The Little Deer, a Cherokee Legend – Deer Hunters of the Western Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina, Hunting Season 2011

Think Before You Shoot (or if you must, for you own health, think after… read on and you will see what I mean; it can’t hurt to know these things 🙂

This post was motivated by love for both human and animal kingdoms.

One With The Earth; are you awake or asleep?  A myth is a legend and as many historians will tell you, the power of the myth (See: Joseph Campbell) is…. well, powerful and it holds a truth that is deeply engrained in consciousness.  That is, if one is conscious enough of consciousness to ‘be’ conscious of it.  Either you get that or you don’t.  Let’s move on…

Do you find hunting, the hunter—sport hunting with no reverence for the animal—emotionally upsetting? Are you a hunter who is looking forward to the upcoming hunting season and one who has never considered the spirit of the animal and its connection to your christian god?   Do you believe nature and its inhabitants are on the earth for the sport of serving your destructive pleasure?  On the other hand, you might carry the memories in your soul of the early days when man was merged with nature as one.

Perhaps, like me, you dread the start of the upcoming hunting season.  May you find some comfort or balance with your emotions with that by reading this post.

Whether you have an aversion/abhorrence to hunting OR an attraction to killing animals (either way), my intention in writing about this whole issue of hunting and killing animals is that it be of service to the reader.

If you’re a hunter with no conscious awareness of your spiritual connection to your animal brothers and sisters, maybe you could develop a-little-bit-of one by reading the story of the Little Deer below.  You may want to think about what you are doing when you shoot to kill in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina–you are on sacred ground, the Cherokee Ancestral Home where animals were considered ‘relatives’ and their clans respected.

This information comes from some writing by Warren Jefferson who compiled such information on beliefs of the North American Indian.

The lives of the  North American Indians were infused with the supernatural and there was a constant interaction between the spirit world and theirs.

In my recent study which comes from a renewed interest in Indian culture I came across a Cherokee myth or story referred to as Little Deer.  I am most interested in the ancient ancestors, before Europeans came to North America.

Many Indian tribes throughout North America tell of a time when humans and animals ‘shared common ancestors’ and ‘spoke the same language’ with animals.  (See Ted Andrews, Animal Speak)   We see groups with semi-animal and semi-human ancestors in American Indian culture–half-man and half-animal.   But then don’t we see the same thing in the ancient cultures of Egypt and Greece for example?

Pre-patriarchial times is what I mean
 the matriarchal days when earth mother was honored have an influence on the consciousness carried forward into some Cherokee myths. 

There were animal totems and certain animals were seen as protectors of the animal clan.  The person would, in those days, enter into the relationship with the spirit of a particular animal species such as the wolf, bear, caribou, elk, deer or other animal and incorporate the animal’s characteristics into one’s self drawing the animal’s qualities, strengths and survival skills.

Perhaps there are many of us who have the memories of living in such ways still alive in our souls?  And we are the ones who would likely shutter at the thought of sport killing and hunting.

Once a totem animal, in Indian tradition, has been acquired, the person is bound to certain actions and taboos regarding that animal.

Christian or non-spiritual hunters today seem to have no taboos other than their enjoyment of the kill as a sport without any consideration for the soul of the animal.

And, Yes.  North American Indians believed not only animals but trees had a soul too.  Living closely with nature thousands of years ago  it was as obvious to them, just as it would be to today to anyone who lives close to nature and who has thrown off patriarchal religious conditioning which poisons the mind to the sacredness of nature.

Often a person could not hunt or kill his totem animal even as a matter of survival and even if the spirit of the animal was honored.  This is because someone’s totem animal is, for them,  in effect a special “relative”.

The Cherokee ancestral home is in the present-day western Appalachian Mountain region of North Carolina.  Today, many (or most) Cherokee people live in Oklahoma, since their forced removal from the region in 1838 known as the Trail of Tears.  I live in the Cherokee Ancestral territory.

I believe the following information comes from James Mooney’s “Myths of the Cherokee” about North American Indians.

Man is the paramount power and hunts and slaughters the others as his own necessities compel, but is obliged to satisfy the animal tribes in every instance, and according to the Indian system, the bones of the dead are covered with presents for the bereaved “relatives”—the other animals of the animal tribe. (I wonder how many hunters stop to think of the bereaved animal relatives of the animal they kill.)

