Comenius 2008-2010 Multilateral Project

This site is an outcome of the Comenius 2008-2010 multilateral project "European Journey Through Legends".


"Becoming more European does not mean forgetting our national cultural heritage, but sharing it with other European nation".

The Making of the World

Romanian Mythology - part 01
Abyss

In the beginning, before Old Adam and even before God, there was nothing in this world but pitch darkness. Nothing whatsoever, no Earth, no Sun, no Moon, nothing but a great stretch of water taking up the endless chasm. Wherever you turned or looked only water. And this water was motionless like a mirror. At a moment, nobody knows when and how for nobody witnessed the thing, the waters started to ripple slowly as if somebody was blowing over their surface. Big circles cropped up as it happens on a lake when a stone is thrown across or a frog dives in. As these circles kept on overlapping they formed waves, foamy waves that emerged on the dark metal-like table of endless water, flowing from here to there. The waves rolled their foam into white wavelets like soap bubbles in a basin. The never-ending movement of the waves pushed them into the middle of this vortex where all the foam exploded like a huge water-lily. Then a butterfly and a worm roamed this froth, coming, as they say, from the world under, from a different world.

God

After a time, the butterfly shed its wings and turned into a young, handsome lad, lighting up the darkness around him. And this was God. Then, the worm too turned into a creature, into Satan or the Devil. At first, he was human also but did not shine light. And since they had been born the same way and were the only beings living in this endless immensity of water and darkness, they got on well together.

The Devil

As the Devil saw it the two of them were equal, and therefore called he God “Brother” but God did not like that and called him back “Not-my-brother” or “My-no-good-brother.” Most likely the Devil preserved something of the worm features for envy consumed him, and he wanted by all means to be God’s brother, yet God kept on calling him “not-my-brother”. Now, the Devil blew his top when he saw God turn into a dove that started to fly across the waters – for God can change as he pleases. Therefore, he made himself three pairs of wings, and cuddling up in the waters said bitterly: 
You take the air, I take the water!” 
So much he wanted to be the master of something.
That was how these realms came into being…

God, after having made everything in heaven, on earth and in water continued to live on earth. Only when a woman cast garbage before him and bawled out aster him did he realize that it was not befitting to mingle with the likes of these folks, and so he built himself some palaces in heaven. Still, he kept on visiting earth of which he had become fond, and together with Saint Peter, now and then he tested the mettle of people’s souls. 

These stories date from that time. At night, before retiring, God made Saint Peter tell him a tale so that he could sleep better. But in time, as people’s nature grew meaner and meaner and he himself got older he no lounger descended on earth: some say that occurred at the deluge, others say later on.

God’s Countenance

God is represented as an old, savvy man since wisdom comes only with age. He has a beautiful white face, surrounded by snow-white beard and rich hair, flowing on his back as meek old priests do. Though ancient, he is vigorous, and runs the affairs of the world as smoothly as he did in the beginning.


How the Earth Was Built

God walked across the waters, and the Devil stuck to him like a bur. Once the Devil complained to God that he had not even a single sliver of dry land to rest his bones for all that wide expanse of endless water. He had tried to make himself a bed out of foam but foam being foam, it washed away from his hands. Then God ordered him to dive to the bottom of the sea, and bring hence a handful of dust in his name. Old Scratch dived into the deep straight like an arrow but ambition would not leave him, so he picked some clods in his name not in that of God, and then rose up to the surface of the water. With the waves hitting from all sides, grains of sand started slipping from his fingers, so by the time he came before God he was empty-handed. And God scolded him:

“See, that happened because you didn’t obey me! You did not fetch the dust in my name.”

And the Devil stayed in the water to his knees. Enraged, he swam a second time to the bottom, and said: 

“I take these clods in my name not in that of God.” 

God heard him and blew softly so that the surface of the water turned into ice. The Devil, afraid to lose the dust again, closed his fist tight. But when he wanted to come up he was prevented by the layer of ice, and fighting to get free, he let the grains slip form his hands. Now, he managed to get out of water solely to his waist. The third time he said:

“I take these clods in my name and in that of God,” but again he could not take the least bit to the surface, and stayed in water to his neck.

The fourth time God blew harder and the ice was ten inches thick and the Devil, seeing he could not break it and fearing he could drown, said most enviously the words that God had told him:
“I take these clods in the name of God” but on his way up he could not help himself and added… “and my name.” 

For this, when he got to the surface only a few grains were left in his hand. Then God picked his nails with a straw as Satan had long, dirty nails like naughty children, so God found enough material to make a small cake. He blew up on it, folded it and kneaded it to the point that it became a quite comfortable coach.
“Well, now,” said God, “we have a bed to rest in when we are tired.”
“We do, Brother,” replied the Devil who, like the fly returning from the field, attributed to himself the desert of having created the earth.
When night came God lay in the bed he had concocted, making room for the No-Good-Brother to cuddle up next to him.
“Don’t we bless it, now that we’ve made it?” the Devil asked God.
“We don’t do anything for it’s late. We’ll bless it tomorrow,” and God stretched his limbs, and made believe he had fallen asleep.


The Sun

God had made the earth and was smiling contently at his feat. But the Devil kept on mumbling and protesting unhappily. The entire world was still plunged in darkness as there was no light. Certainly, God could go wherever he pleased as his eyes could pierce all darkness and even the soul of the Devil. Satan complained of having to grope like a blind creature through marshes and pits, stumbling all the time.
“Why don’t you make light, God, so that I and the other beings on earth can see where we go and distinguish one day from another?”
The Making of the Sun

God did him this favor too. He sent the Devil to the four points of the world to bring flint, precious stones, and gold. When he had brought him everything God put them aside and as he did not want to create light with his no-good brother witnessing (so that the Devil could not copy him later on, or, as he was all thumbs, he might set the world on fire) he sent the Devil to bed on account he was tired and would get to work the following day. All said and done, they went to bed and when God heard the Devil snoring, he got up slowly and set to creating the sun.

The Sun’s Carriage

To be able to travel better on the highways of heaven, God turned out a carriage, with wheels and axle, and seven magic horses drawing it. The driver of the carriage is the sun who is an archangel – the holy sun – handsome and for ever young, with such a brilliant face than one cannot look him in the eye.

The Sun’s Palace

The sun inhabits a crystal palace in the first sky. One has never seen or imagined such a wondrous construction. Only God’s palaces are more beautiful. That’s where he keeps his golden carriage and the magic horses that eat live coals, and pull the carriage every day from east to west on the invisible heavenly paths. Some say 12 oxen draw this carriage in the morning, when the sun leaves home until he reaches midday. That is why the sun rises so slowly in the morning. And the morning is longer, more fruitful. At the middle of the day the oxen return home alone, and the sun lingers behind a little, to rest. Then he puts seven hares to his carriage, which accounts for the fact that the carriage now rides faster, and evening sets in. When he dismounts at night, the sun takes a small wafer and a glass of wine.

Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Sun

The sun’s mother, who, according to some people was the Virgin Mary, tends to his palaces. She prepares his food which he takes before leaving, and the victuals for the road, the little snack of 10 and the big lunch of midday. She also prepares his bath of dew which he takes to steel himself, before setting out for the road. The sun was blessed later on by God for all the good he does to people, shining light on their labor and warming up their bodies. Therefore, it is a sin to speak evil of or to throw dirt at the sun.

The Making of the Moon

People got wind that God was about to give them something for their own use and benefit, and they wandered what it could be. The Devil brought the things God had asked for, but as before God did not want to work with Satan present at all.

“What else do you want me to do?” the Dickens asked reluctant to leave.

“Go and raise hell,” God advised him to get rid of him. 
“Encircle it with solid walls, and lock it up with many iron gates so that nobody may escape it.” 

Old Scratch went away happily to achieve something all by himself. Seeing himself alone, God struck a flint against a precious gem and there came forth light: a virgin.

Human Moon
The Moon is human: at first she is small, lithe like a babe, and you can barely see her in the sky; like a nail she grows, her wings spread all around like a turkey’s or a peacock’s tail when it gyrates it, and she is round like a coin. She is like a creature in the prime of her life. But from this moment she starts getting old and becomes smaller and smaller, her wings seem clipped until she is again as small as a nail. Finally, she disappears from the sky just like man’s life fades away. And then she gets born anew.

The Moon’s Face

The moon is an extremely beautiful maiden, called Ileana Cosanzeana but she is now proud and cold after having been unhappily in love with her brother, the sun. She is dressed all in white. Her wings are made of sterling silver strewn with gems. Her carriage is also silver, drawn by seven white horses. Some believe that seven devils draw her carriage, and do it gladly since the Moon being cold they get to cool off some of the heat that scorches them in hell.

The Sun’s Love

The sun was a handsome lad, and his mother wanted to get him to marry. So, she sought wide and far, all the kingdoms where she heard there were marriageable girls but the sun didn’t fancy any of them. He traveled the earth and the sky and did not found a more beautiful girl than his sister, Ileana Cosanzeana.

The Sun’s Wedding

And the sun left his sister, to prepare a big and pompous wedding ceremony They then started for the church. But when the priest was about to declare them husband and wife, all the lights went out all of a sudden, all the bells grew hoarse and then remained muted, the saints hid their faces, looking away, and the clergy fell to their knees.

How Heavens Was Made

The saints and the seven apostles rejoiced very much because God fulfilled their will and allowed them to make the sky, only that people should help and support them by fasting all the time. (Because when people eat meat saints lose weight.) That is why there are seven days of fast since at first there were seven saints who created heavens. God gave wings to the seven saints so that they could go beneath the core of the earth and bring forth a gem more precious than anything found on earth. The saints fetched so much stone, limpid like glass and blue like chicory flowers and the eyes of the angels, and they made the sky from it like a vault above the earth, placing under it seven pillars also made of precious gems. They prop up the sky and this is a most difficult task for the sky is heavy and big like a bell. The apostles asked God to command people to fast in perpetuity seven times a year, one time for each of the pillars, so that these do not become frail and allow the sky to tumble off.

Nine Skies

There are nine skies one on top of each other, all made of gems. God abides in the ninth together with Saint Nicholas with whom he consults in the running of the world. The Holy Trinity inhabits this place, too. The holy sun, the holy moon, and Saint Elijah live in the first sky. The others are inhabited by the other saints according to their rank. In the ninth sky there is very much light and long tables can be seen when the skies open. That is paradise. The skies open only once a year, on Epiphany Day. One year in heavens seems a day. When it is midnight on earth, bells in heavens chime for God, and the angels dance around the Holy Trinity.

The Making of the Angels

After God made the world and everything there is in it with the help of the Devil – that is why it is only half good, and why there is also evil in this world – the Creator went to wash his hands as is proper after having finished working. The drops from his hands gave birth to the angels.

The Making of the Devils

The Devil, seeing this also washed his hands and from those drops there came the devils. Ambitious as he was Satan washed his hands several times and that is why there are more devils than angels. At first the difference between devils and angels was not so big, only that an angel was white and a devil black. They all lived in heavens and the angels served God, while the devils served Satan. But God no longer willing to mingle with the rubble of the Devil climbed to the ninth sky, and the Devil, to be closer to the earth he craved and to God’s creatures whom he wanted to enslave, remained in the first sky.

The Angels’ Faces

In people’s minds, an angel resembles a child of 10 to 14, very beautiful, with hair blonde like the fields of wheat, with chicory-blue eyes, dressed in white garments, chasubles and wings. The angels dwell in heavens and in paradise and they glorify God with songs and hymns. Angels are invisible to us. God in his kindness gave each of us a guardian angel to teach us what is good and to save us from what is evil. After a battle with the Devil, the angels became fewer and therefore God resolved that all children who die before they turn 7, that is all those who stay innocent and have not experienced sin should turn into angels. The angels are the servants of God and paradise is full of them, waiting for God’s commands, to fly wherever he sends them. To be able to fly mothers make a split gown for their small children.

The Army of Angels

In heaven, they make up an army on three rows, according to their rank. This army is led by archangels Michael and Gabriel. Their service in heaven goes on like this: they dress in white angel’s chasubles and during the night they carry flames and chime bells, dancing around God’s throne. At midnight they sweep the world off unclean spirits. At that hour the roosters crow and all miserable spirits or devil run away to hide in hell or in graves where their resting place is. 

Every Saturday they go to confession. The night of Jordan, God calls them to him, thanks them for the work they did all over the year, and sends them off thus:
“This is your night, go and do whatever you please for once.” 

And then the angels sing and dance and frolic as they used during their earthly life. Angels keep their child’s face and body, but have wings. God often entrusts them with missions on earth but nobody can see them and our eyes perceive them.


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