Monday, February 25, 2013

Chapter 49 - Christianity and the Prophecies


It was July and plenty hot. Owen smiled thinking, about Nola and her reaction to the pool’s water temperature. Before he dove in he looked at the roof of the garage and decided it was time to put what he had been training on and researching the last few months into practice and put solar panels on the garage roof that could feed a heater for the pool and supply power to the house.


 


James was picking Jamie up from school, so Nola could go straight to Owen’s from work. She had changed into a light slipover dress at work.  Then she had stopped around the corner from Owen's to discretely remove her underwear.  She pulled up into the driveway and made her way to the pool gate.  It sounded like Owen was swimming laps.  As she pushed the gate open the sound stopped and he came up at the far end of the pool and turned around surprised to see her.


"Hello woman."


"Hello Big Man."


She dropped her purse on the chair, pulled her dress over her head and made her way down the pool steps.


"Oh, woman! You shouldn't do that to me!" He said in mock exasperation.


She had made her way off the steps and into the pool but started to turn around as she said, "Ok, Sorry. I'll leave." She teased.


"Leave!?" And he pushed off from the side of the pool and grabbed her at the waist and spun her underwater and around then lifted her to make sure she was ok. She was holding on to him like Velcro but it didn’t sound like she was breathing.


“Nola?” and he held her closer to him. And he felt her relax a very little bit. “Nola?”


And she breathed. “Yes.”


“Are you alright?”


“Yes, I’m alright.  I think I need to keep a bathing suit here because I’m not sure I can survive surprising you.”


He laughed. “It wasn’t surprising me, it was threatening to leave. I’ll be gentle but you have to stay.”


“Ok, Big Man. Ok.” And she held on to him and dipped the back of her head into the water to get the hair out of her eyes.


He smiled and enjoyed the way her breasts looked in the water and her skin slipped beneath his fingers then said, "Oh!"


"Oh?"


“Well you boggled my mind when you whisked your dress off like that. You made me forget.”


“Forget what?”


“Eric is coming in July.”


“Your nephew Eric?”


“Yep.” 


“When exactly in July?”


“He arrives July 20th. His basketball coach is going out of town for vacation. So he gets to visit his favorite uncle."


 


“Well” and she sighed deeply and then leaned against his arm so he would hold her up, “then I guess there won’t be any swimming naked in the pool that week.”


“I guess not.” He chuckled.


And she pushed away from him to float across the pool. “How long is he going to be here?”


“From July 20th until July 27th.”


“That’s actually perfect.”


“Perfect?”


“Yes, I can take you to 2nd on the 18th and then Eric will be here to keep you entertained for a week.”


“What? Are you saying I won’t see you while he’s here?”


“Yes…”


And he interrupted her, “Why not? Eric knows you. He even likes you. You can still come for lessons.”


“Owen, be realistic. What could we possibly talk about in front of Eric? We are going to take a break. Besides…” 


And he said more forcefully than he intended, “No.”


And his intensity surprised her too. “No?”


“Well… there has to be a way that I can have my cake and eat it too.”


And she laughed at him as she floated across the pool on her back. “You can’t really want your 14 year old nephew to be here while I teach things most adults can’t comprehend?”


“No.  I just want you here.”


And she stopped floating and treaded water and said, “Oh. My. God. I hope Ryan and Stella aren’t spoiling Eric they way your parents spoiled you.”


Owen was practically speechless, “I…. I… You… I…” and he dove under the water and caught her by the waist, and with their height difference was able to stand up and turn her to him. He had been gentle this time so she smiled and said calmly, “Do you want to go to 2nd?”


And he was caught off guard by the question but answered truthfully, “Yes, of course.”


“Then be grateful that Eric is coming to visit.  After I take you to second we need to spend a bit of time apart.”


“What? Why?”


“Because taking you to 2nd requires preparation and recovery time on my part. And because traditionally the 2nd degree initiate needs time to settle in before they see their initiator again. It is required that we spend some time apart.”


He heard the word traditionally and knew she was serious but said, “You’re serious?” anyway. And he paused worried before he asked “How long?”


“Well was thinking that we could skip one week and then start up the next.  That’s why I said Eric’s visit is perfectly timed. He’ll keep you busy for at least a week.  I’ll be back the next Thursday.”


