American Indian Creation Myths

 

 

Creation

 

The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming them.

 

God dreamed them while he sang and shook his maracas, immersed in tobacco smoke, and he was happy and also trembling with doubt and mystery.

 

The Makiritare Indians know that if God dreams of food, he fructifies and gives to eat. If God dreams of life, he is born and gives birth.

 

The woman and the man dreamed that a great, shining egg appeared in God’s dream. Inside the egg they sang and danced and made a racket, because they were crazy with the desire to be born. They dreamed that in God’s dream joy was stronger than doubt and mystery; and God, dreaming, created them, and singing said:

 

“I break this egg and the woman is born and the man is born. And together they will live and die. But they will be born again. The will be born and will die again and once more will be born. And they shall never cease to be born, because death is a lie.

 

Makiritare myth

 

 

 

Time

 

The Time of the Mayas was born and had a name when the sky did not exist and the earth had not yet awoken.

            The days set out from the East and began to walk.

            The first day took out the sky and the earth from his entrails.

            The second day made the ladder by which the rain descends.

            The works of the third day were the cycles of the sea and of the earth and the throng of things.

            By will of the fourth day the earth and the sky tilted, and could meet.

            The fifth day decided that all should work.

            The first light emerged from the sixth day.

            In the places where there was nothing, the seventh day put earth.

The eighth sank his hands and feet in the earth.

            The ninth created the nether worlds. The tenth day assigned the nether worlds to those who have poison in the soul.

            Within the sun, the eleventh day formed the stone and the tree.

            It was the twelfth that made the wind. It breathed wind and called it spirit, because there was no death in him.

            The thirteenth day made the earth wet and kneaded a body like ours out of mud.

            Thus it is remembered in Yucatan.

 

Maya myth          

 

 

The Sun and the Moon

 

The first sun, the water sun, was carried off by the flood. All who lived in the world were turned into fishes.

            The second sun was devoured by tigers.

            The third was destroyed by a firestorm, which burned up the people.

            The fourth sun, the wind sun, was wiped away by the storm. The people turned into monkeys and scattered in the woods.

            Deep in thought, the gods met in Teotihuacán.

            “Who will take care of bringing the dawn?”

            The Lord of the Snails, famous for his strength and beauty, stepped forward.

            “I will be the sun,” he said.

            “Who else?

            Silence.

            The all looked at Little God Purulent, the ugliest and unluckiest of the gods, and they decided:

            “You.”

            The Lord of the Snails and Little God Purulent retired to the hills, which are now the pyramids of the sun and of the moon. There, fasting, they mediated.

            Then the gods gathered firewood, built an enormous bonfire, and called them.

            The Little God Purulent braced himself and jumped into the flames. He immediately emerged incandescent in the sky.

            The Lord of the Snails looked frowning at the fire. He advanced, retreated, stopped. He turned around a few times. As he didn’t make up his midn, they had to push him. After much delay he rose into the sky. Furious, the gods slapped his face. They hit his face with a rabbit, again and again, until they killed his brightness. Thus, the arrogant Lord of the Snails became the moon. The stains on the moon are the scars of that punishment.

            But the resplendent sun did not move. The sparrow hawk of obsidian (lava) flew to the Little God Purulent:

            “Why don’t you move?”

            And the despised, the purulent, the hunchback, the cripple, answered:

            “Because I want the blood and the kingdom.”

            This fifth sun, the sun of movement, illuminated the Toltecs and illuminates the Aztecs. It has claws and feeds on human hearts.

 

Aztec myth

 

 

Ed. note: These myths were extracted from the book Memoria del Fuego – 1, by Eduardo Galeano, a well-known Uruguayan writer.  He in turn used various sources: “Creation” – Civrieux, Marc de --  Watunna. Motología makiritare;  “Time” – Sodi, Demetrio, La literatura de los mayas; “The Sun and the Moon – León-Portilla, Miguel, Los antiguos mexicanos.

 

Translated, from the Spanish, by Frank Thomas Smith