Potinija watched the priestesses closely as they busied themselves about the sacrosanct, innermost sanctuary of the Juktas temple. The laborious procedures associated with the ritual had to be enacted with great love, passion and attention to detail; otherwise the invocation would not work. No doubt, the Wise One Eilythia was to be commended for her brilliance in discerning a method whereby a homologous enterprise would generate a twofold, and hopefully favourable consequence; by enacting the human sacrifice and projecting her being into the great Hive of the Great Mother Goddess by manner of the Stone, Potinija hoped to propitiate the fuming earth whilst at the same time evoke the all omniscient, fiery eye of the Lady. The latter was a powerful weapon which would be used mercilessly to subjugate the red peoples who, according to the Wise One, were expected to arrive on the shores of Keftiu just after the great conflagration.
From where Potinija stood, she could see that they had cleaned and polished the sacrificial implements. These included a large gilded double-axe, a golden labrys, which usually hung inside the north wall of the innermost sanctuary of the mountain shrine, and two bronze knives engraved with the heads of winged griffins, one made of stone and the other of copper, both able to slice through flesh and bone with great precision and accuracy. Two blood buckets had been hauled up along the side of the mountain and placed beside the sacrificial victim, a young Essene, who had recently been purified in a lustral basin and then bound tightly to a stone table, itself fashioned to look like a bull.
The magic potion, made from the grated powder of the Stone and honey collected from the surrounding forests and caves of Juktas, had been placed inside a small chalice made of copper and engraved with bucrania. It was subsequently mounted onto a holder formed by the adjoining arms of a wasp-waisted, life-sized statue of the Great Mother Goddess standing near the centre of the sanctuary. Potinija stared at the veiled goddess for some time, trying to imagine what Her face might look like. It was forbidden to lay eyes on any incarnation of Her supernal brilliance, animate and ethereal or inanimate and concrete.
Potinija became so transfixed by the black veil that shrouded the statue’s head that she didn’t notice the priestesses leave the mountain sanctuary and begin their descent along the mountain in a bid to continue the bull sacrifices at Cnossos. Lamentably, the ground begun trembling not long after they left; the vibrations themselves emanated from deep within the earth and were more vehement than ever.
“We’re here,” the Wise One said, bursting into the sanctuary with her assistant, a priestess named Ida. “We must begin at once!”
“This time the Earthshaker is serious,” said Ida, “and the sacrifices at Cnossos aren’t working.”
“Quick! Quick!” the Wise One yelled. “Drink the potion Potinija.”
Potinja snatched the chalice up, itself inlaid with gold, silver and other precious stones. She stared at the opalescent mixture suspiciously.
“Drink it now!” the Wise One screamed. “We haven’t a moment to lose. The Sacred Marriage is about to unravel.”
Somewhat befuddled, Potinija lifted the chalice to her lips and emptied the contents into her mouth. The lunar potion was electric, sickeningly sweet. She swallowed it in one gulp.
“Now do exactly as I tell you. Lie directly beneath the symbols of the sun and moon etched on the sanctuary roof,” the Wise One said. “Lie on your back and turn your concentration inward, as you have done many times before. Then wait until I give you the signal to begin separation. Blood must feed the earth before you induce separation.”
‘This isn’t going to work,” said Ida.
“You dare to question me?” the Wise One asked, pointing the golden labrys at her. “Remain silent and do as you’re told.”
“But we’ve given her the blood of many a bull,” Ida pushed on. “Much more than any human could offer. Why should anything less work?”
‘Quality is much more important than quantity Ida,” the Wise One asserted. “She has revealed it to me in a dream. She wants mortal blood, the blood of our young Essenes.”
“Are you sure about this Eilythia?” Potinija asked, positioning herself on the ground before the statue of the goddess. “The oracle has served us well, and I am not one to doubt its integrity, but we have indeed seeded the ground with life-force the past two seasons without reprise. Her will is yet to be appeased.”
“And our will is yet to come to fruition,” Ida added.
“What has gotten into the both of you,” the Wise One said. “You’re supposed to be falling into a slumber, ready to be sucked into the vortices that will lead us to Her the moment blade finds flesh.”
