The well-guarded cosmology of the Apaches comes to light through the wisdom of these traditional teaching tales.
• Told by the granddaughter of the Apache elder Ten Bears.
• Includes 13 stories of the Tlish Diyan (Apache Snake Clan).
• Provides contemporary insights into these legends to make them relevant to the modern reader.
In a small canyon in the White Mountains of Arizona a young girl sits and listens to her grandfather's stories. They tell of a people known as the Tlish Diyan, or Snake Clan, and how they came to be. She learns the story of her parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and an entire lineage that weaves between four leggeds, two leggeds, spirits, ancestors, ritual, adventure, and the creation of the world by Changing Mother and the Giver of All Life. In this way she comes to know and find her place in All Our Relations. This child is Maria Yracébûrû, granddaughter of Apache holy man Ten Bears and the hereditary recipient of his philosophy, legends, prophecy, and knowledge.
In the traditional storytelling ways of her ancestors, Maria Yracébûrû respectfully weaves her contemporary experience into the tapestry of tales passed down from generations. The legends of the Tlish Diyan she presents in Legends and Prophecies of the Quero Apache relay how sacred universal laws govern our relationship to the natural world, our interaction with nature, and our respect for each other.
It came to pass that the Tlish Diyan--Snake Clan--sprang from the magical mating of an animal and a human. It happened in a village in what is now known as Blue House Mesa in days beyond history's records, far beyond any living memory, deep in the time of legend. The village is now in ruins: the roofs are gone and the hearths are cold. But when it was alive, it was the home of a beautiful maiden, Kaliña, the daughter of a Godiyihgo, an Enlightened or Holy One. Though beautiful, she had one strange trait: she could not endure the slightest speck of dirt on her clothes or person.
A sacred spring of water lay at the bottom of the mountain. It was known as sacred to Kato'ya and his sister, Tashiña, the rattlesnake twins. Kaliña spent almost all of her time at this spring, washing her clothes and bathing herself over and over. The defilement of these sacred waters?their contamination by the dirt of her apparel and of her person?angered the Snake Twins. They devised a plan to punish her.
When Kaliña next came to the spring she was startled to find a smiling baby boy gurgling and splashing in the water. Of course, it was Kato'ya, who, like other Spirit Beings, was able to assume any form at will. The girl looked all around?north, south, east, and west?but saw no trace of a person who might have left the beautiful child. Whose child can it be? Kaliña wondered. Only a cruel mother would leave her baby here to die. Kaliña talked softly to the child, took him into her arms, and carried him up the hill to her village. There she brought him back into her wickiup, where she lived apart from her family because of her loathing of dust and dirt. As she played with the baby, laughing at his pranks and smiling into his face, he answered in baby fashion with coos and smiles of his own.
Meanwhile her younger sisters had prepared the evening meal and were waiting for her. "Where can she be?" they asked.
"Probably at the spring, as usual!" said their father. "Run down and call her."
But the youngest sister could not find Kaliña at the spring so she came home and went to Kaliña's wickiup. There she found the maiden sitting on the floor and playing with the beautiful baby.
On hearing this the father was silent and thoughtful, for he knew that the waters of the spring were sacred. When the rest of the family started out to go see the child the father called them back, saying, "Do you suppose any real mother would leave her baby in a spring? This is not as simple as it seems." Since the maiden would not leave the child, the family stayed at home and ate without her.
In Kaliña's wickiup the baby began to yawn. Growing drowsy herself, Kaliña put him on the bed and fell asleep beside him.
Kaliña's sleep was real, but the baby was just pretending. He lay quietly and then began to lengthen, drawing himself out, extending longer and longer. Slowly Kato'ya, the sacred male snake appeared, like a nightmare come true. He was so huge that he had to coil himself around and around the wickiup, filling it with scaly, gleaming circles. Placing his enormous head near Kaliña's, Kato'ya surrounded her with his coils and finally took his own tail into his mouth.
So the night passed, and with it went Kato'ya's anger. He found himself delighted with Kaliña's musings when he had been in the baby's form. And now, as the hours passed, he continued to play these events over and over again in his mind.
