How Stars Became: A Creation Myth by Maitreya Tindall

My father used to tell me a story, a story that his father told him and his father had told him, about a time when animals were free. The story about how stars became. Father said that there was a time when, gazing up into the night sky, instead of the dark bluish sky dotted with stars you saw pure light. Heavenly, almost. One glance at it and you’d feel as if all your worries melted away, soothed by the light, its warmth sinking into your bones. Every night, all the animals would gaze up into the sky for hours on end, bathing in the radiant light.

But one day that all abruptly ended because of one grasshopper’s idea.

One night no different than any other, as all the animals were bathing in the golden light, Grasshopper had an idea. “I should fly up there. Being a winged creature, I’m sure I could do it. If the light is incredible from down here, it must be something of dreams up closer to it.” The words escaped his mouth before he had time to stop them. The whole forest went quiet for a few seconds, then, as if planned, all the birds exploded out of the trees. They had heard him. Feathers scattered everywhere for a chaotic few seconds, covering the sky with all different colors. Grasshopper, who had also taken flight, struggled in the midst of the chaos. After seconds that felt like hours, he dropped back to the ground, where he stayed hidden in the long grass. There he is to this day, not daring to fly above the grass for fear of being trampled by the ferocious flurry of feathers. Now, he only jumps above the grass in a feeble attempt to get a glimpse of the light.

Meanwhile, far from grasshopper swarmed the birds. The smaller, less powerful birds fell back down to earth, their wings tattered by the sharp talons and ferocious wings of the bigger birds. As soon as the remaining birds touched the light, they were set afire. Shrieking and squawking in pain, the panicked birds began flapping their wings in a desperate attempt to stop the flames from swallowing their bodies. After a few agonizing minutes, the flames died down. The large brown birds that had touched the light were no more. In their place loomed scaly creatures flapping their huge wings. Spikes ran along their necks and backs, their beaks were painfully twisted into scaly snouts, and sharp teeth lined the inside of their gaping mouths. Dragons!

Doomed they were to seek darkness in the depths of caves hiding from the light, yet greedily they stowed away gold coins in a feeble attempt to replace the heavenly light. The smaller birds, on the other hand, had been transformed into phoenixes: large birds with the tips of their feathers still in flames, glowing a radiant reddish orange hue. Cursed to live on in this forsaken world for all of eternity, unable to die, they would burst into flames whenever their bodies became too old. Once more, they were born in scathing flames.

For they had angered God. The light is a holy thing, a blessing to the animals, and the birds had greedily gone up seeking for more bliss. For this God punished them. And to stop other birds from trying to fly to the light, he covered the sky in an endless cape of darkness. Every night instead of the accelerating light there would only be shadow. Though other birds continued to try to reach the light, desperately poking holes in the infinite cape, trying to get through was pointless. Like bugs to a bulb, they banged desperately, all their efforts in vain. And to this day, every night all the birds flock up to the cape, poking holes in the night sky, in hope to once more bathe themselves in the heavenly light. And those are the stars we see today.

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