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[God Oracle] Ares

July 9, 2010 2 comments

Ares –Anger

[Card Description: Flying through battle in his war chariot, Ares is a young nude man wearing only his battle helmet, a sword, and the blood of his enemies. His face contorted in rage as he takes the life of his adversaries. Behind him, a village burns as families rush to collect save their livelihood from ruin and wonton destruction. ]

Charge:

Would you ask me

For self-knowledge?

Why would you?

Would you ask

mortal-destroying king,

defiled with gore,

pleased with war’s dreadful

and tumultuous roar?

In human blood,

in swords, and spears delight,

and the dire ruin of mad savage fight.

I hurt, maim and utterly destroy.

Intensely focused on one thing:

The Fight.

Knock me down again

And again

I stand up

Prepared to fight

To die.

So bring it.

Ask again.

I break through cowardice

By destroying reason

Ready or not.

Statistics: Culture of Origin: Greece Location: Greco-Roman empire. Age: Mature or Young Beardless Warrior. Element: Fire

Mythology: In all of mythology, it seems that nobody has cause to by angry like Ares does. The only legitimate child of Zeus and Hera, he is despised by both parents, as well as the other Gods. Although usually considered the God of War, he is really the din, chaos and fury of war and the people who fight and die in them. It is his sister, Athena, who plans the strategy of War, and Zeus or Eris (the Goddess of Chaos) to induce it. But Ares is the one who does the dirty work, and he wins as often as he loses. He is, literally, the war drums, the sword and weapons of death, manslaughter, the battle cry, and the banishing of cowardliness. His energy is quite raw and pure, and he was never the one to engage in politics, though he was often a pawn by others. He was also the lover of Aphrodite, and became her partner in adultery after he lost a contest with Hephaestus to win the hand of the Goddess. When The God of the Forge, Hephaestus, found out, he created chains that none could break, and his invention captured the lovers mid-tryst. Hephaestus called in all the Gods to witness their shame. Ares struggled and fought, but no matter how much he wanted to save his lover from humiliation, the chains would not budge. Indeed, it was only at Poseidon offering to pay the Adulterers Tax (a law whereby the Adulterer must pay the offended husband) that Ares was set free. Ares is the father of Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory, and the Romans associate him with Mars.

Meaning in Reading: Although our society is changing slowly, men have traditionally been socialized to be aggressive go-getters, and honoring your emotions is seen as weak. Men often hide their real feelings because in an aggressive world, it could be seen as something to exploit. Often a man’s real emotions are hidden from the people he cares about most, like his own partner, or worse, hidden from himself. One of the few emotions men are allowed to show is anger. Consequently, a man might manifest fear, jealousy, excitement, even happiness and sadness, into anger. When that energy is used constructively, and with an eye for honesty, Ares can help you to address these feelings directly. Your anger doesn’t have to stay there. You can do something with it. It may be time to take up arms and fight for a cause, to fight against something that makes you angry.

Reversed: Failing to get beyond the anger means the real problem lies underneath the surface, festering like an unhealed wound. The angry fire of Ares pushes you to fight…but what are you fighting against? Are you wasting your emotional energy on battles that cannot be won? Are you standing against people who are actually on your side, like your friends, sweethearts and family? Of course you have the right to feel angry, but you still don’t have the right to hurt other people.

Connecting Ritual: There is nothing so raw as the power of a gun. With the smallest finger movement, you can kill someone, destroy lives shattered in violence, protect yourself, or feed your family in the depth of winter. Life and death become manifest and real in that object. Many people fear the power of guns, but Ares challenges you to master it. Go down to a shooting range and take a class on gun safety, then fire off a variety of guns on the range. Feel the power, the kick back, and the weight of that power in your hands. What would happen if you shot out of anger or jealousy? What would happen if you fired out of self-protection? If you can, bring something to shoot such as a fruit that will explode, like melons or apples. It will show you the destruction of that power. Know that the power of Ares is in that gun, and treat it with that same respect.

Advanced Working: Believe it or not, according to some sources, Ares was the God of Dance before he was the God of War. Indeed, the primitive pounding of drums gets directly to the heart of what Ares represents: raw power, pulsing rhythms, chaos, din, fighting for your life. Few of us in today’s culture, except for soldiers and police, have the opportunity to experience Ares energy. Gather some drumming friends around a bonfire, drink something that makes you angry and winds you up, like whiskey, and go nuts. Drum, dance around the fire, pound the ground with your feet and hands, and hurl an intense battle cry to Ares!

Interesting Fact: Gary Sanders, a prominent scholar on sexual health and on Gay couples in particular, invented the Angry Feeling Wheel. He helps men to identify what kind of anger they are really feeling. In couples who are experiencing anger in their relationship, he uses the wheel to have them identify what is behind their anger. The then asks them how they would react if their partner was feeling fearful, excited, sad, etc. This new perspective moves behavior out of the realm of aggression and anger and begins to deal with the problem more constructively.

[Humor] Bring Me the Head of Apollo!

Now, my mother is not Pagan. But she loves the Mediterranean and the art of old Europe. Since she retired, she’s been traveling the world taking classes with famous glass lampwork artists. I’m still working on getting her to take me to Greece…

Anyway, since she’s retired, she’s also taken up decorating, and has done things to the house and the garden that are quite lovely. My favorite is the sitting area in the yard, with a three-foot tall statue of Demeter, revealing her leg. It is a replica of a classic statue, and the leg is filthy from the farmers that have touched it, asking for her blessing. I do the same when I am there. The sitting area also includes a statue of Athena, and a head of Apollo. That is, until recently.

Mom: Um, sweetie, I don’t mean to accuse you of anything…but could you bring my head back?

Me: The what?

Mom: Apollo. He’s been stolen!

So apparently some really tough kids or possibly gang members have stolen it. I told mom that, perhaps, he just got tired of sitting in the yard and wanted to go places. Surely, she’ll receive a post card from him soon. Like that traveling gnome in Amelie. But maybe, since he’s just a head, he’ll send pictures of him wearing different hats from around the world.

You wish your vacation was this awesome!!

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[Poetry] Summer Poems

June 20, 2010 2 comments

A few years ago, I worked as a motor coach driver in Alaska. Based out of Anchorage, I used the opportunity to re-connect with my father, whom my mother had divorced when I was very small. Spending time with the family was wonderful, and I always associate Midsummer with connecting my father and the Sun God. It is a magical time and Alaska, too, is a magical place. The land is so alive with animals and plants, which go crazy with growth when the sun is out for so long.

Alaskan Summer

[Midsummer]
In Alaska,
the mountains give birth to the sun
every morning
He rides the Sky victorious
over the Back of the Whale
and he takes all day to do it.
For 23 hours and 15 minutes,
He conquered Darkness.
But Our Lady laughs
and calls him to her breast,
so like husband or child
He goes.

[Lughnassadh]
Here is a subtle shift.
He is still King
Victorious!
Yet he misses his partner so
He rushes toward Her
faster every day.
He doesn't care
that the wildflowers
are turning to berries.
The leaves soak up the sun,
but in spending so much time
in sunrise and sunset,
they copy the golds and reds
His blood sacrifice
He knows he must
give in to Darkness
But
Not Today.

[God Oracle] The Dagda

Dagda the Good–Abundance

[Card Description:  A greatly overweight man with uncut red hair and beard and happy, crinkly eyes, his tunic barely covers his huge rump and his cloak barely goes to his elbows, and yet his great penis drags on the ground under his kilt. Behind him, he drags a massive club, held up by a forked wheel that creates ditches on the ground behind him. He wears the torc of kingship, and congenially offers you a meal from his cauldron of abundance, which bubbles and smokes cheerily with no fire underneath it.]

Charge:

Welcome, Welcome!

Have a bite

Enjoy the company of a God!

I am the Dagda

Joyful King

Great vast man

(if you know what I mean!)

All providing father

Of food

Enjoy a bowl and

Laugh with me

And have a second helping

With the Good God.

With me, son

You are safe

Alive and fed

So eat up!

