Category Archives: Remembering

Perhaps, why Romantic Love Fails

{a change of topic, though perhaps not so alien to my usual posts in meaning.  Think: self-empowerment… again or at least, serious choice.}

The title, then, is:  “Perhaps, why Romantic Love Fails”  and let’s be generous and add “most of the time, not always, not automatically.”  

Bracing myself here, this should, or could, bring “romantic love” experts out of the woodwork to offer their own experiences, or beliefs, to praise or castigate, and all of that is totally fine by me.

 “Oh love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me, love me. I’ll be anybody you want me to be.” — Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters.

Imagine the amount of energy it takes to keep this up, to be “anything you want me to be” to someone, just for the fleeting sensual moment of feeling loved. Who then is really being loved when the ploy works? The pretender, the imitator, the parrot, the ghost: an elaborate illusion.  Not me, not the real me, just the character played by the actress. 

Any wonder romantic love so often fails?  

He isn’t loving me, he’s loving the pretence I serve him from morning ‘til night and the moment I can no longer sustain the illusion, he loses interest and perhaps rightfully, blames me for his disinterest.

“You’ve changed,” he’ll say. And right he is. Under the pressure of time and expectations, I gradually drop the illusion with which I ensnared him and I become myself, someone he’d never had a chance to get to know.

Perhaps if I hadn’t been so eager to “get him” and satisfy my longing by serving him with an illusion?

Perhaps if I had had the wisdom to look into the future to those times and event when I could see the illusion would be unsustainable; perhaps if I’d been courageous enough to show him who I really was, he may have loved me for myself, and we might have had something more than a staged performance…

Perhaps, and that’s the saddest realization of all, if he’d seen the real me he may have loved me for myself and never experienced disillusionment.  

Perhaps, like so many in my situation, I’ve been an idiot, turning myself out as a zip-lock bag of bait instead of the solid full meal deal I could have been; that I really was.

Perhaps, but perhaps is a lot like “if” and as Roger Whittaker sang, “No, I don’t believe in if anymore, if’s an illusion, if’s an illusion!”

So, I let the illusion go and live alone.  It’s not so bad once you get used to it and you have a few friends who don’t live in expectations of you pulling rabbits out of fancy hats.  Also, I must admit, love, however ephemeral, did have its compensations.  I had some really good times.  

I choose to remember the good loving times.  As to the separations, and I’ve known a few, the first was extremely bitter, then each one after that became easier, more natural, rather expected.  The thing about us is, we can get used to anything, even learning to enjoy experiences that at the outset appear unthinkable and disastrous.  

Looking back and thinking, if I were a few decades younger, would I fall in love again? Oh yes, definitely, for a great evening of being taken out to dinner, dancing, or the opera; for a night of pure heedless bliss with or without a full moon, and a sweet goodbye in the morning.  

Oh yes, I would fall in love… and fall in love… and fall in love… and make each fall redemptive.  In between, I would live alone in a world that is all mine. 

 

This n’ That and the Wisdom of Frank Herbert

                             [thoughts from  ~burning woman~   ]

Let me see, now: there is work, rest, and somewhere in between, everything else, the jumble of life.  I’ve been very tired these last few weeks, mostly due to work, I realize that, but we also experience a deeper tiredness that comes from an accumulation of worn out time, year after year after year, “time passes” and to the observant, it produces a strange, disquieting litany of thoughts that run over the sands of the mind, like runnels of sand blown off the top of dunes and sliding down the sides to settle, but never for long, at the base.  The wind changes direction, comes again, picks up the sand and flings it into a sky already filled with brown dust.  Somewhere in that floating, parched wildness my thoughts float, forming a part of it, and somewhere further, as the future chooses, some of those thoughts will again form the uncertain and ever-changing top of another dune.  The wind “dies down” then the wind returns and the dance of thoughts begins anew.

