Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Perit, She Who Sculpted The Earth

The Saga Of Love
Many, if not most of the world's creation myths speak of a female deity or entity representing the original, primordial state of consciousness. The Indian Kali and Durga are manifestations of Shakti, the feminine essence of the universe. The goddess Inaana of the Sumerians later known as Ishtar among the early Semites are indeed powerful and important, creating order out of chaos with their might and will, fighting the forces of darkness and negativity, doing so with a fearsome energy and sense of will. Nuut protects the Egypt with her arched body, acting as a barrier between Earth and Heaven and causing the Nile river to never fail. These early female goddesses were compassionate and loving but also strong and formidable. They were seen as no different in temperament from common human beings, indeed with faults of their own- the sole difference between these deities and humans being that they acted in accordance with righteousness and justice. The power of the feminine lies not in their being merely all powerful and mystifying, but aslo in being human-like in their endeavors, reactions and behaviors, thus truly possessing the ability to act as guides to inspire humans towards virtuous and proper action. They are without question the personification of the caring Mother who is truly the head of her domain, dutiful and independent, subservient to none.

The Illyrians were an ancient people, speakers of an Indo European language. They lived in the western Balkans and interacted with the Greeks, the Romans and a related people known as the Thracians. The Illyrian nature-worship belief system may have been descended in part from the older Pelasgians, said to be the original inhabitants of the Balkans. The fascinating story of Perit, a female deity known as 'she who sculpted the Earth' is probably a very ancient story indeed. Her work of creation, carving the mountain valleys and the river beds, is performed as a labor of love. All alone, she desires company and so divides herself in two, creating Man from her masculine half. However, her creation goes astray and she seeks justice all the while acknowledging that her act of creation may have been a mistake. Thus the standard for human beings has been established for the world, the sadness and pain of every woman who has given all for love, is set for all time. 

My composition is written and told in the style of Balkan bards who are the heirs of the ancient Illyrians, such as the Albanian 'rapsod' or the Montenegrin 'guslari', who recite tales and legends often accompanying themselves on ancient instruments in a style Homer might have known in his time. 

In the age of Dardanus, father of all, of the gods
It was decreed the word which would become law 
She who perched her nest high atop Tomor mountain
Among those who claimed descent from the Eagle 
Must seek the spirit of the mountain, queen of the rocks
That all who would seek to rule the land and their children 
For without her blessing all the desires and dreams of Man...
Zana be her name, the all powerful, the very soul of the land 
She Zana, spirit of the mountains and the hills 
With Ora of the lakes and rivers, streams and waterfalls...
Without her blessing all endeavor would certainly fail 
As a horse might falter slipping on a rock 
Watching over the terrain, it was they who guided Perit  
She, who did flatten the plains, allowing the fire  
From within the earth to belch forth 
Her forge and bellows for her handiwork
Did she carved the river gorges and shaped  
The mighty mountain peaks, the inner caves of the Earth  
To hide the gems and precious stones for a future day 
To the lowland swamps where men plowed the fertile fields 
To gain of their sustenance, toiling daily
Thus she formed volcanoes, and also the hot springs  
Of boiling water, the smell of sulphur ever present 
Fermented by the mud and dirt cast down from high places 
After years of toil and sweat carving the Earth as we know it 
Perit rested, sweaty now and panting from exhaustion 
Lonely now, she desired company...
For she was alone and the silence was far too much for her 
So she separated her male half from her female side 
For she was of two genders, the right and the left 
The male and the female powerfully intertwined as one  
And thus she created Man, whom she named Burri 
A companion and accomplice, in love and harmony  
Did the two dwell together 
Perit was a goddess of action and will  
She gave to Burri all that he desired and needed  
In joy and in ecstasy did she proclaim her deed... 
“I brought ye here, therefore it is I who must provide for you
Ask and ye shall receive, for thou art my companion  
I shall be here for you always, my love and my soul
As we both will dwell in this place together, happily 
The carved mountains and valleys, the gouged river gorges 
This place which I have created with my arms and muscle 
That give a path of relief to the raging waters  
From the heavens above, all this I share with you" 

One day Perit gave birth to a baby girl  
And the couple were overjoyed
Her name was Bija, a child of light with precious eyes 
Perit and Burri were happy and they celebrated 
For many years, day after day they partook of the dance of life 
Singing unto the spirits of the mountains and rivers  
A song most joyous and happy until the day of darkness arrived....
The day their daughter Bija became a maiden, a woman 
Her eyes were full and bright like the Moon now 
Burri eyed his daughter with evil intent, with a lustful heart
Her figure shapely, her breasts ample, her curves inviting 
Burri, not knowing work, the skills of the hunt or seeking sustenance  
Knew not the responsibility of maintaining life and property  
He fell prey to his inner lust, the call to damnation 

