Hollow Log Trip

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While floating down the river the hollow log is intercepted and/or the hero captured and detained by the Pueblos, water monster, frog, and others. The Supernaturals who have launched the hero guide and protect him on this journey. He evades the Pueblos when they try to catch the log with ropes, or a storm is sent to drive them off. He is stopped by water monster and makes offerings to be released, or he is captured and released only when Black God threatens to set fire to water monster's under water abode. Water people pull the log under water and take the hero through water monster's guards and down through four chambers of his house; here Black God and water sprinkler come to rescue him. In a similar incident frog hides the hero in his under water home; he wraps him in water slime, puts him on a shelf in the back room, and denies his presence until threatened by Black God's fire; when frog yields the hero, water sprinkler puts out the fire. In other versions the hero also meets frog, who warns him of disease contracted by those who enter the water and the proper offerings for its counteraction, or when passing the dam of turtle and frog people with the proper offerings frog reads his thoughts about his ugliness, big eyes, rough skin, swollen throat, thin legs, and the smoke issuing from his warts. Elsewhere on the trip the log becomes stuck and is pried loose by fringe mouths; it is stopped by various water people who demand offerings (beaver, otter, fish, water coyote, turtle and frog people); or even the Supernaturals who are accompanying the hero mischievously detain him by trees planted close to the water's edge and will not free the log until they receive offerings. When the log sinks into mud, water sprinkler sends a too generous rainstorm to float it and has to be stopped by other Supernaturals. Pg. 169, Plume Way.


Navajo Chantway Myths, 1957; Katherine Spencer.

The Whirling Log or Tsil-ol-ni story occurs in both the Night and Feather of Plume Way. The hero of the story sets out on a long journey. At first the gods try to persuade him against going, but seeing his determination, help him hollow out a log in which he will travel down the river. Along the way he has many misadventures which ultimately result in his gaining important ceremonial knowledge. In one such instance he and his craft are captured by the Water People who carry him down beneath the waters to the home of Water Monster. Black God threatens to set fire to Water Monster's home and the hero is released, but not before being taught by Frog how to cure the illnesses caused by the Water People. When he finally reaches the lake that is his destination, the gods catch his log and help him to shore. Included in the sandpainting are the gods who helped him: Talking God, B'ganaskiddy, Talking God and Hastye-o-gahn, whose name is not translatable. Wandering about on land the hero comes upon a whirling cross with two yeis seated on each end. From them he learns the knowledge of farming and is given seeds. He then returns home to share these gifts with his people. Figures in Navajo sandpaintings generally proceed sunrise or clockwise.

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