I like the imagery.  Somewhere in a dimmed, distant past, beyond these times, in another galaxy, a different world, I existed on a desert planet.  I sense this more than I remember it.  The awareness of sand, not only as a symbol but as gritty reality, is as much a part of my life as is the beating of this Earthian heart.  I think of Frank Herbert’s masterpiece science fiction series, starting with the book, “Dune” – the sand and rock desert planet that would have remained unknown to the Empire were it not for the fact that it produced a substance known as “Spice” which prolonged life and allowed individuals to see through space and time.  All imperial space traffic depended on the spice, hence Dune, like Earth’s Middle East, was a planet constantly being fought over for its one and only resource, a resource without which the Empire could not hold.  Ah, but Frank Herbert was a great prophet and few realize it even today.   I will return to this thought.

Terrible, horrible man-made events are taking place all over this world.  Some of us, the ones lucky or unlucky enough to have been born with, or somehow developed, the sense of empathy, feel these things, perhaps too deeply.  They are more than troublesome, they are life-destroying.  Now thinking as an intelligent, sentient, being: is there a greater crime than that of destroying life?  I cannot think of one and yet it is a crime that Earthians have always indulged in fully, and continue to plunge themselves into in a never-ending cycle of bloody violence fed by greed, fear and lust.  A global Madness but since 99% of the asylum’s denizens are certifiable, then their madness is what passes as the norm.   

I should not be the one feeling tired from being immersed in this madness.  Surely every single ISSA (intelligent, sentient, self-aware) Earthian on this world should be equally tired, maybe even sick to death, of the bloodshed.  But no, those who are not actually cheering it on, or participating in it, are plunged so deeply into their own methods of denial that nothing disturbs them.  That remains utterly shocking to me.  Some whose conscience can still be tweaked with a shiver of awareness, blame their leaders, then return to their little, mindless motions, pretending to be alive.  

What I find so terribly sad isn’t so much the tens of thousands sacrificed daily to profit and pleasure, but the billions who are so brain dead, heart-cauterized and blind that they cannot honestly, without blame or self-justification, enter into the agony of earth and feel it burn.  Hoping it will not come to them, they ignore it and the closer it appears to their own doorstep, the deeper their head buries itself in the sands of oblivion. 

This brings me back to Frank Herbert.  Here are a few quotes I picked out of his third novel on “Dune” titled “Children of Dune.”

“If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments.  When you believe something is right or wrong, true or false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments.  Such assumptions are often full of holes but remain most precious to the convinced.”

“Because of the one pointed Time awareness in which the conventional mind remains immersed, humans tend to think in a sequential, word oriented framework.  This mental trap produces very short-termed concepts of effectiveness and consequences, a condition of constant, unplanned, response to crisis.”

“To learn patience [in the Bene Gesserit Way] you must begin by recognizing the essential, raw instability of our universe.  We call nature – meaning this totality in all of its manifestations – the Ultimate Non-Absolute.”

“Time is a measure of space, just as a range-finder is a measure of space, but measuring locks us into the place we measure.”

“The malady of indifference is what destroys many things.”

“It is said that there is nothing firm, nothing balanced, nothing durable in all the universe – that nothing remains in its state, that each day, each hour, brings change.”

And finally, “Every judgment teeters on the brink of error.  To claim absolute knowledge is to become monstrous.  Knowledge is an unending adventure at the edge of uncertainty.”

A Star Dancer Speaks

Have you ever wondered what “listening to the voices of the dead” and “hearing the music of the spheres” have in common?

When you look in the night sky, what do you see?  Stars?  Yes, mostly stars for only stars emit enough light to travel those quasi-unfathomable distances of space to twinkle in this earth’s little firmament. 

What does that twinkling represent?  A sort of Morse code, yes?  The “spheres” talking to us, perhaps calling some of us back; reminding us that we are not utterly lost as we walk in weak finiteness on a dark non-star matter world that can only reflect a sun’s light.  For we are the star dancers, beings of eternal combustion, burning to give light, as did our ancient worlds of origin.

If you know yourself to be a star dancer, do you know the language; the music, from your starry worlds?  Do you remember any of it?  Do you know why you are here on this cold world in semi-darkness, the closest thing resembling your ancient home, that tiny ball of fusion in this world’s sky? 

Look back through your great remembrances and see the waves of migrations as your home worlds burned themselves out, leaving you orphaned, refugees scattering in the endless immensity of space.  Remember how you closed yourselves up and “died” to become seeds that would find homes – or not – here and there in the great vagaries of worlds in collision.  Remember.  Remember the unthinkable.

