For Shem, who started me up in the Net, and Bel, for inspiration and Cybercompanionship
It was a couple of millennia after the rise and fall of the earthly Babylon, the mighty city of the gods and heart of the Ancient Near East of Hammurabi, the law giver, of Nebuchadnezzar of the Hanging Gardens and Sennacherib of the palace and library without rival, in a future that may be closer than what we may think, in the Everlasting Babylon of the Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. It was in this immemorial time and space, remote and yet so close, that Marduk, the Lord and Patron God of Babylon, felt his restlessness increase in the private chambers of the Esagila, his main temple in the City of Gods. The day had been long judging the affairs of Creation. It was almost twilight hour of a hot Summer day. With a wave of his all-powerful hand he asked his servants not to be disturbed.
When his private vizier and servants took respectfully their leave, Marduk turned his eyes to a ceiling-high ornament. The plant was leafy, green and of rare beauty. The God stood up and walked towards it. Then his hand reached out for a decorated tile on the wall, knocking on it seven times. Suddenly, a noise was heard, and a bit awkwardly as if it hadnt moved for a long, long time, the plant slid gently to reveal an ancient and exquisite iron gate covering the wall from top to bottom. Marduk reached out for an equally arcane key hidden in the middle of the gate, amidst delicate engravings. It had been millennia since he had touched the key he himself had carved and hidden not to be touched by any other hand.
Next, Marduk opened the gate and wall to reveal a secret passage. Only the first steps of a long, winding staircase could be seen spiraling downwards. There was no light, just a faint noise of rushing waters could be perceived in the distance. Marduk picked up a torch out the many of his private chambers to light up his way. Because he knew where he was heading to. As he went down, restlessness was gone, but a firm intent remained. His pace was self-assured, his stance alert. Down and down he went, one step at a time, keeping a rhythmic pace. The descent was long , he knew it well, and he needed all his energy to face the challenge he had imposed on himself.
For millennia Marduks feet had not touched this ground, the winding staircase that led to the Depths of the Earth. But he had not forgotten the path. Indeed, he had placed the plant where it stood, built the door and the secret passage to conceal for eternity and beyond the route that led to the domains of mighty Tiamat, also known as Tiwawat, Tamtu and Tethis in Ionian Greek. She who was the Mistress of the Deep Salt Waters, Primeval Goddess, Mother of the First Generation of Gods and Beloved of Apsu, Lord of the Fresh Waters beneath the earth. Tiamat, his own Great-Great-Grandmother, whom he had slaughtered to establish a new cosmic order out of her dead body for Babylon of the olden days and perhaps beyond.
Standing now at the bottom of the staircase, torch raised in hand, Marduk contemplated the Darkness surrounding him, the Nurturing Silence that seemed to involve Everything and the Deep Waiting Salt Waters of Chaos that gave birth to the Universe. Almost as if in trance, his feet touched the sandy shore. For how long he stood there, Marduk would never be able to tell. His eyes, now used to the Encompassing Darkness, followed the swift movement of the waves coming and going. Perhaps seconds, or even a good hour had gone by for sure, for the torch was not in his hand anymore, but standing upright on the sand. With an increasing sense of Wonder, Marduk understood what Timelessness meant, for he experienced that in the Beginning there was not the Word, but the Silence, the Womb and the Void involving and enfolding everything with Her Presence.
So Marduk let himself be involved by the Great Void. Eyes closed, he then advanced to the Sea. Marduk dived into Her Depths, for he wanted to feel the Void, the Great Nothing he wanted to be one with and transform with his Being. Suddenly, Marduk also felt very tiny, a drop in the Ocean of Becoming, but bursting with Cosmic Consciousness and Will to Be. Then he surfaced. Never before had he Understood. Now he Knew and felt one with the One who Had Ever Been. Filled with awe, he knelt on the seashore and respectfully asked:
Great Ancestress Tiamat, Mother of the Gods, Lady of the Deep Salt Waters, Mistress of Chaos, Lifegiver, I lend you graces and kindly request your presence.
The Waters of Chaos rippled and an unknown utterance, perhaps a sigh of delight, a whisper of ecstasy filled the space with its presence. Majestic waves rose forming double-helix spirals beautiful to behold, awe-inspiring. Then they shapeshifted into the winged scales of a DRAGONESS, to change again to show a Lady of Long White Hair, whose robe was the Deep Salt Waters themselves.
She who was Tiamat of Babylon raised an eyebrow. There was deep amusement in Her voice:
Finally, Marduk, my great-great-great grandson, you seem to have learned some manners to address to your elders!
Mixed feelings of embarrassment and surprise filled Marduk. Amusement won in the end. Never had he expected humor from Tiamat. Not towards himself, who had slaughtered Her to become the first dragon slayer in recorded history. A feat he didnt know he should be so proud of at this very moment.
Speechless, Marduk? teased Tiamat.
Not quite, Great Ancestress, he countered, choosing deference to address his great-great-great grandmother. She had said she enjoyed manners. He was not sure he could match Her humor, not at this stage.
Why then did you come to Me after all these millennia? asked Tiamat, turning serious.
I came to find you. To understand, he answered, pleased She had turned to seriousness. He needed some answers, and She was the only one who could provide them... or not to him.
The reason why you fought me and I won in the end.
Did you really win? And do you consider yourself a winner? She teased gently.
Marduk recalled the way he had split Tiamat's body apart and stood on top of it a long time ago.
Yes, I did win you in battle to create a new order for the living and the gods out of your body, he replied with honesty. But we are here facing each other again, so I may not have killed you in the end. And victory seems to have lost meaning for me. So I am here today. To know and understand.
Marduk, who am I? asked Tiamat.
The Mistress of the Waters of Chaos, the Salt Waters that gave birth to the Universe.;
How am I related to you?
You are my Ancestress, my Great-Great Grandmother.
And what is the role of all Mothers?
To give birth...
And to let the offspring grow, unique in their ways,completed Tiamat. Nothing can stop the chain of growth and evolution and I could not have stopped you, Marduk, even if I wanted, for you meant the new possibilities of being and becoming which had origin in MySelf. You needed my body to establish a new Cosmic Order centered on yourself, the first hero ever born. Of course, I would have desired the change from a goddess-oriented culture centered on Me to a sky-god centered on you to have occurred more smoothly. But I myself did not know. I could have only fought you and face the consequences of the battle. Now, were you not happy with what you created, grandson?
Yes, I was... for a time, Marduk had to answer in all honesty. Because I thought you meant the forces of Chaos and patterns of Being which were collective and cyclic, thus repeating endlessly beliefs without questioning them. I felt there was a need for individuals to rise on their own, separate from collective visions. Most of all, I felt very strongly such individuals should challenge tribal values and replace them with their own visions.
Would you change the past? Look back into what was and answer me: would you have done differently, grandson?
No, I wouldnt, Marduk replied, and all of a sudden a burden was lifted off his shoulders. At that time I could have not foreseen the extent of my actions. I did what I had to do, as far as my experience and time allowed me to.
Even having come to this conclusion, Marduk, why are you grieving? Tiamats voice was very deep and gentle now.
Because perhaps I could have spared you, blurted Marduk. 'Had I known better, perhaps I would have done differently'.
At that time and space, Marduk, do you think that I would have spared you? She continued.
No, answered Marduk with a start.
In that very moment, for the first time he felt the bitter taste of his victory over Tiamat, over her own loss at having to fight him.
We both did what we had to do, guts and anger and power inflamed our beings, grandson. But who would you be without me? Dont forget that I made you famous. By being killed by you. What would be of the hero without the fiercest opponent?
For the first time Marduk could laugh totally at ease with Tiamat..
Grandson, we the Gods are the Beacons of Numinosity that guide the existence of all living. Ours is the Mystery that sets the pace towards Eternity. We change and yet we are Eternal. Ours is the Source, Many are our Names and yet we are all One.
This is the reason why I did not kill you then? That I just thought I had slaughtered you, but instead you lived on in the Depths?
Yes, you did kill me and didnt. Ill always live in the Sea Waters, I am the Beginning that never Ends, I am Timeless. All you had to do was to reach out for Me from within your very Self and I would be there to answer your Call. Now, give me your real question. The reason why you came to me, Marduk. Tell me now.
What is the reason for my restlessness? Why am I questioning now my deeds when I had no doubts about what I had to do millennia ago, when I descended to kill you?
Because perhaps time for healing ourselves has come, although we dont know yet for sure what the future will reserve to us. Perhaps it is time for a new cosmic order, where Dragon, better still, DRAGONESS slayer should change his warring tactics, and the mighty Dragoness review her fiery disposition towards defending her realms against the rise of the individuals within the collective. Perhaps views we represented are no longer valid. But there is more to it. Because you came to me, baring your soul and found the way to experience my Mystery, maybe the new order will be the coming together of the two cosmic views we represented.
Represented?repeated Marduk, and then, understanding dawned finally within himself. He could not recreate the past, but build new possibilities for the future. This was the reason why he had done the inconceivable by calling upon Tiamat. By understanding her riddle and then healed his own wounds. And so humor won too.
So have I been defeated, Great Ancestress?he asked, stretching his hand to hold hers.
Tiamat held in hers the Hero's hand and answered with the humor Marduk was becoming familiar with:
Yes, grandson, you've been defeated. By the future, Marduk, which will be built upon us and yet with us till the End of Times.
Before Marduk could find his voice to reply to Tiamat, his vision blurred, and suddenly She shapeshifted into a smaller dragoness, the exact copy of Tiamat only tinier. And the dragoness shifted again in the forms and faces of several goddesses and their male and female garments he knew and loved so well to become finally the very familiar face of his wife Sarpanitum. And Sarpanitum was smiling at him a sort of wistful, teasing smile.
'So we finally meet here', she said very simply. 'I always knew this day would come, although it took so very long. Good thing I can be very patient in my impatience."
Marduk felt as if a blindfold had fallen off his eyes and gapped in wonder and embarrassment. For the first time he saw Sarpanitum for what she was, his Empress, true heir of Tiamat, his equal in all worlds and spheres
In this very moment he acknowledged his heritage as the son of Ea, the Magician and Damkina, the Fecund Silent Earth and High Priestess of the Wisdom Lord, who had given birth to him a long time ago, as the young emperor to bring leadership and organization to all realms, and more. But he had been so obtuse, he had overlooked a very important detail. Because leadership and power can be so lonely, a loneliness he had imposed on himself by not acknowledging Sarpanitum, Tiamat's younger version, as his full partner and Soul Counterpart. Had he ever been whole without acknowledging the best part of himself revealed in someone else? What was truly an Emperor without his Empress?
'I owe you a couple of millennia of apologies...', he started and stopped, looking for a better phrasing for what he had to say to her.
Sarpanitum's delightful laughter was heard then:
'No apologies needed. Your half soul grieving all this time, because you never really saw me for what I am and mean in your life, and you mean to mine, is enough for us not to repeat past erros. Not that we cannot make WORSE ones, beloved.
He joined her laughter, bemused.
Sarpanitum's stance changed then, and he saw again the fierce smaller dragoness... his true Companion and Soul Counterpart. Yes, she was dangerous, she was fiery, passionate, she could make of him her willing slave, yet she made him feel happy and fearless.
She tipped on her toes and brought his mouth close to hers for a long, deep kiss.
' Never my inferior, beloved, but my full partner. Just tell me, Marduk, why would I want you less than who you are? And this is MY Mystery... "
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