“Let the celebration begin!” he exclaimed as he entered the grand ballroom lined with party goers. He had been anticipating this evening from the moment that Yule chimed in the New Year. Though immortal, Mercury was aware of the passage of time in the mortal world. A moment such as this must be noted, he thought, as he planned for this special event.
Invitations had been delivered by many winged creatures, servants of The Messenger himself. But not all of the guests were immortal, such as the Gods and Goddesses assembled within. Some were mere demi-Gods, while others, such as the Centaurs, were magickal creatures who had gained his favor over the years. He thought back to his youth when he would ride with them through the countryside, seeking union with the beautiful nymphs of the forest. They drank, ate, battled, and loved together in those days! How he missed them! Now it was all seriousness, solving conflicts with the aid of his caduceus, the lovely wand one of his most prized possessions. He was tired of ‘adulting’ and needed a break; this magnificent gala should be just the thing!
As he entered the hall, they parted. A sea of faces and greetings swept over him, and he felt the joy and admiration with which they adored him. He beamed beneath the mask of the Sun that he wore. This was, after all, a masquerade ball and he wanted to outshine them all! Adorned in golden attire with a shining, golden mask he was sure to be noticed. Maybe tonight would be thenight that he would meet his queen and they could rule together until the end of eternity.
As he seated himself on the throne upon the dais at the end of the long ballroom, the music struck a playful and melodic tone.
“Dance, eat, drink, play, and remember this day, for this is the height of my reign and all will know the bounty of my glory!” he cried.
The crowd of idolaters dispersed. Some took up positions on the dance floor and began to sway to the rhythms of the band, a merry group of lute players, flute blowers, and tapping drummers. The music varied in theme and intensity and seemed to echo his mood as he watched the flowing bodies build the passion of the play. Others seated themselves at large tables; the servants began to circulate with pitchers of nectar and mead, platters of ambrosia, meats, fruits, nuts, bread, and honey were brought out and placed at table center for the hungry masses.
He called for a drink and a bite of food as he surveyed the room. He could hear the raucous laughter of the centaurs as they spilled out into the courtyard and wrestled each other, their front hooves clacking in the night air. He knew they couldn’t stay in for long; the night breeze always called to them to run and rut in the fields. They were on the prowl and he could hear them exchanging bawdy jokes of sex and battle as they bantered back and forth. How he longed to run and play with them as in the old days when the weight of duty wasn’t upon him!
Then he noticed a creature more beautiful than any Goddess he had ever seen. With her mask in place, he couldn’t readily identify her but was captivated by the way her hips swayed to the beat of the drums, knocking out the primal beat of procreation. She flowed effortlessly around the room; dancing by herself, she was lost in the music and began stroking her long blonde locks as they fell over her bosom. Her gown was as black as the night sky, with stars shimmering on its velveteen surface as she moved to the rhythm of the music. He was hypnotized; he could not take his eyes from her long enough to notice the older woman with the pinched look on her face who approached the dais.
“What a fabulous evening!” she cooed. “I’m surprised not to see my husbandhere, although why he would be I’ll never know. Never around to escort me to the finest of functions with his preoccupation with those ‘humans’, she hissed. In spite of the mask, he knew the acerbic voice when he heard it. It was Hera, she who reigned alongside her brother/husband, Zeus, king of the Gods.
“You aren’t searching this pathetic crowd for a mate, are you?” she asked as she noticed him staring past her to catch a glimpse of the beauty he had lost sight of in an instant. “Take it from me, love is for suckers!”
He looked at her with slight annoyance. He didn’t want to anger her; he knew how she could be when she was provoked. However, her sour disposition was beginning to grate on his nerves.
“Did you wish to dance?” he asked. Maybe he could switch partners in the middle of the next number, taking a chance that the woman he had seen before was therein. But, alas, she turned down his offer.
“Dance?” she laughed. “I should think not. I would never be caught dead dancing with these semi-Gods’. As a matter of fact, your loud and crazy crowd seems to have abandoned the party just in time. Too much of them is simply too much! Perhaps now the rest of us can enjoy an engaging evening. ” she sneered as she looked toward the courtyard doors.
Now he was annoyed! Who was she to judge those who had been part of his childhood, teaching him to roam the countryside and get loud and rowdy! He could show her a thing or two about Wild! But, other matters were at hand. He thought he had spotted her again, only this time she was wearing a different mask, one with a more mature look, and her long locks seemed to be red in the candlelight. The gown was the same; shimmering black with hints of stars on it. Was he just wishing it was her? When would this shrew go away and leave him to his quest?
