THE WOMAN AT THE WELL
Roderick W. Marling
KamaKala Publications (c) 2010
Portland, Oregon USA
"All Rights Reserved"
It was already hot and the blazing sun only one quarter up. He knew he would have to get into shade before it reaches zenith. His food had given out 3 days ago and now he was in search of water. He had been following the raven since dawn.
He was in his 30th year and 10 years before he had taken the vow of a Nazarite: “one who is set aside for purification of all that is mundane and profane”. He was not allowed wine or female companionship; nor was he allowed to cut his hair or beard. He ate a very simple diet and fasted on the new and full moons; and of course maintained a daily ritual of meditation and prayer.
He wore a faded brown robe which was tied around the waste by a twisted piece of hemp. The robe came down to about mid-calve as well as the now tangled mat of his hair. He had been in the desert for 3 moons seeking solitude in a cave. The night before, he had received a dream/vision instructing him to follow a raven as it flew to the North.
Struggled in the loose sand he was climbed to the top of a large dune so that he might get a better sense of how far it was. He knew the general direction form years ago, but he was stronger then and well fed. The fasting had taken something out of his stride and now he worked to catch his breath as he came to the crest.
There it was! An emerald shinning in a sea of sand. He threw himself down, spent. The joy was short lived. Perhaps it is just another mirage. He sat up cross legged trying to slow his breathing. With his focus fixed he tested his vision for any strange variations, any tricks. But the image never wavered – it held solid enough. A wave of relief washed over him; he now knew he could make it to the oasis, known as “Jacob’s well”.
The sun was at its zenith when he finally walked into the welcoming shade of the date palms. The well was a large stone structure with six steps circling its base. He sat down on the lowest of the steps and waited. As was the custom of a man in his position, he could not draw up the water himself – as that was considered women’s work. So he waited, thirsty, exhausted.
The heat now played high off the desert floor in waves. He looked out with searching eyes as if looking through moving water. He grew faint and lay his head down on the cool stones of the steps. For no apparent reason he now remembered the words of the scriptures pertaining to Jacob’s vision: “You shall see heaven open and angels ascending and descending.” His mind faded out into the darkness of sleep.
Before he opened his eyes again he could hear the faint, but rhythmic tinkling of bells. His attention now riveted on the sound. They were too small to be camel bells or that of a donkey; and yes they were coming closer. He opened his eyes and sat up, looking out into the desert heat from which the sound came. As if walking through water an image was approaching. He blinked, thinking it a vision, a waking dream or the heat playing tricks. She was carrying a large water jar upon her shoulder.
As she drew closer it became clear that this woman did not have her head covered as was customary, in fact she did not have her breasts covered. She wore only a red cloth about her hips that came down to just above the knee. Her dark hair hung loose about her shoulders and framed a pair of large breasts that swayed ever so slightly as she walked. Around her neck sparkled beads of lapis and gold, and she wore silver bells around her ankles that played their music with her movement.
Highest God in Heaven, what manner of woman is this? In all his travels he had never seen anything or anyone so beautiful as this. He couldn’t believe what his eyes were seeing.
As she came into the shade of the palms he further noticed she had intricate henna designs on her hands and feet, and a small tattoo on her left shoulder – a red diamond above a crescent moon and a dark spiral. For a brief moment he turned his head in unbelief, still thinking she was not real. But her image held solid. He had never seen a woman like this – uncovered, totally vulnerable, but yet so self-assured. His head filled with questions, while his body felt a deeper thirst than in his mouth.
As she put down the water jar her breasts hung down before him like heavy rain clouds from heaven, and the strong sent of sandalwood and frankincense washed over him. She broke his trance with a soft voice: “Nazarite, have you been waiting long?”
She spoke in an Eastern dialect of Aramaic, which he had never heard before and sounded like the language of casting spells.
Totally ignoring the question however, he demanded: “Are you a woman for hire?” His concern was that if she was, he could not accept water from her hands.
