PEOPLE PLACES 5: JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


“All we had done, to watch Mother Kriti slip away;

and here was the sea.”

People back cover ships

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

Deucalion “Sweet Wine”—once, Ariadne’s brother—and the survivors of the fall of Minoan Crete have languished too long on their high mountain refuge called Karfi, “The Nail” (Day 1 of these pages). They rise again to their rightful pride in the long dynamic age built by their ancestors, centered on Knossos (Day 2). With their elders and countrymen slain or reduced to serfs in service of a mainland Mycenaean occupation, it’s time for some kind of new life, if they survive what it will take to put an end to Knossos Labyrinth.

Once they accept that their most sacred place must be “killed” or broken (like any holy object past its use or desecrated), the living figure of that new life comes into their midst (Day 3): Pyrrha, from Alashiya (Cyprus), where “post-Minoans” like her already take the best revenge of living well.

Day 4 they’ll remember as Night of the Griffin—this chapter sparing nothing of the killing and destruction that come to The House of the Double Axe. No one comes through this intact or ever the same, least of all Deucalion.

58---Cretan ship c1500

Boarding a few stolen ships, here begins a new way of life with a long hard future—in short and long intervals, “island-hopping” as you see in the vase on the cover of People of the Sea. Coming as it does from the inland city of Ekron in “the land of the Philistines” ten generations on from here, the image on that vase speaks these peoples’ long memories of their families’ ancestral adventures: its use was central to the feasting-and-festival ways of life and spirituality that fostered community and remembrance.

crane nest seal  cranes nesting

At left is an Early Minoan seal-design with a cross-hatch web like a net, or a figure woven of X’s (a form we see from Crete to Cyprus to Palestine)—or, like the vegetal webbing of a nest built by common cranes (grus grus), a coastal and rhythmically-migrant bird well-known to the ancient Mediterranean. Cranes had ancient seasonal and tribal associations in Minoan Crete, and their images go on for centuries after like a totem of group cultural identity. So do Deucalion and these families find new ways to say who they’ve been and who they are, not least with the unlikely combination of still-sacred bulls at some kind of play with these birds:

'sub minoan' cyprus vase   Mycenaean vase from Enkomi Cyprus c 1300

When all you knew and many you loved with your soul are left behind—when all you have is what you can carry on a boat, and the company of a few familiar faces—new kinds of community begin. This clay model (below) from ancient Cyprus shows people sharing a likely “sacred meal” (think, family holiday) in honor of ancestors, probably present in the doubled snake-like forms on the climbing-frame between the two large separated figures. Sharing food, making offerings and raising the wild human spirits of festival was, according to archaeologists, the key means of bonding people across many differences, and Cyprus’ forms were hardly strangers to Deucalion’s out of Crete…

Cyprus cult meal

Here below are two other signs of the lives these refugees found in Cyprus:

[251] Vase from LM Cyprus w Bull skulls, Labrys   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At left in this detail from a Cyprus vase, seashells and crane-chevrons flank the familiar Minoan horned mountain of the ancestors, with Labrys the double-axe posted also between skulls of sacrificed bulls, with their doubled pairs of horns. The mountain, axe, bull and doubled pairings—plus at right, the inscribed concentric circles that match Minoan writing-signs for heavenly bodies—speak of spiritual and social ways based in ancient cycles of nature, sun, moon and the human soul that had held “the old country” together for millennia.

In the hands of Deucalion’s families—called by archaeologists “very conservative” and “wholly eclectic,” flexible, adaptable—they would visibly go on doing so, as we’ll see down the days of their adventures coming here.

Settled with Pyrrha’s help into Cyprus homesteads that make the most of their skills from farming to metallurgy and trade(s), there’s a long-awaited chance to get their breath. And finally here, the crowning image (to me) of the spirit and the lifeways that they carried and planted again in good new soil. This ceremonial altar—from a many-functioned place of Labyrinth-like “sacred economy” called Myrtou-Pighades, in northwest Cyprus—shows every trace of a Minoan stonecutter’s classic form, betokening ancestors and their living generation’s community:

[255] Pigadhes Cyprus monument w two 4-fold labyrinth designs

I can only invite you to explore this our Western heritage in the labyrinth of spiritual and political time that is Calendar House (at Ancientlights)—because these people of the sea are carrying it with them, the core of their harmony with nature and their resistance to the tyrannies of would-be kings and masters. What then—if not some rigid ideology, or warring nation-state—held them so close together for so long?

Till next time, consider this answer from archaeologist Louise Hitchcock, who found a way to express the dimensions of ceremonies and festivals round that Cyprus altar: a shared celebrational journey of senses and spirits beyond the petty ego and returning, refreshed and enlarged, to a new community:

“…Chanting proceeds for more than an hour and builds to a crescendo prior to the sacrifice. Approximately 45 sheep are simultaneously dispatched in a brief moment, with blood collected in a stone-lined channel as the children of the community mingle among the participants….

“An ash altar is used to burn the viscera of the animals, the aroma mingling with aromatic wood shavings and sent heavenward….When all is ready, the impaled animals are simultaneously cast into the roasting pits….

“How does one give shape to the intangible realm of the senses?…I have crossed a spiritual threshold from the profane order of things into the sacred order of intimacy. It is a place…transporting the participant into the world of otherness and the sacred, through fasting [before the feast], through the intense heat and danger of the fire-pit: a growing anticipation and transformation heightened through rhythmic chanting. There is also a purposeful formlessness—where oppositions, of pollution and purity, disgust and desire, subject and object, inside and outside, all collapse….The chanting seems to have been going on for hours, [and] time loses all meaning….And as I am drawn further in, abhorrence melts into ‘anxious fascination.’ I am changed forever….”

*

Continued…

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

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PEOPLE PLACES 4: JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


people-of-the-sea-front

Beginning (Day 1), where? Karfi: a colossal gray crag-faced spike of granite rising straight up from the shoulders of a mountain, hammered like a nail in the heart of our island Mother Kriti. Whoever sailed the sea miles below, or stole up into this country, Karfi saw them first. Old times of our mothers and fathers, Karfi was a high place of dance, of feast and healing, between the stars and the horned mountain caves of our families’ sleep. Now in a world torn off its wheel, a refuge only self-exiles would choose. A hostile crag, as far as possible from homes we could not let go…Every wall a common wall in this honeycomb of lanes and shelters, huddled down out of wind and sight behind The Nail’s northern cliffs…

3 Karphi from the northeast

Deucalion and the families huddled up here know now it’s not enough: their “free” life of high mountain cold, isolation and poverty has amounted after all to powerlessness, in the face of the rapacious Mycenaean occupation of Minoan Crete below. If it is time to go (somewhere!), they cannot leave the once-sacred center of their lives, Knossos Labyrinth (Day 2), in such hands. In burning the place and stealing their enemies’ ships, will they lose their own souls? And into these quandaries (Day 3 here) comes Pyrrha of Alashiya (Cyprus), a Cretan-born woman with a call to the new life everybody wants…

Pyrrha

…I took her to a bench-stone near our spring. She filled her jar, then sat with legs tucked under her, hands in her lap. Her slender back and bosom reared up from folds of her cushion, the green cloak: she’d dropped the under-veil from her white headdress too, a different flower now, the wind rippling a full-length cotton robe of lightest lavender. Canaan-colors: one ounce of that dye cost her weight in bronze. I yearned for the world in her….Glorious, and something was coming. She straightened up, waist, spine and shoulders, raised one palm and lifted her chin to speak as embassy. Achaians said a woman made good hostage in affairs, but from Labyrinth days, such daughters had borne things of moment. Trained and seasoned queens of their kind, they understood each other, and midwived standards for a fractious Great Green….

sunset view of Dia from Karfi

The view northeast from Karfi’s cliffs, including Dia Isle where, with the death of Ariadne, the breath went out of the Minoan soul—only to be reborn (of course) as a fiercer-than-ever Cretan spirit. So, the men of Karfi gather their weapons: their families face choices of who will sail for Cyprus. The eye of Karfi draws down on their target, Knossos Labyrinth.  

13 Knossos valley

When you’re going to rip your life up by the roots for the sake of another one, you’d better first go to the deepest place there is, where the guides’ voices speak. So here on the edge of attack and emigration, Karfi’s Mother Zoe (their eldest woman—“the voice of the cave, and its silence walked with her”) gives her all to the tribe encircling her, in their last night together in a field at the feet of Mount Dikte:

22 Lasithi paparouna

–Finish, and begin! Mother Zoe cried, with her torch high at the center of us, her free hand beckoning closer. –Yonder our mother, sisters and brothers. Take her with you, kourai and kouri. Want to tell you something, though. Do you see this garden, in our midst? Always, you are in it. Act like it. Now I’m going to give you, plain, the way we did old times, your mothers’ secrets to help find a way. Sisters and brothers, whatever becomes of you, remember this place where our one soul was born. Come times you want to die: All-Giver is a monster, too. But Dikte is touchstone. The core of our ways to the light

–One way is, to love someone, Zoe said. –To love until your dead skin drops like Snake’s. You can be grateful, over all you lose. And, you can consent: consent to know this dream your own. To love, be grateful, consent: remember! Alright, that’s all I have to say, goodbye, Zoe finished with a flippant cast of one hand, turning her back. –Farewell

She broke the circle and disappeared away through the combing grass, going up to the cave. Never her old shoulders back so far and straight, as if she had resolved on and arranged her own abandonment, to scatter living seed abroad. Nobody moved, at first. I saw not even Ninna quite in tears, for the plateau’s air ran upon our skin, every stone and star and peep of creature perfect and in place, like jewels in the veil of things…

 [237] Cnossos Today

These are the ruins of Knossos Labyrinth. At right-center of the central courtyard above, you see the four reconstructed doorways to the throne room. And so amid the blood and flames, Deucalion “Sweet Wine,” Otus Who Pushes Back, goes through them once more and becomes the monster never known to Minoans, but ascribed to them by ignorant invaders who despised them: Minotavros, Minotaur Man-Eater, the worst of the human being, for ages kept in check by a web of cosmic time and ceremony…

This red-walled chamber, the core of Minoan memory, is almost too much to bear. Stony before Deucalion sits Koreter, “the man,” a mainland-born “governor” of many crimes waiting their consequence. There’s only one question’s answer that can save his life:

–Just tell us about one good thing you have done, for Crete, in coming here. There must be one good thing. Tell us about it…

He can’t…

31

The throne of Knossos as found in 1900 AD

26---Crete winter rains begin

Amnisos Valley composite

Sunrise silhouette of Kaka Oros or “Bad Mountain,” the blunt headland just east of Amnisos, the ancient harbor of Knossos. Here too is my crude composite of the valley where you still find traces of the old Minoan road inland. Deucalion’s fighters would have swept down valley to the ship-shed ruins still on the beach today.

People back cover ships

For the ways this night of murder hurt Deucalion and his families, he longs to lie down in the soil. “The road to Knossos no longer led home.”

And here was the sea.

1 eastern Med map

Continued…

people-of-the-sea-front

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PEOPLE PLACES 3: JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


Welcome Back Again!

people-of-the-sea-front

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?

view east over Lasithi Plateau from Dikte Cave

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.

Karfi houses

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?

[223] Cult Meal and-or Pouring Libations

69

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.

Achaian warriors and charioteer

image051

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.

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.

Continued…

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

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PEOPLE PLACES 2: JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


people-of-the-sea-full

WELCOME BACK!

If you’ve read the brief back-cover summary just above—or even the shattering full story of Deucalion’s young years in Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (http://ancientlights.org/ab.html)—you know what these exiles and outlaws, sheltering now on the mountain-stronghold of Karfi, are remembering each in their way: the needless wholesale destruction of their ancient way of life.

4 Karphi, across Lasithi Plateau from Mt Dikte

Minoan Crete, a matriculture vibrantly alive and free for over 2,000 years, was crippled by the catastrophic eruption of the Thera volcano. No matter what Minoans tried in its aftermath, there seemed to be no way to placate the mainland-born Achaians (or Mycenaeans) who were relentlessly insinuating themselves, their father-gods and ways of life built around the “glories” of war, into the Minoans’ midst. Despite flashes of hope for a fair future between young chief priestess Ariadne and the mainland’s extraordinary but ruthless figure Theseus, the frightening whispers of a building mainland invasion-fleet prove true. And so (as sources say) on a wild spring day, the Achaians land in overwhelming force and begin to take down their teachers—builders of the oldest, most advanced and successful civilization yet on Western record.

Knossos Labyrinth reconstruction

Knossos Labyrinth, the Minoans’ ceremonial center for over 2,000 years

As we know, some Minoans wanted nothing to do with the new “way” that reduced their home to a mainland colony, and the ritual center of their sacred economy (their oikonomios or “familial household”) to a military post and counting-house. But when you’ve walked the mountain of Karfi (or even spent the night freezing there, as I did!), and seen the rich green land no longer yours spread out below you, what can you do in defeat but eat your heart in discontent, rage and sorrow? That is the question driving the older Deucalion, sole survivor of his family, half-mad: What Now…

Because the answer he receives (“from the clamor of our graves”) horrifies him—and in the story, you’re soon going with him—this is the day for you to see first a few flashes of what their living eyes remember. You too can go and walk these places, and find in every artifact the living way Minoans left us…

14 Labyrinth south entrance   15 Labyrinth south procession hall

Reconstructions: at left above, the inland causeway and southern entrance to Knossos Labyrinth, and at right, a great hall further inside enroute to the central courtyard. To the pipes and strings of musicians, Minoans bring country offerings into the great house of their families’ ancestors. Gem-stranded hair-styles, textiles, jewelry, the place itself must have dazzled the eyes with their love of color and the play of light and shadow…

       16 Knossos throne   17 Minoan Cretan females palm to palm

The Knossos throne, where Ariadne reigned and struggled to save Crete, and where Deucalion should have sat as well. What they remember is a life where it was impossible to tell divinities from human beings…

18 Knossos West Court today

An old photo of Knossos’ west courtyard from my first visit (1983)—char from the great fires of conquest mars the bastion. And each day of Deucalion’s exile sees the place still operant, but under the hard thumb of colonizing strangers…

19 Gournia, a Minoan town

Ruins of the east-Cretan town of Gournia. According to archaeologists, more than one Minoan generation witnessed the relentless destruction of every such important place—and from Deucalion’s own children to the brutalized women and men sharing Karfi exile—“hanging on The Nail”—it’s almost too much to be sure if their old life was real.

It was—only now they carry it in their hearts and hands.

21 Ritual Dance   20 Minoan Goddess in House portable shrine

23 descent into Lasithi Plateau

24 Dikte cave

Nothing but the deepest voices within these people can even speak about leaving a place loved so long and well. But the news is worse—because they cannot “just leave” for a new life. As we know from many central but “killed” or broken artifacts, it was sacrilege to leave a thing once holy unburned or unburied. They are going to have to leave through Knossos, the heart of their old life—take on the war-expertise of their conquerors, and make an end of their crimes if they can.

25 Minoan Priestess

From a Late Minoan sarcophagus, this (you might say) is the young queen and “life of his soul,” Deucalion’s highest conscience, Ariadne. “When the people suffer,” she once said, “somebody has to be brave.” It’s time to grit his teeth, to slash his arms and die and be reborn—from “Sweet Wine” to Otus: He Who Pushes Back.

And What Then?

people-of-the-sea-front

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PEOPLE PLACES 1: PHOTO-JOURNEY THE ANCIENT WORLD WITH PEOPLE OF THE SEA


people-of-the-sea-front

Geia Sou from Crete! April is Anchors-Aweigh as People of the Sea: A Novel of The Promised Land sails out into the world. Wish it good fortune as the first full hearing of “those other peoples” (the advanced multicultural ones, centered in Nature) who were positioned—for too long, and against the facts—on the bad-guy side of your Old Testament and Bible. If you suspect it matters where we start the story of The West, you’re right!

This is the human story that spoke to me from 40 years of studying the stones. A journey never told that begins out of loss, anguished memory and the unconquerable Minoan will to live joyously again. A journey that leads through homeless dispossession and dark temptations to make violence shape the world, and finds indeed new life on a promise from a real historical pharaoh. All too soon, however, these families face another people’s promise from a god concerned only with them—but perhaps there were and are ways out of needless tragedy…

Take a trip through these 9 Photo Pages at the actual ancient worlds that unfold in these adventures. (We’re talking the whole eastern Mediterranean shifting from Bronze to Iron Ages, roughly 1400-1100 BCE in about 10 generations.) We’ll start here like the story with rugged and ravishing Crete, where “Sweet Wine” Deucalion (once Ariadne’s brother) lives among survivors haunted by the fall of their old Minoan way, hungry for a way out from under conquest, occupation and exile in their own land…

Hope you’ll come along, comment and even subscribe! (No salesman will call.) Places, peoples, achievements and adventures worth the knowing. May it tempt you to make the real journey of a lifetime!

