She was High Priestess of her tribe, revered and worshipped by the men and women of her clan. She was beautiful but untouched, having followed the path of Goddess spirituality faithfully, devoting her life to the adoration of the natural world and the honouring of all creation. Her womb was sacred as the Divine essence of creativity. The men, all strong warriors, would bow before her, protecting all things Feminine as the source of creation, keeping all their women safe and free from any slight against their honour. The women in turn loved and appreciated their warrior men, honouring them with their bodies, and stability reigned.
Following a hunting trip there would always be a traditional ritual feast and celebration. The women danced their freedoms, connecting deeply with their bodies in a frenzy of ecstatic movement. The men would enjoy the spectacle, eventually joining the dance to display their strength in movement, and expressing their adoration of the beauties before them. By the end of the festivities highly charged and aroused women would choose their champion for the rest of the night. The High Priestess would observe all the carnal pleasures expressed before her, knowing she only need choose one of her men as consort, to share in the spoils. Her belief in her own Divinity kept her from thrusting such a burden upon any one man.
The Warrior Chief was less aloof, but although he had coupled with many of the Blessed Maidens, he was sure his destiny lay with the High Priestess, and now chose to bide his time in waiting. He made himself available for her every whim and fancy, keeping the village boundaries robustly protected as a sign of his service to the great Divine Goddess, but his reward was yet to be favoured.
One such evening, on the rising crest of the dancing wave, a stranger entered the arena. He was neither exceptionally tall, nor muscle bound like the village warriors, yet a space cleared before him as he strode purposely into the dance arena. The Warrior Chief, dismayed that he had passed through the village protection unchallenged called upon the nearest warriors to apprehend this insignificant looking man. He offered no resistance, and required no restraint as he came before the High Priestess, standing before her, with neither an air of defiance, nor any disrespectful ambivalence. She felt his gaze steady upon her as she asked his business in their community.
He replied that he had heard the drumming and wished only to join the dance, and offered only his blessing on their community in recognition of their sharing space with him. The Warrior Chief demanded that the stranger kneel before the High Priestess as all men should, but he neither moved, nor replied. As the Warrior stepped forward the High Priestess granted the stranger the freedom of the dance space, before swiftly passing in a whisper to a relieved Warrior Chief that he was to watch carefully and ensure the visitor did not take up with any of the village women.
Under the bemused eye of the High Priestess, and the scornful glare of the alpha male, the visitor placed himself at the edge of the arena as the drums began a simple pulse. The only other dancers were the women, as the warrior men watched attentively, unmoved by the beat. The lithe bodies of the women folk gyrated seductively to the gentle rhythms, but with matching fluidity the visitor began moving around the space opened up to him, following the pulse with a continuous flow, every muscle and feature of his body engaged with the dance. His movements were one minute soft and gentle, another stark and defined, chaotic at times, but also repetitive and patterned at others. All of life seemed to dance through his movements, and whilst the men observed him motionless, the women, their bodies now warm and excited, were drawn to meet him in movement, only to find a warrior stepping forward to take up space between her and the stranger. He freely and fully engaged with any woman who presented herself to him, but as readily dropped her from his focus as she was taken away, never losing a beat of his own movement.
The High Priestess' eyes widened as this scene unfolded before her, and noticed her hips faintly taking on the pulse of the drum beneath her sacred robes. Soon all the free women were taken up by the dancing warriors so the visitor danced in a magnetic void that drew her slowly towards him. By the time she was within the orbit of his flailing limbs her body was beating as one with him and she cast off the restrictive robes from her under dress and let her body talk with the stranger. The Warrior Chief advanced protectively towards her, but one flash of her dark eyes halted him, and he simply bent forward to retrieve the robe from the ground. Soon she was one with the visitor, bound through movement, each holding true to their own vibration, but meeting across the void to create a new being comprising no more than two dancing spirits and the space between.
Eventually the drumming slowed and faded away, leaving the dance no more than a warm vibration within the bodies themselves. The fires burned down, only the silver blue light of a full moon remained as Warriors and Maidens left the space for their own ritual pleasures, leaving the High Priestess standing before the stranger, breathing deeply of the Divine presence between them, under the watchful eye of the Warrior Chief. She leant forward and whispered in the dancer's ear, and as she withdrew for his response he simply shook his head and turned to walk steadily out of the arena and into the dark night surrounding the village.
