An unorthodox creation myth—and no, I don't speak with a lithp.
|In the beginning, there was naught but a colossal heavenly body known as Universe. Actually, it was not truly in the beginning, for time had no beginning, nor would it have an ending—there was never a time before time. All living things are inclined to think in terms of beginnings and ends, for infinity is the most ethereal of concepts. After all, each creature’s life is imperceptibly finite relative to the eternal span of time, as if it is no more than a mere grain of sand on an endless beach. Universe had always been there, and it would always continue to endure after they were gone. In any case, these events occurred many eons ago.
It took forever to happen, but at some singular moment, change took place on Universe for the very first time, and the location was atop the great Mount Zephyr. The tiniest of plants began to sprout at the mountain’s apex, 222 miles above the surface. This was a very extraordinary plant, for it was conceived from nothing and grew despite the lack of the four elements necessary for life. It eventually grew to be 2 miles tall, with a massive stem extending completely upright into the Void. What type of plant was it, you ask? It was an eggplant, but not just an ordinary eggplant, mind you. For you see, on this eggplant, there grew an egg. The pearly white jewel was revealed in all its glory when the 22 enormous petals at the head of the eggplant separated and encircled it like a glorious crown.
The huge egg was rooted firmly in place atop its perch, but something inevitably began to stir inside of it. The movement was slight at first, but grew increasingly forceful, until the struggles finally severed the egg from its roost. Oh no! The egg was on a crash course with the ground 224 miles below! Surely something as delicate as that would never withstand such an impact as the one inevitably coming! It didn’t take long for the egg to reach terminal velocity, and all hope seemed lost as it raced toward the ground at breakneck speed. Soon, the doomed embryo was within a dozen miles, then a dozen feet, and then a dozen inches of its ultimate destination, until finally….
The egg made contact with the barren surface of Universe, and no matter where one was, it was impossible not to hear the sound of the Big Bang—that is, if any being existed to hear it yet. The shell shattered into countless miniscule pieces, and the milky white shrapnel radiated far outward in all directions. Many of the razor-sharp shards lodged themselves deep within the Void, thus creating the galaxies.
In the wake of all this destruction, the egg’s contents remained unharmed, and upon the face of Universe, amidst tiny fragments of its former shell stood…a chicken? No, this can't be right...let me check again. Well, apparently that's what it says—a chicken. A giant, enormous chicken. Let's see where this goes. The Great Hen was understandably dazed and confused, and as She looked around to orient Herself, She found that Her surroundings were completely dark, save the modest amount of light emanating from the newly formed stars above. The Great Hen couldn’t understand why She was here—She didn’t know Her purpose. But She knew She had a purpose. There was another thing She knew as well, which was that if anything were to be accomplished, She would need to be able to see, which would require light. The only problem was that She wasn’t sure how to go about bringing light out of the darkness. It wasn’t like there was a magical light switch, and even if that were the case, She’d never be able to find it through the gloom. Then it came to Her.
“Let there be light!” the Great Hen boomed in a mighty voice, but nothing resulted from Her decree. She realized afterwards how silly it was to think She could create light simply by ordering it to appear. There had to be another way. Wait a minute…of course! She had the right idea, just the wrong words. In fact, She didn’t need words at all, but….
“Cluck cluck!” She emitted the two sounds in rapid succession, each of them like a great clap of thunder, and Universe was instantly bathed in a brilliant light. The Great Hen was proud of Her achievement, but to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, She repeated the action and was rewarded with darkness, as though a great shroud had been tossed over everything. Yes! That’s it! Cluck on, cluck off! And so it began. She had created the first element: fire.
Now was not the time for the Great Hen to rest on Her laurels, however, since there was still so much more to do. She decided to cluck twice again, and radiant beams of light illuminated the land, allowing Her to survey the desolate terrain before Her. It was mostly gently rolling hills, but a spire-like mountain nearby stretched far into the Void, well out of Her sight. That was about all, though. There was absolutely no sign of life. In order for there to be life, there would need to be water, but She didn’t know how to create it! It wasn’t like She could just cluck twice and water would materialize out of nothing! The Great Hen began to think this task would be much more than She could handle. She got so discouraged that She sat down and started to cry, and the tears soon flowed out of Her eyes like waterfalls. After some time, when She finally had the strength to lift Her head, She looked up and saw a clear fluid flowing through the spindly network of cracks emanating from the site of Her recent arrival. She wasn’t quite sure how it happened, but She had created the second element: water.
