Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Anningan continually chases his sister, Malina, the Sun goddess, across the sky. During this chase, he forgets to eat, and he gets much thinner. This is symbolic of the phases of the moon, particularly the crescent.
To satisfy his hunger, he disappears for three days each month (new moon) and then returns full (gibbous) to chase his sister all over again. Malina wants to stay far away from her bad brother. That is why they rise and set at different times.
From the tree, only one sun would move off into the sky for a journey of one day, to reach the mount Yen-Tzu in the Far West. Tired of this routine, the ten suns decided to appear all together. The combined heat made the life on the Earth unbearable.
To prevent the destruction of the Earth, the emperor Yao asked Di Jun, the father of the ten suns, to persuade his children to appear one at a time. They would not listen to him, so Di Jun sent the archer, Yi, armed with a magic bow and ten arrows to frighten the disobedient suns. However, Yi shot nine suns, only the Sun that we see today remained in the sky. Di Jun was so angry for the death of nine of his children that he condemned Yi to live as an ordinary mortal in the earth.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Cerberus is one of the offspring of Typhoeus and Echidna. It is a three headed dog with a snake tail and snake heads proturding from his back. He guards the entrance to the underworld, allowing the dead to enter but, never to leave. One of the few living mortals to get past Cerberus was Orpheus who charmed it to sleep with his song during his attempt to rescue Eurydice from death. Fetching Cerberus from the underworld and displaying him to King Eurystheus was the last labor of Herakles .
Sunday, September 16, 2007
In Druid mythology, the infant goddess was fed with milk from a sacred cow from the Otherworld. Brigid owned an apple orchard in the Otherworld and her bees would bring their magical nectar back to earth.
It is said that wherever she walked, small flowers and shamrocks would appear. As a sun goddess her gifts are light (knowledge), inspiration, and the vital and healing energy of the sun.
Brigid of the mantles,
I am under the keeping of my Mother Mary.
I am under the shielding of good Brigid each day.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Herakles is best known as the strongest of all mortals. Stronger then many gods. So strong he was the deciding factor in allowing the Olympian Gods to win their battle with the giants. He was the last mortal son of Zeus. He is the only man born of mortal woman to become a god upon his death.
Offsetting his strength was a noticeable lack of intelligence or wisdom. Once when he became too hot he pulled his bow out and threaten to shoot the sun. This coupled with strong emotions in one so powerful frequently got Herakles in trouble. While his friend and cousin Theseus ruled Athens, Heracles had trouble ruling himself. His pride was easily offended. He took up grudges easily and never forgot them. His appetites for food, wine, and women were as massive as his strength. Many of Herakles great deeds occurred while doing penance for stupid acts done in anger or carelessness.
It would be easy to view Herakles as a muscle bound buffoon. Indeed, many of the comic Greek playwrights used him this way. Even among serious critics he was often seen as a primitive, brutal, and violent. There is much to support this view. His chosen weapon was a massive club. His customary garment a lion skin, head still attached. He impiously wounded some of the gods. He threatened Apollo priestess at Delphi when a answer to his questions was not forthcoming. He created most of his own problems.
However, Herakles as simply a macho buffoon is unfair. If he held grudges, he would also do anything to help a friend. Once his anger passed he was the most critical judge of his own actions. He was too strong for anyone to force a punishment on him. That he willing did severe penance shows a fundamental sense of justice. During his punishments he shows patience, fortitude and endurance that are as heroic as his strength. Terrible things happen to him because of Hera's hatred, a hatred that he is not responsible for. That he perseveres through it all is a moral victory beyond simple strength.
The view of Herakles shifted considerable over time. The early view focused on how badly he managed despite his obvious gifts. As time passed the focus shifted to his virtues. The Romans valued him highly as he best fit their idea of a hero. He eventually had a fair sized cult that worshiped him as a god.Events in Herakles' Life
- Conception and Birth
- Early Feats
- The Argo
- Marriage to Megra
- The Labors
- Contest for Iole
- As Queen Omphale's Slave
- Revenge against Laomedon
- Battle with the Giants
- Revenge against Augeias
- Revenge against Neleus
- Marriage to Deianeira
- Death of Nessus
- Dual with Cycnus and Ares
- Revenge against Eurytus
- Life in Olympus
Monday, September 10, 2007
La Voladora is a witch too, but she doesn't participate in most of the witch activities and is kept on the edge of the cult and used solely for her special powers of being able to transform herself into a bird. In order to fly she has to undergo a secret and magic process in order to lighten her body. This process consists of vomiting her intestines onto a lapa (a wooden plate or a mollusc) that she later hides in the forest. Once this small inconvenience is taken care of she is now free to fly across oceans and deliver important messages for the inner circle of the clan. Unlike other witches, she doesn't need the famous macuñ (a jacket made from the skin of a virgin's chest) to fly. Her flight, however, is accompanied by loud unpleasant noises that scare the locals away. La Voladora must finish her mission before dawn and must swallow her intestines to recuperate her human shape. Should someone hide the lapa then this poor unfortunate wench would be forced to wander the earth in bird form for a year and a day.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Not many animals liked Coyote. Some thought he was foolish and others thought he was boastful. The mice didn’t like him because he was mean to them. One day when he was out walking, Coyote saw the Mice making lots of noise and rushing around under a tree. "Quick! Quick! Throw that rope over the branch!" cried one. "I need a bag! I need a bag now!" cried another. They scurried around, tripping and falling over each other as they tied small bags onto the ends of several ropes, then threw the other ends over the branches. "What are you stupid mice up to now?" asked Coyote. "We haven’t got time to stop and talk Mr Coyote," squeaked one mouse, throwing a rope over another branch. "Haven’t you heard? North Wind is on his way. He's going to throw hailstones as big as a bear's paw at all the animals! We're going to climb into these bags and pull ourselves up under the branches, so the hailstones can’t hit us." Fearing the hailstones, Coyote said "I'll join you." All the mice stopped dead in their tracks. "Ohhh! I don’t know about that," they squeaked. "If you don’t let me, I'll be mean to you again," shouted Coyote. "Alright. You can join us," squeaked the mice. "But you'll have to get your own bag and rope because we don’t have anything big enough or strong enough to hold you." "No problem," said Coyote. "I've got everything I need at home". "Then hurry Mr Coyote, because North Wind will be here any minute." Coyote rushed off home. The mice waited until he was out of sight, then fell over squeaking with laughter. When they saw him coming back they picked themselves up and pretended to tie more bags. "You must wait until last and pull yourself up, Mr Coyote, because you are too heavy," said the mice. "No. I'll go first," said Coyote. "North Wind is fast and could get here before I’m protected. If all of you hold the end of the rope you can pull me up." The mice shook their heads doubtfully. Coyote yelled "do it, or I'll be mean to you!" "Alright," said the mice. Coyote got into the bag and the mice tied the rope around the top of it. A mouse picked up a small stone and threw it at the bag. "Ouch," said Coyote "I felt a hailstone already. Quick, get me up under the tree!" The mice pulled on the rope until Coyote swung off the ground. Then they tied the end of the rope around the tree trunk. The mice picked up stones and threw them at the bag. "Ooowww! Ooowww!" howled Coyote. "The hailstones hurt." "Be brave Mr Coyote. The storm will pass soon," said the mice. And they picked up bigger stones to throw at the bag. "Ooowww, my head! Oooww, my back!" howled Coyote. Finally they stopped throwing stones and one of the mice said, "North Wind has gone now, we can come down." When Coyote’s bag was on the ground and the rope untied, Coyote slowly crawled out onto the ground, all battered and bruised. "I thought I was going to die," he said. "They must have been the biggest hailstones ever!" Coyote felt the ground. It was dry. He looked up at the blue sky and there wasn’t a cloud to be see. "How could this be? We've just had a hailstorm," he said. "We tricked you, you dumb old Coyote," yelled the mice as they scurried off into their holes, laughing. "I’ll get you for this," howled Coyote, feeling his sore head. "But not today". "Ooow, my sore head. Ooow, my sore back. Ooow, my sore nose" he cried as he slowly hobbled home to bed.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
After heaven and earth had been separated, two married kami, Izanagi-no-kami and Izanami-no-kami, gave birth to the land of Japan and to various kami of the seas, the rivers, the mountains and the fields. Finally the two gave birth to three specially revered kami: Amaterasu Omikami, Tsukiyomi-no-kami and Susanoo-no-kami. They gave necklace of jewel beads to Amaterasu Omikami and ordered her to govern Takama-no-Hara (the Plain of Heaven), they further ordered Tsukiyomi-no-kami to govern the night and Susanoo-no-kami to govern the sea. Susanoo-no-kami, however, went against the will of the married deities and gave up governing the sea. Instead he ascended to Takama-no-Hara, and committed outrageous deeds such as destroying the paddy fields and the weaving house on the Heavenly Plain. Amaterasu Omikami angered by his behavior and hid herself in the Heavenly Rock Cave called Ama-no-Iwato. As a result, the world of both heaven and earth became dark, throwing everything into confusion. The eight million kami got together beside the river in the Plain of Heaven, debating how to induce Amaterasu Omikami to come out of the Heavenly Rock Cave. They decided first to make the divine mirror Yata-no-Kagami and hang it in front of the cave, second, to hold a joyous festival, and third, to perform the sacred dance and music called kagura. As a result of this, Amaterasu Omikami emerged from the Heavenly Rock Cave, illuminating everything with her gentle light. She made heaven and earth bright again and brought back harmony and order. Susanoo-no-kami was expelled from the Heavenly Plain to the land of Izumo. There Susanoo-no-kami, killed a giant snake, the Yamata-no-Orochi, which had been tormenting the people of Izumo. He extracted a divine sword out of the snake's tail and presented it to Amaterasu Omikami. This sword is one of the three imperial regalia.
Friday, September 7, 2007
One day a stork paid this happy couple a visit and left them a fine big boy. The boy cried "Ina, ina" (mother, mother). "Listen to our son," said the mother, "he can speak, and hasn't he a sweet voice?" "Yes," said the father, "it will not be long before he will be able to walk." He set to work making some arrows, and a fine hickory bow for his son. One of the arrows he painted red, one blue, and another yellow. The rest he left the natural color of the wood. When he had completed them, the mother placed them in a fine quiver, all worked in porcupine quills, and hung them up over where the boy slept in his fine hammock of painted moose hide.
At times when the mother would be nursing her son, she would look up at the bow and arrows and talk to her baby, saying: "My son, hurry up and grow fast so you can use your bow and arrows. You will grow up to be as fine a marksman as your father." The baby would coo and stretch his little arms up towards the bright colored quiver as though he understood every word his mother had uttered. Time passed and the boy grew up to a good size, when one day his father said: "Wife, give our son the bow and arrows so that he may learn how to use them." The father taught his son how to string and unstring the bow, and also how to attach the arrow to the string. The red, blue and yellow arrows, he told the boy, were to be used only whenever there was any extra good shooting to be done, so the boy never used these three until he became a master of the art. Then he would practice on eagles and hawks, and never an eagle or hawk continued his flight when the boy shot one of the arrows after him.
The parents decided to give a big feast in honor of their son killing the strange, beautiful bird. So
a great many elderly women were called to the tent of Pretty Dove to assist her in making ready for the big feast. For ten days these women cooked and pounded beef and cherries, and got ready the choicest dishes known to the Indians. Of buffalo, beaver, deer, antelope, moose, bear, quail, grouse, duck of all kinds, geese and plover meats there was an abundance. Fish of all kinds, and every kind of wild fruit were cooked, and when all was in readiness, the heralds went through the different villages, crying out: "Ho-po, ho-po" (now all, now all), Dead Shot and his wife, Beautiful Dove, invite all of you, young and old, to their tepee to partake of a great feast, given by them in honor of a great bird which their son has killed, and also to select for their son some good name which he will bear through life. So all bring your cups and wooden dishes along with your horn spoons, as there will be plenty to eat. Come, all you council men and chiefs, as they have also a great tent erected for you in which you hold your council."
When the people had finished eating they all fell in line and marched in single file beneath the bird, in order to get a close view of it. By the time this vast crowd had fully viewed the wonderful bird, the sun was just setting clear in the west, when directly over the rays of the sun appeared a cloud in the shape of a bird of variegated colors. The councilmen were called out to look at the cloud, and the head medicine man said that it was a sign that the boy would grow up to be a great chief and hunter, and would have a great many friends and followers.
This ended the feast, but before dispersing, the chief and councilmen bestowed upon the boy the title of White Plume.
"I came from a very great distance," said he. "The nations where I came from are in a starving condition. No place can they find any buffalo, deer nor antelope. A witch or evil spirit in the shape of a white buffalo has driven all the large game out of the country. Every day this white buffalo comes circling the village, and any one caught outside of their tent is carried away on its horns. In vain have the best marksmen of the tribe tried to shoot it. Their arrows fly wide off the mark, and they have given up trying to kill it as it bears a charmed life. Another evil spirit in the form of a red eagle has driven all the birds of the air out of our country. Every day this eagle circles above the village, and so powerful is it that anyone being caught outside of his tent is descended upon and his skull split open to the brain by the sharp breastbone of the Eagle. Many a marksman has tried his skill on this bird, all to no purpose.
"Another evil spirit in the form of a white rabbit has driven out all the animals which inhabit the ground, and destroyed the fields of corn and turnips, so the nation is starving, as the arrows of the marksmen have also failed to touch the white rabbit. Any one who can kill these three witches will receive as his reward, the choice of two of the most beautiful maidens of our nation. The younger one is the handsomer of the two and has also the sweetest disposition. Many young, and even old men, hearing of this (our chief's) offer, have traveled many miles to try their arrows on the witches, but all to no purpose. Our chief, hearing of your great marksmanship, sent me to try and secure your services to have you come and rid us of these three witches."
Thus spoke the stranger to the hunter. The hunter gazed long and thoughtfully into the dying embers of the camp fire. Then slowly his eyes raised and looked lovingly on his wife who sat opposite to him. Gazing on her beautiful features for a full minute he slowly dropped his gaze back to the dying embers and thus answered his visitor:
"My friend, I feel very much honored by your chief having sent such a great distance for me, and also for the kind offer of his lovely daughter in marriage, if I should succeed, but I must reject the great offer, as I can spare none of my affections to any other woman than to my queen whom you see sitting there."
"Very well, my son," said the father, "I am sure you will succeed, as you fear nothing, and as to your marksmanship, it is far superior to mine, as your sight is much clearer and aim quicker than mine."
The man rested a few days and one morning started off, after having instructed White Plume as to the trail. White Plume got together what he would need on the trip and was ready for an early start the next morning. That night Dead Shot and his wife sat up away into the night instructing their son how to travel and warning him as to the different kinds of people he must avoid in order to keep out of trouble. "Above all," said the father, "keep a good look out for Unktomi (spider); he is the most tricky of all, and will get you into trouble if you associate with him."
White Plume left early, his father accompanying him for several miles. On parting, the father's last words were: "Look out for Unktomi, my son, he is deceitful and treacherous." "I'll look out for him, father;" so saying he disappeared over a hill. On the way he tried his skill on several hawks and eagles and he did not need to use his painted arrows to kill them, but so skillful was he with the bow and arrows that he could bring down anything that flew with his common arrows. He was drawing near to the end of his destination when he had a large tract of timber to pass through. When he had nearly gotten through the timber he saw an old man sitting on a log, looking wistfully up into a big tree, where sat a number of prairie chickens.
"Hello, grandfather, why are you sitting there looking so downhearted?" asked White Plume. "I am nearly starved, and was just wishing some one would shoot one of those chickens for me, so I could make a good meal on it," said the old man. "I will shoot one for you," said the young man. He strung his bow, placed an arrow on the string, simply seemed to raise the arrow in the direction of the chicken (taking no aim). Twang went out the bow, zip went the arrow and a chicken fell off the limb, only to get caught on another in its descent. "There is your chicken, grandfather." "Oh, my grandson, I am too weak to climb up and get it. Can't you climb up and get it for me?" The young man, pitying the old fellow, proceeded to climb the tree, when the old man stopped him, saying: "Grandson, you have on such fine clothes, it is a pity to spoil them; you had better take them off so as not to spoil the fine porcupine work on them." The young man took off his fine clothes and climbed up into the tree, and securing the chicken, threw it down to the old man. As the young man was scaling down the tree, the old man said: "Iyashkapa, iyashkapa," (stick fast, stick fast). Hearing him say something, he asked, "What did you say, old man?" He answered, "I was only talking to myself." The young man proceeded to descend, but he could not move. His body was stuck fast to the bark of the tree. In vain did he beg the old man to release him. The old Unktomi, for he it was, only laughed and said: "I will go now and kill the evil spirits, I have your wonderful bow and arrows and I cannot miss them. I will marry the chief's daughter, and you can stay up in that tree and die there."
So saying, he put on White Plume's fine clothes, took his bow and arrows and went to the village. As White Plume was expected at any minute, the whole village was watching for him, and when Unktomi came into sight the young men ran to him with a painted robe, sat him down on it and slowly raising him up they carried him to the tent of the chief. So certain were they that he would kill the evil spirits that the chief told him to choose one of the daughters at once for his wife. (Before the arrival of White Plume, hearing of him being so handsome, the two girls had quarreled over which should marry him, but upon seeing him the younger was not anxious to become his wife.) So Unktomi chose the older one of the sisters, and was given a large tent in which to live. The younger sister went to her mother's tent to live, and the older was very proud, as she was married to the man who would save the nation from starvation. The next morning there was a great commotion in camp, and there came the cry that the white buffalo was coming. "Get ready, son-in-law, and kill the buffalo," said the chief.
Unktomi took the bow and arrows and shot as the buffalo passed, but the arrow went wide off its mark. Next came the eagle, and again he shot and missed. Then came the rabbit, and again he missed.
"Wait until tomorrow, I will kill them all. My blanket caught in my bow and spoiled my aim." The people were very much disappointed, and the chief, suspecting that all was not right, sent for the young man who had visited Dead Shot's tepee. When the young man arrived, the chief asked: "Did you see White Plume when you went to Dead Shot's camp?"
"Yes, I did, and ate with him many times. I stayed at his father's tepee all the time I was there," said the young man. "Would you recognize him if you saw him again?" asked the chief. "Any one who had but one glimpse of White Plume would surely recognize him when he saw him again, as he is the most handsome man I ever saw," said the young man.
"Come with me to the tent of my son-in-law and take a good look at him, but don't say what you think until we come away." The two went to the tent of Unktomi, and when the young man saw him he knew it was not White Plume, although it was White Plume's bow and arrows that hung at the head of the bed, and he also recognized the clothes as belonging to White Plume. When they had returned to the chief's tent, the young man told what he knew and what he thought. "I think this is some Unktomi who has played some trick on White Plume and has taken his bow and arrows and also his clothes, and hearing of your offer, is here impersonating White Plume. Had White Plume drawn the bow on the buffalo, eagle and rabbit today, we would have been rid of them, so I think we had better scare this Unktomi into telling us where White Plume is," said the young man.
"Wait until he tries to kill the witches again tomorrow," said the chief.
In the meantime the younger daughter had taken an axe and gone into the woods in search of dry wood. She went quite a little distance into the wood and was chopping a dry log. Stopping to rest a little she heard some one saying: "Whoever you are, come over here and chop this tree down so that I may get loose." Going to where the big tree stood, she saw a man stuck onto the side of the tree. "If I chop it down the fall will kill you," said the girl. "No, chop it on the opposite side from me, and the tree will fall that way. If the fall kills me, it will be better than hanging up here and starving to death," said White Plume, for it was he.
The girl chopped the tree down and when she saw that it had not killed the man, she said: "What shall I do now?" "Loosen the bark from the tree and then get some stones and heat them. Get some water and sage and put your blanket over me." She did as told and when the steam arose from the water being poured upon the heated rocks, the bark loosened from his body and he arose. When he stood up, she saw how handsome he was. "You have saved my life," said he. "Will you be my wife?" "I will," said she. He then told her how the old man had fooled him into this trap and took his bow and arrows, also his fine porcupine worked clothes, and had gone off, leaving him to die. She, in turn, told him all that had happened in camp since a man, calling himself White Plume, came there and married her sister before he shot at the witches, and when he came to shoot at them, missed every shot. "Let us make haste, as the bad Unktomi may ruin my arrows."
They approached the camp and whilst White Plume waited outside, his promised wife entered Unktomi's tent and said: "Unktomi, White Plume is standing outside and he wants his clothes and bow and arrows." "Oh, yes, I borrowed them and forgot to return them; make haste and give them to him."
Upon receiving his clothes, he was very much provoked to find his fine clothes wrinkled and his bow twisted, while the arrows were twisted out of shape. He laid the clothes down, also the bows and arrows, and passing his hand over them, they assumed their right shapes again. The daughter took White Plume to her father's tent and upon hearing the story he at once sent for his warriors and had them form a circle around Unktomi's tent, and if he attempted to escape to catch him and tie him to a tree, as he (the chief) had determined to settle accounts with him for his treatment of White Plume, and the deception employed in winning the chief's eldest daughter. About midnight the guard noticed something crawling along close to the ground, and seizing him found it was Unktomi trying to make his escape before daylight, whereupon they tied him to a tree. "Why do you treat me thus," cried Unktomi, "I was just going out in search of medicine to rub on my arrows, so I can kill the witches." "You will need medicine to rub on yourself when the chief gets through with you," said the young man who had discovered that Unktomi was impersonating White Plume.
In the morning the herald announced that the real White Plume had arrived, and the chief desired the whole nation to witness his marksmanship. Then came the cry: "The White Buffalo comes." Taking his red arrow, White Plume stood ready. When the buffalo got about opposite him, he let his arrow fly. The buffalo bounded high in the air and came down with all four feet drawn together under its body, the red arrow having passed clear through the animal, piercing the buffalo's heart. A loud cheer went up from the village.
chief. "If you kill him you will have his skin for a rug." Along came the white rabbit, and White Plume sent his arrow in search of rabbit's heart, which it found, and stopped Mr. Rabbit's tricks forever.
The chief then called all of the people together and before them all took a hundred willows and broke them one at a time over Unktomi's back. Then he turned him loose. Unktomi, being so ashamed, ran off into the woods and hid in the deepest and darkest corner he could find. This is why Unktomis (spiders) are always found in dark corners, and anyone who is deceitful or untruthful is called a descendant of the Unktomi tribe.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Tzunuum, the hummingbird, was created by the Great Spirit as a tiny, delicate bird with extraordinary flying ability. She was the only bird in the kingdom who could fly backwards and who could hover in one spot for several seconds. The hummingbird was very plain. Her feathers had no bright colors, yet she didn't mind. Tzunuum took pride in her flying skill and was happy with her life despite her looks.
When it came time to be married, Tzunuum found that she had neither a wedding gown nor a necklace. She was so disappointed and sad that some of her best friends decided to create a wedding dress and jewelry as a surprise.
Ya, the vermilion-crowned flycatcher wore a gay crimson ring of feathers around his throat in those days. He decided to use it as his gift. So he tucked a few red plumes in his crown and gave the rest to the hummingbird for her necklace. Uchilchil, the bluebird, generously donated several blue feathers for her gown. The vain motmot, not to be outdone, offered more turquoise blue and emerald green. The cardinal, likewise, gave some red ones.
Then, Yuyum, the oriole, who was an excellent tailor as well as an engineer, sewed up all the plumage into an exquisite wedding gown for the little hummingbird. Ah-leum, the spider, crept up with a fragile web woven of shiny gossamer threads for her veil. She helped Mrs. Yuyum weave intricate designs into the dress. Canac, the honeybee, heard about the wedding and told all his friends who knew and liked the hummingbird. They brought much honey and nectar for the reception and hundreds of blossoms that were Tzunuum's favorites.
