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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sky Woman

I have had the great pleasure of sharing with you the Stories the Iroquois Tell Their Children, a collection of their tales that were gathered by Mabel Powers. Prior to their publication they were read and approved by Iroquois elders to assure their authenticity. They were published in 1917.

These stories were a peek into the daily lives and beliefs of the Iroquois. Like all tales of life and magic, they have their basis in the myths of the people who tell them, blending the supernatural with the earthly and the commonplace.

When it comes to the supernatural, the Iroquois are like every other people who ever were in that they endeavor to explain how they got here, why things work as they do with a legend of the cosmogony. Please allow me to share some of the Iroquois mythology with you.

The Iroquois Confederation was composed of Five Nations: Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Onandaga, and Cayuga Peoples. All of them lived in adjoining regions of present-day New York State and southern Ontario. Their mythology was similar in its major respects and is termed the Iroquois Mythology in its presentation here, but it seems to have spread to other peoples as noted.
This is not my original work. I am presenting the material that I found on this website, for your convenience and enjoyment:


Legendary Native American Figures: Sky Woman (Ataensic, Atahensic, Ataentsic)

Name: Sky Woman
Tribal affiliation: Iroquois, Huron
Native names: Ataensic, Ata-en-sic, Ataentsic, Atahensic, Ataensiq, Aataentsic, Athensic, Ataensie, Eataentsic, Eyatahentsik, Iaataientsik, Yatahentshi; Iotsitsisonh, Iotsitsisen, Iottsitison, Iottsitíson, Atsi'tsiaka:ion, Atsi'tsiakaion, Ajinjagaayonh; Iagen'tci, Iagentci, Eagentci, Yekëhtsi, Yagentci; Awenhai, Awenha'i, Awenha:ih; Wa'tewatsitsiané:kare; Aientsik, Aentsik
Also known as: Grandmother Moon, the Woman who Fell from the Sky
Type: Mother goddess, sky spirit, first woman
Related figures in other tribes: Nokomis (Anishinabe), Our Grandmother (Shawnee)

Sky Woman is the Iroquois mother goddess, who descended to earth by falling through a hole in the sky. She was a celestial being who was cast out of the heavens either for violating a taboo or through her jealous husband's treachery; waterbirds carried her down to the sea and set her on the back of a turtle, which became her home (Turtle Island.) Sky Woman is either the grandmother or the mother (depending on the version) of the twin culture heroes Sky-Holder and Flint, sometimes known as Good Spirit and Bad Spirit. 

Myths about Sky Woman vary enormously from community to community. In some Iroquois myths Sky Woman is a minor character who dies in childbirth immediately upon reaching the earth, while in others, she is the central character of the entire creation saga. In some myths Sky Woman is the mother of the twins, but more commonly she is the mother of a daughter, Tekawerahkwa or Breath of the Wind, who in turn gives birth to the twins. 

In some Iroquois traditions the twins represent good and evil, while in others, neither twin is evil, but Flint represents destruction, death, night, and winter to Sky-Holder's creation, life, day, and summer. In many versions of the myth Sky Woman favored Flint, usually because Flint has deceived her into thinking Sky-Holder killed Tekawerahkwa, but sometimes because Sky Woman herself disapproved of Sky-Holder's human creations and their ways. In other versions Sky Woman supported both of her grandchildren equally, declaring that there must be both life and death in the world. Sky Woman is associated with the moon by many Iroquois people. 

In some traditions, Sky Woman turned into the moon; in others, Sky-Holder turned her body into the sun, moon, and stars after her death; and in still others, it was Sky Woman herself who created the sun, moon, and stars.
Sky Woman goes by many different names in Iroquois mythology. The name "Sky Woman" itself is a title, not her name-- she is a Sky Woman because she is one of the Sky People, Karionake. 

Her own name is variously given as Ataensic (a Huron name probably meaning "ancient body,") Iagentci (a Seneca name meaning "ancient woman,") Iotsitsisonh or Atsi'tsiaka:ion (Mohawk names meaning "fertile flower" and "mature flower,") Awenhai (a Cayuga and Seneca name also meaning "mature flower,") and Aentsik (probably an Iroquois borrowing from Huron.) She is sometimes also referred to as Grandmother or Grandmother Moon.

Thank you very much dear friends for dropping by. You are also welcome to leave your thoughts and comments, they are greatly appreciated.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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