Circle of Truth
Masques of Fear
In February of 2004 I was flipping through Harper’s Magazine and came across Richard Manning’s article, “The Oil We Eat: Following the Food Chain Back to Iraq.” Having been embedded with the U.S. Army in Baghdad the previous fall conducting research for my book Soldier Dead: How We Recover, Identify, Bury, and Honor Our Military Fallen, (Columbia University Press 2005 & 2007), I sat and read the story.
I quickly found myself deeply involved in Manning’s depiction of farming as a destructive practice that ultimately traps the majority of the people of a culture into a system of inequity, waste, and guarded walls. Agriculture has brought us “more,” but more of what? Are we truly better off? Are we happier? Are we satisfied?
As I researched the impact of modern agriculture upon previously egalitarian mobile bands, I learned about the conspiracy to pervert oral traditions in which women were revered possessors of influence into written texts where men held the reins of power and women were mere chattel. It is notable that two ancient spiritual symbols, the Ouroboros and the Tree of Life, were recast into the temptation devices of the serpent and the apple tree of the book of Genesis.
Soon, combining the elements of agriculture, the written word, and subservience of women into a novel series became my passion, leading to the Circle of Truth series.
One heartbeat, then two, they looked at each other, eye to eye, soul to soul. That moment between them as they acknowledged the creation of life was charged with power that eclipsed the moon’s pull over the oceans and even the fire of the sun, for it was the acknowledgment of a magical event springing from love as well as the joining of flesh, and the power of love reigns over all physical forces.
Once again, the sense of deja vu washed over her. The purring filled the forest, even overriding her pounding heartbeat. She was lulled to peace, to sleep, by the sound. Yet, she resisted. There was no place of calm for her, nowhere she could let her guard down. Life was, always and forever, a struggle, and her need to contest vied mightily with the force of serenity offered to her. Serenity on one hand, unceasing strife on the other, they both drew her. But, she felt her path had been chosen for her long ago. She jumped to her feet, placenta remains falling from her womb, bared her tusks, and pawed angrily at the ground.
The cougar turned its head to her. His eyes, surrounded by eyeliner-black hair, were filled with great sadness, a sadness sourced from knowledge that, among the many paths available, Askima had chosen one certain never to provide rest. Askima knew his thoughts as he looked into her heart, and knew he knew hers. Worse, she knew he had willingly chosen to give her and her baby life even while knowing she was his sworn enemy. Enraged at his kindness, she prepared to leave behind the new life below her feet and to attack the enemy of old.