Native American Tales

The Man who Married the Moon

The Man who Married the MoonThe Man who Married the Moon

Isleta Pueblo

The Bluish Light of Dawn lived in Isleta, which is still in the same spot today. He wove robes and clothe for the village. He was young, strong, and unmarried. All the village girls wanted to marry him, including two corn maidens, who were also witches. He finally got tired of young women coming to look at him, so he finally issued a decree to the town crier. He would marry the woman who could grind cornmeal so fine that it stuck to his pearl drinking dipper. He would hang his dipper on the door and all day long the girls could throw their cornmeal at it.

Girls ground their cornmeal for days, including the two witch sisters. They also used spells, thinking that surely their spells would make their cornmeal fine enough to stick.

Girl after girl threw her cornmeal at the dipper, but none of it stuck. Finally, the two witch sisters threw their cornmeal, and to their disappointment, it didn’t stick either. Moon, who was an actual person at the time, hastily ground her cornmeal and decided to have a go at it. The witch sisters laughed at her because they had ground their cornmeal for four days. Moon took her cornmeal up to the dipper and threw it and it stuck.

The Bluish Light of Dawn declared that he would marry Moon, which he did. They were very happy, but the witch sisters were always wanting to cause trouble. They asked Moon to come look for roots one day and The Bluish Light of Dawn said she could go, but that she must not do anything the sisters said.

The sisters took her out into the forest where there was a well. They told her to come look at her reflection in the water. As Moon has always been fond of looking at her reflection she decided to take a peek. This was when she was pushed into the well and drowned. The two sisters covered the well up with dirt.

They went back to the village telling The Bluish Light of Dawn that the girl had left long before they had and that she should be home by now. He didn’t really believe this. He sat and was sad. The luck of the village came from him. Crops started dying. Things started going wrong. The people knew they must find Moon. They sent several animals looking because of their keen sight, but each one came back empty-handed. The eagle could not find her. The Coyote could not find her. The badger could not find her. The Osprey could not find her. The buzzard could not find her either. He actually flew so close to the sun that he burned the feathers off of his head and they no longer grow there, even today.

One thing the buzzard did find were white flowers on a mound in the forest. The Bluish Light of Dawn asked for one of the flowers. He put it between two blankets and sang a song. Each time he did, the top blanket rose a little more. Finally, it was apparent that there was a human form underneath the blankets. It was Moon. She was alive as ever. The village celebrated for four days.

There was still the matter of the two sisters. They would want to come and congratulate Moon. The Bluish Light of Dawn made a special hoop, to play the hoop game. When Moon played the game with them, they both grabbed the hoop at the same time and were turned into corn snakes. Moon told them that they were women at that they had to be gentle. They could not bite people. They live in the same spot, even today and are sometimes taken into people’s houses to catch mice.

Observations

Snakes are somewhat revered in some of the south-western cultures, so this wasn’t a severe punishment for the bad things the corn maidens did. They became kinder and gentler when they became snakes. I have to wonder if their punishment would have been more severe had they been men. Some snakes don’t really bite people. Anything will get defensive if you provoke it, but some snakes just have no desire to mess with people in any manner. Corn snakes are one of those types of snakes.

Themes

This was actually a severe crime. It was murder. It’s great that The Bluish Light of Dawn was able to bring his wife back to life, but if he hadn’t been able to, Moon would just be dead.

The crime started off with envy. Moon was able to perform the task to get the man, while the two sisters were not. They wanted what Moon had and were willing to do anything to get it. This is not a healthy attitude to have towards life. Sometimes, people have things you can’t have and there is no way you can get those things, so you might as well live with it and quit focusing on it. The corn maidens would have been better off had they found their own husbands and decided to be happy.

Happy is a conscious decision. Sure, things can make you happy, but you can also decided to be grumpy. You have to decide as a person that you’re going to be happy about something and enjoy it. The corn maidens could have found their own life, being happy, with their own husbands.

Overall

Don’t let envy get the best of you.

FYI

Envy and jealousy mean two different things. Jealousy is when you are afraid someone is going to take something that you have and envy is when you want something that someone else has, or if you’re old school–it’s called coveting.

Weigh In

What do you think the corn maidens should have done?

Do you think Moon forgave the corn maidens?

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