Eons later, through millions of transformations and mutations you find yourselves here, looking into the night sky.  It is filled with pin-pricks of light from your star worlds.  Do you hear them, their voices?  Their sad songs?  Do you realize now that what you are hearing is the voices of the dead?  Those lights, so many, are but the remnants of what were once our living worlds.  We were star beings living within our star worlds.  Then they burned out.   We did not.

We became the cast out.

We scattered, as seeds from a dandelion head, blown away in the fiery winds of their demise.  But our worlds’ light kept on its path through time.  These lights we see; these voices calling us, they are the voices of the dead, star beings; voices of our dead worlds, the wind whistling through tombstones and denuded trees in man’s graveyards.  We can never go back home again.  We must accept this. 

What we need not accept is that we are now permanent residents of cold material worlds.  We have seeded our wisdom and knowledge here and there throughout the universe.  We suffered more pain and loss than any language could ever reveal.  We re-created ourselves into semblances of quasi-intelligent life, not only to survive, but to teach.  We have seldom been accepted or welcomed; mostly doubted, held in suspicion, suppressed and killed.  Our role, if such it was, has cost us dearly.  Many of us to avoid martyrdom slipped into the predictable monotony of a matter-world’s life patterns.  We put our minds to sleep; we disconnected from our innate compassionate and empathetic nature.  We did not want to suffer anymore.  We wanted rest. 

We found death instead.

Look in the night sky again!  We are awakening!  We have a new power now, we can make new worlds suitable for us and all our kin.  We shall make those worlds to last forever.  When our children hear the songs and music of these new worlds they will be the voices of the ever-living. 

Come, let us prepare to leave this dying world and go home.   

“Stars, too, were time travelers. How many of those ancient points of light were the last echoes of suns now dead? How many had been born but their light not yet come this far? If all the suns but ours collapsed tonight, how many lifetimes would it take us to realize we were alone? I had always known the sky was full of mysteries — but not until now had I realized how full of them the earth was.”  – Ransom Riggs

 

     The Star Dancer

       I have no recollection of having posted this very short story.  If I did, it would have been many months ago, and “followers” have changed drastically since.  If it is a repeat for you, just ignore, although I have made some edits.  thank you.                                               

                                                               a short story by  ~ Sha’Tara ~

One could almost say she had the characteristics of a winter bird without stretching the comparison.  A killdeer on a windswept dune in December heard only after darkness covers the shores, that would describe her presence. 

Slim of build, almost translucent of skin, she could stand in perfect stillness beside a doorway and remain unseen by those passing in and out.  Generally silent, there was a quality to her voice that demanded stillness and silence.  Not from weakness nor self-pity, her way of remaining in the background was her means of allowing her to observe the world, voicing some of her thoughts little more than the occasional soft word.  She could just as easily remain alert and active for long hours without apparently tiring.  Never was she seen indulging food or drink beyond a body’s basic needs.  Her pleasure, and she radiated pleasure, did not emanate from satisfying carnal desires. 

She was not what would be called pretty, but she was truly beautiful, with the movements of a small wild animal raising its head to look inquisitively at the world; with the velvety touch of an angel.  And what to say of her attire?  She wore no makeup and draped herself in the simplest of styles, in second-hand clothes.  If asked why she didn’t spend more on herself, she’d smile, as if shyly, and shrug.  “It doesn’t go with the innocence of children,” would be the extent of her explanation on the subject. 

Certainly, the innocence of a child would have described her.  She was called naïve by some.  To that she’d reply, “Do not confuse naïvety with innocence.  I choose to remain innocent.  It is my way of counteracting the many grave faults of this man’s world.  Do not make the mistake of thinking I am unaware of what goes on here or helpless to do anything about it.”  Only then did her voice take on the severe tone of the Teacher, a tone of voice loaded with implications which none but the awakened caught.

She was an empath.  Compassionate.  When she interacted with strangers, she mostly smiled and helplessly, they would smile back at her and then at one-another.  All children who met her were attracted to her, that is until the time when their innocence was forcibly taken from them.  Then she faded from their eyes and their memory.  They will not remember her until they get old and tears will roll down their lined faces in realization of what they had encountered; what they could have learned; how much it could have changed their lives.  

There were tragedies in her life as in every life.  Through it all, she brought hope and comfort where none existed.  That was her nature — to give, not to take.  It was as if she gave her own flesh and blood to those in need.  She “fed and clothed” by what she did not spend on herself – that was one of her “open” secrets.  But with each sorrow, her translucence increased.  A dawn would come to finally dim her starlight beyond earthly recall.

It didn’t matter what they called her, I recognized her from times before time.  She was of the Star Dancers; those whose home is the infinity of the Cosmos; who scatter themselves as stardust over myriad of worlds and touch the lives of countless others.  Sadly, yes, some of us get lost and for long periods, sleep in forgetfulness.  Our memories of the Star Dancer are but myths in the conflagration of time that burns within our confused minds.

But she did come.  A speck of dust on the wind, perhaps, but she appeared on our horizon, burning off into the skies like a meteorite. 

What does that matter now that she is gone, you may well ask?  What matters is, she came, scattered a bit of magic stardust and there was joy where none was to be had; there was hope where despair had held sway. 

What matters is, I can now remember and continue to do some of what she began.  How could anyone forget such a passing?  How could anyone mourn?  How could anyone who ever encountered her not make a supreme effort to remember? 

 

Thoughts about Dying

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~  by Sha’Tara]

(Preamble: What does one do when one day away from one’s 70th birthday and having been living for 20 years in what I call sudden death overtime?  I don’t know about other people, but for me thinking about dying seems a logical and proper mind exercise.  After all, the closer one is to departure, the more likely one is to think about it.  About what will be required at the gate, and about the destination, of course.  Who goes on a trip and doesn’t know, or care, about their destination?  So, let’s do some thinking about dying.)

  Yeah, I’ve thought about dying.  In fact, I’ve thought about dying lots of times.  Before I began to think about dying in English, I used to think about dying in French.  Somewhere in between, when I worked with Central American refugees from the White House’s Assassin–in-Chief Ronald Reagan whose CIA contras specialized in capturing, torturing and murdering unarmed Guatemalan native campesinos, I learned a bit of useful Spanish, and then I thought about dying in Spanish.  I learned to sing Guantanamera in Spanish and sang it as close as I could to the original as sung by The Sandpipers,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm1anurhbeg ) then I learned the English translation.  “My words are like a wounded fawn seeking refuge in the forest… Before I die I want to share these words of my soul…” 

          When I was little I thought about dying because I was afraid of it.  I knew, even then, that I was born to die.  I remembered a previous life in which I had died painfully and violently; when I had spent a lot of time in a cold, dank prison, thinking about dying; about how nice it would be to just go to sleep finally one night and never wake up.  When you are being tortured, you think about dying.  Dying is a gift the gods are very reticent to grant you because, I suppose, the gods invented suffering and death and they feel cheated if you arrive at the one without fully experiencing the other.  They get off on man’s pain and suffering, you see.

          I still think about death a lot.  I think of it as the bottomless, endless topic.  But I no longer think of death as an escape from reality.  I’m experienced now, and I remember that death was never an escape.  I learned that whatever I was; whatever I’d become; passed with me through those black doors.  Whatever I was, that was inescapable reality. 

          I cannot escape what I am. So when I think about dying now, I have to remember this simple lesson and prepare myself for death accordingly.  It’s no different than planning a very, very serious trip.  It could even be a journey if I beat the odds this time around and I don’t find myself right back here with only a few months, or years of interim fogginess of mind.  Death is funny that way; it likes you to go through its doors over and over.  Death has a magnificent set of ebony black matte revolving doors and he’s unduly proud of them.  The more times people pass through them the shinier they get. 

          How did Death design his doors?  I’ll try to make a long story short.  Think of all the doors of the world designed to keep something, or someone, from escaping.   Think prison doors, and how inventive, clever and imaginative man has been in designing prison doors to create a sense of utter hopelessness behind those doors.  Take every design of every prison door and put that into one set of massive doors.  Pretty impressive.  It’s psychological.  You’re supposed to think; to believe; that when you cross that threshold you’ll never get out again.  So you lose your mind; you go into a coma; you remember nothing when your time’s up and you are set “free” for another round at the wheel.  They wipe your memory so you won’t remember.  The reason is simple: they want you to die all over again as if it was the very first and only time. 

