Shall We Dance

Profile of a Goddess: Yhi

By catalyst

Goddess of Light and Creation.

goddessName: Yhi, Goddess of Light and Creation

Religion: Australian Aborigine (Karraur)

Born: No definitive date, although Australian Aborigines are thought to have the oldest continuously maintained cultural history (somewhere around 50,000 years)

AKA in other religions/cultures: Amaterasu, Igaehindvo, Hsi-Ho, Lucina, Nahar, Shapash, Suva, Cautha, Wuriuprauili, Beiwe, Epona, Rhiannon, Freya, Frigga, Sol, Ekhi, Brighid, Aluna

Interests: Shedding light on all things, helping things grow, creating creatures of all kinds

History: In the beginning, the world lay asleep in utter darkness. There was no life, no wind, no sound. Goddess Yhi lay asleep in the Dreamtime* until the voice of Baiame the Great Spirit woke her. Sleep fell away from her, and she stood in glittering radiance, throwing flashes of light from her body. The barren earth was bathed in brilliant beams and endless night fled.

Yhi walked the earth to the west, the east, the north and the south. Everywhere she went life sprang from her footsteps until grass, plants, trees, flowers and shrubs covered the entire earth. Goddess Yhi rested and observed her creations; she realized the new plants could not move.

She wanted to see everything dance, so she ventured beneath the earth in caverns where evil spirits tried to sing her to death. In protest to her light, they cried “No, no, no!” and “Sleep, sleep” and tried to overcome her. But the undead forms within had been waiting for Yhi; they responded to her caressing light and stirred deep within the cave. The glowing forms turned into butterflies, bees and a myriad of insects that glittered, flew and crept from the black recesses until they swarmed around Yhi in a dancing mass. She retreated from the cave, and they followed her out into the world to commune with the waiting vegetation.

She knew that there was more to do so she returned to visit the icy caves in the mountains and brought her light again into the cold interiors. There, her warmth melted the ice, which flowed from the cave and formed bodies of water below. Unformed shapes were released from their sleep and became fish, snakes and lizards. They rushed into the sunlight and found their new homes in the lakes and grasses that were waiting for them.

Goddess Yhi entered cave after cave and from each rushed a torrent of birds and animals that joined the other creatures in the light. Now the world was dancing with life and Yhi spoke to all the things she had awakened. “I shall return each day and bless you with the seasons; summer for regeneration and birth, and winter for cleansing and rest.”

With that, Goddess Yhi turned into a glowing ball of light in the sky and disappeared over the horizon. The creatures mourned her departure and feared the return of darkness, but after many hours they were soothed by sleep. Then suddenly, light beamed in the east and fell upon their world once again. Goddess Yhi had returned as promised, and they understood that day would always succeed night.

Interpretation: Most of us are familiar with some version of this basic creation story. Myths evolved in ancient cultures as a way to explain nature: why the sun disappeared, why the seasons change, where we came from. The Australian aborigine is so deeply connected to the landscape that it is almost an externalization of one’s own inner world. Within the Dreamtime, ancestors, history, fate—past, present and future—occur simultaneously. We may access all these aspects through Dreamtime, or dreaming.

The story of Yhi is equally about how we came to be, where we are going and what our inner vision is throughout. Yhi enters the cave, which teems with pre-life ready to burst forth into the world. Her light unlocks the anticipated creations by shining its warmth and dispelling darkness. Yhi’s world is the landscape of ourselves. Consider the connection between the physical world and spiritual consciousness and how we are endlessly confronted with dualisms such as light-dark, or sleep-wake. Like the shapeless figures in this story’s cave, our spirit resides in the dark recesses—sleeping, waiting for enlightenment. Both darkness and the light exist within and without. We are full of caves teeming with possibility, barren land waiting for life, and the light that will make creation possible.

To bring life to the myriad of future creations waiting within, we must first acknowledge their absolute existence and believe that we can make them emerge through our own efforts. Remember there is magical possibility in every crevice of the cave! It only waits for our light to release it. If we ponder the gifts of our ancestors and honor the blessings we have now, the internal and external landscape of our world will be lush with life.

Questions for the Goddess? Write to Carol



*Dreamtime is the era before the Earth was created. In the present, we reach this state of reality through dreaming.  It consists of four aspects: the beginning of all things, the life and influence of the ancestors, the way of life and death, and the sources of power in life. These aspects are beyond time and space, and so the past, present and future all co-exist.

This article was originally published on December 1, 2006.