Shipibo, Amazonia, Peru:
In the beginning there was only darkness, and in the middle of
that darkness was a giant Anaconda named Ronin who encircled the Tree of Life in the universe. This Anaconda reflected back
on her beautiful skin and began to sing the geometric patterns she saw, which then materialized to create the Heavens, Stars, Earth,
Sun, Moon, and all the Creatures that inhabit these realms. A world made of song was the result of this action, and now every
person and every living thing is imbued with their own distinct song pattern.
---Unknown, Shipibo, Amazonia. Woven Songs of the Amazon, Healing Icaros
of the Shipibo Shamans.
was born at the Amazon River mouth and then travelled upstream in a huge canoe shaped like an Anaconda. At certain spots
the people went ashore and, at specific points acquired the essential characteristics of their society. There is
a location where they danced for the first time; another where they learned the first songs; a spot where the forest was
cleared for the first garden; a place where they built their first communal houses; and another spot where the first ceremonies
were performed. The Amazon is the River of Life, because every point along the river has it's name and particular
significance in their culture. Every turn in the river is a reminder of the Anaconda's form and, at the same time, Mankind's
and Nature's origin in a replica of the Milky Way.
---Unknown, Tukano, Amazonia.
Barasana, Amazonia, Columbia:
origin was a great journey from the East, in sacred canoes brought up the Milk River by enormous anacondas. Within the canoes
were the first people, together with important master teacher power plants, gifts of Father Sun. On the heads of the
anacondas were blinding lights, and in the canoes sat the Mythical Heroes in hierarchical order: chiefs, wisdom keepers, warriors,
shamans, and, finally, in the stern, servants. All were brothers, children of the sun. When the snakes reached the centre
of the world, they lay over the land, outstretched as rivers, their powerful head forming river mouths, their tails winding
away to remote head-waters, the ripples in their skin giving rise to rapids and waterfalls. Each river welcomed a different
canoe, and in each drainage the Mythical Heroes disembarked and settled, with the lowly servants heading upstream and the
chiefs occupying the mouth. Thus, the rivers of the Vaupe's were created and populated by different peoples. In time, the
hierarchy of mythical times broke down, and on each of the rivers the descendants of those who had journeyed in the same sacred
canoe came to live together. Still, they recognized each other as family, speakers of the same language, and to ensure that
no brother married a sister, they invented strict rules. To avoid incest, a man had to choose a bride who spoke a differet
---Wade Davis, Ethnobotanist
and Anthropologist, Light at the Edge of the World, A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures.
Plants With Soul:Poring over his notes, Jeremy Narby, Ph.D., (following his trip
to Amazonia), suddenly had an epiphany. The shape of the DNA molecule, discovered by Watson and Crick in 1953, is the double
helix, a serpentine form that twists endlessly upon itself as it replicates. That same shape, he realized, is precisely
the form described by shamans the world over to explain the origins of life on earth. On every continent, from ancient Sumer to Scandinavia, from
Amazonia to Australia, creation myths speak of twinned serpents, twirling ladders, twisting ropes, spiralling staircases,
intertwined vines, or trees that stretch from heaven to earth, the so-called axis mundi. Even old Testament's patriarch
Jacob dreams of a ladder touching heaven 'with the angels of God ascending and descending on it.' In Amerindian terms, ladders,
ropes, vines, and trees are the means by which shamans ascend to the heavens or descend to earth to communicate with spirits.
----Michael Pozner, Walrus Magazine.
When the Spaniards asked about the origin of the empire, they were told of a time of darkness
and a great flood sent to the world by the creator Wiracocha. Taking pity on the earth, Wiracocha stood on an island in Titicaca
and flung into the sky the sun, moon, and all the stars. Then he ordered these heavenly bodies to populate the land. The Sun,
lord of the universe, dispatched his son Manco Capac, and the Moon gave her daughter Mama Occlu to be his bride. Together
they emerged from the waters of Titicaca, from the islands of the Sun and the Moon, and bearing a golden staff, began a great
odyssey. Their instructions were to search the world, probing the earth with their staff, until they found a place that would
accept it. There they were to establish their kingdom.
