A Black Squirrel Taking a Bite Out of the Sun? Total Eclipse Myths Abound

Imagine a black squirrel taking a big bite out of the burning, hot sun. Ouch! 

Sounds absurd right? This is just one of the myths and pieces of folklore that Kent State University’s Carol Robinson, Ph.D., will discuss during her presentation “All I Want to Know is: Where Did the Sun Go? The Total Eclipse of the Sun in Myths and Folklore.” 

The event will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. on Thursday April 4 at the Bell Tower Brewing Co., 310 Park Ave., Kent.  

Only four days before the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse you can hear Robinson present an enlightening lecture on folklore and superstitions related to eclipses, the moon and celestial occurrences. 

The event is open to the public.  

Robinson teaches Medieval English literature, the Arthurian Legends, film adaptation, film theory and history, contemporary media communication, digital age rhetoric and video production for Kent State, primarily at the Trumbull campus. 

Kent State's Carol L. Robinson, Ph.D., will speak about the ancient myths and folklore associated with the solar eclipse.

At the Bell Tower presentation on Thursday, Robinson will spend time talking about ancient lore and sample stories with music from Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America and specifically, Ohio. 

“Almost always before science comes the imagination, which is usually a fiction of some sort that also tells a certain truth, or truths, about who and what we are as a people in a particular time and a particular place,” said Robinson. 

From religion to folklore and literature to social media, the solar eclipse has been revered, worshipped, hated, seen as prophecy, or seen as an omen, according to Robinson's abstract for the presentation. And sometimes legends grew out of cultural beliefs and at other times legends grew from scientific experiences. 

“This presentation will be a random selection of representations of the solar eclipse in purely unscientific and gleefully delicious ways," she said. "Images will be shown. Music will be played. Some lectures will be given. Stories will be told. There might even be a little dancing.” 

So, what was the origin of the sun-eating squirrel? Robinson said it is a Choctaw myth that explains a solar eclipse. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the third-largest Indian tribe in the United States, worshipped both fire and the sun. 

“When a solar eclipse happened, the Choctaw believed that it was a mischievous black squirrel taking a big bite of the sun, so the people would shout and make loud noises to frighten it away.” 

The study of lore and myths reminds us that we share in our humanity with those around us. We all may have different feelings and our personal narratives may differ, but we are all a part of the human family. 

“The study of myths, lore and all stories of all kinds is to study humankind," Robinson said. "We are our stories; our stories are us. They reflect our thoughts, feelings, our very beings as individuals, as members of a community, as a part of the human race.” 







POSTED: Tuesday, April 2, 2024 02:13 PM
Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2024 04:48 PM
April McClellan-Copeland