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Arum and the Tree that Reached to the Sky


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(Uduk/Ethiopia)

All life comes from Arum, the creator. He created man and everything around him; Arum may destroy man, or allow him to be destroyed. When man dies, he returns to the realm of Arum, which is located primarily below the world that we know, in the earth.

The great Birapinya tree reached up to the sky, which in those days was close to the earth. There were villages in the sky, and people would go and dance up there, using the tree as a route, and the people of the sky would come down to visit the villages on earth. After the tree's destruction by an old woman who considered herself wronged, people were stranded up in the sky, which then retreated very far above the earth. Death, which formerly had been followed by revival, now became a final end for humankind.

In another myth, the moon spat. The lizard was to swallow the spittle, but refused. The moon cursed the lizard: from that time, he would stay on earth in a cold place, and when he died he would not be reborn. And this would also apply to the people on the earth: they would die with the lizard forever. Had the lizard swallowed the spittle of the moon, the lizard and people would have lived forever, would have died and reappeared in the same way as the moon. Arum created humans, and the lizard could have helped them to live forever.

The trickster fox brought fire to the people in the beginning, humanizing them. The fox also taught humans to speak.

Subjects: Religion.


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