American Indian Creation Myths – 3

- the Origin of Love -

The Morning Star

The moon, stooping mother, asked her son:
    “I don’t know were your father is. Take a message from me.”
    The son left in search of the most intense of the fires.
    He didn’t find him in midday, where the sun drinks his wine and dances with his women to the sound of kettledrums. He looked for him at the horizons and in the region of the dead. The sun of the Tarasco people was not in any of his four houses.
    The Morning star continues following his father through the heavens. It always arrives too early or too late.


The First Father of the Guaranís rose from the darkness, illuminated by the brightness of his own heart, and created the flames and the tenuous mist. He created Love, and had no one to give it to. He created language, but had no one to listen to it.
    Then he charged the divinities with constructing the world and to be responsible for the fire, the fog, the rain and the wind. And he presented them with music and the words of the sacred hymn, so they could give life to the women and the men.
    Thus Love became communion, language took on life and the First Father redeemed his solitude. He accompanies the women and the men who walk and sing:

        We are already walking over this earth,
        we are already walking over this shining earth.


The nights were icy and the gods had taken away the fire.
The cold cut the flesh and the words of men. They begged, shivering, with broken voices; and the gods played deaf.
    Once they returned the fire. The men danced with joy and sang songs of gratitude. But soon the gods sent rain and hail and put out the bonfires.
    The gods spoke and demanded: in order to deserve the fire, the people should open their breasts with the lava-stone dagger and deliver their hearts.
    The Quiché Indians offered their prisoners’ blood and were saved from the cold.
    The Cakchiquels did not accept the price. The Cakchiquels, cousins of the Quichés and also heirs of the Mayas, slipped through the smoke on feathered feet and stole the fire and hid it in the caves of their mountains.

The Forest

During a dream the Father of the Uitoto Indios glimpsed a bright mist. Moss and lichens throbbed in the vapors and the whistling of winds, birds and serpents resounded.
    The Father trapped the mist and held it with a thread of his breath. He removed it from his dream and mixed it with earth.
    He spit several times on the misty earth. The forest arose from the whirlpool of foam, the trees unfolded their huge crowns and the fruits and flowers sprouted. The cricket, the monkey, the tapir, the wild boar, the tatú, the deer, the jaguar and the anteater were formed and found their voices on the drenched earth. In the air there arose the royal eagle, the guacamayo, the buzzard, the hummingbird, the white heron, the duck, the bat…
    The wasp arrived in a great rush. He left the frogs and the men without tails and then he got tired.        

The Cedar

The First Father caused the earth to be born from the end of his wand and covered it with down.
    The cedar, the sacred tree from which the Word flows, rose from the down. Then the First Father said to the Mby’a-guaranys to hollow out the truck of that tree in order to hear what it contained. He said that whoever could hear the cedar, coffer of the words, would know the future location of his fires. Those who could not hear it would become no more than worthless earth.

The Guayacán (lignum vitae)

A girl of the Nivakle people was looking for water when she encountered a strapping tree, Nusak, the guayacán, and she felt called. She embraced his firm trunk, pressing against it with her whole body, and she sank her fingernails into the bark. The tree bled. Upon bidding him farewell she said:
    “How I wish, Nusak, that you were a man!”
    And the guayacán became a man and went looking for her. When he found her he showed her his scratched back and lay down at her side.

The Colors

The birds’ feathers were white, as was the animals’ skin.
    Those who bathed in a lake into which no river emptied, and from which no river was born, are now blue. Those who submerged in the lake of blood shed by a child of the Kadiueu tribe are red. Those who rolled in the mud are the color of earth and those who sought warmth in the dead fires are the color of ashes. Those who rubbed their bodies in the foliage are green and those who kept still remain white.   


In the Amazon jungle, the first woman and the first man looked at each other with curiosity. What they had between their legs was strange.
    “Did they cut you?” the man asked.
    “No,” she answered, “I’ve always been like this.”
    He examined her more closely. He scratched his head. There was an open wound there. He said:
    “Don’t eat yucca, or guanábanas, or any fruit that splits when ripe. I will heal you. Lie down in the hammock and rest.”
    She obeyed. Patiently she drank herb infusions, let him apply pomades and ointments. She had to press her teeth together to keep from laughing when he said:
    “Don’t worry.”
    She liked the game, although she was getting tired of fasting and lying in the hammock. The thought of the fruit made her mouth water.
    One afternoon the man came running through the glade. He leaped with joy and yelled:
    “I found it! I found it!”
    He had just seen a monkey healing his mate on a treetop.
    “This is the way it is,” said the man, approaching the woman.
    When the long embrace ended, a dense aroma of flowers and fruits invaded the air. From their bodies, which lay together, emanated vapors and gleaming flashes never before seen, and they were so beautiful that the suns and the gods died of shame.   

All of these myths were compiled by Eduardo Galeano in his book: Memoria del fuego - 1, Buenos Aires, 1984
Translated, from the Spanish, by Frank Thomas Smith