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TITLE ~ Queen of Heaven: The Life and Times of Mary Magdelene

Chapter 12

     The whole family was nestled deep in the bed. David lay, eyes closed, on his back. Sister Miriam was tucked under his brawny arm, her head resting on her father’s chest. Beside him, propped up by pillows, Yohanna reclined, her stomach swelling with her next child. She smiled contentedly at Martha buried in bedclothes beside her. Miri lay on her side facing the others. The lamp flickered warmly on the lampstand.

     “Tell us a story, mother!” urged Martha.

     “Story!” whispered Sister Miriam excitedly, the light of adventure glowing in her eyes.

     Yohanna smiled affectionately at the children. “Well, let’s see,” she said and closed her eyes momentarily.

     “Once upon a time the God-”

     “King!” corrected David sternly without opening his eyes.

     “The King-” continued Yohanna, “The King Ali. The Sky King, King Ali and his wife, the Queen of Heaven, Deiva.”

     David clicked his tongue in disapproval.

     As usual, Yohanna ignored him.

     “Ali and Deiva lived in a land above the clouds. A magic land. A land of Paradise. Figs and grapes grew wild, but were thrice the size of the fruit we eat. Honey bees gathered nectar from the countless flowers which blossomed in every field, but they had no sting. Wheat and barley grew everywhere without plowing, seeding or weeding, and cattle milked themselves and brought milk and yoghurt and butter to every doorstep. The Sun passed overhead every day and never grew too hot nor too cold, and the dew fell every hour before the sunrise without fail, enough to ensure the freshness of each day.

     It was a wonderful place. Yet for all that was right, the King and Queen were unhappy.”

     “Why?” asked Sister Miriam.

     “Because they had no children,” explained Yohanna. “ There was no laughter in the halls of their palace. No sound of little bare feet slapping on the flagstones. Although they invited all the children in the land to come and play in the palace, in the evening when the children all returned to the houses of their real parents, the King and Queen were always alone. One evening as they sat sadly under the tree in the centre of their courtyard garden, a huge white heron alighted in the pond beside the tree. The heron stared at them, tilting her head sideways.

     ‘You are sad,’ said the heron.

     ‘Yes,’ replied King Ali, ‘We have tried everything. We have called midwives from every part of our realm, every manner of jiin, witches and wizards, but none can help us. We are childless.’

     ‘That is very sad,’ replied the heron. ‘If you wish, I can help you conceive a child.’ The heron stepped forward. ‘But you must be willing to pay me the price I ask.’

     ‘Anything!’ declared King Ali quickly without thinking, ‘Anything! Anything you desire shall be yours if you can bring us the blessing of a child!’

     ‘Very well!’ replied the heron, and with that she coughed up an egg. King Ali and Deiva were surprised. The heron held the egg in her beak and placed it in Queen Deiva’s lap.’

     ‘You, King Ali,’ said the heron, ‘must swallow this egg whole, without breaking it. You must lie with your wife on a night of the full moon, not before and not after, only then shall the egg pass from you into your lady! In this way shall you conceive a baby girl.’

     ‘It is a very large egg,’’ said King Ali doubtfully as he eyed the egg before him.

     ‘That which passes into you is less than what shall emerge from your wife’s loins after the moon has passed through nine cycles.’ said the heron tartly.

     ‘What is the price we must pay?’ asked King Ali.

     ‘For three days of each month, from the time that the girl reaches child-bearing age, you must allow the child to stay with me in my palace in the Great Below until such time as she can no longer carry a child!’

     The King looked at the Queen.

     The Queen looked at her husband.

     ‘If you are afraid of what might happen to your child while she is in my care, I shall grant three wishes to help you preserve the safety of your child.’

     ‘Very well,’ replied Deiva, ‘We agree to your terms.’

     The King and Queen called together their advisors, and the heron waited while the sages of the magic land argued over the best three wishes to preserve the new child. Finally all agreed to what would best preserve the integrity of the new princess, and wrote the wishes onto a clay tablet.

     ‘The first wish is that the princess should have a long life of not less than a hundred years’

     ‘Done!’ said the heron.

     ‘The second wish is that during her lifetime neither the princess nor her realm shall come to harm by any manner: be that fire, flood, famine, war or plague.’

     ‘Done!’ declared the heron, ‘And the third?’

     ‘That the third wish be transferred to the Princess after she is of child-bearing age!’

     The heron was irritated by the third wish, for she had expected that the King and Queen would settle the terms of their daughter’s fate, but they were too wise to seal the child’s future before the child had grown up.

     ‘Done!’ said the heron reluctantly. “The child shall be the Mistress of her own fate!

     The King picked up the egg, and indeed, it was a very large egg. So the king took a deep breath and placed the egg in his mouth. His jaws ached as they opened to take in the egg. His mouth was so full he could not talk.

     The Queen laughed at her husband for he looked ridiculous with the large egg crammed in his mouth. He protested, but no words could pass by the egg, and the more he tried to talk, the more the Queen laughed. The more she laughed the larger it grew and soon it was stuck fast, but he could not tell anyone of his problem. His mouth was stretched like the maw of a serpent.

     ‘Mmmmmookid Eyegedidowt?’ asked the King his words garbled by the egg stretching his jaws wide apart.

     ‘Get it out?’ asked the heron, ‘Get it out? Rabboni, once you have committed to swallowing the egg, you cannot remove it or you will break the spell. Unless you swallow it whole and pass it on to your wife by the full moon, the spell will be broken!’

     The heron then turned to Queen Deiva, who still could not stifle her laughter and nor hide her amusement at her husband’s predicament. ‘Rabbat Deiva, behold the moon! Now, it is but a thin waxing crescent ! You must not lie with your husband until the full moon is high in the night sky and he has swallowed the egg!’

     ‘I could not sleep with him looking like that!’ laughed the Queen.

     ‘When the child is born, You shall invite me to the baptism of fire and water, when I shall confirm my prize for your fertility!’ With a flap of her wings, the heron disappeared into the air.

     Queen Deiva looked at her husband and burst out laughing.

     All through that day and the following night, the king could not swallow the egg. Queen Deiva had time to get used to her husband’s face stretched by the egg, and found she could finally look at him without laughing out loud, although her smile never disappeared.

     She called the High Priest as he was also a magician of great renown. He examined King Ali with great seriousness, for the High Priest had no sense of humour. Within a few moments the priest looked up at his Matrix, the Queen Deiva.

     ‘There are two ways to swallow the egg without breaking it,’ he announced with great dignity, ‘One: the egg must be made smaller. Or two: the King must be made larger.’

     ‘Can you do that?’ asked Queen Deiva.

     ‘No, my Lady, I cannot!’

     ‘Mmmmaarrggppishanhhhiidiot!’ said the king.

     On the next day Queen Deiva sent a plea across the land for a magician to save the king, and by the third day, the royal court was packed wall to wall with all manner of jiin, wizards and witches of every kind, necromancers and seers carrying diverse crystals and a myriad of mystic parchments, and people beseiged by demons of every sort. The King was poked and prodded, surrounded by multicoloured clouds of incense, immersed in different liquids from sacred water to holy oils, covered with every imaginable combination of libations and ointments, bitter to sweet, and the object of wild incantations, but still the egg remained fast in his mouth. No one could help King Ali. The royal couple despaired of ever solving their problem.

     Then after all had failed, three strange fairies appeared at the door to the palace, one dressed in blue, one dressed in green, and a third in red.

     ‘Oh dear!’ said the blue fairy as she spied the king.

     ‘Terrible!’ commented the red fairy.

     ‘We’ve seen this before,’ announced the green fairy.

     ‘Can you help him?’ asked Queen Deiva.

     The three fairies conferred amongst themselves. ‘Queen Deiva,’ said the blue fairy, ‘We are the Three Moiras, I am Moira Clotho, and I bear the distaff and spin the Thread of Life.’

     ‘I am Moira Lachesis,’ added the green fairy, ‘It is I who measure the Thread of Life as it streams from the spindle.’

