Christina (christinathena) wrote in worldbuilding,

Myth: A Mother's Sacrifice

In ancient times there lived a poor, but righteous, woman. She lived in a small house with only a single young daughter. It came about that a famine fell over the land, and they went hungry. The crop was poor, and finally she was left with almost no food left in the house, and of her animals, only a single vazhiina [a food animal roughly analogous to pigs on Earth]. She prayed every day to the gods.

One day, the mother was looking for wild berries in the forest when a messenger from the gods appeared before her, appearing as a beautiful man, with flawless skin and long hair, black as night. She fell on her knees before the messenger.

"The gods have heard your prayers and are prepared to end this famine. They demand only a single sacrifice"

"What do the gods desire? I have so little." The mother replied.

"The gods demand the ultimate sacrifice. You must offer your daughter as a burnt offering upon an altar. Your land will become fertile, as will you, and you shall have compensation for your sacrifice"

The mother was shocked by this demand. "How can I sacrifice my daughter? I love her far too much!"

The messenger was unmoved by her plea. "That is the sacrifice demanded of the gods. Sacrifice her and live, or die of hunger" And with that, the messenger disappeared.

The mother was shaken by what she had seen and heard, and returned to her home, grieving.

"What is the matter, mother?" Her daughter asked

"I have had a vision. The gods demand a great sacrifice to end this famine, but I do not know if I can do it"

"If the gods demand a sacrifice, then they should have what they demand. The gods always keep their word"

The mother contemplated the daughter's words. Later that day she went into a clearing in the woods and began to build an altar.

"What is their demand?" the daughter asked

"It is terrible. I shall tell you later" The mother replied.

By the end of the evening, she had finished building the altar. She went to bed grieving.

Early the next morning she arose. She told her daughter to wait in the house and prepared the altar, gathering wood for the fire and oil to burn. She stood before the prepared altar for a long time. She looked up to the heavens. "I have heard and considered your demand." She said. "You shall have a sacrifice." And with that, she lit the wood and climbed upon the altar. "You shall not have my daughter. Take me instead!" And with that, she lay upon the altar, gathered her strength, and plunged a knife into her heart, just as the fire was starting to rise towards her.

The gods witnessed her sacrifice and were impressed. They sent the same messenger to the mother. The messenger raised his arms, and the fire abruptly extinguished itself. Then he walked up to altar, and lay his hands upon the mother's chest. Immediately, the mother was restored to life, with the knife wound healed.

"The gods have witnessed your love and devotion, and are impressed. Such love for your daughter! To defy the very gods for that love! The gods have taken pity upon you. Go, return to your home. You shall never again go hungry, if you obey what I am about to command you"

The mother looked at the messenger, shocked, astonished that she had been brought back to life. "Speak your commands. I shall obey, if they be just."

The messenger laughed. "You are a brave woman! Return home. Prepare a feast from what food remains in your home. Slaughter your last vazhiina and invite your neighbors. Leave not a crumb in your house by sunset. If you do this, then tomorrow a stranger shall come to your house, with a gift of great value. Let him into your home, and you shall never again go hungry"

"I hear and obey" the mother replied. "But I have one question, what gift will this stranger bring?"

"It is a gift such as no mortal has seen, a gift of great value, which will keep you from hunger" And the messenger disappeared again.

The mother returned to her home and told her daughter what had transpired. Together, they prepared a feast from all that was left in their home, and invited their neighbors to share. Obedient to the commands, they scoured the house to ensure nothing was left.

The next morning, as promised, a stranger arrived, a beautiful man, tall, with hair the color of sunset, and eyes of deep green. The mother invited him in.

"Greetings, O Devoted Mother" the stranger greeted her. "Are you the only one awake, or has your daughter awoken as well?"

"She remains asleep" The mother replied.

"Wake her up, and send her to the altar upon which you sacrificed yourself. Tell her to look below it, where your blood splashed onto the ground. There, she will find a small plant that was not there yesterday. Have her bring it here, to be planted in your field"

"Is that the gift the divine messenger promised?"

"No. For that is a gift that came from your love. Send her out and I shall give you my gift". And so the mother sent her daughter out. The stranger presented her with a bag. "With this bag you shall never go hungry again. Whenever you open it, you will find food, whatever food you were thinking of"

"Are you a god or a man?" The mother asked.

The stranger smiled. "I am neither god nor man. And I am both god and man."

"I do not understand"

"You shall. Now look in the bag, and prepare a meal for you, myself, and your daughter"

The mother prepared a meal, as her daughter returned. "What is this plant?" The daughter asked asked.

"Let it grow for six months, give it plenty of water and make sure it gets plenty of sunlight. In honor of your maternal love, the plant will produce round fruits with a milky liquid. Drink, and you shall feel no pain, even in childbirth. In honor of the blood you shed in defiance of the gods, the plant shall produce bright red leaves. Boil these leaves in water, and you shall see the gods. In memory of the sorrow you felt at the gods' command, chew the stems and your sorrow shall flee"

And thus did the Mother's Love plant come to the world.

(Part two, revealing the identity of the mysterious stranger, tomorrow)
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