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Erlkönig: The Monster Under the Bed

or Where Do Gods Come From?
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The Monster Under The Bed Copyright © 1994, 2006 C. Alex. North-Keys
All Rights Reserved; temporary storage for personal viewing is permitted.

The Monster Under The Bed

(or: Where Do Gods Come From)

Think back, way back to when you were short, living at home with your parents, and possessed of an active imagination. Remember what a challenge a good night's rest was after seeing Jaws, or Alien1. Recall to your mind when you were afraid of the dark, and your parents told you Nothing's there, it's just your imagination..

Let's just suppose they were wrong.

Let's suppose the presence you felt was real. You knew where it was, after all. You knew when it moved. You knew when it was looking at you. The only question is: why would it so often resemble something so obviously fictional, if it were real?


Consider -- a child experiences a tale in which a terrifying creature lives. Later, at night, he wonders if such creatures are real, and in that small fear, an imago is born. Like one type of familiar, created of will and spirit, an entity born of the child, but separate. Suddenly the child's senses, yet undamped by society's ubiquitous policy of disbelief, know that something, however faint, is there.

Now the child's fears focus on this accidentally-created entity, feeding it with fear-energy, causing it to grow strong and tangible.

Not good..., the precocious child might think. His parents, naturally are of fulsome help: Just your imagination..., they'd say. It's hardly fair.

Turning the light on seems to help. It's easier to convince yourself a thing doesn't exist if you can't see anything in the place where you knew it was. The twisted part is that if you really convince yourself it doesn't exist, then it might actually fade away, if only from not having received any more energy from its creator.

It's not so easy to convince yourself when you're not alone in being able to feel the phantasm in question.

Now, if you create an imago all by yourself, then one more-direct way to end its existence as a separate entity is to reabsorb it into yourself. several such occurrences have been documented, and I have done this myself (which was probably one of the scarier things I've done...). unfortunately, this is not so advisable if the imago isn't all your own -- possession is one possible result, at least in theory.

All imagos need not be of negative import. A person or several could easily work to create a benevolent imago as a counselor or protector. All that is necessary is to insure that all involved focus upon the same purpose. A legend could well serve such a purpose...or a myth. With a great number of people, and with the strength that comes with myth, a mythago may well form -- a great spirit, a god.

Robert Holdstock suggests in his novels, Mythago Wood and Lavondyss, that the first god might have been created by early man in the ice age, men fighting against a vicious land seemingly intent upon their destruction, cold anthropomorphized as his Urscumug, the primal mythago. Later times might have given rise to gentler mythagos, as man felt his world to be more benevolent.

Then we have more recent developments: the creation of the Satan mythago, result of terror inflicted upon millions by the Church. In recent times, a perhaps more positive note, the presence of the Pagan gods is becoming more distinct, as we remember them, and reinforce their mythagos.

I always had wondered why gods seemed to be so intensely interested in worship, admiration, and the like. This is the recharging of the mythago energy, for without it the gods would fade just as do ignored children's boggles. Without it they would fade as Pan nearly does in Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume.

So if you heard some talk over the last few years about our being able to define the future's religion... remember the monster under your bed, and be aware they may be as right as you hoped.

Note1: For later humans who might have missed these titles, they were major horror movies of the late 20th century, each charactized by a single, primal, iconic, deleterious creature.

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alexsiodhe, christopher north-keys, christopher alex north-keys