This entry is near and dear to me as the Essence or Spirit of this Goddess lives here in my neck of the woods in Upstate New York.

“Sky Woman” by Marcine Quenzer

“Awehai’s themes are harvest, tradition, growth, longevity and community. Her symbols are turtles and seeds.  In Iroquois tradition, this Goddess reigns in the sky and the heavens, watching diligently over family life and the community.  Mythology tells us that Awehai grabbed seeds and animals as She fell from heaven, landing on the back of a great turtle. From here, Awehai scattered the seeds and freed the animals, resulting in a growing, fertile earth filled with beauty.

The Strawberry Festival was instituted by the Iroquois Indians in Tonawanda, New York. Here, people come to the longhouse to enjoy ritual dancing, chanting and the sounding of turtle-shell rattles, a symbol of Awehai. So, if you know any type of traditional ritual dances or chants consider enacting them outside as you scatter greass seed to the wind. This will nanifest Awehai’s productiviity in your life and in the earth.

Another custom is simpler and a lot of fun: consuming starwberries in as many forms as possible. In Iroquois tradition, these pave the road to heaven and eating them ensures you a long life and Awehai’s fertility. Share strawberries witha loved on to inspire Awehai’s community-oriented energy in your home and consume fresh strawberries to harvest Her powers for personal growth.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)


“Sky Woman” by Mark Kawesoton Light

Today’s information comes from Patricia Monaghan on the Iroquois Goddess Ataensic (Sky-Woman).  She writes, “once, said the Iroquois and their neighbors, there was no land, just a vast blue lake upon which water birds floated with otters, turtles, and other seadwelling creatures.  High above in a heavenly land was the celestial society into which Ataensic was born.

Her father died before Her birth – the first death in the universe.  He was placed on a burial scaffold where the Girl used to go to converse with his spirit.  He instructed Her, when She was grown, to travel a long distance through heaven to Earth-Holding Chief, Her intended mate.

Through tempests and danger She traveled; the chief tested Her with torture, but She endured and returned to Her own village, pregnant by him.  Her daughter, Gusts-of-Wind, was born, but Her people threw Ataensic down to the earth-lake.  (Or was it an accident? – the myths differ.)  She fell and fell through the blue air, Her daughter returning to Ataensic’s womb.

Below, a loon looking into the water saw a figure rising from the depths.  He mentioned this curiosity to the bittern.  The puzzled birds slowly realized that Ataensic was falling, not rising from the lake.  They had never known that their lake had a bottom, which thus had formed a mirror.  The knowledge came just in time, for to save the falling woman, the birds and animals had to build land from the lake mud.  Otter and turtle tried, and muskrat and finally Ketq Skwayne (‘Grandmother Toad’) dove deep and returned exhausted, spitting up some of the magical earth just before she died.

“Sky Woman” by Bruce King (Oneida)

The earth landed on the turtle’s back and instantly began to grow.  By the time Ataensic reached the water – Her fall broken by the water birds’ wings – there was enough land for Her to rest on as Gusts-of-Wind was reborn (Some stories say that She fell onto what is now a mountain near Oswego River Falls in New York).

Gusts-of-Wind became pregnant and died giving birth to twins; from Her body Ataensic fashioned the sun and the moon, and that is the way the earth and its luminaries came into being” (p. 57 – 58).

In another version I read, Her husband, Sky Chief, had a dream, and according to this, he took a young wife.  It is said that in time this young wife was soon to become a mother from inhaling the breath of her husband, but this was unknown to him.  That from this, he doubted her honesty to him, so much that it caused him so much distress in his mind, that he became ill from his jealousy.  He had another dream which called for the Tree of Light to be uprooted creating a great hole in sky world. Into this hole he could push his young and unsuspecting wife.

In olden times, dreams were held in high regard in everyday life, so much that destiny was controlled by dreams to a great degree. So, accordingly, in the morning he called his Wife to him. He had Her get Her burden basket and he began to fill it with nut tree roots and berry bushed and many other things. Then he had this Tree of Light  uprooted.  The opening made by uprooting the Tree allowed light to shine through the opening.  Thus, today, comes the light of the Sun.

“Sky Woman’s Story Painting” by Owisokon Lahache

This chief managed to deceive his unsuspecting Wife to look down through the new opening. In so doing, while She was looking down, he pushed Her down into the opening.  It is said that in his anger, he also cast down through the opening all man-beings, such as the Deer, the Wolf, the Bear, the Beaver, and all animals and growing things such as the sunflower and red willow. He transformed them into their forms and size as they now appear.  And when his anger had cooled down, he had the Tree of Light replaced.

The rest of the story is similar to Patricia Monaghan’s version except that it was muskrat who succeeded in retrieving the earth needed to grow land on turtle’s back before dying of exhaustion.

At once, the Sky-Woman began to walk about this tiny earth, which by Her action began to grow in size.  She even took handfuls of earth and cast it in all directions, which also caused it to continue to grow, until She could not see the boundary.

Thus, this is how North America became to be known as Turtle Island.” [2]



I included this video called The Iroquois, Pt. 1 – The Confederacy.  In this video, Marion Miller of the Seneca Nation, who has continued the oral tradition as a story teller, tells the Iroquois creation story.


Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines, “Ataensic”.

Red Jacket., “Creation Story“.



Suggested Links:, “Iroquois Nation“., “Native American Myths of Creation Woman“.

Her Cyclopedia, “Awehai“.

Old and Sold, “Iroquoian Cosmogony“.

Shenandoah, Johanne & Douglas M. George. Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois.

Yupanqui, Tika. Tika Yupanqui’s Machu Picchu site, Iroquois Myths and Legends“.