Sunday, September 2, 2018

Grandmother Spider: A Cherokee Tale


Grandmother Spider by Michael Auld from his book, "Ticky-Ticky's Quest: Travel to Turtle Island".
Grandmother Spider glides on the surface of a stream like a Water Spider, in front of her Asai (a traditional
Cherokee house.

 A CHEROKEE STORY ABOUT "THE BRINGING OF THE LIGHT"

[From a tale reported by James Mooney in the 1890's. "American Indian Myths & Legends"
Selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz].


In the beginning there was only blackness, and nobody could see anything. People kept bumping
into each other and groping blindly.

They said: "What this world needs is light."

Fox said he knew some people on the other side of the world who had plenty of light, but they were
too greedy to share it with others.

Possum said he would be glad to steal a little of it. "I have a bushy tail," he said. "I can hide the light
inside all that fur." Then he set out for the other side of the world.
There he found the sun hanging in a tree and lighting everything up.

Possum sneaked over to the sun, picked out a tiny piece of light, and stuffed it into his tail. But the
light was hot and burned all the fur off.

The people discovered his theft and took back the light, and ever since, Possum's tail has been
bald.

"Let me try," said Buzzard. "I know better than to hide a piece of stolen light in my tail. I'll put it on
my head." He flew to the other side of the world and, diving straight into the sun, seized it with his
claws.

Buzzard put it on his head, but it burned his head feathers off. The people grabbed the sun away
from him, and ever since that time Buzzard's head has remained bald.

Grandmother Spider said, "Let me try!"

First she made a thick-walled pot out of clay. Next she spun a web reaching all the way to the other
side of the world. She was so small that none of the people there noticed her coming.

Quickly Grandmother Spider snatched up the sun, put it in the bowl of clay, and scrambled back
home along one of the strands of her web. Now her side of the world had light, and everyone
rejoiced.

Grandmother Spider brought not only the sun to the Cherokee, but fire with it. And besides that,
she taught the Cherokee people the art of pottery making.
From a tale reported by James Mooney in the 1890's. "American Indian Myths & Legends"
Selected and edited

by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz.

In the beginning there was only blackness, and nobody could see anything. People kept bumping
into each other and groping blindly.

They said: "What this world needs is light."

Fox said he knew some people on the other side of the world who had plenty of light, but they were
too greedy to share it with others.

Possum said he would be glad to steal a little of it. "I have a bushy tail," he said. "I can hide the light
inside all that fur." Then he set out for the other side of the world.
There he found the sun hanging in a tree and lighting everything up.

Possum sneaked over to the sun, picked out a tiny piece of light, and stuffed it into his tail. But the
light was hot and burned all the fur off.

The people discovered his theft and took back the light, and ever since, Possum's tail has been
bald.

"Let me try," said Buzzard. "I know better than to hide a piece of stolen light in my tail. I'll put it on
my head." He flew to the other side of the world and, diving straight into the sun, seized it with his
claws.

Buzzard put it on his head, but it burned his head feathers off. The people grabbed the sun away
from him, and ever since that time Buzzard's head has remained bald.

Grandmother Spider said, "Let me try!"

First she made a thick-walled pot out of clay. Next she spun a web reaching all the way to the other
side of the world. She was so small that none of the people there noticed her coming.

Quickly Grandmother Spider snatched up the sun, put it in the bowl of clay, and scrambled back
home along one of the strands of her web. Now her side of the world had light, and everyone
rejoiced.

Grandmother Spider brought not only the sun to the Cherokee, but fire with it. And besides that,
she taught the Cherokee people the art of pottery making.


ANCIENT SPIDERS

Four Ancient Gorgets: Spiders and their webs have intrigued
humans for many thousands of years. Here are
four shell
gorget pendants from ancient earthen
mounds in Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee. The
pyramid-like mounds are part of indigenous
American mound-building societies whose
structures seemed to have spread north from the
civilizations of Central America.
A Hopi interior food bowl design
of  the sun and the spider. From
Homolobi in the American Southwest


An Anansi the Spider-Man's version of Baldness


 The above Cherokee story is similar to an explanatory tale's Anansi Story about "How John Crow (Turkey Buzzard) got a peel (Bald) head." The Sun was responsible for Possum's once furry tail to become bald while Anansi used trickery and hot water to explain John Crow's pink baldness.



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