This pardon by the hunter is made easier, according to the shamans, through their knowledge of reincarnation in which it is understood that every animal has a definite “life term”, which cannot be curtailed by violent means.

If the last paragraph above is true, it will help me get through this year’s deer hunting season—the beginning of which is closely approaching.  I find it highly significant that I seem to have drawn in the information exactly at a time when it is most beneficial to know!

According to the shaman, if the animal is killed before the ‘expiration date of the allotted time for that animal’s life’, the death is only temporary and the body is immediately resurrected in its proper shape from the blood drops, and the animal continues its existence until the end of the predestined period, when the body is finally dissolved and the liberated spirit goes to join its kindred.

This belief appears in the story of Little Deer (below).  In that story, certain supernatural personages have dominion over the animals and are therefore regarded as the
 well, for the lack of a better word, perhaps the one who disseminates karma.

Here is the short story of the Little Deer from Cherokee Myth (and there are truths in myths!) about a hunter who neglects to do a ceremony for the animal’s spirit after killing a deer.  The following story comes from beliefs of North American Indians regarding their animal “relatives” who they call the “four-footed tribes”.

The Little Deer

Now, whenever the hunter shoots a Deer, the Little Deer, who is swift as the wind and cannot be wounded [the Soul of the animal group leader for the deer], runs quickly up to the spot and, bending over the bloodstains, asks the spirit of the Deer if it has heard the prayer of the hunter for pardon.

If the reply is yes, all is well, and the Little Deer goes on his way; but if the reply be no, he follows on the trail of the hunter, guided by the drop of blood on the ground, until he arrives at his cabin in the settlement [the hunter’s living quarters], when the Little Deer enters invisibly and strikes the hunter with rheumatism, so that he becomes at once a helpless cripple.

No hunter who has regard for his health ever fails to ask pardon from the Deer for killing it, although some hunters who have not learned the prayer for the animal’s spirit may try to turn aside the Little Deer from his pursuit by building a fire behind them on the trail.  (Moony 1900)

Here is another version of the mythical tale of The Little Deer:

In these early days, the plants, the animals, and the people all lived together as friends. As the people multiplied, however, the animals had less room to roam, and they were either slaughtered for food or trampled under the humans’ feet. Finally the animals held a council to discuss what to do.  The deer held a council and decided to send rheumatism to any hunter who killed a deer without asking its pardon for having done so.

When a deer is shot by a hunter, the fleet and silent Little Deer, leader of the deer, runs to the blood-stained spot to ask the spirit of the killed deer if the hunter prayed for pardon for his affront. If the answer is no, Little Deer follows the trail of blood and inflicts the hunter with rheumatism so that he is crippled.

The more you are motivated by L.O.V.E., the more fearless and free your action will be

Levels of Consciousness in Life Forms on Planet Earth in the NC Appalachian Mountains Two-Legged and Four-Legged Examples

Living a life of solitude, alone on the mountain (more or less – it’s a small town filled mostly with fundamentalist christians and republicans, dotted with NASCAR fans) has its pluses and minuses. One aspect of it all has to do with sometimes feeling that I’m from outer space observing life forms on planet earth.

Don’t get me wrong, I can speak the language and relate to the locals—when I have to. But for the most part, I stay to myself applying the wisdom of the dictum, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”—or at least try to blend in.

The same behavior style that leads to approval or success in one subculture spells rejection in another.

To say that I don’t “relate” on the same consciousness level to folks here in the NC Appalachians would be an understatement and yeah I’ve been asking myself the same question for years—what am I doing here? It has to do with the mountains and the forest and the wildlife, fawn and foliage and all that.

Speaking of wildlife, there are crab apple trees along the side of the property near the driveway of the home that I rent and when I came home just after nightfall, my headlights caught the sight of about 20 deer hanging out by the crab apple trees. Strange as it may sound, I live for those types of moments. They startled and I apologized, parked the car and walked softly to observe them, speaking to them softly as they allowed my presence near to them.

