I live on the sacred island of Montreal in Quebec. This island has been the home of the Mohawk, one of the five nations of the Iroquois, for many hundreds of years, some say thousands of years, until the white men came and took it from them. As Witches we connect with and honour the land so we can also honour the gods of the people who lived here before us. Sadly most of us don’t even know their names! Although we don’t worship the gods of the Mohawk, we can still light some sage or a candle on our altars to thank them. This is the story of the Goddess Iagentici also called Ataensic. It is a beautiful creation myth.
Once there was no land, just a vast blue lake upon which water birds floated with otters, turtles, and other sea-dwelling creatures. High above in a land behind the sky was the celestial society into which Iagentici was born. Her father died before she was born and his was the first death in the universe. Iagentici was able to speak with her father even after his death and he revealed many prophecies to her. One day he told her to travel to the earth-holding chief Hawenneyu. Through tempests and darkness she traveled and the Chief tested her with torture before taking her as his wife. One day Hawenneyu became angry with Iagentici, thinking that she was cheating on him with his rivals, and even though she was pregnant he threw her through a hole in the sky down into the bottomless ocean.
Iagentci fell toward the world below which was nothing but rolling seas populated only by sea creatures and water-adaptable birds like ducks. The goddess summoned countless ducks to cushion her fall and lower her to the back of a gigantic continent-sized turtle she had called to rise to the surface and to use its shell to provide a resting place for her. Next Iagentci spoke to the muskrats asking them to swim to the bottom of the sea and retrieve soil for her. It took countless trips but Iagentci was eventually able to use the magical earth to create the known world on the back of the enormous turtle. Even to this day the Mohawk call North America ‘Turtle Island’. Iagentci bore Hawenneyu’s daughter Eithinoha, (Gusts-of-Winds) who mated with the wind god Geha. Eithinoha bore his twin sons, the gods Tharonhiawakon and Tawiskaron, but died in childbirth. Iagentci took her daughter’s body and formed the sun and the moon from it.
I honour you O Mother of the island
I fall through the blue sky into your arms
As soft as duck down and as deep as the ocean
Carry me and plant me in your magical earth
As if I was a seed that could grow
Into a beautiful woman.
Monaghan, Patricia, 1990. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. Lewellyn Press. P.39