fileg (fileg) wrote,

the other cycle

A chance to talk with some old friends, and I have been reminded that I do in fact have another arc of stories, older and mythology rather than fandom related. More talking, and I was encouraged to show one here, so I shall.

I suppose it's a good thing I don't drink - imagine what I might be talked into.

By way of explanation: I started three stories in this arc, about ten years ago. They are retellings of stories that have to do with various mythologies, with that little spin that comes from having been in my brain. The series has been referred to as "myths we hope our children never tell" (though that does not apply to the story about eve) This one surfaced again when jim and I converted some old 400k floppies to see what was on them.

this is for persephonesbear
It is Persephone, and its working title was

In the beginning, The Starmaker was alone, forever and unchanging, and so he dreamed for a long time, hoping to end his loneliness in his dreams. And after a time, into his dreams came the Lady Gaea who was the Mother Earth, and The Starmaker was no longer alone, for the light of the stars had a place to shine upon.

After a time, the Lady Gaea felt the space between the heaven and the earth as a loneliness, a longing, and so she rose into the vast canopy of space to become one with The Starmaker. They were one being, alone, joined together and forever changing. And that was the first great lesson, that Life is change.

But below on the beautiful bluegreen world, they had left their twin children, Pangaea the world continent and Panthalassa the world sea. And in time, they, too, learned that they could entwine or separate, and in so doing change the face of the world. So the seas rushed in to embrace the land, and the land threw her arms wide to embrace the seas. And in the many new terrains and climates life of all kinds was able to adapt and arise. And that was the second great lesson, that Life is growth.

In time the people who arose wrote many stories to explain all that they found too great to understand. And as the changes came, so the stories changed; and so they change still. And so I tell you one of our childrens' stories.

In the beautiful warm lands around the inland sea, there lived a great Mother Goddess, the granddaughter of Gaea, and her name was Demeter. In her heart was abundance, and in her footsteps abundance was shared among all the peoples, down to the tiniest mouse. Though she loved all the peoples as we think a mother loves her children, she loved her own child that much more. For Demeter had a beautiful daughter named Persephone who was her mother's joy. And whenever Demeter created beauty, she thought "I will make this beautiful for my daughter." And whenever Demeter created plenty, she would think, "I will make this wonderful for my daughter." So Persephone was with her mother always, even when they were apart.

Then, on a day of peace and plenty when crops had been cut and harvest home, and the people had time to enjoy the land for its beauty alone, Persephone was walking in a field of wildflowers when she saw the most delicate, beautiful bloom- a flower she had never seen before. As she hurried to pick it, she noticed another just ahead, and when she reached that spot, another. She laughed aloud for joy. "Someone has made these as a present just for me," she thought, as she followed the trail farther away, "And I think I can guess who!" But she was only half right.

For as she stepped over the crest of a hill, the ground opened up at her feet and a chariot drawn by horses black as space swept by her like the wind. And time, which had never seemed very important to Persephone, suddenly seemed to matter very much indeed as a man with hair as black as night and eyes as cold and diamond bright as the stars pulled her into the chariot before him, stole her body and her heart, and they plunged away into the earth, all in the space of a heartbeat.

But even the space of a world could not disguise that feeling of panic, and as it rose in Persephone's breast, it rose also in the heart of Demeter. Then, as suddenly, there was no sense of her daughter anywhere at all. All thoughts of beauty and abundance were put aside as Demeter began to search madly for her child. The days stretched into months, and still the grieving mother had room in her heart for no other thought but to find her daughter. So the land became barren and cold as it wept with the Great Mother.

And time, which had never seemed very important to the peoples, suddenly seemed to matter very much indeed as the simple stores they kept were exhausted and the earth remained bare. But still, no one of them could find any trace of Persephone's going.

Below, Persephone was being held by the Lord of Time in the Lands of Death. And as time passed, she came to understand about the Winter King, and how he cared about his people, and that the span of their time and the fates that befell them were under his sway but not of his choosing. His judgment was fair yet severe; so the people, fearing themselves, feared him. He told Persephone how he had come to love her as he watched her walk above, and finally had fallen prey to his own desire to have her for his queen, and to bring the light above to those of his people who could still stand to see it.

He denied her nothing, and laid out rich banquets for her feasting, but though in her heart she understood, she could not forgive the way she had been abducted, she could not forget how her mother must grieve, she could not deny her own loneliness. And after a while, she took to sitting alone in her room. Every day the Winter King brought her wine and some small thing to tempt her appetite, but while she was alone, the mice crept out and warned her not to eat the food of the dead if she ever wanted to return to her mother again. After many days of refusing the food of the dead, He brought her a pomegranate, smelling of the wind and the fresh sun above. As she sat, she wondered whether this was dead food as well, and she made a little pile with a dozen of the seeds. She kept them in a little glass box, and every day she looked at them again. And when her hunger became too great for her to bear, she took out six of the seeds and ate them.

But in the lands above, the mice had passed the word to Demeter that her daughter was queen in the dark below. Demeter confronted the gods and demanded to know if this were so. And finally the sun, seeing the extent of the mothers grief, confessed that he had seen it happen, and the great father said he would let Demeter claim her daughter, so long as she had not eaten in the land of the dead.

So Demeter challenged death, but Persephone had eaten the six seeds, and the starmaker said that she must stay. But the Lord of Time could deny her nothing, and he agreed to released her for six months above, saying she must come back to him one month for each of the seeds she had eaten.

So every Spring, Persephone joined her mother, and she was met with feasting and gladness, and the earth bloomed and shared joyfully of its abundance. And every fall, when the harvest came home, she also returned home to her people below, and gave them all the comfort she could. Still, always in her room stood the little glass case with the other six seeds to remind her. And so it was for as many years as our mothers could remember.

But there came a year when Persephone returned above, and as she sat at the feast with her mother, something seemed strange to her. Finally, she asked Demeter, "Mother, why is no one but me eating at this feast?" Her mother replied "You have fasted all the winter through. Why should we not all honor you so?" But in her heart Persephone was troubled. It seemed to her that the harvest before her return was smaller with every year that passed. And soon she noticed that the line of thin and unhappy dead increased below to match.

Then came a year when Persephone returned to the lands above, and there could not even be the pretext of a feast, for the meager supplies had not lasted through the winter months. And Persephone cried, "Oh, Mother, surely you have come to accept my life by now. Both parts are important, both are needed, and both must be embraced with love."

And Demeter answered "Yes, my daughter, I have come to see the cycle for what it is, and I understand the good that comes when the wheel turns and each season follows each. It is the race of man that has lost all idea of time. Since they will no longer look beyond their own small span, they think they can live as they will. They care not for Gaea nor me, nor for the other peoples of the earth, nor even for their kind. Some care not even for themselves. In their shortsightedness, they have not left me many places where even a blade of grass can grow, for they have forgotten that it was the grass that civilized man."

And all through her months above, Demeter and Persephone roamed the lands, trying to make the earth flower, but there was almost no spot where anything could grow. And when she returned to the Lord of Time, Persephone embraced him with longing and joy, and then she went to her room and opened her little glass case and ate the six pomegranate seeds.

As the time approached when she should have been preparing to go above, a messenger came as she sat at the feasting table with her Lord. "There is a great stream of people, My Lord," He marveled "And they are bringing the living below" When the Lord of Time and his Lady reached the spot, they found the peoples of the earth, carrying the great Demeter, the very granddaughter of Gaea. "She is nearly dead," they said "And we can do nothing for her above."

"I am sorry, daughter," Demeter sighed as they carried her within. "I have tried, but there are some things beyond the reach of even a god. They know now, above, that there is no going back. They are doomed. And some of the most shortsighted take glory even in that- as if the power were holy. But they are too short sighted to see beyond their own species. Even if the land is never fit for man again, there will always be some use only Gaea can see."

So the Lord of the Dark welcomed his mother-in-law as the honored guest he thought never to receive at his table, and he had served to her a small silver tray with a beautiful pomegranate, sliced neatly in two. But as she raised the seeds to her lips, Persephone leaned against her mother and whispered, "Please, mother--just for now-- only six seeds?"


In my mythology, the earth and the sea are both female, but space and time are male, and that is where the fruitfulness comes from. But I didn't want to explain that in this story.

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