For years they wandered,
escorted each day by wild geese, each night by condor. Finally, at the base of a mountain known as Wanakauri, the ground swallowed
the staff and a rainbow rose in the sky. Maco Capac called upon the local people to abandon their nakedness, their diet of
wild seeds, their wretched lives to follow him into the valley where the imperial capilal of Cuzco would be built. Maco Capac,
son of the Sun, became the first Inca, taking as his coya, or queen, his sister, the daughter of the Moon. Thus from its mythological
inception the empire was inspired by the gods, and the Inca, his family, and all his offspring were known to be divine. Their
lineage began at the beginning of time and ended with the betrayal and murder of Atahuyalpa in 1533 at Cajamarca. The empire
stretched over three thousand miles, the largest ever forged on the American continenet. Within its boundaries lived nearly
all the people of the known world. There were fourteen thousand miles of paved road, rich and bountiful fields, immense temples
dedicated to the sun. There was no hunger. All matter was perceived as divine, the earth itself the womb of creation. Then
came smallpox, the death of Huayna Capac, and the beginning of the cataclysm.
---Wade Davis, Anthropologist, Ethnobologist, Author, One River, Explorations
and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest.
The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming about them.
God was singing and clacking his maracas as he dreamed his dream in a cloud of Tobacco smoke. Feeling happy but shaken by
doubt and mystery. If God dreams about eating, he gives fertility and food. If God dreams about life, he is born
and and gives birth. In their dream about God's dream, the woman and the man were inside a great shining egg, singing and
dancing and kicking up a fuss because they were crazy to be born. In God's dream happiness was stronger than doubt and mystery.
So dreaming, God created them with a song: "I break this egg and the woman is born and the man is born. And together they
will live and die. But they will be born again. they will be born and die again and be born again. They will never stop being
born, because death is a lie."
---Unknown, Makiritare, Venezuela. Watunna: Mitologia Makiritare,
Two mischievious twins stole a gourd which they found hanging
on the doorway of a Curandera's home. The Medicine Woman saw the twins steal the gourd and tried to stop them but
they ran away. While running the twin holding the gourd dropped it spilling the contents. So much water flowed from the
gourd that it caused a great flood, which covered the land so only the tallest mountain peaks were visible. These are now
known as the Caribbean Islands.
Taino, Caribbean, Dr. Manuel C. Torres.
In the beginning, it is said, there was only the Great Serpent, whose
seven thousand coils lay beneath the earth, holding it in place that it might not fall into the abysmal sea. In time, the
Serpent began to move, unleashing its undulating flesh, which rose slowly into a great spiral that enveloped the Universe.
In the heavens, it released stars and all the celestial bodies; on earth, it brought forth Creation, winding its way through
the molten slopes to carve rivers, which like veins became the channels through which flowed the essence of all life. In the
searing heat it forged metals, and rising again into the sky it cast lightning bolts to the earth that gave birth to the sacred
stones. Then it lay along the path of the sun and partook of its nature.
its layered skin, the Serpent retained the spring of eternal life, and from the zenith it let go the waters that filled the
rivers upon which the people would nurse. As the water struck the earth, the Rainbow arose and the Serpent took her as his
wife. Thier love entwined them in a cosmic helix that arched across the heavens. In time their fusion gave birth to the spirit
that animates blood. Women learned to filter this divine substance through their breasts to produce milk, just as men passed
it through their testes to create semen. The Serpent and the Rainbow instructed women to remember these blessings once each
month, and they taught men to damn the flow so that the belly might swell and bring forth new life. Then, as a final gift,
they taught the people to partake of the blood as a sacrament, that they might become the spirit and embrace the wisdom of
Anthropologist, Ethnobotanist, The Serpent and the Rainbow.
Kogi, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Columbia:
the first dawning when the Earth was still soft, the Great Mother stabilized it by thrusting the enormous spindle into the
centre, penetrating the nine levels of existence. The Lords of the Universe, born of the Great Mother, then pushed back the
sea and lifted up the Sierra Nevada around the world axis, thrusting their hair into the soil to give it strength. From
her spindle, the Great Mother uncoiled a length of cotton thread with which she traced a circle around the mountains, circumscribing
the Sierra Nevada, which she declared to be the land of her children. Thus, the spindle became a model of the cosmos. The
disk is the Earth, the whorl of yarn is the trerritory of the people, the individual strands of spun cotton are the thoughts
of the sun."
told by Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff, Ethnographer. Wade Davis, Ethnobotanist and Anthropologist, Light at the Edge of the World,
A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures.
