Creation, Man and the Messiah
The spirits of the earth now glow
in freshened hearts.
Freedom is the heart of the spirit, Truth the spirit's desire.
earthly spirits all
to the ground will fall
and to the eternal call:
Each in own brow wears his heavenly throne.
Each in own heart wears his altar and sacrificial vessel.
Lords are all on earth, priests are all for God.
is the magnum opus of Henrik Wergeland
, Norwegian poet. He finished the work in 1829, being barely 21 years old. He later abridged it somewhat at his deathbed in 1845, changing some names and editing out some of the more difficult passages — and making a new ending for it.
The "poem", which is quite a door stopper
, tells the tale of humanity and its relation to God and the higher celestial beings, beginning with creation as told by The Bible
, and walks through human history, the emergence of kings, nobles and clergy, and putting in some juicy social criticism on the way. After this, he presents "lights in the darkness", the philosophers and several doctrines, before going straight to Jesus
and his life. This ends as expected, and Wergeland goes on to explore the growing Christian movement, and how it is hijacked by the powers that be
, to be just another instrument of power. The ending of man
shows the disillusioned poet sitting on a hill Easter morning. He is confronted by the highest being, Akadiel
, who shows him the intended way for humanity to go. The poet wakes up consoled, admitting that it will all turn out alright.
This work is of course a cosmic poem after the tradition of John Milton and Dante Alighieri, but being written in the 19th century, new astronomical data and knowledge of natural history, as well as political events are commented, and the book sometimes slips into the territory of Science Fiction
: A possible future of humanity with full dating, a mentioning of the celestial spirits originally inhabiting other planets, and so on.The 1845 version consists of the following parts:
- Introduction - with a young poet sitting on a hilltop contemplating his lost love, getting inspired.
- Part A: Creation.
- The two spirits. Ohebiel and Phun-Abiriel debating a newly created Earth.
- Life on Earth: Akadiel enters, describing how life enfolds after the fashion of the biblical creation myth.
- Ensoulment: Abiriel ensouls Adam. Ohebiel ensouls Eve. History is on.
- Part B: Bewilderment. Tells the story of humanity and the inevitable fall.
- Adam and Eve. Tells the story of their life, their children including Cain and Abel, and their death.
- The great flood.
- Emergence of principalities: Kingdoms and clergy.
- Lights in the darkness. The Golden era: Tells the story of "the man", a universal sage, who teaches all of humanity.
- Ruling castes: How nobility arose. And priests again.
- Interlude of hearts: Breather episode with earthly love as common theme.
- Power and deceit: A rather ghastly walk-through on human atrocities in recorded history, both carnal and spiritual, and carnal because of spiritual (human sacrifice).
- Enlightenment of the human spirit: Prophets and philosophers start to straighten things out after centuries of suppression.
- Heaven and Hell. Meanwhile on the metaphysical plane...
- Part C: Salvation - Jesus enters front stage.
- Temptation in the desert. Jesus struggles with his role, and is in inner turmoil. Akadiel counsels him.
- Jesus and John. Two childhood friends meet and discuss.
- Disciples, the mother and the (girl)friends. Jesus holds his rousing speech.
- Transfiguration on the mountain. Jesus meets Akadiel again.
- Jesus, the people and the priests. And here, things take a more nasty turn. Several miracles are performed, and the priests are put to shame.
- The last supper. Also containing Gethsemane and the passion.
- Triumph of darkness. We all know where he is heading, don`t we?
- Corporeal resurrection of Jesus: From the funeral to the ascension.
- First great victory of Christianity - with an ironic twist. The roman empire gets christianized. And history marches on.
- Spiritual resurrection of Jesus: The poet goes twenty minutes into the future, or rather a thousand years, with Akadiel as a spiritual guide. So, bu 2845, it will turn out alright, or what?
This poem contains examples of these tropes:
- Adam and Eve Plot: Well yeah, starring Adam and Eve. The original story is subverted because it is Adam who starts it, not Eve.
- Aerith and Bob: The aions all carry Hebraic-sounding names, some of them possibly made from Hebraic roots: Akadiel, Abiriel, Ohebiel. Abiriel doubles as Phuniel because of his inner struggles. In version A, we also find Cajahel and Obaddon (the last one to be recognized as "Abaddon").
- Akadiel means the firstborn of spirits, Ohebiel translates as "ensouled of Love".
- A God Am I: Discussed at the start. Abiriel has delusions of grandeur, wishing to create on his own. Ohebiel states that his lack of wisdom makes him distant to God, who is the only one with true creative powers.