Have a drink

While I spin the tales

Of a fool and a King

Statistics: Culture of Origin: Ancient Celtic People, Tuatha de Danann. Location: Ireland. Age: Middle Age. Element: Earth, Fire

Mythology: Called the “Father God” of the Celts because he always had the best interests of his people at heart. He protected crops, ruled over time, and was a God of magic. Although very powerful, he is often depicted as filthy, a bit crude and shabbily dressed. Dagda is known for his magical club, which was so big it had to have a wheel so it could be dragged. One end killed people while the other brought them back to life. He also had a sacred cauldron which always had enough food for each man that would eat from it. In one myth, when the Formorians were thinking of invading Ireland, Lugh sent Dagda to keep them busy until Ireland could prepare for battle. He asked for a truce, and the Formorians granted it, but only if the Dagda would eat a huge ditch full of meat porridge with thousands of gallons of milk. He ate every last drop and fell asleep with the Formorians laughing at his fondness for food. When Dagda awoke, his enemies were gone, but he was too bloated with food to run after them. Indeed, his path was halted by a beautiful woman who knocked him on his rump and demanded that he carry her, as she was the daughter of the Formorian king. They wrestled about, and in the end, with Dagda’s charm overcoming her, she promised to fight on his side. She, of course, was the Morrigan, the Goddess of Battle, so victory was secured.

Meaning in Reading: So here’s the Dagda, who is really kind of embarrassing to look at, even to the ancient Celts. He is, in fact, laughable. And yet he is always looking out for others by protecting them and feeding them. He is a king, even if he doesn’t look like one. The Dagda does not get caught up in how things look because he knows that it is character that counts. For us it means that we don’t need the newest electronic, the most expensive jeans, or to get our hair cut at a fancy salon. What matters is this: are you safe? Are you well? Is your belly full? You can be grateful for what you have when your needs are being met. And when you need more, there will be more, if you know where to go and who to turn to—that’s not about stuff, it’s about what is on the inside. A happy, satisfied person will always seem to have enough, and we should strive for that kind of satisfaction instead of looking outward for it. Are you this satisfied?

Reversed: There is always enough, but you must recognize when enough is enough. But our needs—that is, what we need to survive—are not the same as the things that we want. The Dagda was able to eat more than anyone because, like us, he loves and needs to eat. He didn’t need to drink the whole thing, but he can because he is a God. We can’t. Too much of anything is a bad thing: too much food leads to obesity, too much exercise leads to anorexia, too much desire leads to addiction. The Dagda shows us a lust for life, but is it satiable? At some point you have to tell yourself to stop before you make yourself sick. The Celtic God of Abundance always has plenty, but you must be able to tell for yourself when enough if enough. Is now one of those times?

Connecting Ritual: Make for yourself a magnificent meal. It should have at least five courses and use simple, fresh ingredients. It should have protein, grain, veggies and fruit. If you can make some Celtic dishes, all the better. Lay it all out on the table before you and behold the abundant spread fit for a king (you!). Thank the Dagda for the incredible generosity. Acknowledge every dish and where each part comes from—go beyond the simplest “it comes from the store” answer. How far did your food come to get to you? How many people had a hand in getting this food to your table? Farmers? Pickers? Truck drivers? Grocers? Once everyone has been thanked, tuck in! Here’s the hard part—do not simply eat as much as you can. Rather, savor every dish, enjoy the flavors, but save room because you have to eat a bit from each course! The goal is to eat and enjoy the food until you are full, but to stop yourself from becoming like the Dagda at Formorian’s camp. The more food you have available to you, the harder this will be. You will have a great deal of leftover food. Eat these leftovers in the days to come and feel the Dagda’s abundance blessing you, or better yet, offer some of your delicious food to others.

For an additional challenge, purchase a big piece of meat from the butcher, such as a roast, and cook it as part of your feast. The next day, use the meat to create something else, like fajitas.  After eating that, put the leftover meat, some veggies and grains in a crock pot and make your own version of the Dagda’s sacred cauldron. The next day, you could probably cover it with mashed potatoes, bake it, and make shepherd’s pie. I guarantee that roast will feel never ending!

