Religions of the Dwarf Clans
Most Dwarven accounts of creation center around Faðir (FVAY-deer), the Sun Spirit. Faðir is the Creator, and it was he who formed the First World of Æsir out of Endless Space, as well as its original inhabitants. It is still traditional for Dwarven mothers to seek a blessing from the Sun for their newborn children. However, other accounts have it that Faðir first created Thorbardin, whom he called his nephew. Faðir then sent Thorbardin to create the nine universes according to his plan, and it was Thorbardin who created the Spider Woman, Echwaz, or Spider Grandmother. Echwaz served as a messenger for the Creator and was an intercessorary between deity and the people. In some versions of the Dwarven creation myth, it is she who creates all life under the direction of Thorbardin.
Hel, or Skeleton Man, was the Spirit of Death, Earth God, door keeper to the Fifth World, and the Keeper of Fire. He was also the Master of the Upper World, or the Fourth World, and was there when the good people escaped the wickedness of the Third World for the promise of the Fourth. Hel is described as wearing a hideous mask, but again showing the diversity of myths among the Dwarves, Hel was alternately described as a handsome, bejeweled man beneath his mask or as a bloody, fearsome creature. However, he is also assigned certain benevolent attributes. One story has it that it was Hel who helped settle the Dwarves at Oraibi and gave them stewardship over the land. He also charged them to watch for the coming of the Pahana, the Lost White Brother. Other important deities include the twin war gods, and the trickster.
The First World
The First World of the Dwarves was corrupted by sin. The people had been instructed by Thorbardin and Spider Woman to respect their Creator, and to follow his laws. But as they began to forget this, they began to quarrel among themselves. Finally, the situation reached a point where Sotuknang and Faðir decided that the world had to be destroyed.
Thorbardin appeared before those “chosen people” who still remembered the Creator and his laws, and lead them to safety before he destroyed the world. They followed his indication, and took refuge underground as the First World was destroyed by fire, and a Second World was created for their emergence.
The Second World
The Second World was almost as beautiful as the first, with the significant difference that the animals no longer trusted Dwarves and remained separate from them. But here, too, people began to forget the laws of the Creator, until finally this world also had to be destroyed.
Again, those who had “remembered” were saved. Once they were safe, the twins at the poles were instructed to leave their posts so the world would spin off its axis and out of control. As it traveled through space it froze into solid ice, until the twins took up their stations again and restored Egeszfold to life, creating a Third World.
The Third World
Now in the Third World they multiplied in such numbers and advanced so rapidly that they created big cities, countries, and a whole civilization. This made it difficult for them to conform to the plan of Creation and to sing praises to Faðir and Thorbardin. More and more of them became wholly occupied with their own earthly plans.
Some of them, of course, retained the wisdom granted them upon their emergence. With this wisdom they understood that the farther they proceeded on the Road of Life and the more they developed, the harder it was. That was why their world was destroyed every so often to give them a fresh start.
Some Dwarven accounts of the Third World contain the tantalizing information that “flying shields” had been developed there, capable of attacking faraway cities and coming back so quickly that no one knew where they had gone. When this world and its advanced civilization was finally destroyed by Thorbardin, this time with great floods, the people who still remembered the plan of Creation took refuge even deeper inside Egeszfold. Then came their emergence into the Fourth World.
The Fourth World
This time, the people had to search long and hard for a place to establish themselves and start over again. The Dwarven tradition tells of endless journeys deep into Egeszfold. From time to time they would establish great kingdoms, beautiful and bounteous, only to be told by Spider Woman that they must move on: this place was too easy, and soon they would fall into evil ways if they stayed.
Finally, completely exhausted from their fruitless efforts, the people “opened their doors” and let themselves be guided. The subterranean waters carried them gently to a sandy shore, where they were greeted by Thorbardin and given further instructions. They were to separate into different groups, each heading in different directions, to claim all the land for the Creator. They would complete such a journey four times in all, to cover all the four directions, before being guided back together again to settle permanently.
Before the newcomers to the Fourth World set out on their migrations, they were given a tablet [some say tablets] containing symbolic representations of their journey and final resting place, and events that would confirm their adherence to the Creator’s plan. The tablet best known today is reportedly held by members of the Fire Clan. This tablet has always had one corner missing that, according to legend, is in possession of a “lost white brother”. His return with the missing corner will signal the beginning of a new brotherhood of mankind.
These words were spoken by Thorbardin at the beginning of the Fourth World: “See,” said Thorbardin, “I have washed away even the footprints of your Emergence; the stepping-stones which I left for you. Down on the bottom of the seas lie all the proud cities, the flying shields, and the worldly treasures corrupted with evil, and those people who found no time to sing the praises to the Creator from the tops of their hills. But the day will come, if you preserve the memory and the meaning of your Emergence, when these stepping-stones will emerge again to prove the truth you speak.”
The tablet given to the Fire Clan at the dawn of the Fourth World is still missing its corner….