The Time Before Time Myth in Destiny | World Anvil
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The Time Before Time

Information sourced from studies by the Citadel of Scholars dedicated to Our Lord Hamaskus, derived from historical studies of the First & Early Second Eras, and studies into the Tomes of Chalanna

Written by David_Ulph

The druids speak of a time before the Gods, where a Light and Dark could combine in harmony over a Grove that could flourish life. This life became born from the mixing of Light and Dark rather than the collision, thus becoming Grey. The Grove was lost long ago, and as it drifted out into the Aether the equilibrium was lost with it, hence the birthing of Chaos and the Gods with it and why the druids refuse to worship it.
Studies of Candlebishop Henrique of the Citadel of Scholars

All cultures speak of a variation on the creation of the Great Dance, but many pieces of information stay the same no matter where on the Mortal Realm one travels. The very name 'the Great Dance' will translate into every language and dialect ever recorded in every Realm as the very being which binds all life together. Not only that, but each religion or interpretation of faith will live by the Path of Light or Path of Dark.
Light and Dark are the two primordial entities from before time, being known by various names from culture to culture. Light and Dark; Lumen and Umbra; Life and Death; the Gardener and the Arborist; the Flowermaker and the Woodsman; Past and Future; Magus and Spider; Faith and Truth. The Holy See have requested it be known as Light and Dark, whose corpses formed Lumen and Umbra - the Realms of Aetherborn. Most druids appear to refer to the entities as the Gardener and Arborist.

The Great Dance

Once upon a time, though before there was time, there lived Light and Dark in a beautiful Grove of Trees surrounding a solitary great Olive Tree of Silver. Light and Dark played a game with each other, a dance of sorts, with the Trees of the Grove. At the start of the day, as Dark danced round the Tree of Silver, Light would plant an equal sapling. By the end of the day, as Light danced round the Tree of Silver, Dark would trim away branches and rip up roots of the Trees that had not grown as tall or strong throughout the Timeless Day, freeing space so that the others may prosper.
The end result of the dance was always the same. In the end, the Dark would claim everything Light planted. Light hated this, for it was in its being to seek everything to flourish while Dark sought death and finality. The Light hated the Dark's mocking that finality was the natural end of life and of the dance, that death was inevitable in the natural cycle and why should the strongest not be allowed to live for longer? The Light sought to introduce a new stage to the choreography. Something to disrupt the dance's current natural conclusion, to continue past Dark's finality.
And so Light took a trimming from Dark's work, and placed it into the soil. At once it started to wriggle and burrow deeper.
"Here, I have made a worm and this worm is magic"
The Worms spread throughout the Grove, revitalising the soil and giving strength to failing roots throughout the Timeless Day. When Dark came, it found no Tree wilting or with impurity. Each Tree was equal from base to canopy, and this left Dark enraged as it could not understand which were to be pruned or ripped up according to the dance.

The Escalation

Light set a precedent, one which Dark would take advantage of to ensure the balance of the original dance would be restored. The dance required another move to negate, in Dark's mind, the restorative magics of the Worms and set right Light's abuse of the natural cycle. As Light cultivated the saplings and communed with the Worms, Dark did not dance around the Tree of Silver but placed a palm into the dirt and felt the verberation pulsing throughout the Grove. Dark uncovered the Song of Magic and knew it had to be caught. Sitting in the palmprint was a shallow pool of mercurial water, which Dark would shower over the Tree of Silver. A shape appeared, droplets catching in the silvery glow, and at the centre of this web grew an octagonal shape.
"Here, I have found a spider and this spider is time"
As the next Timeless Day cycled round, Dark noticed that its Spider had caught a Worm in its Web. With a Worm spun in the Spider's grasp, the Song of Magic became infected with the Web of Time and the effects of the Song's constant restorative effects created more malignant consequences. As Light danced round the Tree of Silver by the end of that Timeless Day, it began to weep, for it saw the Grove become cancerous with tumours of burls warping upon on the beloved Trees. Dark began to fell those marked with Time; the entire batch planted in that Timeless Day. While the Worms could restore the Trees and prolong the absence of weakness, the Spider allowed Dark to patiently wait for the magic to wean, or for Light's great gift to develop corruptions. The cycle restored.
As Light saw their beloved creations corrupted and once again cut down by Dark, they fell into a stupor of mourning. Sat motionless in their Grove of growing Trees planted just timeless moments before but Light knew by the end of the Timeless Day they would once again be lost. Light began to weep, tears streaming from their scintillating eyes. The tears fell in their drops, embedding themselves into the ground. As Light wept, the teardrops grew throughout the Grove surrounding the Trees, hardening into a tangled wall of sharp points.
"Here, I have made a thornbush and this thornbush is emotion"
No matter how much Time passed and the Spider spun their web on the Tree of Silver, a simple Thornbush would keep Dark at bay from the Trees with its impassable prickles.

The Indignation

Dark would plunge themselves into the Thornbush, though the Tears of Light would bite into its being and slow its progress, making it impossible to reach the Trees which required trimming and felling in order to balance the Great Dance. As Dark fell deeper into the emergence of emotion, they began to experience feelings, that of pain and suffering. In a pain-filled rage, Dark snapped a Tear-tipped branch from the Thornbush, and beheld it a Knife.
"Here, I have found a knife and this knife is loneliness"
With the Knife, Dark would winnow away the Thornbush around itself, becoming isolated from the suffering of emotion. Further using the Knife, Dark would steal a sapling; While Light's Trees flourished behind the protection of the Thornbush, Dark used the Knife to perfect the stolen isolated Trees and allow them to live and die alone without Dark needing to overcome the manipulation of the Great Dance. When the Trees were alone, they would only grow at their own pace and face their greatest weaknesses without the support of Light's creations. Only with the use of Loneliness could Dark witness whether a Tree was strong enough to survive. To take the Knife of Loneliness is to perfect oneself or wither and die in this path to perfection.
Light, distraught that any Trees were suffering in the Grove regardless of whether they were stolen or not, saw only one way to compete with Dark's predatory nature of isolation and survival of the fittest, and this was to place their fingers into the soil, leaving them in place as they spread in the soil.
"Here, I have made mycelia and this fungi is community"
The Fungi spread all throughout the Grove, slowly connecting the Roots of the Trees together, passing underneath the Thornbush to reach Dark's Trees below Dark's reach. The Trees had begun a community, reaching out beyond their protection to ensure their help touched those isolated by the Knife and ensure the same protection reached as far as any Tree was planted.

