A story of how Coyote tricked the Moon (guest post)
In the ancient past, when earth and spirit were one, the moon was always full. Luna, for that is what she called herself then, would keep her face fully turned towards the earth because she enjoyed watching Brother Wolf and his pack hunting at night. His pack’s hunting skills always amazed her, and she enjoyed the new tactics they came up with to hunt their prey. Wolf knew that she watched and blessed them with her full face each night, so at the end of each hunt they would leave an offering for her, as she sunk past the horizon each night.
Some nights the hunt was harder than others, as if the prey seemed to stay one step of them. What he did not know was that Younger Brother Coyote, the Trickster, would hide in the shadows that Luna’s light provided and warn the prey of the pack’s arrival. He would sneak ahead and tell them from which direction the hunters were coming, and which areas were safe. Luna enjoyed watching this game from the sky above, though she only caught glimpses of Coyote in her light between the shadows. One night, she saw that Wolf’s pack was going to pass very close to a shadow in which Coyote hid. So she altered her path just a tiny bit, so that her light shined on a small bit of his tail. Coyote was so intent on the night’s mischief that he failed to notice the light on his tail--but the pack did not miss it. Wolf sent his pack to chase Coyote away from their hunting grounds; now he understood the cleverness of the prey.
Luna was truly entertained!
Each night after, Wolf split his pack in half--to hunt dinner, and to keep a watchful eye on Coyote. Coyote worked hard to avoid his Wolf cousins, and continued to manipulate and trick the hunters every night. Luna’s delighted laughter did not escape Coyote’s large ears… that night a mighty Trick was being born.
At the end of the next day, before Luna rose in the sky, Coyote hid behind a large stone so that her light would not see him. He knew that she could not see into the shadows as he could, with his sharp eyes. That night he used every trick he knew; not to disrupt the Wolf pack’s hunt, or even to hunt his own dinner-- the moon was his prey that night. He tracked Luna for hours and saw, for the first time, the offering Wolf laid out for her.
The hunt had been very good for the wolves, for they did not have to chase Coyote while hunting, and so the pack feasted on deer. For Luna, they offered the eyes of all the deer, so that she may look through them and witness the hunt from the deer’s point of view. Coyote appeared pensive as he looked at the eyes, and his Trick began to take form in his mind.
He waited for Luna to take the offering, and as she descended towards the horizon to accept the offering, he followed her further.
He followed her past the horizon and into the Celestial realm of Spirit, for in those days you could cross the boundary as easily as putting one foot in front of the other. He watched as she deposited the offering in her Altar Room, near the other offerings that Wolf and his pack had given her. He followed her still, always staying in her shadow, as she spoke to the Spirits of the Planets. She spoke to them of Wolf and his pack, how their hunting prowess amazed her, and how she delighted as they hunted within her light. Luna then fell asleep, resting for that night’s trip across the sky. Coyote watched her. When she woke and prepared to leave for the horizon, he waited for her at the entrance to the moon’s pathway.
Startled, she asked, “Younger Brother Coyote, is there a problem? Why do you wait for me at the horizon?”
He kneaded his tail; “I have come to give you a gift, Big Sister. Many nights I have seen the wolves leave an offering for you, and I realize that I have never left you one myself”. She saw his eyes begin to shine with tears, and bent down to place both hands under his jaw. “To leave an offering is not your way, I do not blame you--” “But still,” Coyote interrupted, “I wish to give you a gift, for I have played in the shadows you create during the night.”
As soon as the sentence left his lips, he plucked out his eyes and offered them to her. With a grin, he said, “Please take my eyes for the night--with them, you’ll be able to see into the shadows your Light creates.” Luna was stunned; “Oh Coyote, that is a mighty gift! But how would I be able to see my moon’s pathways if I am wearing your eyes? Only my eyes can see the paths…” She saw disappointment on his face, though his eyes were still in his outstretched paws.
