Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Tale of Rézhíní

The spring holiday season is drawing to a close. Today is the Holy Day of Rézhíní, Goddess of Plants.

She is the most beloved and beautiful goddess of all. She's also dead.

And yet the plants keep growing. That's how wonderful Rézhíní is!


With flowing, golden locks and pure, pale skin, Rézhíní was the envy of all the goddesses. Her beauty surpassed even that of Rana, Goddess of Clouds. Unfortunately -- incredibly distressingly -- Rézhíní died and Her marvelousness was lost forever. Or was it?

Will She rise again?

When She lived, so long ago, Rézhíní was the wife of Huro, God of Thunder, an ill-tempered god with a penchant for violence. He rarely hit Her, though, for Rézhíní could strike back with force that Her beauty would belie. Despite this strength, Rézhíní was kind to all She met, trusting and caring with a heart of light and goodness.

As Her hair was golden, so was the harvest wheat which She helped grow and the corn which She nurtured from the soil. Everyone in the world admired Rézhíní for Her skill and fertility and always requested Her assistance with their crops. Even now, when She is in the Underworld, Rézhíní will aid your plants to grow, if only you pray to Her and commit your life to Her.

Countless years ago, on one winter’s morning, Rézhíní awoke from a horrible dream of death and gloom -- or, more particularly, Her own death and others’ gloom. She immediately ran to Her father Sozho, High God of Air and King of the Gods, to tell of this dream. Sozho was in a state of distress, as well, for He had dreamt the same vision of Rézhíní’s death and the subsequent destruction of His universe.

Sozho declared that this tragedy must not be allowed to take place. All the gods loved Rézhíní and all the gods loved the universe. Sozho decided to extract an oath from everything in the world, so that nothing would harm His beautiful daughter, Rézhíní. He called every object before Him, one by one: every rock, every plant, every animal; every sword, axe, and knife. He called every god, demigod, demon, and mortal. He called to Him every disease, poison, and acid. He called earth, fire, water, and air. Every single one swore the oath, vowing to never harm His daughter, Rézhíní.

Or so all the gods thought.

After the oaths, life went on. Rézhíní did not die as She had dreamt. In fact, the gods soon discovered that no matter what weapons They threw at Her, the weapons would deflect and Rézhíní would remain unharmed. This soon became Their favorite pastime. The gods whiled away hours, days, and months taking turns throwing rocks at Rézhíní, swinging swords at Her, shooting arrows at Her, and the like. Rézhíní stood politely -- rather bored of the whole endeavor -- and let Them have Their fun.

Whilst Rézhíní stood at the center of attention, the gods were struck by -- reminded of, actually, for They already knew -- Her great beauty and charm. One god in particular grew quite lustful for the fair-skinned, blonde goddess. He was Zhíanoso, High God of Fire. During the festivities, Zhíanoso made advances of a sexual nature toward Rézhíní, whispering in Her ear every time He approached to retrieve a thrown spear or rock.

Rézhíní ignored His comments, with an occasional rebuke. She was married to Huro and entirely committed to remain faithful. Zhíanoso did not back down at the threats of Huro’s violence, since the high god felt Himself stronger than the thunder god. The blonde goddess managed to keep Zhíanoso at bay, however, by reminding Him of the various gods and goddesses watching Them.

That evening, after Rézhíní had retired to Her chambers and while Huro was still out drinking with His compatriots, She heard a knock upon Her door. Considering it may be Zhíanoso, Rézhíní opened the door anyway, for She was not afraid of Him. The person opposite the door, however, was a wrinkly, old woman who introduced herself as Saka.

Saka said that she had seen how Rézhíní and Zhíanoso had been talking during the day and thought They would make quite the match. Rézhíní retorted that She was married to Huro and could not possibly ever sleep with Zhíanoso. The old woman scowled, muttering that the fire god was a much kinder person than most gave Him credit for.