- Later, Adam manages to repeat this. He makes an altar for the Sun, then promptly throws it down, proclaiming himself Master of the Universe. Eve points out to him that he shivered even then. Adam betters himself and makes a proper offering to God afterwards. His descendants - not so wise.
- A more human example occurs later, when a king in some old neolithic state (possibly Egypt), gains full autocratic power, and are about to proclaim himself a God. The priest who urged him on, quickly stabs him to death with the following words: "I think not..."
- All According to Plan: Akadiel concludes that the ensouling of Adam and Eve was planned, ensuring the humans to be even greater than the lesser spirits thought. The Aions collectively lament the loss of Abiriel and Ohebiel.
- Archetype: Ohebiel certainly counts, being the wise female counterpart of the ambitious Abiriel (The Anima). And since Phun-Abiriel is split, Abiriel is arguably the Shadow Archetype of the Phuniel/Abiriel pairing. Thus, we have the Anima and the Shadow. Both of them join to form aspects of the human soul. And Carl Jung was not even born.
- Arc Words: As stated by Jesus. Freedom, truth, love.
- Ambition Is Evil: Discussed and played straight. Akadiel calls out humanity on it, because freedom for all suffers when a few gets too ambitious, turning the greater lot of humanity into apathetic citizens:
Abiriels, have you mislaid your strength? Sharing the lot of the package mule?, Wishing to grow like a cabbage and nothing else?
- Subverted because Akadiel is talking of worldly ambition. In other words, wrong ambition is evil.
- And Man Grew Proud: Although in the past, but commented upon. Abiriel hints that this was the fate of his original home planet - hence a warning that it may happen again. The fall of man, as told in this work, is set off by pride.
- Ascended Extra: Ohebiel, the female spirit. She was hinted at in Wergeland's early love poems, being the "noble angel of love". Here, she is front stage.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Humanity over time. It is implied that the spirits Abiriel and Ohebiel once was born on distant planets, and ascended to spirithood, where they are witnesses to the creation of earth, and descend to a lower plane.
- Author Avatar: Akadiel more often than not.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Commented on by Akadiel as a possibility for the greater lot of Humanity, living a life under the thrall of tyrants, "commanded to believe, denied to think". The warning of a possible thought police is also present, although in the name of religion rather than political doctrine.
- Breather Episode: the "interlude of hearts", set before power and deceit, and after the rise of the castes.
- Cain and Abel: Obviously, since the story follows the Bible. The quarrel here, however, is over property.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Power and Deceit show a list of examples. The son of the king stabs his father, the priest stabs the king, the king stabs the priests, and both of them everybody else...
- Conveniently Close Planet: Abiriel`s original home planet, seen from his position hovering above the newly created Earth. Since he states it "glowes in red", we have to assume the planet is Mars, with all the astronomical speculations involved.
- Door Stopper. Obviously. The book is 560 pages long, and in metre all the way.
- The Emperor: A Roman one, name not stated, only referred to as "Caesar". He is obviously an amalgam of the role, not a historical person per se. And he is not a nice person.
- End of an Age: The "Golden Age", being the time of teaching, ends with a fall into the Iron Ages, where corruption, deceit and abuse are more common. The rise of ruling castes, like nobility and clergy, follows suit. Power and deceit elaborates on the consequences of this.
- Females Are More Innocent: Played straight. Abiriel (male) is ambitious and foolhardy, setting off a chain of events that leads to the fall of man, while Ohebiel (female), tries to correct him. Later, Adam is the main evildoer in the actual fall, not Eve. And the chain of evil rulers and priests are all male, while the women often appear as victims.
- The implied message here, hinted on by Akadiel, is that the human race is doomed without the Ohebiel influence. Jesus, "the perfect example" is said to be the perfect synthesis of the Ohebiel/Abiriel traits.
- It is implied that Abiriel`s home planet, and by consequence his native race, doomed themselves because of pride. It seems Ohebiel, which is older, originated somewhere else. The human souls then have a divine intervention not seen before.
- Full-Circle Revolution: Wergeland goes pretty far in depicting the early Christians as revolutionaries of some sort. When the emperor converts, the ideas of Christianity is embraced by establishment and neutralized. So the historical outcome as far as Wergeland is concerned clearly has shades of the Pig-becoming-Farmer gambit.
- Follow the Leader: It is hard to imagine the rousing speech of Brand without this poem. It had a lasting impact on Henrik Ibsen.
- Genre-Busting: A cosmic poem blending Gnosticism with political theory and Science Fiction? In 1845? Way to go, Henrik Wergeland.
- Gnosticism: Heavily influenced, with some differences. This concerns the view of women, and that the world is not evil. All humanity have equal rights on the soul-side as well.
