The Eternal came to the earth in the shape of a bird, the mighty Merops, with wings like clouds. Between her claws she carried a seed made from air and fire. She wrapped it in a blanket made from the knowledge of good and wonder, so that the seed might not be damaged, and the bird flew out into the world. Merops floated above the earth looking for a place to land, but she did not find any, until she came to the island of Arcadia. There, she halted and she buried the seed in the fertile soil. A plant rose from it, and from this plant fell two people like fruits to the earth. The Eternal led them to a river, from which a woman rose up, the beautiful Niobe, and a man, the handsome Nerites. Together they had many daughters and many sons. These people were kind and good, and The Eternal gave them over into the hand of Eleima, the Earth Goddess, after which She returned to the stars and became a blinding sun.
The first people lived in the vicinity of the Goddess, careless, without anger or sorrow. The people were at peace with one another and shared what came to them in a community of equals. The stiffness of old age did not come to them, their limbs stayed as supple as at birth. Every night they lay at great banquets, without any evil thoughts, because all the good things were there for the gathering: on the fields plants grew in abundance and the trees carried ample fruits.
When the time would come to die, these people were led to a peaceful place by the daughters of Eleima, where they went as if in sleep. In this life and in this death they were like the equals of Eleima, they were like the gentle ghosts watching over the people and keeping them from injustice and loneliness.
But Kelaino, the jealous Moon God, watched the joy of his sister, and how the people lived under her guidance. He shone his light on the path the people had to go, but he forgot the words of The Eternal when She gave the earth to Eleima and the moon to him. His light faltered during the day and at night it sometimes shone bright and sometimes dim.
Kelaino came to the world and begat himself sons. The sons swarmed out unto the people and whispered in their ears to go search for silver and gold. They promised the people that the magnificent lustre of these metals would bring great happiness, and Kelaino shone the light of the moon to reveal the gold they desired. Those who figured themselves king, he warned there were other kings elsewhere living in palaces bigger and more impressive. And to the people who were happy tilling the land, people who asked no more than they needed, the sons said: You are a king, the holy flame burns within you as brightly as it burns within kings. Why do you have to work here, why would you take from the land no more than you need? You may sell the surplus, you can be rich, you may clothe yourself in the softest dresses. What use living with the animals as though they are your equals and their blood is as valuable as yours? Take from everything there is as much as you can take and then take more. This earth has been given to the people, take all it has to offer. Time is going by, soon you will be old and weak, who will protect you? Who will come to save you if you have no gold to offer?
This way, they poisoned their minds, and hence from the people came new-borns that did not resemble the first happy race in any way. The second race was suspicious and hungry, nor in body nor in mind like the first had been. Sons stayed under the care of their mothers until many years had passed, involved in simple sports and games, like children. And when these boys finally became adults in the strength of their years, they didn’t last long and their days were filled with useless lust and superflous works. Their main goal was attaining greater power over one another. No longer did they honour the Goddess, not in thought and not through the partaking in sacrificial rites. When they finally shed their mortal shape, they went without dignity, like beasts in great panic.
The daughters of Eleima saw the many temptations with which Kelaino and his sons infuriated the people, they saw the fear the sons put into the hearts of this second race, and the daughters felt a heavy burden upon them.
All too readily the people were led astray. And it couldn’t be denied there was great beauty in the world. From wild animals beautiful hides came, from the thick wool of sheep colourful blankets were weaved, the oldest trees served to build the hardiest houses. In light of the bounty of the earth, it seemed ungrateful not to partake in all this. And if the people went through great travails to dig out treasures from the deep, who could deny them their pride at receiving such rewards in exchange for their aspirations? Who could fault them for not wanting to leave behind what they had gathered with their own blood, even if it wasn’t of any use to them?
The voices of the daughters sounded ever more faint, no longer could they lead people unto any road at all. The daughters turned to their mother and asked her counsel: O great Mother! You who has spread the gifts of The Eternal on earth, who guarded over the first people when they were born out of the love of The Unity, tell us how to help the people. We wish to do your work and show them the joy of The Returning, but our voices go unheard.
