The first myth I chose to read & analyze was the Founding of the West. There are a few reasons I specifically picked this myth. First: it is the myth about how the Westernlands were created, and that is important to know if you are going to be worshiping the Four Gods of the Westernlands. Second: it is about the Clarene, and I have a lot of love for the Clarene. I love all of these gods, but I feel a special kind of love for the Clarene.
Quotes of interest:
“I choose no man,” Claire affirmed. “I choose her.”
“If so, leave this place. For we are struck with affection, but there is no future here. Take half my hounds and men and flee, and find a place where love is above all things.”
Clarice looked in all directions, and with no hesitation slid from her steed and grabbed one rod of man and one root of Faery. She slammed each into the other world, and with a great sigh pulled forth her own heart, burying it between the two.
“All who enter here,” Clarice said, “are of the West, beyond faery and man both, in a land of both and neither. All who enter will be mine, to protect and love and lead, and this world will be our own – one where love and truth of each is free.”
This is the myth of how the West was created. It came from the Clarene’s love, and is made of her heart, and it was made for love. Something, no, many things about this story are beautiful.
Claire chooses to leave, and she chooses to find—make—a land where love is free. She loves a princess who shows her the way, though what happens to the princess? They both leave the castle, but do they leave together or journey alone?
That the Clarene loves a woman means so much to me. Just, so much.
This story gives me hope that there exists on this earth a place where love is the highest thing, and that this place can be found, or if not found, it can be created. The West is not quite on the earth, and I am not sure that I can ever find my way to the otherworld where it exists, but I have this story inside of me, now.
The Clarene also encounters the Ophelia in this myth and brings her with her to the West. I wonder how the Ophelia was wounded, when the Clarene found her.
The actual making of the West is a little bit amazing. She makes it out of man and faery and her own heart, so it is her land, but then she says that “this world will be our own,” so does this place belong to all who live there? Can one be of the Westernlands but not be there?
Also, I would like to note that the imagery of that part of the myth is particularly vivid. I have a very clear picture of what happened, even though it isn’t extensively described. The writing is also particularly lovely at that part, but I think the whole myth was written well.
And, as I already said, the Clarene is close to my heart. She chose all of this for herself—she chose to leave and she chose to make the Westernlands. I am in awe of that. She makes this new land because she chooses to make it. I already knew that choice is one of the Clarene’s teachings, and this myth clearly shows it.
I think this story is important for a few reasons. It is the creation of the West, so that is important for us to know. It is also how Claire becomes Clarice and then the Clarene, and that is also important. But this story is about choice and love, and those, to me, are two very, very important things.
EDITED to add that thoughts & discussion are welcome!
This is an excellent post, and while I encourage you to go read it if you haven’t, I do want to answer some questions raised and point out specific parts that struck me.
Some background for the myth: I really, honestly, didn’t want to write it. But as is pointed out, knowing how the West came into being is kinda vital. So, when I went about doing this story, I sat down with a deck of cards and – wrote what the cards said. Since then, a few more creation stories or backstories to the Westernlands have come into my knowledge – but this one remains the most hopeful of them all.
Onto other commentary -
“…does this place belong to all who live there? Can one be of the Westernlands but not be there?”
In my experiences – it definitely belongs to everyone who lives there. And once you’ve made your home in the West, you’re part of the West, you’re one of the Westernland residents, and you can always come home. And I think – well, I know, in my heart – that people who never journey or visit the otherworld can be part of the Westernlands. One reason for that is because the West is sort of blended into ours – the connections it has to humanity make it very ‘close’. These spirits are very present, at least as I have experienced them, in our world.
For me, the West is something I first experienced on the ‘mundane’ side of things, and only later on in journeying. But there was a very concrete feeling – this is where I belong, this is where I want to be. (And, obviously, we should not underestimate the power of wanting or choosing to be somewhere.) And that feeling has sort of threaded throughout my life and influenced me, and to me that’s part of what it means to be an Other Person. I’m constantly striving to understand this viewpoint, this world, I want to be in, and in doing that I keep the West near me even when I am far away. (Far away meaning I feel alone or separated, not just from the West, but from the world.)
One of the biggest things the Clarene has stressed, for me, is how the Westernlands are a home – but they aren’t the only home for people. Otherworld-wise, spirits move through. They stay a while, settle in for a bit, move elsewhere. Some of them enjoy the space but spend their time adventuring. Others have other homes they visit. And what the gods have pushed me to understand in seeing that is this comprehension that the West (and, sort of by extension, the Otherfaith and People) have to work on being really – open. Inviting. Hospitable. There’s a lot of hurt in this world, and what the West has taught me is that it’s important to have space where we can be safe in. Which is what I think the Clarene made.
She made a place for love. For vulnerability. And a space that belongs to the people in it. Don’t get me wrong, the Clarene is a Big God, and the other gods are Big Deals, but it’s pretty consistent in the Otherfaith that our gods are serving the people – and that’s how it is with the land. The people belong to the land, and the land belongs to the people, and no matter how far we go, we can always say, “This place is my home (or is one of my homes)”.
As to some other questions raised – what happens to the princess? Why is the Ophelia wounded when we meet her? I don’t have any answers! Mostly because the many answers to those questions would mean many different things, and I don’t think we have just one that is true.
A part of the post that just…smacked me right in the middle was the follow line:
“The West is not quite on the earth, and I am not sure that I can ever find my way to the otherworld where it exists, but I have this story inside of me, now.”
Because this – this is so much of why the stories are written. So we can have the stories inside us. So that they are with us. Stories can stay with us when we can’t feel spirits, can’t hear the voice of gods. Stories stay with us when we are alone (in the many ways we might be alone). Stories connect us.
I have seen people say that stories cannot communicate experience effectively, and that if a community is built on shared stories it isn’t as strong as shared experience. But what I think that misses is that shared stories are shared experience, and especially in the cases of gods and spirits and otherworlds – the stories are the experience. We have an experience while reading. We experience feelings. Stories can fundamentally change who we are.
Which is why I think we’re given these stories by the gods. And why, also, I think myths should not be static. When we interact with the stories, we can change them, and that’s a power as strong as any in the otherworld.
Enough rambling on my end about this. A very, very excellent interpretation and addition to Otherfaith writings.