The Seduction of Redhorn's Son (§7 of the Redhorn Cycle)

retold by Richard L. Dieterle

In Redhorn's village a woman could be heard singing in the distance:

Redhorn, come here!
Redhorn, whom they say is holy,
Come here!

Redhorn's youngest son said, "Older brother, go after her!" But Redhorn objected: "What are you saying? This woman used to call me long ago before you were born, but I would have nothing to do with her." However, the eldest son asked Redhorn four times if he could go to her, and on the fourth request, Redhorn consented. He dressed in courting finery, a black fur blanket with eagle feathers at each corner and one in the center. He also wore an eagle feather in his hair. He wore red leggings and a breech clout on one side only. On his back he wore an otter skin tobacco pouch with a piece of red flannel tied to it. As he set out to court the woman, he came to a bridge near which was an oval lodge. The old woman who lived there told him that now the seductresses' wishes were about to be fulfilled. The bridge was made of iron and at places it was so narrow that it would be hard to get through. He then turned himself into an old man and made his clothes look equally ancient. Then he called out from the river's edge, "You red-bellied leeches, come here!" and immediately a hoard of leeches appeared before him. From these he selected two big ones and tied them to his feet, then wearing these strange living moccasins he walked across the iron bridge. The woman who called Redhorn was sitting on a platform on the other bank wearing a red cloth wrap. When she saw that it was an old man coming across, she said, "Stop where you are, I didn't call you, I called Redhorn!" "Exactly," he replied, "and I am coming, princess." She jumped down, grabbed her end of the bridge, shook it and turned it upside down, but he still kept coming on, so she screamed and ran away. The bystanders said, "She has been calling for Redhorn, but surely this old man is not Redhorn." But one of them noted, "When he passed by he had a smell of holiness to him, and Redhorn they say is holy."

The "old man" went into the chief's lodge and said, "I am here to answer your sister's call." Now the understanding which she had with her family was that whoever came in answer to her call would be the one she married, no matter who he was. Her brother directed him to the area behind the partition. As he entered, she gave him such a kick that he flew out and landed on his back. "Go on back in, brother-in-law," the young man said, "she is not serious about rejecting you." Nevertheless, four times he tried to enter and four times she kicked him out. Finally the suitor sat down to fill his pipe, and called to her brother, "I might as well go home, since she is trying to kill me." But the brother noticed a marked change in the suitor's voice, and when he looked over there he saw Redhorn himself. Then his sister stuck her head out from behind the partition and was quite surprised at the sight. She said, "There is my husband," but he was already walking towards home.

She started to go after him, but her brother pulled her inside, then blocked the door. Redhorn crossed back over the iron bridge at a run and stopped by the grandmother's lodge on the other side. "Grandmother, I am going to take a different route home. Put the lodge pole back when I am done." So he lifted up the lodge pole, and crawled into the hole, after which grandmother put back the pole. Then the princess came running up and asked, "Where is my husband?" Grandmother replied, "I don't know." But the woman saw his tracks which led to the lodge pole, so she pulled it up and crawled into the hole herself. she carefully followed his tracks underground. Redhorn had by now gotten home, and told his brother what had happened, and how his advice had almost gotten him killed. "When she gets here," said the younger brother, "we'll give her some of her own treatment." Old Redhorn went outside his lodge and standing there before him was a naked woman — in her reckless pursuit the princess had lost all of her clothes. So Redhorn went back in and ordered clothes to be sent out to her. When she got the new clothes on, she went into the lodge. They directed her to the partitioned room, but when she entered, the younger brother barked, "Get out!" Both brothers gave her a good kick and she almost landed in the fire. Old Redhorn said, "Go back in daughter-in-law, he is not serious about rejecting you." Four times she tried to enter, but four times they kicked her back. Finally it was the younger brother who was designated to marry her, since he had in effect sent for her. Later the older brother married as well, but he had no children, since he was so holy.

All the spirit beings who had helped Redhorn now returned to their natural condition: Wolf and Otter assumed their animal forms, and Storms as He Walks had already rejoined the Thunders, after he left the Thunderbird Warbundle behind on earth to be used by the humans in war.1

The Redhorn Cycle is ended

Commentary. "singing in the distance" — when Orion is just rising with the sun in late June, the moon (the seductress) is a thin crescent. In Hočąk symbolism, sound can stand for light, so a relatively faint sound in the distance stands for a relatively faint light, which is what the crescent moon of that time produces. The moon stands between the Hyades and the Pleiades when it is above the Milky Way.

"a black fur blanket" — this symbolizes the night sky.

