T H E     E N L I G H T E N M E N T
O F     I M M A N U E L


    Evangeleva is weeping.  She is alone in a dark room in New
York City.  Tazio and the others have gone to the United Nations
to tell the world how it is going to be now: no more war, no more
pollution, no more disregard for human conditions; it is the dawn
of a new age.  But Evangeleva stayed behind to weep alone.
    A bluish glow begins to illuminate the room behind her, a 
figure coalesces out of light itself, and the ghost of Immanuel 
stands behind her--or floats rather, for he seems to have no
    "Why do you weep, Mother?" he asks, although he knows why.
    "You know why.  Because my son has died."
    "But you know that I never really die."
    "Oh, don't give me that," she turned and reached her hand out
to him, through him, and was touching nothing on the other side
of his spectre.  "You're not my son, you're only the Spirit of
Christ--the body of MY child is gone, won't be around to grow up
and live a happy life, get married, have hoo"
     "Really, Mother, you knew that long ago."
     "I knew that as a probability, not a certainty.  I had
hoped.  I am...was a mother, you know, they get that way."
     "You'll be a mother again soon."
     "Will you stop being so logical?  That kid won't be you--I 
loved YOU, I liked being your mother even if you WERE the 17th 
Incarnation of Christ.  I'm having an emotional reaction to the 
death of my little baby boy, if that's all right with you."
     "I guess that's natural"
     "Natural?  As if we were ever anything but supernatural! 
And my expected son: Ulfo son of himself, who was your very
father in his holiest phase, as well as his very own.  Sometimes
it's all too much, even for me!  Boo hoo hoo!"
     "Peace be upon.."
     "No, you don't, Immanuel!  As your mother I deserve to feel 
this grief--don't cheat me of it by comforting me until I am 
finished with the experience, if you please!  It's not often that
I am allowed to feel my own remnant of humanity."
     "Ok, be that way."
     "I you remember when you were still human at all? 
Capable of suffering?"
     "Sure.  And I remember how it ended, thanks to your efforts,
on my 12th birthday party."
     "It wasn't me.  It would have happened anyway, I just
arranged for you to get through it all as painlessly as
     "Painlessly?  Are you kidding?  Getting nuked in Jerusalem
was painless in comparison to that transition..."

PART2: REMEMBERING ...on the beginning of Christmas Vacation from Mill Valley Junior High; Marin County, California. It was 1985: Reagan was president, the Soviet Union was breaking apart, there was economic boom in the States, famine in Africa, the Live Aid concert had been in July, "star wars" defense plans, drug abuse abounding, the American government had just accused Qadaffy of aiding terrorists...and I was a kid oblivious to all that, leaving school towards home, trusty skateboard balanced on my shoulder. "Immanuel! Wait for me!" "Hi, Cindy, going my way?" "Wheee! Christmas Vacation! No more school until NEXT YEAR! Are you doing anything over vacation?" "Yeah, my mom has big plans for the winter solstice." "Solstice? The shortest day? Not Christmas?" "We don't celebrate Christmas, and Mom thinks of the solstice as the longest night: my mother's a 'witch', you know." "Oh that weird for you?" "Oh, it's all right; kinda fun, really. I'm used to it anyway." " I recall, your Birthday is on the solstice..." "Yeah, the big 12 years." "...21st of December: but that's TODAY!" Cindy took advantage of the excuse she had always been hoping for, she hugged me with both arms & budding breasts and kissed me passionately on the cheek. Cindy was younger than me but wonderfully mature for her age. "Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to..." It was a nice embrace, full of friendship and love and the first urges of sex, felt really nice. She smelled really good... overwhelmingly so. I've always loved Cindy--but then, I've always loved everybody--and she was actually a very pretty girl without her glasses, but NEVER had I felt for her--or any girl--like I suddenly felt at that moment. I was tempted to...but then I realized what it was, you had told me all about it, the curse/blessing of the Avatar race: THE LUST. But I was cool, I never lost stride as we walked down to Tam Junction, "Yuk, girls!" I said. Cindy laughed, but she didn't let go of me. She looked up at me (I was 2 inches taller than her) and I perceived that she too was hit by THE LUST, affected by my power. " you...uh...?" I looked down on her. "Yeah, I also...uh.." It was all there, I could have her if I wanted, and I wanted. We were just kids, not ready for this, but made suddenly cosmically adult. "...uh, well...I gotta go this way now," funny, I don't remember who said that, she or I, but we were at Tam junction where our ways parted. "See you next year." "Yeah, have a nice vacation." I watched her go, watched her cute butt go, totally infatuated with the healthy young female animal that she was. I almost called out to her, I was tempted; I was really tempted. She turned and waved, called to me one last time, one last chance, "Seeya later..." "...Alligator!" I responded, trying to be a kid again. Tempted. But it was my birthday and you had big plans, I couldn't let you down by not showing up. Duty demanded that I go home instead of getting laid. "Yes, you were always a good boy."
PART 3: TRIP HOME I hitched out towards our house by Muir Beach, as I always did. The first car to come by, a new Porsche, picked me up as they always did. The driver seemed slightly confused as we drove, then he said, "It's funny: I NEVER take up hitchhikers." "That's funny: I ALWAYS get a ride with the first car going my way." I guess I was kind of cocky as a kid, Avatar superiority can do that to you. I asked him to stop at the top of the hill where I usually got out. "But we're in the middle of nowhere," he said. I flashed him my skateboard and said, "It's all downhill from here." It was that stretch of road I loved to skateboard on the way home; steep and fast, winding switchbacks, the kind of stuff young Avatar demigods like to play against their superhuman abilities. I got up to speed and was dancing through the turns when I sensed danger. Danger from afar, but where? I instinctively pulled my head back as a bullet tziiiii'd on past, the wind of it kissing my other cheek. I looked up into the hills, even as the BANG arrived, indicating a distance of 3000 meters, and I saw a white puff of smoke up among the trees. I figured it was the Dark Templars again, it was a pretty close shot. I knew what to do, waved a cross in the air before me, as you taught me, and spoke The Words aloud: "Gabriel, protect me from Evil." Up on the hill, BANG (echoes) Another white puff. Then silence. I wondered what happened. Skated on home, wondering if I really wanted to know. I remember our home-made house in the woods, our old Chevy station wagon, the sign by the front door that said "Astrology, Healings, Witchcraft". Archangel Gabriel was waiting at the door when I arrived. "Gabe, someone shot at me again, I think the Dark Templars..." "Been taken care of, young master Immanuel. More guests have just arrived, they await you in the salon." "But what happened on the hill?" "You don't want to know. Now go on, your mother's waiting."
PART 4: THE GUESTS You were in the large salon with our latest guests, two small wizened old men in old fashioned suits with whom you were speaking Hebrew. "Ah, here he is now: My Son." "Young Lord Immanuel," they turned to me and spoke in unison, their respect obvious although they were much older than me. One of them ancient, in fact. "Immanuel," you said, "we have visitors just arrived from Jerusalem: Rabbis Ahazverus and Amos." "Shalom," I said and turned to the ancient one, looking quite old and frail but apparently full of energy, "Rabbi Ahazverus, you're the famous 'Wandering Jew', aren't you? My mother has told me--are you really 2000 years old?" "Indeed I am, young man, and we've met before, long ago." "I don't remember, sorry." "You will." "And Rabbi Amos," he was a funny roly poly guy with thick glasses, long white beard and hair, "you're among the Ten Highmost in the Secret Kabbalistic Order of Jerusalem, if I'm not mistaken?" "Oy vey, I'm honored that Young Lord Immanuel even knows my name!" Archangel Michael came into the salon. The room almost seemed to tip, Michael was so massively huge and heavy in his present incarnation as a sumo wrestler. He had arrived the day before, and as he'd been there many times before had pretty much made himself at home. I had an odd relationship with both of the Archangels, they were very respectful and formal to me at all times, as if I was a crown prince or something, but not especially chummy, and definitely not easy-going California-style. They were serious. But I liked them--I like serious people--and they were Avatars of absolutely superhuman caliber, famous Angels from Biblical times, so I respected them and was in awe of them. Michael just nodded to me and bowed to the two new guests. Which was just as well, neither of the two small men offered to shake Michael's colossal hand, he was just too overwhelming. But Ahazverus knew him from the old days. "I heard you had taken on form since we'd last met during WWII." "Yes. I was assigned an incarnation in Japan to resolve the troubles of WWII, and found it expedient to become a Sumo Guru. Very effective, I have millions of disciples--the Japanese are crazy about Sumo, you know." "But you used to be so elegant, so handsome." "I still am," Michael said, with no trace of humor.
PART 5: PARTY TALK AHAZVERUS: Is it true that the Ulfæ is coming here too? EVANGELEVA: Already here, she flew in from Italy a few days ago and has been staying with us. She's just gone out for a walk now, communing with California nature and enjoying her freedom after having been locked in that villa with the monster Theron for 3 years. AHAZVERUS: What about Theron? Is that finished? EVANGELEVA: Theron seems to be, but "The Beast" is still destined to become incarnate, one way or another. AHAZVERUS: Yes, but there's a twist to it now, isn't there? EVANGELEVA: Definitely--but no one knows exactly WHAT. IMMANUEL: How many more are coming, Mother? EVANGELA: We are to be a symbolic seven for the ceremony, including yourself, Immanuel, so there is only one more coming. IMMANUEL: Who is it? AHAZVERUS: Oh, let us guess, Lord Immanuel, make a party game of it, just for fun. IMMANUEL: Ok., Mother; is it your half-sister Mariangela? AMOS: Oh, wasn't she herself mother to the Beast Theron? Yes, I thought so. EVANGELEVA: No, not her. She's not to be initiated until she completes her task. She knows nothing yet. AMOS: She's been handed a hard destiny. EVANGELEVA: So have...well, yes, but she'll be stronger for it. AMOS: As her half-sister, don't you have a hard time with that? EVANGELEVA: I've never met her. But we are both Avatars in the house of Angels, we Do The Work without regard to our own personal sacrifices. AMOS: Mmm, yes, of course. But she doesn't KNOW that yet, does she? EVANGELEVA: No. AHAZVERUS: How about her father, Orion Neptunus? I met him once, might he be coming? EVANGELEVA: No, you couldn't drag old Neptunus in from the sea anyway, he's off in the South Pacific somewhere, last I heard. AMOS: But Mariangela had to have been conceived on land, your common mother the holy Ashara was among the Jewish Poles in Nazi concentration camps for 2 years before... AHAZVERUS: I know that story; I was there. Neptunus was crossing Germany seeking some revenge on Anton, disguised as a Jew in order to be taken prisoner, where he met Ashara--it was all Destiny running the show, of course. When he broke out she refused to follow with him. You know, Evangeleva, I remember your mother Ashara. I was there in Auschwitz when she gave birth to Mariangela, then perished thanks to Anton Artemis. EVANGELEVA: As destined--there can only be 144 True Avatars on Earthlevel at one time; Karmic Law. AHAZVERUS: Well, now Neptunus wants to kill Anton for Ashara's death. It's a very dramatic story, which is not quite finished yet. Anyway, what OF that old devil Anton Artemis--your own father--HE won't be he? EVANGELEVA: No, no-- AHAZVERUS & AMOS: Oh, that's good! (whew) ha ha ha ha! EVANGELEVA: --not for this part of the ceremony. Anton is The Adversary.
PART 6: ARRIVALS "The last guest has arrived, Lady Evangeleva," Gabriel announced. An old battered grey Cadillac parked in the driveway, out of which climbed a short and dark old Mexican Indian, a brujo, dressed in clothes as used and weathered as his dark face. "Welcome, Don Jose," you said to him. He nodded respectfully to you and all of us, but did not smile or make small-talk. "Hola, senores," he said, as if he was a simple Mexican who couldn't speak all languages, any as Avatar can. He was one of the old ones, at least 800 years, and serious. In fact I knew that face, from the time you and I had travelled around Mexico, from those ancient inscriptions on the Mayan temples of Palenque. You told me about him then: an Avatar who had once been the wicked Aztec death-god Tazcatlipoca, not a friend to us, but an opponent to Satan. "Aren't you the one made notorious under another name in a series of popular books?" Archangel Michael asked Don Jose in Mayan. "Oh that: Carlos is a misguided young anthropologist who was over-impressed by my magics and canonized me as an ultimate brujo- -without knowing that I am actually only an Avatar shaman. Ah, Gabriel! You here too?" "Yes, Don Jose, I have had the honor of being bodyguard to our young Lord Immanuel." "Does HE even need one?" "Maybe not after today, but I have been busy up to now. Those Satanic Dark Templars are dedicated to preventing his advent, you know."
The sun was setting over the hills of Muir Woods, sky of red and gold clouds, very pretty. We were all standing out in front of the house and everyone stopped talking to look at it. Then our shadows began to grow as if there was a sunrise behind us. Everyone turned to see Ulfa, glowing with the blue-whitest light, walking elegantly out of the woods toward us. She was even more beautiful than the sunset, her long white hair waving with energy, her thin chemise transparent to the glowing skin beneath, and her eyes were like lights themselves. When she spoke light flashed out of her mouth: "I see it is time to make my entrance." Ulfa came directly to me first, although there were new guests, came close to me, her eyes blinding my own with their brightness. "Ahh, Young Lord Immanuel," she said, "you have known The Lust today!" "Uhh...well, sorta." "On your 12th birthday: good, everything is as it should be." Of all the many guests you had staying at our house, of all the cosmic-powered Avatars and white witches and agents of your House of Angels, the most weird and wonderful of them was The Ulfæ: she had been agelessly beautiful when arrived from Italy 5 days before, as the moon was waning. A nice woman, friendly and interesting, I liked her. You had told me that she/he changed constantly with the phases of the moon, but I had to see it to believe it. Each day her beauty became more angelic, more ethereal, more extreme, her presence more holy, her personality more loving and yet more distant and unreachable, until now she was almost a goddess; all this building to a climax as the New Moon approached apogee this very night. This very New Moon night, which also just happened to be the winter solstice and the 12th birthday of Immanuel, 17th Incarnation of Christ, me.
PART 7: THE MISSILE We gathered for dinner, the 8 of us seated at the long table. Remember that dinner, Mother? "Yes. Ulfa blessed the bread she had brought back with her and it tasted like manna from Heaven." And the wine, and the lamb. "Can you taste of the life of the lamb?" Ulfa asked us all. "Can you remember the lamb's life for him?" And we could. Pretty simple life, very unaware, adrift in the animal NOW. Then to me she asked, "Immanuel, do you not sorrow for the life of the lamb?" "No, I am grateful to the lamb for feeding me. And honor it for serving the purpose for which it had been given life." "It has served your purpose for it, but it did not want to die." "Nothing wants to die, but everything does, and everything returns." "And how do you know this is true?" she asked of me. "Because I have been the lamb," I said.
