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First Tales

Rifling through a second-hand bookshop as I often do when looking for unique inspiration, I stumbled upon this lovely little book, "Nature Myths" by Florence Holbrook (1904).

I opened the book to a random page and found illustrations of Native Americans, Native myths and Native words - 'The Great Spirit' - the words that warm my heart the most.

The Great Spirit is referred to as the very essence of everything, The ALL, Source, Prime Creator - any name for the ultimate divine.

It takes me right back to Arizona, where I met my

beautiful Navajo family some years ago - the Diné (the people). I immersed myself in the stories of mountains who are the elders and the playful coyote who threw the stars up into the sky because I wanted to absorb the first tales of our ancestors. Not just our biological ancestors, but I mean the ones who walked before us, the ones who tended to this land before us now. They are the original storytellers, the ones who carried legends with them in their very bones and passed them to another before they turned to dust.

I remember thinking while I was in Navajo Nation, that it was a damn shame that their stories, myths and tales of Father Sky and Mother Earth aren't as widely known as the ones about wolves pretending to be grandmothers and queens who turn kingdoms to ice. Children here may never know about the first hummingbird that sprang from "the mountain's heart of fire", they may not connect to the notion that before princes and princesses, there were humble humans who loved to commune with fire and with trees.

And yet here, I've found one small, pretty little book that represents a tiny piece of this important tradition - but it is not enough.

I can only hope that it's not too late to resurrect the tales of the first people, the ones that saw the divine in all things. The ones who tried to teach us about earth, air, fire and water.

I'm inspired to get writing, to transport myself to old America and Africa, and even the islands of the Indian and Pacific Oceans to retrieve stories told in their first tales.

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