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Tasa Jalawa Ka // The Mother Below

In the beginning, there was nothing. Nothing save the waters, and the ground, and the Homes, and the Mother below. She was sleeping, and did not wake though the winds blew over the waters, though the silence of the empty Homes was deafening.   The Mother slept on, but the ground and the waters and the Homes saw the world begin to change. The Mother, in her dreaming, began to shape the world as her sleeping thoughts twisted and turned through her skull. From the darkness above, suddenly there became pinpoints of light, piercing through the sky and looking down upon the world, casting their light as though they would wake the Mother from her sleep. And yet, she slept on.   Then the Homes saw a dark disc form in the sky. The Mother slept less soundly, as her dreaming thoughts provided light that found its way through the ground, and the waters, to her hidden eyes. As the Homes watched, the disc began to grow bright. First from the left, a sliver of light came. Then it grew, to cover half of the disc, and then came all the way across the disc. This light, more concentrated and brighter than the shafts given by the small points beside it. It shone across the waters, and the ground, and the Homes, and down below them all, to the face of the Mother, and shook her from her sleeping state.   The Mother rose from her place below the ground, only to find that she could not reach the source of what had wakened her. She dug holes below the ground, and yet still did not find what she sought. Thus were the caves of the ground made. She pushed at the ceiling and, slowly, stood. The ground rippled and undulated from this, her original resting place, and so the hills and cliffs were made. The Mother pushed at the ceiling again with her hands, and this time the stretched ground parted before her. She climbed from the hole and onto the world.   The Mother walked the grounds, for her resting place was far from the Homes. She sought the Homes, to look over them and find a new place to rest. She walked over the ground, and with every step she changed the ground. Water flowed into her footprints forming the lakes. The trees and grasses sprouted from the earth where her breath and sweat dropped. She wandered all the ground, stopping only once she found herself at the blue. As she grew closer to the Homes, her pace increased, for she could see them in the distance.   Just as she reached the edge of the Homes, a hill formed from her awakening appeared in front of her foot. She tripped and fell, and her body landed on the Homes. They sank into the ground, and the water rushed up to cover them. Remaining above the water were only a few islands. The Mother stood and, upon seeing what had occurred, began to weep. Her tears landed on the grounds and the waters where the Homes once stood proud, and where they landed the bounties of the Homegrounds sprouted.   The Mother looked over the Homegrounds and saw that not all was lost, and she saw that they were still ripe for her plans. Her dreaming mind had grown the idea of placing the matriarchs in the Homes, for them to care for the world when she slept, and to help her wake when the time came. She knelt by one of the islands of the Homelands, and took up some of the ground. She shaped this into the form of the first people, the matriarchs.  She made of the ground seven forms, and breathed upon them, giving them the gift of life.   The matriarchs looked to the Mother for instruction, new to this world and its ways.  The Mother stooped down again and told them of the ways of the Homelands.  Then, the world was unblemished by danger, and the matriarchs could walk the world unimpeded.  They did the tasks that the Mother bid them, and built the first huts in the Homelands, and were content.   Then, the matriarchs came to the Mother and asked for a gift.  They wished to be able to create life just as the Mother had created them.  The Mother thought on this, and granted it.  However, she wished for the matriarchs to truly understand the responsibility of such a task, and so created the first men.  By having to win the affection of another, the Mother hoped that the matriarchs would value the bond they shared and thus give full effort to the safekeeping of new life that they made.  The Mother kept the men unaware of much of her being, however, and did not grant them the sight that could tell them where she lay.  Nor did they have the strength of the matriarchs, or the speed.   In time, the people the Mother made spread across the Homelands.  All knew that were they to leave the Homelands, they would find nothing but empty ground and empty waters.  But there was one man who did not heed the Mother.  He was angry, for in his heart there was much hate, and no woman wished to take him in marriage.  He would travel to the edge of the Homelands and scream at the Mother, berating her for creating women who did not desire him.  The Mother ignored his shouts, as well she should, and the man knew enough not to make trouble within his village.  But something else heard his cries.   As there is below, so there is further below, and further below.  Below the Mother's birthplace, down and down through the twisting rock, there lay another being.  It was listening to the man's cries.  At the dawn of time, it and the Mother had been formed together, knowing not of each other, but made in opposition, as water counters fire and sky counters ground.  It slithered through the Under, and it made its way towards the Homelands.  Its foul breath filtered up through the earth, and upon the ground came the dangers.  Plants that were bountiful were now poisonous, animals that were affectionate turned angry.  The Mother saw this and searched for the source of the change, but she could not again go below without ruining her work.  She called the matriarchs to her again, and to them she shared her concerns.  The matriarchs turned to their offspring, their friends, their families, and began to prepare.  Having never armed for war, they armed for war.  Having never killed without need, they now practised their arts on the animals of the Homelands.  The men, too, were trusted with weapons.  Even the man who had called the being who now came to end them.   The being grew closer and closer.  The Mother's people began to feel its rumbles, and braced for its arrival.  The Mother reached to the sky, and from the still-brilliant disc drew down a shaft of light, coiling it around her arms.   The being punched through the centre of the Homelands.  Its shape was indescribable, but it radiated only anger, and felt of all things wrong, as though an antithesis to the world and its natural state.  It was not black, but of the absence of light, and in its path, the Homelands crumbled.  The islands that once were large were split to small, and the waters rose again.  The Mother's people fought as best they could, but they could not stand against the being.  The Mother, who had until now stayed her hand from the fight, saw that unless she would act it would be the end of the Homelands.  From her arms, the shaft of light sprang unto the being.  It writhed and crackled, and came from the ground up to the sky.  As it was torn from the ground, the man saw himself reflected in the being.  From his brain, his dark soul sprang to join with the being.  The Mother struggled with the shaft of light, but the being was stronger than even she was.  It sped up into the sky and into the disc.  The shaft of light that the Mother held suddenly disappeared, and for the first time since the beginning of all things, the disc began to dim.  First the left, then the middle.   The Mother saw its dimming, and felt herself grow tired.  Without the disc's light, her dreaming mind began to assert itself again.  Quickly, she knelt to the remainder of her people, and spoke of all she had left to tell them.  Most importantly, she said to them never to forget this occasion.   When the disc grew brilliant again, they should gather together, and tell of those who had come before, who had sacrificed themselves for the future, whether they be famed or unknown by all but one.  The Mother would be able to hear them then, and know their struggles.  And should they ever need her, she would once more rise.   After she had told her people this, the Mother stepped away from the Homelands for the first time since she had arrived.  On her journey, she saw the spread of evil that had come from the being, and her tears fell once more on the earth.  In this way, more and more life grew.  Her tears mingled with the scent of the being, and from this union sprang the other peoples of the world.  Not pure as her first people, the defenders of her work - rather, they held in them the capacity for good or evil.   The Mother returned to her resting place as the disc grew dark, and as it faded completely, she fell to sleep.  Her dreaming mind does battle with the being even today - we see the disc grow in brilliance and then once more fade as their wills contest.  One day, either the Mother will prevail, and the disc will shine once more over the Homelands, or the being will win, and there shall be no more light.  It is the duty of her chosen protectors, we Kajan, to give her strength in her battle by obeying her teachings.