She fixed her dark eyes that were lined with Egyptian kohl on his and replied: “Do I look like a woman of the streets? I am a Qadishtu, a priestess. I embody the Great Mother, Ishtar, and I have served in the temples of Babylon.” She then turned to pull up the water pail in the well.
“So”, he inquired further, “you have had many husbands?”
“No”. She again replied, a little annoyed at his arrogant persistence. “I am a Qadishtu. The Mother wishes that I serve any man that surrenders his heart to Her.”
He now knew that this woman was completely outside his tribe or any he had come to know. He watched for a moment as she gracefully began pulling on the long rope. Her breasts had begun their hypnotic sway.
Finally pulling his eyes away, he announced: “I am of the tribes of Abraham and come out of the family of David the king.”
“Oh yes, Abraham came out from the wealth of my land and David’s son, Solomon, was taught by our women.”
He was stunned. How could she know this? An educated woman?
As if reading his mind she went on to say:”I am strange to you because you come from an uncivilized tribe; a poor tribe because they fail to appreciate all the gifts of your females.”
He felt as if he had been slapped in the face. How dare she talk like this! After a long silence he recovered his composure and quietly said to her, “I am of the Light, and have come to bring the Light into the world.”
She stopped lifting the water and pinned the rope to edge of the rock wall to take the wait off her arms. She turned to face him, her dark eyes now fixed on him. “So Nazarite, you are the son of the Father. Have you yourself seen the light?”
“When thine eye be single, thy whole body will be filled with light,” he answered.
“Yes” she said in a soft voice, “you are one of those who have indeed seen the light. Many are those who have seen the light, but yet know nothing about the night.”
“The sons of the light are against the dark. The dark is the advisory of the light,” he shot back.
“Who told you such a thing?”
“It is written in the scriptures,” he stated with confidence.
“You search your scrolls because in them you think you will find the Truth, but I tell you that before there was the light, there was the womb of Life and out of Her dark waters came the light. Unless you drink of Her water of Eternal Life you shall remain thirsty.”
His anger burst out, “You speak heresy!”
“I speak of the wisdom that has been passed down from our ancient Grandmothers many long ages before Abraham was born in our land. Unless the grain of barley falls into the moist darkness of the earth, it shall never grow.
A wise man does not live in his head, Nazarite. He thinks from his heart, he feels with his heart, he lives in his heart.” She then returned to the rope and began pulling up the water.
He sat there in stunned silence. He had never heard anyone speak like this, none of his teachers and certainly not a woman. For the first time confusion crept into his thoughts and tiredness filled his body.
The full pail of water finally arrived and she brought it down the steps with the tinkling of bells and the sweetness of her sent. He held up his cupped hands. She repeatedly filled his hands as drank the water. And as he drank she whispered softly, “the water I give you flows from the spring of Everlasting Life; and if a man drinks he will never thirst.”
Then she turned and went back up the steps. His eyes followed her full hips as she moved. The raw power of male energy began to stir within him. He watched her fill her brightly painted water jar. Her nipples swayed like small rose buds caressed by the morning breeze.
With her jar now filled, she splashed some water out onto the ground. Suddenly his trance was broken.
“Why did you do that?’ He asked irritated at the perceived waste.
In a reassuring voice, she answered as if speaking to a small child, “we make a offering back to the Mother of that which we have been given, recognizing that it is because of Her living waters that all have Life. Is it not so”?
“It is so”, he heard himself reply. His thoughts flying like startled birds. How can this woman speak like this? Who is she?
She came and sat down beside him and said, “I am a Qadishtu. I am of the Mother and the Mother is in me. Whoever comes to me will find fulfillment and he will no longer thirst.”
Now his mind was tumbling down a steep slope. He was grabbing at this and that trying to hang on to the familiar, then all at once there was no support; he was falling. She reached out and touched his chest. He started crying uncontrollable as wave after wave of love came crashing into his heart.
He threw himself down and held her feet as the tears continued to fall like rain. As the waves of love slowly subsided, he opened his eyes and found himself looking down into a spiral pattern of henna on her foot. Without making any motions to get up he spoke into the spiral, “lady, what shall I do?”
Her voice came from above him in a soft whisper, “you have been taught all your life that you should love God above all else and love others, but the truth is that you can neither love God nor others, unless and until you love yourself. You cannot give what you do not have. Is it not so?”
He felt her words enter him like a cool breeze.
“You have already paid the price. Be kind to yourself. Trust yourself; allow simple pleasures to come into your life and it will blossom like the desert flowers after the season of rain. If you can love yourself unconditionally you will find yourself already walking in Paradise.”
Sitting up and drying his eyes with the sleeves of his robe, he now looked into her eyes that were dark as night.
“What about the law of Moses?”
In a louder voice she exclaimed, “Moses is not the bread of heaven. You can fulfill the entire law and yet remain unfulfilled. Is it not so my hungry Nazarite?”
With a more confident voice born out of his own experience, he replied, “Yes, it is so.”
“The ancient law of the Grandmothers has always been: ‘do whatever you desire, but harm none.’”
He felt as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, and he saw how all his life he had been carrying the heavy burden of a thousand scrolls.
After a long silence, once again he asked her, “what shall I do?”
“Moses came to lay down the law, perhaps you have come to lift it up. Let the Great Mystery of Life live through you. Whatever you want to do - do it. Whatever you don’t want to do - do not do it. Whatever you want to say - say it. Whatever you don’t want to say - do not. The more you love the Great Mystery that is at the heart of yourself, the more you trust the direction in which you choose to move. The power of your choice is like the power of a great wind that moves the sands of the desert where it will, prunes the branches of the trees and pollinates the flowers as well.
The power of heaven and earth is given to you. It is your birthright. Trust in the Mystery and you will feel the power to choose your own direction.”
After a long silence, he asked, “what about doing the will of God?”
The Divine will is expressing itself through your will. The flaming desire of the Divine is expressed through the creative heat of your desires. The Divine is seeking fulfillment through your own fulfillment.”
“Then what about helping others?”
“Walk in the light of your own freedom and joy, and your example will shine like a lamp on a hill; a sufficient sermon to all.
If you allow yourself the freedom to do what you will, then you will naturally allow others the same freedom. Yes, there will always be mistakes, but how did you learn to walk if not through falling down. Everyone is learning to walk; by trying to carry another, neither you nor they will benefit.”
“Then what about the oppressors of my people?”
“Know this well, he who would pick up a sword shall find that it is always double edged, and the life he takes shall also be his own. He will be cut off from his own heart, his connection to the love and joy of Life. He will wander through life blind, unable to see the Paradise that is all around him, and unable to enjoy the banquet spread out before him. And when the blind shall lead the blind, the dead shall buy their dead.”
“But what should we do then about the Romans?”
“When your brother comes to you with plans to rob your neighbor’s house, do you participate in his plans? Do you then support his efforts? The same response applies to the oppressors. Do not in any way support them. The ones oppressing can only do so with the cooperation and support of the oppressed; they are two sides of the same coin. If the oppressed stop playing the game, the oppressors can no longer play.”
“How do we stop planning the game?”
“First and foremost no longer think of yourself as being the oppressed. People who no longer trust themselves, no longer feel the power of their own actions; so they give their power to others. They let others make their decisions for them. Because they fear and distrust their own power, they let others rule over them.
The truth is, most people fear freedom. They think they don’t have the power to make Life’s journey in their own way, so they are content to follow the way of others.
If you see yourself as weak, so shall you be. Does it not say in your scripture: ‘As a man believes in his heart, so is he.’?
The real oppressor is inside you own mind telling you that you are not loveable, that you are ugly, dumb and weak. Then you begin to question: ‘how can I stand up to the handsome, the smart and the strong?’ That is how the game begins.
In your scrolls this oppressor in the mind is called ‘the father of lies’. This is because the root of all evil is always a lie. The more people believe in the lie, the more they move into fear. The man that surrounds himself with weapons does so not out of strength, but because he thinks himself to be weak. Those that seek to control others, fear that Life is uncaring and dangerous. And they believe that others, given their freedom, are dangerous to themselves and their neighbors.
