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Coyote Legends and Mythology

Updated on January 15, 2013

The History and Legends of The Coyote

In southwestern mythology, the Coyote is known as a "Trickster God", and is famous for his adaptability, ego, humor, insight, and mischievous playfulness. The Coyote symbolizes the earth, duality and balance and he has the unique ability to present both sides of an issue.

In difficult times, through his wisdom and protective nature, the Coyote can discover a trap hidden within a foolish situation you may unknowingly be caught in. For example, If you are in a relationship where you think you may be fooling yourself, use the Coyote as a guide to help you see the truth of the matter.

Legend of The Coyote and The Spying Moon

There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery. ~Joseph Conrad

Legend has it that once upon a time, someone had stolen the moon, and Coyote generously offered to stand in as replacement. Everyone agreed that he made a fine moon, but from his elevated position Coyote could spy on everyone below him. Of course being the prankster that he was, he just couldn't resist gossiping and tattling on his friends and enemies alike about all he saw every night.

Soon he was voted out of the sky.

But being an egotistical, yet playful, show-off, he often tried to impress the girls by juggling his eyeballs. One day he threw one of his eyes so high, it got stuck in the sky and became the star Arcturus. So even now legend claims he is still keeping one eye on us all.

"Treat the earth well, It was not given to you by your parents, It was loaned to you by your children."

~ Indian Proverb

milky way
milky way

The Coyote and The Milky Way

"We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened." Mark Twain

According to Navajo mythology, the Milky Way was created by the impatient temperamental behavior of their god, Coyote.

According to the story, while the world was created, the Holy People ceremoniously gathered around their Black God who was to place each star in the sky precisely where it belonged. Well Coyote grew annoyed at the slowness of this process. In his anger, he chose to place a red star, called Ma'iio, in the south. Ma'iio means 'the one who roams'. This star symbolizes Coyote and appears for only a short time during the year. Like the Coyote, the stars appearance is a sign of trouble to the Navajo.

When Coyote continued to be displeased with the Holy People's slow progress, he threw the bag of stars over his head thus forming the Milky Way.


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Coyote; A Trickster Tale

Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest
Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest

A short, uncomplicated story in which Coyote decides he wants to fly with the crows. They humor him, give him feathers, and tolerate his offkey singing and out-of-step dancing, until he begins to boast and order them about. Then, as Coyote struggles in midair, they take back their feathers one by one and he plummets to earth. His tail catches fire, and he tumbles into the dirt. To this day he is the color of dust and his tail has a burnt, black tip.. Children will enjoy the visual portrayal of Coyote, who is blue, vain, eager, and heedless of consequences, and they will laugh at the pictures of the various troubles he gets himself into at the start of the book.

- Marilyn Iarusso, New York Public Library


Your Thoughts and Ideas

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice information to share about Coyote the trickster of the Spirit World. He isn't a "god" though. A better title would be Spirit Guide, animal totem, or Creature Teacher. ~Mitakuye Oyasin~ We are all related.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great lense - the coyote is such a beautiful mysterious animal - what a good subject to write about !!!

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 

      7 years ago from London

      Very beautiful. I have enjoyed this greatly.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 

      7 years ago

      Lovely material and imagery - what a topic - thanks

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Another great symbol lens! I love the coyote!

    • WildFacesGallery profile image


      7 years ago from Iowa

      I plan on adding Coyote to my animal totems lens soon. I've lensrolled this to that lens. :)


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