Instant recap: In a bower by a creek on the Berkeley campus Marcus and Venus discussed the Goddess of Love in her many guises, then had their first erotic conjunction. It was merely foreplay physically, but it carried Venus into a transcendent realm.
10. The Pleasures of Power
The Return of Persephone ~ Luca Giordano
As Marcus drove the Range Rover up into the Berkeley Hills, Venus said, “Y’know, I flirted with you an’ everything from the start, because… well, I couldn’t help it. It’s what I do around attractive guys when I’m not attached, and you’re the most attractive man I ever met. But I’m saying that I didn’t think everything through, and now here we are on the way to a… relationship, but the fact is you’re still… attached.”
“It’s okay,” said Marcus, “Gail and I talked it over.”
“What? Really? And she… she doesn’t mind?”
“She minds a lot, but she’s a wonderful woman and she’s willing to make personal sacrifices for a greater good.”
“Whoa! You mean we’ll have… a ménage à trois?”
“It depends on the outcome of our… tryst. Since you’re a sexually experienced woman, you know that the deeper layers of compatibility only manifest in the consummation.”
She digested that, then said: “You’re right. This is a kind of test, a trial. There’s lots more at stake than a casual flirtation.” He gave her an approving look that said more than words.
They passed their communal home without stopping, and Marcus wondered if Gail happened to look out the window and notice. They continued past the limits of the high-end habitations, and Venus marveled at the view as they tooled along the crest of a winding ridge with a panorama of the Bay on one side and a deep wooded valley on the other.
“It’s a little ways farther,” said Marcus. “But I’m wondering about your past relationships ~ what were they really like? Anything you’d care to share?”
Venus drew in her breath, and it was a couple of moments before she exhaled. “Okay,” she said, “it’s a fair question at this point. I had a couple of puppy-love affairs in high school, then Dominic was my first adult relationship. It was nice at first because he was so intelligent and sophisticated, including sexually. But he was so… attached, in a clingy way. It was like he worshipped me, and I didn’t want to be that kind of Goddess.”
“Good for you.”
“So I let him go, and it was awful ~ for awhile I was really worried that I’d have a suicide on my conscience. But he finally accepted it, and meanwhile Roger came along.”
“Was he more of a dominant partner?”
“It seemed that way at first, and I really liked it, having him initiate all the stuff, socially and sexually. But finally I realized that he couldn’t seem to live without me either, and as soon as he got an inkling that I might split from him, the whole thing changed between us.”
“How so exactly?”
“It was like I had him on a chain. I could get him to do anything I wanted just by acting like I was displeased and might break it off. And finally I did. That’s not what I want in a man.”
“Was Philip more satisfactory? It seems like he’s in a different league, not exactly a college boy.”
“Right, that’s exactly how I saw it. One night I was hanging out with a couple of girlfriends in the Caffé Med, dressed a little bit risqué because it was right after Roger and I was on the lookout, y’know? And at the next table was this party of extremely well-dressed middle-aged people talking with such savoir faire about business deals and power-brokering and such ~ it kind of put me in awe. So when Philip started coming on to me with body language I felt complemented, even though he was older.”
“And so it began. Where did it go?”
“Wow, you sure know how to cut to the chase!”
“We’re almost at the place where we turn off for the spot.”
“Okay, I’ll make a long story short ~ though it’s a pretty strange story, because Philip is pretty kinky.”
“Ah! So which kinks?”
“The main one was dominance & submission ~ and he was the bottom.”
“How ironic! He’s such a dominant personality outwardly.”
“Yeah, I learned that that’s not unusual ~ they call it ‘compensation’ in psych class. So I still wound up on the opposite end of the seesaw from what I wanted and expected.”
“Were there, um, compensations for you too ~ something positive?” Venus blushed and fidgeted. With his warmest smile Marcus said, “I’m really interested.”
She sighed and said, “Might’s well come out with it, since we’re going to be intimate. Philip furthered my sexual education, big time.” Marcus raised his eyebrows inquisitively. She continued, “He took me to a super-high-class sex club in the City. The women were so genteel, and the stuff they did was so outrageous ~ I’m sure most of it was illegal, I mean besides just the laws against prostitution. But there was no danger of legal problems because a lot of the patrons were so rich and powerful ~ some of them were even lawmakers themselves.”
“So this place was above the law. Was it kinky?”
“Every kink that was ever invented. I was flabbergasted. I had no idea.”
“So you lost your innocence all over again. And besides being educational, was it fun?”
“Some of it was a lot of fun. The women who ran the place were very impressed with me, telling me how gorgeous and sexy I was, and Philip talked me into trying out for it.”
“Trying out ~ like for a job?”
“The first time it was just for fun. The madam, who was also the head dominatrix, took me under her wing and got me dressed up in the regalia ~ black stockings and garter belt, spike-heeled leather boots, transparent panties, and a bra that exposed my breasts. Then she took me by the hand and paraded me all through the place.”
“Were you embarrassed?”
“In the beginning, a lot. I mean, wearing revealing clothes in the regular public byways is always risky ~ guys tend to hit on you, including losers and smart-alecks, so you have to be pretty demure until you run into somebody you like. And so at first in the club I was mortified that these characters were staring at me, and compulsively tried to cover myself, even though that was impossible. But then I realized that they were doing it in a completely passive way, and when any of them were brave enough to actually relate to me, they were as deferential as little boys ~ even awestruck or worshipful. One guy actually fell on his knees and kissed my feet!”
“And how did that make you feel?”
“Powerful ~ incredibly powerful. And it carried over to real life ~ that’s when I started getting more assertive about… well, displaying myself, and being overtly sexual. When I began doing it in that confident style, most men reacted like the guys in the club, and I could be the top in all kinds
of ways, not just romantically but in the whole spectrum of social relating.”
“So you became a dominant Goddess after all.”
“‘After all’? Oh, I see ~ you mean in the context of Dominic and Roger. But it wasn’t really the same thing. Being in control of social situations enabled me to sort out the guys and avoid getting involved with clingy ones.”
Marcus laughed. “Okay, I see you know what you’re doing. And it worked ~ you sorted through the herd until you found me.”
Venus guffawed in a very unladylike manner. Then Marcus asked, “So did you do any, um, intern work at the sex club?”
“Mostly on Philip, but also with a few other guys who the madam let me select. I wasn’t much into inflicting physical pain on people, no matter how much they loved it. But I have to admit I did enjoy teasing them in other ways, and being in command. I learned stuff about them and me that isn’t in any of the psych texts I’ve studied so far.”
“Yep, real life is always the best education ~ though the academic part is a vital supplement.”
“I tried being the bottom a couple of times, and really got off on that too.”
“So I noticed.”
“Think about it.”
“Oooh ~ by the creek!” And they enjoyed a hearty laugh together.
11. The Mystery of Manhood
“I call it the Shakti Tree,” said Marcus, “for the Hindu Goddess and her special role in the affairs of men."
“Here we are,” said Marcus as he pulled the Rover into a small unpaved lot by a scenic overlook with a low stone wall.
They got out, and Venus said, “It doesn’t look very private.”
“We have a short ways to go on foot. And I brought some provisions.” From the back seat he procured a knapsack and two wooden walking sticks.
Marcus led the way around the side of the wall where there was a path going down the embankment. It must have been little used, for it was crossed by a lot of brush. Marcus showed Venus how to use the stick to push it out of the way, but she was vulnerable to scratches on her bare legs. The slope got steeper, and they had to hold onto branches to maintain their balance. The path disappeared, and they were clambering down rocks and turf. “Lucky I wore flats,” said Venus.
“Yeah, spike-heeled boots wouldn’t work very well here.”
She laughed, and added: “But my skirt is too tight for this. I can’t take broad enough steps climbing down.”
“Just hike it up. No one will see you here.”
He chuckled, then saw that there was a serious vein to her remark. “You don’t have to worry,” he said. “My amorous assault at the creek was plotted in advance. Then when you flashed me, it was just the signal to move in.”
“Okay, I can see it ~ and you sure had impeccable control before that.” She pulled up the hem of her skirt and tucked it into her waistband, freeing her legs for full mobility and flashing her panties every step of the way. Marcus grinned, but made no advances.
They finally set foot on a flat piece of turf; the embankment was an almost sheer wall on one side, with trees on the other. “Is this the spot?” said Venus.
“No, this is just the vestibule. Did you notice this rock?” He put his hand on a large flat piece of stone leaning against the cliff, about six feet in diameter.
“It sure is big.”
“Try to move it.”
“Are you kidding? It must weigh a couple of tons.”
“Just give it a shot.”
She put her hands on various parts of the rim of the rock and tugged with all her might, but it was thoroughly immobile. “Now watch,” said Marcus. Venus stepped aside, and he put his hands on a low edge of the rock and strained until it moved slightly and made a “chink” sound. “It’s in the groove now,” he said; “try it again. Just give a yank there on the left edge.”
She obeyed skeptically, and was surprised when the stone pulled outward, pivoting from the opposite edge. Behind it was the black mouth of a cave, from which there issued a cold draft. “Wow,” she said, “it’s a secret doorway! How did it get here?”
“I set it up with a couple of friends a few months ago, after I made the discovery.”
“Of what, that cave?”
“Of what’s on the far side. It’s actually a tunnel.” He pulled a flashlight from his knapsack, shone the light into the opening, and beckoned for her to step into it with him.
“Looks pretty scary,” she said. “What about snakes and bats and stuff?”
“The floor is packed clay, and there aren’t any convenient roosts on the ceiling. Are you with me?”
She took his hand and they entered the chasm. They had to stoop only slightly, and after turning two bends they saw light ahead of them. In a few moments they emerged into a glade resplendent with wildflowers and sunlight. It was obviously on a ledge of the slope, for on the far side could be seen the neighboring forested ridge. No houses or other human intrusions were visible in this small patch of wilderness.
Venus followed Marcus into the glade, and the first thing that caught her eye was the trunk of a redwood that had clearly lain upon the ground for a long time. It had a curious shape, and after looking it over she said, “It’s a woman’s body!”
“Ah! You saw it immediately. Not everybody does.” The ends of the broken roots had rotted away in a bifurcated shape with a hole in the trunk at their juncture, giving the impression of thighs and a yoni. On the other end the trunk split into two massive branches, also eroded by time into stumps. No trace of the upper trunk remained beyond these arms, but in its place had been set a rounded boulder with some sort of coronet on top; this was the head. “I call it the Shakti Tree,” said Marcus.
“For the Hindu Goddess?”
“And for her special role in the affairs of men, which I believe was enacted right here by the Ohlone Indians.”
“They were the tribe who lived here?”
“And all the way down both sides of the Bay. They were a mighty people in that indigenous world. And this spot was obviously sacred to them.”
They went around the trunk to the boulder, and Venus examined the headdress. “Gold nuggets!” she said, touching them in disbelief.
“A crown fit for a Goddess.”
“And the stone has been carved a little ~ it gives the impression of eyes, a nose, and just a touch of a mouth.”
“They might have felt it wasn’t necessary to embellish the natural objects too much. But there’s more artistry there.” He swept out his hand, and Venus looked about her. She noticed a circle of small stones encompassing the Shakti Tree and continuing around the circumference of the glade. They walked along and took a closer look.
The stones were interspersed with artifacts at four places in the circle. The first was a rock carving only slightly more detailed than Shakti’s head; it looked like a seated man. The next one caused Venus to gasp at the contrast: it was a finely carved figurine of a ram. “How beautiful!” she said, touching its horns. “I wonder how it got here ~ it’s at such a higher level of culture than the rest. Do you think white people might have brought it?”
“If any whites had found this spot before me, there wouldn’t be much left of it ~ especially the gold.”
“That’s right! Oh, and now I see why you went to such trouble to conceal it.”
The third piece reverted back to the crude style, but the last was another masterpiece, a perfect rendering of a bull bison. Venus said, “What kind of symbolism do you suppose was behind the ram and the bull? It must have been something special, since they’re the only lifelike images.”
“I researched the Ohlone culture, but unfortunately most of the primary sources were lost or destroyed by the pious padres and Spanish military. So except for universal archetypes, it seems impossible to put the idols into any relevant context.”
They strolled to the center of the circle; it was a bed of grass which Venus was surprised to find soft underfoot. Marcus said, “I believe this is where the main part of the ritual took place.”
“What kind of rite do you think it was?”
“The very same kind that we’re going to do.”
“Really?” she said, putting an arm around his waist. “What makes you think that?”
“The tree is the real giveaway, but this grass we’re standing on is not native to the area. Notice how different it is from the thorny wild grass that grows everywhere else in the hard soil of the hills. It must’ve been specially imported to keep the ground soft and be comfortable to lie on.”
“So it really is a bed! Do you think the Ohlones did fertility rites here? Something that gave a religious significance to making love?”
“That’s a good way to put it. And there’s more to the tree. Here, let me show you.” They went back to the ancient tree trunk, and Marcus shone his flashlight into the yoni-hole. “No scorpions or spiders,” he said, then reached into it, his arm going down to the elbow. He gripped something, struggled to loosen it, then pulled it out.
“Wow, what a huge arrowhead!” said Venus. “Or I guess it would be… a spearhead.”
“Right. Now what do you suppose it would be doing deep in the ritual vagina?”
“I can’t imagine. Can you?”
“As a matter of fact I can, because my imagination is informed by my war experience.” She looked puzzled; he continued: “I went berserk on the battlefield after the Vietcong killed my best buddy. I mean literally, just like the Vikings: I got totally overwhelmed by primal rage and fought like a wild beast. Later a strange thing happened: I got an erection every time I went into battle.”
She was agog. “Whoa, I’ve never heard anything like that! I’ve known some war vets and study history, including lots about wars, but… well, it just seems bizarre.”
“What was the battle uniform of the ancient Greeks?”
She thought for a moment, then her eyes widened. “They fought naked!”
“Now you know why. They didn’t want any encumbrances when they raised their weapons.”
“Wait, you lost me again. You mean their phalluses were… weapons?”
“I had the instinctive sensation was that I was killing the enemy with mine. Of course it had to be backed up with the heavy hardware, but it was an absolute primal reality.”
She shook herself slightly at this arcane revelation, and said, “So the implications are that there’s a subliminal connection between fighting and sex, at least for men.” He nodded. “And so you think that the Ohlone men symbolically performed intercourse on the tree ~ with their spears?”
“More likely the boys in a puberty rite.”
“The men already knew the mystery from experience, so they used the symbolism to teach it to the boys.”
“And the mystery is…?”
“That the primal core of male potency is the instinctive sense that fucking and killing are the same thing.”
12. Deific Reunion
Marcus unfurled a blanket in the center of the bed of grass, and they picnicked on homemade bread and a light red wine of fine vintage. Venus said, “What kind of tantric practices did you learn in the Hindu monastery? Or am I about to find out?”
With a smile he said, “You are, and action is better than words for the introduction.”
Once again she blushed, to her own surprise. She said, “My only concern is that I’m getting close to the fertile part of my cycle. Did you happen to bring a prophylactic?”
“I have a much better method of birth control ~ it’s one of the tantric arts.”
“Ah! How does it work?”
“By means of a dry orgasm. There’ll be no sperm to make any babies.”
“Wow, you blew my mind again! What happens to your sperm if it doesn’t come out your penis when you come?”
“It goes the other way: up my spine and out the top of my head.”
“Aw, you’re joshin’ me now! That’s a physiological impossibility.”
“It’s not physiological. I’ve learned how to transmute my seed into its spiritual essence, an ethereal substance that’s lots more potent than the original form. I can send it up your spine too, and amazing things can unfold when it gets to the top of your head.”
“Oh ~ like what happened to me at the creek?”
“That was a foretaste.”
Words failed her. They got the victuals out of the way and prepared for love. “Should we use the blanket?” asked Marcus.
“I think the bare grass would be nicer ~ more natural, and maybe more sensual.”
Soon they were as naked as the grass, and entwined upon it. Marcus gently caressed Venus’ entire body with his hands and mouth and erect phallus in a continuous flux. It made her feel like a flower being fondled by the wind and the Sun. Her mind indeed had regressed to a vegetative stage, and the response of her limbs to the strokings of Marcus were mere tropisms of leaves and stems and tendrils. By some vestigial spark of consciousness she realized that she was in the embrace of some great exterior power, a force of nature. She was moving ever closer to a precipice, and when she reached the edge she was overwhelmed by a sense of anticipation. It was quickly fulfilled as Marcus penetrated her, giving rise to waves of glory from within as well as without. She felt like a puppet into which a hand had been thrust, a lifeless simulacrum in its own estate but now filled with the living form for which the cloth and baubles of her puppet-body had been crafted to receive. How wonderful it was to be an instrument of such a divine presence!
In what seemed like an aeon of egolost ecstasy, Venus felt herself expand and become a piece of the very Earth, an island in a wine-dark sea. Her Vesuvius rumbled and was about to erupt when suddenly the mighty driving pillar of flame was gone, the hand of her puppeteer withdrawn. She shrank back into a human dimension, and struggled to make sense of the voice that was saying, “Sorry, it was too soon for the climax. Here, let’s shift into a special position.”
Venus slowly became lucid and followed the promptings. They sat up, and she settled herself into Marcus’ lap as at the creek, except this time with his phallus inside her. “This is the dual lotus position,” he said, “the most conducive for circulating divine energies through our bodies.” And indeed it was already happening. Marcus locked his mouth onto hers in a delectable kiss, and she distinctly sensed that she was sucking in energy from it in a continuous flow that went down the center of the front of her torso, curled up around to the base of her spine, and then slowly but steadily began to rise up her vertebrae. She began to expand again, and reached a new quantum of
magnitude every time the ethereal fluid hit a node. When it touched her heart she was overwhelmed by love for Marcus, and felt as if they were physically bonded together. Up it went ~ she felt it in her throat, then the center of her brain, and at last the crown of her head.
The two lovers were now a conjoint towering presence, and the world around them changed into a realm of the same magnitude. It was similar to the event at the creek, but this time complete ~ they really were on Olympus, or perhaps the Palatine in Rome. No longer a mortal woman, Venus knew herself as the Goddess who bore that name, as well as Aphrodite. She embraced not a man but a God: Mars, even Ares.
Without breaking the magical flow of their eros, they communed in an ecstatic telepathy beyond the mere words which here signify the thrust of their converse:
Like yesterday, yet so long ago. This was their mutual thought, evoked by the wonder of their reunion and the sense of their last encounter. Then Venus said/thought: The power of this man you overshadow has wrought the miracle. How is it so, and can it continue?
Mars replied: The Magisters of Thule have called him forth; he is a vehicle for divinities even beyond our pantheon. Unless he is thwarted by our adversaries, he will grow into an Hypostasis and fully incorporate a Supernal God. And surely this new door to the mortal realm will still avail us, because this act of love which has opened it marks the beginning of a liaison between these twain which will endure for a lengthy term.
Venus said: Let us assure it; let us invest their union with the adamantine bond of our agelong love. Let them be wed in the climax of their first conjunction, in accord with the primordial custom. And let us now adjure our celestial kindred as the officiants and witnesses of the rite.
So mote it be! said Mars. They gestured upward and heaven opened ~ and behold, there were all the Gods and Goddesses of the Greeks and Romans, each with one face and two names. They were assembled around the lovers singing paeans, and then Zeus/Jupiter began a divine litany as the climax neared. Enwrapped in their Godforms, the souls of Marcus and Venus beheld the Supernal Sun, reminding them that they were Solarians, its special children. The Sun was the One, the singular Source of love and light and power. Marcus gave himself up to the radiance and it became his own, and thence shone forth upon his beloved. She surrendered to the glory in turn, and they were One. They teetered on the brink of a magnificent spasm just as the Father of the Gods reached the penultimate part of the rite, equivalent to when an earthly minister says, “If there be anyone who knows of a reason why this man and woman should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”
There was no word or sign of “nay” from any of the worlds around them, but suddenly Venus flinched. It made a harsh ripple in the surge of passion, though she had only pulled back a hairsbreadth. She said, “Why must I worship the Sun only through you? I can see the Sun plainly myself ~ it shines upon me too.”
Marcus was astonished, but gathered himself and said: “The way of our people since our genesis in Thule has ever been that the man bears the weight of the match and transmits the light to his wife, who bears the children and transmits the love.”
Venus scowled at this answer, and her features darkened ~ literally. Her face and form became suffused with a blue cast, which quickly deepened to cerulean and then ultramarine. At the same time her visage contorted from its Venusian beauty into a grimacing demonic mask which soon grew hideous, as the skin of the creature turned abysmally black. Marcus struggled mightily for self-possession as he found himself locked in carnal embrace with Kali, the deadly dark Goddess of the Hindus.
Her voice was a shriek from Hell as she said: “I know a reason why you cannot wed that Western strumpet-Goddess: you are already married to me, milord Shiva! Deny it if you can to these Gods you cherish.”
A flood of harsh realization swept over Marcus. He felt abashed and confused, caught on the horns of conflicting myths that had come all too real. He said, “Yes, I incorporate Shiva. He has given me his fiat to destroy the adversary.”
Kali erupted in blood-curdling laughter. She said, “Little you know of adversaries, O man! Prepare to meet thy doom ~ for I am she, and you are for me, and we are bound together, forever.”
And for the first time since his combat initiation, Marcus felt fear grip his heart.