Scribbles:Facing the Southern Oracle

I had faced the first gate. I stood there, between the two sphinxes and hesitated. I knew how this worked. Only by understanding my true worth would I pass the first gate wihout incident. I thought I understood my worth, my place in the universe. I knew not to get above myself. Not to presume.

I had stood bewteen the sphinxes and walked forward. And their eyes opened. And they struck down with their wrath. I fell to the ground at their feet. Their eyes closed, their purpose now fulfilled.

You see, I faced the first gate. And I was found wanting my self-estimation. And I was struck dead. But I had to continue. People were depending on me. And this I picked up my bruised body and my broken psyche and wandered off into the white abyss of the blizzard.

And then I came to second gate. I knew about this one too. This is where I faced my true self. Where kind men found they were cruel. Where brave men found they were cowards. I knew I would come to the mirror, and see a weak pathetic man, because that what I was afraid I was.

The mirror rose up from the snow like a sheer cliff. I steeled myself for the inevitable and peered into it. The weak man was not there.

Instead, I saw a woman. She was thin and gaunt, like she had been starved. Her hair was a dirty tangle from neglect. Her clothes were in tatters and barely conceiled her dessicated frame. She had a swollen eye, like she'd been beaten. A tattoo along the swell of her breast, over her heart, had run like it had been painted on with cheap water colors. It was just a shapeless blob of ink now. She stared at me with endless despair. She had the look of a man who had seen too much war. She stared at me and through me.

I knew her, back when she was well. When she was a priestess, when she radiated life and joy. When she ran across the astral plane like an amazon.

She was who I was when I closed my eyes. She was me when I kissed. She was me when I wrote poetry with flesh and spell.

I tried to reach for her. I tried to explain to her, but no sound penetrated the mirror. Her gaze never wavered.

Even though I could not hear her, she finally spoke. I could read the words on her lips. "Why hast thou forsaken me?" And her image faded away.

I screamed. And I thrust my fist through the mirror, shattering it into a rain of shards. I continued on through the blizzard, leaving a red trail behind me.

And now I found myself at the feet of the Oracle, my life slowly bleeding away into the sand. And I asked how I might be redeemed.

"You cannot be redeemed," the Oracle said.

I fell to my knees and wept.

The voice from the Oracle continued. "Redemption is not a gift. It is an accomplishment. You can not be redeemed. You can only redeem yourself."

I grumbled something about semantics and waited in silence.

"You fear what you might become," the Oracle said. "You fear your power, because you do not trust yourself with it. You avoid learning it, because you are sure you will abuse it. That you will become a monster. Or a fool."

"The image you saw is what you have done to yourself. She is your soul, and you are her own abuser."

"You are a Philosopher's Stone. A union of man and woman. You are a priest and a priestess. A god and a goddess. You are a slut and a monk. You are a teacher, and a student."

"You must stand astride worlds, be the terminus between night and day. Only then will you accept yourself and come into your own. You are the woman you saw. Battered. Neglected. Wasting away."

"But you are not without resources. You are surrounded by a feast. But you must eat."

And with that, the Oracle disappeared and I found myself on the plains once again.