Like silverware, goddesses polish the moon.
Like silverware, goddesses polish the moon.
My body was rife with boils and scabs, the pain constant, like blue fire to an open wound. My own hands were clamshells, too stiff and weak to aid myself. My sisters, Martha and Mary, dressed my inflamed skin in cool gauze and oils, yet it did no good. I wished only for death.
“He, Yeshua, the healer,” Martha told me, her young face riddled with lines of worry. “He shall be back. It was his promise to us.”
“You speak of the Rabboni?” I could barely gasp the words. My breath was fast vanishing.
I moved my stiff body, a near corpse, against the straw mattress. It cut like a blade. No miracle worker could help me, that I knew. The pox gripped and I was well beyond healing. Yet I had not the heart nor the strength to say this aloud, knowing it would crush my sisters’ hopes.
“It is told the Rabboni has walked on waves in the sea of Galilee,” Mary continued. “He calms the ocean’s storms. In Canaan they talk of the man who has changed water into wine. In Tiberias they talk of the man who fed a multitude with only seven loaves and two fishes. Such are the miracles of Yeshua bin Joseph, and he has stated his undying love for us.”
Drivel and nonsense! My mind screamed but my voice could not utter it. I was thirsty, very thirsty and my head burned with fever. Martha pressed a wineskin to my lips but its taste was bitter as gall. The liquid burned in my swollen throat. “You must drink brother,” Martha said. “So as to stay quick till the Rabboni arrives. It is then he will cure you and you shall be whole once more.”
I let out a sigh in as much as my breath would permit it. Whole. Did I want to be whole ever again?
Illness is a mad thing. It steals one’s will. I was a young man, younger than the Rabboni, who was three and thirty years. These miracles my sisters spoke of meant little to me. I followed no god, paid Caesar no tithes, was beholden to no man. Death was inevitable. When my time came I had always known I’d accept it.
Not so with my sisters. Their faith was constant as rise of the sun. They’d not give up hope. Mary sat at the edge of my mat, her hands folded in prayer. “When I am gone,” I began, but could not continue as I saw the tears trickle like silent rain from the corners of her eyes.
“You will not be gone brother,” Martha called. She brought bread from the village and begged me to eat but its taste was dust, my ulcered mouth too weak to chew.
Night fell. Finally my sisters ceased their fussing and took to bed. I was relieved.
Through the bare windows of our hut I saw the moon rise. The first full moon since change of the season. Desert winds were now calmer and pink phlox grew like spun silk across the land. The heat of summer would not be far behind, yet I knew I’d not live to see it.
I closed my eyes. Sleep enveloped me like a womb.
When I awoke it was yet night, the moon outside the window full and pink as the phlox that grew beneath it.
Stars twinkled all around. I could feel the breeze, balmy against my bandages. Oh, to breathe that air once again! To stand beneath that full moon. If I had but one last request, that would be it. Yet I had such little strength.
Rising on my blistered feet, I grabbed the wineskin, tried to drink but still the taste was bitter. Martha’s loaf of bread sat upon the table, now covered with locusts. The sight of it turned my stomach.
My breath was heavy. I longed for the night air. I stood on shaky legs. Although I had been bedridden for weeks I now walked outside, compelled by some force, a force as powerful as the moon’s diamond tides.
It was there in the rich darkness that the woman met me.
She was naked, illuminated in the moon’s glow, her skin and lips pink, with streams of red hair hair that fell to her hips.
“Lazarus,” she said. “Your time is not yet come. Though your body is diseased and imperfect, you are still a young man. The years ahead are many. Your sisters need you. If you will show but a tiny seedling of faith you shall be healed.”
Such perfection I had never seen in a woman before. “Who are you?” I asked.
“Come nearer,” she answered.
I approached her and when I was cheek press close she whispered in my ear, “Lillith.”
I backed away. Lillith! It was she who had cursed the earth, she who had left her husband Adam, she who brought death to one hundred babies each day. This Lillith, a demon! A vixen! So said all the holy books. My instincts were to flee. Yet when she spoke again, her voice like rich bells beckoning me, I could not refuse.
She placed her hand upon my forehead. Her touch was cool and soft, like moonbeams themselves. “You’d do well not to believe the legends of men!” she quipped.
She then took me into her bosom, placed her teat to my mouth. “Drink, Lazarus,” she commanded. “This is the milk of life, stronger than any wine.”
Her taste was sweet and as I drank I felt my strength restored. The boils healed on my skin, the ulcers vanished from my mouth. My fever broke and my head cooled. My muscles, which had begun to atrophy, now took on a new suppleness and flexibility. I stood to my full height. My vision was sharp and clear.
