The Golden Star
Elements and Elementals
And there is Pluto; oft called Dis; the grim God of the lower worlds; yet can he give the wealth of all the world to mortals if he so desires. With lowering eyes, in saturnine derision, he glares upon the frolicsome and joyful groups; till Eros, God of Love, the fairest of the Gods, who rules the minds of God and man, comes riding on his lion; and darksome Pluto slinks away. The Son of Zephyrus and Iris has great powers, for he can break the thunderbolts of Zeus, the great Lord Himself; deprive bold Heracles of arms, and play and sport with fearsome monsters of the deep. His arrows in a golden quiver, and his torches none dare touch with impunity. Some of his golden arrows kindle love; but others, leaden, blunt, produce aversion in a lover. He tames wild beasts such as the lion, tiger, ram and hare; the Rose is his Sacred Symbol. He rises in the air with golden wings and flutters like a shining bird. And Psyche, his beloved, keeps him company and floats on wings of butterflies beside him, like a holy breath or Soul Divine; whilst Venus-Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, looks up and sees the happy twain with eyes of jealousy; though Mars in glittering mail and helmet waits her coming in the myrtle grove.
High in the air there drift mysterious sounds, delectable and sweet, as if a choir of angels hummed celestial tunes. This is Æolius, Son of Poseidon and of Arne; ruler of the winds he keeps enclosed in sacred mountain in the Isle of Lipara. Like minstrelsy of sighing harps, his voice floats through the atmosphere, and softly strokes the inner ear with gentle touch of beauty. It raises up a vision of the Muses in a ring, and memories of quaint old Pastorals, and the great plane-tree by the fountain, whereunder sits mild Callirhoë, who listens to the Songs of Innocence. It makes the soul harmonious and seems to lead it to the consecrated walks in venerable woods where dwell the shades of ancient bards, whose songs’ deep meanings do abide beneath the spreading limbs of monarchs of the woods and groves; a viewless mystery, but full of potency of melting eloquence.
And from far Calamine, the lake with floating islands, come flying all those heavenly shapes of maidens on the drowsy hum of Hyblæan bees—for bees are only nymphs metamorphosed—and sweet Melissa, who discovered use of honey, with swarming, golden, honey-laden clouds of insects swimming, swirling, through the waves of air around her head, emitting soft aroma of wild thyme from Syria’s fields and fertile hills whereon the luscious herbage grows. And Marcia, and other nymphs and maidens far too numerous to name, now join the multitude of Gods and bright Goddesses.
Ilithyia, Goddess of birth; Pomona, who guards the blushing fruits of trees; and Fornax, ripener of corn; Hecate, who can give wealth and wisdom, victory and good luck; Hygeia, who brings health, with serpent whom she feeds from alabaster cup; Edusa, who protects the children and who blesses food and drink and sleep; and Flora, Goddess of the flowers of the Spring; and Furina, from sacred grove; they all add grace and dignity glamour. And as bright Helios, the Sun-God, rides along his course towards the West, from golden throne far in the East to distant rim of Oceanus, his horses fed upon the herbs that grow and thrive within the Islands of the Blessed, there now come great processions of still further Gods from out the ancient times, and twilight comes apace; for presently the Sun-God will embark on his golden boat, that fashioned was for him by the God of Fire, Hephæstus, and after sunset he will sail from West to East in time to make another Day appear on the horizon of the Morning-Land. And in the crepuscular light we now see Gæa, who holds the key of all the mysteries, and from whose form arise the vapours that produce divinest inspirations. The first of Delphic Oracles she; invoked when taking oaths; black sheep her share of sacrifice. And Ganymede, most beautiful of all the mortals; changed was he into an eagle when transported to the heavens by the Gods to fill the cup of Zeus, like Zeus’ daughter and Hera’s: Hebe, personification of youth, who can restore full vigour to the aged, and used to fill that cup with nectar, food of Gods; and Echidna, half maiden and half serpent, black-eyed mother of Chimæra, the hundred-headed dragon guarding still the fruit of Hesperides. They join with Hermione, as beautiful as golden Aphrodite; and Inachus, who rises from the river; he, the oldest God, or Hero, out of Argos. And Echetlæus, the mysterious Hero who with ploughshare slew barbarous hordes and disappeared; and Laodice and five fair maidens, but just returned from Delos where they carried sacrifice.
And as the Sun stands hesitant amidst the roses in the Western sky, the tops of mountains still enamelled with his magic brush, there comes Apollo, God of song and music, inventor of the flute, who did receive the lyre from Hermes; and with his playing on the phorminx now he does delight the Gods.
Accompanied is he by all the minstrels of Arcadia, whilst by his side stands Marsyas, Athena’s flute in hand, emitting of its own accord most beauteous strains of melody. And, as the strings of the Cithara twang and ring and shadows slowly fall, from out the sea-foam near the strand there rises Anadyomene, fair Goddess of the sea, entranced by that delicious sound of descant harmony, so dulcet in the evening air.
And harps’ glissandos, clanging, shimmering cymbals, each beat of which sends clouds of gold-dust up above the players, tinkling, thrumming tambourines, and golden trumpets, splintering the air with alto-tones that gleam and glitter, supported by the rolling deep-voiced tones of solemn tympanies, now swell the chorus with delight.
And all the interwoven melodies and themes do blend in truly god-like fashion, which makes the nine sweet Muses jubilate and bless the fair performers in that Paradise of descantry amidst the sighing leaves of listening trees that softly dream in evening’s breath of placid air, as if the rhythmic arias and songs symphonic gave added life and happiness unto their masséd leafy shapes.
All the tumultuous throng is still and lists with beating hearts to that melodious celebration, that leads right to the edge of th' infinite, so that the soul may gaze upon the face of the First Cause; if only for a moment; sweet with pangs of longing to return to that fair bourne, upon the shores of God’s Eternity.
So sped the time: the shadows deepened, and still those luscious harmonies rang forth . . . until a discord, weird and spectral, rode upon the air and broke the charm.
A sudden hush . . . and once again that ghostly sound was heard; and then the vast concourse of Gods and Graces dissolved away, as if that phantom call was voice of Death himself, before whose dreaded summons all that lives is paralyzed with fear.
Once more that grisly note, but louder in the silent Night, as on soft wings there floated in the air the ghostly form of hooting great white owl; detested by the Gods of Light as messenger of darkness.
The only other sound was that of Pluto’s sneering, mocking laughter, as from the nether worlds he rose again to take his part in the black Sabbath of the Witches, that soon was to commence . . . .
Ma-u and Ma-uti looked in consternation at the Messenger’s serene countenance as—at the end of this third Vision—he bade them sit upon a fallen tree-trunk, at the edge of the great forest that now stretched far behind them in the darkness of a moonless night.