Darker Gods at The Lake of Dreams
Darker Gods is a project that began in 2015 when I was interrogating ideas around the Black experience in popular culture. I started to think that the representation of Blackness in the United States and the greater Western world was about devaluing the complexity of our experiences to make it easier to dehumanize us. There seems to only be two ways people of color have shown up historically in the collective consciousness: either as sub-human or superhuman--not ever as complex human beings the way that white-identifying people are allowed to be portrayed. As the project grew and evolved, I decided that instead of working hard to show Black people themselves from an empirical, reality-based model, I wanted to lean it the tropes and cultural norms of our experience by exaggerating them to a place of the supernatural and the surreal.

The cultures of the past, such as Greek, Yoruba, and other polytheistic societies, had multiple gods that reflected the personality and nuance of the world around them. I am obsessed with myth and legend because I believe they are the way people explained the world around them before science was the end all be all of understanding the universe. In this work, I hope to create a mythology that is reflective of my interaction with the world as a Black person in America, and that reflects the different aspects of Black identity that people have in our community. I also seek to speak about our experiences removed from the spectacle of pain that is often associated with Blackness. This work hopefully inspires and empowers those that view it to see themselves in these deities, giving them a different way to see the way we are portrayed in the media and popular culture. This is an ongoing story just as myths and legends continue to change with the world and time they exist in. The Darker Gods in The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens is the introduction to a universe where people of color are divine.

- Damon Davis

Blvck Icarus and The Lake of Dreams

In the Garden of the Low Hangin Heavens, John Icarus stumbles upon Blake the Great (also known as Lord So Will It) chained to the ground at the Lake of Dreams. The child-god tells Icarus that he was tricked and imprisoned by the Pale Horse, an evil force that arrived at the Lake some time ago. The Lake is almost dry when Icarus arrives. The boy tells him that the Lake was completely drained by the horse. After being tricked with the chains the horse drank the entire Lake. The child-god had been slowly refilling it with his own tears since that day.

Blake tells Icarus the key to his freedom is inside the belly of the creature and that if Icarus can slay the beast, he would grant Icarus the opportunity to venture out into the Lake and fish out his own dream. Icarus accepts the challenge. The child-god tells Icarus he will need weapons to slay the beast and instructs him to go to his sister, Saphira God of War, for a weapon powerful enough to slay the beast. John Icarus leaves Blake the Great vowing to return with the key from the stomach of the Pale Horse to release Blake from his chains.

Saphira’s Sword

Blake wanders the garden until he finds Saphira. He tells her of his mission and that he must slay the beast. Saphira tells Icarus that the horse had been to her land too. It came to consume Saphira’s children (the followers of her religion) who had gone out to fight the beast. One by one her greatest warriors were swallowed whole by the horse. Icarus hears this story but is not deterred. Saphira agrees to help. She takes a lock of her hair and fashions a sword stronger than any metal on Earth. She entrusts this magic sword to Icarus. Saphira warns Icarus that while the blade is strong enough to kill the beast, it alone will not protect him from it. She tells him to go to Andre the Tender who can give the warrior a tool to protect him from the beast's attack. Icarus heeds the words of Saphira and ventures through the garden to find Andre the Tender.

Andre’s Shield

When Icarus finds Andre the Tender he is alone in a field of flowers. Icarus goes to the great god and tells him of his mission and journey. Andre tells Icarus that the Pale Horse had visited his land as well and came to consume all that was there. Andre spoke with the beast. The horse told him that his followers would have a better life with the horse. The horse would take them and teach the followers of Andre the ways and customs of the land that the horse had come from. Andre agreed to send his followers to the horse, believing they would have a better life learning the horse’s ways and customs. And like Blake the Great, the Pale Horse tricked Andre the Tender. The horse greeted the children of Andre the Tender and there in front of the god, swallowed them whole just like the followers of Saphira before him. Andre wept for his children and the field of flowers grew around him. Icarus told Andre that he would avenge his children but needed his help. Icarus told Andre that Saphira had sent him to get a tool to protect him from the wrath of the Pale Horse. Andre agreed to help. He reached down and plucked a single flower from the ground. Andre took the flower petals into his hand and press them tightly between his palms. He pressed with such force and might that it shock the ground beneath the feet of Icarus. When Andre opened his hands there lay a shield. He gave the shield to Icarus. Icarus thanked the great god and journeyed off to slay the Pale Horse.