Your Well-Wisher,

Jack Dempsey

WHERE ARE WE?

1 eastern Med map

The eastern Mediterranean around and after 1400 BCE—a web of very different cultures connected (as the Greeks say) by the sea. Crete is seeing the end-times of its old independent civilization, and Deucalion’s rough survivors cling to a mountain stronghold called Karphi (Karfi)… 

2 eastern Minoan Crete
Sir Arthur Evans’ map of eastern Crete—Lasithi Plateau at center here is about 2 days’ walk from the ancient ceremonial center Knossos, and Karfi (“The Nail”) stands across the Plateau from majestic Mount Dikte, whose Cave gave birth to Minoan human beings. So began more than 2,000 years of fierce regional independence and cooperative cultivation…

WELCOME TO KARFI—‘The Nail’

3 Karphi from the northeast

4 Karphi, across Lasithi Plateau from Mt Dikte

This tower of shaggy stone is an always-cool or freezing place about 2000 feet above sea-level. While I take my share of chronological poetic license in the story—Karfi in fact became a “town” more than a century after Minoan Crete’s fall—its hive of houses and public spaces stood hidden behind the cliffs you see. In the photo below, including three strange figures of weathered stone I call “greeters,” you can see at left the tower’s southern side where people nestled their homes against north winds. Following that is the view north toward the sea and Dia Island, where Deucalion’s queen Ariadne lost her life…

5 Karphi & greeters

6 Dia fr Mikri Koprana, Karphi

8 Goddess fr Karphi with doubled-combined motifs, upraised arms & mountain-horns and disc crown

One form of the yet-surviving Minoan Goddess “with Upraised Arms” found on Karfi, a source of unlimited strength to the stronghold’s women young and old. With “sacred horns” signifying these people’s families/ancestors on Her head, and a disc or sun/moon or star between them, Her upraised hands create a doubling (or doubled pair) of points that speak to old Minoan astronomy—and their system for protecting themselves from tyrant-individuals and “kings.”

7 Katharos

This is another stunning “secret plateau” close by Lasithi, called Katharos: to get there, said a Cretan friend, “you will have an adventure” and he was right! Minoans who’d retreated from a violent occupation into very difficult country had many such places to raise their herds and crops, and keep their families alive…

9 Dikte

But, for “Sweet Wine” Deucalion and the sick-at-heart survivors with him, Mount Dikte and their ancestors speak of pride and full free lives to be recovered. And what will these voices from the underworld have to say about the only seeming way to go about it?

SPIES EVERYWHERE!

10 goat spy

TO BE CONTINUED…

(PS—I have no idea why the photo-caption-sizes keep changing. At some point you just have to kick the tech aside and try to communicate!!!!!!!)

PEOPLE OF THE SEA Final Front Cover

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PEOPLE of the SEA: Six Excerpts


people-of-the-sea-full

You’ve found the once-“savage” Sea Peoples heritage: long, luminous & liberating!

STORY:

A wild-hearted prehistoric (Minoan) man “Sweet Wine” fights to go forward by the light of his visionary sister—killed as they strove to resist the conquest of their people’s ancient and dazzling life. Among many loved ones sailing at his side is a bright little orphan named Zoe, her nose cut off by the spite of Crete’s new masters. A mountain-youth who lives in honor to fight their lawlessness, but fights their way and risks his soul. A woman who will forge new civilized links out of ruins from Cyprus to Sicily—and after so much hardship and success in a new land, here come the first Israelites, from Samson to Samuel.

Your Frank Responses & Discussions Are Most Welcome!

*** Easy Links For Doing So At Bottom ***

***

A:

(Before you dive in, try “Life Beyond The Catastrophe Cycle” here

to see what the Sea Peoples offer us today)

B:

Scroll away below with this quick outline of Excerpts

(50-odd pages): Free, No Spoilers—Enjoy!)

*

Prologue,

a woman speaks a Sea Peoples story of Creation:

another calls their tribes to conscience before battle.

*

From Chapter 1:

Deucalion (once the young Ariadne’s brother)

points fellow-rebels the uncertain way

to live new lives worthy of their ancestors.

*

From Chapter 3:

Deucalion “Sweet Wine” has turned—

He enters the once-his Knossos Throne Room

and brings his people’s message to “the man” of their conquerors.

*

From Chapter 5:

The families living new challenges from Cyprus to Sicily,

Deucalion suffers the curious gift

of outliving his love Pyrrha and his kin.

*

From Chapter 7:

Riding whirlwind change and dispossession,

the tribes face another rebirth

among ruins and families ardent to rebuild.

*

From Chapter 9:

Sucked back into war: Pharaoh’s promise of life in Palestine

for guarding the traffic on the East-West roads

becomes a curse on friends and coexistence.

Can returning the captured Ark of the Covenant

help the desperate odds for understanding?

***

FIRST EXCERPT:

From People of the Sea Prologue—

a woman speaks their story of Creation:

another calls their tribes to conscience before battle.

*

As ever first to rise,

Pelasgoi, and a woman—a Turan, as we say Lady.

Pyx the name,

a daughter of Earth-Gaia’s first human beings.

In every one of you, that blood

bears memory of your first mothers and fathers,

 and sure as your feet know

the paths of your grandmothers’ orchards

we know

Goddess

brought Herself forth

and gave Being

space and light

in parting waters from the sky.

Her senses

like a crane rising into the morning

rose to the goodness

and in joy She spoke

Her name of great dominion,

Eurynome.

The word

in its vast vibration of Her happiness

became a rhythm, and Her body

danced a gentle joy

that rose within Her senses

to the knowing of Her own infinitude.

Her spirit moved in love on the face of the waters

and Her dance raised up prodigious wind

behind Her, shimmering, quick-bright, silver,

a thing mysterious, beautiful, a monster

who came awake in love with what He saw.

Hai-ee! Snake, prodigious beast of being

following Her, became

Her Partner in this dancing of the world.

Hai-ee!

Beyond themselves, between the world’s pillars, together

the dance love incarnate,

the horned new moon the cradle of infant suns,

the swaying of the sea beside the sky.

His wanting Her is the deep waters girdling the world,

the serpent in the swaying of my hips

and in our gardens, holy communions:

to Her he poured his coiled-up innards out,

and love brought forth The Egg that birthed the world.

Who remembers this world young,

full moon the mate of summer sun, the first dawn of Gi

when the green mountains sang in flowers,

rivers clapped hands

and every star of morning shouted joy?

Pelasgoi. And so with our first eyes

we see the ruin you blood-sick boys have wrought,

you kings, you walled-up thieves who made us peasants.

Six hundred spears of family come running to this fight,

black as this remembering blood between us.

Tell you why: never once surrendered, not a child of us

to that first fool of you, posted at your crotch:

Snake, prodigious Ophion, the father of your imbecilic lies.

Who saw the splendor of the world

and told His Mother and Her young, I made you:

She gave Him Her good heel across the head,

kicked His teeth out, too, to help him think again,

and from those teeth Pelasgians were born.

I give you this, it’s why we make such troubles!

Younglings of the never-conquered sun,

we are The West, the flight from madness:

daemon of you all, ragged tribes, silent, sullen-proud,

first and thirteenth people of the world.

Flood-riders, children of the cranes, the salt in you,

raisers of gigantic stones that outlive memories of men.

Gozo, Nuraghi, seed of the Tyrrhenoi, from Thessaly

through the Cyclades and the twelve great isles of Asia,

we taught men’s hands the ways of grain

and now we scrape for food in holes of mice.

Squanderers of seed! Great chiefs, dispossessed by wishes,

taste in smoke and fire what we bore first.

                    Do not say it, Achaians of the south and north,

Argivi, Ironheads, that your fathers did not take

our grandmothers’ groves, their mysteries and children

from Argos plain to Mother Kriti‘s isles, Miletus, Troy.

Never speak again that we forget the great homes

roofed with rainbow tiles, shining by the sea at Lerna:

the first age of the world you turned to slavery and ash.

Your broke-tooth misery is Goddess law come down,

and we rejoice.

Hai-ee! Tomorrow, the last of our bloods marry after all.

On Ramses’ jaw-hook blade? Or a spread of bottom-land?

See you at the altar.

…***…

Nobody walks away. I see no beaten people here. Maybe, you flea-bit pharaohs, a seed to plant.

Padi; as you see, a gray Wanassa of the Lukka, the Turan of our chieftain, Chimaros Night Flame. He sleeps now, poppy-drunk. Just between us? His life is one whole cloth of nerve and larceny. His name too has a Cretan touch: great ones, does that ring with your own pardon-tales? Tell it to a pirate.

Before this fire, truth for truth. You bring us Lukka here to build your numbers. Now you seem to have knives to help the poorest isle-folk. So then, know why our skills red The Nile again this year. Good children of Goddess law, a long nose blocks your eyes. Your sea-law made the Lukka hated, in the midst of your own crimes across The Green. Now you know what it is to do things you hate for the sake of your children.

Lukka laugh at big words, like the pennants men fly on their war-wagons: they flap more wind than the ponies. Our camp sent this bent old lady, I confess it, as a mock. But we too loved our lands along the sea. Cousin Neos, we remember Khatti people as cousins, in times-back when Hatti was their Mother of the Sun. Then, you know the story. Their fathers threw down Goddess and her daughters, put up stone-beard statues of themselves—and marched on us, for our last sheep and son. We Lukka too learned blades in Hatti’s front lines against Pharaohs. So! Out of that, our elders’ new choice: keep bleeding for Hatussas, starve in hidden places; or, bury regret, and take for ourselves as others take.

Now you understand this intolerable camp of children’s eyes. Yonder! a slow fat ship riding low with grain, and wine, and metals—Great ones, you were nobler in your pain? Chimaros drinks to kill the spirits of his kills. Dress your idols as you like.

The Hatti fought old Pharaoh to a standstill at Kadesh. And then what surprise, that such a slaughter turned their minds to what had made things work in the first place, marrying up? But the fight wore out Hatti’s arm, and we turned on them, with relish. That was our mistake, you men have said it! Sweet righteous poison, blood-justice, and our very own right to steal—Puh! Brought us where? Homes of flame, our mouths big words, our bodies criminals.

Before I sit, mothers and fathers, what will you lay upon the mountain’s bleeding-stone, that your ancestors bring you back to life? In each of us, the fool must die. And no offering we make can match what must be won.

I know the wrinkle in my boy’s smile when he hurts. The color of my girl’s hair is an oak-leaf in the seventh waning moon. See, then: those with nothing yet can give most dear. To Gi, Pytogayah, a little one. My littlest one. She went like sleep. And this night, she climbs into the lap of Shapshu, the living sun.

Our sisters hide their faces in their palms. They know what is torn from us, in hope of one heard prayer. Tribes they come from, men will weep, and have no tears tomorrow.

Eh? You muttering lords of standing water, pull out your own best offering to sunrise. Go on then, brother pirates, cat-call, clang your cups, howl the holy curses! How many children wasted on your altars to yourselves?

…***…

From Chapter 1:

Deucalion (once the young Ariadne’s brother)

points fellow-rebels the uncertain way

to live new lives worthy of their ancestors.

 

Are you gone mad? Burn Knossos Labyrinth? Your own family’s house!

–Criminal, said another. –Talking slaughter, like some king. Then what?

–Oh, Sweet Wine didn’t mean those things, said the gray goat-bearded priest who was kneeling over me, flat on my back like an X in a pile of bed-skins, my head a mountain coming out of mist. It was Makris, gazing down with a new-moon smile

–Please, you two, he said. –The man was struck by lightning, and good as dead three days. Let a brother get his breath!

Makris pulled the old hides off my bones and worked his hands like a midwife’s up and down. Revived out of nowhere, mountain air ran along my flesh a breath of wings. And that first full drink of it, cold as black water from a spring, swirled through me. It was an ecstasy of waking up, and underneath all being, an undulating sorrow that time would not change

–Go on now, men, cry the town that Deucalion lives. We dance, and festival, while the new year sun stands still. Find the women, and his sons!

The two incensed cousin-townsmen grunted, and turned for the dolmen door. One thumped his boot on the threshold, and spoke without looking back

–Hey, priest. Ask this unconquered son why as soon as he swore blood, a Griffin’s tongue of lightning blew him off the sanctuary. Not with our sons!

–Out!

Where? Karfi: a colossal gray crag-faced spike of granite rising straight up from the shoulders of a mountain, hammered like a nail in the heart of our island Mother Kriti. Whoever sailed the sea miles below, or stole up into this country, Karfi saw them first. Old times of our mothers and fathers, Karfi was a high place of dance, of feast and healing, between the stars and the horned mountain caves of our families’ sleep. Now in a world torn off its wheel, The Nail was a refuge that only self-exiles would choose. A hostile crag, as far as possible from homes we could not let go

The air was medicine, sage, thyme, artemisia, and my body felt the mountain hold me up to the circles of the sky. But the snug cypress-beams over our two heads roofed a house that was one room and one window more than a boulder goat-pen. Every wall a common wall in this honeycomb of lanes and shelters, huddled down out of wind and sight behind The Nail’s northern cliffs

There was sting-fire up and down my arms out of deep red slashes I had cut, for blood alone awakened family sleeping in the mountain, that they speak. But the wounds were clean and crusted, with a smell of Makris’ diktamos poultice. Now he raised me up to ladle water, icy and mineral-sweet

Come to your house, Sweet Wine, Dionysos, true of speech, he chanted gently out of funerary song. –What do you remember, Deucalion?

I remembered that remembering made me want to die. Near thirty years ago, out of the ruins of my own and my family’s mistakes, turning my back on the figurehead throne of conquered Knossos and dragging my first son up this break-neck mountain, to keep him from the mainland’s Achaian squanderers at arms. An island, you see, a whole exquisite island one day’s sail from our north shore, had blown itself into the sky, and they were making the most of our wrecked land. Too late we had found ourselves only prey in mainland eyes. Our every answer played into their hands, and the woman who walked the world as the soul of us lost her life by our confoundment

The wind and cold we found up here, the work for every morsel of comfort—and the harvest, for a sand-blasted wine god, a king of things other than war? An outlaw inheritance for two sons and a girl. Futility, while a violent handful of red-beards and blue-eyes kept on bleeding the ancient household

Outside a rebel yell broke the morning twilight: Hai-ee! Hai-ee! And women’s voices trilled up out of the town, O-lo-lo-lo-lo-lo

In my left hand, the hem of Makris’ deerskin wrap, with a tiny stitched-in row of running spirals. The back of my skull still felt a clout of thunder, and limbs and looks moved slow, as if enormous. Things buzzed, like a mountain alive with summer bees. And here we were again, through annihilating fire

–-Better say what you remember, brother

–Ho! Makris laughed with a wag of his chin-bristles. –Why, it was everything to look for in a Moon Bull, a Minotavros—and so say all three camps of cousins up here, who love you. May I? Son of Pasiphae Who Shines For All, and of the Minos, Keepers of Days in The House of the Double Axe, Labrys. Blood and rightful husband of Ariadne, Lady of Knossos Labyrinth, heiress of the ancient queens, and no man and woman ever will be closer. But now—argh. The last son of Labrys Clan. The last to hold the Great Year throne in family honor. And he left it so

–Makris, what happened?

