This story is dedicated to Earth Mother, whom we honor on Earth Day, April 22.
From the Beginning, Earth Mother was quick with child. She gave birth to twins, Sea Daughter and Cloud Daughter, who together shielded her and each other from Sky Father’s withering glare. Yet even the Twins combined could not withstand the pain, and Earth Mother could not bear to see them suffer. She turned the world inside out, bringing them back into her womb. There they rediscovered darkness, but having become accustomed to Sky Father, they grew cold. They begged for the Outer World once more, so long as they could return to the Inner. Thus day and night were born, and the dawn of time.
Still, Earth Mother feared what would happen to her unborn child Moon Daughter, knowing that her husband would never share the sky. So she refused to give birth. No amount of pleading could change Earth Mother’s mind, until finally Moon Daughter accepted her fate on one condition: that she have dominion over Fertility so that no other child would be left unborn. But Moon Daughter found that she herself was blocking the way out for the other children. If they were to be born, they could not be immortal. Then Moon Daughter understood what Earth Mother had felt for her, the bittersweetness of bringing pain into the world with every new life, only now she was on the verge of introducing not just pain but death as well. Moon Daughter lined up all her unborn brothers and sisters and gave them the choice that she never had. If they chose to live, she would grant them fertility, that imperfect immortality of progeny. And if they chose to stay with her in Earth Mother’s womb, she would graciously share the night sky.
Coyote howled with laughter, “How could anyone accept such a ridiculous offer? How will we ever enjoy life knowing that we will die?” All the others nodded in agreement. Save one.
“Moon Daughter, when I am born into the world, I do not wish to know that I will die, but you are also giving me sons and daughters. I do not know what they will want. As you have given me this choice, so too give it to each generation. Please, grant my children the knowledge if only they seek it.”
So Moon Daughter erased the memory of immortality from those who chose life, and the knowledge of death from all but one. Coyote continued to howl at her long after he knew why, and every Human mother has heard the Moon Daughter’s riddle, whether she realized it or not. Moon Daughter’s silhouette can sometimes be seen in daylight, it being one of the shadows that escaped from the night. Only then does she remind Humans that all is not as it seems, that for every life there will be a death, and that choices can be both bitter and sweet.