In this latest episode of TMOAM, Katia commences her training with Valleri. Soap suds, shaving, and a growing sense of unease. And Katia spies Johnathon in a state of dress “most perculiar”…
Valleri came for me, with a definite stride that made me flinch.
“You’re not a child, Katia. Come on, before you ruin the floor.” She guided me back in the bathroom, pulling off my robe abruptly and fetching the towel. The way she patted my hair, so slow and sensual, delighted me, though at the same time I felt most embarrassed at my nakedness. The chill from the landlight window blew past my body, raising a hilled terrain of goosebumps down my torso, and hardening my breasts as she moved to towel them too. I felt myself stiffen against her touch. A touch I both feared and desired.
“You’re nervous,” she smiled. “Is this your first time with a woman?”
I stammered something like, not exactly. I’d kissed my best friend in the toilets of the local bar when I was eighteen, after all. A byproduct of first-time drinking and loosened inhibitions. It went no further than a wet and rather sloppy kiss and a bit of awkwardness afterwards. I certainly hadn’t sought that sort of thing again. At least until now.
“You’ll tell me if I’m making you uncomfortable,” she said, moving the towel down over my belly and slowly sliding it between my thighs. I felt the cool touch of a finger around the towel as she moved it back and forth, reclaiming the moisture of the bath and calling, in turn, more moisture from within.
What Calvin, my boyfriend of three years, and I had was love. No doubt about it. It is too easy, looking back, to discount the validity of past feelings, to write them off as childish or irrelevant, because of a painful end. But love, if it ever was love – and it was – never becomes irrelevant. If the passion smolders out, it simply transforms into something else, something that lingers – indefinitely – on the mind, heart and fingertips with the tenacity of Bismuth. Time reducing, but never really erasing it.
But there are many flavours of love. According to the Greeks, 7. Eros – the love of the body, Philia – the love of the mind, Ludus – playful love, Pragma – longstanding love, Agape – love of the soul, Philautia – love of the self and storge – love of the child. The problem is while each of us as human beings hungers for most, if not all of these loves – no one person or situation can meet them And still we try. A declaration of love quickly becomes a paper basket for our expectations and we wonder why it tears. We fall in love with a person for who they are in that moment and draw our strings tighter when they deign to branch off in new directions. There is, of course, a beauty to Bonsai, but life that is so clipped and restrained is tangibly weak compared to the splendor of its natural form, with all its twists, scars and oddities. And of course, a work like that takes time and effort to maintain. So when the effort slips, the little gestures of validation fade – perhaps the bonsai wonders why its a bonsai at all. Perhaps that’s when it simply, quietly dies…
The Hierophant, card 5 of the major arcana is the third in the triangle of relating that surrounds the Fool at his outset – and I mention the triangle because it is pertinent to my education, as you will see later. The nurturance of the Empress, the protection and structure of the Emperor is nothing without the third guiding framework of the Hierophant or Pope, who serves as the bridge to the Fool sharing what they have learned in a self-serving and passive way through the cards prior, to a more active way that focuses on one’s part in the greater whole.
Through the Hierophant, beliefs and expectations are sifted, usually through academic or spiritual means, but sometimes relational ones. The beliefs of Mother and Father, ones intrinsic values are weighed, then kept, discarded or finessed. Mother had served as the Empress reversed. Daddy as the Emperor, yet his passing had spawned my fear of hurting others through my inherent curiosity and fullness of nature. Calvin, my boyfriend at the time, had stepped in as an emperor of sorts. Kind, unconditionally accepting of the parts I at least dared show, with rules of his own for life that I mostly conceded to, yet some I resisted, as they were not me. But who I was exactly then, I wasn’t sure. Because in acting how I felt I should, I neglected some of the part I actually was, and those parts would not be silent.
So Valleri stepped into play, as, I would suppose, the Hierophant. She was, in a sense, to become my new religion too, though I did not know it yet…
Card number 4 of The Major Arcana is the Emperor. The archetypal father energy of the deck, who educates The Fool in the ways of structure and societal rules. He offers wisdom, advice and protection. Those of you who have read my writing a while know that my father was mortally absent. After his passing there was no protection, no wisdom, no advice after – not in the loving way a father imparts. Mother had her own wisdom of course, from which I gleaned much. But it was not wisdom, but intuition that she most taught me. In the manner that a meteorological clock has intuition of an incoming storm, so too did I gain that intuition of a change in her often capricious mood.
