shapeshifting

The Parable of the Bushfire

Author’s Note: This is the second most sacrilegious thing I’ve ever written this week. But it’s a different take on an idea I used to believe in when I was growing up. I thought Yahweh was a minor despotic deity of some desert tribes of shepherds. I was wrong. I feel better that I can laugh a little about it now.

saviour

Loki and Thor were sitting in Asgard one day, looking down on Midgard, watching the people of the world go about their business. “Are you sure we should let these people worship us?” asked Loki, watching a man run while trying to keep his pants up. The man had no belt, but he was holding onto a long scrap of rope. “Just tie it around your waist,” said Loki. The trickster god sighed in disappointment.

“They’ve got too much free time,” said Thor. “Plus the Grandmaster wants us to get a hobby. It’s either this or cosmic basketweaving, and you know how I feel about arts and crafts that don’t involve a good hammering.”

“This is so stupid,” said Loki. He rolled his eyes, then looked around to make sure his eccentric boss wasn’t lurking about. “Between you and me, these people aren’t smart enough to worship us. They’ll worship anything as long as it makes the right noises.”

“What about those people in Egypt? You have to admit, those pyramids are pretty impressive,” said Thor. “Smart people make those.”

“Please,” said Loki. “These people lack imagination. They worship the first glowing thing they see in the sky. That, and they let these things called ‘cats’ boss them around all day. Now, it would be impressive if we could get those cats to …”

“Nope. Grandmaster said humans, so we’re going to get them to worship us.”

Loki narrowed his eyes and tapped his chin in thought. After a moment’s pause he said, “How about a wager? If I get a group of people of your choosing to worship something silly, you buy me my weight in mead. If I fail, I’ll buy you your weight in mead. Sound like a deal?”

“Hel yeah,” said Thor. “I’m thirsty.” Thor looked down on Midgard to find a suitable people. He passed over the Egyptians, because he suspected Loki might be right about them. The Cretans weren’t okay, because they had a fetish for bulls. All Loki had to do is turn into one and they’d be making sacrifices in no time. To the east, the Hittites were out. They did whatever the Babylonians told them to do.

And then, he found a small group of different tribes sandwiched between the Hittites and the Egyptians. They didn’t let anyone push them around. If anyone could stand up to Loki, it’s these guys. Thor pointed at them and said, “Get to work, pal.”

So Loki descended from Asgard until he landed in a place called Canaan. He looked high and low over the first village he came to. “There’s our winner,” said Loki, when he saw a drowsy man tending a flock of sheep. Loki disguised himself as a nearby bush and then whispered to the man, “Psst. You. Yeah, you, shepherd. What’s your name?”

The man woke up with a start. “What? I’m Mo. Who are-wait, who’s there?”

“Hello there, Mo,” said Loki. “I’m your new god. Name’s Yahweh.”

“Yes, what?”

“No, Yahweh.”

“No way.”

“Yahweh,” Loki repeated. This one might be too stupid after all. But he wasn’t going to give up easily. “Look, my name isn’t important. What’s important is that you worship me. I can do some impressive stuff.”

“Yeah, like what? The Egyptians get told how to build those big pyra-thingies,” said Mo.

All of a sudden, the bush erupted into angry flames which turned shades of purple, green, and blue. “Enough of those Egyptians already! Can they make this bush burn and talk at the same time?”

Mo’s eyes went wide, and he fell to the ground. “Oh, I haven’t been drinking too much wine again, have I?”

“Yahweh! Say my name three times, then go grab a sheep and sacrifice it to me!” Loki upped the flames and heat a bit. This was really fun.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it,” said Mo. “You gods really are a pain in the ass, you know that?”

The flames went out. “Yeah, we kind of are,” said Loki. “Tell you what, don’t sacrifice that sheep, and I’ll help you start a religion. First, we’ll have to change your name to something cool. From here on out, you’re called, ‘Moses.’ How you like that?”

Mo shrugged. “Sounds Egyptian, so I think it might be popular.”

“Good,” said Loki. “Now, get a pen and some paper, and write this down…”

After all was said and done, Loki went back to Asgard. Thor’s jaw had dropped to the ground in surprise. “I can’t believe it. And I owe you all that mead, too. You said that guy thought you were a talking bush?”

Loki winked. “Like I told you. Gullible. Don’t worry, what they’re doing won’t catch on. Pretty soon they’ll forget all about it and start worshiping something else.”

“I hope so,” frowned Thor. “Now let’s go get you your weight in mead. And no shape-shifting into a dinosaur, either!”

“Aww,” said Loki. “I was hoping for more mead that way.”