Glowien ~ (The Old Religion, ch. 3)

September 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

chapter 1, chapter 2

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum…Religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta. (How many evils has religion caused!…Religion has brought forth criminal & impious deeds.)

~ De Rerum Natura, The Nature of The Universe, Lucretius

~

The Old Religion

~

I went to my gym locker to change into another pair of skinnies (stonewashed), and white short-sleeved v-neck I kept for emergencies.

Usually it was my period, or laughing so hard at a friends’ goof that a bit of pee would leak out, that would require me to change midday. I wasn’t planning on fighting & saturating my legs in lunch.

It wasn’t until I put my shirt on that the brunt force of the morning & early afternoons’ events settled in.

I got a li’l lightheaded, coughed, and began to weep. I leaned against the wall-of-lockers for support. Breathing became difficult. I thought I was going into another fit until sitting stabilized my mind & breathing.

A myriad of emotions poured from me.

I needed this salvo for mental-balance.

The heady weight & sensation of all those feelings after a days worth of convulsions, fighting, confusion, and meeting a peculiar woman in some kind of parallel reality had taken its toll. And the recompense, was complete abandonment of emotional stability – which led to catharsis…full, utter, and euphoric catharsis.

I held nothing back. I couldn’t. The mass of the events was just too great.

While sitting on the locker bench, I buried my face in my hands. My long dark hair fell over my shoulders and draped my arms. I noticed I was still sweating from the fight – adrenaline & endorphins still coursing through my veins.

I gradually sat up after a few moments more of sobbing, trying to breathe deeply.

My body jolted at the sound of footsteps and mild panting behind me.

It was Alaniah.

“Bitch, there you are!” She exclaimed, moderately out of breath.

I quickly wiped my face.

“Yup, here I am,” I said dismissively while sniffing up the snot that was leaking out.

She sat down, half skidding on her keister.

“Ok, THAT was fuckin’ rad!”

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“What was?” I said muffled, now wiping the mucous with my arm.

“Omagod, don’t play dumbass with me. The epicness that just unfolded in the cafeteria!? You makin’ SlutBob NoPants make out with the floor in a pile of rank, chemically induced food I may add.”

She was just as health conscious as me – you should see us at restaurants. And she had a pottymouth. It always made me laugh when she and kids our age cussed. I did sometimes too. What thirteen-year-old didn’t?

“Please don’t make a big deal out of it, Ali,” I said, whining in that Kristen Stewart sort of way.

“A big deal? It’s already a big fuckin’ deal! Everyone’s talkin’ about it!”

“Yay,” I said blankly.

“Oh, c’mon! You of all people knew she deserved it!”

“That’s not the point.”

“Then what IS!?”

She was more excited about this than needed be.

Ok and yes, I’ve always wanted to kick that girls’ ass, but after fights, even at the dojo, I always felt sorry for the other person. Nobody likes a defeat, especially if it’s a humiliating one.

“Jus’ ’cause someone deserves to get beaten up, it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings,” I said.

“SO!? Why aren’t you enjoying this more? She’s the schools’ most notorious thot, ratchet as fuck, she picks on EVERYONE, AND she’s been talkin’ shit about you all year! Sayin’ how she wished she would’ve slapped you at homecoming…fuckin’ skank.”

“Yeah, I heard.”

“Then what’s the problem!?”

“The problem is that now she’s prob’ly gonna wanna try to kick my ass again! I’m only supposed to use my training to defend myself. I could really get in trouble ’cause of this.”

“Oh ma’god, dude! SHE WAS GONA FUCK YOU UP!” You DID defend yourself!”

“Ok, will you stop yelling me?” I said half laughing.

“Well, geez. You’re gettin’ all Mother Teresa all of a sudden.”

The fact there was another 8th grader who knew who Mother Teresa was in this new epoch, was another reason why she was my day-one-bestie.

We both had parents who read a lot and they raised us to do the same. Our mums & dads actually met and became friends at the Central Public Library in downtown Portland when we were infants. Weird, but cool.

“Listen, if anyone asks you about the fight…”

“Say no more. I’ll tell ’em that you’re not happy about it and that you’re super apologetic to Thotie McThoterson.”

I snorted while laughsmiling. Ali’s fuckin’ hilarious.

“Thanks, hun.”

“No worries, bae. Although, I do think your pity for her is fake. Y’know you loved every minute of whoopin’ that ass.”

I smirked. Reluctantly.

With my composure reestablished, Alaniah helped me up, noticing that I was still a lil’ shaken – certain that she thought it was only ’cause of the fight.

