From Adam to the Gods… I’ve walked side by side with all

I have been travelling a very long time – but my gait wasn’t always so laboured, my strength so forced. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’ve come to be here, but the story is sketchy, parts distinguished only by those who I  happened to be travelling and who helped or hindered me along the way. It’s not a love story, it’s not a parable, it’s an account from my extremely subjective point of view.

It is about how I wound up, walking through their Inferno. 

“Banish me from Eden when you will; but first let me eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge!” – Robert G. Ingersoll, The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll, Vol. Iii

Every Eve has an Adam- not necessarily her first but her genesis into a new story. Adam didn’t want me at first. Story of every girl’s life, there was another. But I befriended him and drew him in and eventually he was mine. Or so I thought. You see, Adam had a few issues. It could have been his one-rib-less inadequacy but Adam would blow hot and cold. I became his everything and with that, my behaviour was dictated to me, our ever-lasting planned. I put up with it, I mean my experience with men was minimal, him being the only one on Earth and everything, so I figured this overbearing nature was normal. But I always wondered what lay beyond the garden… surely there was more to my life than a luxurious episode of Survivor.

I went for a walk, near the edge of garden. I hadn’t travelled so far before but what I saw amazed me. So many paths were available to me, that diverged and intertwined and separated again. Paths that were far from the nicely laid out walkways that I was used to. The path abruptly ended, leading me towards a large tree. It was so massive, I couldn’t see around it. The branches too high, I didn’t dare climb it.

The wind rustled and shook the branches. I watched a gloriously red, shiny apple drop down from the bough. It hit the grass with a gentle thud and rolled away, around the roots of the tree, until I could just see it on the other side. I’d never seen anything like it, it was destined for me. I had to tell him. I ran back to the gardens. Adam sat languidly, admiring his surrounds. His life had not been changed like mine. After much coaxing, I took him back to the tree and tried to show him where the fruit had fallen.

At first he insisted that he could not see it, but after my insistence he began to feign interest. That was when I told him that I wanted to walk around the tree – leave the path,  pick up the fruit and try it. Adam thought me made- how could I leave the comfort of my home for the unknown. I was ungrateful, I traitor. I assured him that it wasn’t like that, that I had to see for myself if there was a better life out there than in here. His hazel eyes were hurt, as he acquiesced to by desire for adventure. Then he suggested that he come with me to see too. I could tell he didn’t want to, that he saw it as an obligation. But that was not why I recoiled and took a step back. This was my apple, I had found it. It was my desire to see the world not his. How dare he think he could share what was so sacredly mine? I realised then that there was no space on my journey for a companion. That day I left the garden, I picked up the fruit but chose not to eat it. Carrying it proudly against my body. I felt naked, but never more alive.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”

The sign made me chuckle as I walked passed it. It was so sensational. You cannot lose hope from entering the unknown. I was in fact invigorated, hopeful that I was about to learn everything to my hearts desire and live through experiences never before felt.  I revelled in my new found freedom for a while, enjoying my social isolation and surrounding myself with all things beautiful and wonderful.

One night I wandered beneath a full moon- the fragrance are jasmine drugged me and I felt powerful and more like a woman than ever before. As I walked amongst the blooms, I came across a woman picking a stem and smelling with such a radiant look of ecstasy. It was such an intimate act I looked away blushing. I couldn’t help looking back and my eyes met piercing dark brown ones. They looked amused, intense and curiosity. She was so strong, so confident and sure. I’d never seen another woman, a person, the likes of her before. Silently, she offered me her hand and we danced, and danced underneath the moonshine, in a field of jasmine and sharing curious glances.

Her name was Persephone, and she was my guide into the underworld. The sign I had dismissed marked the entrance into hell- into a world unknown, into a cosmos of adventure and mystery. She called me Artemis, even though I told her that was not my name. She said it didn’t matter,  that no one here was who they seemed, but who we wanted to be. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different. Artemis, I found out, meant that I was strong, that I couldn’t be touched without permission and that I embraced womanhood and power. I liked that, those were ideals that seemed wise to embrace. From a wanderer I became a warrior, championing crusades with Persephone guiding me all the way. She awakened my thoughts, my questions and drew out within me, my anger at the world, at my confinement and my desire to be free. We met fellow thought leaders, Socrates and Homer, Cicero and Ceasar. I felt welcomed, I belonged to something greater than myself. I had purpose.

Oh she was amazing- so wonderful that I showed her the apple I had been carrying from the beginning. She marvelled at it, as if it was a prize, with such cautious desire. I offered her a bite. She took it. And then she shared it with me. The taste was heavenly. I’d been transported, I ascended over 6 feet – out of body and out of mind.

For much time I stayed with Persephone. However the sense of adventure waned and I begun to feel like I had stayed too long. We made each other so unhappy. She couldn’t leave the limbo we had found ourselves in, and I didn’t know if I could dedicate my life to being stuck in an in-between. Actually I did know, and the answer was that I couldn’t. So I left.

“Curiosity is the lust of the mind” – Thomas Hobbes

I should admit that I had an indiscretion. As I said, purgatory was not for me. During an argument with Persephone, I ran away.

He introduced himself to me as Amun. Amun was strong and funny, full of life with many consorts. He thought himself king of his world and many women agreed. To me he was “the hidden one” who didn’t necessarily provide me answers to what I was seeking, but gave me more questions. He was a friend, and then he was more and he had the power to make me overlook my morals and explore a darkness that I had not thought about before. With a presence that could be described as lion-like, I felt bewitched within his harem. I was a fool for what he could show me, a fool to my body, to touches, to desire. I had joined the harem of Cleopatra and Helen.

But with my actions came with consequences. Persephone discovered that I had entered the second circle and her fury and mistrust came down upon me like a tornado. All the we attempted to mend our relationship, it never reclaimed that wonderful experience that was. My relationship with Amun was never meant to be anything more – we both recognised that. Eventually we became friends, until he felt that ascended to greater things than I. But he will always remain an important reminder of my flaws.

“Curiosity is gluttony. To see is to devour.” – Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

After leaving purgatory, for what I’d decided was the last time, I continued on my travels. The questions that Amun had point in my mind needed answers and for that to happen I had to explore my own darkness and my own ideas of sin.

And when you are open to that, Dionysus will find you. Oh he was everything, everything that was opposite to what I needed. He brought humour to my serious world, boldness to my inhibition. We feasted on selfishness and worldly pleasures. Our gluttonous acts sated my curiosity again and again. It was a wild party everyday with women and men coming together to in a common goal of self-servitude.  We ate until we could eat no more and then ordered seconds. Life was a buffet for our enjoyment and taking. My apple was less shiny but there were those who I wished for them to enjoy in my discovery. Apple pies, toffee apples, sorbet and appletinis – what a feast!

“Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” – Erich Fromm

I alternated often between the banquet and another new discovery of a treasure trove. Here Pluto entertained me. We lived lavish lives where those we met were for our entertainment. Even when I thought I was satisfied, it became amusing to make a mockery of those who accidently joined our parties.  It was all in jest – there was no guilt.  But the addiction of needing constant entertainment weighed on us and I found myself pushing further and further the limits that were hardly set in stone in the first place. Lust was mistaken for lust. Enemies were mistaken for friends. But in this whirlpool of false pleasure, it is easy to be mistaken and stray from the path.

Which is what happened. And I will never make that mistake again.

“Now pierced is her virgin zone;
She feels the foe within it.
She hears a broken amorous groan,
The panting lover’s fainting moan,
Just in the happy minute.”  – John Wilmot

I knew him as Hades, he was often spoken about with disdain and no good will. Hades was pleasant to me, not a friend but hardly an enemy either. One night after a banquet, he offered to transport me across the river Styx. In that moment I recognised Hades for what he was, the Devil, Lucifer.

In that rickety wooden boat he took every sinful desire I had been celebrating and used them against me. With greed, lust and gluttony and a certain new anger he took it all away from me- my ability to explore, my curiosity and my hope. There were so many bodies around but no one could or would hear my screams… all inebriated or  sated by their hedonistic lifestyles. When I was throne off the boat, I battled to rise. I dragged myself along the embankment, not quite sure of what to do next, what I was looking for or needed.