The Great Hen was overjoyed at this development, just watching as the water flowed from the crater and distributed itself into the system of rivers, like a heart pumping blood through its arteries to the body. Just as blood brings life to flesh, the water brought life to the sterile ground, thus creating the third element: earth.
There was only one thing left to do now. Outside of Universe, there only existed—or perhaps more appropriately, didn’t exist—a great black nothingness called the Void, a vacuum that would suck the life out of any being. With a renewed enthusiasm, the Great Hen blew the breath of life into Universe, and the color of the sky high above gradually changed from black to blue. This is how She created the fourth and final element: air.
Through Her efforts, the Great Hen had nurtured Universe and made it suitable for life. To defend Her creation, She created a protective layer that encircled it like a gargantuan eggshell. This atmosphere would forever hold the breath of life within its walls, and it would likewise prevent the invasion of the lifeless environment of the Void.
The Great Hen scraped Her beak along the ground, generating the first spark of life. From that point, Universe matured before Her very eyes. The landscape, at one time devoid of all life, now boasted lush ferns and majestic trees overflowing with succulent fruits. She took a leisurely walk alongside one of the many grand, crystal clear rivers and surveyed Her wondrous creation. She basked in its marvelous beauty, but at the same time didn’t feel completely content, thinking there was still much more work to be done. There was much to appreciate in the tranquil, static, and unchanging world of plants, but the Great Hen longed for variety and excitement. She envisioned Universe as being a lively, dynamic, and changing place as well.
The Great Hen kept traveling along the river until She found a large clearing, which She claimed as Her nest. At this point, She sat down and began to lay a countless number of eggs. They were of greatly varying sizes—some were relatively large, while others were too small to see. She tended to the eggs until they were ready to hatch, and when the moment finally came, She watched in anticipation as the animals broke free from their shells. Each egg produced two individuals: a male and female of one type of animal. Out of one shell there came bears, out of another there came wolves, out of another there came tigers, out of another there came hawks, out of another there came turtles, and out of another there came elephants. Every type of animal was represented: aardvarks, zyzzyvas, and everything in between.
Every animal had a purpose in Universe, and they were all born with an innate sense of that reason for their existence. Through the guidance of their instincts, they went about performing their respective tasks, and soon Universe was operating in a harmonious balance. It became a thriving place, bustling with activity; in fact, the development of Universe was so successful that the Great Hen had difficulty keeping watch over all that took place. She knew what had to be done.
She returned to Her nest and laid a single, very special egg, attending to its every need until, at last, something penetrated the creamy white shell. A small creature peered out at the alien environment and climbed out of its egg when it realized there was nothing to fear. The Great Hen proudly admired this ultimate creation of Hers, which She resolved to call a “human.” The one standing on two legs before Her was the female of the species, who was fully formed, possessing eyes with irises the color of earth; and lustrous, raven-colored hair in several isolated places, but mainly atop her head. Most of her body was bare of hair, and the smooth, graceful curves of her bronze skin were prominently displayed. In a short time, the male human exited the egg and assumed his position next to his cohort. There were subtle differences between the two, but they were still very much the same: two halves of the same egg.
“Greetings,” said the Great Hen in a gentle voice, although it was a deafening roar to the humans’ sensitive ears. Still, they knew not to be afraid. Just as their bodies emerged from the eggshell fully developed, the humans possessed all knowledge—that is, at least, as much knowledge as a human could possibly possess. They had the ability to speak and understand language, to walk, and to reproduce, but one thing they still couldn’t ascertain. “Why have you summoned us, Goddess?” the female asked bluntly.
The Great Hen anticipated the question. “I conceived you, the human race, to be my proteges—to help watch over my creation and act as a guide for all of my creatures. Your name is Goodevening,” She said to the female, then gestured toward the male, “and your name is Upandadam.”
“But…” interrupted Upandadam, “we don’t have claws like the bears, fur like the wolves, agility like the tigers, wings like the hawks, a shell like the turtles, or size like the elephants. If you made us inferior to the rest of the creatures, how do you expect us to control them?”
