…They eateth the fruit of Earth.
Sister-Sun and Sister-Moon
walked side by side in the sky…
Both were cold.
One day they caught a hare,
skinned it, and put it in a cooking-pot to stew…
While the hare was stewing
The two sisters began to quarrel
over who should take precedence at the meal…
They could not agree
and took to hurling insults at each other.
In her rage Sister-Sun picked up the hare-skin
and flung it in the face of Sister-Moon.
Sister-Moon retaliated by picking up the cooking-pot
and flinging its boiling contents in Sister-Sun’s face.
Sister-Sun and Sister-Moon
no longer walk side by side in the sky…
And since that time
Sister-Sun has become boiling hot
whilst the hare-skin she threw at her sister
can still be seen
in the silvery face of the full moon.
Man and Hare became great friends.
They were always getting into scrapes together
and getting scolded by their mothers.
One day Man said, “let us do away with our mothers,
then we shall be free.”
Hare was not so sure, so he took a knife
and stabbed it into a plant with red juice.
When Man came back boasting of his freedom,
Hare showed him the juice covered knife and claimed it was blood.
Man believed Hare because he never saw Hare’s mother again,
but Hare had put her up in the sky.
Every day she let down a rope and pulled Hare up to feed.
Man became hungry and was envious of Hare’s fat belly.
“Who’s feeding you,” he asked Hare.
“Oh, no one,” replied Hare.
But Man did not believe Hare.
Next day, Man followed Hare and hid, and listened…
He heard Hare calling softly, “Cast down the rope.”
And when Man looked Hare was climbing a rope into the sky.
Hare was gone quite some time and when he returned he was rubbing his belly.
Next day Man got up early went to the same spot
and called out softly, “Cast down the rope.”
Down came the rope…
When Hare came by he found the rope dangling.
Hare climbed into the sky and found his mother
and all her little ones save the runt, dead.
“Who has done this?” asked Hare.
“Your friend, Man,” answered the runt.
Hare went to his hut and wept.
“What’s up with you?” said Man.
“The sun is hurting my eyes,” said Hare.
Next day Hare went to Man and said, “You’re always very hungry,
so I have discovered a place where there is plenty of game.”
“Show me,” said Man.
“Lie there,” said Hare, “open your mouth and I shall throw it in.”
Man did as he was told.
Hare got red stones, heated them in a pot
and threw them down Man’s throat.
And that, as they say, was the end of that.
Man was always chasing Hare
but Hare was usually too swift for him…
One day, by means of a fluke, Man caught Hare,
“Now, I’ve got you,” said Man and he tied Hare to a tree,
then he set off to look for kindling…
Hare sat quiet, pondering his predicament,
and saw Jackal cresting a rise.
Hare began to call out, loudly…
“What’s up with you,” said Jackal, hearing the commotion.
“Man has tied me here and gone in search of meat,
he means to feed me it but I don’t know how to eat it.”
“Meat eh?” said Jackal, his mouth watering,
“I’ll tell you what, let me take your place, I’m always hungry for meat.”
Hare and Jackal switched places.
Just as Hare had finished tying Hare to the tree Man came back.
He crested the distant rise with a crowd of people who were shouting,
“Burn, burn, burn…”
“What is that they are shouting?” asked Jackal.
“They are boasting about how much meat they’ve brought,” said Hare.
After the fire had died, the charred remains of Jackal were discovered,
but Hare was nowhere to be seen…
The Moon dies and rises to life again.
Moon said to Hare, “Go to Men and tell them,
‘like as the Moon dies and again rises to life,
so will you also.'”
Hare went to Men and said, “Like as I die
but do not rise again to life, so also with you.”
When Hare returned to Moon,
Moon asked him what he had said to Men.
Hare told Moon what he had told Men.
“What have you done,” cried Moon.
Moon took a stick and hit Hare in the mouth with it,
cleaving Hare’s lip.
Hare fled, and is fleeing still…
That White-Skunk possess power is not in doubt.
Bald-Eagle himself is wary of it.
The point at issue is the uses to which that power is put.
White-Skunk uses his power as a weapon to serve his own ends alone.
He heals Meadow-Lark of a wound, that he himself has inflicted, only in return for information on the whereabouts of his musk-sac.
Could any act be more worthy of the phrase ‘to take advantage’?
The camp of the Clever-Fellows appears to be a Star-Realm.
Here White-Skunk’s musk-sac sparkles like a star and is given as a child’s play-thing.
This is one of the highest honours that can be bestowed but it enrages White-Skunk who regards it as a slight.
When White-Skunk approaches the outskirts of the Star-Fields he is granted an object lesson in the proper use of power.
His musk-sac is shared freely, in turns, by all…
Heedless of yet another life lesson White-Skunk returns from this spirit-quest and uses his brush with real power for self aggrandisement and as a means of terrorising his peers.
He then proceeds to mete out gifts and punishments as he sees fit on the basis of past favours or perceived misdemeanours.
White-Skunk’s third and final encounter with spirit proves fateful.
He sees Rice-Bird only for the spiritual treasures he holds.
But the treasures of a ‘dead’ spirituality are redundant.
Even had they been procured for the use of others which they palpably had not.
The Wolf brothers finally put White-Skunk out of his misery as he talks to, and plays with, himself amid his redundant treasures.
It could, and perhaps should, have been so different.
Winged creatures are almost universally regarded as symbols of spirituality.
Is there any evidence to regard them as such in this tale?
Bald-Eagle has fire.
Meadow-Lark has far sight.
Rice-Bird can play dead.
Not a bad ‘trawl’.
On his way back to the lodge to re-instate ‘natural law’, Bald-Eagle creates a valley with his wings.
This valley alerts Skunk to Bald-Eagle’s cognisance of his ruse.
It is tempting to regard the rest of the action of the story as taking place within this ‘wing-formed’ valley.
The sight which greets Skunk on his return to the lodge is not a happy one.
Does Skunk show any remorse for the actions which have led to this unhappy state?
He does not.
He thinks only of revenge.
He thus reinforces and perpetuates the consequences of his original error.
The ‘reflection trick’ played by Bald-Eagle and the Plover sisters on Skunk may further emphasise their spiritual nature and Skunk’s now inevitable distance from that ideal.
His subsequent attempt to ‘storm the ramparts of heaven’ lead only to a further loss of status and also the loss of his, potentially, one and only saving grace.
Skunk’s musk-sac, caught in the current of the river, drifts off downstream without him.