The first world was Tokpela (endless space)
Before that, there was only the Creator, Taiowa. All else was endless space, There was no beginning or end, no time, no shape, no life. There was only an immeasurable void that had its beginning and end, its time, its shape, and its life in the mind of Taiowa.
Then the infinite Taiowa conceived the finite.
First, He created Sótuknang to make it manifest.
Taiowa said to him, “I have created the first power and instrument as a person to carry out my plan for life in endless space. I am your Uncle. You are my Nephew. Go now and lay out these universes in proper order so they may work together in harmony according to my plan.”
Sótuknang did as he was commanded. From endless space he gathered that which was to be manifest as solid substance, molded it into forms, and arranged them into nine universal kingdoms: one for Taiowa the Creator, one for himself, and seven universes for the life to come.
When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, “Is this according to your plan?”
“Yes,” said Taiowa, “it is very good. Now do the same for the waters, dividing them equally upon the surfaces of each of these universes.”
So Sótuknang gathered from endless space that which was to be manifest as the waters. He placed them on the universes so that each would be half solid and half water.
When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, “Is this according to your plan?”
“Yes,” said Taiowa, “It is very good. The next thing now is to put the forces of air into peaceful movement about all.”
So Sótuknang did. From endless space he gathered that which was to be manifest as the airs. He made them into great forces, and arraigned them into gentle, ordered movement around each universe.
When he was finished, he went to Taiowa and asked, “Is this according to your plan?”
“Yes,” said Taiowa, “you have done a great work according to my plan. You have created the universes and made them manifest into solids, waters, and winds, and put them in their proper places. But your work is not finished. Now you must create life and its movements to complete the four parts (Túwaquachi) of my universal plan.”
End of the 1st world
So the First People multiplied and spread over the face of the land and were happy. Although they were of different colors and spoke different languages, they felt as one and understood each other without talking. It was the same with the birds and the animals. They all suckled at the breast of their Mother Earth, who gave them milk of grass, seeds, fruit, and corn, and they all felt as one: people and animals.
But gradually there were those who forgot the commands of Sótuknang and the Spider Woman to respect their Creator. More and more they used the vibratory centers solely for earthy purposes, forgetting that their primary purpose was to carry out the plan of Creation.
Then there came Lavahóya, the Talker. He came in the form of a bird called Mochni (a bird like a Mockingbird), and the more he kept talking, the more he convinced them of the differences between them: the difference between people and animals, and the differences between the people themselves by reason of the color of their skins, their speech, and their beliefs in the plan of the Creator.
It was then that the animals drew away from the people. The guardian spirit of animals laid his hands on their hind legs just below the tail, making them become wild and scatter from the people in fear. You can see this slightly oily spot today on deer and antelope on the sides of their back legs as they throw up their tails to run away.
In the same way, people began to divide and draw away from one another: those of different races and languages, then those who remembered the plan of creation and those who did not.
There came among them a handsome one, Káto’ya, in the form of a snake with a big head. He led the people still farther away from each other and their pristine wisdom. They became suspicious of one another and accused one another wrongfully until they became fierce and warlike and began to fight one another.
All the time, Mochni kept talking and Káto’ya became more beguiling. there was no rest, no peace.
But among all the people of different races and languages there were a few in every group who still lived by the laws of Creation. To them came Sóyuknang. He came with sound as of a mighty wind and suddenly appeared before them. He said, “I have observed this state of affairs. It is not good. It is so bad that I talked to my Uncle, Taiowa, about it. We have decided this world must be destroyed and another one created so you people can start over again. You are the ones we have chosen.”
They listened carefully to their instruction.
Said Sóyuknang, “You will go to a certain place. Your kópavi (vibratory center on top of the head) will lead you. This inner wisdom will give you the sight to see a certain cloud, which you will follow by day, and a certain star, which you will follow by night. Take nothing with you. Your journey will not end until the cloud stops and the star stops.
So all over the world these chosen people suddenly disappeared from their homes and people and began following the cloud by day and the star by night. Many other people asked them where they were going and, when they were told, laughed at them. “We don’t see any cloud or any star either!” they said.
This was because they had lost the inner vision of the kópavi on the crowns of their heads: the door was closed to them. Still, there were a very few people who went along anyway because they believed the people who did see the cloud and the star. This was all right.
