Imagine a bright light shining from behind you focused on what lies before your eyes, draping it in your own shadow. This light shining into the mouth of a deep cavernous hollow filled with dripping stalactites, its floor covered in stunted weeping stalagmites and the bones of dead things. The sun behind your head just before Helios draws it back into ocean allowing his sister Selene to take to the heavens leaving you once more staring into the darkness. To see this shattered woman.
Remember the long walk to this place of shadows and undiscovered dreams. Yellow blooms dot the many gorse bushes that infringe upon the narrow deer trail, that winds between pine and rowan, oak and sycamore trees. Wild mint and garlic scent the air along with the all-pervasive pine sap. These trees shaded my life, these trees have always been here, sometimes of one shape and scent another time; another tree but this forest has always been here. It first formed as the ice withdrew from Eurasia as the lands parted and the continents that we know today formed. This forest existed when Britain was not an island, before Scotland was a country, before the highland divide was created, before the volcanoes and earthquakes that moved the crust of this world, ripped my country, apart.
It is a quiet day. No howling monstrosities borne on and in the winds that echo so often here that I have grown acclimated to the wail of the banshee and the sudden summer storm. No swirling ghosts where the arctic and southern winds combine and swirl, lifting trash from the pavements and whipping the dust and detritus into every bare face as Is the norm here. Instead, it is still; only a breath of salt wind heading in sluggishly from the North Atlantic to lull those that live here into the false sense of security that they may yet live another year so close to me.
Eventually I eat them all.
Were I to turn I would see it behind me, green and grey and growling, vast, dark and deep in all its majesty but I am busy grasping roots and grass, drawing myself ever upwards over a fine rock scree pebbles and boulders interspersed with the hardiest of alpine plants searching for a cave.
Imagine tonight's sunset Illuminating the eternal darkness that has existed in this cavern before humankind has discovered how to walk upright. Australopithecus, Ramapithecus, Neanderthals, Homo erectus all will have investigated this darkness. Imagine, now, it was not those living fossils but you who looked into this suddenly brightly lit, shadow strewn cave and before you in the darkness cast only by your own shadow you saw a person, a bloodied and broken person; criss-crossed by the shadows cast by your arms, torso, legs and head in the shattering illumination cast from a drooping sun, each limb, each feature skewed by the light and angle, shadow and attenuated shape.
Consider the depths of a woman's sorrow. Eve, the originator, the unblessed, the tempted one. Ruth, the kind one, maimed and subjected to the hate of all because she was not Hebrew, Edith is turned into a pillar of salt for being curious, Mary Magdalene herself abused and cursed, Clytemnestra, abandoned and unloved, Penelope, left alone whilst her husband philandered, Helen, used, again and again by men.
Such misuse, exploitation, disregard and slavery had in the mists of time been noted. But we were new and different, modern men no longer hurt women, no longer made them the slaves of Christian tradition, such as marriage, unless the slave consented, unless the woman wished to be enslaved.
She stood before my gaze, bloodied and broken.
By god, call him what you will. By the gods, the pantheon, the singular, the plural the diverse, the reborn and the sadistic. Call him nature. Call him a daemon. Call him what you will but no matter what and when you name him you will hear too many women screaming, whimpering, squealing, weeping, squalling, whaling, simpering, washing tears from tear streaked faces that the gods, the god, the hope, the one, alpha, had to intervene.
The Barangueil had existed before even the gods and the god, she had formed when men were not men and women not women, little more than apes and still in the thrall of the stronger male. Barangeil did not know the term for her sex, when she was first summoned into being, her worlds gods were opaque, their motives, unknown even to them, unknown to her.
She was formed from the raw stuff of gods and stars and cruelty. The alpha, at that time known only as the male would soon become a god of sorts, seminally worshipped by those Ramapithecus beginning to grow aware.
And as they, the proto hominids began to think they wondered and gazed at the night sky and thought, how did we get here?
Who created us?
What formed our being?
And those thoughts unanswered drifted for many years and grew and grew until the hominids that could think and wonder thought to themselves. We were created, such as the animals we eat, such as the grass we walk upon. Those hominids then asked the eternal question; Who made us?
Gods based on the beliefs of the hominids jumped into being, an explanation was needed and there was no science, no understanding. We gave the egos the names of those that scared us, terrified us, preyed upon us. Snake gods, wolf gods, tiger gods, spider gods, we were terrified, and we tried to appease them.
Then into the halls of the gods another appeared.
A dweller in the dark places of the mind, for women have always been downtrodden, lesser beings than men, shuffled over, shed aside for newer lovers, discarded, swept off like dandruff from an afflicted shoulder.
Remember the past, where we were, staring into the cavern, seeing the woman in the shadows. Criss-crossed by welts and burns, scars and shadows. Imagine that she welcomed you home.