You’ve been falling—Hades isn’t your calling child of mine; find your way back while there’s still time.
Part IV, When Doom is in the 7th House, and Arbiters Go Too Far…
Dear Inimitable & Ailing Inhabitants:
To say his name still brought exquisite pain. To hear him say mine—was worse. Wouldn’t you know he’d try to make me laugh. “Hello Gourdeous,” he said, “you look radishing.”
I fell for him eons ago, and I fell again, mumbling “Έφαγα τον κόσμο να σε βρω,” before sinking onto the freshly tilled earth. Roughly translated, I said I’d torn the world apart looking for him—frankly, I was out of options. I blurted, “she’s taking her teenage frustrations and imperial obligations out on our dear denizens. Many are ailing, too many have died because our daughter, who they’re calling Pandemic Pam, among other choice phrases, is completely under Hades thrall.”
He helped me to my feet. “I’m sorry. It’s grand to see your shining face Deme. You were always my sun and rain. But what can I do? The last time I saw her she was seven, a child with skinned knees and a lilting laugh; she was missing her two front teeth.”
“You mean I made you both hot and wet? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Yes, she was a patchwork kid until she hit her terrible teens. You’d be amazed at what a few eons in Hades can do to a girl. I’m afraid our darling daughter’s now rotten to the Kore.”
“Isn’t it time to let go? Persephone’s a queen; she rules legions. You raised her well; it’s time to release her, Deme.”
“No, you don’t understand—you weren’t there when she was an adolescent. She went from sweet to sassy the year before she was taken. She raged—demanded I stop telling her what to do and invading her personal space. I told her she came out of MY personal space—it was my job to educate her and keep her safe, which included invading her space. Right before her abduction, she refused to be schooled, said homework was an anagram for Half Of My Energy Wasted On Random Knowledge. You see what I mean?” My voice crackled and rose to fever pitch until Prome reminded me it was the quiet, gentle rain that made things grow, not the thunder.
“You surely remember, from the time she could walk, what a whirlwind that girl was, a storm—not the kind you run from—the kind you chase. Today our inundated earthlings flee in fear, while she scorns her duties and defies me.”
“I’m sorry, but do the rites still need her? Today’s Cain’s are tech-abled. They seed clouds and ensure droughts, harvest synthetic corn… Their bots do the hard labor, or they opt for bionic body enhancements or organ replacements. They no longer need us. Face it Deme, you’ve always seen the word mother as a verb, a thing you do, not are. Just love her.
“Really, you should get out more. What I see happening on the earth I love are environmental catastrophes, geopolitical chaos, unregulated AI, and nanotechnology wrecking havoc—hardly a digital vegan among them. Racists and reactionaries are tearing earth apart when they should be reforesting, rewilding habitats, restoring balance. Our daughter’s quite the techno wizard—she wanders round the world with an invisible keyboard hitting delete, delete, delete.”
“Yes, what about love? Is it simply a word trapped in Arachne’s most ancient web or an urge unleashed by Pan’s pipes or randy scent? Love that clouds and confounds human minds is supposed to be transparent to us. That lecher Hades taught her what he knew—lust, licentiousness, all manners of depravity. Over the centuries, her absences have made Hades heart as hard as his loins. When she’s gone, volcanos erupt, fissures form, 1000s fall into Hades domain. Worse, our foolish girl tries to best him.”
“I’ve consulted Janus, Hermes, the hag in the shoe… No one knows what causes the syndrome adolescence. It’s marked by uncontrollable silliness, emotional naïveté, and an aversion to rules, most vegetables, and parental wisdom. It’s not treatable, and I’m telling you, she’s had it bad for eons. She’s not a grownup; she can’t be left unsupervised. Trust me, there’s no worse hood than childhood.”
I couldn’t stop myself and continued. “And what about us? Is your amor mundi enough? Do you ever think about a time when our desire lit bonfires and inspired legends? I’m thinking you’ve been suffering from a lack of Vitamin Me! You’re living with a trio of celibates, for pities sake.” Our last time together flashed before my eyes. “Oh, that last argument… we swept each other away with a broom made of language.”
“I have found a measure of peace here; it’s been enough—until your arrival. Stay here through harvest. The world and our daughter will survive without your mothering, er your kind ministrations.” My newly planted orchard of golden apple trees swayed and the fruit ripened as we stood there tongue-tied.
Our relationship was such a sad old story. I dug him, he dug me, we dug each other, but somehow the deep, soulful feelings we shared got buried. Love, a child of freedom, offspring of Eros, and play toy of Pan’s, is a capricious creature. It seems the most perplexing mystery isn’t the Eleusinian rites I performed, it was, as clever writer Tom Robbins posited, ‘how do you make love stay?’
Our impassioned discussion was interrupted by the arrival of a herd of centaurs and two of Prome’s roommates, Tisi and Meg, the redheaded, ebony bodied offspring of Uranus and Gaia. Technically, these lurid ladies were my half sibs. They were the original Avengers, so to speak, with a temper to match mine, and an inherent dislike of misogynistic men. Tisi, aka the Destroyer, acted as judge, jury, and executioner of men that murdered and maimed innocent women. Meg, aka the raging wraith, punished those (mostly men) that cheated, lied, and stole the hearts of honest folks. It’s a titanic shame women stopped seeking their help about a millennium ago. Now they hold court in Tir na Nog.
I greeted our unwelcome guests. “Well, if it isn’t the centaurs of attention and two of the Fury triplets.” The gayly bedecked, ½ human, ½ horse chorus, several of whom I was alleged to have birthed (neigh to that rumor), began to horse around, voicing their opinions on the Persephone powered pandemic galloping through the world outside Tir na Nog, and braying about what I should do.
