it, they abandoned it on the waters, putting it in a boat made of reeds. Their second offspring was as disappointing as the first. The two Deities, now sorely disappointed at their failure and full of misgivings, ascended to Heaven to inquire of the Heavenly Deities the causes of their misfortunes. The latter performed the ceremony of divining and said to them: “It is the woman’s fault. In turning round the Pillar, it was not right and proper that the female Deity should in speaking have taken precedence of the male. That is the reason.” The two Deities saw the truth of this divine suggestion, and made up their minds to rectify the error. So, returning to the earth again, they went once more around the Heavenly Pillar. This time Izanagi spoke first saying: “How delightful to meet so beautiful a maiden!” “How happy I am,” responded Izanami, “that I should meet such a handsome youth!” This process was more appropriate and in accordance with the law of nature. After this, all the children born to them left nothing to be desired. First, the island of Awaji was born, next, Shikoku, then, the island of Oki, followed by Kyushu; after that, the island Tsushima came into being, and lastly, Honshu, the main island of Japan. The name of Oyashi-ma-kuni … was given to these … islands. After this, the two Deities became the parents of numerous smaller islands destined to surround the larger ones.


(Efik – Nigeria, 1000 CE)

Before Abassi there was nothing. Abassi was god of the Universe, and giver of life, death, and justice. He was so powerful that he could create life, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. Some say that Abassi was the Sun, and they worshipped it as it rose and set every day. Abassi lived in the sky with his wife, Atai. She was a wise goddess, who often gave Abassi good advice.

Abassi created the stars, the Earth, and all the wildlife upon it. He also created two humans, a man and a woman. These humans lived with Abassi and Atai in the sky. They were very innocent and had little knowledge. Abassi and Atai looked after them, protected them, and even fed them, because they did not know how to feed themselves. One day, the humans were looking down from the sky at the Earth. They decided they wanted to live there. But when they asked Abassi if they could leave the sky and live on the Earth, he forbade it. The Earth was a place with many secrets where many things could be learned. Abassi feared that the humans would one day match his wisdom, or even surpass it.
Atai proposed a compromise. The humans could go live on Earth, but they had to return to the sky every day to have their meals. The humans were forbidden to learn to hunt or farm. They were also forbidden to marry and have children, because a large nation of people might one day challenge the power of Abassi.
For a while, this plan worked. The humans returned to the sky every day to take their meals. However, one day, the woman decided she was sick of being fed like a helpless child. She went out into the fields and began to farm. When the time came for dinner, she defiantly refused to return to the sky with the man.

The next day, the man visited the woman in the fields and saw she was growing her own food. He decided to help her. Before long, the man and woman fell in love. They did not return to the sky again. Many years went by and they had many children. When those children were old enough, they joined their parents working in the field. They all continued to learn the secrets of the Earth and teach them to each other.

The humans tried to hide their children from the sight of Abassi, but the god saw them. He grew very angry. He blamed his wife, Atai, because she had convinced him to let the humans live on Earth. Abassi feared that one day, the humans would have learned so much that they would surpass his wisdom. He also feared they would grow so numerous that they would surpass his power

But Atai had a plan. In order to prevent the humans from growing too powerful, she sent evil into the world in the form of death and discord. The evil was so strong that the man and woman immediately died. Their children have suffered the ills of the world and argued among themselves ever since. But because their mother defied the gods, the humans have continued to learn the secrets of the Earth.

Thor & The Tale of Utgarda-Loki

(Norse – Scandinavia, 1000 CE)

About the Vikings:

The Vikings have a reputation for being pirates and barbarians, though they were far more complex than that. They were a people who hailed from the Northern European region of Scandinavia, in what would eventually become Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. They were among the few Europeans to remain pagan during the Middle Ages (c. 5th–15th centuries), being neither Christian nor Muslim, though they later assimilated into Christian Europe over the course of the medieval period.

Read more here: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CBXLPI736227324/WHIC?u=txshracd2544&sid=bookmark-WHIC&xid=f6909d6c


Well-known though it may be, the story of the journey of Thor to the castle of the giant Utgarda-Loki in Jotunheim is a confused jumble of elements from Norse mythology, fun but flippant fairy tales, and the rather capricious pen of their compiler and synthesizer, the medieval Christian Icelander Snorri Sturluson.

For one thing, as even the most casual and distracted of readers will no doubt notice, Loki features in two different and contradictory roles in the tale. In one of these roles, he is Thor’s companion and is tested by the giants in the same way that Thor is. In the other role, he is the giant Utgarda-Loki. In fact, in a variant of this narrative, Utgarda-Loki appears before Thor bound in chains, just as Loki was. Surely, in the original version of this story, the giant whom Thor met in Jotunheim was none other than Loki himself.[1]

Furthermore, in the form in which it’s been handed down to us by Snorri, there are numerous fairy tale elements that seem wholly out of place in any authentic pagan Norse myth: the gods battle characters who are straightforward allegories for abstract concepts, the beings who are typically called “giants” in English (whose Old Norse name meant “devourers”) are indeed distinguished by being comically large, the tone is one of frivolous amusement, and the story lacks any spiritual significance whatsoever. Its sole purpose is entertainment.

Nevertheless, given the existence of (equally spurious) alternate versions, at least some elements in this tale probably do go back to heathen times and reflect something of substantial religious import. However, in the bastardized form in which we know this story, it’s impossible to disentangle those elements from the doggerel. Their significance, therefore, can only remain unknown.

All of that is to say that this story is hardly a myth in any meaningful sense of the word, and is probably more or less worthless as a source of information about the pre-Christian Norse worldview.

The Tale of Utgarda-Loki

While Thor and Loki were traveling far from Asgard in Thor’s goat-drawn chariot, night overtook them and they were welcomed into the house of a farmer and his family.

To repay his hosts for their hospitality, Thor offered his goats for supper, knowing that he could bring them back to life afterwards and not be at any loss. After the meal, Thor laid the goats’ hides on the floor and instructed his hosts to place the bones on the hides after the meat had been gleaned from them.

The farmer had two children: a boy named Thjalfi and a daughter named Roskva. Despite the thunder god’s instructions, Thjalfi broke open one of the goats’ leg bones to suck out the marrow before placing it on the hide with the others.

When Thor awoke the following morning, he hallowed the goat hides and bones with his hammer, whereupon the goats sprang back to life. One of them, however, had a lame hind leg. Thor immediately intuited the reason for this, and was so furious at the farmer and his family that he would have slain them all on the spot had the farmer not offered him his children, Thjalfi and Roskva, to be his servants. Thor accepted, and he, Loki, and the children pressed onward on foot, leaving the handicapped goats behind.

The party’s goal was to reach Jotunheim, the land of the giants. They crossed an ocean and a thick, tangled forest. Just as night was falling, they came to a huge hall. They found no one inside, and decided to spend the night there.

They were jostled awake by a great earthquake. Running outside, they found a sleeping giant whose snores caused the earth to rumble and shake. Thor, who hated giants, clutched his hammer and resolved to smite this sure foe of his. But the giant awoke at the last second and seemed to be cheered, or at least amused, by the sight of Thor and his companions. The giant introduced himself as Skrymir (Old Norse Skrýmir, “Boaster”), but said that he already knew full well to whom he was introducing himself.

Skrymir picked up his glove, the great hall in which Thor and his company had slept during the night, and proposed that he accompany them on their journey. To this the god agreed, and off they went through forests and over hills.

At night, they took shelter beneath a venerable oak. Skrymir had been carrying all of their provisions in his bag, and when the giant fell asleep and the task of opening the bag fell to Thor, the god found himself unable to untie the giant’s knots. This so angered Thor that he struck the dozing Skrymir in the forehead, hoping to kill him. The giant awoke calmly and asked if a leaf had fallen on his head.

Later in the night, the giant’s snores grew so loud they echoed through the valleys like thunder. Thor, annoyed by his inability to sleep, and wanting to kill the giant, anyway, tried a second time to smite him by striking him in the head. But, much as before, Skrymir awakened and asked if an acorn had fallen on his head.

Just before dawn, Thor decided to try one more time to end Skrymir’s life. But the giant, awakened, asked if some birds had roosted above him and shaken some dirt from the branches onto his face.

Skrymir departed from Thor and his companions, and the company pressed onward toward a castle called Utgard (Old Norse Útgarðr – see Jotunheim and Innangard and Utangard for the significance of this name).

Around midday, the travelers reached their destination. The gate was locked and no one was there to open it, but Thor and the others found that they could fit through the very large spaces between the bars of the gate easily enough. Once inside, they found a hall where men sat eating and drinking. Amongst them was the king of this castle, the giant Utgarda-Loki (Old Norse Útgarða-Loki, “Loki of the Útgarðr“), who immediately recognized his new guests and set about taunting them for their diminutive size.

Wanting to salvage his dignity and that of his companions, Loki proudly asserted that no one else in this castle could eat food faster than he could. Utgarda-Loki challenged him to prove this boast by entering a contest with one of the men there, whose name was Logi (Old Norse Logi, “Fire”). A trough of meat was set before them, with Loki at one end and Logi at the other, and they were to see who could reach the middle first. They met in the middle at the same time, but while Loki had eaten all of the meat between the end and the middle, Logi had eaten the meat, the bones, and even the trough itself! Loki had clearly lost.

Thjalfi, who was an extremely swift runner, then offered to race anyone in the castle. Utgarda-Loki led him out to a race track and appointed one Hugi (Old Norse Hugi, “Thought”) to compete with him. By the time Hugi reached the finish line, he was so far ahead of Thjalfi that he doubled back to meet his contestant. They raced a second time, and once again Hugi beat Thjalfi by a long bow-shot. Still, they raced a third time, but Thjalfi fared even worse; he was still at the midpoint of the track by the time Hugi finished.

