Thursday, March 05, 2009


Buried in an old box of books I snapped up at an auction last week, I discovered a great old 1934 book called Tales of the Cochiti Indians. These stories were collected by the anthropologist Ruth Benedict. Nestled in this book are 10-15 stories about the Cochiti Mother Goddess. Here, for your reading pleasure, is part of one:

"The Origin of Death

"They were coming up from Shipap. One of their children became sick and they did not know what was the trouble with him. They had never seen sickness before. They said to the Shkoyo (curing society) chief, 'Perhaps our Mother [Goddess] in Shipap will help us. Go back and ask her to take away this trouble.' He went back to our Mother and she said to him, 'The child is dead. If your people did not die, the world would fill up and there would be no place for you to live. When you die, you will come back to Shipap to live with me. Keep on traveling and do not be troubled when your people die...."
This story is an "origin tale." Benedict collected these stories in the summer of 1924, from old Cochiti. Why old people? Because "in Cochiti the first age group to be systematically sent to Government boarding school is now about 35 years old, and below that age even the commonest tales are known only by hearsay."

Good reason for this: Once in the "boarding schools," the Indians of the American Southwest were tortured until they cried uncle (i.e., agreed to skip out on every last inch of their old Mother Goddess ways).

I guess we're lucky that plucky old anthropologists like Benedict waltzed in and snapped up the last traces of the indigenous American Mother Goddess. Otherwise, instead of knowing next to nothing about Her -- we'd all know *totally* nothing.

But it makes you wonder, doesn't it? How many hundreds of thousands of Mother Goddesses around the world got pitched into the scrap bag before anyone could save any trace of them?
thnx to teyacapn for the foto of the Cochiti family. Go HERE to see more.

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