Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday's Mythological Creature of the Day -- Kuksu
Friday’s Mythological Figure – Kuksu, Northern Califonia’s Native American Creation God
Today I opened my big mythological encyclopedia on a random page yet again, and read about Kuksu. The more I dug for information, the more interesting it was. The encyclopedia itself gave me a very brief description of Kuksu. He was mentioned in the myths of Maidu, Pomo, Patwin and other Northern California Native American tribes, where Kuksu was considered to be the first man and the teacher of all people. Secret rituals worshipping Kuksu, connected with coming of age initiations were typically conducted during winter in the hidden underground dance rooms. Elaborate dancing ceremonies were held, where dancers would wearing humongous headpieces of feathers, (so the Kuksu’s cult was also known as a cult of “Big Head”) impersonating Kuksu and other Deities. These ceremonies were supposed to help with continuation of human kind, heal illnesses, and prevent natural disasters. That would have been it…
Well, actually, it was a shamanistic religion, a sort of male secret society. It was believed that Kuksu would grant the passing into the sacred time during the present time. Basically, how I understood it, the ceremonies were helping the participants to break through the normal time-space continuum to reach the “sacred space and time” for visions, prophecies and blessings. Some hallucinogenic stuff was allegedly smoked during the ceremonies to reach the “blessed state”.
Also, I was lucky to come across David Adams Leeming’s “Creation Myths of the World: an encyclopedia” that was mentioning Kuksu. This is one of the humblest creation myths I’ve found so far. Here is my brief summary of the myth: (find the full version online or get the book -- it’s actually really cool!)
So here was a god Madumda, who went to see his older brother Kuksu, who lived on a cloud in a very icy, snowy house and smoked his pipe all day and all night. Smoking and thinking, thinking and smoking.
Madumda scraped some skin from his armpit and gave it to Kuksu, who held it in between his toes. Then Kuksu scraped some skin from his own armpit and gave it to Madumda to hold between toes. Then they added some hair to the two balls and mixed them altogether. The two gods sang a sacred song (Kuksu was the one who knew the secret words of creation) and Madumda went home to sleep, putting the ball into his ear, where it conveniently mixed with his earwax. He slept for eight days, during which the ball grew and became the Earth. Madumda threw his pipe in sky and made the Sun, and said the sacred words to create all living on earth, including people (it took him a few attempts to make the right people, because they would behave badly: the first batch was destroyed by flood, the second by fire, the third by wind).
So, in my understanding of the myth, Madumda was the actual creator, but it was Kuksu, who was the ultimate Shaman, who held the power and raw magic that started the creation, the one who knew the “Word” and helped Madumda to create a world in Eight days… Doesn’t it remind you of something similar? ;-)
Check these links for more cool info: