A boy was born, on the glittering expanse of frozen white in the Land of Forever Ice. Under the spirit lights flickering green and gold in the sky above, he was consecrated holy by the songs and prayers of his people.
He was named, Io.
On the same day and at the same time, a girl was also born, in a clearing in the deep forest of the Land of Forever Sun. Under the great river of stars splashed across the sky, she was consecrated holy by the songs and prayers of her people.
She was named, Ea.
He was as pale as the pure, driven snow. His eyes were as blue as the clear, summer sky, blessed by the gods of fire, war and death.
She was as dark as the hidden, most silent part of night. Her eyes were as black as the deep, holy caves, blessed by the goddesses of water, fertility and life.
As Ea and Io grew into adulthood, their lives ran parallel, but could not have been more different.
Io’s culture was violent and hard. Life on the ice was unforgiving. Neighboring clans raided for food and women. His people did the same, as was their way. He learned to hunt and fight young. The men banded together to battle other tribes but fought each other and their women when they were not out raiding.
Ea’s culture was peaceful and easy, by comparison. Life in the forest was bountiful. Fruit grew on the trees and men worked the fields. Trading with neighboring tribes was conducted with celebration and relationships between kinship networks were stable and long-lasting. The women ruled, as the miracle of birth was given them and all knew that immortality and reincarnation came in the form of children.
Io saw that there was hatred between the men and the women. There was love, but it was corrupted by fear. For the men knew that, somehow, children would invariably issue forth from the women. Children they would have to provide for in their harsh, unforgiving world of snow and ice. Children that they had to protect. The men resented the women for the added burden with an ancient and sustained hatred encoded across generations. Home was a battlefield, even in the summer months, when life was just a bit easier. As a result, men were respected but feared. Women bowed to their will in all things. Io knew no other way of being.
The women were divine, in Ea’s world. All knew that the Creatrix ruled supreme – the male principle subordinate – upon the body of Mother Earth. The Sky Father bowed with love to Her will even as they ruled the universe equally. Matriarchs made the decisions and wealth passed through the mother’s lineage. Women were respected and loved for their power. Women’s space and men’s space were equally revered and conflicts were handled with justice and equinimity by a council of elders. The men took the names of their wives and it had always been that way since the dawn of time. Ea knew no other way of being.
When Ea and Io came of age, both were initiated into the mysteries of their people. Io went out onto the ice with the shaman and saw visions in the spirit lights above, dancing across the sky and his mind. Ea went into the deep forest with a medicine woman and saw visions in the river of stars, swimming across the sky.
Following other harrowing yet enlightening mystical tests and experiences, both returned home as adults and were given the accoutrements of their stations. It was thus that they took responsibility for the care and maintenance of the spiritual lives of their clan and tribe.
Io had grown into a strong, handsome young man by then. Tall and blond, muscled and scarred against the hardened backdrop of the Forever Ice and the violence of daily life. He was silent but firm and respected for his martial abilities. Still, his eyes dreamt of endless summer and impossible worlds, his nature fey and other. He was loved, but also viewed fearfully by his clan, as were all called to the magical path.
Ea was short and shapely, her body full and overflowing with vibrant energy. She was well-loved by her village, her full lips always parted to reveal pearly teeth, the peal of her laughter a familiar sound. She loved to sing and her powerful voice often led the chants and spellcasting as well as the songs of work and play that filled the air by day.
Io fought for his clan, but took no woman. Ea sang for her village, but took no man. These choices were natural, as their yearnings were beyond the things others knew and even beyond their own knowing. They both preferred the ice and forest and the company of wild things to that of their clan and tribe. Yet, both remained well respected, feared and loved; for their command of magic and medicine was strong and their words ever fateful and true.
Both held – secretly and deeply within themselves – a particular knowing, not shared by any of the other priests and priestesses of their people. They knew with certainty that the world was bigger than the clan territories, villages, verdant fields and icy expanses of their daily lives. That the worlds they inhabited were not the only worlds possible and that change would come, eventually.
Accompanying this secret knowing was a steady, pervasive fear accompanied by a thrumming, steady joy. The juxtaposition of emotions was disconcerting, causing each to keep their secret close, fearing their grasp upon sanity was loosening. Neither suspected they shared knowing with another, half a world away.
And so it was that on the night of the anniversary of their birth, in the hour, to the minute and second of their shared arrival on earth, Ea and Io shared a vision.
THE ICE, RETREATING, OPENING. YEARS, DECADES, CENTURIES PASSING LIKE MINUTES AS HOARDS OF IO’S FUTURE PEOPLE EXPANDED OUT INTO THE WORLD, INVADING, KILLING, BRINGING HOLY TERROR TO THE SANDY EXPANSES OF A TROPICAL SEA, DESTROYING, PILLAGING AND RAPING.
PATRIARCHAL WAR GODS LED THE CHARGE, LIFE WAS DISCOUNTED AND CHEAP. SHAMANS CRIED OUT TO THE GODS FOR VICTORY, TRIUMPHANT IN THEIR ESCAPE FROM THE FOREVER ICE. HYBRID CULTURES SPRANG INTO BEING, MULTITUDES WERE BORN TO PROSPER AND FAIL, LIVE AND DIE. HYBRID PEOPLES APPEARED AND DISAPPEARED, LOVED AND HATED, COVETED AND GAVE ALL TO POSTERITY. WONDROUS AND MYSTICAL TECHNOLOGIES, STRANGE METALS, INCOMPREHENSIBLE, INSECT-LIKE CONTRAPTIONS AND BLACK RIBBONS WENDED ACROSS CONTINENTS AS GIGANTIC SHIPS CROSSED OCEANS AND SHINING BIRDS IN THE SKY CARRIED PEOPLE TO FAR-AWAY LANDS.
