In the time long before, there was no world. There was no water and no meat. And there were no tribes. There were only the Four Winds, and the Hen warming her egg as she had done for ages uncounted.
At last, the egg shivered and cracked. The Hen leapt off and the Winds gathered around in excitement. The egg spun like a top as it cracked, throwing its shell off with vigor. The shell-pieces flew away into the sky and stuck there, becoming the stars.
When the shell was gone, the Hen saw that she had hatched the world. She cried with joy at how fine and beautiful her chick was, and her tears became the rivers and the seas. One of the shell-pieces had cut her flesh as it flew past. She bled a single drop, and her blood became the prey animals of the land and the sea.
“What a fine chick you have hatched, Mother Hen!” said East Wind, young and excitable as ever.
Cool and thoughtful, North Wind looked at the world and said, “It lacks something.”
West Wind held up a cautioning paw and said wisely, “Yes, but adding more to it will only cause pain.”
South Wind grinned at West Wind’s words and shrieked a hot challenge to the sky. “Pain is good! Pain makes a chick strong!”
Mother Hen said, “You are right, all of you.” Without another word, she lay down next to the world and kindled a fire. When the fire was roaring, she gathered eight piles of dirt. She wet the dirt with water from the sea, and formed the salty mud into eight eggs. Into each egg, she pushed a stone to make bones, a cloud to make feathers, and finally, an ember from the fire to make the heart.
East Wind said, “A wonderful thing! The ember smoldering in their breast will give them passion and make them want to dance and sing and make love!”
North Wind said, “An excellent idea, Mother. The ember in their breast will burn them with envy and make them invent weapons and tools to make themselves better.”
West Wind said, “How wise a choice. When the ember in their breast cools, it will bring them together for warmth and they will make fine families and cities.”
South Wind said, “Ha! The ember blazing in their breast will give them fury and they will make war and become strong!”
Mother Hen said, “You are right, all of you.” She moved the eight eggs of wet mud to the fire to bake and cure. Soon, they were ready, and she scattered them around the world and sat.
Soon, she felt wriggling beneath her, and she stood to see her chicks. The Four Winds gathered around with excitement. Together, they saw the first griffons, born of the eggs in the west. They were a hen and a cock, dark of plumage and wise of eye. The West Wind, seeing them, said, “These are my people.”
Mother Hen sat atop the remaining eggs and said, “Raise my chicks well. Make them wise like you.”
She felt movement beneath her, and stood to see her chicks. The second griffons stood tall and clear-eyed, chicks of the northern eggs. The hen and the cock had white plumage and gazed around with interest at the world. The North Wind said, “These are my people.”
Mother Hen sat and said, “Raise my chicks well. Make them clever and inventive like you.”
Again she felt movement, and the third griffons clawed at her as she stood. The hen and the cock had red plumage and crouched tensely, ready to spring at prey. The South Wind said, “These are my people.”
Mother Hen sat upon the last eggs and said, “Raise my chicks well. Make them mighty like you.”
For the last time, there was movement beneath Mother Hen, and she stood. The fourth and youngest griffons were a hen and cock with multicolored plumage that shimmered in the starlight. As Mother Hen looked upon them, they sang to her and their song was beautiful and fearless. East Wind said with a smile, “These are my people.”
Mother Hen said, “Raise my chicks well. Make them passionate like you.”
The Four Winds, and the hens and cocks of the four tribes, knelt before Mother Hen and gave thanks. Mother Hen smiled at them and said, “My chicks, it is time for me to die.”
They cried out in fearful protest. “No! Stay with us!”
“Worry not, fear not,” Mother Hen said. She plucked out her own eyes, and one was made of gold and the other made of silver. She placed them in the sky above the world and said, “I will always be watching over you. When I am joyful or sad at what I see, my tears will fall as rain, so you will know that I am watching.”
With that, she bent to kiss each of her chicks atop the head, and where her beak touched, their feathers grew into a crest, so that each of them and all their tribes would carry a sign of their Mother’s love with them for all their days.
“Help me fly, my sibling Winds,” said Mother Hen. She spread her immense wings, and the Four Winds filled them, lifting her into the sky. She flapped, and the Four Winds fell back to the world and their tribes. Mother Hen flew fast and far, so fast that her body was torn apart and so far that all anyone could see of her was her wings, which filled the sky like a river of white feathers flowing behind the stars.
The spark of life in her torn breast flew out into the sky, where it ignited her wings, and all the stars, and the eyes she had left to watch over her chicks. And that is why the Mother’s River and the stars and the sun and moon all shine with a loving brightness so that the tribes can see to fight, and dance, and create, and make love, just as our Mother wanted.