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CHUMASH MYTHS


In addition to the commonly shared belief in a Great Spirit which created The universe and everything, the Chumash believed the world was divided in three layers on three floating disks; the Sky World, the Middle World (where they lived), and the Water World.

They believed Sky World was supported by the Great Eagle who always remaining in the same place, only occasionally stretching its wings, which cause the phases of the moon and lunar eclipses.

The Middle World was believed held in place by a giant serpent which would sometimes move, causing earthquakes.

They believed the Water World to be made from the urine of the many frogs who lived in it.

The Sun God, is believed to have carried a torch made of tightly rolled bark which he used to illuminate the world. He creates the night sky by whipping the sparks off his torch; by day, the Sun sits in a hole in the ground which was created for him by the Spider Woman.

The Chumash had specific representations for each of the four seasons.

Winter was represented by the color white, the Eagle, a symbol of man's strength and pride, and the Bear, representing Mother Earth. Winter was also indicated by the North, from which the cold winds blew. For the Chumash, winter also meant renewal, as they celebrated Winter Solstice and the beginning of the new year.

Summer was represented by the color blue, as in the ocean's waves, and by the Owl, a creature of wisdom and intelligence, and the Snake, which pressed its belly against Mother Earth, showing its sensitivity. The summer was indicated by the South, from which the warm ocean breeze blew.

Spring was represented by the color yellow, and by the Hawk, believed to have brought back the sun on its tail, and by the Deer, which symbolized life, for every part of the animal was used by the Chumash as food and clothing. Spring came from the East, as this is where one would see the sunrise.

Fall was represented by the color red, and by the Dolphin; the sea-dwelling brother of the Chumash, and by the Raven, who served as messenger. The Fall was indicated by the West, for it is there one can see the sunset.


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