Native American Legends
A Hopi Legend
In the beginning there were only two: Tawa, the Sun God, and Spider
Woman, the Earth Goddess. All the mysteries and power in the Above
belonged to Tawa, while Spider Woman controlled the magic of the
Below. In the Underworld, abode of the Gods, they dwelt and they
were All. There was neither man nor woman, bird nor beast, no living
thing until these Two willed it to be.
In time it came to them that there should be other Gods to share
their labors. So Tawa divided himself and there came Muiyinwuh,
God of All Life Germs; Spider Woman also divide herself so that
there was Huzruiwuhti, Woman of the Hard Substances, the Goddess
of all hard ornaments of wealth such as coral, turquoise, silver
and shell. Huzruiwuhti became the always-bride of Tawa. They were
the First Lovers and of their union there came into being those
marvelous ones the Magic Twins -- Puukonhoya, the Youth, and Palunhoya,
the Echo. As time unrolled there followed Hicanavaiya, Ancient of
Six (the Four World Quarters, the Above and Below), Man-Eagle, the
Great Plumed Serpent and many others. But Masauwhu, the Death God,
did not come of these Two but was bad magic, who appeared only after
the making of creatures.
And then it came about that these Two had one Thought and it was
a might Thought -- that they would make the Earth to be between
the Above and the Below where now lay shimmering only the Endless
Waters. So they sat them side by side, swaying their beautiful bronze
bodies to the pulsing music of their own great voices, making the
First Magic Song, a song of rushing winds and flowing waters, a
song of light and sound and life.
"I am Tawa," sang the Sun God. "I am Light. I am
Life. I am Father of all that shall ever come."
"I am Kokyanwuhti," the Spider Woman crooned. "I
receive Light and nourish Life. I am Mother of all that shall ever
"Many strange thoughts are forming in my mind -- beautiful
forms of birds to float in the Above, of beasts to move upon the
Earth and fish to swim in the Waters," intoned Tawa.
"Now let these things that move in the Though of Tawa appear,"
chanted Spider Woman, while with her slender fingers she caught
up clay from beside her and made the Thoughts of Tawa take form.
One by one she shaped them and laid them aside -- but they breathed
not nor moved.
"We must do something about this," said Tawa. "It
is not good that they lie thus still and quiet. Each thing that
has a form must also have a spirit. So now, my beloved, we must
make a mighty Magic."
They laid a white blanket over the many figures, a cunningly woven
woolen blanket, fleecy as a cloud, and made a mighty incantation
over it, and soon the figures stirred and breathed.
"Now, let us make ones like unto you and me, so that they
may rule over and enjoy these lesser creatures," sang Tawa,
and Spider Woman shaped the Thoughts into woman and man figures
like unto their own. But after the blanket magic had been made,
the figures remained inert. So Spider Woman gathered them all in
her arms and cradled them, while Tawa bent his glowing eyes upon
them. The two now sang the magic Song of Life over them, and at
last each human figure breathed and lived.
"Now that was a good thing and a mighty thing," said
Tawa. "So now all this is finished, and there shall be no new
things made by us. Those things we have made shall multiply. I will
make a journey across the Above each day to shed my light upon them
and return each night to Huzruiwuhti. And now I shall go to turn
my blazing shield upon the Endless Waters, so that the Dry Land
may appear. And this day will be the first day upon Earth."
"Now I shall lead all these created beings to the land that
you shall cause to appear above the waters," said Spider Woman.
Then Tawa took down his burnished shield from the turquoise wall
of the kiva and swiftly mounted his glorious was to the Above. After
Spider Woman had bent her wise, all-seeing eyes upon the thronging
creatures about her, she wound her way among them, separating them
"Thus and thus shall you be and thus shall you remain, each
one in her own tribe forever. You are Zunis, you are Kohoninos,
you are Pah-Utes..." The Hopis, all, all people were named
by Kokyanwuhti then.
Placing her Magic Twins beside her, Spider Woman called all the
people to follow where she led. Through all the Four Great Caverns
of the Underworld she led them until they finally came to an opening,
a sipapu, which led above. This came out at the lowest depth of
the Pisisbaiya (the Colorado River) and was the place where the
people were to come to gather salt. So lately had the Endless Waters
gone down that the Turkey, Koyona, pushing early ahead, dragged
its tail feathers in the black mud where the dark bands were to
Mourning Dove flew overhead, calling to some to follow, and those
who followed where his sharp eyes had spied out springs and built
beside them were called "Huwinyamu" after him. So Spider
Woman chose a creature to lead each clan to a place to build their
house. The Puma, the Snake, the Antelope, the Deer, and other Horn
creatures, each led a clan to a place to build their house. Each
clan henceforth bore the name of the creature who had led them.
The Spider Woman spoke to them thus: "The woman of the clan
shall build the house, and the family name shall descend through
her. She shall be house builder and homemaker. She shall mold the
jars for the storing of food and water. She shall grind the grain
for food and tenderly rear and teach the young. The man of the clan
shall build kivas of stone under the ground. In these kivas the
man shall make sand pictures as altars. Of colored sand shall he
make them, and they shall be called 'ponya.' The man too shall weave
the clan blankets with their proper symbols. The man shall fashion
himself weapons and furnish his family with game."
Stooping down, she gathered some sand in her hand, letting it run
out in a thin, continuous stream. "See the movement of the
sand? That is the life that will cause all things therein to grow.
The Great Plumed Serpent, Lightning, will rear and strike the earth
to fertilize it; Rain Cloud will pour down waters, and Tawa will
smile upon it so that green things will spring up to feed my children."
Her eyes now sought the Above where Tawa was descending toward
his western kiva in all the glory of red and gold. "I go now,
but have no fear, for we Two will be watching over you. Look upon
me now, my children, ere I leave. Obey the words I have given you,
and all will be well. If you are in need of help, call upon me,
and I will send my sons to your aid."
The people gazed wide-eyed upon her shining beauty. Her woven upper
garment of soft white wool hung tunic-wise over a blue skirt. On
its left side was woven a band bearing the Butterfly and Squash
Blossom, in designs of red and yellow and green with bands of black
appearing in between. Her neck was hung with heavy necklaces of
turquoise, shell and coral, and pendants of the same hung from her
ears. Her face was fair, with warm eyes and tender lips, and her
form most graceful. Upon her feet were skin boots of gleaming white,
and they now turned toward where the sand spun about in whirlpool
fashion. She held up her right hand and smiled upon them, then stepped
upon the whirling sand. Wonder of wonders, before their eyes the
sands seemed to suck her swiftly down until she disappeared entirely
from their sight.
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