Son-of-Smoke and Fire Spirit

Submitted by Ken Watts on Thu, 12/07/2006 - 11:30

"The fabulist (f) is not to be confused with s1 , though his characters and themes are sometimes the same. His blend of mythology and fable attributes motives that probably never existed in so clear a form, and ignores the chains of cause and effect that s so ably singles out. On the other hand his world is more imaginative in many ways, and certainly more poetic"

Geoffrey Simmons
Third Professor of Ethno-semiotics
Burbank Graduate Schools

One day, when the world was already old, Son-of-Smoke sought out Fire Spirit dancing on a bush in the wilderness.

Fire Spirit saw him approaching, and said, "Why do you seek me out, Son-of-Smoke?"

Son-of-Smoke replied, "Your dance is beautiful, Fire Spirit, more beautiful than the dances of my kind. I come to invite you to my camp, to dance for humankind."

Fire Spirit laughed at Son-of-Smoke, and said, "You are wise to admire my dance, but you are foolish to invite me into your camp. I eat the branch I dance upon, until nothing is left to eat. Would you have me eat your camp and your family?"

But Son-of-Smoke did not give up. He cleared a circle around the bush that Fire Spirit danced upon, and he waited until the bush was almost consumed. Fire Spirit grew small and weak as he danced his food away and there was no path for him to follow to another bush.

"Why do you starve me, Son-of-Smoke?" he asked. "Will you kill me for sparing your kind?"

But Son-of-Smoke said, "I will not harm you. I will take you to my camp and give you tree branches to eat if you will dance once for my people, and let them admire your beauty."

So Fire Spirit agreed, and went with Son-of-Smoke to his camp.

But when they arrived, Son-of-Smoke put Fire Spirit in a circle of stones, and laughed at him, and said, "You have gained your life, but lost your freedom, for I will never let you leave this circle. You will dance for us and warm us and light our nights. You will cook our food for all your days, and will serve me and my children forever."

When Fire Spirit heard this, he was angry, and uttered a curse:

"Your ways are heartless like a wolf with its prey, and you will eat the fruit of your deeds. When you hold my flames captive, they will turn and bite you like your own ways, like a wolf held by the tail. For your children may hold my flames captive, but they cannot tame them.

So it was that Son-of-Smoke tricked Fire Spirit.

So it was that Fire Spirit cursed Son-of-Smoke.


1 Earlier scholars labeled both "f", for folklorist. This error was partly responsible for the misguided attempts, in previous editions, to reorder the sections of The Book, in order to force the "folklorist" segments into chronological order. Ultimately this attempt proved that the two strains were chronologically incompatible, and led to the realization that they were, indeed, the products of separate voices. The present edition follows the older, traditional, order.