The Sun And The Moon
By Kicking Bear
My mother was an alcoholic. She tried to live in two worlds. She had one foot in the Tsalagi world and the other foot in the white man’s world. She discovered that she could not walk in both worlds. When I was eight my grandfather came and took my brother and I away to live in the Tsalagi world. So it was …. I grew up living with both feet in the Tsalagi world
As a child, many things fascinated me, like the story I am going to share tonight. It helped me to understand why things were the way they were, but, most importantly, that there is value in everything beyond what we may see as opposites, such as good or bad, happy or sad, right or wrong, love or hate. I began to see that there is beauty and simplicity in everything. I learned how to see beyond the limitations of my own perception. I began to feel the importance of harmony and balance as a way of life.
The stories my grandfather told me helped me learn that everything has a place, a time, and a purpose for being. My goal was to discover through the stories what beauty something might hold for me and what truth something has in and of itself.
That was the way to understanding harmony and balance …. by looking for the beauty and lessons that are offered to us in every experience.
In the traditional Tsalagi way, there is no one moral to a story. The power of it lies in the listener’s subjective experience of the story. Whatever lessons are most needed at the time emerge for the person as the spirit seeks to grow. As my grandfather would say, “You have to sit with it….” Something like the love between the Sun and the Moon, for example, can be better understood as the natural harmony and balance that is needed in order for us to survive. It is an energy that exists in and of itself. It is …just because it is.
And so it was told to me that long before Mother Earth was old and wise as she is now, there was a young man named Nvdoigaehi (Sun), who lived in the east, while in the distant west lived a young woman named Svnoyiehinvdo (Moon). Sun was revered by all as the Unelanvhi (Creator’s) young apprentice and as a fearless traveler who walked the sky searching for a magic lake that was said to have great healing powers. It was said that when the Creator shaped the world, upon standing back and seeing the beauty that had been made, The Great One was so moved that teardrops began to fall from the Creator’s eyes, forming the magic lake on that very spot.
This was a sacred place of healing and comfort for those in need, and allowed one’s spirit to see clearly things as they truly are. It was said that to seek out the waters of this magic lake and look upon your own reflection in its rippling surface was to receive your vision and come into your medicine.
Even as a young man, Sun intended to become a medicine man, who would offer himself as a helper to those in need. He knew that in order to be a part of the medicine, one had to walk in harmony and balance, moving higher than wohali (eagle), and lower than tsisgoya (worm). But Sun, who was still young and curious, often wandered the sky appreciating all of the beautiful things there were to see and sometimes forgetting his ‘purpose.’
He was happy to be alive. During the days, he would walk on the wind, watching all of the lush greenery falling away beneath his footsteps as he moved, looking for the magic lake and the power held in its deep waters. There was such beauty in this journey of life and so much to learn. During the nights, he spent time in his medicine lodge sweating and praying, singing and listening to the silence of the darkness to know what the Great One intended for him.
Moon was a beautiful young woman who seemed to glow in the dim light of the west and become brighter as the darkness grew. She was respected by all of her relations for her kindness, compassion, and gentleness. She moved calmly and peacefully, always offering her comforting presence to those around her, though she was desperately shy.
Moon had a great love for Sun and secretly wished to be with him. She admired him from a distance, but retreated whenever he was around. He was like no other man she had ever known, and his presence made her tingle all over. Sun never paid much attention to her, though. He always seemed to be too busy searching for his Medicine to notice this quiet, unassuming young woman who loved him so.
Sun had a lover who used to come to him every month in the dark time of the moon. Since this darkness was supposed to be a sacred time for prayer and reflection, they used to meet in secrecy. She would come to him during the night and leave before daybreak. Together, they would spend much time talking, being close, and sharing beneath the starry sky and velvet darkness. But Sun could never see his lover’s face in the darkness, and she would not tell him what her name was. Soon he had fallen deeply in love with this silent woman who made him feel like no one else could. He always got very excited each month when he knew they would be together, and he longed for her painfully when they were apart
Eventually Sun’s curiosity about his secret lover’s identity grew, and he devised a plan to find out who she was. So came the time once again when Sun sat quietly in prayer in the sacred darkness just beyond the horizon of the sky and his secret lover came to him gently, excitedly, as she always did. And as they were sitting together, Sun reached into the ashes of the firepit and rubbed some of the blackness on her face without her knowing it, saying, “Your face is cold … you must have suffered from the wind.” Time passed quickly that evening, and before long, she slipped quietly away once again as she always did.
The next night, when the Moon came up in the sky, Sun was watching intently from his hiding place behind the horizon. He peeked through the arch of a shimmering rainbow as it faded, searching the sky for some sign of the one who had been coming to him. Suddenly, he noticed that Moon’s face was covered with ashy spots, and he realized that it was Moon who was his secret lover. As he jumped out from his secret hiding place, Moon knew that she had been found out. Embarrassed, Moon went as far away from Sun as she could and stayed on the other side of the sky all night.
Ever since that time, long ago, Moon always tries to stay a long way behind the Sun. And when she sometimes has to come close to him, she makes herself as thin as a ribbon so that she can hardly be seen. And yet ….out of her deep love for Sun and in remembrance of the time when he touched her for an instant, she has never wiped away the ashy spots that he left upon her glowing face. If you look close enough, you can still see them. And some people say that the stars are glittering teardrops that trickle down Moon’s face and fall into the sky when she is missing Sun.
Each day, high in the sky, Sun still searches for his vision and for his lover, Moon, who always seems to be just on the other side of the horizon
And so …. It is osda …. It is ALL osda.