Mythmaking in the Caribbean

  • Tony Castanha


Mythology has been traditionally concerned with accounts of origins, creation stories, the emergence of deities, the supernatural world, all of which provide meaning to a people and can justify the bases of societies. A myth is said to be “the sum of the development of historical tradition.”1 For indigenous peoples, the world is viewed holisti-cally, where everything is connected: “We are instructed to deal with the plants, animals, minerals, human beings and all life as if they were a part of ourselves.”2 Indigenous beliefs and myths often center around a connectedness, stewardship, and reverence for the earth, a responsibility to preserve for future generations. Male and female entities are also seen as dual, complementing each other and in balance. Indigenous Caribbean peoples believed in the Earth Mother—Sky Father duality between these energies. The Earth Mother, Atabei, Atabey, Atabex, or Attabeira, gave birth to Yúcahu Bagua Maórocoti, the Sky or Celestial Father. Yúcahu has no beginning, signifying the belief in a form of reincarnation and immorality. The male being is further not singular in Antillean tradition. This thought contradicts the European interpretation of the early chroniclers, who believed that Yúcahu was equivalent to a monotheistic paternal god in the Christian tradition. Caribbean cultural society and spiritual belief were matriarchal and polytheistic.


Indigenous People Native People Indigenous Population Sixteenth Century Indian People 
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© Tony Castanha 2011

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  • Tony Castanha

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