Gesturing for Saka to leave Her presence, Rézhíní told her to go sleep with Zhíanoso herself, if she found Him so attractive. Rézhíní screamed that She never wished to see the fire god again for the rest of Her life. She then slammed the door and returned to bed, thinking the escapade over, and soon fell asleep.

Out in the hallway, the old woman transformed into Zhíanoso, for she had been the fire god in disguise. With angry smoke escaping with every hot breath, Zhíanoso planned His revenge. A moment later, He changed Himself into a mosquito and flew under Rézhíní’s door, whereupon He resumed His usual form.

Leaning over the sleeping goddess, Zhíanoso pulled a knife from His belt and lowered it toward Rézhíní’s head. Quietly and deftly, He proceeded to cut off Her long, golden hair. Without waking Her, the fire god removed all of Rézhíní’s locks, rendering Her completely and totally bald. Wrapping the hair in a skein, Zhíanoso fled out the window into the night.

The next morning, Rézhíní awoke, looked in the mirror, and was promptly horrified. She was hideous! Throughout the world, plants began to wither -- field after field of golden wheat fell and became nothing but barren dirt. Rézhíní knew Zhíanoso had perpetrated this travesty, for everyone else loved Her dearly.

She called Huro to Her chambers -- not wanting to expose Her baldness to anyone passing in the hall -- and told Him of Zhíanoso’s actions. Huro exploded with rage. Lightning arced uncontrolled from His hands, scorching jagged lines in the walls and floor and burning Her bed in half.

The thunder god burst from the castle and cornered Zhíanoso on an open field. The fire god had been overconfident is His abilities; Huro easily pinned Him to the ground. Soon, Zhíanoso was promising anything and everything to stop the furious thunder god from killing Him.

Huro demanded the fire god reproduce Rézhíní’s hair with the finest handspun gold thread. Zhíanoso agreed. He would have Rívorí, Goddess of Wildfire, forge and craft the wig and it would be more beautiful than Rézhíní’s natural hair had been.

Huro then demanded the fire god have Rívorí produce a war hammer for Huro which would be strong enough to knock down mountains, small enough to carry tucked in His tunic, and fleet enough to always return to Huro’s hand whenever He threw it -- after it clobbered His target. Zhíanoso agreed. Rívorí could create a hammer with all those qualities.

Huro further demanded They fashion Him a belt that would double His strength whenever He wore it. Zhíanoso sighed and agreed. Rívorí would do it.

Thus satisfied, Huro released the fire god and let Him run to Rívorí to begin work on Rézhíní’s hair and Huro’s weapons. The next day, Rívorí presented the golden wig to Rézhíní, and it was indeed as lovely a set of locks as Her own hair had been. Rézhíní observed Herself in the mirror and was satisfied. Throughout the world, the plants sprang anew. The corn and wheat once again grew tall.

All was right in the world once more -- or so She thought. Prophetic dreams will come true, in their own time.

Far away in a distant land, Zhíanoso nursed His grudge. He considered the many ways to exact His revenge upon the fair and beautiful Rézhíní. Zhíanoso considered the oaths that Sozho had extracted from every object in the world and wondered if there might possibly be something He forgot.

Zhíanoso turned Himself into the old hag, Saka, once again and went to see Sozho. The air god talked kindly with the old woman, listening to Zhíanoso’s fabricated worries. Zhíanoso-Saka then queried about Rézhíní’s invulnerability. Pretending to be concerned for the blonde goddess, He asked if there was anything in the world that had not promised to not hurt Rézhíní.

In a whisper, Sozho confided in Saka that there was one plant, the mistletoe, that was so young that He could not force it to swear an oath, in good conscious. Saka nodded in approval, but ended the conversation as quickly as she could, without drawing Sozho’s suspicion.

Revenge in His heart, Zhíanoso found the young mistletoe and fashioned a bow and arrow from its wood. He then returned to the field where the gods entertained Themselves by throwing objects at Rézhíní, and He stood at the back of the crowd and waited. Soon He spotted Rézhíní’s blind brother Nazhoro, God of Coldness, arriving at the field. Zhíanoso approached the blind god and asked Him to join the fun.