The Aborigines accepted life as it was, a cosmological
whole, the unchanging creation of the first dawn, when earth and sky separated, and the original Ancestor brought into being
all the primordial Ancestors who through their thoughts, dreams and journey's, sang the world into existence. The
Ancestors walked as they sang, and when it was time to stop, they slept. In their dreams, they conceived the events of the
following day, points of creation that fused one into another until every creature, every stream and stone, all time and space,
became whole, the divine manifestation of the one great seminal impulse. When they grew exhausted from their labours, they
retired into the earth, sky, clouds, rivers, lakes, plants and animals of an island continent that resonates with their memory.
The paths taken by the Ancestors have never been forgotten. They are the Songlines, precise itineraries followed even today
as the people travel across the template of the physical world. As the Aborigines track the Songlines and chant the
stories of the first dawning, they become part of the Ancestors and enter the Dreamtime, which is neither a dream nor
a measure of the passage of time. It is the very realm of the Ancestors, a parallel universe where the ordinary laws of time,
space and motion do not apply, where past, future and present merge into one. A dream by Western definition is a state
of consciousness divorced from the real world. The (Aborigine) Dreamtime, by contrast, is the real world, or at least one
of two realities experienced in the daily lives of the Aborigines.
---Wade Davis, Ethnologist, Anthropologist, Light
at the Edge of the World, A Journey Through the Realm of Vanishing Cultures.
Mohawk, N. America:
"Our Mohawk creation story is a study in sustainability. It is the story of a pregnant woman who
falls from the sky, transforming spirit into being human on this Earth. In fulfillment of the dream of the Chief of the Sky
World (who dreams that the fruits and flowers of a great celestial tree that grows at the base of the Sky World are wilting
and dying), Sky Woman, who has come into relationship with him, uproots the tree as she pulls at a flower that grows at its
base, thus creating a hole in the floor of the Sky World. Leaning deeply into the hole to search the great blue sky below,
she falls through.
As she falls, she grasps at the edges of the hole, trying
to pull herself back up, but she does fall, and with seeds and bits of sacred things from the uprooted celestial tree now
embedded under her fingernails. Grasped in her hands are the original tobacco, the strawberry, and other medicines that we
now depend on here in this world. She lands on Turtle's back with the help of the winged ones who guided her fall to Earth.
SkyWoman's name --- iotsi tsisoh ---means 'mature flowers.' We can think of her name as a name for some of the medicines we
use, and we can refer to them collectively as--- ononkwa sohna ---'medicine people.'
herself on Turtle's back with the aid of the water animals (who brought to the surface from the depths of the ocean a handful
of dirt in which could be planted the seeds she carried), Sky Woman soon gave birth to a daughter. In the company of her mother,
the daughter quickly grew and, when she came of age, she had a number of suitors who wanted to marry her but her mother refused
to give her permission. However, one handsome young being (who turned out to be Turtle) impregnated her and she bore twin
sons into this world, who, in their dialectical relationship, their arguments with each other about the way this world should
be organized, became the Creator Twins who created the world as we know it.
creation story teaches us that there is no complete good or complete evil, and that in order for this world to exist, there
has to be a balance. We live in a universe of relatives, and the universe is kept alive by those relationships."
----Katsi Cook, Mohawk reservation, upstate New York.
The Creator was walking around the forest, visiting all the beings he had created
when he created Mother Earth. He saw one strange creature he didn't know and asked him his name and who he was. The creature,
smiling wickedly, declared, "I'm Hadoui, the most powerful being in the universe!"
Amazed by such a boastful
declaration, the Creator asked Hadoui to demonstrate just how powerful he was. Hadoui grinned and pointed to a mountain. "I
can move that mountain you see out there," Hadoui declared. I can do it without even moving from this spot, just by my
poweres of concentration!"
'Okay," said the Creator, "let's see you do it."
So Hadoui closed his eyes,
concentrated very hard, and after a while the ground began to shake and that mountain, with a great roar, moved several feet
on the horizon. Then Hadoui turned around to face the Creator, and said: "There! I did it!." Let's see you match
The Creator nodded. He told Hadoui: "All right. But take care! Don't turn around!"
