Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cherokee Fall Folklore

Weather has long been a popular folklore topic. Weather Lore (folk explanations about the seasons) explores the beliefs a group of people have about the weather conditions they experience. Why seasons exist and what that means are common questions that weather lore addresses. As you will see by this Cherokee explanation of fall, the explanations can make seasonal differences more understandable:

Back in the early days, when plants and animals were first made, they were told to fast and stay awake for seven days to gain spirit power. All were anxious to gain power so they tried to do as instructed and most were able to stay awake through the first night. The next night some started to fall asleep, and by the third night many of them were asleep. By the seventh night, only a few of the animals were awake. The panther, the owl and one or two others managed to stay awake and as their reward they were given the power to see and go about in the dark. Many of the plants also fell asleep and of the trees, only the cedar, the spruce, the pine, the holly, and the laurel were able to stay awake. As their reward, these were allowed to be always green, while the others must lose their leaves in the fall.

Recorded by Anthropologist James Mooney in History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee,this explanation addresses beliefs about why certain animals and plants are able to survive the darker, colder times of year.

Weather lore reflects creative and purposeful interpretations of the world in which we live. In some cases it is believed that human beings are closely connected to their environment and in other cases they are not. Regardless of that, all cultures and communities have reasons and explanations for the weather.

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