I also observed two other life forms earlier where I stopped for a takeout order of dinner—a self-reward for working in the yard all day! While my dinner was being prepared by the restaurant, I walked to a nearby drugstore. Leaving the establishment to do so, I see a life form that sent me psychic signals through vibrations, behaviors and looks (sweet eyes) that she’s hungry. Yet she seems quite polite about it, keeping distance while beseeching in her mannerisms. I vow to share my take out dinner with her, saying hello as I pass by. That life form was intelligent and aware of humans and certainly knew where food was located—she looked underfed but not sickly. For a second or two, I imagined bring her home with me but thought better of interfering with her will
 such sweet eyes; but like me, she kept to herself for the most part.

The time came to return to the restaurant to pick up my order and while waiting for it at the counter, I looked beseechingly around as if I were the lonely, hungry life form herself seeking some sort of recognition and some food. I wanted to mention to one of the waiters or kitchen workers that a hungry life form was just outside the door should there be any scraps for the sweet eyed one. I felt my energy going back behind the counter and around the busy waitresses as if to bring the telepathic message to whatever consciousness could be receptive to it.

I couldn’t get anyone’s attention and my take out order was handed to me and the server walked away quickly before I could mention the hunger just outside of the door. No matter, I thought, I will share my sack of food.

Whatever intellect functions, it is at a level of primal animal drives and self-serving goals

Just before me as I was heading out the door, another life form steps in front of me rudely and opens the door to exit without holding it. This was a male energy-being who was nearly as wide across as he was tall and appeared oblivious to any other life forms outside of his own.

I quickly understood that before me walking on two legs was a consciousness far less advanced than the hungry life force just outside. The ego in this one was running the show and the higher mind did not appear to be activated at all. The four-legged one, seeing opportunity walked carefully and sheepishly toward the two-legged form who appeared extremely well fed himself. His response was to stomp his feet in the direction of the sweet eyed four-legged form, making a vile and disgusted grunting noise while raising his arm in contempt which was coordinated with the stomping of his feet and in a very deep,  mean-sounding voice said, “Get out of here you!”

She did; she ran and disappeared between the parked cars. I was willing to share my meal with her but the growling lower life form that stood between us frightened her away. I waited and called out, but she was gone.

I remembered how it is with small minds not fully developed and this brought me out of my temporary resentment and into a mood of patient acceptance of how it is on planet Earth. In many humans, whatever intellect functions does so at a level of primal animal drives and self-serving goals. Additionally, various life forms vibrate at countless levels of consciousness expansion, some functioning at intense levels of anger, frustration, guilt, despair, fear, pride, shame, hate, apathy and all attitudes under the Sun. This accounts for a high percentage of life forms from the human kingdom responding to life experiences and other life forms in primitive and survival-oriented ways. Surrender and acceptance of these facts are the only ways to deal with one’s own emotions when one see’s 2-legged’s treating 4-legged’s in unconscious ways.

Driving away from the restaurant, I see one of the workers come out of the door with a small box. “Come on, do you want this?” were the words and out from nowhere it seemed here comes the sweet eyed four-legged life form wagging her tail. Did someone hear my telepathic message earlier when I was in the restaurant as I beseeched on behalf of the black retriever? It’s probably more like they feed her all of the time in that way.

It doesn’t matter really, but I was very happy that the kind, compassionate two-legged female came out with a box of food for the sweet, hungry four-legged life form! I spoke to her as I pulled away, “I’m so glad you did that for her” I said. She smiled and waved and I returned her gestures and despite the ‘angry-voiced 2 legged male’  who waved his fist, stopped his feet and yelled earlier, the sweet eyed dog gratefully ate.

Afterwards, I found myself thinking about the various consciousness levels of the various kingdoms on Earth.  In this example of forms from the animal and the human kingdoms, which of the two will evolve to a higher life form at the end of this current life experience?  The man or the dog?  Will the man somehow in some future scenario get to know how the dog felt?  One wonders…

 And when I got home, the apple-eating deer were having their meal too.

I put mine on the kitchen counter and went outside to observe them, all the while telling them how welcome they were, how I love them and to enjoy the apples!

Such is life…

in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains….

on planet Earth.

 ADDENDUM — there are beautiful, kind, generous people in all areas of the world/the country, including the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina.

I have met some very kind, gentle people here.