I know this drives readers crazy, and probably away, but I’m jumping around here as I proof this book. This will be the first introduction I believe, on the blog, of Madame Gormosy, the Demon of Lust from Hell. She is a transgender devil apparently, changing from Monsieur to Madame at will, though she really perfers her shape as Madame. She plays faro and cheats, but she is also a tender devil.
Garrett has been advised by Lord Abigor and Lord Aamon, two Arch Dukes of Hell, to travel back in time to gather his forces for this upcoming battle with Obadiah and his legions of Hell.
“So, M. Demon”, Madame Gormosy raised her head from her cards and addressed Garrett across the table. “Tell us a bit of who declared for your side. Mon Dieu! This house was so full of those Devils that day! They have left soot marks on the walls and some dents in the floors.”
Madame Gormosy was having her fun. I am assured by the Demon nothing of the sort has happened downstairs. However, it is a couple of days before I was allowed outside of this room, and perhaps there was a kernel of truth in Madame’s comments.
The Demon looked up from his hand. He was losing, but that was because Madame had subtle tricks with the cards. She cheats. Faro was her game and she was hard to beat at cards. Garrett has not caught on yet, but he will. His pile of coin was lessening and Madame’s was growing. My old trick of launching my shoe to the side of Madame and peering at her cards was not working today, for she was not indulging my trickery. That was tolerated only when we are alone. I am not winning a coin here.
Garrett looked up at her and thought a minute. “Almost enough for my side of the board.” He referred to the impending warfare as the Chess Game From Hell.
“Ah! And who are these Demons that have come to your side?” Madame coyly kept her eyes on her cards.
Garrett uttered a low curse, and threw his hand on the table. He was a poor loser at cards, and not gracious at all.
“Madame”, he said sharply. “Will you indulge me and allow me some time with this woman?” He shifted his eyes and Madame smiled slyly.
“Of course, Monsieur le Demon. I have other work to attend.” Madame got up and left the room gracefully, my Demon bowing her out the door.
I put my cards down, suspicious of his behavior. “Were you losing that much money this morning?” I know he hates faro, and isn’t the card sharp Madame is to best her.
He turned from the door, his expression hard to read. “We have things to discuss Bess this morning. You can play with Madame later.”
He moved to his chair across from our tea table. “I have talked to Abigor. He agrees with my plans.” He sat there, not looking at me, and I could see he is struggling with something he had to say.
“And if they include me, would you at least tell me my part?” I saw him hesitate.
“These dreams you have, Bess. Abigor thinks they are important.”
Ah! So Abigor, an Arch Duke of Hell thought them important, never mind my sleep was wracked with images that frighten me.
“Aamon has bound me to him. I have promised to follow his counsel and visit the otherworld. You’re going with me.” He looked at me, and I could see from his eyes that he would not brook an argument. I remembered his handling of the whip a few days ago.
“Then tell me what this ‘otherworld’ is, Garrett. At least allow me the favor of this.”
“You know the dreams of the Morrigen and Cernunnos? They are not idle events. They speak to a kinship that I have known for a while and have avoided for various reasons.”
At least this is a start! It gave some shape and comfort to what happened here and some answers to his origin.
“But this otherworld you speak of. What is it exactly? Is it like Hell?”
“No, it actually would be something you would have studied perhaps. Let’s call it the Mystic Isles for the moment.” He looks at the floor, deep in thought.
“Somewhere in Scotland?” I think of a previous dream, that first one of Culloden.
“Close. But more distant, too.”
Ah! He’s into games this morning. But I’m not following.
“Avalon?” He smiles, he is humoring me.
“Avalon is only a small part of it all. The two worlds, the present and the otherworld have portals. Your visits from Morrigen and Aine had meaning to me but until I discussed them with Abigor and Aamon, I didn’t know how important they were.”
He sucked on a thumb and spit out a piece of a nail. “I am to seek support and forces from among my own kin. Obadiah has his forces from Hell, as do I have, but I also have the magic of this particular otherworld to plunder.”
He finally turned to me and looked at me closely. “Abigor thinks you essential to this. The Morrigen is going through you to reach me.” He pauses and scowls. “As is Cernunnos.”
It seemed to me both Cernunnos and the Morrigen had no qualms in how they reached him. If I was a vessel, the price I paid was a costly one.
“Whatever kinship I have with these others, I will have to claim it soon. That is why we will leave in a matter of days. You, as my consort among demons, will have the same position among these others.”
Ah! I’m beginning to see a pattern here.
“Tell me, Demon, what actually will you be doing in this otherworld you speak?”
“It grows near to the Beltaine. The Great Marriage between the Horned One and the Mother draws nigh. The fertility rites will be attended by us. You and I will be part of the consecration and you will be confirmed as my consort. That is only a part of the work. I will be conversing with others there as to the merits of my case with Obadiah.”
“And what does that entail, Demon?” I am all ears.
“Lots of orgies and gore. Perhaps a sacrifice or two.” He expects me to be frightened. He is not amiss in his expectations.
“Garrett, explain please. You are talking in riddles.”
“Any kinship I can claim to Cu Chulainn , as I am told I have rights, will force these spirits to come to my side. I can raise an army from my birthright.”
Good and fine. “Now tell me, Demon, what you expect of my presence?”
Garrett looked at me with a serious expression. “You, as my consort, will be expected to attend me in the ritual of the Great Marriage.”
“And what it that?” I seem to have remembered some pagan rite of spring, something to do with the fertility of the land, but whatever I once knew, it has faded.
“You know of the festival of Beltaine?” I nod my head. “A number of times a year, more than two, but is known by most at Samhain and Beltaine, the Horned God and the Goddess couple in symbolic gesture. They, by their mating, assure the fertility of the land for the halfyear to come. At this ritual, you will be initiated as my consort, and will enact the same rites.”
I look at him in confusion. “We are to get married?”
He smiles to himself, but I see that there is more to this smile than he lets on. “A very public wedding night. Shared by others.”
“What part of all this is shared by others?” This should be interesting.
“You will be instructed by women as to how to deport yourself. And we will not see each other for a number of weeks. I will have my own instruction to attend to. You will be in the good hands of women who are steeped in these mysteries. Your time there will teach you far more than mere magic.”
I feel that he is avoiding my questions, but what he has said gives me meat enough for thought. After a while he leaves me to myself, and I notice a book placed in the window sill. I had not noticed it before, nor was it one of the few that I had brought up from downstairs. The Demon must have placed it there, or perhaps Madame Gormosy. I settled at my tea table and read what I could. It was a book on the history of the Druids and in it I came across what he called “The Great Marriage”. The pages were spotted with age and water, and the printing had strange characters in its alphabet, but I read on.
It seemed the Great Marriage was a ritual more public festival among pagans than the Christian monks would wish. In our eyes, some of the parts of the rituals would be distasteful enough, but one was especially perverse. It seems that a white horse was found at Beltaine and the Horned God, I would suppose Cernunnos, would mate with this mare. She would be killed, he washed in the blood, and would eat of the raw flesh. White horses were rare, and the sacrifice of one was a significant event. Then there was a very public ritual of the mating of Cernunnos with the Goddess, and it seemed that all hell broke loose. Bonfires were set on hills, and cattle driven over the flames or between two bonfires to insure fertility. Young women and men would jump through the flames, and they would pair off and mate in the open and throughout the forest or glen. This was not frowned upon, at least by the ordinary folk, for in its superstition, it assured the coming fertility of the crops and the expected harvest. Some man with antlers representing Cernunnos would run around and mate with as many women as possible. I shivered thinking about my own encounter with Cernunnos. I could do well to avoid him again.
Madame Gormosy came back later in the evening. We would begin to pack for the trip. She recommended stout and warm clothing, and boots and woolen stockings. Since it was still not spring, I thought as we traveled, we would meet a cold and dreary landscape. If my trips to Scotland and England taught me anything, it was that the weather was awful, and I’d probably get sick. We packed what woolen clothes I had, and a stout pair of leather boots. My red woolen cloak and some shawls completed my trousseau, for what I packed was a strange assortment of wedding finery. No modest veils or satin, and the heaviest of linen chemises for my wedding night. Hah!
There was little else I could do or prepare, and went back to playing faro with Madame. She was not to come with us, and I realized that I would miss her companionship. Although Madame, and at times, Monsieur, kept me guessing, she was, as my Demon declared, all sweetness and light. That’s when I didn’t catch her trickery at cards, but she had centuries of cheating beneath her belt, and I continued to play the plucked chicken.
Ah, Madame! I will miss your smile and your wandering hands. What I face on the morrow would be much soothed by your company!
Copyrighted, 2009, 2013
Tags: a novel, Beltaine festival, Celtic Mythology, Cernunnos, Cu Chulainn, demon Aamon, Devil's Revenge, Druids somewhere, Hell, Ireland, ley lines, Lord Abigor from Hell, Madame Gormosy, Scotland, the card game faro, The Goddess, time travel, transgender Demon, UK, Wales