Dropping to her knees beside the stone table, Eilythia tore away the golden sheath that covered the Essene’s member. She cupped it with her palm, using her fingers to stimulate the tip. Then she lowered her head and took him into her mouth, sucking on his erect phallus like a vacuum. The Essene squirmed in titillation as she swirled her tongue around him.
Working herself up into a frenzied state, the Wise One seemed oblivious to the severity of the quakes which increased in magnitude. If anything, the quakes had done nothing but to let loose a primitive rage, a lascivious drive from deep within her. They had supplanted her higher senses, her sanity, and the intellectual reigns of her consciousness.
The temporary insanity which had seized her suddenly relinquished its hold. Eilythia pulled her head away from the Essenes shaft and scrambled to her feet. The white lilies on her breasts trembled as she snatched up the golden labrys from the ground. With a primitive cry that made Potinija’s skin crawl, the Wise One retracted the axe above the Essene with one long, fluid motion.
The Essene screamed. He powered his bound feet into her stomach before she could deliver the blow, knocking her backwards.
“Stop Eilythia!” Ida yelled.
Eilythia was stoic, unwavering in her resolve to fertilise the earth with mortal blood. Dishevelled, she scurried to her feet and came rushing towards the Essene again. But Ida tackled her from behind before she could swing the axe down, wrestling the sacrificial instrument from her hands.
“No!” the Wise One clenched her teeth. “It’s mine!”
“Let go of it,” Ida yelled, powering a kick into her knee.
The roar was getting louder and the tussle between the two priestesses more violent, but Potinija remained oblivious to both. She had already slipped into a self-induced trance and was now ruminating in perfect solitude, waiting for her projection into the realm of the Great Mother Goddess. Above her, the chunk of gypsum upon which the symbol of reconciliation between the moon and sun was etched had already separated from the rest of the ceiling. Being synthesized of weaker material, it was designed to break off so that light from the Sacred Marriage could reach the sacrosanct chamber. Now it was precariously suspended above them and would come crashing down at any minute.
“The roof is going to collapse,” said Ida. “We’re going to die.”
“Not before the Essene does!” the Wise One remarked.
“You’ll have to get through me first Eilythia,” said Ida.
Rubble continued to rain down around them but that didn’t seem to bother Eilythia who kept swinging the axe towards Ida. But the latter was equal to the task of retaliation. She dodged the assault by stepping sideways and then powering a kick into her assailant’s arm. There was a loud shriek as the golden labrys went spinning off across the sanctuary.
“You fool!” the Wise One shrieked. “Look what you’ve done. Now we’ll…”
The chunk of gypsum that had come loose was suddenly airborne. Squealing, the priestesses dropped onto the ground, retracting their limbs and covering their heads in a protective pose that was somewhat reminiscent of a developing embryo. Their soul-wrenching screams were silenced by the force of the block as it crashed down on top of them.
Directly overhead, the moon had eclipsed the sun.
After concentrating her energies in the region of her solar plexus, Potinija felt herself diffuse out of her own body. At first, the schism incited a sense of disorientation, of dizziness; she was gyrating, spinning around and around in circles at the speed of light. This was closely followed by an ululation that came from somewhere beneath her. It jolted her out of her inert position and shuttled her skywards. Her disembodied consciousness floated upwards and expanding outwards like helium gas. Before long, her personal energy field was hovering above the mountain temple like a bulbous cloud, witnessing the slab of gypsum the precise moment it tore away from the roof and landed on the three bodies inside, one of which was still in a state of suspended animation.
What happened next was rather puzzling, as if she’d somehow slipped through a mirror, walked through a time warp, or been sucked through a black hole even. She was zapped through mountains and deserts of iridescent dust to the heart of an amorphous black heap, a Stygian darkness that started off as a three-dimensional spherical whole but then began to divide and further subdivide into tiers of hexagonal cells, like those of an earthly beehive.