–It was you, grown so black and quiet everywhere, down with the men guarding trail, or pruning trees, or ripping out wood for somebody’s broken loom. I saw you, listening, looking, that restless rolling shoulder. And then, talking straight out with people, here at a table, there at the spring, or a grave. Saying plain what I see, too, in their faces—that it’s no life to hand on to children. We are dying on the vine up here, the goodness of our seed. We, a pack of highland outlaws—there’s a backwards bone to choke on. Well, I knew, Makris laughed, –that you were the fellow to turn things, Knossos Labyrinth spectacle man. You, to pull the nail out of people’s smiles

–Yes, yes. Five days ago. It was the dying of the moon just ahead of winter solstice. You climbed up onto the sanctuary roof. From there on the edge of this world you called out the mountain. People came in from hunting, climbed their ways over rocks from the other houses—we crammed the lanes and roofs to see you up there on The Nail’s last point. I remember, you began to move, and I was thinking you were like old Keret, from the songs sailors fetched out of Ugarit. A well-born man, a loving man, homesick for his house, for his family, his mate. Not a straggler up here who couldn’t feel that, with elders’ graves and a burned-out farm behind them

–Remember what you said? I felt the breath go through my body, Makris sighed, –and every other body in the press. You said you climbed up there to die with the sun and moon. You were going into the dark with them, and coming out alive, or you were going to jump—but for you, The Nail was finished. You slashed your arms till I winced, and the altar-stone took your blood and word. Keeper of Days, that was a Minos speaking

–Then, wonders, that’s all! I know you saw your sons, and daughter, and how many people kept vigil for you up there. Prayers, torches, pipes came out, a systrum, a daouli-drum, the githa-bag wailing to make your nape stand up. On you went, and no moon in the morning sky. Rippling off old skin like winter Snake, ramping along that edge a spring-crazy Bull. You belly-roared like summer’s Lioness, with young to feed

–But oh Sweet Wine, you made us wait for the shiver of death that Griffin brings. Second night with no moon, and still the arms up and out at stretch, all runs of blood. Then, you’d done it. Down over Dikte mountain came a thunderhead, so big and louring-black that it made people hide bunched together in their houses, and the dogs in too. When the rain cracked open out of that with thunder, you were still up there, turning and howling like the world. Well, you climbed down inside the sanctuary, and came back out with Labrys—the last big bronze double axe we had, with the doubled blades and spirals

–Ho! said Makris. –Lightning snapping and booming around us in the rain. Back you climbed up onto the sanctuary roof. The last altar of the world, it looked, because it is. And you turned in place and doubled back to face us. You lifted the monster both hands high, and your face, Deucalion, the eyes—I don’t want to see that again, till Griffin take me home to Snake. The waters pouring off you. You bellowed out, Knossos Labyrinth will burn! And, Crack! That bolt was so close and blinding-blue I see it now. Crack! Down you went a dead man, right through your knees, and Labrys in blasted pieces. Mercy! I never will know why you didn’t pitch back off the mountain

Makris breathed out, and rested, brooding still over answers to the offering. I saw the last sign of our family’s understandings, Labrys, broken by the hand of light and shadow that had forged it. How had I not understood the grief and clamor of our elders’ graves? It was criminal to leave a thing once holy unbroken, unburned, unburied. So then—the end, and our way out, lay where we were born. House of the Double Axe in funeral flames. A night of the Griffin, lit by the last Minotavros

Suns and moons had endings. We had been clinging to a corpse. Now, the baffled man inside was finished. Watch new metal flowing from a forge, you see the slag drop off, and feel the hot pure incandescent blood of Earth. It cools, and hardens: that was what I found inside. Morning. Ferocious, loving—real again

–Well, your good sons helped us carry you in, Makris smiled. –And here we are. Back from the other world, and come to your house. Home, Deucalion

–Home. Be careful, man who just called the dead back, true of speech

–Oh, you don’t want to kill anybody! Makris cajoled, grooming back my father’s thick black hair as I managed to stand up. With no answer, he loosed his highland whistle toward the door, and ducking in under the lintel came a troop of smiling cousins, kinsmen who had kept his vigil for an end or a beginning

A good eight or nine mountain-people of the town arrayed themselves to stand gazing in a group, some with a flute, a drum or censer in their hands. All together they lifted their palms up and out to me in a sunny welcome’s blessing, little ones in black and white wool wraps, hard prime men and women in caps of goat, and the haggard buckskin elders. I doubled this, grateful, but their faces were fear behind Karfi smiles. Now, three of the women with bright eyes piously lifted their wraps to show their breasts, singing out sweetly: Seam, undo yourself! Mollifying voices, luring men back into the world of hope and shipwreck

–See? Makris said. –Home, and this is your family. Some of them. Come now Deucalion, you know every face. Here’s Pereko, and Cissia the potter, and Donos and Arge. Look, young Oinops brought us a rabbit

–Otus, I told them. –Otus climbed out of those skins. He Pushes Back. Family, are we finished weeping on this stone? See this cup I make with my hand. The Sweet Wine is turned. I pour it out. Earth Mother, turn it again

They knew me not a man to call for war. To live on The Nail was to know our enemies’ hope, that we should live according to it, for a weakling’s benefit

–Say no more, Makris cautioned. –We know, thirty years and your family’s house still bleeds in the mainland paw. I mean, why make cousins nervous. You like it here. We see you happy at the chores. Festival is medicine

Deft fellow, Makris: stall, deflect, show the crazy man normal things

–You saw me taken, soul and body. Family, what we grieve is gone the same. And we cannot leave the great house of our families, the core of our memory as she is. Come spring, I am going to burn Knossos Labyrinth. Or, die where I was born. I will kill every cheese-counting Achaian squatter with a knife in the way of that pyre, and take the sunrise after

–Now, this is true: good ships are sleeping winter in the sheds along Amnisos shore. Five moons from now, we can make them ours and sail The Great Green. The wind can tell us where to go, but no more this. I will push back, against squanderers who imagine that what they have done here works

–Stop! said Makris with a stamp. –There are families up here mainland blood. They won’t kill their kind! Why, Melas is your brother-in-law

–Yes he is. Melas is Achaian family. But say it, this once: our end was their beginning. They had no word for ocean, coming here. The best of our houses rent themselves making them at home, and we lost ours

–Say it! What made Melas family? He turned his back on kinsmen still at pillage. But we cannot just walk away. You do not hear war from me. But where stealing begins, family ends. Griffin tells me, Karfi is not enough

In the silence a thump of mountain wind touched the house, and people started to ease themselves back outside, some with the half-smiling wink of any morning, and some with nervous formal hails of old time, fist-to-brow. Bluntly cordial, scared: Cissia, with the black-haired almond-eyes touch of Egypt, Oinops my rugged nephew with the north islands’ twinkling smile. In each and all, the gardens of Crete had mixed proud Aegean shoulders, the locks and olive-bronze skins of Canaan, Libya and Asia. Off they went to put it off, in little joys of morning

–I ask not a man of you along. But where to, cousins? Hovels, not home. Are we not sick of how an island blew into the sky, and it rained white bulls?

–That’s alright! See you at celebrations! Makris called after them. –Same old fellow, don’t worry. He loves us all three houses! The women are coming!

But Makris stopped short, with an uncertain clutch of his amber-bead necklace. Makris, our dear gray he-goat out of Malia, grieving his home since it burned: pretending we did not see him bent and wasting, too, before our eyes

          Anybody, I tried after them. A way to start again, with any honor. The one answer was a young girl’s voice

–Keeper of Days, keep us in the circles of the sun!

I might have said, No more, no less—but running in past them through the door came my girl-child, Little Zoe. She vaulted up into my arms

–Papou! –Sweet girl! –There, you two, that’s the medicine!

Zoe, eight, happy, gangly and lithe, with strong hair and eyes dark brown as ripe carob. The monkey clung to me laughing and the sound and feel of her drove deep a sword of gratitude. We spun, kissed, and bumped the table: the ache of life came back…

…***…

From Chapter 3:

Deucalion “Sweet Wine” has turned—

He enters the once-his Knossos Throne Room

and brings his people’s message to “the man” of their conquerors.

…I walked through blood and weapons, corpses, writhing forms: Donos dead on his back, with Butes lowering a young son’s locks down over him, Kinuwa dead, his old folks orphans. They helped me to eat my heart at the four doors of the throne’s sunken anteroom. Down four steps inside, the alabaster benches sat empty around a floor of black ironstone, set in pink schist: naked wall where, once, a turquoise tapestry of isles

My arm let go the shield. Four doors behind me became two in front: in old days, this play the more to see nothing but The One beyond enthroned. Now this magic doubled iron in my blood. For Koreter sat there, still as an idol in the chamber‘s crimson flicker. Here, where seated elders of our clans had faced down every would-be Cretan king, nobody faced him

Waiting his turn; but the great palm-painted jar at his feet, the bowls on the inner-chamber benches at his sides said he had prayed. He gave me nothing as I came in, his gray hands fixed to the knees of his white gold-belted gown, the silver-pointed chin and brow high, eyes straight across the chamber. Gold his wristbands, a yoke of eight gold necklaces; goldfoil holding white locks from his brow with two winged horses, lapis-blue

He was trying to master me, and flinched not an eye when I kicked over the great jar and it smashed, pooling chrism and horsemint. Same instant, I read the wall at his back: gone the great green palm that had shaded our throne’s white alabaster, gone our green hills, waters, lively quietude. Either side of Koreter’s blank face, a sharp-beaked Griffin, hunters and devourers once the reach of our law. Tonight, they were monsters come for him, their hooked beaks high with necks craned up to swallow. And wingless, too! A joke laced in by our old-blood painters: no wings to carry this fellow up the sky. Too fat, Mother Griffin, with a belly full of Great Year monsters waiting to be born

I put the tip of my iron to his plexus: Koreter’s breath came big, but his eyes stayed fixed looking past me. What he saw was the chamber’s sunken pit, the grave of summer’s sun-crown, grave of the miserable self

–Minotavros is come. The son of your own lying hand, I said. And then, louder: –You sit like a Pharaoh. Too bad you’re Achaian, and in Crete. I thought you people held it blasphemy, impersonating gods. You know me for your own, don’t you, Koreter

He blinked once, and then deigned to look at me

–You cursed clown-faced animal, jabbering Libu. Those guards are Meshwesh, he snarled. –Smarter dogs come in out of the rain. Oh, to see their knife in your back!

Outside, Norax was shouting. Here, I reached to rip Koreter off the throne, and Dog’s Day, he cursed: You will never be free of us

My hand threw him across the chamber: he hit the facing stone bench hard and his body cried out, but not his will. He clambered half-up, and clutched the arm worst-hurt. In the throne’s shapely seat I saw our moon, our sun and star above the mountain: I the first and last to do a thing like this in front of them

–Does it hurt, when somebody hurts you? Welcome to the world. Too bad you can’t stay, spider

Koreter was still bent, half-up where he fell: a nice clean little old man-sire. I thought of his Lion and their sons’ deeds sanctified. Hard-built towns in ash. Burly browbeaten yokels whose hope in life was slaves and jewelry, who shipped our mouthy women to their flax-farms. Zoe’s nose. Flame, I no longer knew who spoke

–A thousand names built this house. For them, Koreter, I give you something. A living chance. I swear it, by our family. Look at me! Answer one question. An easy one you should know. Answer, and solemnly, you live

Get it over with! What is it then! he sneered, holding hard to the bench

–Just tell us about one good thing you have done, for Crete, in coming here. There must be one good thing. Tell us about it

He tried. –Ohh, gods, gods! I fetched him, jerked his head back and drove iron down the root of his neck till the hilt struck collarbone. His eyes were boiling and the throat in his open mouth. I twisted hard-around, then ripped out and his lungs’ blood fountained purple from the hole. When the spray of it failed, I threw him on his face at the dais, and shrieked his death delivered soaked with blood before the throne. Everything fused and married: sun-disc, star-center, navel, new moon cradling new sun: crowns of the horned mountain, and fresh blood red across their niche. Let go. See

Between the polished sea and mountain curves of the throne’s back alabaster stone, my shade moved in the other world, iridescent, bloody. Where the ninth curve had crowned the face of the woman of my soul, a splash of blood let two drops fall. The throne was broken, dead and killed—not Great Year way. Dead, alive and in-between, I raised the palms I had to the people who had raised it, and defended it

At the door a man of Alashiya offered to drag out Koreter. I woke to stink of iron in the pooling blood, mad noise outside beyond the doubled doors. Rocks and arrows coming down: there might be a dozen Achaians outside, men caught bunking in the town and now hoping to hold us without coming in, until they scared up who knew what, and horses

Smoke of our burning-begun flowed in gray plumes out of doors and stairways, and blasts of south wind dragged it over the court. There was Melas, his back to a huddle of women and children, all fair, sobbing in their night-clothes. Why not kill them, right there where Achaians killed ours. I found Koreter’s corpse dragging from my hand, out between Merire’s Meshwesh and the captives. In front of all, I chopped the head off, and held it up on high a draining diadem. The women and children hid their eyes, poor innocent locusts. Here came Melas through smoke and bouncing stones. –Where in blazes Aktor, and Abas! It’s time to settle and get out!

…***…

From Chapter 5:

The families living new challenges from Cyprus to Sicily,

Deucalion suffers the curious gift

of outliving his love Pyrrha and his kin.

          Our first house we plastered white two years later, and over its door went Moira’s gift, a limestone brace of mountain horns with three spirals facing the morning. Six rooms with a ground-floor center sanctuary and benches round the walls for communions, two stories with good windows, a rooftop garden: it was more than Ninna ever hoped. The crown of it was HoneyBee’s motion to anoint her first mother, with the standing of old Zoe in our midst. Ninna filled her hands arranging labor to raise other households along the valley, and in the evenings people came back to our first fine yard, with its gathering-tables under plane trees spreading forty years of of shade. To Moira, we sent every first-fruit. To Melas we lost about one in four Karfi people, but a good dozen babies like Brimo’s were fat ones

Keeper of Days was going to need some years to sight the sun against our hills. The moon’s days told me when and where to start, and we had our own festivals winter and summer along with Moira’s. For Aktor, Ninna dug in beds of herb and flower, lily, jasmine: when the earth felt good to her hands and feet, she knew the pleasure went deep enough to find and fetch him home. HoneyBee said Ninna’s breathing was prayer. We never kindled morning fire but the candles were already lit for her shrine in the house to old family and old home. Ninna sang their names and people caught pieces of their ways and stories through her. She might by the season be one of a hundred women out on the land stooping over for greens, or carding for the looms in homes nearby. Always, when people came in to a meal, the savor was from Ninna’s hands. Her quiet broom swept gently neat as an altar until sunset, and then back every evening to sing her candles into darkness. She was tearing up weeds one day, and I said she should rest

–I wonder, Otus, what I failed to do, even while I see that blackguard now, that failed man

–Honeybee told me that you turned his beatings into marriages for the house. You, first mother, are the warrior conquering Alashiya

–Otus, curse my mouth, I could see Aktor dead and feel better than I do

Honeybee and Zoe kept Ninna near: We’ll make it so good here that Aktor will know he must come home. They took Ninna gathering crane-feathers every season in the shore-lands’ nesting marshes, and brought stately things to Zakkala ceremony. In the midst of our losses it was Norax’s Oinops coming to the front: of old days, he was always third man with Prax and Aktor, and Norax kept him close with their pleasures in the land. We cleared for grain, orchard and olive, planted our nurseries: there were nights of love alone with Pyrrha, with others in the gardens of Paphos

Pyrrha never named a father of the child she was showing by late autumn’s moon, but when I asked what names she fancied, she said Deucalion for a boy. Why do you cry? Is this not why I found you, and why you came, to bring sweet wine back to the world?

And then she wished that somebody grow trade of sylphium, promised with Merire. Easy for her to line up men to work Zakkala in my stead, and Ramose to sail as far as Sicily: I could see Podargos. Moira was ready to send masons and potters out Thapsos way

Last to this push, there was Cissia the best potter out of Karfi, as ready as a sailor. No surprise, losing that son of hers Oka to Melas’ dreams, besides her sharky house-bond. And if lady Pyrrha could take a year at sea, Cissia meant to have young Eos off The Nail. So, I talked this out with Ramose in her name

–Give you ten days of Crete on the home leg, and then I leave you there, he answered: a double-edged promise the pair of us enjoyed

Instantly I missed our tiny trees, Ninna’s yard with its moving shadow of the horns, our river’s talking stones. But again I surrendered to the sea because, if we did not vanish in it, there was gain every side of going. If we brought back Eos, there was standing of the kind I wanted with Karfi people at Zakkala

–Keep this up, you’ll be walking sailor-legged, Norax joked. He had his own request: to make as bold as I could to find our good sons yet alive, perhaps, with Aktor. There in our last cups came Oinops’ turn to plead his own year under sail—saying out first that he disliked the sea. Oinops had Norax’s fierce-red hair and was grown as Libu-large. When he settled for Norax’s word against it, it was good to think someone had learned from our dead man Donos, who had worried his chances of coming through Knossos and bet the wrong way

Honeybee and Zoe made me feel the last of home. Ramose was less annoyed with me this time, and listened when I asked to beach near the Achaian outpost in Rhodes. We coasted past the ruins of Trianda: for Pyrrha, I never told the end of Cretans there, and our boats made into their little bright bay Ialysos. The usual bulky men at arms had a boulder-fort with a few stone houses near it for their families, and these ran a works like Pylos‘ little brother. Harbor-master must have heard about Melas, and was not pleased to feel some reach of Alashiya where he lived

I learned nothing for gifting their yellow-bearded chieftain; but when I saw the size of their ramshackle potters’ barn, I kept the man’s cup full. Hinting at business, I wondered if they had enough ships to bear so much stock eastward—and he roared back Why! at almost battle-pitch. Because, I said, the tables of Ugarit and Byblos began to like Achaian clay. So you say. We will discuss it. Come back, said yellow-hair. And I knew that, with him, I had just cut myself out of a rising game

–Cursed croc-eyes on their prows, Ramose said

On Carpathos, shells of houses where Melas burned his name. We coasted well off Crete’s southern mountains, put in at Kommos the best jumping-point for Libu, and Knossos’ cheese-counting grip was no more. The Messara plain’s plenty was fetching back things of the world, and Kommos was growing houses, ship-sheds, style. From the beach I saw the great humps of Psiloritis wrapped in cloud beyond her harbor. I was building, working, free, with a boat and home; drinking new ways and places, the problems and indignities turning into play

I left offerings for so much help from my family, and paid a skinny boy to bring Zoe and Makris a prince’s box of myrrh. I schooled it into him, Sweet Wine comes for Eos and six more, and he switched his donkey up trail. I felt ready to carry his water, yet I breathed a world that was enough, and lost the sorrows of The Nail in the name of a boy that might be born. The winter with Merire and his three new wives was full of hunting, sleep and plans

In the middle of The Green, while Ramose wove his secret sea-paths out to Sicily, I heard lewd skirls and thumping songs that men at oars never sang for Pyrrha

Away away we sail and row, off we go, wild wind blow

sweet for the girls who won’t say no in the boats of Alashiya

When we put in at Ugarit

she screams my thing will never fit

we leave them happy where they sit

in the boats of Alashiya

 

The water-boy, the water-boy,

the master wants to boff him

he stuffs his twat with shards of pot

to keep the bugger off him

 

In all our mothers’ lands of trade

it’s every mother’s son gets laid

here comes a gift will never fade

in the boats of Alashiya

 –Papou! Podargos shouted for old times coming down the grassy hills at Thapsos. Look at him! Two heads taller, straight brown hair out loose to his muscled shoulders, and he still had his bright mountain eye. Podargos was thriving, and if I thought him young to be turning himself into a house-bond of Nyasha’s, that was what he wanted—belonging to a town and people with equal room to run and build. His pairing up with Kopi was part of a feast that coupled many. If it smoothed the way for business, there were fist-fights too, fierce enough to tell of real resentments […]

[…] I adored my wives, their strengths and where they needed me; could suffer with our men digging ditches, learning the water-cooled saw that cut our stone, and in the evenings longed to plough, especially with Pyrrha. Phitios came home like resurrection to Winato, and they made famous husbands. Podargos came to visit, his herds turned into ships’ business growing in his pouch: Norax and his Oinops plied Miletus as I did westwards, and some of our men fished mackerel and tunny with Trojan partners. Like them, more of our young scattered into the islands, eager for their own

The more I traveled, I learned to confess it: when things were good with Egypt, things were good. We were Canaan’s kin and partners, but their own little status-wars cost more than Pharaoh’s taxes. The second Amenhotep kept their peace with a hand much lighter than promised early-on: when he died after twenty-five years, I found myself grandfather to Podargos’ son, named Prax. They were both in Alashiya because Ninna was dying. She entrusted little Prax her crane-clan’s feather: she wanted to die in the garden, and she gave me my first clue that something was not normal. Now from these days onward, a life and world began to fade

–Do you think it’s the sylphium shipped these years? Ninna asked

–What, I said. –Dear one, men do not drink that

–But you don’t change, she said. –Your eyes are older. But your skin. Your face. Tell us. Tell me, Ninna pleaded: she was not afraid of passing through the door, only speaking from the first unwilling steps

What could I answer? Many men belied their age. When Ninna died, her mask was smiling. Though Aktor never returned to her, the last she saw was the line of our young people coming through her garden: they kissed her hands, for the strength to lose a home and build another. She slept below a pretty hill, and many times our dances turned her way with palms out high

The next Pharaoh reigned ten years and, nothing like the Tutmoses before him, he all but left the east to its affairs, a man for his dreams and monuments. I lost my Nail-hard brother Norax, who died in a good bed in the home of his son Oinops‘ family, out in Miletus. I sailed there with his daughter Aithe, cut my hair, my arms, and we danced his honor. She had twin daughters now. Oinops’ house stood partners a long time with Zakkala. And then came a third Amenhotep, a little boy-king, whose mother’s family Pyrrha had sailed to see. By the time he put on his blue war-crown and crushed the hope that Libu had breathed into Nubia, Honeybee too was passing

–You won’t share it?  she wept. –You can help me, and you won’t?

–Share what! I answered, kissing her work-battered hands. –Oh, Fourogata, the people who walk proud here learned from you. You were the altar that you raised for Ariadne, you made it worlds more than trade. Honeybee, don’t leave us

She did. And I did not die like everybody else. Like Moira, like Ramose, like Winato, more and more of them. Arge, and Cissia, Euryale and even Brimo the once-gazelle. And one by one, the people grieving change beside a grave saw me not changing. Their playful envy cured into wonder, and then became unease, resentment, fear: the thing I loved most began to turn

Sport of nature! I say what I know, that if skin and hair and strength of body speak of age, mine stopped getting older from that time forward, through the lives of many families. It was not a gift asked for, maybe a curse deserved. I never looked it in the teeth. There were tales of men burning the world for what fell into my hand. And in the place where I had landed with it, a man who hoarded blessings was in trouble

I shrugged that I had been struck by lightning. What was my diet, what did I bathe in, what root or talisman? With no answers, rancor grew, and worst where it counted, in the elders whose hard-earned status this unnerved. Alashiya’s elite were shrinking in their jewelry and textiles, turning skeletal under fine wigs and melting cones of saffron, and I went about a black-haired farmer whose skin still liked the sun. Vain I was, till smirks became accusations. He drinks the juice of monkey-stones. He comes to your house to lance a boil and two days later grandfather is dead—dry as a fly when the spider is done

I stopped trying to answer. Did they expect me not to eat the whole fruit fallen to my hands? Pyrrha’s sister Kia died. Next we knew, most of Paphos’ traders refused to carry produce of our land. They wanted an answer; but the Lady after Moira, Arne, had not won her office on short memory. Zakkala was her elder Pyrrha’s child. Arne shipped out all we had and it fetched a good year‘s silver. That shut people up, and the envy got worse

Merire died. I was asked to make offerings at Sais: the Libu all but ruled that town on a western branch of Nile, and the temple there of Neith was immense, full of people and learning. Inside, Merire’s property by work went to all their children, his copper sword to his sister’s eldest son. After, I sat outside that portico and learned the words inscribed above the door

I am all that has been, is, shall be

No mortal ever lifted up my veil

The fruit I brought forth was the Sun

Podargos had all a man could want. He and Kopi raised four children, Nyasha bore Shekelesh sons to reckon with, and they kept Bright Foot clear of Sicily’s worsening feud. My son Deucalion was a man to name every bird in our orchards. Zoe grew to a woman with a gift like Kia‘s, and all but lived at Paphos‘ seashell-oracle. She played with people till their own sense served them, and it grew the oracle‘s name. Should I sail this year? a trader would ask her. Will you feel more lucky next? Zoe also bore a girl, Kaliopi, with her dancing-feet. I watched their lives ripen through fine evenings under the great trees of our yard. Grandfather now, I did begin to dote in the sun. Old Crete, even The Nail, grew sweeter: this should have been an old man’s nap. Instead, I was still fit for voyages

Travel kept me some from Pyrrha, but none of the trouble touched her. In Pyrrha we lived past measure: Zakkala was home, music, dawns and evenings jasmine-scented, strong harvests, children, swimming with them in waters like liquid sky. She and I never got enough of holding each other, naked, kissing: our feet still rubbed together, making their own love every time the first

And then I was kneeling beside her last bed. Pyrrha told everybody else to leave the room: they went out smirking-sure that, now, for her, daemon-man would work his gift, and it would out. I had nothing: words

You made my heart big as the mountains

not even mountains could love you more

I watched Pyrrha traveling, returning from visions that soothed her pain. This the woman who forged two trades with Sicily and Libu, now crosslegged upright in her bed, like some tiny ancient seed a child of herself. She lifted her hands toward the room’s light, and her fingers were a clumsy girl’s: she was in her mother’s Cretan kitchen, tongue at her mouth’s corner, one eye shut, learning thread and needle. Her hands rose up together again and again, threading the eyelet like a gesture of solemn praise: it tore down my bitterness till I was left only shattered, and in awe. The other world had opened in the room. The thread in her hands was real and infinitely long, and the line of grandmothers teaching: I saw worlds vanish in her passing, and their gestures and praise untouched by it. Pyrrha slept, and then the eyes in which I lived came back, lucid, radiant

–I dreamed, she smiled, –our first day together, on the mountain. And I wake to my beloved, and the world we made together of what we said

–Pyrrha! Pyrrha!

–No, no. Listen, she said. –These years of talk, I arranged to help you. Sweet Wine, Zakkala is our family’s. But—you had better leave. Make yourself their agent on the sea. Don’t wait till someone wants to see if you can die. Strange man, crazy man! Sweet Wine, take your name back. That is all we can hope, is it not, to bear with everything, and keep our honey?

–Go back to Kemet. Take my name to Lady Tiye, who rules with Pharaoh. So much land, they ran the country till he grew; and Tiye wants island things. My winter snake, be brave, whatever keeps your summer rising! Husband, brush my hair, before the women come

I gnashed my teeth not asking to die with her. If I did eat poison, or drown, would I be a walking corpse? She looked down generations: the choice was live for that, or ashes now. I swore my Pyrrha all. She closed her peaceful eyes. I kissed her mottling hands, and when her breathing ended, sat her up, and brushed her hair. When I pushed the room’s shutters open, the midday trees were still as if the last bird had died. Below, Paphos faces stared up from her yard. The wine of my blood turned fiery: in that window I took my old name again. People turned their backs

–Not even for her! –Curse your man-selfish secrets! –Why don’t you leave, like your kinsman that other murderer?

I went into our orchards and hills along the sea, and crushed the tears from my heart. When it tore me inside-out, I was back in the paradisal night with Mother Zoe under Dikte, and we laughed that I had found her right three ways. I refused to see Pyrrha’s grave: it was a lie. And then, I never worked so cold and sure at things whose end or reason, I knew not….

…***…

From Chapter 7:

Riding whirlwind change and dispossession,

the tribes face another rebirth

among ruins and families ardent to rebuild.

          Unbelievable. Utterly. A man as old and young as his tribe’s ninth generation, faced again with starting from the stones. An ignorant stranger, in a land as thick as ancient blood. And nothing for it, except to go on

–You will find your way, Radharani smiled. –Sure as El found the ocean

For as she told it, in the very beginning El, Beneficent Bull who reigned from his mighty horned mountain, looked down on the sublimity and dewy freshness of the world. Turning his gaze in every direction, El basked in what he alone had created and accomplished. Yet, among all the green and gray distances surrounding him, half of what El saw was blue, in a place and a way that was not the sky. So did El descend his mountain, to see what this different blue was

When El for the first time stood beside the ocean, he wondered at so vast a living thing, as it tossed and sighed and glimmered. Now, El saw two immaculate creatures at play in the waters and the waves, sporting and flashing and enjoying themselves. They seemed to be waiting for him. Their flashing eyes and solemn looks reached down into El’s great root, and stretched his being from one horizon to the other

El cried out to them, and said they might call him father, or husband, as they pleased. They gave El one laughing answer—Husband!—and El knew that his being and doing had never been alone. These wonders in the waters were the handiwork of Asherah, El’s one wife older than stars, the walker in the sea, who had made all things beside him. Horny old fool, how had he forgotten? El’s laughter at himself shook the universe awake. And together they named these immortal younglings, Shachar the dawn, and Shalim, dusk: children of the sea, Elohim, the first divine offspring

There were more than seventy powers like these consecrated from the harbors to the inland mountains of this land, with names and temples and confused crossings-over to make your head swim—each the patron of a family or a guild or some profession. Dagon and Belatu, mother and father of nourishing dew, were raisers of the grain. Their son was Baal Hadad of thunder and storm, like his father with a wish to rule alone: his mate was Baalat. Anat, ever-virgin of a million copulations, slaughterer on battlefields, was a match for Reshef her crazy kinsman of the desert, who brought plague or skillful healing at his whim. Yam ruled the oceans and rivers, Kotharat was comfort to a woman with child. Nikal filled men’s orchards with succulence, Yarikh was her husband of the moon: Kothar a craftsman, and Shapshu the living sun. Hawwah and Adham, wife and husband tending vineyards on the mountain, lived like all of the Elohim forever. And the crown of their realm was the world’s great Tree of Life

Mot was the name of death in these Canaani lands and towns. He alone, Radharani said, received no worship and no offerings. After all, every day, the hand of Mot took for itself. And why was that?

El had forgotten himself in vanity. Baal Hadad had done likewise. So had another of the Elohim, Horon—a guardian of men against the desert’s wild beasts, as cunning as snakes at magic and in places underground. Horon took his chance to challenge El. With a single toss of one horn, El sent Horon head-over-backwards down the mountain. But Horon, raging, resolved on a hopeless revenge. In a flash he was a snake, and he sank his fangs into The Tree of Life. It changed into a hideous Tree of Death, and Horon cast around it a sickly fog, a mist that choked and dimmed the world

From the Elohim, El sent Adham of the vineyards to fight Horon. So, they grappled up and down the thundering mountain. But Horon coiled up his vicious spite, and struck his fangs into Adham. As Adham felt this bite, and took this poison, he knew that he lived no more among his undying sisters and brothers

This was the beginning of Mot. No greater grief could Adham suffer. Yet, to his comfort came Shapshu, the living sun, to be mistress of the dead and light the way. Adham the new creature, she called man, Adam. And because for him, there was no life without Hawwah, Shapshu gently folded her hand into Adam’s

But this was not the deathless hand of his companion from their vineyards on the mountain. This mortal, woman, she called Eve, Life, The Mother of All Living to be born. Henceforth, said Shapshu, their immortality would be their children

The Elohim together, moved by these wrongs and kindnesses, turned in wrath against Horon. The Elohim forced Horon to rip his Tree of Death up by the roots, and to restore The Tree of Life, that man and woman never want for its fruit; nor shall they want who are mujomena, mystis, or understanding

Yet, for this undoing, Mot was not to be be undone. Shapshu the sun, for her part, never shone so bright. She burned away the last of Horon’s sickly fog, and the land and living things were fresh as dew again

As an islander, I sought these first Canaani things in hope of their wisdom about death, and why it had not touched me down these years. It seemed their answer was the one I had from home: no answer, only the comforts and consolations of this life. This was at least fair ground for hope that I might fit in

–Urana is what age? I asked

–All of eighteen, Radharani smiled, as we watched the first of her welcome-girls stride out, covered in flowers, toward a hundred guests across the stone-slab court. Our vantage was a slot in the door of her house where it faced the courtyard: two other young favorites of the house came out behind Urana, companions of the greeting with crown-daisies golden in their thick dark hair, and they loosed one shivering call from the white conchs lifted in their hands

These girls wore no more than their festival names, their flowers and white loincloths, like Qadesh, Canaan’s Holy One. In the crowning blaze of summer solstice sunshine their garlands of flowers flowed brightly down off their shoulders, the blooms hung carefully to cross X just below the girls’ dimpled navels. Big-budded vetchlings orange as a new moon, clusters of red everlasting, rock roses white against blue Syrian cornflowers, and coastal iris, with petals so purple they looked black

Their solemn good cheer quelled the courtyard’s murmuring babble, and the conches cried six more calls for the summer gathering-days. People let their eyelids fall and smudged themselves with smoking cedar-twigs, fingers spiraling up and down. Behold, my new teachers: farmers of the broad sea-plain Sharon, Canaani merchants of the trade-towns, island sailors, feather-crowned Serens of the Pulesati cities, and herdsmen off the hills and pasture-heights that faced The Green. Radharani was giving them a place to make offerings to powers, that powers embrace their lives in arms of care and comfort

–Good girls, thunder! she whispered with pleasure. –Yes! Confront them, stand, arms high now, like suns between horns of mountains. Sway, lift up their hearts—and lo! she laughed. –The manly mystics crane their necks for more. They’d give their souls, to see those flowers fall! Music now, music!

