Dark At Night; Dangerous Without Light

Oh how the Evil One can appear as an angel of light, indeed, and how so very attractive the promises made! In my mytho-poetic series, this was my second encounter with wickedly alluring Bast. And would I give myself up to her death? This piece is an altogether dark beginning of an unsettling episode in my mythic journey. If you have not before, please enjoy now. (Also, this represents a continuation of my exploration into poetic narrative; not to everyone’s taste, to be sure, but poets do experiment!)

moon1“It’s dark at night and dangerous without light,” she said, while holding candle by bejeweled, golden handle. “Vandals run as wild here as desert beasts… You are alone?” She was an altogether radiant maiden, fragrant with exotic oils and incense, and made no pretense of threat. “You should get up and come; you’re only some way from water and better rest in nest of greenery and flowers, neath protective bowers.”

Yes, of course I’ll follow. Why lie here so hollow in desert sand, waiting to be killed by wandering band? And so I struggled to my feet in complete determination to go where she led to be fed from clear, cool watering hole, though tottering on weak legs; nevertheless, in such state as this, whose soul would not beg to go on? So I approached her; she reproached me not, but smiled and beguiled my heart.

The candle? Now where? No where, but how? Still the flame with which she came … No, more expansive, impressive … even growing more massive. Wonder overtook me and shook me. Moving, flaming ball, practically brewing in her hand … changing colours ranging the artist’s palette. What mystic talent does this one possess? Her smile only widened but seemed all the more kindly, so I blindly tread forward toward this sprite of the night.

With every step the flame began to elongate more and more into some kind of straight slate. She could see my confusion, but remained sedate, content to await my arrival. But for what? To help or end my survival? All began to take more shape and I could not escape noticing that fire now burned underneath what looked like funeral pyre… Funeral pyre! I suddenly looked straight into the wickedly beautiful eyes of Bast, who’d cast her spell once again without warning bell.

“No wait! I throw out no bait,” she said in near desperation, as in exasperation I’d started to turn away. “Come no closer, then, but stay where you are; stand away thus far, but hear what I have to say… Stay.” I looked at her again — foolish sin — and she appeared differently, intently gently. Innocent yet magnificent. Calm. Herself numinous balm for all my wounds, hurts and pains and strains. “Don’t go away. Stay.” And so I did.

She looked sad, but under glow of bright light of the moon, not at all bad. Neither was she mad, but upon my stopping and turning back toward her, just a bit glad … mournfully so, but not scornfully as she had been when we’d met before and she’d set about to emasculate me! Had she changed? Perhaps she has a story, too, so why should I worry to hear her tale? Can I not bear as much, or shall I so utterly fail as a man?

“I was thrown out by my mother; blown out by God to live forever upon sod of earth,” Bast began as if in answer to my thought … but what had I just bought? “I am wicked, twisted, afflicted, and unacquitted. Restricted here … convicted of crimes I never committed, I admit I’ve become addicted… Oh! But hear me, dear one! Let some other sun shine in your heart! Give me mercy’s part, and let our relationship begin again without stain of past nor strain of lies!”

I began stepping forward toward her again. But what of funeral pyre? Is she still the same liar? Will she set me to the fire? Desert wind blew threw and somehow I knew … but I came well within reach of arm and potential harm, yet strangely with no alarm. She changed, I could clearly see; wrapped herself around me, bound me. I made not a sound. Nothing of this seemed to confound. “You have only to pass through the fire as if in a chasse.”

But pyres are for funeral fires, I thought to myself, though I’d already brought doom upon myself. I didn’t care; to escape the DarkWomangloom of this world was enough for me to assume any change would be fresh breath, even death. How to pass through, though, when lying down and dying is what’s called for here? Bast laughed, but not half as cruelly as she could, and coolly explained, “I was speaking metaphorically, but not horribly, my love; certainly not with austerity or in vulgarity.”

Cold. Cold in her hold. Breath. Her breath smelled of death.

“Only lie down and drown yourself in the flames, and do not blame yourself for so doing… You’re going to be mine.”

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Second Battle of Uruk, Battle of Life

Feet running over hills with fill of blood; shields and swords crashing, clashing like thunderstorm to form real ethereal battle for the life of humanity in calamity of heaven, hell and earth where the worth of every woman and man is tested. Metal on metal for hours upon hours and still battle rages in cacophony no sage in any age could have prophesied — and even so, never would — in this time memory nearly forgot, though survival was bought at such cost as men and women sought freedom from the Fallen Ones, the Watchers.

Will the city fall? Will humanity call to Dyēus or succumb to the scum forces of sheer lust for blood and rape neath dark capes — hideous in might and power; in sight, perfection of evil beauty; will warriors attend their duty? Ah! test of strength, skill to kill; determination in extermination of enemy horde; bravery and courage uncaged, erupting and disrupting balance of the world; skills till now unknown, unfurled. Was this, then, the field of fate or freedom? Destiny sealed or choice given to yield or no; even the best could not know. But days passed into nights and nights into days. Here is Kheba and Lemek, Innana and Metuşelah; many brave men and women … and the Watchers and wraiths.

So many bravehearted youth lay dead — they could have fled — where they fell prey to enemy sword, life cord severed; so now they sleep, not in tomb, but in womb of Gaia, kindly mother earth, who will give birth to ten thousand coloured flowers for the untold number of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, who willingly paid in blood and laid down their lives for others to survive and thrive…

st__ishtar_by_terezbellydanceI jolted awake in a cold sweat, bolted upright in bed and said, “My God! Have I seen such true horror; what’s been on field of battle for Uruk?”

“You weep; that is good, and good to keep in memory this battle. Bury it not deep, but let it sweep over you, and seep into every fibre of your being,” Innana spoke, fighting back choke of tears; “this battle you missed since my sister kissed you farewell, yet you can tell from vision I’ve burned into your soul what you might have learned had you stayed, rather than obeyed … if, that is, you’d fought without being caught by battle-axe or sword, fang or barbed-noose cord.”

Worn. Torn. Forlorn.

“This was more than one more battle fought, in one more war; more than just another score of victory with price paid in blood and tears shed as we laid our dead in bed of earth… So much of this evil is of our own birth. Why? Can you try to understand?” I dared not answer in the pause; the cause of her pause being contemplation with some obvious self-degradation. “Why try anymore? Why cry? Why not say ‘good-bye,’ and be done with humanity? Ah! This would be cruelty, would it not? That we laid upon humanity such curse, then bade them be holy, wholly as the gods, and yet … so many gods have fallen — nine and nine and nine again; ten and ten thousand — and in their fall so many humans stood tall above them, but in love of virtue, died in cold blood… So we practically damned humanity and now have the gall to reprimand! To command? Yes … but it is also for us to reverse the curse.”

To reverse the curse?

To reverse the curse…

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Innana Engaged, Enraged … Enjoyed

inanna1Then I saw her sitting in the center of temple steps, where people would assemble, now young and nimble; no longer an old woman to resemble, but in truer form with no weave-task to perform. Innana, with storm in her eyes and nothing warm. She glared at me, and flared, “Do you share the pain of my people, or only stare at the ruins to share your judgment upon my own affair with Uruk? How dare you air your thoughts and swear against Dyēus, against any of us?” Innana stood then, “I declare, you’re easy to ensnare; you’d pair well, indeed, with the bitch-witch Bast!”

“Enough!” Kheba demanded and reprimanded, “What are you, god or worthless sod?” And with nod at Nuh, “And see how you behave before this brave child! And this man would gladly lave your feet and hands, slave to help rebuild, and waive any offer to save him the trouble!”

Innana spiritedly lept down to us and kept her eyes on me, except one quick glance at Nuh, then slapped her sister, and grabbed my throat. “Will you, but flesh-and-blood, gloat over all deity? Then you’ll float on stream of darkness in boat of death!” Kheba knocked away her handhold on my neck and blocked another coming hit from the fit of rage into which Innana had fallen. “I’m no doddling old woman now, am I? You should bow and beg, cower before me, and pray I have some mercy left in store!” And at that Nuh deftly left for safe dome of kindly home.

“What? Have you become some dæmonic mutt?” Kheba asked aghast, then suddenly changed toward her seemingly deranged sister. “Ah, so, not slow to reach pitch of terror-bitch to teach? But why must each lesson taught be bought by student at price beyond what is prudent? You provoke fear to invoke reverence enough for suppliant to learn, but then compliant they nevertheless burn against you, and may even in anger turn from what is true.”

Innana blew softly on my face, and pace of my heart somewhat slowed. Bewilderment took hold of mind to bind in confusion. “I’m not like you, Kheba, yet am I you, too; and you knew I flew into rage even while appearing in old age. Yes, my smiling was beguiling, but was I lying? My smile came from both pity and humor o’er the witty critique of your boy-lover of such mystique; so, too, did I wink at the stink of ignorance, which caused him to blink in reply because deep inside keep of his soul, he knew he was singing the wrong song. And how far along have you led him, anyway? You have lofty ideas, but truly you are too softly, Kheba! You have no ambition, or even cognition, of strict discipline, which is more than complimentary to instruction, but necessary accessory … if it be done right in the sight of Dyēus.”

inanna_by_michelmandurino“And what in hand have you to correct me; I’ll not flee your wisdom,” Kheba stood straight and tall. “Tell what wrong have I done; will you sing that song?” Passersby casually looked our way with seeming apathy, but ne’er stopped to stay, nor did they say anything; Innana and Kheba may as well have been hired hands in harvest bands. Here divinity stood among them, but it mattered little more than the flung of dung. Did they even know? If so, it surely didn’t show! “Do you even know what my Soylu has been through? Do you know of his trek through hell, hearing death’s bell? About the fire and funeral pyre? About our brother, the One Son, and Mother Love saving him? About Dyēus blessing him, and caressing him through Şifalâhe? Ah! Surprised…? But you’ve already sized up dear Soylu, and despise him because he is sometimes still unwise. Oh! But he still tries, and flies higher and grows more than you seem to know.”

Innana now drew close enough to skew me, if she so desired, but it seemed her anger had expired … thank Dyēus and whomever else! “We shall see,” Inanna patted me on the cheek. “We shall see…”

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Note: Second painting, “St. Ishtar,” (recast here as Innana) by terez_bellydancer; also, please do take my little poll in my previous post, Keep Playing Tweety Bird?  And thank you! 

Kheba: Work, Wheat, and the Way of Life, Part II

mist-in-a-barley-field-at-sunset-dave-reedeWe continued strolling through the field of golden yield, unconcealed to the high sun above, with distant clouds of rain for which so many had appealed. Hand in hand; heart to heart. Healed. No demand.

“There is so much, so very much to see and touch of such amazing beauty,” barely above whisper, not in lofty tone, but softly I spoke. “How is it that I so easily choke on lies, blinded by smoke of deceit, lulled by stroke of false compassion…?

Kheba pulled out some flat bread. “Come. Eat. You burn with hunger, which causes your heart and mind to churn; to churn too much. This bread will keep you fed well enough till rings the dinner bell; after all, I can’t have you dead now!” She smiled impishly like a child, then laughed, and love lunged wild. Down to the ground with happy sound. Kheba cropped off bits to pop into my open mouth. More was said unspoken than words could ever express as she pressed me close.

“Man and woman; child, meek and mild… Wheat and the bleat of sheep; plants and earthen ants, fruits and herbal roots; sparrows and farrows; sharks and larks and bark of trees and humming bees… Yes, so much to see,” she practically sang while holding me. “And so much more in store of Life, t’would be a lifetime chore to name even some of the all, but then we’d come back again to the same: Life and her midwife, Love, who works the birth of Love and Truth and Mirth.”

I laid my head to rest upon nourishing breast, now no longer hunger nor thirst, having been so generously nursed. “Ah, and there are sprits and dæmons and devilish mites; Watchers and witches and hell-poisoned bitches; ghouls that run through the sea in schools, waiting in bays for unsuspecting preys … and there are gods and demi-gods, who trod this sod, as well. And there are the wraith and jinn, who lack good faith — tricksters who’d rather play than pay the price to really live — and the halls of Valhalla and the heavens leavened with graceful, angel songs, where only good belongs.”

Suddenly, or so it seemed, the ruddy face of a boy beamed down on us, his head crowned with full and flowing hair, though chest still bare. “Ah! Nuh! Did you mean to give us a scare?” Kheba asked as boy basked in the sunlight. “Anyway, did you flee boldly to the sea as you were told?”

“Yes, of course, my glorious Kheba,” his smile broad as he trod a bit closer. “And I couldn’t scare you no matter how well I fare at soft steps among wheat and tares.” She and I stood up, then, presumably to begin our trek back into Uruk.

“This is Nuh, who flew into the waters at the coming of the Watchers; son of Lemek, son of Metuşelah, son of Henokh,” she introduced the boy amid the scenic field of gold — and should I have told her I wanted to stay, that the ruins would be my dismay … but why say what Kheba already knew — and the breeze blew, clouds promising new rain moving in to begin refreshing shower to renew, yes, but also to wash away at least some stains of such recent, bloody pain.

“And quite the lad, who’s already tried his hand in crafting fairish boat, still afloat; one Nuh guides with skill,” Kheba was obviously proud of the dark, Ruins_of_an_Ancient_City_by_John_Martin,_1810sstout lad, which made me all the more glad. Young Nuh filled her with joy. “And one day ship-builder, eh!”

“The best in Uruk!” Nuh puffed out his chest, and Kheba slapped his bottom in jest as we all chortled. “The best of any mortal,” the boy added while we stepped through the enormous East Gate portal. “From the finest of all wood and bark, the finest ark!”

“And I’ll warrant that’s more than guessing; you have the blessing of Dyēus,” Kheba encouraged. “So … someday the ark!”

Someday the ark?

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Henokh — In the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament), one of the ancient patriarchs, more commonly known in the English as “Enoch,” of whom is it said in the fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis, that he “walked with God: and he was no more; for God took him;” father of Metuşelah, grandfather of Lemek, or Lamech; name may mean “initiated,” but more likely, “dedicated,” which coalesces well with the Genesis story, particularly the above mentioned claim, as well as some other (apocryphal) stories.

Nuh — Or Noah, great-grandson of Henokh, of biblical-Flood legend; possibly of Babylonian and/or Assyrian derivation meaning, “rest, comfort, peace.”

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Note: First picture/photo by Dave Reede; second, “Ruins of an Ancient City,” by John Martin

Kheba: Work, Wheat, and the Way of Life

inanna-goddessMagnificent Uruk lay in impotent ruin, but survivors were stout with no doubt the grandiloquent city would be rebuilt, and just as great, even more so; taunting bait for fleeing Watchers. Kheba led me through ruined streets to the beat of hammers and other tools already steady at work in reconstruction — no, more than this, complete resurrection — and she seemed undaunted by the surrounding destruction; it was little more than an ageless function of life.

I chanced a glance at the Temple of Innana and wondered would she so much as rain manna from heaven to feed her devotees in such apparent need … or was there such sin as divine greed? “Ah, so evil seed was planted by the witch-bitch, and despite your redemption and respite, there it remains to be uprooted ere it grows to stain your newly washed soul,” Kheba firmly answered my thought as she brought me closer. “Do not be caught by foul lies that fly around you and abound in this world, dear one; not all is as it seems, and the light still streams in and through the dark, stark though it may be… But come; see.”

Kheba led me past many workers, some of whom so recently bled, and pointed to an old woman with folds of cloth, weaving and patching, retrieving from tattered and blood-splattered shreds blankets for beds, shrouds for heads, cloaks and coats. “There is my sister, Cybele, minister to her people, who honor her under yon steeple as Innana.”

I had to wonder in amazement and, yes, express my blunder: “Cybele? Working cloth? Is she god or moth?” Kheba laughed, while the old woman winked; I blinked. “But so much more could be done! Why has she not begun? Before sets the sun, she could have the whole of this work done! Or does Dyēus shun the desperate cries of his people reaching high into his heavenly skies?”

Kheba continued steering me on while peering into my eyes. “What surprise how you turn so quickly from my sister, Cybele, to blister our father with such ignorant accusations… No matter for now; perhaps you should wait for more persuasion; I have occasion to show you more, for much more is in store to show with no evasion. Come.” And what else could I do but heed her lead; I followed my lover under cover of mystery and profusion of confusion, still questioning why gods would trod the earth doing no more to restore embattled and oft-trampled humanity.

“In every age you’ll find the self-styled sage, who doubts and causes others to bout with doubt,” Kheba continued as we passed through the rubble and shambles of the marketplace at an eerie pace, as if taking some leisurely walk among placid flock of bleating sheep, in plains of grain… “Yes, precisely where we are going, and quite nicely.” She smiled knowing without showing any disdain. “It is in the midst of life you find Life, and this Life is wife of Dyēus and mother of us all — even his daughters, the Tri-Mater — and this Life is that bright Light that blight of darkness cannot overcome nor even begin to plumb.”

Kheba2aAnd we existed the East Gate for me to feast my eyes of fields of gold untold. Kheba urged me forward into field to purge my soul in beauty once again. “We begin again … and again and again, we begin; yet never in dominance. Dyēus determined to give humanity prominence, you see, and he will be true to his word.” She held me close to her side, this time as gently as a rose. “Here is life… Life in life, from Life herself, for Life is life-giving, and this Life is Light and Love from above.” She looked deep into my soul to keep me whole, and I was suddenly fully awake for her sake alone.

“You see the readied harvest to farthest distance; this is the work of my Cybele, my treasure and pleasure beyond measure.” Kheba smiled in obvious pride as we eyed the gently swaying gold that would feed numbers untold. “Yet there are skeptics here, too; spiritual epileptics, mental derelicts.” She slightly buckled in light chuckle. “They say, ‘Prove! Prove! Prove!’ And no, but we reprove.” Kheba laughed again. “They ask for proof; we give reproof… After all, they have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, and minds they bind in prideful thread from spool of fools. Look around!” She shouted. “And you are bound to see the tree! Listen, and hear the cheer of Life! Ah! They are faced with the divine every moment, but too debased to know what Dyēus is content to show every moment for their sheer enjoyment! Is this not so?”

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Hold Me Tight; Give Me Might

Hold me tight;
I need to cry in your arms tonight.
Give me might;
Drive far away from me all fright.

Please, love me;
Unchain me in your heart to be free.
Now look and see;
Open your ears and hear my sad plea.

The journey has been long; this man is weary. Now again, I’ve found where I belong, and song is sung along with throng of angels; no eerie silence in wasted land for dæmons in fury to bury me. Clearly this beleaguered man has made it home, if indeed home is where the heart is, then I have the whole and not in part. Did you not care for me from the start?

Gather me in;
Let my soul rest and being again.
Forget all sin;
Redemption won, I’m now no bane.

Kheba, ever stay;
And never again make me fly away!
Kheba, ever stay;
Let us travel as one in life’s way.
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Kheba: In the Crumbled Rubble of Uruk

warriorwomanhAnd there she lay in splay of ruin — Uruk — as if torn apart by evil bruin and, indeed, she had been; only the splendorous Temple of Innana stood in radiance in bright light of new sun rising on newly begun day, yet in complete disarray. People could be seen like ants running to and fro and in between half-eaten buildings, bitten by the Watchers. The great city had been hard smitten by foul attack, but evidently in no lack of defense… Uruk did, after all, survive, and she would revive.

Some sizeable clouds rolled across high-sky, teasing of rain without appeasing, proud they could partly shroud war-torn land without answering demand for much-needed water. As I drew nearer, the slaughter was unimaginable; the day hotter than usual, which only worsened matters for the  rotters. And where was the Mater, Innana, in all this? She may as well have been little more than squatter! How many lives had been lost, tossed into netherworld, to defend her precious parental temple?

“A bit harsh, don’t you think?” came familiar voice. “In blink of an eye, you shrink from grace and lace your thoughts with condemnation.”

I turned. My heart burned. No better sound could have entered my ear, and no dearer sight could have met my eyes than the one I beheld: Kheba. Battle weary but alive, she revived this weary man, smiled and piled on kiss after kiss. “Did you think I wouldn’t miss you? That I wouldn’t worry that you had to leave in such a hurry, to scurry through wasteland filled with haunting band of ghosts and wraiths?” And I made most of the moment and held her tightly, pressing lips to lips again. And all doubt about what had happened left as I breathed out with one great heave. Leave such foolishness and believe, I told myself. If Kheba fought, she brought sister with her, too! This much I suddenly knew.

“And Metuşelah and Lemek?” I asked as we continued our trek back into Uruk, or what was left after being horrifically ransacked.

“No death toll has rung for those two. Except for a few wounds, they do well,” Kheba answered. “But you? Tell me what happened to you? I knew your journey would be hard and fraught with danger, perhaps even bought at the price of your life… Yet here you are alive, and though worn you somehow seem to thrive.” She took pause to consider the cause. “Ah … you met Şifalâhe … after being saved from blight of Ddiafol and set aright again … and you sank into crystalline lake, and drank freely sweet honey of heaven. Am I right in my divine hindsight?” She swung me around off my feet and began to beat in laughter.

“Oh, the gods! The gods! Never did human trod this earth as mysterious as the gods!” I had to laugh, as well, but then chaff from the ruins floated round about. “But how can you be so joyous and buoyant in chorus of mirth amid such death and dearth?”

“Well, we finally won by the rise of yesterday’s sun; at great cost, for  many, many were lost. We scorned and cursed the Watchers even as we mourned family and friends fallen … but in that hour victory was ours.” Kheba looked at me squarely, barely able to continue. “Even still, I had no joy, no thrill in having bested the enemy, especially having invested so much blood to do so… Oh, no. No … my joy comes in seeing you, and being here, right where I am now … after all, even the goddess knows true love.”

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