I looked around me. All the ground seemed brighter, the plants green as pine, the flowers grown to the size of wheat fields. The colors were dazzling. Silver rivers flowed, sheep grazed, trees were ripe with apples. Far in the distance the landscape sprung with all manner of vegetation, the lavender fields a sea of purple before us. We were no longer in Bethany.
“What is the place, my lady?” I asked. My voice was now deep, restored of its full volume and masculinity.
“This is but a fragment of Eden,” she answered. “And you are here for but a fragment of time. Answer when Yeshua calls. He weeps for you. There is so much more of your life to live.”
The next I knew I was in a tomb, rock walls encompassing like a prison around me. I was clothed in linen, my head wrapped and eyes covered. This seemed quite absurd as I had never felt fitter in my life. They had buried me? Buried me alive, no less! I unraveled the gauze from my eyes.
Just then the tomb’s boulder was moved. A path opened and yellow sunlight poured in. I heard his voice, sturdy and pleading. “Lazarus, come out.”
Slowly I stepped from the tomb, earth warm on my bare feet. Mary and Martha ran to my side and embraced me. “Brother,” Mary said. “Never did we lose our faith. Though we buried you four days ago, it is as he promised. You live!” Her face was wet with tears of joy.
Four days? Surely she was wrong, for I had been with Lillith but a moment! Only long enough to drink the milk from her breasts and glimpse paradise.
“Remove those burial linens and let him go,” Yeshua instructed.
Later, as we dined together at our table he leaned in to me and whispered in my ear, “Tell no one of Lillith.”
“But why, Rabboni?” I asked. The woman Lillith had been a vision, a hope and a miracle. I longed to share my story.
“They will crucify me for this,” Yeshua answered. “If they learn the source from which my power comes it will be even worse. You’ll endanger your sisters. You’ll endanger all of womankind. This world is not yet prepared for the Truth.”
I heeded his words and told none of my visit with Lillith.
My sister Mary then took an alabaster jar filled with our finest perfumed oil. She anointed Yeshua’s feet and dried them with her own hair.
The men criticized her. The one called Judas Iscariot rose and gestured wildly. “This fine perfume could have been sold and its money given to the poor!” he bellowed. “Yet Mary has wasted it on the Rabboni’s feet! She is sinful.”
My sister, unperturbed, continued her anointing.
“Leave the woman alone,” Yeshua commanded. “She is preparing me for my burial. The poor will be with you always, but I am destined to leave you soon.”
All were silent at this. He was correct. When the Sanhedrin heard of my resurrection, they became even more suspicious of him. A bounty was put on his head and the one called Iscariot betrayed him for thirty pieces of silver. He was arrested the following Thursday at the garden of Gethsemane.
The very next day Yeshua bin Joseph was crucified, nailed to a cross with a crown of thorns on his head. He died at Golgatha and was buried in a nearby tomb.
Like me, he arose from that tomb. Like me, he never told anyone of his encounter with Lillith.
As time went on many were persecuted. Women were burned at the stake, hung and murdered for their gifts of healing , elemental powers and necromancy. It was not until millennia had passed that the Enlightenment came.
The world was then ready for the Truth.
So warned the soothsayer to Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s famous play. Alas poor Julius — he did not heed the advice, went against his own instincts and was stabbed to death in the senate. The bloody, infamous event occurred on March 15, 44 B.C.
Have you ever wondered what the ‘Ides’ of March actually means?
It was a designation for the middle of a month. Apparently, the ancient Romans did not number days of a month sequentially from first through last day. Instead, they divided the month and counted days from three specific points. These points were called the Nones (5th -7th of the month) the Ides (13th to 15th) and the Kalends (1st of the following month).
The divisions were determined by the full moon, which normally occurred between the 13th and 15th of the month. Thus the Roman senate would have actually gone ‘loony’ under the full moon. (We just had our full moon on March 12, so the 2017 measurement is not too far off!)
After the death of Caesar, the 15th of March seemed to carry its own specific dark cloud. Many other tragedies have occurred on this day. For example:
A Raid on Southern England, 1360
A French raiding party began a 48-hour spree of rape, pillage and murder in southern England. King Edward III interrupted his own pillaging spree in France to retaliate.
Czar Nicholas II Abdicated His Throne, 1917 Czar Nicholas II of Russia signed his abdication papers, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty. Enter the Bolsheviks!
Germany Occupied Czechoslovakia, 1939
Nazi troops seized the provinces of Bohemia and Moravia, effectively wiping Czechoslovakia off the map. The beginning of Hitler’s destruction.