Thor then challenged anyone in the castle to a drinking contest, something at which he had no little skill. Utgarda-Loki had one of his servants fetch the kind of drinking horn from which Utgarda-Loki’s men were said to drink. When it was placed before Thor, Utgarda-Loki informed him that whoever could finish the horn in one drink was considered a great drinker, whoever could do it in two was considered fair, but no one in his retinue was such a poor drinker as to be unable to finish it in three.

Thor drank mightily, but by the time he had to pause for a breath, the level of liquor in the horn had barely lowered. So he gave it a second try, straining to gulp and gulp until his breath failed him. This time, the level had gone down appreciably, but the better part of the horn still remained. His third drink was even more formidable than the previous two, but in the end, much was still left. By that point, however, Thor could drink could no more, and gave up.

Then Utgarda-Loki suggested that Thor attempt to simply lift his cat from the floor, but Thor proved unable to do even this.

In a rage, Thor challenged anyone in the castle to wrestle with him. Insultingly, Utgarda-Loki appointed an old woman, Elli (Old Norse Elli, “Age”) who was one of his servants. But the great god lost even this contest.

After this, Utgarda-Loki decided that there should be no more contests, and the company spent the night there in the castle.

In the morning, they rose and prepared to leave. After Utgarda-Loki had shown them out of the castle, he confided to them what had actually transpired in their contests, saying to Thor, “Now that you have left my castle, I shall see to it that you never enter it again. The knot on my provision bag that you almost succeeded in untying had been wrought in iron. I deflected the blows you attempted to inflict on me with your hammer; instead of my face, you hit the mountainside, and carved three gaping valleys into it. Had you struck me, I would have been killed then and there.

“Loki held his own remarkably well in his eating contest, since his opponent was none other than fire itself. So it was with Thjalfi, too – he raced against thought, which nobody could ever hope to outrun. The far end of the horn from which you drank was connected to the sea, and we were actually greatly afraid that you were going to drink it all. When you cross over the sea again, you will see how much you have lowered its level. My cat was actually the Midgard serpent, whom you succeeded in raising out of the ocean and into the sky. And, finally, you wrestled against old age, and took a long, long time to fall.

“Now, for your sake and for ours, leave, and never come back.”

Thor was so angered by this humiliating trickery that he raised his hammer and prepared to slay Utgarda-Loki and smash his castle to pieces. But when he turned to do so he saw no giant and no castle – just a vast, empty plain.


(Maori – New Zealand, 1200 CE)

The Separation of Earth and Sky

Most cultures speak of an event or act that brought about the world as we know it.

The Māori creation story begins with nothingness. ( Te Kore).

It is a long dark night. (Te Pō)

From here two of our Māori gods Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, emerge. Initially, earth and sky are joined together, and their children are born between them.

For a long time, the children exist in a dark cramped uncomfortable space. They talk of the “potential”, the spec of light seen beyond.

What could be beyond?

But some of the children plot to separate their parents, and this allows light to flow into the world. The separation of the parents by the children resulted in the movement from darkness to the world of light. (Te Ao- Mārama).

The Māori Gods and the Māori Creation Story

The sons held a long debate exploring how they would get out of the dark cramped space they lived in. How might they see the world beyond the confines of their parents’ embrace?

Tūmatauenga said, “Let’s kill our parents”. On the other hand, Tāwhirimātea said, “Leave them be” This would simply maintain the status quo. Then, another brother said, “Let’s separate our parents”. This was a viable option. Tāwhirimātea strongly disagreed. Rongomātane and Haumietiketike did not add anything more to the discussion. Consequently, Tāne, Tangaroa and Tūmatauenga worked things out.

The brothers made a decision and tried to separate their mātua. Finally, it was Tāne who lay on his back with his legs facing up. With total focus and strength, he pushed and pushed. Ranginui and Papatūānuku didn’t want to be separated from each other or their tamariki. In this crucial time of separation, te wehenga, the tamariki spoke with respect to their parents while helping. Rangi and Papa wept for each other rather than being angry with their tamariki.

The whakatauki “Kei te heke ngā roimata o Ranginui” (The tears of Ranginui are falling) is said when it is raining, as these are Ranginui’s tears about their separation.

In the end, the brothers became Māori Gods, guardians, or atua of particular domains.

Tāne (Māori God of Forest)

Tāne finally separated his father who rose above. His father grieved for his love Papatūānuku. In response to this, Tāne turned his mother downwards so that she would not see Ranginui’s sadness. He then clothed her in trees and plants. He clothed his father in the sweat of his brow to become the stars that adorn the sky.

Tāwhirimātea (Māori God of Weather)

Tāwhirimātea confronted his brothers. He was unhappy about the separation. After a battle broke out the brothers backed down from him. All except Tūmatauenga. Tāwhirimātea was so angry. He gouged out his eyes and threw them into the sky. These became the stars of Matariki-‘Ngā Mata o te Ariki o Tāwhirimātea” The Eyes of the God Tāwhirimātea.

He rose above to live with his father in the sky. Tāwhirimātea waged battle with his brothers from above. Because he has no sight, he feels his way around using his forces of nature.

Rongomātāne (Māori God of Peaceful Pursuits) and Haumietiketike (Wild Food and Fern Root)

The brothers suffered from the inclement elements of wind, storm, and rain. Fear took hold and Rongomātāne and Haumietiketike took refuge with Papatūānuku. The howling winds bent Tāne and his children.

Tāngaroa (Māori God of Sea, Lakes, Waterways and all Creatures Within)

The seas were shaken up and some of the children of Tangaroa were separated. Some stayed with their father in the moana and some moved to land to live in the realm of Tāne.

Rūaumoko (God of Earthquakes and Geothermal Activity)

The youngest of the siblings, Rūaumoko was still within his mother when she was separated from Rangi. His unhappiness shows itself through earthquakes and geological and geothermal activity.

Rūaumoko is also the source of the art of moko.

His name also means ‘the trembling current that scars the earth’.

Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo

(Inca – Peru, 1200 CE)

This legend was told by one of the most important chronicles of the XVth century, Garcilaso de la Vega, El Inca, who was the son of a Spanish captain and an Inca princess called Chimpu Ocllo. Because of that, Garcilaso was able to have many stories and legends from a very faithful source about the Inca beginnings and origins.

In the beginning, the people lived like savages, since they don’t have any kind of religious guides that bring them together. They also don’t have any kind of agricultural techniques and textile abilities, and that is the reason why they were naked, living in the caves, eating wild animals and the fruits in their region.

The Sun god, Inti,  was concerned about these people and decided to send his children, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, who were also husband and wife, to civilize these people. Emerging from the waters of Lake Titicaca, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo arrived to a populated land and were immediately considered divine beings. Manco Capac taught the men how to live in society and worship the Sun god, and Mama Ocllo taught the women tasks like textiles and domestic labors.

Their father, the Sun god told them to search for good land to found the empire. To that end, he gave Manco Capac a golden scepter that would sink into the earth and render it fertile.  Manco Cápac marched north of the huge valley and Mama Ocllo south. Days go by before they can find a good place to found their city, but one day they came to a place where the golden stick sinks, and decide to found their empire. The scepter was sunk in the now legendary hill, Huanacauri. This became the capital of the Inca empire,  the sign of the promised land.

The interpretation that follows is that on the shore of the Titicaca Lake is where the Tiawanako people lived, and they helped to the foundation of the Tahuantinsuyo, since both  Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo came from these lands, and because of that they were the original descendants of the Tiawanako people.

The Ghost Sisters of Hilo Hills

(Hawai’ian – Hawai’i, 1300 CE)

About the Hawaiians:

The Hawaiian Islands are located about 2,000 miles southwest of San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean. They are part of the larger Polynesian island chain. This island group, known collectively as Hawaii, became the 50th state of the United States in 1959. The first Europeans to visit the islands were probably Captain James Cook, a British naval officer, and his crews aboard two ships, the Resolution and the Discovery, which visited the islands in 1778. Within 40 years the native population was substantially reduced by the unfamiliar disease strains that the British brought with them to the islands. Eventually, European and American fur traders and whalers began using the conveniently situated islands as a provisions stations and missionaries also arrived to win converts to Christianity. Foreigners were granted the right to purchase property in 1840 and by the mid-19th century the United States had begun large-scale sugar farming, eventually bringing in thousands of European and Asian contract workers, thus forever changing the ethnic makeup of the islands. In 1893 a group of plantation owners, with U.S. military aid, overthrew the reigning monarch, Queen Liliuokalani. In 1898 the Hawaiian Islands were annexed and made a territory of the United States.

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The Hawaiian goddess Hina

This story begins with the goddess Hina, mother of Maui, who was thought to have married the moon. Hina had two daughters, Hina Keahi, the mistress of fire and Hina Kuluua, the mistress of rain. As a gift, Hina gave two mountains to her daughters; Halai for Hina Keahi and Puuhonu for Hina Kuluua. These hills were especially rich and fertile, and the sisters and their people settled on these lands and prospered for a long time.

However, many years went by and soon the rains began to fall less and less often until the ground became dry and shrivelled. The taro planted on the hillsides died. The bananas, sugarcane and sweet potatoes withered and the fruit on the trees died. Eventually, hunger beset the villages, then famine, and before long the shadow of death was over the land and the people feared the worst.

Hina Keahi knew that something had to be done to save her followers. She instructed the men to cross the river bed where no water flowed, enter the dry forests of Koa and Ohia and gather firewood. The priests went on the expedition as well, uttering incantations against the possibility of failure. They offered sacrifices and prayers for the safe return of the men. The weakened laborers gathered and carried back what they could and took them back to Halai hill.

Next, the famished men toiled, digging out the hill under Hina Keahi’s command and making a great imu, or cooking oven, preparing it with stones and wood. They lit the fire, and when the stones were hot, Hina Keahi directed the people to arrange the pit in its proper order as if cooking the food for a great feast. Then Hina told them to make a place in the imu for a human sacrifice.

Hina Keahi and Hina Kuluua

In quiet despair the workmen obeyed Hina Keahi and prepared the place for a sacrifice with dread, wondering who would be chosen to appease the gods in order to save the rest. But Hina Keahi was “Hina the kind.” She surveyed their work and said it was good, and she was full of pity and love for her people.

