Hail Way


In the Hail Way story the hero becomes an outcast because of excessive gambling. With supernatural help he escapes punishment by his people. On his wanderings he is seduced by winter thunder's wife, and in retaliation the jealous husband destroys him He is restored by thunders and winds and, in thus taking his side, they become embroiled in war with winter thunder. In the ritual of peace-making that follows, the hero becomes a patient and learns the ceremony. On a trip to the sky he has additional adventures and acquires further ritual knowledge. He returns to teach the ceremony for the benefit of earth people and finally departs to live with the supernaturals. Among the incidents worked into this story are: a race with frog, with the contestants' bodies and very existence at stake; and the use of a reputedly lazy boy as messenger for the fire dance. A minor incident is the meeting with worm man who controls stinging insects.
This story follows the familiar pattern of rejection of a boy by his family and his subsequent supernatural adventures, in the course of which he learns a ceremony to bring back, without resentment, to his people. After his original misdeed of excessive gambling, the hero is not presented as taking the initiative in courting danger but is drawn into misadventures by the proposals of others, while apparently vaguely aware of his wrongdoing. His seduction by thunder's wife results in the husband's retaliatory attack. He accepts frog's challenge to race in the face of supernatural warning not to venture into danger. In both cases the hero meets bodily harm: he is shattered and his body parts scattered by thunder's attack; and with loss of his body parts and functions he is transformed into a frog. Despite his foolhardiness in thus exposing himself, the supernaturals rescue and restore him physically. His final restoration becomes part of the peace-making between opposing groups of supernaturals; he becomes the patient in the peace ritual. This linkage of personal injury and cure with general warfare and peace-making points up more clearly than in most chantway myths the aggressive and restorative elements that permeate these hero stories.
The two published versions of this legend were given by the same informant, Klah of Newcomb, New Mexico, presumably at different times, although they contain substantially the same material. Reichard's is a text recording; that of Wheelwright is a summary or "retold" version. Since the material of the two versions is so similar, it has been found most convenient to base the abstract on Reichard's complete recording and to indicate in parentheses where the Wheelwright version differs. This detailed comparison of two versions of a single myth by the same informant should provide opportunity for study of individual variations in retelling of myths.


1. Hero Leaves Home

Rainboy lives with his mother, father, an older brother and younger brothers and sisters. He loses his clothing and his father's beads to the pueblos in gambling games - hoop and stick, dice, ball, kickstick, straddlesticks, racing. His people, including his mother, warn him not to play these games. When he loses his father's token of leadership, the people hold consultation and decide to whip him in public with even the babies as witnesses. He is imprisoned at night to await punishment, and bat woman comes to warn him that on the following day he will be beaten unmercifully, until he has "goose pimples from fear, and to help him escape with her cloak of invisibility She leads him out magically despite the fastened door. On discovering his escape, the people hunt him angrily with whips. (He lives in a family of five and they tell him he has to leave home because of his gambling. The whipping threat is omitted, as is the help of bat woman. He leaves destitute with only his sister to be sorry at his going. Begochidi comes to hear his story and expresses sympathy for him. W.)

2. Adultery and Attack by Thunder

The hero lives off the countryside making his own sandals, moccasins, and bow and arrow. He comes upon a house strung with rainbow, and, leaving outside his weapons and poor moccasins of which he is ashamed, he enters to find it beautifully furnished Within he finds a girl with white face and dark eyes who is painting and who smiles at him tantalizingly. She fetches his moccasins and weapons, whereupon he takes them and leaves, but she draws him back with zigzag lightning asking if he is indifferent to her. Three times more he departs in shyness, and each time she draws him back with rainstreamer forked lightning and rainbow. When her husband Winter Thunder sees them lying together he sends a hailstorm that shatters Rainboy completely (He finds a very lovely young girl coloring a blanket. Each time he leaves, he goes farther from the house each time she draws him back - with lightning, moisture rope, rainbow, and sunray - he comes farther into the room; this is her way of making love to him. Seeing him depart after the fourth time, White Thunder grows very jealous and sends a lightning bolt to shatter him. This is specified as the episode at which five ceremonies are connected with each other: Water, Wind, Male Shooting, Feather, and Hail ceremonies. W.)