We were almost finished with dinner when I got that feeling of being threatened with Evil from afar. Weak, getting stronger--but fast, too fast. "Gabriel...something's, something Evil..." Gabriel turned his face to the ceiling, listening to something no one else could hear. Then announced, "We're under attack! There's a Cruise missile coming in!" He ran outside into the dark solstice night, and we all followed him. We looked up into the dark sky, but it was overcast, only a few stars shining through, nothing to see. "New" moon, of course, being "No Moon". "I don't hear anything," Rabbi Amos said in his most timorous voice. Gabriel, eyes closed, scanning the sky with his Angelic senses said, "It's coming faster than sound. It'd be over before we ever heard it. I'm tempted to send it back to them but they were smart enough to launch it from a populated area." Then he leaped up to the roof with one Angelic bound. He waited upon the peak of the roof, facing the sky in a heroic pose, My Bodyguard. All very dramatic, exciting. Then the clouds flickered with a red glow to the east. "Rocket coming!" Gabriel poised upon the rooftop, arms akimbo like superheroes do, watching the sky, waiting. Then, red light filled up one side of the sky, getting brighter and redder, until it penetrated the clouds and was burning in at us at the speed of blur. Another light, blue-white, broke through the clouds from the opposite side of the sky. A Solar Finger (what the uninitiated know of only as "UFOs") from the angelic arsenal. They would have arrived upon us simultaneously, but Gabriel pointed his finger at the flaming rocket and a beam of energy from the Solar Finger zapped the missile as it homed in on our home, and the missile vanished. And the Solar Finger flew away. "Where is it?" I asked. My own feeling of danger was also gone. "Teleported out over the sea a hundred fifteen miles west of here..." Gabriel spoke with eyes closed, as he tracked it, "now crashing down, out in the Pacific Ocean. And Boom, medium sized, not atomic."
PART 8: LISTENING After dinner I got out of washing the dishes because it was my birthday, and all the guests were hanging out in the kitchen anyway, so they helped each other with the mess. They started talking Adult Avatar stuff and I was just a kid so I excused myself and went to my room. Closed the door and kicked back on my cot, read a comic book, Superman. But of course, I could hear everything going on in the house.
AMOS: How much does the boy know? EVANGELEVA: Almost everything. But I wanted him to have as normal and human a childhood as possible, impossible if he had to dread the responsibility to come. AMOS: You mean, he doesn't know WHO he is? EVANGELEVA: He knows that he is the reincarnation of Someone who has lived before, and that he will remember those other lives one day soon. That's enough. AMOS: But is that wise? The probability of committing SIN through ignorance... EVANGELEVA: Imminently wise; to forgive the sins of others without personal understanding is in itself ignorance.
DON JOSE: A pity Anton Artemis won't be here, I had some things to say to him about our last combat. Lady Ulfa, can you recall when you and I fought over him back in 1812? ULFA: I...find it hard to recall yesterday right now...the moon is arriving...the Aamm is swirling all around us...I get so confused when my time of the month is here. AHAZVERUS: As we would if God was whispering in our ear. ULFA: Not...God, but the Aall...and mumbling, not whispering...I understand nothing...feel everything... AHAZVERUS: Lady Ulfa, where is this famous "Dwarf" we've all heard about? ULFA: Buffone's still in Italy...must remain in the villa for a while...he is not ready to go out into the world. Some...people from La Destinazione are taking care of him..but I must go back to him soon. Him and the other...the tail must be watered... AHAZVERUS: The Dwarf alone with humans? Isn't that risky? ULFA: Buffone is very simple, sweet...doesn't know WHO he is yet...the moon, oh almost, almost... DON JOSE: What about Anton? I have heard that he was severely wounded by the monster Theron. MICHAEL: He'll survive--unfortunately--but yes, Theron made the old Grand Master physically older and weaker, temporarily at least. After Theron was destroyed, Anton and his Dark Templars hurriedly evacuated la Villa della Strega and went into hiding. GABRIEL: From where they have been continually attacking us. I do not think it a pity that Anton is not here--I could not enjoy being polite to that Evil Foe while he smirked under the protection of Truce. His Dark Templars cannot approach us, due to certain spells enacted by Lady Evangeleva, but they can strike from a distance, like cowards, and they have done so increasingly as Lord Immanuel's ascension approaches. MICHAEL: Well, it is their part in The Game. By the rules. GABRIEL: Indeed, and my part is to smite them thew and bone.
PART 9: THE COMIC BOOK I do remember when I was last "human", Mother, exactly when. I was reading that Superman comic book in my room, "me" being Immanuel Yeshua Godson, 12-year-old California Kid (but secretly an Avatar with lurking super-powers) living in a cabin in the woods with his nice but slightly weird mother who called herself a "witch". And I was thinking: this comic book's not as far- fetched as people think it is--Gabriel's almost like Superman, 'cept that he can't fly. Maybe I can fly when I get MY powers, that'd be neat. The Superman story was about how he'd gone into the past (by flying faster than the speed of light; solid Einsteinian science) and witnessed the destruction of Krypton, saw how little baby Kal-El is sent off to Earth in the only spaceship available. And I started dreaming of how neat it would be to be able to go back in time and observe historical events: Karaktoa, Dinosaurs, the Crucifixion... ...when I suddenly saw the Crucifixion from inside: me being the crucified Jesus, looking out at the Jews & Romans come to kill me and watch me die. I remembered the pain I had felt in my hands and my feet, remembered as if happened just minutes ago. And more, those women below my tower of execution, my Mother--YOU, in that "Mary" incarnation--and Magdalena, whom I'd wanted to marry, looking up at me in grief. And the pain of that separation was greater than the physical pain by far. I remembered meeting and loving Magdalena, remembered growing up as your son in Nazareth, remembered friends, enemies, I even remembered meeting Ahazverus in Jerusalem 2000 years ago (as he had said I would)--I remembered every moment of that life I had lived as the man Yeshua ben Yosef, who had also been an agent of God. I was only 33 years old, young superhuman Avatar, not ready to die! And I HAD the power to break free, to show these ignorant savages what an angry Avatar could do--as with the moneylenders in the Temple of Jerusalem--but no: it was my Duty to die for God. To Do the Work. "To Do The Work." My own boy-Immanuel-self was now in a state of shock, and then the hammer fell: I remembered Jesus' own Spiritual Awakening, as I was now experiencing mine, when his brain was also hammered by the realization that he too had lived before, as Mithras! as David! as Staii-on! as Adam! as Ra! as Hermes! Slam slam slam slam, life after life, 16 of them, until the 17th--me--lay quivering in a puddle on his bedroom floor. The memories of 16 Avatar lifetimes, some long (like Hermes), some short (like Jesus), containing collectively over 2500 years and spanning a million years of Earthlevel existence flashed through my head for what seemed like forever, but actually only took a few seconds. Getting over the physical shock of it took almost an hour, lying on the floor, unable to stand or cry out. Then I crawled to my feet, and weeping like the child I was, stumbled down the dark hall to the salon to find you, to comfort me. "Evangeleva...Mommy! Help! I can't..." I was almost blinded by the light when I opened the door to the salon.
