Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Legend of Poas Volcano

The Stark Raving Mythopath has been enjoying two weeks in Costa Rica, a land of towering mountains, lush rainforests,  incredible flora and fauna, delicious cuisine, and some of the loveliest people on the planet. So of course, I had to find a Costa Rican myth to share with you this week. . . .

They lived in the shadow of the mountain—the girl Iliana and her tribe. The mountain was the Poas volcano in the colorful country of Costa Rica. And Iliana's father was the shaman of his people.  

Photo by Scott Robinson from Rockville, MD, USA

Poas Mountain was clothed in rich green vegetation. Many beautiful birds and butterflies made their home there. It seemed that the great God above had smiled on this mountain and made it as a home for the tribe. 

But there were stories that told of the wrath of Poas, times when the mountain would spew forth fire and lava. Then nothing could grow, and all life was destroyed in flame and molten rock. These stories were very disturbing to the shaman, but Iliana did not trouble herself with such things.

Iliana had befriended a rualdo--a bird with plain plumage but an enchanting voice. Its beautiful songs cheered Iliana every day. No matter how tired or sick or fearful or sorrowful she might be from time to time, the song of the rualdo could bring a smile to her face. And the rualdo loved Iliana dearly, for she had once saved his life.

Lately Poas had been smoking and grumbling, and the shaman feared the worst for the people of his tribe. Day after day he would watch and listen, watch and listen. And the fear inside him grew.

At last the shaman climbed the mountain to the smoking crater and looked down into the abyss. "Why are you threatening my people?” he cried. But there was no answer. He put a rag over his mouth and carefully made his way down into the crater, even though the smoke stung his eyes and waves of heat assaulted him.

“Why are you threatening my people?” he cried. “What will it take to make you stop?”

In a deep growl, the mountain spoke to the shaman. “Bring me your daughter for a sacrifice, and all will be well with your people.”

The words of Poas cut the very heart of the man.

“My daughter? She is my only child. Please. . .isn’t there anything else we can offer?” But the mountain spoke no more.

Days passed, and the smoke grew thicker, and the rumblings became louder.

At last, in desperation, the shaman journeyed again to the top of the mountain, this time with his daughter, bound hand and foot. The rualdo followed at a distance. He watched in horror as, with a loud groan, the shaman  threw his daughter into the mouth of Poas. 

Photo by Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz |Date=2009-08-16
The  rualdo was heart-broken. Life without his friend would be unbearable. With no thought for himself, he flew into the smoking core of the volcano and offered a trade—his song for the life of the girl. 

And then, even with the sulphurous smoke burning his throat, the rualdo sang his beautiful song for Poas. He sang about friendship and faithfulness and of the beauty of his native land. 

As he sang, the rumbling ceased, and Poas began to weep. The mountain wept so much that his tears became the great Botos Lagoon. 

The rualdo, alas, can never sing again, for his voice was destroyed in the fire of the mountain, but he was given bright plumage as a gift for his courage. 

But most importantly, his sacrifice had saved the life of his friend.