Hadoui scoffed, disregarding
the warning, and turned around to look, and at that second the mountain came rushing right up to him, smashing his nose and
twisting his mouth into a perpetual evil smirk. Realizing the Creator's power was far greater than his, Hadoui henceforth
used his own power to help others instead of hurting them. His one demand was to be given tobacco and food, and the people
see that he gets these to this day.
Mitchell, Mohawk, Harvey Arden and Steve Wall, Travels In A Stone Canoe, the return to the wisdomkeepers.
Pandora, to the Greeks, is what Eve is to Christianity. To ancient
cultures predating Greece, she was the first woman. Her name has been translated to mean 'the gift of all,' 'rich in gifts,'
or 'all giving.' The original sense of the myth is more clearly reflected in pre-Hellenic oral traditions, in which humankind
was said to be given a vessel sealed by God that contained 'goods' rather than 'evils.' Because of human curiosity and eagerness
Pandora opened the vessel lid, and the powers of God flew heavenwards and to the four corners of the Earth. Pandora quickly
put back the lid, but all except one power had escaped. And that was the power of 'Hope,' which would continue to be in human
---Michael Tappan, Archetypal Psychotherapist, Colorado.
Origin of disease and medicine:
In the old days the beasts, birds, fishes,
insects and plants could all talk. They and the people lived together in peace and friendship. But as time went on the people
increased so rapidly their settlements spread over the whole earth, and the animals found themselves beginning to be
cramped for room. Man invented bows, knives, blowguns, spears and hooks, and began to slaughter large animals, birds and fishes
for their flesh or their skins. The smaller creatures, such as the frogs and worms, were crushed and trodden upon without
thought. So the animals resolved to consult upon measures for their common safety. It
was decided to begin war at once against Man.
The Bears, in council, proposed making bows and arrows. One bear
had to be sacrificed for the good of the rest in order to offer its insides for the bowstring. But when tested the long bearclaws on
the string spoiled the shot. So the Deer held council and decided to send rheumatism to every hunter who killed an Animal
if the hunter did not say a prayer and ask pardon for the offense. But some hunters learned to turn this aside by
building a fire behind them on the trail home. Then the fishes and reptiles determined to make humans dream of snakes or eat
raw or decaying fish so they would lose appetite, sicken and die. But some humans were so dull when sleeping they didn't
dream. Finally the Birds, Insects and smaller Animals began to devise and name many new diseases.
When the Plants, who were friendly to Man heard what had been
done by the Animals they determined to defeat those evil designs. The Trees, Shrubs, Herbs, Grasses, Mosses and Weeds
agreed to furnish a remedy to counteract each disease that had been named by the Animals. Thus came medicine to
counteract the evil wrought by the revengeful Animals. So to this day when the doctor does not know what medicine to
use for a sick person the Spirit of the plant tells him.
---From the Cherokee oral tradition collected by James Mooney,
Ethnologist, on the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.
"It is a truly creative universe in that the future is not pre-ordained but spontaneously and freely made
by every being, from elementary particles to galaxies, from microbes to the giant redwood trees, all mutually entangled in
a universal wave-function that never collapses, but like a constantly changing cosmic consciousness maintains and informs
the universal whole."
There comes a point where in broad daylight 'one recognizes
the reality of how the Absolute expresses itself into the multiple relative...where one clearly sees the process of creation...
And then what one finds is that the diversity of the relative is coming to a close and is coming to that one value of the
faintest relative which is just the nature of the Absolute, the vibrant nature of the Absolute. And this is that level of
awareness which starts to recognize very clearly, on one side unmanifest Absolute and on the other this faint, faintest relative
impulse, which is the sprouting of creation --- as a seed sprouts, the Absolute is sprouting --- and that sprout as a reverberation
of the entirety of the Absolute into the faintest relative impulse of existence... One cognizes absolute Being completely
like a still ocean, omnipresent, without an activity, as the finest spur of action --- that is, the basis of all relative
diversity.----Dr. Vernon Katz, Conversations With Maharishi. Volume 1.
'At the point of merging is the story of emergence.
When the awareness of the dual existence of the Self and non-Self merges into the oneness of eternity, at this point of merging,
the emergence of creation from the unmanifest area of eternal existence is cognized. The story of the birth of creation is
a direct cognition when one's vision is being transformed from God Consciousness to Unity.'----Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Lecture,
Rishikesh, India, spring, 1970. Dr. Vernon Katz, Conversations With Maharishi, Volume 1.