is a story the witch-women tell of the gods before the gods. No
noble Circe with her hearthbroom and basket existed then, and no
San Miguel and his flaming sword. Before the gentler pantheonic
gods brought order to the world there was only one god, who spun
the universe from a web in the image of a spider. His great all-seeing
eyes were pleased with his creation, but a cosmos full of spinning,
inert worlds became boring with time.
great old god, who had no name for the tongues of men, was himself
an ugliness beyond compare. Great black arms stretched and enfolded
the universe from end to end, and he jealously guarded the beautiful
creation he had spun. He slept in a halo of spinning galaxies and
dreamed secret dreams of objects more beautiful than the stars,
more graceful than the slow dance of orbiting worlds. He dreamed
of creatures that would shine before him in their beauty, and make
of his universe a frame for his masterwork. When he dreamed of these
creatures, he saw bodies that flowed the way wind sculpted mountains
and valleys. In his deepest dreams, they were as soft and smooth
as silk, but just as strong, and from them radiated heat like his
bright suns. He slept fitfully for an eon, contemplating their manufacture.
Finally, when he could stand the dreams no further, he set to spinning.
will come, he thought, and they will love me.
great old god gathered the whole of his strength, and set to creating
his dreams. It was painstaking work. Each curve, each line, perfect
in execution. They would be his children, and he their father.
he was finished, he beheld his greatest and most beautiful creations.
They stood before him shining in their naked perfection and he named
them at once. The one was called Catabasis, whose beauty was darkness
and light, earth and stillness. In her eyes sat the strength of
stone and a smoldering, possessive desire that all other creatures
gave way before.
sister was named Nepenthe. Nepenthe was equally beautiful, but reminiscent
instead of the golden glory of the stars and fields of living wheat.
Hers was the beauty of the ocean and the horizon, and a great tempestuous
heart did she have. Her unpredictable will ever fascinated the spider
god, and livened his existence.
stood before him together and he revealed himself to them and called
them "daughters." Catabasis and Nepenthe knew their creator
at once, and looked upon his great celestial face. They fell to
their knees beside one another and exclaimed their admiration for
him. The old spider god had never known praise from his stone and
fire creations, and to hear them sing admiration from their sweet
voices was a balm that he found himself easily able to become drunk
three of them lived an age like this, and in happiness and balance
did the universe revolve. The great god needed to spin no more.
He spent his time adoring his daughters, and enjoying their exploration
of the worlds he had created for them. They ran through the fields
of wheat he had grown for them, and kissed the sunlight that warmed
their bodies. He brought for them every manner of lovely thing into
their world. They had fire to warm themselves, and the fruit of
every living thing to consume as they wished.
great god would visit them as they slept sometimes and bring to
their bodies godly pleasure. Beneath their perfect skins lay a webwork
of intricate nerve endings that made them highly tactile. He knew
when he created them that he was himself a hideous and ugly thing
to put before their eyes, so he had created in their bodies a secret
special place where the nerves and sensations were most intense.
This secret place he could use to pleasure them even without appearing
before their eyes. He could come to them as a dream of light or
water, and they would know rapture from this place.
was well for time out of telling, but their happiness was not to
endure. A day came when the spider god went to look upon his daughters
and found them hidden under an enormous tree in the greatest of
his fields. Shadowed from the sunlight by its branches, he heard
a sound which only he previously had been able to produce: it was
the sweet passion-song of Nepenthe's voice. He looked closer and
saw that Catabasis had found her secret place and they were loving
great god appeared before them and asked what they were doing. In
a voice that spoke the language of the before-angels, Nepenthe answered.
have noticed that my sister is beautiful, father."
I," said, Catabasis, "and we have found that there is
a part of us which wants a special kind of passion. Who better to
love me than my sister? You have told us that we are your special
creations, greater than all others."
is for me to love you," the spider god told them, "and
for you to love me."
do love you, great father," said Nepenthe, "but my sister
is beautiful and you are ugly. If you only love that which is beautiful,
then why should I love something ugly?"
this, the spider god felt the same sort of jealousy he had felt
when he crouched protectively around the newly-created universe.
must love me," he told them, but they only went back to loving
and pleasuring each other. Their laughter and sweet love-song became
like acid to his ears, and what he had once loved about them turned
to hate. This was no gentle god of hearth or sword, remember, but
an old god, who was given to wanton bouts of passion, jealousy,
was with the cold feeling of betrayal and loneliness in his heart
that he went to the far end of the earth and created his third child.
Into this creature he spun his lust, jealousy, and pride. Where
Catabasis and Nepenthe had been given incredible beauty and the
ability to enjoy the world, this third child was given monstrous
strength, cunning, and the spider god's own secret strength. The
third child was given the hunger for power.
third child was a son, and his name was Man. The spider god gave
to Man the secrets of pleasuring Catabasis and Nepenthe, and Man
used it to subjugate them. Man took away from them the comforts
that the spider god had given, and twisted their passion for each
other into craven lust akin to his own. Their love became polluted
by jealousy and frustration. Man fostered all of this and turned
their sisterly love into hate. Soon they could not even approach
each other without the tempest and the smoldering flame igniting
and flaying each other's beautiful bodies. Their indignant, cloying
fury was called weather, and ever it raged across the beauty that
the spider god wrought. Between them, Man stood smirking in victory,
knowing that it was he who was the wrathful god's favorite, created
in His image to know ugliness and seek to possess the beauty of
his daughters through conquest and subjugation.
witch-women today say that Catabasis and Nepenthe could scarcely
stand the sight of each other after a while, and they each retreated
to the opposite edge of the world, as far away as they could get,
lest the sheer force of their desire for one another tear the earth
asunder. At one pole, pulling all things toward her, was dark and
lovely Catabasis, and at the other her equally beautiful stormy
sister Nepenthe, and between lay a world fit only for Man, who would
squabble and fight endlessly for the faint echo of the diminished
beauty once spun in such glory by the first of the old gods.