Avatar Review Index


Diane Willadson

(This is an introductory piece for "The Myths Of The Camphizi")

The Interpreter

        And then a man and a little girl came to the town. He was dressed in a
robe of a yellow color that Vyn, the dyer, hadn't seen before. Pictures were
sewn into the cloth and some of the people saw themselves in the pictures.
The girl was naked but was covered with drawings of the feet of many
different animals. Some of the feet where shaped like people's feet but had
only three toes. She said the man was a storyteller and she was the
interpreter. She said the women and men would point to a picture on the
man's robe and he would tell the story of the picture and she would
interpret it to the people. Now more people were seeing themselves in the
pictures and they became scared and called for Vor.
        And Vor came and saw the man and girl and said she had some questions
before the stories were told. Vor asked the little girl, "If you are an
interpreter and the women and men won't understand the man's speech, how
will we know the telling is correct?" And the girl answered, "If you see a
ranhi flying and call it a ranhi, how are you sure it is a ranhi?" And then
Vor asked, "And these feet on your body, are they of animals you have seen
or just think you have seen?" And the girl answered, "Feet are what touch
the earth, any other touching comes from sleep, death or injury." And Vor
asked a final question, "Where do these stories come from?" And the girl
said, "They come from our bellies when we are hungry and our skin when we
are cold and sometimes they come from our closed eyes when we refuse to
see." And Vor took the rebuke of the girl well and was satisfied of the
interpreter's intentions. And the people chose pictures and listened to the
singing language of the man and the fine interpretation of the girl. And if
you stay long enough, you will hear some of the stories they told.

The Myths of Making (told only among women of menstruating age)

I

        They stood by the river, all the men, watching god pull up woman-pieces
and set them to dry on the grass. Some pieces were fat and healthy and the
men fought over them and some men were even killed, so god closed their eyes
and gave them love. Some of the men had been late getting up that morning
and so didn't get love. Like blind babies, they neither missed nor sought it
and wandered away from the river of life. They built strange black cities
where nothing was born and all their songs ended in low moans that scared
away animals so they had to eat rocks. One day, a woman came to one of their
cities and birthed many babies. The men threw away the rocks and ate the
babies and knew love.

II

        And when the limbs had dried, god let the men choose the bodies they
liked. God left the heads off during this choosing so that when the men took
the women to the houses, they couldn't see anything but that the house had
always been theirs. With the women though, god made a mistake; he forgot
that knowing is in the heart and doesn't require eyes. And the women knew
and let the knowing change their bodies, so that the women were the ones who
chose. With their knowing, they didn't tell god or the men of the mistake.
When the women baked their first loaves in their new homes, they spit on the
dough and kneaded it in. This would give the men a hint and keep the women's
voices strong in the men. They also bathed stones in their urine and dried
them in the sun. The first night, they placed them under the men's pillows
so that the stones would bruise their heads and when the men pulled them
out, the urine would enter their hands and tie their hearts to the women.

III

        There was a large cat who thought itself god. It went to the women and
told them it could give them much better babies than any of the men. The
women believed the cat and all day, the cat mated them and the women slept
beneath its purr. When the men found their women gone, they went and found
the cat and killed it. They fed the cat's body to the sea creatures and
killed the babies as they came out of the women. Three women went away and
hid and birthed their babies in a cave high in the mountains. The babies
were so beautiful that the women were afraid of the jealousy of the other
women and stayed in their cave. The babies grew and asked questions about
their fathers. The women told them the truth. One baby took the cat side of
her body and birthed only cats from then on. One baby took her human side
and walked into the city to be among women and men. The last baby kept both
sides and god himself chose her to mate.


