Today we feature storytelling medicine of the Navajo tradition in honor of rainstorms and thunderstorms and the nourishment they provide. Read and share whether you stay in or are coming back from dancing in the rain! Republished from PBS.org’s Circle of Stories.
The Five Sacred Medicines
Mother Earth and Father Sky had their differences at one time. And Mother Earth was saying ‘Everything here on the ground and every living thing that walks on the ground belongs to me and are under my control’ and Father Sky said ‘If that’s the way it’s going to be, then everything from the air on up is under my control’. So they had their differences and they decided that they weren’t going to interact for four years.
And during that time the air began to change. It got real thin, there was no rain. A lot of Creation began to disappear, the vegetation, some of the two-leggeds, four-leggeds and some of the creepy crawlers and eventually there was not very many left and these others all began to vanish.
And so they said there were four plants, there were four plants and a bird left. And they withstood all this dryness, lack of moisture, thin air. And so they went to Mother Earth and told Mother Earth, they said ‘You know because of the difference with Father Sky we’re the ones who are suffering.’ So Mother Earth said ‘We need to give message to Father Sky that we need to make amends and we need to bring things back to the way they were and make corrections on our own selfishness.’
And so they decided that’s what they would do. And so they sent this bird up to Father Sky. He flew way up, kept flying until he disappeared. And then about four days later, they say from the south direction, they saw a rain cloud and they heard thunder. And the second thunder got closer, third thunder came up almost above them and then fourth thunder right above them. And when they heard that thunder and saw that lightning, out of that lightning came this bird, flew back down to Mother Earth and brought rain, brought them moisture, brought the change in the air, in the atmosphere. And everything began to get moist again, everything began to breathe easy again, and all the creation that had been lost and had vanished began to reappear.
And so they said the ones that had survived was a cedar plant, a tobacco plant, a yucca plant and a sage plant. And then this bird they said was the eagle. And they said, so from that day on, the Creator and Mother Earth and Father Sky told these survivors that because of your ability to survive, because of your courage, your stamina, and your resilience you are going to be in the ceremonies of all the Indian people across all Indian land. And they said that’s why today we use the tobacco, cedar, yucca, sage and we use the eagle feather.
And a lot of our young people, when we, you know, they come in, we burn cedar for them, they want to know why. Why do we use tobacco? So when we teach them that we teach them the story. So the next time they use cedar, you know, you breathe in that, you breathe in that, you breathe in that smell of cedar, what you’re saying and thinking to yourself is I’m going to be a survivor, I’m gonna have resilience, I’m gonna have courage, I’m gonna have stamina. Same way when we smoke tobacco, the same thing, when we take a pipe or we take corn husk and fix tobacco like that and we smoke it, that’s what we think to ourselves. And when we use those eagle feathers, the same way. We bless ourselves and take the energy off of it and we take that that spirit off of there and we think about these things.