“I know you just got in a brawl n’all, but you are going to class, right? I think we should get there, like now, to avoid any teachers trying to swoop you in the office for questioning.”

“Um, yeah, what class is next? I’m kinda in a haze, and also surprised that no one’s sought me out yet. That like never happens.”

“Word. And Religious Studies is next. You do remember it’s your fav, don’t you?”

“Yeah, mos’ def’. Thanks, my mind is distracted. Adrenaline still flowin’, y’know?”

“Hm, nah, I don’t. Not all of us are ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’ like you, bruh.”

We laughed.

I loved hers.

‘Twas a supercute chuckle. And so was she – supercute. You know how some of us have that drop-dead gorgeous friend? Alaniah was mine. Although, I seemed to get more attention from boys & girls. Odd. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I gave off a very tomboyishly, laidback pansexual vibe.

Cheekys’ confidence was superheroic (Cheeky was the nickname Alaniahs’ Dad gave her since she was a baby), she had the most positively infectious personality in the room, always the smartest one, and I think that intimidated dudes. Anyway. We both had our fair share of guy and gal admirers, but we never really gave ’em the time of day. We’d always just rant about our crush-of-the-week. More so her than me.

We exited the lockerroom and headed towards Religious Studies.

“Ok, so did I tell you that Neil sexted me last night?”

I shook my head quickly, more out of confusion of her jargon than an answer to her question.

“No, you didn’t. And what th’ hell is sexting?”

“How the fuck’re you a teen who doesn’t know what sexting is?”

“Sorry if I don’t keep up with popculture. Guess it’s all those old books I read.”

“Yeah, well, those ol’ books should tell you to keep current with the modern age, Joan of Arc.” That reference for the win. “Sexting is texting with sexually explicit content – either with pics or words, or a combination of both. Get wit’ it.”

“Fuckin’ loser,” I said playfully.

“Whatev,” she said with a light smile.

We were more than halfway to Religious Studies when, speak o’ the devil, Neil came running around a corner, almost ramming into us.

“BRO, SERIOUSLY!?” I yelled as he brushed against me.

Guys annoyed me. Him especially.

“Lay-deessss,” he oozed as he halted in front of us.

We were all headin’ to the same room. I totes forgot he had this class with us. Cheeky didn’t seem to mind.

“Hi,” Ali said spryly.

“Fancy meetin’ you on the way,” he replied.

She blushed.

“Fancy Nancy,” the sarcasm seeped outa me. I couldn’t help it. They were being disgustingly obvious.

“So, Neil…” I spoke sharply, “…heard you were busy sextin’ last night.”

“What? Oh yeah.” He glanced at Alaniah. “Kinda,” he said cooly.

Bile rose, and I vomited a little in my mouth. These two were supergross.

There were a few dope things about Neil which inspired tolerance.

Being named after his parents’ favorite British author and the worlds’ most-beloved astrophysicist, Neil Gaiman & Neil deGrasse Tyson, notwithstanding, he wore all black most of the time, had this sorta long, ratty, dark indie-rock hair, he read a lot of good books – graphic novels and such – and he wrote good stories himself too. He was a shoein for AP writing & English-lit next year in high school.

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Finally, on cue, as I couldn’t stomach any more of the subtle sexuality, we reached homeroom where we had Religious Studies.

Sellwood Whitaker Middle School was a technological blend of the old world and the new. The school board decided to split the ratio on automatic to manually operated doors, so while the main doors to enter the building had to be manhandled to keep with the antiquated charm, each door to the classrooms within were fixed with biothermal-genetic monitors that could only be accessed by the teachers and students who were legitimately enrolled in the course.

Neil, in feigned chivalry, waved his hand over the walls’ censor to activate the doors’ opening mechanism.

I flashed him the true to form, sardonic, closed mouth smile, while hot panties next to me gave ‘im the cheese and batted her eye lashes.

I couldn’t help but notice the glances and quick looks the class gave us as we made way to the seats with our invisible names on it. Why did students always sit at the same place?

Neil floundered himself at the collegiate style desk in front of me. He leaned around as he sat.

“Everyone’s staring at you,” he whispered.

“Really? I didn’t notice.” Duh.

“Is it because of the fight?”

“Ya think, genius?”

“Cut the shit with me,” he whispered aggressively.

And that was the nature of our friendship. We had that habit every time we communicated. Our banter would start off cool, then my consistently scathing brand of passive-aggressive humor would piss him off and he would go all loco on me. Not really crazy, just a bit harsh. To be honest, I kinda liked it. It made conversations with him unboring.

“You might as well get used to it,” he said with finality as he turned around.

I threw my disgusted, mock look behind his back, then stuck my tongue out. Childish, I know. But as irritating as Neil could be, he was fun. I guess I hadta have at least one boyish friend, right? Plus, I was tired of being called a dyke just ’cause I didn’t have a parade of guys swarming around me between classes. Kids are so fucking immature sometimes. Although I wouldn’t mind dating a girl. People thought Alaniah and I girlcrushed hard on each other anyway. Stands to reason.

At this thought, I caught a whiff of something good.

Not a strong smell, but light. Airy. Delicate…barely noticeable if you weren’t paying attention. I received my insanely acute olfaction from Daddy. His was like a bloodhound.

I looked up and put the scent to face.

Finally, something alluring to distract everyone from the deer in headlights glares they were berating me with.

“Good afternoon, class.”

“Good-af-ter-noon-Ms.-Bel-la-don-a,” sang the room harmoniously.

She strode gracefully to her desk, placed her belongings down, grabbed a stylus, then tapped the smartboard that was built into her desktop, as the title of the days discussion manifested calligraphy style on the iWall behind her.

The Old Religion

I read the caption a bunch of times to let it sink in, knowing as I always did, the more I read something, the deeper the revelation and understanding I would glean.

I kept staring at the title.

The inscription was a digital representation of her handwriting. She had such gorgeous cursive. I wished I wrote like her. And I loved the fact that she didn’t always utilize I.C.D.U.S., for she was a firm believer in promoting & perpetuating the lost art of handwriting.

Ms. Belladonna.

Izdjalah Hermes Belladonna.

Her first name is pronounced I-SAY-la, I-ZAY-la, or I-SHAY-la, and ’twas obvious why I and so many of my peers knew her full name. It’s exotic as hell. Just sayin’ it aloud is appealing. Try it. Sounds like you’re speaking a bygone romantic language.

“The Old Religion,” she began. “Does anyone know what it is?”

Did I mention she was British? Welsh, actually – making her all the more provocative.

She had 1920’s cabaret fair skin. Long, red, healthily-thinned wavy hair (which she mostly wore up), and everything she wore looked fabulous.

Today, it was a black, striped, wool silk chiffon pencil skirt. It’s très chic, I’d never wear it, but she looked great in it. She topped it off with a stone-blue and white long-sleeved dégradé lace blouse, rolled to the bow (unbuttoned one button too low, no doubt to titillate the onslaught of our pubescent desires – her bust was humble & legendary), and a pair of Louboutin Pigalle Follies. Both her shirt and skirt were Burberry.

I know this due to the fact that Ms. Belladonna kept a daily blog of her notorious ‘What I’m Wearing Today’, and I was certain to peep it from my phone during the drive to school. Most of us did. She was a fashion role model as fuck. Amongst other things.

As I continued My mental admiration of her appearance, I observed that I felt deeply soothed & empowered by the ease in which she wore her attire.

It reminded me of Valhalla.

My mind flashed with a vision of her illustrious face. The regality of both women was synonymous.

Ms. Belladonna surveyed the classroom, east to westward, in an almost A.I. type of head sweep.

She turned slowly to face the iWall, herself mesmerized by the clear glow of her own words.

Upon her turn, the posterior of her frame continued to enthrall its viewers, just as the front – and it was the artistic rendering on the nape of her neck that captivated most.

I fucking love that tattoo, I thought.Belladonna

The Eye of Horus, an obscurely infamous Egyptian hieroglyph, was expertly tatted in the area of her third & fourth cervical vertebrae.

“No one?” she questioned. “Well, brace yourselves to be severely disturbed.”

“Why?” A kid from the front row blurted.

“Because of truth, young man.”

She paused.

“Truth which’s been suppressed and omitted from the school history books. But I, as you all well know, do not abide by standardized curricular guidelines.”

The class chuckled.

She was right.

Ms. Belladonna always veered from the ‘board approved curricula’. And we loved her for it. Even the slackers & misfits couldn’t wait to get to her class.

Her approach to learning was to, “…always share information from as many perspectives as possible. Because with a generally insightful understanding of all things, one could see the similarities in strangers.”

I know – poetic proverbial idiom game strong.

That’s what she was: allegoric, philosophic, metaphysic, mysterious, inward-outward-thinking, beautiful.

Izdjalah Hermes Belladonna.

She continued, “Please access your device of choice, patch in to the I.C.D.U.S. mainframe, then in your browser type ‘pantheon.org.’”

