Animal Council and the Directions Teaching

(as told to Robert Oakes  by Coyote)


Every now and then the animals gathered together to discuss matters of concern.  These meeting were held on the back of Turtle who although he always listened, didn’t say too much.

 Beaver was in charge of the proceedings and although he kept them proceeding as well as he could, he also tended to listen more than he spoke.

 At this particular meeting Eagle, Goose, Bear, and Wolf were in attendance.  Coyote had also come along even though everyone had asked that he stay away.

 The question of the day was how many directions were there.  There had been arguments between the animals as to how many directions existed so they thought they could answer it once and for all.

 Eagle was the first to speak. “Hello brothers and sisters, I think I have an answer to today’s question.  When I am on the ground I look up; that is one direction.  When I am in the air I look down, that is the second direction.  Of course I also see Grandfather Sun wake up in the east and rest in the West so that brings the total to four.”

 Everyone nodded and made noises of approval to Eagle’s words.  The talking stick was now passed to Goose who tucked it under her wing.   She started “Thank-you brother Eagle, I too see all that is up and all that is down.  I too see Grandfather Sun wake up in the east and rest in the west.  I have to add though, that in the spring I fly north to raise my young and in the autumn I fly back south so I have food.  This would mean that there are six directions.”  Once again everyone voiced their acknowledgement.

 Bear now took the talking stick in his paw and addressed the group.  “Thank-you brother Eagle, and sister Goose.  I see your wisdom and as I cannot fly it has given me new insight.  The only thing I have to add is that when I dig for Medicine or dig my home into the Mother Earth, is that not yet another direction?  Would this not make seven?”

 Everyone once again nodded their heads; even though confusion was starting to creep into their thoughts instead of the clarity they had hoped for.  Wolf took the talking stick from Bear and waited for the circle to once again be silent.  “I thank my brothers and sisters for their knowledge although I am more confused than when we started.  Unfortunately what I have to offer will only add to the confusion.  I recognize the directions you mention, but for me when I am hunting through the forest I come along many game trails; are all of these not directions?  I can only offer that there are too many directions to count.”  With this the animals fell silent as everyone considered the startling information.

 From outside of the circle someone cleared their throat.  At first everyone tried to ignore the sound, as they knew it was Coyote wanting to say some nonsense.  The sound came again, this time only louder.  Beaver rolled his eyes and his calmest tone asked, “Would you like to offer something to our discussion Coyote?”

 Coyote sat up and responded “Yes I would.  I know exactly how many directions there are.”  Then he sat down and waited for a further prompting.

 “Okay brother Coyote, would you share the information with us.” Beaver added knowing full well that it was not going to be helpful.

 With that Coyote jumped onto Turtle’s back and shouted out “There are no directions!”  Coyote then proceeded to chase his tail round and round all the while shouting out "No directions!" over and over again.

 The meeting was over as no one could be heard over Coyote.