"eagle feathers at each corner and one in the center" — the eagle is the bird of the sky, although it is normally associated with the day sky. The four corners of the black blanket represent the four quarters of the night sky, so each feather represents a cardinal point. The fifth feather represents the center.

"an eagle feather in his hair" — this makes a sixth eagle feather. This shows that they represent directions: front and back (north and south), right and left (east and west), up and down (at the center). Redhorn's association with directions and their number, six, is seen elsewhere as well.

"red leggings" — this reflects the red color of the horizon where Orion is rising with the sun. So his lower body is red.

"otter skin" — as Orion rises with the sun it does so at the eastern edge of the world where are the banks of the Ocean Sea (Te Ją). The otter symbolizes the emergence from an aquatic environment. The red flannel tied to the otter skin is also a reflection of the red color of the horizon.

"bridge" — the bridge is the Milky Way, as will become more apparent as the analysis proceeds.

"iron" — this refers to the darkness of the bridge, since it is a bridge found only in the night sky. Meteorites, which appear to arise from fallen stars, were known to have been made of iron, at least in part. Consequently, the stars of such a bridge are likely made of iron themselves.

"narrow" — this refers to the narrow spot in the Milky Way, called the "Cygnus Rift," where it splits a short distance near the star Deneb.

"an old man" — as time progresses, Redhorn leaves the horizon, rising well before sunrise. Therefore, in other allegories his hair turns from red to white. Here his clothes fade from their red color, and his hair may be presumed to change to the color of most stars. He has also aged in the sense that he is not now "newborn" from the horizon.

"tied them to his feet" — as he starts out on his journey, he begins at the horizon, so that the leeches at the very base of his feet represent the red of the horizon and his place of origin in the Ocean Sea at the edge of the world. He has now moved from red leggings to red at the very bottom of his feet. As the leeches in time digest the blood, they soon cease to have a connection to redness at all.

"a red cloth wrap" — at the beginning of Orion's journey, when it is at the horizon, the moon is about to go into conjunction with the sun and is also bathed in the light of the sunrise. She wears a red wrap for the same reason that the daughter of the chief of the Thunders on the western horizon is said to wear a polychrome wrap: both represent the colors of the sunset or sunrise.

"coming across" — as the year progresses, Orion rises higher in the sky, but in the same relative position in relation to the Milky Way. If one treats the Milky Way as a static arch, the illusion is that Orion is climbing high and higher over this arch or "bridge." All the while, the moon stays ahead of him, between the Hyades and the Pleiades.

"exactly" — this implies what is suggested in other contexts: Redhorn is cross-generationally identical with his doppelgänger son. In this story they are even both called "Redhorn."

"turned it upside down" — the progress of Alnilam across the Milky Way "bridge" is disoriented midway through as the Milky Way is inverted in relation to the star. This process is tabulated below. All times are sunrise in 1750 at Four Lakes, Wisconsin. Both the altitude and the azimuth are given for Alnilam and that part of the Milky Way nearest it; the azimuths are given for that part of the Milky Way where Alnilam was situated when it rose with the sun (proximal), and for the Milky Way on the opposite side of the sky (distal).

  July 4 July 28 Aug. 24 Sept. 20 Oct. 18 Nov. 14
Azi. Alt. Azi. Alt. Azi. Alt. Azi. Alt. Azi. Alt. Azi. Alt.
Proximal End of Milky Way 65° 99° 125° 157° 175° 214°  
Distal End of Milky Way 247° 279° 311° 329° 343°  
Position of Alnilam 89° -2° 110° 18° 141° 38° 186° 45° 230° 32° 259°
Position of Milky Way near Alnilam* 77° -7° 97° 14° 124° 36° 168° 50° 221° 43° 255° 22°
*as measured by the star 8 Monocerotis.

On November 22, 1750, Alnilam set achronically with sunrise. The full moon set achronically on Nov. 13 of that year. So it is at this time that Redhorn and the seductress touch ground together. As can be seen, on July 28, Alnilam is 13° above the edge of the Milky Way bridge, but by the time we reach November 14, the situation is completely inverted, with Alnilam now 13° below the Milky Way. So around the beginning of September, the bridge was flipped over. The two ends of the "bridge" remain from about 180° to 210° apart, which is to say, on opposite sides of the sky, but the proximal end drifts over time from east to southwest, while the distal end moves from west to almost due north.

"he still kept coming on" — she could not shake him off the bridge because he is attached to it by leeches, and leeches cannot be shaken off by anyone to whom they attach themselves (personal experience).

"she screamed" — as noted, sound stands for light. The moon at this place and time (mid-November, near the Hyades), is full and therefore "screaming" its light.

"ran away" — hitherto the moon has been tracked as it stood between the Hyades and the Pleiades at sunrise (Four Lakes, Wisconsin). On November 14, 1750 this is where the full moon stands. On November 22, Orion achronically sets, and is no longer in the sky with the full moon of sunrise. However, the full moon of dawn does not stay at this spot where Orion went to ground, but "takes off" to the south, as we can see on this table which shows the azimuths of the full moons at sunrise, 1750-1751:

Date Nov. 14 Dec. 14 Jan. 13 Feb. 12 March 14 April 12 May 11 June 10 July 9
Azimuth 291° 288° 278° 263° 246° 239° 234° 226° 234°

So the moon runs 65° from the northwestern to the southwestern horizon. Alnilam set with the sun on May 20, 1751, and rose again July 4, 1751. So while Redhorn's star is completely gone from the sky, the full moon stops running.

"her brother" — this is probably Evening Star (the Red Star), who is Moon's brother elsewhere.

"he flew out" — the action now shifts from sunrise to sunset. The last scene terminated at sunrise on November 14, so we now pick up with the next full moon, at sunset the next month, December 11. At this time, as the full moon stands by the Hyades at sunset, Orion isn't even in the sky, but just below the horizon. So it is as if the Moon had kicked him out of her lodge (the night sky) and he landed on the ground on his back (not standing or up).

"fill his pipe" — he is on the ground and not yet risen at sunset. When he lights his pipe, the fire will indicate that his star has risen after the setting sun and shows its light as does the pipe.

"the suitor's voice" — using sound for light, this means that now Alnilam, Redhorn's star, has achronically risen with the setting sun, which occurred on December 30, 1750.

"partition" — this is the Milky Way, which stands like a curtain between the full moon and Alnilam.

"walking towards home" — with the achronical rise of Orion with the setting sun, Alnilam-Redhorn now begins the same trek across the Milky Way bridge that he took when he cosmically rose with the sun in the first scene of the story.

"the hole" — Alnilam heliacally sets on May 20, 1751 and does not appear in the sky for a couple of months. So it appears that he has sunk beneath the earth.

"the princess came running up" — the seductress has followed Redhorn all the way to the ground. This can be seen in the pictures of the sky provided below, in which the moon is shown at sunset at the edge of the Milky Way near Gemini, where she follows behind Orion until he disappears on May 20. There is no moon in June that stands in the same position (near Gemini) at sunset, so shortly after Orion disappears from the sky, so to does this moon. This is because the sun is now in Gemini, so that the constellation has itself disappeared from the firmament. Therefore, the seductress, as the moon standing near Gemini, has followed Redhorn as Alnilam into the bowels of the earth.

January 10, 1751 February 6, 1751
Starry Night Software,

March 6, 1751 April 2, 1751 April 29, 1751 May 27, 1751
Starry Night Software,

"the princess had lost all of her clothes" — it can be seen in the pictures above that as the moon trails after Orion it goes from full to crescent, until finally, when she enters into the hole in the ground herself (conjunction) she looses all her light. She is fully clothed when she was full, so it follows that she is naked when she had no light at all. Therefore, in her pursuit, she gradually lost all her clothing, which is to say, her light.

"when she got the new clothes on" — the scene now changes, and we are once again at that time of year, the winter, when the moon is fully dressed (full).

"the lodge" — the lodge is the Hyades, which are shaped like a teepee.

"she almost landed in the fire" — the events related here occur at the stillness of the moon, a period in which the moon passes low through the Hyades. She goes into the lodge only to be kicked back out, and as she passes she goes towards the horizon. Normally, the fire would symbolize the sun, but now the sun is on the other side of the world where it has set. She does not actually land in the fire, however, which she would have done had this been conjunction. She does, however, land at the base of the Milky Way at the horizon. The Milky Way can be homologized to a column of smoke, and at the base of such a column is the fire whence the smoke is imagined to originate. It is here that she lands.

January 1-3, 1757 December 22-24, 1757
Starry Night Software,

December 12-13, 1758 Dec. 30, 1759 - Jan. 1, 1760
Starry Night Software,

"four times" — as may be seen in the illustrations above, the stillness of the moon causes it to pass from the lower edge of the Hyades to the upper edge in four years. However, in the prior four years, it had passed through going the other way, with one year outside the Hyades, making a 9 year cycle. However, it is sufficient for the purposes of the myth that she be kicked out four times, as that too is a complete cycle, and four is the number of completion.

Isomorphisms. The pursuit of a woman, which is so prominent in our present story, is also featured in "Įčorúšika and His Brothers," and while there are many divergences, they are in substantial agreement.

Paradigm Įčorúšika and His Brothers Seduction of Redhorn's Son
A beautiful woman wants Redhorn to visit her. A beautiful woman wants Įčorúšika to visit her. A woman calls out to Redhorn to come to her.
Redhorn's brothers urge him to go to her. His brothers urge Įčorúšika to visit the woman and take her to wife. His younger brother urges Redhorn to visit the woman and take her to wife.
Redhorn sets out to visit the woman. Įčorúšika agrees and sets out with his brothers. Redhorn agrees, and sets out.
He finds the woman's lodge. They find her lodge. He finds her lodge.
The woman physically ejects Redhorn from the lodge. The woman physically kicks the brothers out of the lodge, then tricks Įčorúšika into falling through the floor. The woman physically kicks him out of the room.
One or more of her kinsmen intervene on his behalf. Loon and Otter, nephews of the chief, intervene on Įčorúšika's behalf. Her brother intervenes on Redhorn's behalf.
Redhorn creates a small fire. He grabs a firebrand and destroys the Waterspirits. He lights his pipe.
He exits the lodge and heads back home. He breaks out and heads back home. He heads back home.
Redhorn chases, or is chased by, the woman. The woman flees from Įčorúšika. The woman chases after him.
The pursued lifts up a lodge pole and enters the underworld through its hole, but the pursuer does the same. She lifts up a lodge pole and enters the underworld through its hole. He does the same. He lifts up a lodge pole and enters the underworld through its hole. She does the same.
The chase goes through the underworld. The chase goes through the underworld. The chase goes through the underworld.
- She hides on the bottom side of a leaf. -
The pursuer finds his object. He finds her. She finds his lodge.
Redhorn rejects the woman (even to the point of killing her). Įčorúšika kills her. Redhorn kicks her out, but then gives her to his brother to marry.

In "The Seduction of Redhorn's Son," the hero and the woman chase one another back and forth, whereas in the Įčorúšika story, the pursuit is one way. The tenor of the seduction story is more light-hearted and deals with marriage; but the story of Įčorúšika is one of revenge. The pursuer and the pursued are switched in the story's second half, but many details remain intact.

Comparative Material. There is an intergenerational identity that occurs in Redhorn myths that may be like that of Demeter and Kore (Persephone) in Greek mythology. The story "Redhorn's Father," says that Redhorn is the son of He who has Human Heads as Earrings, which is just another name for Redhorn.

An interesting parallel exists to the "Pursuing Bride" theme. There is an Aztec, or more generally "Chichimec," god named Mixcoatl, who shows strong similarities to Redhorn. He is chief over a hoard of warlike spirits who bear the plural of his name, Mixcoa (or Mimixcoa). In one story, two of the Mixcoa, Xiuhnel and Mimich, are chasing after two bicephalic deer that have fallen from the sky. The deer change into women. One of the women eats Xiuhnel, so Mimich builds a fire into which he jumps, but the other woman, who is Itzpapalotl, jumps in after him in pursuit. [In the myth of the creation of the sun and moon, the man who becomes the sun jumps into the fire first, and the second to jump in becomes the moon.] She wants to mate with him, but given the fate of his brother, Mimich runs for his life. Eventually, she gets hung up on a pot cactus, and Mimich is able to shoot her.2

Links:Redhorn, Sons of Redhorn, The Redhorn Panel of Picture Cave. An American Star Map, The Sons of Earthmaker, Turtle, Wolf, Otters, Storms as He Walks, Thunderbirds, Yųgiwi.

Links within the Redhorn Cycle:§6 The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons.

Stories: featuring the sons of Redhorn as characters: The Redhorn Cycle, Redhorn's Sons, The Adventures of Redhorn's Sons, The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father, Redhorn's Father; mentioning Redhorn: The Redhorn Cycle, Redhorn's Sons, The Mission of the Five Sons of Earthmaker, Redhorn's Father, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty, The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth, The Spirit of Gambling, The Green Man, The Hočągara Contest the Giants, cp. The Cosmic Ages of the Hočągara; in which leeches occur: The Twins Disobey Their Father, The Two Boys, The Stench-Earth Medicine Origin Myth, The Two Brothers (blood-suckers).