     ‘I am Moira Atropos,’ declared the red fairy, ‘It is my task to cut the Thread of Life. It is we three who determine when one is born and when one is to die, but we do have some knowledge of all Life. This egg is a gift from Queen Erishkigal, and her magic is very strong.’

     ‘We can ensure that the King will swallow the egg,’ continued the blue fairy, ‘but our price is this: Until she comes of child-bearing age and takes a husband, at no time must a single drop of the child’s blood be spilled on the ground!’

     ‘Mmmmgggglpphhh!’ said the King excitedly.

     ‘Make it so!’ commanded the Queen.

     ‘Yyymmpphhggrr!’ added the King, nodding in agreement.

     ‘Very well,’ replied the blue fairy. She cleared her throat.

     The three fairies stood unmoving.

     After a long silence, Deiva could stay silent no longer. ‘Well?’ she asked.

     ‘It is done!’ announced the Blue Fairy.

     The agreement was written on a clay tablet which was stored with all the other Royal Agreements in the Royal Treasury.

     After three days and nights, the sight of her husband no longer made her smile, let alone laugh. As she sat watching Ali, Deiva realized why. The egg was growing smaller of its own accord! As the days passed, the egg waned as the moon waxed. Soon it was a size where it could be removed, but still could not be swallowed. The King did not want to break the spell, so he kept it in his mouth.

     Afraid he might break the egg, the King vowed himself to silence, so he would not crush between his teeth while talking. He fasted so that he would not accidently crack the shell while chewing. To ensure that nothing would happen to the egg, he exiled himself to the North tower of the palace and barred the door so that no others could enter. Then, seven days before the full moon, the King swallowed the egg. He was ecstatic. He rushed to the Queen and swept her into his arms, but when he tried to kiss her, she pushed him away.

     ‘What is wrong?’ he cried, ‘I have swallowed the egg! We must lie together immediately to have a child!’

     ‘But we cannot!’ replied the Queen, ‘It is not yet the full moon!’

     ‘Not yet the full-’ The King was stunned. After fasting and not talking to anyone for so many days, his ardor was at a peak, and he wished to lie with his wife at that very moment.”

     “I know how he feels,” interrupted David.

     “Shhh!” said Martha

     Yohanna stroked her husband’s hair.

     “Reluctantly King Ali saw the wisdom of his wife’s words and returned to the tower. This time-” David grasped her hand in his. “This time the queen locked the door from the outside for she knew her husband’s ardor had no bounds!”

     “Amen!” said David.

     “Daddy!” Martha’s tone reprimanded her father.

     “Finally, on the last day, the sun set in the west and in the the full Moon rose into the evening sky. The Moon rose to meet his daughter, the star Ishtar, and the Queen unbarred the door to the tower. Carrying a small lantern, she mounted the seventy stairs to her husband’s chamber. They spent the night together in the tower, and the egg passed from Ali to Deiva.”

     “How?” asled Sister Miriam.

     “By magic,” replied David, his voice muffled under the covers.

     Yohanna continued. “The moon passed through nine cycles, and Deiva’s stomach grew large with her child.”

     “Did it hatch from the egg?” asked Eli.

     “Yes,” replied Yohanna.

     “Why didn’t the queen just swallow the egg herself?” asked Sister Miriam.

     “Miriam!” said an exasperated Martha, “Stop asking so many questions!”

     “Alright!” Yohanna brought her brood back to attention. “Unless you all keep quiet, I will never finish the story!” The youngsters snuggled deeper into their nest, and Yohanna continued.

     “Finally, the time came for the child to enter the world. The waiting Royal midwives were called. As Ishtar resided in the Seventh House, and Sin in all his glory, shone down on the palace of Deiva, a child was born. Queen Deiva felt no pain of the childbirth yet cried out as a beautiful baby girl issued from between her thighs.

     The Queen was delighted. This child was beautiful! Her face shone with an inner light! Everyone in the Queen’s chamber was amazed!

     ‘I shall call her Aurora, for she is as beautiful as any of the lights in the sky!’ declared the Queen.

     Throughout the land, the news of the birth was greeted by joy for the King and Queen. Preparations were made for the Rite of Passage Through Fire and Water. The King and Queen wrote a message to Erishkigal on a tablet of cedar and burned it on their altar. Then after seven days, they took the child to the temple and sacrificed an unblemished white bull and an unblemished ram to the gods. There the High Priest washed the child in the Sacred Basin beside the altar and immersed her in the holy water. Then, with the clay tablet of the agreement between the parents and Erishkigal and the tablet of the agreement with the three Moiras, she was passed back to the Queen through the flames of the Holocaust to be purified, to secure her Soul from demons and evil jiin. But the High Priest dropped her as she was above the fire!

     The whole assembly gasped. But a hand appeared in the flames and handed the baby Aurora to her mother, Queen Deiva! But the clay tablets shattered as they hit the altar and could not be saved from the flames.

     The near accident unnerved the King and Queen, and thereafter, they both fretted over their daughter’s safety. Because the clay tablets of their Agreement with Erishkigal and the Moirae had shattered at such a momentous occasion, they were afraid that a terrible curse would befall the child should even one drop of her blood should spill on the ground. Anything which could harm her was removed from the palace. Swords and knives were forbidden. Spears and lances. Nothing with a sharp point was allowed within a mile of the young girl as she grew up. If any of the children who came to the palace as a companion for the princess became too rough or careless, they were banished from the precincts of the royal house. Soon Aurora had no friends left with whom she could play.

     The King and Queen were heartbroken at the increasing isolation of their daughter, but they were afraid that blood would be accidently drawn from their daughter’s flesh. Then, despite all their precautions, one day the unthinkable happened!

     As she sat in a secluded part of the Royal Garden, Princess Aurora sat spinning wool to make a robe for her father, for he often complained of being cold at night. Suddenly she saw a beautiful rose growing beside the marble bench upon which she sat. All the other roses had been removed by order of the King and Queen for their thorns were sharp and could draw blood, but somehow this one bush had escaped the notice of the Royal Gardener. Aurora was entranced by the beauty of the deep red rose. She had never seen a flower so beautiful. Aurora sniffed at the crimson bloom, and so heavenly was the scent that the princess was lost in rapture. As she clasped the rose to pull it closer to her nose, a thorn pricked her finger.

     Princess Aurora stuck her finger immediately into her mouth to suck up the blood, but alas, a single drop of blood from the tiny wound fell to the ground. Smoke curled from the spot where the blood soaked into the earth. A fog billowed up rapidly, the Mist of Forgetfulness. The mist engulfed the Princess. Immediately she fell into a deep sleep. As the mist spread throughout the Royal Garden, flowers folded their petals and fruit dropped from the trees to the ground. Grass shrivelled and dried, and everywhere plants became dormant. Engulfed by The Mist of Forgetfulness, the entire household was collapsed into a deep sleep. The cook and baker in the kitchen fell asleep amongst the pots, the guards at their posts, and even the King and the Queen where they held court. Courtiers, priests and scribes, all fell under its spell.

     A terrible malaise spread over the land. Farmers in their fields, potters at their wheels, cattle in the pastures and sheep in the folds, even birds fell from the air. All these and more fell under the dismal magical spell. The Mist of Forgetfulness shrouded the entire realm of King Ali and Queen Deiva. Over time, large thorn bushes grew all around edge of the realm and under the thrall of the Mist of Forgetfulness, the magic land lay forgotten and undisturbed for a hundred years.”

     “Is that the end?” asked Sister Miriam, her eyes clouded with encroaching sleep.

     “Of course not, silly!” said Martha, “Someone came to save them! Right, Mother?”

     “Well, it did seem that a shepherd boy lost one of his lambs near the brambles which surrounded the hidden realm. He secured his flock within his brother’s sheepfold and ventured forth to find the missing lamb. As he skirted the thick brambles around the magic realm, he found a small tuft of wool on a thorn where the lamb had wandered into the thorn bushes. Peering into the thicket, he spied another tuft deeper in the brambles. Carefully he followed the trail of lamb’s wool deeper and deeper into the thorn bushes. Each time he found a tuft, he kept it in his hand. The bushes were so thick that the very sun could no longer be seen, the thorns scratched at his skin and soon he was bleeding from the thousand cuts, but still the shepherd pushed through looking for his little lost lamb.”

     “What was his name?” asked Martha.

     “The lamb?” asked Yohanna playfully.

     “No, the shepherd!”

     “His name was-” Yohanna looked slyly at her husband, “David!”

     “The same as Daddy!” cried Martha.

     “Yes,” said Yohanna wistfully, “The very same!” She was lost in daydreaming for a moment until Martha prodded her to continue.

     “Did he find the lamb?”

     “Well,” continued her mother, gathering her thoughts again. “He followed the trail of wool, and soon he had so much wool, his arms were full. At last he pushed through the barrier of the thorns into the magic land. The Mist of Forgetfulness now only reached as high as the shepherd’s knees, and had lost most of its potency after a hundred years. His lamb, whose head barely reached David’s knees stood groggily before him, its eyes slowly drooping, heavy with sleep, so heavy that the poor little lamb could hardly stay awake. David stuffed as much wool as he could into his satchel, stepped toward the lamb and gathered the animal in his arms. As he bent down, he inhaled some of the mist, and as he stood up, his head swirled around with dizziness. He realized right away that the Mist had caused him to almost lose consciousness, and was respoponsible for the sleepiness in his lamb.

     His head cleared after a moment, and he spied the the towers of the palace in the distance. Struck by the beauty of the building, he decided he would walk there to see what manner of people could build such a magnificent place. He hoisted the lamb who had now fallen completely asleep onto his shoulders and hiked toward the palace.

     As he trekked along the road, he noticed that every living thing lay countryside lay still. But his curiosity was greater than the fear of the curse which had befallen the land. Everywhere he saw people asleep where the Mist had first waylaid them. Reapers lay in the barley field, scythes still in their hand. Although nothing in the land moved, neither had any part of it fallen to decay. The fruits of the trees which had fallen to the ground had not withered, but were as full as the day they had fallen dormant. Finally he reached the palace gates, which were wide open.

     The entire household lay still. The shepherd walked past the attendants collapsed in their deep sleep. He peeked into the kitchen where the cook and baker still lay amongst the pots, then stole past the guards at their posts, and past the sleeping courtiers, the priests and scribes, until he came to the court where the King and the Queen slept on their throne. He was tired of carrying the lamb, and he placed the sleeping animal in the Queen’s lap.

     He climbed stairs to a second floor and wandered from room to room, each more beautiful than the next. In one, he happened to look out of the window and he spied the Princess Aurora’s sleeping form in the Royal Garden. He was struck by her beauty, and rushed down the stairs and to her side. He took a deep breath, lifted Aurora into his arms and laid her on a bier beside the pool in the centre of the garden.

     As he sat staring at Aurora, Erishkigal in the guise of the white heron landed in the pond.

     ‘She is very beautiful isn’t she?’ asked Erishkigal, “Her name is Aurora.’

     ‘She is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.’ replied the shepherd boy.

     ‘I can awaken her if you wish,’ said Erishkigal slyly, ‘And the first man she sees, she will fall in love with. Would you like that?’

     ‘Any man would wish such a thing,’ replied the shepherd quickly. ‘But I could not enchant a creature so fair! Love which comes from the casting of spells is not a true love, and I could not bind such a beautiful girl with such a curse against her will. If she chose by her own free will to love me, then indeed, I would be grateful.’

     ‘Then you do not wish to bring her back to life?’ asked Erishkigal.

     ‘Of course I do, but she must be free to choose her own lovers.’

     ‘I am very impressed with you, young man,’ commented the heron, ‘She would be a very foolish woman not to love one with as pure a heart as yours.’

     ‘Then you will restore her to life?’

     ’No, but I will tell you how to cast the spell, and you will raise her yourself’

     ‘Then tell me what I must do!’’ cried David impatiently.