Then the Azar tree dropped a carpet of petals over the ground where the ceremony would take place. She offered to let Tzunuum and her groom spend their honeymoon in her branches. Pakal, the orange tree, put out sweet-smelling blossoms, as did Nicte, the plumeria vine. Haaz (the banana bush), Op the custard apple tree) and Pichi and Put (the guava and papaya bushes) made certain that their fruits were ripe so the wedding guests would find delicious refreshments. And, finally, a large band of butterflies in all colors arrived to dance and flutter gaily around the hummingbird's wedding site.
When the wedding day arrived, Tzunuum was so surprised, happy and grateful that she could barely twitter her vows. The Great Spirit so admired her humble, honest soul that he sent word down with his messenger, Cozumel, the swallow, that the hummingbird could wear her wedding gown for the rest of her life. And, to this day, she has. How did the humility of one long-ago hummingbird cause its descendants to sport brilliant colors?
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Banshee or 'Bean-sidhe' is Irish for fairy woman. Her sharp, cries and wails are also called 'keening'. The English word 'Keen' is from the Irish 'Caoineadh' meaning lament. There is no harm or evil in her mere presence, unless she is seen in the act of crying; but this is a fatal sign. The wail of a banshee pierces the night, it's notes rising and falling like the waves of the sea, it always announces a mortal's death. She is solitary woman fairy, mourning and forewarning those only of the best families in Ireland, those with most ancient Celtic lineages. Those whose names begin with 'Mac/Mc' or 'O', whose origin dates from the time of the Irish heroes. The banshee loves the old mortal families with a fierce and unearthly caring. When a member of the beloved race is dying, she paces the dark hills about his house. She sharply contrasts against the night's blackness, her white figure emerges with silver-grey hair streaming to the ground and a grey-white cloak of a cobweb texture clinging to her tall thin body. Her face is pale, her eyes red with centuries of crying. But this is not the only way that the banshee appears, at other times she is seen as a beautiful young girl, with long, red-golden hair, and wearing a green kirtle and scarlet mantle, broached with gold, after the Irish fashion. Or she will appear shrouded and muffled in a dark, mist-like cloak. White Lady of Sorrow some people name her, and Lady of Death. She is the Woman of Peace and the Spirit of the Air. For despite her wailing, she is somehow graced with a manner of peace. Unseen, banshees attend the funerals of the beloved dead. Although, sometimes she can be heard wailing, her voice blending in with the mournful cries of others. Each banshee has her own mortal family. Out of love she follows the old race across the ocean to distant lands. Her wails or keen can be heard in America and England, wherever the true Irish have settled. But they never forget their blood ties; and neither does she.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
They would make up their own special tunes, their courting songs.
We Indians are shy. Even if he was a warrior who had already counted coup on a enemy, a young man might hardly screw up courage enough to talk to a nice-looking winchinchala -- a girl he was in love with. Also, there was no place where a young man and a girl could be alone inside the village. The family tipi was always crowded with people. And naturally, you couldn't just walk out of the village hand in hand with your girl, even if hand holding had been one of our customs, which it wasn't. Out there in the tall grass and sagebrush you could be gored by a buffalo, clawed by a grizzly, or tomahawked by a Pawnee, or you could run into the Mila Hanska, the Long Knives, namely the U.S. Cavalry.
The only chance you had to met your winchinchala was to wait for her at daybreak when the women went to the river or brook with their skin bags to get water. When that girl you had your eye on finally came down to the water trail, you popped up from behind some bush and stood so she could see you.
And that was about all you could do to show her that you were interested, Standing there grinning, looking at your moccasins, scratching your ear, maybe
The winchinchala didn't do much either, except get red in the face, giggle, maybe throw a wild turnip at you. If she liked you, the only way she would let you know was to take her time filling her water bag and peek at you a few times over her shoulder.
So the flutes did all the talking. At night, lying on her buffalo robe in her parents tipi, the girl would hear that moaning, crying sound of the siyotanka. By the way it was played, she would know that it was her lover who was out there someplace. And if the Elk Medicine was very strong in him and her, maybe she would sneak out to follow that sound and meet him without anybody noticing it.
The flute is always made of cedarwood. In the shape it describes the long neck and head of a bird with a open beak. The sound comes out of the beak, and that's where the legend comes in, the legend of how the Lakota people acquired the flute.
Once many generations ago, the people had drums, gourd rattles, and bull-roarers, but no flutes. At that long-ago time a young man went out to hunt. Meat was scarce, and the people in his camp were hungry. He found the tracks of an Elk and followed them for a long time. The Elk, wise and swift, is the one who owns the love charm. If a man possesses Elk Medicine, the girl he likes can't help sleeping with him. He will also be a lucky hunter. This young man I'm talking about had no Elk Medicine. After many hours he finally sighted his game. He was skilled with bow and arrows, and had a fine new bow and a quiver full of straight, well-feathered, flint-tipped arrows. Yet the Elk always managed to stay just out of range, leading him on and on. The young man was so intent on following his prey that he hardly noticed where he went.
When night came, he found himself deep inside a thick forest. The tracks had disappeared and so had the Elk, and there was no moon. He realized that he was lost and that it was too dark to find his way out. Luckily he came upon a stream with cool, clear water. And he had been careful enough to bring a hide bag of wasna, dried meat pounded with berries and kidney fat, strong food that will keep a man going for a few days. After he had drunk and eaten, he rolled himself into his fur robe, propped his back against a tree, and tried to rest. But he couldn't sleep, the forest was full of strange noises, and the cries of night animals, the hooting owls, the groaning of trees in the wind. It was as if he heard these sounds for the first time.
Suddenly there was a entirely new sound, of a kind neither he nor anyone else had ever heard before. It was mournful and ghost like. It made him afraid, so that he drew his robe tightly about himself and reached for his bow to make sure that it was properly strung. On the other hand, the sound was like a song, sad but beautiful, full of love, hope, and yearning. Then before he knew it, he was asleep. He dreamed that the bird called wagnuka, the redheaded woodpecker, appeared singing the strangely beautiful song and telling him, "Follow me and I will teach you."
