The plain was dark and desolate, shrouded in perpetual night. A single dark mountain, shrouded in perpetual night rose from the plain, and upon the mountain stood Cuta, the City of the Dead. The only entrance to the citadel was through the Gates of a Thousand Skulls. There were a thousand niches in the gate house, each filled with a skull. The drawbridge, was drawn shut
Eve, the Mother of All Mothers stood before the Gates and called out with a voice that shook the very foundation of the citadel.
“Sister Lilith!” she called out, “I have come to speak with you! Step out of your Realm!”
A small window above the main gate opened.
“She’s not here!”
“Nergal! Open the gate!” called Eve.
“He’s not here either!”
“Whoever you are, open the Gate!”
“I’m not sure I can do that!”
The window shutter closed. A few moments later it opened again. An old crone stuck her head through the opening.
“Who are you?” asked Eve.
“I am Nergal!” replied the old harpie.
“But Nergal is male!” said Eve.
“So you say!” replied the crone, “But of what matter is to you?”
Eve did not reply. The old witch at the gate was right. It wasn’t important.
“Alright, you can come in,” grumbled Nergal, “but you must first remove your crown of the moon and the stars from your head!”
Eve placed the crown in the dust at her feet.
“Please lower the bridge!” she asked, and with a great creaking and clanking of chains, the ancient oak drawbridge lowered slowly to the ground. Her way was still barred by a portcullis.
“Nergal, can you raise the gate?” she asked.
“If you wish me to raise the gate, then you must throw away your basket!” replied the gatekeeper.
Eve threw away her basket. It brushed against the sides of the endless abyss that surrounded the mountain of the City of the Dead, and the fruits gathered in it spilled out and the harvest fell downward until she could no longer see or hear its fall.
“Can you raise the gate now, please?” she asked.
The rusted iron portcullis screeched as it was pulled upward. Still huge double doors of bronze barred her entrance. She pulled at the bronze rings, but the door was immovable.
“Nergal, the doors are locked!” she called out
“I shall unlock the doors only if you remove the bodice of the sun from your breast!” replied the gatekeeper.
Eve fumbled at the straps and unhooked the bodice from her breast.
“Open the gate!” she asked, her naturally sweet temper a little soured, and Nergal swung open the Doors of Brass.
Yet within the Opening was another Door, this one of gold, and Eve pounded upon it impatiently with her fist.
“Nergal, open the Door of Gold!”
“I shall open the Door of Gold if you abandon you sandals upon the threshold!”
Eve immediately flipped her sandals upon the flagstone of the threshold.
“Open this door!” she called, and the Door of Gold opened before her.
She was now in a narrow anteroom, and was faced with three doors, one to the right, another to the left, and, one the same size as the other two in front of her.
“Now what?” She demanded.
“That all depends!” answered a voice very close to her ear. She whirled about, and the old woman stood before yet another closed door where the gold door had once been. She was now in a windowless room, faced with four barred doors.
“Where’s Nergal, the gatekeeper?” asked Eve.
“I am she!” replied the old woman with a smile.
Eve growled and smashed her fists against a door upon which an Eagle was carved.
“Temper! Temper! Not at all becoming in a goddess!” admonished the gatekeeper. She padded upon her bare feet about the room. There are four doors..”
“I can see that!” growled Eve.
The old woman wagged a finger at the Queen of Heaven. “Now, you must pay attention, or you may miss an important clue!”
“Clue?” asked Eve impatiently, “Clue?”
“You really are much to impetuous! If you interrupt again, I shall simply stop speaking, and then where will you be?”
“Alright!” sighed Eve. “I’m sorry..”
“As I was saying,” continued the old woman with a great deal of irritation, “There are four doors.” She walked from door to door, “On this one is carved as an Eagle. On this one is carved a Lion. On this one is carved A Bear, and on this a Wolf. Only one portal leads to the realm of Lilith!”
“And the other three?” asked Eve.
The old woman clapped her hands and disappeared. Still her voice remained.
“Choose wisely, my child!”
“Wait!” Her words echoed in the empty space.
Eve examined each door, and was convinced the Lion lead to the South. The Bear to the East, the Wolf to the North, and the Eagle to the West. But which led to the City of the Dead? She opened her soul to all souls that flowed from her. If she were to follow her Eastern souls the dead migrated East. In Egypt West. For the Germans, North. And to the South, the Lion’s Gate? What awaited her behind the doors?
The Eagle lead to the Great Above, of that she was sure, but she had business with her sister Lilith. She knew Cutha lay to the East. The Bear. But here? Neither Time nor distance was a consideration. For all she knew, she could be upside down and the directions, no matter which she picked could all lead down. Or up. She looked up. She was inside a great tower, and it rose high above her, and she immediately knew which way she must proceed. None of the doors led to the Realm of Lilith. Up was really Down.
The crone had said only there were four doors. And she had not said ‘One of these doors leads to the realm of Lilith’. She had said ‘Only one portal leads to the realm of Lilith!’ the doors and their intricate carvings had been set to trap anyone so wrapped in their intellect and ego, they would immediately decide they were smarter than the Queen of the Underworld, they could not pass through. Eve immediately knew what lay behind each door. Behind one, an Eagle, and another a Bear, a Lion and A Wolf, and whichever animal you chose would determine the path to reincarnation. The life you would lead was carved on each door, and she also knew that for whoever entered this chanber, the carvings would be different than hers. She touched a picture of a meadow carved in a panel of the Eagle Door, and it creaked under her fingers, and she pulled back quickly. So a single touch opened the door. A surprise for anyone drawn to touch the carvings, and in that instant she realized that was exactly how the life was chosen. The picture that touched her soul so deeply she was drawn to touch it, would be her next life, but the very act of choosing would end her connection to the World to which she was already attached.
“Amazing!” she said, and as experiences of a thousand lives lived filled her being, she clapped her two leather wrist bands together and they fell from her wrists. Free of their power, she rose like a feather in the air, and ascended the tower. Far above her was a bright light and she was drawn towards it. It grew brighter and stronger, until she was blinded, and she could no longer tell up from down. Her feet lightly touched the ground and the light faded.
“Nergal,” she called out, “Enough of the riddles and the gates!”
“Mistress!” replied Nergal.
Eve started. The old woman was standing before her.
There are rules of protocol to follow,” the crone explained softly, “Without them, where would we be?”
“In an happier place, no doubt!”
Eve pulled her shawl from her head.
“Will the world fall apart if I remove this scarf? Or this dress?” She removed all her possessions, and stood before Nergal naked.
“Does that satisfy you?” Eve asked, “Is it so simple? All I have to do is strip for you and you’ll do my bidding?”
Nergal was distinctly nervous and her eyes darted about.
“All the magic in the world,” said Eve, “and all I have to do is take off my clothes to disarm them? How pathetic is that? Call your mistress! I am ready!”
“You are expected to follow protocol!” said Nergal adamantly, “What kind of a world would it be if gods and goddesses roamed about willy nilly upsetting the laws of Nature? Would you like to have Lilith roaming about the great Above? It would be chaos!”
“And it is not now?”
“Of course not!” said Nergal indignantly, “The world unfolds according to carefully laid out immutable laws!”
An echo of a lost memory fluttered across Eve’s vision, and she faltered, touching her forehead, and she fell to her knees. She shook her head, and stood up.
“Nergal, none may enter except as they were born. I now stand before you as I was presented to The Upper World, and all that was acquired in The Upper World must now remains in The Upper World. So it is with all who dwell here. I, Eve, Queen of The Great Above, request entrance to the City of Cutha, and I have fulfilled the will of Lilith, and all the Gates must be opened according to the Laws of Allat.”
Nergal lifted her arm and pointed. “You. may enter, Sister Eve, called Ishtar, for now all the Gates have opened and the Law of Allat fulfilled.”
Naked, Eve stood before Lilith, the Queen Allat, enthroned on her chair of skulls.
Lilith arose and descended the steps from the throne.
She addressed Eve as she approached, “Well, Dear Sister Eve, Daughter of The Moon, why have you come once more to the City of the Dead? Why trouble us, O Queen of Heaven and Mother of Man?”
Eve stretched out her arms.
“I have come for my child!”
“Your child?” asked Lilith, her voice rising, “What are you talking about?”
“I’m tired!” said Eve, “I can’t go on!”
“You’re a goddess!” shouted Lilith, “You can’t just quit!”
“Take my hand!” said Eve, and stretched out her hand to her sister.
Lilith eyed her sister warily. “Why?”
“I am surrendering myself to you!” whispered Eve, “You have won!”
“You are not Eve!” said Lilith.
“No?” asked Eve, taking another step toward her sister. “Then who am I?”
Lilith backed up, suspicious of Eve’s approach.
“My hand!” commanded Eve, and the Queen of Demons was compelled to obey her. Against her own will, Lilith reached out joined fingers with Eve, and once touching, they fused together, and the Queen of The Great Above and The Queen of the Great Below were One. Miri smiled and flexed her hands and admired her new self. She was finally whole. No longer One Light and One Dark, no longer Life and Death, but a single magnificent entity both Good and Evil, Benificent and Malignant.
Once formed, Miri ceased to exist, for she was everything that had existed, exists and will exist, but in becoming everything, she became everything that had happened, is happening and will happen, and once she was all events, she became a constant unfolding of a single entity. The Universe and everything within it were the sum of her parts, but the parts could not be separated from her being, for she was all things, and in all things she could be found. Everything that occurred was a part of her unfolding. There was only one single, perpetual unfolding.
“I have found it!” she declared and in the same moment her understanding disappeared and she was underground, and the ground vibrated, and suddenly the walls exploded inwards showering Miri with pieces of stone and concrete. She screamed in terror, as the wall collapsed upon her. Suddenly she was seized and carried fighting from the crypt.
“Stop!” she cried. “Please stop! Don’t free me! I cannot bear to be released!”
Her release could mean only one thing. Sarai had been found. She could not bear the thought of being forced to watch Clausius impregnate her. The revulsion curdled her stomach, and she fought with all her might, but arms stronger than hers wrapped about her, and Maximinus held her tight, quieting her, and she began to shake uncontrollably. “It’s alright!” he whispered, “It’s alright! Claudius is dead!”
“Dead?” cried Miri, “Dead?”
“He was poisoned by his wife, Agrippina!”
“Agrippina?” asked Miri.
“The daughter of Germanicus!”
“His niece? But he was married to Messalina!” declared Miri.
“You have been locked away for ten years!” said Maximinus.
“Ten years!” cried Miri, “How is that possible? It seems only a moment!”
She reached to touch her face. Her skin was wrinkled and the veins stood out on the back of her hands. It was true!
“Ten years?” she whispered again. It seemed that only just yesterday she was running after goats in the fields of Shechem.
“I will take you to Arles!” said Maximinus.
“No! Not yet, please, I have to rest!” She sat trying to catch her breath, then slow it. Her mind finally slowed. She looked up at her gaoler.
“You stayed with me for ten years?” she asked Maximinus, “Have you no family?”
He stared down at the ground.
“I-I was castrated!” Maximinus said quietly.
“Castrated?” asked Miri, “When? By whom?”
“Claudius had me gelded so I could not impregnate you!”
“Oh my dear, sweet Maximinus!” whispered Miri. She could not bear to tell him for the entire ten years she was incapable of bearing a child. Light filtered through a curtain across the mouth of the cave. It was heavy and a deep red.