The following morning the Warrior Chief was summoned by the High Priestess, and instructed to gather a party together in order to track down the stranger and bring him to her. She told him that the visitor had defiled the honour of the Divine Goddess and he must be punished. Electing to take a warrior party of one, the Warrior Chief headed out of the village in the direction the stranger had taken. The track soon became untraceable, so the only option was to explore the unknown parts of the forest. For a month he wandered through every valley he had no intimate knowledge of, seeking sign of another tribal gathering, hint of hunter activity, but nothing revealed itself to him. As the full moon rose before him beyond the forest edge he found himself at the edge of a shallow river, a hill rising up beyond it, and something indistinguishable at the top of the hill. As he climbed the hill he saw that a large flat-topped rock sat at its peak, and there, atop the rock table top, his prey was sitting, cross legged, entranced and naked in the moonlight. Taking a stance beside the rock, he watched as the dancer sat motionless, gazing into the reflected pool of silver light as it drifted down to the horizon and sank out of view. The stranger stood, and noticed his observer, but again offered no resistance as the Warrior Chief advanced to tie his hands together and to bind them together with a strong rope.
The Warrior Chief triumphantly marched the dancer, still naked for maximum humiliation, into the village, and brought him to the High Priestess' tipi. She emerged from the opening but immediately returned in order to retrieve a blanket which she wrapped around the body of her prisoner. She told him that he was a man, a protector and servant of the Divine Feminine, that his place was at the feet of the custodian of the sacred womb. He continued to look, focussed but not swayed, into her eyes as she demanded he kneel before the High Priestess, but he did not kneel. The Warrior Chief struck behind his knees with a staff, causing him to fall upon the ground before her, but his head did not fall, and the High Priestess ordered that he be helped back onto his feet. She again demanded that he voluntarily kneel before her as Divine Authority of Creation. Maintaining his focussed attention on her, he stood steadfast before her. He was told the he would be kept in the village as a boy until he recognised his place as a man.
THE MAN BOY
As a boy he would have little responsibility, but would learn the ways of women and be trained in the art of honouring and blessing the sacred womb. He would also sleep with the women, as he was not yet a man, but as a boy, this would not bring the gifts that might be bestowed upon a man who slept with a woman. He would not touch any part of woman under any circumstances unless instructed to do so. Whilst the boys of the village had shown no particular interest in it, in his case they would also explicitly have to forbid him from dancing.
The stranger listened attentively to his instruction from the women elders, about the creative principle that sourced all life on Earth. He heard that Gaia was their mother and seeded all of the abundance that gave them life. Women were the source of human life and carried the sacred infant on behalf of Mother Earth, before birthing the child and uniting it once again with its Sacred Mother. Every step taken upon Gaia was to be revered as a gift from Her to all men and women, but especially to men, as a reward for honouring and protecting Her from harm.
The man boy heard all of the scriptures of the Goddess spirituality, but persistently refused to engage with any ritual actions that were demanded of him. He was repeatedly brought before the High Priestess for his disobedience, and continued to refuse to kneel before her. If this was not enough to infuriate her, he also failed to stop dancing during the festivals, eventually being tightly bound throughout the dances. Even when bound the High Priestess noticed that he danced his fingertips and face with the same level of commitment that he had shown her with his entire body.
He was occasionally beaten, but this was at odds with the nature of the way boys were brought up, and she did not want it to become a feature of their culture, so instead she suggested a series of tasks by which he might prove himself worthy of becoming a man. The first of these was to match one of her warriors in combat, for only a man who could match other men would be worthy of protecting her beloved Divine Maidens. As a dancer, not a warrior, he succeeded only in avoiding a punishing defeat, by escaping blows through the focussed control of his body. Not a single blow was offered against his assailant, and the bout was ended unsatisfactorily.
The second challenge saw him protecting a Divine Maiden from the unwanted advances of an untamed male. Yet again, not being a warrior, the dancer made no assault on the perpetrator, but this time he did nothing to escape the blows, placing himself squarely in the way of any attack, feinted or otherwise, that might have harmed the young woman in his care.
The final attempt to break him was to test his resolve against the demands of a woman. In ritual space in the clearing in the centre of the village he was to be met by a beautiful young Maiden and taunted by her, never knowing whether she would ask him to consummate his lust for her, or demand that he step away. The challenge was to do exactly as she demanded of him, whatever that might be, as that was the ultimate role of the warrior. Throughout the ordeal, as he was offered every excitement she had at her disposal, the dancer stood passionless, but never took his eyes from the woman before him. If she moved behind him he closed his eyes, always knowing when to open them again as she returned to his view. In the heat and driven by passion the assailant worked herself into a sensual frenzy and demanded that he satisfy her womanly needs, clutching his body tight to her. As he whispered something to her she glanced back at the High Priestess in fear before uncoiling herself and running wildly out of the ritual space.
