Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grandmother Spider Brings the Light

(a retelling of a Cherokee myth)

Long, long ago, everything was dark.
All the living things that moved kept running into each other, and into mountains and trees. Everything was very, very confusing.

One day, Rooster said, “You know, what we need is some light!”

Fox said, “Hey, I’ve heard of that. And I’ve heard that over there, on the other side of the world, they have lots and lots of it but the animals are greedy there and will not share.”

Fish said, “The other side of the world? Well, I can’t swim that far!”

Gopher said, “I would go . . . but if I see my shadow, I have to go back to my den and sleep.”

Bear said, “I would rather hibernate, thank you very much.”
Rooster said, “Be that way! If we don’t get a sunrise around here, I swear, I will never crow again!”

“Well then,” said Possum, “I will just go steal some light and hide it in my beautiful, bushy tail.” (Yes, believe it or not, in those days, Possum had a beautiful, bushy tail.)

And so it was that Possum set off, and when he got to the other side of the world, there was sun, hanging from a tree. Up lept Possum, and grabbed a piece of the light. Possum tucked it into his beautiful bushy tail and ran. But the light was so hot, it burned all the fur from Possum’s tail. And so it is that Possum has a bald tail, even down to this day.

“Well, that was a failure!” said Buzzard. “But Possum is always messing things up. I shall go and steal some light and put it on my head.” (For in those days, buzzards had large, beautiful feathers all over their heads.)

And so it was that off Buzzard flew to the other side of the world. When he saw the sun, down Buzzard darted in a flash, balancing a piece of the light on his head.
And the light was so hot that it burned all the feathers off Buzzard’s head. So it is that Buzzard is bald, even down to this day.
The animals bumped into each other and into the trees and the mountains, and they felt very distressed, fearing that life would always be so. They did not like the dark one little bit.

And so it was that Grandmother Spider said, "If no one objects, I think I will try.”

“But you are so small and frail!” laughed Possum.

“Those greedy animals there, they will stomp on you and crush you!” said Raven.

Grandmother Spider ignored their laughter and began making a pot out of the clay of the earth. Then, she spun a web. And she spun and she spun until her web reached all the way to the other side of the world.

Off Grandmother Spider swung on her web, holding tightly to her clay pot. And, when she had gotten to the other side of the world, she swooped toward the sun hanging in a tree, grabbed a piece of the light, and immediately stuffed it into the clay pot. Then, off she went on her spider web, back to the other side of the world.

And so it was that Grandmother Spider brought many things to this side of the world—firstly, she brought the knowledge of how to make clay pots; secondly, she brought fire, for cooking and for when the sun isn’t up; and, lastly and most of all, Grandmother Spider brought this side of the world the light of the sun.

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