Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sioux Mythology


An Interesting Study of the Works of the Great Mystery.

Before the advent of the white man these people believed that the earth was flat, with a circular form, and was suspended in a dark place and sheltered by the heaven or sky in the shape of a hollow hemisphere. The sun was regarded as the father and the earth the mother of all things that live and grow, and as they had been married a long time and had become the parents of many generations they were called the great-grandparents. As near as I can judge, the moon seemed to be their servant, at least she was required to watch, together with her brothers, the stars over the sleeping universe while the sun came down to rest with his family. In the thunder bird they believed God had a warrior who presided over the most powerful elements — the storm and the fearful cyclone. This symbolic creature is depicted as an impatient and wrathy son of war, at whose appearance even the ever smiling grandfather, the sun, hides his face. In the realms of water the whale is the symbolized chief of the finny tribes. In every great lake the Sioux imagines a huge fish as ruler of its waters.

Yet none of these possesses the power of speech. The great mystery had shown them some truths denied to man, but he did not trust them fully; therefore he made them dumb. They can only show to man some supernatural things by signs or in dreams — as, for instance, to foretell future events or explain the use of certain powerful remedies. The same holds that the key of heaven is vested in the visible phenomena of the universe. All creatures, save man, are assigned to a peculiar paradise, in which there is forbidden fruit — namely, the apple of speech and reasoning; hence the animals and inanimate things are exempted from sin. Thus it is that rocks, trees and rivers are surrounded with an atmosphere of grandeur, beauty and mystery. Nature is the interpreter of the great mystery, and through her man is convinced of truth. — Popular Science Monthly.

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