Religion 1: Cosmogony

The first in an irregular series…

Summarised from the Qári language epic Ta fesu tahirá (the incipit, literally ‘from the becoming of years’).

In the beginning there was only salt water, and no light. After unnumbered turnings of the starless sky the salt of the brine came together and formed a body, a monstrous form with only one eye, one arm and one leg. The body awoke and took for himself the name Té Udo[1].

Té Udo masturbated, and from his first masturbation sweet water was divided from salt. Té Udo masturbated again, and from his second masturbation, his seed fell into the sweet water and from this arose the sleeping gods. Té Udo masturbated a final time, and from his third masturbation no liquid came but his groans echoed from the vault of heaven and became the áyatxe[2]. And with this, the gods awoke.

The gods looked upon their father and saw that he was deformed and monstrous, and they turned upon him and tore apart his mangled body. His one eye they placed in the heavens to illuminate the days, his two testicles they placed in the heavens to illuminate the nights. From his flesh they made the earth, from his bones they made the hills. His hair they made into grass, his penis they set in the earth to bring forth the date palm. His one arm they set at the centre of the earth and from this they hung the sky and set it to spin. His breath they placed in the heavens to bring forth wind, his brain they dried and cast to the south to make the sands. From the lice and fleas that crawled upon his skin they made the beasts of the sky, from the marrow of his bones they made the beasts of the land and from his blood they made the fish of the waters.[3]

The gods chose Bá Látka as their leader, because she was the cleverest. The only god who did not assent to this was Té Itlán, who believed that as the bravest and strongest he should be the leader. So he went off into the forests and plains and hunted instead, and ignored the other gods for a time.

In time, the gods grew weary of reaping and sowing, and cried out to Bá Látka to devise some cunning way to allow the gods their leisure. Bá Látka refused, and reminded the gods that to reap and to sow was their lot, and with this they should be content.

Like middle siblings throughout history, Té Gaxiti, Té Yána, Bá Tapo and Bá Rása came together and spoke with each other, and they agreed that this was bullshit. So they formulated a plan. Té Gaxiti and Té Yána summoned the four Pleasant Gods[4] and set them a task to go out and select from all the animals, birds and fish of the world those which might best serve the gods. Bá Tapo and Bá Rása conspire to steal the utatsir[5] from Bá Látka.

Té Gaxiti and Té Yána were presented with a variety of animals by the Pleasant Gods, but eventually chose the monkey. While not the cleverest, the most industrious or the strongest, the monkey had the right balance of these three qualities. So the Twins took the best of the monkeys and taught them to speak, and so created humankind.

Meanwhile, Bá Tapo took a feast to Bá Látka and as her price requested one third of the utatsir. Bá Látka agreed, but reluctantly. Then Bá Rása took her brewing vats to Bá Látka and got her drunk. As her price, she requested another third of the utatsir. Bá Látka agreed, but reluctantly. Finally, Bá Látka saw both Bá Tapo and Bá Rása approaching her palace. Hungover and afflicted with indigestion, she flung the remaining utatsir into the heavens to keep them from her wily sisters and to save her head and belly from further punishment.

The pieces of their plan coming together, the four Great Gods again took counsel. Té Gaxiti and Té Yána presented their creation, and Bá Rása and Bá Tapo selected the best of these and gave them the utatsir. Then they set their grateful new servants to work and retired from reaping and sowing to their leisure.

Endnotes:

[1] In Classical Qári this is understood to mean “Lord Evil”. However, it comes from Old Qári udá ‘salt’.

[2] Life force, essentially.

[3] It is not recorded what they did with his leg. This became something of a trope among the Qáritu, with uqida Té Udo ‘Té Udo’s leg’ being a proverbial expression for something which is prone to being overlooked.

[4] The Qári term here is Kimat Kalal ‘nice gods’, as opposed to the other Té Gaxiti, Té Yána, Bá Tapo and Bá Rása, who are called the Rotit Kalal ‘the great gods’. It is clear that kimi ‘nice’ is used in a similar sense to the Furies being referred to as the “Kindly ones”. Té Itlán and Bá Látka are called the Oqit Kalal, ‘the elder gods’.

[5] The principles of civilisation, q.v the Sumerian me.

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