They Swim Upriver: Interview with the Salmon of Wisdom
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," today honoring the varieties of religious devotion in the great state of Washington! Never been there. Would like to go some day. Send money. (Just kidding.)
Among the most fantastic phenomena in the Pacific Northwest is the run of spawning salmon. Unlike Atlantic salmon, who spawn and move on, Pacific salmon swim upstream to the place where they were spawned. There they breed, and there they die. Considering the importance of this food source, its not surprising that the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest have many Scriptures of revealed religion about the Salmon, from how It got into their nets to how It behaves with Its fellow Salmon in the great briny depths.
The ancient Celts also have a whopper of a Salmon story, and its star is here with me today. Please give a warm, wonderful, "Gods Are Bored" welcome to Fintan, the Salmon of Wisdom!
Anne: Fintan, the Native Americans of Washington State say that Salmon act like humans when no one is watching them. Could this be so? I mean, other than You, of course. I've always considered You a special exception, considering the fact that you had the good sense to eat the hazel nuts of Wisdom, rather than chow down on some schlub named Jonah.
Fintan: Speaking on behalf of My Fishes, we do not wish to reveal Our ways to humans, other than what you see on Animal Planet.
Anne: Why not?
Fintan: You would be envious of our superiority.
Anne: Yes, I sure would. I'm envious of ant colonies. But let's talk about normal humans for a moment. Would they, too, be envious of the superiority of Salmon?
Fintan: Yes indeed they would.
Fintan: For one thing, we all get along. Nary a harsh bubble passes between one salmon and another. You'll hear one big alpha male call out to another: "Hey, watch out for that grizzly on the bank! Right there, under the pine tree!"
Anne: Wow, I do wish people were like that!
Fintan: Suffice it to say, no underfed, undernourished Salmon have ever had to camp out in the pool demanding better treatment from the fat, comfortable Salmon.
Anne: Would that it were so among humans!
Fintan: We also understand completely the entire nature of the Universe. Humans aren't ready to know. When they are, they'll know to ask us.
Anne: The Native Americans of Washington State have a legend that their Ancient Ones could put the bones of a salmon into the water, and the bones would become fleshed-out and alive again.
Fintan: Fie on you, Anne Johnson! That's no legend. It's an archetype of the collective unconscious, having to do with the cyclical nature of sustainable food sources!
Anne (to herself): They don't call Him the Salmon of Wisdom for nothing! (To Fintan) You know, o Salmon, that I was once very disdainful of hunters and people who fished for sport. Now I love these people! They are some of the most demanding environmentalists around. In Washington State they have blocked dam projects. Around here, where I live now, a group called Trout Unlimited is lobbying for strict studies on hydraulic fracturing and its impact on water quality in rural streams and rivers.
Fintan: We Salmon love these people too. Some of them are even smart enough to throw the bones back into the water! And I certainly respect the Native American people of Washington State who have shown so much respect and reverence toward their indispensable food staple.
Anne: Fintan, we've talked here often. You know I call upon You for wisdom when I'm perplexed. This is part of my praise and worship. Do you think Native American children in Washington State should be taught to praise and worship the Deities who brought nutritious and dependable Salmon into their lives?
Fintan: Coyote the Trickster figures in some of those Scriptures.
Anne: Correct again, Wise One! So. Does Coyote, and do You, deserve a place at the American altar?
Fintan: Absolutely. Anyone who thinks otherwise has a hazel nut deficiency.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Wisdom to live by from the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America.