Before there was you, and before there was me, there was only one: The Coyote.
The first Ancestor. The most ancient American. The God of the Gods. Coyote is the earliest recorded deity in human history.
When the Ice Age froze the world, Coyote was there, leaving paw prints in the frost. When sabertooth tigers and wolly mammoths roamed the Earth, Coyote was there, trotting casually in their shadows. The thread Coyote weaves through the Earth’s history is impossibly long.
Some of the specifics of what we can both credit and blame Coyote for depend on which branch of ancient history you are tracing back to the origins of all things. It was all so long ago.
Many tell how Coyote created the stars. Some describe how Coyote set the entire Universe in motion which, if true, credits Coyote with the creation of time and space too.
Almost all agree that Coyote created us. Fashioning humans from earth, mud, and sticks; to what end and for what purpose, we will never know for certain.
Some say Coyote created us as a joke. Others claim we were created so Coyote would have a friend. Many suggest that Coyote created us in Coyote’s own image; which, based on the many details documented regarding Coyote’s character, suggests we were created to be stubborn, foolish, selfish, mischievous, and pervertedly lewd.
As Coyote’s creations began to spread out and drift away from the cradle, and as tectonic shifts caused the land to drift away too, many humans were cut off from their Creator and soon forgot all about Coyote. Yet the impossibly deep memories of our origins would inspire us to create new Gods to fill that void; faint echos and simplified similitudes of the one, true Coyote.
Often those Gods were designed to reflect how we prefer to see ourselves, and not necessarily the true nature Coyote imbued in us, but still… it showed that we remember somehow; remember that we did not fashion ourselves out of earth, and mud, and sticks.
As history would have it, Coyote’s home, The Americas, would rise up as a beacon to the whole planet, luring humans from every corner of the globe to return with promises of a better life. People would soon leave everything they ever knew behind, arriving penniless at America’s shores, facing unimaginable dangers and hardships just to set foot on the continent. Most believed they were seeking ideals like freedom, or opportunity.
Almost none of them, even to this day, recognize that they were, and are, simply being called home by Coyote.
As we slowly returned to our cradle and made our way towards Coyote’s home in America’s Southwest, Coyote came forward to greet us. And together we now cover the continent, where Coyote now lives in the shadow of what was created so long ago.
Coyote now is the shadow of Creation. All that is real but invisible to us, all we ignore, fear to face, or fail to recognize; all we remain ignorant of, everything we find inconvenient or even unspeakable, all that we black out and cast away into darkness… that is the place where Coyote now watches us from.
Many humans can’t stand this thought. Having lived too long in ignorance, not realizing their whole existence is a gift, they now thrash about in frenzied despair, and even attempt to destroy Coyote’s watchful, all-knowing gaze. But it is not possible. Not by ice, not by fire, not by beast, and especially not by us, Coyote’s own Creation. Kill one Coyote, and three are born a new. It has been that way since the beginning. There is no end to it. Except perhaps for one that Coyote planned for us long ago.
Coyote is our mirror. So when you see Coyote, or even hear rumor that Coyote is near, listen carefully. The truth is near. It’s right there. Listen very carefully to what people say about Coyote, because they are telling you who they truly are. Listen to your own heart, because Coyote is mirror reflecting, right back at you, the invisible, incomprehensible soul gifted to you long ago.
If Coyote scares you, you are scared of yourself. You have a wrong understanding of who you are and what reality is. Seek out a quiet place to reflect. You are home. You are safe. You are not alone. There is no problem.
If you are troubled by Coyote, stop. Nothing can create any problems for you, but you.
If Coyote draws out your anger, or your violence, pay attention. You hate only yourself. You’ve done, or are doing, something very wrong in the shadows. Confront yourself with honesty. You have much work to do to set your life right before it comes to an end. There is no time to waste. You are missing out on paradise!
If Coyote makes you curious, keep going. You are curious about yourself, your origin, your nature. Follow it more deeply. Because something might have created Coyote too and it is waiting for you to discover it.
And if Coyote brings you joy, then smile. And bow deeply. You walk in paradise, and have received a gift for which there is no substitute. You have right understanding and are on a good path. Never let go of that warm feeling you had when you first saw Coyote and recognized you’d been called home.
I was walking along the beach when the whole world turned golden. So I stopped to watch the source of it; the sunset. The intense beauty turned my mind into a clear, still pool of water. Every grain of sand beneath my feet, every shimmer of color, every tiny sound arising from the silence, was like a drop of water gently rippling its surface.
That’s when I heard someone belch loudly. I turned to look and saw Coyote sitting on the dune right above me.
I felt bashful. I turned my head back to face the sunset. The still waters of my mind suddenly roaring with thoughts about how I should behave. Then Coyote spoke.
“Let me ask you something,” Coyote commanded. “In all your toil, have you ever created something even a fraction as marvelous as this?”
I stared back at the sun longer than I needed to to answer that question honestly, but didn’t want to seem too eager. “No,” I answered. “No, I haven’t.”
“Yeah, me neither,” Coyote muttered.
An eternity of silence elapsed.
“Isn’t it funny,” Coyote began to ask, “how you struggle and strive so much for just a a couple of days when you’ll have a chance to enjoy all of this that was here all along while you dwelled in your misery?”
“Yes. It is kind of funny,” I replied.
My mind was still racing, but the excitement gave me the courage to ask. “Who am….”
But as I was turning to boldly face Coyote, I saw I was too late. Coyote was gone.
A bit of sand flew just beyond the dune. I caught a quick glimpse of Coyote, glowing a golden red color while trotting off in the distance, head held proudly in the air carrying what looked like a small rat. I think I heard him humming something.
Then Coyote vanished into the shadows beyond.
One of the best posts ever. You’ve become very contemplative and I love it.
Thank you. It’s a personal favorite too.
Thank you for commenting
You are our LBI Yoda Jim! Profound, amazing prose and well ok- I will stop stressing about the coyotes in my back marsh. Maybe…
“Do or do not do. There is no try.”
Great read, Jim!
A beautiful essay on a magnificent animal! Thank you, Jim.
You’re welcome. Thank for reading along.
What you wrote is a very different spin on the coyotes on the island. They get good and bad press. You approach is totally different and thought provoking.
I’m pleased to hear this impression. Thank you.
Thought provoking and insightful. Thanks for giving Coyote a proud place on an island filled with humans.
I hear Coyote calling me home to LBI. So glad to see he is healthy and watching over the island.
Time to come home!