Written by Shishi Nouti, taking inspiration from the random generator at the back of the Cyclopedia of Comparative Mythology. Shishi Nouti has been kind enough to release this piece of mythology into the Creative Commons.
Skiftjana, Sleep Mother, Demigoddess of Dreams
Likened to fire, which can warm or burn, she brings dreams good and bad, of love or of hate. (A secondary association stems from fire's importance in keeping warm at night). Also associated with mental illness, particularly of the bipolar or schizoid type, due to her association with the irreality of dreams and their fluctuating nature.
She is portrayed as a monstrous green lizard, with one eye but many fire-spewing breasts, with which she feeds the minds of sleepers everywhere.
Her symbol is the bellows, which fan the flames. Hence she is the consort of Stedjana, the Life Mother, demigoddess of the hearth, life, family, children, nourishment, and thus (perhaps influenced by her association with Skiftjana) mundane matters, sanity, waking life.
As an offering, it is customary to offer a baby bottle filled with borax to the fire, or a pillow-sack full of flour.
It is said the two once lived as a pair of identical twins (sister-lovers), in isolation in the virgin woods of the dawn of time. Motherless, the twins had simultaneously given birth to each other. As children, they were perfect mirrors, indistinguishable. At times they weren't sure they were not the same person.
However, as they grew older, they started to develop differences in appearance and personality, Stedjana remaining mostly unchanged, while Skiftjana seemed at times more fair than her sister, at times more plain. Seeing every minute change magnified in contrast to her sister's stasis, Skiftjana grew more and more volatile. The more she tried to mirror her sister, searching for the primal bond that was their birthright, the more she seemed a grotesque parody, at times she emulating her, at times mocking her. In her efforts, however, she came to understand her sister more than unthinking Stedjana understood herself. Likewise, however little she showed it, Stedjana could not help but be influenced by her sister's manic portrayals.
Stedjana longed to be a mother, and became pregnant. Skiftjana carried a flour-sack in her belly, spilling out some flour when Stedjana had morning sickness, and gradually filling it as Stedjana's pregnancy progressed. When Stedjana gave birth to Sufneter, a baby boy, Skiftjana huffed out a dough child, Skotu, which she replaced Sufneter with. Stedjana was heart-broken, and begged Skiftjana to give her back her child, but in her madness Skiftjana, believing herself and Stedjana to be the same person, believed herself to be the child's mother, too. Finally, they agreed to share both children, spending half the day with each, until Skotu and Sufneter had grown into men. Much of significance happened during those years, and much thereafter, but alas, the tale of their lives and deeds shall be told elsewhere.
After the twin boys had left home, Stedjana fell ill, and was on the verge of death. Skiftjana, as always, mirrored her every ailment and convulsion. Instead of the grotesque parody it had been before, her portrayal of Stedjana seemed almost compassionate, as if she were willing to suffer and die alongside her. As, indeed, she did, both sisters giving up ghost of one breath, and awakening of the same breath into godhood.
Such goes the tale of the Twice Twin Mothers*, may they show their mercy while asleep or while awake.
* Twins and mothers of twins, evidently not taking into account that they're their own mothers.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.