"Journey to the Healing Heart of Your Dreams"
WHEN COYOTE STOLE THE DREAMS
by Graywolf Swinney, ©1989
One night camped by a river in the wilderness, as I sat by my fire dozing off and on, in that languid state between sleep and wakefulness, I became aware of a figure moving in the shadows across from me. Startled, I fumbled to find my voice and stammered, "Wh-who are you? What do you want?"
The figure moved into the light of the fire and I saw it was a wizened old person, so old I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. But the eyes! They were so full of life and they flamed brighter than the fire. Yellow-green, they penetrated through to my spirit. "How did he get here?" I wondered.
"Do you know what happened when the Coyote stole our dreams?" he abruptly asked, smiling broadly, eyes twinkling.
"No," I said, now more curious than frightened, and relaxed to the presence of this stranger in my camp.
"Well, it is time for this story to be told," and he began:
"A long time ago, before there were stars, or the earth, or anything, there was just the grandfather Creator. It was lonely for him, and so he decided to make company for himself. Since there was nothing else to work with, he took his own parts and created all you see about you that is the universe. He created stars from the light in his eyes, rivers from his tears, rocks from his fingernails, mountains from his bones, and on and on. When this was done, he began to create the creatures to fill this vast space. They made the bear people people from his stubbornness, the deer folks from his shyness, the wolf clan from his wisdom, and so on.
"Now the creator is also a trickster, and so created coyote from his trickier self. 'Every creation needs some of these critters to keep things interesting and from getting too set in place,' She said to herself. "All these beings will give me lots of experiences to help me to not be so bored and alone. But there are things left to do. All this needs someone to see to its upkeep.' So she made the humans to act as caretakers. But on surveying her creation she thought, 'There is still something missing.'
"After a time the creator saw that these beings must remember that they are all part of her. So she created the night, gave all her creations sleep and filled it with dreams. 'Through their dreams I will talk to them and remind them that they are all children of mind, creators, and in this way they will feel empowered. I can give them gifts in their dreams to help them grow and to help them to solve their problems, and heal themselves, and find their way back to me.' Finally done, the creator sat back to enjoy her creation.
"Things went well. When there was a problem someone would have a dream that would solve it. When there was some danger about to happen, someone would dream about it and it could be avoided. When it was time to move the lodges to find new game, a dream would be given about where to go. All the creatures and beings touched one another and the creator in their dreams, and were empowered from within by this vast touching.
"Well, as you know things never go completely smoothly, that is what keeps things interesting and challenging. Disruption helps keep creation strong and viable. This is why the trickster, brother Coyote, was created. So one night, in their manner, some coyotes were looking around to see what mischief and disruption they could cause. One of them chortled, 'Wouldn't it be fun to see what would happen if we stole the dreams from the caretakers? Bet that would really make things interesting.' All were in agreement and made plans. They sneaked into the lodges of the humans at night and whispered to them. 'It's just a dream...don't pay any mind...it's not important.' And then they sat back to watch what havoc their mischief would cause.
"Soon the humans began to believe this message coming to them in their sleep. They began to forget their dreams and to pay little attention to them. Their children were still believers in dreams, but when the elders told them, 'It's just a dream,' and 'Don't pay them any attention,' they obeyed and lost their dreams too.
"Well! the old being stopped and sighed, 'When the humans lost their dreams, their connection with the creator, they became weak and insecure...powerless. This was frightening and so they began seeking their lost power outside of themselves. They looked to many places.'
"First they thought that their lost power was in their minds and thinking. So they began to rely on those to solve their problems and give them direction. But the mind is really a small thing in the giant universe and it gave them only small answers to their big questions and problems. The small answers created even greater problems. It also removed them from their hearts and they began to get sick. Heart problems became one of their greatest enemies killing many of them each year. As they relied more and more on their minds and lost connection with their spirits and bodies, they suffered many diseases of spirit and body that their healers could not cure.
"They even tried to understand dreams using mind, and found only shallow meanings and explanations. Some even tried entering into their dreams with mind and changing the messages from the creator when they didn't like them. In doing this they moved even further away from their real power and the meaning of their dreams.
"They looked about for power and noticed that father fire was very powerful. So they captured him to gain his power. They put him into metal containers and used him to heat their lodges and drive their machines to cure their aloneness. It didn't work very well. Father fire is always very hungry and needs much food. He also didn't like being captured and confined. So he demanded more and more food. He consumed it at such a rate that they had to strip the earth of its minerals and metals. All this rich food made fire belch uncontrollably and his gases polluted the air, soil, and waters of the earth. It was getting difficult for people to live in this pollution but they were afraid to give up his power even though he was destroying their home.
"Soon the people found an even greater fire. It was contained in the smallest of particles in the universe, the atoms. They captured this atomic fire, too. It promised them that it didn't need food like father fire, but it didn't tell them that the wastes it left behind could last for thousands of years and poison them and their home even more severely than fire.
"They also invented money as a symbol of power so that everyone would know who had the most. But this resulted in people hoarding this symbol and trying to keep it from others. Soon people were stealing this symbol from one another for the power it represented. Because of this, war, crime and poverty became even greater beings.
"Some realized that the creator was the source of the power and so began to set themselves up to represent this power. Thus, priests formed religions and held out the promise of connecting people to the creator if only they would give the priests the power over their lives. They soon began wars and fighting over which group of priests had the true connection with this power.
"The humans were destroying themselves and their home. All this because coyote had stolen their dreams. They forgot that they were all part of the creator and had true unlimited power inside themselves.
"Well, the creator didn't like this trick that brother coyote had pulled, so he asked the wolf who was created out of his wisdom, to intervene.
"The wolf clan met and began searching to find the answer to this dilemma. Finally, the oldest and wisest wolf among them spoke. 'We can't solve this for them because if we do that, we also will be taking power from our brothers. We must gently sing to them at night to remind them of their dreams.' And with this he began howling a song to the moon and the stars. 'All hearing this will be reminded of their dream,' he said. 'We must sing it at night.' The whole clan joined in this siren song of sadness and hope. It resounded throughout the world."
Silence ensued, and I eventually broke it. "What happened? Did it save the people? Did it bring them back to their dreams?" I demanded.
"I'm not wise enough to know that," said the old being. "We'll just have to wait and see." And with that he too lifted his muzzle to the sky and began singing the wolf's song.
With a sudden start I awoke. Or did I? All I know is that I must now tell this story.
Created 4/9/01 Last Updated 4/9/01
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