Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Tale of Rakazhazhíní

It's time to take a deep breath and relax. Today's the Holy Day of Rakazhazhíní, Goddess of Clean Air!

Ah, it's good to be outside, isn't it?


Long ago, when gods were few and human beings nonexistent, Rakazhazhíní and Her father Néhété, God of Smoke and Darkness, began a cycle which lasts till this day. Taking turns rising from the Underworld, They passed each other at the splendid bronze gates every dawn and dusk. Each morning, Rakazhazhíní emerged to pull back the mists of darkness that shrouded the world, letting the light from Sorosotuzho, God of the Atmosphere, shine down upon all. Each evening, Rakazhazhíní returned to the Underworld to rest, letting Néhété rise to encompass the world once again with His darkness. It is thus that Rakazhazhíní is the Giver of Day.

During one of Her nightly respites, Rakazhazhíní gave birth first to Rékaré, God of Rock, and then Rana, Goddess of Clouds. When She rose the next morning, Rakazhazhíní placed Her children as They belonged: Rana floating above and Rékaré solidly below. Sorosotuzho’s light filtered so pleasantly through Rana’s clouds and radiated so marvelously off Rékaré’s rocks; Rakazhazhíní was quite proud of Her children.

Much to Rakazhazhíní’s chagrin, though, Rana started drifting down toward Her brother. Rakazhazhíní stepped underneath and lifted Rana back to the sky, but as soon as She let go, Rana moved toward Rékaré yet again. Rakazhazhíní knew something was amiss. Her children were not behaving properly.

She stepped back and let Them drift together, watching intently. Quickly, Rana and Rékaré were locked in an embrace and it became obvious to Rakazhazhíní that the two were in love. Thus, Their attraction.

Rakazhazhíní pulled Her children apart and placed Them back as They should be. Admonitions would be useless, She knew, for love has no ears. Instead Rakazhazhíní would be forced to forever stand between the two lovers, holding Them separate. And thus Rakazhazhíní rules the air that we breathe, forever between the earth and the sky.

Since She could no longer leave to the Underworld, Rakazhazhíní was forced to remain standing day and night, letting Néhété pull His shroud of darkness over Her as well. Every morning, however, She urged Him away and let the light shine forth.

Years later, Rana of the clouds married Korutuzho, God of Agriculture and King of the Gods, and so Rakazhazhíní did not need to always stand between Rana and Rékaré. Korutuzho was certainly help in that regard. Soon after Their marriage, Rana gave birth to numerous gods and goddesses, including Sozho, High God of Air. After numerous years, Sozho became King of the Gods in His father’s stead and still rules the universe to this day.

Despite Sozho being married to Nuvíní, High Goddess of Earth, Sozho and Rakazhazhíní were quite attracted to One another. They attempted to control Their urges, but eventually gave in to temptation. To avoid Nuvíní’s suspicion and jealous anger, Sozho and Rakazhazhíní transformed Themselves into quail and met in a distant land, whereupon They enjoyed each other’s company. They then parted ways, Their cravings satisfied.

At first, Rakazhazhíní thought They had successfully evaded Nuvíní’s notice. Once Rakazhazhíní proved to be with child, however, the suspicions began to swirl. No one could satisfactorily locate Sozho’s whereabouts at the time of conception. Furthermore, it soon became apparent that Rakazhazhíní was carrying twins; Sozho had sired twins before.

Nuvíní confronted Rakazhazhíní as She stood separating the rock and clouds. Shaking a wicked finger in the air goddess’s face, Nuvíní demanded to know who the father was. Before allowing Rakazhazhíní to reply, the earth goddess further insisted that She already knew the father was Sozho.

In a most pacifying tone, Rakazhazhíní refused to name the father. She would not lie, but She also could not tell the truth. If She admitted Her affair with Nuvíní’s husband, the earth goddess would wreak great vengeance upon Her and Her children. If Rakazhazhíní held Her tongue, perhaps Nuvíní would cool off and move to other concerns.

Nuvíní eventually gave up trying to pull the name from Rakazhazhíní, announcing that She knew the answer anyhow. As punishment for Rakazhazhíní’s act, Nuvíní called upon Her earth to never let Rakazhazhíní’s children be born upon the soil nor rock. No hill, valley, plain, nor plateau could be the birthplace for Her children. Neither the mainland nor any island would allow Rakazhazhíní to give birth. No boat that wished to return to shore could be the birthplace, either.