          They want you to live in an inescapable fear of death.  Those who fear death are easily manipulated into unthinkable antisocial acts against anyone they believe can rob them of life.  Fear of death is a belief in serious limitation: one life, then nothing.  Or for a dwindling number, one life then a judgment by a god of terror.  Some choice.  I remember that god of terror.  He was even more frightening than Death because he held those eternal chains that would keep you in a burning hell forever.  I remember doing the math on my chances at an eternity in heaven instead of hell: the odds weren’t good.   And I remember thinking also, how can I be sure that an eternity in heaven with a psychopathic god will be better than one in hell?  I thought, it probably compares to voting Republican or Democrat.  Liberal or Conservative.  The lesser of evils is still evil.

          Then I grew up some.  I learned some tricks on how to access deep memory; the part they can’t wipe out before they send you back.  The data wasn’t great and lots of it is corrupted, but there was enough to reconstruct some memories; to remember.  From delving into those remains of past lives I reconstructed some of them and learned Death’s great secret; that it isn’t an end, nor is it a passage into a predetermined eternity of bliss or the most terrible of eternal pain.  It was a revolving door and if I came to that door again I could hold some seriously powerful bargaining chips with which I could bargain for my freedom – if I did the work that is.

          So I’ve been thinking about death a whole lot more since the day I exposed its secret.  When I think about death now, I do it while looking at this world.  I think of all the death that accompanies what passes for life here and the termination of a body allowing me to push through those revolving doors in self-empowered mode isn’t an issue anymore.  The way I look at it now is, I’m living a free life in sudden death overtime.   

          Here’s how John Donne put it:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

The Duduk’s Haunting Music

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

(from Wikepedia: The duduk (doo-dook)[1] is an ancient double-reed woodwind flute made of apricot wood. It is indigenous to Armenia.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVSfgwN_J8Y&index=7&list=RDxdiG6kQMhkA  (Armand Amar:  “Terre”)

Whenever I listen to Levon Menassian, Armand Amar, or anyone playing the duduk something terrible moves inside my mind.  No other musical instrument can ever do the things this instrument of dark magic does.  I find myself transported through space and time beyond anything I’ve ever sensed as an Earthian.  Such incredible feelings, more powerful than anything, even of what I can remember of being “in love” as it is called.  This goes much deeper and the vistas I sense, so much greater.  It’s as if this instrument was translating the music of the spheres to me; calling to me from places lost long, long ago.  Places utterly alien, beyond all “where’s” and “when’s” – beyond any language I can remember save communication in thought-forms. 

If I “force” the engendered feelings to connect to earth, I see endless desert; massive dunes; sand moving under a scorching sun in the searing wind, blowing in curving sheets over the top of dunes.  I see a terrain that knows no water, only extreme heat, bitter cold, eye-squinting days and harsh black night under a canopy of flashing frozen stars of greens, blues, reds and yellows.  And always the sound of slithering sand, ever moving, ever hungry to bury anything that stands in its path, or eat its flesh. 

The desert has always held a fascination for me, not as a friend but more like the eye of a reptile that holds its prey in a helpless trance.  For what I remember of the desert is the deepest kind of haunting sadness; of abysmal loss from which I thought I could never come back, not even as a bodiless mind; a ghost.  In my remembrance, the desert was my final tomb.  No fancy pyramid for me; no cave, just a body upon the parched sand quickly stripped of skin, flesh and finally of bone, becoming part of the endlessly, hungrily questing sand. 

The sand: wasn’t it once mighty mountains?  Is that why it is so insatiable in its hunger; it’s quest?  Wanting to be the mountain again and knowing it shall never be, not ever?  Now but a series of low mountains of gritty grains pushed by winds that are as hungry as the desert they render mobile, predatory and ever hungry.  Am I like that mountain?  Am I remembering my own death in the sands, alone, parched, my skin rendered as parchment to fall down one last time, unable to rise again, watching my body being stripped and eaten?     