One day as Perit was out hunting, seeking game for food 
But she didn’t have difficulty finding her prey
She did not need to seek and stalk this time, as she always did
For a lone hare came to her, and recited a prophecy- 
“Accept me as thy sacrifice, for today your life will change
Throw thy spear with conviction into my heart, for on this day  
You too shall be wounded deeply
This is the price you must pay for daring to imagine  
That ye could create anything on your own
Thou has carved the rocks and cleared the forests 
Rendering them into plains and fields  
And into mighty mountain ranges that encircle the seas 
Oh goddess, hast thou not heard the cries of pain  
From those trees and stones as ye cut and forged them?
When ye thought to render them to your own desires?  
There is a price for everything you touch  
There is a price for living, a price for even being alive"  

Perit could not fully comprehend what the hare  
Was trying to say, thinking these words a ploy  
To ward off impending death at the throw of her lance 
To escape the fate which awaited him

She Perit, spoke-
“Think thou not that thy words might spare ye, oh grey hare
I shall slay ye and eat of thy flesh, yes 
I and my Man, and my child, for we must endure
Survival is the way of the living, not the dead 
Thy flesh will taste sweet when roasted over an open fire
This is my world, my land, and thou art but an inhabitant 
You have a home due to my carving of the rocks  
Into mountains and valleys have I rendered them 
Be still, as your death will be swift indeed"  

And with that she cast her spear with all her might 
Entering the hare’s chest and protruding from the other side
The small animal closed it's eyes and died in an instant  
Perit carried her motionless catch on her back  
She brought it home where she was to prepare a fire
So as to cook her prize to feast upon that very evening
But as she was gathering some wood for the fire 
To her amazement she heard human cries and moans  
Coming from behind a great rock 
She went to investigate and witnessed the unthinkable
The unimaginable, the greatest impossibility... 
There was Burri, mounted atop his own daughter, Bija 
Engaged was he in a most lewd act 
Bija was crying and screaming, and resisted his advances 
Scratching, tearing and biting at her father’s face 
In an attempt to defend herself
The bloody marks upon his visage were evidence  
Of her struggle, in vain, to ward him off  
For she was powerless to resist his great muscular strength  
Which pinned her as a lion pins a gazelle 
 And he continued his savage thrusts amid her cries 
Unaware of Perit’s arrival he continued 
Deaf to her approach, blind to all awareness 
Due to the state of lust into which he had entered 
He continued his thrusts as he clutched the young beauty 
Who by now had ceased her screams, reluctantly accepting 
Her terrible, inevitable fate 
Perit was shocked and enraged at the sight of this betrayal
nd rushed to the aid of her daughter 
She firmly took hold of Burri’s legs as he performed his lustful deed   
And in the throes of her anger she, with all her might  
Threw him over the rock, far over the mountains  
Where he landed forcibly in some lonesome valley 
However, poor Bija, so enwrapped tightly as she was 
Caught within his mighty, loathsome embrace
That she too was accidentally thrown along with him
Burri landed on the soft side of a riverbed, stunned but yet alive 
But the beautiful daughter had fallen now from his sweaty clutch  
And fell to her death in the stone laden chasm below 
Her mangled body now crushed, ripped and bloodied  
Lying upon the rocks forged by Perit’s own handiwork  
Perit stood silent on the cliff’s edge, unable to speak 
Tears filled her eyes but she was unable to look down below 
Into the valley where her beloved daughter lay 
Her body motionless and still, once breathing but now dead  
Perit was in a state of shock and disbelief 
Still unable to fully understand what had just occurred, or why
She began to contemplate the words of the hare who informed her 
That as he would be wounded by her spear  so she would know pain 
Death for a death, a deed for a deed, this is the law of living  
She took a deep breath and let out a great moan
Like that of a wounded she bear 
Or as a wolf howling at the Moon on a lonely and cold Winter’s night
She cried, then wiped the tears from her face with her hands
After she was able to compose herself, the great Perit 
Stood on the cliff edge of the mountain where she and Burri 
Together built the home and life of her dreams 
Given in love, joy and generosity 

