Copper and Stardust
A Kevaryese Creation Myth
In the days before words, amidst a vast darkness, there was only the Sun. Its light raced across the void, leaping from place to place and laughing, until one day the light fell upon a great stone at the edge of the darkness. When the light touched the stone, it gilded over its rocky surface to make it smooth, but this angered the darkness, for the gold reflected the Sun's light so brightly that there was no corner of the universe unlit, and thus nowhere for the darkness to live. So the darkness made itself into a hammer and beat the stone, shattering its metal surface into a thousand pieces. Then it hurled those pieces back toward the Sun. Barely larger than pinpricks, these specks of gold shone brightly, but were cast so far apart from one another that very little light stayed in them for long. When words came, and people, we would call these stars, meaning lonely ones1, as they drift across the sky in search of companionship.
When the Sun's light found the stone again, it smoothed it over in silver. This too reflected the light and drew the darkness's enmity. The darkness made itself into a chisel and, as if to sculpt the orb into a fine statue, cut away the silver from its surface, rolled it into a small ball, and swallowed it. For some time there was no light. But soon the silver ball began to glow from inside the darkness's belly. The darkness suppressed the glow—it could do such things, for it was darkness—but each time it did so, the flow would return in full force in a little while. When words came, and people, we would call this moon, meaning resilient one2, ever waxing and waning as it struggles against the darkness.
When the Sun's light found the stone a third time, it smoothed it over in copper. The darkness made itself into a pestle, and ground the copper into dust, but since little of it shone, the darkness left it on the stone's surface. Instead of shining, the copper turned the Sun's light into heat. Some of the copper melted into water and formed oceans. Some of the copper became old and grew a green patina of vegetation, and still more melted into strange, misshapen forms which soon came to move all over the earth. When words came, and people, we would call this life, meaning copper's gift3, for without this copper we would be cursed to roam a barren earth.
For some time, the animals roamed the earth thoughtless, nameless, wordless. But one day a star fell from the sky onto the moon, and from the moon onto the earth, and there mingled with the copper in the soil. When the Sun's light shone upon this new mixture, it melted into new forms, six of them, that were unlike any of the animals. The copper gave each one the blessing of life, and, because they were made of stardust and moondust as well as copper, these new creatures kept some of the Sun's light within them, which gave them speech, meaning the power to create through words4.
This myth tells of the world's creation. After the Sun attempts to make the world out of gold and then silver, only to be twice thwarted by Darkness (creating the stars and the moon, respectively), the world is made of copper, which creates plant and animal life. Six humans (the First Ancestors) are then created by the mingling of all three elements, giving them the power of speech. The story is notable for being the key sacred text of the only religion in the world that does not feature a deity or deities. The myth personifies the heavenly bodies but does not assign them names or personalities, nor are they worshiped in any capacity. Kevarya's relative isolation from its neighbors due to the natural barrier of the Mountains of Old likely preserved this unique mythological feature.
The myth is the source of many Kevaryese cultural values and beliefs, particularly the association of magic with precious metals and the reverence of spoken language. Thus, the myth and its imagery is often used to symbolize Kevaryese identity. The story is also traditionally used to teach children words like "stars," "moon," "life," and "speech," defining them both literally and symbolically. It is therefore an important tool of cultural reproduction.
LANGUAGE NOTES1 Kevaryese: vanyese (sing. vainya) from the negation of vai, "to belong to a group; to share".
2 Kevaryese: griya, from griar, "to continue, to persist; to keep steadfast or resilient".
3 Kevaryese: faid kovre, from faid, "gift," and kovr, "copper"
4 Kevaryese: kai, "to name and thus bring into existence; to make real through the word".