The Journey to the Sun

The two boys began to travel. There were all sorts of obstacles that the boys had to pass before they could reach the sun.

The first thing that happened to them was that they became very hungry and thirsty.

That point on their ears told them, “Your stomach is like a living person. Tell him why you came.”

So the boys said, “We are going to visit the sun.”

The antitragus said, “Give him a present.”

So the boys gave him pollen and passed on without danger. Their hunger and thirst grew less. After a while their legs began to ache.

The antitragus said, “Talk to your legs. Tell them why you have come so far.”

So the boys said, “Legs, we came so that we might visit the sun and ask for playthings.”

So the legs grew strong and carried them on.

Then their throats began to ache.

The antitragus said, “Tell your throat why you have come.”

So the boys talked to their throats too and offered their throats pollen, and then their throats grew well.

Then they became hot and sweaty. Because of this they also spoke and offered pollen.

The antitragus told them, “Put pollen on top of your head and tell this heat to go away.”

They did so and were relieved.

Then they were seized with weariness. They both said, “Oh, this journey is difficult!”

But to this, too, they offered pollen and went on refreshed.

Then they met Night. He was so dark they could not pass. Their eyes turned against them and would not pierce the darkness. Their eyes became heavy, sleepy.

The ear told them, “You must sleep for a little while.”

They slept a little while and then they started again. But the darkness made them imagine all sorts of things and frightened them. Sticks looked like snakes and all sorts of things seemed ready to harm them.

Then the light came and dawn brought dew and cold. They suffered from the cold. The dew made them wet. Aain the point on the ear told them to speak and tell Dew of their errand. They did so and were relieved.

Then they met Big Rain-Storm. They were soaked by the rain. Thunder came and frightened them too. The antitragus told them not to fear, that they would not be harmed. So they went on.

Before them a tree was struck and split by Lightning. They were frightened once more. In every danger that was connected with the water in any way, Child-of-the-Water heard from his ear. So he learned about Thunder-Storm and Lightning. Before this Killer-of-Enemies heard from his ear about the dangers and how to evade them. Ear now told Child-of-the-Water to go on.

Now the rainbow was in front of them. They backed up before it, for they did not know what it was. But the ear of Killer-of-Enemies told him that there was no danger in it, and they went on.

Then they were engulfed by Mist. Later they had to go through Mud. Then they were confronted by Heat Waves. Killer-of-Enemies knew about the heat waves.

“That’s all right. I’m going to take care of it,” he said. He could say this, for he was the child of the sun, and the heat waves come only when the sun is out.

Then Cyclone blew at them. Killer-of-Enemies was told what to do about that. He offered pollen and told Cyclone of their errand.

Then Strong Wind breathed fiercely at them. Killer-of-Enemies was warned of that too and offered pollen and prayer.

Now Whirlwind came and Child-of-the-Water was afraid. But Killer-of-Enemies knew what to do, and the boys went ahead safely.

Then they met Winter. They had to pass through cold, frost, and snow. The snow was blown against them.

Child-of-the-Water spoke now. “I’ll take care of this; this is nothing but frozen water.”

“What makes it freeze?” asked Killer-of-Enemies.

“The wind,” answered Child-of-the-Water.


Child-of-the-Water offered pollen to Winter, and then it was not so cold. But they were shivering and chilled while they were with Winter.

Now they arrived at Ice. It was so slippery that they could hardly stand. Child-of-the-Water’s ear spoke and told them what to do.

Then they met Big Hail. The hail stones were very large and they were hit in the head and hurt. But Child-of-the-Water brought them safely through this. Nearby they met Sleet and all things of that nature.

After they had passed the obstacles of Winter, they came upon the bear. The bear had just come up from his hole because winter was over. He was about to swallow them up, but Killer-of-Enemies threw pollen in his direction and he let them pass. It was spring where they were now.

A little further on they met Snake. They were walking in the path when Snake crossed it.

“Where are you going?” Snake asked.

“To see my father, the sun,” Killer-of-Enemies answered and offered Snake pollen. This was what his ear told him to do.

Then they met the singing birds. They, too, asked, “Where are you going?”

“To the east to see my father, the sun,” and they offered pollen to the birds too.

The boys, when they met one of these creatures, always asked each other, “What is it?” And the one who knew would tell the other.

Now they came to all the animals of the mountains, such as the mountain-lion and wildcat. All these animals stopped them and asked them where they were going. To each they answered and offered pollen.

They passed on. Before them rose a great mountain. They were afraid of it. It was very steep and it had thick brush on it. It grew taller as they approached and would not let them pass. But Killer-of-Enemies, at the advice of his ear, explained their errand and offered pollen. The mountain grew no more and they passed easily. This mountain was called Long Mountain.

When they got over the mountain they found that they had a desert to cross. In this desert were large lizards whose bite was fatal. But they appeased the lizards too and passed on.

At the end of the desert they came to a big river. They didn’t know how to get over it.

But, after his ear spoke to him, Child-of-the-Water said, “Do not be afraid. Walk right on top of the water.”

They walked over it in this way.

Beyond the river they saw all kinds of fruit growing. They were hungry and wanted to eat, but the fruit told them not to eat until they explained where they were going. So they told of their journey to the east and how they hoped to get playthings from the sun.

Then they met the Pollen People. These Pollen People asked, “Where are you going?”

There were all kinds of Pollen People there representing all the sources of pollen.

The ear spoke to Killer-of-Enemies and said, “Put pollen in your mouth and sprinkle these people with some. Tell them what you are doing here.”

So they did this and passed safely.

Then they came to the people who represented all ripe fruits and vegetables. These people barred their path too. But pollen was offered to them and the two boys went on.

