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Observations placeholder

Tales of the Trickster



Type of Spiritual Experience


This extract from the myth of the Tales of the Trickster combines a huge number of symbols, mountains, terrifying abysses and valleys, palaces and the hero jackal – the animal who stole fire from the gods. It has direct parallels with the Greek myths of Prometheus who stole fire from the Olympian Gods, and there are similar myths amongst the Maori, North American Indians and Brazilian Indians.

A description of the experience

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa – Zulu Shaman [Dreams, Prophecies and Mysteries]

The jackal did not immediately go upon the great journey that was to lead him to the Village of the Gods.  He went first to his cave far away, a cave which he had shared with his mate who now lay dead.  From the interior of the cave, jackal retrieved his few possessions.  He took his brown skin blanket and wrapped himself around in it and then from under a rock he dug out his clay pipe, for this jackal had discovered the secret of the hemp plant, the plant known as marijuana in the Americas and as kif or ganga or hashish in other places.  Mpungushe always smoked it whenever he was feeling tense and apprehensive and restless.  So, tying the marijuana pipe to his back he set out on his epic journey to the Land of the Gods.

He went down a hill into a very deep and menacing valley, a valley haunted by nameless terrors, 'The Valley of Nameless Evil' it was called.  If you made your way through this valley, you could sense hideous shapes watching you out of the darkness.  Every rock and every shadow of this valley was filled with menace and a stench of fear and corruption lay everywhere.  Jackal went through this valley at great speed, among the many apparitions that gibbered and screamed at him......

….......jackal went up a tall mountain whose slopes were of wind blown crystal. Up and up the crystal mountain went jackal. Look at jackal, look at the brave and the cunning one. Look at the four footed hero struggling up the slopes of the transparent mountain of crystal. See him upon a ledge where the wind threatens to hurl him into oblivion far below. See him scrambling amongst razor sharp shards of crystal. Higher even higher, he fought his way upon that slippery mountain slope upon which not a single plant grew – upon which there was nothing to be seen but snarling, broken crystal everywhere; and as he rose higher and higher towards the unseen heavens, he noticed that the sky was beginning to lighten, that there was a source of light somewhere far away which was lighting up that mountain of crystal. He climbed and climbed for what seemed like hundreds of years; and then, when he reached the slippery, razor edged summit so unfriendly to the paws of the poor beast, he saw far away across a very deep and dark valley a sight that very few have ever seen................

'Yonder lies my destination' said the jackal 'and between my destination and this mountain is the Valley of Eternal Night. How shall I cross that fearsome valley where nothing living can venture and survive? I must think' said the jackal 'I must use my mind, for am I not the jackal, the master of all cunning? Am I not the one who has survived many perils? Down there in that terrible valley lie nameless dangers. Down there lie rivers of fire, down there lie lakes of blood. Down there are deep and terrible holes which, should one ever fall, it would take a thousand years to strike bottom. I, the jackal, shall not take my chances with those unknown perils. I must think, but what am I to do?'

Jackal is lucky, manages to hitch a ride on a passing dragon, but then after having stolen fire has to return. This time there is no dragon to give him a lift....]

…..he fled the city while sounds of rage rang out behind him. He ran for what seemed like a hundred years or more; and as he went, the terrible darkness closed all around him, and hideous shapes – huge flying reptiles – swam through the darkness, their bellies lighted by the fierce flames of the rivers of fire that snaked through the Valley of Eternal Night. Jackal had reached the most dangerous place in the universe.

Terror became his companion and fear his friend, as he made his way through that terrible valley for what seemed like an eternity. At one point he nearly fell into a river of liquid fire. Another time he was nearly devoured by a rock, which when he ran past it, suddenly developed a huge and hungry mouth with fearful fangs that threatened to chew the life out of him.

Another time he very nearly plunged to his death when a huge hole opened up almost at his feet and it was only by jumping higher and farther than he had ever jumped before that he was able to escape this danger. Another time a fearful creature – half bird and half hungry reptile – stormed out of fire-lit heavens towards him. It chewed off one of his ears before he managed to bolt into a small cave, from which he was immediately evicted by a huge white four armed creature like an ape, which showed every intention of tearing him to pieces.

Many, oh many were the perils that jackal endured as he made his way through the Valley of Eternal Danger; and then at long last, with parts of his body torn and bleeding, his hair scorched here and there by fearful flames and one ear missing, jackal at long last reached the mountain of crystal 

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Cannabis and marijuana