“I have no need to endow you with those attributes, since you will create them for yourselves. Instead of claws, you will produce knives; instead of fur, you will make clothes; instead of possessing the agility of four legs, you will build vehicles; instead of wings, you will invent flying machines; instead of shells, you will forge armor; and instead of size…well, your size is something you can not alter, but keep in mind that the smaller something is, the more precision and care were required for its creation. As you have noticed, you are different from the rest of the animals, because I gave you something none of them possess: imagination. Through your imagination, you will come to acquire all these traits of which you speak. When you have them, you will be the most successful product of all my creation, but when you don’t have them, you will be one of the most vulnerable creatures. This is in order for you to learn humility. I never said your purpose was to control the animals, Upandadam; I said it was your mission to act as their guide. It is not your right to waste their gifts and take them for granted. You should respect them and learn from their examples. I placed you in your privileged position, but if you show yourself incapable of fulfilling your duties, I can just as easily remove you.”
The pair of humans listened intently to the Great Hen’s words and tried to understand all She said. “Why do you need us to help you watch over creation?” queried Upandadam. “Aren’t you omnipotent?”
The Great Hen literally boomed with laughter. “A man has trouble doing more than one thing at a time! How could you ever understand how difficult it is to be everywhere at once? It gets exhausting very quickly!” She turned from the humans and started to walk away. They sprinted after the Great Hen, and even then they had trouble keeping pace with Her monumental stride.
“Wait, Goddess!” implored Goodevening. “What…what exactly are we supposed to do?”
The Great Hen faced them again and smiled down at her. “You are not my minions, Goodevening. All you see before you is now yours to manage. Follow your instincts, and I am confident you will prosper.” She once again started to walk away, and the humans remained in place, contemplating what they should do next, but shortly thereafter the Great Hen turned back around on Her own accord. “There is only one thing I must tell you,” She said, reevaluating Her earlier comment. “Do you see that tree?” She asked, directing the humans’ eyes to a particularly bounteous specimen some ways in the distance, near the base of Mount Zephyr. “I beseech you not to eat the fruit growing upon it.”
“Why?” questioned Upandadam.
“It is the Tree of Knowledge,” She informed him, “and if you taste the juice of its fruit, you will surely die.”
“Is the knowledge fruit poisonous?” probed Goodevening, but The Great Hen already took flight, leaving the humans to only wonder.
“Hey, I didn’t know chickens could fly!” Upandadam said in amazement.
“She’s not a chicken; She’s Goddess!” Goodevening reminded him. “She can do whatever She pleases!”
For several days after this incident, the humans went about their lives as normal, having completely forgotten about the Tree of Knowledge. Then, one day, as they were near Mount Zephyr, they passed a tree with exceptionally lush foliage, and the words of the Great Hen resurfaced in Upandadam’s mind.
“Isn’t this the Tree of Knowledge Goddess talked about?” Upandadam asked his partner.
Goodevening studied the magnificent sight for a moment. “I believe it is,” she agreed.
Upandadam looked up at the dull-red, fist-size fruits hanging just out of reach. “She said not to eat it because it would kill us, but when we tried to ask Her more about it, She just flew away. That seemed very strange.”
“Well, I suppose the reason She didn’t want us to eat it could only be because it’s poisonous, but it doesn’t look poisonous to me at all.”
The humans had observed the eating habits of the other animals and quickly noticed which fruits they avoided, thereby ascertaining which were poisonous. They had never seen another creature taste of the knowledge fruit, but its dull red hue didn’t conform at all to the pattern of brightly-colored and attention-grabbing fruits and berries they came to associate with toxicity.
“Upandadam, look!” said Goodevening, pointing to a plump, puffy-tailed bunny rabbit on the ground beneath the shade of the tree.
“I know, I know,” he responded. “You’ve told me how cute they are a thousand times already. Give it a rest, woman!”
“No, look at what he has!” she clarified. Upandadam looked more closely and noticed a knowledge fruit had apparently fallen out of the tree, landed on the ground, and was presently being consumed by said bunny rabbit. The two didn’t disturb the creature; instead, they watched transfixed as it slowly but surely gnawed away at the “forbidden” fruit. Finally, when he ate his fill, the little lagomorph hopped away as vigorously as ever, leaving the remains of the knowledge fruit where he found it. The humans then walked over to the scene of this action, and Upandadam leaned down and picked up the core, shifting it around in his hands, examining it from all possible angles. There was no longer any doubt in his mind that this fruit was not poisonous. The Great Hen deceived them, but…why? Upandadam looked at Goodevening, and it was obvious that they both knew what they had to do next because a smile simultaneously crossed each of their faces.
Upandadam walked over near the trunk of the tree, then jumped up as far as he could, grasping the nearest branch and using all his strength to pull himself up. Little did he know, another creature had been acting as an unseen witness to the entire course of events, ever since the humans first noticed the Tree of Knowledge. When the weasel initially saw them coming, she leapt with all the stealth of an assassin from her place on the low branch to a more inconspicuous position higher up within the dense growth, and she now watched with interest as Upandadam leaned his body out farther on the branch.
“Be careful, Upandadam,” Goodevening said, never taking her eyes off of him as he inched towards the fruit.
“You worry too much,” he told her. “This is nothing.”
Upandadam was right, and he easily picked one, then another of the knowledge fruits from their lofty perches, tossing them into Goodevening’s waiting hands below. She stood there holding the fruit as her companion made his way down from the tree, and when he at last joined her, she handed him his share. They each looked at the object in their hand, thinking about the consequences of what they were about to do, but…what consequences were there? The fruit wasn’t poisonous, and the Great Hen would never know they ate it anyway. She told them Herself how exhausting it was to be omnipotent. She had better things to do than to follow their every move. Their eyes shifted from the fruits to each other, and they concurrently brought them to their open mouths. Whatever happened as a result of this action, they were going to experience it together. They bit into the fruit at the same time, and the resulting crunch echoed throughout Universe, shaking the land and causing rocks to tumble down from the heights of Mount Zephyr. As the juice flowed across their tongues, they knew it was the sweetest thing they ever tasted.
“I knew it!” said a voice from the sky. Upandadam and Goodevening immediately dropped their fruit to the ground, looking upward for the source of the words. The taste in their mouth suddenly became sour as they began to fear the worst. Then they saw a weasel leap from the depths of the tree out onto the ground nearby, looking at them with a grin on her face. The Great Hen had spies! They expected the weasel to scurry away and inform Her about the humans’ betrayal of Her confidence, but instead there was a brilliant flash of light, causing them to avert their eyes. When the light dissipated, they expected to look back and see nothing where the weasel had been, but standing in her place was none other than the Great Hen in all Her glory. The weasel was not merely a spy, but the Great Hen Herself in disguise! She saw and heard every aspect of their entire transgression! This was bad…really bad.
The two little humans latched onto one another and held on tightly, cowering in the shadow of the mighty Goddess. “Just as I expected!” She declared in triumph.
Upandadam and Goodevening released each other and prostrated themselves on the ground before the Great Hen. “Oh, Goddess, we are infinitely sorry!” Upandadam pleaded, hoping to salvage the slightest bit of compassion from Her. “Our judgement was clouded. We did not mean to do this! Please, if you could find it in your infinite mercy to forgive us, we would be forever grateful and worship you endlessly for all eternity!”
“Why should I forgive you?” the Great Hen wondered.
“You are right; we don’t deserve your forgiveness! We are the most contemptible of all your creatures and not worthy to live in your marvelous realm! This is no creature’s fault but our own! We take full responsibility for–”
“No, Upandadam,” She said, putting an end to his incessant groveling. “What I mean is, why should I forgive you when there is nothing you have done requiring my forgiveness?”
He looked up at the Great Hen, who looked right back at him without any hint of anger in Her eyes. “Excuse me?” he said in shock.
“Excuse you for what?”
“You told us not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge,” Goodevening spoke up, “and we disobeyed your order.”
“Why did you disobey me?”
“Because we didn’t understand why you didn’t want us to eat the knowledge fruit. We inspected it closely, and it didn’t seem to be poisonous.”
“It wasn’t,” the Great Hen enlightened her. “There is nothing exceptional about that fruit at all.”
“Why did you deceive us, Goddess?” Goodevening asked in disbelief, trying to find the motive behind the Great Hen’s actions.
“I didn’t,” She responded simply.
“But…you told us that if we ate the knowledge fruit, then we would die,” Upandadam explained. “Yet we didn’t die.”
“I lied to you, and you refused to believe me,” the Great Hen revealed to them. “Therefore, I didn’t deceive you.”
The poor humans looked at each other in utter confusion. “Why did you lie to us?” Upandadam questioned Her.
“I was testing you,” She began to tell them. “I told you not to partake of the knowledge fruit, for I claimed it would kill you, yet I said nothing more. When you finally came upon the Tree of Knowledge, you recalled my words, and they piqued your curiosity. You immediately challenged the information I gave you, and to help you do that, you did exactly what I wanted you to—you learned from your animal predecessors. You respected them enough to heed the simple wisdom of their experience rather than merely accepting my illogical, authoritative words.”
“So…you’re not mad at us?” Goodevening inquired. “You’re not…going to hurt us?”
The Great Hen laughed, which had a relaxing influence on the apprehensive pair. “I would never think of hurting my own children, especially when they have pleased me so! You are exactly what I hoped you would be! You used the mind I gave you to the fullest! You question the world around you; you are not satisfied with what you are told; you are always hungry for knowledge, perpetually curious to know more; and you never stop asking ‘why?’ Most of all, you realize that you can always learn something new, even from those who are under your guidance. I am not mad at you! I could not imagine being any prouder of you than I am right now! The experiment was a complete success!” Having said this, the Great Hen’s yellow beak glowed with such intensity that Upandadam and Goodevening had to shield their eyes, and then it raced down toward them like a divine sword, making contact with the ground not very far from where they stood. A crack extended as far as they could see in either direction, with the Great Hen and the humans on opposite sides of it. Soon, the fissure widened, and the humans discovered that the piece of land they were standing on was slowly separating from the greater part of Universe, leaving nothing but the Void in between.
“Goddess, what is happening?” Upandadam wondered in horror. “What are you doing to us?”
“You have proven yourselves beyond my greatest expectations. You have demonstrated that you are more than capable of managing your own territory without my assistance. In honor of you, your domain will be called ‘Earth,’ named for the third element, which makes up all the land on Universe. I am positive that Earth and all of its creatures will flourish under your leadership.”
“Please, Goddess!” begged Goodevening. “Don’t leave us!”
The Great Hen smiled, attempting to reassure them. “I never doubted your abilities for a single moment, and I am not about to start doing it now. The human race was such a success that I am going to stay here and perform further experiments. I can only hope that all of my future endeavors will be as fruitful as was your creation.”
The rift grew increasingly wider. “Are we ever going to see you again?” Upandadam asked with fear in his voice.
“Maybe not,” She responded matter-of-factly, “but I will forever remember you as part of my flock, and I hope you will never forget me. You now have an egg of your own for which you must care. Handle it with the utmost delicacy, for it is extremely fragile, and if this egg is broken before your offspring are able to hatch, there will be no one left to carry on your legacy. I have nothing more to say. Farewell, my children.”
Just as She did earlier with Universe as a whole, the Great Hen placed a protective atmosphere around the part of Her creation that seceded from the rest, sealing it off forever, and Earth at last fully disengaged itself from Universe. Upandadam and Goodevening never removed their eyes from their Goddess until the moment She faded out of sight.
The Great Hen was completely correct about the humans, who thrived by learning from the examples of their animal wards and using their imagination to adapt the creatures’ designs for their own practical purposes. Their Creator never truly left them, however. To be sure they would remember Her, the Great Hen’s spirit lived on in Her faithful disciples, the roosters, who would continue to call the Sun every morning and let it sleep when the time for nightfall came. Indeed, the humans never forgot about their Goddess, and they are eager for the day they can hatch and venture out into Universe to see if there are any other eggs in the nest of the Great Hen. Ignorance is bliss, but humans aren’t satisfied with ignorance. They can’t fight their curious nature. As long as there is always a new question to answer, the humans will continue to seek out solutions to the mysteries of life. They will never rest until they find the truth. The humans peered out at the alien environment and climbed out of their egg when they realized there was nothing to fear.