With his right hand on a low overhead limb Onofrio bowed to pray in his own style. The God he praised was a close friend and the need for a formal address was cast aside. Onofrio knew the power of resurrection in his own young life. His father, valiant warrior and protector of his domain passed over dense forest, vale and mountain high and even crossed a mighty sea to find his son and spend precious time with him. On a previous visit Horacio brought news of his wife’s location. Onofrio finally remembered his father calling his wife by her full maiden name, Maria Elena De Las Montanas. (Mary Ellen from the mountains.) She was in eternal rest now, on a picturesque hillside. A site boasting grand views of fertile valleys in multiple shades of green, snow capped mountains and fresh breezes to soothe the soul. A huge white stone marked the location and a clear stream meandered slowly by. One could clearly hear the musical gush of water roiling over stones. The green of peace was her everlasting blanket and a sky of heavenly blue was her veil. Mother earth held Maria Elena in her bosom and enfolded her gently into herself. Maria Elena was the foster child of Mother Earth. She had been on loan to a just and rightful man. Born in two worlds united in one by God. Between the sun and the moon was the realm of his mother, Maria Elena de las montanas. (Mary Ellen of the mountains.)
A collection of birds found reason to reside at this location. They were a daily symphony directed by angels for the lovely Maria Elena. She lived in the heart of Onofrio as a gentle beautiful image of unfathomed love. He was too young to know about marital devotion, but he knew it existed in the loving scenes he often saw his parents in. Horacio was granted passage from beyond his grave to this strange land. As an alien being without map or compass he instilled lessons in his son as was his paternal duty. “The storms of men will be countless. The peace of heaven will always be one. Be a righteous man and all righteous things will come to you.”Senobia was a living model of righteousness as Maria Elena had been in life. There was not a fleck is malice in their hearts. They knew love and devotion only in full gear. No in betweens existed. Onofrio’s prayer was one of immense gratitude to the father of Jesus, who was said to reside in heaven. Without heavenly guidance, he would have died on a long forgotten desert trail. To that Devine guidance Onofrio owed allegiance.
Relieved of a soulful call Onofrio resumed his place among his personal scholars, Tremiyo and Serou. Senobia and Camia came to check on their men and refresh their snack tray and wine. Senobia asked her father, “Papa, when you go into the city, I would like to have some fish. I’ve been craving baked fish for days with a tart sauce overlay.” Camia and the men all looked at Senobia in wonder if perhaps a fourth arrival into Senobia’s family was being announced? The ladies self discharged into their other obligations as if they were not wanted at this conference of learned men.
Serou commented how happy young Senobia appeared. Then praised his adopted son for being a good father. It was apparent Senobia was devoted to her husband and that brought about another round of resurrection stories. “Egypt is a land with an awesome past. There is no greater love story and portrait of devotion in all of Egypt than the love of the goddess Isis and the God Osiris. The statement sparked immense curiosity in the mind of Onofrio. What possible connection could there be to the ancient God and goddess Isis and Osiris to the current events with Jesus. But, the young man had learned to always listen to the wisdom of Serou. Quietly he rested easy waiting for his foster father to relate his story.
“They were brother and sister and as was the royal habit they fell in love and had a son named, Horus. Many royal lines were kept intact by these family love affairs. To a degree the practice preserved royal lines. Family fortunes remained intact and often multiplied.
Jealousy gave life to the wickedness of the brother of Osiris, named Seth. Legends will unfold for millennia regarding his plots to destroy Osiris and take over the kingdom. He hated his own sister Isis with a deadly passion. Legend has it that the envy of Seth was so enormous that he urged his Gods to grant him guidance and remove the obstacle of his glory. Helped by 72 constituents, he secretly secured his brother’s exact physical measurements. From only the most costly materials he had an ornate box built in human form to only fit his brother Osiris. At a great feast with only the followers of Seth present, they each tried to fit into the box as a game to win the expensive prize for themselves. His guests toyed, and jested about fitting in the box. Some were too tall, others too fat and some too short to make a proper fit. Music, wine, food, laughter and good cheer rang throughout as each contestant failed to win the prize. With no malice in his heart and trusting his conniving brother Osiris tried the box. It was a perfect fit and when he went into it, Seth and his cohorts closed the lid and sealed it with molten lead. The box was the coffin of Osiris and it was caste into the Nile to float out to sea and dissolve into nothing. Isis suffered greatly from the loss of her brother/lover and searched the entire world for his remains. Driven by powerful devotion she tirelessly searched the immensity of the Nile river swamps in all directions. At last, she found a Tamarisk tree where the coffin had lodged. The tree was admired by the king and queen of Byblos and had it cut down then fashioned into a column for their palatial home. Isis became a slave at their palace just to be close to the coffin that held her lover/brother.
Finally she was discovered to be the goddess Isis and was given the contents of the coffin in return for services rendered. She had used her magic to heal the sick and bring solace to the bereaved. Isis used all her magical powers to restore life to her brother. Painfully, methodically she slowly fused life and blood flow back to Osiris. In joyful splendor they had a honeymoon that cheered the angels in heaven. Music rang from the motion of their love and the world heard it all. When Seth learned of the success of Isis he kidnapped Osiris while he still struggled to fully recover. This time he cut the remains into fourteen pieces and spread them out into the vast marshlands of the Nile as a feast for the crocodiles. Devotion, my young friend. Pure and undiluted devotion moved Isis to search the immensity of the wild swamps again for the pieces and used her magic to re-construct her brother. She found all the pieces except his manhood. That part had been eaten by fish that no human will ever taste. Twice Osiris was brought to life by the magic and the love of his devoted sister, Isis. After that Osiris resigned to be ruler of the dead. And Isis was left to suffer her life without her brother/lover. It was believed that the mighty Nile River flooded every year with the depth of her tears. That deep love and devotion was given an eternal monument in the skies. The star of Isis and the star Osiris will reside in heaven forever.” “I see a reflection of that devotion in our current hero lady Mary of Magdala towards Jesus of Nazareth. You, of course know that Jesus started calling her “Magdalene” to distinguish her from so many other women named Mary including his mother. She is the daughter of Syrus along with her brother Lazarus and sister Martha. The family is descended from the royal line of David and was extremely well off. The castle of Magdala on the shores of the Sea of Galilee was Mary’s part of her inheritance. The fortress Magdala as it is called by some people. Magdalene suffered from a malady that affects many people of wealth. For a woman she was overly curious about all the workings of the world. The world was an open book she delved into it with voracious hunger. It is not wrong to want to grow mentally. It is an obligation we inherit to serve humanity. It is ordained by every known god since time immemorial. She explored the teachings of Isis at the temple of the goddess and effectively became a devoted slave to that doctrine. That doctrine placed her in many objectionable circumstances, but she made a commitment and like it or not she lived up to it. Her devotion to Isis has gained her some ugly names but that is close to normal. People find more pleasure in finding fault with others than they find by looking into themselves. She also suffered from gluttony, she loved food. Other personal maladies plagued her. Her beauty inflated her ego and fanned her vanity into a constant display of her feminine attributes. Which, I must say were admirable. I saw her a few times in the streets of Jerusalem. She was quick to anger and that is a human fault. As Isis was a goddess of good so appears to be the teachings of Jesus. Benevolence and empathy appear to be their scepter of power. Magdalene’s thirst for knowledge propelled her to search the teachings of Jesus as a comparison to what she learned as a devotee of Isis. It is not for me to say conclusively, since I know not the innermost workings of the lady’s mind. But, I feel safe to say that in Jesus she finally found a man worthy of a devotion she denied any other man she may have known. Jesus did not plot to gain her wealth. He instilled love and peace in her heart and soul. He won her dedication when he set her free of her human faults and more so when He rose her brother from his would have been eternal grave. Those are two powerful incentives for devotion and even love. The fortunes of her family are in careful management by their sister Martha. She is prudent and infinitely trustworthy. As a way to play the guiding mother of her family, Martha persuaded Magdalene to get close to Jesus and hopefully it would cure her of her humanly demons. She was said to suffer from seven of them and Jesus cast them all out. Her devotion to Jesus has been called a love affair by some of the same people that dare not look into themselves. Jesus would not profane his father’s mandate with such a base human behavior. The work Jesus knew to lay ahead of his journey through earth was of far greater importance. As a student of the world, the knowledge gained by Magdalene served her well in understanding what Jesus spoke of better than his faithful disciples. She was not a mind reader but a mind quicker to grasp the in depth meanings of his teachings. She believed in greatness such as Isis, Osiris and the father of Jesus. I feel safe to say that she sensed a far more meaningful destiny developing for the humble carpenter from Nazareth. More so now that she knew Jesus was taken from his grave by a greater power and escorted to heaven by angels before a multitude of witnesses. It was said the Hebrew council made an effort to logically explain the apparition as a flock of migratory birds. Some even said it was somebody’s laundry rambling wild on the desert wind.
It was spell binding to Onofrio to hear such a comparison of an ancient love affair from far away Egypt to the current day Jesus and Magdalene. But Jesus was not a God like Osiris, he was the earthly son of a humble carpenter and it was said he was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit. That phase in the life of Jesus still gnawed at Onofrio’s biological knowledge.\
Beyond the intricacies of politics, religious convictions and Roman law and order, down in the heart of the outrageous crowd was the mother of Jesus being shoved and pushed aside as she struggled to see her son being spiked to hardwood timbers. There to suffer painfully until slowly the last breath was forced from his tormented body by his own weight. The rude crowd all too focused on achieving the best views showed no concern or mercy for the grieving mother. Finally a strong armed somewhat friendly face pushed people aside to let Mary and her companions pass. An angry individual shoved aside had to ask, “Who in the hell are they and what are they doing in this madness.” “Shut up, idiot. That’s the mother of the one on the center cross”, came the stern reply. Cheers mixed with catcalls to blush the air followed in profusion. Obnoxious name calling with hoots and hollers rang throughout as melee and disorder reigned supreme. Along with Mary Magdalene and other women, his mother came to witness her son’s death.
Enormous trauma wrapped in deep seated grief must have gripped her heart. The child she carried in her womb was now the subject of scorn and ridicule. A frightful helplessness governed her heart forbidden by law to help her child. With human strength drained from her, she accepted helping arms from her companions. Magdalene and His mother both wore the mask of painful grief. She too was helpless to intervene or subdue her own pains. She waited painfully at the summit for the end to come and prayed it would not. Rest assured, son. She prayed that He be spared by a God sent miracle. She took her heart in hand and prayed to her only God that like Abraham was stopped by an angel and ordered not to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Jesus was the only son of her God. And though Mary may have wished to stop the killing of her only son, she knew better than any other human on earth that this was not the final destiny of her beloved son. There were far greater plans yet to unfold. “But Onofrio, you must grasp the reality of the moment that was here and now. The future was a promise made by an unseen God with no name.” The ordeal of Mary was equal to dying without a God’s hand to hold. She had a right to wonder if perhaps she had placed her faith in the wrong hands. As a human female, with little or no voice in a world dominated by men, that reality had to be a terrible penalty to pay for giving away her faith. I wish her grief never befall on any woman I know or have known. It pains me terribly just to think of my wife, Clavenia suffering such an ordeal. That you may see deeper into the strength of the human soul, Mary, mother of the son of God regained her faith with a single story of her son Jesus rising to heaven escorted by angels. Taken to where none of his enemies would ever go. Mary and Joseph from the obscure village of Nazareth have struggled much to bring Jesus to this end.” Pensively Serou brought his oratory to an end looking to Tremiyo for confirmation and received a broad smile and a positive nod.
“Mary of Magdala, now known as Magdalene is a portrait of faith unhampered by devious minds. She dedicated her faith to Isis until she was called to cleanse her life. She abandoned her post as a temple priestess, which carries notable respect. Casting away the mandates that came with that membership to serve a greater purpose. Magdalene has considerable means of income, managed by Martha. They pooled their resources to provide for the disciples without showing their hand. The family has considerable social contacts which they maintain honorably. There are still splinters of Magdalene’s weaknesses. She over eats and most likely drinks a bit too much. But, nobody has ever said that she over takes her dose of wine. Even though she may trip a bit in her new role, she has made remarkable progress. She is now called the disciple of the disciples. An honorable position with no pay, except for paying a debt to Jesus for resurrecting her brother. That obligation will go to the grave with her. She sees to some of the needs of the poor. She sends the disciples to render assistance where it is needed. She constantly reminds them that these are the things Jesus would do. It’s been said that she clarifies what Jesus said to his disciples assisted by her learning’s at the temple of Isis.
Do not seek straight paths in
The darkness possessed by fear.
But gather force and support each
other. He who supports his
neighbor strengthens himself.
The woman has my utmost respect for rising head and shoulders above her foul mouthed critics and doing a service to people that need it. She is not doing this for fame or glory. She became the favorite disciple people choose to call beloved, because she understood the depth of his teachings. Jesus took a long educational expedition to other cradles of knowledge to the east. He was sixteen or seventeen when he left Judea and returned as a mature individual. The things he learned on his epic twelve or fourteen year journey eclipsed the understanding of his followers. She has no aspirations of becoming immortal. My dear son, She’s a portrait of devotion. Pure and simple. Her presence at the crucifixion fed the gossip mongers a lesson they may not understand. Gossipers chose to call her appearance a physical love for Jesus and could not think deep enough to attribute her presence as a pilgrimage of faith, a show of devotion. She made an open declaration when she stood firm alongside His mother and the son of God before man and the tempest that followed. She was not shaken by the earthquake nor did she fear the noon day night. She was there with stout heart and unquestioned dedication. It took volumes of love to stand her ground. She is like Isis waiting for her Osiris to rise again. I have no doubt that Jesus and Magdalene will meet somewhere in the promised afterlife. They will walk hand in hand before a greater glory. Like Isis and Osiris did before his second abduction by Seth. All God men have a female counterpart who resurrects them from death. Osiris by Isis- Attis by Cylele – Tammuz by Ishtar. This part is as old as humanity. It is in God’s plan to always have a male and a female to set the pattern for mankind. It is a part of the myth of the goddess and speaks of the true worth of the female and her part in the dance of reality. We are seeing that dance of reality pass before our eyes. I predict that Jesus and Magdalene will become icons of faith in the distant future.”
“Mary Magdalene and Mary of Nazareth knew each other. It is too much to say that they were close friends, because I do not know for sure.
But it would be impossible not to know about each other, living in the same community with daily stories of current events coming to them. They were women drawn to the same man, for different reasons but none the less true. Their torment at the cross brought them closer together. They were united in pain, in hope and in grief. I would go so far as to say that Magdalene may have wished to carry the child of the son of God in her womb. It is as you say the will of nature to seek out the most worthy for reproduction. The grandson of God would qualify. But, that was not the plan of the almighty. Jesus and Magdalene would sail in different directions to each a separate destiny. It has been said Jesus will sit on the right hand side of his father. There they will wait for Mary and Magdalene to make their journey to heaven as both have earned their passage.” Tremiyo was simply awed by the knowledge and understanding of his long time friend, Master Serou.
While Onofrio was curious to know, “why was the supposedly virgin Mary chosen for such an arduous task?” Her suffering through all this required a far stronger person than Mary appeared to be. She sacrificed her entire life to arrive at her son’s demise. His rising into the sky accompanied by angels still leaves Mary earthbound without her son. Who praises her? Who rewards her ordeal? She is alone with the world as her critics. Not everybody believes the virgin story. There’s ugly rumors’ floating around regarding her past. It’s even been said that she was forced to know a Roman centurion named Panterra while she was so carefully guarded at the temple.” Tremiyo came to the rescue of that rumor. “What callous hearts do not know for fact, they will embellish to suit themselves. That reality is woven into the history of mankind. And true, there’s many stories floating around regarding Mary’s history and it is true that the centurion Panterra lusted for the Virgin Mary. She was very pretty and referred to as being green fruit come to ripening and the Centurion lusted much for her. In spite of the compliment, she was forbidden fruit. Most especially to a transient centurion of dubious distinction. Mary had been entrusted to the priest Zachariah and he was responsible for her in every way. Should he fail in his duty, he stood to be severely reprimanded. His priesthood was in jeopardy. He would be disgraced and other parents would withdraw their daughters and their monetary support from such disregard for their young virgins. The temple was a place of worship and we must accept the fact that it was an educational center for young eager minds also. It was the responsibility of the temple elders that the girls in their care were kept virgin. Respectable older women were often used to safe guard and chaperone these young ladies. The girls would be awarded to worthy men as wives. There should be no unhappy husbands wanting to return a disqualified wife. I was told that Zachariah approached the centurion Panterra with a declaration of vital concern to the Roman’s future. “I strongly advise you to seek a post away from these virtuous young girls. Should you disregard my advice, I will be forced to report your behavior to your commanding officer. Since your comportment can have disastrous effects, I will strongly urge your superior to transfer you to a battle front, where your true manhood can be tested. Zachariah is an old man but his physical strength is considerable. His tone of voice carries much authority worth accepting. I later heard that centurion Panterra was moved to Germania.” Such is the power of Zachariah and his regard for those young girls left in his care to serve God. God had other plans for the virgin Mary and centurion Panterra was not included. We must remember that Mary made a commitment to God and the centurion was not a God.”
The doubtful Mary Salome
Tremiyo was on a roll defending the integrity of Mary from Nazareth. Rumors of the unbelievable virgin birth ran wild throughout the countryside. Countless people found great humor in the story. It became barroom jokes and back yard discussions to many. “Onofrio go a bit deeper and resign to accept the facts. Mary Salome was the virgin’s aunt by marriage and when she was told of the miraculous delivery, she had to know for herself. Mary Salome confronted the virgin and asked that she show herself. Along came the midwife to verify what she previously reported and add proof to her future stories. Mary Salome tested the virgin with her finger and her hand gnarled up painfully before her eyes. She screamed in agony and proclaimed on the spot that the living God almost severed her hand. I will not say that she fell to the floor in painful lament for her previous doubt. But, it would be a good time to do so. She was made a confirmed believer of the virgin delivery and the mission of Jesus.” In later years the sons of Zebedee and Mary Salome, John and James became disciples of Jesus and Mary Salome begged Jesus to bring her sons into His Kingdom and give them an honorable place at His side. But Jesus said it would be decided by His heavenly father and they must follow what his heavenly father ordered. She is still a devoted believer in the Nazarene and holds meetings repeating his lectures. She’s now into doing that for life“. It was time for Tremiyo to refresh his drink and then continued. “Legends and myths will be born from what we see and hear passing by. Each story will have an origin and suffer embellishments by language and geography. Some story tellers will blatantly exaggerate the facts to make an impression on their listeners. Others will be dedicated to relate the facts as close to the truth as possible. Take for instance the daughter of Herodias, Salome the young dancing girl.”
Tremiyo looked at Serou and asked,”What have you heard about that young lady? Is she as guilty of being an accomplice to murder as the rumors say? Or is she a victim of the powers that be?”
