Flaming Bear Mythology

Lately I’ve been reading Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism to find more awesome ideas for stories. There’s a lot of awesome stuff in here, but I had to share the trippiest myth of all:

So, the Prophet Elijah has accidentally revealed how to force the Messiah to come: in this case, by getting the three holiest people of the generation to pray together. Rabbi Judah Ha-Nasi arranges this scenario. When the three sages reach the line “He causes the wind to blow,” the wind begins to blow. At the line, “He causes the rain to fall,” rain begins to fall. They are about to reach the next line, “He resurrects the dead.”

Folks in Heaven freak out. “Who has disclosed this secret??” All the angels point at Elijah. The heavenly court gives him 60 lashes of fire for his error. And now I quote: After that Elijah appeared in Rabbi Judah’s synagogue as a fiery bear, and chased everyone out.

That’s right, folks. The Prophet Elijah turned into a flaming bear.

There’s more to the myth of the three sages, as they figure out their identities at other points in history. But none of that stuff is important, because never again do they get stopped by a flaming bear prophet.

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5 thoughts on “Flaming Bear Mythology

  1. Eileen

    1) Bears make any story more hilarious and dire.
    2) The state of ‘being on fire’ always intrigues readers.
    3) Have you read Michael Swanwick’s Dancing With Bears?

    Reply
    1. Eileen

      I enjoyed Dancing With Bears. It may help to read earlier Darger and Surplus stories like “The Dog Said Bow-wow”, but I think it stands on its own okay. It’s adventure Coen brothers-esque romp, so its detractors find it silly. The short stories feel much tighter, but in a novel, we get to explore more of the bizarro future setting.
      After reading it, I told a friend, “I am not entirely sure what just happened, but it was awesome.”

      Reply
  2. Annaka

    I love the image of a fiery bear chasing everyone out.
    I admit to some concern about the 60 lashes of fire . . . ouch! . . . but apparently he survived 😉
    Perhaps that’s what transformed him into a bear?

    Reply
    1. bckinney Post author

      People in heaven seem to get 60 lashes of fire all the time. That seems to be the universal punishment for Minor Heavenly Misdeeds. None of the others go all Fire Bear afterward, so by and large they seem no worse for wear after a few dozen fire-lashes!

      Reply

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