Thursday’s Tale: A Skunk Origin Tale

We’re doing VBS at our church this week and we have the cutest mascot, Bella the Skunk. She is sweet and friendly and full of mischief. The kids love her.

So, I thought I’d find a folktale about skunks this week. I found a couple. One was too sad to put under Bella’s picture, so maybe I’ll share it next week. I did find a Native American origin myth from the Winnebago (Hotcâk) people. It’s pretty sad too, actually. I’ll have to do some searching for a happy skunk tale. Does anyone know any?

In a village long ago a woman gave birth to a girl with pure white hair. She grew up to be beautiful beyond compare, and because of her white hair she was thought to be very holy. Men would often court her, but she showed no interest in them, preferring to gaze at her own reflection in still waters. She loved the smell of flowers and would rub their petals on her skin and hair.

One day a strange looking man came to the village and was eager to court her. She laughed at him, scoffing at his ugliness, but he was not a mere man, he was one of the great spirits, Turtle. Turtle shed is outer wrinkled skin and appeared in all his glory. He proclaimed, “Since you rejected on of the great spirits, you shall be transformed into a lowly animal. When people see you, they will turn away from your repulsive odor.” She began to shrink, and she became covered with short black hairs. The only trace of her beautiful white hair was the furry white stripe down her back. She became the first of the skunks (gûcge), who live to this day.

The story reminds me of Narcissus. He was also proud and scorned those who loved him. He is lured to a pool of water by Nemesis, gazes into it and falls in love with his own reflection. His story ends with his death, either by suicide or because he loses the will to do anything but look at himself and eventually dies. The girl in our story is allowed to live, although I imagine she was miserable for the rest of her life.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

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