Co-Inhabitants of the Earth; the Gods in Disguise



The Place of Animals in the World:

There is no question that the respect for and fascination with animals is one significant thing that sets Bergonian civilization apart from all others.  

One major anthropologist stated that "the archaic Bergonian felt surrounded by animals," saw the world as "a colossal dance of the animals," and "wrapped animals up in his conception of God."  

The 64 Shufrantei Gods were often animal-like in nature and image, like many Egyptian Gods.  

Animal motifs have worked their way into all manner of arts & crafts in all eras of Berg history.  Animal symbols proliferate in Berg literature, poetry and divination.

Aristotle saw the Universe as a hierarchy of being, with the Trinitarian God at the apex, angels below, then Mankind, and finally the animals at the pyramid's base.  Even the Hindus & Buddhists who profess compassion for animals, relegate animals to an inferior position.  Hindu reincarnationists believe that people with crappy karma come back as lower animals.  By contrast, the Bergonians preserved (along with the Clan system) a huge chunk of hunter sensibility from the hunter-gatherer stage of development.  To them, the human world was a reflection of the animal world.  Within this sensibility, animals co-own the world.  

Respect for Animals:

The ancient Bergonians abjured from hurting animals-- their religions and clan traditions required respect and compassion for all animal life.  One who injured an animal (except in legitimate hunting and for defined pests) committed a grave crime.  The traditional law of Shufrantei prescribed death as the punishment for murder-- and that meant murder of animal as well as human.  The rule against harming animals received reinforcement from the popular superstition that animal spirits could cause great harm to a human (sickness and madness).  The Bergonian rulers set up hospitals for sick and wounded animals, as did Asoka, the ancient Buddhist emperor of India.  

Bergonian philosophers who pondered the nature of cognition and the human mind often started from a comparative premise, which required examination of the nature of animal cognition.  Even in ancient times Bergonians recorded observations  of animal behavior in the wild, leaving to us a variety of writing that can only be called scientific.   Noting the significance of sensation in cognition, the philosophers concluded that human thought and animal thought were similar, inasmuch as both depended on seeing and hearing.  From their observations of animal behavior they also concluded that animals possessed memory of experience, which also implied cognitive similarities with humans.. On the other hand, speech was unique to humans, so to the extent that human thought depended upon words, it differed from animal thought.  

Eating Meat and Vegetarianism

To the rule against hurting an animal the ancients recognized an exception of killing for food, and so Bergonians were never rigidly vegetarian.  The tradition of the ancient banda class had strong hunting as well as warrior antecedents.  Banda lodge brothers together went on ceremonial hunts.  But the ethos concerning animals required a rule of conservation, which required a hunter to either eat what he killed or give it to someone else to eat.  So the ceremonial hunts ended in ceremonial feasts, with enough meat to feed the servants and other commoners.  

The hunter, like the hunters of other archaic cultures, prayed generally to the animal "mana" at the beginning of the hunt.  They also prayed to the soul of the specific animal when he slew it.  They murmured the prayer when they drew the bow, and they repeated the prayer when they reached the felled prey.  Herders had special relations with their flocks of sheep and goats, and they could slaughter them for meat, but only with prescribed prayer.  No proper Shufrantei believer could eat meat that hadn't been reverently treated, a little like Kosher.  The rules here applied less strictly to fowl, and the prayers for birds were short.  Fishermen only had to murmur a prayer to Fashei, goddess of, well, fish.

Priests & priestesses, as well as any other person who wanted to "draw close to the Gods," refrained from eating meat or handling it.  Many but not all sects refrained from using leather products or anything else made from an animal's body.  The presence of meat in a temple profaned it.  These rule were part of the ritual separation between the warrior (& noble) class from the priestly class.  The holy men and women who retreated to the forests also abjured entirely from meat, as did the very holiest of devotees who remained in the towns and villages.  

Thus vegetarianism became a cloak and symbol of holiness.  People in medieval days would say of someone, "he no longer eats meat," as a way of commenting on his newfound religious devotion.

Cruelty to Animals

In colonial times the European cruelty to animals horribly offended the atrei (natives). Europeans typically treated animals brutally and, at best, indifferently.  

The Portuguese settled the Amota region built corridas and "fought" the bulls they brought with them.  Natives living in Amota often rioted when Portuguese settlers held bullfights, and many bold youths attacked the corrals to free the bulls (as in other places they stole horses). Much worse (but definitely more effective), natives occasionally attacked the bullfighters.   Civil conflict erupted in Amota in 1824 over an attempt by Portuguese-speaking people (descendants of conquistadors) to organize bull fights after a lapse of several decades.  More substantial economic issues, such as the survival of large estates (latifundias) from colonial times, insured that the civil conflict was long and bloody, but the atrei militias flew a flag depicting a bull.

