Monday, January 18, 2010

The Quest for the Divine: ancient and modern myth revisited

Today I’m not going to talk about sex or erotica. Too much has already been said in other blogs so I’m going to concentrate on another of my favourite themes, the search of the Divine.

First a word of warning. I’m not going to get into sterile discussions regarding the existence of God. He may or may not be, but that’s a very personal matter between a person and his or her beliefs. And if to me something exists, which you might call God, Brahma, Allah, Zeus or whatever other name one chooses, that again is my personal conviction and means to influence no one.

What I do like to explore however, and have frequently done in my writing, is the search for this Divine in whatever form one perceives it. And the questions, often unanswerable, the doubts, the curiosity have prompted a variety of solutions, not just in religions, but in writing, too. Let’s not forget that the most ancient written text is the Indian Mahabharata, which tells of a spiritual journey.

In my own small way, I’ve contributed to raise questions, make comparisons, challenge conventional religious beliefs in order to get to a greater truth, which is never self-evident, as you can see from my little story below.

The Quest

“So how does the story begin?”

“Once upon a time—“

“Come on! That’s for fairytales not epics.”

“What do you think an epic is if not a fairytale with a lot more sex, blood and violence? Not to mention word count. Just Homer’s Iliad weighs 1.8 pounds while a fairytale is roughly— “

“OK, I’m convincing. Let’s move on.”

“Once upon a time, there was a king who had a beautiful daughter—“

“They all do!”

“Of course, if they didn’t, it wouldn’t be an epic, would it?”

“I suppose not.”

“Glad you agree. Can I continue?”

“Please do.”

“In face of all human sufferings, our king wondered whether god existed at all so he offered his daughter’s hand to whoever would bring proof either way.”

“I doubt many met the challenge.”

“You’re right. The only one was a brave and handsome knight—“

“What’s his name?”

“Uh…let’s see. I’d call him…Devlin. And the king, before you ask, is…Roy. Devlin went to Roy and said he had no interest for his daughter, he rather liked men, but—“

“I knew you’d include your gay tendencies!”

“Give me a break, will you? I’m gay and so are my characters.”

“I’ve never heard of a gay knight.”

“Think again! Achilles and the Greek soldiers were ambivalent at best. As for the English knights…who can really tell?“

“If Devlin was gay, why would he take on the challenge? And what did the king have to say to that?”

“Devlin—who wasn’t just gay but a smart fellow, too—had also wondered about gods, not to mention he liked the king…a lot and asked to spend a night with him as a reward. Roy was flattered naturally. A good-looking widower with a powerful body that wouldn’t quit, he had spent the last five years alone, looking only after his daughter. He figured she was beautiful, and high-ranking, enough to find a husband on her own while Devlin was handsome enough to give it a try, even if he’d never been with a man. So he accepted and our knight started on his quest, traveling around aimlessly at first until he came upon a lonely castle. The count was glad to welcome him and when he heard of Devlin’s strange quest, he offered to give proof the next day that god didn’t exist. After a sleepless night, the nobleman took him to a battlefield. Without time for thinking, Devlin chose to support the weaker side and took arms against an unknown enemy to defend a nameless territory. The battle raged on all day, massacring men, sweat and dust clogging his nose and throat, pouring down his forehead to sting his eyes. His arm felt heavy from swinging heavy blows, but he never stopped until a thousand bodies littered the soil.

* * * *

“See?” the count asked when it ended. “This should prove god doesn’t exist for if he did, why would he allow wars? They’re a waste of time, energy and precious lives.”
Sure, Devlin thought, but is it proof enough? Too tired to answer, the knight nodded not entirely convinced. Continuing on his journey, he arrived at a small town where the Chief welcomed him warmly.

“If you’d like, tomorrow I’ll give you proof god exists,” he offered on learning of the mission.

* * * *

Readily agreeing, Devlin was brought to the local brothel. After asking what was his pleasure, the Chief installed him in the best room of the house and sent him a steady stream of handsome young men to have sex with—“

“You wish!”

“Yeeah, gotta admit it’s one of my fantasies. But my knight really had the best time of his life, at least until his energy lasted. According to the Chief that was proof God existed or men wouldn’t feel so much pleasure. Too exhausted to reply, Devlin nodded, but again he wasn’t convinced. Resuming his travel, he met a Druid who claimed he could summon Higher Beings if Devlin had sex with him. Intrigued, Devlin complied also because the Druid had a long, thick—“

“Hey, I’m not interested in details.”

“OK, bit the sex felt different from the start, more powerful, and what do you know? Brahma, Odin, Zeus, Buddha, Yahweh, Allah and whoever else you care to add, all appeared before him.”

“Wow! Talk about sexual energy.”

“Devlin was impressed, too.”

* * * *

“You exist!” he exclaimed.

They shifted their feet nervously. “We do, but only because humans make us real,” Allah finally confessed.

“You mean…without us, you’d be nothing?” Devlin asked incredulously.

“Well, maybe we would anyway,” Yahweh argued, “only in a different form. We’re really One—“

“But I see six of you.”

“We take different names and shapes according to the humans inventing us,” Zeus explained. “When they thought of me, men were enjoying sensual pleasures.”
“They were more interested in wars and power when they created me,” Odin jumped in.
“So you represent our vices?”

“We embody your worst fears and noblest aspirations,” Buddha argued. “But don’t get us wrong. Although we’re a product of religion, we express what’s holiest in humans. Everyone has the potential to rise above hatred, violence, pettiness and selfishness, but some used this knowledge to create religion.”

“Which is not necessarily a bad thing,” Brahma continued, “only it needed images and myths to make people believe in that higher spirit. And that’s where we come from.”

“With time though, religion became more important than what it strove to accomplish,” they all considered. “Not only does it portray us as separate entities, but even enemies when in fact, we’re One and the Same.”

* * * *

“Seems to me, there’s no clear answer. What did Devlin tell Roy?

“The truth. Human-shaped gods didn’t exist except as figments of religious creativity. What did exist was a Higher Spirit, but men didn’t need religious symbols to make it real because it’s in every soul.”

“But was the king satisfied? I mean enough to give Devlin his prize?”
The malicious smile left no doubt as to the answer.

On a more serious note, my book Divinitas takes a spiritual journey, using reincarnation to egg the characters into a quest through various religious beliefs until they come to a turning point and the discussion rages. What is Divinitas? It’s a conventional name to indicate the Divine Spirit in all its forms and transformations. What my characters they discover in the end is religious beliefs tend to be alike in their basic teachings, so much that one takes from the other, varying only the figure head to fit the changing time.

This is an excerpt from a conversation between Halifax, an ardent missionary, trying to spread the Word in 1st Century AD Celtic Britain, and Shaun, a Druid, a believer in the old faith.

Excerpt PG

“But Divinitas did not exist until the Savior walked the Earth,” Halifax stated.

“Divinitas has always existed, though He has been called different names throughout time and space. He has also taken many forms and faces, but He’s never changed His nature for He is the One.”

“If that were true, why did He need so many changes?”

Shaun shrugged. “Humans are fickle creatures. What they believe the day before is no longer true the day after. They need continuous reminders to keep their faith alive.”

“My Savior is sure to keep their faith. His teachings are unique,” Halifax objected.

“Are you sure, devil?”

“Of course, I am. Why, our Savior—“

“Stole his birth date from an ancient Persian god named Mitra.”

“Never heard of him,” Halifax scoffed. “Besides, He died and came back to life after three days.”

“The Persian god did the same and so did an Egyptian god before him, Us-Yri also known as Osiris. People considered them gods of rebirth for they defeated death after having sacrificed their lives to cleanse humanity of its sins. And they sat in judgment of the dead souls. Unfortunately, after centuries of worship, people didn’t believe in them anymore and those ancient gods ceased to be Divinitas.” He gazed at the fire’s bright flames for a moment as if searching for inspiration. “Or perhaps those Divinitas didn’t appeal to the people anymore…who knows?” Shaun shrugged. “Either way, He was forgotten, just like Osiris and Mitra before Him.”
Halifax opened his mouth to protest again, then closed it. Something in Shaun’s words rang true.

“Humans adored the ancient Divinitas,” the Druid continued, “at least for the first few centuries. Just think of how powerful they became. When the Romans learned of Mitra after their conquest of the Persian Empire, not only did they adopt him as a divinity, but also turned him into an invincible Sun god. Sol Invictus they called him, to symbolize its power. Both the Egyptian and the Persian Divinitas had a male oriented religion, where women were not considered worthy disciples.”

“My Savior values women—“

Shaun raised an eyebrow. “As disciples? Can they bring His Word to the farthest reaches of the world like you’re doing?”


“Can they act as priests?”

Angry at Shaun’s relentless prodding, the missionary spat, “You Celts aren’t much better in the way you value your women. I believe only men can become Druid.”

“True, but the women handle the higher mysteries, the ones no man can understand because he’s unable to give life.”

“So, our religion will find a way to integrate women in—“

“Only as second class believers. To us, the Goddess is at the top of the hierarchy and men only play to Her greater awareness.”

“Well,” Halifax said uncomfortably, “our Savior’s mother is an integral part of our faith.”

Shaun grinned. “Your believers borrowed this as well. Did you know Mitra had a virgin mother, too?”

TITLE: Divinitas
AUTHOR: Laura Tolomei
GENRE: Gay, M/M, Lesbian, Ménage, Paranormal, Deities, Historical, Dark Fantasy, god, gods**
HEAT LEVEL: 5 flames
ISBN: 978-1-55487-215-2
RELEASEE DATE: January 1st, 2009
PUBLISHER: eXtasy Books

Laura Tolomei

1 comment:

Kat said...

I totally agree with this post and nice short story too btw.:-) I was raised Roman Catholic but when I was 16 my mom was diagnosed with cancer and I went on a spiritual quest. I have found comfort in a non-traditional religion and have long since left the church behind. But that's just me and what was right for me. I have never and will never try to force someone to my beliefs. And I hate it when other people do that. It drives me crazy. On and in case your are wondering my mom is 13 years in remission and counting.:-)