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TITLE ~ Queen of Heaven: The Life and Times of Mary Magdelene

Chapter 24

     She lay above the beach in a small bay well above the tidal waterline amidst the flotsam and jetsam of the storm. A huge wave had deposited her in the jungle and even now, plants had already begun to creep over her sides. A gaping hole in her hull nad a broken mast rendered her unsailable, and the surviving members of her crew lazed listlessly upon the beach upon which they had landed, and had not decided upon a course of action to refloat her. There were three reasons for their indifference. One, there was enough food growing wild around them that there was no need to do more than wander a few footsteps into the jungle or throw a net into the water for fish, or poke a stick into the beach for mollusks. Two, both Alexander and Miri had disappeared during the storm, and no one had stepped forward to mediate the differences of opinion in the best course of action. And three, Polydeuces had received a severe concussion that had knocked his genius for shipbuilding from his skull. Sylvanius had vainly tried to rally the crew, but they had no faith in his ability to repair the hull without the genius of Polydeuces.

     After a month of idleness, a chance encounter with a woodcutter led them to a small fishing village. One by one, the sailors were accepted as visiting husbands into local clans, and the cargo of the Isis was looted to provide the gift required for a night of bliss with the local women, and her hull lay virtually empty. Only a small portion of the cargo and a few crew members remained. When night fell, Sylvanius and Polydeuces took refuge within the Heart of Isis. Sylvanius had shored her up to bring her deck level and the hole staved in her side became a door to their unusual abode.

     The Heart of Isis sat with her prow staring out to the Eurythrian Sea, and Sylvanius often sat at her prow and talked to her as he stared to the west. He took Polydeuces to sit with him in the evenings, but the old man’s vision of the world was so skewed, it required a great deal of thought to interpret his ramblings. It seemed that Polydeuces could now see, but the world that Polydeuces saw bore only a little resemblance to the one with which Sylvanius was experiencing. From where the old man sat he could see nymphs frolicking in the foam where Sylvanius only saw rolling waves. He spoke to the birds that alit upon the rigging as though they were long lost friends, and greeted the crabs on the beach as a lord would greet merchants in the street. He discussed philosophy with the spirits of the trees. Every rock, every grain of sand, possessed a soul with whom he could connect.

     At first Sylvanius became preoccupied with correcting his elder, but the beatific smile that retorted to his corrections of perception finally wore him down, and he allowed himself to be drawn into Polydeuces’ world. Though he could not hear the voice that replied to Polydeuces, Sylvanius entertained himself by making up the hidden part conversations in his head, but the effort soon wore thin, but strangely, once he stopped filling in the empty spaces from his own head, there were days when he thought he could hear a faint echo of the voices of the gods within the rolling surf and the whispering palms. Afraid that he might become possessed by some alien daemon in this strange land, he began to busy himself about the beach, gathering firewood and, with a few others, harvesting the fruit about them.

     The men who remained loyal to the Heart of Isis, although not ambitious in the sense of kings and emperors, nonetheless, began to cultivate the paradise around them. One of the sailors, Erytus, was an adept farmer as well as sailor, and it was he who noticed the plethora of pepper plants that grew amongst the flora, and he endeavoured, as farmers are impelled to do, to give the advantage to the pepper bushes by removing their rivals from the field.

     Of great surprise was the sheer number of great nuts that littered the beach. One of the crew, Typhis, from previous adventures, recognized the large nuts falling from the palms as coconuts, and that they were not only nutritious, but their husks made an excellent rope that he knew were impervious to the corrosive appetite of sea water and there was a nearby stream that allowed the retting of the husks. All in all, most of the shipwrecked crew made well of their time. They discovered later the land in which they were marooned was known as Keram, or “the land of coconuts” for the shores were lined with millions of the versatile fruit trees. The husk fibres were used for matting, baskets and ropes. The copra from the hardened milky sap within the fruit was a nutritious food; the milk quenched their thirst; the husks provided fuel and charcoal. The leaves made wonderful thatch for the roofs of the structures they built along the tree line.

     News of their settlement soon reached the ears of the administrative staff of the region, and soon a well-appointed brahmin arrived, whisk in hand, announcing that as tenants upon temple lands, they must pay their taxes to the temple and the king. This message was borne by one of the crew who had defected to the arms of an attractive daughter of the nearby village, and then, through his wife’s contacts, acquired a position as Greek interpreter.

     The tithes were demanded of coir rope because the evidence of the rudimentary rope making was visible, and the blooming pepper plantation was not. The amount was enough that the remaining crew members working night and day were barely sufficient to produce the demanded amount. Sylvanius, desperate, dug up a chest of coins he had secreted in the sand, and through the crew member already ensconced in the village, secured a deferral in the deadline for the rope. Hearing of their plight, two elders from the village arrived and offered their services for a few copper coins a day. The two men were, it turns out brothers and, besides their recently menopausal sister, the only remaining members of their family. As they had no clan ties to the village, all three moved onto the site and, for all intents and purposes, became members of the colony. Their expertise in making the rope allowed the sailors to increase their production greatly and over the months, the beach became a major source of rope and twine for the region. The pepper plantation was not productive for several months, but a merchant from Cochin arranged to buy all that they could deliver. An itinerant family arrived and stayed, and soon, with a redirection of some of the water from the stream, the colony had maintained fairly extensive rice paddies and began producing cotton during the dry spell.

     The trade between the village and the settlement forged new alliances and the sailors were treated as a new clan, a taravad. With the exception of the three women in the family that had joined them and the elder sister, there were no women in their group, and the villagers took it upon themselves to assign unattached women to the group. As the settlers were foreigners, they had to determine where they fit within the clan systems, but as most of the village folk were also sailors and fishermen, they were accepted on a par with most of the locals. There was much discussion about sending women to them, for they were not blood relatives, but the women came willingly for they had been banished by their own taravads for consorting with men below their caste. The taravads were relieved, as the obvious negative effect on karma of rejecting a sister, could be relieved by ensuring that the women now had somewhere to go.

     The sailors on the whole were gentlemen, but certainly not brotherly in the sense that a brothers should be with sisters. Tongues wagged in the village, but on the whole, the arrangement seemed satisfactory, and the arrival of women in their midst kept a few more men in the settlement. The settlement had become known as Yavanadana, or the “village of the foreigners”, and the members had become an official taravad of their own. As the sister and two elder ropemakers were surnamed Mayiladur, the local council that by tradition, that the Yavanas would take on the name of the elder woman for their taravad. Roughly translated, the name meant “home of the dancing peacocks”, a name which created a great deal of mirth whenever the villagers used it. The settlers and their new relatives in Yavanadana took the name good-naturedly, and often, while in their cups, would dance in imitation of their clan totem.

     The area where they had been marooned was not run in a manner these Greek educated men were accustomed. The women were heads of the households and the descent was traced through maternal blood. It seemed the women had no husbands in the Western sense of the word, but took on a series of lovers who were granted visitation rights, and allowed to stay in the women’s rooms from sunset to sunrise, but then were asked to return to their own taravad before the sun rose. This had the effect of ensuring the men returned to the ship every day, and gave the settlement a guaranteed work force.

     Some of the men became restless and one or two joined crews of passing ships. Two brothers, Ancaeus, and Amphidemos built a small craft and left for the north, hoping to find some sign of Alexander, for they grew restless with their comrades and craved a leader of action.

     Once women were added to the mix, the rope production increased for the men were relieved of the necessity of cooking and other household drudgeries. Sylvanius, although not recognized as their leader, began to store a portion of the pepper harvest in the ship for he determined that one day the Heart of Isis would return to Egypt. He knew the value of pepper in Alexandria, and it would not take a full ship to make a tidy profit. On the whole, though, the coir rope-making created very calloused hands, but life on the beach was idyllic. Having a production line on the beach was pleasant and the men took turns breaking from their work to fish in the warm waters of the Erythrian Sea.

     Once the sun set and when the mosquitos and rain allowed, the settlers lit a fire on the beach and roasted shellfish and ate betel nuts, melons from the garden, coconut and almond sweets. Later, they sang songs and told exaggerated tales of sea voyages. With time, their gatherings were lubricated by fermented mango juice or ghee brewed in vats turned and fired from local clay. Eventually their own taravad compound rose beside the Heart of Isis that resembled every other along the Keram Malayalam shore. The only difference, hardly noticeable, was the shrine they built to Amon and Isis in the northwest corner of the compound.

     Sylvanius sat on his usual perch on the Heart of Isis absorbing the sunset. His heart ached for his homeland. As the feeling tugged at his heart, he suddenly thought he smelled Miri and he turned his head quickly. She was not there, but in the same heartbeat, all that surrounded him, the waves, the laughter of his companions preparing the fire on the beach and the warm moist breeze, brought the realization his life on that shore was far more luxurious than any he had ever dreamed in Koptos and his unhappiness misplaced. He glanced over at his uncle.

     Polydeuces smiled back at his nephew and reached over to squeeze Sylvanius’ arm.

     “Poseidon sends his greetings,” whispered the old man happily, “Though he thinks you should see to the ship!”




     Wet and cold, Miri awoke on the beach in the valley of the rhododendrons. She came to her senses slowly. Her body ached to the bone and she suffered from an excruciating stabbing headache. Her mouth was dry and her skin coated with filth, dirt filled her fingernails, and her hair hung in clotted greasy strands. The palace no longer rose from the still water of the lake. She sat up groggily, pushed her hair back and looked about. The camp she had established in the meadow with Fuk-Lok and Maitreyi no longer existed. Neither of her companions could be seen. She was truly alone in the valley.

     “Oh, Dear Sweet Mother!” she groaned as she struggled to her feet. Her bones ched from the cold damp air, and her clothes stuck to her body. Her fingers and toes were numb and pins and needles stabbed her arms and legs. She shivered and rubbed her forehead to relieve the ache in her temples.

     “So, now what?” asked a voice behind her.

     Miri whirled about and came face to face with Maitreyi.

     “Maitreyi!” Miri wrapped her arms about Maitreyi and squeezed tightly.

     “Thank goodness! You’re alright!”

     “Where were you?” asked Maitreyi.

     “Shambhala! You were there with me!”

     Maitreyi frowned. “We lost track of you in the snowstorm,” she said, “We thought you were lost!”

     “No, you were here, with Fuk-Lok Sau!” said Miri.

     “Of course,” replied Maitreyi doubtfully, “We have been here for several days, but you weren’t with us!”

     “Yes I was! We camped here in the meadow, and Hanuman found a peach!”

     “Miri!” said Maitreyi sharply, “Fuk-Lok and I have been staying in a small stone house. I just came out here to examine the jatamansi. The entire valley is covered with it.”

     “Jatamansi?” asked Miri.

     Maitreyi smiled. She reached down and pulled a clump of pink flowers in a spray of spear-shaped leaves and turned it upside down revealing a cream coloured root. “You see that?” she asked Miri, “That is the root from which spikenard oil is extracted! This whole valley is covered in it!”

     Sure enough, the steep slopes were a riot of the pink-blue flowers as far as the eye could see.

     “No one lives here! Fuk-Lok and I have scoured the whole valley looking for you, and this-“ Maitryi waved the jatamansi in front of Miri’s face, “this will make us a fortune!”

     Miri was taken aback. After her experience with Tara, being greeted by an avaricious Maitreyi was disconcerting.

     “Then you saw nothing of the emerald palace?”

     “The?” Maitreyi narrowed her eyes and stared at Miri. “You saw the emerald palace?”

     “Yes!” said Miri, “Right there!” She pointed at the lake, “Hanuman found a peach and the palace appeared right over there!”

     “You saw the House of Tara? Here?” demanded Mitreyi, “How could that be? Fuk-Lok and I have been in this valley for days, and we saw neither you or the palace!” Maitreyi shook her head. “I can’t believe it! Fuk-Lok and I come here specifically to find the palace of the Lady of the Mountains, our life-long dream, and you spend days there without us!”

     “You were there!” said Miri emphatically, “Tara absorbed you into her being and…”

     “Stop!” demanded Maitreyi, “This is a little weird, even for me!” She took Miri’s arm. “Come, I will take you back to our shelter, and you can clean up and tell your tale over a warm cup of tea!”




     Neither Fuk-Lok-Sau or Maitryi could get enough of Miri’s vision. They demanded details, some of which Miri was unable to supply. She was tempted to invent and embellish her tale just to satisfy her spellbound audience, but knew the sacredness of her vision would be marred by such inventiveness. But she was sorely tempted just to avoid the constant prodding.

     They had shelter in a rather spacious stone house. There was a central courtyard and several outbuildings. They lived in a split level center room that had a beautiful, but rustic fireplace within it. The upper level made a wonderful sleeping loft, and Maitryi had lined it with juniper branches, that gave off a heady aroma. The rafters of the two long sheds outside were decorated with thousands of pieces of shredded and dangling string, which Mitreyi had instantly recognized as drying sheds for the jatamansi plants. Determined that they had been led there to harvest the plants which were used for sacred ceremonies, Maitryi prevailed upon Miri to assist her in the harvest of the jatamansi roots. Unfortunately, Mirtreyi had no idea how to process them.

     Fuk-Lok-Sau presented the solution. He had discover a number of huge, though discoloured copper pots. He determined that the roots must have been rendered in the pots and the oil drawn from them through a still. He devoted himself to reconstructing the equipment from the parts he found about the compound. Though they still had the three mules, Hanuman had been lost. They wereall of the opinion that the little monkey was now in Tara’s jade palace.

     The exact nature of the oil extraction was a subject of great debate, and every night they conjectured, hypothesized and argued as to the correct manner of distillation. There was an urgency to their debate, as they were all convinced that they roots would dry out eventually and become useless to generate spikenard. They decided to halt the harvest for several days in case that was true. Though the valley was damp, and at night time cold, on the whole it was not entirely unpleasant, and during the afternoon, the three companions sat along the lake shore by Miri’s favourite tree, all meditating on the meaning of her vision. Their will was strong enough to conjure a feeling of the jade palace, if not the manifestation of the enchanted lake. On a particularly sunny day, Maitreyi suddenly sat bolt upright and pointed at the southern shore.

     “Look!” she cried.

     Both Miri and Fuk-Lok-Sau opened their eyes and scanned the shore, but could see nothing.

     “Can’t you see it?” demanded an incredulous Mitreyi.

     Miri and Fuk-Lok exchanged glances for they did not.

     “Someone is coming!”

     At that moment both Mir and Fuk-Lok gasped. Someone was coming! A dark figure slowly approached from the south, but it was some time before they could determine the stranger was a woman dressed in a black robe and veil.

     “Tara!” whispered Mitreyi.

     It was obvious the woman was coming to them, and they all stood to await her arrival. As she came within a javelin’s throw, they all realized it was an old crone wlking with the aid of a stick. Maitreyi was visibly disappointed the woman was not the goddess she had anticipated and sat back down dejectedly.

     The woman held out her hand for assistance as she came within speaking distance and Fuk-Lok came to her aid. He led her to the bent tree bole and the old woman sat down upon a protruding root.

     “Thank you!” she said breathlessly, “I am so old!”

     “Where are you from?” asked Miri.

     The crone smiled enigmatically. “I live here! I have always lived here. It takes time for an old woman to travel even a short distance.”

     “Is that your house?” saked Miri, pointing to the shelter they had made their billets.

     “It is and was,” replied the woman, “Many years ago I had disciples who filled the dwelling, but one by one, they returned to where they had come! Now I live alone in the mountain?”

     “Mountain?” Maitreyi suddenly perked up.

     “You cannot see it from here,” said the old woman with a faint smile. “I thought I would come to you. You have been harvesting my jatamansi, and I was curious.”

     “We did not know it was yours,” replied Maitreyi defensively.

     “I can nnot harvest the plants myself, but I am glad there is someone here now who can! The jatamansi brings blessings upon all who possess it and pay homage to the gods. I thought that I would show you how to process it!”

     “You know how to boil it?”

     “I do!” The old woman’s smile broadened. There are spells that must be cast to ensure the sacred plants remain as pure as the mountain air, and I will teach the secrets of spikenard to you, if you are willing to learn!”

     The three companions were overjoyed. “Of course!” they all cried at once, “Of course!”




     The old Malayalam man was silent. He rubbed his beard as he studied the great hole in the side of the Heart of the Isis.

     “This is very serious,” he said finally and pointed at the ragged and splintered edge of the ship. This rope must be relaced and replaced!”

     “All of it?” asked Sylvanius, his head calculating the cost of materials and labour.

     “Most definitely!” replied the shipbuilder.

     His name was Koshi and he had once served with the shipbuilding guild in Cochin, and he had traveled from his home village to inspect the “Greek” ship. He had been disappointed when he discovered the ship was from Egypt, but still his arrival had come shortly after Polydeuces delivered the message to rebuild the Heart of Isis from Poseidon. He was obviously sent by Poseidon himself, and Sylvanius was not one to rebel against the will of the gods, though he was prone to complain about his lot once delivered.

     Koshi politely asked for an inspection tour of the ship, and Sylvanius proudly led Koshi on an extremely detailed and meticulous tour of the Heart of Isis. On the whole Koshi was impressed and excited for he had never seen an Egyptian vessel like the Isis built without the beam of the Greek style, and was elated that other lands constructed their ships in a manner similar to the Malayalam. He frowned at the differences and cried in happiness at the similarities, and by the time Sylvanius and Koshi had finished, he had seen every nook, cranny and rope inside and out.

     “Most impressive!” he declared as they stood on the fore deck, their backs to the sea.

     “Could you fix her?” asked Sylvanius hopefully.

     “Most definitely!” declared Koshi, “I would be most honoured to rebuild your ship!”

     “How much would it cost?” asked Sylvanius slowly, which opened a very heated debate that lasted past sunset and into the bonfire at the beach. Their negotiations came to a conclusion in time for a new jar of ghee and the obligatory wobbly peacock dance.

     The next day, the measuring of the Heart of the Isis began, for they determined the mast, oars and rudders should be replaced by teak, and the sisal rope, beginning to rot and fray by coir rope from the coconut husks. As the wood arrived, Polydeuces returned to the real world at the first stroke of an adze. To his ancient ears, it was a sound as pure and beautiful as the golden harps of the gods. He gave sacrifice to the tree spirits that would soon be consumed by the Heart of Isis, and joined Koshi in the endeavour.

     The two men chatted endlessly and became as one. An argumentative one, but still comrades in industry. Sylvanius was distrustful of Polydeuces return, but was overjoyed at the old man’s recovery. His happiness was not diminished when he discovered Polydeuces, still talked to anything that crossed his path, for the soul of Polydeuces was in his craft, and this he loved dearly. Sylvanius finally realized he too was a ship builder and would be as great as his uncle in his knowledge.

     The rebuilding of the Heart of the Isis created a great stir in Yavanadana, for the reconstruction signaled that the sea to home was soon to be beneath her hull, and this caused each and every crew member in the community to ask where his heart belonged: with the ship or in Yavanadana.

     Of course due to budgetary restraints and the disassembling and cataloguing, manufacture and storage of miles of coir rope of various diameter, the upheaval was still nebulous, but nonetheless, it created a disturbance in the community as everyone weighed the options.




     That disturbance reached Miri as she lay on the bier. Fuk-Lok, the old woman, and Maitreyi shared. An oil lamp flickered in the far corner of the room and cast a faint flickering glow on the walls. The fire had been stoked and packed with green juniper and the smoke coiled and danced to the ceiling without mixing with the cooler night air. The heat of the fire was trapped in the upper reaches of the room, but she could feel a cool layer reach the loft floor as the room slowly filled with outside air. The trapped warm air still held against the rising cold. The animals shifted in the stalls below them and the familiarity of the moment took her back to her childhood in Canaan.

     Her time here was coming to an end. She knew she would return to the dry warmth of Israel even if she had to walk. She had seen the Heart of the Isis in her vision of Tara, and her soul was entwined with the soul of the ship. She could not sense Alexander, nor find a link to the crew, but she had a certainty about the ship itself. She knew it was severely damaged, but now she had a sense of renewal. She was restless, and sat up carefully, and slipped from the loft, wrapped her woolen robe tightly about her and slipped out into the night.




     Silvanius suffered a crisis of faith.

     He stood on the deserted moonlight beach staring up at the billions and billions of stars. He picked out Mars. And Jupiter. The moon was full and radiant. But he was not at peace.

     The Heart of the Isis no longer existed. She lay in numbered pieces upon the beach, and he feared for her safety. He was afraid the parts would become lost or stolen and he worried that Polydeuces would lose his senses again, or that, the gods forbid, someone would sabotage the project. He was not a born leader and did not have the confidence to match his will to take command. Nor did he relish the responsibility for the ship building. He was at sea without a rudder and could feel the gathering winds and tide that would signal the time for departure. He questioned his role. He questioned his life. He questioned his decisions. In that moment he also questioned his reason for being. He stood in paradise and still he was not satisfied. He yearned to return home, yet he also knew his unhappiness would not leave him. And in the middle of his angst, at the depth of this depondent melancholy, the sweet breath of Miri blew in his ear. He could smell her beside him.

     He shook his head. He realized the incense from the shrine must have blown the sandalwood and cinnamon fragrance that so reminded him of her. He turned from the sea and looked behind him. Miri stood in the moonlight, the gentle ocean breeze caressing her hair and pressing her garments against her voluptuous form.

     “Sylvanius!” she whispered, and held her arms out to him.

     He reached for the talisman about his neck.

     “You have no need of protection,” she said as she approached him.

     She slipped her arms about his waist and pulled him toward her. Her breast pressed aginst his chest and a great heat flowed in his veins. He was afraid to touch her, but the great sense of belonging that infused him drew his hands irresistibly to her back and soon they held each other tightly and he hoped they would never again be apart. Her moist mouth brushed against his ear.

     “You are doing the right thing, Sylvanius. Do not fear! Hold fast and I will return when the time is right!”

     She disappeared suddenly and he almost fell upon his face. His heart beat wildy and the blood pounded in his ears. Polydeuces, smiling broadly, cane in hand, stepped out from the shadows.

     “Never fear, nephew,” he said sympathetically, “I am he who sees yet has no eyes to see! And now, you are also a seer. There is more to the world than the stars and the moon, trees and rocks. There is existence beyond all that. Some call it an illusion, this world that we live in, but it is so much more than that. So much more than we can see. So much more than we can comprehend. To try to understand that through your head instead of your heart is the folly of the wise!”

     “Then we must be as fools?” asked Sylvanius doubtfully.

     “That is the folly of all who seek wisdom. They look in the wrong direction!”




     Miri shivered in the cold night air and rubbed her arms beneath the woolen cloak. She walked to her spot by the lake. Vapours drifted imperceptibly across the calm mirror surface. She sat upon her branch, tucked her feet and legs close to her torso and wrapped her robe about her, sealing out the night air.

     “It is beautiful, is it not?”

     Miri started.

     The old woman had appeared beside her from nowhere.

     “Oh my!” Then softly, “Yes, yes, it is!”

     She turned to the lake again, and in a twinkling ripple, the mountain of His Wang Mu appeared on the lake. The palace glowed with a soft green radiant light speckled with a universe of twinkling lanterns.

     Miri could not take her eyes from the vision. “So now I know why you did not reveal your name!” said Miri without looking at the old woman.

     “You knew who I was though you did not know who I was,” replied Tara, “You have brought me new disciples, and with their devotion, my monastery here will once again flourish!”

     “There are only two!” said Miri.

     “That is enough!” said Tara. I draw my power from the devotion of my worshippers. When they forget me, so then will I fade away..”

     “And die?” asked Miri.

     The crone laughed. “I cannot die, though I can be forgotten! I am always here!” The crone swept her arms across her valley. “The signs are always in the trees and the rocks. My presence fills this place, but not everyone can see it!”

     “Will my friends see this?” asked Miri hopefully.

     The crone smiled. “Perhaps!” She stood up and stood before Miri. She was still old and wrinkled, but now Miri recognized within her form a being she knew and had seen many times before. The soul of the Goddess. For an instant she recognized herself in the old woman, but an excited chattering interrupted her and before she could look up, Hanuman leaped from the branches above her, and his warm furry body clutched her desparately. She heard the sound of chanting and a line of priests, monks and priestesses dressed in robes, each carrying a lantern on a pole appeared along the road beside the lake. The crone and the palace faded, but the worshippers and Hanuman did not.

     Miri rose to meet the approaching procession, holding Hanuman to her breast.




     “Iam Tenzen Dolma,” announced a young woman at the head of the procession, “Tenzen Darma has led us here to serve as we may, and has led us to this place.”

     ”Welcome!” replied Miri, “We have a place for you to stay!”

     With that she led the followers of Tenzen Darma to the compound. The sky lightened and the deep blue of the new dawn chased away the smaller stars, until only the moon and the star of Sothis, Inanna and Ishtar, the one the Romans called Lucifer remained. A great offering was burnt on the ceremonial fire in the courtyard, and the monastery of Dorma, the Tibetan name for Tara, came alive after being dormant for a century.

     The sudden activity generated by the new pilgrims was overwhelming after the quiet comtemplation that Maitreyi, Fuk-Lok and Miri had shared. Goats bleated, donkeys brayed, and the chatter, though subdued due to the monastic tradition seemed raucous. But the new inhabitants were happy and industrious and soon the production of spikenard was in full swing. Within a month, Miri and Maitreyi and a number of herdsmen loaded up a mule train carrying wool wrapped about precious stone jars of spikenard and climbed the secret pass from Dolma Valley, headed south for the markets of India.




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