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A Book About the Metaphysical Teachings of the Chumash Indians

More Excerpts from a text by Dr. John Anderson

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Chapter 3

"The pole star was a Kasunalmu, a sending place from which the first winds (breath of life) appeared in the lower realms. As this divine wind flowed down, it spread life throughout the universe and blew sacred Atishwin into innumerable air souls.

The Chumash word for wind is Saxkkit. This term is analogous to the Sanskrit word<,i>Prakrti, which is the principle of energetic manifestation. The Hindu believed that the physical universe began when it was first manifested from pure unconditional consciousness. This credo is similar to the Chumash concept of the Breath of the World (the Cenhus Heisup). Only after this divine breath was manifested from the celestial axis, was the creation of the material cosmos completed." (page 22)

......"After establishing the stars of the heavens, the Creator began manifestation of Itiasup, the earth. This world was affectionaely called Shup by the Chumash, referring to the female deity which Europeans call Mother Earth. She became the special protector of Ahash, or body souls.

Although the highest concentration of physical matter in the cosmos was located in her massive body, she also had a soul just like the stars. She was thus a very influential goddess with the Chumash, as can be seen in the fact that they used her name as a rallying cry in their repeated revolts against the Spanish. Chumash freedom fighters prayed to the earth goddess to assist them, in recognition that the main cause of their downfall was not military power but rather a weakening of the rule of Shup, manifested by the spread of European diseases.

Since the corruption of our physical bodies results from the imbalance in the cosmos, Chumash theologians believed that the plagues could only be brought under control by strengthening Shup, who governed physical matter. They feared that the Spanish priests had weakened Shup's influence, releasing demons from the lower world. The Nunashish brought new diseases to plague the Chumash....

To appreciate the desperate debates raging within the Chumash community during these plagues, it is necessary to understand how the cosmic order was originally established in Iitasup, the earth. From the perspective of the Chumash, normal human life could go on only if balance was maintained between many competing forces in the universe. When the Creator withdrew after originating the physical world, numerous lesser deities were left with responsibilities for regulating events in the cosmos. They vied with one another, since they did not have the Creator to force cooperation. When humans were finally introduced into this world, they found that they could maintain their societies only by integrating the conflicting powers of the deities, balancing the influences from both the upper and lower worlds. "(page 23)

In Retrospect These words were first published in a 1993 edition of this text. In the seven years since, I have have become less certain as to the existence of a body soul in Chumash theology. The term Ahash clearly refers to a soul, as does the term Antik. And the bones of the dead are clearly of great importance to the Chumash, and are linked to their efforts to protect the grave sites of their ancestors from desecration. But whether the Ahash soul is associated with the bones remains undetermined.

I address some of these issues in the text called Kuta Teachings which talks about the release of the air soul from the physical body and its ascent into the heavens. My book called When Demons Rule California addresses many issues relating to the Nunashish demons of traditional Chumash theology. See the link below, called Mythology Books by the Author for further information [John Anderson, February '2000].

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Kuta Teachings
Kuta Teachings II