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Rooster got the animals to build a big meetinghouse for him to hold meetings in. It was

a big fancy room with a beautiful house attached for Rooster to live in. The meeting

hall was within fifty yards of the coop/shack that his 15 women and 275 children lived in.



A Rooster’s Tale

by Mwalim

Storyteller, Playwright & Folklorist

Many years after the turtle got his shell; animals began to find their spirituality was separating from them. Once upon a time, their spirits were one with the world around them, but as time went on, things got more complex. Suddenly, the animals could no longer find their spirits in the grass, trees, rivers, fields and skies.

The animals began to look elsewhere for their spirits, not realizing that their spirits had never left. Some of the animals maintained a relationship and connection with the spiritual world and often had visions that they shared with the other animals. Some times they could “see” the spirits of the other animals and interpret the spirits message. These animals became known as “spiritual leaders.”

Some of these spiritual leaders were legitimate. They would help and counsel any animal that came to them. They would ask for nothing in return, and occasionally got just that: nothing. Sometimes, a thankful animal would make a generous donation of food or goods to the spiritual leader, but usually the spiritual leaders made their living doing something else.

Some animals saw this as an opportunity to make a living. Many of them had no more of a sense of how to connect with their spirits than the animals who came to them for advice. One of these spiritual leaders was an arrogant, loud and rude animal called Rooster. Rooster used to strut around with his chest sticking out, looking down his no.... I mean beak at everybody who walked by. He would also brag about the fact that he had twenty women at his beck and call, and several children by each of them. Rooster had a suave and slick manner, which appealed to many of the animals. They took his smooth ways as a sign that he was the chosen one and they should follow.

Once a week, Rooster began holding big meetings where he would help animals reconnect with their souls. Three or four times during the meeting, he would have the animals donate food and other goods for his services. He said that their spirits wanted this and it was the right thing to do. If they didn’t, then their spirits would be unhappy and the animals would never see them again. Sometimes animals would barely have enough food for themselves, but Rooster told them, “Being hungry is a small price to pay for being with your own spirit.” So they would hand it over.

After a while, Rooster got the animals to build a big meetinghouse for him to hold meetings in. It was a big fancy room with a beautiful house attached for Rooster to live in. The meeting hall was within fifty yards of the coop/shack that his 15 women and 275 children lived in. Rooster lived very well from the donations that the animals made to him, he soon grew really fat. The donations that he couldn’t use, he sold to the animal store wholesale, or traded it for silk suits and gold pocket watches. It could be said that Rooster was not conceited, he was convinced.

Rooster also developed a hustle where he opened a store that sold trinkets and charms to help animals find good luck and fortune in their lives. Animals were buying red yarn to place on their windowsills, wooden sticks to put under seats and pillows and powders to sprinkle at the entrances to their homes.

Rooster prided himself on his singing voice. During meeting, he would preach and then burst into crowing a song. The chickens in the front row would all swoon when he did this; the other animals found it annoying. “That bird’s cackle could wake the dead!” complained one of the elder spiritual leaders, who did his work for free. They felt that something needed to be done about Rooster, because he was making a mockery of a serious and sacred position in the community. There had to be some way to teach him a lesson... they thought and thought, until Owl came along.

Owl’s hobby was astronomy because he stayed awake all night and flew around. He knew the position of the stars and planets and the motion of the earth. He told the spiritual leaders that there was going to be a full eclipse of the sun in five days. The eclipse was going to last all day until 4:00 PM. The spiritual leaders listened to this news, shifting their attention away from dealing with Rooster. Suddenly, Raccoon, started laughing and clapping his paws together. The other leaders asked him what was going on. He stopped laughing long enough to say, “I know how we can deal with Rooster! Listen to this...” He shared his idea with the other animals and they agreed that it was a good one. They agreed that they would meet again the next week and talk about the plan further.

The next week, the spiritual leaders went to Rooster's house and knocked on the door. A young chicken let them in and lead them into Rooster's den, where they had a seat and were offered cold drinks. Rooster came out, dressed in a smoking jacket, with an ascot around his neck and a pipe in his beak. He greeted the leaders in a very magnanimous fashion and took a seat in his recliner.

Speaking Turtle was the spokesman; he was the only one who could deal with Rooster without getting mad. “We have come to tell you that our spirits tell us that the sun is angry with you. The sun wants you to greet him every morning with a song, beginning tomorrow, or he will not rise again.” Rooster’s eyes opened wide in surprise, he looked around the room, studying the faces of the animals, and then laughed, “You expect me to believe a story like that? The sun will rise tomorrow like he always does. I’m not getting up that early in the morning for anything or anybody, not even the sun.” The animals tried to reason with him, but he wasn’t hearing any of it. He excused himself, left the room and asked the chicken to show them all out.

Rooster never did like to get up early. His weekly meetings began at two in the afternoon, which allowed him to sleep in until 1:00. The next morning, Rooster woke up in complete darkness. He figured that he had awakened too early until he lay in bed for a while and his body told him that it was at least 11:30 in the morning. He got up and found breakfast waiting for him. He looked out the window and saw the animals going on with their daily business, like they do every day, except it was dark as night outside.

After a couple of hours, Rooster began to panic. What if he really had offended the sun?

Would the sun ever forgive him? He got dressed and went to see Turtle. Now, Rooster never went to visit anybody, unless he wanted something. He felt that visiting animals was beneath him. If they wanted to be social, they knew where his house was. Anyway, he went to Turtle, who was expecting him. He found turtle sitting in his den playing chess with his cousin, Lizard. Rooster asked Speaking Turtle for advice and Turtle sat very quiet for a few seconds and looked at the ceiling, which was his way when he thought. Finally, he cleared his throat and said, “First, you’re going to have to give up all of your wealth.”

“Are you crazy?” sputtered Rooster, “I’m not giving it up for anything!!”

Speaking Turtle focused his attention back on the chessboard, “It’s just as well; you’ll need all that grain of yours to store up. Seeing as how, with no sunlight, no new crops are going to grow.” Rooster thought for a minute, and then relented, “Okay. What else?” Turtle stared at the ceiling again. “You are going to have to sing to him every morning, and dedicate your weekly meetings to him, from now on.” Rooster thought for a minute, “Okay. I’ll do it!” Turtle looked at the ceiling again, “He wants you to prove it and sing to him right now, from the highest place in the land.” With that, Rooster got up, ran outside, flew to the top of the tallest tree and started singing with all of his might. The moon began to move, and the sunlight flooded the earth in his warm glow.

Rooster gave up his fancy house and moved back into the coop with his wives and children, which wasn’t really so bad. There, as the only rooster for 16 chickens, he was still the man. The days of his weekly meetings were called Sun-day and every morning, a rooster will stand on a high perch and sing his greeting to the sun.

Mwalim is a Historian of performing arts traditions, folklorist and keeper of the Wampanoag Medicine clown tradition  / /  

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Related files: Mwalim Bio   A Rooster’s Tale    Laughter Keepers   Urban Expressionism