Serou gave the question some thought with a crimped brow and eyes in mental conference. “One of my tell tale contacts rode with me one morning wanting a bit extra for his story. It seems that young Salome was coerced by her mother Herodias to ask for the head of John. Herodias is a clever and scheming woman. When the opportunity presented itself, she put it to work. She was quite fired up to dispose of John because he criticized her marriage to Herod Antipas. Her anger flared from the fact that the Baptizer gave her no room to love. On a visit to Rome she fell hopelessly in love with her husband’s brother. With money placed in the proper hands she secured legal aid in getting a divorce to marry the man she loves. As we all know love is blind to politics and public opinion. John the Baptizer called Herod out for marrying his brother’s wife. In reality it violates Mosaic Law. But that put young Salome between two awesome forces. Public opinion of her mother’s marital misconduct and wanting to protect her from John hammering away at her relationship. Her step father is legally her uncle and she owed some allegiance to him also. Herod Antipas was kind to her. She suffered for nothing from the material world. She is no doubt a spoiled royal child. That is common among children of the highborn. The solution seemed simple. Getting rid of John would shut his mouth. Public opinion has a tendency to dissolve with time. John violated the law by what he did. Right or wrong, it was not for him to say that Herod Antipas and Herodias violated Mosaic law. It was the Hebrew council’s place not to allow the divorce or grant her license to marry her brother in law. With money in hand the authorities agreed to the divorce vocally but never in written form.
Mother and daughter did not set out to ask for the murder of John, the baptizer. Herodias saw an opportunity present itself when she saw the lust in her husband’s eyes for her daughter, his niece. Salome had a desirable physique for a girl her age. Her dancing lessons came to her from Arabia where women use their bodies to lure men into webs of intrigue. The lusty minds of men have been baited with that routine since the birth of time. Her provocative dance was not intentional; she was exercising her lessons and entertaining her step father’s guests at his birthday celebration. The evening was filled with excellent food, drink and good cheer. Companionship and friendly conversations filled the hall. There were no premeditated plans for murder. The penalty for John’s transgression was not decapitation. A serious lashing or exile, yes. But not death. Herod Antipas was fully intoxicated. He lusted for the youthful Salome and his wife saw it. The spectators could all plainly see the desire for her gleaming in his eyes. His hands twitched to caress her sensuous flesh. In that inebriated state Herod made Salome an offer that everybody heard. He offered anything she wanted including half his kingdom if she would only dance for him. Such an offer by a king cannot be taken back. Herod was obligated to keep his word before the high ranking people in his presence. Serious apprehension ran wild among the guests. How could Herod make such an outrageous offer? It was beyond logical comprehension. It was insane.
Rest assured my good friends, Salome was not anxious to comply with her mother’s macabre request. Salome is not insane. Only an insane person would find joy in complying with such a gruesome demand. She was a teen aged girl. Not a hardened warrior. The truth of my statement comes to light when my tell tale reporter announced that Salome had been suffering from nightmares of immense proportions. It is said that she hears John, the Baptizer calling her name. Another tale from one of her personal maids declares that they had to pacify her one night because John the Baptizer was reaching out from his grave to touch her. Salome was screaming and running around the room escaping a phantom John the Baptizer who was calling and chasing her. The blood of the Baptizer that splattered on her arms and breasts brought horror to her dreams. She had the costume and the seven veils she used burned immediately. She has been bathing two and three times a day to wash away the stains of his blood on her skin. The story goes on to say that his blood stains will not wash off. But only Salome can see them. None of her ladies or staff at the palace has found a single spot of his blood on her skin. The horror lives with her nightly. She has someone sleep in the same room with her to help if the nightmare returns. She is said to wake up screaming to horror only she can see. The gleaming silver platter with John’s head is never at her bedside table as she seems to believe.
Herod made a terrible mistake offering Salome anything she wanted including half his kingdom, if she would only dance for him. That was the cue for Herodias to formulate a plan on the spot. Salome had to be horrified to comply and yet she was forced to obey her mother. It is horror to see a decapitation looking up at you. More so for young Salome. It’s rumored that Phillip the tetrarch of Ituraea and Trakonitis will send emissaries and ask for Salome’s hand in marriage. Herod and Herodias will most likely comply. But Phillip is too old for her. There’s reason to believe the marriage will not last long. Salome is young and being from a royal line will marry again. Who knows to whom and she may even become a queen. Herod Antipas does not openly show a lust for power. His wife, Herodias is the ambitious one. That ambition can produce catastrophic results when playing in the parlor of high politics. Time will prove that philosophy correct.” Serou concluded, nonchalantly reaching for another snack.
Outside the pleasant surroundings of Tremiyo’s court yard the world continued its daily quest to achieve their goals.