“You’re serious.” He repeated more for himself than anything else.


“Yes. I am. I actually think it’s a good sign that Eric is coming.  It’s almost as if the universe knew you would need him.” And she gently pushed away from him and floated to the side of the pool and began to flutter kick as she held onto the side and looked out at the trees they had planted.


He waded over to her he thought, the universe knew. This woman was unlike anyone he had ever known.


 


He leaned with his elbows on the bench and watched her flutter kick.


“Owen, you said you were raised Lutheran. Is Eric being raised Lutheran?”


"Well... sort of.  Abby insisted that we be members of the church she grew up in.  We attended" and he thought about it and calculated, "not quite monthly and on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. But it was more a social obligation than a commitment to a faith.  Dad never put much stock in it. Neither did Papa Eric.  I guess it's fair to say that Eric is being raised the same way.  Questions are always asked when someone doesn't attend a church. Stella and Ryan know that membership in a church helps avoid conflict."


She nodded.  "Yes, hide in plain site. Raven mentioned something about Streghe being side door Catholics." And he looked at her questioningly. So she continued, "Side door meaning using Catholicism as a shield but Mary and the other saints like Joseph, whose shrines tends to be on the sides of the church, as a stand-in for the goddess and god and other pagan aspects."


"I get it.  Why did you ask about Eric?"


"Oh because he will be visiting and I was just curious.  It is amazing how many Christian principles and philosophies we pick up without even trying.  But I also asked because we haven't gone over Aradia's Words on Christianity or the Prophecies."


 


He laughed, "You want me to get the book and read while I'm in the pool?"


She laughed and teased, "Teachers privilege, you get the book and read while I'm in the pool." And she turned around and continued to flutter kick.


"If I get this view, OK."


And she splashed him and said as he laughed and she laughed with him. "I think I've reviewed this subject enough with other students to be able cover it without the book for now. We can read the words when we get out. Have you read them? Do you remember what they say?"
"Oh testing me huh?"


She smiled, "Maybe. You are going to 2nd." 


"In the Words on Christianity Aradia essentially says that there shall never be peace between Streghe and Christians, because they have chosen faith over understanding or one could say science, which I know appeals to you.  I think that their charge to proselytize and convert others to the one true way also inhibits peaceful coexistence. Aradia sounds like she doesn't have an issue with the teachings of Jesus but that what she saw as passing for Christianity in practice was not based on those teachings. She's not the only one to ever make this comment.  Aradia counsels us to avoid Christians, especially anything that might anger them, because they can be dangerous. I'm sure she would be perfectly aligned with hiding in plain site or side door Catholics or your philosophy of using what others know and believe to explain your personal philosophy."


Nola had stopped her flutter kicks and was hanging on the side of the pool looking at him with something close to awe. He grinned at her, grabbed her around the waist to hold her up because he could stand and her feet couldn't touch the bottom and waited for her to speak.  She held on not sure what to say but finally managed, "Impressive. You are definitely ready for 2nd."


"Thank you. I've had a really good teacher."


She smiled and nodded.  "Well then... What about the Prophecies?"


He was still holding on to her and said, "Well Aradia mentions the Age of the Daughter in her Words on Christianity as if it is some golden time to come. But I can't find any specific references to it in any other tradition. In the Words on the Prophecies she also mentions the Age of the Son and I take it that this Age has some relationship to Christianity and its power ebbing away in the Age of the Daughter, the age of reason.  Many of the things she mentions sound a lot like the changes that we've seen with rights and freedoms being established in the US and throughout the world by the Rule of Law. Unfortunately we have a long way to go before we get to Aradia’s Age of Reason. The U.S. being more supportive of the UN would be a big step in that direction."


And she thought I could so fall in love with this man. And caught herself and told herself to straighten up. While Tago smiled to Papa Eric.  Owen was on a roll.  "I don't get the part about the daughter being 36 years old. But it makes perfect sense that there would be someone, the silent prophet, who would bring the Old Ways back to light.  I'm hoping that my teacher will enlighten me on these Ages and the prophecies." And he grinned again because he could see she was impressed and because he was enjoying the fact that she was letting him hold her and was holding on to him.  


