by Tala Bar
Table of Contents|
Chapter 5 appears
in this issue.
Chapter 6: Aftermath
Since she had become Lady Mother, Tamar stopped her roamings in the environments of the Village, as was her wont when she was Water Maiden. The Watcher’s cave, the spring, or the sacred grove she visited only in her spirit, which would sometimes soar above all daily business, keeping vigil over her little domain from above. Rarely did she go out into the field to watch the growing corn, to inhale the scent of the tilled soil where the remains of her dead lover had been buried. Usually, she had no need to go beyond the thorny fence surrounding the Village; all necessary information came to her through her people, as she sat at the entrance to her house or on the stone seat in the center of the Village.
Since Eitan’s sacrifice she spent her nights with Amnon, living anew the difference between her deep, stormy love for Eitan, and the flowing constant friendship and affection she had for her brother.
For many days after the removal of Eitan from her life, Tamar continued to see his spirit moving around the Village, accompanying his friends or his women on their daily business; none of them, except Amnon who shared her couch, noticed the ghost. It caused no harm, and she was happy to see again the face, which had assumed the look she had seen on their first meeting. His black eyes, though, were empty; never again did they shine at her in fierceness or laughter. Eitan’s ghost never said a word to Tamar, but Amnon told her that he sometimes talked to him, telling him mostly about his love for Tamar.
Autumn had arrived, with its first refreshing rain and the renewal of the green sprout of vegetation, when Tamar’s time came. With her initial contractions she was sat by the elderly women on the birth stone placed in the center of the Village of the Three Faces of the Moon, for all her people to see and witness the miracle of fertility; but the villagers stood at some distance, full of awe, silently praying to Asherat to lend them favor and free the birth from any mishap which could occur in labor.
Three women supported Tamar’s naked body on the birthstone: Old Ya’el with her healing herbs and incantations; Tamar’s friend Re’ut, herself an experienced mother, who had left her recent baby in another woman’s arms for the occasion; and the Water Maiden Shoshana, ready with her sacred water to bless and wash mother and newborn.
Tamar was stripped of her skirt, and, denuded of all ornamentations with her body washed and cleaned, she was stripped of all her external glory in order to concentrate her whole being on what was going on inside her body. Between pangs, during which she did not avoid the luxury of screaming while the women held on to her twisting body to prevent her from falling off the stone, the birthing woman kept whispering to the unborn child in her belly, talking and entreating it to leave its warm shelter in the womb, guiding it on its way out into the world.
Time had stopped its endless flow before a dark head appeared between Tamar’s spread thighs. A few minutes later, a girl’s tiny dark body dropped into the padded basket under the stone seat. Ya’el took the basket away, to wipe with fresh leaves the birth-blood from the newborn’s body, and to bless it with water from the sacred spring dripped on its head by Shoshana, before putting it to its mother’s breast.
At that moment Re’ut noticed another baby dropping, and she barely managed to save the fair boy from falling on to the ground. Commotion was great, turning into cries of joy when it was clear both children were safe and well.
The Lady Mother was then lifted from the birth seat and sat on a skin rug padded with grass cushions, reclining against the wall of her house and supporting her twin children on her lap.
Only after a few days, in which she rested and recollected her strength, Tamar noticed she no longer saw Eitan’s ghost roaming the Village’s boundaries. ‘He must have been watching the well-being of my children’, she reflected, then turned to feed the twins, both happy and relieved. ‘It’s happened’, she thought drowsily, closing her eyes.
Everything was in order, as it had been decreed in ages past. She could sleep comfortably now, knowing the Goddess was really looking after her children.
Copyright © 2005 by Tala Bar