Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 46 – A Forgiving Girdle
I was trying hard to hide my annoyance but I could tell he knew.
“Difficult one?” he asked me, but smiling at Rose as she deposited our coffees, none too gently, on one of the side tables – our usual had been taken by some non-regulars… the nerve!
“More like all the discarded out-takes from the other myths” I muttered.
“You can learn a lot from out-takes, ” he offered, looking reasonable and calm and generally hateful.
“Not from this lot!” I moaned, then was immediately ashamed of myself.
“Why don’t we just play with the out-takes, then?” he asked, watching me sigh and let out the tension whose source was less than obvious. I had come far in the past few weeks; I didn’t want to blow it, now.
I sat back; drank a minute’s worth of coffee and composed myself. “Okay,” I began. “Heracles has to retrieve something called the Girdle of Hippolyte.” More coffee, then, “Hippolyte is an important Queen who rules a land by a great sea, the home of all the women in the known world – no men to be seen, at all!”
“Kind of Amazons, then?” John asked.
I held my hands up and rolled my eyes in gesture of unknowing, then took a breath before continuing, “The women worship around their beloved Queen in a temple of the moon, but, once a year, they go off to have a party with some unnamed men…” It was sounding preposterous, but, as far as I knew, that had been a true account so far…
I gathered together what I had studied about the rest of the myth and finished my coffee.
“The Queen is forewarned of his approach at the same time that Heracles is given his mission–to take the Queen’s Girdle, whatever that was in ancient times…”
“A magical girdle, I should think,” said John. “Probably had special properties…” He looked at me for a reaction, then let it go, continuing, “Parents are usually important, whose daughter was Hippolyte?”
“Well, there’s another strange thing!” I said, a certain and mysterious enthusiasm for my task germinating. “Despite all the womanly focus, Hippolyte was a daughter of Mars–Ares, I should say…”
John leaned forward to speak, “The most physical of the Gods of War!” he said. “A very strange combination, especially when you think that the other God, or should I say Goddess, of war was Athena – she of the wise owl…”
I looked at John, fixing his eyes. “As though anyone could choose their parents?”
John held my stare. “Oh, but the creators of myth certainly did choose the parents…”
My mind changed gear, seeing the chasm of what I had missed. “Of course… they are not people at all, they’re parts of us, principles…” I sighed.
“And did the Queen of all these men-less women give the magical girdle to Hercules?”
“No!” I blurted. “Well, yes and no… She was ready to give it to him, but, ignorantly, he fought to take it off her and killed her in the process, thereby killing the mother of the sacred child…”
John finished his coffee. “Sounds serious to me, killing the Queen, who is the mother of the sacred child?”
My mood had become sombre. “Does, doesn’t it?” And then I remembered that this story of Heracles had a further ending. But I knew it was getting late. I looked at my watch and stood up to go, giving my closing speech.
“But Heracles was seen to redeem himself, later, by fighting his way into the innards of a sea monster that had eaten the sacrificed Hesione, wife of the Trojan, Priam, rescuing her in her hour of greatest need and balancing the scales of his life.”
John nodded as we both headed for the door. It had been a complex and unsatisfactory half hour. “Yes,” he said. “he was seen to redeem himself, though the mother, the Queen of the sacred child, was dead… and the women of the land by the sea were leaderless.”
He opened the door for me. “And you got the introduction slightly wrong,” He said.
“Yes. Hercules didn’t get his instructions about the girdle from his teachers, those instructions – the surrender of the magical girdle – were sent directly to Hippolyte. All Heracles did was to arrive at the edge of the watery kingdom, where the moon was worshipped, by women, alone; and where the god of war was sacrificed to, by a Queen who wore the girdle of love and was the key to the generation of the sacred child.” he paused for breath, smiling at how much he was trying to put into his closing words. “Was Hercules really active, apart from killing someone who was likely to meet his greatest need?”
I was stunned by this summing up. Just before he crossed the busy road, he laughed and shouted back over his shoulder.
“Oh and don’t forget that all this takes place in the month of Virgo!”
And then he was gone… and I was left with an old file full of very confusing out-takes…and only a week to make sense of them…
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2016.