Then they met the seasons. They met Spring first, then Summer, then Autumn, and then Winter. All these were people and stopped them to ask where they were going.

After this they met Day. Day also inquired about their journey and let them pass when he heard what they were doing.

Then they came to Fright. They met him there because they began to be afraid of seeing their fathers. Their journey was nearly over now. But they gave Fright pollen in his mouth and passed. Soon they were at the door of the sun’s house.

They began to rejoice. They were there before morning, before the sun was up. They stood near the door.

The wife of the sun came to the door. She saw two boys standing there. “For whom are you looking?” she asked.

“We came to see our father, the sun,” the boys said.

The woman was jealous at once. She began to be angry. This is the first time there ever was jealousy. After that people became jealous.

She went inside to the sun. She said, “I thought you said you go to the west for a good purpose and never visit other women. You have lied to me. Here are two boys who say you are their father.” [There is some ambiguity here concerning the parentage of the boys. In some passages the impression is given that both are the children of the sun. Possibly the confusion exists because Moon and Water are associated in Jicarilla thought and there is difference of opinion as to whether the moon should be thought of as masculine or feminine. In some stories the moon is introduced as the father of Child-of-the-Water.]

Then the sun came out and met his children.

“I’ll test them before I’ll admit they are my children. If they come safely through this test they are my children. I’ll try them with four things.” He said this to his wife before he came out to meet his children.

Then he came out and asked them, “What do you want?”

“We came to see you.”

“Who told you that I am your father?”

“Our mothers told us to come to see you.”

The sun had four rooms. One was filled with ice. He put them in that one, saying, “If you are my children this won’t hurt or freeze you.”

Child-of-the-Water said, “Oh, this is all right. I can take care of this.”

Sun left them in there a long time. But when he opened the room the boys were still living. Child of-the-Water was from Water and could stand it for that reason, and Killer-of-Enemies was the real child of the sun and could stand it because of that and because he had heat within him.

Then Sun threw them into a room full of fire. Their feet and hands were tied before they were put in. When Sun opened the room the boys were still living.

There was a room of boiling water. Into this the boys were next thrown. But Child-of-the-Water could stand any kind of water and so both came out unharmed.

In last room was the heat of the sun. They were thrown into this, but when the room was opened they were still living. Now the tests were over.

“All right, come to my house,” Sun said. “You are really my children.” [The same informant who told this origin story later said, “When they sing hoop and pole game songs they sing to the sun and the moon, for both helped to make the hoop. Both gave their rings.” Because the moon, a symbol of water, is often considered the father of Child-of-Water, in would seem that in the present story Sun stands for both of the heavenly bodies, in order to avoid the male~female confusion which otherwise sometimes attaches to the moon.] Then he asked, “What do you want?”

“Our mothers told us, ‘Go and see your father,’ and they told us you would give us something with which to play.”

Then the sun gave them the hoop and pole game. He gave them two poles and the hoop. He took the ring from around himself and this was the hoop. He already had the poles to give them. [For this game a pole with incised bands at the butt end and a hoop upon which bands have been carved are used. The hoop is first rolled along the ground and when it is about to fall the two players slide their poles after it in an attempt to cause the incised bands of the hoop to fall upon the bands at the butt end of the pole. A count is made according to the relative positions of these bands. Women are not allowed to approach the playing grounds or to see the game played.]

“What else do you want?” asked Sun. Then he thought for a while and said, “I believe you came to save your people. There are monsters around your home now.”

Again he asked them what else they wanted.

“We just came to get playthings.”

“I think you came for another reason too. I can give you bows and arrows too.”

So he gave each of them a bow made of the rainbow and arrows made of lightning. He gave each a quiver and bow carrier of mountain-lion skin. They put them on their backs.

Down below Holy Boy knew what had happened, for Whirlwind had again told him.

Sun told the boys, “You must play this game of hoop and pole in the day. And you can play it all around the world the way the sun goes, east to west, but do not roll the hoop to the north.” And Sun told them, “You must wager when you play this game, but if anyone dies before the wager is paid or on the same day as the game was played, you must not take what you have won. Return the winnings under such conditions, for you do not want anyone to ‘die on your game.’” And he told them, “After a death if you wish to play hoop and pole again, you will have to paint the red part of the hoop with red ochre again and sprinkle a little red ochre on each pole. And paint your face with red ochre again before you play. This will wipe out the blood.” And he said, “You must not play when there is blood from slain animals on your hands or on your clothes. You must clean your hands and change clothes or clean it off first.”

And the sun gave songs and prayers for the hoop and pole game to the boys too. Then Whirlwind made the hoop roll to the east, south, and west. But Sun said, “You must not roll it to the north.”

So they took leave of Sun and started home. They liked that game and had good times playing it on the way.

On their way home the boys came to the house of their grand- father, Thunder. Thunder gave them guns at first. But they were just children and didn’t know how to handle them. They began to shoot at everything in sight and soon were destroying many valuable possessions, such as horses.

So Thunder saw that they were too young to have the gun. He called them back and said, “I think you had better give me those.” He gave them arrows instead.

When the boys got home they were very proud of the game. They showed this game to their mothers.

And their mothers said, “How did you get along on the road? What did you meet?”

They told of all they had endured and suffered on the way. Then they began to play hoop and pole. They had a good time.

By and by they became tired of playing in the other directions and thought of playing to the north.

Killer-of-Enemies said, “Let’s throw it to the north and see what happens.”

But Child-of-the-Water said, “No, we had better obey.”

[Killer-of-Enemies is often described as daring and impetuous, in contrast to the more cautious and obedient Child-of-the-Water.]


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