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Yaqui Myths and Legends – collected by Ruth Warner Giddings - The first fire



Type of Spiritual Experience


In Greek mythology, Prometheus was a champion of human-kind known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.  Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day.

In Yaqui myth at least, the animal to do the same thing was toad.  In the following legend, the ‘water of the sea’ is the water layer in the spiritual world……

A description of the experience

Yaqui Myths and Legends – collected by Ruth Warner Giddings

The First fire

Now there is fire in all rocks, in all sticks.  But long ago there wasn’t any fire in the world and all of the Yaquis and the animals and the creatures of the sea, everything that lived, gathered in a great council in order to understand why there was no fire.

They knew that somewhere there must be fire, perhaps in the sea, maybe on some islands, or on the other side of the sea.  For this reason, Bobok the toad offered to go get this fire.  The Crow offered to help him and also the Roadrunner and the Dog.  These four, the winged animals and the dog, went along to help.  But Bobok, the Toad, alone, knew how to enter the water of the sea and not die.

The God of Fire would not permit anyone to take his fire away.  For this reason he still sends thunderbolts and lightning at anyone who carries light or fire.  He is always killing them.

But Bobok entered the house of the God of Fire and stole the fire.  He carried it in his mouth, travelling through the waters.  Lightning and thunder made a great noise and many flashes.  But Bobok came on, safe beneath the waters.  Then there formed on the flooding water, little whirlpools of water full of rubbish and driftwood.

Suddenly not only one toad was to be seen, but many swam in the waters, many many toads.  They were all singing and carrying little bits of fire.  Bobok had met his sons and had given some fire to one, then another, until every toad had some.  These carried fire to the land where they were awaited by the Dog, the Roadrunner and the Crow.  Bobok gave his fire to those who could not enter the water.

The God of Fire saw this and threw lightning at the Crow and the Roadrunner and the Dog.  But many toads kept on coming and bearing fire to the world.  These animals gave Light to all things in the world

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps