From time to time, I’d hitch a ride with one of the winds who spent their days roaring about the place, and descend upon this village or that, or sometimes a whole region. The water gods were generally glad to see me; it meant a rest for them. For a time, there’d be no rain; the rivers would shrink or vanish in the sands. The farmers would get to rest too, for there would be little or no crop for them to bring in. They’d spend much of the time lying about; sometimes they would lie down for days and not rise again. Those who had the energy would hunt up a priest of mine (well, of course I had priests; I was a god, wasn’t I?) who would point out the dangers inherent in not worshipping Mot and the even greater dangers in not treating his priests with respect. “Mot is a mighty god,” I heard one of 0them say, “and how do you think He feels when he sees someone spilling the contents of a slop bucket on the High Priest of His temple?”
There would be ceremonies and prayers, and the odd sacrifice (one town tried sacrificing frogs, but I sent some really awful dreams until they stopped; I like frogs). Some very flattering things were said about me, but I couldn’t overlook the fact that most of the prayers were that I would go away. Sooner or later, I would show my beneficence by leaving, and people would go back to pouring out their slop buckets on my priests. (This was all right with me, actually. You don’t get a really superior class of men aspiring to be priests of the drought god.)
Quite a lot of Time went by (whatever you’ve been told, Time is not a god; he’s more a sort of complicated machine. He once told me that he didn’t actually hate Gods; he just didn’t see much point to them and reflexively swatted them if they buzzed too loudly when he was trying to think.) For a while, after my uncle Enlil took emeritus status, some of his orgiastic nuns took me as their patron, and droughts were much more fun for a few centuries. My priests started wearing much better robes, growing mustaches, and walking about with unpleasant leers on their faces. I was sorry when the nuns decided that Ishtar was a more appropriate patron than I was, though I couldn’t refute the logic. My priests shaved and went back to looking glum.
I was sitting in my palace one late afternoon, not doing much. There was a priest in a small town near the desert who kept sending me frantic prayers that I destroy the crop of the town about three parasangs down the road, and I was trying to tactfully explain that his town, which had no silos, would starve long before its neighbor, which did. (It would be easier, of course, if I could simply have sent him a note saying “Listen up! A drought next door means a drought at home, so you’re actually praying that I starve or kill you and everyone you know. Is this what you want? Let me know. Love, Your God, Mot.” Protocol, though, demanded a symbolic dream, and preferably one that could be easily misinterpreted. I was never much good at these; the famous one of mine about the cows eating each other was actually crafted by my brother Enki.) My consort came in (I haven’t mentioned her? I had a consort. Her name was Merhut; she was a very nice sort and had something to do with heat-induced delirium and a kind of reddish jadeite) and said there was a god she didn’t recognize coming down the road.
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)