“It’s light out?” she asked Maximinus.
“Please, can you take me out there?”
He lifted her and carried her to the mouth of the cave. A pilgrim held back the curtain for them, and the people gathered outside called out to her for benediction. But she was blinded by the light of the sun. A woman sensed her discomfort and wrapped a muslin cloth over her head as a scarf to shade her from the light. Pilgrims stood back, for she was withered and unclean, not at all the vision of the picture that had been hung on the wall of her shrine. The pain of the light in her eyes caused her to cover her head with a muslin cloth. The cloth shaded her from the light, and she was able to see through the fibres.
She smiled at the faces whether filled with fear revulsion or devotion. “Go home,” she told them, “Greet your children! Hug your parents and cherish everyone you meet!” Maximinus set her on a flat grassy knoll, where she could look out in every direction over the countryside.
“It’s beautiful!” she said happily as she stared out at the world. She could smell the sea breeze from the south, and of pine and spruce. “I would like to take a bath!” she said finally.
“I will take you to the town!” said Maximinus excitedly, “Everyone will be pleased to see you alive!”
“None more than I!” replied Miri, “But I would prefer to remain here! I am not ready for the world yet!”
“Nor they for you!” said Maximinus with a grin.
Miri returned slowly to receiving guests, and she managed to engage people other than Maximinus in conversation, but her heart held a special place for him, and her being lightened remarkably whenever he appeared. She was content to sit on the mountainside with him and watch the sun rise, spin in an arc over the mountain and set in the west during the day, and often, at night to observe the moon and stars. Time no longer had meaning for her, and she patiently listened to ardent Jews, Pagans and Christians who came to explain their theories of the Universe to her, and she allowed them to speak. Some, content they had converted her and she had, by the simple act of listening without interrupting, endorsed their ideas, left happily without learning anything from her. But those who came with hearts and minds open were struck by her contentment and acceptance, and wondered about her secret, and she told them there were no secrets to be learned.
“The world is what it is and you are what you are. You react the way you react. You and everything you experience and everything you do not are the unfolding of the Universe. It is unending. That which you call God is immanent in everything that exists. Some things that happen hurt and some do not. It is a condition to which you must learn to adapt. There is doing or there is not doing. In between each, every, and any moment, we must decide on one over the other. So, you must always ask: ‘Am I choosing from Love, or am I choosing from Fear?’
The universe is God. As it is everything that exists, no single person can, through experience know the full extant of God, and so most of us must speak of God in parables, masked in myth and legend, and invent an image upon which we can focus that gives us a limited understanding of God. For example, it is easier to me to imagine the Universe as a Mother, a Goddess, but for others, it is the image of a father, a king or queen, grandmother, grandfather, cow, fish, goat, dog, pig, tree or mountain, or even all of those images grouped into a heavenly pantheon, but in reality, though these things are all the Goddess, it is an illusion that we worship. Do not accuse anyone of worshipping false gods, for we all make gods in our own image, and what seems to be Goddess to one can be Demon to another. It is not what we worship that leads us falsely; for the Goddess is within everything we see, for the Goddess is everything we see. If it is easier to imagine the spirit of a tree is a separate being, then there is nothing wrong with that belief, for the expression of the Goddess can be discovered within it.
Each, every, and any one of us is an expression of the God, and that part of us closest to the God, we call the Soul. You must look within yourself, through your Soul to find God, for you are the House in which God resides. But it is not for us to see the wholeness through that window, just as some can see further into the distance than others, and there we can connect to each every and any other expression of the Universal Soul as we are able. Some will see far enough to believe in reincarnation, but our own limitations determine our ability to connect to those other experiences. Some do not wish to see Eternity, and will close the window altogether, but that is their choice and they cannot help but be who they are.
