Hey everybody. I thought that you guys might like to read another small excerpt from The Age of Myths and Legends. Chapter Two of my book deals with the monsters that lurked just below the surface of the water; waiting to drag the unwary into the darkness below. Hope you guys enjoy.
Terrors of the Deep
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed unto thee, Or hast thou seen the gates of the shadow of death?
Man has always felt a certain affinity for the seas, lakes, rivers, and streams that cover most of the Earth. According to some tales from the elder days, the longing and loneliness that man feels for the waters are due to the fact that Man came from the primordial depths himself. The early people of North America acknowledged water as the bringer of life, and most tribes felt a certain sense of awe and wonderment for this powerful driving force of nature.
Like the great forest-cloaked hills and towering mountains, the waters of the old world held many mysteries to be both respected and, in some cases, feared. In those days, mysterious powers were ever-present in the wide seas and meandering rivers. Sinister spirits dwelt near roaring waterfalls and turbulent whirlpools. Even the quiet lakes and dark, stilled pools held nameless terrors lying in wait for the foolish or unwary.
One such fearsome terror of the deep waters was the dreaded horned serpent, the Uktena. These creatures haunted the lakes and streams of the Southeast and preyed upon all living things that wandered too close to their watery lairs. The Uktena were old, perhaps as old as the making of the world itself, and their strength was colossal. It was said that these mighty beasts were able to smash boulders and splinter trees with their powerful tails. It was also said that the Uktena could scar and rend the very mountains themselves with the great horns or antlers that grew from their scaly heads.
However, it was a flashing jewel embedded deep within these creatures' skulls that caught the attention of any mortal unlucky enough to encounter these monsters. This gem, called the Ulun’suti, was an item of great power and magic. In the hands of the Wise, the jewel was capable of wondrous miracles, such as the healing of the sick, the summoning of rain, the gift of fertility, and the power of prophecy. Acquiring the magical jewel from the wicked Uktena was another matter altogether. The malevolent eyes of the Uktena could paralyze its victims, and the creature possessed the ability to spit a corrosive poison over a great distance.
So infected with evil was this creature that even the environment in which it lived became barren. The vegetation near its lair turned brown and brittle, and the waterways turned black and deadly even to the touch. However, these monsters of the old world did have a weakness. Along these creatures’ sinuous bodies lay numerous bands of color. Behind the seventh band of color beat these creatures’ black hearts. If these organs could be pierced, the Uktena would die.
The Creek, Seminole, Yuchi and Choctaw of Southeastern Oklahoma once avoided certain springs and lakes, because they believed that the ever watchful Tie Snake lay in wait. Descriptions of these serpents varied. Some tales held that Tie Snakes were gigantic serpents of green hue. Other tales said that Tie Snakes were pitch black and not much larger than a normal snake. However, their strength was such that they could pull a horsed rider from his mount at full gallop.
Some tales even said that Tie Snakes were sentient and could speak with Man when it suited the serpents’ needs. To converse with a Tie Snake was a very dangerous thing, though. These ancient serpents were exceedingly clever, and they could trick the unwary into bad endings. Only once have the intelligent Tie Snakes been outwitted. That particular feat was accomplished by Master Rabbit, the eternal trickster.
With that said, there are some tales that speak of the Tie Snakes' kindness to lost children. In those tales, the Lord of the Tie Snakes always sent such children home laden with many gifts. In other tales, Tie Snakes were said to spirit children away to their underwater lairs, where these children would remain captive forever.
Most tales agreed that these underwater serpents bore one or two multicolored horns upon their heads. Like the Uktena’s flashing jewel, the horn of the Tie Snake was an item of great power coveted by holy men. With a piece of the Tie Snake’s horn, a medicine-man might heal the sick, drive away evil spirits, or become well-nigh impervious to knife, spear, axe or arrow. A mortal who possessed a Tie Snake’s horn could even exercise his will over the other creatures of the lakes and streams. Fish could be made to fill the fisherman’s nets. Otters and beavers could be compelled to surrender their lives for their valuable furs. Even water fowl could be made to stand still so that the hunter’s arrow would find its mark. These miracles were so enticing that some holy men hatched elaborate plans to subdue the Tie Snakes for their powerful horns. However, only the most powerful or foolish of hierophants would even dare to kill or capture these powerful serpents.
What Reviewers are saying...
"The Age of Myths and Legends will take you on an exciting journey through Native American folklore. T.D. Hill artfully draws together characters from many indigenous traditions including his own, exposing both the uniqueness of each story and the commonalities across them. Hill’s beautiful paintings also give these fearsome creatures full visual effect. A valuable and thorough collection of the earliest folktales and teachings of Native American elders."
"Hill takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the tales of monsters and evil beings in Native American folklore. The similarities among the tales across peoples fascinated me and gave me goose bumps, especially when great distances separated the peoples! Hill's art masterfully adds a visual chill to the image his words paint, eliciting an extra shiver of delighted terror."
"Perfect for those who love mythology, and especially mythology of the First Americans. I’m definitely looking forward to the next in the series."