How The Stars Were Made
An Aboriginal Legend
Rolla-Mano was the old man of the sea. The blue ocean, with all its wonderful treasures of glistening pearls, white foam and pink coral, belonged to him. In the depths of the sea, he ruled a kingdom of shadows and strange forms, to which the light of the sun descended in green and grey beams. The forests of this weird land were many trees of brown sea-kelp, whose long arms waved slowly to and fro with the ebb and flow of the water. Here and there were patches of sea grass, fine and soft as a snow maiden's hair. In the shadow of the trees lurked a thousand terrors of the deep. In a dark rocky cave, a giant octopus spread its long, writhing tentacles in search of its prey, and gazed the while through the water with large lustreless eyes. In and out of the kelp a grey shark swam swiftly and without apparent motion, while bright-colored fish darted out of the path of danger. Across the rippled sand a great crab ambled awkwardly to its hiding place behind a white-fluted clam shell. And over all waved the long, brown arms of the sea kelp forest. Such was the kingdom of Rolla-Mano, the old man of the sea.
One day Rolla-Mano went to fish in a lonely mangrove swamp close to the sea shore. He caught many fish, and cooked them at a fire. While eating his meal he noticed two women approach him. Their beautiful bodies were as lithe and graceful as the wattle tree, and in their eyes was the soft light of the dusk. When they spoke, their voices were as sweet and low as the sighing of the night breeze through the reeds in the river. Rolla-Mano determined to capture them. With this intention he hid in the branches of the mangrove tree, and, when the women were close to him he threw his net over them. One, however, escaped by diving into the water. He was so enraged at her escape that he jumped in after her with a burning fire stick in his hand. As soon as the fire stick touched the water, the sparks hissed and scattered to the sky, where they remain as golden stars to this day.
Rolla-Mano did not capture the woman who dived into the dark waters of the swamp. After a fruitless search he returned to the shore and took the other woman to live with him for ever in the sky. She is the evening star. From her resting place, she gazes through the mists of eternity at the restless sea-the dark, mysterious kingdom of Rolla-Mano. On a clear summer night, when the sky is studded with golden stars, you will remember that they are the sparks from the fire stick of Rolla-Mano, and the beautiful evening star is the woman he captured in the trees of the mangrove swamp.
Sources And Further Reading
Sacred Texts Some Myths and Legends of the Australian Aborigines by W. J. Thomas