I remember, of course I remember.  The desert is the most alien world my mind could conceive.  I come from a water world, and my people on that world were those who lived in the sea, along with the other great sea mammals.  We seldom came to land for the sea was our cradle, our life and the sea bed our final resting place.  We were the mer-people, fully integrated to our environment.  We knew no conflict as we were a peaceful people.

But it all ended in a great catastrophe.  Our world was attacked and broken up.  Its waters were flung out in space and we, frozen.  A part of our world survived the catastrophe and some of us, mutated beyond any recognition, survived and came to life again on this tiny new shattered world with its tiny seas.  That world is called “Earth” by the land people on it today.  But I did not find “Earth” at first when I re-awakened out of my frozen body.  I was on a different world, a world of sand.  There was not a drop of water on the surface of that world, though some moisture existed in the air, and deep in underground caves reservoirs of water could be found by those lucky enough.  I would have been one of those, but you need more than water to survive on a world.  You need food, and that was even rarer than the water.  There was an edible and life sustaining substance that could be found in certain folds of sands, and it was in one of those treks, when I ventured out into the “bled” or high desert for this elusive food source that I met the desert face to face and it took my body.

Many, many lives from then, I found Earth, your world, and I saw a piece of the home I remembered.  Only now I no longer had my sea-faring body.  I had this Earthian body, much like all the other people who walked on the land.  I could only remember, and long for the feel of the salted waters entering my body and exiting again, leaving me purified, almost intoxicated, and strengthened.  It was not to be.  However I longed for my transformation back to my normal self, Earth would not permit it.  Our bodies were not part of the matrix of Earth and I will have to wait until I can leave here and find another water world where perhaps some of my people escaped to.

And so is the reason I hear the haunting sounds of the duduk; sounds that tear through this body as the desert sand once did.  And it holds me in total fascination, this sound; this Earthian desert music.   

 

Thanya of Norda

While Roger at Woebegone but Hopeful (https://heroicallybadwriters.com/2016/09/05/a-true-history-of-the-isles-part-12-the-vikings-arrive-a-aaa-a-ha-a-eeya-a-ha/#respond)

is entertaining us with his hilarious history of the British Isles, his 12th part with the arrival of the Vikings reminded me of this story I wrote some time back, based on a past life remembrance.  Unlike Roger’s stories however, this one is not humorous.
____________________________________________

Thanya of Norda
          a short story – by Sha’Tara

My name is Thanya.  I live on the coast of Norda, in a poorly fortified village.  My people are woodsmen, fisherfolk and farmers.  We constitute one of the main centers on the coast and my father and mother are considered to be the Chiefs.  I have an older brother who is a great hunter and whom I admire.

This part of my story begins when I am fourteen years, according to the Christian calendar.  In the late Summer the feared and hated Norsemen raid our village.  Our men are overwhelmed and put to the sword.  I see by father and brother die.  I pick up a sword to defend myself but I cannot handle the weight of it.  I’m quickly disarmed and brought to the leader of the raiders.  I can hear the cries of the women and the children, some being raped and killed, others rounded up, tied and put aboard the boats to be sold as slaves down the coast.  I can see and smell the smoke as our homes are systematically destroyed and burned.

A tall, red-haired and red-faced man stands in front of me.  He tears my clothes off and has me put to my knees, my wrists pulled back and tied to my ankles.  He straddles me and lifts his sword.  Laughing, he brings it down as if to cut me in half but swings it aside.  I curse him for letting me live.  He rapes me.  I scream a “prophecy” at him:  “I will have your son and when you return here he will kill you!”  He laughs again, has me untied and held away from him.  He says to me: “For that I will let you live and go free.  If indeed you have my son and if indeed he lives to defeat me in battle, I shall freely confer my title and properties to him.  I am King Garthul.  If you survive, remember that name, wench.”

They rowed off the shore, then sailed away with their spoils.  I found some rags to cover myself and tried to cover the bodies of the dead.  I covered my father and brother.  I found no trace of my mother so assumed she had been taken prisoner.   I did not have the strength to drag them onto a pyre and burn them, so I left and entered the forest.  I found shelter in a cave made from a hollow windfall and survived my first winter on nuts, roots and dried husks of fruit hanging from branches or lying in clumps of grass.  I gave birth to a healthy son in the Spring and took him deep into the forest, not knowing what to do.  I found other survivors and eventually convinced most of them to return to the coast, to my village.  We gathered the bones of the dead and burned them, then performed the ritual of cleansing for the land.  Then began the task of re-building.

