Monday, 2 February 2015

Our world is dying.

The world was dying.
The air grew still without the beat of insect wings.
The world grew silent without bird's song, cricket hum, wolf howl.
At last there were only two creatures left on earth:
an old man and an old woman.
When they had nothing left to eat and no words left to speak, they climbed up the mountain, to a high ledge, ready to throw themselves over.
They wanted to die.
As the old woman’s feet touched the edge of the earth, a deep, forgotten grief quaked inside her and a cry shook itself free.
“Why did this happen? What is this punishment for? What did we do? Why did all our children die?”
They were ready to jump.
At that moment they froze - a baby’s cry! They followed the sound and there in a cradle of dirt was a baby boy. Their grief forgot, they took him to their small hut and cared for him as best they could.
But the child wouldn’t stop crying. No matter what they did, the child would not stop crying. Cradled or free, the child grizzled and groaned and sobbed and screamed. And dark thoughts came into the minds of the old people.
Suddenly, the door was thrown open by an invisible presence and the old man found himself pressed against the wall.
The Mountain Spirit spoke:
“Do you not remember? How do you not remember? You must feed the fire. You must worship the fire of this child. Strengthen its soul or it will die.”
With that, the spirit was gone and in the quiet that followed, the old woman felt loss; she didn’t remember rituals, ways or customs anymore.
Compelled by the Mountain spirit, the old people sat with the child by the burning fire and fed it. And then they spoke over it and found that the fire whispered the words that needed saying and they fed the children’s fire.
The boy grew into a strong young man.

One day, he found his feet leading him up the mountain. A cool, fresh wind caught his heart and loosed a song from his lips. He sang to the mountain, the wind, the rocks, the dust, the river and the Daughter of the Mountain Spirit heard him. When he turned and their eyes met, something passed between them - ancient and new.
“I wish to marry her - the daughter of the Mountain Spirit!”
The boy's parents were shocked and appalled. They refused  to allow their son to marry that strange, wild creature. Love between man and mountain? Not possible. Desperate eyes looked back at them.
“If I don’t marry her, I will die.”
And he did. Moment by moment, day by day, he began to die.
When he had grown too weak to speak or sing, his parents full of fear and confusion turned to the Mountain for guidance.

This time, no door was blown open, no invisible spirit passed through the land. The Master Spirit of the mountain spoke for the very last time and the whole world listened.
“You forgot. You forgot me. You stopped believing. You stopped knowing.
 You burned my heart, the forests; you dirtied my eyes, the great lakes.
 You thought yourself stronger than nature - does a leg or an arm think itself
 stronger than the body? Does an limb think itself more than the whole?
 You are part of me as I am part of you. But you are distant now. You are 
 other. Your ears can no longer hear the whisper of the grass, the language of
 the birds,  the stories sung by tree and rock. You became foreign and you
 began to die and the sickness spread and the world began to die with you.”
The old man and the old woman found their faces wet with tears. Above them stretched a dark expanse of sky - the vast emptiness of all they had lost and all they had forgotten. They fell to their knees and sobbed.
* * *
The young man and the daughter of the mountain spirit did marry and they had children born of man and nature. The Spirit of the Mountain never spoke again, but his Daughter sang songs to her children - songs in a language from long ago and a tune from far away.
With each note, with each song, with each story, a flower grew.
Our world is dying
Today we must remember again the mountain spirits and a new tribe will be born.
Copyright - Abigail Palache 02/02/2015
Thanks to Kira Van Deusen for recording this traditional Siberian tale.
Thank you to the Tuvan tellers who still speak these tales in their native land.  
For more info on this brilliant culture: 



  1. oh this is so beautiful I love it. I have been doing some writing recently about humans and nature and the place we have found ourselves in right now, this comes as a beautiful gift that echoes my writing with a story - just what I needed to hear today, thanks ;-)

  2. Thank you for this. I must admit, I tend to despair. I feel we are too far gone, to disconnected and caught in our capitalist wet-dream, built on ecocide and the backs of others. The arctic is melting and we approach the tipping points....we need stories like this to help us change the mindscape, while there is still time.

    1. Thank you Kester. I feel the same - these ancient tales give me hope :)

    2. Thank you Kester. I feel the same - these ancient tales give me hope :)