Reluctantly, for He was blind and had never seen the invulnerability of His sister, Nazhoro agreed. Zhíanoso provided Nazhoro with the mistletoe bow and arrow and pointed Him toward His sister. The assembled gods and goddesses watched with great anticipation, ready to watch the amazing sight of a blind god hitting His target, but having the arrow bounce off Rézhíní, leaving Her unharmed.

For Her part, Rézhíní had been as bored as ever, but seeing Her brother for the first time in a long while lightened Her spirits. She called out to Nazhoro, greeting Him and telling Him not to worry. All the gods had shot arrows at Her, and She was still quite healthy.

The blind god returned a greeting and aimed the arrow at the sound of Her voice. Taking a deep breath, He released the bowstring. The arrow flew straight and true toward Rézhíní, who stood still and waited for it to bounce off Her chest. She felt it press Her skin, which was normal, but then it pierced Her heart, which was completely new.

Rézhíní screamed in agony. Her legs lost sensation and She fell, blacking out before She hit the ground. The universe was lost to Her. She was dead. Next She knew, Rézhíní was standing before Pétíso, God of the Dead, in His great hall, being welcomed to the Underworld.

Rézhíní’s father, Sozho, raced forward to Her prone form, but there was nothing to be done. Their painful dreams had come true. Rézhíní had died in a most horrific way: shot through the heart by Her brother without defending Herself, while a dozen gods watched in enjoyment. Suddenly Sozho feared the remainder of the dreams: the end of the universe. Was it about to begin?

In magnificent grief, the gods swarmed at Nazhoro, but the blind god evaded them, escaping from the field. Sozho recognized the arrow as being mistletoe and remembered seeing Zhíanoso hand the weapon to Nazhoro. He decided that the old hag Saka must have told Zhíanoso! In front of all the gods, Sozho declared that it was Zhíanoso Who had intended to kill Rézhíní, and not Her brother.

Huro grabbed the fire god and pinned Him to the ground once again, demanding an explanation and declaring that He would not be so forgiving this time. Zhíanoso chuckled at the thunder god’s anger, but said not a word. Frustrated, Huro tied Zhíanoso to a boulder with unbreakable chains of enchanted iron and set a viper above Him to continuously drip venom until the fire god admitted His guilt. Zhíanoso screamed with every drop of poison upon His face, but refused to say a word.

Zhíanoso’s wife Hívuítoví, Goddess of Rain, quickly arrived to catch the venom in a bowl, thus protecting Her husband. Every time the bowl filled and She went to empty it, however, Zhíanoso was once again tortured by the dripping poison. To this very day, Zhíanoso and Hívuítoví continue this cycle. No god cares to intervene, for what He did to the beloved Rézhíní.

It is said that once Zhíanoso escapes His bonds -- which might be a thousand years from now or tomorrow morning -- He will resume His fight against Huro and those Who He perceived to do Him wrong. Many will side with Zhíanoso, for He is a high god and has many followers. This battle will begin the End of Times.

Do not fear the End of Times, however, for it is only once the old gods are swept away -- once Zhíanoso, Pétíso, Nazhoro and even Sozho and Huro all are killed in battle -- will Rézhíní rise from the Underworld and rule the new universe. Rézhíní’s new age will be one of peace and harmony, of growth and salvation. Do not fear the End of Times, for it shall be when the Dying Goddess lives again.

Rézhíní knows this, for She is dead and can spy the future. She knows the date of Her reincarnation -- Her resurrection -- and is preparing Herself for the time when She shall be the Queen of the Gods, Ruler of the Universe, and the guardian of all. What we must do is prepare ourselves, as well. The time is coming; it may be tomorrow. You must be ready. You must open your heart to the goodness and light of the Dying Goddess. You must live as She lived.

The End of Times is nigh!

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