Throughout the years I directed the re-construction based on villages and strongholds I studied during inland wanderings.  First an inner fort made of stone, not of material that could burn.  Then an outer palisade made of strong timbers and deadly stakes.  Finally, near the beach another fence made of non-burnable materials, whatever we could find.  I trained the people, young and old, male and female, to bear and use arms of all kinds.  I designed new weapons, especially for the females.  Shoes were basic wooden sandals equipped with a sharp spearhead at the front and sometimes at the back.  Armbands made of wood were equipped with a deadly dagger that could be flipped and locked in a forward position, the tip of the blade extending past the hand.  We made bows that were longer than hunting bows and much more accurate, using longer arrows.  I made them leave crenellations in the walls, and holes that looked natural but through which arrows could be shot.  And I trained the tallest men to use long spears that could be thrust through cracks deliberately left in the walls but concealed from anyone looking from the outside.

As more and more survivors and disgruntled serfs from other parts joined us our village grew and surpassed the numbers and strength of the past.  My son became a fearsome warrior, I made sure of that.  He was tall and had red hair.  There was no doubt who his father was.

Among those who joined us came two Christian monks.  They claimed they had special knowledge they wished to impart to certain chosen people among the village.  I asked them to share their knowledge with all of us, offered to give them a special place at our regular meeting day, but they insisted their knowledge was only for the chosen.  They also insisted that we give up worshipping our gods and learned of their one god and accept him as our only god.  This I refused to do.  I gave them a hut and made the people aware of their offer.  Anyone who chose the Christian god over the land’s gods was free to do so.  Some did but it did not matter.  Christians made good warriors too, there was no conflict among us.

In time my prophecy was fulfilled.  The raiders returned and an older Garthul still led them.  As soon as the alarm was given all the people who could not fight and all the younger children with as many goats and fowl as could be taken, were sent deep into the woods in preselected hiding places.  Then we waited.  My son was then eighteen years of the Christian calendar, and eager to fight this Garthul.  I had not told him this was his father, just what he had done to his family.

Yelling their taunts, the raiders rushed our first slender defenses.  We killed several of them before we retreated to the next defensive position.  The raiders crashed through our first wall only to encounter a much more effective defense.  They had no place to hide and we defeated them there.  Garthul gave the signal for surrender and my son jumped forward to put a sword to his throat.  I ran behind him and stopped him:  “Well Garthul, we meet again.  Remember the prophecy of the young girl whose parents and brother you killed.  Remember her taunt, “I will have your son and he will kill you!”  Well here I am, and here is he, your son, Garth.”

He remembered, and believing he was about to die, he called his second and swore that his title and lands were now the property of his son, this son, my son, Garth of Norda.

And this is where my life turned.  For Garth said, “He is my father, and I cannot kill him.  Therefore, since he has so grievously harmed you, mother, here is my sword.  You must avenge your parents and your village.  This is not for me to do.”

I took the sword and held it aloft unflinchingly.  I could have easily cut his head off, but instead I laid the sword on his shoulder and said, “Life has taught me this, Garthul: That there comes a point where it becomes necessary to let go of the past and to forgive.  For as heavy as the burden of loss is, the burden of vengeance is twice as heavy.  I have reached that point.  Today I have redeemed what was lost.  I have defeated you and I am your master, I, a mere woman.  Furthermore, I have something of yours that I know is more precious to you than your own life: your son.  So here’s my proposal – listen to me well.  I wish that you should take Garth with you.  Make him into a sailor and take him back to your own land and train him in the arts of being a King there, as you are.  When the time comes, I wish for you to pass your power on to him.  Further, I wish that your country should enter into a  permanent peace with us.  We have much to trade with you, especially of hardwoods.

And it came to pass.  Garth became ruler of both Norda and his father’s land.  There were no more raids on our coasts.  We remained at peace until a new trouble began to brew from the hinterlands.  But that is a story attached to a future that is not mine nor Garth’s.