She said: “This imu is my imu. I shall lie down on its bed of burning stones. I shall sleep under its cover. But deeply cover me or I may perish. Quickly throw the dirt over my body. Fear not the fire. Watch for three days. A woman will stand by the imu. Do as she instructs you.”

Hina Keahi stepped into the great pit and lay down on the burning stones. The men followed her instructions, placing the imu mats over their chiefess and throwing the dirt back into the oven until it was all thoroughly covered.

Then they waited and watched over the oven, wondering what had become of their beautiful leader. But Hina Keahi was the mistress of fire, and so she could not be injured by the heat of the burning stones. She sank down through the imu into the underground paths, which belonged to the spirit world.

One day later, a gushing stream of water flowed from the land. On the second day, a pool full of water rose to the surface of the earth. And on the third day, a great spring of pure water burst forth from the sea shore in the very path of the ocean waves. Soon a woman appeared by the imu, who commanded the laborers to dig away the dirt and open up the oven. When this was done, the hungry people, to their amazement, found a great abundance of food, so much that it would last until their plants ripened again and the days of the famine were over. The people rejoiced because they knew that their chiefess had escaped death and exalted Hina Keahi in stories and song about the great mistress of fire.

Meanwhile, the second sister, Hina Kuluua, who was always very jealous of her beautiful sister Hina Keahi, heard of the miracles her sister had performed and the singing and praise she had received from her people.

Hina Kuluua’s followers in Puuhonu were also suffering from famine at this time, so she decided to provide for them in the same way as her sister had done. She ordered a great imu to be dug, with space for food and a human sacrifice. Yet in her jealousy, Hina Kuluua forgot that she was a goddess of rain and that rain and fire could not work together. She entered the pit, and her people quickly covered her with mats and earth as she had commanded. They waited for the miraculous events to occur, but the hot stones had destroyed Hina Kuluua, and she rose as a rain cloud above the imu.

Her people waited three days, then four, then five. But no one appeared and they were still starving. On the fifth day, the villagers opened the imu and found nothing but the ashes of Hina Kuluua. Her people perished.

The ghosts of the sisters still appear near the old hills from time to time. Hina Keahi, as flowing lava, and Hina Kuluua, as clouds of rain.

Diné Bahaneʼ [Story of the People]

(Navajo – American Southwest, 1300 CE)

About the Navajo:

The Navajos are descended from a band of Athabascans who split off from the rest of the Athabascans in Canada sometime around ad 850 and migrated southward. About 200 years later, they settled in what is now north-central New Mexico among Pueblo peoples who had lived there since ad 400. Though the Navajos were originally hunter-gatherers, they were very adaptable people who adopted some of their Pueblo neighbors’ ways. Pueblo Indians were farmers, and the Navajos learned from them how to cultivate corn and other crops. They made the shift from hunter-gatherers to agriculturalists so successfully that they came to be known as the Navajo—a name that most likely comes from the Tewa word návahu’u, or “the arroyo (riverbed) with the cultivated fields.” The Navajo call themselves Diné, or “the People.” The first recorded mention of the Navajos is from an account written in 1626 by Fray Zárata Salmerón. By the 1630s the Navajo had definitely become a large and powerful tribe, spreading across northern New Mexico into eastern Arizona. At this time they still hunted and gathered some of their food, and they supplemented their supplies by raiding other villages. But they had also begun to live in semi-permanent homes and grow crops, such as corn, beans, and squash. The preferred type of dwelling was the hogan, a dome-shaped structure (usually round, but sometimes hexagonal or octagonal) built of logs covered with mud, or sometimes rocks, with a central air vent in the roof. After the Spanish arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Navajo adopted the use of horses and began to raise livestock such as sheep, goats, and cattle. The traits the Navajo borrowed from both the Pueblo Indians and the Spanish eventually distinguished them from their Apache relatives (also descended from the same Canadian Athabascans).

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The first (lowest) world was red, bare, barren ground, this was the earliest world. Etséhostin and Etséasun, his wife, existed there and they had nothing to eat till the fourth day, and on this day they began to think of eating. Hostjaishjiné stood up and rubbed his belly and some skin (bitcin) was loosened which formed in a roll under his hands and he laid this roll of cuticle on the ground. The woman stood up and followed his example. Then they each trampled on the rolls. Etséhostin reached over his shoulder, down his back, and formed another roll and laid it on the ground. The two rolls that he had formed turned into a man with a mask. This new-formed man stood up, and this is the origin of the first man (Navajo ?). Etséasun again followed the hostin’s example and from the rolls which she formed a woman arose: this was the virgin called Djosdelhazhy (biting vagina). The hostin (old man) then reached under his left arm and formed another roll of skin which he laid on the ground and it became (a water monster called) Téholtsody. The hostin then reached under his right arm and formed another roll of skin which, being laid upon the ground, became Usheenasun, Salt spirit, a woman who now lives at Nitcō (Salt Lake south of Zuñi).

Hostin then took the end of his tongue between his fingers and spat out a little piece of it (his tongue ? spittle ?) upon the ground before him and it became a wing which he placed upon his ear. The wind would shake this wing and tell everything in his ear. Etséasun then took a roll of skin from her scalp and laid it on the ground and placed a little feather beside it and this became the Thunder (with wings). On the left side the feathers were black on top and white underneath, on the right side the feathers were white above and black below. Etséhostin then rubbed the sole of his right foot and the roll of skin became a large frog, Tcalc. He rubbed the sole of his left foot, and a crane, Teklaliale was formed. This makes altogether twelve personages up to this time.

Etséhostin began thinking, “How can we get something to eat?” Etséasun said, “My husband, I know not.” Hostin looked back and saw Hostjaishjiné and said to him, “You understand these things, tell us how we are to get food.” Hostjaishjiné, who always looks stern and grim and angry, said, “I do not know,” but he reached down on his neck and rolled a little skin in his hand and Wunushtcindy (locust ?) was produced. Then Etséasun looked far back and saw Nastjeasun and asked her how they could get something to eat. Nastjeasun rolled a little skin upon her breast and it became Ant, Nâzozi, which was then buried in the ground for four days and at the end of that time many little red (yellow) ants came forth. Hostjaishjiné then rolled some skin from his forehead and laid it on the ground when it turned into a horned toad, Nâshōngbitcijy. Etséhostin built a house and lived there and the red (yellow) ants built all round this big house, and annoyed him and the others, so that they could find no rest day or night. Teholtsody thought he would go off and find some place to rest so he travelled to the east. The world was very small at this time, and Teholtsody soon came to its utmost limit and as he could go no farther, he built his house there. In like manner, the frog being troubled with the ants, he travelled to the south to the utmost limit of the world, and built there. Then Salt Woman went similarly to the west and built a house, and Tulthklahallé went to the north. Each of these houses was fashioned from east to west like a rainbow (shabiklo), and from south to north of Sun-rays (jōnâaibikloth), when we build a house today we have four poles reaching from east west and from south to north, and these meet at the apex.

After these four had left him Etséhostin stayed in his own house. He said, “I wish we could get some clouds, I want rain,” and he looked out of his house towards the East, where Teholtsody was and saw many clouds, for Teholtsody’s house is of clouds. Etséasun then said, “I wish we had some kind of rain,” and she looked to the south and saw a heavy fog, for this was the frog’s house. Etséhostin wished that there was a mountain to stand on and look for rain, and he began to pray for rain; he looked west and saw a mirage, Hûtaonige, like a person. Etséasun now prayed on the north side, “Send rain so that everything may be wet.” She saw a green scum on the water and made a house, ‘Tutklitb’hogan, of this. This makes four houses.

Etséhostin sent Thunder naked to the cloud house of Teholtsody in the east, telling Thunder to stand right in the doorway of Teholtsody’s house. Thunder went there and stood in the doorway naked and Teholtsody gave him a mantle of feathers which is the sheet (quick) lightning. On his head is the heat lightning, He had a tail feather which is Hajillkish, sheet lightning. Etséasun told the monster Tehlin (horn horse) to go to the south to Frog’s house of fog. He went and stood in the doorway. Salt Woman had gone west and Etséhostin told Thonainilly to stand just outside the doorway of her house and watch her. He was to be her guardian. An old woman sat on the north side of the world and she sent a fish (turtle) to watch outside the doorway of Tulthklahale’s house and guard it. After Teholtsody went east he made a water vessel (tositsa) of white clay. Frog in the south made one of blue clay; the Usheenasun in the west made one of yellow clay. Tultklehale on the north made one of spotted clay. It had variegated surface of black, blue, yellow and white.

Etséhostin began to travel and he went to Teholtsody’s house, and in the middle of it he found the pot Teholtsody had made and it was covered. He lifted the cover and found it full of water. He went home and told his wife that Teholtsody was growing wiser than they were. Etséasun then went south to Frog’s house and saw his pot full of water, and she returned to her house and told her husband. Jōsdelhazhy said she also would travel and she went west and found that Salt Woman also had a pot full of water. She returned and told what she had seen. Hashjaishjine then went north and found a pot of water in the house of Tulthkalhale and he returned very angry. He said, “They are all getting wiser than us. They are growing rich and we are still poor. We have nothing and cannot make anything.” Etséhostin said, “Why should you be angry? We will grow wise like them and have many things some day.” Then Etséhostin went to Teholtsody’s house to get a little water, which he brought back to his own house. Etséasun went and brought some from the south. Next Hostin borrowed some from the west and Asun borrowed from the north. Having brought water from each of these four places Hostin planted it all together in the ground. In a few days he saw a damp, green spot there. He returned to look at the place in a few more days and saw that bushes had grown there. He made a third visit and found jointed grass. He made a fourth visit and found the reed grass, looka (arrow grass, tluka) but it had no pollen on the top, and there was a large spring also. Hostin again said, “I wish we had something more,” and he went to the spring and found lookaitso growing right in the centre of it. Five different kinds of plants grew out of the spring and he pulled up some of each kind and took them home. One of these reeds had twelve joints and the wind came out of the other end and made music (a flageolet). The wind emerging from this reed whirled about on the ground all over the world and it went to the houses at the four quarters and caused them much trouble. The dweller at each house sent his guard out to trouble the wind. They took black clouds, fogs, and blue mould, also to each of them was given Thunder and Lightning and the guardians kept shooting at the little winds but these latter kept dodging about so that they could not be hit. But this only raised more wind and it rained heavily, then the guards stopped troubling the wind for they could not conquer it.

When the rain stopped Hostin said to his wife, “Everything looks beautiful, I wish we had something good to eat.” He looked in all directions and saw Hajillkish (Glow-light Heat-Lightning) at the four points where people lived. Then he prayed for some kind of grass, or fruit, or seeds to live upon. He went to the spring and saw something green that had come up out of the ground and it was corn. He then went east to Teholtsody and found the pumpkin and squash and returned. Asun went south and found that Frog had raised watermelon and tobacco. She returned. Then Hostin went west to Salt Woman’s house and found beans p. 91 and cotton growing, then she returned home. Hostin went north to Tulthkle’s house and found muskmelon and gourds growing in great quantities. He then returned and said to Asun, “We have wished for these things (i.e. we have everything we prayed for). Now we have many things. Let us pray for something more.” So he prayed and sang for more.

He went to the spring and saw a “fruit” in the middle of the water. He went back for Spider Woman and told her to get this fruit out of the water. She got it and gave it to Hostin who looked at it and saw it was Yolakaihatate, a big shell, big as a pan. He took this home and returned next day to the spring and found more fruit. Spider Woman again brought it out and it was Turquoise, Tedokiji. Hostin then went east to Teholtsody’s house and went in and found a big black bow and arrow, also eagle feathers. These Hostin used as Thunder (the arrow for lightning, and the feathers to guide the arrows). Asun sent south to Frog’s house, and Frog had stone knives (paishhathl). Spider Woman went to Salt Woman who had planted cotton and had been weaving it into cloth. Spider Woman got this and brought it home. Hashjaishjine went north to Tulthkle’s house and found black cloth and fetched it home. On the first trip Hashjaishjine returned angry but this time he was in good humor. He said to Hostin, “The people at the four corners are growing rich.” Hostin then prayed for more and went to the spring. The corn was growing ripe and each stalk carried twelve ears. Asun went over and gathered it and brought it home. They now had plenty of corn and much else besides. But those living at the four corners of the world had no corn so they came to Hostin’s house and begged him for some. He told them to provide for themselves, but finally he gave them some of the pollen (taditin), but none of the ear corn. He told them to plant the pollen. They did so and it grew up small, like onions, but no ears grew upon it. Then they begged Hostin for some seed corn but he would not give them any. Teholtsody said, “When Hostin came borrowing water we all gave him some, and enabled him to raise water of his own.” Hostin said, “Surely you let me have water and when you begged for corn I gave it to you and taught you how to plant it as best I could.” Teholtsody was very angry and thought how he could destroy Hostin. Teholtsody gave Thunder a bow and arrow and told him to go and kill Hostin, “for,” said he, “we must have some of this corn.” Thunder went “to try and burst Hostin open with lightning,” but Horned Toad was in the doorway of Hostin’s house and the wind warned Hostin of his danger. Hostin told Horned Toad to stand in front of him always, for as he was so rough-coated lightning could not hurt him. Frog was also angry and assaulted Hostin. He sent his guardian Tehlinl (a water monster) to draw all the water away (to dry it up) from Hostin’s spring. But Spider Woman wove an impenetrable web around it so that Frog and his guardian were foiled. (Hostjaishkine was the most powerful). Salt Woman gave Tiinainilly a lump p. 92 (double handful) of salt, and he also had some kind of lightning in his hands, and he came against Hostin. Hostjaishjine saw him coming and knew his harmful intent. Hostjaishjine had a long stone knife with a wooden handle. He ran into the house and made a fire by twirling a spindle of wood, etc. He made a small fire and scattered it all over Hostin’s house. Tiinainilly (a young man) came close in order to throw his lightning on to the house and his salt upon the fire, which exploded, but no harm ensued, so he went back to the west and the Salt Woman was powerless. Tulthklahale, in the north, sent Mud Turtle (Black-mud Fish) to harm Hostin. Turtle had some kind of lightning of arrow, but could do no harm. Hastjaishjine made a big shirt of rawhide and gave it to Wunustcinde (locust) and this protected him against the lightning or arrows of the Turtle; no impression could be made on this shirt, and this is the origin of the shield. Hastjaishjini saw that all these people were jealous of the Hostin and were trying to destroy him. (They were envious of his possessing corn, etc.). Hostin then asked Hastjaishjini to do what he could against these people. Hashjaishjini’s anger was roused against these people and he sallied forth to their houses. He went first to east, then south, then west, then north. He broke open their houses and successively broke the pot and spilled the water that was in them. The water that was in the pot in the east flowed to the south and the water that was in the pot in the north flowed toward the west, and all the waters met in the west and there was a great flood. Hostin had corn, white shells, turquoise and everything he wanted. He had large hollow reeds which would float on the water so he did not care when the flood should reach him. But all these eight persons who were envious and at enmity with Hostin were troubled and afraid of the flood. Hostin and his people were not afraid as they had the means of floating on the water.

Hostin and his family cut the great reeds and put all their corn and other possessions inside of these, and the whole world was gradually overflowed. Then Teholtsody and the others at the cardinal points began to wish that they could save themselves with Hostin and his family. Teholtsody made a bow and arrow and gave them to Thunder and told him to go to Hostin and give them to him and beg that there might be peace between them. Thunder went to Hostin’s house and said, “Teholtsody sends you this bow and arrow and begs you to be his friend.” Hostin would not look at them and said, “I have nothing to do with it. Go to Hostjaishjine. He is the one that broke the water vessels and brought on this flood.” So Thunder took them to Hostjaishjine and made the same offer. Hostjaishjine would not listen to Thunder but said, “Go to Wunustcinde” (locust). Thunder went to him and he accepted the bow and arrow saying, “This is just what I want.” There were two arrows and Wunustcinde thrust them into his breast, one at either side, and drew them completely through. You may see that this insect has the holes in its thorax to this day. Then he put them in his mouth and p. 93 thrust them down his throat into his stomach and withdrew them again, and there was blood adhering to them.

Next Frog sent Teklin to Hostin to say, “My house is overflowed and have lost everything except this tobacco bag which I wish you to accept that we may become friends.” The bag was made from the green scum of the water and was embroidered with beads, etc. Hostin would not have it and referred him to Hostjaishjine who breathed upon it four times and there was some tobacco in it and he filled a clay pipe with it and smoked.

Next Salt Woman said, “We shall be killed by the water, we cannot live here, let us go to Hostin.” She had a cotton blanket (naskan) and offered this through Tunelini (Salt Woman’s guard) to Hostin. He would not have it, and said, “Go to Spider Woman and give her the blanket.” She looked at it, put it around her waist, breathed from it four times and was satisfied. Next came Hakleale (Fish Guardian) who sent fish Hostin with a flint shirt and cap. He offered them, but Hostin sent him to second man (Nacûiditcije, Horned Toad). He took the shirt and cap, put the shirt on and wore the cap, and therefore all four groups (eight people) were now on peaceable terms with Hostin.

They were all friends. They stayed there a while but everything was flooded except on the east side. Little white mountains showed above the water. On the south side were little blue mountains; on the west side, little yellow mountains; on the north, little black mountains. All just barely showed their heads above water. Hostin went east to White mountains and picked up a little earth and returned. Spider Woman wove a web on the surface of the water near each of the four mountains. Hostin had a house of rainbow and sun rays in the form of a little mountain and he covered it with earth for a roof. The water had not yet covered the houses. Spider Woman wove a web so that the spring could not overflow yet. Old Man (Hostin) and Woman (Asun) went over to the spring and planted every growing thing, corn, melons, pumpkins, beans, all things, and they got all kinds of seeds and put them away. Those living in the various directions owned their water and had it with them. After the restoration of peace, Old Woman made new vessels for all these people in which they carried their water supply. When they made peace and were all united, the flood continued, so they put all their corn and property in the reeds and got inside themselves. All these people were inside the reeds and the water kept rising. Old Man and Woman went down to the spring. Old Man got on one side, Old Woman, on the other. He began to pray: “We are going to leave the spring, we will never come back again, but wherever I go I will always live as I have done here, do everything as I have done here.”

When he finished praying, a young man came out of the spring and a little afterwards another. They did not look at the boys closely, but Old Woman took them in her arms and folded her blanket around them and went to the reeds. They made a hole in the reed in the side of the shaft and the people got inside and Old Man went in last, but Wunustcinde (locust) got up to the top of the reed and sat upon a leaf. As the reed began to move upward Wunustcinde began to make a noise through the holes in his thorax and as he did so the reed began to shake like wind. Black Wind shook it at the roots and made it move. The reed grew up higher and higher. The water now covered an the earth, everything except this reed which kept growing and Wunustcinde was always on the leaf at the top. As the reed grew, the water continued to rise; as Wunustcinde made his noise, the reed kept growing and Black Wind kept blowing at the roots and the people became aware that they were close to the roof of the world and did not know what to do as there was no space left for them between the surface of the water and the under side of this earth. Wunustcinde stopped his noise and Black Wind stopped blowing, and the reed stopped growing. They did not know what to do. Old Man then said to him of the north, “You begged me to bring you along, now come with me to look around and see if there is any way to get out of this world.” But they could not find a hole anywhere nor any way to get out. They were frightened and thought they would all die there. But the Spider Woman wove a web on the surface of the water. It floated like a raft and an the people got out and sat upon it. They were puzzled what to do. Hostjaishjine picked up his peshhath (stone knife) and began to bore a hole in the roof over them. It was of clay which dropped and crumbled and when he could go no farther he called Wunustcinde to try, who soon bored a small hole through and came out upon the new world, but the water coming up through the hole which he had made was like to flood the new world also, so he stopped the hole up with mud.

