Posts Tagged ‘The Goddess’

“Devil’s Revenge”, Chapter 35

July 5, 2013


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.

Lady Nyo


Chapter 35

“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!

Jane Kohut-Bartels,
Copyrighted, 2009, 2013

Iconography in Berber Rugs, Jewelry, and Matriarchal Societies

September 10, 2009

Berber kilim, from

Berber kilim, from

A person who reads and comments on this blog, Berowne, a fine writer and photographer in his own right, raised this question about the Christian cross tattooed on the head of the Berber woman in the photograph dated c. 1910.  Berowne got me thinking about symbols, in particular crosses and their cross-cultural meanings.

Looking at the one Berber rug I have, I started to notice patterns I had only been vaguely aware of before. My husband (non Berber) gave this rug to me 20 years ago for a wedding present. It was a ‘modern’ kilim, but unusual because it was of very light colors. Basically it was on a cream background and I loved the floral and geometric designs. Though I say ‘modern’, it was really of an ancient design, simple but full of symbols.  They only became apparent to me with some further study, and within this particular rug, there are ram’s horns, spiders and crosses.  Quite a mixture of symbols.

I happened upon a site that took up the argument of Christian iconology in kilims and the exploration of this was amazing. It was not actually only Christian symbols, but Jewish, Muslim, and pagan symbols woven into these rugs….and formed into Berber jewelry. It was surprising at the far ranging influences played out in these Berber crafts.

I will try to illustrate with a few photos I found, and with thanks to Sophia Gates and Marla Mallet, a friend here in Atlanta.

(For the complete article by Sophia Gates at

I thank Ms. Gates in advance for the quotes used from her   amazing article:  It is the basis of a lot of deep research and understanding and her writing  adds so much to the general research on “Tin Hinan”.

Most obviously, the cross shape is one of the most natural designs for a weaver to make. Whether a pile weaver or a flatweave weaver (oi) – the geometry of warp and weft lends itself with complete ease to the use of cross shapes as decorations. Plain crosses, diagonally crossed crosses, crosses in negative space – all are relatively easy for weavers to produce and I think it’s a stretch to assume that they all are meant to indicate a Christian icon.

More importantly, however, the cross as a symbol is used almost universally, in many cultures, in many media, all over the world. It shows up in painted pottery in America, it’s woven into Berber and Navajo blankets. Almost universally, it carries the meanings star/sun/light/protection. It has been argued that Christianity built the symbol(s) of Jesus right into an existing iconography that is both ancient and powerful. This symbolism extends beyond the cruciform to include others that Gantzhorn mentions, including floral/leaf (boteh, lily) symbols of Mary and the ubiquitous trees, which he also assumes have a Christian meaning.

And this:

“The Turkic ram’s horns! There’s the Turkic influence Daniel mentioned! The 8 pointed star, formed by a cross diagonally crossed by another cross, a symbol of the light-filled cross, a Christian Star! – bearing the square shape of the Kaaba, surrounding the ancient ram’s horn motif – perhaps this one goes all the way back, to the ancient Shofar of the Hebrews?

Aren’t we seeing into the past? Aren’t we actually viewing layers of iconography, from the ancient times represented by the horns, to the square Islamic symbol, back to the Christian star, the whole surrounded by a field of flowers, and a border of stars and crosses and trees?

(Well, the Ram’s Horn was a symbol of Amon, and the Berbers were early worshipers of Amun, or Amon. JKB)

For many years, I’ve been thinking and reading a great deal about women’s issues. These have been brought to everyone’s attention by the war in Afghanistan. Recently, however, my reading has gone in a different direction, back to the ancient religions, social structures, and art of North Africa, North America, and Asia Minor.

Some historians theorize that the monotheists who have flourished in the Middle East, may actually have swept down upon an essentially matriarchal and agricultural society from outside the region, from the north in approximately 3,000 bce. These were male dominated, patriarchal pastoralists – nomadic or semi-nomadic people who depend upon animal husbandry – and include the ancient Semitic people – Hebrews among them – and they altered or virtually eradicated, by Mohammed’s time, the matriarchies and the goddesses who were their deities.

Occasionally, however, we still see remnants of these ancient goddesses and their symbols: Isis, The Queen of the Heavens, Astarte, Ishtar, Hecabe, Diana – they’ve been subsumed into Mary, the Panagaia – great mother; Mary, the Immaculata – eternal virgin. Yet their symbols continue to appear. . .

The crescent moon, often associated with Hecabe, Diana, and Isis, is here superimposed upon the cross form. Perhaps it represents a remnant of those ancient beliefs in a mother-goddess? The “S” forms in the field

that Gantzhorn says mean “God” may in fact still carry their ancient meanings: rain dragon, serpent, goddess, woman. Who’s to say that this rug wasn’t woven by a devotee of The Goddess? The small subversive acts of women in a domineering patriarchal world: the schools of ROWA in Taliban Afghanistan; the cryptic poetry of Bedouin women, singing to each other of forbidden loves and heartaches they dare not speak aloud – who’s to say that women didn’t weave their hopes and dreams and heartfelt beliefs into their rugs?

The main thing, which has troubled me about certain theories concerning Turkmen and other Oriental rug iconography, has been their overwhelmingly male nature. Arrows, mushrooms, and signs supposedly drawn in the sand by MALE shamans celebrating male deeds such as war and hunting – well. As I’ve written before, one of the joys of symbol-art is its ability to carry many meanings within one “glyph”. But – just perhaps – the guls ARE flowers; they’re eggs; the hunting birds curling up inside them are babies. The trees aren’t arrows – they’re TREES, sheltering, protective, and cool. Those aren’t drawn bows – they’re lady spiders, weaving!

And do we still see anything of The Goddess?

A few matriarchies still survive, among them the Berber and Tuareg of North Africa and the Hopi of North America. The Dineh – the Navajo, are matrilineal if not outright matriarchal – land stays with the woman’s family and the husband moves in with the wife’s family. These groups, interestingly, are still active and highly productive in the ancient arts of weaving and potmaking and jewelry manufacture; and although they are under extreme stress from modern times, Christianity, Islam, and Arabism, their art flourishes still.

Right away, we can see that the iconography of these Berber pieces differs considerably from what we’ve been looking at so far. Serpents, no longer shy little “s” forms, wriggle potently across the field. The stars are open blossoms, their petals wide open to the rain. The dominant forms are diamonds – eyes – even the “cross” forms are dominated by eyes.

Eyes – and the weavings they appear on – have amuletic power. The weavings themselves are gigantic amulets of protection. They aren’t “meant” to have power; to the weavers and their families, they DO have power. These women have POWER! And these pieces, although they are essentially contemporary – all of the pictures are of 20th century shawls and blankets, continue to exhibit in their iconography and form absolutely traditional and ancient symbols and the beliefs that accompany them. It occurs to me that the Kurdish pieces – the Jaf bags – might have a similar meaning. They are not just random, abstract diamonds. Similarly, one finds eye-diamonds in Caucasian pieces – even in the cross-filled, possibly Christian-made, Shirvan prayer rug!

Sophia Gates: extracted from her article at www:

In writing “Tin Hinan” I became aware of the embroidery patterns that early Berber women would have used and created. They were full of symbols, but I was only seeing part of the picture: these symbols in the above rugs speak from centuries of cross cultural influences.  But of course, “Tin Hinan” come from the 5-6th century, and I was focusing on the more Egyptian symbolism.  I need to extend my understand of the dominant and subdominant influences here.

And then I came across this, in the Tuareg Jewelry (Berber). I almost fell off my chair.

Southern Crosses in Berber Jewelry

Southern Crosses in Berber Jewelry

And then this and,

Star of David in middle of hand pendant

Star of David in middle of hand pendant

and this:

Egyptian "eye" in Berber piece?

Egyptian "eye" in Berber piece?

Ms. Gates has made a believer of me!  I recommend the entire article to be found at the above site.  Amazing and profound research done by Sophia Gates.

Lady Nyo

All photos from Sophia Gates illustrations of her article on www. turkotek. com/salon

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