Four Wind Messengers

by David Michael Wolfe
Virginia Cherokee Descendent Inage.i AniYunwiya
Cherokee American Artist N.G.E.D. and Historian

The Four Winds are spirit beings, the Creator's messengers, that were placed at the four corners of the world in the beginning of time by the Creator. The task of the Messengers is to attend to the cycle of the four seasons of the year.

The Messengers mind the movement of the sun, earth and stars and are charged with the responsibility of keeping a strict watch over the winds. Vigilance keeps all four winds from coming together and destroying living things on earth. In a continual state of action night and day, season through season, the Messengers are given direction by the Creator regarding what they shall do and what actions for a particular season they are to perform.

It is a matter of traditional instruction as told by the ancient priests of the original people that the individual who kills new meat shall take a part of the meat first to the priest. The priest cuts the meat into five sections, first giving a piece to the sacred fire located in the priest's house, then, in turn, throwing a piece to the Winds of the North, South, East and lastly, West. After this is completed the meat is passed in its entirety through the sacred fire and distributed among the families. The Sun, called as "Wi ya ha" and "Wi" by certain priests and as "Tso ya" by others, has a presence upon the earth. The Sun's earthly presence is known to the people as Fire through which the Sun, Grandmother of all that lives, sees everything that happens on earth. The Moon, Grandfather of all, is called by the priests as "To ya".

Offerings are given to the Messengers to appease them. The offering is given to the North Wind Messenger so he will not whine too long and destroy people with cold. His color is black and his countenance, stern.

The offering is given to the East Wind Messenger so that he should not send strong east winds to overturn the young corn when it comes into tassel or roasting ears time. His color is red and his countenance is congenial.

The offering is given to the South Wind Messenger who provides the people with good and mild winds which causes all things to grow. He is a thoroughly good messenger and is highly favored by the great Ouga, or Creator, above. The South Wind's color is yellow.

The offering is given to the West Wind Messenger who continually works to assist his superior, the South Wind Messenger. These two Messengers mix together to cause rains and bring water to the crops. The color is the West Wind is brown and his countenance is pleasant.

On occasion the North Wind Messenger sends his great cold winds to blow between the West and the South Winds, but the West Wind Messenger always joins with the South Wind Messenger and together they blow the cold north wind back to the North Wind Messenger. In summer all three Wind Messengers - the East, South and West - join together against the North Wind Messenger to ensure that his cold winds do not invade and destroy living things. Sometimes the North Wind Messenger will go about in the night to blast fruit trees, gardens, the first small corn and water. Because of the other three Winds, he must do this very secretly. Since the North Wind Messenger is capable of great mischief, the other Wind Messengers are always on their guard against his tricks and keep him in bounds.

When people do wicked things, disobey their priests and refuse to listen to their counsel, the Creator, "Ouga", sets all four wind messengers against the earth to destroy crops and bring hunger to punish people for their wicked actions.

Color Symbolism Of The Four Winds

East Wind Messenger
The color of the East Wind is red. The name of the East Wind Messenger is "Ka na ti" which is symbolized by the Thunder Bird. "Ka na ti" is the father of the South Wind and West Wind--thunder and lightning. This spirit being controls time and space. He precedes the Sun each morning to announce her arrival.

South Wind Messenger
The color of the South Wind is yellow. The name of the South Wind Messenger is "U sa wi", the Light Magician. This spirit being ushers in the summer seasons. Together with his twin brother, the West Wind, they manage the rain, wind and lightning throughout summer and autumn. Together they force the North Wind back to his home after his allotted time.

West Wind Messenger
The West Wind Messenger color is brown. He is called "Nuh sa wi", the Dark Magician. The West Wind Messenger represents lightning.

North Wind Messenger
The North Wind Messenger color is black. He is called "Yah wi gu na he da", Long Human being. This being is the spirit of all of the rivers and controls the winds that bring the winter season. He would cause great mischief if not for the watchful eyes of the South Wind and West Wind Messengers which keep him in check.


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