Potinija wove her way in and out of the water, propelling herself forward with the powerful muscles in her tail. There was no way any human being could ever swim like this; their bodies just didn’t allow for it.
The feeling of inhabiting a foreign body was still somewhat eerie, though it was one she’d grown used to with time. Long ago she’d mastered the art of separation, meandering in disembodied states, encroaching upon and then possessing the bodies of the unassuming zodiacal beasts. Some of the ventures were quite enjoyable, like little quests to explore some of the lesser known paths that the divine She manifested in, though the aftermath was always tainted by a sense of guilt.
The truth of the matter was that she didn’t quite know how she felt about usurping the minds of other creatures yet. There was something rude and entirely unbecoming about it. To intrude upon and take possession of a being without its consent went against Her will, the natural ordering of things in the cosmos. Thus a while back Potinija came to the conclusion that she would only engage the activity as a last resort or when a desirable outcome could not be arrived at by other means. Save for the notion that it was somewhat sacrilegious; projection also encompassed the danger of becoming entrapped in the body of a decaying carcass. At one time, she’d been unlucky enough to project herself into a rabbit the exact moment it was being ambushed by a white eagle. Thankfully, she was able to eject herself from the throne of the animal’s consciousness before its life force deserted it. Potinija shuddered at the thought of imprisonment in a festering heap of matter.
Further, it required a profuse and indelible effort of concentration to disarm and then hold the reigns over the throne of the intellect when the creature’s consciousness equalled if not surpassed that of human beings. In fact, keeping the porpoises jaws sealed tight as it plunged towards the seashore was starting to become an insurmountable task. Not only was the vessel struggling to free itself from her stranglehold, it was beginning to tire. She could feel every bit of the spasm which wracked its tail fluke. Potinija draw upon every reserve of strength the creature had and urged herself on, desperate to deliver the Stone which would save her people from the wrath of the Earthshaker.
When Potinija snapped out of her reverie, she was surprised to see that she had reached her destination. Careful not to beach the porpoise upon the shore, she rolled onto her side and spat the Stone onto the swirling sands. Then she relinquished her hold upon the creature’s mind by diffusing out through the individual field of its life-force and into the ambient background of fields that united all created Nature. Soon, she was soaring above the skies like a whooping crane. From here she had a bird’s eye view of the ceremony; nineteen chanting priestesses were still holding hands and dancing around her inanimate body–slender, tall and powdered over with chalk–which lay atop the sacrosanct stone table. The sacrificed bull was beside her; a river of blood ran from its neck, feeding an adjoining sacred pool which would soon manifest soul force in the guise of bees and butterflies. The vision was fleeting and lasted all of about a fraction of a second before her wafting consciousness was sucked rudely back into its mortal vessel. She could now hear the rhythmic beating of drums and the intermittent ululation that came from the dishevelled priestesses as they beat their breasts and danced about her.
Potinija wiped beads of sweat which had formed under her brows.
“I have it! I have it!” she cried out.
“Where is it?” asked the Wise One, peering down upon her naked body in anticipation. “Where is the Stone of the moon?”
“By the sea,” said Potinija. “It’s been dropped by the sea.”
Two priestesses helped her to her feet. The psychic energy spent in going walkabouts was often significant, and a common side effect of the practice was to suffer a mild case of disorientation and dizziness afterwards. Nevertheless, Potinija overcame the nasty aftereffects as well as the pitch darkness and stumble all the way to the shore without losing her bearings.
It wasn’t long before her eyes had adjusted to the subtle moonlit tones of the night. She scanned the area in which froth and seaweed had been spewed out from the sea by the waves and that’s when she saw it. About the size of a small plum, it glimmered with a supernal opalescence that rivalled, if not surpassed, that of the moon when it was at the height of its generative powers.
Potinija snatched it up and curled her fingers around it. It was cool and smooth to the touch, as if the waves had washed over it a billion or so times. Sensing that the priestesses were standing right behind her, she pivoted and thrust her hand out towards the heavens, holding the Stone between her thumb and forefinger. Gasps of awe and shrieks of reverence came from the women, and each proceeded to prostrate herself on the ground to commemorate, yet again, the magical powers that could be yielded by tapping into the nervous system of the Earth Goddess, the electromagnetic currents that coursed through the earth and passed beneath the stone table. These were forces which only Potinija, as figurehead of the Great Mother Goddess, could appropriate.
For a while there was a deep graveyard silence. What little light there was illuminated the coloured sands of Keftiu, stained a reddish pink from incessant sacrifices which hoped to placate the Earth’s proliferating anger and restore it to its former quietude through the violent, spontaneous release of vital energy. Potinija lifted her gaze to the great cliffs which lined the seashore and which had been nibbled on by the sea for time immemorial. Giant cypresses, olive groves and oak trees were rooted on the furthest edges of the dramatic ravine, steadfast in their endeavour to resist a fatal tumble into the brackish chaos below. Down there, one could marvel at the violence of creation and un-creation, the place where the returning waters polished dross and detritus into brilliant glass of obsidian and hewed out slabs of rock into intricate labyrinths. These were places were the voice of the Mother Goddess could be heard, dark and damp places in which she revealed to the seeker innumerable reasons as to how and why the human soul incarnates over and over again.
