I duck my head in cool swift water
and surface gasping
at the momentary distraction.
We jump off the bridge
like trout that leap
to rid themselves of parasites.
I try to ease my worries
bits and pieces float away
in the current.

I search for peace of mind
along the rocky shore
turning over every stone.
All I find are crabs
that grasp and pinch
and pull me down.

I seek wisdom
In air that’s thick with moss and mist
The trees send soothing tendrils
Deep into the silence
I trace a map
Along the ridges in the bark
Yet cannot read the trail

I climb high
to see the bigger picture
and clear my mind.
The air is thin and cold.
Tiny berries beckon.
We eat them as we pick.
The sour sweet burst
of sunshine in my mouth
pulls me back.
2016 ©tb


The Rising – part 9 – final chapter

The Rising – part 9 – final chapter (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
Eeta half carried the exhausted Priestess as they hurried down the passageway. Reaching an opening where three forks connected, Eeta stopped.

“By the Goddess, are we lost?” A stream of loose rocks and dirt slid down the rockface beside her. “Gata, do you have any idea where we are? I can barely see my feet.”

The big cat circled the wide opening and sniffed at each passageway.
“I can smell the palace,” she said. “This way.” She padded lightly down the narrowest opening. Slowly the other two stumbled after the big cat until they reached the string they had left behind. They followed it gratefully to the steps leading up into the palace.

Exhausted and covered in dirt, they climbed out of the opening at the altar and emerged into the shrine. It was dawn, realized Eeta as she glanced at the sky above. They had been underground for hours.

The Priestess stood, swaying on her feet. “I must face the blessed people,” she said. Leaning on the sceptre, she walked through the hall of pillars and appeared in the entry to the court. The crowd had dissipated with the rumblings of the earth and the coming of dawn. The few worshippers remaining rose to greet her hopefully. Together they walked across the court to the north entrance. Outside, they gazed across the plain toward the north.

“We have performed the sacred rites and the Goddess has answered us,” the Priestess said. “Behold the mist rises.” A deep rumble echoed over the land as steam poured from vents across the valley. Potnia collapsed in relief, her purpose fulfilled. The springs would again flow freely over the land. The release of holy spores would float across the valley like a silver cloud, landing on the olea trees, ensuring prosperity and continued life of Eterkians once again.

The Rising – part 8

The Rising – part 8 (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)

”Good, you are already here,” she said to Eeta and Gata who waited in the shadows. “Doera, assist me with the entrance and we will pass through.”

Together, they spoke the words:

“Grant us entry, by the old Gods and the new,
Gaia, mother of Eterkians, giver of life, we implore you, grant us entry.
Rhea, mother of Gods, we implore you, grant us entry.
Cybele, mother of the mountains, we implore you, grant us entry.”

With a deep grinding, the large stone behind the altar slid back to reveal an opening. Eeta took a step back and the fur on Gata’s back rose as her ears flattened. Without hesitation, Potnia moved toward the entrance.

It was dry in the passageway but musty; the air was stale. Wide steps carved into the rock led down. Doera knew the way so she entered first, carrying the Rhyton. It cast a blue glow on the surrounding rock walls. Potnia followed closely; she carried the sceptre and using her senses, she felt her way over the stones. Eeta tied a piece of thin line to the altar and entered, with Gata close behind, alert to any danger.

The journey to the sanctuary was long and the trail was crisscrossed with other passages. They became disoriented as they descended, the weight of the rocks above pressed on them, the air smelled of old rags and tasted of copper. At each new passageway, Doera paused in thought and then chose a fork, constantly muttering to herself. Eeta doubted that the old servant knew where they were going. She reached the end of her line and let it drop, wishing she had brought a longer one. Gata sensed the change first, her pace quickened and then they all could smell it; a waft of fresh air floated toward them. They had arrived at the opening to a large cavern. There was a soft glow in the deep and she realized this was the sanctuary.

“Stay here,”said Potnia, “only a Priestess and her servant are needed here. We will call if your assistance is required.”

Potnia and Doera slowly proceeded to the altar in the center of the cavern and placed the Rhyton in a stand that was chiseled in the smooth polished surface. Doera arranged several containers and a shallow vase on a low flat stone. The hole in the bottom of the Rhyton was directly over a deep, narrow opening. The Priestess looked up and saw the source of the light; an opening revealed stars in the bright sky. The edge of the full moon was visible.
“It’s almost here, quickly, the essence.” Doera handed her a vial, which Potnia hastily swallowed. Her eyes turned blue, like the lotus. She opened the pyxis and touched the ointment with the first two fingers on her right hand. She brushed her temples, feeling the tingle as her senses responded. A stream of sharp lights swirled around her head. She applied more ointment and held her hands over the Rhyton, filling it with light.
The sacred vessel vibrated with a faint hum. She reached out and felt others beside her; the Long Dead were here. The Priestesses were coming together as well. She welcomed them individually, each a familiar soul, sisters of another life. Potnia felt the Rhyton hold the mind-link; the stone gathered the energy, focusing it toward the bottom hole.
As the moon reached its zenith over the opening in the ceiling above them, a beam of silver moonlight shot down into the Rhyton. A drift of light swirled around it as the stone vessel glowed. Potnia held out her hands and added all of her strength. A thin line of light began to seep out of the bottom.
“It’s not enough,” said the Priestess; despair echoing in her voice.
Doera stepped forward, a dagger in her hand. “Eeta, help me,” she said, “the Rising wants the blood of a priestess. I will suffice. It is my destiny.”
Eeta rushed to her side as Doera leaned over a shallow vase and slit her wrists. “Oh Goddess, here is my blood and breath, I surrender life and follow you to join the spirits of the Long Dead.” Dark fluid poured from the deep incisions as Eeta held her upright. The blood mingled with the swirling light as Doera’s spirit joined the dead. Eeta lay her down gently near the table. She lifted the vase and poured the blood into the Rhyton.
A blast of light and a percussion of sound boomed in the chamber. The swirling air sucked into a vortex and rushed through the Rhyton into the earth, dissipating in a shock wave under their feet. A low deep rumble began and small stones fell from the ceiling.
Eeta picked up the sceptre and handed it to the Priestess. “We have to get out of here,” she shouted, as she lifted her, wrapping her arm around her shoulders. Together they stumbled toward the exit.

The Rising – part 7

The Rising – part 7 (This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
The night of the moon had arrived and many Eterkians were gathered quietly in the central court. The altar had been cleared of offerings and was covered with a blue cloth, its golden threads tracing a pattern of leaves and spirals. They watched their Priestess proceed to the altar and walk in a sacred circle, tracing the footprints of the past. She was followed by Doera, who carried the Sanctuary Rhyton; the three pieces had been joined together, completing the sacred vessel. Faint wisps of blue smoke drifted from its rim.
As the sweet smell of burning essence filled the air, the blessed people stood waiting to receive a share of the spicy substance. Each person present would partake and experience the visions of the Priestess as she traveled to the sacred cave. The moon climbed higher. A beam of light fell on the altar. The people began to chant:
“The surface rises to the moon.
Now we connect our spirits.
Now we gather strength.
Together we are strong.
We surrender breath and blood.
Oh Priestess gather us.
Take us to the Sanctuary.
Our lives are yours.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.
Oh Goddess bring renewal.”
Potnia raised her sceptre toward the crowd. A pulse of energy hit the leopard head. She could feel her senses awaken.
“The Rising begins, I feel the lifting of the mist and the renewal of the holy spores. I gather your blessed spirits in the Sanctuary Rhyton. Now we journey to the sanctuary where our ancestors will reveal the secrets of the Long Dead. Together we will join them and travel to honor the Goddess.” As the crowd cheered, Potnia turned, proceeded into the hall of pillars and entered the shrine.

The Rising – part 6

The Rising – part 6
(This was written as a final assignment for a course in Greece, Set in 1450 BCE, it explores mythology and history, combining actual artifacts and fictional characters and settings.)
It was a closely guarded secret. Below each of the palaces were caves connected by labyrinthine tunnels that spider webbed the subsurface. Long dark passages wandered like underground roads to join the palaces together. In neolithic times, these tunnels were well known to their cave dwelling ancestors but as they moved into huts on the surface, the passages were forgotten by most.
The Priestesses had not forgotten; they used the tunnels to form the mind-link needed for a Rising. Each Priestess would descend into the depths, bringing items of spiritual strength that they had prepared. There they would anoint themselves, ingest the essence and perform the rites of the sanctuary cave. If successful, the mind-link would trigger a fruitful Rising, which would sustain and nourish Eterk for egons.
The entrance to the tunnel in Asimali Palace was hidden in the second shrine past the hall of pillars. It was accessed using the sacred words, known only to the Priestess and her servant who was once a Priestess herself.