When the hunter awoke, the sun was already high. On a branch of the tree against which he was leaning, he saw a redheaded woodpecker. The bird flew away to another tree, and another, but never very far, looking back all the time at the young man as if to say, "Come on!" Then once more he heard that wonderful song, and his heart yearned to find the singer. Flying toward the sound, leading the hunter, the bird flitted through the leaves, while its bright red top made easy to follow. At last it lighted on a cedar tree and began hammering on a branch, making a noise like the fast beating of a small drum. Suddenly there was a gust of wind, and again the hunter heard that beautiful sound right above him.
Then he discovered that the song came from the dead branch that the woodpecker was tapping his beak. He realized also that it was the wind which made the sound as it whistled through the hole the bird had drilled.
"Kola, friend," said the hunter, "let me take this branch home. You can make yourself another."
He took the branch, a hollow piece of wood full of woodpecker holes that was about the length of his forearm. He walked back to his village bringing no meat, but happy all the same.
In his tipi the young man tried to make the branch sing for him. He blew on it, he waves it around, no sound came. It made him sad, he wanted so much to hear that wonderful new sound. He purified himself in the sweat lodge and climbed to the top of a lonely hill. There, resting with his back against a large rock, he fasted, going without food or water for four days and nights, crying for a vision which would tell him how to make the branch sing. In the middle of the fourth night, wagnuka, the bird with the bright red top, appeared, saying, "Watch me," turning himself into a man, showing the hunter how to make the branch sing, saying again and again, "Watch this, now." And in his dream the young man watched and observed very carefully.
When he awoke, he found a cedar tree. He broke off a branch and, working many hours, hollowed it out with a bowstring drill, just as he had seen the woodpecker do in his dream. He whittled the branch into the shape of the birds with a long neck and a open beak. He painted the top of the birds head with washasha, the sacred red color. He prayed. He smoked the branch up with incense of burning sage, cedar, and sweet grass. He fingered the holes as he had seen the man-bird do in his vision, meanwhile blowing softly into the mouthpiece. All at once there was the song, ghost like and beautiful beyond words drifting all the way to the village, where the people were astounded and joyful to hear it. With the help of the wind and the woodpecker, the young man had brought them the first flute.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Originally, Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl lived in the World of Darkness, where there was no light, stars or white flowers. They used to go for long walks in the darkness, where only ocasionally the glitter of a monster's eyes could be seen. On one ocassion, Omecihuatl touched one of these monsters, and instantly it became a perfect point of bright light. Marveled by this, they both started touching every monster they found until the sky was full of stars. Soon they wanted more; they wanted to create the world, so they would't be alone anymore.
They went back home and created the four Tezcatlipocas: The White Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl; The Red Tezactlipoca, Xipetotec; The Blue Tezcatlipoca, Huitzilopochtli and The Black Tezcatlipoca.
Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca chose a monster all covered with eyes and mouths and split it in two to create the sea and the land, to become the Lady of the Earth. Huitzilopochtli created from Her hair the woods, jungles and prairies. The fourth brother filled it with creatures for land, water and air.
As the world became more complex, many other entities appeared to take care of the created place, Camaxtli as God of the beasts and the hunt; Tlaloc, 'The one that brings growth' as God of rain and water; Opochtli in charge of the sea and all of its creatures. Anything and everything had its caretaker: roads, art, creatures, places, things. But the rulers of the four cardinal points were the four brothers that created it all: Xipetotec ruled the East, Quetzalcoatl ruled the West, Huitzilopochtli ruled the south and Tezcatlipoca the North. Ometecuhtli and Omecihuatl were very pleased with the creation, and started sending little drops of light to be the souls of children, and they still send their drops to the pregnant mothers.
But the creation wasn't that easy. Mictlantecuhtli, in charge of the Underworld and death realized that the sun was too weak, just another little star, and said that a bigger, better sun was needed. This is how the story of the five suns, or ages, starts.
First, Tezcatlipoca offered himself to be the sun, but he was the god of dreams and of magic and he had the ability to become a tiger; this was his alter-shape, his Nagual. Soon the world was full of wild beasts that ate the people.
Then Quetzalcoatl offered to be the sun. When he took his place the winds and hurricanes were unleashed, for he was the god of winds. Horrorized, the other gods turned the people into monkeys, so they could run to the woods and take refuge in the trees.
Then Tlaloc offered himself as the sun, but then the rain of fire started and the whole world was set afire. Now the people were turned into birds so they could fly away. The gods were very disappointed, for they had already created humans three times. The people wasn't perfect on each try, either. First they were too small, very good artisans and goldsmiths but too small to work the land. Then they were too big; when they greeted each other they said 'don't fall down' because they were too big and weak to stand up if they fell.
Then Quetzalcoatl proposed Chalchiuihtlicue, goddess of water, to be the sun. The rain started, the people was washed away and the gods turned them into fishes and all the creatures that live in the water.
Then the gods decided to choose somebody, a man, to be the sun so it wouldn't be too powerful. They chose Tecuciztecatl, though another called Nanahuatzin had offered himself. The gods prepared a big ceremony with a bonfire, and when they were ready they told Tecuciztecatl to jump in. He aproached the fire, but when he felt the heat the backed away. He tried again and again but he just couldn't walk into the fire. When Nanahuatzin saw his hesitation, he ran and threw himself into the fire. Tecuciztecatl, seeing his place and duty being taken like this, he felt ashamed and finally jumped in, but it was too late. The gods watched as two suns raised from the east. Quickly Quetzalcoatl took the first thing he could grab, a rabbit, and threw it to the face of the second sun, shading it with its shape and thus creating the moon. The gods were finally happy with the sun they had made, because this time the people they created were perfect: not too big nor small, not too strong nor weak. The sun is now known as Tonatiuh, The Rising Eagle.
This was the fifth sun, the current one, called Ollin (movement). It is said that the destruction of the current age will come through earthquakes, to make room for the sixth sun if mankind proves not to be worthy of this world.
When he was still young the Irish warrior Cuchulain met the maiden Emer whom he wished to marry but Emer's father Forgall a mighty warrior in his own right forbade her to wed before her older sister Fial and when she was to marry she must marry one who has proven himself in battle so Cuchulain sought to become a student of Skatha who lived in the land of the shadows which we now know as the Isle of Skye.
