Red moon rising over the Kalahari

There are many San tales told of the sun, moon and stars.

Some stories say that the sun was once a man, from whose armpits shone rays of light. He dwelt alone in a hut and his light shone only for himself.

Some children belonging to the first Bushmen, were sent to throw the sleeping man high up into the sky, from where he now shines upon all.

In the evening, he draws his blanket of darkness over himself to keep warm. But the blanket is old and has many little holes in it and at night the sun still sparkles through them to make stars.

Another story tells of a lonely young girl who awaits the return of her hunter companions. To light their way in the dark of the night she throws up a handful of white wood-ash. This becomes the Milky Way stars, and even when there is no moon, its shining light guides the hunters home.

In another tale, the moon, say the Bushmen, is really an old shoe belonging to Mantis, who lost it while running errands for the gods. As it rises early summer evenings, it is red with the red dust of the Kalahari, and cold like old leather.

They also say the sun is jealous of the moon when it is full, as it is a challenge to the sun's brightness. So with its sharp rays the sun cuts bits off the moon, until there is just a little left and the old moon cries, 'Oh! Oh! leave a little backbone for the children!' Then the sun goes away, and soon the moon starts growing back, little by little, to its normal size and the process starts all over again.

There is also some that say, when the moon was hollow and young, she is weighed down with the spirits of the dead which she carries; clouds that pass are really the hair of the dead, and the wind blows to sweep the footprints of the dead from the sand.

The Bushmen believe that the world was made by the spirits which are all around them.

Whatever tale they tell comes from within them, and as Chrigi of the San Clan says, "There is always a dream, dreaming of us!"

Without a story, a Bushman is without a home.