The Descent of Asteria
This is the story of how my mother came to Delos, to the holy isle at the centre of the world. I was then still a girl, and living at that time with my father. There are those who believe Perses, the Ravisher, to be my father, but that is not the case. My namesake married his, the daughter of Hydeas wed the rider of the Pegasus, but that was long millenia later. So much has been forgotten. So much has been confused, but now, my mother is awakening. Prophecy comes back into the land. And so I will set the record straight. My father, as I tell it to you now, was Okeanos, the green-black deeps, the river that encircles the world, the velvet dark of outer space. And I so I was in Atlantis, at the ends of the earth, in my father's home, and I was yet a girl.
My mother, Asteria of the Night... Oh, oh, oh! You cannot believe how beautiful she was! Father and I would look up at the starry vault, and there was mother, in her snake form; pink and blue and white, a necklace of crystal pouring across the sky like milk. At times like those, my father, sometimes taciturn, could be convinced to tell stories. My father had no parents, although he was, as we all are, a child of the Heights and the Depths He was the brother of my mother's parents, and it was from him I learned about my mother's mother, Phoebe, the Shining One. I had never met her; long before I was born, she had gone into the ground at Delphi, there to inspire Pythia. Grandmother Light, said my father the Deep One, was the font of wisdom, the Enlightening One, the still small voice of the soul.
|Morning Star, Mucha
Father told me also of the Ancient One, my grandmother's mother, the Mother of Mountains. She too lived in the ground, her face emerging in the mountain peaks. She was the Great Goddess, the Holy Mother of All Things. Deep within her sacred caves, her priestesses slathered themselves in the fat of bears mixed with red ochre. Father told me that Mother's sister, Leto, like their mother before them, was an initiate of the Great Lady Underground. At the cave called White Womb of the Earth, Leto had descended into the Earth, and there entered into trace and dedicated herself to the ancient ways. Mother, however, like her father Croesus, was the initiate of their grandfather, Ouranos, the Sky, and she loathed and feared the dark ways underground. Even the watery depths, my father's homeland, she could not abide, though I loved to dive deep and sing with the whales, feeling the cold sea drift around me.
As I said, I was with my father at his home in Atlantis when my mother descended. I was then just coming into my fertile years. My mother, I suspect, was ending hers. Mother had little time for things of the Earth, including me. I, who was the daughter of Sea and Sky, and an only child, inherited from both, and I could hear the call of Grandmother Earth in my bones. But mother spent all her time in the sky. She was hanging, beautiful and shining, when Zeus, the usurper, appeared, stomping like a bull, his hoofbeats shaking the sky like thunder, and carried off her sister.
Leto, the great White Swan, forswore her vow, ran off with Zeus, and was soon great with twins. Grandmother Below was furious, and forbid all the land to give them shelter. Mother interceded, begged The Mother of Mountains to take pity on Leto, but she knew the price. And so, finally, my mother too went under the earth, shooting to earth as a fallen star, plunging into the Sea, there to become the island Delos, the rocky center of the world, where Leto gave birth to the Holy Twins.