by Tala Bar
Table of Contents|
Chapter 5, part 1 appears
in this issue.
Chapter 5: Climax
He knew that he was already destined to marry the chief’s sister’s daughter. “Amina was an ugly, vicious creature, and I’ve always hated her,” Eitan told Tamar. “The chance of becoming chief did not attract me, and the idea that I should take a woman I disliked in order to do something I was not interested in seemed absurd. But for my mother, this was the hope of her life, as she told me again and again; and I feared to disappoint her. Until you came into my life.”
Before that, with confusion in his mind, he had taken to roam the desert on his own. “The desert is endless, unbound,” he told Tamar, “the wind blows there, free and wild, and the hills arch themselves against it. It gives one a true sense of freedom.”
“Freedom?” she did not understand. “Freedom from what?”
“From being forced,” he replied, simply.
“Nobody is forced in our village,” she announced.
He looked at her, solemnly. “I believe you are right,” he said. In his voice she heard the sound of the wild wind, and her body arched itself against his love.
When they were satiated again, he rolled on his back. Feeling close to the earth, his eyes were looking at the boundless sky. “The desert wind,” he said, “is the spirit of Yahu.”
“Yahu? Who is Yahu. I’ve never heard of him.”
“Yahu is the power of the desert. He is a terrible force, burning hot during the day, freezing cold at night. Yahu raises the sand storms of the desert, storms that kill anyone who stands in their way.”
She shivered. “You must fear Yahu, if he is so terrible. Is there anything good in him?”
“Yahu is the Father of all Fears. I hate him!”
Instinctively, she stretched her arms, and he nestled in her lap. “Yahu has no power here, my love, and the wind in our place is the breath of our Mother, Asherat; she protects us from desert storms and other evils of this kind. You will stay in peace with Asherat.”
“The good in you, Tamar, is the good of Asherat. That is why I wanted to come to you.”
They loved again, and all the flowers blossomed for them, the rose blossoms of beauty, fragrance and pleasance. The sacred wood shone green, the water of the sacred spring was bluer than ever, the river glittered in its meanderings and the distant mountains deepened their mauve as if revealing all their secrets. Every morning the rising sun brought a day of happiness, every evening the moon brought mystery and desire, until at last the sweeping wave calmed down, becoming a long peaceful ripple.
The lovers, then, returned to their daily business: Tamar to the management of the Village, Eitan to accomplishing his skill in carving wood and bone. The highest point of his work was a knife he made from the thighbone of the mountain goat; its handle had the shape of a kneeling goat whose horns were drawn backwards, its eyes half-closed in a dreamy expression of an uncommon happiness.
When the globules of fruit started peeping among the withering petals of flowers, Tamar felt the small globule beginning to swell inside her body. Something in her had changed, she felt as if her own petals had withered and her flourishing blossom was fading away; instead, a sense of new calm had stirred inside her, and through that feeling of satisfaction her face and her whole body acquired an atmosphere of maturity and compliance. She no longer needed Eitan by her side at night.
“Look,” she said to him one evening, “the Water Maiden’s daughter can already walk, and Shoshana would be happy with a new man. Why don’t you go to her, make her happy.”
He went, wondering but not really disappointed. He had already felt the change in Tamar, and absentmindedly was looking at the Water Maiden with her renewed freshness. Toward dawn he came back to Tamar, but the next night she mentioned the names of two other women, older, maturer, for a change. After that, the message was clear, and each night Eitan joined the bed of this or that of the Village women, sometimes with more than one at the time. He was a very powerful man, and was happy to satisfy many of the women he made love to; in the end, all of them together became like one blurred shapely woman in his mind, and he could no longer tell the difference between them; instead, they had assumed the appearance of the Great Goddess herself in her various forms and characters.
Summer unfolded with full force, the nights were hot and lusty, best for lovemaking. The atmosphere in the Village was joyful, for it was an unprecedented year for fertility. The next spring, many dark-looking children would be born, to add to the Village’s mixed gene pool, but this was yet to come. In the meantime, the shadow of the tallest palm in the Village center was getting shorter and shorter, until it reached its shortest length, marking the sign for Midsummer.