But there is suffering in the world, and pain, so how can God allow such things? Listen, God does not control the world; he is the world, and despite the evil around us, God still offers the promise that the world can change, and he does so through constant regeneration. Though you may not know it, what you think of God is reflected how you honour God’s regenerative process. Instead of offering your first born, God’s greatest gift, to God, instead offer to every child that which you would give to God, for the child is God in his purest form. This is something that we have all sensed, for does a parent not refer to their offspring as ‘God’s gift’, and a grandparent dote upon the grandchild? Children are not created to be taught but to teach. It is not the true nature of children to fulfill their parent’s dreams, but for the parents to fulfill the dreams of the child. You have heard the commandment to honour thy mother and father,’ but how do you expect that to happen unless you first honour the child?
I have seen holy men pile first fruits upon the altars of the gods and dress their idols in gilded finery, while the children outside the very gates of the temple run in rags, and beg for scraps. Anyone that places an offering in the hand of a child is placing it on the altar of God. A dry crust of bread in a beggar’s hand is more sacred to God than shewbread upon fine linen altar coverings. Wrapping your old cloak about the widow’s shoulders shows more grace than adorning a statue to be paraded from the temple to the waters. Far better to elevate the poor, the disenfranchised and the needy, than to offer a golden chalice to the temple treasury!
Pay attention to the child, and show kindness to the best of your ability. Yeshua told his followers ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!’ You can only do that which you are impelled to do, but once you know that the world and everything in it is God, remember that strangers are gods among us! Every kind act that you perform, will one day be passed on, and enough acts of kindness can change the way the world unfolds!”
She looked at Maximinus. He was furiously writing on parchment.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Writing it down!” he said, not looking up.
“Do you think you’ll forget that treating a child like God is the fastest way to bring the Realm of God to Earth?”
“It is for posterity!” he said, looking up finally.
“Were you not listening, Max? It is not a secret that the best way to live is to be as kind as possible! To treat the world with the respect that a god deserves is not a hidden mystery! We all know this! Unfortunately, we sometimes choose to ignore it!”
“But your life should be written down so that others can learn from it!” Maximinus insisted.
Miri laughed. “Do you not think others have their own lives to live? Everything I have discovered is there for others to find in their own way! You cannot capture the essence of the Goddess by binding her to the paper with ink! The world is constantly changing, and Truth for one generation is Fallacy for the next. Do you think by knowing my mistakes, others will avoid them? Perhaps it will have the opposite effect and they will emulate my worst deeds as well as the best!”
“I had not thought of that!” said Maximinus, and he returned to writing.
“You are still writing?” she asked incredulously.
He finished off writing a sentence with a flourish of his pen, and put away his writing box. “I can only do that which I am compelled to do by my nature, and I am compelled to record your thoughts,” he said and blew on the ink to dry it. Content with his tasks, he rolled up the scroll and bound it shut with a ribbon.
“Come!” he said and pulled Miri to her feet, “I want to show you something!”
“What is it?” asked Miri, rising to her feet,
“Come!” he said, and led her back to the grotto. He pulled aside the curtain, and took Miri to an embroidered curtain covering a niche in the sanctuary wall. He lifted it up, revealing stack of scrolls on a shelf in the rock. “This is your life, and my life’s work!” he said proudly.
She caressed the scrolls, pulled one out, and looked at him.
“Over the years, while you talked through the chink, I wrote your words onto the page. While you slept, I rewrote it until I was satisfied with it, all the while, the Goddess to flowed through the top of my head and out through my fingers and filled the page!”
Miri shook her head at the folly of his task, and in admiration of it.
“What made you do such a thing?” she asked, as she slid the scroll back into the stacks.
Maximinus hesitated. Then took a deep breath.
“Because I love you!”
She could feel his heart thudding against his ribs.
“With all of my Heart!”
She slipped her hands about his hips, and pulled him toward her.
“And I love you with all of my Soul!” she whispered, and in an embrace that lasted an eternity they gently, and sweetly, kissed.
And her father, old Sin, the Moon, smiled.