Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.
Deep in the Okefenokee Swamp, within the cypress forest and the acres of marshland, the ghosts of snapping turtles gather. These are solopi, soft and pink and so different from their earthly forms. They haunt the “land of the trembling earth”, often finding the skull or remains of one of their recently departed brethren, and gather there. These spirit-world yokchi murmur and chatter the stories of creation, the stories of the sky people, and the stories of the swamps. They speak the ancient language of the native peoples of the Okefenokee – Hitchiti – and they tumble and giggle through moss and bog grass.
Free of their terrestrial shells and leathery skin, the yokchi solopi luxuriate in their new forms, playing with alligators and Sandhill cranes. They tickle the carnivorous sundew plants and whisper the ancient stories to the newly born turtles of the swamp. For this is how snapping turtles keep their histories alive. They pass their stories from generation to generation through the voices of the just-passed to the voices of the just-arrived. They tell of the arrival of man in 2500 BC so that they can accept the presence of man now. We know so little compared to the yokchi solopi. It is so easy to believe we contain more wisdom than these little leathery beings, but we are wrong. They possess the knowledge, we merely possess the thumbs.
If you find yourself in the Okefenokee Swamp, between the blackgum trees and the peat bogs, keep yourself still and quiet if you come across the bones of a snapping turtle. Clear your mind and close your eyes. Let the solopi tell you their stories.
Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.