Yaqui Myths and Legends – collected by Ruth Warner Giddings BOBOK
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Yaqui or Yoeme are Native Americans who inhabit the valley of the Río Yaqui in the Mexican state of Sonora, Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is based in Tucson, Arizona. Yaqui people also live elsewhere in what is now the southwestern United States, especially Nevada and California.
We can see from the story above that the toad in Yaqui culture at least and possibly in other South American cultures is revered rather than reviled. It cannot fly, as I have mentioned and has to borrow bat wings from his friend in order to enter the spiritual domain, but he is an intelligent creature in this story, able to outwit the King of the Rain.
A description of the experience
Yaqui Myths and Legends – collected by Ruth Warner Giddings
In ancient times in the Yaqui region, water became scarce for a long period of time. Yacquis were suffering from the thirst which devastated them. Water holes dried up. They made wells and couldn’t find water. Rocks resembled coals of fire. All the Yaqui region was burning up from lack of water. The Indians assuaged their thirst with some half green plants.
So, out of necessity, they attempted to send a message to Yuku, the King of the Rain. First, they ordered up the sky sparrow. He went straight to the King of the Rain. After greeting him on behalf of the eight pueblos, the sparrow said to Yuku ‘They tell me to ask you the favour of some rain’
To this the King replied saying ‘Gladly. Go without any worries. Tell your chiefs that the rain will come’
The sparrow descended with the speed of a bolt of lightning. But before he reached the Yaquis, the world became cloudy. Lightning commenced. A hurricane of wind overcame the sky sparrow. The rain, thus, never arrived at the Yaqui region.
Seeing that the sparrow did not return, the Yaquis then commanded the swallow to perform the same mission. The swallow flew up to the King of the Rain supplicating on the part of his chiefs that he send them a little water, for the Yaquis were dying of thirst.
The King answered in good humour ‘Go without worry to your chiefs. After you will come the rain’
The swallow flew down, but he was also destroyed, like the sparrow, by the lightning and the wind. Neither he nor one drop of rain ever arrived at the ground.
Then the leaders of the tribe, desperate, could think of no one else to send. Until they remembered toad. They tried to locate this toad, and finally learnt where he was. He was in a place called Bahkwam, which means ‘lagoon’ and which now is the pueblo of Bacum. There they found the toad Bobok.
They told Bobok to come to a great council at a place near Vicam. There the principal leaders of the pueblo met. The toad presented himself and they said to him ‘You must go and beg for rain for all of us from the King of the Rain’
‘Very well’ said the toad ‘with your permission I will retire in order to make ready for my trip tomorrow. Wait for me and for the rain’. He went off to the lagoon, Bahkwam and visited a friend of his who was a magician and could convert himself into a bat. From him he borrowed some bat wings
The following day Bobok flew up to the clouds and met the King of the Rain. After greeting the King and saluting him for his chiefs, Bobok said ‘Sir, do not treat the Yaquis so badly. Send us a little water to drink for we are dying of thirst’
‘Very well’ answered the King of the Rain ‘Go ahead. Don’t worry. The rain will follow you soon’.
Bobok pretended to go, but really dug into the ground at the door of the King’s house. Then it clouded up, lightning was seen, thunder was heard and it began to rain. In fact the rain almost reached the earth. But it could not find Bobok. It stopped and began to run along the top of the wind. Then Bobok ran along on top of the rain saying ‘Kowak, kowak, kowak’
The rain hearing the toad, began to fall again. The toad stopped singing. The rain, thinking the toad was dead, again became calm. So Bobok began singing and moving over the top of the rain towards the earth. At last the rain struck the Yaqui region, still searching for the toad in order to kill him.
It rained all over the earth and suddenly there were many toads all singing. Bobok returned the bat wings to his magician friend and lived on peacefully in his lagoon