Many a time, Potinija had climbed to the top to enjoy daytime views of mighty Kairatos, the magic mountain Juktas, and the green-blue sea; by night-time, she would gaze the star gods which wove the threads of human fate together as they circumnavigated the heavens and then chart the wanderers as they displaced the etheric gases in their search for love everlasting. More often than not, the moon would sprinkle its romance, its invisible silver dust onto the land and ignite the ravenous flames of desire within both the female Melissae and the male Essenes. Even she, the Queen Melissae, was not immune from its intoxicating assault.
There was suddenly a weight on her shoulder. Potinija peered down. It was Eilythia, the Wise One, who had descended from the stone table to confer the oracle. She held sacrosanct double axes made of pure bronze in her hands. The priestesses had dressed her in a black robe which draped over her shoulders and hung quite low, touching the ground. As was the case with all ceremonial attire, her rounded breasts and dark nipples remained exposed to the elements. Her headdress was a spherical mirror of copper and obsidian held into position by a pair of polished bull horns which sprung up symmetrically from either side. The entire headpiece was decorated with large peacock feathers.
Save from its aesthetic appeal, the headdress encompassed a practical purpose. The Wise One would use the mirror to concentrate moonlight onto the surface of the sacred pool by the stone table and obtain messages from the other world.
“Tell me,” Potinija prompted her.
“I see darkness,” the Wise One said, lifting the bronze double axes towards the heavens.
“Can you see our birth time?”
“Yes it’s encoded in the stars. It was a long, long time ago.”
“Have we appeased Her?” Potinija asked.
“There will be no conception,” the Wise One declared, holding her navel. “I cannot feel it growing inside of me.”
“It cannot be.”
“I see tears,” the Wise One continued. Tears were streaming down her eyes. “I am the moon that is wounded.”
“But you will wax,” said Potinija.
Eilythia’s voice deepened; her tone grew graver. She held her arms out towards the skies. “I can’t. There’s absolutely no light, no fire. The only thing I see is darkness after darkness. Nothingness.”
“How can it be? We have offered the Earthshaker so many bulls. Search deeper, go deeper still,” Potinija prompted her.
“Darkness,” she whispered.
“Go deeper,” Potinija ordered. “To the time origin.”
After a few seconds she said, “They will come after the great fire.”
“The red people,” the Wise One said.
“Who are they?”
“They are like our Essenes but there are many of them,” the Wise One said. “They have eyes of the sea and wear the skins of the wolves. They’re on the rise. Their nature is not white, it is red. They are betrayers of the white light, shadows in the sea. They’re from the north.”
“What do they look like?” Potinija asked.
“I can’t see their features,” the Wise One said, “but know that there are many. One wears the skins of a lion. The rest call him their lamb.”
“What is he?”
“Dangerous,” said the Wise One. “They will come on the day of the Sacred Marriage, a day in which there will be darkness in the light of day, to take arms against our temples.”
“When?” Potinija asked.
“The fourth of the month.”
“Three days from now?” asked Potinija. She was suddenly overcome by a strong sense of urgency.
“Yes. There will be fire and darkness on this day. I cannot see new birth,” Eilythia reiterated.
“But I have retrieved the Stone from the treacherous depths of the sea,” Potinija argued. “There must be new birth.”
“No,” the Wise One said. “You are barren.”
“What are we to do? Tell me Eilythia,” Potinija pleaded.
“There is much to be done,” the Wise One advised. “You must go to Her and ask how she may be appeased before it is too late.”
“You will grind the Stone into a fine white powder, mix it with the mead we use for the New Year ritual and ingest it. It will open up the way to Her.”
“Is this the only way?”
“It is the only way,” the Wise One confirmed. “The moment must be accompanied by a colossal release of energy.”
“More bulls?” Potinija asked.
“No, for this Essenes will be needed,” the Wise One revealed, clenching the axes tightly in her hands. “The Earthshaker is still angry, she has not been appeased.”
“We have yet to see the great Hive,” Potinija pointed out, “let alone enter it.”
“I know,” the Wise One said. “And that is why our faith will have to be bigger.”
“What’s that noise?” Potinija said, looking down.
The ground began to tremble. Parts of it formed fissures which opened up into gaping mouths, ready to swallow anything in the immediate vicinity.
“It’s the Earthshaker,” the Wise One screamed, dropping the axes. “Everybody face down on the ground.”
Potinija felt the vibrations that welled up from deep within the cavernous depths of the earth. They seeped into her inner being, filling her will a primitive resolve, a carnal desire to enact violence upon the so-called red peoples.
A loud bang came from somewhere in the distance. Potinija looked up. The stone table which had been used to enact magical feats by the ancestors since the laying of the foundation stone of the empire had snapped in half.