The Road to Duwamish

4 08 2006

Date to be determined

I am astounded at how much time has elapsed from that night by Blind Springs until now. So much has happened. I have experienced many wonders; I hope my memory serves as I write.

I woke before dawn, in the between time, not yet day, but no longer night. Inanna stood before the rock where the spring spurted forth. She was dressed as a Queen and Goddess.

I had decided what I would bring before I slept, and quickly dressed. Jenny and Verdia are living creatures. I could not bring them into an unknown, so they must stay behind. I left Jenny unpacked and unfettered, free. I left tent and supplies, bedroll and extra clothes, toiletries protected in a cairn. Perhaps some other traveler to these springs might find them of use. I wore only my clothes and the symbols of the things I hold most dear, things which tether me to the people and things beloved to me. I joined Inanna at the rock face.

“I am ready.”

Inanna smiled gently. “In the holy words of the Christian Bible, you are told you must be born again. The metaphor of a seed dying and being buried in the ground speaks to this. The seed will germinate and grow, but first it must die. And so must we all.”

Inanna struck her rod on the ground. The earth trembled, a fissure breaking open at our feet. I clung to Inanna to keep from falling; she was immovable, solid as the earth itself. When the steam and rumbling stopped, I saw the hole opened to a winding stair, as if we were atop a buried tower of an ancient castle.

Inanna spoke again. “When you enter here you are leaving the world you know. If you return, nothing will be as you remember it.”

If I return. I looked behind me. Jenny looked at me with quiet eyes, and nodded. I unwound Verdia from my neck and put her on the ground.

Then I began my descent.

The winding steps into the earth seemed to have no end. Night had fallen in the world above, leaving us in darkness. In the dark I followed the wall with my hand, carefully seeking each step with my foot. It was impossible to measure time. Perhaps it was only minutes to descend, perhaps hours or days. Here, as elsewhere on this journey, time is irrelevant.

In due time we arrived at a gate. It was illuminated by torch light, revealing carvings of ancient stories. I ran my hand over the reliefs, wishing I could sketch them; learn their stories, and the meanings within the stories. Before the closed door stood the gatekeeper clothed in gold. Inanna was taller and more regal than the gatekeeper, but she bowed to her. I bowed as well.

“Who are you and why have you come?”

“I am Inanna, Queen of Heaven, Queen of Earth, Beloved of her People, sister to Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. I have come to mourn with my sister the death of her husband.”

“Before you enter you must relinquish your crown. In the realm of Ereshkigal you are sovereign no longer. Not of others, not of yourself. To enter you must submit to the sovereignty of Ereshkigal.”

Inanna lifted the jeweled silver and gold crown from her head and gave it to the gate keeper. The gatekeeper opened the door and Inanna passed through. Then she turned to me. “Who are you and why have you come?”

I didn’t know how to answer. Who am I? Why was I following an ancient goddess into the Underworld?

“I don’t know who I am, and I hope I will find out as I journey through your realm.”

“Before you enter you must relinquish your crown. In the realm of Ereshkigal you are sovereign no longer. Not of others, not of yourself. To enter you must submit to the sovereignty of Ereshkigal.”

“But I am not a sovereign, I have no crown.”

“In your past you have ruled over yourself and over others. Your hair is your crown.”

I gasped. Relinquish my hair? My hair is my crowning glory. It is admired wherever I go. As I have aged it is the only thing that has retained its beauty and luster. And I have tried to rule my own destiny, I have had the privilege of choices women in other times and places do not have. As a mother and supervisor I have been in authority over others. I am ashamed to admit I have abused that authority, out of pride and ignorance.

I considered, is losing my hair worth the price of being reborn?

*

Here I am, naked with no identity. Simply a body, the shell of a human being. Inanna precedes me still, still poised and regal, every bit a goddess, even stripped of everything.

I try to follow her example, but my face burns red with shame. Inanna isn’t dumpy like I am. Her belly is a little pouchy. Her breasts do sag, but not nearly as much as mine. Her buttocks are firm. I am grateful I cannot see mine and have to face their existence. I am overweight, resplendent with stretch marks. I am ashamed of how I look.

At least Inanna has her hair. I recall the mirror visage of myself after my head was shaved. My humiliation is complete.

The worst is yet to come.

Ereshkigal.

*

Ereshkigal turned her attention to me. I cowered.

“What are you and why are you here?” I felt like a worm beneath a foot contemplating my destruction.

“I am a human being. I followed Inanna here to discover who I am.”

I cringed as she laughed uproariously.

“You are a fool on a fool’s errand.” She flowed to my side, circling me slowly, licking her lips like a predator circling its prey.

“I will grant your request. I will teach you who you are. Human being.” She spat at me.

I shuddered. The saliva on my cheek burned like acid.

Ereshkigal pointed her trident at the floor at my feet. Flames burst from it, scorching my body. The fires swirled themselves into a bowl.

Ereshkigal pointed her trident again, this time to the side of us. From the flames a scale appeared. She laid her feather on one pan.

“Let us weigh your deeds, your thoughts, the secrets of your heart against my feather.”

She pointed the trident at the flames at my feet. I looked down. In the fire scenes from my life played themselves in cruel clarity. From the first lie I told, the first time I hit my sibling, to the rebellious, self pitying thoughts as I traversed her domain, every wrong I ever committed was brought into the open. I groveled in shame as Ereshkigal cackled maliciously.

When I looked up at the scales, they touched the ground.

“Who are you, human being? You are revolting, self-absorbed, mean and ugly. If you had brains you would be dangerous. You are too stupid to live, too vile to be despised. You are no good to anyone. It would be better had you never been born.”

At those words I ceased to exist.

Advertisements




Tao, The Way

17 07 2006

Before I leave on the Journey, I am leaving behind everything but barest essentials for good hygiene, my journal, and this image. The calligraphy in the center is Tao, The Way.

taobrocade.jpg

I think it is appropriate to focus on finding The Way when when embarks on a journey. What is important to remember is that The Way is not merely finding a path, or following a path, but most importantly it is HOW we follow a path. It is the Way of Right Action.

I zip up my duffle and I walk out the Abbey door.

Digital Construction: Lori Gloyd (c) July 16, 2006