Guaymi Cosmology

In the Guaymi belief there is God, Navu, the younger of the devil. As God grew he hid from his older brother.

But when growing so much he could no longer hide. He then surrendered himself to either be killed or left alone.

Now the devil wanted to rule the world alone, not sharing it with anyone, so he and the family killed God.

But before dying, God told the family not to eat for four days because the devil would contaminate the food. After the fourth day, they could eat because he would come back to life, resuscitated.

After God died the devil claimed to be All Powerful and said the family would have to eat the food he gave them. But the family obeyed God and did not eat.

As time approached for God to return a small cocoa plant grew, on the fourth day a chicken appeared on the plant, and it sang and crowed as it laid all the food the family was to eat. The family knew this heralded God’s return.

But, Navu’s troubles were over yet. All that was on earth then was the moon, stars, and sun; real people did not yet exist. On God’s return the devil challenged him to create beautiful things, and whoever succeeds, all things belong to him. God accepted the challenge.

God first made a doll from mud. He told the devil to call it, if it came to him, it was his. The devil repeatedly called to the doll, but it never came to him. So God went to his doll and blew his brew on its face, arms, legs, and all over its body.

God then said, “Come with me.” The clay doll ran to him like a little child. The peoples think this is why their skins are brown like the color of mud. God saw the doll would live well where he was, so he left him there.

So the next challenge was to make animals for the doll, or humans, to live with. The devil’s creations were ugly, but God’s were pretty, and he won again. Next came the sea, and the challenge was to make the water salty.

The devil said he could do that, and, as always, he tried first. The devil failed to make the water salty, but God did with a bit of salt, and won again.

Throughout the competitions God continued beating the devil. The sun, moon, and stars still lived on the earth. God addressed all of them.

The sun was to be the light of the world. God gave it to men to work by and take care of their families. The moon he gave to women to help them keep track of their menstruation cycle.

As a warning God told the people the devil would be living very close to the earth. but he would not be able to do anything unless receiving an order from him. And for an added protection God placed angels on earth to watch over his creation and let him know about everything.

All the enemies of God became like servants to him. All the bad animals like the king of serpents were removed from earth, only the good ones remained with the people.

God made a pool of water which the king of serpents guarded. The king of serpents also supervised the rain, clouds, air, and all the waters.

To this pool of water each thing was called to be named, even the mud doll that had grown into a man by now. Angels were to name some things but not others so the mud man would which ones could be eaten and which ones could not.

The animals came one by one. There was water for those that were named to drink, for those not named there was none. The birds did likewise.

From the mud man God made one mother and one father, and from them came children which spoke different languages. They went to different parts of the earth because that was the way God wanted it.

Gradually the animals and Indians became friends. Animals wanted to mate with humans, but the sukias and curanderos said this was not permitted animal and human blood were different, to mix it would not be good, and God would not approve of it.

Snakes and serpents wanted to mate with humans too but the same objections were given. Human beings give much attention to animals, thinking they are pretty and study the design of their bodies. This is called science of animals. Some animal designs are drawn on women’s bags and hats.

In the Guaymi order of life trees come first, next come the animals and birds; and in the third place are the human beings. This is as it should be because trees give fruit for humans to eat. In the fourth place are white men who have begun to destroy everything. A.G.H.


Wall, Steve. Shadowcatchers. New York. HarperCollins. 1994. pp. 176-185.