School had its own version of moral terrorism, life another. Instead of turning to these systems, I learnt most from books. Living vicariously through the tales of mythic heroines and villains, or postulated theories of mystics and philosophers on the nature of reality. Reality couldn’t really be this depressing, this unfair – I’d venture as a child – and so there must be more to it. A hidden world somewhere, parallel to this perhaps. I took only what I needed from these stories and left the rest. Leaving also room for my rote memorization of academic requirements, school prayers and dacorum, so as to blend, but never truly belong. To be in the world – but not of it – as they say.
Card three of the Major Arcana is The Empress. The archetypal mother energy that raises the Fool in early childhood, representing abundance, nurture, fertility and feminity. When I think about my own Mother, she was closer to the Empress reversed: detatched or intrusively controlling, and as a child, I could not decide which state I liked the least. Of course, she was in a state of grief after Daddy died. Those of you who have read my stories will know about the summer that he left us, when his car rolled off the road and through a field of oilseed rape into the lake. The official cause were the faulty brakes on the old car, but I knew better – it was my fault. Or at least that was how I perceived it for years. And Mother did nothing to dissauge that idea. The very mention of Daddy in her presence and she would storm from the room and upstairs to her own, not to be disturbed. I would sit there in the dining room, staring at the minute hand of the grand clock as it ticked with a heavy air, lost in silence and guilt because I had upset her, and deep sadness because the comfort I needed most – she could not give…
Card number two of the major arcana is the High Priestess. It deals with mysteries and intuition, gateways of initiation that we all must face at one point or another. The High Priestess is as cryptic as her appearance suggests. She does not guide the way, she only stands by it – illuminating the path that we may or may not take.
Some weeks had passed since the Ball. The woman I had met there, who had seized my body and my mind with such alarming precision, no more than a pleasant yet unsettling memory. An ache somewhere in my chest perhaps.
I exorcised these feelings to sketches in my journal: drawing her in a myriad of forms from memory. I focused on the fullness of her lips, her strange – almost predatory – eyes and the cascade of her hair.
My boyfriend Calvin remarked on my sketches when he caught me at them one evening, saying they were some of the best I’d ever done. I felt – strangely – a deep sense of guilt…
Enjoy the story of Katia’s journey to a place of power, dominance and control. It’s a happy place… sort of… For her, at least.
“The Fool has not been on his journey long, when he comes across The Magician, card number 1 in the Major Arcana. The Magician, though he has to his traits some manipulative tendencies in his shadow side, is also, more importantly, a font of creation. The ability to take inspiration, and with the focus of his will, cast it forth into the physical. A catalyst of sorts. How one takes the Magician, is more of a reflection of one’s own inner state. If one chooses the mentality of victim-hood, that is surely what one will find. If one chooses instead to seek the gifts in cold riddles, and ever shifting foundations, then this is surely preferable and perhaps most wise, as he is neither good, nor bad.
He sees in The Fool, a little of himself, perhaps, when he was younger and more naive. This familiarity sparks a fondness, that bears no strings, no responsibility – simply a willingness to impart a little of the knowledge that he has acquired along the way. If it benefits The Magician, all the better, but that was never entirely his intent. And if one needs to be broken of one’s naivete, The Magician ponders, what better place than where there is, at least, a deal of goodwill, if not affection.”
“Every so often, I find myself asked. How did I get here? What made me who I am, who I became, when my childhood was so cloistered, and my upbringing so quintessentially upper middle class? Surely I could have done a number of things? Why this? Why choose a whip and strap-on, over a conventional desk job? Why chuckle at the cries of sissy boys and gurls being crushed under my shoe or bitten with the whip over a respectable marriage and children? Why not have earned my Mother’s approval rather than hiding my true occupation from her, and bearing always her constant snapping at my heels?
The truth is, this path was neither chosen, nor chosen for me. I choose not to believe in fate. That makes us lazy. Nor entirely free-will, for we can be compelled. Instead, I believe from time to time, we are called by forces greater than ourselves to experience a transition that we may either take or not, but either way we will have regrets. The path not taken, or the one that is safe? The opportunity is a double edged sword. We shall cut ourselves, one way or another, no matter how we wield it.”
To listen to more of Part one, click on the Soundcloud Link below