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Polluting the Fire—Making and Tending our Sacred Circle Fire
(Natchez Legend)

You know tht there are always two guardians in the temple to care for the sacred fire. But once in the past it happened that one of these two men went out for som epurpose, and while he was away his companion fell asleep and let the fire go out. When he awoke, seeing the fire exteinguished, fright seized him.

But as his companion had not yet come back he determined to conceal his fault, because he was easily able to do it, in order to escape the death which he had merited. He called then to the first passer and begged him to bring him fire with which to light his calumet (pipe), a thing which this person did willingly, well knowing that it is not permitted to touch the eternal fire except to tend it, and that not other use could be made of it.

Thus this fire was relighted with profane fire. Immediately sickness took hold of the Suns. In a few days they were seen to die in rapid succession, and it was necessary to send after them into the world of spirits many people to serve them. "This mortality lasted four years, without anyone being able to guess what had occasioned it. Nine great Suns who succeeded each other died in this interval, and a multitude of people with them. Finally, at the end of this time the guardian himself fell ill. This bad man, feeling that he was not able to live a long time, had word sent to the great Sun at once that he had something to communicate to him of such great importance tht if he died without revealing it all the Natchez would die.

The great Sun went to see him as quickly as possible. As soon as the sick man perceived him his whole body trembled and he appeared unable to speak. However, he spoke these words, although with difficulty:

"I am going to die, so it makes no difference to me whether the sickness of a man kills me. I know that I am a bad man for having for so long a time concealed, in order to preserve my life, what I am going to tell you. I am the cause of the death of my nation, therefore I merit death, but let me not be eaten by the dogs."

The great Sun understood by these words that this man was guilty of some great crime, and that it was necessary to reassure him in order to draw from him his secret, which appeared to be of the last importance. He therefore told him that whatever he had done he might be assured that he would not be put to death and that he would be buried, that what he had promised him was as true as it was true that the Sun, their father, lighted them every day, and that he should hasten to speak before death prevented him. On this promise the bad guardian confessed all that he had done, which I have related to you.

Immediately the great Sun assembled the old men and by their advice it was resolved to go that very day to wrest fire from the other temple. That was executed and the Suns ceased dying.