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How Hummingbird Got Fire

I love the hummingbird. It is such a beautiful bird, graceful and seemingly fragile. But that fragility is deceptive. Hummingbirds are strong-willed and powerful creatures.

The Ohlone people of California tell the story of how the hummingbird brought fire to heal the world after the waters of the ocean buried the land under the sea. It is a story that for me epitomizes the difficult but beautiful work we do together.

I share it with you as a guide into the work of holistic therapy.

* * *

Once, a very long time ago, the oceans of the world rose higher and higher until they covered the and.

The Eagle and Hummingbird stood together on a mountain top surveying the destruction in great sadness.

Eagle decided he would use his magic to heal the world. And so, he worked feverishly to dry up the waters. Then, he became very hungry.

There was food to be found, but they needed fire to cook with.

Eagle knew the one place where fire could be found, and he sent his little nephew Hummingbird to get it from the Badger People underground.

The Badger people refused to share. “Cover the fire!” they shouted when they saw Hummingbird. They hid their fire by covering it over with a deer skin.

But the deer skin had a hole in it, where an arrow had gone through.

Hummingbird reached in with his long narrow beak. He took out a hot ember and carried it away. Before he could put it safely into his armpit, it flamed, turning his throat brilliant red.

That is why Hummingbird has a red throat. And that is how there came to be fire in the world once more.

* * *Adapted from “How Hummingbird Got Fire”: A Rumsien Ohlone Story as told by Linda Yamane

Jamie Rizzo

Jamie Rizzo

I am an LMFT serving the East Bay Area of California. My office is in Berkeley.