The Battle of the Pale Horse

John Icarus, with sword and shield in hand, trekked through the garden looking for the Pale Horse. O Ti O Tan, the guardian of the garden watched from a distance, like a guardian angel over Icarus. Icarus wanders into a grove of aspen. In the forest, he finds the Pale Horse. Icarus approaches the beast, ready to do battle. The Pale Horse is unbothered and mocks Icarus. The horse tells him that he is an abomination and that the horse is the true form of power. The beast says that it’s hunger will never be fulfilled until it consumes every part of the realm of the Darker Gods and that Icarus is mortal with no power to stop him. Icarus attacks, striking the beast and drawing its blood. This frightens the beast so it raises up to meet Icarus in battle. In the battle, the great beast swallows Icarus whole just as with the children of Saphira and Andre before him.

The Spirit of the Forest Goes to The Twin Spirit

The horse lays down again, full and smug. O Ti O Tan looks on. O Ti O Tan goes to it’s creator, Ti Omi the Twin Spirit, the God of Water. The ghost of the forest tells her master of what she has seen and that the great champion, John Icarus, needs their help to beat the horse. Ti Omi agrees. Ti Omi learns of their brother, Blake’s enslavement at the Lake of Dreams and goes to him. Ti Omi reaches the Lake of Dreams and Blake has grown to his adult form, Lord So Will It. Ti Omi and Lord So Will It devise a plan.

In The Belly of The Beast

Meanwhile in the belly of the Pale Horse, Icarus finds the tribes of Saphira and Andre. The two have made factions inside the beast and war amongst themselves on how they should get out of the beast. Icarus unites the tribes when they see that both of their masters believe that Icarus is their Redeemer. Once the tribes are united in the beast, they all call out to the Darker Gods for their guidance out of the beast. Icarus gathers the greatest warriors of the united tribe to go deeper into the beast to find the key to the chains to free Lord So Will It.

The Ghost in The Water

The Pale Horse returns to the Lake of Dreams. The horse taunts Lord So Will It, saying that his great champion was eaten like all the rest before him. The horse goes to Lake to Dream to devour it once again. Ti Omi, the God of Water hides in the Lake and when the horse drinks from the lake, they sneak into the horse’s stomach through the water to find Icarus.

Icarus and the five greatest warriors, three ghosts and two twins, journey through the beast's body to find the key. Their journey takes them North, to the beast heart.

The key is guarded by a huge white widow spider. Icarus defeats the spider with the Sword of Saphira.

Two twin soldiers stay behind to destroy the beast's heart, while Icarus and the remaining soldiers return to the belly of the beast.

Back to The Belly of The Beast

In the belly of the beast, the water god goes to Icarus. The prayers of the tribes have been answered. Ti Omi binds with Icarus to give him two more arms with which to fight his way out of the beast.  The tribes unite and use all their power, guided by Icarus, aided by the spirit of Ti Omi, to cut their way out of the belly of the beast. The sword of Saphira slices through the wall of the beast’s stomach and the armies of the Children of the Darker Gods march out.

Death of the Pale Horse

The beast is wounded but not dead. The armies of the Other Realm fight the horse. Each Darker God sends its strongest warrior to the front to battle this evil force that threatens them all. Icarus escapes from the battle to go and free Lord So Will It of his chains. Icarus unlocks the god and he too joins the fight. The army overwhelms the horse as Lord So Will and Icarus return. Lord so Will If binds the Horse with the same chains that the horse had enslaved him with for so long. Icarus delivers the final blow with the soldier of Saphira, taking the horse's head, killing the beast. The children of the Darker Gods and their deities unite and rejoice. Balance has been restored to the land!

The Canoe of Feathers

Lord So Will It returns to his child form as Blake the Great now that goodness is restored. Blake keeps his word. He tells John Icarus that he may now venture out into the Lake and attain his greatest dream. Icarus makes a boat of his feather and an oar from the leg of the Pale Horse. He ventures out into the center of the Lake to claim his dream.

Into The Lake of Dreams

In the center of the Lake, Icarus finds a woman in the water, she was a mermaid named Lilith. She tells Icarus that she can take him to a cove where his dreams live. Icarus believes Lillith and leaves his boat of feathers to dive into the Lake of Dreams. Icarus swims deeper following Lillith into the Lake. Then something shining at the bottom of the Lake catches Icarus’ attention. Lilith warns him not to get distracted with light at the bottom.

Icarus does not listen to Lillith, he lets go of her hand and swims deeper into the Lake. He gets closer and closer to the light until the water in the Lake becomes clouds. The light Icarus saw was the sun and the Lake that sat in the garden was the top of the sky. Icarus broke through the bottom and fell through the sky, down the Holy Mountain, back down to Earth.

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