Urenia's Creation Story
This is not the only creation myth in Urenia. It certainly isn’t taken to be factual, or even complete, by most Urenians. However, it probably does bear the most resemblance to the numerous, often divergent myths of how the cosmos of god and mortal came to be.
Told in Urenia before it even knew its first king, this story is true.
In the beginning are all things of the sky and earth. The world does not know time or death, for although beasts live and perish and the moon fattens and vanishes, there are no mortals to perceive these movements as fundamental changes, as existential losses. The world does not know lordship or the gods, for there are no mortals or divinities to command each other.
But since it is the way of the world to change, this is what happens next: In its movements, a star from the heavens brushes too close to the earth, falling into the cool waters of an autumn brook. Upon this chance, violent encounter, the remaining portion of the star comes to know itself, and as soon as it does, it names itself Ursha, which means order, beauty, and clarity. In the same way, the portion of the water that are disturbed comes to know to itself, and as soon as it does, it names itself Ourea, which means body, breath, and fire.
Ursha and Ourea call themselves God, and there is no one in the world who can know or speak to dispute them. The only conscious beings in sky and earth, they embrace whirling across the world in awesome passion and danger. They are wild and fecund. In the first eon, they name the trees of the earth and the minerals of the deep and everything else. In the second eon, they build cities of glass that reach to the clouds and shape the seas to their whim. In the third eon, they have sex and spawn a hundred thousand dragons and sphinxes and giants. And as dusk falls on the star-water-lovers-God at the end of this eon, as they lay on the earth exhausted and glorious, Ourea takes notice of a curious lump on the ground.
Ursha asks what that fleshly pile is.
Ourea says it is the feces from a lynx, which stalked the forests before either deity knew each other or itself.
Ursha laughs, and decides it will have one last joyful prank, carefully shaping the lump into a creature. Ourea joins in, breathing upon it.
They transmogrify this matter into a brood of creatures, which they call Humanity. At each other’s urging, they imbue it with a portion of their knowledge: to perceive the world, to speak the names of the world they have named, to revel in their glory.
And although they do not know it, the magic they muster in this creation is powerful. It draws the attention of the stars, the minerals, the winds, the animals, who come from the far corners of the cosmos to witness this act, and in doing so some of them come to know the world and themselves. A hush falls over these suddenly new gods, as the first Humans stir and waken.
But Human beings are not gods, and they are not beasts. They cannot comprehend God; they can scarcely comprehend themselves. They shriek in horror, recoiling from nature and reviling their own base, disobedient flesh. God chases in innocent anger after Human beings, proclaiming its trust and love, and corners them in a dark wood.
Huddling, angry, ashamed of itself, Human beings find the jawbone of a bear and fashion it into a weapon — so quickly have they begun to learn — and strike at God. They mean to drive back Ursha, but instead they wound Ourea. Ursha responds by obliterating Human beings with lucid, white fire. Ourea attempts to spare them, but in rage Ursha strikes Ourea, adding another wound and forever separating the two companions, such that Ursha is now “he” and Ourea “she.”
The universe is silent, aghast at this first murder. Spattered with the shit and gore of his own creations, Ursha trembles. Ourea chokes down her sobs, weeping. In the silence, the two Human beings who remain, young and delirious, flee into darkness, taking shelter in dank caves and under the shade of indifferent verdant trees.
It is the snakes of the world who decide to speak. Two-thirds of them merge into the wise, primordial serpent-deity, which we call Python.
Python announces what he plainly sees: Ursha and Ourea have imbued lesser creatures with their consciousness, and destroyed them. They have introduced time into the world. They have introduced death, suffering, and sin. This falls most heavily on the children of the gods: Dragons will know mercurial hatred and pride; ghosts will know hunger and mourning; and humans and their mortal siblings will know that they are condemned to war against and exploit each other until the end of time. Penance must be done.
First, says Python, Ursha and Ourea must relinquish a portion of their power, withdrawing from the Godhead that they once constituted.
Second, Ursha and Ourea will teach and protect mortals, sparing them total misery and starvation.
Third, mortals will be indebted to the gods. They will worship the gods and obey the most pious and righteous of mortals, forever.
Ursha and Ourea snarl in outrage. This obligation is too much for us to bear, they protest. Oh wise Python, where are your duties, how shall you be reduced?
Therefore, Python pledges to join them in their task of teaching and protecting mortals, and in his spare time he will count the infinitude of stars and days, taking on the role of the god of Time. To demonstrate his humility, Python gives up his arms and legs so he will crawl on the ground forever; the snakes, who are his kin, follow suit.
Satisfied, Ursha and Ourea set off to find the wayward mortal, Python slithering and fumbling to catch up. Ursha imperiously presents himself as a king, a scholar, a throne, an archway, an ideogram. Ourea graciously appears as a saintly mortal, a tree, a ram, a fallow field, a burning bush. Python allows himself to be found as a pool of rain, as a glade, a breeze, a snake, a moon. Some mortals — they have begat many children by now — reject them. Some mortals embrace one and reject the rest. The mortals who will become people of Urenia, who are found worthy, dedicate themselves to instruction by all three, and name them as the Powers Above.
Some say this is the end of the story, but I say it isn’t.
As the Ursha, Ourea, and Python search for their wayward children, an ambitious mortal who fears the gods and desires to protect his sons against them pleads to a mute world. Two-thirds of the hawks and crows of the world merge to form a deity which we call the God of Chaos. The God of Chaos shows the mortal how to create fire, build weapons, travel by sea, and speak new tongues.
A mortal who watches her father die wishes him never to return to the world, so that he will not continue to suffer the pains of old age. Two-thirds of the mice and voles of the world merge to form a deity which we call the God of Death. The God of Death builds an afterlife to house the dead, but insists on keeping them there. It remains aloof from mortals, but deigns to teach the wisest medicine, mourning, and communication with the dead.
A mortal who is weak and left to die begs to survive to die in the sunlight Two-thirds of the cats and wasps of the world merge to form a deity which we call the God of Secrets. The God of Secrets first whispers to her record of all things that shall be in the future. The God of Secrets then grants her powerful sorcery, with which she will terrorize her fellow mortals. The God of Secrets then strikes her blind, and I say this magician still walks Urenia by night, uttering prophecy and slaying any who cross her path.
Over time, it falls to the God of Chaos to take responsibility for storms, dragons, madness, and war, and it is temperamental about these forces. It falls to the God of Death to ensure mortality and separate the living from the dead. It falls to the God of Secrets to humble the proud, test the righteous, and reverse the fortunes of the powerful and weak. Thus, when Urenians come to know of these dark, nameless gods, they praise and fear them as the Powers Below.