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” – Voltaire, The Age of Louis XIV

I fell. I was lost, and I had travelled so far from comfort and from what I knew. No one would believe me if I spoke on what had happened in the 5th circle. I was a heretic – how could a hedonist possibly be telling the truth. There were flames everywhere, licking at my body as kept falling through the darkened tomb.

I committed violent acts to myself, destroying all forms of my identity and relationships in the process.

I met Poseidon and he helped me up and travelled with me for a while. I told him my story and he made me promises about exploring the sea together. But like the change in tide, Poseidon wasn’t there to stay long – betrayal never stops hurting.

Apollo swoops in and out of my life but he is honest about where he is at and how he wants to explore and discover greatness on his own.

I’m not sure why I felt I needed to put down my journey… maybe its because I’ve travelled so far, the only way to turn is back. Maybe it’s because I’m not sure which pathway I’m supposed to take next. Or maybe it’s because it’s time to rest for a while. I’m tired…so tired…

I shall not fear no man but God, though I walk through the valley of death, I shed so many tears (if I should die before I wake), please God walk with me.

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Ms Congeniality: NY Resolutions 2014

I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but I do believe in using a key-word to focus my energy and direction instead of making empty promises. The key word for 2014 is congenial, basically I want to smile more and be a happier person, to open up and allow people into my life.

There are four areas I’d like to work on in the upcoming year:

My Physical Health– feel confident with my body and look after it, so that I’ll be comfortable around people more

My Spiritual Well being– find again the goddess out there and within me, not just during troubled times

My Intellectual intake– I want to focus my mind, quiet negative thoughts and bring positivity to my understanding… and (this is for my BF) try not to OVERTHINK things, or at least calm down on that front

Social Investment– I don’t do charity, it’s not something I feel good about but what I can do is give my time and energy to others who are in my life who need it. I can be generous with my time.

Silent Night, Wholly Night

“The first Noel, the Angel did say, was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay”

Oh it’s one of my favourite times of year again- Christmas which may come as a bit of a surprise since I’m the least Christ-ly Mass attending person I know… well besides the angry atheists. This afternoon I put up the Christmas tree, something I make a habit of doing every year by myself- even if 99% of the time we spend Christmas away from home.

It’s such a beautiful reminder of the season that we’re in- it’s easy to forget when you live in the tropical paradise of South Africa where the only White Christmas we have is sitting on a beach in Clifton.

Aside from the tree, I’m an absolute fan of Midnight Mass- it was a tradition introduced by my very Catholic mother and while I detest any mass longer than an hour, I have a special place in my heart for Midnight Mass. There’s truly something spiritual about everyone gathered in darkness on 24 December, dressed up with no where to go.

The reason why mass is so long is because an entire hour is dedicated to Carols- the soul of the mass. Oh Silent Night! The First Noel! We Three Kings! beautifully crafted and timeless songs that transports me back to Medieval times where minstrels played for the court- and there was truly an understanding of what such a splendid day meant. A meaning that doesn’t come from the swipe of a visa card.

Yule tide is nigh 

It is during times like these where I can see Christianity’s true connection with paganism- and that makes me so happy. To see the root of my family’s religion combining with the understanding of  mine.  Obviously I understand that Yule is only celebrated during December in the Northern Hemisphere… but I think it’s the one day I can cut the Catholic Calender some slack.

Yule,the winter solstice, gives us the longest night and the shortest day of the year. It marks a time that spring is on it’s way as from this day on, the sun will reign for longer in the sky.

Back in the day, bonfires were lit and spiced cider was toasted with (which sounds absolutely delicious). Holly and Ivy were made into wreathes and hung outside and inside homes in the aim that nature’s spiritual creatures would join in the party.

More importantly, yule tide is a time of introspection and planning for the future- something that as a Gemini, I cannot help but do. I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions but gee can I dream of what’s to come.

On a side note- which is obviously completely relevant- a good friend of mine is set to propose to his dream girl. I’m reminded that I’m a romantic, but more importantly, I love seeing those I care about happy.

So here’s to the start of advent, the week before Christmas and to me realising and recognising what I want from the future. Without the materialism. Without the distractions. Taking it back to basics, taking it back to the root of my beliefs, values and feelings.

Becoming a Goddess: Empowering myself

Those who meet me will always have one main impression of me- that I am opinionated, and give it freely.

When I was 10 years old, I was under the impression that I knew enough to teach the class- that I knew best. When I was 15 I refused to learn a language I deemed as racist and oppressive, and had to use synthetic paintbrushes because I felt squirrels were being mistreated. I was quite a handful- always being able to offer my two cents, even when no one wanted it.

However it is strange because when it really counts, when I have something to say- I shut up. You can’t get a word out of me. It starts with doubt, doubt in myself. Tonight, I wanted something really badly, but I started immediately thinking that there must be something wrong with me for wanting something- that I was being greedy, selfish and insensitive. .

Despite being asked several times what was wrong, I struggle to articulate my own wants, needs and desires- because, and it’s shameful to note, I feel that they are not worthy to be brought forward. Because I feel that in the grand scheme of things, what I want isn’t as important.

But that is not how I want to live my life- consequentially acting passive-aggressive because I am frustrated at the situation or waiting to snap a few days later and it comes out the wrong way. I’d prefer to be upfront and honest, and demand that my feelings and wants and needs have a place and deserve to be acknowledged.

When I continuously feel that what I have to say doesn’t count for much- I am choosing victimhood. Its how I felt coming out of a long-term break up where I knew it wasn’t healthy, when I go through a 12 day work week absolutely miserable and not acknowledging why, when I gave into the dark place…

And to think, what if I acknowledged long before I got too deep into the relationship that I wasn’t emotionally ready nor liked the way I was being treated. What if I had chosen to accept that work cannot always be sunshine and rainbows and I needed to Just Be Strong… what if I had spoken out and said I needed help before things got so bad that it almost tore my own life apart, and my families.

But if I keep depending on what ifs, soon I’ll be looking down from the Summerland and realised that I what if-ed my life away.

And I can’t have that.

I need to be strong, my opinions come from a good place- my instinct are good and if something is wrong I need to speak up immediately. A goddess doesn’t wait for someone to acknowledge her. Besides it’s easier to apologise than ask for permission.

Seeking the Goddess as a Daughter of Eve

If we think about it, Eve is where it all started- literally the genesis that would dictate the way the mother of mankind and all her daughters would be treated for the rest of their lives. The traditional religions may not agree who gets the Holy Land in the religious clash of ideologies, but they Judaism, Christianity and Islam sure as hell share a common belief that Eve screwed up paradise for them.

In some lore, Eve is seen as Adam’s second wife, coming in after Lilith (yes the epitome of a female devil) who refused to be inferior to Adam and runaway from him and paradise (and had raucous sex with a number of demons thus populating evil on earth), therefore God decided he shouldn’t be lonely and created Eve to be more submissive and a more appropriate companion- not that it helped much with her giving birth to a murderer.

Lilith, Adam's first wife

Lilith, Adam’s first wife

Whether I am actually a daughter of Eve or a hell spawn of Lilith, is irrelevant to this topic. I choose rather to discuss the ramifications of Eve, the positive effects that she had on womyn.

Eve, through eating the fruit of knowledge, brought curiosity and wisdom to our world. This would later spark innovation, questioning, awareness and thought to human beings. We have her to thank for separating us from animals and basic instinct. Poor Adam, had he his way, we would be walking around naked, not questioning our purpose in life, not looking for meaning in the world. Say goodbye to our philosophers, our inventors, our scientists, our liberators and our freedom fighters.

Eve recognised that there was power in knowledge, and for some odd reason man will always be uncomfortable with feminine authority, resourcefulness and command. Eve’s power wasn’t destructive, nor was it malicious as we see when men come into power. There was nothing corruptive about her intentions. Instead of keeping the knowledge to herself, she chose to share it- her compassion and wish for others to grow in wisdom should be admired rather than criticised.

Power is as delicious as an appletini

Power is as delicious as an appletini

Knowledge is power as the clichéd saying goes. I’m unashamed to want power, to continuously absorb and grow in knowingness. But this power is for me, to enable to do my sacred and divine duty to help mankind, just like Eve and Lilith. I may be tossed aside and be labelled a witch, a jezebel or worse and I think as soon as Eve took that bite she knew, but she continued to share her knowledge and her power for the greater good.

South African women need to rise up and eat that apple, pluck it right off the branch instead of waiting for it to fall into expectant hands. Then take that bite, not the danty one, but rather the dribble inducing, sweet juices running down your chin kinda bite. You have to get dirty sometimes and now is the time to do it.

Step 6: I become entirely ready to remove all these defects of character

I don’t believe in perfection, there really is no such thing which is quite ironic considering my perfectionist tendencies. People while being beautiful and amazing beings are completely screwed up but our flaws make us human and separate us from the divine.

Even certain deities who I zealously follow have some flaws. Artemis, the Greek goddess, is my patron. She is known as the virgin goddess of the hunt- she is a warrior and epitomizes strength and honor. Despite her virgin status, she is also the goddess of fertility and aids women in childbirth. However Artemis is also jealous, possessive and has a temper, able to seek vengeance on those who betray her, her friends and family. There are many contradictions about her behavior but that is also what makes her so inspiring. For example she protected women in labor however she could bring about sudden death to them while they were giving birth, she had power to heal but also spread diseases. What is the most important thing to me about Artemis was that she would never allow any man to dishonor her in any form.

I believe in the perfect balance, that is what I aspire to. The ultimate yin yang, good and evil. Naughty and nice, sweet and spice is pretty much how I wish to be.

I think I do have a problem with pride and the way I present myself, call it narcissism or whatever but being represented in a good light, in being perfectly balanced is important to me. It’s hard for me to ask for help and to admit when I am wrong. I take on too much to the point of being overwhelmed and I feel good by taking care of other people and it’s dangerous to have so much of your happiness connected to other people’s happiness.

I need to learn that balance isn’t such an amazing thing because it is perfect, but rather because it can become unbalanced at times which is frightening and dangerous, but that is ok because sooner, rather than later, it will right itself again.

Throwing regrets in the bonfire…

louisetramontano.com

I’m normally very good at keeping the Sabbats, remembering them and honouring them. Unfortunately I happened to miss out on Lammas this year, for Kanye West- which I believe is a valid excuse (I’m lying to myself).

The second of February brought about the harvest season, where back in the old days- I’m talking centuries ago, the harvest was really important. Now stuck in central Jozi, I don’t exactly care about seasons and storing crops unless it will somehow affect my wardrobe or electricity bill. So how does a modern day pagan celebrate? By mourning the end of summer and those things are all going to start dying? Quite depressing.

The goddess is aging, no more the carefree maiden she was. The days are shortening and nights grow longer. It’s a time for weddings and reuniting with loved ones to hold as the days get colder. It’s a time of thanks giving and appreciating what I have and hold dear to me, to feel blessed by who and what I have around me- which, let me tell you, is aplenty.

I am looking forward to autumn, by far my favourite season- slightly conceited as I was born in it. The colours and the unpredictability of the season always inspire me. It is warm and cold, that perfect balance between being wet and dry. I don’t have to mourn summer just yet, nor fear eminent winter.

Next week it’s Ash Wednesday, and I love what the season of Lent brings. It is all about discipline and being resolute in your beliefs. I’ve sworn off meat, as I always do to detox my body, and involuntarily sworn off sexy time too… not looking forward to that suffering. Alas it is a time of self-sacrifice and hard work.

Although I gained many new experiences over the past year, I also lost hard on things- especially myself and my personal relationship with my family. I didn’t sacrifice enough, but now is the time to do so and work towards a better me. I always planned to live life without regrets, but that was an immature thought, Regrets are needed so that mistakes aren’t repeated again. There are so many parts of me that need to grow and I need to focus on, and while I am remorseful I need to work towards making them happen and ripen over time.

So I say farewell. Farewell to the nyolz and bad behaviour, farewell to the fiend and the ratchet actions of my past. You are not needed anymore; I can do bad (in a good way) all by myself.

 “We cannot know what we have not experienced”