When a Gift has been given, then it’s given to keep
And the way we then use it, is a choice that we make
A gift can be treasured or thrown on the garbage heap
But the proof of our actions will be seen in our wake
For the Gifts that we get and what we give in return
Are the things that show others we are worthy of trust
So will we stand proud and show we get what we earn
Or will the Gods simply see that we live by our lust
Many, many years ago, long before People dwelt upon the Earth and not long after Time itself began, the Gods, who formed the essence of time, gathered and decided to create a special jewel and place it in the crown of the Universe. The crown of the Universe formed a huge mandala in the skies that would one day be known as The Milky Way and the jewel they created would be called “Earth”.
Long before the Gods started on their creation of Earth they realised that they would need help. The Earth Spirits were created as helpers for the Gods and a separate Spirit was shaped for each of the multitude of creations that the Gods intended to place above, on and in the Earth; each of these Spirits was, in turn, given lesser beings, or “Sprites” to help them in their tasks.
At the time of this story the Earth Spirits were spending their time working with the Gods on the last details of the land, sea and sky and the animals and plants that live upon and in her to ensure that all was in Order. After the completion of this era, the Gods combined to form the great Earth Spirit, which is present still in the Earth to this day; the great, combined Earth Spirit is known as Gaia but that is a different story that can be recounted at another time. The Earth Spirits chose to remain as individual entities settling in their own special places or wandering the planet as Stewards, caring for and nurturing the life and lands, some later took on human form and are still among us today protecting and nurturing the Earth or giving guidance to the People upon her. These Spirits dwell in those people we see from time to time standing strong for what is true and right or quietly going about their business of making our world a better place.
When all of their tasks had been completed, the Sprites melded into the domain of the Spirits they had helped and their presence can often be seen or felt today. The tiny sparks and chimera that dance around the flames of an open fire are one manifestation of these Sprites. These Sprites will often display their joy of creation in much more subtle ways, like dancing in dewdrops as the first rays of the morning sun enter them or dancing in the hearts and minds of children and the young at heart to vitalise them and give them energy and power.
The Sprites who helped the Spirit of Nature Sounds are around us every day, it is them who will ask a bird to sing outside our window when we spending our day sitting in an office in the middle of a big city. At all those times when we feel down or alone these Sprites will dance a merry jig atop the rippling waters of a babbling brook or have the leaves in the trees rustle out their beautiful song. If we stop and let ourselves listen, we can often hear them singing their songs of joy just below hearing level; it is this song that will melt the hardest heart if they just spend some time with Nature.
The Sprites associated with the Gift of Speech tend to dwell with the story tellers, bards and poets of the world; where ever speech is used to enrich the lives of People there you will find these Sprites weaving their own particular magic.
The Sprites who worked with the Spirit of Water develop the Gift of Laughter have no set pattern or place; at times they seek out places of merriment where they can sit back and feel the all-embracing mirth and at other times they will visit places of sadness and seriousness. These merry little Sprites often find themselves attracted to those souls who are forever taking themselves far too seriously. The old adage “Laughter is the best medicine” is the catchcry of these comic Sprites and this often leads them to places of healing where they strive to bring back some of the joy of life often missing in these places. It is said that once a heart has been touched by one of these Sprites it can never again feel true sadness.
The Sprites who aided the Nymphs bring love to the People have taken many forms through the ages; Cupid, Eros, Aphrodite, Rāgarāja and Hathor to name a few. Like all the other Sprites these wonderful beings will often combine with other Sprites to enhance each others powers. This mutual help is why open fires, music, laughter, conversation and the written word are so often associated with love., and love itself is one of the ultimate acts of free will.
The Sprite who helped the Spirit of the Air to spread the Gift of Writing to the People continue to love and honour that gift to this day. From the earliest times these Sprites have watched over the writer and as soon as a person picks up a pen, the Sprites of Writing are there, waiting to be invited to participate. Over the eons these Sprites have learnt that not all writers want their help and not all writings are something they would want to contribute to, but if a writer is willing to have an open heart they will feel the caress of the Sprites of Writing on their hand and in their heart. Long ago these Sprites made a standing offer to the People; “Pick up a pen, open your heart and open your mind and we will be there”. Because of their relationship with the Spirit of the Air these Sprites can still soar, with a writer, to the highest heights or take the most amazing flights of fancy.
But the tales of the Sprites is another story for another time and so we will leave then there.
The Gods spent much time on the creation of People; this was the pinnacle of their creation. Unlike all their other creations, the Gods made People in their own image and they dwelt in the Gathering Place for many generations while the Gods nurtured them and imparted great wisdom to them. To spread the wisdom amongst the People, the Gods erected the Font Of All Wisdom in the form of a tower, in the centre of their Gathering Place so that the people could come and gather their Gift at will. After a time, the Gods saw that the People had taken all the wisdom they needed and so sent them forth to the four corners of the Earth where they developed and used the wisdom they had been given by the Gods.
The Gods were very proud of their masterpiece “People” and asked the Earth Spirits to help them in any way that they could; many gifts were bestowed upon the People by the Earth Spirits because of this request. This is the story of seven of those Gifts and how, and why, they were given to the People of the Earth.
The Gift Of Fire
One day, shortly after the request from the Gods, the Fire Spirit took upon herself the form of a small, flickering candle as a sign of humility before she approached the Gods with an offer; she told the Gods that if they created mystical flying creatures for her she would endow these creatures with the Gift Of Fire. The Fire Spirit promised that she would then send the Fire Creatures out to the four corners of the Earth to give the Gift Of Fire to the People of all the lands.
The Gods readily accepted her generous offer and each of them went away to make a mystical Fire Creature. When the Gods returned on the appointed day, they realized that because each had made a Fire Creature to their own design, and with their own special Powers, the creatures took a myriad of different forms. It was decided that their differences did not matter, as they were all endowed with special qualities and able to carry the Gift Of Fire. The Fire Spirit, true to her word gave to each the Gift Of Fire which meant they had the power to create and carry fire. For days, while the Gods and Spirits discussed how best to help the Fire Creatures on their journey, these mystical creatures took flight over the Land Of The Gods and gave pyrotechnic and flying displays just for the sheer joy of it.
Before the Gods and the Fire Spirit sent the Fire Creatures on their mission they told them that when they gave the Gift Of Fire to People they should warn them that while this gift was a powerful and beautiful tool it could also destroy them if they did not control and respect it. The Fire Creatures were then sent out across the Earth to give the Gift Of Fire to any People they met. Because all the Fire Creatures were different, all the cultures developed different legends about the Gift Of Fire; however constant throughout these legends is the fact that fire came from flying creatures, be they dragons, flaming birds or serpents.
Some time after this the Gods and Fire Spirit discussed the danger to their creation from this gift and decided to present the People with a regular reminder of the beauty and value of the Gift Of Fire. Therefore, they summoned all the Fire Creatures to a Gathering and asked each to contribute a tiny ember from their own inner fire, to be sent to Earth as a reminder to the People of the incredible value of their Gift. The Gods and the Fire Spirit realized that the main time People used fire was through Winter and so this was when People needed to be reminded most.
Gathering all the embers together they soon realized that all this heat in one place would drive away the Spirit Of Winter and disrupt the delicately balanced environment they had created on Earth. After long discussion, it was decided to make a separate creature from each ember and that these should be able to fly like the Fire Creatures and that they should not be allowed on the Earth during summer because their fiery beings could accidentally start bushfires.
The Gods took the embers of magical fire and blew the gift of life into them. As the Gods blew on the embers one side became bright red and hot, while the other side became as black as soot and a short, thin tail like that of a comet formed. The tiny embers burst into life; their brilliant red side became filled with air from the breath of the Gods and formed their breast while the comets tail set fast to form the tail of the beautiful little bird. The myriad of small birds spread their delicate wings, and because they were made of embers from the inner fire of mystical Fire Creatures, and had received the breath of life directly from the Gods they flew at incredible speed for their size. Thousands upon thousands of them darted about the Land Of The Gods singing their quiet but delicately beautiful trilling song; although each bird’s song was soft, the effect of their voices combining to celebrate the day was like some fantastic winged choir.
The Gods realized that such small creatures with bright red breasts, who needed to come out into the open to remind People of the Gift Of Fire they were in danger of being eaten by other animals. To prevent this, the Gods bestowed upon these beautiful creatures the ability to dodge and dive with great dexterity, which, together with their speed meant that they could dart about almost as fast as the eye could see.
These tiny flame breasted birds continue to visit us every Winter to this day; these days we call them Robin Red Breasts, but now we take them for granted; although we have long forgotten the true value of the Gift Of Fire, they still come in the hope that one day we will remember.
At the time of this story all of the People, in all of the lands, had gladly accepted the Gift Of Fire and taken heed of the warning that came with it. The different cultures developed festivals and celebrations around the Gift Of Fire to give thanks and show appreciation to the Gods, Fire Spirit and Fire Creatures for this wondrous gift. For generation upon generation the People of Earth remembered the value of the Gift Of Fire, however, slowly this wisdom has faded from our cultural memories and with it the spiritual importance of open fires and the communion people have around them.
The Gift Of Music
The Spirit Of Nature Sounds approached the Gods and told them of his delight at the love the People showed for the sounds of his creations. To show his appreciation he offered to give People the ability to make instruments that made all the sounds coming from Nature and to arrange these sounds in any order and manner they wished; this would be the Gift Of Music. However, he explained that he did not have the ability to travel to all the People of the Earth to pass on his gift; therefore, he asked if the Gods could provide him with messengers to help him in this task as they had done for the Fire Spirit.
Now the Gods could see the value and generosity of this gift and immediately accepted his offer; they told the Spirit Of Nature Sounds that they would discuss how best to provide messengers and come to him when they had an answer.
After much deliberation, the Gods agreed that the lead instruments in Natures symphony were the birds and so, once again, the messengers should be in the form of birds.
Therefore, the Gods departed to their own special places to make the Messenger Birds. When they came back together with their creations, there was a great variety of birds in the huge flock that gathered. There were small birds and large birds, plain birds and birds with iridescent coats of many colours. Some of these birds sat quietly and waited while others strutted around in flamboyant displays. The one thing all these birds had in common was their ability to repeat any sound they heard, remember it, and arrange it with any of the other sounds at will.
When the Gods took this huge flock of birds to the Spirit Of Nature Sounds, their wings blotted out the sky. The Spirit Of Nature Sounds wept with delight at the work the Gods had done to help with his gift. The sound of the Spirit Of Nature Sounds tears was like the gentle caress of a Summer shower in the forest while each tear hitting the ground made the sound of a delicate crystal bell ringing and his sobbing was like the rumbling of thunder in distant mountains. The sounds of the Spirit Of Nature Sounds crying were picked up by the birds and the result was the overwhelming sound of monsoonal rain.
Now the Gods found this mimicry funny and laughed and laughed in their deep belly laughs. This laughter of the Gods added the sound of the sudden fury of a tropical thunderstorm to the existing cacophony.
When the Spirit Of Nature Sounds noticed that the Gods were laughing at his tears he felt deeply offended because he did not understand that the Gods and birds were in fact attempting to join in celebration of the joy he felt. When it came time for the Spirit Of Nature Sounds to pass the Gift Of Nature Sounds to the birds, he remembered how insulted he had felt at the Gods laughter and decided that to avenge this insult he would give each bird just a part of the Gift Of Nature Sounds and the knowledge of only a few instruments.
To prevent the Gods from being aware of his plan, he told them he needed privacy and absolute quiet to impart the Gift Of Nature Sounds to the birds and took the flock deep into the desert.
After he had finished his task, he sent the birds out to the four corners of the Earth to share their part of the beauty of the Gift Of Nature Sounds with all People; for, although he was angry with the Gods he still wanted to share the beauty of his sounds with the People.
So the birds spread out all over the Earth and each adopted a culture of People and set about sharing the beauty of the Gift Of Nature Sounds with them. This explains why all the different cultures of the Earth have different forms of music and different instruments to play them with.
After a time these magical birds met up again to compare stories of the success of their work. At this meeting, they realized that each had different sounds and instruments and they understood what the Spirit Of Nature Sounds had done. All the birds agreed that in protest none of them would ever live deep in the desert because that was where the Spirit Of Nature Sounds had cheated them of their promised Gift and that is why, to this day, few birds live deep in the desert and none of the birds of mimicry ever venture there.
Now the Gods too had discovered the trickery of the Spirit Of Nature Sounds and came down to discuss this with the birds. They all agreed that to make up for the loss the People had suffered the Gods would make one bird that had the ability to recreate any sound that it heard. To protect this treasure the Gods decided to make a plain grey bird, and after it was made, each bird came and imparted the greatest part of their ability to this new bird.
The Gods listened in wonderment to the fantastic symphony of sounds this new bird could make and spent years inventing new sounds just for the sheer joy of listening to its song. The Gods decided that this bird should hold a sign to show it was protected and favoured by them; to this end, they took the Lire, which is the instrument of the Gods, and placed it upon this plain grey bird as a tail. To further protect their new creation, they took this new bird and hid it on an isolated land so that the Spirit Of Nature Sounds would not discover it and take back his Gift. This story explains why, while there are many birds of mimicry, only one, the Australian Lyre Bird, can make any sound that it hears.
The other birds of mimicry on the Earth today are descendants of the flock who gave the main part of their Gift Of Nature Sounds to the Lyre Bird. Unfortunately, because each was given only part of the Gift Of Nature Sounds and gave most of this away, they can now only engage in raucous mimicry while the Lire Bird can still make its myriad of beautiful sounds.
The Gift Of Speech
The Spirit Of The Wind requested an audience with the Gods; when she came before them she apologized that she had not attended earlier, explaining that she had had a difficult time working out what Gift she could give that was a she felt was worthy of the People.
Finally, while sitting in her favourite grove of trees that had many hanging vines, where she liked to go to listen to the sound of the wind murmuring through the vines and trees, she realized that these sounds were like the voices of the Gods; at last, she had found her Gift. If the Gods could place small vine-like pieces in the throats of People then she could give them the control over their breath needed for The Gift Of Speech. This Gift she said would allow People to pass on the wonders and beauty they saw in the creations of the Gods.
The Gods agreed that this was a truly wonderful Gift but asked the Spirit Of The Wind how she would teach the People the words and so allow them to use their Gift. The Spirit Of The Wind thought long and hard and finally returned to the Gods with an answer. The Spirit Of The Wind said that if the Gods undertook to grow groves of trees wherever People were, she would send her best winds to make speech by blowing through the trees and vines.
The Gods agreed and spread out over the Earth to nurture and grow vast forests. When they had finished the Spirit Of The Wind sent her winds off to show the People the sounds of speech. Each separate wind blew out its message in the forest it was sent to, however, because a different God had made each forest to their own design, the sounds came out differently. To this day, because of this simple difference, People from all over the Earth speak different languages. However, because we all have the same vines in our throats we can learn and speak each other’s languages if we choose.
The Gift of Speech has allowed People to form communities, and describe the world around them in so many wonderful ways, the great orators of history owe every word to this Gift and all of us who have ever listened in amazement to the humble street poet have been touched by this Gift.
This tale also explains why, in the lore of so many cultures, there are particular trees or Sacred Groves of trees that have always been held in reverence and why, throughout the world there are feelings of loss and deep hurt when our great forests are injured or destroyed.
The Gift Of Laughter
The Spirit Of Water had searched long for a Gift because she was eager to help the People of the Earth. She had fallen with rain, burst free from the Earth as a spring, trickled in rivulets and raged with floods. She had dived to the deepest depths of the oceans, become part of huge glaciers rumbling ponderously across the land and hung from a leaf in the forest as a dewdrop in her quest to find something special as her Gift.
Finally, feeling that she had failed the People, she sat beside a small brook high in the mountains to rest; she felt herself relax and her mood lightened as the sounds of the brook dancing and playing among the rocks on its descent into the valley entered into her. The Spirit Of Water smiled, for now she knew her gift and it made her laugh with immeasurable joy. She immediately transformed herself into a mist and lifted herself high into the clouds to commune with the Gods. The Spirit Of Water explained her gift to the Gods with such passion that they were all moved by her joy. All agreed that her Gift, while simple, was indeed a gift of great value and merit. This is the Gift that the Spirit Of Water offered.
She told the Gods that she would instruct the babbling brooks to teach the People the sound of joyous laughter and the waterfalls to demonstrate the sound of a good belly laugh, while the spring showers taught the beauty of tears of joy. She carried on excitedly explaining that the seas and oceans would impart the value of slapping your sides as you laugh deeply. At this time, the Spirit Of Water had to stop her description because she and the Gods were all rolling around on the clouds in fits of uncontrollable and hysterical laughter.
Because of this Gift Of Laughter, even today when People spend time sitting beside creeks, rivers, waterfalls, oceans and the like, or just listening to the falling rain they feel relaxed and happy.
Because of the joy the Spirit of Water spread amongst the Gods with her display that they bestowed upon her gift special powers to heal the Spirit, mind and body, making this simple Gift on of the greatest natural medicines on Earth to this day.
The Gift Of Love
Without warning, the Nymphs who dance around the Earth with no real purpose except to bring beauty and joy for the sheer pleasure of it appeared; running, jumping and playing amongst the Gods with no concern at all for proper protocol. After a while, they all skipped into the centre of the Gods and sang with one voice “We’re here, we’re here. We’ve got it, we’ve got it so where do you want it?” before collapsing together in fits of laughter which sounded like the peeling of thousands of tiny crystal bells. After their beautiful laughter had subsided, they stood and looked around enquiringly at the Gods. One of the Gods cleared his throat. “Well” he said hesitantly “that’s all very fine and good, but we can certainly see and hear that you’re here, and we’re very glad that you’ve got it but as we don’t know what ‘it’ is we really don’t know where you should put it”
“Our Gift of course, we have our Gift for the People. So where do you want it?” chorused the Nymphs with voices of pure joy. “Wonderful, but it might help if we knew what your gift was,” said the God. “Oh yes, that’s right” teased the Nymphs “We suppose you do need to know what it is don’t you. Well, let’s just see if you can guess shall we. We’ll give you a clue. It’s something we have plenty off and it never runs out” said one of the Nymphs”. “Is your Gift NOISE?” asked the God, shaking his head and pretending to cover his ears.
With this the Nymphs jumped up dancing excitedly around the Gods throwing rose petals into the air and chorusing “It’s love, it’s love, what could it be but love. We’ll give them all the Gift Of Love” until they all collapsed into peels of laughter, kicking their legs in the air and tickling the feet of the Gods with feathers they had produced from within their brightly coloured vests.
The Gods nodded in agreement and appreciation of the Gift amid chuckles as they tried to pull their feet away from the flickering feathers of the Nymphs. “Well all right then” cried the Nymphs in a single voice, and in the blinking of an eye they were gone and could be seen darting across the lands to show People the pure joy of unconditional love.
Even though this happened way back near the beginning of time, to this very day, if a person looks through the eyes of love, they can feel the spirit of the Nymphs dancing and playing inside their heart and sometimes even tickling their feet with a feather making it hard for them not to smile and laugh all the time.
The Gift Of Writing
The Spirit Of The Air soared down on his mighty wings from high in the mountains where he had his Eyrie and landed lightly on the clouds in front of the Gods. The Spirit Of The Air reached down to his wing with his huge hooked beak and delicately plucked from it a single feather, which he placed reverently before the Gods.
“This” he announced, “is my Gift to the People”. The Gods looked at the feather and were perplexed. Finally, after much contemplation one of the Gods spoke; “This is a wondrous Gift indeed, a feather from the Spirit Of The Air. But I do not understand how the People would make use of this treasure”.
The Spirit Of The Air looked at the feather and smiled, as much as a beak can smile. “You see,” said the Spirit Of The Air “I have watched the other Gifts being given and seen how mighty they are. I have seen the People given the Gifts of Fire, Speech, Music, Laughter and Love and I thought long on how I could give a Gift that would compliment all of these wonderful treasures. Finally I realized that People had no way to record the beauties and wonders they see in your creation and so I give a part of myself to this end”.
The Gods looked at the Spirit Of The Air questioningly. “You see” said the Spirit Of The Air “I have found that if you take one of my feathers and cut the tip off it on an angle you can use it to write down the words that People have spoken, the music they have created and the things that have made them laugh and love so that they can read, and relive them as they sit by the fire on cold winters nights”. “With this simple feather the People can record their dreams, aspirations, desires and joys for all the world to know. This simple feather will give the People a memory beyond memory, beyond time, which will allow them to understand the wisdom of their forbearers and so build upon this knowledge generation after generation into time immemorial.”
The Spirit Of The Air said that he could do this with no assistance from the Gods as birds already flew all across the Earth in their great migrations and they could deliver the feathers to the People. And so it was that the Gift Of Writing was given to the People of the Earth by the Spirit Of The Air and is that simple gift of a feather that has meant that I am now able to recount these facts today.
The Gift Of Free Will
The Gods looked down upon the People busily living their lives and using all the Gifts they had been given and the Gods were glad.
Looked at the People and saw that their lives were almost as full as those of the Gods themselves. After a while, one of the Gods said hesitantly “This is all so wonderful, it’s like Heaven on Earth, but something feels wrong”. “What?” said the other Gods in disbelief. The God shook his head and said “At first it seems like they have everything: Fire, Speech, Music, Writing, Laughter and Love and all of these things are wonderful Gifts, but the one thing they do not have is the thing I cherish above all else; they don’t have the free will to choose to use or not use these Gifts to them and this causes me great sadness.”
The Gods looked down again in deep contemplation; they saw People sitting by warm fires deep in conversation, singing, laughing, writing and falling in love and it was all beautiful. Slowly, one by one, they lifted their heads and each nodded their agreement. It was true, their creation lacked the ability to choose how they lived and so their lives seemed incomplete; to really live, the People needed the Gift Of Free Will.
The Gods decided that all People needed the right not only to choose whether or not to use the Gifts they had been given but also what to use their Gifts for.
With mixed emotions, the Gods ventured out onto the Earth one last time to take their beloved People their last, most dangerous and most valuable Gift – the Gift Of Free Will, which has been both the bane and the beauty of the lives of the People from that day forward. The Gods realized that this Gift meant nothing if People did not understand the alternatives and so with great reluctance the Gods released the Spirits Of Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Lust, Anger, Greed and Sloth upon the Earth in the hope that People would see these Spirits for what they are and reject them. Realising the great power of these Spirits the Gods balanced them by freeing the Spirits of Faith, Hope, Charity, Fortitude, Justice, Temperance and Prudence to ensure that the harmony they had woven through all of life on Earth continued and this gave them hope. With the same pride, hopes, and fears as any parent who watches their child leave home and venture out into the world as an independent adult, the Gods watched as their creation took the first tentative steps of experimentation with their newfound power.
As a final gift to the People of Earth the Gods created a single tree in the centre of their Earthly Gathering Place; this tree was to be a reminder of their love for the Earth and its People. The shiny young sapling sprouted forth and its leaves radiated a glow even in the darkness of midnight; each God spilled a small portion of their power around the roots of this young tree so that it would always be nourished by both the Earth and the Gods; this mixture of God and land gave the tree the power to heal and to repel spirits that may harm it or the land around it. As the Gods bid the slender young tree farewell, they all realized that this tree would be old beyond measure before they would see it again. The Gods knew that over the eons until their return, the roots of The One Tree would spread out to embrace the entire planet and so extend its healing power to all lands.
The Gods knew that their work was done, and so, took leave of their creation, this wonderful Earth and all that is in and upon her, merging into “Gaia”, the one complete Spirit of the Earth. By combining, the Gods gave up their individual powers and responsibilities but they vowed that one day they would return to see what People had done with the Earth and how they had used their Gifts. As mentioned earlier in this tale The Earth Spirits remained to act as Stewards for the Gods and so nurture the still developing world to its full potential; in taking on this role, the Earth Spirits accepted that as the planet developed their participation would decrease until; finally, they would retire to allow the natural development that the Gods wanted to occur.
And so, because of this last Gift of the Gods we can choose how we live and use the Gifts they bestowed upon us, sometimes we choose to use their Gifts well. Sometimes we choose to use their Gifts badly. Sometimes we choose not to use their Gifts; but always we have the choice.
The Gods will return one day, just as they promised at the beginning of time; when they return what they find and their reaction to it will depend on us as it has depended on the generations before us.
When they return what will they say? What will we say?