No one saw him there as yet. Then he saw the water rising up from east, south, west, and north. He made the noise with his thorax. He saw a swan on the south side making much noise and the water was all in motion. Wunustcinde made such noise that the swan from the east, also one from the north and one from the west came to him. All four came to him but did not know what to think of him. They asked him where he came from. He told them from the world below. They would not believe him so he told them how he had come. The swans told him that neither he nor his people should come to this new place for it belonged to the swans only, and they would not let anyone else live here. Wunustcinde had a hard time with the swans, and they fought him. Finally they said, “If you want to stay here you must pay us.” So Wunustcinde returned to his people and told them all this. Wunustcinde had the red substance that causes the sun to set red when it is going to storm and he offered this to the swans for their land. They put it on their wings and were so much pleased with it they said, “Well now, you can come and live here.” Wunustcinde said to them that some of his people could not live in the water, although some of them could. Then the swans said p. 95 that after four days there would be some dry land. The swans had pots of clay and they placed one on the east side, one on the north side, one on the west side and in this way they carried off some of the water, and made some dry land. When the others came up to the new world they built little round houses again of the same red substance that had been given to the swans.

First Man made a man called Hosjelti and placed him on San Francisco Mountain; another called Hosjogwan (?) who lives on Ute Mountains; another called Navesrhuni (Nagenezgruni) who lives on Navajo Mountain; another called Hoshjaishjine who lives on San Mateo Mounitain, These four own all the game and other animals on these mountains. Old Man’s people however lived close together. They took the earth gathered from the four mountains in the lower world and again they formed mountains as in lower world, at east, white; at south, blue; at west, yellow; at north, black. No one was allowed to see the boys who were found at the spring; they were left at the Ute Mountains when the people first came up. Old Man had brought seeds of all kinds with him and planted everything that grows, vegetables, plants, timber, sagebrush, flowers, everything. He found lots of people here who joined him. That was when bears, deer, antelope, rabbit, birds, all kinds of animals were people.

They (Old Man ?) made a white blanket for sunrise over Ute Mts., east; a blue blanket for the south sky, over San Mateo Mt., south; a yellow blanket for sunset over San Francisco Mt., west; a black blanket for Navajo Mt., north. There had been neither day nor night in the lower world, only sufficient light for existence. Old Man now said, “Let us arrange to have day and night, a time for work and a time for sleep,” and so we see it is today. Just before sunrise comes a white streak in the east. Then the yellow of sunset and the white of the east meet in the middle so as to give light enough to work. And when the blue and the black meet in the middle this way it makes night, the time for sleep.

Then Old Man and Old Woman said, “We have nobody to talk to about ourselves (to worship us).” Old Man went off to the east to find people, or same as soon as they reached the upper world went toward the east. Old Man followed after these, and from east they brought back eagle feathers; from west, hawk feathers; from south, blue feathers; from north, speckled feathers (of whip-poor-will, night bird). When they got these altogether they laid them before them. Beside east feather they laid white corn and white shell; beside west feather, yellow corn and abalone shell; beside south feather, blue corn, and turquoise; beside north feather, all kinds of corn and shells and turquoise. All four were laid out together. Old man arranged all these for singing and praying to these things as he did at the spring, singing and praying. He and Old Woman and all his people moved about walking over these things several times in ceremonial manner.

East feather was for the wolf. The feather and corn and shell were prayed over and a wolf was raised. They prayed over the west objects, and Mountain Lion was raised; they prayed over the south objects and Tabastin, Otter, was raised; they prayed over the north objects, Bud (sic!) Beaver was raised. Old man said, “We need rulers,” and he made these four rulers over these several regions. He planted all vegetable things and sprinkled them with the earth of the four mountains to give them power. These mountains had much wild tobacco growing on them. The four animals were the rulers of all the land. They smoked and felt good and began to teach the people to be farmers, to plant corn, wheat, melons, pumpkins, beans, chile, etc. and how to irrigate and take care of their crops. All four (animals) taught the people to use all kinds of grasses, timber, etc.

Old Man and Old Woman again talked about how they should get some more people, and they worked hard and made people. Joshdelhashi assisted them. She rubbed down the skin on her arms, and put the roll of cuticle on the ground, and it became a man (Repeat for various parts of the body, as in the first world, until twelve people are made).

They made six men and six women, and the offspring of these twelve people are all pueblo Indians, Moki, Oraibi, Zuñi, etc. men who cut their hair across the front of the face. When the white streak of daylight, the white of the east, met the yellow of sunset in mid heavens, and after they had each returned to their place (as they do daily) the white of the east had offspring which was Coyote, and the yellow of the west a yellow fox. The blue and black met in mid heaven and returning had issue — the blue, a blue fox, and the black, a badger. On the east side is Coyote; on the west, Yellow Fox; on the south, Blue Fox; on the north, Badger.

The Coyote of the east came where the people were and asked Old Man where he came from. Old Man told him from three worlds down below and also told Coyote how he came up, also saying “If you (Coyote) are a clever man, I will teach you all we know about our religion, etc.” So he taught him everything. Coyote got to know a great deal, and he went off to the Ute Mountains and got on the summit and commenced howling and making all sorts of noises. Old man had Guardian Wind and Wind went to Coyote and asked him what he was yelling about, and Coyote said, “It is none of your business.” Coyote said he belonged to Old Man and had learned how to do everything, and that no roaring of the wind could frighten him. Wind said, “Keep on then, see if Old Man will not make a living without (after) you.” Coyote said, “He will have to do more than he has been doing then.” Coyote went back to Old Man and told him lies about the wind.

Blue and Yellow Foxes went together to the pueblos and belong to them. Coyote and Badger belong to the Navajos, but Great Wolf was the chief (ruler) of the whole. He gets up at daybreak, stands in the midst of the people’s dwellings and calls to the people to go to work in the fields He advises them to get early to work planting corn, gardening and irrigating.1

He had a very smart woman for a wife and they had two children. After a time this woman made herself three small sticks for gambling and would go off all day long and leave the children helpless. Late in the afternoon Wolf chief, the man, came home and saw the state of the hogan, untidy, and one of the children lying in the ashes of the fireplace. He did not try to clean up for he was very tired and lay down. At sunset his wife came back with her sticks but she had gambled away everything she had. Then the husband expostulated with her on her conduct. She replied tartly that he could stay and take care of the hogan and children as he had nothing to do. He said he provided food, etc. but she was quarrelsome and continued scolding (like the Navaho women today!). She told her husband she could take care of herself and so continued scolding, etc. until time for the Corn dance. She carried off the corn to grind and make mush for the dance although her own children were crying with hunger. Finally she told her husband to go off and she could easily find another. She said she could do without assistance. The husband avoided replying to her and said nothing. He lay still all night feeling bad about her. In the morning he did not know what to do. He took his bow and arrow and walked off. Shortly he found some meat in the woods on a tree and he took some and ate it raw. That is why Wolf eats raw meat. He stole this meat (for it belonged to the second chief) but it was by reason of the trouble with his wife and he was muddled. At sunset he returned, said not a word to his wife, nor to his people who came to see him. In the night all his people came to see him for they thought he was sick. On the second night he said nothing, and next morning he would say nothing. The third chief came to see him, “Come out and do some work,” said he. No answer. On the third night it was the same. On the fourth day the fourth chief called on him, still no result. On the fifth night, the three chiefs met together and said, “Let us go to First Chief’s house and speak to him.” So they went and said to him, “We called the people to work but they idle and gambIe in the fields. Come into the house (lodge) and examine each separately, and find out who has spoken a bad word of you, our Chief,” but they could find no one who had done so. Then they called in all the women to the lodge to find if any of them had given offense to the chief, still they found no one; by this time it was nearly daylight. Still the chief would say nothing. The women said there was none of them guilty. This was at daylight. “Who is the man? No man nor woman caused his trouble but the woman he was living with.” On the sixth night the chief said, “I will speak a few words to you, and tomorrow I will go out to the fields.” He went out and saw the crops neglected and weeds growing. On the following night he called the men into his house and they all assembled. He said “I am sorry. My wife alone is to blame, but every woman you have is liable to do the same as mine has done. Let them go and try to make a living for themselves and see how they like that. There is a wide, deep river, without a ford. Let us (men) find means to cross it, and leave all the women behind. Every man must leave his wife.” Most of them felt sorry, and some said, “What will we do in the case of a nursing boy baby, shall we take him away from his mother? How about Nutlys, berdaches? They also like to gamble with the women. Let us see what the berdaches say?” The berdaches were the last to come in. They scratched the ground with a stick a long time trying to make up their minds. They did not care to go with the women, and what could they do? Finally they said, “We will go with the men.” “Very well,” the men said, “That is good, but you must take your own food with you.” The men asked them also, “Have you your own grinding stones, pots, dippers, mush sticks, brushes, are all these your own?” “Yes, by my own hands.” “All right,” the men said, “We will take one berdache with us to cook for us.”

The chief told the men to get ready to cross the river that day. They got ready to go. They had plenty of corn and all kinds of food, but he said, “We must go without anything, only a few kernels for seed.” The berdache took along everything. Rafts were made and preparatians completed. Best hunters crossed first so that if they should find any antelope with milk they might bring it back for the children. The berdache remained behind (at the camp after crossing the river) and ground some corn and made a little mush for the children, and the hunters were to come back in the middle of the day with meat and milk. The hunters brought back deer and antelope but many did not feel like eating as they had just parted from their wives. All the men sat up during the night to talk about their trouble. Finally they said, “Let us go to work,” and they began cutting trees for houses. The women camped on the opposite river bank and held out their privates (djocs) where the men could see them, calling out to them, “How would you like to have some?” etc. trying to tantalize them and entice them back. The hunters went out again and some cleared the ground for planting. At that time they had only stone implements for axes and broad sticks for hoes. The second night they camped out again and some brought in deer and antelope and they were better off than before. The fourth night they were all contented, they had plenty of game and food. The little children began to be contented as they grew accustomed to their separation from their mothers. The women camped on the river bank, and ground corn constantly in sight of the men on the opposite bank. The houses were strung along as the mealing stones were arranged. They had some square houses too, but these belonged to the Pueblo Indians. The men became quite indifferent to the women, but the women were becoming restless with increasing amatory desires. Four years this separation continued, and as the men had left plenty of corn and food of all kinds with the women they did not suffer much until the end of this time. By that time however, the fields had become overgrown with sagebrush and cottonwood as the women had planted nothing. Then they had to gather up bones and boil them for all their possessions were exhausted and they suffered greatly. Badger (of the north) wanted to copulate with the women but he had a bad penis, crooked like a hook. The first one he tried was Joshdelhashi, then all the others. It made them crazy and they went wild with desire to copulate continually. Some of them took a corn cob wrapped with any soft substance and continually performed the sexual act artificially. Some tried to swim the river to get to the men but were drowned. Some died crazy with wild desire. This and lack of food caused the death of most of the women. Coyote, Blue Fox, Yellow Fox and Badger copulated with the women continually, and licked the women between the legs. That is why dogs and these animals lick each other that way.

On the other side of the river, the children had grown up so that all could work. They had plenty of food as there were no idlers to consume it. When they killed an antelope they cut out the liver and made a hole in it and artificially performed the sexual act. Some who could overtake a doe would copulate with it, but these lightning struck and burst open. Some in like manner with an antelope doe, and the rattlesnake bit and killed them. Another man would do likewise with mountain sheep and a bear killed him.

Kideztizi was out hunting till late and as he could not reach home he camped. He lay down before the fire with a piece of liver in his hand, warming his penis to cause an erection. Nastja (owl) lit on branch above him and hooting called “Kitdeztizi, don’t fornicate that liver,” and then flew away. Another owl came from the same direction and lit crying “You go on and do so if you wish.” He acted on the last suggestion and then went to sleep.

Very few women were left alive, but the men remained strong and well. The men came together one night and began to talk about the women and asked the chief what he thought ought to be done. Most of the men said, “We are here without women and when we begin to die we shall disappear very fast as we have no increase.” They talked four nights and then the chief said, “One of you might go across the river and see how many of the women are left. Look for the woman who caused trouble and if she is dead, all will be well.” She was found alive but could hardly lift her head. Scarcely any flesh remained on her bones and she defecated where she lay. All the four chiefs went over to see her. As the head chief went into his old house where she had abused him, she seized him, but he jerked away from her, and then she began to talk to him. She wept with sorrow and repentance, and acknowledged that she was unable to live alone as she had once thought. All the women came and begged piteously. But the men would not touch them for they all p. 100 smelled bad, like coyotes. The chiefs all returned across the river to discuss the matter. Most of them thought that they might as well keep the few women remaining, or else the race would disappear. The men had one berdache among them and they decided to leave the question to his decision. He said he was content to have the women come across because he was tired of cooking for them all. He said, “The best you can do is to bring these women over.” He made a lot of small boats (rafts) and brought the women across in two days. After the women were brought over the men would give them nothing to eat for they smelled bad, and they put them in the sweathouses and gave them herbs to make them vomit. Some of the women ate too much and it killed them. On the fourth night the sweating ceremonies were over, and the women were fed. They grew fat and healthy again. Those whose wives had died became jealous of those whose wives rejoined them. This jealousy spread, and it has always continued. At the end of four years the young girls had grown fit for wives and those who had none took these. At the end of these four years they came from the east and crossed the ….. Mountains (omitted from mss.)

A long time before this when Teholtsody left, he built a house under the water upon the bottom of the river, and no one had seen him since. At night the cries of a baby were heard from the water house and Coyote tried to get the baby but failed. He went to Old Man and told him, and Old Man said, “Go to the Spider Woman.” Spider Woman spun a web which spread over the river to the place where the house was beneath the water, and she got the baby and hid it away so that Teholtsody could not find the child. He is sad to this day because of the loss of the child. He is everybody’s friend. Spider Woman took the baby and wrapped it in the web and placed it under her left arm and no one can find it to this day. Teholtsody being unable to find the baby grew crazy and said he would keep on killing everyone he met until he found this child. Being very angry he opened the earth at four corners and let the waters loose, and the rise of the water brought the people together and they saw the waters come up and out of the earth like the clouds and they could not understand it. Then they prayed for the winds, and they came up. White Wind being quick went to the east, Blue to the south, Yellow to west, and Black to the north, and they returned and said, “You are going to be drowned, for great bodies of water are coming together.” Then one went to East Mountain to get some earth, one to San Francisco Mt., west; one to Navajo Mt., north; and one to San Mateo Mt., east. They brought earth from all these. When Old Man left the lower world Old Woman brought the springs up with her under her arms.

The two youths came back from the mountain called Tcolii. Everybody saw them. One had a piece of hollow reed with four holes in its side, the other a sunflower stem with four holes in its stem (i.e. flutes). And all the people came together. They had plenty of everything, but the water came so quickly upon them they had only time to take enough for seed and they began to climb the mountains but the waters still rose. So the people climbed up to the tops of the pine trees. The two youths who had the reed and sunflower planted the reed and the people got into it and the reed began to grow. Klishjo was at the bottom, then Thunder, then the Turkey whose tail dragged in the water, that is why his feathers are white. These flutes had four holes. The first hole was for Black Wind, second for Yellow, third for Blue, and fourth White, and these winds guarded the holes in the flute. The winds began to blow and the Great Fly also began to shake the flute, and it began to grow, and the rain kept falling. They had no rest for four nights and Badger began to dig upward but came back again. Wunusticinde then began to dig and shortly he penetrated through to another world, but he found nothing but water. Wunustcinde being small he was hard to see, but soon a man in the east who had an axe spied him and came and struck twelve times at him but could not hit him. Then came a man from the south and tried, then from the west, then from the north, but all failed to hurt him. So these four men went back in the directions they came from. The man who came with the axe first went back, but another man came from the east, Tcithkahilka with two arrows, one trimmed with gray eagle feathers and one with black. He came to Wunustcinde and threw the arrows at him. “What are you doing here?” he said. “You have no right here, this is my land.” Wunustcinde said, “We shall see about that. We would like to live here at any rate.” The man took his arrows and put one up his anus, the other down his throat and pushed them through, then drew them out and threw them to Wunustcinde saying, that if he could do that the land would be his. Wunustcinde said he could do better than that, so he pushed them through his breast, one from each side and taking them by the points drew them through. There was a little blood adhering to them but the act did not hurt him at all. Wunustcinde said, “If you do as I have done, you can have your ground back. It belongs to me now as I have won it from you.” The man picked up his arrows and went home in sorrow. (Repeat for the men who came from the other three points). So Wunustcinde won that country.

He returned to his people and told of his new world, and four of his people went up. One of these with his flint knife cut the ground towards the east and made a little cañon. The next man went south, and dragged his black cane through the soft ground and made an arroyo. Mountain sheep, the third man, went west and formed an arroyo, ploughing up the ground. The fourth was Rhanskidde. He had a straight stick which he dragged along the ground and made an arroyo to the north side. All these four met again in the middle and then went down to their people. The four winds then came up on top and blew as hard as they could and by the fourth night everything was dry and the land beautiful. That is why water runs in all directions. When Badger came up, the ground was muddy in places and he being short-legged got stuck in the mud. That is why he has a black muzzle and black legs. The winds followed after Badger. The leader of the Winds was left-handed. The next one was the Striped Wind. Next the Spotted Wind, and fourth was Shiny Wind. These all raised a tempest which dried up the ground very quickly. They sent out big grey Fly who flew up and found everything beautiful. He returned and reported to his people, and they stayed yet another twelve days before the new world was dry enough for occupancy.

Spider Woman still carried Teholtsody’s child under her arm wrapped in spider web. Everything being in readiness, long ladders were made to reach through the hole from the lower to the new upper world and the people all came up through by this means. The water of the lower world kept rising until it touched the bottom of new world and Turkey was last to come up. The foam touched his tail; that is why it is white on the end. Some water squirted up through the hole after all had got out, and it formed a lake. When all the people were up Hoskjelti (Hosdjeyelti) sought for the best place to build houses and he laid the foundations of the houses of all the Pueblo Indians. While he was working for these people his own people could not wait any longer without houses so they cut down poles and built hogans. Then they arranged their farms, planting all kinds of seed. Teholtsody was still searching for his child and followed these people. He wanted to come out upon this upper world and everyone was afraid and did not know what to do. While people were talking, Spider Woman came in with the child and they made her give the child back to Teholtsody, who then went down to the lower world and closed over the water.

To this latter world was brought from the former ones all the seeds of plants and of trees and of all things that grow.

Legend of the Fifth Sun

(Aztec – Mexico, 1345 CE)

About the Aztecs:

The Aztecs were a mighty civilization that flourished from the 1300s to 1521 in what is now central and southern Mexico. The Aztec people spoke the Nahuatl language and once ruled a large empire. They are believed to have originated from northwestern Mexico, in a region called Aztlán (meaning “White Land” or “Land of White Herons”).

The Aztecs were a tribe of hunters and gatherers. They arrived in the Valley of Mexico around the beginning of the 13th century and settled on islands in Lake Texcoco. They were also called the Tenochca, in reference to their ancestor Tenoch. A third name for the Aztecs was the Mexica, probably from Metzliapán, the mystical name for Lake Texcoco.

The Aztecs developed a remarkable system of agriculture. They cultivated all available land and used complex systems of irrigation. They drained swampy lands and built artificial islands on which to plant their crops, which included corn, squash, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, and avocados. They also fished and hunted rabbits, armadillos, snakes, wild turkey, and coyotes.