IV-A Warning Story (told by women to pre-menstruation girls)

        There was a girl named Ila. She was the daughter of the cat/woman, Fla,
who had kept both sides of her natures as cat and as women and had caught
god and mated him. Therefore, Ila was of three natures: cat, woman and god.
When it came time for her to have her first lonely nights, her mother told
her she must choose her natures, that no woman could keep three natures
under control. For man and god, it was only possible to keep one. Women kept
two but never three. Three was to become a being that couldn't be held by
air. Even god hadn't wished that and had asked Fla to kill Ila when she was
born. Fla promised god that she would keep the nature of Ila's father a
secret from Ila, but in the end, a woman's tie to her creation is much
stronger than any promise and Fla told Ila of her three natures.
Ila went to a cave for her lonely time and the first night, tried to choose
which of the three she would keep. If she kept the natures of god and cat,
she would give up the chance of creation as that lay only in the human. If
she chose human and god, she would lose her beauty. If she chose cat and
human, she could rise no farther than her mother, and it is the goal of all
daughters to rise above their mothers.
Finally, on the third day, Ila made up her mind and went back to her mother.
When she told her mother her choice, Fla wept and said goodbye, knowing
exactly what would become of a woman making the choice she had. Ila chose
the nature of god alone and became the earth under the feet of cats, humans
and all.

The Myth Of Vor

        And because of Fla, god had a kindness towards the women and so towards
the men too and he sometimes caused fish to jump into their boats and fresh
winds blew when the women hung out their wash. Then, selfishness came to the
women and men in the form of the woman Vor. She planted seeds ever wider
until her garden was two times that of any other woman. She ate from the
vine, without preparation, and obscenely took bites from tomatoes while
walking among the men. God noticed this, and also the effect it had on the
other women. As the women were washing clothes by the river one day, god
came down in a toad and hopped onto Vor's clean laundry. She quickly wrapped
the toad in the sheets and drowned it in the river. Next, god came down in
deer and ate from her garden. Vor snared them and cut their throats. She
shared the meat with the town since her family couldn't eat it all, but kept
the heads to stake at the borders of her garden. Now god went to Vor as
himself and threatened her telling her he would put her into a rabbit, that
she would eat her own labors and not even know it. And Vor laughed because
she knew god couldn't change what he had made--he could only change himself,
so god went to Fla in the cave and sulked and Fla made him special meals and
petted his head until he felt better. And because of Vor, god didn't trust
the women anymore and often sent things to test them. And the women watched
for these things and consulted Vor often and she became the wise woman of
the town and was well-respect by the women and the men.


Vor And The Shawls

        One day, god was in a dragonfly, sunning on a leaf next to the river
and listening to the women talk while they washed. One woman complained that
Vor had become too powerful, that even god came to her for advice and she
had given him herbs for his stew to give him headaches so that she could
further her power over the people without him intervening. And god was angry
and decided to challenge Vor and take back his place among the women and
men. First, he went to Eas, the weaver, in the form of a rat and ran across
the cloth and left tiny prints. Then, god went to Rai, the dyer and caused
her to mix a vat of dye into which he urinated. It was a color never seen
before and Rai made shawls for all the women of the town. And the shawls
caused the women to see the bear nature of Vor and the women ran at her
approach, even Vor's lover, the hawk/woman Ara, was affected and cried out
when she looked at Vor. So Vor went to the river and gathered frog eggs from
the eddys and crushed them into a paste along with a dust made from the
bones of not-before-seen animals. Vor took the paste and dribbled some of it
in the common areas where all the people passed at sometime during the day.
And they took it up on their feet and passed it to their houses and the
women wiped their feet with the shawls and it caused them to be able to see
god. They pointed to a bush where god sat as a butterfly. God changed into a
boar and was caught by the men and would have been killed except that the
girl, Fen, saw him and warned them while they held the knife to god's
throat. So god made a deal with Vor and she had all the women take the
shawls and fold them up and place them in a stone box. And Vor respected
god's feelings on the subject and gave god a day in the month when he could
come and the women would wear the shawls and women and god could know each
other's natures. And sometimes god was seen there.