The Honey Hunters – the Lost Soul
Narrated by Belay Makonnen
Once upon a time there was a man who made his living by collecting honey from forests and caves. He sold it to make a living. In these olden times there were no hives, but certain hollow places in trees were nests for bees. So he gathered it in the forests. He was helped by a bird who gave him the direction to find the honey.
One day, he saw the bees buzzing on the tree, and thought there was honey in it. So he made fire with sticks and set fire to a bunch of sticks to create smoke. Having put the smoke into the hollow tree, he got a lot of honey. He had not brought a goatskin sack, so he collected all the honey under the tree and left it while he went off to look for a sack.
After he found a sack and came back, the honey was not there. What had happened was that a porcupine (jart) had taken the honey and hidden it in a cave so she could call her friends to eat it with them.
Now the man thought that another man had taken and hidden the honey, and he went to look and came close to the entrance of the cave. He heard a noise.
“Someone who took my honey is in there,” he thought.
He entered it and saw an evil spirit (zar) disguised as a woman. She was baking and fermenting cereals to prepare t’ala.Beer.
The zar called him, “What do you want?”
The hunter said, “I had gathered honey and went to look for a sack. When I came back, it had gone. I thought it was a man but then I thought it was a porcupine because I saw her footprints near this cave. They are my enemies and I want to destroy them.”
The zar says, “These porcupines are food for us zars. They are like sheep and goats to us. So if you harm them, a bad spell will fall on you. Look for others who stole your honey. Don’t touch them.”
She gave him some hard unleavened bread (k’it’a). As soon as he went out of the door, immediately he was changed into a porcupine. Instead of two legs he got four legs and the thorns of the porcupine appeared on him.
After all this happened, he looked for his fellow men. He went to look for them and on the way a big fire broke out and he was burned. When his body was burned, the porcupine’s hair and thorns were burned off and he ran and ran and jumped into the sea. When he came back out of the sea, he was changed back into a man.
After that he now lives going among the bushes, eating berries and natural foods from trees, neither living like a porcupine nor like a human being, and neither speaking like a human nor a porcupine. And so he was lost – neither a porcupine nor a human being.
He lived like a savage – to this day.
He still lives.
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