Topics on Animals:

Native Bergonian Animal Life, including species unique to Bergonia.

Horses in Bergonia

The Clan System, based on animal totems.

Eating Meat

Visit PETA
for info on animal cruelty issues.

 "To us, man and woman, the Gods gave the facile tongue, command of fire, and the hammer and knife.  But the Gods as well gave great gifts to each of the animals, sublime and majestic gifts, oft hidden from us, just as ours are oft hid from them.  The Gods have cursed us with minds disturbed and fractured, while the animals they most surely did bless with whole minds, in need of neither contrivances nor illusory balms."  

--the Prophet Ierecina, 185 B.C.


   If we measure worth by love and hate, we would find no creature better than a dog, and none worse than a man." 

        --the Prophet Krathnami, 995 A.D.


   "This Christian notion that God gave Man dominion over the world blasphemes Him.  Why would God punish the animals with such a cruel master?  Likewise, if Man were made in God's image, then God himself must be cruel and insane.  What reverent worshipper could ever entertain such thoughts about the Lord?  What intelligent man could ever worship such a man-like god?  After considering these things, you will readily conclude that God did not give the world to man, but rather that man seized it and things in it from God." 

--Ariesta Pelai, 1634 A.D.


Practice love first on animals, they are more sensitive.



"In suffering, the animals are our equals"
--Nathaniel Altman


"But ask now the Beasts,
And they shall teach thee;
And the Fowls of the air,
And they shall teach thee,
Or speak to the Earth,
And it shall teach thee."

--Job 12:7-8


"I ran to the cattle in the field to tell them the gospel about Jesus Christ, but they said they already knew.

--St. Francis,
on describing what he did when he received the gift of speaking with animals.


Public Policy regarding Animals

Even now, the deliberate wounding or killing of an animal in Bergonia merits a mandatory jail term of at least three months, as well as mandatory psychological examination and supervision.  This is appropriate considering that psychologists worldwide unanimously note that children who torture animals (and set fires) are likely to become psychopaths.

Bergonians consider vivisection and animal experimentation-- especially for mere commercial product testing-- another form of psychopathy, although the proscription against animal testing in medical research is not absolute.  This remains controversial.  All animals in laboratories fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Police, and a rigid set of standards have evolved governing their care and use.  All experiments involving animals require the filing a plan pursuant to the regulations, and independent auditors from the Environmental Police have the power to enter premises, inspect records observe procedures.

In recent years the Harmony Party has prevailed upon Congress to outlaw the import of cosmetics whose manufacturers employ animal testing.

It is also now against the law to import any animal not native to Bergonia without a permit.  Animal smuggling of any form requires a jail term of at least one year.

Many local governments have set up new veterinary clinics, with very inexpensive neutering services.  The clinics take in unwanted or abandoned animals.

Public policy in many cities tolerates stray animals.  Like many other cities around the world (Rome, San Juan P.R.), many Berg cities tolerate large numbers of stray cats in archaeological ruins and the old city centers.  The local clinics send volunteers to bring in the strays and neuter them.

Horses in Ancient Times:

When the Europeans arrived in the 1500s, Bergonia had no horses.  But that had not always been the case.  Bergonia's geographic isolation insured some interesting evolutionary tangents.  The most fascinating of these was the irutle (Min.)/karei (Nac.)-- the Bergonia horse, a miniature version of Eurasian horse.  In the evolutionary process, this creature evolved from the North American Mesohippus, with three toes on each foot.  The irutle also had three toes, though it put its weight on the stronger center toe, like the Merychippus, the creature that evolved from the Mesohippus, and from which the Eurasian horse evolved.  The irutle was a small creature, standing only three feet at the shoulder.   

For millions of years ago herds of the little irutle galloped over the grasslands of Bergonia.  With its small size it also grazed in the forests as well as in the open country. Then homo sapiens arrived, and the little horse became prey.  By the time the first cities appeared the irutle was already severely diminished in number.  Some zoologists theorize that the irutle was already on a slow demographic decline that would have ultimately ended in extinction, even if humankind had never reached Bergonia.  They theorize that Bergonia's big carnivorous cats had just enough of an advantage to ultimately kill them all off.  But instead humankind did.  Ancient Bergonians hunted the irutle for food and for sport.  Even the earliest written records describe the irutle as very rare, so we can guess that the species had been threatened long before civilization.  The Shufrantei protected the irutle by a religious rule, but this was too little too late.