A Deadly Blizzard on the Great Plains, 1941
A Saturday-night blizzard struck the northern Great Plains, leaving at least 60 people dead in North Dakota and Minnesota and six more in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
World Record Rainfall, 1952
Rain fell on the Indian Ocean island of La Réunion—and kept falling, hard enough to register the world’s most voluminous 24-hour rainfall: 73.62 inches. Reportedly, no arks were built 🙂
CBS Cancelled the “Ed Sullivan Show,” 1971
CBS-TV cancelled “The Ed Sullivan Show” after 23 years on the network. Ed brought us the Beatles!
But it need not be all doom and gloom.
If you are looking to brush up on Julius Caesar, or just want to view some beautiful cinematography and great acting, I recommend this (somewhat lengthy) but very entertaining film. Shown as a miniseries in 2002, it stars Jeremy Sisto as Caesar, with a supporting cast that includes Christopher Walken, Richard Harris and Christopher Noth. Running time is 3 hours. Hope you get a chance to watch!
Happy Ides of March!
As I stepped to the forest path the moon was platinum full, bathing its pale light over the changing leaves of October. The Native tribes called this moon Hunter, and sure as I gazed at it, I knew Diana’s strength embraced me.
In my basket I carried victuals, all manner of which would aid my ailing Granny. There were sweet cakes spilling with honey. Wine pressed from dandelion and elderberry. Ginger root to be brewed in a strong tea and garlic bulbs to be steeped in milk. All of it was surely enough to cure any grippe or fever. My poor Granny suffered. Her health and well being were the most important things to me in all the world.
The night was gray, a thick fog rising, air soft as early autumn’s gauze. There was a stillness to the wind, an eeriness like the calm before a storm. This night was odd, I felt it in my bones. Strange things were portended, and if it weren’t for my ailing Granny I would scarce have left from my cottage.
Yet the Hunter moon beckoned.
Halfway through the lupine pass I spotted the wolf. A coat black as ebony and blue eyes that gleamed bright as sapphire.
No doubt the animal had sniffed out my victuals, or even, I daresay, my own blood. I was not a-feared. Humankind surely has dominion over the beasts of this planet. Still, I knew I’d best keep my distance. I made myself scarce among the heather and pine. I even scattered a few cake crumbs so as to throw the beast off my trail. I then proceeded in another direction entirely, forgoing the shortcut yet proceeding to Granny’s cottage all the same.
My dodging was to no avail, for some three leagues down the road I encountered the wolf again. This time the most wondrous of things happened, so much so that you gentle reader, may doubt my words. I assure you it all is true, sure as my name is Ryder Redd and I dwell in the forest of Galbraithe.
The wolf spoke to me, in a voice clear and stern as any man. “Ryder Redd,” quothe he. “What brings thee to the forest?” I was, of course, taken aback. And yet, in the pale light of the moon, where all manner of wondrous things happened, and in the still of the fog where metamorphosis morphed, a talking wolf seemed, in that instant, not so very strange at all.
“I bring remedies to my Granny, black wolf,” said I. “For she ails in fever and such victuals are sure to cure it.”
The wolf then sniffed, stuck his snout in the flannel napkin of my sack. “Have you no meat, woman?” he asked, a rise of tension in his voice.
“Nay sir,” said I. “So sorry to disappoint, but it is medicine I bring. Honey cakes, ginger, strong wine, and garlic, noxious enough to clear any head.”
“Bah, what good are you?” said the wolf. With that he bounded up the path. I silently thanked Diana, for she had no doubt protected me. As the Huntress keeps her animals at bay, so humans are free to wander the earth.
By and by I came to Granny’s cottage. I knocked upon the door. No answer. The house was still as rock, no sign of stirring within. Granny was, no doubt, in slumber. I opened the door. The house was dark and I fumbled for some candles. Having lit them I checked the bedroom, looked beneath the sheets, lifted the dust ruffle and even peeked under the bed. “Granny?” I called. She was nowhere to be found.
Just then through the window I heard an earth shattering howl. Then more howls joined in unison. My heart quickened, for, confronted with one wolf I was able and competent, but this – a whole pack outside my Gran’s door? For this I was not equipped.
Still, curiosity got the better of me and I went to the window. What I viewed, gentle reader, you will surely not believe. Yet I saw it with the eyes in my head, a steady gaze not tempered by imagination nor spirits. I even pinched myself to make sure it was so.
There, under the light of the moon I saw the pack of black wolves. Nay wolves! I say wolves – but not these! These were some strange form of animal, heads and bodies like wolves but with spans of feathered wings that fluttered from their backs. They were like Pegasus, if such a creature existed. Like Gryphon, were such a creature true!
By my wits and my troth I should have been frightened. Frightened white as Diana’s moon. But no. The winged wolves stared at me with eyes of interest. Something was so enticing, so inviting about them. And so I opened the door, left the safety of the cottage and joined them in the field.