"Enlighten you? You seem to be doing pretty good on your own. Maybe I should just let you work on it a little bit more."


He grinned, "I am going to 2nd next week. Why don't you enlighten me now."


"Ok... I'll share what know.  But first what do you know about the precession of the equinoxes?"


"What? What does the equinox have to do with the Age of the Daughter?"


She smiled and said, "Well I guess that you need me after all. Not the equinox but the precession of the equinoxes.  It's an astronomical process.  You've heard of the Age of Aquarius?"


"Yes but that's astrology not astronomy."


"Actually it is both."


He shook his head. “Ok like most people our age I know a bit about astrology but you've lost me."


She thought I need to use my hands. "Owen I need to use my hands, will you hold me up so I don't go under?"


"Yes of course woman. I actually enjoy holding you." And he held her tighter.


She smiled at him going along with his teasing, "Not so tight, Big Man, I need some space to use my hands."


"I have some ideas about what you could do with your hands."


"Incorrigible.... I thought we were having a lesson here. Maybe I need to get out of the pool and get dressed."


He smiled at her and then gave her a little space while still holding her up. "How's this?"


"Perfect."


"I know."


She rolled her eyes at him and said. "You know the earth goes around the sun" and she used the index finger of her right hand and moved it around her left fist. "The sun and the whole solar system" and she tapped her left fist on the surface of the pool move against a background of stars in the galaxy and the universe." And she moved her right hand through the water around her left fist to indicate these stars.  "This background of stars contains the constellations that make up our Zodiac. Your sun sign is in Taurus. This means that on the day of your birth, when viewed from the earth, that the sun," and she bumped her left fist on the surface off the pool “was in front of the stars of the constellation Taurus." And she swept her hand in an arc around her fist and then pointed to a specific spot on the arc and said "Constellation Taurus", and bumped her left fist on the surface of the pool again, "Sun," and then used her finger next to her fist to indicate the earth, "Earth." And then drew a line along the surface of the pool with her index finger to where she had indicated Taurus was. Then she stopped and asked.


"Is what I said clear so far?"


"Yes, the Sun in Taurus as viewed from the earth. I get it. I never really understood it in these physical terms before but I do get it now. Thanks."


She smiled and continued.  "The earth is tilted on its axis." And she used her right index finger to indicate the axis and then used it to create the base of a cone as she circled her axis finger. "As the earth rotates and revolves around the sun and the sun and earth move around the galaxy this axis points to different stars. It takes about 26,000 years for the earth's axis to precess, or make its way, completely around the cone.  The spring equinox used to occur when the constellation Taurus was on the horizon behind the rising sun.  Today the spring equinox occurs with the constellation Pisces behind the rising sun.  We say precess because the equinox going backwards through the constellations: Taurus, Aries, Pisces and the coming Age of Aquarius." And she shifted where her index finger was pointing as she moved it around one third of a full arc.


"Is this still making sense?"


"Yes. It is." And he sounded just a bit surprised.


"Ok so what does this have to do with the Ages?" and she answered her own question.  "Some say that the Ages are the Ages of the Mother, Taurus; The Father, Aries; The Son, Pisces and The Daughter, Aquarius."


And he said with almost awe, "The Age of Aquarius is the Age of the Daughter." And he held her closer as he adjusted his arms and thought about it.


"Some say."


"Well now that is very interesting." And he just held on to her and she let him think about it. Finally he asked, "What do you think?"


"I think that it is possible, especially when I consider the arc of human history.  The symbol of a bull and its horns was very common in ancient history 6000 plus years ago. Think of the bull goddess of Catal Huyuk in Turkey or the myth of the Minotaur. There is a theory that there was an age of warfare and conquest of tribe over tribe and this fits with an Age of Aries. Then think about Jesus and 2000 years ago and the Christian use of the symbol of the fish and Pisces.  While Aquarius is typically thought of as male there is no reason why the constellation couldn't be a woman."


"Now that is something to think about. And this is part of the Words of Aradia?"
"Well the Age of the Daughter is part of the Words of Aradia. Star lore, astrology and ancient astronomy are part of ancient earth history and part of what the Tanara would have studied."