     ‘If you restore the Princess and her Realm to Life, then a year from now, on the first day of the New Year, you must give your soul to me and accompany me to the Great Below.’

     ‘How long must I stay in the Underworld?’ asked the young man.

     ‘You can never leave the Great Below. No man has ever returned from the Realm of Erishkigal.’ said the heron.

     ‘But-’ protested David.

     ‘No!’ interrupted Erishkigal, ‘No ands, ifs nor buts! That is the agreement! I shall tell you how to restore the Princess and her Realm to Life in exchange for you sacrificing your own a year from now! Accept my terms or leave!’

     David looked at Aurora lying on the bier and his doubts melted. He knew he loved her, and if he could live only for a year, the price was little to pay to see such a beautiful girl awaken and join the world of the living.

     ‘I accept!’ he said fiercely.

     ‘Then kiss her!’ said the heron.

     ‘What?’ asked the shepherd boy, stunned by the terseness of Erishkigal’s command.

     Erishkigal flapped her wings and took to flight. ‘Kiss her!’ the heron cried, ‘One kiss from her true love is all it takes to bring her and her Realm back to Life!’ The heron cackled in a way that sent shivers along David’s spine!”

     Sister Miriam and David had all fallen asleep. Yohanna stared at the Martha and Miri. “It is getting late. Perhaps I should finish tomorrow!”

     “No!” cried both girls together.

     Yohanna looked at her sleeping husband. His light snores told her he was asleep.

     “Well,” she said conspiratorially, “The shepherd boy David was really Dumuzi who is now called Tammuz, and the Princess Aurora, Ishtar under a spell from Erishkigal, the one we now call Allat. David sat on the bier beside Aurora. He summoned his courage and kissed her gently on the forehead.

     Nothing happened! He kissed her again. Still nothing!

     Desperate, he kissed her on the cheek! Nothing!

     He kissed her on the chin!


     He kissed her on the nose!


     He kissed her on the lips! He kissed her hard and long! And Aurora moaned, and kissed him back! Her arms came up and embraced him! As they wrapped around each other in their passion, the Mist of Forgetfulness was dispelled! As they lay together, writhing in ecstasy, the plants in the garden sprang to life again. The barley in the fields grew tall and full! The fruit trees and the flowers all over the land blossomed. The animals in the fields awoke, the cattle in the pastures and the sheep in the folds, even the birds in the air awoke and began to call to each other, male to female. The bees came from their nests and travelled from bloom to bloom.

     Aurora and David mated and the farmers in their fields, potters at their wheels awoke and rejoiced at their release from the Dreams of Forgetfulness. Soon the entire household of the palace was revived and attendants awoke from their deep sleep. The cook and baker in the kitchen awoke amongst the pots, the guards stood again at their posts, and finally the King and the Queen, who were in reality the gods El and Astarte, returned to their court. The courtiers, the priests and scribes, all awoke and continued their business and affairs where they had left off!

     Deiva, the Queen of Heaven cried in delight at the young lamb who was awakening in her lap, for it was the first-born and the fairest of the shepherd boy’s flock! She hugged it to her bosom in joy!

     ‘Who has brought me this wonderful gift?’ she asked.

     No one could answer her, for none but the shepherd could know that he had placed the lamb in her lap. And at that moment David and Aurora walked arm in arm into the court. All were aghast that a shepherd boy should be so familiar with the Princess. and the guards made to seize him for his affrontery, but Aurora commanded them to halt.

     Then David told everyone all that had transpired between him and Aurora and how their mating had dispelled the Mist of Forgetfulness, and how he had revived all the Kingdom, and everyone was amazed. That very day they were married and the whole land rejoiced!”

     “Did they live happily ever after?” asked Martha.

     “No, how could they?” asked Miri, “He had pledged his Soul to Erishkigal to save the Princess!”

     Martha looked disheartened. “I don’t like this!” she said darkly.

     “Should I stop?” asked Yohanna.

     “No!” said Martha, “No, you must finish!”

     “Three days before New Year’s Day, David and Aurora sat on the bier where he had laid her that first day, attended by El and Deiva, and members of their courtage. They were surprised when a large white heron flapped into the pool beside them. David suddenly recalled his agreement with Erishkigal.

     ‘It is time for you to honour our agreement,’ said the heron to David. ‘You must accompany me to the Great Below!’

     ‘No!’ cried Aurora, “You cannot take him! He is my husband!’

     ‘I must go!’ replied David. ‘I have given my word!’

     ‘I will not allow it!’ shouted Aurora.

     At that moment Erishkigal transformed from a heron into her true form as the White Goddess, and stood against Aurora. ‘And what,’ asked Erishkigal, ‘Are you going to do to stop me?’

     The others were amazed as they watched the two Goddesses together. They were identical in every aspect of their appearance as if each were standing before a mirror.

     ‘I have one wish given to me by my father El and my mother Deiva Asura which you must honour!’

     Then use it, my little princess, if you dare.’ sneered Erishkigal, “I would match wits with you any day! Do your worst!’

     ‘I shall make you an offer!’ replied Aurora. “First, I shall give myself up to you for the period of time from the Festival of the Harvest until The Festival of The New Year in exchange for the eternal imprisonment of David. Second, so that the agreement concerning my serving with you every month for three days will be honoured, every woman of the land of child bearing years when not with child, shall shall shed their blood for three days every month so that I can return in the New Year without penalty.’

     ‘And third?’ asked Erishkigal snidely.

     ‘Third, so that the honour of David is preserved by your agreement, that he be taken to the Great Below at the end of each year, but that after three days of service to you, he is allowed to return reborn with me on the First day of the New Year.’

     ‘This fascinates me,’ said Erishkigal, ‘Am I to assume that while I have you, I can do whatever I will?’

     ‘Yes!’ declared Aurora.“‘And David, do you agree to this scheme of your lover?’

     ‘Her Will is mine!’ declared David.

     ‘Then, if I can choose the manner of David’s death, I shall accept!’ said Erishkigal. ‘Is this agreement your wish, Princess Aurora?’

     ‘It is!’ declared Aurora.

     ‘Then it is done!’ Erishkigal.

     In an instant Erishkigal and Aurora disappeared, vanished to the realm of the Great Below. David cried out in agony as he was now nailed to a tree in the Garden, crucified! A cock crowed from a nearby farm yard, and David cried out again! The cock cried again and David fell into a deep sleep. As the cock crowed a third time, the lover of Aurora was dead! The whole nation went into mourning at the loss of their Princess and the death of David. They donned sack cloth and slashed their arms and foreheads and scattered ashes on themselves, and lamented the loss of the two lovers.

     The next day they took down David, the dead lover of Aurora and placed him inside a rock tomb and rolled the stone over the entrance and sealed it with the mark of El! On the following morning, in the third day, the people of the land returned to the tomb to continue their mourning, but found the rock sealing the entrance of the tomb had been rolled away, and as they stood in amazement, David dressed as the King and Aurora in the clothing of the high priestess of Ishtar walked toward them hand in hand from the Great Below!

     The seeds under the soil pushed their heads above the ground to see the Royal couple, opened their leaves in greeting, and the people rejoiced at the miracle. The people carried the Royal Couple on their shoulders to the throne room of the palace where they were seated in the Chair of El and the Chair of Deiva to rule over the land, until they once more had to return to the Great Below!”

     “The End!” announced Martha triumphantly.

     Yohanna stared at Miri whose forehead was furrowed by deep thinking lines. “What’s wrong, Miri?” she asked.

     “The story seems so familiar to me, Yohanna, yet I know I have never hear it before.”

     Yohanna stroked Miri’s raven black hair. “Of course you have. It has been told many times in many ways, Miri. Fairy tales tell us of things we know yet do not know. The story is in our flesh and our bones; we have no need to hear it with our ears to tell the truth in the tale. Soon you will become a woman and within your womb, the tears and laughter of our race begin! ! Have patience! Your Time will come!”

     “I cannot wait!” said Miri fiercely.

     “Go to sleep!” said Yohanna, “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up!”

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