Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unless I'm Mythtaken: Sarai is telling me this story right now....

I mentioned in my post on ancestor altars that I'd been working with Sarah/Sarai as an ancestor, and I got some questions about it. (ps: I'd really rather you asked questions in the comments here instead of emailing/facebooking them to me.) So, here's a little bit about Sarai.

Image by Brian Charles

Here is the story of Sarai, as she told it to me. Obviously, this is heavily informed by the biblical account, and also by various archeological and scholarly works, particularly Sarah the Priestess and The Ancient Near East, which I highly recommend. All that being said, this is a story and I don't claim its a definitive understanding of Sarah (as if there could be such a thing). In particular, it is not intended to be a factual account of ancient Sumerian religious practice (in fact, it most certainly isn't any such thing). It's just a story Sarai is telling me, and so I'm telling it to you. You'll notice it slips from third to first person. That's a thing that happens when I channel stories; I've decided to leave it that way to give you a feel for what it sounds like when I'm inspired (inspire, remember, means "fill with spirit").  I recorded an audio version of the story, if you'd rather listen than read.

There was, in days long ago, in the city of Ur, a girl with a wicked father.  Her mother, a nameless slave, had died in birthing her, and so her father, whose name was Terah, took the baby girl to the market, there to sell her.  This is the story of many women, "There was a girl, and her father sold her."  Women bought and sold, used until they are broken, numberless nameless women rotting unloved in unmarked graves, but that was not this girl's fate.

Although the old goat, her father, was very wicked man, he was powerful magician, at whose command the mightiest spirits were compelled to quake.  Terah was the master sorcerer of the city, and that same power shone in his infant daughter's eyes, glowing like an incandescent coal. The high priest of Inanna-Shadai, the Nurturer, the Bountiful Breast, bought the girl, and called her Yiscah, because of her fiery eyes.  Power calls to power, and Yiscah was raised in the service of the temple, and taught the secrets of the Great Goddess. As she grew, her beauty and power only increased, and when she came of age, she became a daughter of the Goddess, the highest rank a slave could hold, and so she was renamed Sarai.  Although Sarai loved Inanna, loved to dance her dances, loved to sing her rites, loved to make love to great men in the goddess's place, and yet enslavement chafed at me and I longed, in my heart, for freedom.

Now, Terah, the old goat, had also a son named Abram, whose eyes shone with power.  Abram was beloved of El, the Destroyer, the Thundering Cloud.  As a prince of the city, when Abram came of age, he was sent to the temple to be initiated by a daughter of the Goddess.  Unlike the other young men, who came shyly, timorously, Abram threw open the doors and strode in, his head held high, lightning in his eyes, and Sarai knew in my heart that he would set me free. Immediately, I lusted for him as the dusty earth yearns for rain.  I sang to Inanna that her radiance fill me, that he might choose me to initiate him:

My vulva, the horn, The Boat of Heaven,
Is full of eagerness like the young moon.
My untilled land lies fallow.
As for me, Inanna,
Who will plow my vulva?
Who will plow my high field?
Who will plow my wet ground?’

Inanna answered Sarai's prayer, and I taught him Her secrets, ushered him into the garden of paradise. 

At the king's lap stood the rising cedar.
Plants grew high by their side.
Grains grew high by their side. 

Gardens flourished luxuriantly. 

When he filled me, it was lightning striking the black earth, and it quenched me as nothing else had ever done. I did not, at that time, know that he was my brother, nor did I know he would be my husband, I knew only that there was a power in our union that I had never felt before, though I had served as a daughter of the Goddess for several years.

After we parted, I dreamed powerful dreams for three months.  I dreamt of a Power beyond even that of Inanna, called El-Shaddai.  I dreamed that it was El-Shaddai who grew in my womb like a baby, that he, the father of all the gods, had slumbered there since before the beginning of time.  I dreamed mountains higher than the clouds and a river that rushed like blood.  I dreamed a great journey to a far off place.  I dreamed of children as boundless as the stars of the heavens.  El-Shaddai spoke to me of liberation, of an end to slavery.  He swore that would bring me out of bondage, that I would travel to a new land, a grove of Oaks at the top of a hill, and in their midst I might pitch tent of many colors, open on every side to the blowing wind, where I would sit and prophesy.   In the middle of the tent, I dreamed a deep well, the womb of the earth.  At the bottom of the hill, surrounding it, I dreamed a great market fair, where men and gods walked shoulder to shoulder.

I did not know it then, but El-Shaddai called also to my brother-husband.  What I did know, however, was that Abram was on fire.  The whole city was abuzz with tales of the brash iconoclast. It was said he broke his father's enchantments, smashing the statues that imprisoned the whirlwind spirits, the storm djinn, setting them free.  It was whispered that this army of djinn now followed Abram, not as his slaves but as his brothers, recognizing the Power that had possessed him, recognizing the eternal fire that called out to the smokeless flame of their hearts.

The night Abram came for me, the air was split by booming thunder, although it was not the season for storms. When he flung open the doors, lightning struck all over the city.  Roofs went up in flame; the city burned.  The priest dragged me to the foot of Inanna.  I do not know what he intended.  Just at that moment, Abram flung open the doors, the fury of El-Shaddai burning in his eyes.  Lightning pierced the sky, tore through the roof, electrifying the golden goddess, where she sat on her golden throne, melting her golden crown, so it ran down her face like golden tears.  

Abram knocked the priest to the ground, and we fled, hand in hand, the priest's curses pelting down on us along with the icy rain.  Abram wore the power of El-Shaddai like an electric cloak, and the curses flew from him.   I, however, held the power of El-Shaddai within me, and the curse buried itself within me, tearing at the life in my womb.  Blood ran down my legs, and I fell to the ground, screaming, made barren as the curse of the high priest of Inanna slashed and burned within me.

That's the end of this story.  Another one, I think, is waiting to be told another day.