3. Restoration of Hero

Big Fly carries the news of the hero's destruction to the other thunders and winds, who consult with each other and who, with the help of other gods, restore him ritually by placing his bones and flesh between covers and stepping over them. Talking God and Hastse'hoyan are given offerings and play a central role in this restoration, as do also the thunder and wind people, ants, bees, cornbeetle, pollen boy, and Begochidi. The last crucial pieces of his body, the "curve of the upper lip" and blood, are gathered by the ants and Begochidi. The gods take him back to the home of thunders, where further ritual is performed and he is then sent back to his family with the admonition not to go near danger. (Begochidi directs the council of thunders and winds. Here the war between the two groups of thunder people, instigated by Begochidi in retaliation for the hero's destruction, follows immediately upon the restoration and before the hero returns home. W.)

4. Race with Frog (Toad)

On the way home Rainboy visits rough frog in his corn patch, who pretends not to pay attention and teases him (by addressing him as "my daughter's child"). As Rainboy notices the peculiarities of frog's appearance - swelling eyes, Adam's apple, rough patches on his skin, and warts from which smoke issues - frog reads his thoughts and agrees with each observation. A little wind monitor warns him not to accept a smoke offered by frog or he will become like him. After three refusals he accepts a challenge to race around a mountain, thinking that frog's running will be erratic. Frog defeats him by shooting hail into his foot, hip, shoulder blade, and occiput. Thus frog wins his body parts and functions - his feet, legs, gait, body, heart, nerves, mind, speech, face, nose, eyes, head - and takes them to his ceremonial altar, where the hero is transformed into a frog. In frog's home he still refuses to smoke, which would have made this transformation permanent. Big Fly scolds him for having thus disobeyed but carries news of his mishap to the thunders who assemble to see what can be done. Big Fly knows the proper prayerstick and approach to frog. The thunders present the offering, which frog accepts after consultation with his relatives, commenting that only Big Fly knows the secret of his offering. He hands over Rainboy's body parts which are again restored ritually between covers.
The hero is told to challenge frog to another race and is furnished with magical means of winning - cattail, whirlwind, lightning, hail. Frog tries four times unsuccessfully to persuade Rainboy to touch his magic ax which will kill anyone but its owner. In the race frog at first leads; he blows clouds, rain and fog to confuse Rainboy's course. On the little wind monitor's advice Rainboy does likewise with hail and whirlwind; frog now lagging behind pleads with Rainboy not to take his body parts. In desperation he throws his magic ax at Rainboy asking him to kill him with it because he has nothing left to live for. Little wind warns Rainboy not to touch the treacherous ax, which will rebound to destroy the wielder. Still on the advice of little wind Rainboy takes only the feet, legs, and gait of frog - if he "took everything from him it would not be good" - and brings them to the gods. After four days they decide to return them to frog who in return accepts charge of cloud, rain, and fog for earth people. Here instructions are given not to make dumplings when planting, or hail will ruin the corn, nor to bring them into a Hail Chant.
(In W's version the race with toad occurs when the hero is sent home after the war and peace making ritual of the thunders. Omitted here are toad's teasing, the thought reading incident, and invitation to smoke. However, when toad himself smokes, the smoke issues from all over his body. Here toad wins the hero's legs and shoes, taking the strength out of his legs and making them crooked like his own. Talking God scolds him for disobedience and warns him not to eat toad's food. Toad laughs at his gait when he starts home. The gods send Big Fly with food, then come to get him, taking the shoes that have been hidden by toad and leaving kehtahns in their place. In the second race the hero likewise wins by magic provided by the gods but takes only toad's shoes and leg tendons, while he is still weak, hot and tired from the race. Later the people take pity on him and replace the tendons with lightning and promise that they will be friends and not race anymore. Here the ax incident is omitted. It is explained that tying a toad in a garden is thought to bring rain. W.)

5. War between the Thunders

Because winter thunder "has uttered that which is evil," dark thunder organizes a war party against him. Changing Woman and Monster Slayer are notified. When she enters the council, they all bow their heads, but she refuses to participate, saying, "Surely I bore my children [to subdue] monsters, not to be in the midst of it," i.e., not to participate in war. Nor will the war gods join because of her disapproval. They prepare war paraphernalia, including cattail and flint armor and shields of hot water or ice. The two war parties engage in a series of four battles with many killed and wounded. For the last battle measuring worm and woodbeetle join them with "something like an ice pick" and hot water, whereby they puncture the weapons and ice shields of winter thunder's forces or spread hot water on them until they are in retreat. Talking God and Hastse'hoyan stop the slaughter, crying, "If you are all killed it will not be good." Both sides retreat. (Begochidi organizes the war party. Here Changing Woman says that they must let her do all the fighting: "I do not want either of my sons to come into battle as they would kill everyone. The other gods can fight but not my sons. They can be chiefs of the war but must not fight." In the first battle Changing Woman and the war gods stop the great slaughter, neither side having won, and Begochidi revives all of the dead warriors with his song. Begochidi himself halts the next two battles, and the gods come to intervene in the final battle. W.)
Changing Woman protests that someone ought to make peace, but each side feels that it is too dangerous to make overtures. On Big Fly's advice dark thunder's people persuade bat to undertake the mission, although he is at first reluctant. Bat and Black God go to the enemy. Bat seizes Winter Thunder's children and makes them tell where he lives. On their entrance Winter Thunder greets them with the query, "Since when do Earth People come here." He refuses four times to talk it over, tells them to go away, and threatens to cut them to pieces. Black God in turn threatens to use his firedrill, and, frightened by this, Winter Thunder summons his people and agrees to negotiate. He accepts the prayerstick, commenting that only Big Fly knows how to make it. They agree to meet for a ceremony in twelve days. (W's version is substantially the same except for the following variations. Councils are held on both sides, but no one dares to go as peace emissary. On each of four days Begochidi seeks in vain for someone to go from Black Thunder's side. A shy stranger, bat, is asked and at first refuses: "No, your great men would not go, so why should I?" Finally on the insistence of Changing Woman and the war gods,.he agrees. They find White Thunder guarded by a white-billed duck who tries to bar their way but after four questionings directs them to White Thunder's abode down "under twenty worlds." In White Thunder's hostile reception the comments about earth people and about Big Fly's knowledge of his prayerstick are omitted. Bat brings the message that they want peace because "many are sick and wounded and all are poor," and they are tired of war. When Black Thunder in his turn accepts the prayerstick, "their anger against White Thunder was ended." W.)
On their way to the peace ceremony they are puzzled by meeting a boy who, laughing, throws dirt up in the air; he appears first in their rear, then ahead or amongst them in the form of a yellow worm and other transformations. The people want to kill him, exclaiming, "What does he mean laughing at us?" When they catch him, all kinds of stinging insects swarm out of his mouth, ears, face, and nose, attacking and rendering them unconscious. They beg this creature to stop, addressing him as grandfather, and he sucks the insects in, "laughing inordinately he rolled around like a ball." He has gray eyes and red hair and is dressed like a woman. He specifies his prayerstick and says that he is to blame if earth people get sores around the mouth, ears, face, or on the body. He continues with the peace party.
(The boy appears only in the rear. On investigation they find a yellow worm. As they reach to pick it up, it turns into a man who emits bees, as above. This is the first time that they had seen stinging insects. When presented with a kehtahn he sucks back the bees. To their amazement they discover that this is Begochidi, who tells the people he will accompany and watch over them; however, he soon disappears from their midst, presumably to the sky. W.)

6. Peace Ceremony

The peace parties meet and conduct a ceremony in which Rainboy is the patient. Throughout, the two sides exchange ceremonial equipment and perform reciprocal ritual actions, including the extracting of arrows from the wounded of the opposite side. There follows a detailed description of ceremonial procedures. At one point, after the bath, a series of gods enter with various foods - pinions, god food, wild potatoes, dumplings - all of which are refused, and as they depart the bearers each make prediction that these foods will be scarce, or that when there are many pinions it will be snowy and cold and people will freeze to death. When more gods gather for the body painting, snake people are refused entrance because they might bite people, and frog enters but complains that the ceremony had not been announced to him. Two boys who are reputedly "lazy, dirty, and pampered by their grandmother" are the runners who invite distant people to the fire dance. Twenty-two acts of the fire dance are described. During this, frog children are trampled on and have to be restored. After the ceremony Rainboy observes the taboos for four days and refuses improper food offered by rat woman. He is instructed that the fire dance henceforth should not be included in the ceremony. Beaver comes to him and they smoke together; although Rainboy disparages his own tobacco, beaver is pleased with it. Beaver reveals further ritual instructions for the use of incense which was withheld because Winter Thunder was afraid of it.
(When horned toad woman and Changing Woman enter for blessing of the hogan, the people bow their heads. White Thunder, with Black Thunder as assistant, performs the ceremony. He is still angry with the hero and plans to cut him open with his stone knife at the first opportunity. The hero is warned to begin singing before White Thunder in the sandpainting ceremony and thus confuse him; he substitutes the line, "We are in great peace," for White Thunder's version. "We are in great danger." White Thunder is "so startled and ashamed at this change that he did not try to kill the patient that day," realizing that his plan was known; instead he "merely showed his anger by whirling about, still holding in his hand his obsidian knife." Bear and snake people are sent out of the hogan but Coyote manages to sneak in unseen. The sandpaintings are unrolled on cotton. The restoration of toad children is explained: "The Toad is a very sacred person and if we don't cure his young ones who are hurt he will feel badly toward us and we may die." Omitted from this version are: the refusal of food and prediction of scarcity; reputedly lazy boys as messengers; frog's complaint at not being invited; offering of improper food by rat woman. Beaver's instructions occur later in the story; see below. W.)

7. Sky Visit

Returning to the home of the gods as directed, Rainboy finds no one there, starts to sing but instead cries in loneliness. Gopher comforts and feeds him, and chipmunk first asks him for and then steals some of measuring worm's tobacco. Talking God takes the hero through door guards - revolving cross, spotted lion, forked lightning, hail - into Dark Thunder's house. They discuss what to do with Rainboy and take him to the sky on lightnings, rain and sun streamers, and rainbows. Sun offers them something to eat but himself disappears into the distance. With the help of a little wind monitor, Rainboy passes Talking God's test of identifying places on earth and in the sky; otherwise he could never return home. Talking God leads him through the guardians of Spotted Thunder's house - revolving cross, winds - where he learns the Male Shooting Chant. Rainboy is asked if he will take proper charge of dark clouds, rain, snow, and ice but does not assent until the fifth query when he is told he cannot return home unless he agrees. Those present show their pleasure and relief at his assent by putting the right hand over the left. He is given ceremonial properties but not the rolled sandpaintings which would wear out with use. The connections between the Male Shooting Chant and Hail Chant are pointed out; one may be used if the other fails.
(The hero returns to the gods and is lonely for the boys and girls who were at the ceremony. He is sent home on a preliminary visit to his family with warning not to get into trouble again, but on the way he gets involved in the race with toad [see above] after which he arrives home, is welcomed by his family and tells them his story. The gods have given him flowers for his sister. He is lonely at home and after four days Talking God comes for him. His sister wants to accompany him to the place where grow such sweet smelling flowers even though she was not invited. His family cry at the prospect of his departure and his mother tries to dissuade the sister. The parents are reassured by Talking God that the gods will do him no harm and that the trip is important. They travel to the sky on dawnlight. The hero's meeting with the gods is joyful; his sister feels at first shy, strange, and frightened but is made to feel at home by the young girls there. They ascend to Spotted Thunder's home, meet Sun on the way, and arrive to participate in a Water ceremony with fire dance. The connections between Water and Hail Chant are pointed out. Then the Hail ceremony is held over the hero's sister and he learns it. Afterward she is struck by lightning without harm. W.)

8. Return Home

Rainboy returns to earth on lightning and his party meets that of the hero of the Water Chant, who has the same name as his. They smoke together, note the similarities of their equipment and say that they can be used interchangeably. Rainboy is sent home to his family. They embrace him, though they had not recognized him at first, and his father summons the people to hear his story. In accordance with the gods' Instructions he teaches the ceremony to his older brother, taking thirty-two days. Both the older brother and he sing over his sister; they also sing over each other. The hero and his sister depart with the gods, she carrying pets of dog and ducklings.
(Before returning the hero to earth, Begochidi instructs him that, if he forgets any part of the ceremony, that part will revert to the gods; if he makes up any of it or plays with it, he will be punished by Spotted Thunder. On the way to earth they meet both the Water and Shooting Chant people and compare equipment, noting its similarities and what can be exchanged. The hero and his sister visit and learn various ceremonies given by the gods, who tell him that he will be punished if he does not keep this ceremonial knowledge alive. Talking God adds, "I have saved you many times, now you must behave well and be good to the people." They are blessed and sent home. On the way they meet beaver and his wife, who feed them berries from an inexhaustible bowl and ask to hear his story. Beaver gives more information about the incense that thunder fears. On his arrival home, the hero teaches his brother the ceremony - birth order of this brother not specified -initiates him at another ceremony, holds two more for his father and mother, and one for all earth people. Again the hero is called back to the gods to learn how to prepare equipment; here it is specified that sandpaintings will be used in the future instead of the pictures of cotton material that are unrolled for use. He returns to give this information to his brother. Then the hero and his sister depart [as above], he to have charge of rain and she of plants for the benefit of earth people.

Mythology and Values, An analysis of Navajo Chantway Myths; by Katherine Spencer, Pgs. 100-7 (1957).