Tide and Time Waits for No Man

In the books, I will be exploring some of my secret ‘philosophical leanings’ through story. In that sense, The Phantammeron is just as must a large mythopoesis, or History of the Phantammeron Gods in my books as it is an expression of some of my more esoteric views of my Christian faith, influenced by my college education, views of the Christian church, my Grandfather (a Methodist minister and church educator for 70+ years), and my personal views of God and Mankind’s relationship to him. Beyond those influences however, I am especially interested in what Joseph Campbell calls the mythological archetype’, or symbol which in a Pagan sense, is the deep mystical influence that ancient symbols and religious stories have on the viewer/listener via story-telling.

Without going too deep into what these symbols and influences have had on me as a writer, I will touch on a few of the outcomes of my beliefs here briefly, which in turn lead to another short excerpt from the first Phantammeron book. I will talk about one of these hidden meanings found in the book, then share an example of that in the story below.

One of the symbols I have really  enjoyed using in the book, is the concept of Time. We know that in the Modern Bible, many of the Old Testament stories have a linear progression of time as it pertains to the Creation Myth, and then Man’s fall from Grace. The act of Creation appears to be a very personal godlike event. It also is symbolic in that God’s original intent was to maintain intimacy with his creation and bind him to his Truth in a sort of timeless garden of eternity; the Garden of Eden. But the story to me originates from earlier relics in Jewish mysticism and even pagan tradition that predate Christian Tradition. This Garden is in essence, in the earlier incarnations, a timeless eternal place on earth, much like Heaven. Mankind never dies, the plants do not die or wither, and we get sense that this was not a part of the events that transpire later. In effect, Time and the Garden, are one, and eternal. One might imagine in this place, that Mankind truly is immortal and so Time has no purpose there. With his Fall, all that changed and Man’s fate was set into motion, as was time. In ancient relics from Indo-European history we have hints as to how our ancestors originally perceived time and space. It is seen in Vedic myths as a serpent or a water creature. In Nordic text, the earth is wrapped by a serpent, or as a river of sorts. So, in the Phantammeron I have chosen a river goddess (Atar) as she who is eternal and abides in the River of Time (Ataranda) in Phantaia.

And this leads me to Philosophy. Time to me, like many aspects of life, is a dualistic phenomenon. Let me explain. We know from physics it is a 4th dimension; in essence bound to physical laws, like that of the speed of light, and locked into our concepts of matter and energy, as Einstein seems tells us. But in mythology, many things are in fact timeless, yet also controlled by time. The concept of time is often a part of say a mythological event, where acts unfold as on a stage and the Gods are doomed by their choices. The idea of a last battle where all the Nordic Gods are destroyed at the end of the world (Ragnarok), is an example of an event that clearly occurs based on time; i.e. the end of the world. But this end-times event is also something that has yet to occur, but in story is described in detail and known, as if it had occurred. In essense, myth here portrays time and timelessness at the same time! This is why ancient mythology supersedes time, modern physics, and even modern religious stories and events.  This is in essence is the dualistic nature of Time embedded inside the archetypes of mythology, and which are incorporated in the symbols and stories of the Phantammeron, as well.

Time in the Phantammeron is represented as both a river (a symbolic water deity), and an eternal, all-knowing female essence as created by the Creator, or The Maker, in the Phantammeron. She as a water-being (Atar), and yet a women (Goddess). She is both Time in symbol, yet also a deity who is trapped by Time itself; being alive and in form a woman, yet bound to her watery realm as a Being eternally young, and with limited omniscience and the ability to see events. Her nature is therefore, dualistic, and like water, flowing and changing, eternally young, static, and outside the boundaries of many of the changes or events that Time itself has wrought in the world. As such, in terms of philosophy, she forms the basis for my personal philosophical belief that Time in our world, is very much a conundrum; a conflicting dualistic “system”.  Time chains us to our place in time and space, and therefore as tools of God. Time makes us all players in a grand scheme; as Shakespeare has said, “…and when we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools”. So like us, the characters in the Phantammeron are destined to play a part in the linear (time) and non-linear (timeless) aspects of the story; as creatures beholden to a Creator, who has set them all up in his great drama he created for them in the beginning of all things. Like the Garden of Eden, he allows them to break this seal of timeless perfection, Fall from Grace, and descend into their own event-filled illusion of time (that of their own perceived free will).

Atar, however, represents the dual nature of Time to me. She is born of the River of Time. Water is a perfect symbol for her; one who is born of change and yet changeless. This same concept is represented by the great sea serpent found when the world was created in many myths – for example, the ancient Rig Veda. Water and Time as the perfect female form, meaning, that like water, she is the Goddess of Change Eternal, and is granted the ability to “give birth” to children of change (i.e. a change agent). So, in the book, her symbol as Time is contained by both water and her symbolic female form. As an water agent of change, Atar is also also eternal, and is cursed to dwell eternally in the river, and cannot leave. Though she can also see the future, she is powerless to change it. In the mythology in the book, she is subconsciously a part of the curse of the birth of the world that unfolds when Adda, the earth, is created from her husbands body and flesh. As such, symbolically, like many Celtic water deities, is eternal and never dies but continually rebirths new worlds, yet in the winter as the witch devours them whole, but to give birth to them again in the spring. Te male persona is doomed to birth and death, and then be reborn by her (as Christ is a regenerating spirit of the world and his redemption of the Mankind).

This in essence, then, is the critical aspect of my views of Time. It is both a life-giving force for change (water, female conception, etc), yet that which chains us to our bodies and our form on this earth, and which we cannot escape. As such it is eternal, and it like the tide, waits for no man or woman, but is eternal. We cannot escape or own lives, our own deaths, our own destinies, you might say. Yet Time goes on without us. This dual view – that Time is a giver and a taker; a water serpent and a woman; something that is ever-changing, yet eternal and still – is what I am trying to convey in the story of Atar in the Phantammeron. This is something again, touched on in the Bible, with that eternal Garden, and in Heaven, yet also in our daily lives as we are in many ways moved deterministically in our lives by the hand of God through time.

That double-meaning leads into more mystical discussions of meaning, purposes, creation, and other esoteric things I will leave for another discussion. But, I wanted to show that the fantasy stories behind the Phantammeron are constructed from carefully thought-out philosophical and symbolic concepts derived from not just current religious views and symbols, but ancient pagan thoughts and mythologies that often transcend rational thought. This then connects us back to the ancient saying that “tide and time waits for no man”. An even deeper mystical truth lies hidden there, for sure!

 

Atar and Lyrlu

As I mentioned, I have chosen to express this dual-conflicting aspect of Time in my books via certain symbols. The primary symbol is of Atar, and the River of Time or Ataranda, which is this spectral river that flows through the heavenly, eternal, forest paradise called Phantaia. As such the river is a female water form, and represents time as a river thats powerful and eternal and ever-changing. This river originates from a sacred pool, that gathers the drops of sacred water that fall from the One Tree in the center of this heavenly place. The pool feeds Ataranda and creates the Time that flows through Phantaia, or the Heavenly Forest in the book. This pool, however, unlike the river where Atar dwells, is eternal and timeless and unchanging. It sits quiet and still and like many pools in say Chinese mythology, represents the eternal/magical aspect of Time. At times we see such pools as homes for sleeping dragons that represent weather, rain, or storms. This again makes it a water/serpent/female deity, which is also seen in Western myths. But in my story, I am representing both aspects of Time; again, the duality of its power in the cosmos as serpent and female; changing and changeless.

Without going into the details of my plots, I wanted to share a small except from the Phantammeron where I briefly talk about Atar as the deity of the river and her part in the stories in the first book. In this tale, Atar and Aman (the forest deity) have already met and from their union (forbidden), Atar is to give birth to the first children of the Gods – the Children of Shining. Prior to this birth, The Creator has delivered to his servant, Ma-rael, a message and a request to all the beings or animals of the forest of Phantaia (which is heaven). These creatures, the Manna, are to give themselves to Atar and Aman as servants and helpers. Aman and Atar’s children cannot stay in Phantaia, because unlike the Manna, they are not animals but of the higher form of the Creator, so must come be with the Creator in a new heaven prepared for them. To travel to this new heaven, they must build a ship to travel on the Ataranda River (Time), and the Manna must help them build it. To do so they must be transformed into special beings, not unlike their animal forms, but as men and women like Atar and Aman, so with their skills and gifts, van forge the magic ship which will carry them on the River of Time to an Eternal resting Place by the side of the Creator. Four of the Manna decide to do this, against the wishes of the other Manna. They then are “shaken of their old forms, and given new raiment”. These beings are of the earth, fire, air, and water. The smallest of these, named Lylru, is a being of the river and of water (Water Elemental Goddess). In the story, she first chooses to give up her life as a silver trout in the waters of the Ataranda and take shape as a young girl and help guide the magic ship with the children towards the Creator’s new Heaven. But later, she fears for this choice to help Atar and her new babies, and comes to Atar in the river to talk to her prior to her giving birth to her twins. The following is a part of that story:

 

Atar was full with child, and in the deeper parts of the river she lay quiet and still, turning the silver hourglass of time, and watching the fates of all things the were and would be in the worlds that would be born from that timeless River.  Then into the river’s muddy bottoms there appeared a movement unseen by Atar, as that of a fish. And it appeared as a girl-child, with hair of silky white, and a gown made of this hair, wrapped around her and entwined. This was little Lyrlu, the silver trout of the river, who for love of Atar and Aman, chose to be transformed into a girl-child, and help them with the building of the mighty Ship of Dewe and the guiding of it to its heavenly port. Atar loved Lyrlu, as unto a daughter to her she was, all her own. So as a mother embraces one of her children, she welcomed little Lyrlu into her arms. There Lyrlu held Atar and her tears welled up as one in fear. For she, by intuition and her own limited omniscience,  feared for this new fate given her by the Creator. For she sacrificed herself out of love, not duty bound, and Atar knew this, for she knew more the nature of the tender heart of Lyrlu than any of the Gomi.

Then Lyrlu told Atar of her fears in secret; of the fates of her three Gomi brothren; of the loss of her form as the Blessed Trout of the river, and of a future that appeared dark and unknown to her. She alone of the four sensed danger, yet because she had joy for the coming of Atar’s children, her heart was torn, and knew not the deeper meaning of this unfounded fear. Atar, to her, was closest, being born of the river as Lyrlu was. So she comforted Lyrlu, and told her she must face this fear and said, ‘these tides and time wait for no one, my child’.

Then Atar, against knowledge of Aman, her love, and Ma-rael, the heavenly angel of the Creator, in secret offered Lyrlu a gift of vision, so that she might see the future in part, and suffer no more fear. She told her, ‘You and I, dear Lyrlu,  are both born of the life-giving waters of Time. But I am cursed with the gift of knowing the Fates of all Things, and seeing the Time that flows through all things. With these cruel chains, I sleep here eternally and am imprisoned by its Truth. And though I see many things, I cannot act on them, nor have been granted the gift  of Freewill, as Aman has and my children shall have. But you, my child, are tortured from this knowledge in some form, I see; this secret knowledge of terrible things to come that you partly possess. Yet, He has hidden this full ability from you on purpose, so that you might remain free, as it would, from this dark omen upon your being; the all-seeing eye partially shut in thy mind. For seeing the future, though it brings Truth and lights a path to joy, and good tidings, so too this knowledge may bring you new fear of shadows and death and decay, and dooms to darks ends of lives once loved and embraced. You might share too, without avoidance possible, the final fate that is yours and those you love. Do thy want to bear this burden, my child? For in this vision I give, briefly thou shall see thy Fate…and that of your Children’s Fate as well. So I shall grant thee thy wish if you command me, for my love of you is great beyond any measure and it grieves me that though suffers so.’

