Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Sun Mother Walks the Earth

Based on a story of indigenous people of Australia/New Zealand.

There was a time when everything was still. All the spirits of the Earth were asleep—or almost all. The great Sun Mother was awake, and as she opened her eyes a warm ray of light spread out toward the sleeping Earth.

"Ah!" the Sun Mother said, "I have work to do! I must go to the Earth, awaken the sleeping spirits, and give them forms."

The Sun Mother glided down to Earth, which was bare. She began to walk in all directions and everywhere she walked plants grew. After returning to the field where she had begun her work, the Sun Mother rested, well pleased with herself. When she was rested, the Sun Mother went forth again.

This time she ventured into the dark caves on the mountainsides. The bright light that radiated from her awoke the spirits, and after she left the caves, insects of all kinds flew out into the sunlight. The Sun Mother sat down and watched the glorious sight of her insects mingling with her flowers. Once again, however, she did not rest for long.

The Sun Mother ventured into a very deep cave, spreading her light around her. Her heat melted the ice, and the rivers and streams of the world were created. Then she created fish and small snakes, lizards, and frogs. Next she awoke the spirits of the birds and animals and they burst into the sunshine in a glorious array of colors. Seeing this, the Sun Mother was pleased with her work.

She called all her creatures to her and instructed them to enjoy the wealth of the Earth and to live peacefully with one another. Then she rose into the sky and became the Sun.

The living creatures watched in awe as the Sun Mother crept across the sky toward the West. However, when she finally sunk beneath the horizon they were panic-stricken, thinking she had deserted them. All night they stood frozen in their places, thinking that the end of time had come. After what seemed to them a lifetime, the Sun Mother peeked above the horizon in the East. The Earth's children were so relieved they danced for joy. Soon they learned to expect her coming and going and were no longer afraid.

At first, the children lived together peacefully, but eventually envy crept into their hearts. They began to argue. The Sun Mother was forced to come down from her home in the sky to mediate their bickering. She gave each creature the power to change its form to whatever it chose. However, she was not pleased with the end result. The rats she had made had changed into bats; there were giant lizards and fish with blue tongues and feet. However, the oddest of the new animals had a bill like a duck, teeth for chewing, a tail like a beaver's, and the ability to lay eggs! It was called the platypus.

The Sun Mother looked down upon the Earth and decided that she must create new creatures, wiser than these. She gave birth to two children, a god and a goddess. The god was the Morning Star and the goddess was the Moon. Two children were born to them, and these, her grandchildren, she sent to live on Earth. They became our ancestors. The Sun Mother was satisfied. They were superior to the animals because they had part of her mind, and would never want to change their shape.