Coyote turned his eyes around and around in his paws, thinking of how to solve this obstacle. Suddenly, he jumped up on his hind legs and exclaimed, “Sister, I have it! How about you take my eyes for tonight, and I’ll take yours. This way, I can walk your paths while you hold my tail and we will travel across the sky together!” Luna began to feel apprehensive, for she knew Coyote was a great trickster, and she did not want to be played a fool this night.
“Coyote, my tricksy brother, your cunning is known around the earth and even here in the celestial realms. How do I know you are not planning on tricking me this night?”
“Luna, I only wish to give you a gift.” He stood up as straight as he could, looking at Luna with sincerity; “If it would put your mind at ease, then let me say this; I promise on my eyes that I will not trick you this night.” Luna saw the earnestness in his eyes (still on his paws) and made her decision. She plucked out her eyes and handed them to Coyote while scooping his eyes up and put them in her sockets. At that moment she looked around and did not see the stars and planets as the friends she knew, but as the beautiful and awesome display for the creatures of the earth. She saw her great shining grey eyes in the sockets of Coyote, and laughed in delight at the sight of him.
Coyote lifted his tail, allowing her to grip tightly, and slowly followed her pathways across the sky. Coyote led her faithfully, and noticed that as he walked along the path, it seemed to disappear from view for a moment, but recreate itself behind him. In this knowledge he knew his scheme would work, but tonight he enjoyed just leading Luna across the sky. Luna for her part was thoroughly enjoying the experience. She could see into the shadows as if they were not there, and she could see the fear in the prey as it ran from the wolves. When the pack brought down the beast she could not contain her excitement anymore and laughed with glee across the night, “Yip. Yip. Yipeeeeeee!” Wolf looked up at Luna with confusion for he had never heard her make that sound before, and then looked at the woods around him in suspicion; this was the second night in a row that Coyote had not been spotted.
When they reached the horizon and crossed through into the Celestial realm, they returned their eyes to each other. Luna picked up Coyote in a great embrace, “Thank you so much! That was the greatest time I have ever had, that was a mighty gift!” They parted ways and Luna raced to tell the other Planets of her adventures that night. Coyote returned to his den to sleep, for he had not slept in two days and needed to be rested to trick the wolves this coming night.
The normal patterns of life continued throughout the weeks and months that followed. Wolf and his pack would split in order to hunt at night, and keep Coyote away from the prey, while Luna watched their games from her paths in the sky. But soon Luna began to miss the adventure she and Coyote shared, and she asked him one night as she was about pass below the horizon:
“Coyote, it has been awhile since we shared time together, and I do miss the excitement of that night. Would you lead me across the sky again this coming night?”
Coyote yipped in excitement, “It would be my pleasure to meet you at the horizon! So we can dance together across the sky!”
That coming night they met at the horizon and once more traded eyes. Luna grabbed onto Coyote’s tail and was immediately guided across the sky. Again she was amazed by what she saw, heard, and smelled in the forest below…which is why she did not notice how Coyote was changing her path. He erased her old path with his footsteps, and began to lead her in slow spirals across the sky. Because she now wore his eyes (eyes that could see into the shadows as if they were lit), she did not notice the change. Coyote was leading her in great spirals, and her light did not always shine fully towards the earth.
Luna thanked him, as they dipped below the horizon and exchanged eyes. Both slept during the day, eagerly dreaming of the next night’s entertainment.
As Luna stepped across the threshold at the horizon, she stepped onto her paths and came to an abrupt stop. She saw what Coyote had done, and began to despair. Finally, she loosed a long howl of grief and frustration, because she did not remember the lines of her pathways. When Coyote heard her, he smiled and began to mimic her previous laughter; “Yip. Yip. Yipeeeee”, so that all who heard it knew it was He that Tricked Luna. Wolf howled with her, to help her mourn her loss, and understood that Luna’s light would now be ever-changing.
(c) David Tyrsson, Spring 2011 (do not take without crediting/permission)