There are people so afraid of falling down, that they refuse to walk freely in Life’s joyous parade. So they close their heart as well as their eyes, and their mouth pours out a flood of lies upon all those that will listen. So now we have vast multitudes not only fearing themselves and their neighbors, but of course they fear their God as well. And where there is fear there can never be love. Is it not so, my beloved Nazarite?”
Slowly he whispered, “It is so. It is so.” He sat staring out into the shimmering desert heat, and after a long silence asked, “You say that it is enough not to support or cooperate with the Romans, so does that include their tax as well?”
“Good people that cooperate out of fear are feeding the contagion of fear. Fear only multiples fear. If they cannot support their land out of generosity and appreciation, then it is not support at all, but sowing the seeds of a curse upon themselves and their children.
In the land between the two rivers, Babylon, there is a saying among the poor fisherman, ‘when we catch a fish with a gold coin in its mouth, then we will pay the king’s tax.’”
His mind suddenly felt as if waking from a long sleep and power surged through his body. He stood up not knowing why or what for. Even though he had not eaten for days he felt he could march all the way to Jerusalem.
“Are the flies biting you that you are in such a hurry to be on your way? It is still the heat of the day; a man would not last but an hour in the heat of the open sand.”
Once again he couldn’t refute her logic. He now found himself walking around the well totally lost in a storm of thoughts. Eventually returning to sit beside her, he sat staring at the strange tattoo on her shoulder.
“It is forbidden to mark our bodies,” he announced.
She looked down at the henna stained patterns on her feet and replied, “we only put upon our body the symbols that mark some meaningful event in our life or some message we have received through our visions.”
“What is the meaning of the spiral that you wear on your shoulder?”
“Our life moves as if in a circle from birth, to middle age, to old age and then death. But that circle is not the end, it is only a part of a circle that came before as well as being part of a circle that will come after, ever expanding, ever fulfilling. Those that speak of a final destination have not yet come to know the journey. This I have seen.”
“No final destination?” He asked in amazement and unbelief.
“No beginning. No ending. People are afraid of Eternity so they entertain themselves with little bed times stories of a beginning and a final resting place.
The crescent moon you see above the spiral is the symbol of the mind; and it is turned toward the red diamond - the symbol of the spirit. This then is the message and the way of Eternal Spirit imprinted on my body temple.”
“Body temple? Those are strange words.”
“You do not know that your body is the temple of the Eternal Spirit? Greater is your temple then any of those built by human hands, more beautiful than Solomon’s temple in all its glory or Herod’s temple now in Jerusalem.”
“Do you not then believe in the temple sacrifices?” He tried to anticipate the answer.
“The way of the Father is sacrifice. But the way of the Mother is mercy. If you really want to sacrifice something why don’t you sacrifice your fears?
If you can begin to see your past mistakes as a child’s process of learning to walk, then you can find it in your heart to forgive that child. This is also part of loving yourself, to be merciful with your past. Once you can forgive yourself, you then will be able to show mercy towards others, even the stranger. Thus, will the road to Paradise be opened.”
“You have shown me that road, beautiful one. Let me now walk with you as a lion by your side.”
She was surprised at his sudden boldness and a faint flicker of shyness swept over her face as she briefly moved her eyes away. Then just as suddenly she moved toward him. Her breath was sweet as fennel and her lips were full and moist against his. And she moved her mouth in such a way that set a fire burning within him, and his hands moved around her hips.
Pulling away, she sat staring down at the henna stains on her bare feet. He followed her eyes. And after some time she slowly began to speak, “my beloved Nazarite, you shall be the lion who walks beside another.”
“But why my dearest? Why can’t I walk with you?” Tears now filled his eyes.
“She is my temple sister who now lives and teaches in the town of Magdala. Her name is Miriamne. And it is with her, that your life’s work in the world will begin.”
“But how . . .”
She raised her fingers to his lips. “Please go now before we are both swept up in the current.” She then turned away - hiding her tears.It was evening now and he slowly rose up from the steps of the well, and walked out into the open sands of the desert . . .