Between the Worlds
by Antheia Narvalo
Maps, Blueprints, Corridors and Keys
Transgender spirituality can be one of transcending boundaries, of knowing the spaces in-between the parameters and thought-constructions. Of crossing over. We are intimately aware of the gateways that demarcate those boundaries. We have seen close-up the imaginal lines establishing these categories by which we are defined. This is because we have transgressed them.
The maps, our variously formed textual blueprints, are not "the thing." Maps point us the way. They invite one into a story but they do not tell us how to participate with the text. It does not matter where one enters. Every point in the ocean of narrative is connected to every other point. Our maps are interpretive tools, technologies of encounter. They offer us a method of reinterpreting our individual and collective histories. For trans folks, this is a matter of reclaiming the narrative itself. It can also be a spiritual practice.
My work is an attempt to find our place in the story. It aspires to be a kind of literary exploration beneath the cultural substratum, always in search of textual artifacts. These artifacts contain within them the clashes and synthesis of ideas, configured and reconfigured throughout the ages. And the very dawn of ages. Thrown out notions, recycled ideas, outmoded models and linguistic debris. This is junkyard philosophy. Ours are the ancient scrolls left unattended. Ours are the maps.
The girl between the worlds. She was a poet but briefly, this Promethean offspring of the gods. She swam after the Sun itself and was taken. Untamed. Wild. This wanderer, knowing little of the ways of men, was taken up by the Goddess. The Creatrix at the center of the Celestial Fire had called her by name. It was a name known only in her heart, a secret name. She who reigned o'er the oceans, both those above and those below, had beckoned, whispered to the child.
This daughter of the wild spaces, unashamed of her savage beauty, indeed had been taken. The girl had been gifted by She who is All, by She who contains even the gods, the deorum dearumque facies. And joyously so. With glee. A solitary child of Hestia, she had gladly, if gracelessly, tended to the sacred glowing hearth. And by its light, in service to Mnemosyne, she recounts the story of first dawn, of Eos.
The ragged initiate, no longer in the tenderness of youth, slept in the thick woodland near her Ionian village. She had the eyes of a much older woman, knowing and timeless. This child inhabited the places others feared to cross, the treacherous night, the place of burials. Shunned by the inhabitants of the settlement, she was nonetheless frequently sought out by those who found prophecy and healing in her strange, enigmatic words. Her unkempt hair radiated with a glow like that of the golden sun itself. Those who encountered her would remark upon it.
The days of the erstwhile priestess were spent following the elusive signs of nymph and satyr, trying to discern their ways. There the novice would commence her journey. She would seek out the abodes of the Oracles and tread the riverbanks, charting them ever towards the source, following a distant, yet unmistakable call.
Yes, the alchemist would follow the elusive nymphs and the path of the sacred trees. But where were they taking her? To whom? And what of the Korybantes assigned to her retinue? These were the frenzied guardians sworn to protect the throne and mysteries of the Goddess. And to dance.
As the pathways drew ever-closer to Our Lady of the Mountain, even the three Karites themselves had appeared. They had arisen as from the mists to guide her. What was it that they had so solemnly spoken to the novice while lavishing her with gifts and the blessings of abundance? It was difficult to recall in the whirl of those days. They had prepared the young woman with incense and oils. Spice cakes. And a warning? She could almost recall the scent of burnt almonds. Had they warned her? What was the Goddess calling her to do?
Attendants of these Graces, this three-fold reflection of the Goddess, had bathed her in a moonlit pool beneath the eldest of trees and draped her in fabrics. By the torchlight surrounding them, the initiate could see these were not of her home in famed Samos, nor of her native land, far across the sea, beyond the Pillars of Hercules. These lavish textiles had come from the east. They had an almost cool smoothness gliding over her slim frame, much smaller than the "physical body" she was forced to inhabit when not traversing the realms.
In the odd passage of time known only by those in the material plane, she had met others who had pledged themselves to the Goddess. These had journeyed from afar and, like her, they could traverse the worlds between sky and earth and even cross the river that bars the underworld without trespass. Though knowing the ferryman well, she seldom did, apart from her visitations with poor Teiresias, fated to eternal sanity in the realm of the somnambulists.
The seeker, or rather her spirit-body, trod along river and mountainside, to the depths of the earth and sea and to the distant peaks. At night she dreamed of the Goddess, among her many other visions. Here, she found solace, if not always clarity. Nonetheless, the wanderer felt the Mother of the Gods had confirmed her calling to service.
This mendicant traveler and visionary began to actually see the souls of the world, like little glowing spheres, by turns descending and ascending a great stellar trellis. It was here that her ears first truly became attuned to the songs of the Great Mother. It was here that she first learned to listen for that divine voice... and to hear her own. The Goddess who resides always at the Center, the Magna Mater, the Meter Theon, had been waiting there all along.
It was neither a question of faith nor of well-considered belief for this young woman embarking on the path for which she was chosen. These words hold no meaning standing before the Sacred Fire. Nor, certainly, is it one of assent, for there is none as the Goddess, or rather her likeness, appears before those blessed into service. To serve the Goddess is to serve the community of all sisters, those of all paths. It is to find Her and to find Her in them. She appears as a long forgotten fragrance, a memory just beyond reach. She beckons, calling out to those who belong to Her from somewhere deep within. The Goddess fills and surrounds one's being. Exquisite death... and rebirth.
The novice well knew that these mountains are ensouled, that these rivers breathe and sing. She knew that they chant the world into its many forms at each instant, each moment that elapses. From where do we imagine that the Nymphs have come after all? Are these not the ones, she thought, who reared mighty Zeus upon Mt. Ida? The rocks themselves are ensouled. The message of the stones, the chant emanating from the river, the mountain, almost visible, encased in the mists of dawn. These recount the story.
An image of the Moon reflected in the river, holding the solar light in her belly. Rippling waters amid the fir, ash and oak trees. The smell of roasted almonds. Offerings. The Goddess had only winked at the young girl initially, as if letting her in on a shared secret or a joke. There was pure gladness at the absurdity of it. The Magna Mater had draped her lost child with garland and called the wayward alchemist her own, beckoning her home. The Goddess had called the initiate... she.