The Death

Dark, using the Knife of Loneliness, lunged at Light, seeking to end the corruption of finality and restore the Great Dance forever. According to Chalanna in his Tomes, Dark did not successfully strike Light at first, instead missing and snapping a piece of the Thornbush. This piece would be thrown out into the Aether during the struggle as a Circlet of Thorns.
Light and Dark came to blows in the Grove of Trees, stamping the soil into mud, cracking the Tree of Silver, and throwing the Garden into the Aether to be lost from their touch. The Great Dance was truly disrupted, causing both Light and Dark to lie down in their exhaustion and die, becoming their own Realms. Light and Dark could no longer combine into the Harmony of Grey and would collide harshly in this new Great Dance. In the place of the Garden, where in a grand bang Reality was brought into being, and there lay the tumultuous combustion and conflict of magical energy. This Chaos would be the First Realm, an embodiment of the conflict and destruction of rules of the past Great Dance Before Reality, and it brought forth this new Reality filled with what was and what might be.
"Here, we have FmOaUdNeD chaos and this chaos is potential"
Thus started the First Era of the Realms, where Reality and Time would flourish.
2020 Prompts Advent Calendar #11

2020 WorldEmber Article #13  

Disclaimer from the Citadel of Scholars

The following information is a collection from multiple select sources to largely fit with the theological rhetoric of the Holy See. Scholastic sanctuary can only protect so much, but to publicly display within the Territories alternative truths on the origins of the Realms would cause the entire Citadel of Scholars to be the target of a righteous crusade. For all intents and purposes, the following tale is the true origins of reality in accordance with the Gods of Chaos.

Cultural Differences

In the original druidic language, Light and Lumen seem to be known as Soillse, and Dark and Umbra seem to be known as Dubhar.   Some druidic circles appear to call Light the Arborist, as the one who cares for the Trees. In these tales, Dark is characterised often as the Woodsman, one who is annoyed that the Arborist is cultivating a thick canopy and decides to chop down a clearing in which the Woodsman could stare up into the Aether-Before.   Druidic circles known to follow the Path of Dark following in the footsteps of the Woodsman or Dark Arborist, as well as the Umbral Aetherborn, are known to call the Grove by the name of the Copse.   Others instead call the Grove a Garden, and identify the Trees as Roses whose thorns are best represented when plucked into forming the Crown. Light is a Gardener, after all, and one who tends to the Roses in their Garden, whereas Dark is personified as the Proignier. The Garden itself was a beautiful plane of Roses surrounding the solitary Olive Tree of Silver. Much in the same of the popular story, the Gardener

An Artefact of the Time Before Time

Crown of Thorns
Item | Jun 1, 2023

Written for Prompt 7 (2020 Advent Calendar) - An Artefact of Light From Before Time Began

The Harmony of Light and Dark

The Grey
Physical / Metaphysical Law | Feb 18, 2022

The Druidic Belief Which Binds All Mortal Life

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Cover image: by raytheoverlord


Author's Notes

It has been 3 years since I first wrote this story in my notebook, almost as many years since I was properly active on World Anvil. Life and university studying law kinda gets in the way a lot. But I have never stopped writing in notebooks, in OneNotes, on uni coffee cups sometimes when an idea arises. And in all this time, this story has updated and evolved slightly. This updated article is longer, deeper, roses turned into trees, and a lot of sleep-deprived ramblings gathered over a couple years including one when I was deep in a chest infection and messaged my flatmate "a spider caught a worm and now the trees have cancer"   I have so much I want to publish, always have wanted to. Just need the time. So why not start at reworking the beginning?

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Dec 12, 2020 20:13 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

This is a great creation myth - very beautiful. Light and Dark kind of remind me of two siblings trying to one up each other.

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 18, 2020 18:43 by David Alexander

Huh I never noticed that but I really like this interpretation! Chuffed I managed to portray that feeling while being an only child :-)

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides!
Dec 12, 2020 22:02 by Angantyr

An inspiring story with a twist on the classical battle between Light and Darkness. I miss the short info on the bolded words.

Playing around with words and worlds
Dec 18, 2020 18:41 by David Alexander

Thank you :-) Yes, I was asking for my Crown of Thorns article still somehow WIP! But I've started to find you're help more useful in recent articles I'm sure you've noticed haha

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides!
Dec 13, 2020 16:54 by TC

This is a really interesting myth! I love the symbolic of the dance throughout the story, and how its a representation of life itself. Very interesting article!

Creator of Arda Almayed
Dec 18, 2020 18:41 by David Alexander

Ay I'm glad the symbolism I was trying to go for in this interpretation managed to come through! I have about 5 different interpretations in my notes, maybe I'll end up writing the different religion's belief of this time period some day ;-)

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides!
May 31, 2023 15:18 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

I still love this creation myth, and the updates you have made to it. It's good to see you back worldbuilding again! :)

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Jun 15, 2023 12:46 by David Alexander

Thank you! It's good to be back!

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides!