Archive for January, 2011

Intriging Women of the Middle Ages… Foreword and First Chapter…

Foreword

Ancient History of Valley of the Yellow Stones
There was a valley in the land of the ancients called Sheran and later renamed the Valley of the Yellow Stones. Its name came from the large yellow stones that were discovered in the streams, lakes and rivers. Back in ancient times, the yellow stones were so plentiful that the ancients made jewelry and gold coins with them to barter with the surrounding villages and towns. They accumulated such a vast amount of riches that their greed overpowered their love for the land and stripped it of its minerals and nutrients; altering the rivers, lakes and soil; leaving the land barren. Even with all their vast riches, the villagers were slowly and painfully starving to death so the Shaman Gershwen, came up with a plan to give back to the land and end their greediness. He called a village meeting, and soon after arriving they seated themselves on the ground in front of Gershwen; he began speaking. “Our people are starving, and we need to give back to the earth for in our greediness we’ve taken far too much; leaving our land unproductive.”
One of the stone-smiths yelled out, “How do we give back what is no longer?”
“Good question Smitz, I’m about to tell you. My plan is to have each one of you stone-smiths design the finest golden egg ever imaged. In order to create such an egg, it must come from your heart and soul. Each egg must be carved into a detailed beautiful piece of art.”
“Gershwen, we’re jewelry-makers not artist,” Bellowed out the finest jewelry-maker of the village.
“Hold on, Jerwin, I’ll explain, and don’t think for a moment you aren’t an artist; what you do is art of the finest.”
“Okay, Shaman Gershwen, if you say so,” Responded Jerwin.
“I not only say so, I speak truth. Okay, now what I want each one of you thirteen jewelry-makers to do is like I mentioned before; put your heart and soul into the design and you have one week to complete this task.”
Jerwin scratched his head and said, “Gershwen, one week?”
“If need be, two weeks, but not a day longer.”Gershwen responded.
The men scurried off to begin their requested task by collecting the finest yellow stones they could find. They worked eight days and nights producing their finest details imagined in their minds with their whole heart and soul, and a flawless egg was created. Satisfied with their creation, they polished them into a luminous shine, and then stood back and beamed at their miraculous work.
As the villagers gathered, weak from hunger, Gershwen said,
“On the next full moon the thirteen jewelry-makers will bury the awe-inspiring eggs as an offering to the land, and I will cast my magic on the eggs, and the land in this valley will be healed. It will then produce the finest crops around and water will be plentiful; trees will come alive and bare the sweetest fruit in the land. Fish will again swim in the land’s waters and send out their miraculous liveliness to all of our people.”
The next full moon the village people gathered in the valley and each one of the thirteen jewelry-makers buried their egg.
After they were finished, Shaman Gershwen stood in the center of the valley, drew a circle on the ground, placed stones in the center while sage and frankincense were burning, then clasped his hands together and said, “With smoke and flame of the stars, moon and sun, let the healing power begin. Let the earth be whole; heal the outside and heal within. Land, sea, fire and wind make mankind begin to care. Heal the wounds of the great mother-earth and let the power of healing begin.” Gershwen began chanting and a bright glowing light blasted out from his hands and when he unclasped them the light expanded all over the valley. When it ended and the valley was tranquil again; the winds stopped. The people cried out. “Land we have given our creation from thirteen artist’s hands; forgive us for being greedy. Forgive us land!”

The next morning when the sun launched its light over the village, all villagers went to the lake and shouted in gladness at what they saw; water in the lake and fish jumping out of the water sending their astonishing energy to all the village people. Dancing villagers began to thank the land with tears flooding down their faces. In the darkness of the night, a roaring camp fire, big as a small village hut, sent out its warmth and the festival began. Smoked fish in their stomachs and regained strength; they rejoiced in their dance and cried in gladness. Many jumped in the river and lifted their hands up to the heavens and shouted, “We shall always give back to you earth, and we will never take our land and riches for granted again.”
Gershwen shouted out to the people that the buried eggs would never be mentioned again, and it was to remain a secret for as long as they lived. “When the time comes, thousands of years from now, villagers will find the eggs and it will be our bequest to them. They will see the writings in the caves and know these eggs are sacred; giving perfect weather conditions.”
As time went by, the crops flourish and the villagers were happy. So happy that they built two thirteen feet statues to stand on each side of their village’s entrance, holding a golden egg and spear in each hand to remind them of the hardship they endured for being greedy and not thinking of the land’s needs.

Chapter One

The Stolen Sacred Golden Eggs

There was a valley in the land of the ancients called Sheran, and later renamed the Valley of the Yellow Stones. Its name came from ancient peoples who left a legacy to many generations to come. On the cave walls it described the large yellow stones that were discovered in the streams, lakes and rivers and the secret the Sheran people kept till death; the greed they had and how it affected their land.
With the new generations as was in the ancient times, the yellow stones were so plentiful that the valley’s men made jewelry and gold coins with them. They’d put the stones into wooden carts and oxen would pull the heavy load around the mountain where they’d separate the stones and melt them into golden bars.
It was a cold day in the early part of winter with sprinkles of snow covering the hills with clouds hanging dark and gloomy over the village miners as they pulled their wooden carts in the early morning’s dawning, and each early morning, the first thing they saw was the pale gleam of yellow stones.
The village women were busy cooking for the miners knowing the magistrate would deliver their food in a wagon. But that cold gloomy day, Cetus, was sick with a fever and his sons were busy chopping wood, so he asked his young daughter, Jasmine, to take his place and make the delivery. She had traveled with her father on several occasions so she knew the journey well. Even though Cetus was worried about his daughter going alone he had no other alternative but to let her go.
“Father, don’t worry, I’m twenty years old now, and don’t forget I’ve gone with you many times, so I will make the journey just fine.”
“I know Jasmine, but a father can still worry about his daughter, can’t he?”
Jasmine grinned sweetly and placed an affectionate kiss on her father’s whiskered cheek then quickly began loading the wagon to take the long two hour journey. She always took her ferrets with her wherever she went because they were her friends and great companions. All three ferrets tucked snuggly in her leather shoulder pouch were ready for the long trip. Each had a name and when she addressed them they immediately responded. Jazzel was her favorite because she was the lady of the three. Cosmos was always playing tricks on everyone which made Jasmine laugh at his funny behavior. Philo was the serious one and would snuggle up to Jasmine when she needed quite moments.
As the oxen headed down the road, pulling the wagon, her father bellowed out, “Jasmine be careful, it’s going to be a mighty cold day.”
She looked back and gave her father a wide smile as she yelled back, “Okay, father, I will.”
Cetus knew his daughter was older than her young years because her grandmother who was the shaman of the village had taught her well. One day she would stand in her grandmother’s place, and he knew she was a wise daughter and would get the food delivered in a timely manner.
Jasmine was an attractive woman with long dark wavy hair and a creamy olive complexion that complimented her ocean blue eyes. Her eyes showed wisdom and many felt she knew everything about them when she looked into their eyes. She was loved by the village people because she was always happy with a song in her heart. All the men had great respect for her because they knew she had been taught to defend herself and could handle a sword as good as any man. When she rode on a horse she flew like the wind with class and style, but strength. All the village people knew she was no one to be reckoned with, but they also knew she knew how to be feminine too.
Her father often said she was delicate and sweet as an angel, but strong and wise as a tiger. She never missed giving her parents a big hug and kiss when she went away on journeys.
Jasmine looked back and saw her father waving. She blew him a kiss and then turned back around, giggling. She was excited and happy about helping her father.
When Jasmine arrived, the miners were shouting with happiness and were very pleased to see her.
“Hi Jasmine, where’s your father?”
“He’s down with the fever, but he’ll be fine soon. I took his place so you hard working men could eat.” She laughed quietly and helped the men unload the wagon.
They all cheered as they gather round to eat and filled up their hungry bellies.
After the meal was gulped down Jasmine loaded up her things and was getting ready to leave when the miners told her to stay a while longer; at least until it was safe to go home. As it turned out the snow didn’t stop so she spent the night instead of trying to get through the snowy slush.
When Jasmine woke up early the next morning she moved Philo aside then stood up and prepared for departure. She was eager to get home and trusted her parents understood her overnight stay.
After traveling what seemed like hours, she could see the village off into the distance, but she didn’t see the two tall statues that always stood leading into the village’s entrance. A light kindled in the heavens, an inferno of orange fire. She screamed in fear as she shrunk back, afraid for a moment. “Oh no! The village has been attacked!” As she moved closer she noticed a blazing fire. “Fire! Oh, I must hurry.” She screamed for her oxen to go faster and as she approached the village, she cried out, “Oh, no!” She could see the destruction clearly as she jumped off the wagon and hollered out with her hands high in the air running around in circles and crying. “Where are you father? Mother! Grandmother! Where are you?” The village had been burned almost to the ground and all that was left was burning ashes and the last few buildings blazing.
She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand and then ran to her father’s house. She immediately saw his body lying in the slushy mud with his hand frozen in her mother’s as she lay dead with an arrow in her back. She threw herself over her parents’ bodies and weep. “Oh, father, oh, father, I’m so sorry I wasn’t here to help you. Oh mother, I‘m so sorry.”
She jumped up and ran to the neighboring hut and saw Jacob, the eldest in the village, dying on the ground as he struggled to tell Jasmine about the attack.
“Jasmine…it…it…was the Vikons who…who attacked us. They torched and burned down the village and tore down our sacred temple. They…they took our alabaster cup with our sacred golden eggs made from the finest gold. Our statues have been knocked to the ground. They…” His head fell back and his eyes closed.
“Oh…oh…this is terrible. Those eggs are thousands of years old, buried here by the ancients; a bequest to us.” She looked down and noticed the old man had died. She pushed herself up and looked around at all the obliteration, in sorrow.
The thirteen eggs had been in two small wooden boxes made of the finest teak wood with sacred carvings on the handles. It was gone, along with the sacred eggs which represented equinox; the summer and winter solstice, handed down by the ancients. The carvings on them were with great detail and brilliance done by the ancients and given magical power by the Great Ancient Shaman Gershwen to protect the land in the Valley of the Yellow Stones. Each egg told the story of how they balanced the earth and had special powers and was pathways to knowledge. Only a few of the village people knew how to use the special powers to heal and change the weather so crops could grow. Fortunately Jasmine knew, so if she could find the eggs, the village would breathe life again. Yes, they’d have to rebuild it and they would.
It was important for the eggs to not end up in the wrong hands because it could bring down all villages around.
She looked around for her grandmother, but didn’t see her anywhere so she ran from place to place looking and shouting, “Grandmother! Grandmother!”
Jasmine saw movement in the corn field and stood frozen. She didn’t know if she imagined the figure she saw swirl and turn or if it was the smoke that turned black and stormed up in circles to the heavens. It was misty with blackness. Wilted with fear that it could be the Vikons, she crawled to the cellar which she knew was in the field. It was where she played as a child and that’s where she saw her grandmother lying on the ground, still alive, but unconscious. “Grandmother, wake up, wake up. Oh Grandmother you’ve got to live. I can’t handle all of this obliteration without you!” Jasmine sat down beside her grandmother; willing her to wake up. She remembered all the stories her grandmother had told her and now she lay unconscious. Jasmine sat in despair at all the damage and now her grandmother lying unconscious threw her off balance without directness as to what she should do. Although Jasmine had been told all of her grandmother’s stories over and over again, she loved to hear the one she always begged her grandmother to tell again and again; about the old woman who lived in a hidden place that everyone knew, but few had ever seen. As the story always went; in those great days the old woman seemed to wait for lost or wandering people and seekers to come to her place. She was circumspect, hairy, always fat, and especially wished to avoid most people’s company unless she was needed. She was both a crower and a cackler, generally having more animal sounds than human ones. Her grandmother had told her that she lived among the rotten granite slopes in Taramumara Indian territory and was buried outside of it near a well. It was said that she traveled continuously looking for lost souls. Her cave was filled with bones of all manner of desert creatures; the deer, rattlesnake, and the crow, but her specialty was wolves. She crept and crawled through the mountains and dry riverbeds, looking for wolf bones and then assembled them into a skeleton. When she had the last bone in place and the beautiful white sculpture was finished, she’d sit by the fire and sing. Some people said some of her skeletons would come alive and help her search for the wounded souls that needed her magical powers. It was said that if you wandered the desert, and it was near sundown, and a little bit lost, and