Welcome Back Again!
As People of the Sea: A Novel of The Promised Land debuts this month of April, these daily pages offer you visual backgrounds to the story; and, I hope, a daily challenge to take your own real journey to the places (many, tragic—but all still magic) where The West truly began.
So far (Day 1), you’ve seen the post-Minoan mountain refuge called Karfi/”The Nail,” where a few dozen families of fiercely-independent survivors hold their own against the mainland Achaians’ ongoing pillage of their homeland. Paired at the heart of their common pride and their terrible losses (Day 2) are Deucalion/”Sweet Wine,” the last Minoan who almost sat “a Minos” on the throne of Knossos Labyrinth; and Ariadne, the last chief priestess of their great days, the young woman lost to them all as she gave everything to keep them proud and free.
So they remain—and so the question eats at everyone, What Now?
A winter day in central Crete’s Lasithi Plateau: you’re looking west from the mouth of Mount Dikte’s great cave, and the far central promontory is Karfi/”The Nail.” Below is a conception of the little town shared there by Deucalion’s families. The little shrine/altar at top-right stands at the edge of a 300-foot cliff with a vast northern view of land and sea.
Below is a Late Minoan model of some kind of ceremony common and central in their buildings and representations: what I can only call a Pouring, usually a sharing or offering of liquids from wine to sacrificial blood. Here the seated figures may be fellow Minoans (as in the elegant “Camp Stool Fresco”), the imagined presences of ancestors—or, fellow Minoans likely taking turns in receiving the honors AS their ancestors, literally “posing as The Divinity” for themselves and each other (a many-formed Minoan ritual as “blasphemous” to patriarchal outsiders as their “allowing” women to share public life as they pleased). After all, if you couldn’t meet Divinity in self and others, where would you go to find It?
So now (as you saw at the end of Day 2 here), despite all reluctance, the only acceptable way for these families to leave Crete is through burning the ancient sacred center of their world, Knossos Labyrinth—and seizing the warships of their Achaian colonizers to make their escape overseas. Where To Go is another question as vast as the sea they’re gazing at. But first they have to more than match their enemies’ strengths as warriors: they have to guard against becoming their enemies, and keep this one-strike action from destroying their own souls.
And into these crises comes a magic moment, a circle of real-life dreams. A way out and forward into life shows itself—for here all the way from Alashiya (ancient Cyprus) comes a full-grown woman named Pyrrha.
This faded worn photo (of a Middle Eastern tribal woman dressed for festival, from a very old National Geographic) was with me over every writing-desk since the days of Ariadne’s Brother. And the years of effort after that to get People told grew her into Pyrrha, as I learned how much the original West owed its women.
Born a little Cretan girl, she was one of a few whom Ariadne and Deucalion managed to evacuate by ship, in the shadow of Thera’s catastrophe and roughshod invasion from the mainland.
Through Pyrrha, new life awaits the families of Karfi if they can make it through the fire and blood to come, in People of the Sea: Chapter 3’s Night of the Griffin.