Hishe, the Moon, and Death

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(Aikwe, Auen, Naron/Namibia)

Hishe (Hise), God—heaven, the sky—lived in the east. Some say he is the same as Heitsi-Eibib, the Khoi divinity. Some Naron identify Hishe with !Khuba or !Xuba, who lives in the sky or is the sky—they pray to him for health and long life. ‖Gauwa is a spirit whom some believe to live with Hishe in the east, and who appears as the wind storm. Some identify Hishe and ∥Gauwa as the same being. The name ∥Gauwa is also given to disembodied human spirits. The !Kung of southern Angola also know Huwe and ∥Gauwa, but do not speak of the dead as ∥Gauwa: he appears in thunder and lightning; the stars are his fire. Some Naron believe in ∥Gauwa as the supreme being.

In olden times, the trees were people, and the animals were people. One day, Hishe commanded them to be animals and trees. Then he called the first captains of the white men and of the black men, and told them to take the cattle and goats, and live by them. He told the first captain of the San to take the bucks and live by them, to take rope and make traps, to hunt and live in the countryside. Hishe produced wild beasts and plants originally, and human beings, and gave them their present form.

The moon is connected with life and death: Moon said, “People shall die and come back again as I die and come back again.” But Hare contradicted Moon and said, “They shall die and stay dead and not come back again.” Then Moon became very angry, and took his ax and hit Hare on the mouth, cleaving it. The hare singed her kaross in the fire and threw it at the moon's face, and burned his face. The moon's face is black from the kaross. The moon cried and caught the kaross and threw it away. The hare said, “Of men, the one who marries many women shall be killed.” The moon contradicted him: “The man shall not die. The man has leave, and he to each woman shall give children, so that they may bear many people, many men may bring forth, many women bring forth, many San.” See also: ǂGao!na, ∥Gauwa, Heitsi-Eibib, Huwe, |Kaggen.

Subjects: Religion.

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