Wishpoosh and Coyote – Creation Myth From the Nez Perce

“Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are the artists of one kind or another.”
― Joseph Campbell

 

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The Nez Percè tribe in the Pacific Northwest tell of a great Beaver Wishpoosh who jealously guarded the primordial lake from all creatures wishing to swim in it. Coyote wanted to fish in the lake one day and ended up in a brawl with Wishpoosh. They fought from one end of the lake to another causing gauges and land masses to shift in form and break off causing the formation of the uneven coastline there.
Finally needing to recharge a bit Coyote transformed himself into a jagged branch and floated on the lake. Unfortunately Wishpoosh saw him and came along and swallowed him whole. Coyote transformed himself into a giant needle and started cutting Wishpoosh up from the inside out into a thousand pieces each of which became a tribe of humanity. The tribes that formed from pieces of the head became very wise. The ones that formed from the arms were very strong. The ones that formed from the legs became very fast runners. According to some versions of the legend, some were made without eyes or mouths so Coyote had to return to finish the job and did it sloppily which the Nez Percè attributed some of the strange looks that other tribes have.
Coyote is a trickster / scribe deity and the splitting apart of another deity has echoes of Set and Osiris. Also death by the prick of a needle has elements of the death of Baldaur in Norse mythology.

This is the first of what will hopefully be a recurring feature on Waking Spirals taking a look at myths and legends and perhaps will result in some art pieces as well.
Blessings, G

 

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