Sunday, June 16, 2019

Of Baba Tubalkhan

Raph Lomotan

As the peoples of man and their gods made their long journey through the Snows, they came at a certain time to the land of Endor, in the shadow of the Mountains of the Moon. In those days starvation struck out at the peoples with claws of want, and bands of wendigos often came down from the glaciers in the long nights; those terrible demons made bloody raids against the peoples, stealing their infants and killing their dogs. There was great fear among the peoples.

Seeing this, and hearing the cries of the peoples, Baba Tubalkhan was heavy of heart. Taking up his walking stick and his cloak and his tools of firemaking and flint-knapping, he entered the tent of his wife and said:

"My heart is heavy and my thoughts are sick and sad. I desire to go out into the wilderness, to have solitude there. I will meet you again in nine days time, at the standing stone that marks the end of the pass."

Seeing her husband's distress, Mother asked what troubled him, and offered her aid and counsel. Baba Tubalkhan told her of the secret pains within his heart, and upon hearing these she said: "I trust you and the counsel of your heart my husband - we shall see you at the stone."

"If I should not return on the ninth day, do not linger in this place. Lead the people onward, out of the land of Endor. If I yet live, I shall follow your trail and meet with you further down the way. If I am dead, then I am dead." 

To his sons, Baba Tubalkhan said: "Know that I love you, my sons, and I place my trust in you to guide the peoples.

To his daughters, Baba Tubalkhan said: "Know that I love you, my daughters, and I place my trust in you to save your brothers from their foolishness."

And so Baba Tubalkhan left the camps of the peoples and walked out into the foothills of the Mountains of the Moon. For five days and five nights he climbed; twice he fought a wendigo, and three times a blizzard. By cliff and switchback he reached the summit of the tallest of the mountains, whose name was Chomolungma. At its peak there was a cave, and within the cave there was a depthless pool. Sitting by the pool were three who were guardians of those waters, and of the contents within it.

The first was most ancient, whose countenance was as the oldest tree, whose shawl was of swan-feathers and spoke in the voice of a snowmelt stream.

The second was pale as bone, who wore nothing but long hair the color of sunset and spoke in a voice of the birds of the air.

The third was as an infant, with skin as black as the dome of the sky and eyes of stars, who spoke in a voice that rumbled as the earthquake.

Baba Tubalkhan showed them great reverence and said: "Guardians of this mountain, you three great powers of Chomolungma, I come to seek answers for the troubles within my heart."

So you have spoke the first.

We shall give counsel to you spoke the second.

Know that no truth comes without price, god of man spoke the third.

"I wish to know the means by which I may drive away the demons that assail and attack my sons; I wish to know by what means I might banish them and what powers I might destroy them."

Ah, that is a terrible truth spoke the first.

We shall give it to you so that you may see it spoke the second.

 Look into the well, spoke the third.

Baba Tubalkhan, knowing what he must do, plucked out his eye and cast it into the well. In the dark heart of Chomolungma, he saw this truth: if he wished to drive away the demons forever, to protect the peoples from their predations, he must simply kill his sons. For the dead have nothing to fear from demons, and without the sustenance of man such evil beings swiftly starve.

Baba Tubalkhan recoiled in horror.

You have seen it then spoke the first.

The truth of the matter spoke the second.

What follows is yours alone spoke the third.

The mountain had been slow to climb - if he were fast, he might make the end of the pass by the end of the ninth day. But his heart was more troubled than when he had left; he had found only despair in the knowledge he bought. He could not return to the peoples with such news.

In great shame of his failure, Baba Tubalkhan remained in the cave for three more days and three more nights in thought, trapped by the knowledge that the evil that stalked his sons and daughters could not be destroyed. He suffered greatly, tearing at his beard and beating his fists against the wall and floors until his knuckles turned bloody, weeping until he was half-blind from tears.

It was on the fourth morning, the ninth since his leaving the camp, that a change came upon Baba Tubalkhan. For three days and three nights he had felt as if dead to the world, but on this morning some change he could not name came upon him. His despair had fled him. He sat by the pool with the three guardians and meditated upon the reflections within it. He remained in stillness for three days and three nights more until the twelfth day dawned.

He had come to know a great truth in casting his eye into the pool, but the ripples it caused had distorted the surface. In stillness he could then meditate upon the reflections of its surface and the greater truth was revealed.

Baba Tubalkhan could not destroy the demons of cruelty and hate which assailed his sons. The language of power would avail him nothing beyond the destruction of what he loved. This was truth. But the greater truth was that he need not destroy those demons through destruction of his sons. Instead he might teach the peoples the means of defense which demons hate more than all things - brotherhood, peace, justice, and compassion. To speak in wisdom is to teach, to speak in power is to destroy teaching.

And so Baba Tubalkhan came to wisdom in the cave of the three, as Mother would come to wisdom beneath the banyan tree, and his wisdom has been passed down from father to son each generation since.

He stepped out of the cave beneath the glittering mantle of the starlit heavens and called to him brothers among the wolves, and built himself a sled with which he might descend the leeward slopes by their aid.

He rode through the night upon his sled, as fast as the eagles. He passed out of the valley, past the great standing stone at the far mouth, along the trail of the peoples.

By dawn, exhausted, Baba Tubalkhan came upon the camps of the peoples. He was embraced by Mother and by his sons and his daughters with tears and laughter, for many thought him dead. He shared with all the peoples then the wisdom he had found upon the mountain, and the peoples passed out of the demon-haunted land of Endor protected by what they had been taught. Here were forged those friendships among the peoples that exist until this very day.

Romain van den Bogaert

A wise father teaches his son three lessons: the first as a child, to show love and know responsibility. The second at the threshold, to combat the demons that will assail him and try to prevent his passage along the years of trials. The third as a man, to learn the funeral rites that he will one day will need.


  1. Sat down and churned this one out in a single sitting.

    Go give your old man a call today.

  2. I need more of this in my life. Gimme more Baba Tubalkhan stories plzzz. 10/10.

    1. Caveman Dad-Odin has always got more stories.

  3. Beautiful. I love this so much. A lot of love shines through and your voice is full of mythic authority. Happy Father's Day, Dan!

  4. Beautiful. Thank you.

    This feels like a real myth. You captured that nicely.

    1. In no small part to my bald-faced and widespread thievery - Odin goes to visit the Norns at the top of Mt. Everest and fights a wendigo then comes back down the mountain bearing moral wisdom back to his people a la Moses.