And Lyrlu stopped for this news of her own children to bear as her own,  Atar had revealed by mistake, which was forbidden by Ma-rael. And she sat as one amazed and in wonder in that moment, pondering Atar’s words, for besides her news of children, she knew in this gift great joy, yet terrible portent lay. But Lyrlu could not think now of her kind, but that of all of her friends, and of Atar’s children, and the Manna and then the doom of mighty twilight forest, Phantaia. For she saw danger and felt fear for these things still, that their demise drew near. Then Lyrlu spoke, and asked to see the Fates of Time in the hourglass held my Atar. At this, Atar smiled, for she knew Lyrlu’s true heart was of concern for the fates of All Things, not just her own. But then she sorrowed, , and hesitated, staring into the eyes of Lyrlu for a length of time, for though this knowledge would be hers, Atar knew it was a vision terrible to behold for such a young child as her.

Then Atar said, ‘Now you shall look into these timeless waters and alone see thy fate and the fate if thy friends’. And Lyrlu crept up to the hourglass and into a rocky basin and there beheld a mysterious vision. Lyrlu saw in the misty waters her life in a dark place, strange and forbidding, yet there given great powers over a vast world who’s beauty was beyond anything known or seen by her eyes eternal. There she had great dominion over vast places and darker realms mysterious yet deep and fathomless.  In this realm were vast pools and lakes and great oceans limitless in their measure; seas filled with wondrous creatures and beautiful colors; of fish and plants shining as jewels under canopies of silver. And then as from a gray mist, appeared suddenly the faces of her children to be. And Lylu wept, for they were three young girls most beautiful and proud. Then love and great joy filled her heart at this sight, and tears of joy overran those of her former fears. Then she saw her friends, Maru of the rocks, and Rashu of flame, and Monu of the winds in great struggles, and their kind and kin lay in anguish as in conflict with themselves as well as that of a mighty unrelenting evil. Then she again was fearful, for the scene turned dark, and she saw wars, and peril, and death. And some of these faces, those of her precious her children, disappeared forever as dissolved into eternal shade, nevermore to be seen again, and her heart was in peril, truly. Then came a violet mist and a silver goblet appeared before her with waters that flashed as silver and gold. And she was offered it, but refused it and sat alone in the dark with her tresses about her as one frozen in fear and doubt. Then a small light came as from a single candle, and this shown brighter and brighter until all was gone and all scenes that bwere were devoured and consumed by the light. And so Atar removed this vision from her eyes. There Lyrlu hugged her close and cried, for this dream seemed unlike the Eternal Peace of the Creators Halls so promised them. But Atar told her, “Fear not child, for in this vision is thy life, which from this vision alone, shall spare thee from eternal death and obliteration in the days to come. But knoweth thy friend’s fate cannot be so. So shall thy in time, lie alone in this dark destiny, knowing many things from this gift and vision which must be and can never be changed though thy give all they force of will to do so. So too, like me, though cannot share this vision and are chained to it forever. For what though see, only you see, as Time commands it shall be. So too, you shall have power to mend what wrongs you may, heal the hearts of many, and waylay or delay this future, but you shall succumb to it in full. You, that survive this future shall alone of all the others survive the horrors of this future time, yet suffer from thy loss in full. This gift and curse I grant you. But the price for knowing this future is great heartache and pain, for with your unending Love too shall thee know, in all its splendor, more than any other.”

As she left, Atar warned her, “Do not attempt to change thy fate nor share this vision with anyone save they own heart. To help thy in thy journey, I give you a piece of me, my being, my heart. It is encased in crystal, and it shall grant thee special knowledge of the rightful Path when the world is darkest, and thy seek a new truth to comfort thy soul. And the wisdom gained from thy visions, shall guide thee in its powers.” And this heart was of Atar’s Waters, and seemed to all others as distant sound of a shell, something that could not be grasped, nor held, but was in fact forever held inside the heart of Lyrlu, the Child of the Timeless Waters, the Daughter of Oceans to Be. For it held the vitality and mystery of the oceans and the seas in the world to come. Though it did not grant Lyrlu’s and her kind powers over their fates and places in the world soon to be born, it protected them from the ravages of those destinies as intertwined with the fates of all others.  And Lyrlu held this gift closest to her heart for she loved Atar, truly, and it remained a reminder of her love. Yet it alone, of all that was beautiful and terrible in days to come, remained hidden deep and safe within the bosom of the watery world that was to be.

This was the secret gift of that Atar bestowed on Lyrlu, for she was loved most by her.

 

– The Author of the Phantammeron

 



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