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VxPoem ID: 15174
Posted: August 13th. 2005 7:48:41 AM
The Deer-People Before Eden
by Cernunnos Poetry
Age Group: Adult
Long ago, before people walked or talked
Our thoughts were one with all the animals
United through one talking god’s protection.
Then one day Wind whispered to a young hunter,
the youngest of four spirit brothers.
Young spirit hunter carried four arrows:
one of fire, one of lightning
one of pure sunlight; and one of rainbow mist.
Black God kept the deer well hidden from him.
Until the day Wind told young hunter where to look
She told him he would find four wise deer, in succession,
There, the first deer did appear to young hunter
a magnificent great-antlered Buck
As our spirit brother prepared to shoot him
the mighty Buck disappeared into Sumac
from which emerged a Deer-Man
who explained to the young hunter
“These are the things that will be in the future
when humans have come into full being...”
He told of fantastic unbelievable things,
He said men might then easily forget
but they should always remember
how to properly kill and eat of the Deer.
“In the distant future we may appear limitless
but you must never take but one in four of us”.
Grateful for the knowledge, young hunter let Deer-Man go.
Next appeared to young hunter a Shining Doe
and he prepared to shoot Her through the heart.
But Shining Doe turned herself into a rock
from behind which appeared a Woman, who said
“In the near future, men will live because of us, and men will use us to live on,
Later men will capture and diminish other animals
but they must always let the Deer-People roam wild”.
She explained to our spirit brother how to treat the Deer,
to respect Her before, during, and after life.
“Treat us right, use us wholly, even when we are numerous, or you will no longer see us.
We will hide from you.
Deer-Mother gave brilliant advice to young spirit brother
'told him how to find happiness in his future.
Grateful for the knowledge, young hunter
naturally let the Deer-Woman go free.
Next, a yearling fork-horn buck appeared
and young spirit brother got ready to shoot
at this, surely the most harvestable of all the deer.
But yearling buck said “Don’t shoot”
And disappeared behind a pine tree
from which a young deer-man appeared and said,
“In the future, when people outnumber even us
if you talk about us the wrong way
we will cause trouble for your ears
if you mistreat us in between death and life
we will cause trouble for your eyes
and if you lay waste the lands we need
we will make trouble for you when you urinate.
But follow us closely, learn from us,
and we will bring you great Health”.
With this invaluable knowledge
Young hunter spirit let Forkhorn-Man go free.
Lastly a lovely Little Fawn appeared
and young spirit brother was ready to shoot Her too
But Little Fawn hid behind a flowering apple tree
from which appeared a beautiful little girl, who said:
“In the future all this will happen
if I approve of it.
I am in charge of all the other Deer-People.
If you talk disrespectfully of us
I am the one who can kill you
with what I am.
If you hear me crying in pain,
and you do nothing,
Know that great trouble is in store for you.
In the future, only those I approve of shall live by us.
“All manner of hardship goes in front of me
Where I go, before me travels drought and snowstorms;
Where I go, before me travel hungry bears and wolves;
Where I will go, before me travels starvation and disease;
I live but my Sister falls.
All this, my horror, my bitter protection,
“When, from behind, the wind carries me to you
know that it is I.
Know that you can draw great Strength from me,
If you promise to leave me to my little Peace
in this world of perfect imperfection.”
With this young hunter cried for All of Nature
And in the first words he ever mouthed
He vowed then he would forever Honour and Protect Her.
She, so beautiful, so vulnerable, so frail, yet so strong.
Finally, She told young hunter man
“We the Deer-People, we belong to Black God,
the Grandfather, the Son of setting Sun.
You must refer to him only as The Raven.
He is able to steal away our senses, make us blind, deaf
So that we may be taken by the men we approve of,
and by the men whom we will merely put to our test.
Honour Him and Mother Nature,
and you will always be a content Hunter
But forget about Us Two, and for one thousand years
you’ll get no Rest.
Author's Notes: This story is not mine. It is an Old Navajo legend, part of the disappearing ancient ritual Deer Huntingway. My apologies to Mr. Claus Chee Sonny (and Peggy Beck and Anna Walters, authors of The Sacred: Ways of Knowledge, Sources of Life; Navajo Community Press, 1977) for taking such liberties with Mr. Sonny’s words. I feel a very little bit entitled to adapt the legend (I have followed the related Navajo Deer Huntingway as part of my annual deer hunt ritual, it has proven its ancient worth, to me. I claim no ownership of this almost lost legend, just familiarity with it.) This story is 90% Navajo, but also a bit Greek, a bit Hindu, a bit Tao... Mr. Sonny made it clear when the legend was recorded that it was not his either. It was handed down through ages. Maybe it belongs to all of us. 'Hope you didn't find it boring. Kindness always, C.
Author's Location: Rural Central, Ontario
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