Myths Of Orisha

Dance of the Worlds

The Orisha believe that from time to time, the spirits of the land join together in a dance. This dance can open up portals into other worlds into which unwary travelers may sometimes stumble (and vice versa).

The Dreamer

Though the Orisha have their gods, there is also a belief that this world is the dream of some otherworldly, unknowable being. This, to them, is the explanation for the strange happenings and events in the world, for anything may happen in a dream, even things that defy logic and understanding. Thus the Orisha are among those most skilled in dream magic and interpretation.

The Duped Dancers

Manabozho was a poor man with no family who wandered the land telling stories and singing songs to earn his food. One day Manabozho was walking along a lake shore, tired and hungry, and he observed a long, narrow sandbar, which extended far out into the water, around which were myriads of waterfowl. Manabozho decided to have a feast. He had with him only his medicine bag; so he entered the brush and hung it upon a tree, and procured a quantity of bark, which he rolled into a bundle and placing it upon his back, returned to the shore, where he pretended to pass slowly by in sight of the birds. Some of the Swans and Ducks, however, recognizing Manabozho and becoming frightened, moved away from the shore.

One of the Swans called out, "Ho! Manabozho, where are you going?" To this Manabozho replied, "I am going to have a song. As you may see, I have all my songs with me." Manabozho then called out to the birds, "Come to me, my brothers, and let us sing and dance." The birds assented and returned to the shore, then all retreated a short distance away from the lake to an open space where they might dance. Manabozho removed the bundle of bark from his back and placed it on the ground, got out his singing-sticks, and said to the birds, "Now, all of you dance around me as I drum; sing as loudly as you can, and keep your eyes closed. The first one to open his eyes will forever have them red and sore."

Manabozho began to beat time upon his bundle of bark, while the birds, with eyes closed, circled around him singing as loudly as they could. Keeping time with one hand, Manabozho suddenly grasped the neck of a Swan, which he broke; but before he had killed the bird it screamed out, whereupon Manabozho said, "That's right, brothers, sing as loudly as you can." Soon another Swan fell a victim; then a Goose, and so on until the number of birds was greatly reduced. Then the Grebe opening his eyes to see why there was less singing than at first, and beholding Manabozho and the heap of victims, cried out, "Manabozho is killing us! Manabozho is killing us!" and immediately ran to the water, followed by the remainder of the birds.

As the Grebe was a poor runner, Manabozho soon overtook him, and said, "I won't kill you, but you shall always have red eyes and be the laughing-stock of all the birds." With this he gave the bird a kick, sending him far out into the lake and knocking off his tail, so that the Grebe is red-eyed and tailless to this day.

Heart of a Dragon

Orisha has several legends of heroes that consumed the heart of a dragon and gained various powers.

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