Gods ‘r’ Us (part 3)

THE MAYA

In the beginning, were only Tepeu and Gucumatz. These two sat together and thought, and whatever they thought, came into being. They thought, Earth, and there it was. They thought, mountains, and there they were. They thought, trees and sky and animals, and each came into being.

Because none of these creatures could praise them, they formed more advanced beings of clay, but the clay beings fell apart when wet. Then they made beings out of wood, but the wooden beings caused trouble on the earth, so they sent a great flood to wipe out these beings so they could start over.

With the help of Mountain Lion, Coyote, Parrot and Crow, they fashioned four new beings. These four beings performed well and are the ancestors of the Maya.

THE AZTEC

The earth-mother of the Aztec, Coatilicue – so named, “skirt of snakes” for her attire – wore, in addition to the skirt, a necklace of human hearts and hands, and doubtless went dateless on a Saturday night.

She was impregnated by an obsidian knife and gave birth to Coyolxauhqui, goddess of the moon, as well as four hundred sons, who became the stars of the southern sky. Some time later, a ball of feathers fell from the sky; curious, she picked it up, examined it, and tucked it in her waistband. When she looked for it later, it was gone and she discovered that she was again pregnant.

It seems that according to custom, a goddess can give birth only once, to the original litter of divinity, and no more. Ashamed of their mother, Coyolxauhqui and her brothers decided to kill her.

However the child inside Coatlique, Huitzilopochtli (- don’t even ask -), the sun god and god of war, sprang from his mother’s womb, fully grown and armored, and with the aid of a fire serpent, he destroyed his brothers and sister, murdering them in a rage. He beheaded Coyolxauhqui and threw her body into a deep gorge in a mountain, where it lies, dismembered, today. Her head, he threw high into the sky, where it became the moon.

THE HOPI:

The Hopi and the Navajo Native American peoples share a common heritage, a matrilineal society. The female deity in the Hopi creation myth is called, Spider Woman (no relation to Peter Parker), in essence, the Earth Mother, who rules in conjunction with Tawa, the male sun god. The tale is as follows:

In the beginning, there were only two: Tawa, the Sun God and Spider Woman, the Earth Goddess. All the mysteries and power in the Above belonged to Tawa, while Spider Woman controlled the magic of the Below. In the Underworld, abode of the Gods, they dwelt and they were All. There was neither man nor woman, bird nor beast, no living thing until these Two willed it to be.

And then it came about that these Two had one Thought, and it was a mighty Thought – that they would make the Earth to be between the Above and the Below, where now lay shimmering only the Endless Waters. So they sat them side by side, swaying their beautiful, bronze bodies to the pulsing music of their own great voices, making the first magic song, a song of rushing winds and flowing waters, a song of light and sound and life.

“I am Tawa,” sang the Sun God, “I am Light. I am Life. I am Father of all that shall ever come.”

“I am Kokyanwuhti,” Spider Woman crooned, “I receive Light and nourish Life. I am Mother of all that shall ever come.”

“Many strange thoughts are forming in my mind – beautiful forms of birds to float in the Above, of beasts to move upon the Earth and fish to swim in the Waters,” intoned Tawa.

“Now let these things that move in the Thought of Tawa appear,” chanted Spider Woman, while with her slender fingers, she caught up clay from beside her and made the Thoughts of Tawa take form. One by one, she shaped them and laid them aside, but they breathed not, nor moved.

“We must do something about this,” said Tawa. It is not good that they lie thus still and quiet. Each thing that has a form must also have a spirit. So now, my beloved, we must make a mighty Magic.”

They laid a white blanket over the many figures, a cunningly woven woolen blanket, fleecy as a cloud, and made a mighty incantation over it, and soon, the figures stirred and breathed.

“Now let us make ones like unto you and me, so that they may rule over and enjoy these lesser creatures,” sang Tawa, and Spider Woman shaped the Thoughts into woman and man figures like unto their own. But after the blanket magic had been made, the figures remained inert. So Spider Woman gathered them all in her arms and cradled them, while Tawa bent his glowing eyes upon them. The two now sang the magic Song of Life over them and at last, each human figure breathed and lived.

“Now that was a good and mighty thing,” said Tawa. “So now all this is finished and there shall be no more new things made by us. Those things we have made shall multiply. I will make a journey across the Above each day to shed my light upon them….And now, I shall go to turn my blazing shield upon the Endless Waters, so that Dry Land may appear. And this day will be the first day upon Earth.

While Tawa, having ascended into the Above, was burning away the Waters from the Land, Spider Woman divided the newly-created people into tribes and assigned each to a specific territory. She further instructed them: ‘The woman of the clan shall build the house – she shall be the house-builder and homemaker, and the family name will descend through her.”

She then led the people through the Underworld, where they finally emerged into the open air through a tunnel symbolic of a birth canal, somewhere near the Colorado River. She told them to have no fear, that she and Tawa would be watching over them, and that if they were ever in need of help, to call on her and she would send her sons to their aid.

With that, the ground beneath her opened, “as if a whirlpool,” and she descended into the Earth and out of their sight.

(excerpts from The World of Myth by David Adams Leeming)

THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES:

Everything was still, the spirits of the earth were asleep. The Father of All Spirits gently awoke the Sun Mother; as she opened her eyes, a warm ray of light spread out toward the sleeping earth. The Father told her to go down to earth and awaken the sleeping spirits and give them form.

The Sun Mother glided down to the bare Earth, and everywhere she walked, plants grew. She ventured into a dark cave, where the bright light radiating from her awoke the spirits inside; as she emerged, insects of all kinds flew out of the cave. She sat and watched her insects mingling with her flowers.

Then she went into a deeper cave, spreading her light around her, where her heat melted the ice, creating the rivers and the streams of the world. Then she created fish, small snakes, lizards and frogs. Next she awoke the spirits of the birds and animals and they burst into the sunshine in a glorious array of colors.

The Father of All Spirits was pleased with the Sun Mother’s work.

She called all of her creatures to her and instructed them to enjoy the wealth of the earth and to live peacefully with one another. Then she rose into the sky and became the sun.

At first, the animals lived peacefully together, but some of her creatures were envious of the body shapes of others.

The Sun Mother had to come down and mediate so many of these quarrels, she eventually gave them the power to change their shapes, but then regretted this decision, as rats became bats, some creatures became giant lizards, and then there was the platypus —

She decided to create new creatures, lest the Father of All Spirits be angered by the way things had become. She gave birth to two children: the god was the morning star and the goddess was the moon. The god and the goddess had two children, and these the Sun Mother sent to Earth to become our ancestors. Because they had part of her mind, she made them superior to the animals.

pax vobiscum,
archaeopteryx

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