Tonight, we turned off all the lights and sat down on the rug with only the light from a few candles to cast their shadows through the room. The kids huddled on pillows as I brought out Athena, our storytelling puppet. Athena, with a little help from my hand and mouth, shared an old Cherokee legend which I paraphrased below so you can share it as well. The kids loved it- Micah said “it means you can’t touch fire without getting burned”.
Grandmother Spider Steals the Sun
Long, long ago there was only blackness and no light in the world. No one could see anything- so they couldn’t observe what was beautiful, pleasing, or even when another person was standing right in front of them. People kept bumping into each other and groping about blindly. Many said, “What this world needs is something which allows us to see… We need light.”
Fox said he knew some people on the other side of the world who had plenty of light, but they guarded it and their greed kept them from sharing it. Possum, always ready to sneak in, announced that he would be glad to set off and steal a little light from the other side of the world. “I have a bushy tail so I can the light inside all that tail fur!” So Possum set off for the other side of the world. There, he found the sun hanging in a huge tree, lighting everything up. He was amazed by the colors and textures of what he saw. Remembering his duty, he snuck over to the sun and picked out a tiny piece of light which he quickly stuffed into his tail.
But the light was hot- and it kept getting hotter. Possum’s tail fur burnt off due to the hot light. With all the hubbub, the people discovered Possum’s theft of light and took it back from him. Since then, Possum’s once bushy tail is always bald.
After Possum returned and told his friends about his failed journey, Buzzard quipped, “I’m smarter than Possum who thought he could hide a piece of stolen light in his tail. Let me try- I’ll put the light on my head.” Everyone nodded. So Buzzard flew to the other side of the world, dove straight into the sun, and seized the sun in its claws. He put it on his head, but it burnt his head feathers off. The people grabbed the sun away from Buzzard, and Buzzard’s once-feathered head now remains bald forever.
After hearing of Buzzard’s failed journey, Grandmother Spider decided to try. First, she made a thick-walled pot out of clay. Then she spun a web reaching all the way to the other side of the world. She was so tiny that none of the people on the other side of the world even noticed her coming. Quickly, Grandmother Spider snatched the sun from the tree and put it in her bowl of clay. Then she scrambled back home along one of the strands of her web, bringing the sun with her. Now her side of the world rejoiced because they had light and could see each other and the world.
Grandmother Spider gave the Cherokees the gift of light through the sun- but the gift of fire as well. She also taught them the art of pottery making.