Agriculture and Myth
As far as the agriculture of our world is concerned, “In the beginning there was the Surpashroom”. Believed to have been received from a benevolent (though not necessarilly agreed upon) deity, the surpashroom was a different sort of food-fungus than basically any other that the primitive agriculturists of [red planet] had ever seen. The fundamental difference is this: it could grow almost anywhere. From the warmest depths of the vulcan rim to the star-lit tunnels of the near-surface, something just worked right for this finest of mushrooms. They are even been rumored to be able to grow in the tops of caverns filled with other fungi. While it remains contentious precisely which species was first to colonize the mushroom, that Humans, Elves, and even Orcs did so in roughly the same period—about two-hundred years before the founding of Mourning—suggests that something outside the races—perhaps a change in the mushrooms themselves—was responsible for the beginnings of our agriculture. It is on the basis of this last theory that I have begun my work: that we might understand how the flora of our world changed and gave their gifts to us. I propose this as the foundation for our study ‘Ecology’.
Saemon – On Gifts of Mushrooms
The following is a short collection of convergent mythology related to the development of Agriculture:
The Elves have four competing ideas about the origin of agriculture:
- Some Elves believe that the Mushroom chose to feed the Elf as a survival strategy. Newest among the Elf ways of thinking about the origin of agriculture, so-called Naturalists nevertheless suggest that the wide preponderance of surpashrooms among other species cements their claims. These elves are, in the same manner as the human Nature-mystic Saemon, inclined to thank the mushroom as an avatar of Nature itself (or Herself). This makes this kind of naturalistic thinking quite popular among Druids and Farmers, but unpopular among those who hold to more traditional religious beliefs. It is also held in high esteem in Academic settings among those who advance what can only be termed “Evolutionary” beliefs about the origins of life on [red-planet].
- Some elves claim that the god Erastil granted the abundance-creating mushroom as a boon to a particularly unlucky lodge of hunter-elves. While the priests of Erastil are silent on the issue and do not include the story among their holier texts, so-called Divinists are quick to note that Erastil’s faith is more concerned with the development of strong families and strong farmsteads. Still, the idea of divine origins for the surpashrooms is popular with other races too, and these elves still probably constitute a majority of their kind. However the popularity of this belief continues to decline over time. The elfin cleric is likely to hold to this sort of belief, as are some farmers, who say a prayer to Old Deadeye as they plant their mushroom fields.
- A very small group of elves, notably those who have seen the night sky, have claimed that a chunk of rock from another world deposited the perfect food-mushroom where an enterprising elf would find it. So-called Meteorologists are frequently found among those who will brave the Planet’s surface to look for additional deposits. Stirred by a fervent belief that there is greater life far outside of anything on [red planet], these elves are often considered zealots by their kin, and frequently are exiled from non-skyward settlements. Astrologers, Diviners, and members of strange cults are most likely among elves to hold this view.
- Finally, there is the Creationist view. Doing little more than an application of broader Elfin Supremacist thought to the question, these elves hold that a collection of elves joined their wills and an ancient magic to create a more-perfect food-mushroom. While this belief is somewhat troubling and largely without supporting evidence—where, for example, is the evidence of creation-magic of the caliber needed to produce such a universally useful mushroom—it is of growing popularity among elves everywhere. Elves without star-knowledge or serious academic education are more likely to express this view than any other.
Among humans, there are only two commonly-encountered views in answer to this question.
- Humans are more likely than elves to express support for the idea that evolutionary changes are in some way responsible for the domestication of the surpashroom, however, humans argue that early human agriculturists selectively bred certain types of wild mushroom for better and better traits for feeding a growing population. Thus, say these Hereditarians, after a few hundred generations of agriculture, the modern surpashroom emerged as a leading breed which was widely adopted and shared. This view of the development of agriculture as generally adhered to by most humans who have Academy or University education, as well as those who have experience at the larger human-run farms.
- The second view common among humans can be seen as a parallel to the elfin Divinist view, but blended with an almost Hereditarian approach. In the human interpretation of the story, it is the patron deity of humans, Marduk, who, fresh from his slaying of Tiamat, is said to have descended and bestowed onto humankind a mysterious seed, which blossomed into the first great-supashroom. Merely a dozen or so generations of breeding later, according to these so called Young-Hereditarians, the modern surpashroom was able to be made widely available. Seen by non-adherents as reconciliation between an old story and modern genetic understandings, this view is not all that common.
Orc beliefs about the origin of agriculture, like so much else about them, illustrates the traditional barbarity of that race. The following is a brief excerpt from the Orc tale, Toward the Sky:
At this time Grungdar awoke, and his whole host with him—every one of them at the same moment, or by a beating for waking later—and did prepare for the strike against the slimy goblins of the fearful forest which is no longer full of elves. Grungdar said to all his host, “Today eating good be is.” and all the host echoed back “Eating good be is!” and did gather their weapons—swords forged o’re burning corpses of the dwarf wars—and did amass themselves as a great host. And that day they marched against the goblins, and their hobgoblins and their bugbears all, and did great harm to them on a path of battle: for on that day Grungdar gained his title of “Goblin-Biter” for he did good bite the chief Goblin Mu’gu’ble in the midst of the whole host of battle and did remove the whole head in one great bite. And after the battle Grungdar earned another title, that of “Food-Spitter”, for in his first moment far from battle, he was overcome with the sickness of the gods, and from deep in his body he spat the head of Mu’gu’ble. But when he spat the head it was as a great goblin-head-sized mushroom, and did grow a stem in that moment. Then from that spat-food did Grungdar earn another title, for he, overcome by the madness of the gods cut with his great sword the head free again from the stem it had grown, and from that single mushroom born of a spat goblin’s head were fed the whole of the orc host which on that day remained. And thus was given onto Grungdar the title of “many-feeder.” Hail and blessings to you, Grungdar, Goblin-Biter-Food-Spitter-Many-Feeder for on that day you gave to the orcs the goblin-head-shroom, which has fed many an orc-host many a time since.