The one whom I had seen in the woods came forward. He now had sprouted wings but when he spoke, the voice was exactly the same as I had heard it before. “Ryder Red,” quothe he, “we are pleased to see you.”
The wolves then swarmed in their circle. I moved closer. And then! Such a hideous sight I have never before beheld. Between them they shared a large carcass of meat, marbled with gristle and tendon. Upon closer look I recognized it as the torso of a human chest. The flesh was bloody, severed at the waist, spiky bones of a rib cage protruding. The air smelled of iron and meat.
I watched mesmerized as the gryphon-wolves, with dagger sharp teeth, ripped at their prey. They growled and squabbled, slithered their tongues to lap up the pouring red blood. Finally one beast, the leader of the pack, dug his snout deep into the torso, gnawing until he pulled out a heart. Greedily he chewed at it, a stew of scarlet veins, aorta bursting and even more blood that splattered on his fur like liquid roses. The others consumed all the leftover bits, licking remnants from the grass. I took a step back.
Pleased to see me? My ears burned. Had the wolf actually said ‘pleased to see you’? And where o where was my Granny?
The wolf I’d made acquaintance with moved away for the circle and approached me. He studied me and inasmuch as an animal can smile, he smiled at me.
“What name sir?” I asked nervously, for it seemed the beast must have a name and I should use that name to address him. “And what know you of my Granny?” I added. She was the most important!
“I am called Lycan,” he answered. “As for your Granny, she is changed. Never to be the same again.”
“She ails not.”
“Not how so?”
“She is well.”
“Well how so?”
“She is different.”
“She is changed.”
“Aye sir!” I screeched. “Bring an end to this riddle! I am to tend to my Granny.”
“She needs not tending,” quothe he.
Then, with all the grace and ease of the moon and all the obscurity and blur of the fog, one magnificent gryphon-wolf flew forward. “I am she,” said the voice and I knew it was the voice of my Granny.
“To what form have they brought you?” I gasped. Yet as I watched her I was not frightened nor disgusted. Inasmuch as an animal can smile, she smiled at me.
“My eyes child,” she said, “are all the better to see with. And my teeth all the better to eat with. My ears hear as never before. Sharp as an animal’s.”
In that moment I heard a scurry of feathers, the loud beating of wings. A glitter of silver like so many falling stars scattered across the sky. All the gryphon-wolves, save for Lycan, disappeared quick as cats, vanishing into the fog.
“My Granny is no more?” I cried desperately.
“She is no more for you to see as such,” answered Lycan.
My heart fell although Lycan assured me it was for the best. He then guided me back to the cottage. Once inside, he bid me open my basket. “The honey cakes need not go to waste,” he insisted.
By then I had grown quite hungry, and so I devoured the cakes. I had also grown quite thirsty and so I drank the wine. I felt my head go light. I became very sleepy and stupid, still unable to grasp what had happened. My world was a prism, a split of fog and moon, a mixture of fear and compassion. The fire blazed in its hearth, surreal in its ever changing facets.
“Time for bed Ryder Redd,” said Lycan. With that he pressed his paws to my chest and unbuttoned the stays of my red cloak. Yet in that unbuttoning, his hands somehow changed. They were no longer the paws of a beast. The fingers that pulled at my stays were graceful fingers, with well manicured nails. The hands of a human and a wealthy one at that, the hands of fine breeding.
He pulled the cloak from my shoulders and pressed his face close to mine. It was not the face of a wolf, but a man with a mane of black hair, a face chiseled, cheekbones that glowed bronze and healthy. His sapphire eyes glided over me. His touch was gentle upon my shoulder, gentle upon my waist. He unlaced my camisole, slid my pantaloons off my buttocks and I, docile and sleepy with elderberry, complied to him. I fell into the sheets of Granny’s bed and Lycan climbed beside me.
“You have not eaten, my lord,” I said, for in that moment it occurred to me; I had been most inhospitable, gobbling all the tarts and chugging all the wine. “Of the honey cakes, I fear none are left,” I added sleepily.
“Ryder,” said he, “I am a carnivore, consuming only blood and meat.” His kiss was warm on my breast.
Needless to say, he did not devour me, for if so I would not live to tell this tale. Yet suffice it to say he did not go hungry. That night, and every night thereafter I spent with my wolf- man. He was an agreeable sort and a perfect gentleman toward me, save for once a month at Diana’s full moon when he transformed.
It was then that a pack of black wings fluttered over the forest. It was then that the gryphon-wolves feasted, the poor body of some disease-ridden human finally rescued from its illness. It was then that the flesh became silver stardust, spread across the sky like a flurry of crystalline diamonds.
The saved one would speak of new eyes, all the better to see with. And new ears, all the better to hear with. And of course, new teeth. All the better to bite with.