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Tore and the Pot of Death


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(Efe/DRCongo)

The soul goes to Tore (Arebati, Baatsi, Epilipili, Muri-Muri), the supreme being, in the sky, taken from the mouth of the dead man and wafted into the heavens by flies or by lightning.

Long ago, at the beginning, the earth was up where heaven is now, and heaven was down here. Because the Efe were hungry, they appealed to Tore. Then the earth with all its food supplies fell down below to the position it is now, and heaven went up in its place. The soul goes up there: all souls are gathered together there.

Muri-Muri is the great spirit to whom the souls of all dead humans go. He frequently wanders in the depths of the forest, and he always kills anyone who encounters him. Muri-Muri's cry can be heard at night, a harbinger of woe or a hunt that will the following day be a successful one for hunters.

In the beginning, all humans were evil and committed all sorts of crimes; as punishment, Muri-Muri threatened them with death. He laid down a code of instructions as to what they should and should not do.

In the beginning, men did not die at all. In those early days, Muri-Muri gave a pot to a toad, ordering him to be careful not to break the pot, as death was shut up in it. If the pot got broken, he pointed out, all men were doomed to die. The toad went on his way, and he met a frog, who offered to carry the pot for him. The toad hesitated at first, but as the pot was very heavy, he eventually handed it over to the frog, warning him to be very careful with it. The frog hopped away with the pot, but let it fall. It broke into fragments, and death escaped from it. And that is how men first came to die.

In the beginning, the earth was above and the heaven— that is, the throne of God—was below. Together with God were the moon and the lightning, two natural phenomena that play important roles in the mythology of the Efe. From above, dust and dirt drizzled down interminably and contaminated the food of God until he became weary of it and looked around for another dwelling place. He commanded the lightning to find a place above the earth, and with a great crash the lightning divided the earth and traveled upward. When a place in the heavens was prepared, God and the moon followed. The moon, however, is not greater or mightier than God. On the contrary, it comes under the godhead from whom it receives commands. When God looks toward the moon, it comes out of its dwelling place and shows itself to the world. See also: Arebati, Baatsi, Epilipili, Masupa, Tore (Mbuti).

Subjects: Religion.


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