Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Religion & Myth III: The Church of the Giving Cow

Back when I originally wrote these, I was reading a lot of Joseph Campbell, which I think that comes across a bit in the following tale of Myamber and Kojak. By the way, my favorite myth from The Hero with a Thousand Faces is that of Water Jar Boy, who wanted to go hunting with the rest of the men of his tribe, but couldn’t… because he was a water jar.

            The Church of the Giving Cow is a community that is primarily concerned with the social well being of all.  In the relatively simple myth of the religion, a man by the name of Myamber (later Myamber the Great) had grown to old age and, in accordance with the custom of the pre-Founding barbarians, was turned out into the wilderness to die.  Myamber wandered for days until he finally collapsed under the strength of the sun. He was on the threshold of death, when the generous spirit Kojak appeared to him in a vision.  Kojak revealed to Myamber both the beauty of the world to come and the suffering of this world, and left him with the choice.  Myamber remembered his family and friends kindly, and had pity for those that turned him out to die. He wanted to stay in this world and promised to make it more like the world to come, if only he could be given the chance.  Kojak admired Myamber’s forgiveness and dedication to his people and honored his desire by reviving the old man.  When he woke, Myamber found that Kojak had also provided him with a pure white cow that gave him the milk of life.  When Myamber returned to his tribe they said, “By what means does this old man come out of the wilderness?  What miracle is this? Surely this man is blessed.”  They made Myamber king and he ruled for many peaceful years.

Behold! The mythical Cow of Kojak (compliments of Myrabella)

In keeping with the tradition of the myth, the Church of the Giving Cow is dedicated to the care of the poor and the sick, especially those near death.  Priests and priestesses of Kojak vow poverty and are practiced in the art of healing. Notably, unlike the Zooloyoyo establishment, the Church of the Giving Cow has remained silent on the issue of magic. For many in society this borders on heresy, and some circles even spread spurious rumors that the Priests of Kojak have even healed injured goblins. Perhaps this openness is because they are accustomed to dealing with outcasts and the dregs of society.

However, despite its openness, it can be a difficult religion to follow because of the service that priests and priestesses must commit to. The main temple is in Bryss, but smaller ones exist in both Markaz and Mudun.  The symbols of the Church of the Giving Cow are, of course, a pure white cow that represents the gift of Kojak, and a cluster berries topped by leaves that signify the medicines and remedies that the priests of Kojak concoct for public use. I'm pretty sure that any characters will become familiar with the healing practices of the Church sooner or later.

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