The last known irutles existed in a single captive herd, owned and kept by the ruling dynasty of the Second Ceiolaian Empire.  The civil war that brought down the dynasty ended with a conflagration in Ceiolai.  The horses were kept within the walled Tufralan, and when fighting and fires consumed the Tufralan the horses were killed.  This was in 466 AD.  This was, at least in documented history and popular imagination, the extinction of the Irutle, although for many centuries afterwards people in the wild country reported seeing them.  

How Bergonians Fell in Love with Horses in Colonial Times

Europeans brought horses to Bergonia-- first the conquistadors, then the settlers.  Bergonians had always been very kindly disposed to all animals-- much more so than any Eurasian people.  All Bergonian languages apply personal pronouns to animals.  From the very beginning horses-- their impressive size, their very evident intelligence and feeling, their mighty speed-- fascinated the Bergonians.  Every native wanted to see them, touch them and have them.  

A much enjoyed poem from the 1600's records one native Bergonian's reverence for a particular stallion that unfortunately belonged to a white settler, which-- whom-- he addresses with a love almost passionate.  The atrei is heart-stricken that the European has ownership and sovereignty over the object of his admiration, and that he decides to sell it.  It is not surprising that colonial Europeans made jokes about unnatural liaisons between atrei and horses.

A Significant Case of European Cruelty to Horses.

 In July 1634 the English magistrate in the town of Carlisle, a town of English settlers in the Crown Colony of Harler (in southeast Berg, now in the state of Serpei), issued a warrant against a farmer named Geoffrey Liddy.  Mr. Liddy had stabbed a native man named Sejun Parishigir, a flamboyant character who was apparently something of an actor, a carnival entertainer and a regular nuisance on the streets of Carlisle.  Parishigir survived the wound to his gut and came to court as a witness for the Crown. The court transcript, which has been preserved, begins with a short spat where the judge made Parishigir remove the orange bandana he had tied around his head.  

Liddy had a defense—the brown-skinned man tried to steal his horse, and he merely used his blade to stop the theft.  A man had a right to defend his property, he argued.   When Parishigir freely admitted to the attempted theft, the Magistrate dismissed the charge against Liddy and instead instituted a charge against him. 

Parishigir claimed that he tried to steal the horse because Liddy had maltreated it. He first saw the horse tied up outside a store where the English traded. The horse was thin, ribs visible, coat lusterless, and marred with open sores and the wounds and scars from whipping. The English judge immediately ruled this an irrelevant point, but Parishigir, apparently a very assertive defendant, pressed on with his explanation that he stole the horse out of kindness to it.  He claimed that the horse spoke to him. Europeans then sometimes held that such claims by natives proved witchcraft or demonic alliances, but most of the time Europeans cautiously stepped around such claims, not sure if the native speaker meant it in some metaphorical or poetic manner, or perhaps even ironically.  This judge charged Parishigir with witchcraft.  He was burnt horribly at the stake.  

Other such things occurred in colonial courts during the 1600s and 1700s, but this incident provoked a popular outcry among the atrei of the region. Parishigir became something of a martyr among the local atrei, and although he disappears from history we know that the locals commemorated him by tying orange scarves around their heads.  There was a wave of horse thefts across Harler Colony. One later account claims that as many as two thirds of the estimated 1556 horses owned by Englishmen in Carlisle were stolen. While most were either recovered or given back, a local bandit was known to have ridden with 248 of the horses inland to the dry Bushenrelu region where he sold them to a warlord there. The warlord, named the equivalent of "Water Darter," began wearing an orange scarf tied around his neck. He founded the first native cavalry troop and successfully fought off the English.  

Long after Water-Darter went to his death in battle in 1655, his cavalry persisted.  They called themselves the Orange Riders.  A few of its officers fanned out across the Ifuno, the one part of Bergonia not yet mastered by the Europeans, with horses, and in time a tradition of atrei cavalry fighting began all across the Ifuno Plateau.  It became the habit of atrei cavalrymen to wear hats with orange hatbands.  Horse-theft became a regular part of atrei resistance against Europeans.

Mounted Infantry in the 1800's and now.

Bergonians soon ranked among the best horsemen in the world.  In its very inception, under the guidance of Peislei, the Bergonian army created units of mounted infantry, in addition to cavalry.  They soon became its most deadly fighting force on land.  In 1867 two thousand mounted infantry without warning crossed the border and attacked the last British colony in Bergonia.  They routed the stunned British soldiers and forced a mass surrender.  The commander of this force, named John Rarsa, became such a popular figure throughout Bergonia that he later became president and then dictator.  It was observed that these soldiers would not leave their wounded horses on the field of battle.  

Of course horses are obsolete as weapons, but the armed forces never completely disbanded the mounted infantry, keeping a number of regiments for parades, public ceremonies, competitions, and the like.  These "infantrymen" are trained exclusively as show horse equestrians, and the regiments tour the country to put on exhibitions for an adoring public.