Chapter 2: The Road of Ritual

(As Adriani comes into contact with the magic spirit of the place)

Bathed in the silver moonlight, everything appeared surreal and I was delirious now. This is my initiation, I told myself, my initiation to unbearable beauty. I kept walking to reach the end of the stone water-troughs; that was my goal. Suddenly I found myself in a strange place, where the signs of the ancient mysteries were disappearing. I was surrounded by sharp stones and thorns, and I was terrified.

I tried to turn back, but something attracted my attention. A formless piece of something was glowing in a stone cavity, something that resembled charred remains; it was glowing strangely, magnetically, and I approached to see what it was.

Its glow was dull now, dense, as if from burned crystal, and I was puzzled: a broken piece of unknown matter that glowed, a moonlike matter, and I stretched out my hand to pick it up.

--Don’t…don’t touch it… I heard the voice of the monk Lefkios, who was standing behind me.

I turned around, startled. It was too late. The strange broken object was in my hand and was melting, mournful, melting and becoming ash, and still glowing: ash and moist, glowing shade, like a dead piece of moon, and I shuddered.

--Throw it away…throw it away, quickly.

--Why? What is it?

His eyes were ashen with fear and there was anguish on his face as he tried, he said, to remember some words that were capable of negating the other power, which imbued this strange moonlike matter that I held in my hands.

I was puzzled.

--What words are those?

--Word-symbols…seven code words; one opens the other and all together they dissolve the ancient curse…They are written in the apocryphal book. Everything is written there.

His thin body was shaking as it hovered in pain, as if the words were in his body or as if he had to remember them with his body…to detach them from his blood.

--Speak to me…tell me, now, don’t stop…what curse?

--There is a legend about this place. On the night of the full moon with the white halo, they say that strange things happen, like tonight, strange phenomena…it looks like tonight…

He raised his eyes to heaven and saw the face of the moon, which hung from the fragile threads of cosmic indifference…

As I took a few steps, attracted by a watery sound, I saw the spring, a little further away. The crystalline waters shone like silver. The moonbeams pierced them through to their other, invisible, side – where their mythical journeys lay hidden – to the aloof initiation that they carried within them.

Perhaps these are the same waters that were used for the rites of the mysteries and the cleansing, I thought, and I approached to wash my hands, to clean them of that unknown, thick, grease-like matter, which was still glowing and melting, and felt like ash.

Something else puzzled me now.

Although a few minutes ago the water was calm, welling up quietly from its source, suddenly it began to rise strangely, to rise higher and higher, in defiance of gravity, as if a force was pulling it upward, and I stepped backward, terrified.

--Look, the water is inflating, I said, isn’t it strange? It is rising…without being hindered by gravity.

Lefkios looked at me in terror, as I had already dipped my hands in the water and was washing them, satisfied. I watched as that strange matter, which was stuck to them like dry fire, slipped into the water, in tiny spheres that glowed.

What was it, anyway? I had never had such a sensation of touch – a moonlike sensation.

--You should not have touched the water…you should not have seen them, he said.

Again, I was puzzled.

--But why? Is everything forbidden here?

--At the hour when the water shifts, you must not see it…nor touch it. You must not participate in the anarchy.

It was the first time I heard the words: “the hour when the water shifts…” The word “anarchy,” as well, I was hearing for the first time that night from the monk Lefkios. It was as if he wanted to say: the unexplainable – or, the miracle.

I turned to look at the water, which had returned to its normal flow. It had returned to ground level and was flowing calmly into dark channels that disappeared in the night.

I did not want to think about anything. I let my body participate in that sublime thing that Lefkios called anarchy. The mystery fascinated me in a painful way; it was initiating me, perhaps. Soon I would be a charmed one, which means one marked by the unexplainable. I understood that beyond logic, beyond words.

As I was leaving, I turned around to look once more at the Site of the Ancient Mysteries. Bathed in the moonlight it appeared unapproachable, locked in its mysteries, a soul aloof, which had become one with the stones and the water.

Then I looked up at the moon. It was still hanging low in the sky, a cold spot of light that carried with it the memory of creation. Around the moon I thought I saw a circle that quivered faintly: the blond halo.

Chapter 4: The Signs of the Burned Moon

(Adriani, wild with passionate desire for Jason, goes to the Site of the Ancient Mysteries and summons him with the power of the earth.)

It is already afternoon. The wild pomegranate bushes bend, shivering, over the old Byzantine wall and sheaves of hovering blue pierce the few wisps of a moving fog that envelops trees and rocks and lends the site a dream-like appearance of a floating place, traveling motionless in the sway of time. Here and there the light appears from invisible sources and the winter sun appears to be rolling on the earth, so strangely is the place glowing.

I button up my raincoat, wrap a shawl around my neck and go out. Before leaving, I turn around – I felt the attraction of a gaze – and see Lefkios standing at the window, looking at me. His gaze is piercing. I feel it without seeing it. Nothing will stop me, I tell him with my thought, and he nods his head, as if to say, I know… what will happen has already come to pass in that other, invisible, reality. There is a barely discernible smile on his serene countenance. You are the charmed one, he says now, touched by the mystery, and I hear him with my body and shudder.

I take deep breaths and set out. I hear the sound of my footsteps, of the footsteps of the goddess Artemis, the goddess Demeter, of Persephone. I look around. The Site of the Mysteries is deserted. The entire Site of the Ancient Mysteries is deserted. Where is the echo coming from? An echo of raw metal and of water flowing and of cracking crystal – the entire place appears crystalline, surreal, laden with its ancient spirit. Already, the night is falling, slowly, exuding the odor of the first night of creation, an odor of extinguished burn, and I am beside myself. I, too, am made of burned, extinguished material, I reflect, I am the slowly shifting sand at the moment when it is transformed into tender crystals deep in the fire of the earth. You will come, tonight you will come. The moon will come down low, as in the legend, and I will cut it to pieces, which I will throw down, to show you the way. Perhaps you, too, are coming from far away… from mythic argonautic voyages… perhaps, perhaps, you, too, carry a mythical Jason within you, who is seeking the divine moment.

Was it the words or the echo of the voice, a voice with the sound of rock and water and night. It was the wild ecstasy that slowly overpowered his spirit. It was the frenzied moonlight that bathed the place. It was the smell of the earth, of Gaia, that emerged from the depths of time, leaving pieces of abyss in its passing. It was his name spoken by my lips – the lips of a frenzied bacchant – a name that danced in his flesh and elicited the saltiness of the mythical sea and the sway of the gods. It was all these things together that drove him mad.

We did not need to say anything. We rolled into the stone trough of purification, where the moonlight was foaming. The night filled with moans and cries and sighing, filled with incomprehensible words, syllables from the lips of the first humans that experienced passion – perhaps seeking union with the same frenzy of the flesh, and, perhaps, beneath a similar full moon -- in the same vision of the world.