PART 10: BAPTISM You were there, and all 6, waiting for me in ceremonial robes, gathered as in a temple, and Ulfa was shining like the sun. She spoke, "Now do you remember who you are?" "Yes," sobbing, "I...remember." "Then let us begin the Baptism." We went out into the night--you led me by the hand--and the night became day where Ulfa passed through the forest. We followed the creek down to the little pool in the woods. There Ulfa walked into the water, turned and held her hand out to me. I felt what to do, she was radiating pure feeling. I waded into the pool as well and took her hand, which was charged with vast energies, but so was mine, there were sparks, lights. "You have received the knowledge of your own past lives, now receive the Knowledge of God." She scooped up a handful of water and poured it onto my head. The water continued to pour as if she had held many liters in her cupped hand, until we both became One With The Light and the waters above were separated from the waters below. We were transported to "Heaven". What I experienced therein I shall not say, for that is another story than the one I am telling. "I will tell you what we saw. The two of you dissolved into the light, which then became so bright that we had to turn away, and we heard the Angel Ulfæon say in that 'voice as of a thousand brass trumpets', 'This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And then the light slowly faded and you were both back, but now you were holding the hand of Ulfo, who had transformed from woman into man. "And you too were transformed, although not so radically as the Ulfæ, mostly coloring: hair from blond to absolutely white, eyes from blue to silver, skin from tan to golden. "You two looked at one another solemnly for a moment...then smiled, giggled, chuckled, guffawed, and began to laugh so hard and heartily that you both fell in the water, so helpless with laughter that we had to pull you out. And still you continued to laugh, rolling around in the dirt. We couldn't talk to or get through to either of you, so we finally just left you there, with Gabriel standing guard through the rest of the night." Ah yes, The Great Cosmic Joke. Funny how it doesn't seem so funny to me now.
PART 11: QUEST You told me what I had to do then. I was not into it. "Fasting 40 days and nights in the wilderness?" I complained, "A rite of manhood? Aw, come on!" "As Jesus did," you said. "Yeah: 2000 years ago. We're talking primitive tribal rituals here, dream-quests, anthropological oddities. I'm an American Kid this time around--our "rite of passage" is High School Graduation. And speaking of which, I have to go to school again next week." "Indeed, the Americans could use a better Rite of Passage," Gabriel inserted. "Well, it's required," you insisted, "I'll arrange your absence with the school--your grades are too good anyway. And this ritual is primal, not primitive. Archetypical experiences do not become Old-Fashioned." You had always been dominant over me, for many reasons: you were actually a very powerful Angel, invariably decisive, always right, and I respected your judgment utterly--but suddenly I could no longer accept your commanding demeanor over me. "Evangeleva, whom do you think you are commanding?" I just said it without thinking or knowing that I would. In fact, it was not my own voice. "No, it was the voice of Yeshua ben Yosef." You froze. I saw your lower lip tremble for the first time ever. You looked afraid, then down, not into my eyes. "Forgive me, Lord," you said. "You are forgiven, child." Someone said, me I guess. Then it was over, us both standing there stunned and awkward. I decided it was time to take charge of the situation anyway. "Mother, we need to talk--alone."
PART 12: RELATIONSHIP We walked in the woods along the creek, not talking, just looking at the splendor of life. I saw that you looked very alone, so I took your hand. You looked at me timidly. I managed to smile, so did you. "I've been walking around in these woods ever since the Baptism. I'm still kinda stunned by it all. I've never seen the woods like this before! God's Work all around me, the joy of being incarnate again...and all the stuff I KNOW now! about the plants, the birds, the insects, the WHY-they-are-here of it all..." I touched a tree. "This is a Red Alder, 223 years old, hit by lightning in 1923, it is aware of its own life and of other trees around it--we move too fast to register on its slow consciousness --it has a soul..." You touched the tree too, "Yes, very good. What about 1954?" I then realized that you could always do this: you were a witch. "It was hit by a bullet of a hunter...hunter Bill Winslow, age 42, married, divorced and unhappy..." I took my hand away. We walked on, contently silent for a moment. Then I spoke. "Ok, Mother: of course I'll go on the ordeal into the wilderness, I know I must, you don't have to command me." "I know, Lord, sorry. And sorry I couldn't let you know who you were, Immanuel." "Good decision. I didn't want to know." "How do you feel about it?" "About being Christ? Ambiguous, I mean it's...horrible...and yet, wow. It's who I am, that's all. The worst part is knowing the future: Armageddon is coming, and it is I who must implement it, I who must defeat the Beast of the Apocalypse and then End This World." "You know that is not an absolute. You've been through it before." "Yeah. That's what worries me." Pause, then, "There are many secrets that you have kept from me, Mother, maybe we should go through them: I saw in the sharing of the light how Ulfo became my Angelic Father, I understand that and approve." "Good. He/she is a wonderful...uh...entity...sometimes." We looked at each other and had to laugh. "And sometimes not," I finished. You nodded. I went on, "but can it also be true that the evil Anton Artemis is your father, thus my grandfather?" "Yes, I'm afraid so. I try to keep that a secret from everyone, Ahazverus just blabbed, the old story-teller." "Then why does Anton want to kill me?" "He's just playing his part in The Game; he is the present Incarnation of Satan, you are the present Incarnation of Christ, it's nothing personal. And he doesn't know about me, or you, being his descendants." Then you gave me a very significant look. "Nor IS he to know, Immanuel."
PART 13: JOURNEY The next day our station wagon was tanked up and ready for the trip out into "the wilderness". I assumed Gabriel would drive me, but you had other plans. "Ulfo will drive you. I want you two to have a nice father & son talk." Gabriel pulled me aside just before we were to go. He was serious. "Now that you are aware of your True Self, Lord, our relationship changes. I have been in charge of you, but after you have endured your ordeal in the wilderness it is you who will command. However, I need warn you: for the next 40 days, do not call on me--I may not come help you." Michael was standing behind Gabriel, nodding. "Rules," he said.
Ulfo and I left that afternoon. I had nothing to pack, but we were delayed because he kept on expounding cosmic wisdom to the others until he wound down from his holiest of holies phase, enough to be able to negotiate something so simple as a trip in a car through Bay Area traffic. I could have driven, but California doesn't issue drivers licences to 12-year olds. The others all waved as we left, "Good luck!" "God bless you!" You hugged me and kissed me as if I was going away forever, told me how you loved me and all that mushy stuff, seeming a little scared of me, but it was you sending me off to my destiny and you were ruthlessly adamant. But when you looked into my eyes you froze and your mouth fell open. "I was looking into the eyes of young Yeshua ben Yosef, 2000 years back." I know. You couldn't speak. So I said, "See you later," and waited for you to say the rest. You nodded, but couldn't say it, so I said "alligator" for you and we drove off. Ulfo seemed a little unsure of the old Chevy as we started, then quickly warmed up to it and we were on our way over the Golden Gate Bridge in minutes, right into downtown San Francisco Freeway traffic. Ulfo was an agelessly beautiful man, as Ulfa had been. Totally bald from the transformation, but now hair was beginning to stubble out on his head again, very muscular body. But it was the wisdom and goodness shining out of his eyes that enchanted me. "Uh, have you ever driven a car before? Just thought I'd ask." "Yeah, sure, now and then. Quite a bit in World Wars I and II." "How could you ever have any normal kind of life, changing all the time as you do?" Ulfo smiled, "Define Normal: you've just become Christ." "Yeah, well... So you're my father?" "Genetic father, yes. 12 years 9 months ago (vernal equinox '73) Destiny demanded that your mother and I conceive the Next Incarnation of Christ while I was at my most godlike state." "Did you never LOVE one another?" I had to ask. "My God, yes. And we still do--and shall again." "But you didn't stay to be my...never mind, I know why." "Yes, I'm too much of a freak, Immanuel--and your "father" only exists for a brief moment once a month under a new moon: already "I" am no longer that spiritual being, "I" change down into a lesser being until...well..." "Yeah, I know. I saw the Demon in our sharing of the light. You get very bad--or very funny--ha ha ha ha! Oh excuse me, tee hee!" Astounded, "You can REMEMBER the Great Cosmic Joke?" "I remember everything...well, sorta." "How about the 3 Elements of Power?" "Control, Create, Realize," I said "That's good. You'll do fine." "Anyway, you were feeding me excuses for being such a lousy father..." "Oh yes--and I had other duties." "Yeah, like the Antichrist. I know, you've been busy doing God's work, just like my mother." Pregnant pause. "So," I asked, "were you and Evangeleva lovers this time?" " If you must know, I'm in love with...another woman these days..." "Right, Mariangela, mother of the Beast. I saw her when we shared the light. I understand, I was just wondering, you know, Avatars have a pretty loose family lifestyle." "Mariangela's gone away from the villa for awhile, recuperating from the horrors of Theron, but she'll be back and she'll need me then." "But she doesn't love you--as a man--does she?" "Not yet. That's pretty frustrating, especially when I slide down the scale of evolution into the grips of..." "The Lust," I helped. "You bet. But later on she will love me--one of the advantages of knowing the future sometimes." He shrugged, smiled. "Even Avatars get messed up by love? But I never did, as Christ, did I?" "No. You were always Faithful and True." "That's right, no messing around for Christ...hmmm...why me?" "Certainly you aren't having romantic troubles at your early age?" "Not romantic, exactly--but I certainly felt THE LUST with Cindy. I'm sure any pretty girl would do, actually--but now I can't because I'm being True to...who...? Some unknown True Love, maybe Mary Magdalene reincarnated?" "Being an Avatar is no guarantee of perfect love, but being Christ IS." "I guess." We drove south on I-5, past Wasco to Bakersfield, and east on 58 to Barstow, where the desert got serious, past the dry lakes, then north on 127 to Death Valley.
PART 14: DEATH VALLEY We stopped in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by barren yellow hills of naked erosion. It was hot. I drank my last swallow of Coke and got out of the car. Really hot, no shade, no grass, nothing but rock and dust. "Nice place," I said, being cocky. "Well, you know what you're supposed to do?" "Forty days and nights in the desert, I know, like in the Bible. No water, no food, face the Devil, just trusting in God to get me through." "You can do it. You're the Son of God." "Sure, I guess. uh...Ulfo, the devil that's going to tempt me out that you? I know that you keep changing until you become some sort of werewolf, then that Demon..." "Not me. That won't be until the Full Moon, 10 days away, and I have to be back in Italy before then." "To take care of The Dwarf?" "Yes, and have Buffone take care of me--I dare not run loose during the Full Moon." He looked serious, then grinned, "besides, my Demon wouldn't DARE face Christ!" "Well, that's comforting. I hope Satan is as impressed." "Watch out for Satan, he's impressive too." "What about the Beast? I understand that Theron isn't completely destroyed, that there's...something left." "Don't you know the future?" "Variations of futures leading towards Armageddon--and then a blank slate. Something about a Good Antichrist, but isn't that a contradiction in terms?" "A paradox. But you know more than I do at this time, my knowledge is tapering off, my wisdom is dwindling away as the moon waxes. Anyway: good luck." "We'll meet again, Ulfo, that much future I know." "Yes. See you later." "Alligator." He looked confused for a second, and then nodded in sudden understanding. "Ah, yes, rock and roll culture: how bizarre to have an American Christ!" We shook hands...and then hugged each other goodbye. He got into the Chevy station wagon and drove off over the desert, leaving me quite alone in Death Valley.
PART 15: TRIAL BY DESERT Wandering through the desert: 1st day, heat, thirst, hunger. 2nd day too. "This is NOT that interesting," I thought. "Still, I remember that time in Sinai--as Jesus that is--being even less I rambling, or what?" But this was really no challenge to my body, I was a typical Avatar; could have crossed Death Valley 3 times back and forth without problem, could smell water from miles away if thirsty enough. In fact, the valley wasn't really that big, only 120 miles long and I kept seeing cars drive by, had to go around the occasional gas stations and settlements like Park Village, Death Valley, Stove Pipe Wells. But up in the Panamint Range there weren't so many tourist sites and National Park Rangers to disrupt the spirituality of my wilderness trek. Oh, I got into it, of course. It was interesting, actually. I observed a lot of life going on out there under those hot and arid conditions, and I roamed the hills looking for the small dramas that were being played out there. Insect wars, scorpion matings. The only devils I saw were dust devils. I ate nothing, as required, but I drank as I found water. That gave me something to do, finding water was a good game out there, kind of fun. It was all very good survival training. The heat wasn't especially oppressive to me, although I certainly felt it. After 20 days the hardest part was simply the boredom of loneliness. I spoke to no one but myself. The Voice of God I was supposed to be hearing didn't utter a peep. I was to be tempted by the Devil out there, but mostly I tempted myself. From a hilltop I could see to Death Valley Junction. There was a truck stop there--I could almost smell the chile con carne and hamburgers from 80 miles away. I could walk to Route 199 in 2 hours and hitchhike there with the 1st car. I could talk to people, drink a coke, eat a burger. No one could stop me, I was the Reincarnation of Jesus Christ. "Get thee behind me, Satan!" I cried out as a joke, but sounding like a madman even to myself. "Right behind you, kid."