Perit called out in a stern voice that echoed across the valley-
“Be it known that thou hast broken my trust oh wretched man!
What a despicable act you have comitted 
With all that I have done for you!
Never will you dwell here with me again
And you shall live out your days 
In that lonely valley, with the snakes and the scorpions  
As your companions and friends 
From this day forth, let there be a solemn word for all  
Who enter into an agreement of trust
The solemn word shall be called Besa, a sacred oath  
Of loyalty and fealty 
And let there be death for those who dare to break this word
A thousand curses on those who break the Besa 
Upon them and all their families
For a thousand years, until their name and memory  
Is wiped from the Earth, forever 
Thou hast broken my heart 
Until now did I think myself immortal
I shall live out my years here alone, until the day I pass  
From this miserable existence 
Once again is the dominion of the Earth returned  
To the great spirits of the mountains and the lakes 
Praise be to Zana and Ora! 
Who will watch over the land and the people  
Never granting power to tyrants and evil doers 
Reminding all that we are powerless 
For our existence here is but a dream 
The land survives, that which I carved with  
The muscle of my arms and the sweat of my brow...
The mountains, the river gorges, the plains  
The rocky shores, all of it 
All there for the future generations, to live upon  
Or to make war upon each other 
As humans see fit, as men will see fit 
For men will surely destroy this world 
Though they be created of woman, they are  
The breakers of trust and the lowest of creatures 
May all their doings be cursed with vagueness  and insecurity 
And their work forever regarded with much suspicion”  

Perit ordered some eagles to fetch  
The broken body of her abused daughter  
And bring it back to her proximity  
When the great birds returned she clutched Bija tightly
Kissing her forehead repeatedly 
Rocking her lifeless body to and fro 
As she did when she was an infant in her arms
Blending her tears with the blood upon the dead girl's face
Singing in monotones that song which would become known as vajtim
The chant of the dead... 
“Oh my dream, my vision, where have ye flown? 
Innocent one, ‘tis I who brought you into this world
And I who dared to think I could create your destiny 
Nor will you carry on my lineage
Never will you embrace the arms of a lover 
Nary will ye know the joy of the hunt  
The pleasant song of birds are not for your ears
Or the sound of fish splashing about in the rivers 
Forgive me, for it was out of love and need that I acted 
Fooled and tricked by the man vision I created for my own desires
The old hare was correct, there is a price for everything in this life
The hare paid this price with his... I pay with the life of my daughter!
I damn this creation which I alone have brought forth 
Woe is me and mine, forever, woe unto me and mine  
For what I have done”  

Then she Perit once again stood on the precipice 
And called out to all the world-
“From this day forth let it be known  
To all the descendants of generations to come
For any of you to be a ruler among the nations and the tribes  
Know that they must come to this mountain  
And seek the guidance of the great spirits Zana and Ora
Who will surely test them as to their dedication  
And as to their truthfulness 
And if these would-be chiefs are proved worthy  
They will be granted their blessing 
If they are proven not worthy  
Let them be cast down into the chasm below
Their crushed bodies a reminder of  
My own poor Bija’s crushed body 
Which lay there alone and innocent 
Her young blood mingling with the river's flow  
For those who pass the test of Zana and Ora 
They who rise forth to take command of the tribes  
And lead their people to victory
Let their lives be a story recounted when they die
So that when they leave you, sing of their glories 
Or sing then of their evil deeds 
So all will know who they were and what they did in life 
Sing the vajtim and sing it loudly!  
This will be a warning that would insure 
They live a life of noble gratitude and justice  
Rather than one of trickery, evil doings and lust” 

These last commandments were thus delivered  
Echoed in the valley by the birds, insects and the animals 
Until the time of the coming of men
Citing that all beings will do what they see fit in their time 
Though humans have no knowledge of what the future may hold 
Or how one’s actions will affect others on the morrow 
Perit looked up at the mountain peak where Zana and Ora 
Dwelled among the clouds that surrounded these mountains 
She asked for their forgiveness, to which they gave
With that Perit looked around once again at her home
Now tainted with shame, then looked up at the high mountains
Which seemed to pierce the clouds
She closed her eyes and then, without hesitation 
Sprang from the cliff, plunging herself into the valley far below
Her body crashed upon the rocks and resounded with a great thud
All the animals of the hills and the forest cried out as one
Mourning the death of the great goddess 
Who once sculpted the Earth
Perit's blood and being became as one with the fast moving river 
The violently churning waters now  
Like the foam and bubbles produced by  
Those helpless unfortunates drowning, thrashing about 
Waving their arms to save themselves 
The violent churning became red, white, green and golden at once
Thus the swiftly flowing water became known for all time  
As Lum i Shkumbi, the River of Foam

How foolish then, are the created ones? 
Those beings, all of them, Men and beasts 
Born into this prison of existence
Nothing can be done about our situation 
As we have no choice in the matter 
No chest of gold or silver will deliver us from our destiny 
There is a price we pay to be alive, to exist, a costly payment indeed  
For the very experience of living
But to live accordingly, with honor and dignity 
With the knowledge of trust and law 
This is what assists us with the pain of the reality 
So we can pass on to our children our stories
They who will dwell in a realm we can never hope to see...
That we might be remembered one day by those  
Who come long after us, who will tell our stories and recite our tales
In the realm of multiple tomorrows

Copyright Ismail Butera, 2018

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