How the Earth Made Peace With the Humans
©1994 by Spider Johnson back to Essays (I have no idea where this came from; it "invaded" me during my Desert Visit to far West Texas and I wrote it down as is, with no changes.)
Thu, May 26, 1994, 3:34p.
Up on the hill below the big mesa, while walking one May afternoon, a man saw some rocks moving ahead of him a dozen yards or so. "The heat tricks my eyes," he thought, but then the rocks continued to move in a sinewy form, slowly, the rocks assumed a pattern and a low hissing, scraping sound emerged from the movement, getting louder, as if it was all around him, like the wind through the catclaw. Then, before his eyes, the rocks rose up suddenly, and he found himself staring into the coppery eyes of a huge snake's head, weaving as it towered higher and higher above him and drew its length into the air. The buzzing sound was louder, wave-like, and started a rhythmic cadence. The man thought he heard the snake speak.
"I must kill you, human, as you have wandered onto the domain of our kind, where your kind cannot survive. I am the Guardian of the Desert who does the kindness to such as you." With that, the great snake drew its head back, opening a mouth with two chalk-white fangs, glistening with brown poison, and prepared to kill the man.
"Stombinogo," said the man, surprising himself with the word. The snake froze. Minutes passed with neither of them moving. Finally, the snake lowered its great head and came level with the man's.
"How did you know my name, human?" queried the snake. "This makes you all the more dangerous, but I will satisfy my curiosity before I must kill you."
"I am not simply human, Stombinogo" the man said, more words that seemed not his own. "I am cousin to the Black Rocks that live here. That's why I came to this place--I seek my origins."
The snake pondered these words for a long time. The wind blew, but the insects and birds remained silent.
"I know who you are, human, and I must not kill you. The wind oracle has said you would come. However, I cannot tell you who your grandmother is, because there is a dispute among the rock clans, and I must remain neutral. I will, however, tell you where to go to learn of your beginnings. You must visit the Little People of the Desert. Go to the far canyon in the north, below the Cliffs of Forever and ask the third wren if you can enter. When the wren asks who you are, tell them 'Zorab,' for that is your real name. You will then be tested for your worthiness, and learn of your origin. Go."
The man left, anxious to learn of his beginnings. He recalled the stories his grandfather told him of the Black Rock bride he took when he wandered into the Desert to look for gold during the early days of treasure hunting. The Desert nearly killed him, but because his heart was pure and he recanted his need for the gold, a Black Rock maiden took compassion upon him and brought him water, then shelter, then berries, then comfort. After his long convalescence, during which she tended his needs, he realized he must return to his kind. The Black Rock Maiden then discovered she loved the man, and besides--miraculously, she was carrying his child.
They returned to a village of humans and lived on its outskirts as they raised a family. They kept to themselves, and when she had to go into town, she kept herself veiled and gloved, and the townspeople, although they thought her a bit peculiar but were used to minding their own business, considered the dark face and white eyes behind the veil to be a consequence of an Indian race and the ravages of the desert's harsh sun and wind.
They raised three children, dark complexioned with the palest of blue eyes, who in turn raised three each. The latter were only slightly dark, and their eyes were as deep a blue as the midday desert sky. One of these was this man who, unsatisfied with the predictable life, came to the desert to find his grandmother's people.
He came to the mouth of the canyon, below the forbidding Cliffs of Forever, and stopped at the third wren, as the snake told. However, used to seeking his own way and suddenly possessed of a long-forgotten instinct, he did not ask the Gatekeeper if he could enter. In fact he just kept going. A storm suddenly blew in and began to release torrents of rain and cataracts of lightning. The man continued on the trail, unmoved by all of this. Menacing animals of all kinds snarled and lunged at him, but he kept walking, unperturbed. The trees and cactus themselves twisted their limbs into threatening gestures, but onward he went. Finally, at the canyon's end, there was a black pool of water, with an island in its very center, and a fire in the center of the island whose golden glow danced over the canyon walls and silhouetted the figures of the Little People of the Desert.
The man strode directly to the island, walking across the surface of the black lake, stepping on stones that seemed to rise up from its depths just in time to meet his feet as they walked. He stopped at the fire. The Little People of the Desert did not move or speak, but all were watching him.
The man spoke. "I came here without warning because I had to come on my terms, not yours nor the Great Snake's. Otherwise, you would kill me and a great calamity would have occurred. I would have lain on the ground and my remains would have contaminated the other rocks around me, then they would have spread the contamination further, until all the world's rocks would have turned to a putrid jelly. I knew of my origins as soon as I left the Snake, but more, I remembered my destiny, and had to come make peace with you, the Silent Rulers of the Earth, so that the earth's creatures, including people, would stop their suffering for immortality. You must now work to cease the feuds you fuel."
The Little People of the Desert listened to this man, who sounded strange but felt familiar. They measured the wisdom of his words and nodded their affirmation. Before the man left, they presented him with a piece of obsidian fashioned into a lens-shaped orb. It had a braided filament on it, meant to be worn as an amulet around his neck. As he looked at it, it seemed to emit a sparkling white-blue glow, barely perceptible, and it center contained a spinning golden sphere, grainy and scintillating, pulsing and mixing, like a luminescent liquid. The man put it on, and at once felt a surge of power, like a static electrical shock, penetrate all through him. As he walked across the stones, his footprints remained red and glowing, and green grass sprouted from them instantly, and little rainbows followed him as he walked, arching in a procession over his head, and springs flowed from the spots where he stopped to rest, and his urine and feces became fields of grain and forests of fruit trees, and the tune he whistled was copied by the wind and carried to all the living things of the planet, so that they were soothed by it and became peaceful. The man, when he arrived at the place from whence he came, began to vibrate faster and faster until he was a bright blur, and turned into a ball of Light and shot off the planet in a blinding split.
Now, once a month, a brilliant comet passes across the sky, pausing to circle the earth three times in twenty-four hours, then continues into deep space. This, it seems to say, is our destiny.