Her guild of players commenced as the young girls moved in serpent sways of hips and shoulders in a line. A deep and heavy drone rose into the air with the nebel’s twelve lusty-fingered strings, and a shimmering ring of little cymbals danced in and out of time between pulses of a ram’s hide drum. As people answered, shaking tiny bells sewn in along their garments’ fringes, two double-reed flutes began to flutter like twining birds. Softly between them climbed the ugab’s long sweet hollow-sounding pipe. It seemed to cry above the droning and the drums’ dark beats. If their sound had a name, it was longing, and longing swayed the young girls’ hips

This was all by old custom of marzeah, a gathering-of-riches festival for the summer countryside around the hill Qadeshah. A generation gone since our catastrophe, I had watched this place grow from low squat hovels to a travelers’ house, and then a town over the sea, with a few rolling acres of two-story homes, garden patches, and date-palms shading well-laid paths of stone. The knee-high wall encircling everything marked a sanctuary rather than a stronghold, and below the hill’s steep flanks of red sandstone, a good little harbor spread out along the riverbank, with houses for stores and a fair road inland

Of all the hands that had raised Qadeshah, people called Radharani its crown: she wore her rich black locks in two big spiral curls and between them her pixilated almond eyes were bright, her thirty years’ red-brown skin even darker under her long white diaphanous gown, of island-weave. She wore red everlastings everywhere and I could scarce believe another circle in my fortune, to stand beside her here

–Look at my dear fool out there! Radharani laughed now, giving me her view. –He wants to be our baal, my king? His head is wonderful, the songs say—kindly, since between his ears are smoke and clouds! Make me laugh, like Asherah at El!

This was Halak, the big portly fellow now dancing by himself across the front of the crowd, the full spread of his tasseled garments swaying bright colors and shapes of Nile cotton and Canaani purple. Halak these people sometimes called head man of Qadeshah, but that was as far as it went: he had not fled north into The Lebanon with so many other Canaani, but held fast to family orchards and proffered himself for the job of kissing up to overseers from The Nile. Halak’s mouth as he danced alone was open in a kind of feigned possession by the music, his beard dark and thick as fur but curled up into ringlets Hatti-style, and a tall hat rode his bobbing head. His eyes had not rolled back, but peeked through his painted lids to see which people took up his pretense, and who might laugh or sneer. Behind his back, Halak was the walking reason why Qadeshah brooked no king: he amounted to the nickname whispered in the country where his family held good orchards, Lord Of Pistachios

–Forgive me, Radharani said. –In truth, Halak does for us the things that must be done, stroking Egypt, where our hope is only to be left alone

Her hope and mine: Qadeshah was the seed of a way cracking open in the good soil that followed our nightmare. The man who left his brand in our flesh had been murdered by his captive wives. And still, the peoples in reach of his house paid their prices. To Nile we owed our place here, and the price was Pharaoh’s charge: keep these lands and roads of trade in order, or lose everything. Halak was the butter we spread on his officials

Another life ago, where I thought my rage had made me a helper, I had brought forth dead bodies. Here, in the ordinary well-laid streets of Qadeshah, in the fine stone buildings raised by these people in the midst of humble houses, the seed of the way was life trying to be life again. What stood now was Pulesati and Canaani, with island touches, and Achaian hearths, and things from Tyre and Byblos: a sanctuary garden of Qadesh, white evening star, whose presence tamed the wild

–And, tonight, Radharani relished, as her hips rocked gently with the music, –a shadow takes full moon. The moon, Sweet Wine. Are you sure?

–By all my years a Keeper, this is the night, I answered her. –The worry, I told you: we can wait eighteen years and no shadow comes, and then wait eighteen more to the hour of the night, and it will show. But you know what this does to people. They think the dead walk, that daemons climb up out of holes. Every blessing and power of the moon fails, and dark things rise that can devour the last hope. Be kind, Radharani! It will come this night, because it is your desire

She wanted help to prove her house a sister of the sun and moon. She wanted Qadeshah to stand a peer in secrets of the real moon’s lights and shadows, and so like other women of good houses, be a conscience of Pulesati strength. And she hoped as much that it might do something for the troubling night-time voices coming off the land: long ululating anguished calls, that she said had begun a few years ago. Their sounds, to her, were northern highland: floating voices circling strings of words, at once a deep of longing, accusation, and a warning

Our bride is in many hands

At sunrise hours ago, a hundred close-by families stood gathered at the ocean: their procession circled around the entire hill, and then wound up through Qadeshah with music to the high place trees and stones. Farmers with their barley and wheat in ranked the front of the company, Dagon’s sons: behind them two feather-crowned ponies pulled a chariot with one of the house-guard’s Annakim giants riding grand marshal, and behind him, Labrys walked high on a flower-spiraled shaft. And now, gates closed, more solemn things: the sun was nearing noon, the fierce peak of his powers and the beginning of his fall. Radharani and I took turns at the slot of vantage in her door, and the courtyard was packed to the pillared entranceway, the faces of her guests as many colors as their garments

The droning din of music ceased, and Urana and her sisters burst out into shares of the wild harangue schooled into them

–To Qadeshah be welcome, all, where sun stands still and shines straight down!

–Welcome, you wholly ungovernables!

–Today we choose today!

–Now, get out of here, clodhoppers, scribes in crooked clay, plotting rotting good-for-nothing greed-bags! Fuck your feuds, and women, go, who kiss their horny feet! Go, you broken ones who bow to weaklings and their fists—and go you rat-faced keepers of the hoard!

–Great Year wheel and blackened moons and suns, break your greasy grip!

–Snake, Bull, Lioness take you down! And Griffin grab you by the balls!

Sudden wilder music then, with claps of the crowd’s hands catching on quick, and outraged raucous roars of laughter. No one departed

–Let them serve out the honeycakes, Radharani said, –and sharing-cups of your wine. Are you ready, Flood Rider, New Wine Sailor, for the day you have wanted so long? Breathe, from this lotus I hold for you

I bowed my head, and breathed her proffered queen of flowers. The house was all Lebanon cedar of its beams and burnt barley out of the bread-ovens. She seemed to know my need to keep my head, and she drew me to another look outside. A crowd to overwhelm the eyes, every pair of them so different, from head-gear and hair and beard to the blends of colors down their striped and patch-pattern robes. Rings and bracelets, clan-tattoos, earrings and necklaces, each one a work of worlds I never saw. The only common things were the lack of visible weapons and the ranks of bare washed feet. But still alive the lot of us, three hundred years of salt since Knossos. Radharani breathed herself a long deep savor of her flower

–Your little ones in Egypt, she said, one palm to my heart. –Murdered by the grief of people there, in battle’s wake: they are here with you. Today, in the children you husband for this house, meet them again. Sweet Wine, before this double door, let go. Men drown beyond their depth. Qadesh spreads her wings, and breathes them life

I looked up from the flower to the graces of her eyes. –I will do as you ask, to be a house-bond, I answered. –I will speak a Keeper’s secrets where you ask. But, I want to know—what you most desire, Radharani

–I will tell a man who lost and brings so much. Let people refresh themselves, they see me soon enough. This be the touchstone of our day, Radharani began

–When I was three, your fathers the islanders scourged many kings out of Canaan. When Nile broke the last waves of you, you came back to this land where the temples and great houses already knew your arts. But you, Deucalion, were dead to everything. Pharaoh wanted lucre for his priests. His ministers gave you choice of the peoples’ captured ships. So you were wealthy again by the time I first saw you, and a prisoner to ghosts. Living in one wretched room in Gaza, on a mattress like a stone

–And how did I find you, born worlds away? You know what Yumm said, the man I called father; that I was born of the rising sun. So they say of mystery-children east of Babylon. Young, I thought me born in the saddlebag of one of his asses. Yumm called me bright as hammered tin, sweeter than the myrrh he traded west. I loved the travelers’ houses and the roads and hills with him, the Sutu tents and Bedouin camps in lands of stone beneath the sky. We had night-sings, and music by the wells

–One spring, there was sickness in Yumm’s tents, and it left him old: he knew his body had strength for one more journey. Yumm was like his fathers, no man to forget a debt. To pay it took him all of the western road to Gaza. I made him bring me along, as little girls get their way. So I thought, until I found he had left his wealth at home, but not his treasure. Yumm owed a Cretan of Gaza for stock of oil and aromatics. And what to do when he found he had outlived those partners—another whole company of people swallowed by The Green? He asked help from the little old priestess there in Gaza, Diwia

–She found us another Cretan. You. I remember, Yumm was too much man to cry for losing me, scrawny as a monkey then. But he cried when you, in turn, put me in the care of Diwia’s house. That was what he wanted for me all along. Why? I cried then, because I loved him; and he said, The lives of these great ladies will be yours: in you, the eastern lands return the gifts of the western sea. Do this for me, Shiny One, and for yourself: goodbye. It helped me through that time to tell myself his stories. Yumm said that gods might be the sun, but Radharani is what shines; that nothing moves a god, and still her ceremonies move him. In the core of my name, I found the thing to which I meant my life to rise

–Those years, I swept Derceto’s halls in Gaza, learning arts of ceremony; and when my flower came, I gave it to the god come through my door. The first I heard your name was when I drank with ladies there the drink that closes wombs. And each man gave back something to the house: the wealth that made ten fingers’ worth of good things happen in the towns around those places. I laugh because I like so much a man who understands: good things happen where a woman feels safe!

–I know the men of tribes outside who twist the names of sanctuary women, houri of the hours, and call us whores for that. Men who either drop their robes or pick up a stone if a woman says hello, and give back as little as they can. But I was as Urana is becoming. I paid honor to that house, as women give to see a good thing prosper; so that loving ways go on in this our life. So I came to know and learn from the daughters of the isles who fought old Ramses. I should be—like them, finding fields with promise, if I could fetch men to it. They knew what it was to need and help each other

–The land was broken kingdoms, except where your people of the boats were sharing seed and staking farms, and building to the south. Not many Canaani, sons of the old disorder, stood in the way of people who put roads and fields and markets back to work. Women said it was like old Alashiya, every town its kinds of worship, and Great Year festivals between. I had skills to rise in that. The time came when it grew safe to travel old roads inland. In the Shephelah country that looks up the hills toward Hebron, there is an old Canaani town, Lachish, where your tribes were digging in grapes and olives. I went there with priestesses, to ask the daemons of the land a planters’ blessing

–And who was camped as well along their brook but a band of Annakim, the giants who keep our walls here, brothers now: the first men swayed to the thing born in my mind. They fight for any side, but in-between they live for drink and girls. That day, they were down from their guild-house in Hebron for both, all blades and muscle. I thought there might be some with better hopes. What are their lives, Deucalion, that music and a woman’s subtle foot should mean so much? Was I not to build where they saw Asherah, Baalat Qadeshah, Hawwah?

–I gave my learning, and they gave back gifts, and service. I asked if they had ever dreamed a garden, in the midst of pains of war and work. Well, if I knew a place like this, our red mountain of the dead, with good harbor and a road, could they move men and stones? If I brought such men of skill, would Qadeshah not stand? It was these people, all so different, wanting one place set apart. I did what Gaza mothers did, and every other house not waiting for a king

–Oh! Shall we not have fine music today, Radharani said breathing out a sudden brightness, –and carry our prayers up to the high place, and take good meals and talk along the benches? How I have wanted to thank you, she smiled, looking us both up and down as if we had appeared full-born before the doors

–Yumm is always near me: sometimes I smell his leather travel-bags. I felt like a child when I saw you come beaching back into my days. You were the door for me to a new life, Radharani smiled. –Now, I will be yours

I still held Pyrrha in my soul, sitting pretty on a mountain. This was all such woman, with worlds more ambition for this place in the Pulesati web

–What do I want, Radharani said, searching it out: her almond eyes narrowed round the sun’s dance of lights in her irises. –The trade of predictable old boats: to learn The Great Year moons and suns, and make them double crowns of Qadeshah. To that, you will speak for me this day, and put before our Serens what this evening offers. Ahh, tonight! May the shadow come to light!

Radharani laughed at herself, a trill like a spring among stones. –Sweet Wine, my life is ceremony. But it is not the regard. Not The Green’s easy wealth. Nor even your Libu mystery, that keeps time for children in our hands. What I crave is beyond myself; to let go, offer, and extinguish into life, such as I knew in my first flower. To marry this my flesh to the world’s flesh, and stand beyond my name and the last thought. Pouring forth, like a wound and all my joy together. A wind of the sea

Her eyes animal-alive, all shapes at once: I felt her dark-skinned body breathe, sheathed in the gown no more than a white translucence. With a sweep of her lifted hand Radharani reached for the double cedar doors, which opened into sunshine and her multitude of lives

–Selah, Sweet Wine!

Urana and the girls sang out from prayers already old to these families, and the courtyard took them up. Radharani lifted a new husband’s right hand

–Across a thousand courts, a thousand houses,

men find their joy reborn in Qadesh, Holy One.

Speak, Goddess young in our eyes, in-law of the peoples,

speak the word of our father, Bull, El, Beneficent One.

Take war from the face of The Earth, he says:

Weave love into the very dust.

Let peace possess the world, tranquility the fields

          Soft waves of their voices pleasured her, their bride in many hands; and Radharani answered

–For I have a word that I shall tell you,

a matter that I shall declare to you:

the word of the tree, the whisper of the stone,

the murmur of the heavens to the earth,

of the deep to the stars,

a word that men do not know

nor the multitudes of the earth understand.

Come, and I shall show it

in the midst of the mountain

          –Now, let the young ones step forward! she declared. To my surprise, it was the sight of the children coming out that tore me down, letting go a father’s hand or mother’s robe: two boys and two girls ten years old holding onto each other as they neared the strange man off The Green. My share of Qadeshah younglings to foster, sworn from this day their xenos, their helper-always. With fangs of factions eager all around them to lay hold on their days, they were going to need it….

…***…

From Chapter 9:

Sucked back into war: Pharaoh’s promise of life in Palestine

for guarding the traffic on the East-West roads

becomes a curse on friends and coexistence.

Can returning the captured Ark of the Covenant

help the desperate odds for understanding?

          In three years, Urana and those who lived to remember Radharani raised a larger house of communion on the first stones, and the conches blew as fierce as ever. I could not keep away. In places Qadeshah still looked blackened or broken, but the shells had come as fresh good-luck gifts from the islands, with dancing-masks of Snake and Bull and Lioness and Griffin, and double-axes: the finest gift became their first ceremony, a faience figure of Earth Mother you could hold in your hands, her upraised arms presiding tranquil and strong on the little altar where people shared their meals. Pulesati and islanders, Canaani and Eberu might come just for the feasts and the music and the women, but the red hill was rising again

And if it took that long for Egypt to do something, at least it seemed that WenAmon kept his word. A small host of middling officials arrived in every Pulesati city, decked in the wigs and necklaces of gold and multicolor beads that spoke authority from Thebes. People here called them horse-collars, but there was no mocking their message: secure the roads, or else. I should have expected no better answer to our pleas. Serens drove the resolution forward in every town, to burn the heart out of highland crime. And this had to be with a force that was more than Kereti. It was going to need conscripts. Where comfortable farmers and craftsmen saw, rightly, that forcing young men into weapons opened the way for kings and catastrophes, the fear of Pharaoh’s weapons worked. Qadeshah got its visit like every other Pulesati place, and when protection arrived the reply was panic. All its people felt was their being surrounded again, and they ran up the streets spitting backwards at the so-called friendly spears, packing together into the new-laid courtyard

–You two look fit to fight

It was a horse-collar in white and gold with a Pulesati officer, he a muscular thirty with sun-wizened slits of eyes, as dark as his leather cuirass and short slashed kilt, and a scar across his brow below the cropped-feather band. Both looked me up and down, seasoned and severe, and then waited answer from the man by chance with me, called Ittai, an Eberu of twenty-eight

–Deucalion, a trader from Crete long a patron here. This is Ittai, a guest of this sanctuary with his wife and son and daughter: Eberu, of the tribe they call Judah. We are volunteers, spoken for. You can check that yourselves in the house of communion

–We will, the officer replied. –Qadeshah is under the protection of Aphek. Your name is Ittai? How old is your son?

–He is eight, sir, like his twin sister

–Volunteers, the officer mused. –For what?

–Water, and zuthos barley-wine, I answered, and after a moment, his eyes relaxed. He knew that every marching mile ran uphill under the sun. And, that killing and burning in the highlands was going to make an unpoisoned well pure luck. When the the pair of them left us, Ittai gave me a sideways look

We?

–Well, it kept you from a company of spears

–Oh, blast! Ittai exclaimed. –I said I believe in the value of one life. Did I have to say that includes my own?

