Archive for the ‘coyote’ tag
As I drove towards Canmore on Sunday for my Grassi Lakes hike, I stopped at Dead Man’s Flats in honour of the many other times I had stopped there while taking my children to visit family on Canada’s west coast. It became a tradition of sorts. I stopped because I saw the moon in the morning sky above one of the mountains and thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to capture that photo. Of course, once I was out of the car I began to wander and be present with where I was. I followed my ears as they lead me to Pigeon Creek. Once at the creek I was surprised by beautiful wild flowers. The time out had worked wonders for me and I was ready to head back to the car and complete the drive to Canmore. But, before I reached the car on my way back to the village, I saw this coyote who was calmly making his way into the edge of the hamlet. And in that moment, a bit more of my spirit was healed.
“Almost everyone who undertakes a true spiritual path will discover that a profound personal healing is a necessary part of his or her spiritual process. When this need is acknowledged, spiritual practice can be directed to bring such healing to body, heart, and mind. This is not a new notion. Since ancient times, spiritual practice has been described as a process of healing. The Buddha and Jesus were both known as healers of the body, as well as great physicians of the spirit.” (Kornfield, A Path With Heart, p. 40)
This is a coyote which I watched hunting mice. I took the photo with my wife’s small digital camera and so was unable to get a good clear shot, a function of telephoto lens as well as lens quality. In Cree language and culture the coyote is represented as Weesakaychak, the trickster. Here is a story from one of the elders of the Cree community.
My name is Harry Harris from Pelican Reserve. I’m not that old. I’m 73 years of age so I can’t remember everything that happened in the past so instead I think I’ll tell a legend about Weesakaychak. I don’t know where he was born or anything but I do know about parts of his life.
One day as he was strolling along he came upon a lake with a flock of ducks swimming about. And being very hungry, he thought, “How can I kill these ducks so I can eat?”
He filled his blanket with songs (?) and proceeded towards them. “What have you got there, big brother?” one of the ducks asked.
“These are dances where you dance with your eyes shut”, he replied adding, “You won’t want to dance to them any ways.”
“Sure, we’ll dance to them”, the curious duck replied.
“Well, come ashore, I’ll build a lodge close by here so you ducks can dance,” answered Weesakaychak. So he hurriedly constructed a dance lodge with sticks and when he had finished he called out to the ducks to come and dance.
The ducks all ran ashore as soon as they were called for they loved to dance. Weesakaychak was the first to enter through a purposely-small opening in the lodge and afterwards the ducks all filed in. Soon the lodge was packed. When everybody was in order, he began to sing.
“You all dance with your eyes shut and I will dance with you,” he sang. As he sang and danced he started to wring ducks’ necks and fling them aside. He killed off a lot in a very short time. One duck who wasn’t quite dead tried to yell out a warning but only made a little sound. Another duck peeked through one eye and saw what Weesakaychak was doing.
“Our brother is going to kill us off,” he warned and they all scrambled for the doorway. Weesakaychak blocked the opening and grabbed them as they ran by. He kicked one duck on the backside as it ran by and knocked his legs out of joint. These are the helldivers.
He decided he had enough ducks so he left them alone at that and built himself a big fire after taking down the lodge he had constructed. He threw the ducks into the fire with only the feet sticking out. He then decided to work up an appetite by taking a stroll. He left and as he came over the hill he saw a fox limping towards him but the fox was only pretending to limp and was deliberately making his way towards Weesakaychak.
“Brother, why are you limping?” Weesakaychak inquired.
“My paw is very sore,” replied the fox.
“Over the hill, I’m cooking some ducks, let’s have a race and whoever gets there first can eat,” said Weesakaychak
“But, brother, I can’t even walk”, said the fox. Even though Weesakaychak was good at taking advantage of others, the fox had the advantage when Weesakaychak told the fox he would tie rocks around his ankles.
He finally persuaded the fox to race him around the lake. Weesakaychak tied a big rock around his ankle and the race was on with both of them limping badly. Weesakaychak couldn’t run fast due to the rock tied around his ankle.
When he got there he could see the feet of the ducks sticking out just as he had left them. But when he tried pulling out a duck all he got was the foot.
“I accidentally burnt my meal,” he said. It finally dawned on him that the fox had been there already and had eaten everything because he saw some of the burnt remains all scattered around the fire. He got very angry and decided to track down the fox.
After having a big meal, the fox decided to take a nap in the prairie where there was tall grass. Sometime later Weesakaychak found him sleeping in the midst of the tall grass. He set fire to the grass all around the fox. When the fox woke up the fire was already close to him. He leapt over the raging fire and in doing so, singed his fur and his descendants are the foxes whose fur isn’t too good. Weesakaychak made them that way.
After getting his revenge Weesakaychak departed, but the fox followed and kept out of sight. While strolling along the prairie Weesakaychak heard laughter in some bushes. Upon investigating he came upon some killdeers, throwing their eyeballs up onto the branches, then shaking the tree so that their eyeballs would fall right back into place again. The killdeer then would burst into hysterical laughter.
“What are you doing that for, my brothers?” Weesakaychak asked.
“We have headaches and after we do this, we feel better”, they replied.
“Brothers, you should give me that gift, I always seem to have headaches,” he said.
“I don’t think we’d be able to do that, it’s hard. You can only do it four times a year and no more,” said the killdeers. Finally after a great amount of coaxing, Weesakaychak persuaded the killdeers to give him the gift.
“All right, we’ll give you the gift but don’t do it more than four times a year,” the killdeers warned Weesakaychak.
So after they gave him the gift he departed. He was just on the other side of the bush when he pretended to have a headache.
“My, I sure have a headache, a real splitting headache”, he said. So he went through the same procedures as the killdeers had gone through. As his eyeballs fell back into place he would laugh hysterically. He felt very good. He hadn’t gone far when he pretended to have another headache. He did this four times, the number of times he was allowed to do this. He had not gone much farther when he again pretended to have a headache. Again he threw his eyeballs atop the branches and shook the tree but his eyeballs did not fall into place — they fell to the ground separately. He groped around on the ground but was unsuccessful in finding them for he was blind.
Every so often he would bump into a tree and ask them what tree they were for he was looking for a pine tree. The fox, who had been watching all this time, got a branch and by luck Weesakaychak grabbed the fox’s hind leg.
“Let me go, what are you searching for?” the fox asked.
“I’m searching for a pine tree”, he replied.
“Let me go and I’ll show you where there are some pine trees,” the fox pleaded.
“I’ll make your fur nice again if you lead me to where there are some pine trees”, Weesakaychak bargained.
So the fox agreed and led him to a pine tree. Out of the sap, Weesakaychak made himself a new set of eyes. This is the way Weesakaychak regained his eyesight.