Moto


"I write because by writing i find beauty.
To speak about terror or human cruelty is
to seek a way for beauty and justice.
To write is to go against.
All my novels, historical or not, are the way:
From the soul to the soul."

Sunday, 13 April 2014

THE SIXTH SEAL

 
 
 
 
About:
Inexplicable events are observed in a small place, just before its exploitation for development. Adriani, spellbound by the mystery of this place, is desperately fighting to preserve it. However, she is not successful. And then, supernaturally, the place begins to resist itself, with its own mysterious forces. The place comes to life, for everyone to see its blood and tears of stone, but its revenge as well.

Part of the novel has been translated into English.

Excerpt:
"It is already afternoon. The wild pomegranate bushes bend, shivering, over the old Byzantine wall and sheaves of hovering blue pierce the few wisps of a moving fog that envelops trees and rocks and lends the site a dream-like appearance of a floating place, traveling motionless in the sway of time. Here and there the light appears from invisible sources and the winter sun appears to be rolling on the earth, so strangely is the place glowing.
I button up my raincoat, wrap a shawl around my neck and go out. Before leaving, I turn around – I felt the attraction of a gaze – and see Lefkios standing at the window, looking at me. His gaze is piercing. I feel it without seeing it. Nothing will stop me, I tell him with my thought, and he nods his head, as if to say, I know… what will happen has already come to pass in that other, invisible, reality. There is a barely discernible smile on his serene countenance. You are the charmed one, he says now, touched by the mystery, and I hear him with my body and shudder.
I take deep breaths and set out. I hear the sound of my footsteps, of the footsteps of the goddess Artemis, the goddess Demeter, of Persephone. I look around. The Site of the Mysteries is deserted. The entire Site of the Ancient Mysteries is deserted. Where is the echo coming from? An echo of raw metal and of water flowing and of cracking crystal – the entire place appears crystalline, surreal, laden with its ancient spirit. Already, the night is falling, slowly, exuding the odor of the first night of creation, an odor of extinguished burn, and I am beside myself. I, too, am made of burned, extinguished material, I reflect, I am the slowly shifting sand at the moment when it is transformed into tender crystals deep in the fire of the earth. You will come, tonight you will come. The moon will come down low, as in the legend, and I will cut it to pieces, which I will throw down, to show you the way. Perhaps you, too, are coming from far away… from mythic argonautic voyages… perhaps, perhaps, you, too, carry a mythical Jason within you, who is seeking the divine moment".








THE SIXTH SEAL

Chapter 2: The Road of Ritual 
(As Adriani comes into contact with the magic spirit of the place)


Bathed in the silver moonlight, everything appeared surreal and I was delirious now. This is my initiation, I told myself, my initiation to unbearable beauty. I kept walking to reach the end of the stone water-troughs; that was my goal. Suddenly I found myself in a strange place, where the signs of the ancient mysteries were disappearing. I was surrounded by sharp stones and thorns, and I was terrified.

I tried to turn back, but something attracted my attention. A formless piece of something was glowing in a stone cavity, something that resembled charred remains; it was glowing strangely, magnetically, and I approached to see what it was.

Its glow was dull now, dense, as if from burned crystal, and I was puzzled: a broken piece of unknown matter that glowed, a moonlike matter, and I stretched out my hand to pick it up.
--Don’t…don’t touch it… I heard the voice of the monk Lefkios, who was standing behind me.

I turned around, startled. It was too late. The strange broken object was in my hand and was melting, mournful, melting and becoming ash, and still glowing: ash and moist, glowing shade, like a dead piece of moon, and I shuddered.
--Throw it away…throw it away, quickly.

--Why? What is it?

His eyes were ashen with fear and there was anguish on his face as he tried, he said, to remember some words that were capable of negating the other power, which imbued this strange moonlike matter that I held in my hands.

I was puzzled.

--What words are those?

--Word-symbols…seven code words; one opens the other and all together they dissolve the ancient curse…They are written in the apocryphal book. Everything is written there.
His thin body was shaking as it hovered in pain, as if the words were in his body or as if he had to remember them with his body…to detach them from his blood.
--Speak to me…tell me, now, don’t stop…what curse?

--There is a legend about this place. On the night of the full moon with the white halo, they say that strange things happen, like tonight, strange phenomena…it looks like tonight…
He raised his eyes to heaven and saw the face of the moon, which hung from the fragile threads of cosmic indifference…

…As I took a few steps, attracted by a watery sound, I saw the spring, a little further away. The crystalline waters shone like silver. The moonbeams pierced them through to their other, invisible, side – where their mythical journeys lay hidden – to the aloof initiation that they carried within them.

Perhaps these are the same waters that were used for the rites of the mysteries and the cleansing, I thought, and I approached to wash my hands, to clean them of that unknown, thick, grease-like matter, which was still glowing and melting, and felt like ash.

Something else puzzled me now.

Although a few minutes ago the water was calm, welling up quietly from its source, suddenly it began to rise strangely, to rise higher and higher, in defiance of gravity, as if a force was pulling it upward, and I stepped backward, terrified.

--Look, the water is inflating, I said, isn’t it strange? It is rising…without being hindered by gravity.

Lefkios looked at me in terror, as I had already dipped my hands in the water and was washing them, satisfied. I watched as that strange matter, which was stuck to them like dry fire, slipped into the water, in tiny spheres that glowed.

What was it, anyway? I had never had such a sensation of touch – a moonlike sensation.

--You should not have touched the water…you should not have seen them, he said.

Again, I was puzzled.

--But why? Is everything forbidden here?

--At the hour when the water shifts, you must not see it…nor touch it. You must not participate in the anarchy.

It was the first time I heard the words: “the hour when the water shifts…” The word “anarchy,” as well, I was hearing for the first time that night from the monk Lefkios. It was as if he wanted to say: the unexplainable – or, the miracle.

I turned to look at the water, which had returned to its normal flow. It had returned to ground level and was flowing calmly into dark channels that disappeared in the night.

I did not want to think about anything. I let my body participate in that sublime thing that Lefkios called anarchy. The mystery fascinated me in a painful way; it was initiating me, perhaps. Soon I would be a charmed one, which means one marked by the unexplainable. I understood that beyond logic, beyond words.

As I was leaving, I turned around to look once more at the Site of the Ancient Mysteries. Bathed in the moonlight it appeared unapproachable, locked in its mysteries, a soul aloof, which had become one with the stones and the water.

Then I looked up at the moon. It was still hanging low in the sky, a cold spot of light that carried with it the memory of creation. Around the moon I thought I saw a circle that quivered faintly: the blond halo.



 
Chapter 4: The Signs of the Burned Moon


(Adriani, wild with passionate desire for Jason, goes to the Site of the Ancient Mysteries and summons him with the power of the earth.)


It is already afternoon. The wild pomegranate bushes bend, shivering, over the old Byzantine wall and sheaves of hovering blue pierce the few wisps of a moving fog that envelops trees and rocks and lends the site a dream-like appearance of a floating place, traveling motionless in the sway of time. Here and there the light appears from invisible sources and the winter sun appears to be rolling on the earth, so strangely is the place glowing.

I button up my raincoat, wrap a shawl around my neck and go out. Before leaving, I turn around – I felt the attraction of a gaze – and see Lefkios standing at the window, looking at me. His gaze is piercing. I feel it without seeing it. Nothing will stop me, I tell him with my thought, and he nods his head, as if to say, I know… what will happen has already come to pass in that other, invisible, reality. There is a barely discernible smile on his serene countenance. You are the charmed one, he says now, touched by the mystery, and I hear him with my body and shudder.

I take deep breaths and set out. I hear the sound of my footsteps, of the footsteps of the goddess Artemis, the goddess Demeter, of Persephone. I look around. The Site of the Mysteries is deserted. The entire Site of the Ancient Mysteries is deserted. Where is the echo coming from? An echo of raw metal and of water flowing and of cracking crystal – the entire place appears crystalline, surreal, laden with its ancient spirit. Already, the night is falling, slowly, exuding the odor of the first night of creation, an odor of extinguished burn, and I am beside myself. I, too, am made of burned, extinguished material, I reflect, I am the slowly shifting sand at the moment when it is transformed into tender crystals deep in the fire of the earth. You will come, tonight you will come. The moon will come down low, as in the legend, and I will cut it to pieces, which I will throw down, to show you the way. Perhaps you, too, are coming from far away… from mythic argonautic voyages… perhaps, perhaps, you, too, carry a mythical Jason within you, who is seeking the divine moment. 



Was it the words or the echo of the voice, a voice with the sound of rock and water and night. It was the wild ecstasy that slowly overpowered his spirit. It was the frenzied moonlight that bathed the place. It was the smell of the earth, of Gaia, that emerged from the depths of time, leaving pieces of abyss in its passing. It was his name spoken by my lips – the lips of a frenzied bacchant – a name that danced in his flesh and elicited the saltiness of the mythical sea and the sway of the gods. It was all these things together that drove him mad.

We did not need to say anything. We rolled into the stone trough of purification, where the moonlight was foaming. The night filled with moans and cries and sighing, filled with incomprehensible words, syllables from the lips of the first humans that experienced passion – perhaps seeking union with the same frenzy of the flesh, and, perhaps, beneath a similar full moon -- in the same vision of the world.


 
 
Chapter 5: The Stone Woman -- or a Journey to the Abyss
My hand is a trembling arc, half-raised before the door of his house. I hear the beating of my heart. It will burst, I tell myself; it will fall away. I am living a madness… what I am doing is madness, but there is no turning back. From this point on, other powers are driving me…and I try to close the umbrella, which is being buffeted by the wind.
He runs to meet me. He is agitated. The waiting has made him nervous and his words are inept, “it is still raining…you see, here it is windy… oh, you came…,” words that hide the agitation.
I cast a rapid glance around me. The house is an old aristocratic one, which exudes an odor of people long gone. The thought excites me. It seems that what is lost has become an odor inside me. The house smells of family gatherings and tears and promises whispered in the dark. I liked it. It smelled of a grandmother, of pale-skinned aunts wearing expensive rings on their fingers, and of cellars full of old wines.
He relaxes, “I was in agony, waiting for you,” he says. He cannot hide his feelings… weak, I think fleetingly. I did not realize then, yet, that this was his strength, an irresistible strength, which took the form of the most innocent childlike weakness.
His hands are shaking slightly as he holds me against his body. He smells the rain on my hair, and I try to understand. My body is trembling; my body is shivering in its solitude, a demystification of the moment I am living – and I am terrified. Why did I come? Here I am, Adriani Kyda Kalia, the proud and aloof one. What am I doing in the house of a conceited aristocrat who may be ten years my junior? I must leave, I must leave, I think quickly, and I am frightened. I remember the night when I waited for him at the site of the ancient mysteries. There, I was the anonymous woman, the primeval woman, the woman-goddess, the woman-mother, identifying with all the female powers of Gaia, the Earth.
I push him away, shaken.
–I want to leave…, I say, and he is puzzled.
–A drink will relax us both, he says awkwardly, and fills the glasses.
 
After that first rainy night when our bodies moaned on the velvet sofa, I went to his house almost every day. We spoke less and less. Passion has no words. And after I left him, everything else existed only in relation to those hours. A mist covered everything and brought it all to the same point, to the same, slightly altered moment. It seemed as if only the moaning was audible, soft inarticulate cries that followed me in the rain, on the streets, in the faces I saw.

I had my own key now. Many times I would go there and wait for him. I liked the smell of the furnishings, the sheets, the antique picture-frames. I liked waiting for him. I had forgotten the anguish of waiting for the next moment, the impatience of waiting for the hands of the clock to move to the next minute. I was living a madness, and I found it both sublime and terrifying. The road I followed to go there, the people I encountered on the way, the stores where I once liked to buy expensive things, all existed in a transparency behind his body, beneath his languid motions, within my desire to be there again, to experience the passion one more time. One more time, I said, and I will leave, forever. And then, I would go again. I wondered how the people I knew could concern themselves with politics, with the color of their new car, with fashion. I was living inside that mist of madness, and only the site of the ancient mysteries was clear in my mind, as if it was asserting its hold on me. I had the feeling that I was betraying the site, rather than Pavlos. I will go one more time, one last time, I said to it…and then I will come, I will struggle on your behalf, I still have the strength for you…that resolve no Jason can change… Madness, yes. My body and my mind were in pain. I was in pain, and the pain engendered a perverse pleasure. How many faces were hidden within me? How many faces do we hide?

 The door is locked again. I have three hours before I go to Jason’s house. I have no way to combat the agony of waiting. I had forgotten, yes, totally forgotten what it means to await the passing of one minute. I could wait for a century or a year, but a few hours, no, I could not.
And I open the manuscripts.
There must have been a child.
Miracles occur only in the interest of nature.
Miracles grow angry when you do not believe in them.
Or, perhaps, it is not a matter of miracles. Things – natural elements, the dead – participate in events. I can see so little, so little of what is happening. The chaos drives me to distraction -- the thought that the order of the world hangs on a primordial chaos, on raw chaos that has not been ordered by the mind of Anaxagoras. The thought that my personal history is creeping blindly over this raw chaos, where my cells will deposit their biological transience, to deliver it, enriched by my pain, to another creeping life, that thought drives me to distraction.

Chapter 6: Truth Lies in the Invisible World
(The Stone Woman has given her a sign, and Adriani goes to dig at the spot where she is buried, to look for her.

I look around for the sign, shuddering as I advance. Here, I tell myself, it was here, beside the Sanctuary, at the corner formed…and I find the same stones as in my dream, the stones placed there by unknown hands, touched by them three thousand years ago, hands now annulled. My fingers are shuddering -- here, here… -- shuddering and shaking, and I begin to dig with unbelievable force, removing the soil and advancing to the depths, I, the fragile, delicate one whose tender hands have not known manual labor. Then I begin to talk to her, you are buried here, here, you gave me a sign, you came into my sleep and gave me a sign. Who are you? From what depths of the soul do you emerge? And what do you want? What do you want from me?… What do you want?

The perspiration is rolling down my face and my hands are covered with blood, but I continue to dig, crazed, frenzied, I will find you, I must find you, and I collapse onto the pile of excavated earth, crawl, slide toward the pit I have opened and stretch out my hand to touch its bottom, because there is something hard there. The shovel had struck stone, and I grope. The soil is moist, dark, and soft at that point, exudes an odor of essence of metal and of roots, of a vein of water, and of silence. A bit more, my hand touches something smooth, a smooth circular shape about the size of a head with thin furrows on the edge, and a shudder runs through my blood. I have found you, am touching you, it is you, you…
I rise up to breathe, my fingernails are broken, my fingers covered with blood, but I take no note of them, I only weep. I am weeping, the sobs arise from the depths of my being, from my centuries, revoking my ephemerality.
I clear the soil around it, throw off shoes and coat and climb into the pit I had excavated, to dig with my hands now, with my fingers, so as not to wound the woman with my shovel.
 Chryseis, perhaps, or Markiane?
Or, simply, Woman?
The warm earth envelops me with moist breaths, moist odors, and I want to shout. I feel the cry rising from deep inside me, rising from the darkness of my existence, a cry that contains all other cries, from the first night of the world, that contains pain and ecstasy and the terror of the unexplainable, and I know that I am the witness of the unexplainable, which I have carried in my womb from the first night of the world, to give birth to it again and again…
The cry. It was my own cry.

(From the same chapter.
Adriani arouses the inhabitants of Krypte against the sale of the site.)
 
With black ribbons
Today, we formed a human chain, holding pieces of black cloth. Some people were crying, calmly and silently, because their pain rose up from the depths, without words.

The human chain is mourning today; the faces are pale and defeated. We have lost the fight, we know it. Yet, Angelinos insisted that we should stand there. Silent. Unbending. Lefkios, too, had said to me: “Even if you are defeated, you must try, for the honor of the site…” We had tied our hands with black cloths.
We had four banners this time, carried by Zanis, Stella, Katerina Triandi and the old shepherd Tselios, who had volunteered to come.
Black, mournful, banners.
THE SITE WILL RESIST read the one carried by Zanis, which was the largest, and the others read:
MAY THE ANGER OF THE PLACE BE UPON YOU
THE DEAD WILL SEIZE POWER
THE PROPHECY IS ALIVE.
 At the last moment I had added a fifth, which Hector is holding; it reads:
BEWARE THE MYSTERY OF THE SITE.

Chapter 7: The Site Shows its Tears
(The supernatural signs increase in number just before the destruction of the site. Adriani receives the messages as if she was Pythia.)

My fingers stop, trembling. In the bottom of the water-jar or lachrymatory, there are some round stones, like seeds of mythical plants or like tears. The seeds of the mother, I tell myself, there is the seed that the mother gave me to plant… or is it perhaps the tears of the place?
I take a stone in my hand and it seems to resemble the seed that the mother gave me, “for you to plant when the first rain falls…” or, again, it resembles the red ball from Cassandra’s plant, “when the stone speaks to you, only then will you conceive a child…,” and I laugh, I begin to laugh, the mystery is solved, I tell myself, however that may be, it is solved, the mystery is solved. I repeat it out loud, to hear my voice, a voice that arises from the grooves of the stone. We can interpret an oracle as we wish – it always has two sides, two meanings, it is the tears of the site, I cry out now, the site is showing me its tears, and I fall to the earth that is still moist from yesterday’s rain, I weep, from the strain and from the irrationality… I sob… The site is sending me a sign.

Chapter 8: The Descent to Hades
(On the eve of the destruction of the site, Adriani wanders about the ancient ruins and the spring.)

And in the emerald dawn light I see the inscription. So there is one here, too, here, too…
I bend over to see clearly. It is a huge stone, circular in shape, a marble slab different from that of the first inscription, and I reflect that it must be from another votive offering, perhaps from another time.
I run my hand over it, anguished, excited. I will find you, I will take you with me into my own cosmic memory, a thousand years from now I will carry you with me… And the tips of my fingers shudder again, because one word stands out among the half-erased lines that have been worn smooth by the water, one intact word stands out, and I am trembling with awe, as I read with my fingers the letters Chi, Rho, Ypsilon, Sigma, Eta, Iota, Sigma. I am breathless, the waters become one with the touch of my fingers, with the stone, with the emerald dawn, with the memory of the world; they become one with my charmed body and its mythical travels. From now on I will exist in this union, I reflect, inseparable from the elements that have touched me.
I try to form the word in my mind: CH-R-Y-S-E-I-S.
I toss aside the fluorescent lamp, to free my hands, throw off my coat and sandals and lean on the ancient stone; my body can no longer support me. I will collapse, I reflect, here in the midst of the waters, I will become like the waters, they will carry me away, as I am, to that other, invisible, world… and that no longer seems supernatural or irrational to me. It may be that the other, invisible, world is contained by this visible one, I reflect, it may be that it is here somewhere, somewhere close by, between the dead dimensions, those atrophied, aloof arcs. I touch the letters again, one by one, in case I am dreaming, in case I wake up laughable and sad. But no, I am not dreaming, the word wanders over my body, very much alive, a word in my flesh, in my distraught blood, CHRYSEIS.

I am running now, running to escape, because I can no longer endure what I am living, that which is being revealed to me and is beyond all logic. I cannot endure seeing the two huge stone words, DELPHI and CHRYSEIS, containing my body, or being contained by it, two words ancient, like my body – as if both the words and my body were separated from the same starting point, on some mythic dawn washed in running water, running water sanctified and sacrificed by the ancient rituals. I know now that if I see these stones bleeding, I will not be puzzled. It will be my body that is bleeding, my own sanctified and sacrificed body.
I stop, out of breath, at the Byzantine wall of the monastery. I hope that I will not find the name of Markiane, too, carved on the Byzantine wall, I reflect, trying to laugh. But I am not laughing; I am shivering now.
I see some metallic masses beside me, which are shining in the dull morning light. My knees buckle, the feeling of crumbling again, and I drag my feet to the guesthouse. I must finish the story I have written, I tell myself.
Today, today…before…

As I was climbing the few worn steps to the right of the Byzantine chapel, I turned to look at the window of the sitting room.
Lefkios was there, waiting to make certain that I could reach my room. Then I saw him lower his head, as if he had sinned by seeing me thus half-naked and fairy-like.
He did sin. I was barefoot, water was dripping from me and my thin underclothes clung to my body. I may have looked like a bacchant, with my hair winding around my shoulders, hair like raw silk, and my legs bare.
When his gaze met mine I was ashamed.

Chapter 10: “And the Full Moon Was as Blood…”
(Adriani, prompted by the blood of the earth, goes to the hotel and finds
Pavlos stabbed by Jason.
Her shaken mind tries to comprehend what has happened.)

Again, it did not satisfy me. This explanation does not reflect reality, either, I tell myself.
There must have been something deeper -- a savage need for cleansing of the soul, which arises out of the blood. Perhaps he planned to stab Pavlos and then himself, but balked. Conscience, diminished by the pitiless moonlight, was lost in the fissures of the mind.
And I go back again, to the beginning.
The moon made him insane. The site bathed in the silver light displaced its anarchy into his mind. Perhaps he remembered the night of our passionate embrace in the stone troughs of purification. I was the woman of the earth, the Niobe who became stone. I was the Persephone of Hades, the Eurydice whom the lyre of Orpheus brought up to the light. His song, his thirst, awoke the centuries:
I am parched with thirst and I am consumed.
The song of Orpheus transformed the night into a primeval cry, and our souls ooze the streams of Mnemosyne: “The thirst burns me and I am consumed. Give me to drink from the stream of Mnemosyne.”
He had betrayed everything, and he was ready to live the moment of chaos – a chaos that was one with his forbidden desire. Perhaps the centuries of the mother had awakened in his hand the dark recesses of madness.
Or, I reflect, perhaps he killed him out of pity.
I was at a total loss.


Chapter 11: The Wasted Angel
(Adriani approaches the burned child, in the midst of the ruined site)

I open my arms and embrace the charred body of the child, hold it to my bosom. Then I notice that one of his arms is broken; it is broken and dangling. Perhaps it was the child of the stone mother, I reflect quickly, the child whose little arm was dangling from her breast, like a painting by Picasso. That was how she came into my dream, with the severed child’s arm. Or perhaps it was the child of the dead soul, I conjecture, the child with the bloodstained shirt that the dead mother was washing in the waters of the spring on that April night. I saw the blood in the waters, I reflect. I touched the waters to my lips and know that they had the taste of ashes and metal from the darkness of the earth, the taste of dead stars.
I reflect that it may even be the anonymous child – Innocence – a message that this world is not for children.
Perhaps, perhaps… -- the perspiration is rolling down my face. Perhaps it is my own child… the one which has not yet been born, the child who knows the fate of the burned site, the fate of the wasted angel.
Let me become ashes, then, too, the ashes and charred remains of the lightning bolt, like this hapless child. Let it happen now, before… before…
I am weeping. I am weeping now, and no one hears me – fortunately. The people in the crowd are far away, staring at me with bated breath. Nothing has happened to her, they say -- nothing yet. Perhaps they are making the sign of the cross. The experts are waiting for me to bring them a piece of the burned child. But no, I will not do them that favor.
Nearby there remain a few stone troughs that the bulldozer had not reached.
I feel the need for cleansing, the need to offer libations to the site, to appease its wrath.
I could cut my hair, I reflect – offer my hair as a libation… If I had a bit of wine… and I remember that I do. Eudoxia had brought me a small bottle of a special, old wine – nectar and communion wine.
I take out the bottle from the travel-bag hanging on my shoulder and empty it over the burned body of the child, over its open arms, over the earth.
Let the earth drink the wine and be soothed.
Then, I cut my hair with a small pair of manicure scissors from the bag. I cut my hair almost to its roots and lay it at the child’s feet.
Silken locks of hair that ripple over my hands with a watery feel.
That was my libation to the mystery of the site that was dying.
The novel is partly translated into English
And it was a best selling novel