Themes: crossing a river by summoning the aid of water creatures: Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads (crabs); in the course of his travels, a man enters a lodge where he finds a grandmother who helps him: Ocean Duck, Waruǧábᵉra, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster Soils the Princess, Wojijé; crossing a body of water on the back of an animal: Ocean Duck (Waterspirit), Hare Visits the Bodiless Heads (crabs), The Hočąk Migration Myth (turtle), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (beaver), Pete Dupeé and the Ghosts (horse), cf. The Shaggy Man; description of a courtship outfit: Redhorn's Father, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Trickster Soils the Princess, The Dipper, The Nannyberry Picker; red as a symbolic color: The Journey to Spiritland (hill, willows, reeds, smoke, stones, haze), The Gottschall Head (mouth), The Chief of the Heroka (clouds, side of Forked Man), The Red Man (face, sky, body, hill), Spear Shaft and Lacrosse (neck, nose, painted stone), Redhorn's Father (leggings, stone sphere, hair), The Sons of Redhorn Find Their Father (hair, body paint, arrows), Wears White Feather on His Head (man), The Birth of the Twins (turkey bladder headdresses), The Two Boys (elk bladder headdresses), Trickster and the Mothers (sky), Rich Man, Boy, and Horse (sky), The Blessings of the Buffalo Spirits (Buffalo Spirit), Bluehorn Rescues His Sister (buffalo head), Wazųka (buffalo head headdress), The Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth (horn), The Brown Squirrel (protruding horn), Bear Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Hawk Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Deer Clan Origin Myth (funerary paint), Thunderbird Clan Origin Myth (stick at grave), Pigeon Clan Origins (Thunderbird lightning), Trickster's Anus Guards the Ducks (eyes), Hare Retrieves a Stolen Scalp (scalp, woman's hair), The Race for the Chief's Daughter (hair), The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy (hair), Redhorn Contests the Giants (hair), Redhorn's Sons (hair), The Woman's Scalp Medicine Bundle (hair), A Wife for Knowledge (hair), Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle (hair), The Hočągara Contest the Giants (hair of Giantess), A Man and His Three Dogs (wolf hair), The Red Feather (plumage), The Man who was Blessed by the Sun (body of Sun), The Man Whose Wife was Captured (v. 2) (body of the Warrior Clan Chief), Red Bear, Eagle Clan Origin Myth (eagle), The Shell Anklets Origin Myth (Waterspirit armpits), The Twins Join Redhorn's Warparty (Waterspirits), The Roaster (body paint), The Man who Defied Disease Giver (red spot on forehead), The Wild Rose (rose), The Medicine Rite Foundation Myth (warclub), Įčorúšika and His Brothers (ax & packing strap), Hare Kills Flint (flint), The Twins Retrieve Red Star's Head (edges of flint knives), The Nannyberry Picker (leggings), Yųgiwi (blanket); a woman not only rejects a suitor, but kicks him: Įčorúšika and His Brothers; (removing a tent pole and) entering another world through a hole in the ground: Įčohorucika and His Brothers, How the Thunders Met the Nights, Redhorn's Sons, Iron Staff and His Companions; people chase one another underground: Įčorúšika and His Brothers, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, Redhorn's Sons, Iron Staff and His Companions; a woman takes the initiative in courtship: The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, Trickster Gets Pregnant, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, Old Man and Wears White Feather, (see also, Redhorn's Father); marriage to a yųgiwi (princess): The Nannyberry Picker, Baldheaded Warclub Origin Myth, The Race for the Chief's Daughter, The Daughter-in-Law's Jealousy, The Big Stone, Partridge's Older Brother, Redhorn's Sons, The Resurrection of the Chief's Daughter, River Child and the Waterspirit of Devil's Lake, The Roaster, Soft Shelled Turtle Gets Married, Eats the Stinking Part of the Deer Ankle, White Wolf, The Two Boys, Spear Shaft and Lacrosse, The Shaggy Man, The Thunderbird, The Red Feather, The Orphan who was Blessed with a Horse, The Birth of the Twins (v. 3), Trickster Visits His Family, The Woman who Loved Her Half-Brother, Redhorn's Father, Old Man and Wears White Feather, Morning Star and His Friend, Thunderbird and White Horse, Rich Man, Boy, and Horse, Shakes the Earth, The Nightspirits Bless Čiwoit’éhiga; a hero wins a girl but decides to let one of his brothers marry her: The Race for the Chief's Daughter, Redhorn and His Brothers Marry, The Raccoon Coat.


1 Paul Radin, Winnebago Hero Cycles: A Study in Aboriginal Literature (Baltimore: Waverly Press, 1948) 134-136.

2 Leyenda de los Soles, 79:34-80:5 in John Bierhorst, History and Mythology of the Aztecs: the Codex Chimalpopoca (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1992) 151-152.