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Cherokee Myths
By Scott Nicholson

Many people know of the ghost stories and witchwomen and mysterious healing powers attributed in Appalachian lore. But fewer know that spirits and demons were thought to wander these hills long before the white settlers came. The Cherokee and Catawba tribes had their own complex mythologies, with pantheons of spirits both good and bad.

Among the most feared of the Cherokee entities was the Raven Mocker , or kalanu ahyeli-ski. The Raven Mocker robs dying people of their lives, and the mocker is said to look old and withered because of all the lives it has taken.

The Raven Mocker swoops down from the sky, arms outstretched, leaving a trail of sparks behind. The noise of its passing is a sound that sends trembles through the strongest heart kamagra uk. The sound presages the arrival at the homes of those who are sick or dying.

Sometimes a medicine man would be waiting outside the home to try to drive away the Raven Mocker. But the medicine must be strong, or else the Raven Mockers get inside the room where the ailing person is by turning invisible. Then they frighten the sick person until the victim passes away.

The Raven Mocker then eats the heart of the victim. This act will add the number of days or years they have stolen from the victim to the length of their own lives, keeping them refreshed so they can commit more evil. Since the Raven Mocker is invisible, and leaves no scar when it takes the heart, it is difficult to detect. If someone with strong medicine sees the evil spirit, the Raven Mocker will die within seven days.

Another Cherokee belief is that of the Little People. Four different tribes of them are said to live in the region. One tribe lives in the rock caves on the mountainsides who spend their time playing music and drumming. They can be counted on for help in times of trouble.

Another tribe of little people can live anywhere, since they are invisible. They are also fond of music. One tribe consists of water fairies who live in deep watery holes or river bottoms. Another tribe is more mischievous, though they have been known to help hunters.

Another different tribe, completely unlike the Cherokee, were called the White Dwarves. The White Dwarves are described as four feet tall, wrinkled, with long white hair and beards. They have distinctive eyes due to being able to see only at night.

One legend says a Cherokee tribe killed all the white dwarves but one. A Cherokee hunter found her and fell in love with her despite the physical and cultural differences. The son of their union eventually became a great Cherokee chief. Sometimes, when you think you are hearing the soft October wind, you are actually hearing the echoes of long-ago lullabies sung to comfort the child.

Legend also plays a big part in the Blowing Rock. A beautiful maiden, called Princess Starlight in some accounts because of her bright eyes, was the object of much desire among her tribe. The father was reluctant to allow her to marry because he prized her above all things. When she finally successfully pleaded her case, the braves came from across the region for a chance to win her hand, since the pledge had to be made on a high cliff.

But only one warrior found favor with Princess Starlight. Another jealous brave lied to Princess Starlight and told her that her chosen had already broken a previous promise of love. So Princess Starlight spurned her chosen warrior.

So great was his grief that he flung himself over the edge of the cliff, shouting that he could not live without her. Princess Starlight realized her error and immediately prayed to the gods to save him. The west and south winds arose and pushed the warrior back to the cliff, into the waiting arms of Princess Starlight. And the wind blows to this day.

So remember when you look around the mountain horizons that the spirits took up residence ages before Daniel Boone wandered the North Carolina hills, and voices still drift between the trees, ready to reach the ears of those willing to listen.

(Originally appeared in The Mountain Times)

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