The tale of the Peace-Bringer
For the most peaceful season of the year, a beautiful Iroquois folktale…
Before the Peace-Bringer came, the Iroquois were afierce and violent people, constantly at war with neighboring tribes. Their braves were raised to be warriors; their tribes were organized for waging war; their culture was shaped by the mythology and values of the raid, the ambush, the valiant act, the violent victory.
Then came the Peace-Bringer. He walked through the village to the house of the greatest and bloodiest hero, the Man-Who-Eats-People, and he climbed to the top and looked down through the smoke hole.
The Man-Who-Eats-People was preparing a ritual feast from the cut-up body of one of his victims; he would absorb the victim’s power by eating him. A large pot sat on the fire, and the face of the Peace-Bringer, looking in at the smoke hole, was perfectly reflected on the oil on the surface.
The Man-Who-Eats-People froze as he saw the reflection, astonished by the nobility he saw in it.
“That is my face,” he said to himself, “and it is not the face of a man who kills others and eats their flesh to steal their power. That is the face of one who draws people together, the face ofone who makes peace, not war. “
He seized the pot and emptied it outside. “Never again shall I take a life or seek to take another’s spirit and strength,”he told all those who came running.
Then the Peace-Bringer came forward to meet him, and the man said, “Here is the face of peace. I have seen it in my own face. I see it in another’s.”
And the two became as one. The Man-Who-Eats-People became Hiawatha the hero, the healer, the maker of peace.
Merry Christmas & happy holidays!