Light in the night, night in the womb of day,
As two in beauty chance romance in sacred dance
Among the stars Dyēus happily flung far to sing,
To bring pleasure in eternal Spring even among
Four seasons to adore; so Mah and Mitra in awe
Of one another, wild and happy with loud guffaw!
Swirling, twirling round the world and bound
Yet different; exotic passion, heavenly fashion,
With nothing but compassion on the world below,
And what a show as everyone knows, with blow
Of wind and bend of trees, budding flower-beauty
In gleeful duty to all that is right in sight
Of celestial angels graceful in grateful flight
Through day and night; play of Mitra and Mah
Like sister-lovers who hover under heavenly cover.
They are the dancing twins, who spin earth, moon,
And sun ere since by Dyēus the world begun…
Why so sad and forlorn, when you were born to be a charm;
Born to be the arm of encouragement for others bothered
By so many alarms and the bells of hell; to speak peace,
And increase joy and confidence, for every boy and girl,
And to hurl away the bite of fright, pestilence of night,
And wraith of day, never to stay, but quick-leave forever
And ne’er return to burn spirits of the innocent so bent
Down by burdens of care, ready to drown in sea of dismay;
Yet here you are to show another way to much brighter day;
Why forlorn, then, as if there’s no reason you were born?
Have not each one of us some serious reason ne’er to fuss?
Have not each one of us some purpose in this circus of life?
Have not each one of us some reason from season to season?
Grow not weary, but show this dreary world very clearly
Your meaning in being who and what you are, like shining star
That you are, and were always meant to be, ere you were sent
From womb of heaven, bright shining, to be one more light…
Candle unhidden; put atop pole to punch a hole in the darkness!
“You believe you’re sitting round this campfire, and in this you’re not wrong. You also believe you’re situated in a large forest but this belief is not as strong. More than this, you believe you’ve been hurled into an altogether different world, but this is far less coherent though inherent in your present experience in which all appearance is precarious and mysterious. But now in brief I’ve shown you something important about belief.” Maftet concluded as she prodded glowing embers of burning timbers.
She looked at me, so torn away, while I looked on with only dismay. Unenlightened and frightened, and why not? I’d been brought to this strange place instantly from safe space of home and hearth, and very possibly from the earth of my birth. “No, you know I won’t deceive; in fact I’d like to relieve you, and I fully expect you to believe whatever I might say in light of what’s now taken place in the space of but a few days, though it seems such a haze and you probably feel like a rat trapped in a maze.” She chanced a chuckle. “I only mean to point out that however much relief you find in belief depends on how deeply and strongly you believe what you receive. I’ve tried to tell you before, but you’ve chosen to ignore. Now the door has been opened for me to explain again, as best I can, and expect you listen with open heart and mind not so blind.”
Maftet quietly kicked a log into the fire and picked up her stick to stir again the embers of timber while she thought and fought inside for something to say to disarm my rising alarm. No harm had yet come, but what more could she say on an otherwise bright and beautiful day. She chanced sad smile, wishing she had some way to dissolve the complexity, resolve my perplexity… Two squirrels twirled in the trees above in playful love. “Look again, my dove, in the distance, towering above the city. What do you see with eyes now free?”
“Yes, in Bubastis, the tall tower, of course, but surely not the one that brought the blow of ice and snow … the Tower built by Bast for power?”
“Yes and no,” Maftet answered slow and on-flowed, “the tower you see is an exotic mystery, built on the foundation of the old, untold to those who now live and survive in this dæmonic hive. The base of Bast now lay beneath thick brick more newly set, but with doors to corridors leading down to drown in darkness all those who dare the crumbling stairs. You were not there, but the room you were in that terrible hour was like a tomb in that very tower, so sour with cats and bats and pissed-stained mats! Bast takes to ancient basement only select few to chew on raw, living flesh so fresh, with screams that make her cream.”
Ere more frightened, I tightened my grip around her hip, and she tauntingly laughed. “Do you know how much pleasure it gives me to lengthen the measure of your fear; what treasure it is to make you quiver and shiver, so you hold me so tight for protection against aggression or infection of some deadly pestilence that lays waste at noon for boon of the abyss? But no need to be upset at my words — yes, of course I heard — but you’re not immortal; only flesh and blood carved from mud. Still, you’re precious in my sight, and right in the light of Dyēus.”
