Instant recap: Gail psychically observed that Venus was radiating powerful erotic energy at Marcus, trying to seduce him by this subtle means; but he stoically resisted it, allaying her jealous fears. Polaris asked about the distinction between Jews and Ophidians, and Marcus explained that the latter term specifically designates a powerful clique of hidden manipulators. Drawing on Western mythology, the group settled on the name Thule for the Solarian homeland.
5. Welcome Home
The Pearls of Aphrodite
by Herbert James Draper
The dining room table could seat up to twelve with a little squeezing; today there were six plus the baby, so there was plenty of elbow room. At Marcus' direction they sat in an array favoring the free flow of psychic energy: he was at the head of the table on the west, then men and women sat in sequence: Gail at his left followed by Polaris, then Venus at Polaris' left at the eastern end of the table facing Marcus; then Theseus and Hyppolita on the south. Eric was in his sling on Gail's chest, this time facing front but fast asleep. There was a picture window running almost the full length of the southern wall; it was now one PM, and the low December Sun was just above the top edge, so it didn't shine in the eyes of the three people on the north side of the table. But within the hour Helios (as Marcus called the Sun) would sink far enough to suffuse the room with brilliance.
“It reminds me of our family's Thanskgivings,” said Polaris. “I'm really getting a sense of it as a 'welcome home dinner'.”
“Me too,” said Venus. “And I admit that at first I wondered why Marcus called it that.”
The baby woke up, looked around the table, and burst into a burble of cooing laughter. “Looks like Eric agrees,” said his beaming mother. “The energy here is just beautiful!”
“I love it,” said Marcus. “Let's see if we can enhance it a bit more.” The house was equipped with a top-of-the-line stereo system, one of the earliest on the market. He flicked a switch and the room was filled with the opening strains of Wagner's Die Walküre.
“Let's join hands,” he said. They did so, and after a few moments all noticed that there was a subtle current running through them ~ it was flowing counter-clockwise around the table, in harmony with the music. As they glanced right and left and around, looks of startlement began to appear on their faces. Venus almost spoke up in surprise, but Marcus shushed her with a gentle shake of his head. After a few minutes their amazement melted into a collective rapture. Then it seemed to wane, until Marcus squeezed the hands of Gail and Lita, signaling everyone to unclasp. He lowered the volume of the music so that it wouldn't interfere with the live acoustics.
“Was that a mind-meld?” said Polaris.
“Did anyone pick up the actual mental thoughts of others?' asked Marcus. People looked around and shook their heads. “Okay,” he said, “so it would be more accurate to call it a heart-meld, or a soul-meld, or just a psy-meld. It's wonderful that you were all able to get into it, but it was just a baby stage of such phenomena. In fact Eric outstripped you all, but of course he has the advantage of being a baby.”
“I saw that!” said Gail. “It was way more than our usual empathic bond. I felt like I was peering into his, um, psyche, and sensing deep waves of feeling and primordial imagery. There were things I couldn't understand ~ hazy scenes of people, adults, in strange surroundings. Stuff was happening, and Eric was reacting to it all emotionally.”
“Past-life memories,” said Marcus. “We can look into it more deeply later, if you'd like.”
“It's kind of scary,” said Gail. “I'll have to think about it.”
“Okay,” said Marcus. “The food is such a mouth-watering distraction that I think we should just do one more short rite ~ like our unique equivalent of the family members saying their 'thankfuls' around the table.
“As we talked about on the porch, we take special names to evoke divine assistance and help us to recover our Solarian identities ~ or 'Thulean', as we might now say. Without false modesty, I lay claim to the name and fiat of the head of whatever pantheon we may choose to honor. In India I am Shiva, in Persia Mithras, in Greece Zeus, in Rome Jupiter; in Heathenry I am Wotan, and in Christendom the Solarian Christ, the Son of the Sun.”
“And he was even born in Bethlehem,” said Gail with a giggle.
“What?” said Polaris. “You mean symbolically somehow?”
“Geographically,” said Gail: “Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.”
Everyone laughed, then Venus said, “But wow, that is incredibly symbolic! And your last name is Christianson.” Marcus nodded, and the group settled down
In front of Marcus was a large bejeweled chalice, like unto the Holy Grail or Christ's cup at the last supper. He filled it with red wine from a crystal decanter, then took it in both hands, held it up and chanted: “Helios ~ hail the Sun.” He drew out the syllables in a sonorous melody; it riveted the attention of all at the table. As they looked at the chalice transfixed, it suddenly seemed as if the Sun shone upon it from directly overhead. So real was the perception that they glanced at the window to remind themselves of the physical position of the Sun. A burst of light sparked from the Grail, and Marcus set it down.
There were five wine glasses near his plate, actually small ornate goblets. He filled each from his chalice and they were passed around to the other people.
“Now,” he said, “I'd like to toast each of you by your godname, and I ask that you respond by saying or chanting my name as the head of the relevant pantheon. Gail is Juno, Mother of Heroes; she's the wife of Jupiter. Venus is also in the Roman pantheon.”
The lady at the table using that name said to Marcus, “Somehow I think of you more as a 'Zeus' than a 'Jupiter'. It's more euphonic or something.”
“That's fine,” said Marcus; “in that case I'll just chant your Greek name, 'Aphrodite'. Likewise Theseus and Hyppolita are Greek figures, as they know from studying the field.”
“What about me?” said Polaris. “Is the North Star a deity in any Pantheon?”
“Only the Hindu one, and the name is not euphonic at all by our Western standards. But just as all the planetary deities revolve around the Sun and honor him as their Lord, so all the stars of the cosmos have a Great Central Sun, the metaphysical core of creation. There are many abstruse names for it in the old traditions, but we can update it as ÜberSol.”
“Hey, I like that!” said Polaris.
“It's definitely euphonic,” said Venus.
“So mote it be,” said Marcus. “Let's begin.” Gail raised her glass and Marcus touched its rim with the chalice, took a sip of wine and chanted Juno. She replied with Jupiter, and the ambience of their mutual love expanded to encompass everyone at the table. They all received a blessing from it, for their hearts were stirred.
Marcus and Lita repeated the rite with their godnames. It would have been cumbersome to reach across the food-laden table to Theseus, so the two merely raised their glasses to each other before the sip and chant. The same was done with Polaris, and after he chanted ÜberSol Marcus said to him: “Welcome home ~ welcome home to Thule.”
The young man flushed as something stirred in his viscera, surged up and moved him to tears. It transcended rational understanding, but his thought was: Wow ~ ancestral remembrance! Wiping his eyes, he said, “Thank you, Marcus. I'm so happy to have found you all!”
Next Marcus toasted Venus and chanted the name which he pronounced Ah-fro-dee-tee. On the first syllable, drawn out and resonating as he always did it, he perceived a burgeon of energy arising from the girl. On the second syllable it assumed a human form, about thrice her own size, standing above her and interpenetrating her physical body. On the third syllable it coalesced as a radiant numenal being, and Marcus was astonished to find himself facing the Goddess herself. She was stark naked, and her luscious erotic aura was charged like a dynamo ~ and unlike the allurements of the mere woman, it was drawing a sexual reaction from Marcus. The instant he realized this he manifested an aegis, an invisible shield going around the table and preventing the other people from feeling the energy. Then on the fourth syllable, with a rigorous effort he contained his orgone and prevented any further arousal.
Suddenly Aphrodite's face lit up in joyful surprise as her eyes locked on Marcus. The girl Avice was now totally incorporated into her so that only the Goddess was visible to Marcus' psychic sight, and she seemed to be fully fleshed out. In a gloriously happy voice she chanted ARES, and Marcus recognized her as a long-lost lover and divine kin. He expanded into his aura which was just the size of Aphrodite's form, and they reached across the table to one another, arching their bodies above it, and embraced. He kept his sex chakra shielded, but opened his heart and mind to her, and their energies intermingled ecstatically in a chaste hug.
Eric babbled in excitement and waved his little arms at the spectacle above the table, but the other four adults saw only Marcus and Venus staring at each other with rapt expressions. Finally the vision faded and the two returned to themselves. Venus shook herself, rubbed her eyes, and looked in puzzlement at Marcus. He said, “Welcome home to Thule.”
“But what just happened?” she said.
“You were overshadowed by the Goddess. The only familiar word for the phenomenon is “possessed”, but I could see that it was totally positive. For those few moments, you were Aphrodite ~ or she was you.”
“Wow!” she said. “I knew that something incredible was happening, but I don't have any clear memory of it. It seemed like I was getting bigger, and feeling all kinds of amazing things. And I called you 'Ares'.” Marcus nodded, and she continued: “But I thought you were a Leo.”
He laughed and said, “'Ares' is the Greek name of Mars ~ spelled alpha-rho-epsilon-sigma. Aries the Ram is Latin, and it's just a coincidence that the two names are so similar.”
Venus drew in her breath, as if she were remembering something. But she glanced around the table and held her peace.
“We can talk about it later,” said Marcus. She looked gratified by that, and thought: I hope it's alone. He looked at Gail, and saw that the troubling question-mark had formed again in her mind. “Us too,” he said. After a hesitation she took his hand and squeezed it gently. And then the feast began.