Tell Me a Story by Amy Friedman and Meredith Johnson

THE PEOPLE OF THE SUN (an Incan myth)

Long ago, near the beginning of time, the Sun God, Inti, and his wife, the Moon Goddess, Mama Quilla, ruled over all. They were generous and loving gods. It was Mama Quilla, so the people say, who gave birth to Earth, and Inti who gave the people of Earth the gift of civilization.

Inti was, from the very beginning, devoted to his people, but as he watched over them, he began to understand they would need help. He knew his heat warmed the people, and his light gave them knowledge that comes with sight. He had given them rain and sunshine, each one in its proper season.

But Inti could also see that the people were wild, and this displeased him. They had no laws. They had no cities. They lived unprotected in damp caves and under canopies of leaves. They did not cultivate the land to grow food but gathered whatever roots and berries they could find. They dressed in leaves and bark and did not tame the animals or tend to their children.

And this made Inti unhappy. So he and Mama Quilla called on their son, Manco Capac, and their daughter, Mama Ocllo Huaco, to go to Earth to teach the people how to live.

"You will teach them to worship the Sun," Inti said, "but they must also have laws to live by, homes to live in. They must learn to tend the land and raise their animals and their children."

He looked at his son and daughter -- gods themselves, handsome and strong. "You will go to Earth and be the ruler of all the races," he told them. "And you shall rule over the people as a father rules over his children."

Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo Huaco understood. They would rule just as their father had ruled over them. This meant they would offer the people not only lessons but tenderness and affection, devotion and justice. It would be their job, just as it had been their father's job, to teach and guide.

"And you will always remember," the Sun God said, "they are also my children."

With these words he gave his children a golden rod, two fingers thick, shorter than the arm of a man. "Take this," he told them. "It will guide you to the place you must settle. When you reach the land where this rod sinks into the Earth with just one thrust, you will have found fertile soil. It is there you will build a sacred place, the city of the Sun."

And then Inti, the Sun God, placed his children on Earth, in the place known as Lake Titicaca. Carrying their staff of gold, they walked across the land. Everywhere they traveled they tried to push the rod into the rocky soil, but it did not sink in. So they walked on.

The first night they stayed in a place known as Pacarec Tampu, House of Dawn. Eventually, they came to a valley where there were no people. There the plants were lush and thick, the air smelled sweet, and silence surrounded them.

They climbed to the crest of a hill and looked around. Pleased by the beauty -- the lush green carpet spreading out before them, the sky blazing blue overhead -- they thrust the rod into the soil. This time, with ease, the rod sank deep into the Earth.

"This is the place where we shall build our sacred city," Manco Capac said. And then he directed his sister to walk south to gather the people and tell them of the mission. He would walk north and find others.

Everywhere they appeared the people gathered, for the sight of those beautiful faces, those pierced ears and those exquisite clothes made the people understand that here were the children of the Sun.

Manco Capac stood before the people who gathered in the sacred place. "You too shall be the Sun's children," he said, and so the people worked together.

The people Manco Capac gathered formed the place known as Upper Cuzco, and the people Mama Ocllo Huaco gathered formed the place called Lower Cuzco. The people of Upper Cuzco ruled over the others, just as older brothers lead their younger brothers and sisters. And these divisions carried on and spread -- to every town and to the whole empire of the Inca people.

Just as Inti had commanded, his children taught the people to build houses and to cultivate food. They taught them which grains and seeds were nourishing, which plants would flourish. They taught them to make tools and to channel water to irrigate their fields. And Mama Ocllo Huaco taught the women to spin and weave and cook.

They built a city shaped like a puma, the two rivers forming the puma's tail. In the very center of that city, the people built their Temple of the Sun. And it was there that they gathered and gave thanks for the wisdom the Sun God sent to all the people of Earth.

"Tell Me a Story 2: Animal Magic," the second CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.