THE WOMAN WITHIN
The High Priestess demanded that the arena be cleared, leaving her alone with the prisoner, who now stood naked before her. “Did you tell her what I said to you?” she asked him, eliciting no response. She tightly gripped his genitals, digging in her nails, and asked again, “Did you tell her?”, and although involuntarily flinching, he gave no other response. She released him, and said that she knew he had told her and that now she would force him to bow to her, and walked back to her tipi.
She returned carrying a coiled whip. Standing before the prisoner she unleashed it and began to rain blows down upon his bare flesh. Countless blows struck him as she encircled him to mark his entire body, but he continued to stand, stumbling occasionally with the blows, but rising back up to his full height every time there was a pause. She continued to snap at his skin, sweating with the effort. His flesh ripped and bloodied, he stood defiantly before her, but with a look of focussed attention, nothing more, upon his face. Worn out from wielding the violent weapon the High Priestess stopped herself, and started to weep for the body she had defiled.
Around her the tribe had gathered, murmuring and agitated. She approached the prisoner with the whip coiled in her hand.
“You have broken me” she said. “I came here to break you, but it is I who surrenders to your will. Here, take the whip, I am broken, my place here is lost. Punish me for the abuse I have given you.”
He took the whip from her shaking hands, as she closed her eyes waiting for the blow. Flinching as the gathered crowd gasped, she felt no impact and dared to squeeze open one eye, but saw nothing before her. Opening both eyes fully, the cause of amazement became clear, as she saw the dancing stranger laying prostate before her in a pose of pure submission and honouring. She fell to her knees.
The stranger who had destroyed her reign as High Priestess rose before her, and turned to walk from the village, but she could not remain there after all that had occurred. She ran after him and begged him to take her with him. He said nothing, but continued to stride from the village, so she followed behind.
For some days the disgraced High Priestess followed dutifully along behind the man who had broken her. In spite of his wounds, at every rest place he made a bed of moss for her before disappearing into the undergrowth to gather berries and nuts for her to eat, and water carried in bowls crudely fashioned from large leaves.
Eventually they came to a clearing before a shallow river, beyond which the hill rose up to the flat bedded rock where the dancer had been found so many months before. Here they stayed and the dancer showed his guest to a shelter he had built on the edge of the forest, and made a separate bed for her to rest while he bathed his wounds in the river, before fetching food for her.
After twilight they sat in the warm glow of a fire until well into the night, letting the logs burn down until only embers remained. At this point he led her to her bed, but she saw that he did not go to his. When she awoke in the morning he was sleeping in his own bed, but she had not been disturbed by his return.
The following night she again retired alone, but this time watched as he walked off to the riverbank and headed upstream. She rose and followed, seeing him reach some stepping stones across the river, which he took before heading up the hill. He reached the flat bedded rock where he dis-robed before climbing onto the rock, and taking up his pose, sitting cross legged, gazing Eastwards into the sky.
From a safe distance she fixed her gaze upon him, studying his inaction, switching occasionally to see where he was looking. Eventually she saw a sliver of a new moon rising up before them, and for the first time in her life studied its trajectory almost intolerably slowly up through the Eastern sky. With nothing seeming to be occurring, she returned to her bed and fell asleep, waking to find her host also asleep in his bed.
This ritual continued as the moon cycled through its early phases. Each time the woman followed him, she found herself drawn a little longer into the moonrise. It was a peaceful and tranquil time. No words were spoken between them, he offered none, and she felt no desire to intrude upon the natural sounds of the forest and the nearby river. He kept her well fed, and but spent long periods of time away from her, during which she decorated the living space with flowers, and made fresh beds of new moss. She also bathed in the river, washing her clothing, wanting only to be her best for when her returned, and he rewarded her every day with nothing but a simple smile.
Then one day he did not return before nightfall. There was no food, and she had to light her own fire in the manner she had studied each night. Long into the night she waited by the fire as it burned down to embers, before turning to her bed. As she began to settle into her resting place, an impulse drove her to return to the hill top. She reached the top with her heart racing, but he was not there, and the childlike hope was dashed from her. Rather than simply return, however, she found herself throwing off the dress she had been wearing and climbing up onto the rock to take up his pose facing the rising moon. It was more than half full now and the silver light brought up a faint reflection from her flesh. It felt cool and invigorating, bathing herself in the moonlight. This time she stayed for the full rise and fall, returning heavy eyed and falling asleep in an instant.
