Hand in Hand
Once upon a slice of time out of time...
Two little motherheart parts found each other.
They had no names, but we will call them... Bessel and Lissel.
Hands clasped, they ventured out into the world, and traveled for many years on a long and lonely road.
Motherheart parts are not meant to live alone like this, they said to each other. We are meant to be nestled in our mother's breast, cradled in her arms, fed from the milk of her breasts. Had we been given the food and care we needed, they said to each other, we might have grown to be full women, and found our true love, and the love that flowed from us would be rainbows of light in the world.
They spoke truly, though at times they felt they might be wrong, and perhaps were only talking this way to give each other comfort.
They were so lonely, and so very hungry. There was no love for them in the LightSource. He had rejected them and turned them out. There was no loving mother's embrace to be found. And neither could remember why, or how they came to be severed from this most essential home of homes. They only knew that, hand in hand, they must travel the long road, and hope someday to find her, their home, their motherhome, and at long last, feel the nourishment and love and safety they needed so badly.
Hand in hand, they traveled. Arms around each other, they slept, and the darkness was kept at bay by their togetherness.
One day, they crested a hill and there, at the bottom of a long curve, loomed a stone castle.
They approached it cautiously. Too many times they had barged ahead in foolish naivete and gotten badly damaged in payment for their trusting nature. They walked slowly to the castle, and then all around it, examining all the doors and windows for signs of life within. As darkness grew, they could see high up in one lone tower, a light flickering.
It shone through the glass of the tower windows, gold and white, flickering, but definitely there. Real. Their hearts began to pound, and their mouths began to water at the thought of nourishment.
Bessel rushed forward. Still holding tightly to the hand of her sister, she suddenly realized that she was dragging a dead weight. She turned and asked, "Why are you holding back? Let's go, quickly, there's somebody in there!"
But Lissel had shivers up and down her spine that she couldn't explain. "Please," she begged Bessel, "let's not go there. I'm afraid of that place, I'm afraid of whatever is in there."
She could give no good reason for her fear, and so after a time, she let her sister convince her to at least go to the front door and investigate further. Together they walked, hand in hand, to the stone steps leading up to the front door. As they approached, the massive wooden door swung open, creaking on its old rusty hinges. They stood on the threshold and peered into a the darkness beyond. Slowly they began to see, in the dimness, a figure standing at the foot of a great staircase, arms outstretched as if welcoming them.
Again, Lissel held back. This was not the image she had of motherhome. This was not the warm welcoming place she dreamed of in her secret heart. But Bessel was pulling her, pulling her, eager to enter, and so she let herself be drawn in.
In the Castle
"Greetings, and welcome." The voice they heard was deep and resonant. Womanly, and rich and warm. For some reason Lissel got another chill down her back at the sound. She couldn't explain it. It sounded to her as if the woman had recently swallowed a large mouthful of honey, and her throat was clogged with it. Honey, or syrup, maybe. Or ... blood. She shivered again, and she looked at her sister and saw that Bessel's face was enraptured and eager and hungry.
The woman turned from them and moved into a large room with a huge stone fireplace at one end. She passed her hand over the wood, and flames leapt in response. The sisters gasped and stared.
The woman moved gracefully toward a large dais, upon which sat an intricately carved chair. She mounted the steps of the dais and sat. They found themselves standing below her, looking up, and their breath caught in their throat at the sight of her beautiful face in the firelight. She was magnificent, and marvelous, and wondrous. She smiled, and each sister felt as if the smile were intended just for her. "Special, you are," they heard her deep voice murmuring in their heads, "special with love." The honey grew thickly in their heads and in the air all around them.
"Sweetlings, I feel your hunger," she said softly.
She reached inside her robes and produced a small glass vial filled with luminescent liquid. The vial glowed slightly. She pulled the stopper from the top and tipped the vial toward them. They could smell the sweetest smell coming from the liquid, and it ignited in them every dream they'd ever had of food and mother's milk, and light, and warmth and comfort, and home, home, home at last.
"Yes," Bessel breathed softly, "Oh yes, blessed mother, please, yes. We need, we are so hungry!"
The woman smiled down on them from her throne. "Yes, you shall have all you need, all you've dreamed of, all you've ever wanted. But you must be proven worthy. You must give in return. Are you worthy of the gift?"
"What must we give?" Lissel didn't like the sound of this.
"All your love, all your self. You must hold nothing back, for reluctant love is not fully loving."
"How do we know it will be worth it?"
"You must trust. You must have faith. That is another mark of your worthiness, your absolute faith."
Doubt ran through Lissel, furrowing her brow and causing a clench in her heart. What if she couldn't feel absolute faith? She doubted she could do it. Would she be proven unworthy of the gift? Would she be left out in the cold, hungry and alone? Would her sister take the gift and let her go? No, such a thing would never happen. They had survived too much, hand in hand, to separate now. She turned to Bessel to share with her all these thoughts and feelings, but her sister was already beginning to kneel. And too late, she realized that at some point since they entered the great room, their hands had unclasped. They were no longer hand in hand.
"Yes, mother," Bessel murmured, kneeling on the lowest step of the dais. "I love you with all my self, with all my heart and soul, and I believe in your greatness and power and love."
The woman on the throne smiled and reached out a hand. Poor Lissel watched in horror as her sister moved, like a sleepwalker, up into the arms of the waiting woman. She watched, stifling a scream, as the woman drew Bessel onto her lap and laid her back, baring her throat. She stroked Bessel's hair and face and throat, tenderly stroking the young body, and Bessel gave a great sigh and relaxed into the caress. A sudden greedy look came into the woman's eyes. She bent her head and murmured praise and loving endearments, and still stroking, sank her teeth deeply into a vein in Bessel's neck and began to feed.
Lissel fell into a dark horror. She found herself backing up, step by step, horror filling her every cell, feeling as if she were going to throw up at any moment. She reached the front door, and realized with a jolt that she couldn't leave her sister there, she couldn't do it. Not only could she not face the long road alone, but ... surely her sister was in the grip of some kind of madness! She couldn't leave her there to be food for vampires.
When she returned to the great room, she found her sister lying on a bed of cushions, reclining, sleepy, but happy. Her face was, in fact, as joyful as it had ever been in her life. The woman was nowhere to be seen.
Lissel rushed to her sister. "Bessel, we must leave here, now, quickly."
But Bessel was heavy and lethargic, and would not be moved to go. "Why?" she protested, speaking slowly and heavily. "Why must we go? Don't you feel the magic? Why do you resist her love?"
"Oh Lissel, look around, feel inside, does this really feel good to you? She fed on you, she took your sweet love and fed on you, she used you!"
"You don't understand. She gave me a drop from the vial, and it was sweet, Lissel, it was so SWEET! She only gave me a drop though, she said I wasn't ready for more. I will become worthy, I will." She gave a deep sigh and closed her eyes.
"Was it worth it, Bessel? She drained you, look how heavy and tired you are."
"Leave then, if you don't want her love. But don't stay here and spoil my joy. And if you hurt her with your doubt and lack of faith, I'll never forgive you."
Lissel drew back then, hurt and shocked to hear these words come from her dear sister, the one who had held her and sheltered her and shared love and walked hand in hand with her on the long road. Bessel was the only friend she had in the world, her sister, her dear one. And now, the look on Bessel's face made it clear that the love they'd shared as sisters was nothing in comparison to this new ... love.
Anger welled in Lissel's breast, a rage that threatened to erupt and spew and explode in fire and destruction. She saw herself grab Bessel by the throat and throw her to the ground. She saw herself squeezing that dear throat, the throat that had so recently been gouged and sucked and stroked. She saw herself throttling her dearest sister, banging her head repeatedly against the stone floor!
Suddenly the vision faded, and Lissel was left with shock at the ferocity of her rage. She had to withdraw from here, she had to pull away. She was frightened, by the change in her sister, by the woman, by the energies she felt gathering in the castle around them, by the darkness, by the thought of leaving here alone. But mostly she was terrified by her own feelings, by the rage that wanted to kill Bessel and then reap revenge upon the woman.
She turned and fled.
The Long Wait
For many long months, she lived in the nearby forest, hoping Bessel would come out, hoping to get a chance to speak to her without the woman present. But a long time passed and Bessel never came out.
After a few weeks though, a strange thing happened. A tiny creature came running out the front door and down the steps and into the woods. Naked, in a greatly agitated state, the tiny creature ran straight up to Lissel and into her arms and clung to her like a little monkey. She wrapped the little body in her cloak and rocked it and listened to it cry. Except for a few words, it didn't speak. It would only repeat over and over again, 'No, No, NO! I, ME, I ...I ... ME!!" and then it would burst into angry tears again. Lissel finally gave up trying to get it to tell its story. She sewed a pocket into the lining of her cloak, and the little creature took up residence there, hiding safely in the dark and warm.
A few days later, another creature came out. This time it was a round, prickly looking thing, with spindly arms and legs. It growled and screeched when it came close to Lissel and no matter what Lissel offered or suggested, this prickly creature would refuse it. Like the creature that came before, it only spoke a few words over and over again. This creature screeched "Hate, Hate, HATE. Don't want to... when I want to ... I don't WANT to." Which made no sense to Lissel, but she listened, and gave comfort, and made the little creature a pocket to live in, this one with extra lining so it's prickles wouldn't poke her.
Over the next weeks, several more little beings came out of the castle, and Lissel gave them all succour in her arms and pockets in her cloak. She didn't know what to make of these little creatures. They all seemed to be different, but they all seemed familiar to her too.
One day, heavy of heart, Lissel crept close to the castle, intending to have it out with her sister. She had spent a restless night in the forest, cold and alone, listening to the grumblings and whisperings of the creatures in her pockets, and as the dawn approached, she finally let her anger carry her to the castle steps, through the great wooden door and across the stone floor into the great room. The fire was cold and the room was empty. Or so she thought. She jumped in terror when she realized the woman was sitting on the steps of the dais. She heard the woman laugh, a deep throaty victorious laugh, and her rage rose up in full force. She wanted to smash the woman's face, light her hair on fire and watch her dance about the room screaming in pain, stab her belly and watch the blood pour out of a thousand wounds.
She returned to the dais and looked up at the woman. "Where is my sister?" she demanded.
"She is here somewhere," the woman responded. "You may look for her if you like. I am not keeping her against her will, if that's what you think. She is here of her own free will, and she gives of herself most willingly. In return for her worship, I give her fulfillment. It's a good trade, don't you think?"
"You take more than you give! You have her enthralled and fooled. It's an illusion, this thing you offer!"
"That is a matter of opinion." The woman laughed again. "If the mind believes a thing is real, then it IS real. She believes in her satisfaction, therefore, she IS satisfied."
Lissel only glared.
"Well, suit yourself. I do not force anyone to stay if they don't want to. The gifts I have to share must be bestowed only on the willing. Only those of greatest faith and love and ability for service are worthy. Which you clearly are not."
The woman descended the steps and moved slowly out of the room, paying no more attention to Lissel than if she were a speck of dust.
Lissel rushed from room to room, calling out "Bessel! Bessel!" At last she found her sister, sleeping in a high tower room. She knelt by the bedside and shook her sister awake. "Bessel, please wake up."
Bessel raised up on one elbow and looked at her through sleepy eyes. "What do you want?"
"Winter is coming, and I cannot live in the forest any longer. I must go, I have to find someplace warmer. Please come with me, please."
"Winter? It can't be. I haven't been here that long. Have I?"
"It feels like forever to me, Bessel. I've missed you so."
"You don't have to miss me, just stay here with me. Let me show you how to love with all your heart and soul, let me show you how to surrender. It's such a wonderful feeling, Lissel, to be enthralled in her arms. I am transported on her wings to wondrous heights, lost in delightful waves of rapture. What a difference from the long road, the miles and miles of fear, of never knowing what to do or where to go. She tells me, Lissel, she shows me the way, I don't have to guess at the way to find what I need, I don't have to be afraid anymore. She is the ALL of ALL, the blessed spring from which we drink and which we feed with the love in our HEARTS and she embraces our love and gives back to us as her own dear beloveds."
Lissel felt her anger rising. What nonsense was this? Empty, flowery words, hiding something, but what?
"Why are you talking like that," she asked Bessel. "You've become so... different."
"You don't understand," now Bessel grew angry. "I AM different. I am finally able to serve the way I was meant to serve. We always said that we were not meant to live alone. We are heart and love and giving. THIS is what we were meant for. I am finally being my true SELF."
Lissel looked at Bessel's dear face, and saw that her features had softened, become less defined. She had lost something in the months she'd been in the castle. She seemed less in essence, less in strength, less in... "fire". And yet, she also seemed calmer, more peaceful, even in her lethargy Lissel could see a sort of floating bliss. But then Lissel opened her cloak and looked at the tiny creatures who were now stirring in their pockets.
"Bessel, look," she said.
"What are those?"
"I think they're parts of you. I think these are the parts that do not like to worship, the parts that don't want to be fed on by that vampire. They are anger and SELF-hood. They are pride, and independence and argument. I have taken these little ones in as they fled from the castle. They don't feel about her as you do, they are afraid of her, and angry at her."
Bessel recoiled and her face grew stormy.
"Bessel, please listen. I'm sorry, I won't say bad things about her, I promise, but please listen. You're only able to stay here because you no longer feel the parts of you that don't want this. Did you make them leave? What does this woman give you that you would throw parts of yourself away for it? Don't you care about them? Don't you care what they feel, that they are cold and lonely and homeless without you? And what about me, what about us? Don't you care what I feel? As I've taken them in, I've become sharper and harder edged. I can feel it in myself. I'm angry all the time, I can't help it, I hate what has happened here, what has happened to you... and to us."
Bessel drew a deep breath and began to cry.
"It's what I need, Lissel." Bessel sobbed and would not raise her eyes to look at either Lissel or the little creatures in her pockets. Lissel waited, feeling hope for the first time. "I need the light and the comfort. And at first it was so wonderful to even receive ONE drop from the vial. Lissel, it was like all my hunger was gone, all my need was taken care of. But then, when her love was not upon me, I would feel cold and forlorn. In between, I would wait for her to come to me, I would try so hard to hone my faith so that I would be worthy of her love. And then finally she would come to me and bestow the gift on me, and I would give up my love to her, and it was ... ecstasy. But the in between times grew longer and longer, and the ecstasy seemed not to last as long. It must be my fault. It's my love that is lacking, it's my inability to surrender that is to blame. And so, I must work harder, I must try harder, to be worthy."
"Oh Bessel, please come away with me, please. Let's leave this awful place, leave it behind and find a true home, one that we can all share. I know there's a mother out there somewhere who won't demand payment for nourishment. She will love us, Bessel, she will love us freely and ... all of us, not just the parts that are sweet and worshipful like you are, dear heart. Please, please, come away with me."
"Go away, Lissel. This love is real. HER love is real. This IS motherhome for me. I don't know why I feel so bad sometimes... it must be my love that is lacking. I will find the way to be worthy. She will help me, she tells me what I need to do, she always shows me the way."
"Oh, Bessel, no, please."
