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Kaggen Imagines the Earth


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Everyman's Two Sides Are Represented by the Divine Trickster.

The creator god, when he is cast in the role of divine trickster, suggests the order-chaos duality of the creator, this character mirroring the duality of the universe as the supreme being moves to bring order to disorder. The divine trickster embodies godly elements, incongruous though it may seem. There is a strange affiliation of the sublime and the grotesque in this wonderful character, an intensely focused summary of the forces at large and in struggle during the age of creation. The idea that the creation of the universe is intimately bound up with belief in an almighty being is revealed in a myth having to do with a San divine trickster, in which the creator god imagines the new world; from the rich and productive possibilities of his own inner struggle and creativity emerges a world that is never wholly severed from an initial oneness with God.

(San/Botswana, Namibia, South Africa) |Kaggen (Cagn, Dxui, ǂGao!na, ∥Gauwa, Hishe, Huwe, |Kaang, Kho, Thora), the San supreme being, is a creator god. A mantis, he is also a divine trickster. He creates, but he also has a destructive urge. He has godly knowledge, yet he is capable of acts of mortal stupidity; he is sublime, he is also obscene. |Kaggen was the first being; he gave orders and caused all things to appear. He used to dwell with men on the earth, but how he came into the world no one knows. He used to be a kindly god, but he could not cope with the stubbornness and opposition of mankind, could not establish his ways in peace, so he went away. He could change himself into any animal form, a mantis, an eland bull. He loved the elands: today, no man knows where |Kaggen is; only the elands know.

|Kaggen, revealing his trickster nature, takes away the sheep of some ticks. His dispute with the ticks establishes a necessary disjuncture in the mythical world that will lead to its dismantling and reconstruction in earthly terms. The ticks, who possess shelter, domestic animals, and clothing, bloody and defeat |Kaggen, but must now experience God's revenge. What was the environment of the ticks in the world of myth is now recast because of the divine wrath of the trickster-god in human terms: it is the origin of San civilization. God dreams, and his dream, an awesome fancy, is fulfilled; it is a vision of genesis, of the first creation, fraught with the prophecy that orders all things. |Kaggen dreams that all the ticks' homes, their domesticated animals, their weapons, and their fire arise and come to the place of the San. The San world is coming into existence, with domesticated animals, clothing, utensils, fire, symbols of civilization. But |Kaggen goes further; he now orders living beings as well. The ticks will henceforth have to drink blood; they will no longer have fire. They will drink the blood of other creatures. God's curse becomes an origin. When his family awakens, it finds that what he had dreamed is now reality. The sheep and houses, the pots that the San would cook in, all things of San civilization are now present. |Kaggen then continues the process of first ordering. Ichneumon, God's grandson, will become an insect; the mother of Ichenumon will become a porcupine, his grandmother a hare. |Kaggen himself will become a mantis. The creation is complete. But it is then destroyed, engulfed by a swallowing monster, All-devourer, a fabulous mythical villain, fearful father of the porcupine. |Kaggen inexplicably and against the advice of the porcupine invites the fire-breathing All-devourer to his home, and an awful pattern of destruction begins, as the monster scorches then swallows everything—plants, the things of the home, the domesticated animals, finally the people—including God—themselves. God has created fire. Everything that |Kaggen has created goes into the monster's belly. This second part of the story, a fantasy restatement of the things envisioned by |Kaggen in part one, ends with a second creation, wherein |Kaggen's offspring and his grandchild are taught to withstand the deadly heat of the fiery All-devourer. This crucial pattern counters that of the destructiveness of the monster. When they are prepared to contain the great forces that |Kaggen has given them—the fire, symbol of civilization, but also, unchecked, symbol of returning chaos—re-creation can take place. Everything returns from the stomach of the swallowing monster, and the dream of god, culture hero, and divine trickster, is now fulfilled. As ambiguous god and man, |Kaggen bestrides the two worlds, leading early humans from the one to the other.

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Subjects: Religion.


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