The Fivefold Benison
The Gods are Real
In this world, the gods are active participants. They cannot directly interfere unless a mortal gives them a channel through which to do so. On holidays, and at sermons, when more hearts are open and minds are bent on the gods, they tend to be much closer. At these times they may even offer visible confirmation of a human’s prayers.
Most of this world has heard this story from the mouth of one dedicate or another during festivals and prayers. Though none but the clergy are likely to know it by heart, any civilized citizen can at least give you a vague recount of the tale (with some regional variation).
The Birth of the Five Gods (from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Paladin of Souls)
“The world was first and the world was flame, fluid and fearsome. As the flame cooled, matter formed and gained vast strength and endurance, a great globe with fire at its heart. From the fire at the heart of the world slowly grew the World-Soul.
But the eye cannot see itself, not even the Eye of the World-Soul. So the World-Soul split in two, that it might so perceive itself; and so the Father and Mother came into being. And with that sweet perception, for the first time, love became possible in the heart of the World-Soul. Love was the first of the fruits that the realm of the spirit gifted back to the realm of matter that was its fountain and foundation. But not the last, for song was next, then speech.
And the Father and the Mother between them began to order the world, that existence might not be instantly consumed again by the fire and chaos and roiling destruction. In their first love for each other they bore the Daughter and the Son, and divided the seasons of the world among them, each with its special and particular beauty, each to its own lordship and stewardship. And in the harmony and security of this new composition, the matter of the world grew in boldness and complexity. And from its strivings to create beauty, plants and animals and men arose, for love had come into the fiery heart of the world, and matter sought to return gifts of spirit to the realm of spirit, as lovers exchange tokens.
But the fire at the heart of the world also held forces of destruction that could not be denied. And from this chaos rose the demons, which broke out and invaded the world and preyed upon the fragile new souls growing there as a mountain wolf preys upon the lambs of the valleys. It was the Season of Great Sorcerers. The order of the world was disrupted, and winter and spring and summer and fall upended one into another. Drought and flood, ice and fires threatened the lives of men, and all the marvelous plants and artful creatures that matter, infected by love, had offered on the alter of the World-Soul.
Then one day a powerful demon lord, wise and wicked by the consumption of many souls of men, came upon a man living alone in a tiny hermitage in a wood. Like a cat who thinks to toy with her prey, he accepted the beggar’s hospitality and waited his chance to leap from the worn-out body he presently possessed to the fresh new one. For the man, though clad in rags, was beautiful: his glance was like a sword thrust and his breath, perfume.
But the demon lord was confounded when he accepted a little earthen bowl of wine, and drinking it in one gulp, prepared to pounce; for the saint had divided his own soul, and poured it out into the wine, and given it to the demon of his own free will. And so, for the first time, a demon gained a soul, and all the beautiful and bitter gifts of a soul.
The demon lord fell to the floor of the woodland cell and howled with all the astonished woe of a child being born, for he was born in that moment, into the world of both matter and spirit. And taking the hermit’s body that was his free gift, and not stolen nor begrudged, he fled through the woods in terror back to his terrible sorcerer’s palace, and hid.
For many months he cowered there, trapped in the horror of his self, but slowly the great-souled saint began to teach him the beauties of virtue. The saint was a devotee of the Mother, and called down Her grace to heal the demon of his sin, for with the gift of free will had come the possibility of sin, and the burning shame of it, which tormented the demon as nothing had ever done before. And between the lash of his sin and the lessons of the saint, the demon’s soul began to grow in probity and power. As a great sorcerer-paladin, with the Mother’s favor fluttering upon his mailed sleeve, he began to move in the world of matter, and fight the baleful soulless demons on the gods’ behalf in the places where They could not reach.
The great-souled demon became the Mother’s champion and captain, and She loved him without limit for his soul’s incandescent splendor. And so began the great battle to clear the world of demons run rampant and restore the order of the seasons.
The other demons feared him, and attempted to combine against him, but could not, for such cooperation was beyond their nature; still their onslaught was terrible, and the great-souled demon, beloved of the Mother, was slain on the final battlefield.
And so was born the last god, the Bastard, love child of the goddess and the great-souled demon. Some say He was born on the eve of the last battle, fruit of a union upon Her great bed, some say the grieving Mother gathered up the great-souled demon’s dear shattered remains from the stricken field and mixed them with Her blood, and so made the Bastard by Her great art. However so, their son, of all the gods, was given agency over both spirit and matter, for He inherited as servants the demons that His father’s great sacrifice had conquered and enslaved and so swept out of the world."
Descriptions of the Divines
|The Daughter||The Mother||The Son||The Father||The Bastard|
|Theological Sign||Forehead/brain||Belly/womb||Heart||Groin/genitals||Mouth/tongue as well as thumb|
|Represents||Birth and life, symbolized by the opening of the new year. Growth, learning, and love.||Children, health and healing.||Friendship, the outdoors, animals, and hunting. Good comradeship and the harvest.||Closure, justice and “deaths in good season”, as typically symbolized by the closing of the year. Children.||Orphans. Balance and all things out of season. Demons and the unnatural. Most pray to be spared his attention.|