Pushing up the Sky

The Creator and Changer first made the world in the East.

Then he slowly came westward, creating as he came.

The Creator and Changer brought many languages with him, and he gave a unique and special one to each group of marvelous people he made.

When he reached Puget Sound, he liked it so well that he decided to stay.

He had many languages left, so he scattered them all around Puget Sound.

That's why there are so many different Indian languages spoken there.

These people could not talk together, but it happened that none them were pleased with the way the Creator had made the world.

The sky was so low that the tall people bumped their heads against it.

Some times people would do what was forbidden by climbing up high in the trees and, learning their own words, enter the Sky World.

Finally the wise men of all the different tribes had a meeting to see what they could do about lifting the sky.

They agreed that the people should get together and try to push it up higher.

"We can do it," a wise councilman said, "if we all push at the same time.

We will need all the people and all the animals and all the elks to push."

"How will we know when to push?" asked another of the wise men.

"Some of us live in this part of the world, some in another. We don't all talk the same languages. How can we get everyone to push at the same time?"

That puzzled the men of the council, at last one suggested they use a signal.

When the time comes for us to push, when we have everything ready, let someone shout 'Ya-hoh.' That means 'Lift together!' in all our languages."

So the wise men of the council sent that message to all the people and animals and birds and told them on what day they were to lift the sky.

Everyone made poles from giant fir trees to use in pushing against the sky.

The day for the sky lifting came.

All the people raised their poles and touched the sky with them.

Then the wise men shouted, "Ya-hoh!"

Everybody pushed, and the sky moved up a little.

"Ya-hoh," the wise men shouted a second time, and everybody pushed.

The sky moved a few inches more.

"Ya-hoh," all shouted, and pushed as hard as they could push.

They kept on shouting "Ya-hoh" and pushing until the sky fell in place.

Since then, no one has bumped his head against it, and no one has been able to climb into the Sky World.

Now, three hunters had been chasing four elks during all the meetings and did not know about the plan.

Just as the people and animals and birds were ready to push the sky up, the three hunters and the four elks came to the place where the Earth nearly meets the sky.

The jumped into the Sky World, and the hunters ran after them.

When the sky was lifted, elks and hunters were lifted too.

In the Sky World they were changed into stars, and at night even now your see them.

The three hunters form the handle of the Big Dipper.

The middle hunter has his dog with him, now a tiny star.

The four elks make the bowl of the Big Dipper.

We still shout "Ya-hoh!" when doing hard work together or lifting something heavy like a canoe.

When we say "Hoh!" all of us use all the strength we have.

Our voices have a higher pitch on that part of the word, and we make the 0 very long - "Ya-hooooh!"

Chief William Shelton

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Axis Mundi


The axis mundi offers a means of travel and correspondence between the two realms of Heaven and Earth.

The axis mundi is the place where the four compass directions unite, allowing the Light of Heaven to be disseminated throughout the noumenon.

The axis mundi resides at the center of the world at the omphalos.

The axis mundi appears in all cultures and takes many forms.

The axis mundi symbolic image is both feminine - an umbilical providing nourishment, and masculine, a phallus providing insemination.

The axis mundi may have the form of a natural object (mountain, tree, column of smoke or fire) or a product of human manufacture (staff, tower, ladder, stairway, maypole (Irminsul), cross, steeple, totem pole, pillar, spire).

The axis mundi exists in the Hindu lingam or Greek omphalos and is featured prominently in the most technologically advanced cultures - where the impulse persists to link a tower with the idea of a world center.

The axis mundi is reflected in the pagoda, temple, church, obelisk, minaret, lighthouse, bridge, rocket, skyscraper.

People think of their own home, land, village and place of worship as the center of the world.

A sense of belonging to the land or place develops.

People think of Self as an axis mundi as it is the vantage point from which they study and observe the noumenon.

People think the Source of the Noumenon resides in the center but Gnostikos know the center is distributed.

sacred places

In ancient Mesopotamia the cultures of ancient Sumer and Babylon erected artificial mountains, or ziggurats, on the flat river plain with steep stairways leading to ornately carved and ornamented temples, axis mundi, at the top.

Judaism has Mount Sinai and Mount Zion as the axis mundi.

Christianity has the Mount of Olives and Calvary as the axis mundi.

Islam has the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock) and Mecca.

Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji, has always been central.

Mount Kun-Lun is now the axis mundi in China; ancient Chinese recognized four mountains, at compass points, as pillars holding up the heavens.

To the Sioux the Black Hills are the axis mundi.

Mount Kailash is holy as the axis mundi to several religions in Tibet.

Pre-Columbian residents of Teotihuacán in Mexico erected huge pyramids featuring stairways leading to temples at the top - stairways to heaven.

The ancient Greeks regarded several sites as places of earth's omphalos (navel) stone, notably the oracle at Delphi, while still maintaining a belief in a cosmic world tree and in Mount Olympus as the abode of the gods.


All sacred places constitute reality centers (omphalos) with the altar or place of prayer as the the axis mundi.

Altars, incense sticks, candles and torches help form the axis mundi by sending a column of smoke, and prayer, toward heaven.

The calumet, or sacred pipe, represents a column of smoke (the soul) rising form an the axis mundi.

"Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?" - Song of Solomon 3:6

The architecture of sacred places often reflects the connection between Heaven and Earth.

The stupa of Hinduism, and later Buddhism, reflects Mount Meru.

Cathedrals are laid out in the form of a cross; the vertical bar represents the union of Heaven and Earth with the horizontal bars represent union of people to one another, with the altar at the intersection.

Asian temple pagodas form a stairway connecting Heaven and Earth.

A steeple in a church

Palaces and castles, unlike the pragmatically engineered fortress, had towers serving the axis mundi connection function.


Dwellings also serve as centers of reality - the axis mundi of family life.

The hearth participates in the symbolism of the altar and a central garden partipates in the symbolism of a primordial garden paradise.

Asian cultures dwellings are traditionally laid out in the form of a square oriented toward the four compass directions - east, west, north and south.

A traditional Asian home was oriented toward the heavens through Feng shui, a system of geomancy, just as a palace would be.

Traditional Arab houses are also laid out as a square surrounding a central fountain that evokes a primordial garden paradise.

A common shamanic concept, and a universally told story, is that of the healer traversing the axis mundi to bring back sacred mystical knowledge.

human form

The human form can function as an axis mundi.

Some of the more abstract Tree of Life representations, such as the Sefirot in Kabbalism or the Chakra system recognized by Hinduism and Buddhism, merge with the concept of the human body as an axis mundi.

Disciplines of Yoga and Tai Chi envision the human body as axis mundi.

The Renaissance image known as the Vitruvian Man represented a symbolic and mathematical exploration of the human form as axis mundi.

Most world religions regard the body itself as a temple - an extension of Creation - and prayer as an axis mundi uniting Heaven and Earth.

Trees may serve as an axis mundi.

Many trees in legends serve this function including:

World Tree, Yggdrasil, World Ash, Tree of Life,
Tree of Knowledge, Bodhi Tree, Iboga tree, Thor's Oak ...

Siddhartha Guatama attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree.

In some Polynesian cultures the banyan tree, of which the Bodhi Tree is of the Sacred Fig variety, is the abode of ancestor spirits.

The World Ash functions in the same way in Norse mythology; it is the site where Odin found enlightenment as does Jievaras in Lithuanian mythology.

The Christmas tree, which can be traced in its origins back to pre-Christian European beliefs, represents an axis mundi.

An Oak Tree can serve as the axis mundi as it did for pre-Christian Germanic peoples with Thor's Oak.

The Great Tree provides an axis mundi that unites three planes:

branches reach to Heaven, trunk meets the Earth, roots reach down to Hell.

unique library index

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