He asked, “What about the daughter being 36 years old?”


She shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows for sure. My personal theory is that we will be 36 years into the 2000 plus years of the Age of the Daughter when the silent prophet appears.”


And he hugged her close to him and said, "Woman you are a very good teacher."


And she held on to him and said, "Thanks, but my fingers are getting pruney. Do you think we could get out of the pool and continue the lesson after I dry off?"


"Sure. I'm getting hungry anyway."


And she laughed as he waded to the shallow water and took her with him.  When her feet touch bottom he released her carefully so she could wade to the side on her own. But plowed ahead with his long strides and met her at the steps with a towel.


She said, "Thank you." And he wrapped her up and gave her a kiss.


"How do you feel about lasagna for dinner?"


"Lasagna… sounds fine."


"Ok. It's warm in the oven waiting for us." And he made his way to the door.  "I'm going to run upstairs and get dressed.  I’ll meet you in the kitchen."


"Ok." And she walked through the door he was holding open. He headed up the stairs and she shook her head as she went into the downstairs bathroom to finish drying off and get dressed.  She shook her head wondering. Lasagna. He had lasagna for dinner and it smelled good. I wonder where it came from.


 


He smiled as she came into the kitchen.  She was usually so quick getting dressed that he had rushed to make sure that she wouldn’t beat him. He had the lasagna on the counter. But she had taken time to dry her hair as thoroughly as possible with just a towel. When she came out she said, “It smells good.”


“Thanks.”


“Where did you get it?”


“I know that New Orleans is famous for its food but, I made this woman.”


“Oh… I… wow… I didn’t think… what with your work schedule…”


“You are so cute when you are flustered that it is almost worth being insulted by your assumption that I can’t cook.”


“I…  Well… I’m Sorry.”


He chuckled “and I don’t set the stove on fire.”


She smirked, “I get preoccupied thinking about other thinks and well….”


He chuckled again as he took plates out of the cabinet, and silverware out of the drawer. He pulled a bowl of mixed salad greens already tossed with a dressing from the fridge. “Will you put this on the table?”


“Sure.”


He pulled down 2 wine glasses and asked loud enough for her to hear in the dining room, “Ruffino Reserve alright?”


She smiled as she came around the corner, “Yes.” and he opened the wine.  Poured to glasses and handed her one. She held her glass up and said, “To the cook.”


He winked at her and began to serve “This is a family tradition.  I told you that my great great grandmother was a Boston Italian. This is her recipe. Believe it or not my brothers and I were all taught to make it. Mine happens to be considered the best.” And he slid a large serving to her.


“Good night Owen. I think that serving needs to be yours. There is no way I’m going to eat that much Lasagna. No matter how wonderful it is and it does smell and look wonderful.”


He looked down at the plate and nodded and created a smaller serving on another plate, “Better?”


“Much.”


She took the plate and her silverware, napkin and wine glass and went into the dining room. He followed with his and the wine bottle and they settled in at the table.  Nola served them salad.  Owen lifted is wine glass to hers and said, “Enjoy” and dug in.


Nola ate the salad while her lasagna cooled.  “Hmmm Balsamic vinaigrette.  Did you make this too?”


He nodded because his mouth was full.  “Its good, not too sweet and a nice balance for the bitterness of some the greens. This salad mix is very Italian.”


He smiled and watched her take a bite of lasagna and waited for her to close her eyes.  Yep, there she goes.  Open.  Hmmmm, closed again. I wonder what that means?


“Mmmmm… This is really good.  Is that a bit of mint in the meat mixture?


“Yes.” And he was impressed that she could taste it so specifically.


“It gives it a middle eastern flavor.”


“My brothers won’t use it. They don’t think it belongs. But it’s in the original recipe so I’ve always used it.  They can never figure out why mine is better. I think it’s the mint.”


“But the cheese mixture is different too. Isn’t it?  Is that nutmeg?”


“Yes. Damn woman. Anyone who can deconstruct a recipe like that has to be able to cook.”


And she grinned at him, “Oh I can cook, just not without burning something… like the stove.”


And he laughed with her. 


