In the Beginning, First Light
Avanyu, the Horned Serpent belongs to the Tewa Pueblo people of New Mexico. He is the Spirit of Water and Life and he begins moving up from the underworld or Sip- pa – pu at this time of year.
The underworld is not a negative place in Pueblo mythology. All spirits rise up from below. The spirits of Tewa speaking peoples return to the underworld at the time of their deaths.
Avanyu is a powerful Serpent. He is unpredictable and presides over endings and beginnings, changes, transitions. He is also the Spirit of transformation.
The Tewa say that Avanyu once fought the evil spirit of drought, a fiery comet that spiraled down from the sky. Victorious, Avanyu brought the rains that fell upon the Earth and created the rivers that were shaped like Avanyu’s body.
Each spring at the Tewa pueblos the Bow and Arrow dance is held in his honor.
First Light is upon us. The days grow longer, birds are singing and the sun’s heat will soon awaken sleeping seeds. Like the Tewa, I turn towards the river seeking solace and feeling hope when I hear the sound of water flowing over stone.
At the river’s edge I honor you, Avanyu, as the Spirit of Life that manifests through rising waters.
The Tewa pray to you by dancing your sinewy body. I invoke you through words.
At dusk alpine glow burnishes your reptilian body, still frozen by blue waters.
Will you thaw and bring the rains to our thirsty desert, transforming dull grays to sage green?
Will you awaken the seeds of sacred Datura who need the sun’s warmth and your precious moisture to germinate?
Will I find your faded serpentine image on another canyon wall?
Your thunderbolts strike without warning – crackling lightening seeks grounding in dry dusted earth.
I fear you – yet you are the Spirit of Life rising out of troubled waters – you bring hard rains to soak thirsty rabbit brush, desert grasses, fragrant juniper trees and pinion pines.
I hear your rasping voice tell me that change is all there is. But I can choose to seek higher ground when your floodgates open…
I pray that the Spirit of Life be birthed in this woman’s body to strengthen her for what will come.
Snakes and women are wed as one…
And like you, I too would like to wear more than one skin!