He stalked away to his family across the courtyard, going with all the heavy tread of his big burly body and his mother-round belly out ahead of him, stretching the seams of his two-piece woolen simlah. Wife and young ones watched him coming with his deep-set rolling eyes cast down, the blue wool cap riding the wild frizz of his hair: there was no smile for them to lighten the line of Ittai’s jaw, twice as heavy-looking for the short stiff beard. First thing, though, the four of them kissed, and then they laughed together at something he said

Ittai was not one bone the brute he looked, as all men go by chance, but had made himself a most companionable goon in his stays at Qadeshah. He might have been a blood-son of old Raz, with that wide-open drive to say anything for a smile, and the three moved in under his arms as he explained the trap into which I had helped him. His wife, Bat-Yam or Daughter of the Sea, looked at me and then squinted as Ittai began to listen to each of them: Gil the bony boy they had named for joy, and Nili his little girl, whose name Ittai had worked hard to explain. It spoke what he called the glory of their people, who will not lie

They spoke awhile, shook their heads together, and Ittai came back

–I come here to reach out, he muttered. –If that cutthroat will have a bowman put an arrow in my side for going home, they tell me to stay and take my chances. Bat-Yam’s cousins can see them back to the farm. Curse you, Deucalion, we are grateful, again. Alright, so you saved our grapevines. It was a rain-mold, Ittai shrugged with mock of bitterness, but then he put his foot down

–No. I cannot be involved in this. Do you understand that man’s intentions? My cousins gather this moon to share unleavened bread in the navel of the land, and to look into their own hearts. Talk about carrying the enemy’s water! Come to think of it, Deucalion, have you wondered about your people turning into thugs?

–Yes, I answered. –May I tell you where we seemed to lose our choice? In my grandfather’s day, there was a Seren of Gaza named Symoon. This surly bull held his office so long because he was two things: a listener, and a man who always worked ahead of trouble. When robberies on the roads kept getting worse, Symoon stuck his neck out for a council with your highland Yisryli

–He told them plainly that Pulesati had no right in the highlands, wanting only passage on the roads that all men walk. Nor could Yisryli make claim by their fathers on the lands along the sea. If a ship on the ocean paid one in ten measures for safe passage, it was only just that Yisryli receive the same for traffic through their lands. More, Symoon offered them two measures in ten, in exchange for nothing but restraint of their own men. The answer he got, my grandfather heard and told me. There is no choice. Their God had commanded them to make no friends uncircumcised, not to mingle, or make kinship, or marriages: to neither teach nor learn, to make no merriment or laws or treaties with our kind. Now, if that was what they wanted, well enough—but this left their men free to make fair game of us and others, robbing the roads? This, Ittai, they explained without explaining. If they disobeyed their god, it would make them our slaves, or they would vanish—but obedience would take the land from Babylon to Gaza

–In fact, the answer said that robbery would serve till they made open war. They leave a hole in the world and dream that we will all jump in. Face it with me, Ittai. No choice? That was a choice. Choice on every side brought thugs upon us

–Sounds about right. We can all die carrying water for Pharaoh’s fat priests. Fine, said Ittai, and he swung gaze into mine. –What now, old man of the sea?

Neither one of us got out of it, though we managed our places in the rear working wagon-loads of jars up country: we ate the dust of companies from eight cities’ jurisdictions, half bowmen and half swords or spearmen, a column of two thousand weapons climbing the hills eastward from Gezer. Ittai, sick with worry for his family’s sake, hid his face with a burnoose before we went out the gates, and he kept it closed day after night. We passed from lowland farms and pastures into woods of oak and pine that slanted off their hills, broken with rocky scrub: the country lay green after spring rain, with snowdrop and cyclamen. Second day, talk came back along the column, and I saw my young friend turn away when we heard it. The place is called Shiloh. Look for the priests

–I do not want to be here. I do not want to see this. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains

There was no way out. Third dawn, with all the land seaward spread out below, we turned north, and from there the weapons ahead of us ran at the double beyond our sight. So, by the time we came around a last long low hill and saw the half-hidden plateau, horns and sounds of rally and battle and death were in our ears. It was a double shock, for one quick look around showed a place of fine meadows with a scatter of white houses and herb gardens, flames coming out the windows, and a legion of bright tents rank by row spreading out beyond them, burning

Paths crossed among them so worn that they looked like white stone. Pistachio, fig and olive trees climbed the far long slopes. Most of all, the sight of these ordinary hills punched me harder than a buffet of wind because it looked so like the ordinary valley of Knossos Labyrinth—where a stranger might ask, Why here?, and a man born there could put no words to its feel of ancient sanctity. We were now the people laying waste. We had smashed into a place of families and memory. As this horrific stupidity ran wild before our eyes, it felt as if my brain were tearing loose. These hacked-up corpses, that arm, this trail of trickling gore, not one thing needful here, and the long day was still coming

Here and there across the little plateau a melee of pitched groups kept trying to finish or help each other out of the places where slaughter was toe to toe. From one heap of mixed tangled corpses to another, slingers and bowmen of each side kept maneuvering to flank or get behind the flow of enemies into these fights, and pillars of smoke twisted up along the shoulders of the hills, where horns blew and voices shrieked as if coming out of the air. By the first clutches of dead bodies we saw it looked as if the Yisryli had charged full-force down from the heights above their holy place, but that Pulesati spears had then drawn back to let the bowmen drop them by the dozen. There were Pulesati bodies stuck with spears and some few arrows, with brains smashed out by clubs and stones. But the mixed Kereti bowmen in calm and mobile double-ranks were making the difference in who died

By now we were being drawn forward ourselves, and there near the center of the plain we saw the swords and spears and clubs still at it, now in their lines along the wall of one side of an enormous enclosure. It ran east to west, longer than five ships and half as wide, with linens or hides or fabrics stretched between stout posts and guy-lines, as tall as the height of five men: all about it stood lesser tents’ encampments in bright groups of colors, burning. If the world has one worst sound it is the chop of weapons cutting flesh and the shrieks and moans of men falling under them, and these the hills around us more than echoed. But the size of this thing shocked me and the blankness of its wall, and I remember words then in my head not like my own: That outside see not in, That inside see not out. We could only see the flat roof of a tent rising up inside it near the center, it must have stood ten men tall, as blue as a fair day at sea, densely decorated, burning. My mouth was open to see such a thing and the butchery in front of it, but Ittai cried louder with each flame that took from an arrow, and ran right up more and more enclosure. He writhed as if every weapon stabbed him

–Help me, Deucalion! How did I get here? Pull out my eyes! The center! The end! Hai-eee! Mercy! Mercy!

And then the wail of a horn like no other sounded off the hills. Their god! men said. Their god is coming out!

The stretched-cloth sides of the enclosure were turning into flame at the backs of maybe fifty last-stand Yisryli with hardly more than knives. But there at its eastern entranceway, they parted ranks, and shouted their souls into the sky. Something like a great gold-sided chest was coming out, three men to each side gray-bearded and richly robed: it was like a carrying-chair on golden poles, but no one sat upon it. Out it came with appalling courage straight into that slaughter. But the hacking just went on, and Ittai hid his eyes in both arms as the bearers went down under spears and arrows. The great chest fell with them, and the long hills wailed with a scream of hidden hundreds. In the last of it, we watched astonished as a boy with long dark hair no older than Ittai’s son came running out under the flaming gate. This boy in what looked like lambskins made it straight through the reach of flailing weapons, through the rain of stones and arrows, and out of sight. When I turned to Ittai again for hearing the rip of his cloak from top to bottom, his head was bloody both sides, because his fists were full of his hair. I tore off a piece of my wrap and tried to help

–Long ago, this happened to my home and family

–And look what you did about it! Curse you to a man, you have cursed my eyes! You smash the world, and now you expect what—order?

–Was that a throne? There was nobody on it

–Oh, Ittai moaned from deep in his chest. –How can—No, he told me trying to recover. –No. The only king is in the sky

–What?

–Deucalion, can you shut up?

I nodded, and hung my head with his. We were there two more days and nights, and Ittai kept his eyes to the ground as we worked our pails and cups and ladles camp by camp. His face had never looked so dark, and made speaking at all an obscenity. Still, the camps kept roistering in the high ways of survival and victory, and when we had our rest Ittai lay face-down with his cloak round his head. We could not avoid sights of plunder, the pulling-down of houses and the sanctuary with them, nor the nights’ Pulesati jubilations: there were fights among them and some camps of Kereti, whose mixed men pled mercy for their cousins’ lives. If there were no slaves or captives, we saw men at arms loading up for home: they cut themselves huge sheets of curried hides and linens and fine veilings, pulled up every last bronze peg of the sanctuary wall, and talked astonished about the gold if they could not get some. One captain made a parade of his share, as the first to brave their sanctuary’s core—a golden holder of candles as broad as his shoulders with what looked like seven points, so heavy that it took both his hands to shake it high. Second day, word spread that the walls inside their central place were sheets of gold. The melee that ripped it to the ground almost brought on a mutiny, as some units stood to lose with their orders to chase down the scattering Yisryli. By the time we began to abandon the place, scouting groups detached along the road north and south, for the setting-up of protected caravanserai. By summer, they had marked each one with a pillar of cedar or stone

The worst for Ittai was the great golden chest. When he saw it had been touched, and opened, and loaded on a cart for the taking back to Aphek, he collapsed to the ground, struck his own face and head with clawed-up dust, then curled up, and shook. If our column left him there it seemed he would never get up. Later, he helped me to understand what had crushed him, that no one fell dead for these doings. There, I told him farm and family needed him. No answer, not even a look. Ittai collected himself, and started walking

We got out of jubilant Aphek as soon as we could. The officers reported extirpation of the core of highland robbery, the Serens and horse-collars pronounced that our promise was secure. But I stood among the cheering with Ittai’s one question for tomorrow. I wanted to walk him all the far way home, and asked for a fresh look at his vines

He shrugged, and then it was many miles along the sea before he spoke again

–I said you cursed my eyes. I saw what I saw. But it was a thing a man alive must witness to. And whom can I tell? Family tells family. Then, more family will ask: And what were you doing there, Ittai? And why are you alive, Ittai?

–You were trapped, I insisted, stopping and poking his chest on each word. –And you did your best. No one can ask any more of you

–Shows what you know, he answered

News went fast ahead of us, and from Joppa to Gezer and Ekron, we waded through public offerings of thanks, feasts and funerals. East of Ekron, we followed the Sorek’s waters up into its valley, and after many turns and narrows the land spread out flat and green between great shoulders of rocky hills, alive with calls of wheat-ears and buntings. Some miles beyond the Pulesati farms of little Timnah, the valley curved away southward toward the city Beth Shemesh. Beyond that, as Ittai said it, the villages of Eberu and Yisryli were sure to be staggering in grief and rage. From the houses of his farm, you could look up the valley and see how close they stood in separation

–Ittai! The lamb told my heart it would be this day!

–Bat-Yam, beloved. Do not talk like that, said Ittai as they kissed both cheeks three times and plenty on the mouth, Ittai running his mitts through Bat-Yam’s fine black tresses, kissing her eyes as dark as any on the land. She was a woman just his age and height, but her fine frame and plain comely wraps light blue made her look the young wife he married, now almost jumping at his side as he moved through the family taking cheers and welcome-kisses. There were Bat-Yam’s mother and father, an older sister and younger brother, and on Ittai’s side two sisters, his wife, and more: they had all been tending a feast of special days that had to be held with or without him. They gripped Ittai both arms to know by touch that he had come home, and the faces that had clearly weathered storms began to laugh and shout thanks up into the blue. We knew Pharaoh would have to let you go!

Ittai’s house like the other separate ones that faced it was a solid labor in stone and mud-brick. Pale-gray plaster made them all more handsome: you came in through a space between rows of four rough oak pillars, where straw and provender fed their stock, and you saw into all the rooms either side, where Canaani houses kept secrets with turns and doors. Likewise upstairs where they lived: the sun fell all afternoon on their low central table, with Bat-Yam’s loom, their beds, neat belongings and plain jars to each side. Weavings warmed the walls and hung bright zagging lines down over their parallel porches. But as soon as Ittai was free to look about, resolve took over his face. Before he asked for his young he was hulking off toward the fields and vines

–Where am I going? To do what we should have done. To do too late what we were told

It was Bat-Yam on his heels, then all the relations after them, then me: we saw Ittai take a wrecker’s hold on one of the two wooden posts at the edge of their tillage

–No! Bat-Yam said, pulling his hands away from it. –Asherah brings only blessings here. What is the matter with you? Will you insult Her and cut half my family from the table?

–There is no choice!

–We know better, Bat-Yam answered him, and in the face of his bulk she stood her ground until Ittai turned away. He might have stalked alone into their main house, but his youngsters Gil and Nili came out the door. I saw his knees go as they clutched him from both sides, and everybody moaned: then Gil and Nili ran inside together, and when they came out he was slapping a hand-drum and she was fingering notes from a small one-pipe flute. This was enough to set the place dancing with hands locked all around him, Ittai in their midst dark and dazed

Their custom, already under way, was to roast their best yearling lamb, and at dusk every man smeared its blood on the beams of his door with a sprig of marjoram. When they came to table the farming men were in long shepherds’ robes and head-wraps, and they ate with staves in hand or nocked between their knees: I understood nothing of it, nor why they ate their feast so quickly, nor the scolds of their elders that not one bit be left except to burn. Ittai, I saw, was mainly sipping his wood cup of raisin wine: others noticed, and if they had heard things of Shiloh, held back. I would have sat for the family stories starting after, but Ittai got up and walked outside: alone then, feeling the eyes that could not help but look a bit dubious of my presence, I smiled nature, and followed. Ittai was back at those posts of Asherah, holding one of them and weeping

–What do they know? They do not even feel it, yet. Do you understand, the total destruction of the meaning in the soul of a whole people? Can you?

And what could Knossos Labyrinth mean to him

–The hakhamim, the wise ones promised us fire and death for these things, Ittai said looking up and down the post

–Ittai, learn from the blood on my hands. What happened was not gods. It was a reckoning out of our failures. Every face of your household says the soul you share will

–Will what? Fail Holy One again? Let me give you the bad news, Ittai said, and when he wiped his eyes he wore a look like stone. –Man is ugliness. The Covenant was to redeem us. The Ark. The memory. Now it is all ashes, and we—I am sorry, Deucalion, but—we are going to lose ourselves among the nations. Among animals

He turned his despair away. Standing there I felt like a child with no more than five or six words of understanding. Ittai came about, and asked me to sit with him, there at the edge of his vineyard in starry darkness. Perhaps he felt my ignorance. Ittai began to talk about huge things, one after the other. Once he began, I saw he had tried to be ready, as if he needed me to see something too big to be missed, and certainly too big to grasp […]

–Even in the dark you look lost, Ittai joked as he finally took a few breaths

–We were never informed of His promise. This is a new shadow on the sun, I said overwhelmed

–No, Holy One is not the El they tell at Qadeshah. There is no one like Him. I know because I listen to you, Deucalion, with my best mind. Tell me circles of the sun and moon. Tell me the four horns of our altars fit yours, the doubled pairs. I even agree, the lords of nature have limits, and so should men. But the greatest of powers is beyond, outside, separate. You people dream it up that now is forever, the seasons cycling through, divinities in everything

–And you see the hand of Holy One in everything. What is the difference?

–We are going somewhere, Ittai said

–We are somewhere already

To my surprise and pleasure, Ittai laughed. –Come, I said. –Holy One made us all. But He promised everything to just a few, who must take it from others by force, to prove they love Him?

–I can only tell you, Ittai smiled briefly, –that men are bits of dust, and He is a mountain so high that it vanishes in clouds. The merest approach to Him pales the blood, and blanks the mind, and shows how wretched people are. Still, every single man of any family in the world is free to obey, and to live in His eternal light. Was there ever any better way to bring all men together? The world is dead things, plants and animals, and two-legged animals that talk. But, to us, Holy One gave dominion, and a way to live that in righteousness. As we obey and atone, we return to the garden

–Our worst days came of forgetting we are in it. Ittai, do priests of Egypt lie, for their own benefit?

–Of course, he said. –Their crimes begin already to destroy them

–Then is it possible priests in every land deceive that way?

–Possible, Ittai shrugged, –if you include the people around your altars. Using festivals to hide the ragged numbers, Keeper of Days?