PART 16: DEVIL Surprised, I turned. And there he was, an extremely powerfully built, very big man, elegantly dressed in a black suit and tie, seemingly unaffected by the heat. He had eyes like a snake, fantastic yellow irises with slit pupils. His face handsome, dramatic, frightening, wore a devilish goatee and looked exactly as Satan should look. Who could sneak up on an Avatar? Only another Avatar, dummy. "Oh, it's you," I said, being cool, as if I was not terrified. "Incarnate," he replied. He looked older and more weathered than I had expected, his black hair was shot with grey, his face was furrowed with wrinkles and he looked...tired. From his ordeal with the monster Theron, no doubt. I knew that this was my mortal enemy, the notoriously evil Anton Artemis, Grand Master of the Dark Templars who strived to kill me, proclaimed to be the Very Incarnation of Satan Himself. Also my grandfather, although as you had told me, he didn't know that. He scared me enough that I was tempted to blurt it out so that he wouldn't hurt me, but you had asked me not to. "Do you know your Bible, kid?" "Not really," I said, "Evangeleva preferred that I not read it." "Hmmm, smart woman, I'll have to have her some day, if I ever meet her. Anyway, Jesus goes out in the wilderness and is tempted by the Devil, who says, 'If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made of bread.' To which Jesus replies, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.' But you know: words never come out of God's mouth, so Man must live on nothing--and therefore perish." "It wasn't like that," I said, "3 temptations met by 3 denials in the Books of Matthew and Luke, the disciples were more interested in literary symbolism and structure than subjective journalism--that's why Evangeleva didn't want me to read the Bible: facts get lost in holy truths devotees devise for expressing religious experience." I was babbling, I knew. "I thought you didn't know the Bible?" I realized then that I did know the Bible, every word and every translation, including the Apocryphea and all the lost manuscripts of the Essenes, without ever having read them. I shrugged. "Guess I do anyway." He nodded wisely. "You've had your Spiritual Awakening, kid, that's why we're here now. Heh heh--I remember my own, a few hundred years ago, and suddenly knowing more than I could possibly have ever learned." "Anyway, so you're here to tempt me: what are you offering?" "Oh, hell kid, whatever: riches, girls, drugs. What do you want?" "Nothing from the Devil." I was trying to sound defiant, but I think it came out apologetic. "Oh, I've got lots of nothing..." he started smugly, then seemed to lose interest in the effort of it all, "oh, let's cut the shit. It's got any water?" ", I'm trusting in God to provide." "Ah, well, could you get Him to provide some water? I'm burning up." He suddenly did not look so unaffected by the heat. In fact he looked a little sick. Weak. Old. "Well, He hasn't actually provided anything yet because I haven't needed anything, being an Avatar, you know." "I'm an Avatar too, but I need some." Sweat ran down his cheek. "Sorry, I have none." I was sorry, kind of eager to please. "Maybe not, but you can GET some. If you're really the Son of God, command that some rocks be made into water!" he said, paraphrasing the Book of Matthew. "Since I haven't done that for myself, I probably shouldn't do it for you under these circumstances, even if I could pull it off." "Why not? Is it because we're enemies? I thought you were supposed to be Christ: love thy enemies and all that. Can't you help an old man out? I'm not here because I WANT to be, you know. But ritual demands that Christ be tempted in the wilderness, etcetera. Shit, I'm going to sit down, if it's all right with you." And he ripped loose his perfect tie, opened his collar and sat down before me. "Sure," I said, and sat down as well. I was scared of him, but also glad to have someone to talk to. "You're not quite the Satan I was expecting." "Look, kid, I'm not at my best. Sorry." He shrugged apologetically. "If you'd caught me 3 years ago I would have scared the shit out of you, but since...well, I've been through Hell..." I nodded sympathetically, "Ulfo told me that Theron hurt you..." "Hurt? That little monster short-circuited my life with that tail of his--he made me OLD! This body is only 200, young and look at me...grey-haired, doddering. If I could only punish Theron, I'd...well, he's gone at least. Say, how about that water, kid?" "You know that I'm required to say Get thee behind me, Satan." "Fine, there, you've said it, now I'm asking for charity." "You're tempting me." "What, how? I'm not offering YOU anything!" "You're tempting me to call upon the power of God to miraculously procure water upon a demand from Satan. If I had it I'd give it to you, but I don't. Besides, you can call upon your own agents help--have Satan make water." "Satan only makes wind--ha ha cough cough!" "Then call your Dark Templars to helicopter it in." "Good idea! Templars: come on in, bring machine guns and nerve gas, we've got this new incarnation of Christ where we want him now.. Here's a temptation for you: to call upon your Archangel Gabriel to rescue you." "I wouldn't need to, you know that. A Solar Finger would pluck your helicopter out of the sky. You were trying to kill me BEFORE I became enlightened, now it's too late." "Is it? It would be very simple to end your incarnation here. I am bigger and stronger than you--even in my lessened state--I could simply kill you with my own hands. Or a death-curse. Simple physical murder. And you, boy-Christ, are required to turn the other cheek and 'love they enemy' as you die." "I'm an Avatar too, not so easy to kill. And I'm not the Jesus I was long ago, I'm Immanuel and the rules are different now." "Really?" Anton smiled, not looking a bit sick now, and suddenly hit me in the face with a blow of speed and power like unto those Gabriel was capable of. I was dashed backwards into a sprawl on the desert floor 20 feet away. "MY OWN rules are always the same: take the field! All I asked for was a glass of water, you pompous little choirboy!" I tried to get up--bleeding, nose and teeth broken, neck awry, back sprained--but he was too fast and kicked me down, breaking my arm. "Where's your God, to protect you? Do we see any Solar Fingers up there? No, what a surprise!" He kicked me again, I felt my knee crunch. I screamed in pain and fear. "Now I'll teach you to fear and respect Satan! I'll teach how to love your enemy! I'll..." He kicked me again and again, expert martial arts maneuvers, Avatar-powered, deadly stuff. Then he took me up and shook me, his strength like a machine's, until I dangled from limp his hands like a rag. "Now, one last time: get me a drink of water." "Get thee..." He slapped me, stars fireworked everywhere. "No more quotations, think for yourself!" "Get thee bent!" I groaned. He smiled. A beautiful smile, full of perfect teeth, but an evil smile. "I like you, kid," he said, before he pounded me with another crunching punch, and kicked me, and kicked me... Automatically, I started to call out in my mind, "Gabr--" no wait, I am NOT to call upon him, perhaps that is part of this test/ordeal...then, "God...My Father, please protect me from Evil!" but of course, there was no response. But, mercifully, I did fade out under the beating.
PART 17: ORDEAL I came around to excruciating pain, lying on the baking desert ground. Now I could be concerned about the heat, and thirst. I couldn't stand, Anton had broken too many parts, I could barely prop myself up to assess that I was a mess, and alone again. Well, that's it. I figured. Now I give up this silly religious quest, crawl to a road and hitch a ride to a hospital. The deal was that I would go out in the wilderness and that God would sustain me, angels would minister unto me, but no, He's let me down, just like before. I remembered being Jesus, but I was Immanuel now, and 2000 years smarter. I remembered being Jesus: the pain, the death. I was tempted to forget about having been Jesus. Tempted by the devil, or his work at least. Still, I remembered being Jesus...but something was forgotten. Something big, something important, something that would make sense of this ordeal. But what? I couldn't quit until I remembered what. Ignoring the pain, most severe in my swollen knee, I crawled, not to the road, but to find water. I drank a tiny drink from a cactus, being careful not to take so much that it would perish. The sun went down, and the scorching day became chilly night. Shivering in cold and agony, I fainted throughout the night, awakening to the slightest sound, fearing that Anton would find me again, until the sunrise illuminated the eastern sky. I braced myself for the furnace of the day. squinting my eyes against all-encompassing pain, then sensed that I was not alone. I feared Anton, but it was another Avatar. Don Jose was squatting by a little fire, brewing tea. "Drink this," he said, no greeting, "you have to wake up to heal yourself." "Isn't this breaking fast?" I croaked, "I have to go at least two weeks more." "You are to be ministered by angels; that's me. Drink it." I drank. "So...where is Anton?" "Quien sabe? With the Dark Templars somewhere? At an orgy with his coven? It does not matter, he cannot come here right now: he has failed to tempt you so far, he is losing." "HE's losing? Yeah, sure, you shoulda seen the other guy! Why didn't he kill me?" "He could not, it is very difficult to kill an Avatar without fire or beheading--and God would not allow Anton to do that just yet." "But He allows THIS?" "You are to be tested, and that can be hard. Don't you remember the ordeal of being Jesu Christos in the wilderness?" "Yeah, that was hard too. But that time I passed the test." "Pass what test? Enjoy the ordeal: that is all you came here for." There was something in the tea, the pain became less. Then Don Jose chanted softly, first in Spanish, then Mayan, guiding me towards the ancient Avatar healing techniques: "Control, Create, Realize; the 3 Elements of Power..." I knew them, they came rapidly, I already knew the trick of it, and in a matter of minutes I was in the process of healing myself. Once he saw that I was succeeding he walked off over the horizon and was gone. Finally the pain was also gone, I felt much better. And realized that I was done healing: my broken limbs were intact again, even my knee. I stood easily, amazed to find that my nose was straight and I had all my teeth. I was perfect. I even felt enjoyment. Maybe there was something to this after all.
PART 18: 2ND ORDEAL I walked up the middle of the valley with a new spring in my stride, parallel to the road a few miles away, towards Badwater Basin (the lowest point of land in the USA, if you need to know). It was noon, the sun was scorching everything. Let it, I was fine. A car horn tooted in the distance. Again and again. I was ignoring it until I recognized the pattern: dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot; SOS. Someone with car trouble in Death Valley. I ran up a hill to see: sure enough a car by the side of the road, horn honking for help. I ran toward it. But when I got close I saw who it was. Anton was sitting in a luxurious black Mercedes convertible, top down, door open, his feet up on the dash, sipping an ice-cold drink. He was wearing a flamboyant Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts this time and seemed to be on top of the world. The drink had ice cubes and the glass was sweating with condensation like a soft-drink ad for the real thing. Talk about tempting. But him I hated and feared. I turned to go, quickly. "Wait, kid," he called out, "I'm sorry about yesterday! Let me make it up to you!" "Get thee out of my face, Satan!" I shouted, backing away. "Look, how about we take a little ride, talk it over? You know I'm supposed to tempt you: how can I tempt you if you won't stick around?" "Tempt me?" I shouted from a safe distance--I figured I could maybe outrun him, he was big and strong, but old. "You tried to kill me!" "Well, it couldn't have been that bad, you look fine to me. Okay, I admit I lost my temper--I was thirsty, feeling lousy, all I wanted was a drink and you wouldn't...well, anyway, I apologize." He held up the cold sweating glass for me to see, ice cubes tinkling in the desert stillness. "Thirsty's no problem today, see? Hey, I've got a whole pitcher of ice cold lemonade here, want some?" "Get thee..." "All right, all right, just tempting like I'm supposed to, that's all." "Yeah, ok, consider temptation denied. And fuck off!" I turned to go. "Wait, I need help, kid!" he called out, "My car's stopped! I'm stranded in Death Valley! It's hot as Hell here! This is an emergency!" I kept going, still walking but ready to run. 50 meters away now. "You can't run away from your Destiny, kid! You've got to turn and face it. What are you out here for--to avoid temptation? No, not! You're here to ENDURE it!" I stopped. He was right. But the Devil always seems to be right, that's the devil of it. I turned to face him. "Do you promise not to attack me?" He looked at me from the 50 meters between us, as if amazed. "Do I hear right? Is Christ BEGGING the Devil for Mercy?" "No. I'm not begging." "Ah, then you're NEGOTIATING with Satan, perhaps?" Something about being Jesus...something big...but what? Not the pain...not the dying...I couldn't die. I couldn't die. I'd be healed. Satan could not harm me. Not really. Not enough to let him bully me. "Screw you," I said and walked up to him. He smiled his beautiful smile and tinkled his glass, feet still up on the dash, quite relaxed and laid-back. "I knew I could TEMPT you to come to me. Heh heh." "Yeah, yeah," I scoffed, "now what's this lie about your car being stopped?" "But it IS stopped! I never lie, kid." He sat up at the wheel, turned the key, the motor grinded around awhile but did not start. "You know anything about motors?" "I'm only 12..." I began to say, but then realized that I DID know all about motors, "...maybe. Try it again." I put my hand on the hood of the black Mercedes. It was really hot, burned, but I didn't flinch before Satan, it would heal. He tried the starter again, I could sense mechanisms spinning around in there, pistons sliding, valve springs fluttering, gasoline flowing, supercharger compressing, electricity zapping...aha, not zapping there... "Yeah, I know what's wrong with it. You've got a secret ignition cutout switch under the dash, it's turned off." Anton's eyebrows went up in admiration, and feigned surprise. "Oh, THAT switch? Now how did that happen? It's to make the car more difficult to steal, you know." He reached down and turned it on, tried the starter, and the powerful motor came to life with a roar. "Foolish me, heh heh." He gunned the big V-8 a few times then let it idle. "Well, thanks, kid. Can I offer you a ride somewhere? Burger bar? Whorehouse?" That was my cue: I just looked into his snake eyes, said with appropriate disdain, "Get thee behind me, Anton, "then turned to walk away, really cool. I was satisfied, enough was enough. He was gunning the engine as I left him, revving higher and higher, the farther away I got the more violently he revved until I thought it had to blow up. Then I heard him peel out and the car roared off up the road and was gone. That wasn't so bad, I thought. Until the car came roaring back my way, but I could hear that it wasn't on the road now, it was bouncing and sliding, spraying gravel, coming at me across the desert floor. I turned to look. Sure enough: Anton Artemis laughing like the devil he is, death at the wheel, monster black Mercedes playing overland jeep, coming to run me down, 100 miles an hour. Pretty flat terrain, no big rocks, no gullies, certainly no trees. If I just ran he'd get me. I...oh, never mind, why make such a story out of it?--I dodged him a few times, leaping over the car with Avatar agility, but he kept at it for an hour and in the end he ran me down. Hard. Thoroughly. At least I didn't call for Gabriel this time.
PART 19: APOTHEOSIS Once again I regained consciousness in a dried pool of blood, again in excruciating agony. This time I was really hurt; Anton had run literally over me several times. I couldn't think straight because my brains were... "Kindly spare me the gory details, son." ...oh, yeah, well, ok Mother, you got the picture. I lay there all day, burning under that sun, trying to heal. "Control, Create, Realize..." But all that happened was that the pain got worse and the sun went down with me even worse off. Of course I tried praying. Anyone would, and me especially. No response. I tried dying, giving up the ghost, no luck. I tried crawling to water--maybe it was the water that helped heal me last time?--but couldn't crawl very fast and couldn't find any water. Remembering being Jesus, in Sinai, that helped last time. How did he get out of it? Well, he wasn't run over by a Mercedes, that's how. No wait, he didn't get out of it: he got into it. I'm babbling again, time to pass out. I yearned to call for Gabriel, to come help me as he always had, but even more to command him to smite Anton thew and bone. But I did not command Gabriel yet, I had to earn that privilege by enduring this ordeal first. If I could endure it, if I deserved to: I was not performing especially well, and I also hated Anton with a wrath that Christ was not supposed to feel, and fantasized in cruel and bloody punishments that my Archangel could enact, all through the shivering night. Don Jose came at sunrise again, this time with a peyote tea which tasted abominable but worked wonders. "You fail to heal yourself because you fail to bring your joy to the surface, young Lord, you are allowing anger to cover it up." I went into a trance, things got blurry. I could hear chanting in Mayan. "He who Masters his Emotions is not mastered By them...Emotions Enhance or Diminish, as Applied by a Master...The Master understands the trick of Joy, realizes that Joy always overpowers Anger...the Greatest Revenge is when the Enemy is Defeated by Applied Joy..." After a while, I became aware that I was healed again. As well as alone again. Sitting in a lotus position, I was breathing in the way that opens channels. I was meditating, my soul surfacing, remembering being Jesus that time in the wilderness. That time and this time were the same, really. I'd suffered that time too, seemed to be a necessary part of the process. The process of bringing my soul to the surface: slow and painful, taking 40 days and 40 nights. The Devil I faced as Jesus was a different one, as were all the other devils in all the other lives, and yet the same, really. They were different men, sometimes women, as I had also been, yet we were both always the current incarnations of those souls who had begun their journey at Eden; I as Adam, and he as the serpent-tailed Satan. I was remembering it, but remembering is not enough. Everyone remembers their childhood, but no one can be that child again. Memories have to be used to have meaning. Connections need to be made. Control, Create, Realize. Control the memories, organize them, put them in order. Create the connections, connect old memories in new ways, construct a model in your mind. Realize... Then at last I did. Of course: Jesus, Ulfo, Satan, Anton, Mother, The Great Cosmic Joke, Theron/Tazio, Armageddon, remembering the past, seeing the future, pain, death...I began to laugh, mostly at myself...remembering The Power, the Big Power...of Joy.
PART 20: SHOWDOWN Later, I went walking across a dry lake bed, it was flat, dust-devils swirling up around me, stinging and hot. It felt great, I felt good. Only 4 days to go, and I still hadn't seen everything here. An even hotter wind blasted across the floor and I was in a sandstorm, blindingly dirty. I walked on, this was fun. The wind stopped, the sand dropped, and I was walking toward Anton Artemis, standing 3 feet before me. I stopped, not a bit surprised. He was wearing a blood-red Satanic ceremonial robe this time, open in front to reveal his naked muscular big-sexed body, wide horns spanning out from his hooded head. He had a large curved sword in his hands. No smile this time, he looked serious. "Well, it's Temptation Time, kid." "You've got nothing to tempt me with, Anton." "No? How about getting out of being Christ?" "Silly boy," I said, smiling at Ol' Grandad. "Consider this: if you quit the ordeal, you are deemed unworthy of being the Messiah, you fall to the side and are forgotten. And thus become your own Avatar, to create your own Destiny rather than the cruel one written for you by Evangeleva and the Ulfa." "I'm not quitting. I embrace my Destiny." "Then I am obliged to kill you." "But you cannot, Anton." "Oh, but I can, I'm very expert at killing. However, I don't want to, kid, I like you. And you're so young that it's really no contest, this is no more fun for me than it is for you. But we must each play out our parts in The Game of the Gods." "Yes, we must, let us do so." He nodded. There was respect in his snakelike eyes and a grim line to his mouth. Once again I was tempted to tell "my grandfather" what we were to one another, just to see his face crack, but the moment passed. The sword rose. "Do you have any last words, Immanuel?" "Not yet." Anton didn't rush, but took his time. His snake eyes were ferocious but not unsympathetic. We stood that way for a long time, like in a Kurasawa Samurai silm or a Sergio Leone Western, but without any music. As if entranced. He raised the sword into a position from which he could behead me. My own hands came up into a martial arts defense pose and I found my balance point. I was very calm. Something big was looming somewhere...behind me...inside me... Anton feinted, I did not move, someone else--or a greater part of myself--was steering me. He feinted again, then swung the sword with the deadly power of an Avatar assassin trained in the lost techniques of Atlantis. I, Staii-on of Atlantis, parried the back edge of the blade to the side with my bare palm and with a twist plucked it from Anton's double-handed grip, pirouetting once and ending up with the sword mine, pointed back at him. "Ah," was all he said, but now he did smile, dazzling dangerous white teeth. He backed off a step, then danced forward in the Cobra Claw style of Early Babylon. I, Laruzu Kydaiz of Babylon, stepped into his reach and kneed him square in those teeth and he rocked back. Then I, Ra of Egypt, held Anton's sword up over my head, hands spanning haft and blade, generating between them a circuit of Solar current, a white-hot spark fused the sword of Atlantean steel into two halves. Remembering The Power, indeed. Anton spun back, not smiling now. He was calm. There was careful respect in his snake eyes, but no fear. He stood back and considered me. "All right, so we bring in the big guns..." "Big," I said, "amen." "...I know a few spells of my own." He made the sign of the pentagram in the air before himself, "In the Name of High Lord Satan Himself: Ahni dhammu noxxia brintai..." Satanic Death Spell. I, Jesus of Nazareth, turned away from Anton Artemis and looked up at the Sun. We Solar Gods had come from there, long ago in the Beginning, and we were still in contact with the Solar Father. I worshipped. Anton's spell droned on, but it was without significance. I put a finger to the sky and a smaller sun dashed up from over the horizon to where I pointed, a Solar Finger at my command. Anton shouted the punch-line of the Death spell and a wave of Evil Energy flashed up out of the earth at me. I cancelled it. The Solar Finger hovered just above us, like a tiny sun: spinning, diaphanous angelic creature of blazing Solar plasma; looming, ready to strike. Anton winced beneath this threat: he recognized power beyond his own; he knew what Solar Fingers could do. He waved his hands. "Ok, ok, kid...Lord Immanuel, I guess you win." But I wasn't accepting his surrender yet. I reached over, touched his cheek, there was Contact, and I said, "I forgive thee, Anton, for your trespasses against..." He snapped back as if electrocuted, falling on his ass. "No! You can't do that to me! You're just like that other monster, Theron. All you brats with too much power!" He rose to his feet and braced himself for battle. "Take him," I commanded. The Solar Finger plucked Anton Artemis up with a windbeam, sucked him into its bright swirling ectoplasmic storm. "Do not harm him," I commanded, "but..." the Solar Finger quivered with anticipation to my command, "...DO deliver him into the Sinai desert." Flash: off over the horizon and gone in an lightning-like instant.
PART 21: SHAMANS I enjoyed the desert night. The stars were old friends, Gods like our own Solar Father. Our Mother, the Earth, tingled with life even out here. Then I sensed the light of the Solar Father and wallowed in even more Joy. Don Jose came at sunrise. "It seems you have bested the Devil: You don't need healing this time...Lord." "I'm fine. So is Anton." I had to laugh. "Although he's probably pissed off at the walk he's got ahead of him!" "Pissed off indeed. He was supposed to be the evil tempter, but really was only the foil. You needed someone unforgiveable to blast with your joy, a catalyst to the process. "I know:" Don Jose said, "2000 years ago, I was that Devil you faced as Jesus in the wilderness. I was changed by that encounter; I did not become "good" at once (Tazcatlipoca was a cruel god) but eventually became what I am now--an old Avatar of great power and experience who still has not yet mastered the Power of Joy that You learn so quickly, and Apply so easily..." I looked him in his ancient eyes, that little Avatar, no taller than my boy self, the great Palenque man, the adept brujo, the wise shaman: so in control, but joyless. He who had helped me and was my beloved friend. "You were my doctor: physician, heal thyself." "I know the teaching, Lord, but do not the FEELING of it, " Don Jose said, emotionlessly. "You just need your sins forgiven, Tazcatlipoca. Here, let me do that for you..." I touched him. The joy crackled through us both and strobed Death Valley with Solar Light beyond the visible spectrum.
Days, nights passed, I loved it out there, wandering the hot/cool Earth in Joy and Power. Then one day I felt hungry. Ravenously hungry: I hadn't eaten for 40 days and 40 nights. It was time to go home.
PART 22: ALLIGATOR "Then I came back to you, Mother, as I do even now." "That time you came back alive." "This time I come back Life Eternal, yet DO still remember being that boy, and DO still love my Mother--who has been my mother so many times, as you know." "Yes, son, I know." Evangeleva nodded and even smiled. "So, how long will you be around this time? A symbolic 40 days?" "That's open. I'll be involved in several projects for which being spirit-form allows great advantages. A time of Miracles is upon the Earth, the Reign of Tazio, and I am part of that." "Don't forget your mother." "How could I? You'll be part of it too. We'll be Doing The Work together again." The ghost light brightened, flickered, and the ghost looked far away, saying, "Oops, gotta go. Something happening in China. Peace be with you, Evangeleva, and see you later." He faded out to gone. "Alligator," she said, sitting alone in the dark room. Not weeping any more. No time for that. There was The Work to Do.


Skopelos, Greece
September 1997