The drums began to thunder at dawn, the horns blew, emitting heavy, gloomy sound of doom; the Village people gathered for a solemn dance. For some days and nights before, the love riot around Eitan had become most intense; all the women who had felt their hearts free and their bodies ready for blessing had joined in the continuous orgy. They took care of Eitan’s body, nourished it with delicious food to keep his strength, saturated him with date mead until his senses were blurred and he no longer knew his surroundings; they cleaned and washed him like a baby, while keeping him in a constant state of arousal to satisfy their lust for his seed.
Tamar, knowing herself to be with child, had taken no part in the celebration. On the appointed day, when the tall palm’s shadow had reached its shortest mark, and the moon was expected to be full at night, she sat regally on the stone seat under the big terebinth tree; her face was painted lunar white, her body marked with the red and black of love and death. Eitan’s exhausted, naked body was placed on the stone slab erected for the purpose, his tired limbs drooping to the ground, his mind senseless with alcohol; his face was smoothly shaven of his beard and painted black and red, and his body shone with the olive oil poured all over it.
When the sun reached the zenith, the drum beating intensified. Dancing around the inert body, men and women came over to Eitan to touch him for blessing, to kiss his mouth, forehead, nipples, navel and genitals. Feeling nothing himself, his fondled body quivered with the constant arousal. Tamar looked on the ritual, presiding silently over the celebration.
At the setting of the sun, when a cool breeze started whispering over the celebrants, the dancing stopped and the Lady Mother stood up, her face turned toward the east; the villagers did the same, and a great silence of expectation fell on all: would the moon rise on time, with her face full, to bless the festival?
There was no thought in Tamar’s mind except concentration on the fulfillment of the ceremony, and its effect over the year’s fertility. Through her whole body she sensed the silent expectation of the villagers, and her lips whispered a prayer to Asherat. No doubt rose in her mind, for she knew everything she did was right.
The eastern hills brightened violet at last, an arch of light appeared, then half a circle, and the full moon in all its glory shone in the sky. The full white face of Asherat in awesome beauty floated above the Village of the Three Faces of the Moon, and the villagers breathed in relief.
Tamar looked down at the face of Eitan. His head dropped back over the rim of the stone, leaving his neck bare, gleaming under the silvery moon. She made a sign, and Amnon came to stand by Eitan’s side, holding a great stone bowl in his hands. Asaf rose and put in Tamar’s hand the new flint knife made for that particular purpose. For one moment she paused over the unconscious figure of her lover, absorbing the sight of his body, the memory of their love.
Then she raised her hand, the black blade glowed for a moment in the moonlight. The villagers held their breath. In an instant, Tamar’s hand fell, and a jet of bright blood sprang from the still neck. Eitan’s body shuddered, his penis sprung erect emitting a flow of seed; at that moment Amnon moved, and a mixture of blood and semen poured into the bowl in his hands.
A great shout burst out from a hundred mouths, ecstasy took hold of the people, as Amnon raised the bowl to his lips to drink from the hot liquid. He would be the one to take Eitan’s place in her bed. He was safe, though; not being her coronation mate, there would be no meaning in sacrificing him as well.
Tamar handed the knife to Eyal, and the Chief Hunter cut open Eitan’s still warm body; he took out the bleeding, beating heart and raised it to his mouth, tearing it with his strong teeth and absorbing into his body the celebrated courage of the Lady’s lover. The rest of the hunters came around, tearing and devouring Eitan’s arms and thighs to acquire his power and skill in hunting. Amnon broke the victim’s skull with a sacred stone and let Old Asaf taste from his brain to absorb some of his wisdom; the Village women grasped for the last time at his genitals, to ensure his revival in their children.
The feasting went on all night. Toward dawn, just before the full moon touched the earth in the west, when every villager had had her or his share of the sacrifice, Tamar raised her arms in praise of the Great Mother. Then she took her lover’s cleaned skull and handed it to the Water Maiden, to be carried to the cave and put among the collection of previous sacred kings’ and ancestors’ skulls. It would serve as a source of inspiration for the Watcher’s prophecies, and a protection for the Village of the Three Faces of the Moon.
Copyright © 2005 by Tala Bar