After many days and nights the first people arrived at the certain place. Soon others came and asked, “What are you doing here?” And they said, ” We were told by Sóyuknang to come here.” The other people said, ” We too were led here by the vapor and the star!” They were all happy together because they were of the same mind and understanding even though they were of different languages and races.
When the last ones arrived Sóyuknang appeared. “Well, you are all here, you that I have chosen to save from the destruction of this world. Now come with me.”
He led them to a big mound where the Ant People lived, stamped on the roof, and commanded the Ant People to open up their home. When an opening was made on top of the anthill, Sóyuknang said to the people, “Now you will enter this Ant kiva, where you will be safe when I destroy the world. While you are here, I want you to learn a lesson from these Ant People. They are industrious. They gather food in the summer for the winter. They keep cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold. They live in peace with each other. They obey the plan of creation.”
So the people went down to live with the Ant People. When they were all safe and settled Taiowa commanded Sóyuknang to destroy the world. Sóyuknang destroyed it by fire because the Fire Clan had been its leaders.
He rained fire upon it. He opened up the volcanoes. Fire came from above and below and all around until the Earth, the waters, the air, all was one element: fire. And then there was nothing left except the people safe inside the womb of the Earth.
This was the end of Tokpela, the First World.
Tokpa, The Second World
The First People of Tokpela, the First World, were safely sheltered underground as fire rained down upon the earth. Volcanoes and fire storms destroyed all that was above them until the earth, the waters, and the air itself was all elemental fire.
While this was going on, the people lived happily underground with the Ant People. Their homes were just like the people’s homes on the earth-surface being destroyed. There were rooms to live in and rooms where they stored their food. There was light to see by too. The tiny bits of crystal in the sand of the anthill had absorbed the light of the sun, and using the inner vision of the center located behind the eyes they could see by its reflection very well.
Only one thing troubled them: the food had begun to run short.
It had not taken Sótuknang long to destroy the world, nor would it take him long to create another one. But it was taking a long time for the First World to cool off before a Second World could be created. That was why the food was running short.
“Do not give us so much of the food you have worked so hard to gather and store,” the people said.
“You are our guests,” the Ant people said, “What we have is yours also.” So the Ant people continued to deprive themselves of food in order to supply their guests. Every day, they tied their belts tighter and tighter, and this is why ants today are so small around the waist.
Finally, that which had been the First World cooled off. Sótuknang purified it. Then he began to create the Second World. He changed its form completely, putting land where there was water and water where there was land so that the people upon their emergence would have nothing to remind them of the previous wicked world.
When all was ready, he came to the roof of the Ant kiva, stamped on it, and gave his call. Immediately the Chief of the Ant People went up to the opening and rolled back the núta (the straw hatch that covered the opening to the kiva). “Yung-ai! Come in! You are welcome!” he called.
Sótuknang spoke first to the Ant People. “I am thanking you for doing your part in helping to save these people. It will always be remembered, this you have done, The time will come when another world will be destroyed, and when the wicked people know their last day on earth has come, they will sit by an anthill and cry for the ants to save them. Now, having fulfilled your duty, you may go forth to this Second World and take your place as ants.”
Then Sótuknang said to the people, “Make your emergence now to the Second World I have created. It is not quite as beautiful as the First World, but it is beautiful just the same. You will like it. So multiply and be happy. But remember your creator and the laws he gave you. When I hear you sing joyful praises to him I will know you are my children, and you will be close to me in your hearts.”
So the people emerged to the second world. Its mane was Tokpa (Dark Midnight). Its direction was south, its color blue, its mineral was qöchásive (silver). Chiefs upon it were salvi (spruce), kwáhu (eagle), and kolíchiyaw (skunk).
It was a big land, and the people multiplied rapidly, spreading over it to all directions, even to the other side of the world. This did not matter, for they were so close together in spirit they could see and talk to each other from the center on top of the head. Because this door was still open, they felt close to Sótuknang and they sang joyful praises to the Creator, Taiowa.
They did not have the privilege of living with the animals, though, for the animals were wild and kept apart. Being separated from the animals, the people tended to their own affairs. They built homes, then villages and trails between them. They made things with their hands and stored food like the Ant People. Then they began to trade and barter with one another.
End of the 2nd world
After their emergence, the people of the Second World lived in harmony with each other for a time. They built villages and linked them with trails. They began to trade food and hand crafted items between villages.
This was when the trouble started. Everything they needed was on this Second World, but they began to want more. More and more they began to trade for things they didn’t need, and the more goods they got, the more they wanted.
This was very serious, for they did not realize they were drawing away, step by step, from the good life given them. They just forgot to sing joyful praises to the Creator, and soon began to sing praises to the goods they bartered and stored. Before long it happened as it had to happen. The people began to quarrel and fight, and then wars between the villages began.
There were still a few people in each village who sang the song of their Creation. But the wicked people laughed at them until they could only sing it in their hearts. Even so, Sótuknang heard it through their centers and the centers of the Earth. One day he suddenly appeared before them.
“Spider Woman tells me your thread is running out on this world,” he said. “That is too bad. The Spider Clan was your leader, and you were making good progress until this state of affairs began. Now my Uncle, Taiowa, and I have decided we must do something about it. We are going to destroy this Second World just as soon as we put you people who still have the song in your hearts in a safe place.”
So again, as on the First World, Sótuknang called on the Ant People to open up their underground world for the chosen people. When they were safely underground, Sótuknang commanded the Twins, Pöqánghoya and Palöngawhoya, to leave their posts at the north and south ends of the world’s axis, where they were stationed to keep the Earth properly rotating.
The Twins had hardly abandoned their stations when the world, with no one to control it, teetered off balance, spun around crazily, then rolled over twice. Mountains plunged into the sea with a great splash, seas and lakes sloshed over the land, and as the world spun through cold and lifeless space, it froze into solid ice.
This was the end of Tokpa, the Second World.
Kuskurza, The Third World
For many years, all the elements that had comprised the Second World were frozen into a motionless and lifeless lump of ice. But the people were happy and warm with the Ant People in their underground world. They watched their food carefully, although the ants; waists became still smaller. They wove sashes and blankets together and told stories.
Eventually, Sótuknang ordered Pöqánghoya and Palöngawhoya back to their stations at the poles of the world axis. With a great shudder and a splintering of ice, the planet began rotating again. When it was rotating smoothly about its axis and moving in its universal orbit, the ice began to melt and the world began to warm to life. Sótuknang set about creating the third world: arranging lands and seas, planting mountains and plains with their proper coverings, and creating all forms of life.
When the Earth was ready for occupancy, he came to the Ant kiva with the proper approach as before and said, “Open the door, it is time for you to come out.”
Once again, when the núta was rolled back, he gave the people their instructions. “I have saved you so you can be planted again on this new Third World. But you must always remember the two things I am saying to you now. First, respect me and one another. Second, sing in harmony from the tops of the hills. When I do not hear you singing praises to your Creator, I will know you have gone back to evil again.”
So the People climbed up the ladder from the Ant kiva, making their emergence to the Third World.
The name of this Third World was Kuskurza, its direction east, its color red. Chiefs upon it were the mineral palásiva (copper), the plant píva (tobacco), the bird angwusi (crow), and the animal chöövio (antelope).
Upon it once more the people spread out, multiplied, and continued their progress on the Road of Life. In the First World, they had lived simply with the animals. In the Second World, they had developed handicrafts, homes, and villages. Now, in the Third World, they created big cities and countries: a whole civilization.
This made it difficult to conform to the plan of Creation and to sing praises to Taiowa and to Sótuknang. More and more of them became wholly occupied with their own earthy plans.
Some of them, of course, retained the wisdom granted them upon their emergence. With this wisdom they understood that the farther they went on the road of life and the more that they developed, the harder it was. That was why their world was destroyed every so often to give them a fresh start. They were especially concerned because so many people were using their reproductive power in wicked ways.
There was one woman who was becoming known throughout the land for her wickedness in corrupting so many people. She even boasted that so many men were giving her turquoise necklaces for her favors she could wind them around a ladder that reached to the end of the world’s axis. So the people with wisdom sand longer and louder their praises to the Creator from the tops of the hills.
The other people hardly heard them. Under the leadership of the Bow Clan, they began to use their creative power in another evil and destructive way. Perhaps this was caused by that wicked woman. But some of them made a pátuwvota (a shield made of hide) and with their creative power, made it fly through the air.
On this, many people flew to a big city, attacked it, then returned so fast that no one knew where they came from. Soon the people of many cities were making pátuwvotas and flying on them to attack one another. So corruption and war came to the Third World as it had to the others.
End of the 3rd world
This time Sótuknang came to Spider Woman and said, “There is no use waiting until the thread runs out this time. Something has to be done lest the people with the song in their hearts are corrupted and killed off too. It will be difficult, with all this destruction going on, for them to gather at the far end of the world where I have designated. But I will help them. Then you will save them when I destroy this world with water.”
“How shall I save them?” asked Spider Woman.
“When you get there look about you,” commanded Sótuknang. “You will see these tall plants with hollow stems. Cut them down and put the people inside. They I will tell you what to do next.”
Spider Woman did as he instructed her. She cut down the hollow reeds, and, as the people came to her, she put them inside with a little water and hurúsuki (white cornmeal dough) for food, and sealed them up. When all the people were thus taken care of, Sótuknang appeared.
“Now you get in to take care of them, and I will seal you up.” he said. “Then I will destroy the world.”
So he loosed the waters upon the earth. Waves higher than mountains rolled in upon the land. Continents broke asunder and sank beneath the seas. And still the rains fell, the waves rolled in.
The people sealed up in their hollow reeds heard the mighty rushing of the waters. They felt themselves tossed high in the air and dropping back to the water. Then all was quiet, and they knew they were floating. For a long, long time, (so long a time that it seemed it would never end) they kept floating.
Túwaqachi, The Fourth World
Finally their movement ceased. The Spider Woman unsealed their hollow reeds, took them by the tops of their heads, and pulled them out. “Bring out all the food that is left over,” she said.
The people brought out their hurúsuki. It was still the same size, although they had been eating it all this time. Looking about them, they saw they were on a little piece of land that had been the top of one of their highest mountains. All else, as far as they could see, was water. This was all that remained of the Third World.
“There must be some dry land somewhere we can go to,” they said. “Where is the new Fourth World that Sótuknang has created for us?” They sent many kinds of birds, one after another, to fly over the waters and find it. But they all came back tired out without having seen any sign of land. Next they planted a reed that grew high into the sky. Up it they climbed and stared over the surface of the waters. but they saw no sign of land.
Then Sótuknang appeared to Spider Woman and said, “You must continue traveling on. Your inner wisdom will guide you. The door a the top of your head is open.”
So Spider Woman directed the people to make round, flat boats of the hollow reeds they had come in and to crawl inside. Again they entrusted themselves to the water and the inner wisdom to guide them. For a long time, they drifted with the wind and the movement of the waters and came to another rocky island.
“It is bigger than the other one, but it is not big enough,” they said, looking around them and thinking they heard low rumbling noise.
“No, it is not big enough,” said the Spider Woman.
So the people kept traveling toward the rising sun in the reed boats. After a while they said, “There is that low rumbling noise we heard. We must be coming to land again.”
So it was. A big land, it seemed, with grass and trees and flowers beautiful to their weary eyes. On it they rested a long time. Some of the people wanted to stay, but Spider Woman said, ” No. It is not the place. You must continue on.”
Leaving their boats, they traveled by foot eastward across the island to the water’s edge. Here they found growing some more of the hollow plants like reeds or bamboo, which they cut down. Directed by Spider Woman, they laid some of these in a row with another row on top of them in the opposite direction and tied them together with vines and leaves. This made a raft big enough for one family or more. When enough rafts were made for all, Spider Woman directed them to make paddles.
“You will be going uphill from now on and you will have to make your own way. So Sótuknang told you: the farther you go, the harder it gets”
After long and weary traveling, still east and a little north, the people began to hear the low rumbling noise and saw land. One family and clan after another landed with joy. The land was long, wide, and beautiful. The earth was rich and flat, covered with trees and plants: seed-bearers and nut bearers, providing lots of food. The people were happy, and kept staying there year after year.
“No, this is not the Fourth World,” Spider Woman kept telling them. “It is too easy and pleasant for you to live on, and you would soon fall into evil ways again. You must go on. Have we not told you that the way becomes harder and longer?”
Reluctantly the people traveled eastward by foot across island to the far shore. Again they made rafts and paddles. When they were ready to set forth, Spider Woman said, “Now I have done all I have been commanded to do for you. You must go on alone and find your own place of emergence. Just keep your doors open and your spirits will guide you.”
“Thank you, Spider Woman for all you have done for us,” they said sadly. “We will remember what you have said.”