After feeling himself ready Cuchulain set out to cross the bridge and after three tries leapt to the center then before the bridge could rise again he leapt to the end and made it across to the door of Skatha's fortress.Skatha was impressed and took Cuchulain as her pupil and taught him the art of war and the use of the Gae Bolg a weapon thrown from the foot that would kill by inserting barbs all across a man's body.Cuchulain stayed with Skatha as did Ferdia Cuchulain's best and truest friend.
Now there came a time when Skatha had to engage in war with the people of the Princess Aifa who was Skatha's rival in combat.Skatha wanted to keep Cuchulain away from the battle so she mixed a herb that would cause him to sleep for one full day yet it only worked for one hour Cuchulain grabbed his weapons and rode out to do battle against the forces of Aifa until the time came when Aifa announced she wished to face Skatha in mortal combat.Cuchulain instead asked to face her and Skatha reluctantly agreed so it was that Cuchulain asked Skatha what Aifa valued most and Skatha told him that Aifa valued her Chariot,horses and charioteer above all else. Cuchulain and Aifa fought to a stand still until Aifa shattered Cuchulain's sword to the hilt and as she was about to deliver the final blow to him Cuchulain called out "Aye,look Aifa's chariot and horses have fallen into the glen.".Aifa turned around to look and Cuchulain disarmed her and threw her over his shoulder carrying her to Skatha.Cuchulain set Aifa before Skatha and demanded she make eternal peace with Skatha or he would cut her throat.Aifa agreed and soon she became friends with Cuchulain and even later the two became lovers for he was the only man to have beaten her in combat.
Once long ago, Man went hunting along the water's edge for seals. To Man's delight, many seals were crowded together along the seashore. He would certainly bring home a great feast for Woman and Son. He crept cautiously towards the seals. The seals grew restless. Man slowed down. Suddenly, the seals began to slip into the water. Man was frantic. His feast was getting away.
Then Man saw a single seal towards the back of the group. It was not moving as quickly as the others. Ah! Here was his prize. He imagined the pride on Woman's face, the joy in Son's eyes. Their bellies would be filled for many days from such a seal.
Man crept towards the last seal. It did not see him, or so Man thought. Suddenly, it sprang away and slipped into the water. Man rose to his feet. He was filled with a strange emotion. He felt water begin to drip from his eyes. He touched his eyes and tasted the drops. Yes, they tasted like salty water. Strange choking sounds were coming from his mouth and chest.
Son heard the cries of Man and called Woman. They ran to the seashore to find out what was wrong with Man. Woman and Son were alarmed to see water flowing out of Man's eyes.
Man told them about the shore filled with seals. He told how he had hunted them, and how every seal had escaped his knife. As he spoke, water began to flow from the eyes of Woman and Son, and they cried with Man. In this way, people first learned to weep.
When the world was new, the ancient people and the ancient creatures did not live on the top of the earth. They lived under it. All was darkness, all was blackness, above the earth as well as below it.
There were four worlds: this one on top of the earth, and below it three cave worlds, one below the other. None of the cave worlds was large enough for all the people and the creatures.
They increased so fast in the lowest cave world that they crowded it. They were poor and did not know where to turn in the blackness. When they moved, they jostled one another. The cave was filled with the filth of the people who lived in it. No one could turn to spit without spitting on another. No one could cast slime from his nose without its falling on someone else. The people filled the place with their complaints and with their expressions of disgust.
Some people said, "It is not good for us to live in this way."
"How can it be made better?" one man asked.
"Let it be tried and seen!" answered another.
Two Brothers, one older and one younger, spoke to the priest- chiefs of the people in the cave world, "Yes, let it be tried and seen. Then it shall be well. By our wills it shall be well."
The Two Brothers pierced the roofs of the caves and descended to the lowest world, where people lived. The Two Brothers sowed one plant after another, hoping that one of them would grow up to the opening through which they themselves had descended and yet would have the strength to bear the weight of men and creatures. These, the Two Brothers hoped, might climb up the plant into the second cave world. One of these plants was a cane.
At last, after many trials, the cane became so tall that it grew through the opening in the roof, and it was so strong that men could climb to its top. It was jointed so that it was like a ladder, easily ascended. Ever since then, the cane has grown in joints as we see it today along the Colorado River.
Up this cane many people and beings climbed to the second cave world. When a part of them had climbed out, they feared that that cave also would be too small. It was so dark that they could not see how large it was. So they shook the ladder and caused those who were coming up it to fall back. Then they pulled the ladder out. It is said that those who were left came out of the lowest cave later. They are our brothers west of us.
After a long time the second cave became filled with men and beings, as the first had been. Complaining and wrangling were heard as in the beginning. Again the cane was placed under the roof vent, and once more men and beings entered the upper cave world. Again, those who were slow to climb out were shaken back or left behind. Though larger, the third cave was as dark as the first and second. The Two Brothers found fire. Torches were set ablaze, and by their light men built their huts and kivas, or travelled from place to place.
While people and the beings lived in this third cave world, times of evil came to them. Women became so crazed that they neglected all things for the dance. They even forgot their babies. Wives became mixed with wives, so that husbands did not know their own from others. At that time there was no day, only night, black night. Throughout this night, women danced in the kivas (men's "clubhouses"), ceasing only to sleep. So the fathers had to be the mothers of the little ones. When these little ones cried from hunger, the fathers carried them to the kivas, where the women were dancing. Hearing their cries, the mothers came and nursed them, and then went back to their dancing. Again the fathers took care of the children.
These troubles caused people to long for the light and to seek again an escape from darkness. They climbed to the fourth world, which was this world. But it too was in darkness, for the earth was closed in by the sky, just as the cave worlds had been closed in by their roofs. Men went from their lodges and worked by the light of torches and fires. They found the tracks of only one being, the single ruler of the unpeopled world, the tracks of Corpse Demon or Death. The people tried to follow these tracks, which led eastward. But the world was damp and dark, and people did not know what to do in the darkness. The waters seemed to surround them, and the tracks seemed to lead out into the waters.
With the people were five beings that had come forth with them from the cave worlds: Spider, Vulture, Swallow, Coyote, and Locust. The people and these beings consulted together, trying to think of some way of making light. Many, many attempts were made, but without success. Spider was asked to try first. She spun a mantle of pure white cotton. It gave some light but not enough. Spider therefore became our grandmother.
