Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Tale of Ríhíví

Happy Holy Day of Ríhíví! Be kind to your cats. Be kind to your mother.

b - Cat's face

Ríhíví is the Goddess of Poisonous Water, because only She is able to use it productively. No other god is as capable or honest as She.

In the early years of the universe, Ríhíví gave birth to the rivers of the world, and then to the seas and oceans. Her husband, Zhaké, God of Rivers, and Her pet cat, Kéva, have always remained at Her side. Kéva birthed the litters at the head of every lineage of cats in the world. Ríhíví and Zhaké have a lasting bond and a strong household, unlike many other divine marriages which are constantly torn by strife.

Ríhíví’s friend Rékaré, God of Rock, is deeply in love with His sister, Rana, Goddess of Clouds, but She is married to Korutuzho, God of Agriculture. In the olden times, Korutuzho ruled the universe and was King of the Gods. Even with the enormous strain of such a responsibility, Korutuzho could have treated Rana with respect and honor, and yet He didn’t. In fact, He barely acknowledged Her existence most of the time.

The mother of Rana and Rékaré, Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air, knew of Their love for each other and has forever stood between the clouds and the rock, keeping Them apart. Rékaré grew impatient with this situation and went to Ríhíví for Her assistance.

Ríhíví devised a plan to let the lovers finally meet. At this time, Ríhíví was pregnant with twins: Hívuítoví, Goddess of Rain, and Névazhíno, God of Animals; so She went to Rakazhazhíní and began a discussion on the benefits and challenges of motherhood, a topic which the goddesses had in common. Kéva and several other cats joined Her.

The air goddess became quite interested in the conversation, giving suggestions to Ríhíví on how best to raise Her children-to-be. Ríhíví reminded Her, however, that She already was a mother. To prove this, the water goddess proposed taking the air goddess to the Nízhorosívo River, one of Her strongest children. With a suspicious glance at Rana and Rékaré, Rakazhazhíní followed Ríhíví.

The Nízhorosívo River was overjoyed to see his mother, and so he surged and splashed and snaked, showing off for the goddesses. Kéva and the other cats hid behind Ríhíví to avoid the splashing water. The goddesses could still see Rakazhazhíní’s two children from the Nízhorosívo River, but the air goddess still questioned why Ríhíví had brought Her there.

Ríhíví, who cannot tell a lie, answered truthfully that She wanted to show the air goddess one of Her most accomplished children. Ríhíví then suggested that They travel to meet the largest and most powerful of Her offspring, the Far Western Ocean. Reluctant by interested, Rakazhazhíní went with Her and the cats to the shore of the distant ocean.

Rana and Rékaré were finally alone together, out from the overly watchful eye of the air goddess. The clouds descended to the rock and They cherished Their time together.

While the Far Western Ocean thundered and churned for his mother, Rakazhazhíní asked Ríhíví directly if She had brought Her there so the two lovers could finally be together. The water goddess could not lie, so She remained mute. Rakazhazhíní pressed Her for an answer, but She wouldn’t speak. Kéva and the other cats stood defiantly by Ríhíví’s side.

Eventually, Rakazhazhíní tackled Ríhíví to the ground. Kéva and the pack of cats tried to help, but were ineffectual against the strength of the air goddess. Ríhíví transformed Herself into a lioness, but Rakazhazhíní kept Her pinned to the earth. Ríhíví transformed Herself into a giant fish, but Rakazhazhíní maintained Her hold. Ríhíví transformed Herself into a raging river, but Rakazhazhíní blocked Her flow.

Exhausted and not wanting to endanger Her unborn children by further struggle, Ríhíví relented and admitted Her plan to allow Her friends Rékaré and Rana to be together. Enraged, Rakazhazhíní raced back to Her children, but She was too late. Rékaré and Rana had consummated Their love. Later that year, Rana gave birth to Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth.

It was soon thereafter that Sozho, High God of Air, rebelled against His father, Korutuzho, in the Great War for control of the universe. Since Nuvíní was the sister of Sozho, Rana feared retribution by Korutuzho and His allies against Her youngest child. Rana therefore entrusted Nuvíní to Ríhíví. Ríhíví promised to protect the child as if She were one of Her own, alongside Hívuítoví and Névazhíno, to whom Ríhíví had given birth shortly before Nuvíní was born.

As the battle raged between the gods, Korutuzho sent His legions of demigods and demons to destroy Nuvíní. The old king’s demigods encircled Ríhíví’s castle, sending wave after wave of attacks. Ríhíví and Her fierce cats repelled them all, protecting the three child-gods. Many cats gave their lives so the young gods might live.

One demigod breached the defenses, entering Ríhíví’s great hall. As He lunged for Nuvíní with His sword, the demigod gave a huge bellow. Ríhíví quickly threw a bucket of poisoned water into His gaping mouth. He swallowed instinctively and immediately keeled over from the poison.

Ríhíví stood over the living but immobile demigod and ripped His beating heart from His chest. She threw it from Her castle’s highest ramparts at Korutuzho’s army, who recoiled from the sight. Knowing their cause to be hopeless, the old king’s demigods and demons retreated. Soon thereafter, Sozho defeated His father and became King of the Gods.

Sozho built a new, grand castle to be the meeting place for all the gods. During winter, the responsibility for tending the fires to keep the giant castle warm fell naturally upon Sozho’s younger brother Voro, God of Hearth Fire. One day shortly after the beginning of the new year, Sozho held a celebration worthy of the gods, celebrating nothing in particular. Late in the evening, Voro fell asleep while He watched the fires. A spark escaped the hearth and ignited a tapestry.

Ríhíví was the first to notice the growing blaze. She immediately grabbed a cauldron of water to douse the flames, but Nokí, Goddess of Food, stopped Her, because Nokí intended to use that water to cook. As the flames spread to the rugs, Ríhíví and Her cats raced to the nearest river to gather water, but Vuzhí, Goddess of Life, stood in Ríhíví’s way. She wouldn’t let the water goddess divert Her child’s flow toward the flames because it will kill the fish swimming in the river.

As the fire turned into a roaring inferno, consuming the tables, chairs, doors, and eating away at the beams holding the castle together, Ríhíví and Her cats ran to a nearby sulfurous spring. None of the gods stopped Her as She and the cats scooped up the undrinkable water and sprayed it over the fire. Kéva and the other cats became a continuous aqueduct from the spring to the castle, swallowing water till they nearly burst then drenching the flames. Some of the bravest cats got too close to the inferno and burned to death, but they saved the castle.

Ríhíví and Her loyal cats stood proudly in the center of the smoldering ashes of the extinguished fire, the castle still standing tall over Her head. The other gods returned to the castle and expressed Their awe and amazement at Ríhíví’s abilities. None of Them were capable of saving the castle. None of Them are strong enough to protect Their homes.

None of Them, that is, except Ríhíví, Goddess of Poisonous Water, Defender of the Defenseless, Teller of Truth, Mistress of the Cats, and Mother to the Gods. Ríhíví is by far the greatest god of Them all.

No comments: