VI: End games

To those who may be receiving one of these post-notifications for the first time: This is not a blog; it’s actually part of a book, and will make little sense to you without knowledge of what has come before—which you can easily obtain, along with a goodly amount of satirical theatre as matters progress, by simply entering into your web browser, opening the menu, and starting at page one. J.J.

Scene 20

And people indeed live happily for a long while afterward; until suddenly one evening—just as First Person is sitting down by the fire, feeling satisfied with the way that everything is going—the oldest man that he knows of comes hurrying toward him and announces breathlessly, “Something’s wrong!

“For suddenly I find my eyes growing dim and my ears too beginning to falter,” the other reports, “—while would you believe, my hair is falling out, my teeth now lie unsteady in my mouth, and my very skin grows loose and ever more wrinkled on my bones!

“Moreover, I’m afraid that my critical cerebral powers too are now diminishing—among other things, leaving my memory maddeningly unreliable.

“And dare I mention that even my frivolous sexual potency would now appear to be abandoning me?

“Then, how should I understand all this?” the other inquires anxiously.

“Hm, apparently you’ve become afflicted with some kind of disease,” First Person eyes the older man thoughtfully. “Might it be that you’ve broken one of the Divine Laws lately?”

“Oh no, for every night before I turn in,” the other informs him, “I tick them off on my fingers and carefully examine myself to make sure that during the day I haven’t violated any; yet each day, I wake up a little more decrepit than the day before!”

“Well then, there must be some other reason for your problem,” First Person allows. “Give me some time and I’ll try to get, as we say, to the bottom of it.”

Scene 21

However, try though he might, First Person can’t seem to come up with any better explanation for the other’s terrible situation—while before long, he’s confronted by other senior people bearing similar reports.

“Would you mind telling us what’s going on?” they typically demand of him—sounding more cross every day that passes without him being able to offer them some answer, much less any hope of relief.

“Well, it appears that the Great Mother has afflicted you older folk with some kind of punishment,” he finally sighs one evening in the most confident tone that he can manage, “although I must say, none of you can recall having done anything to offend her.

“Anyway, here’s what I think you should do,” he continues after a moment of mutually suspicious stares all around: “tonight before you turn in, why don’t you try chanting a few paeans to her—that she might not only be assured of your continued devotion, but know that you’re sorry if you’ve inadvertently displeased her in some way.”

* * *

Nevertheless, their problem only continues; and so pretty soon, they return to him for more advice.

“This is obviously getting quite serious,” he acknowledges upon their approach—and winces to note that the oldest among them now have to use their spear to support their own weight as they hobble slowly toward him, “—but surely you need only prove to the Great Mother how very sorry you are for whatever it is that none of you will admit having done to her.

“So now I think you should deny yourself something as a gesture of your deep contrition,” he tells them. “For instance, you might give up your bedtime snack, or abstain from sex. Anything, just as long as it might help our Divine Mother understand that all this has clearly gone far enough!”

* * *

Still, their situation only worsens—until sure enough, they came around once more.

“Hm, I’d say things are beginning to look pretty grave,” he sighs helplessly as he gazes about the tense group before him and observes that most now have to be carried to him by more-youthful aides.

And then feeling that he might well burst with his own exasperation, he adds, “And so tonight I want you to flog yourselves sore with a long switch and howl a lot, as a penance for whatever terrible thing that’s been done here.

“Maybe that will finally earn you some mercy in this whole, inexplicable mess!”

Scene 22

And when even that fails to make a difference, next evening he’s shaken to find himself confronted by some wrinkled, toothless old crone who has the nerve to suggest that he too has now grown so old, he simply isn’t up to solving the great problems anymore!

“Oh you’ve certainly been something to see all this time,” she cackles with admiration enough in her glazing eyes, “—but now I’d say that you too have about had it and shall soon be replaced by a fresher wit, if you will, who will not only wrest control of all this from you in your declining state, but move everything along according to his own increased reasoning power.”

And First Person altogether pales at this prospect. For whatever his current state, he’s scarcely prepared to yield control of everything to another—nor can he imagine even a single word of his teaching ever falling into general disrepute.

Rather, he’s always assumed that it would go on—quite like he himself—forever.

Scene 23

And later that night, the old man who’d first brought him this terrible problem finally grows all still and cold.

“You mean dead?” First Mother shrieks when she hears the news. “Someone has actually died—without having been attacked by a predator, or at least suffered some accident?”

And then turning to First Person, she screams, “I assume you can explain this.”

And when he simply shakes his head in shock, she screams further, “And why can’t you? As I recall, I put you in charge of our relationship with the Great Mother—although now I have to admit, it’s obvious that I never should have entrusted one of you men with such a great responsibility.

“I mean, you worthless, good-for-nothing men who can neither create nor succor life yourself,” she suddenly lets go, “might as well be playing some game around here with all your think, think, think—while now it would appear we can’t even depend on you for that! Now just look what you’ve gotten us into!”

“Why you dried up old bag,” First Person himself finally explodes, “you know perfectly well that you’ve never had a thought worth mentioning around here, and wouldn’t have even lasted this long without all my leadership and support!

“I mean, your brain must have grown about as loose as your nookie-hole these days if you think that now you can get away with trying to lay the blame for death on us men—whose true heroism in this world,” he roars on with great indignation, “hardly stops at having had to endure you!”

And striding past her, he goes alone into the forest, to think.

Scene 24

And upon his return later that evening, he calls everyone together and declares, “I have good news!

“For out in the forest today, I met with the Great Mother herself, and she—”

“You mean you actually saw her?” someone in the crowd cries out incredulously, amid much surprised murmuring.

“Why, yes,” First Person answers smoothly, “—and she explained everything.

“First of all, you’ll be relieved to know that she isn’t angry with us,” he assures people with a blithe wave aimed at dismissing that untenable old notion from everyone’s consciousnes, “—rather, she gave me a very different reason for all that’s been happening to us lately.

“You see, now that we smart people rarely fall victim to predators anymore—and hence might well just go on living, and of course steadily increasing in number, forever—we’ve inadvertently created a problem for her in this ordinary world: I mean, there’s only so much room around here!

“And so she has instituted natural death; meaning that from now on we shall grow but unto some peak moment, and then like it or not,” he shrugs seemingly without concern, “gradually decline unto that final stillness.

“However, our spirit,” he continues—and firmly holds up his hand to forestall any further interruptions—”that is, our cares, personality, family relationships and so forth, shall simply continue as before; but in a whole new way.

“For the best part,” he beams excitedly, “is that our Divine Mother has made asacred pact or covenant with us as follows: the spirits of those who would indicate by their behavior in this world that they may be trusted around her Great Secret shall actually pass at death unto her Great Realm —where they’ll spend all eternity in her perfect care!

“While the rest,” he shouts to reman heard above all the tumultuous rejoicing, until after a moment he again has everyone’s attention, “shall find their spirit forever abandoned unto this ordinary world. I’m sorry.”

* * *

“But how might we find our way to her Realm?” someone calls out puzzledly after another chaotic moment.

“Ah, of course. I was about to add that after leading the old man who died last night to her sacred place,” First Person declared without hesitation, “she simply appointed him to guide the rest of us there when our own time comes.

“And now per her final instruction,” he quickly brought the whole matter to a close, “I’m told that after turning over whatever personal belongings that he might have left behind to the oldest remaining woman in his family, we should return his putrefying corpse itself to some hole in the ground and cover it up—whence I guess it shall ultimately become but a meal for the worms after all.”

Scene 25

And soon thereafter, First Person himself finally departs for the Great Realm’s eternal bliss—while later that evening, as his remaining followers sit around the fire trying to absorb that he’s actually no longer among them, Great Mother remembers him aloud and with surprising respect.

“He truly was a heroic man—and one whom we’ll not soon forget,” she sobs quite openly before all. And glancing helplessly at all the other men around the fire, she dares to add, “In fact, I don’t mind admitting that I for one will find it very difficult to get along without him—fearing as I do that in all this world, there may never be another like him”

* * *

At which point, this young man seated alongside her eldest daughter offers, “Why, do you realize that in the beginning of all this, our ordinary world was but some Great Void—that is, a place utterly devoid of knowledge—where we people were really just another animal wandering about in ignorance?

“And oh, how his teachings rolled like thunder there,” he now rises and begins to eulogize their departed mentor in earnest, “—as he taught us to rely on reason; to walk upright and carry a big stick that eventually became the basis for our spear; to make weapons and control fire; to recognize the preeminence of woman in all things; and of course most importantly, to keep faith with the Great Mother and maintain her Laws even in the face of natural death!

“Indeed, how could any of have gotten along without him?” he stares at everyone else around the fire—and pauses, awaiting some response.

And when everyone quickly nods and murmurs in agreement, he cntinues, “You know, I don’t think it would be too much to say that while the Great Mother certainly created us as creatures, it was he—this mere man—who created us as people.

“And so whenever we hear the thunder,” he concluded, I think we should remember him for that—and pause to reflect upon his Great Teachings.”

* * *

“Well if you ask me,” another young man immediately rises before the fire, “at the beginning of all this there was really a Great Darkness—where we all stumbled blindly about until he came to light our way.

“I mean, isn’t that how he really created us as people?

“And so I believe that we should associate him, say, with the sun—the very sight of which would bring us to remember him and his Teachings.”

“But I myself prefer the moon!” still another suddenly rises up.

“Or perhaps the morning star!” yet another soon puts in.

While another simply proposes, “Hey, what about our simple fire? For wasn’t it here, around these bright flames, that he enlightened us so—and ultimately rolled back all our primal ignorance?”

And people continue to argue about this new matter—long, long into the night.

So now let’s meet some of the Ladies who’ve been intimately associated with death and the afterlife down the ages.

  • Atropos: inevitable death deity; one of the ancient Greek Moirai, or Fates—the other two having to do first with birth and then life itself
  • Bean Sidhe: Celtic death deity; think ‘banshee’
  • Erishkegal: Sumerian underworld deity
1. Erishkegal
British Museum, London
  • Hel: ancient Germanic/Scandanavian deity of death whose dank, cold underworld realm of the same name was borrowed by Biblical translators as a place for immolating the wicked, per Judaism’s belief that the souls of such people were consigned to the trash heap perpetually burning on the outskirts of most Jewish communities
2. Modern depiction of Hel
  • Hine-Nui-Te-Po: Maori New Zealand deity of death and ruler of the underworld
  • Kali: Hindu deity of death who in the Beginning, also helped dance the universe into existence
3. Kali
Rubin Museum of Art, New York
  • Kalma: Finnish death deity
  • Mara: Hindu death deity
  • Meretseger: ancient Egyptian underworld deity who brought illness and death to the disrespectful; no-nonsense protector of burial sites
  • Mictecachiuatl: Aztec death deity and ruler of the underworld
4. Mictecachiuatl
Cihuateotl Museo de National de Antropología
  • Morta: ancient Roman death deity who eventually became one of the three Parcae, modeled after the Greek Morai (see Atropos above)
  • Nephthys: ancient Egyptian death deity
5. Nephthys
Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, San Jose CA
  • Nirrti: Hindu deity associated with pain, misfortune, and death; greatly feared by many Hindus, who repeatedly bring her (read her priests) offerings
  • Persephone: ancient Greek queen of the underworld; associated with death (as in the winter freeze) and also the springtime rejuvenation of the plants
6. Persephone
The Burrell Collection, Glasgow
  • Prosperina: ancient Roman version of the above
  • Veliuona: ancient Lithuanian death deity
  • Yuki Onne: Japanese deity of death by freezing


Photo Credits

1: Wikipedia

2: Pinterest

3: Himalayan Art Resources

4: Pinterest

5: Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

6: Owlcation

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