Read more here: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/KLJFEO280022773/WHIC?u=txshracd2544&sid=bookmark-WHIC&xid=7783d0dd


According to the Aztec creation myth, the world of the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish colonization was the fifth era of a cycle of creation and destruction—they believed their world had been created and destroyed four times before. During each of the four previous cycles, different gods governed the earth through a dominant element and then destroyed it. These worlds were called suns.

In the Beginning

In the beginning, according to Aztec mythology, the creator couple of Tonacacihuatl and Tonacateuctli (also known as the god Ometeotl, who was both male and female) gave birth to four sons, the Tezcatlipocas of the East, North, South, and West. After 600 years, the sons began to create the universe, including the creation of cosmic time, called “suns.” These gods eventually created the world and all the other deities.After the world was created, the gods gave light to humans. But to do this, one of the gods had to sacrifice himself by leaping into a fire. Each subsequent sun was created by the personal sacrifice of at least one of the gods. Thus, a key element of the story—like in all Aztec culture—is that sacrifice is required to begin renewal.

Four Cycles

The first god to sacrifice himself was Tezcatlipoca (also known as Black Tezcatlipoca), who leaped into the fire and started the First Sun, called “4 Tiger.” This period was inhabited by giants who ate only acorns, and it came to an end when the giants were devoured by jaguars. The world lasted 676 years, or 13 52-year cycles, according to the pan-Mesoamerican calendar.The Second Sun, or “4-Wind” Sun, was governed by Quetzalcoatl (also known as White Tezcatlipoca). Here, the earth was populated by humans who ate only piñon nuts. Tezcatlipoca wanted to be Sun, however, and turned himself into a tiger and threw Quetzalcoatl off his throne. This world came to an end through catastrophic hurricanes and floods. The few survivors fled to the tops of the trees and were transformed into monkeys. This world also lasted 676 years.
The Third Sun, or “4-Rain” Sun, was dominated by water; its ruling deity was the rain god Tlaloc, and its people ate seeds that grew in the water. This world came to an end when the god Quetzalcoatl made it rain fire and ashes, and the survivors became turkeys, butterflies, or dogs. It lasted just seven cycles—364 years.The Fourth Sun, the “4-Water” Sun, was governed by the goddess Chalchiuthlicue, sister and wife of Tlaloc. Here, the people ate maize. A great flood marked the end of this world, and all the people were transformed into fish. Like the first and second suns, the 4-Water Sun lasted for 676 years.

Creating the Fifth Sun

At the end of the fourth sun, the gods gathered at Teotihuacan to decide who had to sacrifice him/herself for the new world to begin. The god Huehuetéotl—the old fire god—started a sacrificial bonfire, but none of the most important gods wanted to jump into the flames. The rich and proud god Tecuciztecatl—Lord of the Snails—hesitated, and during that hesitation, the humble and poor Nanahuatzin (meaning “full of sores”) leaped into the flames and became the new sun.Tecuciztecatl jumped in after him to become a second sun. However, the gods realized that two suns would overwhelm the world, so they threw a rabbit at Tecuciztecal and he became the moon—that is why you can still see the rabbit in the moon today. The two celestial bodies were set in motion by Ehecatl, the god of the wind, who fiercely and violently blew the sun into motion.

The Fifth Sun

The Fifth Sun (called “4-Movement”) is ruled by Tonatiuh, the sun god. This fifth sun is characterized by the daysign Ollin, which means movement. According to Aztec beliefs, this indicated that this world would come to an end through earthquakes, and all the people will be eaten by sky monsters.The Aztecs considered themselves the People of the Sun, and therefore their duty was to nourish the Sun god through blood offerings and sacrifices. Failure to do this would cause the end of their world and the disappearance of the sun from the sky.

The New Fire Ceremony

At the end of each 52-year cycle, the Aztec priests carried out the New Fire Ceremony, or “binding of the years.” The legend of the five suns predicted the end of a calendar cycle, but it was not known which cycle would be the last one. The Aztec people would clean their houses, discarding all household idols, cooking pots, clothing, and mats. During the last five days, fires were extinguished and the people climbed on their roofs to await the fate of the world.On the last day of the calendar cycle, the priests would climb the Star Mountain, today known in Spanish as Cerro de la Estrella, and watch the rise of the Pleiades to ensure it followed its normal path. A fire drill was placed through the heart of a sacrificial victim; if the fire could not be lit, the myth said, the sun would be destroyed forever. The successful fire was then brought to Tenochtitlan to relight hearths throughout the city. According to the Spanish chronicler Bernardo Sahagun, the New Fire ceremony was conducted every 52 years in villages throughout the Aztec world.

Moroyok and Morwak

(Maasai – Kenya, 1400 CE)

One origin myth reveals much about present-day Maasai relations between the sexes. It holds that the Maasai are descended from two equal and complementary tribes, one consisting strictly of females, and the other of males. The women’s tribe, the Moroyok, raised antelopes, including the eland, which the Maasai claim to have been the first species of cattle. Instead of cattle, sheep, and goats, the women had herds of gazelles. Zebras transported their goods during migrations, and elephants were their devoted friends, tearing down branches and bringing them to the women who used them to build homes and corrals. The elephants also swept the antelope corrals clean. However, while the women bickered and quarreled, their herds escaped. Even the elephants left them because they could not satisfy the women with their work.According to the same myth, the Morwak—the men’s tribe—raised cattle, sheep, and goats. The men occasionally met women in the forest. The children from these unions would live with their mothers, but the boys would join their fathers when they grew up. When the women lost their herds, they went to live with the men, and, in doing so, gave up their freedom and their equal status. From that time, they depended on men, had to work for them, and were subject to their authority.

Haudenosaunee Creation Story

(Iroquois – American Northeast/Canadian Southeast, 1450 CE)

In the great past, deep water covered all the earth. The air was filled with birds, and great monsters were in possession of the waters, when a beautiful woman was seen by them falling from the sky. Then huge ducks gathered in council and resolved to meet this wonderful creature and break the force of her fall. So they arose, and, with pinion overlapping pinion, unitedly received the dusky burden. Then the monsters of the deep also gathered in council to decide which should hold this celestial being and protect her from the terrors of the water, but none was able except a giant tortoise, who volunteered to endure this lasting weight upon his back. There she was gently placed, while he, constantly increasing in size, soon became a large island. Twin boys were after a time brought forth by the woman—one the spirit of good, who made all good things, and caused the maize, fruit, and tobacco to grow; the other the spirit of evil, who created the weeds and all vermin. Ever the world was increasing in size, although occasional quakings were felt, caused by the efforts of the monster tortoise to stretch out, or by the contraction of his muscles.

After the lapse of ages from the time of his general creation Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ, the Sky Holder, resolved upon a special creation of a race which should surpass all others in beauty, strength, and bravery; so from the bosom of the great island, where they had previously subsisted upon moles, Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ brought out the six pairs, which were destined to become the greatest of all people. The Tuscaroras tell us that the first pair were left near a great river, now called the Mohawk. The second family were directed to make their home by the side of a big stone. Their descendants have been termed the Oneidas. Another pair were left on a high hill, and have ever been called the Onondagas. Thus each pair was left with careful instructions in different parts of what is now known as the State of New York, except the Tuscaroras, who were taken up the Roanoke River into North Carolina, where Ta‑rhuⁿ‑hiă‑wăh‑kuⁿ also took up his abode, teaching them many useful arts before his departure. This, say they, accounts for the superiority of the Tuscaroras. But each of the six tribes will tell you that his own was the favored one with whom Sky Holder made his terrestrial home, while the Onondagas claim that their possession of the council fire prove them to have been the chosen people.

Later, as the numerous families became scattered over the State, some lived in localities where the bear was the principal game, and were called from that circumstance the clan of the Bear. Others lived where the beavers were trapped, and they were called the Beaver clan. For similar reasons the Snipe, Deer, Wolf, Tortoise, and Eel clans received their appellations.

How the World Was Made

(Cherokee – American Southeast-Midwest, 1450)

The earth is a great floating island in a sea of water. At each of the four corners there is a cord hanging down from the sky. The sky is of solid rock. When the world grows old and worn out, the cords will break, and then the earth will sink down into the ocean. Everything will be water again. All the people will be dead. The Indians are much afraid of this.

In the long time ago, when everything was all water, all the animals lived up above in Galun’lati, beyond the stone arch that made the sky. But it was very much crowded. All the animals wanted more room. The animals began to wonder what was below the water and at last Beaver’s grandchild, little Water Beetle, offered to go and find out. Water Beetle darted in every direction over the surface of the water, but it could find no place to rest. There was no land at all. Then Water Beetle dived to the bottom of the water and brought up some soft mud. This began to grow and to spread out on every side until it became the island which we call the earth. Afterwards this earth was fastened to the sky with four cords, but no one remembers who did this.

At first the earth was flat and soft and wet. The animals were anxious to get down, and they sent out different birds to see if it was yet dry, but there was no place to alight; so the birds came back to Galun’lati. Then at last it seemed to be time again, so they sent out Buzzard; they told him to go and make ready for them. This was the Great Buzzard, the father of all the buzzards we see now. He flew all over the earth, low down near the ground, and it was still soft. When he reached the Cherokee country, he was very tired; his wings began to flap and strike the ground. Wherever they struck the earth there was a valley; whenever the wings turned upwards again, there was a mountain. When the animals above saw this, they were afraid that the whole world would be mountains, so they called him back, but the Cherokee country remains full of mountains to this day. [This was the original home, in North Carolina.]

When the earth was dry and the animals came down, it was still dark. Therefore they got the sun and set it in a track to go every day across the island from east to west, just overhead. It was too hot this way. Red Crawfish had his shell scorched a bright red, so that his meat was spoiled. Therefore the Cherokees do not eat it.

Then the medicine men raised the sun a handsbreadth in the air, but it was still too hot. They raised it another time; and then another time; at last they had raised it seven handsbreadths so that it was just under the sky arch. Then it was right and they left it so. That is why the medicine men called the high place “the seventh height.” Every day the sun goes along under this arch on the under side; it returns at night on the upper side of the arch to its starting place.

There is another world under this earth. It is like this one in every way. The animals, the plants, and the people are the same, but the seasons are different. The streams that come down from the mountains are the trails by which we reach this underworld. The springs at their head are the doorways by which we enter it. But in order to enter the other world, one must fast and then go to the water, and have one of the underground people for a guide. We know that the seasons in the underground world are different, because the water in the spring is always warmer in winter than the air in this world; and in summer the water is cooler.

We do not know who made the first plants and animals. But when they were first made, they were told to watch and keep awake for seven nights. This is the way young men do now when they fast and pray to their medicine. They tried to do this. The first night, nearly all the animals stayed awake. The next night several of them dropped asleep. The third night still more went to sleep. At last, on the seventh night, only the owl, the panther, and one or two more were still awake. Therefore, to these were given the power to see in the dark, to go about as if it were day, and to kill and eat the birds and animals which must sleep during the night.

Even some of the trees went to sleep. Only the cedar, the pine, the spruce, the holly, and the laurel were awake all seven nights. Therefore they are always green. They are also sacred trees. But to the other trees it was said, “Because you did not stay awake, therefore you shall lose your hair every winter.”

After the plants and the animals, men began to come to the earth. At first there was only one man and one woman. He hit her with a fish. In seven days a little child came down to the earth. So people came to the earth. They came so rapidly that for a time it seemed as though the earth could not hold them all.

Origin of Disease and Medicine

(Cherokee – American Southeast-Midwest, 1450)

About the Cherokee:

The Cherokees have been one of the most historically significant indigenous cultural groups in the southeastern United States. There were three federally recognized Cherokee Indian nations at the beginning of the twenty-first century: the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) in North Carolina, the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and the United Keetoowah Band in Oklahoma. In addition, more than fifty other organizations in at least twelve states, as well as many individuals, claim Cherokee descent. The question of who is legitimately Cherokee and how many individual Cherokee Indians exist in America is a point of contention, and the distinction between individual claims to cultural or biological identity, on the one hand, and legal membership or citizenship in federally recognized tribes or sovereign tribal nations, on the other, is an important one.

Read more here: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3273300046/WHIC?u=txshracd2544&sid=bookmark-WHIC&xid=a93d0ff4


Cherokee Medicine Wheel

In the old days quadrupeds, birds, fishes, and insects could all talk, and they and the human race lived together in peace and friendship. But as time went on the people increased so rapidly that their settlements spread over the whole earth and the poor animals found themselves beginning to be cramped for room. This was bad enough, but to add to their misfortunes man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears, and hooks, and began to slaughter the larger animals, birds and fishes for the sake of their flesh or their skins, while the smaller creatures, such as the frogs and worms, were crushed and trodden upon without mercy, out of pure carelessness or contempt. In this state of affairs the animals resolved to consult upon measures for their common safety.

The bears were the first to meet in council in their townhouse in Kuwa´hĭ, the “Mulberry Place,” and the old White Bear chief presided. After each in turn had made complaint against the way in which man killed their friends, devoured their flesh and used their skins for his own adornment, it was unanimously decided to begin war at once against the human race. Some one asked what weapons man used to accomplish their destruction. “Bows and arrows, of course,” cried all the bears in chorus. “And what are they made of?” was the next question. “The bow of wood and the string of our own entrails,” replied one of the bears. It was then proposed that they make a bow and some arrows and see if they could not turn man’s weapons against himself. So one bear got a nice piece of locust wood and another sacrificed himself for the good of the rest in order to furnish a piece of his entrails for the string. But when everything was ready and the first bear stepped up to make the trial it was found that in letting the arrow fly after drawing back the bow, his long claws caught the string and spoiled the shot. This was annoying, but another suggested that he could overcome the difficulty by cutting his claws, which was accordingly done, and on a second trial it was found that the arrow went straight to the mark. But here the chief, the old White Bear, interposed and said that it was necessary that they should have long claws in order to be able to climb trees. “One of us has already died to furnish the bowstring, and if we now cut off our claws we shall all have to starve together. It is better to trust to the teeth and claws which nature has given us, for it is evident that man’s weapons were not intended for us.”

No one could suggest any better plan, so the old chief dismissed the council and the bears dispersed to their forest haunts without having concerted any means for preventing the increase of the human race. Had the result of the council been otherwise, we should now be at war with the bears, but as it is the hunter does not even ask the bear’s pardon when he kills one.

The deer next held a council under their chief, the Little Deer, and after some deliberation resolved to inflict rheumatism upon every hunter who should kill one of their number, unless he took care to ask their pardon for the offense. They sent notice of their decision to the nearest settlement of Indians and told them at the same time how to make propitiation when necessity forced them to kill one of the deer tribe. Now, whenever the hunter brings down a deer, the Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and can not be wounded, runs quickly up to the spot and bending over the blood stains asks the spirit of the deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter for pardon. If the reply be “Yes” all is well and the Little Deer goes on his way, but if the reply be in the negative he follows on the trail of the hunter, guided by the drops of blood on the ground, until he arrives at the cabin in the settlement, when the Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the neglectful hunter with rheumatism, so that he is rendered on the instant a helpless cripple. No hunter who has regard for his health ever fails to ask pardon of the deer for killing it, although some who have not learned the proper formula may attempt to turn aside the Little Deer from his pursuit by building a fire behind them in the trail.

Next came the fishes and reptiles, who had their own grievances against humanity. They held a joint council and determined to make their victims dream of snakes twining about them in slimy folds and blowing their fetid breath in their faces, or to make them dream of eating raw or decaying fish, so that they would lose appetite, sicken, and die. Thus it is that snake and fish dreams are accounted for.

Finally the birds, insects, and smaller animals came together for a like purpose, and the Grubworm presided over the deliberations. It was decided that each in turn should express an opinion and then vote on the question as to whether or not man should be deemed guilty. Seven votes were to be sufficient to condemn him. One after another denounced man’s cruelty and injustice toward the other animals and voted in favor of his death. The Frog (walâ´sĭ) spoke first and said: “We must do something to check the increase of the race or people will become so numerous that we shall be crowded from off the earth. See how man has kicked me about because I’m ugly, as he says, until my back is covered with sores;” and here he showed the spots on his skin. Next came the Bird (tsi´skwa; no particular species is indicated), who condemned man because “he burns my feet off,” alluding to the way in which the hunter barbecues birds by impaling them on a stick set over the fire, so that their feathers and tender feet are singed and burned. Others followed in the same strain. The Ground Squirrel alone ventured to say a word in behalf of man, who seldom hurt him because he was so small; but this so enraged the others that they fell upon the Ground Squirrel and tore him with their teeth and claws, and the stripes remain on his back to this day.

The assembly then began to devise and name various diseases, one after another, and had not their invention finally failed them not one of the human race would have been able to survive. The Grubworm in his place of honor hailed each new malady with delight, until at last they had reached the end of the list, when some one suggested that it be arranged so that menstruation should sometimes prove fatal to woman. On this he rose up in his place and cried: “Wata´n Thanks! I’m glad some of them will die, for they are getting so thick that they tread on me.” He fairly shook with joy at the thought, so that he fell over backward and could not get on his feet again, but had to wriggle off on his back, as the Grubworm has done ever since.

When the plants, who were friendly to man, heard what had been done by the animals, they determined to defeat their evil designs. Each tree, shrub, and herb, down even to the grasses and mosses, agreed to furnish a remedy for some one of the diseases named, and each said: “I shall appear to help man when he calls upon me in his need.” Thus did medicine originate, and the plants, every one of which has its use if we only knew it, furnish the antidote to counteract the evil wrought by the revengeful animals. When the doctor is in doubt what treatment to apply for the relief of a patient, the spirit of the plant suggests to him the proper remedy.


(Zulu – South Africa, 1600)

At first, there was nothing but darkness. Earth was a lifeless rock. But in that darkness dwelt a god, Umvelinqangi, whose voice was like thunder and who, when angered, would shake the world with earthquakes. Umvelinqangi created a single tiny seed. He sent it to the Earth. This seed was the very first life, from which all other life descended. It landed in the soil and sprouted into a long reed. The reed dropped more seeds, which fell off and grew into even more reeds. This continued until they covered a massive swamp to the north, the land called Uthlanga.

At the end of one reed, there grew a man. His name was Unkulunkulu, known as “the first ancestor” and “the Great One.” Very small at first, he grew so large and heavy that he snapped off the end of the reed. Walking across the land of Uthlanga, he noticed men and women were sprouting at the ends of the other reeds. He picked them from the reeds. These people were the first humans, the ancestors of all nations, and they spread across the Earth. It was from Uthlanga that the ancestors of the Zulu journeyed south to the fertile lands they inhabit today.

The Great One continued to walk among the reeds. He saw many forms of life growing at the end of them. He gathered the fish and flung them into the rivers. Fields and forests began to grow, so he harvested birds and antelope, and they darted off into the wild. He picked cattle so they could be used by humans. He plucked off a ball of fire and a round glowing stone, and flung them into the sky. These were the Sun and Moon. Light came into the world.

The Great One also plucked from the reeds fierce lions and other beasts that would travel the lands hunting prey. He harvested magical creatures, some good and some bad. One was the snake-like goddess of the rivers, Mamlambo, rumored by some Zulu to drown people, eat their faces, and suck out their brains. Another goddess was Mbaba Mwana Waresa, a beautiful woman who created rain and rainbows, and who invented farming and gave the Zulu the gift of beer.

One of the final acts of the Great One was the most tragic. He plucked the first chameleon off a reed and sent it to give humans the following message: “Men must not die.” By the words of the Great One, humans would become immortal. Unfortunately, the chameleon was slow and lazy in his journey. The Great One grew impatient and picked a different lizard from a reed.

This lizard was fast and quickly arrived to give word to the humans. But the lizard did not bear the same instructions. Instead the lizard uttered the words, “Men must die.” And so from that day, humans became mortal. It is said that chameleons change color because they are so ashamed their ancestor was not fast enough to spare humankind the invention of death.


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