In fact, when Potinija pondered the reality of her situation, it were as if she’d become entrapped inside the polygonal chambers of a colossal beehive which were boundless and whose being extended as far back as the primeval time origin, if not further. An ethereal quietude overlaid with rapturous vibration reverberated through the darkness, stirring within the intuitive feeling that this was her eternal home. Potinija was by nature a curious being, and so the desire and temptation to pry deeper into the hive and discover “truths” about the cosmos was ever-present. But as she was to find out, something stood in the way of that understanding.
Another presence wanting to make itself known suddenly materialised in the Stygian darkness. At first, Potinija thought that the movement was coming from in amongst the hexagonal cells of the beehive, but that conviction soon went the way of the Golden Age. No, the presence didn’t originate from the hexagonal cells at all, but rather from the nucleus of the Stygian unity. The unity multiplied itself over and over, until it had acquired a shape that was part-humanoid, part-bee. It began to form definitive features; an elongated head with thin lips and large, beady eyes, a wasp-waisted body and a thick abdomen. Potonija could almost hear the fluttering of its translucent wings as they sprouted anew along its back.
A very powerful sensual energy radiated from the divine being. There wasn’t anything that this being remained ignorant of, or anything which could remain occult before its all-pervading justice. It could inhabit a single locale, a pinprick of time and space, or alternatively encompass the entire diffuse background of energy fields that made up the cosmos. It was omniscient, empathic and telepathic.
“Are you our White Queen?” Potinija asked.
“It is I.”
“You’re really speaking to me, aren’t you?” Potinija was elated.
“We speak the same language Potinija.”
“We have discovered the moon milk,” Potinija said, “and the moon milk has finally opened the portal which leads to you.”
“Of course you know, forgive me.”
“The language of the white people will be lost Potinija.”
“Why, oh Queen?” Potinija asked. “I have only ever used it for the sake of good.”
“Because it challenges the absolute authority and Will of the Creator,” the divine being revealed. “It challenges the threads of fate that are woven from the fabric of the cosmos.”
“You tamper with the contingencies and inclinations of Nature. It is unlawful.”
“I need your powers to fight the red people,” said Potinija. “They will come to desecrate our temples and destroy us.”
“The time of the red people is very near,” the being said. “It cannot be helped.”
“You must defend us from the ravages of the red people,” Potinija insisted. “Our ways are the ways of truth.”
“They are only half the truth,” the being revealed. “Blood sacrifice will not influence the heavenly order. If anything, they defile the sanctity of created life.”
“Oh, Great Mother,” Potinija sighed. “We have been cursed.”
“Nothing is ever accursed in Nature,” the divine being said. “It merely runs its course and fulfils its destiny.”
"I, too, oh Queen, must return to fulfil my destiny,” Potinija said. “My people need me.”
“You cannot return to earth Potinija,” the being revealed.
“Your body has been rendered too weak to contain your life force.”
“You mean I’m dead?” Potinija asked.
“If you chose to regard it as such,” the divine being said. “You can choose to return, but the plight will most likely be an unsuccessful one.”
“What do you propose I do?”
“You must let yourself go,” the being instructed. “You must forfeit your personal history, your memories and unique vibrations, your very life force to me. You must beach yourself upon the shores of pure consciousness until the seasons change again. There will come a time when the stars will call for the conferral of the lunarised powers upon the reddened peoples, powers which will be forgotten completely. That is when you will be allowed to descend, to return, to incarnate…”
Potinija remained silent.
“If you return you will suffer the second death, non-existence,” the divine being revealed. “You will not be able to diffuse back through the portal.”
“Fine,” Potinija said. “I accept your offer.”
“You agree with all your being?”
“With all my being,” Potinija repeated.
“So let it be done.”
Potinija resisted every attempt to hold herself together. Bit by bit, the shards of her personal energy field broke off from her nucleus and were absorbed by the wasp-waisted divinity’s self-generated vortices. It wasn’t long before she was one with the noetic matter of which the entire cosmos had been hewn. There, she entered that much desired condition known as nirvana, a dream-like state that was entirely indigenous to divinity itself.
In time, she would incarnate to deliver the golden Logos of the Goddess, to spur human beings to the remembrance of who they once were and what they could become.