FOI Online Liturgy
Booklet: Ishtar of the Starry Heavens,
Shape-Shifting of the Alchemical Twins
Written by: Olivia Robertson
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10. The Dark Horse of the Night
"Control your nightmares and you shall live by night."
TEMPLE OF ALCHEMY
PRIEST ALCHEMIST (TO TWIN APPRENTICES AIDEN & ELAINE): If you only live by day and lose consciousness in sleep, you are half a true human-being. You need to bring into harmony sun and moon and stars, day and night, within your awareness. Let us invoke the Goddess Brynhilde, both Warrior and Saviours of souls.
PRIESTESS ALCHEMIST: Holy Goddess Brynhilde, Divine Daughter of Frigga of Heaven and Odin the Shaman, bring us guidance, that we may live our lives with courage and kindness.
ORACLE OF THE GODDESS BRYNHILDE
It is through play that you learn to act well in the dramas of planetary existences. You lament at the cruelty, destruction and decadence that beset you on every side. You fear the erosion of the good. Yet you fear by using force, you will destroy the very good you wish to preserve!
Learn from the myths of past ages, when your ancestors struggled to attain true humanity. When you have won the prize – you share it with those who need it. The wise use of Power is its inner secret. To keep it for your own defence is to misuse it. Power is a flow, not a hoard to be kept as exclusive formulae.
You will receive all the power you need, whether this be to cross a road or to protect a woodland. But what brought about the destruction of a previous civilization was the hoarding of the sources of power by a few fearful groups, who thought that by controlling concealed technology they could protect their own race and civilization, ignoring the needs of others.
You may read of our history: “The Gods reigning in glory in a palace in the sky, who came violently to earth, overcome by the rage of those below them living in wretchedness. The very Elemental Giants rose and crushed them.”
Yet it was I who brought about this cataclysm, when I saw that true Gods had become not Deities, fools! So I myself restored the Ring of Power to the Waters of the River of Life. So the Ring is enjoyed by innocent nature spirits! If you would be warrior as I am, do as I did, but do it with kindness.
PRIEST ALCHEMIST: Thanks is given to the Goddess Brynhilde.
PRIESTESS ALCHEMIST (TO ELAINE): Elaine, you see that the destruction of evil was wrought not by warfare or revolution or by any force at all! It was brought about by Brynhilde throwing a Ring of Power into the River Rhine. So simple. And easy. Ah, could you do this? You may test yourself by passing through the portals of the constellation of Equuleus, the Foal, a foal too weak to stand up on its spindly legs.
ELAINE: I have always admired Brynhilde and Joan of Arc and the Maquis heroines. I accept the challenge.
PRIESTESS ALCHEMIST: Enter trance, and we will come with you, but give you no guidance.
ELAINE: Firmly I mount the hill and reach the Temple of the Stars. I never before realised how vast it is, and as I enter, its very dome seems like the starry night sky. It is dark, only illuminated by the Sacred Uncreated Flame in the centre. I find my way to the North-East and find the doorway to Equuleus. Next to the mysterious Portal of the Hydra, mighty and misty, it looks rather disappointing! Just a small door. On one side, as if painted by a child, is a piebald foal in a small stable. On the other side the same artist has depicted a huge blue moon in an inky black sky. Against the moon is painted a galloping sinister Black Horse, and the child has written underneath in black ink “MY NIGHT MARE.” I am amused, I have always appreciated the spontaneous naïveté of child art. So confidently I pass through the doorway, bending my head . . .
I find myself in a market-place, though there seems very little to sell. The people are poorly dressed, and watch out of the corner of their eyes police in smart grey uniforms. The soldiers are roughly searching anyone they can catch for something. It is “stop and search.” They particularly search anyone who looks unusual in skin colour. I realise with sinking heart that I am in the future, though this procedure could be in any age.
I ask one of the soldiers what are they looking for? I must be respectable looking because he actually answers me. “We’re looking for a stolen ring – part of the State Regalia,” he said. “People are superstitious about it – we must get it back. It has always been in the possession of the State President.” He glances at a palace on a hill guarded by a barricaded wall.
To my alarm, a hooded woman slips something into my pocket. I feel that it is a ring. My first impulse is to report this to the police. But the woman throws back her hood – and I see a face so wonderful, with compelling eyes of strength and beauty, that I will do what she is asking of me. I will find a black horse, part of a racing stable, round the corner, with a groom. This is her horse. She is wife of the President… I am to mount the horse and ride as fast as I can to a mighty river beyond the hill.
When I reach the river, high above it on a cliff, I must utter the words: “The child is restored to its mother!” and hurl the ring as far as I can into the river. So shall Divine harmony be restored.
I know Her for a Goddess disguised in human form. I fold my hands in swift recognition and she smiles as if she knows me … She is Frigga, Queen of the Heavens. So I obey her and I find a magnificent black horse with long mane and tail awaiting me, held by a humorous looking groom, a dwarf. He helps me to mount, side-saddle, and I thank him. Then, before I can hold the reins, the horse leaps forward . . .
What would have been an invigorating gallop on a magnificent mount, becomes a nightmare… Soldiers have discovered that I have the ring and are chasing after me. I am undergoing the Wild Hunt – and I am the prey! I know what a fox must feel. I seem to be coping successfully, for I am ignoring bridle and saddle and my face is whipped by the mane. I feel the joy and glory of the race. Faster and faster we are galloping, the black mare and myself – until we reach the cliff over the river. But to my horror we do not stop! I have just time to utter the Magic Words as I hurl the ring far out – until it makes a Circle of Light in the swirling waters.
We are leaping over the precipice. Too late I remember that the Black Mare of the Night has as consort the White Horse of the Moon, the Pouka. The Pouka has the unpleasant habit of luring weary travellers onto its back and proceeds to leap over a cliff, hurling its unhappy rider to a violent death. *** This happened to Aiden. But will I survive as he did? All is dark.
Is this death? There is no sign of the sinister black horse. I am in a small cave beneath the river, for I hear it flowing above. Nestling comfortably in hay is a tiny foal. Obviously it is delighted to see me, for it totters towards me reaching for my breast. I am its mother. I am the Black Mare!
Suddenly I burst out laughing! I have been well fooled – I am in the proverbial Mare’s Nest! I come back in my body with a jerk – and I still enjoy the soft warmth of my foal.
***END OF TRANCE***
THE COMPANIONS AGREE THAT ELAINE HAS COMBINED COURAGE WITH KINDNESS IN HER REMARKABLE NIGHT-MARE. SHE HAS ATTAINED HER DEGREE. REPORTS ARE SHARED. THANKS ARE GIVEN TO THE DEITIES FOR TEACHING THE SECRET OF UNRAVELLING THE ENIGMA OF THE NIGHT.
END OF RITE.
Sources: “The Libretto,” Wagner’s Ring Cycle. “The Prose Edda,” Snorri Sturluson, trans. Jean I. Young, University of California Press. “Gods and Myths of Northern Europe,” H.R. Ellis Davidson, Pelican. “Kalevala,” trans. Kirby, Everyman. Used in all Rites: “Star Names, their Lore & Meaning” Richard Hinckley Allen, pub. Dover. “Jorkins Remembers Africa,” & other Jorkins novels on shape-shifting, Lord Dunsany.
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