Then she raised her wine glass and said, “Many thanks to your great, great grandmother.”  He clinked his glass to hers and she added, “and to you.”


She sipped her wine and then took another bite.


“Really good, Big Man. You can cook for me anytime you want.”


“I can only cook for you if you agree to come for dinner. The only way I got you here today was by surprise.”


She smiled and nodded her head in acknowledgment and chewed the bite she had taken and decided not to say anything else.  She asked a question as a diversion. “Does Eric know how to make this dish?”


He thought about that. “I don’t know.”


“You should teach him, complete with the mint-nutmeg secrets, while he’s here.”


He nodded, “Not a bad idea. I learned to cook in my teens. We all did. Abby insisted.  She said, with 3 boys, if she didn’t she’d never get out of the kitchen.”


 


They had finished up dinner conversation about cooking and family traditions. Dinner had ended with small bowls of lemon ice.  They had just settled in on the sofa, Nola with a glass of San Pellegrino and Owen finishing up the wine.  Nola was thinking, a dip in the pool, a lovely dinner, I almost feel like I’m on vacation. He was thinking that this was the first time he had seen her this relaxed without dirt under her fingernails.


“You look very relaxed.”


She smiled and said, “I am. I was just thinking that with the dip in the pool and the lovely dinner that it almost feels like I’m on vacation. Thank you very much my Taurus friend.”


“My pleasure.” And he contently sipped his wine.  “Why do you always sit in that corner so far away from me?”


And she looked around realizing that she did always sit in this corner. “I guess I do sit here… I hadn’t really ever thought about why…” and she took the time to assess it before she answered, “I sit here because I like looking out of the French doors, because I like sitting where I can see all the entrances to the room, and the sweep of bookcases, because like being able to put my glass on this table, because it’s a good vantage point to be able to watch you and your reactions to what I say or what you see on the TV.”


“I thought you said you hadn’t thought about it?”


“Well not consciously until you asked then I did and then I answered. Why do you sit there?”


“I… you know I hadn’t thought about it either. I just prefer it here.”


“Well then maybe I sit here because I could feel that” and she pointed to him, “is your corner.” 


“Maybe so.” and he settled contentedly in.


 


“You know today we’ve finished reviewing the Words of Aradia.  We’ve reviewed the mythos, you’ve mastered the Rite of Union and circle casting. We have only 3 Treguenda and 4 Full Moons before we will have been completely around the wheel of the year together.  Do you think that you are ready for 2nd degree?”


“Wait… I thought you said you thought I was ready?”


“Yes of course. I do.  But I want to know what you think?”


And he thought about that, “Yes. I think I’m ready. I feel that the Ways, your Ways, are a part of who I am now. I know I’m competent in the rites and ritual trappings or you wouldn’t let me cast the circle. And I also know because I’ve watched you hold back that there are things that you haven’t talked about that you will be able to talk about once I am 2nd.”


And she smiled because he was right.  He continued, “But more than anything else I want to go to 2nd because one day I want to go to 3rd and be your priest in fact as well as practice.”


 


And she took a sip of her water to cover the fact that she could feel the effect of his intensity. “You know 2nd degree comes with an obligation to ensure that the Ways are passed on.”


“You mean I have to teach?”


“Well yes and no.”, and he grinned at her frequent response to his questions. And she continued. “At first degree you are opened up to the possibilities of all that you can learn and guided by your teacher. At 2nd degree you are given the rest of the story and you have all you need to carry on the Ways and to teach them to others.  And I know from personal experience with this path and from teaching in college that nothing solidifies learning like teaching. I think this is one of the reasons those who go to 2nd are encouraged to teach.”


“Hold on. You taught in college.”


“Yes, as an undergraduate.”


“An undergraduate?”


“Yes, I taught mineralogy and crystallography lab for 2 years while I was an undergraduate. I was offered the opportunity to make some extra money by teaching in the lab because I had done really well in the class when I took it. And what I discovered doing this was that I had learned it when I took the class but I really knew it as a result of teaching it to others. The same is true for my understanding of the ways. Teaching helps solidify what I’ve learned.”


“Damn woman.”


She looked at him like she didn’t understand because she didn’t understand.


“What haven’t you done?”