THE PEOPLE OF THE FOREST, EA’S ANCESTORS, EXPANDED OUT AND TO THE COASTS, THEN DOWN, UP AND ACROSS VAST CONTINENTS, BIRTHING NEW PEOPLES, MEETING ENTITIES OF DIFFERENT KINDS, MATING, LOVING, CO-CREATING A NEW TYPE OF HUE-MAN.
BROAD EXPANSES OF GLACIERS, RISING BETWEEN MOUNTAIN RANGES, CUTTING OFF DISTANT FAMILY FOR MILLENNIA. CULTURES PROSPERING, TRADING, LOVING, EXPLORING SPIRIT AND NATURE. THESE SOULS FORGOT THEIR COUSINS, LOST AND LOCKED IN THE ICE, SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR AWAY. THEN, COLLECTIVE RECOILING IN SHOCK, HORROR AND REMORSE AS THEY CEDED LANDS AND CITIES TO THE FATEFUL RETURN OF THE VENGEFUL AND LOVELESS, WHO WRECKED HAVOC UPON ALL THEY ENCOUNTERED, INTENT UPON SECURING SUSTENANCE IN THE BOUNTEOUS LANDS OF MILK AND HONEY.
MORE CHANGES, MORE STRANGE, HYBRID PEOPLES, GREATER TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES ACCRUED, BILLIONS OF PEOPLE COVERED THE EARTH AND YET WARS AND PESTILENCE CONTINUED. BUT LOVE, ALSO, WAS PRESENT AND GREW, AS PEOPLE FOUND COMMON UNDERSTANDING DESPITE THE DIFFERENCES OF LANGUAGE AND SKIN COLOR.
EA AND IO BORE WITNESS TO THE ENERGETIC EMANATIONS OF COLLECTIVES, OF POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, OF LIGHT AND DARK, WARRING IN THE SPACES BETWEEN REALITIES, THESE ENERGIES RISING THROUGH ZERO-POINT TO MANIFEST, DARK MATTER AND ENERGY PERMEATING THE MATERIAL WORLD AND THE LIVES OF INDIVIDUALS. THEY WERE AWARE NOT ONLY OF PEOPLES, BUT ALSO OF THE PERSON, IN THE WAY THAT THEY WERE SIMILARLY CONNECTED TO THEIR CLAN AND TRIBE. THEY OBSERVED AS THE PANORAMIC EARTH ENERGY MELDED AND SHIFTED AND COALESCED, DARKENING AND BRIGHTENING SIMULTANEOUSLY, CRESTING IN APEX AS HATE AND LOVE MERGED AND LIGHT AND DARK BIRTHED SOMETHING BEYOND THEIR ABILITY TO COMPREHEND.
MYSTERY. THE END. UNKNOWN. THE BEGINNING. SPACE. TIME. DIFFERENTIATION DENSIFIED, ONENESS ENLIGHTENED. KNOWABLE. HOLISM. ENIGMA.
THE VISION SHIFTED. EA AND IO SAW EACH OTHER, STANDING ON A BRIDGE BETWEEN FOREVER AND NOW. SHOCKED, THEY STARED INTO EACH OTHER’S EYES AND FELT EACH OTHER’S SOULS ACROSS THAT INFINITE DISTANCE, KNOWING EACH OTHER INTIMATELY IN AN INSTANT. THEIR MINDS AND SPIRITS CONNECTED AS ONE, BIRTHING A SHARED UNDERSTANDING OF WHO AND WHAT THEY WERE AND WHAT WAS, IS AND TO BE. A MOMENT OF WONDER AND AMAZEMENT AND CURIOSITY. FEAR AND JOY RISING. AT THAT INSTANT, THE FOREVER ICE MET THE SUN IN AN EXPLOSION OF HEAT AND COLD, SOUND AND FURY, EMITTING INFINITE LIGHT SWALLOWED IMMEDIATELY BY ETERNAL DARK. THEN, SILENCE.
Ea and Io awoke simultaneously. They cried out, bolting up into a sitting position, eyes wide, staring unseeingly into the darkness as the after-images of their visions faded slowly into the familiar moments of their lives. Both stood and stumbled away from those gathered around them and into the ice and forest. Both looked up, into the sky. He at the spirit lights, she at the river of stars.
And both wept, piteously. Then laughed, in a rising crescendo of spiraling joy. The mixture of joy and sorrow coalesced in transcendent wonder, revealing the pathless path to mystery and gnosis, enraptured enlightenment and rebirth. Sublime knowing ensued, giving rise to the intimate and shared security of true knowing.
Their eyes shone in the darkness of their realized state and they never forgot each other, even though they never met. In the physical, that is. The light of their shared awakening was, thereafter, implicit in their carriage and clear to all who knew them.
Never again, were either the same. Ea and Io lived long, full and loving lives, secure in the knowing that the end was only the beginning and that a new story – that was every story – was born in every moment.