Then the people obtained and prepared a very white deerskin that had not been pierced in any spot. From this they made a shield case, which they painted with turquoise paint. It shed forth such brilliant light that it lighted the whole world. It made the light from the cotton mantle look faded. So the people sent the shield-light to the east, where it became the moon.
Down in the cave world Coyote had stolen a jar that was very heavy, so very heavy that he grew weary of carrying it. He decided to leave it behind, but he was curious to see what it contained. Now that light had taken the place of darkness, he opened the jar. From it many shining fragments and sparks flew out and upward, singeing his face as they passed him. That is why the coyote has a black face to this day. The shining fragments and sparks flew up to the sky and became stars.
By these lights the people found that the world was indeed very small and surrounded by waters, which made it damp. The people appealed to Vulture for help. He spread his wings and fanned the waters, which flowed away to the east and to the west until mountains began to appear.
Across the mountains the Two Brothers cut channels. Water rushed through the channels, and wore their courses deeper and deeper. Thus the great canyons and valleys of the world were formed. The waters have kept on flowing and flowing for ages. The world has grown drier, and continues to grow drier and drier.
Now that there was light, the people easily followed the tracks of Death eastward over the new land that was appearing. Hence Death is our greatest father and master. We followed his tracks when we left the cave worlds, and he was the only being that awaited us on the great world of waters where this world is now.
Although all the water had flowed away, the people found the earth soft and damp. That is why we can see today the tracks of men and of many strange creatures between the place toward the west and the place where we came from the cave world.
Since the days of the first people, the earth has been changed to stone, and all the tracks have been preserved as they were when they were first made.
When people had followed in the tracks of Corpse Demon but a short distance, they overtook him. Among them were two little girls. One was the beautiful daughter of a great priest. The other was the child of somebody-or-other She was not beautiful, and she was jealous of the little beauty. With the aid of Corpse Demon the jealous girl caused the death of the other child. This was the first death.
When people saw that the girl slept and could not be awakened, that she grew cold and that her heart had stopped beating, her father, the great priest, grew angry.
"Who has caused my daughter to die?" he cried loudly.
But the people only looked at each other.
"I will make a ball of sacred meal," said the priest. "I will throw it into the air, and when it falls it will strike someone on the head. The one it will strike I shall know as the one whose magic and evil art have brought my tragedy upon me."
The priest made a ball of sacred flour and pollen and threw it into the air. When it fell, it struck the head of the jealous little girl, the daughter of somebody-or-other. Then the priest exclaimed, "So you have caused this thing! You have caused the death of my daughter."
He called a council of the people, and they tried the girl. They would have killed her if she had not cried for mercy and a little time. Then she begged the priest and his people to return to the hole they had all come out of and look down it.
"If you still wish to destroy me, after you have looked into the hole," she said, "I will die willingly."
So the people were persuaded to return to the hole leading from the cave world. When they looked down, they saw plains of beautiful flowers in a land of everlasting summer and fruitfulness. And they saw the beautiful little girl, the priest's daughter, wandering among the flowers. She was so happy that she paid no attention to the people. She seemed to have no desire to return to this world.
"Look!" said the girl who had caused her death. "Thus it shall be with all the children of men."
"When we die," the people said to each other, "we will return to the world we have come from. There we shall be happy. Why should we fear to die? Why should we resent death?"
So they did not kill the little girl. Her children became the powerful wizards and witches of the world, who increased in numbers as people increased. Her children still live and still have wonderful and dreadful powers.
Then the people journeyed still farther eastward. As they went, they discovered Locust in their midst.
"Where did you come from?" they asked.
"I came out with you and the other beings," he replied.
"Why did you come with us on our journey?" they asked.
"So that I might be useful," replied Locust.
But the people, thinking that he could not be useful, said to him, "You must return to the place you came from."
But Locust would not obey them. Then the people became so angry at him that they ran arrows through him, even through his heart. All the blood oozed out of his body and he died. After a long time he came to life again and ran about, looking as he had looked before, except that he was black.
The people said to one another, "Locust lives again, although we have pierced him through and through. Now he shall indeed be useful and shall journey with us. Who besides Locust has this wonderful power of renewing his life? He must possess the medicine for the renewal of the lives of others. He shall become the medicine of mortal wounds and of war."
So today the locust is at first white, as was the first locust that came forth with the ancients. Like him, the locust dies, and after he has been dead a long time, he comes to life again-- black. He is our father, too. Having his medicine, we are the greatest of men. The locust medicine still heals mortal wounds.
After the ancient people had journeyed a long distance, they became very hungry. In their hurry to get away from the lower cave world, they had forgotten to bring seed. After they had done much lamenting, the Spirit of Dew sent the Swallow back to bring the seed of corn and of other foods. When Swallow returned, the Spirit of Dew planted the seed in the ground and chanted prayers to it. Through the power of these prayers, the corn grew and ripened in a single day.
So for a long time, as the people continued their journey, they carried only enough seed for a day's planting. They depended upon the Spirit of Dew to raise for them in a single day an abundance of corn and other foods. To the Corn Clan, he gave this seed, and for a long time they were able to raise enough corn for their needs in a very short time.
But the powers of the witches and wizards made the time for raising foods grow longer and longer. Now, sometimes, our corn does not have time to grow old and ripen in the ear, and our other foods do not ripen. If it had not been for the children of the little girl whom the ancient people let live, even now we would not need to watch our cornfields whole summers through, and we would not have to carry heavy packs of food on our journeys.
As the ancient people travelled on, the children of the little girl tried their powers and caused other troubles. These mischief-makers stirred up people who had come out of the cave worlds before our ancients had come. They made war upon our ancients. The wars made it necessary for the people to build houses whenever they stopped travelling. They built their houses on high mountains reached by only one trail, or in caves with but one path leading to them, or in the sides of deep canyons. Only in such places could they sleep in peace.
Only a small number of people were able to climb up from their secret hiding places and emerge into the Fourth World. Legends reveal the Grand Canyon is where these people emerged. From there they began their search for the homes the Two Brothers intended for them.