She wrinkled her forehead, “I’ve simply lived my life.”


“Sailboat racing, teaching in college, waitress at the Café du Monde, you’ve been to more places than I have, gigging for flounders, landscaping while you drive, rebuilding your neighborhood, working at a refinery…”


She squirmed a little in her corner of the sofa and then said, “Everybody has a story…”


“And you have more than most folks I’ve known.”


“Well I’m old so I have more than you.  Besides Nature is the great teacher.  I think we teach best from our experiences.”


He thought about that and then said, “How would you feel if I were to teach someone else what you have taught me?”


And she smiled sincerely, “Pleased and proud Owen and very glad the Ways were being passed on. I’m sure you could be a very good teacher.”


He wasn’t sure he wanted to teach. “I’m not sure I want to teach.”


She said, “Everyone serves the Ways as their talents dictate. You’ll figure it out. And everyone always has a teacher who is there for them to answer questions, even after they are 3rd degree. I still depend on my teacher. Sometimes teachers change as the student progresses sometimes they stay the same. But we each always have a teacher.”


 


He nodded, “Ok teacher, so what do I need to know about 2nd degree?”


“You know everything you need to know at this point. Technically I can’t tell you all the details until after you are 2nd. I will be back on Thursday to prepare you.” And she smiled at him, “And I am confident that you will like the preparation process.”


“You are?” he said slyly.


“Yes. And then I will be back to initiate you on Friday.”


And the 10 year old face started forming as he remembered, “And then you will not be back for 2 weeks.”


“Well 13 days actually. And remember, you’ll have Eric to help pass the time.  And she teased, “I keep telling you that you need more toys.”


And he said defiantly, “And I keep telling you that you are not a toy.”


She didn’t want to hurt his feelings so she said, “Ok… I’m sure you’ll find things to keep you busy.   Eric will be here and you’ll have time after he leaves to figure out how to work with your 2nd degree.  You also have a business to run. The time will pass before you know it.”


And he actually pouted thinking, not fast enough.


She smiled at the pout.  He probably didn’t realize he did it.    


“What are you smiling at woman?”


“Your 10 year old pout.  Make sure you teach that to Eric while he is here. It may come in handy.”


And he harrumphed. “It doesn’t seem to work on you.”


She chuckled.  “Oh it works just fine. I’m just older and wiser and so it is easier for me to resist.” And then she smiled sweetly as she got up and held out her hand to him. “Thank you for a lovely vacation, the pool, the dinner, the wine. But it is time for me to return to the real world.”


 


He held out his hand to her and she took it thinking he was going to get up.  But instead he pulled her onto the sofa next to him and he heard the sharp intake of her breath before he said, “The real world?”


She was still recovering.  “Well I didn’t expect that.”


He said again, “The real world? What does that mean?”


She pushed herself more upright and thought before she answered, “It means…  Jeez Owen can you turn down the intensity a little bit?…. I… I almost prefer the pout.”


And he smiled and released her hand. “Ok… but what do you mean when you say return to the real world?  You come here to teach me about magic and pagan ways and then you tell me that you are going to return to the real world?”


She looked at him, calmly breathed in and back out. “It means that it’s time for me to return to a world where I work for a living, where I’m the one who makes sure that everything is taken care of, where I don’t have vacations on a Thursday and have time slip away from me because I’m having interesting conversations and drinking wine into the middle of the night.”


And that seemed to almost satisfy him. So he pulled her into a kiss and when he released her she said, shaking her head, “and have men kiss me for no reason.” And she managed to get up off of the sofa but didn’t put her hand out again.  “I’ll see you next Thursday.”


“And Friday.” he said as he got up smiling.


“And Friday for your initiation.” She said as she continued to walk toward the kitchen.  She had lifted her purse to her shoulder when he asked, “Nola, why can’t this be the real world?”


She just looked at him; he was half into the 10 year old pout and half thinking of something else altogether.  And she thought, thank god because it dimmed the intensity. And she laughed at herself as she said, “Ok, ok, Owen. For you I’ll let this be the real world on Thursdays and Full Moons and Treguenda.”


And his grandfather said, “You can work with that.”


And Owen said as he walked out with her, “Ok, I can work with that.”

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