Issuu on Google+


Divine Publications – Š2012 Medusa: by Deirdre Norman Printed in Canada. Copyright by Divine Law. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission. Violation of this copyright will invoke the law of Karma and the three-fold law will prevail.


Introduction There are many ‘real’ stories about Medusa; who she is and how she became the creature of myth. This is one of them. I hope you hear the story of Medusa the way the goddess meant for it to be heard. I have included a little story about Eve because she also wanted to be present.

Dedication and thanks As always I dedicate this to my family; Robert, Jane and Dakota. A special thanks to Robert for the exquisite image of Medusa.


Medusa by Deirdre Norman info@tinkerwoman.com www.tinkerwoman.com


Medusa was four when they came for her. The arrival of the Gorgonae was heralded by a murmur in the consciousness of every living being; a hum as it were, a niggle of the hairs on the back of the neck. Gorgona were seldom seen in this part of the desert and there was no doubt that whatever was brewing was significant. The child was sitting against the wall of the potter’s shed playing mancala with two other children from the same collection of houses. She paused several times, much to the irritation of her playmates, tilting her wild head to listen to the windwalkers, as she called them. “They’re here,” she said and then carried on moving the pieces of dried dung from one small cavity in the sand to the next, quickly and deftly gathering more of them to win the round. The Gorgonae walked in silence, the plaits in their hair shifting and swaying, not in rhythm with their stride but with some secret intent. Red cotton cloth embroidered with the symbols of their Order was gathered at their waists and the aegis’ covering their breasts were cured lion skins, the mark of Ath-enna over the heart chakra. Silence and power were the marks of Gorgona priestesses. They claimed space with the breadth of their backs, the ominous slide of their shoulders as they walked and the timeless inevitability of power in their gait. Gorgonae were chosen at a young age to walk the path of priestesshood dedicated to the Great Mother and

5


the Goddess Ath-enna. For thousands of years they had been the healers, the judges, the warriors of their people. The desert and the lush oases were their home and the stars and moon were their companions. A lifetime of training and cloistered living enabled them to transcend the ordinary boundaries of time and space and they were feared as much for their secrets as for their prowess as warriors. The townspeople were excited and troubled to see the Three walking in without warning from the desert. Curious, they followed the Gorgonae. The local priestess had barely donned the red mantle of authority before they were at the door of the rustic temple. Without words, only a brief nod in her direction, the Gorgonae continued walking towards the potter’s shed. A collective wonder held the townspeople in its sway as they moved slowly behind the Gorgonae like a shadow following the sun. Medusa squatted patiently, her head down, the mancala game now ignored. The stillness in her tiny form belied the surge of anxiety running through her. Her playmates were fidgeting, shifting from one foot to the other in the sand wondering what the hand of the Goddess would reveal. A parentless child, Medusa was gifted with magic in ways that were beyond the guidance of the local priestess and as such was destined for life at the Great Temple. Her purposeful demeanour, whether at play or arguing with whoever stirred her childish temper, was noted with a certain regard in the town. That she had the bearing of a warrior was the common observation of the townsfolk.

6


Shadows embraced the girl as the Three stood over her and held for a moment the light and dark in their towering presence. Medusa rose and took the hand of one Gorgona when it was offered and walked out into the desert. The walk foreshadowed life for Medusa: silent, hard, and mysterious. Her child’s legs could not keep pace with a warrior’s gait and so she was carried on the shoulders of the shortest of the Three. It made her uncomfortable to be so close to the plaits of black hair, swaying with such purpose that they sent tremors through her, but her short legs needed the rest. Striding relentlessly, the Gorgonae stopped infrequently as the way stretched infinitely before them. Little was said to Medusa but they were not unkind. They showed her the terrible solemnity of the desert, the prayers to the unchanging mystery of the rising sun, and how to listen to the quiet. “Between the realms of being lies the stillness that is magic, little one. Listen for its presence by hearing the quiet.” She never learned their names. She knew instead the sound of their footfalls, the sway of their sturdy hips like a warm wind rippling through the sand. One, whose skin was the colour of desert sand, would hold Medusa’s hand sometimes and at night the child slept beside the Gorgona with deep rivulets of scars along her cheeks and shoulders, huddled in the crescent moon shape made by her body. Medusa would lie wondering in her crèche of sand; in that hour of dawn when everything stills itself and the voice of the goddess is heard.

7


Heat rising from the desert made the air quiver. Through the haze Medusa saw sand as immense as an ocean stretch before her. This was home to the many nomadic groups with their camels, horses, and dogs. Encountering the tribes meant dispensing blessings, remedies, and judgments, all in the name of the Great Mother. The dark faces of the adults were often hidden from her, veiled against the eyes of strangers. The nomad children stood in awe of Medusa, who had been marked by the hand of the Goddess, yet were less fearful than their parents. It was well known that those who had been touched by the Goddess were set apart from ordinary life; the destiny of those chosen to be Her warrior-priestesses was a dangerous one. Instead of inviting her to play, the children watched and waited. When the stay with the tribes grew too long and childish boredom set in Medusa would let magic slip from her fingers. Invisible yet palpable it created a small snake of sand that followed the Gorgonae as they went about their business. The children laughed. The adults frowned and invoked prayers against chaos. Only once was Medusa reprimanded. A strong hand and a word of power subdued her prank until the ministering to the tribes was finished. “Daughter, respect is a delicate web. It must hold the weight of all who touch it. It connects all and yet can be broken by one careless act, one random act. You must not be that random act.� Humbled, Medusa obeyed.

8


Diligent in their duties, the Gorgonae tarried no longer than needed. The call of the Goddess was clear and the walk was long. Many days from Medusa’s town the Gorgonae paused with one heartbeat, gazing across the distance. Lush and pungent, Temple City unfolded from the earth. Arrayed like an eight-pointed star, mirror to the sun and the moon, the city paid homage to the directions with four main roads running to the centre of the city and the temple of Ath-enna. Small moments of levity and a lightness of step marked the Gorgonae’s approach to the city gate. Home. The realization filled Medusa with hope and wonder. This was home. A home she had never known. A home that would change her forever. Approaching one of the city gates they heard the sounds of the day carried on the breath of the wind. Messengers bearing missives from other kingdoms exchanged worldly news while waiting patiently at the Temple gates. Pushy traders raised their voices, hawking their wares while supplicants prayed quietly, offerings at their feet. Each in turn would be ushered into the presence of the Gorgonae according to their lot. Those who served the Mother turned none away. The Gorgona cloister and grounds were magnificent and much busier than Medusa could have imagined. Walled and separate it was the heart of the city and its secret soul. Moving through the outer court and into the sanctity of the temple cloister the silence of the devotees roared through Medusa’s being. Acolytes, Initiates, and

9


Priestesses, all in red garb embroidered with the symbols that represented their status within the Order, moved about their business. Two Novices shared giggles under the statue of Ath-enna. Others hard at work moved with grace and focus at their tasks. Taken to the kitchen, Medusa was fed before being presented to Octarina, the High Priestess. This Gorgona was a goddess in her bearing. Her aura radiated out and enclosed the child; gently holding her while stress and fear were washed away, much as the bath Medusa anticipated would wash away the desert grime. Stubby fingers aimlessly twisted her skirt band while the High Priestess touched her with a blessing hand and welcomed her to the service of Ath-enna. Medusa, she said, had become known to them in a dream and the Gorgonae were called to train her, to guide her on the path of divine power. Entry into the Order was a calling and the path was difficult. Much of what Octarina said went over the child’s tired head. Too distracted by fatigue and too unsure of what lay ahead, Medusa was relieved to find herself being led away to the children’s dormitory. Here, she was the youngest. Being with other children soothed the ache of separation she felt; the longing for her friends and her own familiar walls. She would never see them again, her small friends who were free to live plain lives. For a moment her heart pumped fear into her veins and a small piece of crockery slipped from a table. Tired murmurs from the sleeping figures surrounded Medusa as she, shame-faced, hid the pieces under her

10


bedroll. A magical child is still a child so in spite of everything sleep came readily as she laid her walk-weary body down. The next year was spent learning the ways of the Goddess. The rigorous routine of prayers, martial training, and domestic chores had been followed every day for thousands of years. Interspersed were games and time at the market in town. Who would have thought that star-watching and mancala would be part of the training of a Gorgona? The Acolytes in charge of the children laughed and said that the art of mathematics was best learned by a willing and curious heart and opened portals to magic. Medusa’s magic was wild; as raw as her emotions, as untamed as her heart. The first lesson in containing it was the journey within. Acolytes guided all the young Novices in meditation practices while the meditation master watched. In and count. Hold and count. Out and count. The unique rhythm of one’s breath was key to all magical endeavours. Exhausted by the rush of her breath and the struggle to contain the wave of power in it, Medusa struggled with impatience. She willed a consistent rhythm but the repetitive exercises wore on her more than scrubbing pots. Rebellious, Medusa sabotaged herself with mind games and little pranks on her dormmates. She thought no one saw when she stealthily extended her toes to tickle the girl nearest her.

11


“Medusa!” cried Opaline. “Come here!” Out of patience, the meditation master sat Medusa down with the authority of a lioness with her cub. Placing broad hands on the child’s shoulders, the master shook her gently but firmly. She commanded Medusa to close her eyes and put an index finger on her third eye. “Breathe! Breath is the pathway to inner knowing. The rhythm of your breath dissolves the distractions and the attachments of the world. Lose yourself in the vast horizon of your inner world. Follow this path if you wish to command your magic rather than have it command you.” Suddenly unable to speak and transfixed by the subtle energy emanating from Opaline’s hand Medusa found herself still. Flowing with each inhalation Medusa entered a stream of deep awareness. Here she saw that matter existed only as a tendency to exist, that transmutation was a natural process of the cosmos, and that what lay people called magic was simply a shift in the choreography of atoms. Her teachers had taught her that every object had its own vibration, thus creating colour, sound, and shape. By aligning her own vibration Medusa could affect all things. She learned that altering the movement of particles in her being moved particles in other times and places. Like a ball thrown, the trajectory of atoms could be guided by will and intent. Understanding brought a new focus for the wild child. She saw at last a purpose and direction to her magic; to serve the Goddess. She felt a desire to be part of the great dance of life and energy.

12


The necessary discipline for the handling of magical tools was enhanced by hours of practice; in the dark, the sun, the cold, alone. There was no room for doubt or hesitation in either healing or war. Stillness mastered movement. Combat training was required for all; even the smallest and youngest child. At dawn the Novices would gather on the training courts to learn hand-to hand techniques. It was a difficult thing to learn; when to watch and wait and when to strike. Later in the day came training in the use of sword, bow and arrow, and slingshot. The combat masters were ruthless with their discipline. Life, if it was to be kept, required the willingness to die and to kill. Ajani was tough as camel leather. She was quick with the staff, deadly with the sword. Lunge, stab, parry. Medusa could feel the edge of the sword in her mind, follow the edge through the air. Ajani commanded the girls to become the edge. “Direct your will to the target. Find it and strike! Gorgona weapons are extensions of the body. Only when you are one with your weapons will you succeed.� This dance was a graceful as an adder strike. The hours of practice enabled the girls to dance with lethal purpose. Gorgona warriors comprised the most feared army in the world: dedicated, purposeful, steadfast in a fray, willing to die and to kill. They held a freedom not known to many; the freedom from the fear of death. In the midst of learning combat Medusa was required to master domestic arts. The use of the needle was

13


mandatory for any student of the Gorgonae. If life was a thread in a great tapestry, then fibre; spun and woven, brought metaphor into reality. As quickly as she learned the symbols of protection she embroidered them onto her skirt, hidden in the hem and along the waist where the fabric was rolled and tied. Her deft fingers held the stitch true and she received a great deal of pleasure from the feel of the thread. Spells were one of the first magical practices taught to Novices, and the time-honoured mnemonic of braiding while reciting kept childish hands busy and out of mischief. The inner courtyard of the temple was often full of spiralling circles of young women braiding each other’s hair; heads down while intently murmuring spells for strength, health, success, and beauty. Each day spells were braided into the hair until the practice made perfect a small spell that stayed in the plait and was marked by a bead. As the years passed the girls increased the numbers and kinds of spells. The hair came to hold the magic. With a thought Medusa could call upon reservoirs of power held by a magical plait. The first time one moved of its own volition Medusa had a sudden jolt of awe, recalling the living locks of the Three who had brought her to the Temple. She laughed when it dawned on her that she would be like them one day. At the age of ten Medusa had her celebration of childhood; the first step towards the preparation for her Rite of Passage into womanhood. Each child, even the orphans of the Goddess, discovered one day that they were autonomous beings - that their dependence on

14


others was a finite thing. This realization was a fostered awakening. The Acolytes watched for and nurtured signs of the stirrings. Like a seed under the earth gathering momentum until the shoot bursts through to light and growth, each child’s life force swirled slowly towards an astounding moment of awareness. For Medusa it was a divine moment. She rejoiced in her life, the beat of her heart, the delicate hunger of her senses. She delighted in the knowledge that she and every creature were of the same Divine substance. So it was with a beauteous surrender that Medusa allowed dorm-mates to braid her snaking plaits with new spells for autonomy. On a dark night Medusa was roused by the single tone of a bell. Silently she bathed and donned a robe of white trimmed with red at hem and heart. Older girls, ones who had already completed the Rite, painted her hands, her crown, and her feet with snakes and led her to the vigil. Murmurs rose in waves from the Temple as the chanting swirled in a spiral of sound. A moving sea, it seemed, welcomed Medusa as Novice and Initiate alike swayed to the rhythm, lost in an unearthly time and place. As the years passed the Novices became proficient in the skills required to serve the Goddess and their community. As the girls’ bloodtime drew near the time for choosing whether or not they would stay in the cloister or move out to the secular school approached. Some chose or were called to return home. Some stayed in the cloister dedicating their lives to service, while others left to attend the school in the city. All kept the lineage of the Goddess preserved through their practice.

15


Bloodtime was every woman’s most powerful time. A time of cleansing and renewing. A time of fertility; not just of the body but also of the soul. A young woman’s first blood was sacred to the community. It was used to bless the soil at planting. It was used in the spells that held the walls of the temple and town strong. When the Gorgonae had their bleeding time the world stopped. Trade halted and judges ceased their rulings. For three days the Gorgonae meditated and held suspended the movement of the day. When she was thirteen, Medusa’s bloodtime came. The red stain on the earth was the blood of life and of death. Closing her eyes Medusa sank into a trance. Hands on heart and womb, she opened channels of power and entered the dreamtime. Her bloodtime brought disturbing dreams and the occasional tremor in the dorms. Medusa became increasingly quiet and inwardly focused. Already adept at the spells that brought forth hidden power, she felt unconscious knowing grow deeper. Strengthened by the discipline of years of teaching and routine her awakening brought a metamorphosis of soul and body. In honour of the shedding of her old self the first of many snake tattoos was drawn on her twilight skin. Training days continued to be hard and lonely. Medusa spent her days doing chores, studying, stitching magic into her garments, and braiding the hair of her temple-mates. Another two years of preparation would pass before she would be accepted into the Tantric School in the Temple of Ath-enna. The first step was apprenticing to the snake

16


handlers. Medusa embraced the danger and earned a reputation for calling adders to coil on her arms while casting potent spells. Octarina came to see her now and then, each time looking closely and consulting with the Initiate in charge. Medusa knew that though the High Priestess was seldom seen, she was always present. Octarina watched warily and respectfully for the first signs of rebellious autonomy: the moment when the door to freedom would be opened. Finally the time came for acceptance into the Tantric school. Medusa learned the art of awakening kundalini energy; healing and transcendence through alignment with the Goddess. The most difficult part was channelling the hormonal surges into conscious acts of power and magic. If meditation had been hard, the breath that drew the spiral from womb to heart was most difficult of all. Medusa longed for the ease of combat training where one’s body was the obvious channel of power. Travelling to the underworld within her being took greater courage and brought more fierce foes than battling the outward enemy. Medusa faced the many headed beast of her separateness. Each face was a mirror of her own: Medusa as orphan, outcast and chosen one. Each face had to be looked at, each aspect had to be embraced before the beast at the centre could be vanquished. Then and only then could the wounds of her mind and soul be healed.

17


The older girls were sent to the public temple where people could go for healings. The warriors, in particular, needed cleansing after battle; their souls wounded more than their bodies. Through the rites of the Great Mother they could have balance restored in their lives and go back to their farms and trades. Sex was a service to the Goddess. The key was channelling the sexual ecstasy for healing and power. There was a time for pleasure and a time for service. The young women apprenticed to the priestesses until their time came to partake in the sacred rituals themselves. Everyone had time as a Tantric priestess. It healed the Gorgonae as much as those seeking comfort, and kept alive the connection between the sacred and the mundane. It was not Medusa’s nature to take lovers the way other girls did. Her desire for intimacy was long directed inward to a divine connection to the Goddess. The few lovers she took never stayed or were seldom welcomed back. Her loneliness brought her closer to her shadow side, to the great abyss wherein her demons lay. When she was alone Medusa had the courage to face her demons and to slowly find her way back to the Light; to draw every atom of magic into her world. She immersed herself ever more deeply in her training and in her knowing of the Great Mother who was the pulse of the planet and the fragrance of the sensual world. With every breath her connection to the spirit realm grew stronger.

18


Medusa’s beauty, as bright as the Morning Star, was legendary and troublesome. Heartbreaks, crushes, and outbursts came from all quarters. In another time or perhaps another place such troubles would have had their humourous side but the elite of the goddesses’ servants could little afford to be distracted by a cult of celebrity. Octarina expended some time and energy, certainly more than she desired, quelling the disturbances which extended beyond the holy enclave. Warriors and princes found their travels ended in Temple City, at the gate of the Gorgona cloister seeking Medusa; a glimpse, a touch or more. Medusa was free to choose lovers as she willed but most were turned away. Legendary beauty is as powerful as legendary ugliness, and just as frightening. The other girls did not understand nor did they want to. Medusa was often excluded from the small community of giggles and whispers. A formidable loneliness marked her life, now and for the future. It served to set her apart, to create space and time around her. In the minds of those easily swayed she became like a monster; unknowable, fearsome, and deadly. The heart at the centre of her being which beat true was hidden by tales little more than gossip but much more than truth. It was not long before Octarina called Medusa to her. Silently the two stood in the great hall of the Temple of Ath-enna. The fierce and compassionate visage of the Goddess gazed over their heads. Medusa’s plaits softly swayed with the focus of her breath as she sought to overcome her trepidation. Like a whisper of sand the

19


mighty Gorgona priestess spoke of what lay ahead for Medusa; the hardship, the battles, the servitude, and the endless connection to a divine source – the magic of the universe. “The Goddess will need you in times to come. You have been chosen to hold the truth against all odds and foes. The path of the future is unknown to me and I fear for our people. You, Medusa, will be the greatest of the Gorgona tribe if you follow your heart with discipline and faith. Know yourself, be whole, and be true.” Medusa took these words into every fibre of her being. She knew that horror and fear lay ahead on the path of ego. Long ago time was measured by changes in heavenly bodies; the slow sweep of stars across the night sky, the waxing and waning of the moon. The tales of Medusa’s magic and heroics became legend in the land. Warriors cast down their gaze in awe and fear when she walked among them. Her javelin never missed, her hands dispensed both healing and death. It was said that enemies turned to stone, their bodies cold, hard, and heavy, at the sight of mighty Medusa in her blood-red garments. But always she served the Goddess first and foremost. Nothing altered her daily rituals and prayers, her service to the people of the land, her commitment to her sacred path. Through her love, Ath-enna lived strong and bright even as the god-hordes from north across the sea pressed their armies onto the shores. The time came when the might of Medusa and the Gorgonae was not sufficient to withhold the armies of the invaders whose intent was grim and resolute. Those who

20


could see the divergent paths of the future knew that the vision that held to the old ways was slowly fading. The wheel inexorably spun towards the end of the reign of the Mother and the rise of the gods who would hold dominion of the heavens. To the East the sun rose gold and radiant on the last retreat to Temple City and a truce with the invaders. The fierce Greeks quailed at the thought of fighting Gorgona warriors within the sacred walls of their temple. They fought, instead, a war of assimilation. Bringing their gods with them, the Greeks built temples and schools, stripping the local priestesses of their authority as judges and teachers. They rewarded compliance with power and sought to marry their own to the people of Ath-enna. The insidious war against the Goddess was fought in the minds and memories of the people and slowly the Greeks prevailed. And so the sacred grounds of the Temple became a last haven for those who held true to the ways of the Great Mother. Soldiers from the Greek garrison harried anyone trying to enter for a healing, for remedies, prayers, or spells. The soul-weary could no longer avail themselves of the tantric rites and grew distant from the old ways. The inner wounds remained unhealed. Fear replaced awe and anger replaced respect for the rituals of the Goddess. The spirit of the people sank into a chasm of despair. Within the walls Medusa guided the remaining Gorgonae and any lay people still true to the old ways. Time was finite for most of those within the sacred walls. It was measured by the heartbeats of the ever diminishing numbers of believers. Some Gorgona Initiates chose

21


to leave the enclave and seek new homes. Some, it is said, took to the heavens where eternity becomes frozen. The great stories became indistinct, like figures seen in dreams. Medusa felt her own story drift like a shape in the clouds, losing its true form in the eyes of the beholder. Yet Medusa herself did not change in her beauty, her strength, or her power. Like the slow rising of the Evening Star Medusa prayed alone in the Temple of Ath-enna. Where had her Goddess gone? What had become of the mighty Gorgonae? The bracelet of memories was broken. Each link separated and was no more than a series of episodes in a tale to be told to children at night. One distant evening, as Medusa prayed, a solitary figure appeared at the Temple doors. Like a god he bore his armour with grace and power. Who dared to enter here after so long? The myth of turning men to stone – the fearsome tales swirling around Medusa – had held all at bay for decades. Yet here was one who stood unafraid. The intensity of illumination from his being reached out to Ath-enna’s handmaiden. He was as a son of Poseidon. Perhaps he had come to release her from the unbearable loneliness of her servitude. Temple law dictated that all who entered be granted succour. A warrior could not be refused Tantric rites. A god could not be turned away from the temple of the Mother. Unspoken, except in her prayers, the ritual welcome echoed in the nave of the temple. The man-god kneeled, accepting the grace of healing.

22


Medusa prepared herself for the ancient sacred rite. Like the luminescence of the moon her aura touched the walls of the Temple and in time, she welcomed him through her body into the presence of the Goddess. Their union was holy, the sacred act an offering to the Mother. Radiant gold and blue light merged as did their bodies. LIGHT the love of the Goddess omnipotently emitted - burst as a birthing star creating a new time, a new age. As the light diffused the warrior faded from Medusa’s presence. When she was alone again she chanted songs of love and healing as she purified the temple one last time. Time existed but could not be measured. Life had become a vessel of sadness. Darkness settled over the Temple as the Goddess finally revealed herself to Medusa, to guide her path to the future. Medusa was instructed to leave, to walk out into the desert just as she had arrived. She was commanded to go out into the desert, where she would find transformation and final release. The Goddess kissed Medusa’s brow and held her gaze lovingly. Not now, but one day Medusa would come home to rest eternally in the heart of Ath-enna. Head bowed, she knelt to kiss the temple floor her plaited locks moving furiously. The duration of her loneliness over, she walked out into the temple yard to find looters waiting, as if they had known she was leaving. In her penultimate act of magic, Medusa eradicated them from the sacred soil, dispersing their particles to the cosmos with a thrust of her will.

23


Medusa walked into the unknown; a long walk that took her to a sanctuary from the ravages of the changing world. No longer a servant of the people, she waned from their consciousness like the changing moon; from the fullness of her power to the invisibility of the forgotten. The memory of Medusa was left to legends. Many were tales of fear and horror told by men unable to understand and honour the power of the Goddess. From her sanctuary, veiled and alone, Medusa saw time pass; the rise and fall of kings, the fickle nature of the solar gods, the lineage of the Great Mother fade. Medusa prayed to a goddess who had forsaken her, who served the new gods and had allowed herself to be adopted by Zeus, their king. They called her Athene Nike or Athene Pandemos, worshipped her fierceness and in the pantheon of the Greeks she ruled the ways of the mind; battle strategy, architecture and craftsmanship. Her goddess still wore the aegis of the Gorgonae over the armour of the Greeks but She no longer honoured the Great Mother. Was this the goddess who had guided the Gorgonae? For what were the years at the Temple if She who ruled all gave her immortal soul to the gods? Medusa sighed and faded further still as she felt despair wage war with faith and win a little. Medusa fell into a dream, a dream that held her soul alive as her body lost its hold on the corporeal world.

24


Time became shade and angles. Time held no pattern. Danae, daughter of kings, servant of the Goddess, rose from the darkness of Medusa’s dream and pointed at the son she had borne to a god of the skies. She, who held the lineage of the old ways in her blood, held Medusa in her gaze through the mists of time. Watch, she seemed to say. Wait. My son comes to you. Penniless, friendless, powerless, Perseus was trapped between worlds; a lost child of his times. He was a man in a man’s time but the blood of the goddess flowed through him. His mother had given him life and now hers would be lost if Perseus failed to thwart the lustful King Polydectes. The king’s soldiers were the chosen of their time; golden young men in a golden age, and he was but a lad. He could not fight them all. If the gods did not serve him he would find another way. In desperation he turned to the ways that had held true to the Goddess for thousands of years past. As his mother had taught him and her mother before her, Perseus performed the invocation to Ath-enna. Though his tongue stumbled on the words his heart held his intent true. Fasting. Praying. Waiting. Prostrate on the temple floor, Perseus felt rather than saw a lightening of the temple nave. Raising his proud head he beheld a warrior of divine magnitude and was humbled.

25


“I am she that comes from herself. Behold, I am the beauty of the green earth, the mysteries upon the waters, and the silver moon among the stars. I have been with you from the beginning.� Ath-enna! Queen of the sacred lake. Goddess of his mother. Perseus knew Her also as Athene, daughter of Zeus. She had put aside the old ways, had taken a vow of chastity and now served the solar gods. Ath-enna gazed at the one who called to Her by Her old name. Perseus pierced Her heart with words; words of power which stirred memories from a forgotten time. Quietly, with a fixed look of dismay on his face, Perseus told his tale. The Goddess listened. When he was done Ath-enna spoke like a rush of wind across the battlefield. Her instructions were clear and her decision irrevocable. To rescue his mother Perseus must serve the Goddess first. He must return to the country of Ath-enna, near the sacred lake of Tritonis. Here he would search for and find the most beloved of her handmaidens; Medusa. If Perseus was of good heart the might of the Gorgonae would rise again and the answer to his quest would be revealed. Terror turned his blood to jelly and his body to stone. Medusa! A creature so hideous, so terrible, that no one dared look at her. How could he do this one thing? Surely Danae was lost! Yet, the Goddess tenderly spoke the awe-full name. What was he to think? Taking pity on his youth and ignorance Ath-enna reached out and touched his mind.

26


She caused a dream to happen. In the dreamtime Perseus travelled to mountains far from his home. He encountered three old women, the Graeae, who were blind to the physical world yet had the ability to see all that happened. Their laughter was painful to his ears; their words were like the knife of the surgeon. They turned their sightless faces to him. They waited. Perseus heard the cries of the rocks beneath his feet. “Help me!� he begged. The Graeae held out their hands, touching him at the base of his spine, his forehead, and his heart. The surge of kundalini laid ruler and compass to the span of his desire. Unfolding before his inner eye was a map of the many realms of the world. He saw the sanctuary that held Medusa and felt the hot hand of the ghibli; the desert wind, as it blew. Though she was hidden, each step that led to her was revealed. Courage and faith was the ship that would take him to lands unknown. Gently Perseus returned to the mountainside and the embrace of the Graeae. In the dreamtime he made the ritual offerings of thanks. Still beneath his feet was the temple floor. Ath-enna had gone. In her place was an unadorned goatskin satchel. Reverently he opened it. The contents took his breath away. A short, curved sword from the sacred forge of Mount Olympus itself. When held to the light of the moon strange glyphs danced across the frozen surface. A pouch painted with red symbols, one of which he recognized as invoking protection. A small shield

27


of polished metal. Gazing upon it he could see beyond the boundaries of time. Last, hidden by its plainness, a smaller pouch containing a spell of unfathomable power and a handful crystals of varying colours and shapes from the deepest bowels of the earth. Perseus gathered the contents and slung the satchel over his shoulder. He travelled the primal sea on a ship painted with wings and with a figurehead of a wild horse. In his dreams the sequence of events held no order as he moved back and forth through time. He saw the armies of the Greeks in their galleys, Medusa as a young wild girl, the desert before the reign of the Titans. In the sea the Leviathan moved. Tiamat, goddess of the deep, awoke and on her broad back the horse ship was carried to the land of the Gorgonae. The arduous journey from shore to sanctuary was possible only with the magical contents of the satchel. The crystals were healing stones, much valued by the tribes of the desert. With them Perseus was able to secure passage to the sacred lake. For a brief time he shared tents with nomads and their much-loved horses and dogs. Each morning Perseus prayed to Ath-enna for strength in his purpose. Each night the sun set on his dread. The sun was deepening the gold of its lances when Perseus arrived in what was once Temple City, now just another garrison town. Remnants of the goddess were found in the worship of the Greek pantheon but the magnificence of the Great Mother was lost to a new era. The Temple to Ath-enna had become a shrine to

28


Athene Nike, goddess of victory. Here, soldiers prayed for glory in battle, wisdom in strategy, and success over their enemies. Offerings of weapons and battle trophies littered the altar, the occasional weaving or potter’s gift lost in the jumble. The mighty Gorgona masks were gone without a trace. Secretly, not wanting to reveal himself to the soldiers, Perseus hid in an alcove. The fierce visage of the goddess gazed over his head out into the desert. As night fell he opened the satchel and took out the sword and shield. As the luminance of the moon touched the curve of the shield, the portal to Medusa opened before him. The walk out into the desert was silent and hard. When the sun went down the desert punished fiercely. The arc of the sun and the sweep of the stars across the heavens measured his path. Standing on a slope of rock Perseus knew without knowing that here was the sanctuary of the handmaiden of the Goddess. The place was alive with stillness, crying out in the silence to whoever opened their hearts. From the soles of his feet dread filled him. “Ath-enna! Goddess of Danae, help me!� Space and time swirled. In a moment he was at the calm centre of events. A radiance of peace filled him. Only then was Perseus able to move forward into an opening in the side of the rock. Down into the bowels of the earth he moved. The shield of Olympian metal cast a glow through the primordial dark. Crystals embedded in the

29


earth sang a response of light. Thirty-nine steps brought him to a chamber. Rocks, eerily shaped in human form, loomed all around. Slowly, he cast the light from the shield into the corners. Mirrored back was the prone figure of a Gorgona priestess on a stone bed. Quivering he kneeled, not yet able to gaze directly at her. The air he breathed was potent; it suffocated him with magic. An eternity of fear passed until the dreamtime once again opened portals of mystery. Mighty Medusa, Gorgona priestess and warrior, servant to Ath-enna was before him. “What is it you desire of me? I have been waiting and I am weary.” Eyes locked on the stones at his feet, Perseus pleaded his story. “Ath-enna bids you come home.” The earth shifted on its axis, the procession of the stars changed. Perseus woke to a whispering song. A bed of snakes slithered around the head of the dead, dread priestess. No, the image in the shield changed; it was her plaits moving with a life of their own. The whisper came not from her mouth but from the rocks and the air. Her lonely story, the demise of the Gorgonae, the walk into the desert, the endless waiting solitude, was told. Empty at last of the burden of her tale she instructed Perseus to place the sword to her neck. “Son of Danae, know yourself and be true. The spell is yours to cast.” The inevitable guided his hand as he opened the small, plain pouch. The words emerged from a place between the

30


atoms of his cells. The call to the elements and the power of the cosmos mingled with the lineage of his mother. His soul filled with the power of the Dark Moon, whilst the glyphs on the sword shone with a light visible only in his mind’s eye. Without a movement of his sword hand, the head of Medusa was separated from her body. Reverently he placed her head in the satchel, understanding now the reasons for the mysterious red symbols. How else could the magic of Medusa be contained? Without conscious will, Perseus walked the thirty-nine steps back to the opening in the rock face, back from the depths of fear and awe. With each footfall he moved a heartbeat closer to his destiny and a new awakening of power. When at last he stood on the surface he paused, hearing the song of the crystals through the pores of his skin. His knees trembled. He was giddy with the sound and the blinding light. His senses welcomed the rumour of hoofs on rock. A foam-white stallion followed Perseus through the maw of the rock sanctuary. Like a newly emerged butterfly Pegasus, son of Medusa, opened wings to the sun and the moon. High into the clouds the young hero rode on the winged horse. Close to the gods of the sky they travelled and over many lands yet not so far from the earth that the cries of a stricken maiden went unheard. Andromeda, royal Ethiopian daughter, was bound to a rough cliff, a helpless sacrifice to a waking monster of the deep. Betrayed by father and mother alike, Andromeda writhed against the shackles. What rage shook the beauty as

31


she cursed her royal parents, the petty retribution of the gods and the mindless hunger of the monster who ravaged her homeland. Why her? Why must she die to soothe the wounded egos of human and divine? A loud roar broke the waves and overwhelmed the voice of Andromeda. As the monster rose from the deep, Perseus’ heartfelt desire directed his act of courage. His eyes saw only the dark-moon beauty of Ethiopia’s princess as he descended on the back of Pegasus. Relentlessly he stabbed the vastness of the monster’s sides and back until bloodied waves quieted over its sinking remains. The prodigious tumult over, Perseus released the suffering beauty. Andromeda seeing the ways of the future, traded the shackles of royal family for the ones of a loving husband. And so together, for two riders were as one to a magical horse, they flew to the island of his home. Dictys, wise servant of Poseidon, had taken Danae into hiding from Polydectes’s unwanted advances. Upon his return, Perseus led his betrothed to the old man and bade him care for Andromeda while he sought justice. With the stern tranquility of wrath Perseus sought out the king and his men. No raging fray, no fierce battle, this was the time for the justice of Ath-enna. Perseus strode into the palace and called out, “Let all who are my friends shield their eyes!”

32


While soldiers gathered and the king mocked him, he opened the pouch, calling upon the magic of Medusa. Turning his eyes away, Perseus felt a ripple in the veil of existence. Like dancers, the plaits of hair on Medusa’s severed head moved in a secret rhythm. A Gorgona’s promise to serve is eternal. Not even death dulled the power that was hers. In her ultimate act of magic she turned all to stone. Perseus returned to the temple, his rage stilled by a newfound grace. He prayed to Ath-enna. He prayed his thanks. He whispered a promise to hold the Goddess within. So stern, so sudden, Ath-enna came one last time and blessed him and his throughout time. Perseus would be a human man in a human world but deep within his genes the spark of the Goddess would bide. The time of Divine beings walking the earth was done; the Goddess, the Titans, and the Sacred Warriors had had their day. Only when the Dark had deepened and the Wheel had turned would the Goddess claim her own again. Ath-enna’s return to the home under the god’s canopy would never diminish the lineage sacred to the Goddess. She took the head of her beloved Medusa and placed it on Her aegis for all to see and remember.

33


Eve


Laughing. Naked. Wanton in her desire for the tangled garden was Eve; a hedgewitch with magic the colour green rippling from her fingertips. The song bursting from her throat in the morning caused the trees to move in a willowy dance. All except the great one, First Tree, who stood at the heart of the garden. First Tree had been born from a sigh of the cosmos. First Tree occupied space in both the physical realm and the Dreamtime. Deeply it sunk its roots, pulling the wildness of chaos up through trunk and limb to flower and fruition. Each seed from each fruit birthed a diversity of nature that tickled the universe. One of those seeds had sprouted Eve, the first human, who took it upon herself to watch over the wildness. Her love of the plants was for the most part reciprocal. They fed her, softened her sleep at night, and mirrored her divinity. She, in turn, watched over their reproduction, mediated territory disputes and fed them with her breath and love. One with the natural world, Eve was a true daughter of the garden. The life of plants was spent reaching for the sun, seizing ground from neighbours, evolving new ways to fend off or exploit one another whenever the opportunity arose. Wild, vibrant, intoxicating, sometimes deadly, plants held the realm between chaos and order. Eve wandered through this realm in a dance of desire that left neither plant nor human unchanged.

36


Eve spoke to the plants and they in turn shared their special gifts of beauty, healing, and death with her. She lay in their midst reaching down for the secrets of the earth. She raised her head to the sky, reaching for the life-giving sun. She understood her place in the garden. She understood how life had no meaning except in the cycles of growth, decomposition and regeneration. Eve walked amongst the apple patch; some the size of boulders, some as small and sweet as grapes. Awesome in their variety, apples were First Tree’s favourite fruit. Their magic reached out and touched Eve, allowing her to see and know the immensity of the cosmos. Apples were so many different and unexpected answers to the questing pulse of the universe. The apple held the secret of the five pointed star, the glory of Venus in its revolutions around the earth, and the secrets of life itself. One day a seed sprouted another human. As golden as Eve was dark, as solid as Eve was ethereal, Adam was as orderly in his ways as Eve was wild. He too loved the plants but he saw their diversity as a challenge; a thing to compel into uniformity. She listened to the trees interpret the wind, singing each tone of the breeze. He catalogued species. Names. He loved to give names to things. Flower, Leaf, Stem, and Root. When each plant and plant part had been named, Adam discovered new creatures sprouting from First Tree’s seeds. Some of these flew in the sky, some crawled in the dirt. Eve clapped her hands in delight.

37


Adam thrilled at the challenge of reconfiguring nature to his own image. Eve and Adam spent their days roaming the endless wildness that he called Eden. But Adam was uncomfortable with the wildness. He dreamed of controlling the inescapable variability of nature. His discomfort led to him to deny the random fecundity of the jumbled garden. Slowly Adam set about untangling the garden. He created walls of stone to separate one plant from another. He took seeds without permission and set them in ground of his choosing. He upset territorial claims and established a systematic garden. The plants retaliated by seducing him with colour and fragrance, luring him to choose their seeds over the seeds of their rivals. The Snake was subtle and sensual. From the moment it slithered out of First Tree’s fruit, Eve was captivated by it’s colour, grace and humility. Though Eve was partnered with Adam, Snake was her kindred spirit and companion. The delicate way it moved, the silence of it’s appreciation, and it’s closeness to the earth stirred Eve to emulation. She slithered and embraced the ground. She shed her skin and transformed her being, moving between the realms. The Snake counseled her in the ways of the wilderness and freedom. Eve giggled when Adam stumbled over the snake in the grass. She teased him for his tunnel vision. Adam, in turn, opposed her lust for the untamed and her purposeful lack of conformity.

38


He tenaciously held to the role of tender of the garden which he loved for its prolific abundance. The Snake symbolized everything he could not control; finding it so near to Eve made Adam hold even closer to the order he desired for the garden. Angry, Adam left to wander on his own, looking for comfort in the garden of Eden. Too much! he thought. Too many! His spirit was uneasy with the randomness of nature and the untamable nature of Eve. Order became his divinity. Adam’s heart sang in a song of lines, rows, lists, and rules. His shame of the wildness created a need to be covered. Hidden under layers of clothing was his suppressed wild nature; carefully appeased by tending the garden. For many seasons Adam wandered, gardener to plants who did not need his ministering, but who tolerated what they felt was a reciprocal domestication. He paid homage to the moon, as guardian of the earth and the tides, and the sun. His feet touched the earth and his face turned to the sky. But still his heart yearned for dominion over the garden. He saw no partnership in being equal but felt, rather, that he had a superiority of way to bestow upon the garden. He desired for Eve to join him in his sedate and choreographed dance. Every turn brought a glimpse of her elusive spirit that moved to rhythms that Adam refused to hear. One day Adam found Eve bathing in a wallow. Covered in mud, her nakedness was more than he could bear. If only she would stop! If only she would obey.

39


Inevitable discontented Adam was compelled to return to First Tree, which could not be named. Here, surely, were the secrets of the universe; the knowledge of life and death, of order and chaos. Here, he would find the answer to the mysteries and Eve would return; together they would have dominion over the world. First Tree welcomed Adam and loved him as all the children were loved. Bending down boughs First Tree caressed Adam and let him lean against the grey bark. Here, for moments Adam found peace. Softly, a song formed on his lips and in answer came a trilling from the tangle around him. And so emerged Eve and at her feet, Snake. Exquisitely vulnerable she came and offered him the fruit of the apple; It was a gesture of sharing. Adam hesitantly held out his hand. Eve smiled sadly at him. “Adam”, she whispered. “Eat the apple with me. The fruit of First Tree holds the knowledge that we cannot be tamed, nor can the children of the garden.” For a moment Adam heard the truth and slowly took the proffered apple. Raising the fruit to his lips Adam felt a rush of Divine remembering. The taste of wildness filled his being. Overwhelmed and confused, he threw the apple to the ground. “I cannot!” he cried. “Come with me Eve, for I know the names of the world and the knowledge of how to create order. Together we shall be masters of Eden.” Adam turned his back on First Tree and walked away.

40


Eve and the snake coiled themselves around the trunk of the Tree and sobbed. Never would their wild world be the same. The partnership of order and chaos was thrown out of balance and the garden had irrevocably changed. They were not cast from the garden, but from the wildness. First Tree sighed and faded to another realm. Until wildness was restored the magic could not return. With First Tree gone, Eve felt compelled to follow Adam into an unfamiliar and daunting world of order. Snake shed its last tear and slithered away.

41



Medusa