Spread

The Mother Below is known by nearly all Kajan, but is very rarely shared to outsiders.  It does not appear in any widely-known texts of wider Mythia, and very few of those who live outside the swamps have ever heard its full telling.  It is told in many of the Kajan's rituals, and is often told before the day of The Unsung Hymn, to remind the Kajan of their duties and their purpose.

Variations & Mutation

Most versions of the myth are reasonably similar.  Some name the man, while others assign male or female gender to the being that came from the Under, but these are relatively minor changes.  One major variation of the myth is where the Mother is said to have created people outside the swamps as well.  This is one of the main differences between different Kajan tribes, as some are more accepting of outsiders due to this belief than others are.  The tribe that Atalia Segorna stayed with believed that all life was made by the Mother, while it is believed that the Inkbark tribe is less receptive to outsiders.

Cultural Reception

The Mother Below is an integral part of Kajan culture, told in full to every child upon their coming-of-age and in part to every child as they grow.  The telling of the myth to new Kajan adults is an important part of their coming-of-age ceremony.

In Art

The Kajan's art depicts the battle of the myth in many places.  In each village, at least one tapestry can be found showing the Mother's struggle with the being, and the devastation wrought upon the swamps by the battle.  The battle is also often displayed in friezes, or paintings on cave walls.  Other scenes frequently depicted in Kajan art are those of the Mother crafting the matriarchs, and crafting the first men.
Date of Setting
Beginning of time.
Related Ethnicities

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Comments

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13 Dec, 2020 19:19

This is a great myth - I really like the way you have told it in prose. The section on the variations is really interesting, particularly as it has an influence on how people in the tribes view outsiders.

Master Monkos
Andrew Booth
13 Dec, 2020 22:54

Thanks! Glad you liked it :)

Creator of the world of Mythia, where writing is magic!