In the morning she found a small platter of food laid out for her, but in spite of her hunger, she knew this was not the nourishment she needed, and scattered the food in the forest for the birds and creatures she shared space with.
The next night was the same as the previous one, with her host failing to return, and again she dropped into fear as the night drew in. She also felt the cold more intensely now, having not eaten for two days, and again she bore witness to the flight of the moon before retiring.
Once more she offered the delivered meal to the creatures of the forest.
A third night alone without eating and she moved slowly with weakness. Gathering wood for the fire dragged on for a seeming eternity and it was long dark before she was ready to light it, so she abandoned it and retired, pulling apart his bed space to give herself the better of the remaining moss, leaving little trace that he had ever been there. She wept herself to sleep, but passed a restless night, disturbed by every creature of the forest and fully awoken by the dawn chorus which she cursed loudly. Rising at sunrise with that cacophony of birdsong, red eyed she surveyed the clearing but found no sign of a nocturnal visit. Finally feeling truly abandoned, she began to wander into the forest seeking the berries and nuts she had been living off for almost a month. Returning empty handed, weak and tired she did not notice her Warrior Chief crouching in wait behind the shelter.
He had tried to maintain calm in the village, but without her presence, it had descended into chaos. They needed her, someone to bring order, to lay down the law, and to remind them of the meaning of life. They were weak and needed her strength to bind them to the Divine, to Gaia, to the Sacred Womb. She looked at his healthy strong body. His power and protection were self-evident, and his adoration unquestionable, but in his eyes, she saw only fear, something she had never seen in her new companion. In that moment she knew she would never return to that role, and told him that she was no longer that person. “I am not my body. I am more than just my womb, and my womb is no more sacred than the leaf on a tree or the rock on that hill. I am merely a reflection of all that is beautiful. It is not me, or even Gaia that must be worshipped, it is life itself, and we best worship life by honouring every moment we are here.” The Warrior Chief left empty handed.
Weak and alone, she crawled to the edge of the river, finding a small pool in the rocks where the water was still, offering a reflection of herself. She stared into the reflection, seeing, at first, the fear she had seen in the Warrior Chief's eyes. As she sat, looking through herself into her soul, she reflected on all that this strange man had brought into her life, and decided that she was not going to fear anything more because he would be back, and he would know exactly what she needed. Closing her eyes briefly, she opened them to see the fearless faith he had taught her reflected in her own eyes.
Taking a large drink of the fresh water, she rose and walked downstream to explore the river bank, and found the trees and shrubs that bore the berries and nuts she had been seeking before. She gathered a small meal, and scattered it for the forest creatures, taking nothing for herself. Making a small fire, she sat in its warmth as it burned down to a smouldering red glow, before making her way slowly up the hill, empty, cold, alone and physically weak, she felt stretched, as if she had grown roots into the earth and branches into the sky. Taking up the familiar pose in her natural state upon the cool rock, she began gazing up at the stars, seeing into the enormity of all that shone above her. Turning toward the East, a bright bold perfect disc rose up before her, illuminating the land with a hypnotic glow. Her skin shone drenched in the bright moonlight and she felt her heart rising up in her chest with joy and wonder at the love pouring down on her from this astral illumination.
Marvelling at the gifts bestowed upon her, she watched every moment as the moon arced its way through the sky, leaving an empty darkness just before the dawn. The light rose in the East, first bathing the land in monochromatic light, turning to colour as the sky began to take on an orange hue on the horizon. The warm glow spread across the sky as the dethroned Priestess smiled back at the wakening day. As the first bright shots of sunlight pierced the horizon she leapt up and off the stone table, crying out in joyful song with the birds and other creatures that rejoiced in the glory of being alive for another day. Tears poured down her face as she danced like never before, whirling in a spiral frenzy, celebrating the certain knowledge that all was well in her world.
As the big orange disc filled up and lifted from the distant hilltops she sank, exhausted to her knees. Turning back to the rock, she saw the dancer standing tall, glowing in the early sunlight, offering her dress to her, and smiling as she approached him. He moved to her and finally took her in his arms and kissed her, and for the first time in her life she felt truly honoured. They released each other and turned toward the stone table, which she saw laid out with a small feast. Climbing up onto it, they sat, beside each other as equals before God, looking out onto the same horizon as they shared their first meal together.
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