Secretly Hera was thinking to herself, ‘Will he fall to temptation or stay strong on his course? Does he know that tonight is the beginning of the end?” She watched him out of the corner of her eye, playing as if she was oh-so-bored by the lack of attention she was suffering. ‘Soon he will know and will be put to the test. Will he succumb to the sacrifice?’
“Well, obviously, you have other things on your mind tonight besides me,’ she stated as she walked backward from the dais. “ I will leave you now to your thoughts, your ‘search’. The dawn is fast approaching. Will you be ready to face the new day?” With an ever-so-slight bow, she left him.
His mind wandered. He was picturing those days in his youth when desire and passion were all in the front of his thoughts. Once again he was captured by the mystery woman and that dress. He thought he could actually see the constellations in its starry pattern. Then, with a deliberate nature, he rose from his throne on the dais, thinking to go and meet this Goddess while he had her in his sights. He made his way across the ballroom, gliding between dancers as they spun around him in a circle. He could still see her from behind; maybe it was the sister of the woman he had seen earlier and he could find out her name, he thought as he progressed across the floor.
Suddenly, a loud ruckus could be heard just outside the hall. In a burst of laughter, the doors flew wide and there stood his childhood friend and teacher, Elatus. He was holding a drinking horn and came into the room shouting, “Merc, come and see what we’ve found in the woods!” Mercury turned his head and spied Elatus; the look of mischief on his face was ever so inviting. Yet he was still on a mission. He looked back to the location where he had last seen the woman he pursued. Once again, she had disappeared. ‘Damnit’, he thought, ‘I’ll never catch up with her as this rate. Perhaps our destinies are not entwined or she is just too ethereal for my grasp to reach.’
He moved toward the doorway to greet his friend, Elatus. Behind him, he could hear quite the party raging. Out on the lawn, he could see the other Centaurs gathered. They were playing soccer and, on their backs were the ‘riders’, beautiful nymphs from the nearby forest, holding on to their manes and writhing up and down as the Centaurs engaged in game play.
“As the captain of the ‘winning’ team, I would have you, just this once, as my rider. Come out and play and you can help us win the battle once more!”
Oh, how he was tempted! So much seriousness had besieged him of late, weighing him down with problems and worries. He wanted to run and play; he wanted to recapture that sense of adventure and rowdy enthusiasm that he possessed when he was young.
He turned then, looking into the throng of guests that had turned to watch the exchange. “Dear Brother Elatus, I would love to take off and play with you! But I must not be derelict in my duties to my other party guests. I have many to meet and greet. You will just have to go and play without me. Try not to wreck the countryside while you’re at it!” he finished as he stepped forward to embrace his friend in a bro hug.
Then Mercury turned to the bandstand and shouted, ‘Music!’ The band resumed a lively tune and the dancers went back to their rounds. But as the music lifted once more, he stepped a bit further onto the patio to view the Centaurs as they rode off toward the nearest field. He thought for a moment that he glimpsed some sort of hat on one of the Nymphs. ‘Strange’ he thought. He could have sworn there were words on the hat, something like ‘Make Olympus Great Again!’ This must be a theme with the demi-Gods right now, he laughed to himself. Reflecting briefly he thought, ‘Olympus doesn’t need any help; it has always been Great; Perfect, in fact!’Then he had a good belly laugh as he turned back toward the hall.
He spotted her then for a third time. She was in the same gown; however, her hair was jet black and the mask had changed again. This time it was that of an older woman, a crone, yet still beautiful nonetheless. Now he really must find the answer to the riddle that was plaguing him. ‘Who is this beautiful and elusive creature that keeps haunting my thoughts this evening? He wondered. ‘I must go ask her to reveal herself.’
Then he realized he wouldn’t have to chase her down anymore. She was headed his way; she walked with elegance and grace as she crossed the patio and joined him.
“Greetings, mighty Mercury. Splendid ball! Are you enjoying yourself?” she trilled. Her voice was like that of bees to honey. He turned to respond but stopped when she captured his gaze. She was smiling from under her mask. Her eyes, they were black, stared right through him and he knew that this was not a chance meeting. She had something hiding there; some mission or message she wanted to share with him.
He greeted her. “Beautiful Goddess, all night I have been enchanted by you. Yet I do not know your name. You seemed to be hiding from me earlier and now you approach. Do you play with my desires or toy with me as a cat with a mouse? Or do you have some words that you would like to share with me? Perhaps more?!” he leered as he stared into her eyes.
“Come, take my hand and I will tell you what I see,” she said.
He took her hand and they journeyed together. Never leaving the comfort of the patio, they travelled into the expanse of the cosmos using their third sight. Looking around, he could see the Universe as it lay out before them. Earth was but a tiny speck in the heavens.
“Look there,” she said pointing at a group of stars. It was the constellation Centaurus. He remembered back to the death of his friend, Chiron, whose pain was only laid to rest through his death. ‘Is this the way of it, then, for me?’ he thought.‘What is she trying to show me?’
“As wise as Chiron was, he still couldn’t avoid his fate. He died trying to defend for love’s sake. This is not the path for you.”
Some relief washed over him. Maybe there was more.
Then she said, “Look to the Earth; it is here you will find the future of our Universe.”
As he looked down at the beautiful green and blue ball that circled the Sun, he could see what Men were doing to each other; He was saddened beyond measure. ‘Why do they want to destroy his Mother, Gaia? Why were they clouding her air with smog, defecating in her waters, and wasting the bountiful gifts that She gave to them so selflessly? Was he just a figurehead? Didn’t anyone need to hear his messages anymore? Why do they kill, abuse, judge, and isolate themselves from each other and from Nature? Do they not see the folly of their ways?’
She began to speak. “This is our future. Without man, there is no reason for our existence. We are the images that humans assign to their mysteries and their faith, their hope. When they are gone, we will cease to exist.”
This struck him like a slap in the face! Nothing that mere humans could do would end his reign or bring Mt. Olympus crashing into the sea! Was she speaking metaphorically?
“Great Goddess of the starry skies, why have you shown me this? Is this vision of the future a certainty or can change prevent this fate from happening?”
As she turned to him, she removed her mask. He recognized her then; Hekate, the triple Goddess in her Crone aspect. She put her hand on his shoulder and said, “This is a vision of what might be! Mankind can stop the flow of destruction by choosing life over death, by choosing love over hate, by choosing faith over fear!”
She turned his vision again; this time he could see a mighty storm raging at sea. A small ship seemed to be struggling to stay afloat. One small lighthouse seemed to be beckoning in the distance, warning of the rocks that might end the vessel’s struggle in cataclysmic ways.Then she spoke. “With the birth of your brother, Quaoar, we try to usher in a new awakening for mankind, one that will perpetuate them, and Us, throughout eternity. There are those women and men that have awakened from their slumber. They can see what the future holds and are the keys to unlocking a solution to their own destruction.”
Then she showed him a cave deep beneath the Earth’s surface. “The great Merlin awaits! He who is in the deathless sleep holds the message of a new dawn. The question is: Will anyone hear the message?Will mankind be around long enough to hear it, strong enough to act on it?”
Then he felt another hand on his shoulder. It was Hera; he hadn’t expected to see her again this evening. “Congratulations, brother. You have resisted the temptation to join the crowd, to satisfy your immediate urges, and to run amuck while the rest of the world is in need of enlightenment. Lend yourself to worthy pursuits and perhaps you will find what you seek after all.” And then she smiled. “Look to the shore and see what is waiting for them if they survive!”
He saw then a myriad of people, all colors and races, all creeds and beliefs, holding hands and singing to the heavens, “We fly to new heights but have not wings. We dive deep into the healing waters and breathe, but have no fins or gills. We plant our seeds in the Earth; will you give us roots to grow?We are one under the Moon and Sun. Our journey has just begun.”
“They will survive only if they work together to see the future and keep the faith!” Hekate chimed in. “This is the message you are to impart to mankind. Let your caduceus be a tool of conflict resolution that they may work together to save themselves and Us. May the truth shine through like the rays of the Sun on their dark horizon.”
With this last vision, he awoke. He was once again on the dais; he must have fallen asleep while he listened to the music. But the vision was real, and he knew what he must do now. Turning to the crowd, he rose, saying, “Thank you all for joining me! Let this evening be a portent of things to come and may the reign of the Gods be forever in the minds and hearts of man! Now, let’s dance!”
And the drums, lutes, and flutes struck up a tune!