At that time on the island Mycene lived a man of whom it was told he was like the blacksmith of the Gods. The Goddess turned to him, she gave him a stone loaded with iron, and said: My daughters need your help. From this rock, build them a servant who is stronger than the sons may ever be, one whose voice never gets lost and whose light glows from the inside.
The blacksmith, who according to his nature wanted to do whatever he was asked, took to work. He lowered the iron into his most blazing oven and for three days and three nights he hit the rock with his mighty hammers. As the blows hit the rock, the iron ore threw off the darkness of the earth and a great light started to shine. The more the iron glowed, the faster the blacksmith made his hammers land. In the heat of the forge they seemed together one like water and fire at the time when from The Eternal came the earth.
On the fourth day he opened his oven and showed Eleima the results of his work.There, amidst marble shapes, a small boy lay asleep. All around him a light shone as if The Unity had been reborn, and in his chest a perfect heart beat pace. Eleima called him Eleutherios, the liberator. She thanked the smith and took the child in her arms. She left the smithy and went outside, where summer had come. In the light of the sun she studied the fine traits of the child’s face, she heard its tender sighs and she looked at its fine fingers. How will this child ever be able to help my daughters? She wondered, but instantly she felt a great love for him and she trusted the blacksmith’ knowledge. She gave the boy over to her daughters Adrasteia en Ide to watch over him and then sent them on their way.
When Kelaino heard Eleima had turned to the blacksmith for help, he feared his sister had come up with a ruse. Disguised as a young man he also turned to the smith, and he said: I am the son of a shepherd, but no longer are my services needed. My father has sent me out into the world to learn what it is my family needs to do to be able to survive. I beg you to show me the secrets of the fire, so I may serve the people and may keep my sisters from hunger.
The good blacksmith took the boy under his guidance and showed him the skills for many years. Kelaino learned how the iron may be broken from the earth, how separate metals may become as one. He was taught the art of turning raw materials into pleasing implements, how to turn useless gold into new suns, and to sculpt the most inspiring ornaments from the largest rocks. And after he had learned all this, Kelaino thanked him for his goodwill, and finally he made himself a new hammer, stronger than any known before.
But Kelaino didn’t use his knowledge to do good. He returned to the island Hades and built a new smithy, and in the middle of his workplace he split the earth open with his hammer. He had his sons bring the people who couldn’t die; and they also brought him people who died with so much furore that they were at once born again. These people he sent into the deep and he made them look for dark stones. From these stones he made hammers for his sons and he told them: Take your tool and travel to the far corners of the world. There you shall make your own smithy and from the fire and the earth you will make me so many new people that the daughters of Eleima will be no more than mere bystanders.
The sons went forth, only two stayed with Kelaino to serve him and keep those that were neither living nor dead locked up in the earth.
Then one day these toiling people brought forth from the dark a rock of gold so immense it blocked the way to Kelaino’s smithy. Because of this the people stayed locked behind in the dark, where Kelaino and his sons could no longer control them. These people fled farther into the gloom and they sought their refuge there.
With his mighty hammer Kelaino hit the rock, but it withstood his violence for a long time. Whereupon he made a gigantic fire all around it, setting fire to all the smithy, and he hammered the gold ore with all his might. Finally he became exhausted, being naked under the sun. For to cool down he swept big waves from the ocean and extinguished the blaze.
The water and the fire made a bellowing cloud of steam, so nothing was visible anymore. But when a cool breeze blew the clouds away, in front of Kelaino’s eyes a most magnificent creature rose from the earth. She had the face of a shy young girl and wore a sparkling dress with a golden girdle. Around her shoulders she wore a richly decorated scarf, a treasure in itself, with flowers that had been woven artfully through the texture. On her head she wore a golden wreath, as bright as any sun, on which all kinds of animals were portrayed as if alive.
Kelaino saw her there, having come from the deep earth, forged from fire and washed with water, she herself as pure as the air. A great love overcame him, she was the most beautiful being he had ever laid eyes upon. And he realised that the son of Eleima, the one molded from hardened iron by the blacksmith, could be overcome by this other who was in every way his equal.
Not just in beauty, in kindness also this creature equalled the son of Eleima: in the heat of the weld all the darkness from the underworld had fallen from her. Kelaino feared that she might only bring happiness to Eleima’s son. At this, he swept all the dust of his workplace together and put it in a wooden box. Brought together the dust became a foul and poisonous mixture, in which all manner of diseases and plagues fed upon each other with shameless cruelty, bitter greed and cowardly treason.
Kelaino named the girl Charis, the artful, and he said to her: I hereby name you the guardian of this box, which you may never open. Find the son of Eleima and make this a present to him, and when he has opened this box he will be like any other person. After he has accepted your gift, quickly return to me, so that I too may have the pleasure of your company.
He gave her his two sons to carry the box and send her on her way.
Meanwhile the other sons of Kelaino had gone out into the world, into the most far away places. They made their workplaces everywhere, as their father had ordered them. But the knowledge of Kelaino was imperfect and he had only passed imperfect knowledge on to his sons. In their smithies the sons made many mistakes, and they didn’t pay proper attention to the kind of people they planted on the world in high numbers.
In nothing the people that had been created thus resembled the first and not even the second race. They were a terrible breed, half man half animal, satisfied only with destructive works and waging war with each other. Their hearts were made from molten stone and the little tenderness they knew was locked away in the cage of their enormous bodies. They were as strong as giants, with long arms, with great coarse hands, and in every manner they resembled the recklessness of the sons who had no idea what they had created. And when these giants finally died because of each other’s violence, the sons took them to their smithies and had them work the dark underground.
While the people of Kelaino roamed the earth, the son of Eleima grew up in the prosperous land of Nysa, in a place hidden between mountains and valleys. He had become a beautiful young man, with soft traits and legs like a deer. In the company of the two daughters that Eleima had asked to guard over him he practised the arts, and together they sang many songs as they travelled through the woods and learned from all that lived there.
At sea destitute merchants travelled on slum boats, looking for cargo and anything that could bring them any gains. Because of the wars amongst the people it had become ever harder to make an honest living, so that finally, there was barely any difference between honest merchants and louts.
One day such a pirate ship sailed just out of the coast of the land where Eleutherios, the liberator, was walking on the beach. He had the beauty of a youth in his first blossoming, with long dark curls around his head, and he was dressed in a shiny dark blue robe. Quickly the pirates drew near, they charged upon the beach and they grabbed him. To each other they said that surely he was the son of a king who would pay a great ransom for him, but they did not say what they truly desired.
Back on the ship, they wanted to tie the boy up, but their ropes had no grip on him. Their longest ropes, made from the sturdiest hemp, slid off him like waterdrops from a leave. The boy let them be, he stood straight and still, a smile in the darkness of his eyes. The helmsman watched them and shouted to the sailors: Fools! How come you did not see what you have carelessly hoisted aboard? He is not a man but a god, he will make our ship sink. Put him back on land, before in his anger he will make us all perish in a storm.
But the captain berated the helmsman: Don’t meddle in business that isn’t yours, just hoist the sails and mind the wind. We will take him to Egypt or Cyprus or lands even farther away. In the end he will tell us of his family and his wealth as now to his dismay he finds himself in our hands.
The captain said this for hopes of gaining a great ransom. The sails were hoisted, a fair wind began to blow, rapidly the ship gathered speed. This already seemed like a miracle to the crew, but they also noticed the ropes started giving off a sweet smell, they watched as the ropes coiled themselves. The sailors watched in awe, until from the mast branches started to grow, writhing like vines down to the deck. Bunches of grapes fell on the wood, instantly turning into plants that bore their roots into the planks, winding themselves around the rudder.
When the sailors saw this, they panicked. They shouted to the helmsman to turn the ship around and bring them back to the land. The helmsman said: You didn’t want to listen when there was time, all you could believe in was your lust, your greed and the stories you told each other about your future wealth. Now I am incapable of turning our fate around and we are all delivered into the good graces of this god.
Meanwhile they saw how Eleutherios had changed himself into a lion and with a mighty roar showed them his teeth. A large brown bear appeared in their midst, raising itself and clawing about. The lion stood on the front deck and shook its manes, darkly eying the crew. The ends of the swirling ropes changed into hissing snakes, that spread out over the vessel.
Only the helmsman remained calm, the crew tried to hide behind him. Lead us back to the land! they yelled. The lion grabbed the captain, shook him between its jaws, while never taking its eyes of the sailors. They could no longer stand it and in a deadly panic they jumped overboard, where they changed into fish that darted left and right of the boat, then in a final fright dove underwater and disappeared.
The liberator watched the calm helmsman, called Akoites, and he said to him: Don’t fear, I am the son of Eleima, and I take no more than I receive. Your vessel may seem weakened now, but nothing you see desires to be your enemy. Take me back to land and tell the people that those who honour the earth will never go hungry, but those that fear hunger will forever live in fear.
Now the sticky vines let go of the rudder and Akoites turned the bow. With the good winds the ship set for the beaches of Attica, where the liberator went ashore.
Rivers of milk and rivers of wine flowed over the land, and rivers of nectar of bees. The Liberator went forth until he came to a place where the tired Charis was sat on the moss next to the chest of Kelaino. The two sons were leaning against it. Charis opened her eyes and saw the beautiful boy before her, and she knew he meant her no harm.
She gave him water to drink and she said: I have come on behalf of my father, who offers you this chest. I am told it contains a great treasure which I must guard until it is in your hands. But although I must honour my father, his task has brought me nothing but suffering. We wandered through endless forests where no animals dared walk, and we wandered through barren fields where nothing would grow. His task has made us taste nothing but hunger. Deliver me from this bitter gift, so I and my servants can go in freedom.
Eleima’s son heard her voice. He saw the depth of her eyes, and he wished to relieve her burden. He took her hand and said to her: One must honour one’s father, though a daughter owes no worship to one who does not care for her happiness. I shall take this gift from you, so that you are released of your burden, yet I shall not accept it. Only that which you desire to give is of value to me, because my reward is to accept your joy, and I derive no joy from that which you cannot give.
He asked the sons to take the chest to a nearby cave and leave it there. He himself picked the fruit off a nearby tree and offered it to the girl so she could satisfy her hunger. Relieved of her hunger, she feasted, then joyfully lay herself down next to him. When Charis was sleeping, the Liberator turned himself into a deer and he made for the woods.
After the sons of Kelaino had left the chest behind, they went on their way. Each separately went looking for the food they finally hoped to find. When the first one saw a deer, he did not hesitate for a moment and shot at it with his arrows. He then chipped the body into seven pieces and cooked them and roasted them over a fire. He tossed the entrails aside and he did not notice that the heart was still beating.
Meanwhile, the other had found some fruit and returned to his brother. He saw him by the fire with his victim, and cried out: You wretch! What have you done? What were you thinking, to kill a child and eat it? If we were not doomed before, then now we are so! Stop this disgusting meal immediately, burn your food down to the last morsel, sacrifice everything you have to the Goddess and beg for her to be merciful. And he took the heart, which was still beating, hid it in a cloth and ran away from him.
So Charis found him again. She had been looking for the brothers while she was still deep in thought of the Liberator. She was told of the great misfortune. The girl was taken entirely unawares. Her head became like water, the strength left her legs and she collapsed into his arms. The son lifted her up and so they left these beautiful shores to meet despair.
The other son was equally dispirited, but his fear and fright had made him forgetful of his brother’s instructions. Instead of building an altar for his sacrifice, he made himself a fire as of a forge. He had also been given a hammer by his father, and he thought to make a new boy from the bones. He took three bronze coins, placed the bones on them and heated a fire around it.
His fire had not yet caught, and his hammer had yet to deliver its first strikes, but the earth burst open and melted entirely. The coins melted like ice on a sunny day, they became like boiling oil, the rocks melted and the liquid rocks splashed off the ground high up in the air, as though the entire earth was a pot boiling on a blazing fire. In the places where the incandescent pieces fell, the earth tore open again, and from the tears there flowed blood that touched the flames, only to become another blazing fire.
The disaster spread further and further. The workshops of Kelaino’s other sons were also reached and went up in a roar of flames. The forests and the woods, the fields full of grain, even the seas were poisoned, and there was nowhere left to hide. In all places reached by the flames, the people perished, and the sons of Kelaino and the daughters of Eleima perished with them, and their spirits drifted in the air like wisps of smoke.
From his workplace, Kelaino saw how the fire devoured the good and the bad around it without discerning. The chest that he had made for Eleima’s son was also touched by the flames, so that it burst open and the filth spread immediately over the land that was yet untouched like a cloud. The last people who remained there were hit by this choleric gift and blinded by fear and insanity they now turned on one another. The earth would soon be like the moon, only more tarnished, with her green fields extinguished.
Only Adrasteia and Ide, the daughters of Eleima that she had sent with her son were still safe. They now cared for the son of Kelaino and over Charis with the heart. The Goddess led them to an untouched well that many animals had also fled to. And while the earth was burning, they all hid far under the surface of the water.
New explosions followed. The seas evaporated. Volcanos raised their lava until finally the well with the Liberator in it was also covered in a layer of rocks, and everything that was in the well now sunk into the earth.
Yet this did not bring joy to Kelaino. He no longer relished the jealousy that had driven him. Bitter tears welled up in his eyes and he fell to his knees and roared.
The fire was extinguished and the earth was ashen and inhospitable.
After centuries, Kelaino lifted his head and he saw his sister standing beside him. The children of the Mother-Father were now equals. They were discharged from their duties. They could no longer serve the Unity.
Eleima spoke to her brother: You have shown the people your powers and where are they now? You have robbed me of my treasures and what has it brought you? You have turned your children against mine and what has become of them? We were together as Love and Beauty, and now we are neither of those and then what are we?
And Kelaino answered: Your beauty was too much for me, I could not possess it and have stolen it from you. I know what has brought me to do so and I seek no forgiveness. There is no forgiveness for those who know what is right yet do what is wrong. I shall leave your earth and wait in the dust between the stars for the Eternal to take me to Her in Her mercy.
But Eleima said: Forget the insanity of the world that has been and let us form a new covenant. I have hidden within this earth that which shall always be good. I hid my son and your daughter in the only clear well. Next to them I put the most beautiful part of you and the best part of me.
Eleima took Kelaino’s hammer and beat the rocks aside so that the water in which she had kept the peace became visible. In this water a mighty tree grew from the heart of the Liberator. Its roots dug deeply into the earth and its leaves reached high into the sky. On this tree grew apples and plums, pears and oranges and all other kinds of fruit. Vines wrapped around the trunk and offered great bunches of grapes. Little plants sprouted from the roots of the tree, growing all kinds of berries amidst the most beautiful flowers.
And Eleima broke two branches from the tree and dipped them into the water. She stuck the one branch into the earth by the leaves, and the fruits of the field grew from there. She took the other branch to the country of Eleusia, where she buried it in the earth, and this branch sprouted mysterious fruits in strange shapes. The fruits tasted bitter and showed great secrets to all who ate them, but the road to Eleusia was difficult to travel and no one returned from those parts.
Under the tree of the Liberator sat the children of Eleima and Kelaino, the fourth and last people. They mixed into many shapes, freed of their heavy burden; from them came women and men and all the people that are man nor woman. The divine was visible in them as it was destined to be.
But Kelaino said: It is a hopeless life on this earth if there is no return to the Unity. That way every day is the same day, only worse. Beauty offers merely insanity and food offers only the expectation of hunger or excess. That way the young do not display their powers and they will perish like the old, only more slowly. War lurks in all reason and the seed of a new battle lurks in every war.
And Eleima answered: People are like leaves that long to return to the tree. The desire is their fate, but the return is their destiny. Time on earth is intended for them to do what they deem right. Evil can be done, although they will not benefit from it. You and I have this covenant now, and we shall keep the people so that they may be messengers to us.