Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Pleiades and the Pine

This myth is Cherokee in origin, however amongst the pan indigenous nations, there exist many such myths...there similarities are often identical and the lesson is valuable. Enjoy.

There was once a group of friends -7 boys- who always played together. In fact, they did everything together; often losing track of time and not reporting home for dinner as their mothers had instructed.

One day, the boys were out playing one of their favorite games, which involved rolling a wheel along the ground with a stick. Each boy did better than the one before him and, before long, they had spent hours laughing, playing, and teasing one another.

"Oh, no!" cried one young brave, as he glanced at the sun beginning to set in the sky. "We are late again. We must hurry and go now."

Although clearly no one was ready to go home, they gathered their things and shuffled off toward the village. They were greeted at the edge of the village by all seven of their mothers who were clearly angry that they had, once again, broken the rules.

"Will you never learn?" questioned one mother. "Will you never show us respect?" questioned another. "The answer is clear," said a third. "Since you cannot come home in time for dinner, then you will have to make your own," the third mother announced. "Here, use these stones for corn to make your soup."

The boys were angry at being scolded and even angrier that their mothers dared to offer them nothing to eat but stone soup. "What did we do that was so wrong?" questioned young brave.

"If our mothers don't love us, I say we go away and bother them no more," announced another. The other boys agreed and, together, all headed away from their village to the nearby hills where they always played.

Once there, they began to dance and chant. "Spirits of our people, take us into the sky so blue. Our mothers no longer want us and we wish to be with you."

Over and over they danced and chanted their rhyme. For hours they continued without once halting.

Back in the village, one of the mothers decided that she should check to see in which friend's home her son was hiding. However, as she traveled from home to home to find that none of the boys could be found, she began to worry that something was wrong.

The seven mothers gathered together and headed toward the hills where their sons played. As they grew closer, they saw the boys dancing and singing their chant.

"Look!" cried one mother in abject fear. "They are dancing off of the ground. We must hurry or they will be gone forever."

As the mothers grew closer, their fear and panic took hold. They realized that they might not be able to reach their sons, who now danced above their heads.

Each jumped and tried to grab her son, but only one was able to reach hers. Grabbing hold and yanking as hard as she could, the mother pulled her son to the ground so hard that he hit the earth with a thud, forming a hole into which he fell with the earth enclosing around him.

As she fell to her knees in tears, she looked to see the other six boys had now danced into the clouds and could no longer be seen. In what seemed like mere seconds, all seven mothers had lost their most prized possessions.

It is said that the seven mothers never again laughed or smiled, since in a single moment they had lost that which brought them the most joy. Each day they returned to the place where they lost their sons. While six of them looked toward the skies in prayer, the seventh fell to the earth, soaking it with her tears of grief.

Day after day; week after week; month after month they continued their trek. One day, the six mothers noticed stars had formed exactly where they last saw their sons. They are called the Pleiades. On the site where her son fell to the ground, the seventh mother noticed a tiny pine tree had begun to grow.

That, they say, is why the pine tree has always been one of the most sacred trees to the Cherokee people. It is also why they look to the Pleiades to pray. It is a reminder that life can change in an instant; bringing you untold joy or immeasurable grief.