Interesting Fact: Maslow set forth a theory about people that guides many different professionals in their work. His hierarchy of needs teaches us that one cannot move to a higher level until the needs of the one below are satisfied. Begin at the bottom of the chart and move up:

In a very real way, the Dagda represents the foundations of this pyramid of needs. Experiencing Him, and other Gods, in your life can ultimately support all of them, if you work with His energy and interact with what He represents. The Dagda ultimately encourages us to enjoy the physiological necessities.

At the Temple of Apollo

I stand at the door of Apollo’s shrine–I’m not sure why I have come. Whether I am simply drawn by the energy of this place, or by the serendipity of a short line, I know not.

The Pithia is at the door. She’s the mysterious prophetess of Delphi, and the most powerful women in the world. She invites me to share in her fumes–a heady incense that would take me ages to recognize. It goes straight to my head. She speaks to me, but her words make no sense. By the time she motions me to enter the shrine, my doubt clears and I enter the door. I glimpse the mosaic ‘Know Thyself’ as I commit myself to crossing the threshhold.

Somehow, my frivolous hat with kitty ears seems woefully inadequate to wear when you stand before a god. I couldn’t take it off fast enough.

He is glorious. A young man in a shining chiton of pure white and gold. Clean shaven and well groomed–he looks like that hot professor I never actually had in college. Behind him, a sparse altar with symbols sacred to Him; a vase, a bust of Himself, a crown of laurel, some soil from Apollo’s own birthplace, and several offerings of poetry and writing.

For the scarcity of time, two are allowed inside, and when Apollo the Sun God asks kindly what brings us here, I defer to the woman next to me. She is to be the caretaker and healer of young boys who have seen real trauma and experienced great loss. Boys who have had violence against them and no true father figures in their lives as they were in and out of the system. Suddenly my own desires for Apollo’s blessing seem shallow and contrived. I turn my gaze to the young Sun God, joining in this woman’s beseech, “Lord Apollo, can you heal them?”

“Although I have felt many heartaches and pains that mortals normally bear alone, I am compassionate to your blight where other Gods cannot be. But I cannot heal these young men. I can offer my love, empathy and protection,” he touches the woman, “but you must heal them.”

I can see her breaking down–the weight of such a responsibility is heavy, yet she knows Apollo will be standing behind her, guiding her actions as long as her intention is pure. She straightens herself and seems so brave to me. I know of Apollos loves and losses from my mythological studies. His understanding is real.

He turns to me to ask why I have come. I wring my cat hat and shuffle my feet–I wonder if Hermes has stolen the words out of my mouth, for suddenly I seemed to have more words than I could edit coming out of my mouth at His shrine not fifteen minutes ago. Now I stand before the God of decorum, right action, poetry…and my words and body language reflect none of these things.

“Er, it’s like this…” I begin, “I have all these projects–too many, really. I went to your sister Artemis to ask for her help in finishing what I start. And She said I should see you about, er, getting organized with my writing. Or something.”

That sounded dumb, so I try again, “I’m writing a book, you see. Several, actually. I’m well blessed by your inspiration, my Lord. I just can’t seem to accomplish anything.”

Apollo, the God of inspiration, of song and civilization seems to contemplate me a moment, “Is it one thing you wish to accomplish, or one big thing?”

“It’s huge!” I gesticulate widely in demonstration, “A big idea–a vision–I want to give to the community. It involves several separate writing projects.”

“I see.”

I thought his statement ironic.

“What is the action you must do to begin and sustain this project?”

My mind races–research, interview, find time, support myself, keep the lights on, make the computer work for me…

“No.” said Apollo, reading my mind, “You have to write. What is a book but an accomplishment of chapters? What is a chapter but an accomplishment of pages? Empires and encyclopedias are gained and created by a thousand accomplishments inside a thousand accomplishements inside a thousand accomplishments. Begin with the page. Write what you know. What you put there will be honest, true and perfect for you at that moment. If, when it is done, you find it not to your standards, then you do one of two things: You might honor Athena and delve into research. Or you might honor my sister Artemis, and accept is as practice, and try it again.

“If you are open, I will keep you well inspired, but to become overwhelmed by the big idea and never make accomplishments toward it–that is failure. But looking where you are and seeing how far you have come shows your many accomplishments. It is not a failure simply because you are not at the end.

“The sign above the door says “Know Thyself”, but unless you are a God, it is an impossible task. The goal is to strive toward it. Everything you do something to enrich that is an accomplishment.”

He seems done, but the magic is broken by noisy events outside the shrine. From my place in Apollo’s presence, I peer out the door over the green. I can see Ares stomping away from the shrine he shares with Athene.

“If you would just listen to reason!”

Without a word, but with many grumbles and a flare of cigar smoke, Ares pulls off his armor and kicks it to the ground, piece by piece, and heads straight for Aphrodite’s shrine. He pushes through the long line of worshippers, even shoving Her mermaid attendant out of the way. He swings open the door to Her shrine, and I swear I could see Aphrodite dismiss the Lord of War with a wave of her hand.

Apollo and the other woman and I look out. The young Sun God shakes his head, “My family is so…dramatic, sometimes. O dear. He’s not going into there, is he?”

Indeed, Ares slams the door at the shrine of his lover, and proceeds to a group of Sirens–fierce bird women who would sing to you lovingly as they play with your entrails. Their song lures Him in as they dance and sharpen their claws–the woman and I look at each other with worry.

“Fear not,” Apollo touches our shoulders and invites us both back into his shrine, “If anyone can handle their play, it is my brother Ares. Now, where were we? O yes.”

He blesses us both, and I leave the temple inspired by what I’ve heard and ready to write. But first, there are other Gods to visit. I step out of the shrine into Apollo’s glorious sunshine, and inhale the sweet air of optimism. I spare a glance back for the Pithia, who snakes into Apollo’s shrine–no doubt to drink up the words of prophecy he sends to her. I wonder what my destiny will be, and the outcome of this project. But first, I know, I must write…

Io Eleusis!

This extended Easter weekend I spent my time at Ft. Flagler on the tip of the Washington peninsula near the San Juan Islands, where we re-enacted and re-interpreted the Greek Mysteries of Eleusis. We use what we know about what happened at a religious center that continuously presented a yearly rite for almost 2000 years. The initiates take an oath of secrecy, which the state upheld, that called for death if anyone should reveal the content of the mysteries. What we do know that happened there that has been allowed to survive in writings, art and sculpture is what we can definitely say was NOT a part of the mystery there.

We know, for example, that it is based upon the mythology surrounding Demeter the Goddess of Grain, her daughter the Kore/Persephone, and Kore’s abduction/marriage/rape by Hades, the God of the Underworld. While there are many myths about this trio, the one that I think is among the most artful is the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. The story tells of Demeter’s loss, and how the Mysteries at Eleusis were founded. Doing a bit of digging, I found some critical essays that talked about how this Hymn was likely written by and for women, the evidence being that Zeus, who is normally made out in the best light with the highest authority, is trumped by women–the writer seems to bite her thumb at Zeus’–and thus male and the state’s–authority. An interesting proto-feminist idea.

The myth explains the seasons, why we have barren times, and takes a mythological look at the growing of food. What makes it magical is that our Priests and Priestesses at the Spring Mysteries Festival will Draw Down or invoke the godform into them. While we know that the original Greeks did not do a theatrical show based on the myth, we use it because it is consistent with Greek culture and still speaks to us today. The rest of our festival is ritual journeying, in which we go into the Underworld to save Persephone, and witness how the events transform everyone, including the Gods.

Because the actors are invoked, the play takes on a whole new dimension. There is real energy being worked that radiates and touches the participants differently. Those who come to the festival come year after year because the Mystery changes and touches them differently. One year, I might really feel strongly about Persephone’s difficult decision between her mother and her new husband. Another year, I might totally identify with Demeter’s loss, victimhood and

A phallic "herma" of Hermes. You can tell it's him by the wand on the side of the block. This is from an Archaic vase painting.

perceived powerlessness. So when Demeter is healed, I am healed. The Mysteries demands a lot of us, and I found myself in tears several times this weekend.

My favorite part of our festival is the Shrine time. The Priests and Priestesses of the Olympian Gods invoke and attend the shrines we have built for them. The site has these individual little buildings that are basically 18×12′ . We decorate them with fabric, rugs, statuary, flowers and foliage, and anything else that might represent the individual godform. The Pan shrine, for example, had a 3 foot phallus made of, well, wood. The shrine also had animal skins, pine boughs, and a gurgling rock fountain. Anyhoo, besides the wonderful shrines, you can visit the Priests and Priestesses that have been working with this energy for months, if not years, and ask them questions. They are bringing divinity in a safe and tangible way, and visiting the shrines is an experience you won’t soon forget. It is something I’m writing and thinking about a lot for my book about invocation.

By the time the weekend is over, you’ve had several days of comradery with other Pagans who witnessed the same rights, visited the shrines, and ate the same food. It’s a fascinating way to create community and recharge your spiritual batteries.

I was really involved this year, and spent several months organizing things behind the scenes, so the end of this weekend represents an end to a great deal of work. The events themselves went off with fewer glitches than I had predicted. I expect that is because of the wonderful cast, crew and staff working so diligently. I’m sad that it’s over, but I recognize it’s time to turn my attention to other projects, like school…and this blog….and work. My inbox misses the attention, though. Every year I leave Ft. Flagler dreaming about next year, making new friends and connections in my practical and spiritual life. It is an event not easily forgotten.

[Fiction] I Need a Priest (part 2)

I saw Hippie Jean just once more after that first time, a year and a day later. I could have picked her out of a crowd any day, with that long soft hair. She wore bellbottoms and a black tank top. Maroon bra.

It was the last show of the tour season and we were back at the state fair, not too far from my home town. I couldn’t believe they’d let us back here after the incident. Security was tight. Real tight. No one would be allowed back stage.

I took my place at the front of the stage, watching the throng of people wait for their beloved Purple Revelry. Waiting for D.  They were not disappointed.

When the band started playing, and he started wailing, ten thousand people stood up and cheered. He loved them, and they turned it right back at him, and I sat in the crossfire, keeping these people at arm’s length. Keeping their madness at bay. The crowd was drunk off of eight-dollar beers, and drunk off D. Thirty years of memories poured out of them, and I swear to God I could see them start to change before my eyes.

The full moon hung in the sky, pouring her lunacy on the crowd. The stereo equipment was, as usual, as loud as it could go. At the end of the song, the audience screamed and cheered, begging for more. He winked at them, and turned to the band to speak with his eyes. “Play it slow. Take them away.”

As an encore, they played something new. It was unearthly. The beat pumped with my heart, calming me immediately. I watched Hippie Jean weave and dance, enthralled. The music started to speed up, faster and faster with the moon pouring down. I watched her spin. I watched the crowd go out of control, dancing, yelling, moshing. I swear to God they moved like animals, snorting like bulls, moving lithe like a cat, or the women rolling their arms like snakes.

The music stopped.

Everyone in the crowd collapsed. The concert was over. No one applauded as they struggled to breathe, wondering what just happened to them. I ain’t been around to see a whole lot, but I’d never seen anything like that. D and Purple Revelry left the stage silently. I followed them through the side door, leaving the mess of tangled, exhausted bodies to fend for themselves.

But I wasn’t alone. In the dark corridor I felt her small hand slip into mine. I smelled sweat, patchouli and ecstasy—I knew it was her, “Please,” she whispered, her voice was small and unsettled, “I need a priest.”

I stopped walking, and she did too, “No one gets back there”. I didn’t know what she meant, and it didn’t matter how much I wanted her as my own, the rules were the same for everyone, even pretty girls.

“You are the gatekeeper?”

“I guess you could say that.”

She pulled her hand away. I thought she would leave, but I didn’t want her too. Instead, she grabbed my jacket and pulled, pulling me to her lips. I was surprised and shocked, but I melted into her, savored her. I didn’t want it to end. The world dimmed away until it was me and her together.

She pulled away and slipped past me. Was I just used? Did she remember me from that night so long ago? Did she know that I was watching her, and dreaming of her from that night until this? Was she dancing for me? I didn’t know.

Slowly the world came back. And so did my responsibility. I hurried down the corridor, to the green room where the band would hang out. For some reason, those groupie girls were there, though I can’t imagine for the world how they got in. D was lounging luxuriously on the couch like he owned the place. Hippie Jean approached him and kneeled next to him. She seemed far away, entranced, and she gave him a bottle of wine.

D inspected the label. He cocked an eyebrow and smiled, then looked straight at me. I wondered what the crazy fucker was thinking. One of the groupies brought him a corkscrew from out of her bra. Normally, it would seem strange that anyone would carry such a thing with them at all, let alone between her titties. But tonight, nothing was normal. The band had seen to it.

D took the corkscrew without looking at the groupie. Almost like an animal, his head jerked to Hippie Jean, holding her gaze, he stood up from the couch. She followed his movements, like a dancer, keeping the same distance between them, and never once breaking eye contact. Slowly and deliberately, like they were fucking, he twisted the screw into the cork. I saw her breathe heavily and I burned with envy. D uncorked the bottle. He took a swig, and offered her one, still without looking away from her eyes: his green to her brown.

That seemed to break the spell. She seemed to break out of herself then. She lifted her tiny hand and slapped D in the face.

I moved towards them, this wasn’t right, but the band got in front of me, shaking their heads. Somehow, whatever was going on needed to happen—and I wasn’t to interfere.

She slapped him again. And again. She balled up her fists and punched him in the stomach, on the chest, in the face. She damn near broke his nose. He did not react in pain, but stoically stood there taking it like a goddamn Indian.

“You sonuvabitch! How dare you hit me! You can’t make me powerless anymore! I’m leaving you and I hate you and I hope you rot in Hell!” she was in a frenzy, and as badly as she was hurting him, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. Her yelling turned to tears and she hit him again and again. It looked like she would never stop. “You bastard! You cocksucker!” she screamed more obscenities than I’d heard growing up in the country. She was fucking pissed.

It was an eternity before D made any move. The bottle of wine was still in his hand and he raised it above her head, poured the whole bottle on top of her. She stopped crying and it was like the wine made her instantly drunk and she started laughing. Laughing like crazy. She stood there dripping and laughing like crazy.

“A bruise for a bruise,” he whispered, “go forward. You are free.” He kissed her on the forehead, spun on his feet and walked towards me. He handed me the bottle and grinned.

“Take care of her, will ya? She’s been through a lot.”

I looked at the bottle label: it was from my parent’s vineyard, from the year I was born. How could she possibly know? I went to her and picked her up bodily. I took her to the only place I could think of and walked out the door and put her on the tourbus. I had never been in where D took the groupies, but my money was that it had a bed.

The sheets looked like ivy going up a wall. I was afraid the vines would come up and take her and I’d never see her again. She had stopped laughing and was crying again. I put her down gently and went to fetch a towel. After all those times drinking and cleaning up after everyone, I knew where the best ones were. I grabbed five. I didn’t know how many towels a girl would need. When I got back she was sitting up, wiping her eyes. I felt like such a prick when I handed her the towels.

“Thanks” she said, “Mr….?”

“Green. Jac—John Green.”

“John.” It was like she was trying out my name to see if she liked the taste on her tongue. She smiled, so I think she did. “Do you drink wine?” she asked, her eyelids were heavy, but her gaze was penetrating and she allowed me a small smile.

“Yeah,” I lied. But then I knew it wasn’t a lie and that I would drink whatever she wanted to give me and nothing else ever again.

The moon shone through the window, on her way back home below the horizon. At the moment we were safe from her influence.

“What should I call you?” I asked.

“Call me yours if you’ll drink with me. I’m celebrating.” Rummaging through a nearby drawer, she produced a bottle of champagne and two fluted glasses. How she knew it was there, I’ll never know.

“Celebrating what?”

“It’s my birthday. I want to spend it with somebody cute.”

I blushed and flustered, “I’ll go get D—“

“No no, get back here John.” It felt weird inside when she said my name. “I don’t even know him. I want someone real.” She handed me a glass and filled it with golden bubbles.

“To us.”

I toasted to that. There would be plenty of time for talking later.