Friday, March 23, 2012

Many gods

There are many gods in that country; but each holds sway for only one day a year. If a person is born on the day of a powerful god, it is considered a misfortune, because they are sure to be overshadowed. What unites these gods is that, though they are known by all, they are not worshipped, for they are acknowledged as belonging to that class of people who, though powerful and immortal, with preferences and activities known to all, are nevertheless unreal.

The most powerful of these gods is the god of the winter solstice.  Children send him petitions, and he is capable of granting wishes. He is said to live in the factory at the top of the world that produces everything, whose vast engines are tended by gremlins that never leave that place. He requires the sacrifice of an evergreen tree, which he apparently abhors.

The god of the spring equinox is the Prince with a Thousand Enemies, El-Ahrairah. He is too fast to ever be seen, and distributes food at random, to those who will seize it.

A dark god reigns at the harvest; he is called Man of the Lantern. He rules all things which resemble a person but are not; the ghost, the corpse, the foreigner, the automaton, the demons and the angels. On this day all are asked to reveal their true character, by donning masks of their own choosing. The ritual is to visit neighbors, terrorizing them into giving up their food for a promise of safety.  But since everyone is doing this at the same time, most end up with about what they started with, except the elderly or infirm.

The other harvest festival is a celebration of a day when the original inhabitants of this land took pity on the first settlers, and taught them the secret of sacrificing a fish so that corn would grow.  They are said to have given them the Cornucopia, the infinite spiral horn of a ram, which gave a neverending supply of whatever the holder desired. The settlers used this as a weapon against the original inhabitants, murdering them and driving them from their land. The day is a celebration of this victory.

In the summer, they hold remembrance of a terrible war, in which they were cut off from their home country and their heritage.  The people gather together and launch rockets to remind themselves of the horrors of war; small children run crying at the noise and the smoke. It is called the day of Loneliness.

Space prevents me from detailing all the others; for example, the day on which lovers exchange depictions of internal organs, or the day of the aard-pig.