Staggering still at what his fathers did with old Canaani memory, I had come again to fail against a wall old as Theseus and Abas. With a shake of his great head Ittai unfolded his legs, stood up, and offered his hand. That was when Bat-Yam came out of the shadows of the trees, with one of their twins under each of her arms. The pair of them smiled my way, but then drew back half-behind her, peeking out like little cats. –Nili and Gil have something to say to you, Bat-Yam told me, but neither could say it

–They wonder can you stay longer, she smiled

I bowed, smiled back and hoped to be no trouble: Ittai walked over and hugged them all together, with a look my way of his deepest pride. And was this liking not the sin that brought destruction from their god? It was not a thing to ask, but there began a kind of living answer in the years of visiting to come. It took half a moon of days to trim his vines and tie them up for thicker stocks and more grapes. If the greater family kept aloof from me as an uncircumcised laborer, Gil they forgave for his questions about seas and ships and islands. Nili worked as hard at Bat-Yam’s side, and the sweetness of her flute, played in the evening between stretches of words from memory, was something for players at Qadeshah to envy

Gil was young to think about his life beyond their farm, but Nili saw hers, as a kedeshot or singer: more, what they called a soreret, a poetess, whose words came from Holy One in her heart. Who would have wanted to help her more than Radharani? But here, that talk might bring trouble. Leaving, I promised to bring Nili a big fine flute from the islands, perhaps a double-reed. And so I found myself coming back many times down the years, going home with Ittai when he made it to Qadeshah

Gil grew fast his father’s barrel-strength: he rose to their labors just as goat-kids off Karfi had learned in Alashiya. He whacked olives down off their trees till his hands were swollen red: they sang their songs as soothing hand over hand sorted twigs from fruit, and then shared out the medicine, rubbing each other’s hands with the first oil. Gil woke the sun to get to work, he came alive making things and learning—all of that in how he told his first year laying grapes out to make raisins. At the gathering, down came a hundred thousand feasting bees: he had to learn to keep calm in their swarms, shoveling raisins into sacks, but when the last sack closed, the last bee flew. Dear boy, all lit up inside

–Not one sting, Deucalion!

–As if everybody wins, I smiled. –You’d think there’s plenty

–Yes, yes!

…***…

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‘People of the Sea: New History, New Hope’

 

Jack reads Excerpts from People of the Sea:

 

Blog Talk Radio, Voices of the Sacred Feminine

Enjoy these 2 discussions of Minoans & Sea Peoples:

“Secrets of Minoan Crete’s Success”:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/voicesofthesacredfeminine/2016/12/09/secrets-of-minoan-cretes-success-with-jack-dempsey

“Post-Minoans, Palestine & The Bible”:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/voicesofthesacredfeminine/2017/01/19/people-of-the-sea-post-minoans-palestine-and-the-bible-wdr-jack-dempsey

 

PUBLIC FORUM on People of the Sea

http://ancient-lights.2342133.n4.nabble.com/People-of-the-Sea-A-Novel-of-The-Promised-Land-f52.html

FURTHER RESOURCES

State-of-the-Art Studies of Minoans & Sea Peoples:

http://ancientlights.org/CalendarHouse/chsources.html

 

Fiction That Takes You Into Minoan Reality:

Ariadne’s Brother:

A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (1996)

http://ancientlights.org/ab.html

 

Explore the Minoans’ Sacred Astronomy,

Their Life-Ways & Legacies:

https://www.amazon.com/Knossos-Calendar-Minoan-Cycles-Political/dp/6185024691

 

and Don’t Miss

the Full Free Richly-Illustrated Journey from Minoan Crete to Palestine:

CALENDAR HOUSE:

Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth

http://ancientlights.org/CalendarHouse/

 

***

PEACE

***

minoan-gold-flower

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PEOPLE of the SEA: Life Beyond The Catastrophe Cycle


Welcome

to the once-“savage,” long-silenced

Sea Peoples heritage:

long, luminous, & liberating—

People of the Sea, FULL.jpg

STORY:

A wild-hearted prehistoric (Minoan) man “Sweet Wine” fights to go forward by the light of his visionary sister—killed as they strove to resist the conquest of their people’s ancient life. With many loved ones sailing at his side is a bright little orphan named Zoe, her nose cut off by the spite of Crete’s new masters. A mountain-youth who lives in honor to fight their lawlessness, but fights their way and risks his soul. A woman who will forge new civilized links out of ruins from Cyprus to Sicily—and after so much hardship and success in a new land, here come the first Israelites, from Samson to Samuel.

bull-leaper

Minoan Bull-Leaper circa 1600 BCE

FLASH: The Western heritage is deeper and more dazzling than books.

Take hold of 100 years of discoveries everyone can see, and we break out of a psychotic circle of suffering. That’s where People of the Sea comes from and goes.

If I start my idea of human being with Tradition Till Now, with Homer’s conquering heroes and The Bible, I follow a map that doesn’t match the road, and crash into where I am. It turns out to be where we’ve been, only worse: All Hail, King Me! New lord of The Catastrophe Cycle.

Remember “the rise and fall of empires” from old history-books? Each one is a more disastrous trip around this wheel, from the latest “charismatic leader” to his crash.

catholics-drive-too-fast

The good news is, the last 100 years of human disasters and discoveries show that we have what we need to step out of this, and do far better—once we grasp the best cosmic anchors we can find. As for marching along without them, the last 3500 years have turned our day into crunch-time, where consequences converge toward systems collapse.

About that long ago, the increasingly autocratic rule of men, fathers and kings (patriarchy) emerged from ways older, more balanced and successful. Consider A) that 3500 years is a tiny fraction of at least 100,000 years of thinking human beings; and B) how much needless suffering and destruction date from that fraction of our time.

This is the story of a man of memory who learns his way out of violence. Here you have what drove the years behind it: the murder of a 20-year-old woman named Eve, whom I knew and loved in New York City 37 years ago. This was a shattering that, in time, showed me human goodness never heard of. As of this the day we met (February 11th), I offer here entwined what happened and what I found: unexpected hope with both feet in the facts.

Skip along as you will. There’s complexity and darkness to walk through. But I have a clew of thread from Ariadne. Allow me a new alignment of historical time, and see if I fail my promise that it leads to a real, beautiful new (old) inheritance whose knowing helps and heals.

Past As (Oh, God) Prologue: or

How Trump Makes His-Storical Sense

we-know-what-were-doing

“Relax, we’re in control!”

You know it’s bad when “the world’s foremost authority,” mad genius Professor Irwin Corey says it best: If we don’t change direction, we could end up where we’re going.

The Trump regime is more than what’s left of the GOP/Dems’ treasonous puppet-show. When you know what we’ve really been for most of our human time, you know he comes straight down the Western line of our first “omnipotent” self-wrecking kings—Greek Agamemnon, Hebrew Saul and David—what His-Story and Newspeak call a “charismatic leader.” Long on promises, destructive in results, and a gift for hustling fears and hopes to his advantage while it lasts.

Like the whimsical flesh-groper Zeus, like The Bible’s volcano-born father so jealous of attention, he validates the frightened rage to make Life feel one’s power, in spite of all actual failure with it. The world in his head called Business dreams Nature and people as enslaved “externalities” of no concern to the profit/power formula. Fear and failure fuel their “alternate reality,” a puerile wish to somehow “separate” from Nature, from Woman, from responsible human community; hence the constant welter (a wailing wall) of wishful representations that most people see are false to the reality in our midst. A spiraling derangement from the real. It’s not easy, dragging the everyday sensible world into catastrophe.

Contemptuous of learning and so with virtually nothing to offer, he “the man” must denigrate, terrorize, rape, rob, and silence because what’s different, alive and free feels to him like laughter in his frightened face. Who are these people who don’t know enough to be afraid, as he is?

Surrounded by yes-men, goaded behind the show by failed souls with uglier dreams, the new Decider has us fooled that his hair looks swell and that Earth waits to buff his Guccis. But his “logic” is the spiral of a serial-killer’s violence. For the man (sic) is even more afraid each time Life comes back to talk reality. More afraid, more violent. Now comes choice, as Susan Griffin shows in Pornography & Silence: to heal and grow up into merely human being, or to try to force the world to resemble his wretched wishes, till they destroy him and ever-more.

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Let’s start over?

The hard facts everybody sees are few but wondrous. We’re sailing infinity on a blue-green bubble of living plenitude, in a body with a soul in a Garden of Eternal Now, with no limits for ill or good. Think of it—Against this, the first and new King-Dumbs steal and hoard for thrills, then wall themselves in screaming “Me Greatest Ever” to the prisoners and fresh targets of Might, Right and Freedom. Till they fall.

“Progress” can’t be measured till we state the goal: no one has or will. For those who wonder, then, “What are we doing?” comes the Cycle’s same old contempt for observation, thought and feeling, learning, fact and truth on the way down. “Put no faith in your own observation, and obey The Lord” (The Bible’s “Book of [sic] Wisdom”). “This is not a reality-based campaign” (Karl Rove). The ossifying halls of academe have their own version—“We must not see the past with present eyes”—as if people who can smell bullshit a mile away cannot tell documentation from demagogue. As if it’s our “objective duty” (itself a myth) to throw away nature’s obvious, crucial gift of hindsight: out with it goes hope of ever learning anything.

Each time around just happens to divest “other” demonized, brutalized peoples of their lands, resources, freedoms, lives and souls. A very few skim wealth and power as each dollar leaves most people a handful of dimes. Huddling at last in the ruins, ashamed, numb and paralyzed, we wonder what in hell we were thinking.

nsa-now-stay-like-that-forever-by-mike-luckovich

Even The Bible’s good ol’ prophet Samuel knew: these guys will take, take, and take till there’s nothing left—and you will curse the day you went along.

Don’t. Resist. Break free once and for all. You can know right now the facts that say we’re born to do better.

eve

Eve Helen Wilkowitz, 1959-1980

At 25 in 1980, I was a writer with the sun in my chest in thrumming New York City. More ignorant than educated, a civilized half-macho wolf, benign if blustery: a homesick anti-hero questing by pen for cosmic connection. One February morning at a midtown freelance job, I met Life.

Moving rhythmically, Goddess at her loom (a xerox-machine), was Eve—the 20-year-old Eve Helene Wilkowitz of Bay Shore, Long Island. So beautiful: smart, funny, with gentle eyes brown like her hair, toothy smile, long legs, unafraid, talkative; and as I swayed beneath the thunderbolt, her name to my book-born brain said its meanings. Life, The Mother of All Living. Immortal mate of Adam, tending their vineyards together on the Mountain of the World, before any Fall. The City Adorned as a Bride…

I thought I was living eyes-open. Instead as said before in Melville’s words, “until I was 25 I had no development at all: I date my life from that year.” In the WordPress work here Eve, Spring, Flowers, are the six weeks of our falling in love that spring.

You only need recall your own youth’s crowning days of exaltation. Both of us always talking, Eve’s hand in mine as we drank the city. Eve’s grief was her mother’s young passing, her purpose to care for her father and little sister: she aspired to college and social work, she reveled in friends across office cliques, and they knew her kindness while she fought for her own new life. She feared and resented being sometimes shadowed home along dark streets from the train to her then-unhappy house.

The day she brought me a ravishing rose (with this card) to fix a small misunderstanding. The morning when, in spite of her wanting us to take it slow, she showed up early at my door for a pre-work breakfast. The sun poured in on my crummy little table and the whole world was glowing from within, bad coffee our ambrosia.

eves-card-with-her-rose

The first I Love You with The One. From there, first talk of living together (and Yes I said Yes I will Yes). The fall of rain on a garden in our first deep kisses of surrender. I look at you/ I see/ the long trail of your coming (Susan Griffin). Surrender? Not quite: Eve wouldn’t yet stay the night. She needed rest in the middle of the cycle damned for her as Eve’s Curse. And when she fell asleep anyway in my arms, I did what Eve wanted and woke her for the night’s last train out to Bay Shore. In the crowd at Penn Station, she insisted she’d be fine going home alone. Instead, at some point of her journey, she was abducted.

eves-murder-newsday

from Long Island’s ‘Newsday’ March 1980

After three futile days that broiled the brain in my skull, Long Island’s Suffolk County Homicide found Eve’s body, hands tied behind her, lying in the backyard of a house close by her own. Held alive all that time, she was strangled at last, and then dumped where they found her. Shattered, I mumbled a question for detectives, if this happened very often.

“Every day,” one answered. “It’s an everyday event.”

Puns on Eve’s name not likely intended, and still true, in headlines and exploding varieties of form: the Woman-Beautiful-As-Life turned into corpse and commodity. Everywhere. Body and soul, what’s done to Her is done to us. Shocking! and just like yesterday.

But when you have raged without hope and cried uncontrollably for two years and at last the old shell you call a self cracks open—to its own simultaneous nothingness and infinite loving connection with Eve-rything—you live no longer to settle for this necrotic load of patriarchal cosmic shit for which, as Edgar Allan Poe declared, “The most poetic subject in the world is the death of a beautiful woman.”

By chance I guess, Eve left a spool of thread behind. From the day I found it, it was Ariadne’s clew, a guide through a man-eating labyrinth where memory brings you out reborn. Start with your eyes, in human art histories. Trash the one that told me how, in Minoan Crete (where?), early Western women “lacked enough shame” to cover their breasts. Trash ones that teach “there is no great art without militarism” (Kenneth Clark).

gaia-aka-gi-neolithic-cycladic-sculpture

Cycladic figure circa 3000 BCE

The crowning fact coming out of the ground is that for the first and longest-standing Western peoples, Woman was visibly the core of spirituality, the Imago of being alive. But this was/is turned against Her, and us. From Scripture to pornography and their news-infotainment hybrids, “His religion,” said historian Barbara Mor, “is Her death.” It’s the ritual central to Murder For Progress. And each time it fails, the answer is, Do It Harder.

Were we doomed to this or not? I lived the cry of Fuck Every Fable in the way of finding out, became what Paul Goodman (Growing Up Absurd) called “the young man who mistakes his dead lover for The Muse.” And then, turning over stones at the New York Public Lie-Bury, there were the Minoans.

goddesses-of-world

A few hundred Mothers of All Living venerated by Earth’s oldest civilizations. “They lacked evidence of paternal deity because He was too sacred to be shown.” Or, He wasn’t there. “Fertility Cult”: a ghetto for religious/sexual ways that maintain best conditions for many happy children.

WHO?

minoan-ring-with-dancers

That’s what I said. Let them knock you off your shoes in five minutes’ facts, and glimpse the foundational magnitude of what’s at stake. Here’s the short report after 40 years of study—a human story never taught in schools, and a door to a positive inheritance whose second half is People of the Sea.

evans-minoan-med-map-from-palace-of-minos

The West was not born from Athens’ pseudo-democracy or an Exodus into sudden monological morality. Archaeology knows better. By every hard-nosed world-class digger I can find (check them out in Sources here), this is only a fair summary of facts:

From at least 3500 to the 1400s BCE, the families of Minoan Crete and their surround of Mediterranean peoples kept on developing their web of cultures centered in cycles of Nature, in their ancestors, kinship, festival and trade across most of their differences. Because of them, the first 2000 years of Western heritage— centered round a primeval, elegant Earth Mother—progressed without entrenched kings, without slavery or war as a way of life. Longer than Rome. Not Utopia. Just very old and very smart.

knossos

A fair reconstruction of Knossos Labyrinth, Minoan Crete: not a “palace” but a ceremonial center.

New finds unearth Crete’s Paleolithic roots (130,000 years ago), Knossos older than Gobekli Tepe, Malta, Stonehenge, Pyramids. Their world’s highest average living-standards rose from a free landed middle class who tended family tombs for centuries and knew how to build common ceremonial ground among proud differences. They built their tech and arts from observation, experiment, exploration and exuberance—and their central way, a path to life-eternal rising out of nature and their matriculture, the woman-centered damos of their families’ political will.

That’s a central part of the meanings of the doubled two-part symbol you see here: a lunar-solar cycle still turning in our skies, that laid wise limits round their leaders and nourished the lives of their souls. Our timing of Olympic Games and 4-year terms of political office are remnants of these realities.

labrys-between-horns

Clearly Minoan life had important roles for men: the difference is between their sometimes-male “CEOs” with limited power and tenure, and the later lifelong, hereditary, unilateral Deciders we know today as kings—virtually guaranteed to get it wrong more often than not, since many voices bring wiser decisions than one can. If there ever was a Minoan Minos, the unique tradition around this “king” was that he had to re-consecrate his powers in a cycle of (8 or 9) years; which is to say he was answerable, facing evaluation and possible replacement. After a century of pure inventions about a Minos’ dynastic rule, archaeology now sees perhaps a “priest-chief” of ceremony with seniority among Crete’s factions.

(In the novel Ariadne’s Brother, that young fellow’s name is Deucalion till he serves like his father as a Minos—and in People of the Sea, he lives to look back on himself as almost “a king of things other than war.”)

Language-studies too present a pattern to the point. While names and titles such as Potnia and Wanassa denote Minoan females whose importance Nanno Marinatos called “architectural,” the later-emergent word for quasi-king (Wanax) wavers in meaning, crucially, between “Husband” and “Lord.” One denotes a male who helps to build the household and garden: the other, a male who works to make the world believe only he has power. As for Minoan political time before those changes, the scientists’ hammered-out word for this world with no visible kings—heterarchy—points to a sharing of power that unified different points of view.

Agia Triada larnax detail, doubled horns, Labrys

Detail from a Minoan religious ritual circa 1450 BCE

And every time the Earth shook down Minoan towns, they rebuilt better, then went on with their crops, trades, innovations and the next festival, centered in the turn of Nature’s wheel of seasons through The Now.

