Creation : Search for the Corn Maidens (Part 1)

“When the sun came out, the people awoke. Then every one cried to the others, “Where are our maiden mothers, our daughters?” Yet not even the warriors knew; for only of the flesh of the maidens could be found a little in the trays under the mantles. Then the place was filled with moaning among the women, and upbraidings among the men, each blaming every other loudly until the priests cried out to silence their wranglings, and called a council.

“Then, said they, “Alas, we have laden our hearts with guilt, and sad thoughts have we prepared to weigh down our minds. We must send to seek the maidens, that they desert us not. Who shall undertake the journey?”

Bald Eagle in flight

Eagle searched high

“Send for the eagle, ” it was said, and two warrior priests were commanded to seek him. (This was while the Earth was yet young, and all her children, both men and creatures, spoke as men alone now speak; any one with any other.)  When the two warriors climbed the mountain whereon the eagle dwelt, and found only his eaglets at home, the little birds were frightened and tried to hide themselves in the hole where the nest was built. But when the warriors came nearer they screamed, “Oh, do not pull our feathers; wait ’till we are older and we will drop them for you.”

“Hush,” said the warriors, “we seek your father.”

“Just then, the old eagle, with a frown on his brow, rushed in and asked why the warriors were frightening his “pin-feathers.”

“We came for you, our father. Listen. Our mothers, the beautiful corn maidens, have vanished, leaving no trace save of their flesh. We come to beseech that you shall seek them for us.”

“Go before!” said the eagle, smoothing his feathers, which meant that he would follow. So the warriors returned. Then the eagle launched forth into the sky, circling higher and higher until he was smaller than a thistle-down in a whirlwind. At last he flew lower, then into the bower of the dancers, where the council awaited him. “Neither a blue-bird nor a wood-rat can escape my eye,” said he, snapping his beak, “unless they hide under rocks or bushes. Send for my younger brother; he flies nearer the ground than I do.”

Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk searched low

“So the warriors went to seek the sparrow-hawk. They found him sitting on an ant hill, but when he saw them he would have flown away had they not called out that they had words for him, and meant him no harm. “What is it,” said he, “For if you have any snare things with you, I’ll be off.”

“No, no! We wish you to go and hunt for the corn-maidens,” said the warriors, “your older brother, the eagle cannot find them.”

“Of course, he can’t find them! He climbs up to the clouds and thinks he can see under every tree and shadow as the Sun, who sees not with eyes, does. Go before.”

The sparrow-hawk flew away to the North, and to the East, and the West, looking behind every cliff and copsewood, but he could find no trace of the maidens. Returning, he declared as he flew into the bower, “they cannot be found. They are hiding more snugly than I ever knew a sparrow to hide.”

“Oh, alas! alas! our beautiful maidens!” cried the old women; “we shall never see them again!”

About Running Elk

My given native name, Running Elk, was bestowed in 2008 as I took my first steps as a fully fledged Medicine Man of the Zuni tradition. A most unlikely candidate for the role, my journey as a healer began some four years prior. The detour onto the shamanic way was most unexpected, yet has been one of the most rewarding challenges to date.
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