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Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Chumash Creation Myths

Hi dear friends and followers.

Today we look at some of the myths and legends of the Chumash People, some of the original residents of the southern California coast. Their area of influence ran from near the city of Santa Barbara in the north to its southern limit near the city of Long Beach on today's maps. Modern place names with Chumash origins include Malibu, Lompoc, Ojai, Pismo Beach, Point Mugu, Port Hueneme, Piru, Lake Castaic, Saticoy, and Simi Valley.

The Chumash have inhabited the region for about 13,000 years. Their name means "bead maker" or "seashell gatherer." And gatherers they were.

Their plank canoes allowed them to catch large salt water fish, like swordfish, a trophy using current technology. They also gathered clams, abalone and mussels as well as hunted for seals and sea otters. Deer, rabbits, and birds were hunted but this was more prevalent with those Chumash living in the interior of the territory. All of them gathered nuts, especially the acorns of the live oaks which were plentiful in the area.

Concerning their cosmogony, the Chumash saw the universe as having been made by one maker and kept in-order by many of the maker's helpers.

Chumash Creation Myths

In addition to the commonly shared belief in a Great Spirit which created the universe and everything in it, the Chumash believed the world was divided in three layers on three floating disks; the Sky World, the Middle World (where they lived), and the Water World.

They believed Sky World was supported by the Great Eagle who always remained in the same place, only occasionally stretching its wings, which caused the phases of the moon and lunar eclipses.

The Middle World was believed held in place by a giant serpent which would sometimes move, causing earthquakes.

They believed the Water World to be made from the urine of the many frogs who lived in it.

The Sun God is believed to have carried a torch made of tightly rolled bark which he used to illuminate the world. He creates the night sky by whipping the sparks off his torch. By day, the Sun sits in a hole in the ground which was created for him by the Spider Woman.
The Chumash had specific representations for each of the four seasons.

Winter was represented by the color white, the Eagle, a symbol of man's strength and pride, and the Bear, representing Mother Earth. Winter was also indicated by the North, from which the cold winds blew. For the Chumash, winter also meant renewal, as they celebrated Winter Solstice and the beginning of the new year.

Summer was represented by the color blue, as in the ocean's waves, and by the Owl, a creature of wisdom and intelligence, and the Snake, which pressed its belly against Mother Earth, showing its sensitivity. The summer was indicated by the South, from which the warm ocean breeze blew.

Spring was represented by the color yellow, and by the Hawk, believed to have brought back the sun on its tail, and by the Deer, which symbolized life, for every part of the animal was used by the Chumash as food and clothing. Spring came from the East, as this is where one would see the sunrise.

Fall was represented by the color red, and by the Dolphin; the sea-dwelling brother of the Chumash, and by the Raven, who served as messenger. The Fall was indicated by the West, for it is there one can see the sunset.

The Chumash myth tells of a great deluge which engulfed the earth, taking with it all living things save for the Spotted Woodpecker, the nephew of Kaqunupenawa, the Sun God.

Spotted Woodpecker survived the flood by perching itself atop the tallest tree in the world, but as he saw the water rise all the way to his feet, he cried out for his uncle's help. "Save me, I'm drowning!" he cried.

The Sun God's daughters heard him and told Kaqunupenawa that his nephew was dying of cold and hunger. The Sun God lowered his torch, the one he used to light the world and create the stars, and he warmed the Spotted Woodpecker with its heat. He then tossed two acorns in the water at his feet, so that he would be able to pick them up and eat them. The Sun God fed more acorns to the Spotted Woodpecker, which now explains why they are its favorite food.

After the flood, the Sun God, Morning Star, the Moon, and the Great Eagle were discussing the creation of new people to populate the earth with the Sky Coyote, trying to decide on their appearance. The Great Eagle and the Sky Coyote argued whether the humans should have hands like the the Sky Coyote's, who believed that the new people should be made in his image. 

He won the argument, and the next day, all gathered around a white rock so that Sky Coyote could press his hand into it to make his hand print, but the Lizard, who had been a silent observer at the proceedings leapt forward and pressed his own hand onto the rock. Lizard escaped the furious Sky Coyote, and the Sun and the Eagle approved of the hand print and this is why human hands are somewhat shaped like the Lizard's.

The first people were created from the seeds planted on Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) by Hutash, the Earth Goddess. Hutash was married to the Sky Snake (The Milky Way), who made lightning with his tongue and gave the people their first fire. The people kept the fire burning to stay warm and cook their food. Since the people were getting more comfortable, their population grew until the Island became too crowded.

They also made so much noise that Hutash could not get any sleep, so she decided it was time to allow some of the people to cross over to the mainland. Hutash made Wishtoyo, a Rainbow Bridge which extended from the tallest peak of the Island to the tallest inland mountain near Carpinteria. She told the people to cross carefully, and to never look down, but some did, and fell off the Rainbow Bridge and into the ocean, where they were turned into dolphins by Hutash to prevent them from drowning. This is why the Chumash Indians consider the dolphins to be their brothers. The Chumash honor Hutash every September with a great Harvest Festival named after her.

Reference map

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. have a great Week. 

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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