Recently, I stood on a hill, a small town's light shining in the valley below me and watched the aurora dance. It rippled across the sky while ribbons flicked above, looking like the finest silk.
So, here is MY story for how Aurora came to be.
In the Beginning...
Mother Earth was expecting, but she could feel this one was different. She'd birthed the various peoples of the earth, each one born as a litter.
This time, she only felt one heartbeat, one set of feet, one head.
When the day of her labor came, Mother Earth had prepared, calling in her handmaidens, the stars, to aid her. This child would be far larger than the others, and so it was.
She cried and groaned, feeling the shift within her as her skin stretched and cracked with the effort.
It could have been an eternity; it could have been a moment when her new baby's cries reached her ears. Polaris straightened, holding a wailing infant. The baby girl's cried redoubled and she wavered, splitting in two.
Imai swooped in, scooping up the second child while the rest of the stars craned their heads, eager to see the new babies. After Mother Earth had rested, she eagerly held out her arms to see her newest lights.
Mother Earth, unable to see any difference between her two girls, simply named them Aurora, for their bright hair and the lights that sparkled whenever they laughed.
Mother, in order to tell her daughters apart, dressed the first Aurora in green, with ribbons of red and the second in the richest purple and gold.
The girls grew into beautiful young women who loved to dance across the skies, their long sleeves trailing behind them.
One day, they noticed their mother, sadly watching her poles.
"Mother, why are you so sad?" they cried.
"My children in the far north struggle, and I have no way to show them my love and appreciation. And to the south...I have so few children there. No one explores the beauty. How do I draw them, encourage them to explore and grow?"
Aurora decided to visit these places because they realized they knew nothing of these regions. They moved back and forth across the skies, crossing paths as they went from one pole to the other.
Slowly, Aurora of the purple and gold came to appreciate the wildness of the south. The oceans stretching away, the little penguins her mother had birthed so long ago, with their upright postures and utter grace under water. She also loved the few people who did brave those wild waters, plying their little boats.
Her sister of the red and green grew to love the peoples in the north, with all their diversity. The dark-skinned, dark-haired people who revered her Mother, and their lighter-haired cousins on the other side, who explored, constantly finding new places to live and new ways to survive.
To show her love, Aurora stood at the top of the Earth and danced, spinning and swooping, her skirts and sleeves trailing across the sky.
Mother Earth saw her children look up, their hands stretched high. They cried, exclaiming about the beauty streaming above them. Her other daughter, hearing the music in the south, also began to dance, spinning faster and faster, dipping and turning.
The few explorers watched, magnetized, until the sun rose. When they went home, they took the stories of the amazing lights with them. Slowly, more and more would visit the south, but only the bravest, most intrepid of them went.
Mother Earth, watching her children who braved the most extreme parts of her, was happy, seeing them showered with love from her daughters.
And finally, she gave them second names so that the peoples of the earth could tell them apart. Her daughter of green was known to all as Aurora Borealis. Her daughter of purple and gold became known as Aurora Australis.
Some nights, when they leap and dance with extra vigor, you can see hints of purple and gold reflecting in Aurora Borealis' dress and Aurora Australis laughs when she sees green and red shining on her hems.
Sometimes, all you can see is a curve across the sky. This is when they are resting, turning slowly so that the people can still see them and know they are there. But when the lights ripple and twist, then they are dancing and all you can see are the fluttering hems and trailing sleeves crossing the sky.