mighty tired, then you are lucky, for she would show you things; something of a soul, especially if she took a liking to you. Jasmine’s grandmother told her that she was called many names, but the one that she liked best was LaBoba, the wild woman, who lived in the desert. Some called her Mother-Creator who controlled the skies and winds and the thoughts of humans from which all reality spread. LaBoba knew the ancient past for she survived generation after generation, and was old beyond time. She was the archivist of feminine intention and her whiskers sense the future; she had a far-seeing milky eye of the old crone; she lived backward and forward in time simultaneously, correcting for one side by dancing with the other. It is believed that she lives within those in need and thrives in the deepest soul-psyche of women, the ancient and vital Wild Woman. It is said her home was that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet.
Jasmine sat with her head bent between her knees and felt the spirit of LaBoba. She knew her grandmother was trying to show her that if ever there was trouble in the land, she could seek her out in the inward soul of herself and there is where she’d find her answers.
Jasmine saw from the corner of her eye that her grandmother was stirring. She whimpered, “Grandmother, oh, Grandmother, you’ve awakened.”
Her grandmother opened her eyes, but still had difficulty speaking. She weakly reached out and took Jasmine’s hand into hers and moaned. Her long gray hair was stained with dried blood and lay matted to her scalp. Jasmine rubbed her grandmother’s forehead where several bruises were, and then turned and fixed her eyes on the dreadfulness of the village and visualized what it had looked like before it was destroyed. Large statues had stood at the front entrance of the temple holding a golden egg and spear. It had given the village people a feeling of protection when returning from long journeys; now they were thrown to the ground and broken.
Jasmine’s grandmother moaned again and Jasmine looked back at her. “Oh Grandmother, I’m so glad you’re alive. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I still have so much to learn from you.”
Her grandmother forced a smile and hoarsely whispered, “You have learned enough, granddaughter, but I shall not leave you; not yet. Jasmine, oh, how the village people fought to save the eggs, but the Vikons broke altars and took all the gold while they killed our people.”
“I know Grandmother, but lie still.”
“Oh honey, I’ll be fine, don’t worry so about me.”
“Okay Grandmother. I know you’ll be fine because your strength will carry you through this unspeakable fright.”
“Jasmine, many of the men ran away while the Vikons were killing and destroying our village. They wanted to warn you and the miners, but they are on foot and still lingering in the fields and forest.”
Jasmine felt angry and vowed she’d avenge her parent’s death. “Oh Grandmother, I will fight till the end to get our sacred golden eggs back. I’ll go saddle Breezy and gather up the village people; the ones still alive. When I bring them back, together we’ll decide what to do.”
“Good Jasmine! I have taught you well and you have learned without fault. The miners should be back by dusk.”
“Grandmother when I meet up with the miners, we must call a council meeting to organized and appoint a group to go out and find the sacred eggs.”
“Yes, granddaughter, that’s what we‘ll do.”
Jasmine looked toward where her grandmother’s cottage once stood; burned to ashes and smoldering. As she turned around, she saw her grandmother’s animals lying dead in the old corn field. She knew it was time to round up the villagers and take action.
She whistled and Breezy, her horse came running and then stood before her. She handed him an apple from her pocket and then climbed on him in search of villagers and when she found them, she cried out, “Come my people, we must hasten. Time is short; there’s no time to lose. Avenging our people’s death and finding the golden eggs is now our main priority.” She turned to her two brothers and said, “The miners are on their way here, go quickly and bring them back to the village.”
After she finished gathering up all the surviving village people and after they rested for a while, she took them to her grandmother, and saw that her brothers had returned with the miners. The men lifted her grandmother onto the wagon and then sat down around her discussing into the wee hours of the morning as to what they should do. They elected Jasmine’s brother, Hardon, to become the new magistrate and they suggested Jasmine and her grandmother take their best warriors and go in search of the Vikons and retrieve the golden eggs.
Her grandmother, Ramara, told the villagers and Jasmine about Merrwin who lived a full three days away in a village called Gerhard Village, who was an old wizard and a spiritual healer and had more wisdom than anyone she knew. Ramara said Merrwin might be able to help guide her and Jasmine to find the golden eggs.