- Good Republic, Evil Empire: In a strict sense, since the book advocates freedom, not only on a religious level, but also on a social one. The "evil empire" at the end of the book is the Roman Empire. In this respect, the martyrs of Christianity are actually scaring the Roman emperor before his heel face turn, because "Jesus is a republican" — and that does not mean he is a member of the GOP.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ohebiel ensouls Eve to give humanity a chance, realizing that the woman needs a soul to cope with the newly ensouled Adam. And she really loves Abiriel.
- Historical-Domain Character: Plato, Aristotle, Zenon, some hebraic prophets, many bronze age kings, and Jesus, of course. Wergeland himself makes a cameo in the last chapter.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: Ohebiel and "male spirit" Abiriel gets trapped in the bodies of Adam and Eve, ensuring that humanity gains proper souls.
- Humans Need Aliens: The premise of the "ensouling" sequence. Abiriel sets it up, ending trapped in another world, with Ohebiel playing it straight because Adam wakes up more advanced than he was supposed to be. She concludes with this trope, ensouls Eve, and ensures that the entire human race goes into panspermia territory. Akadiel states that this actually was according to plan.
- Insignificant Little Blueplanet: Lampshaded by Abiriel at the start of the poem, musing: "Why worship this lump of rock? Is God present here?" And then he goes on about the futility of yet another world in the great Cosmos.
- Ironic Twist Ending: The penultimate chapter in the book, called the first great victory of Christianity telling the story of how the Roman Empire was christianized. And in that process, Christianity was turned into yet another instrument of power, steering it off its original path. This part is only in the 1845 version, by the way.
The Emperor: If Caesar is christened, I wager the masses will do his bidding and the armies their tasks as before...
- Liberty Over Prosperity: Abiriel ensouls Adam because he wishes to be the master on earth rather than the most timid of the spirits in heaven. He "jumps in", Adam awakes, having promptly forgotten his celestial background. But Abiriel is now his soul.
- Love at First Sight: Adam and Eve. Justified by the fact that their souls (Abiriel and Ohebiel) already loved eachother, so the two actually recognize, unable to pinpoint where they have seen eachother before. Thus, they both start off with a variation of an incredibly old pick-up line.
- The trope crosses with the amnesiac lover because neither of them can remember what was before they awoke as humans.
- Love Poem: The whole work started out as one, quickly embracing all creation. The point of it was to examine the nature of love.
- The Man Behind the Man: The priests take up this role over and over in the course of human history, in different societies and religions.
- Messianic Archetype: "Messiah" in version A, Akadiel in version B. This being is the most celestial of the "aions", the celestial beings in both books, and closest to God (a presence we never actully meet). Wergeland was quite heretical when he showed a young Jesus meeting and arguing with a celestial Messiah.
- The Muse: Stella, Wergeland's muse, is mentioned in the introduction. She is clearly summoning the spirits to tell the author what to write. She is closely related to Ohebiel.
- Mythopoeia: The "Golden Age" monologue, telling the story of "the man", presented as a sage and culture hero, who teaches mankind of the inner wisdom, and going by a strain of names from different mythologies: Norse,zoroastrian, greek, gothic, jewish, chinese, african and malayan, to mention a few.
- Oh Crap: The Emperor and the priests have one when almost everyone around them turn their backs on them for the sake of Christianity. Until the priests come up with a clever If You Cant Beat Them Join Them solution.
- The Needs of the Many: Played straight, since the message is universal freedom, truth and love.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Abiriel suggests ironically that the spirits shall bow before "a dead god" (actually the sleeping Earth before life is introduced). Later, he denies bowing before Akadiel. The "Zarathustra" mannerisms are visible already in the 1829 version, some 15 years before Nietzsche was even born. And when the Abiriel side is let out of leash, Humanity is in for a world of trouble.
- The Obi-Wan: The "sage" of the golden age is this to all humanity, teaching the societies all they need to know, from heavenly mysteries to trade and politics.
- The Omnipresent: God. Referred to, but never shown.
- Order Versus Chaos / Balance Of Good And Evil: Cajahel and Obaddon, creator and destroyer, constantly at eachother`s throats. Only in version A.
- Our Souls Are Different: Basically going into the gnostic territory, and an implied idea of "wandering souls". When considering that human souls originated on another planet, the souls extend to alien civilizations as well.
- The Philosopher: Plato, but also some others. The string of philosophers mark a "spark of light in the darkness" made by human power and deceit. While the priests turn out sinister ministers, the philosophers are fairly decent. Plato stands out as the one who actually seems to hit closest to the point.