Stunned by this pronouncement, Rakazhazhíní watched Nuvíní stalk away. How could She ever give birth with all those restrictions? Where would She go? Would She be forced to remain pregnant forever?

For many months, Rakazhazhíní stood at Her post, not sure where to go. Sozho could not help Her without incurring more of Nuvíní’s wrath, so the air goddess was alone. Before too long, Rakazhazhíní was overly pregnant to a point where She had to do something. And so She began wandering the world, searching for a birthplace for Her children. Behind Her, the clouds descended to the rocks, blanketing the world in fog.

Wherever She went, Rakazhazhíní was shunned by the very land. Oftentimes, She was also shunned by the people upon the land. In the nation of Rasíkío, Rakazhazhíní stopped at a pond for a drink of the clear, clean water. She was quite thirsty from Her travels and travails, and thus needed to drink. The peasants of Rasíkío, however, worshipped Nuvíní. When they saw what Rakazhazhíní was about to do, they hastily stirred the bottom of the pond with long sticks. The mud from the pond bottom rose to fill the entire volume of water, rendering it undrinkable.

Rakazhazhíní, nearly dying of thirst, promptly turned the peasants of Rasíkío into frogs. If they liked muddy water so much, they could live forever in the wet gunk. Furthermore, it was not as if She could make Nuvíní any angrier at Her. Rakazhazhíní then proceeded to the next lake and drank Her fill.

While at that lake, a pack of wolves descended from the forest to surround Rakazhazhíní. At first She was alarmed, but it soon became apparent that they sensed Her trouble and were there to assist Her. They brought Her food to eat; they guarded Her while She slept and traveled; and they occasionally nudged Her in certain directions when She wasn’t sure which way next to try.

By this method, the wolves led Rakazhazhíní to a port town where She heard talk of an island floating out at sea. The island was named Tíusu and it was not attached to the earth in any manner. Thus, Nuvíní had no hold on it. Rakazhazhíní could give birth!

With the wolves’ permission, Rakazhazhíní transformed the pack into a flock of swans, whereupon they carried Her across the sea to the island of Tíusu. She stepped upon the shore and was amazed by the wild beauty of the island: soaring cliffs, untamed forests, towering waterfalls with shimmering rainbows. She sighed in contentment; it was the perfect place to bring Her new children into the world.

The other goddesses had been told of Rakazhazhíní’s travel to the island of Tíusu. Many of Them -- Nuvíní excluded -- arrived at the island to witness the births. Kérasa the Eldest, High Goddess of Water, stood sternly upon the shore. Kara, Goddess of Soil, disobeyed the command of Her high goddess, Nuvíní, for Kara had dreamed great import for these twins, and also awaited the new child-gods’ arrival. Sívorí, Goddess of Stars and Rakazhazhíní’s mother, alighted from the heavens to behold the birth of Her new, powerful grandchildren. Ríhíví, Goddess of Poisonous Water and Mother to the Gods, waited patiently to assist Rakazhazhíní with Her labor, despite Their natural enmity. Younger goddesses gathered around, as well, not wishing to miss this great birth to the King of the Gods.

Shortly after landing upon Tíusu, Rakazhazhíní entered labor. With the other goddesses’ help, She gave birth to a strong and beautiful goddess, Tarénara, Who became Goddess of Hunting and Lady of the Moon. After a miniscule break, Rakazhazhíní started labor again. With assistance from Tarénara, She then gave birth to a powerful, dazzling god, Píríuso, Who became God of the Sun. Rakazhazhíní sank back into Her mother’s arms and admired Her new children, for They were potent, impressive, and worthy of everyone’s admiration.

As the flock of swans circled the floating island of Tíusu, the various goddesses departed to tell the world of the magnificent new children of Sozho and Rakazhazhíní. Sozho immediately gave the sun to His new child, Píríuso, for Píríuso was as golden and radiant as the solar orb. Nuvíní, for Her part, recognized the skill and determination of Tarénara and refused to let a grudge fall from mother to daughter, so She granted the moon to Tarénara.

Rakazhazhíní was the last to leave Tíusu, saying goodbye to the swan-wolves who had helped Her so much. She returned to Her post, holding the clouds aloft, and thought lovingly for all Her children. She stands there to this very day, bringing Her calming influence to all. So long as you take the time to breathe deeply of Her sweet air, you too will feel the blessing of the Giver of the Day, the Hidden One, Rakazhazhíní.

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