Monday, September 15, 2008

I got to tell a story!

The Falling Anvil in Tamrannoch, Caledon, has a regular storytelling event in the biergarten. Here, let me share the description:
Story Session at the Falling Anvil -the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen

Women of wit, wiles and wisdom; clever and adventurous lasses, wicked (or winsome) witches; vile villanesses, keen-eyed warriors, and resourceful female persons of all descriptions whatever, the Theme this time is....Women and their stories! All bards, storytellers, griots and creative liars are invited to join us with tales of adventures, triumphs, tragedies, and miscellaneous events comic or the cosmic, involving women and the ways they make their way through the world.

Sponsored by the Caledon Library, the Clan of Seafarers and Storytellers, and the Storytelling Guild
I decided to tell the story below, with great nervousness on my part as I hadn't reviewed the details in some time (and couldn't find a retelling anywhere quickly!), and was unprepared and aaaaauuugh.

So instead of the photos I've promised for this journal, here's my story instead:

A very long time ago, when there were few people in the land, and the gods themselves were young, There lived a woman in simple means, as did all people then. She dressed in rude clothing of animal skins, as most of the art in craft was not yet developed. She was going to have a child, and was well along in her pregnancy, when her mate, angered for no good reason - perhaps a bad hunt, or merely a nasty temper - struck out at this woman, whose name we shall never know, and hit her so hard he killed her. Of course, having no-one around to try any drastic measures, when her spirit departed her body, her child's did as well.

Now, instead of drifting off to a peaceful afterlife, the soul of the woman and her unborn daughter came to the Well of Souls. The goddesses had started collecting the souls of women wronged by violence and protected them in this sacred space for some future rebirth. After many centuries, the goddesses, now known as Artemis and Aphrodite, Hestia and Demeter, and Athena decided to create a new race. They took the souls from the Well, all but one, and sent them to the bottom of the Aegean Sea, where Gaea's body formed around each one. And as these new beings found their legs and walked up out of the water, the race of Amazons was born.

The first was Hippolyta, and she was named as Queen. The second to emerge was Antiope, and she was set to rule with her sister. The goddesses gave them Girdles of Gaea, magical belts that would strengthen them and enhance their abilities. So the Amazons settled on the great plains of what we now call Asia Minor, in their city of Themiscyra. Antiope was War Queen, in charge of fighting off the tribes who would seek to subdue a 'bunch of women'. Hippolyta ruled over civic matters and was the judge for the community. They both took counsel from their High Priestess, as the Amazons worshipped their Divine Mothers with great devotion. They became legendary as great warriors, although they never sought to conquer as did the male-run kingdoms around them.

This sadly attracted the attention of Ares, for as the God of War, he was always drawn to carnage. He resented the Amazons for not following his ways of war and chaos, and plotted against them. He whispered in the ear of his half-brother, Herakles, and arranged for him to go to Themiscyra to steal the Girdle of Hippolyta. Herakles and his men approached the city, and as they apparently came in peace, they were welcomed likewise, and feted by the Queens themselves. Hippolyta found him well-favored, and perhaps let her guard down more than her more suspicious sister would have done if she alone were Queen.

But Herakles had no interest in a woman who could match his strength of will and arms; he had his men drug the wine served at the grand feast, and when the Amazons were incapacitated, the men turned on them, killing those they could not capture, and dragging the whole nation, from the youngest (for the nation would adopt girl-children abandoned by other tribes) to the most revered priestess. Their captivity was horrible, for not only were they made the lowest of slaves, but the Greek men resented the Amazons as Ares had tutored them, and raped them, and beat them, and treated them worse than any animal.

Hippolyta prayed and prayed, begging the goddesses to forgive them for her weakness and offering her life for those of her sisters. Eventually, they came and rescued the Amazons. But when their bonds were loosened, and their minds cleared of the drugs and brutality, the Amazons turned on their captors, in the same vicious way they had been treated, and killed all they could reach. This displeased the goddesses.

When they had led the Amazons to their new land, an island hidden by the gods from the rest of the world, they told the Amazons two important things. Firstly, they must always wear their shackles around their wrists, as a reminder both of the price of their slavery, and the necessity of obedience to the gods. Secondly, as penance for their slaughter of the Greeks, they must guard Doom's Doorway - their island was over a weak spot where one of the Hecatoncheires was held imprisoned, along with other destructive monsters.

Antiope rejected the Gods, gave her girdle to her sister, and led off half the Amazons to fight to regain Hippolyta's girdle, and their story is for another time. The Amazons who stayed with Hippolyta re-founded Themiscyra, and other than occasional excursions from Doom's Doorway, lived happy and peaceful lives in harmony with the gods.

One day, a stranger came to their island in a strange machine - her arrival was unnoticed, as Philippus, General of the Amazons, was leading a losing fight against the giant working his way from Doom's Doorway. She wandered around for a little while, and came across the battle. Now, her name was Diana; and her country was at war. She knew a fight when she saw one, and leapt into the fray without a question. Pulling her service .45, after being grabbed by one of the hundred hands of the monster, she fired at it point-blank! The new weaponry was painful to the monster in a way no sword had ever been, and it retreated far enough that the Doorway was able to be sealed once again.

Diana was too badly hurt, though, and she died there on Paradise Island as a hero to the Amazons. They took her jacket with its unusual insignia, and her weapon, and placed them in the temple.

About that same time, Hippolyta found herself longing for a child. She did not know that her soul had harbored another next to it in her last incarnation, but now she felt that closeness calling to her. The gods instructed her to make a figure of a baby from the clay of the island. When it was perfected, the most flawless sculpture of an infant you ever saw, they brought the last soul from the Well of Souls, Hippolyta's unborn daughter, a pure soul untouched by any evils of the world, and brought the clay baby to life. They breathed gifts into her, of strength and speed and knowledge (for Hermes, being Hermes, fell in with the goddesses as well). And her mother gave her the name of one of their greatest heroes: She named the princess, "Diana".

And eventually the whole world would know that name. But that also is for another time.

The stopping point. :)