- The Power of Love: All the way. Love has it`s own segment, called interlude of the hearts, telling some sweet stories of people going as far as humanly possible for the sake of love. Ohebiel descended for love, Jesus sacrifices himself for love, and holds a long speech on the subject:
Jesus: Love is not surrounded by emptiness, like the source that makes everything flourish. It fills the deep with good deeds...
- Rebellious Spirit: Abiriel is a literal example, being rebellious, chiding God, calling him a "dead god", wishing to create for himself, and in the end killing off his spiritual existence just because it is more exiting to be a human soul.
- Reincarnation Romance: Well, duh. The souls of Ohebiel and Abiriel tend to couple up in constantly new variations because of the celestial inheritance.
- Romanticism vs. Enlightenment: Lampshaded by Akadiel, who also subverts it: "You find the truth in your heart rather than in your mind. Let your feelings mix with your thought, like the sun braided in clouds." And then, Enlightenment and Romanticism shall be united.
- Rousing Speech.
- Akadiel has one, later some prophets, and in the end Jesus. Akadiel's speech is verging on awesome, and literal to boot, as it is designed to wake the slumbering humans to their life on earth: "Human, Awaken!" is his first greeting.
- Jesus opens his grand speech later with similar phrasing: "Awake, spirit, slumbering in these hearts! See, from Heaven I summon thy glory down in the dust yet again!"
- Rousseau Was Right: The work is justified on this. Wergeland was brought up on the principles of Rousseau, so the book is this trope in many respects. Subverted because the poem clearly states that Humanity needs the presence of Ohebiel to make things work. With Abiriel alone on the world scene, Hobbes Was Right.
- Scary Amoral Religion: Many doctrines as presented by the sinister ministers. The trope is subverted because religion in itself is not evil or amoral, but is being handed down as such when it becomes an instrument of power for seducing the minds of ordinary humans.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: In this version of Afterlife, all the departed souls come to the same place. This is extremely harsh for the souls of the ones committing crimes and atrocities, because they gradually find themselves "not deserving" the bliss they see their victims in. The sinners find themselves in the same bliss, but experience it as torture because of immense guilt. In other words, they make their own Hell.
- Sinister Minister: All priests presented, from various religions, are more often than not presented as this. Figures prominently in the "power and deceit" segment, where the priests are the man behind the man. Their agenda is to preserve power by conceiling the truth from ordinary people, turning religion into "public opium". To kick this message in, Wergeland states that when true connection to God is reestablished, humanity doesn't need priests anymore, let alone kings or rulers.
- Of course the priests in the New Testament segment, being responsible for the death of Jesus. He is set as the ultimate "whistle-blower" of the story.
- Split Personality: Abiriel, who doubles as Phuniel, often referred to as "Phun-abiriel". Phuniel is the doubting and melacholic side of him, while Abiriel is the passionate and motivate one.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Abiriel comments on his past, living on another planet, before he ascended to the spirit sphere. The trope is subverted because it seems that those aliens made the same horrible mistakes later done by humanity.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The last chapter of the 1845 edition features the poet himself and Akadiel, who gives him glimpses of the future, spanning over a thousand years from easter morning 1845. Thus, the author wakes up every century to see what humanity has achieved, and the progress is good: Equal rights for women, freedom for all, no supression, full christian unity and in the end, a new and improved world.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: This book apparently expects you to have stored up some knowledge of certain issues like The Bible, Greek philosophers, even some political history.
- Vive la Révolution!: The poem in both versions. The hints on social freedom as well as existential and spiritual freedom are prominent, and the emergence of christianity is treated as similar to a radical social movement with republican leanings, intended to overthrow the old regime.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Both human kings and priests go far over the top in the "power and deceit" segment, making life harsh for everyone who is not them.
- This trope is also discussed by Abiriel early on. He argues that if he let his mind go, he would think he had all the power he wished for, not restrained by reason at all. In other words: With great insanity comes great power (a literal inversion).
- Women Are Wiser: Invoked by Ohebiel, who plays it straight. "Abiriel, you are not wise enough!" Later, Eve follows the pattern, trying to calm Adam down when he sets off the Fall of Man.
- World Domination: Abiriel`s reason for ensouling Adam. He wishes to have a world for his own. Cue a number of Adam`s descendants trying the same thing, making ambition for dominance humanity`s greatest historical flaw.
- Ironically, this is a part of the "spiritual inheritage".
- World Half Full: In the last chapter, the world eventually becomes what it was meant to be all along.
- Time Abyss: From the very start of creation and beyond. Akadiel is said to be "the oldest of spirits", and it is not stated how old. The earth is only one in a long string of worlds being created, implying a universal abyss as well.