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Literally, ‘all-container’. The dual creator deity of the Pueblo Zuni. Awonawilona existed before all else: by his-her volition did he-she create life. ‘The mists of increasing and the streams of growing’ flowed from his-her being, when it assumed the shape of the sun and fecundated the primeval sea. Green scum formed over the endless waters and became firm, then divided into Awitelin Tsta, earth mother, and Apoyan Tachi, sky father. From this divine pair sprang all living things.

In four wombs stirred the seeds of life. Inside each womb teemed unfinished creatures, crawling over one another in the darkness, writhing like reptiles as they tried to gain the warmth of the sun's rays. Among them was Poshaiyangkyo, the foremost and wisest of men. He contrived to escape. He found a passage and followed it upwards and outwards, till he came to the light. There in the shallows of the world ocean, standing silently in the lapping waters, Poshaiyangkyo besought the sun to release the creatures still imprisoned in the fourfold womb of Awitelin Tsta. So it was that Awonawilona sent the divine twins to the place of generation. They cleft the earth with thunderbolts and, being light, they descended on threads of spider-web. In the wombs they instructed the living things how to make themselves ready for birth. Most of those for whom Poshaiyangkyo had prayed were thus led upwards by the divine twins, but there were numerous casualties since some fell back and only escaped later as monsters, cripples, and idiots.

The first men, however, were strange when they reached the light. They had adapted to the womb world and possessed scales, short tails, owl's eyes, huge ears, and webbed feet. The first sunrise they greeted in howling terror. Their adjustment to life on the surface of the earth was gradual, though the medicine-man Yanaulaha contributed greatly to this difficult process.

Subjects: Religion

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