A silent flurry of teens typing swiftly upon either laptops, desktop smartboards, handhelds, wristwear, eyewear, or digital contacts permeated the atmosphere – the mild hum of nanotech sensors above were barely audible as they scanned the room through Icdus, energized by Teslas’ Powerwalls buried beneath the school, with funding provided byway of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.

It became obvious when all in class booted the required site.

Encyclopedia Mythica.

Never heard of it. And I was completely in-the-know about sites dealing with philosophic mythology. This one, however, escaped me.

“In the upper right corner you’ll notice a separate search bar for this site. Go to it and type in, ‘witchcraft.’”

“But I thought we’re studying The Old Religion?” chimed in a kid from the back row.

“We are, my dear,” Ms. Belladonna replied. “Everyone, read chapter 1 in its entirety. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.”

The more I read this introduction, the more interested and curious I became. It was well written stuff, and the writers were experts or doctors in their particular field. The article of choice was written by a Dr. Ilil Arbel.

The fourth & fifth paragraphs summed it up:

…much of what is known about Witchcraft is based on superstitious nonsense, causing a bias toward a large group of people. This is unacceptable in today’s enlightened society, when most people try avoiding bigotry and prejudice. There has never been a group of people as misunderstood as those who follow Witchcraft, or as its followers call it, the Old Religion. It is estimated that nine million people have been humiliated, tortured and murdered because the world did not comprehend their ancient way of life.

In its purest form, the Old Religion is nature worship. It is also called Wicca, or The Way of the Wise People, and the followers are far from evil – they see themselves as guardians of the Earth and servants of a nature goddess. They are connected with the seasons, the plants, the animals and the planet, and seek a balanced life. They have much in common with ecologists. True, nothing in this world is untainted, and in the long history of Witchcraft there have been those who followed Satanism, Devil worship, Black Magic, Shamanism and Voodoo, among many other cults. But besides the fact that all those disciplines profess to the ability of creating magic, they have very little in common with true Witchcraft.

After she’d seen that we completed the intro, Belladonna assigned for homework that we finish the final eight chapters of the installment.

Intense, right?

It was rare I got excited for anything related to homework.

This was definitely one of those rarities.

I couldn’t wait to get home.

“So why all the controversy surrounding the Old Religion?” asked Neil.

“Think about it,” she started. “Imagine you had a mission – a mission to make the known world, as mortals know it, a patriarchal society…”

“A what-a-whatie?” asked some emo kid in the middle section.

“Patriarchal. A patriarch is the male head of a family or organization, while a matriarch is a female head. For as long as any of us have known, we’ve been living in a predominantly patriarchal world.”

Again she paused, making certain she had the class’ full attention. She did of course.

“So, imagine you had a mission to make the world controlled by men, and suddenly you found out, or just realized that you’ve always known, that most old cultures worshiped various female demigods & deities, and advocated the One God as having both female & male personalities. Hence, The God & The Goddess – that some cultures actually profess the equality between Men & Women. You’d then have to be on a mission to snuff out any mention of women being just as powerful, or in some cases, more powerful than men…”

Another pause.

“…THAT’s precisely why there’s so much controversy, and a perpetual smear campaign towards practitioners of The Old Religion. The worshippers were discovered instituting feminine empowerment between the sexes.”

“That’s truly fucked up,” said a classmate next to me. Our glances met, as though we both knew something the rest of the class didn’t.

“I’d admonish the language due to this being an institute of learning, but speaking freely, both emotionally & rationally should be encouraged, so, swear on young ones,” Belladonna counseled.

“That reminds me of something I read by Virginia Woolf,” Alaniah tolled from behind me. “She said, ‘Perhaps a mind that is purely masculine cannot create, any more than a mind that is purely feminine…It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly.’”

Silence.

After a comfortable duration Ms. Belladonna casually broke it.

“Bloody brilliant,” she said smoothly.

“Why not just share the power? There’ve been kings AND queens for millennia,” I blurted, a little more aggressive than necessary.

I definitely ruined the meditative vibe.

“Share power?” Ms. Belladonna questioningly laughed. “Young madam, there’re few cases in history where men of their own volition chose to share power equivalently.”

No one could argue.

Well, you could if you were an ignorant asshole.

She continued.

“But, there’re those who have rebelled against the Controlling Hand. There’ve been, and still are, even today, women and men who’re discreetly guiding humanity back to the old ways. And not the old ways of ancient times. But the old ways of approaching learning while remaining aware of the current social climate. To put it plainly, just mere acceptance of a persons’ individual right to believe and experience life the way they are inspired; to tolerate and respect different perspectives, knowing that it’ll only enhance, not hinder, your personal experience.”