In the morning when breakfast was ready and the oldest sister had not come the others grew impatient. "Now that she has the child nothing else matters to her," the old man said. "A baby is enough to absorb any woman's attention."
But the smallest sister went to Kaliña's wickiup and called to her. Receiving no answer, she pushed the door, first gently and then with all her might. She could not move it and so she became frightened. Running home to where the others were sitting, she cried for help.
Everyone except the father rushed out, and pushing together they cracked the door just enough to catch a glimpse of the snake's great scales. They screamed and ran back.
The father, sage that he was, told them quietly, "I expected as much. I thought it was impossible for a woman to be so foolish as to take such a child to her bosom."
At Kaliña's wickiup he pushed against the door and called, "Oh Kato'ya, it is I who speak?Godiyihgo 'ishkiñihí. I pray to you, let my child come to me again and I will make atonement for her errors. She is yours; but let her return to her family once more."
Hearing this Kato'ya began to loosen his coils. The whole building and the whole village shook violently, and everyone trembled with fear. At last the maiden awoke and cried piteously for help. As the coils unwound she was able to rise. The great snake bent the folds of his body nearest the doorway so that they formed an arch for her to pass under. She was half stunned by the din of the snake's scales, which rasped against one another like the scraping of flints under the feet of a rapid runner.
Once clear of the writhing mass, Kaliña was away like a deer. Tumbling out of the wickiup she ran to her father's home and threw herself into her mother's arms.
But Godiyihgo 'ishkiñihí, remained, speaking reverently to the snake. He ended with, "It shall be as I have said; she is yours!". . . .
Maria Yracébûrû is a Quero Apache Tlish Diyan 'tsanti--a storyteller, healer, ceremonial facilitator, and teacher of the Snake Clan knowledge and philosophy. As a 'tsant' trained since birth by her grandfather Ten Bears, she is the guardian of ancient and mysterious knowledge that has been passed down through countless generations. A healer and teacher for over 25 years, Maria's articles have been translated into 20 different languages. She lives in San Diego, California.
"Maria Yraceburu is a gifted visionary and bridge between the ancient medicine ways and modern times. She is the living voice of the spirit that has animated the Native Americas."
– Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., author of Shaman, Healer, Sage and Dance of the Four Winds
"Honest and sacred! In a language that is ancient, yet familiar, Maria Yraceburu weaves the timeless traditions of her ancestors into meaningful lessons for our lives."
– Gregg Braden, author of The Isaiah Effect
"Maria is blessed by the Giver of All Life, and protected by the Ancient Ones. She is not of one clan, one people. She belongs to humanity and has endured much. It is a struggle that has strengthened and made her aware, that has tempered her spirit and opened her mind's eye. Knowledge is within her. She continues to discover it."
– Ten Bears, Apache Tlish Diyan Godiyihgo
"Maria's stories are wondrous! They are mystical metaphors that will resonate in the Heart Flame of everyone who is drawn to them. My experience is that when the stories are read a stirring takes place deep in the etheric body that awakens a memory of Oneness of Life, humanity and nature as one cooperative force. These are such sacred stories, steeped in such a moment of the traditions of the indigenous peoples of this sweet land."
– Patricia Diane Cota-Robles, author of What on Earth is Going On?
"Maria is doing special wok that very much needs to be done. I wish her and her circle good medicine."
– David Carson, co-author, Medicine Cards
"Maria Naylin has good Medicine to dream...Good thoughts..."
– The late Sun Bear, author of The Path of Power, The Medicine Wheel: Earth Astrology, Buffalo Hearts,
"I thank Maria for the passionate work that she continues to offer so many."
– Ron Baker, author of Revelations for a Healing World
"Our work is around helping people to realize who they are, and self realization of their place on Earth. Maria's lineage is great and helps her right away to have so much . . . She has an intimacy with the very life of the planet . . . something I wish we could impart to everyone!"
– Lee Carroll, author of Kryon: The End of Times, Kryon: Don't Think Like a Human, Kryone: The Alcemy
"It will appeal to any reader interested in the human story."
– Paula Chaffee Scardamalia, ForeWord, 2002
"The well-guarded secrets of Apache storytelling spring to life in this collection of traditional teaching tales."
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