Still clinging and bringing myself as close to Maftet as I could, even if I would crawl inside her and there abide; nevertheless, said I sadly, “You mock and demean me, without one whit of mien; you torment me with gleeful intent and never relent till you’ve given vent…”
“Oh! Hush!” Maftet hugged me tighter with brighter face interlaced with glimmering shimmer of light. “I only tease to appease my own unease… I’ve never loved mortal man, but you’re so unlike your clan; more elegant and feminine, benevolent and delicate, affectionate and compassionate… What more? You’ve bored a hole through my soul, and made yourself part of my very heart. And so now, too, I start to know how Dyēus loves humanity despite its insanity and vanity! And Ma’at loves you, too, because you are so true! So now, you’re enfolded by two lovers who ever hover round you to keep you safe under cover.”
Warm inside, I cherished the moment with no more torment; my spirit rose ecstatically that they chose me to be received and interweaved into their amorous communion. How could it be; I could not see… Of all people, why me? “For that reason,” Maftet smiled. “Your season is like Autumn, humble and beautiful, unpretentious, conscientious and never contentious. As the world turns and burns and you churn inside with still so much to learn and unlearn — for all that, we love you, coy baby boy!” And then provocative touch, erotic kiss, exotic aroma…
“Ah! But now do you understand? About the beginning in unity, one split in two, then restored harmony; foolery that led to cruelty; the burst of anger and hatred when one murdered one in submission to the willing of Lilith for the killing of innocence; how, then, dark death entered upon the earth; how Bast was seduced and cursed, then nursed wickedness and burst forth in insatiable thirst for human vermin? Why it is she built the ancient tower for power to leaven the lesser heaven with evil? How seen and unseen war has continued, and how Şeytan was brought low by near-fatal blow by show of light from bright rising of the one Sun of righteousness? But also how this war continues yet, while earth is beset by the talking apes, who continue to rape Gaia for whom there is no escape? You see, my love-dove, in that drear room in the tower yonder all of this was unclear, but you were so near the whole of history in that room filled with noxious consistory.”
“So the man … who couldn’t understand? Bast tricked him and so he was merely another victim, sweet prize for her lies? Just another spilling of blood for filling of belly?” I shook my head slowly, sadly with look at the newer tower in the distance. “Then such life matters so little…”
“No! But he has a wife, which makes you wonder how he’d blunder into such an odious place … but, then, stupidity was written all over his face!” Another wild kiss. “But you’re not there but here with me, and Ma’at makes three! And we will love you and teach you more, reach deeper into your soul, search heart and mind, and together bind all blackened thoughts and feelings reeling through your inner self.” Tightened hold, another bold kiss. “But where to next, my beloved?”
“Anywhere, but certainly not enclosed in tower; to that I’m adamantly opposed…”
And Maftet smiled and licked her lips again…
Up from the river again, this time with shiver of cold and hold on Maftet, who quickly threw over me thick shawl to guard from squall in this barren, rugged land of dearth and famine. But here was where? I wondered against tear of fierce wind that seemed to pierce even through heavy cloth like swath made by cruel, icy scythe, so deadly and I so unsteady on my feet and knees, about to freeze.
I saw Maftet stoop for one then the other foot to slip on boot, lushly soft and warm against the storm with treacherous blow of snow. And then she girdled me with kilt like thick quilt out of nothing, but something. From where thick shawl, soft but rugged boots, and quilted kilt? Did she knit from whit of snow? Ah, but I would never know! I was warm, anyway, so why complain; Maftet made the pain of biting cold leave without reprieve.
“So prettily dressed now!” She laughed. “I’m impressed, if I do say so myself, but keep close by my side, precious bride; you’ll get lost in the frost.” Maftet smiled and winked at her trinket. “And, of course, you want to know where we are? Not far from where we were; look there! The river still flows below ice so nicely packed on surface. Careful in your pace, and we’ll cross the space to the other side to make our stride forth to the north.”
I dared not ask why north as we made our way that day along her chosen path alongside the frozen Nile.
“Much-spilled blood brought flood; excessive vice brought ice,” she intoned in manner that chilled me to the bone. So this is the age of ice? But what to see here in world of fear? Or learn in burn of frozen wind and churn of snow above and below? “Not far now and you’ll spy the tower high; built toward heaven for eleven years with sweat and tears and curses that reached the ears of Dyēus.”
“Babel in Bubastis, yes,” she smiled and licked her lips, pulling at my hips. “Yes … confused and frozen for the ill-chosen, my love. Judgment from above to lay low the billow of Şeytan; to cleanse the rash of brash ddiafol with lash of wind; to bend down dæmonic pride and keep humanity in stride with humility and gracious tranquility.” Maftet pulled me tight. “You’re fright is right, but don’t fight the feeling, or you’re sealing your own fate; do not sedate yourself to what awaits.” She kissed my eyes to make me wise … or at least to loose the ties of lies. How could I know? I only returned the kiss below her neck, between her breasts in willing obeisance.
“So the tower was built in Bubastis? Not by the rabble of Babel?”
“Conflation of stories, my dear; the dilation of one and inhalation of the other. Not strange across the range of time, but first Bubastis!” She burst into laughter. “Then the tower built for power by the unmeek weak… Don’t you think?” She nodded then and prodded me forward. At her insistence I looked in the distance, and there lay crystalline city in beclouded day, sinister in this endless winter. And tower tall, unfinished, unblemished yet ready to fall.
“Bast built this city, named for herself in pity, and all for tall tower after she was cast forth from what some call the halls of Valhalla.” Heaven? Another smile, sideway glance to lance my spirit. “Yes and no, my love; but one of the heavens low. There is more than one, you know. Or do you now forget even what you knew before you blew into that room of gloom … before I craved and saved you?” Light laughter from my master.
“So she thought to bridge the gap twixt ridge of earth and low-heaven?”
“And bought the souls of cast and crew to do her bidding in building city and tower so high to sky, yes. But what is built so falsely is so easily blundered and torn asunder. Besides, lies always lead to profusion of confusion; is it any wonder, then, there are so many tongues flung throughout the earth, languages old and young? Breakdown in communication between kingdom and nation and every station of humanity? Even the least beast can better commune than man!”
“Can we explore and see more?”
“No!” Maftet wildly shook her head with look of dread. “Never here, not now; not even to walk through open gate to satiate curiosity. “No, my love. This is but a frozen cove of evil, where dæmons rove after God drove them, too, from the halls of Valhalla. And long will it be ere they wind their way elsewhere to roam and find some other home. But now, in this time, there is only chime of hell in distant city, resistant to all good and fair and mild, my child.”
“Then why are we here in this place so drear?” I burst in anger despite the danger. But Maftet only embraced and interlaced me with arms and legs, and wept as she kept me in her hold.
“As it has been told, this is the mold of your misery in the history of humanity. You have to see what some have become; I’m showing you the fissions and divisions that cause so much pain. Isn’t that plain enough, my love? This ice will melt and Spring will come and bring new life … but for how long? Does goodness belong in this world, and the angels’ song? We shall see, won’t we?”
Panoramic dart to the heart
Do you know in the show of life
That sun rises anew just for you?
Yes, you! Don’t look around
For someone else to be found…
And birds sing their long song
For you, too, in sky so blue;
Yes, you! And none too few,
As flowers bloom in radiant plume
Of flashing colors, dashing
In beauty for you, too; every hue
To say something new and true…
In new-fallen snow, you should know
Every particle glistens and listens
To you; yes, you! And makes haste
To waste no moment to bring smile
To your face from across the miles,
And ease your trials on earth,
To bring new birth and joyous mirth
Into your days without any haze
Of doom and gloom … Yes, for you!
Blow upon blow; slow and determined; violent show of hateful force, vile and wild. Blood like a volcano erupting, disrupting the soil so pure; the spoil of vengeance. Two men. Brother and brother; one murdering the other. Cries of agony finally ceased for the one deceased. Body laid still of the one who paid the price, who made right sacrifice. True?
“Kaini ndi Abele,” Maftet spoke, “but Dyēus never wanted flood of blood; Abele misunderstood but gave in generosity with no animosity. He sought to please, not seize, and on bended knees made oblation on every opportune occasion. So did Dyēus accept as libation what was spilled on crude altar with the song-psalter of pleasant Abele. Kaini was always cruel, an human ghoul born of Adama and Havva, after sinister sister.” She nodded toward the hill in the distance, behind the spill of life, to haunting-beautiful face filled with thrill at the sight of such morbid might at the hand under her command. Such was her desire, soul sunken in mire of evil. “Lilith.” And with the very name spoken my spirit was broken.
“No need to be afraid,” said Maftet. “You’re only seeing, not seen; this has all gone, though come again in cycle of sin. But look! Lilith turns to leave Kaini to burn in his rage as the body of brother slain has lain on the plain but one moment, blood still hot, no rot begun. Ah! the witch-bitch of Şeytan will now move east to feast on kindred beast, where she will be high priest of newly birthed city of Smriti. There from the tomb of her womb oozed Kālikā, the warrior goddess severing heads and leading the dead, who cast dæmonic spell upon Bast, who then fast held to blood lust to suck from male bust the thick, red wine inmixed with noxious brine.”
At the terrible look of Kaini my body shook, and I took Maftet by hand to steady my stand. “So from Şeytan and Lilith came Kālikā, and from Kālikā came Bast?”
“No! You still have ears that do not hear! I’ll emasculate you to immaculate your mind so blind, I swear; to give you wisdom instead of prison of rancidity of stupidity!” Again deep inhalation. Eyes closed. Slow exhalation. “I said Kālikā cast spell upon Bast — terrible spell from hell — but Kālikā actually gave birth far more than her worth. But this was the revenge of God. You see, father sent Tanrı-meleği to Kālikā, and Tanrı paid the price and laid with vice, so Kālikā bore Parvati, who entered the world carnally, but with such verdancy and vibrancy that Tanrı quickly ensconced her away further east to stay, and there lay her upon Mount Kailash, where celestial arms would guard her against all devilish harms.”
“All seems so torn and forlorn, so stark and dark in this world,” sadly I said.
“Not so,” Maftet smiled. “Even the wicked can change when given free range of choice and sight of true light… Kālikā was evil, but now far more civil; still dangerous, yet she can be curiously gracious, even aurous in her hospitality. Only beware of her fare, as her board spread with feast may come from the beast; but at least she’s now as apt to kill with wondrous skill the wicked as once she was the ambivalent and innocent.”
“What happened, then, to Parvati? Was she protected by the Almighty?”
“Yes, of course,” Maftet chuckled. “Still I have to keep you buckled, don’t I? You spy so little in so much told, but you’re young not old. Yes, Parvati lived and thrived, and still lives and thrives, and round the world has many hives of charity without disparity, of love unbounded and founded on truth from above, of divine courage that impregnates every grand story with glory. Yes, Parvati lives and gives life even to the barren in fields of famine that amaze even the Brahman! This is why the three-maters, especially Sélená, love her so much, like precious dove, heavenly clove.”
“And Şeytan and Lilith?” Not blatant, I asked my latent question.
“The Sun of Dawn rose like celestial swan with healing in his wings, what brings deliverance from disease, as he snatched the keys of dark abyss so remiss of life, place of dearth and death beyond this earth; and his breeze blows so softly through myriad trees. Yes, my love, this One struck near-fatal blow to Crow of hell and fiendish flow of flies of lies; and God was thus pleased and appeased… But enough for now; your heart will no more allow, and how can I tell you more without opening another door?”
So Maftet led me back to the Nile shore and once more into the depths, and I wondered again what might next be in store?
Tanrı-meleği — Lit. Turkish for “angel of God,” here used as proper name
Kālikā — Otherwise “Kali,” goddess of fierce empowerment; of time, change, power, creation, preservation and destruction; obviously, recast within this narrative
Parvati — Goddess of love, fertility and devotion; of divine strength and power; gentle and nurturing