“I doubt that the powers that be would officiate anything that allowed humanity to live individualistically as they pleased,” retorted Neil.

“True,” crooned Belladonna. “Which’s why the purveyors of The Mystery Schools, both lower and greater, took ardent care to make sure that their instructions stayed under the radar of the businesses and governments that infiltrate the vox populi. For the will that’s hidden, is the will that wins.”

“The Mystery Schools,” began Alaniah, “I’m deducing they imparted specialized knowledge that wasn’t taught to the masses, correct?”

“Yes,” Belladonna validated. “‘Clemens of Alexandria says that what was taught in the great Mysteries concerned the Universe, and was the completion and perfection of all instruction; wherein things were seen as they were, and nature and her works were made known.’ Albert Pike wrote that in his Morals & Dogma of 1871.”

“Where’d these Mysteries come from initially?” I asked, already having a notion, but wanting certainty.

“Pike also wrote that ‘…where the Mysteries originated is not known. It is supposed that they came from India, by the way of Chaldaea, into Egypt, and thence were carried into Greece. Wherever they arouse, they were practiced among all the ancient nations; and, as was usual, the Thracians, Cretans, and Athenians each claimed the honor of invention, and each insisted that they had borrowed nothing from any other people. In Egypt and the East, all religion, even in its most poetical forms, was more or less a mystery; and the chief reason why, in Greece, a distinct name and office were assigned to the Mysteries, was because the superficial popular theology left a want unsatisfied, which religion in a wider sense alone could supply. They were practical acknowledgements of the insufficiency of the popular religion to satisfy the deeper thoughts and aspirations of the mind. The vagueness of symbolism might perhaps reach what a more palpable and conventional creed could not. The former by its indefiniteness, acknowledged the abstruseness of its subject; it treated a mysterious subject mystically; it endeavored to illustrate what it could not explain; to excite an appropriate feeling, if it could not develop an adequate idea; and made the image a mere subordinate conveyance for the conception, which itself never became too obvious or familiar.'”

Quiet again.

You could cut the tranquility with a knife.

“My father loved researching these Mysteries,” she recommenced, “his admiration for ’em ultimately inspired his doctorate, and he even created his own symbol based on his assertion of what they meant.”

A kid in the class cried out, “Can we…” Belladonna halted a hand to silence him.

“Yes. Of course you may see it.” A grin skimmed across her face.

She delicately pressed an icon on her digital-desktop.

A macabre, unsettling, yet oddly mollifying image generated on the iWall. It was a photo of an oil painting.

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“This, my Padre deemed & curated as The Emblem of The Glowien; or more concisely, The Glowien Emblem.”

The classroom gawked starry eyed at the vision – our mental mouths agape.

“What’s it mean?” Alaniah balked.

Belladonna peered at her inquisitively. “All in due time,” she lulled.

The bell rang and we all jumped – startled as shit. Fuckin’ obsolete school alarms.

I closed my eyes, annoyed, calming myself. I thought I heard a cadence of doors slamming.

I glanced at the time on my desktop, perplexed at how fast 45mins. went by in this course.

Ms. Belladonna was so relaxed & composed that she casually reached for her tea cup during the class’ moment of fright. She took a sip while lifting her free hand to steady us during our frenzy of shutting down our devices.

“Remember to complete the reading,” she temperately shouted.

We agreeingly replied while hurrying out the room. There was a mild student jam due to some douche knocking his laptop to the floor – it had a protective case, surely he was grateful.

Ms. Belladonna was leaning against her desk standing up. I was one of the last to exit. Before I did, she gently grabbed my hand and pulled me near. We’d never been that close in proximity. Gawd, she smelled good. Just like Daddy.

“Are you wearing bergamont?” I asked awkwardly.

“Yes,” she said, not with the jovial tone you would expect from someone who just got indirectly complimented, but with seriousness. “I’d like you to pay close attention to the final chapter of the reading. Chapter 9.”

“Ok,” I said with a hint of question.

“It’s of great importance for you,” she said.

“How so?”

She took another sip of her tea while glaring at me. Her crystal, neon blue eyes ethered my soul.

I shuddered from an instant chill.

She gave me her token mysterious smile as she lowered the glass. Her face was alive.

“All in due time,” was how she ended our conversation.

~ author: Hiram Surtyr, illustrator: Ruth Barbee ~

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