Of course Minoans had a self-protective force of men at arms. But instead of living by war, they competed to see who could mount the best-ever ceremonies, feasts and sports. The biggest-volume finds are cupboards chock with little clay drinking-cups. With a simple elegant calendar of suns and moons, they lived rhythms of the heavens’ lights and shadows on a breathtaking landscape. Their way was neither reckless “growth” nor a forced march of Progress. Fundamentally sound, it was what many today are building again: an omni-inventive dynamic steady state.

knossos-central-court-southern-horns-and-north-facing-doorway-niche

Knossos: Minoan symbol for The Mountain of their Families/Ancestors, and a place for listening to and learning from them.

This exaggerates nothing. That was The West at the beginning, and it went on that way longer than any age that followed it to ours.

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minoan-traders-in-egypt

The Big Turn

So began Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (1996), and People of the Sea speaks further from the adventures of these unheard ancestors, returning to the sun in dramatic new digs.

volcano-myk-warriors-minoans-always-rebuilt-before

Their independent days ended more by misfortune than mistakes. After the first 2000 Minoan years, the worst-known volcanic eruption (Thera-Santorini, circa 1625 or 1525 BCE) staggered Crete. The long odds were that, as usual, they’d rebuild better, but invasion by opportunistic mainland proto-Greeks brought radical change—and drove new generations of their small kin-groups to migrate and mix with their neighbors, from Troy to Gaza, from Cyprus to Sicily, from Libya and Egypt to the Near East.

While archaeology finds “Aegean” and post-Minoan new lives in these places, there’s still no unanimous view of what drove new waves of collapse and destruction through the eastern Mediterranean soon after 1200 BCE: long drought, resource-crises, in-fighting and/or revolutions. But ten generations after the fall of Knossos Labyrinth, their “loose confederacy” was tearing down every kingdom in reach, scarcely stopping to plunder or occupy. By this time, some were closely entwined (that’s life!) with Myceneans, their old families’ conquerors.

minoan-style-altar-myrtou-pighades-cyprus-c1300s-bce

A Minoan-style horned altar from Myrtou-Pighades, Cyprus c.1300s BCE

The master-theory is “systems collapse” (where many crises converge). Did these tribes and families also share common cultural cause—making war on kingship itself, which had emerged in their memory and wrecked their ancient way? Was this the post-Minoan world’s own pain-driven experiment with War as a solution?

People of the Sea cracks these questions at the roots—human lives moving through a multicultural maelstrom.

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Heading by sea and land with their families toward The Nile Delta’s vast breadbasket, these tribal groups finally exhausted themselves (1186? 1177 BCE? uncertain), against forces mustered by Ramses III. Thousands must have died, more vanished into slavery—and still there were thousands for whom Ramses, with his own needs in the aftermath, found clothing and supplies and a place where their settlement could serve him. If you read this book you’re going with them.

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What then do the sciences now say of these soon-to-be Philistines’ creation of Palestine, in the post-Egyptian wreckage of old Canaan? How did they build new egalitarian lives with trade that reached Sri Lanka?

philistine-warriors-pyx-lid-and-musicians

By living out unconquered what they were. Once protectors of the sea-lanes in Minoan days, they were now (in the wake of colossal defeat by Egypt) Middle Eastern road-warriors, charged by Pharaoh to keep good order on the East-West highways of his wealth—or else. Such was the Philistines’ Promised Land.

The pattern was that whenever somebody troubled those roads and Pharaoh’s enrichment, his priests sent him back in raging violence. But for the next 300 years there was no need. Fine-tooth-combing of records by Itamar Singer and Donald Redford confirm that soon, Egypt was reaping unprecedented wealth. If the strength was gone for the old way of conquest, nor was Egypt bleeding the weaker states of Canaan, the likelihood is that the Sea Peoples now were meeting their side of the promise.

The highways, rivers of trade reaching beyond Aram Damascus and toward India, must have flowed with caravans well-guarded against ancient banditry, through highlands and choke-points where, otherwise, “each man was law unto himself.”

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How many books and Biblical movies turned these Peoples into faceless war-loving brutes? How many historians imposed their reason for living: “to bring about the kingdom of Israel”?

For experts like Yasur-Landau, they homesteaded-in by small groups with good scouting and old local connections, this at the meeting-point between Spice Road and the western sea. While we still lack Philistine maritime remains, their links across the Med never ceased. Earth Mother (Pyto-Gayah) had worship from Delphi to Ekron. In Ascalon they cooked in Cretan pots. As Moishe and Trude Dothan showed, their agriculture gave rise to craftsmen and builders, with a core of practices from Gaza (first called Minoa) to Dor. Their love of public life, music and festivals kept binding their differences together with raucous holy music, dance and drink and sacred sexuality. (Good studies of their “entanglements” by Australian archaeologist Louise Hitchcock.)

Small human-sized temples, open to both (or all) genders, included the usual (Minoan-style) benches where people sat sharing sacred meals and spoke their minds. Each holy of holies brings to light an eclectic range of ritual objects, their blendings of old Aegean, Syrian/Canaanite, Egyptian and even early Hebrew practices.

Apparently, who’s who was less important than the prayers. I steal that apt descriptive phrase from about 10 Minoan archaeologists. People of the Sea takes you there among the living human beings.

Philistine pottery bands w cranes, chevrons, woven crane-nest motif

After generations of displacement, stress and wandering, the tribes who mixed to become Philistines beached and unloaded skills and symbols of ways never lost, planting olives and new standards of urban life. No totalizing political maniac got any traction in their midst: for this old and fiercely-independent political way (called “loose confederacy”), you’ll find that His-Story faults their “lack” of Me-First nationalism.

They failed to invest in Fearless Leader, War and The Catastrophe Cycle. Instead—not “disappearing,” but turning their living backs on what was coming—they handed down what science calls the First Scientific Discovery, the Saros cycle of lunar/solar eclipses that had served Minoan times as part of a constitution against tyranny. Ego, flags and the scams of domination had little to offer. They never cursed natural death, wise enough to savor instead (like Crete today, The Bible’s land of “liars and lazy animals”) the comforts of this the only life we know.

philistine-vessel-fr-ashkelon-circa-12th-cent-bce-fr-stager-ed-ashkelon-vol-1-fig-15-33-3-p-268

Philistine vase from Ascalon c. 1150 BCE, whose symbols speak Minoan astronomy and cycles of time. Explore them in Calendar House at Ancientlights.org

Find, friend, the fundamental turning-points, and see what was changed into what. Did these Sea Peoples, then, “sorely oppress” the inland Hebrew tribes, as The Bible claims, to keep the emergent Israelites “in their power”? Archaeologists’ short answer: No. (Their longer one is laid out in Calendar House Chapter 9.) Hence the tale of this man Sweet Wine, a dispossessed priest-chief whose life stretches into those times. His tale explores fact with fiction, and fiction with fact.

The first “Israel,” according to Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, was “an aggressive northern entity” of the inland high country flanking the trade-highways. In light of the pattern that Pharaoh always returned to smash through problems with those roads, it’s significant that “Israel” is first visible from the outside in a list of peoples attacked by the latest Egyptian campaign circa 1210 BCE.

While tradition itself insists on the ideological differences that drove Israelite “separation” from unbelieving others, today’s new ethnic studies by Anne Killebrew and others agree that, as their herdsmen took to settled living, it was not their wont to traffic much with even their planted mid-country Hebrew relations—whose lives on the land were anything but hostile to their neighbors’ love of the goddess Asherah. When The Bible finally became a book several centuries on, it was still demanding that its own people burn, break, bury and forget Her.

israelite-pillared-4-room-house

reconstruction of an early Israelite 4-room house

In Israelite high country they built good homes, terraced stony land and lived as they pleased. Fine: so did the Philistines along the southern coast, where Pharaoh the ruler of that world placed them in Canaanite ruins, facing enemies of his own imperial make. Nothing suggests any Philistine ambition far inland, any wish or means to dominate (let alone “exterminate”) anyone. Nor is there any ground for a claim from the highlands on the seacoast.

In fact, with so much in common—from intense religious life to bad experience with Egypt, from their tribes’ fierce joyful independence to their mutual hatred of kings— the old narrative of a Culture War between Philistine “pagans” and Children Of The One True God no longer holds. (The more archaeology digs, the more they use the word “entanglement” as the real norm: in parallel, it’s clear now that The Trojan War wasn’t fought over Helen.) Something more thumpingly obvious must have come between these peoples. That’s what this new work searches out in the lives of families on all sides.

minoan-cretan-females-palm-to-palm

minoan-honeybees-and-mechanism

Minoan priestesses, honeybees–and The Antikythera Mechanism circa 100 BCE, whose cycles match Minoans’ 1500 years before. The wheeled “X” of time there is painted on Philistine vases in-between.

Try Again, Shall We? Results of the His-Story Experiment Are In.

You’re living quite well in a certain way for a long time. Then, you radically change/invert your ways, and it brings catastrophe after disaster, each a fraction of that long well-being. Do you look at these results of your experiment? Do you A) go on with this till it kills you because “change is hard,” or B) go back with honorable humility to where you last really knew and enjoyed where you were, so you can get it right?

A) goes forward anyhow (like the rest of Nature), but ass-backwards on a fearful wish that the future will be what the past never was.

B) points forward by facts into life’s sublime (partly frightening) adventure in evolution.

OK—Go for the “ideal” wished for under Plan A. FLASH: “Every word of The Bible is literally true!” And then what? Does anyone imagine that this multicultural planet will ever conform to what Christopher Hitchens called “a celestial North Korea”? Yes, some people do imagine that—a violent minority with nothing real to offer, “leading” worse than nowhere. Their greatest hope is that most people know, feel and do nothing.

The growing-up it takes to face results of our wrong turns brings the reward of unlimited potential: our true inheritance. We awaken from a bad dream—“just a brief forgetting,” Barbara Mor said. To heal, we name what we learned, and go on. People are good—unless they get too much power, that’s all: a note from our most successful ancestors, written in light as you’ll see below.

minotaur-theseus-ariadne-childrens-book

History Page One now (or, What To Expect): Moral Hero Beloved of Naive Princess Slays Evil Foreigners in Big Adventure of Progress, Reaps Wealth & Neuroses, Finds Out He’s the Monster and Crashes. Inch of Learning Rumored: Mile of Blood Confirmed.

Hell & High Water: Catastrophe Cycle Redux?

Who can help us most going forward? We’d better sort this out fast. If you haven’t noticed, Trump’s National Security Advisor is already humping freshly fatuous 2017 legislation for “world war against a messianic mass movement of evil people”—meaning his own mortally-confused counterparts on the Muslim side of (sigh, again) The Bible. At home the aim is to “deconstruct” the last defenses of democracy against its own working people.

The first hurrah of Mycenean “heroes” was the conquest of their teachers in Crete, their last the sack of Troy and ruin all of two centuries later. Walled-in body and mind, they got confused and seized at a senseless system driven to plunder, because hucksters convinced them it was always so and would be. Sounds too familiar—and the crises are converging, the consequences of the status quo.

mideast-map-and-israelite-gilgal-enclosure

Ancient Canaan’s trade-highways–and a ‘gilgal’ or early Israelite gathering-camp. ‘Wheresoever your foot shall tread, shall be yours forever….’

patriarchs-old-and-new

Old Testament “guides” forbade any treaty with outsiders: their sudden new choice from a god unknown to them was to serve, to leave, or to die. Alexander imposed “light” till his sword and his Homer failed him. Many disasters later (including Rome’s imperial fathers and then 1,000 years of medieval stagnation, ending in plague), the sons of Europe’s failed Crusaders fused this with investment-corporations, weaponized them, and colonized everything westward. Their aim was to “reduce and reform” self-sufficient peoples, in the Pope’s words 50 years before Columbus, to perpetual slavery and profit. “Else, our voyaging and our profit are naught,” chimed in the later “promoter” of America, Richard Hakluyt.

A planet filled with independent cultures is reduced to a global gulag of the Dis-Advantaged, since that is what the generic cheat “profit” and its tyrant-child “advantage” most produce: you make Progress only by taking more than you put in. The March West (in a circle) arrives home: now with no more easy silent victims, the empire turns on its own, every worker and citizen inside the fort. Who dares to whisper for humanity on all sides faces the flaming sword that keeps us from The Garden: “antiSemite.” God forbid a real man face mistakes and get it right.

To pretend that Nature and people will stand for this is pure nihilism. Yet, such is the core model still: a spiraling derangement from the real. 

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“Ideally,” or I-deal-ly (as in Art of the Deal), the suckers never know they’re in the nightmare-loop. Well, Minoans and Sea Peoples real as ourselves remind us we have a way out.

If we don’t take it, Nature has a darker promise too, in People‘s Coda: She Wild Alive…will burst the world laughing in Her fangs before She bows in holy boredom.

Myth is what we have as we sail through space forever. We shape stories of meaning, and they shape us and the world according to our dream. Our dreams so far from Homer and The Bible had 3000 years to show themselves. What, then, will it be from here? Sick of this Cycle’s hope named Apocalypse, I’ll take the tale 10 miles closer to facts we all can see.

The moral of that story is worth building on: harmony with Nature, honor of women’s wisdom, a heterarchic global household.

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They built in light: Minoan double-axes symbolized rhythms of moon and sun, and Knossos Labyrinth embodied them.

Without Eve that Spring of 1980, I walked the streets a shattered shade while the trees of New York City blossomed out. It was Reagan’s turn at the wreckers’ helm. Yet alive inside the thrumming monster, I plucked off a bookstall Colin Wilson’s study of watershed Western-spiritual moments (Religion and the Rebel), when he asked a question worth these years of answer: “Is the Outsider strong enough to create his own tradition?”

I invite you into real and different lives whose heritage empowers.

The Garden is remembering we’re in it.

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*** *** ***

And then the day came
naqada-female

when the risk

to remain tight in a bud

was more painful

than the risk it took

to Blossom.

(Anais Nin)

***

FIRST REVIEW of PEOPLE OF THE SEA:

“This is an ancient epic and an astounding recovery of our real, wise and most successful Western ancestors.  It shows the goodness and values that were lost as the conquerors wrote their versions of history—a history we should all know, as these relevant new stories can take us once again where humanity yearns to go.” 

Karen Tate, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, Blog Talk Radio

***

LOTS OF WAYS TO COMMENT, SHARE,

GO FURTHER & PARTICIPATE!

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/People-Sea-Jack-Dempsey/dp/1582188831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491211523&sr=8-1&keywords=jack+dempsey+people+of+the+sea

 

Enjoy 6 Excerpts (No Spoilers!):

https://jackdempseywriter.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/people-of-the-sea-six-excerpts/

 

Facebook

See what people say about People

https://www.facebook.com/anovelofthepromisedlandbyjackdempsey/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

YouTube:

‘People of the Sea: New History, New Hope’

Jack reads Excerpts from People of the Sea:

 

Blog Talk Radio, Voices of the Sacred Feminine

Enjoy these 2 interviews on Minoans & Sea Peoples:

“Secrets of Minoan Crete’s Success”:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/voicesofthesacredfeminine/2016/12/09/secrets-of-minoan-cretes-success-with-jack-dempsey

“Post-Minoans, Palestine & The Bible”:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/voicesofthesacredfeminine/2017/01/19/people-of-the-sea-post-minoans-palestine-and-the-bible-wdr-jack-dempsey

PUBLIC FORUM on People of the Sea

http://ancient-lights.2342133.n4.nabble.com/People-of-the-Sea-A-Novel-of-The-Promised-Land-f52.html

FURTHER RESOURCES

State-of-the-Art Studies of Minoans & Sea Peoples:

http://ancientlights.org/CalendarHouse/chsources.html

Fiction That Takes You Into Minoan Reality:

Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (1996)

http://ancientlights.org/ab.html

 

Explore the Minoans’ Sacred Astronomy, Their Life-Ways & Legacies:

https://www.amazon.com/Knossos-Calendar-Minoan-Cycles-Political/dp/6185024691

Two Cutting-Edge Archaeologists Talk About Sea Peoples in Palestine:

Dr. Aren Maeir, “New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel.”At The Oriental Institute, 2014:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAZPJRtdjmk&t=2506s

Dr. Lawrence E. Stager, “Ashkelon: Seaport of the Philistines.” A Sunday at the Met Talk, 2012:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viTTWG6wrHU

and Don’t Miss the Full Free Richly-Illustrated Journey from Minoan Crete to Palestine:

CALENDAR HOUSE: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth

http://ancientlights.org/CalendarHouse/

***

minoan-gold-flower

PEACE

Posted in Bible Old Testament Israelites Palestine, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments