In the early days of civilization, the grand matriarch Libuše stood as the oracle chieftan of her people.
While the men of her tribe still claimed their lands with brute force, it was Libuše who mediated their disputes to find peace. As time went on, resentment flared among those whose ambitions outstripped their honor. Dissatisfied with her decisions, an elder tribesman condemned her, declaring, “Your law is shaped by women’s whims. Women can spin stories, but judgments? She should stick to spinning and sewing. What a shame men bow to women’s rule. Where else is this happening? Only here! It’s laughable! Better death than such a rule.”
In an effort to maintain harmony, Libuše deigned to choose a strong husband whom the men might finally obey. But on the night of her wedding, a new vision filled her with terror. She saw a future of endless war for her people, of despair and subjugation to come. By building a throne for a man to rule, she had doomed her people to serve an endless line of ever crueler and more capricious kings. Dragging her heavy wedding gift behind her with bloody hands, she fled from the feast of her people into the forest.
Alone in the night, she clutched the ornate golden cradle that her people had given her in anticipation of an heir. “This is the cradle of kings destined to rule. An endless march of anointed kings who may issue forth from my womb towards the future. To sleep in the cradle is to dream of the future as I have. Because I have the gift of prophesy I held power, and because I thought the sacrifice would satiate my people I gave that power away. I may not be able to turn my people back from this path, but I can see to it that no child will dream of future power in this golden cradle, and I shall not prophesy again to serve him. Sunk deep, drowned in time, the cradle could only be recovered by they who could wield its power in justice.
She then threw the cradle into the Vltava river.
Generations have craved this power. Her descendants ravaged the river and upturned the mountain in their search. Her people fell under the whip of a succession of ever more powerful kings. Each ruler declared, “In pursuit of the cradle, I will dive deep, mine the earth’s riches, but build a great tower-city for all from the stones drawn forth.” The towering city symbolized hope, while the depths beneath echoed with loss. As the dungeons of the deep grew, they hid both the greed of their builders and evidence of their atrocities. Victims, deemed guilty by their mere existence, were cast into these dark abysses. Traps were sprung, mines gave way, tombs overflowed and prisoners languished. Time in the depths was marked only by hunger pangs and dust accumulating on untouched treasures. While the horrors of the past seemed endless, the promises of the future reached heavenly heights. Both extremes were visible to all at once, but no soul ever bridged the gap between them. The cradle is lost.