I may not be able to throw thunderbolts, however, I’m not without skills. I lassoed the entire herd with 20 or so yards of vine. That got their attention. I told them to mind their own business, they weren’t centaurs for disease control, or a star like Chiron. I released them and they snorted and trotted off, tails tucked between their hinds. Then Tisi and Meg started in on me, flapping their mouths and wings, all up in the air and in my face, harping about my parental ability and lack thereof. These dowagers of distain were, of course, childless spinsters. Prome just stood there with his arms crossed over his chest.
I was having none of it. I treated the busy bodies like flies on the handle of my broomstick, and intoned a wee spell to summon my buddy Aeolus, king of the winds. He blew them out of the orchard and offered me a lift to the isles, where Persephone had most recently been sighted. I thanked him and declined.
Aeolus ensured Tisi, the instigator, got real dizzy, and Meg would be blamed for all the fledgling golden apples on the ground. I reined in my own fury, and turned to Prome. “I need you and your big bag of tricks. I need your fire and your ire. She’s in trouble and so are earth’s ailing inhabitants. Help me Prome.”
“We’re not who we once were, and I’m convinced neither are the inhabitants of this planet. For better or worse, they’re in charge of earth. Deme, we’re not the same awe struck immortals that carved our names inside a heart in Dodona’s sacred oaks.”
“Perhaps you’re right, and we were always doomed. Who brings knives to a date anyway—besides Vlad, Jack the Ripper, Norman Bates, Brutus, or the wacky Cerridwen cult followers? Artie and the dryads were livid with us over a few little scratches for what seemed like an aeon.”
He started to bow his head. I wondered if it was to hide a smile, or a smirk. Before he could respond with a clever quip to my clop, all three Fury sisters returned and dive bombed me. One tried to set fire to the orchard, another hurled tiny titanium daggers at me, the third sent hissing serpents my way. “Return to your domain, abbess of agriculture; control your errant child,” they raved. “Protect the rites; do your duty Sito.”
“Ceriuously,” I screamed to the harpy cousins, and summoned rain to quell the fires. “Bugger out,” I shouted and corralled the snakes and daggers into cornucopias, or deflected the projectiles with my scythe. “You harridans are arbiters of naught; you have no jurisdiction here or over earth’s denizens. They seek justice via laws and courts now. Be gone before I tell Hades where you’re hiding and he forces you to return to his dungeon of the damned quicker than my green grass grows. I am, after all, his mother in law. Or maybe I’ll tell mom what you’ve been up to—I’m still her favorite.” With Tis afizz, Alec hoisting her phallic finger of fate, and Meg in a huff, they screeched a few choice expletives and flapped off.
Prome tilted his head again; this time he also grinned. “You were the original wild woman Deme, still are. You don’t need my help. I hate to remind you, but I’m no match for Zeus, or Hades. I already tried and failed to stop them. I’m not the man I once was, and though we may be immortal, we can’t rewrite history. Let me be, let our daughter be.”
“I can’t, there’s too much at stake. And I didn’t finish raising her. Sure, I was tough at times. I told her to suck it up—sweat dries, blood clots, bruises fade… I made her hammer out those damn clay thank you notes and be polite to the ancients. I shouldn’t have emphasized the be strong and independent part so much.”
“I do understand your need for peace. You remind me of Achilles in that respect. Despite his reputation, he was a man that longed for it. He put his hopes for a hallowed harmony right on his shield. Remember? It depicted humans dancing, farming, celebrating the harvest, and negotiating an alternative to war, cooperating instead of competing. Yet the truth is neither gods nor humans have learned how to sustain peace for any length of time, nor have we learned how to sustain love. I suspect the two things are closely linked. Solve one and solve the other. I love our daughter; I’ll have no peace until I find her.”
“Goodbye gourduous, give our girl a kiss for me. Tell her to visit Tir na Nog any time. I’ll greet her at the gate and keep her safe.”
Those were the last words he said to me. It took a moment to register because an Athenian thought had formed full figured in my firmament, born from a seed Prome planted when he reminded me we once carved our names into an oak’s flesh. He also said we couldn’t rewrite history, but in some ways, I could. I was, after all, Divine Demeter; Sito—giver of grain, fecundity, the seasons; the masked Kidaria; Chloe the ever fertile…
I knew what to do. It would prevent Persephone from inflicting further havoc, punish Hades, piss off Zeus, and allow you earthlings to get better. Dare I dream it might also entice Prome’s out of retirement?
His wounds hadn’t completely healed. That was evident. But deep down in my solar plexus chakra, I knew if my plan worked, and I thwarted the machinations of my faux bros/titular gods of the cosmos, and as a result, they tried to destroy me, Prome would come to my rescue.
To successfully pull it off, I needed to haul ass back to earth and assemble some pretty specific supplies and resources. This was going to require the calling in of several favors, and an official visit to a few frenemies, like Morpheus and Eris. It might even necessitate paying a call to the underground lair of Manannán mac Lir’s boss, the Tuatha De Danann’s sovereign king of the isles.
It was just a few weeks before the Eleusinian high rites began. I had to prepare for that too. There were potions to produce, cauldrons to stir, and cakes to bake; deals to be made; a child to glamour, an immortal to enamor… I grabbed hold of my baubles and hag stone and hot footed it to Alba—what you mangy mortals call Scotland.
To be continued… Part V, You Take the High Road, I’ll Take the Cerrie with the Fringe on top…