Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 51 – Butterfly Soup


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Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee, part 51 – Butterfly Soup


I was ready when he arrived, fifteen minutes early to my twenty. My notebook was out on the small table, already open at the furiously scribbled summary. Two other objects were concealed beneath it. My carefully timed pair of coffees were just being delivered by Rose.

“Gotta hand it to the girl,” said Rose, tousling what is left of John’s hair as he bent to sit and could, therefore, do nothing about it, “Her timing’s getting a lot better…”

John grinned at the twin assault – one on his endangered vanity; the other directed at his habit of keeping me off-guard by being early to these meetings. But he said nothing.

I sipped my hot latté and did my snaky look at him. Still he said nothing.

“I have decided,” I began, brimming with plan, “That I need to recover some ground.” More coffee, then, “Having valiantly gained the initiative a few weeks ago, I have,” I pulled a face, “Lost the plot, somewhat…”

His smile broadened, but he remained, steadfastly, silent.

This was going well. “I had been considering things blow by blow, episode by episode,” I said, “whereas I should have been taking Heracles’ ‘year’ as a whole, single process – particularly the astrological significances.”

He finally spoke, “There’s only so much one can absorb on each visit. More is revealed each time… as it should be!”

He chuckled into his coffee, remembering how hot Rose made it and blowing it first, then sipping it gingerly. “And if you think Heracles is a challenge you should see the frown lines Noah’s Ark can induce!”

He sat back again, spreading his arms in a gesture of invitation.

We only had a forty-five minute window and I had a lot to say. I began, “The astrological progression is really a ‘container’ for the experiences of the aspirant. He or she begins, as does the astrological year, in March, in the sign of Aries.”

John was nodding, waiting.

“He bursts into his quest, ready to head-butt anything, full of the energy of new beginnings. Indomitable Soul that he is, he conquers the wild mares but then leaves his younger and less capable friend, Adberis, alone with the Mares and he is killed. In other words, it needed both Soul and Personality to tame the Wild Mares, and Heracles forgot that…”

I watched his lips break into an approving half smile, but he kept most of it suppressed.

Momentum. I was on a roll. A small sip of coffee and we were off onto the next bit. “In Taurus, he has to deal with the powerful lower nature of his physical self – with instincts, particularly sexual energy, delivering the bull to the care of a benign face of very focussed folk called Cyclopses…” I smiled, “…and points of single focus are very important as we’ll see when we get to Sagittarius, our latest foray…”

I was enjoying myself and had no intention of stopping. “He delves into that paradox of soul in body in Gemini, too, but becoming aware that his nature is twin, and that he has to accept that a new world is opening up.”

John was passive, smiling and sipping his drink.  He made no attempt to speak, enjoying my charge.

“In Cancer,” I continued, “he has to come to terms with the fact that he is a member of a family, a tribe, a nation and that these arenas have other souls in them, too; but he doesn’t lose sight of his true quest, and achieves the capture of the elusive doe of intuition – proof of the existence of another realm if you ever needed it!”

“He keeps his eyes on the Sun.” suggested John, interrupting for the  first time.

I thought about that and agreed. “Yes, despite the forces of the moon – the personality – being in his way, he achieves his goal.”

More coffee, then, “In Leo, there’s a fight to the death with the Lion – but only so that something else can be born in the months that follow. In Virgo he makes a complete hash of the gift of new life offered by Hippolyte, the Queen of all the women, who, in a higher sense he should have united with rather than indulging his nasty habit of killing those he loved!”

Note to self, I thought. Stop obsessing about Heracles the butcher… “Comes with being a criminal lawyer,” I muttered into my coffee. John pretended not to notice. I continued, “So in Virgo he becomes conscious that the world of form – our physical world, is really nurturing something very special – something belonging to the Sun… or was that Son?” I let the words hang, proud that I had added them off-script, so to speak.

John had finished his coffee. I had barely started mine. He signalled Rose for two more. I smiled at his optimism, my thoughts unspoken, and continued, “In Libra, he has to find the balance of power and the use of the mind to tame the respected but feared Boar, and nearly stalls in his quest, stuck between the forces of the above and the below.” I paused. “And then we come to Scorpio – my rising sign…” I sighed.

“Scorpio?” John asked, studying me. “A problem?”

“Sex and death…”

“Beg pardon?”

“My best friend, who is a Scorpio, used to describe her life as a maze of ‘sex and death’.”

“Nasty sting!” John pulled a face, obviously re-living a distant memory. I didn’t ask.

“Where Heracles has to go right down into the muck to pluck out and hold up the Hydra of illusion, thereby separating it from its swampy roots and killing it for good… or did he just show that it was all the same stuff – water?”

“Phew…” said John, pretending to wipe his forehead. “Which brings us to Sagittarius, a noble sign if every there was one!”

“The archer on a white horse, or another Centaur, if you like, depending on whether you like your twin beings Divine and Human or Human and Animal.”

I could see that John wanted to add something important. I waved him on.

“”Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse‘ – Revelation,” said my uncle. “The King of Kings comes forward from heaven on a white horse…”

“To bring war and peace, as he does with the deadly Stymphalian birds.”

“And how does he defeat them?” Asked John.

“He used a set of cymbals, given to him by Athena, the Goddess of wisdom, to make a vibration–a pure noise so powerful that they were driven away for good.”

John leaned forward for his killer question, “So, if the wild mares were really untamed thoughts, what did these dangerous and noisy birds represent?”

I pulled the notebook to one side and looked at the old pocket watch I had left open on the table, sitting on the card. He had not noticed it.

I had timed it to perfection. I left what remained of my coffee and stood, bending to kiss the top of his surprised head in a mirror of our usual goodbye. But he wasn’t expecting the finger that sealed his questioning lips.

As I left the cafe, exactly twelve minutes early, I looked back, just once, through the cottage-style windows. He was looking at the watch, and the folded half of the butterfly card I had left beneath it.

As I turned to cross the road, I’m sure I saw a half-smile on his silent face.

(Image – composite by author)


Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.

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