Lissel was crying now, but Bessel had turned her face to the wall and would not speak to her any more. No matter how Lissel cried and begged and pleaded, Bessel kept her face to the wall. Eventually Lissel gave up. Her heart was heavier than ever, but she could not force this choice upon her sister. And perhaps she was wrong, perhaps Bessel was right to try this path. Perhaps it was her own shortcomings that made it so she could never bow her head in supplication, or bare her throat in joyful surrender to the vampire's teeth. If so, then there was a world of joy that she would never be able to partake of. And there was nothing she could do about that. She could not change her nature and be other than she was. She would not send her own prickly parts out into the cold to live alone, just so she could beg for droplets in this dark place. Her anger fueled her departure, but at the door she turned and softened for a moment.
"I will never forget you, Bessel. I love you so. I hope we will meet again, in better times, in a better place. I hope we both find the love and nourishment we need. But I am not like you, I can't do this that you're doing. I just can't. And I can't stay here to watch this, my heart is breaking for love of you and loss of you. And I have the same needs you have. I must go now, to see if I can find the motherhome that *I* need."
Lissel waited, hoping for some response, but there was none.
"I love you, Bessel." And she turned and left the castle.
The Long and Lonely Road
Lissel traveled alone in the world for many long years. She met many other motherheart parts, and knew them to be her sisters. At these times, a deeply buried desire to be close and loving would awaken. She longed for the loving sweetness of motherheart sisters, she longed for the spontaneous affection and laughing trust. Her hands longed to clasp another hand in sisterly love.
But the reminder of the loss of Bessel was also a sore wound, an aching and a piercing that she tried hard not to feel. The hurt was so mixed with anger that she couldn't bear to touch the wound. She tried as hard as she could to hide the pain, to ignore the anger she felt. She grew even harder and more sharp edged.
In many places she saw gurus and teachers and vampires and slavemasters and spellmakers. And each time she saw a soft loving face lifted in supplication and worship for one of these spellmakers, she was reminded of the loss of her dear sister, and it caused huge avalanches of fury to pile up in her. Her rage grew and grew and grew, until it was a huge stone on her back and she was bowed with carrying the weight of it.
She sometimes tried to fight against the web she saw being woven by the spellmakers. She tried to draw the soft loving ones away from their captivity, but never was she successful, not once.
She added self-hate then, to her growing pile of unhealed pain. Self-hate whispered to her, "Your love is not good enough, never enough. Your sisters don't miss you, they don't need you. What you have to offer is not what they want. Never enough, never good enough. Look, they don't even know you, they don't even feel you as one of them."
As she walked among them, these soft sisters, she realized it was true. They did not recognize her as one of them. This puzzled her and greatly distressed her.
After one particularly bad little skirmish, where a small group of sisters turned on her and spat hatred at her, calling her enemy and hateful and unloving for trying to hurt and diminish their beloved spellmaker, she felt the wounds so deeply that she finally withdrew to a cave beneath a hill. She was overwhelmed with loneliness and rage and longing. She delved deeply within herself. She tried to remember how it felt to be affectionate and easy and loving and open. She began to cry, unable to find the feeling in her heart. Instead, all she felt was cold anger and a stiffness that refused to bow or kneel or worship or ... love. Had she cast out parts of herself after all?
She cried and cried... and finally realized that although some of her softness was actually missing, most of the love and softness she had once BEEN, was now locked tightly away in a stone fortress, and the stone of rage she carried was actually blocking the door. In her refusal to be vulnerable to vampires and slave masters, she had lost her ability to love.
She cried for the loss of her softness, for the imprisonment of her loving heart. She cried for the loss of her sisters, for Bessel, and all the others. She cried for the emptiness within her, for the mother's arms and the nourishment she needed so badly.
From that day began her true healing. She made a vow to find all her lost parts, all the softness that must be out there in the world somewhere, lost and cold and alone. She promised to free her loving heart from the fortress where she had imprisoned her. She promised to cry all the rage and melt the stone that blocked the doorway. There must be a way to love, fully and freely, and not have to give up anything. Love that had to sacrifice parts of self was not right, and she vowed she would find a way.
And someday, she knew, she would go back and find her sister. And she hoped that someday, they would once again walk hand in hand.