XXXIII. Avalon I
As all men are alike (tho’ infinitely various), so all Religions, and as all similars, have one source. The true Man is the source, he being the Poetic Genius. As all men are alike in outward form, so (and with the same infinite variety) all are alike in the Poetic Genius. . . . the Poetic Genius is the true Man, and . . . the body or outward form of Man is derived from the Poetic Genius.
As none by traveling over known lands can find out the unknown, so from already acquired knowledge Man could not acquire more; therefore an universal Poetic Genius exists. . . . If it were not for the Poetic or Prophetic character, the Philosophic and Experimental would soon be at the ratio of all things and stand still, unable to do other than repeat the same dull round over again. He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only. Therefore God becomes as we are, that we may be as he is.
The door of the house opened and Puck emerged onto the porch, peering to see who had arrived unexpectedly. He walked down the steps and toward the car, rather like a bear dancing. He was a huge man, with long hair and a full beard that almost reached his waist. He could look frightening if he tried, though that wasn’t natural to him.
I stepped out of the car and called out, “Puck!”
“Eddie!” he crowed. “Puck you too!”
“Come on, Andy,” I said. “Come meet Puck of Pook’s Hill.”
Andy climbed out of the car and held out her hand to Puck. He shook it vigorously.
“Puck, this is Miss Andrea Peregrino, a graduate student at CSUST. We’ve come to beg sanctuary.”
“Really?” he asked, not sure whether to take me seriously.
“Yes,” I said. “Let’s go in, so Andy can meet Ariel. I’ll explain what’s going on.”
We walked on into the house, where Ariel greeted us happily. She was a tiny, effervescent redhead, a complete contrast to Puck. We sat down around the kitchen table with cups of coffee. I explained everything that had happened since Bob’s package arrived, finishing with the gunmen’s attempt to attack us earlier that day.
“At that point I figured we’d better find some place to hide; so I thought of you,” I said.
“Nobody’s likely to find you here, and you are more than welcome,” Puck said. “We can put you in the guest cabin up the hill, unless . . .”
I said quickly, “Miss Peregrino and I are just friends. I’m frankly mortified that I’ve endangered her by getting her mixed up in this insanity.”
Andy, her eyes twinkling, said, “We don’t need to put you even further out, Puck. We can be roommates.”
“Okay,” Puck said. “Let me gather a few supplies for you, and we can trek on up there.”
He bustled about, gathering firewood, clean sheets, candles, and other items, which he piled on the table for us to carry. Andy chatted with Ariel about the weather and other inconsequential topics. In a short while we were ready to go.
Puck led us outside and up the hillside on a rather steep path, lighting the way with a powerful flashlight. After about ten minutes we arrived at a rustic cabin, of grayish-brown wood, with a covered porch across the front. Puck ushered us inside, then busied himself making sure we had everything we needed. He started a fire in the wood stove, lit candles about the room, helped us change the sheets on the beds, and checked all the windows to make sure they were locked. Finally he bade us good night and left.
Andy looked about the room, stretched her arms over her head, and said, “Actually, this is charming, even a little romantic.”
I said to her, “Andy, even though we’re trapped here together, I have no intentions of taking advantage of . . .”
I was interrupted by an explosive peal of laughter.
“Oh, Eddie, you are so sweet!” she said. “A 25-year-old virgin Witch is an oxymoron. I hung out in Hollywood as a teenager. I’ve had lots of boy friends.”
I found myself frowning.
She smiled. “You’re Catholic enough to have some of the old virgin versus whore dichotomy left in you, aren’t you?”
I stared at her, astonished. “You knew what I was thinking! How did you do that?”
“I’m a Witch, aren’t I?” she replied. “But that was just logic. Let me explain this in more detail. That might put your conscience to rest. I’m a Witch, not a Christian. We have a totally different attitude toward sex. We consider it the only proper way to worship the Goddess. I am a Priestess, not a prostitute. I make love with a man as a pure gift to him. I have never accepted money, expensive gifts, or anything else that would put me in a man’s debt. I give no one control over me. What I did was to honor the Goddess—or sometimes just for fun.”
“I think I’m beginning to understand,” I said. “This is like finding a creature whom you thought was mythical standing before you in the flesh.”
“Yes, there has been a lot of propaganda intended to convince people that we were mythical, but we are quite real, as you can see,” she said. She bent over, grasped the hem of her dress, and stood up, pulling it off over her head in a single motion. She stood before me naked, with a triumphant grin on her face.
Seeing her in Megan’s circle, I had restrained my emotions—mainly not to embarrass myself. Now there was no need for restraint. She was easily the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. A flood of desire, stronger than anything I’d ever felt for Janet, God forgive me, exploded through my veins and arteries. What I had not expected was the aura of vulnerability radiating from her, an essence of seduction, utterly Aphrodisiacal.
“Get undressed, Eddie, and come to bed. I want you.”
She had lain down on her side on the bed to wait for me.
I hadn’t dared to believe that this superb, intelligent woman could possibly be interested in me, yet here I am about to have sex with her, at her insistence. It has been so long since Janet left. I have never been any good at pursuing women. It has been a lonely year.
I undress, trying not to rush, and lie down next to her. We kiss, at first tenderly, cautiously, then more and more passionately. Our hands pet and explore the curves and hollows and secrets of each other’s bodies. I want to ravish her without delay, but I don’t want to rush her.
“Come on, Eddie. It’s okay. I’m ready,” she whispers in my ear.
I kneel before her as she lies spreadeagled. The moment feels holy in a way I had never experienced before. “Introibo ad altare Dei,” I say, knowing I am being inane.
“No, Dea,” Andy replies, just a trifle impatiently. “Come to me, Eddie.”
I lean forward, enter her, and begin thrusting. I am incredibly horny. All my pent-up longing rushes upward like a volcano.
There is the feeling of conquest that men always have, but I have passed into Terra incognito, into land where fantastic creatures live. She thrusts against me also, responding to me, stimulating me even further. I don’t want to peak too soon. I want Andy to climax also. I remember having sex with a girlfriend late in the ‘60s, the first time for both of us. Andy feels like that innocent teenager. And I am seeing—but not with my eyes—waves of red, orange, yellow rippling out from her.
Now her arms are moving against my sides, doing something with her hands in back of me. A wave of energy rises up my back from the base of my spine. As I approach orgasm, the energy reaches my head. At the moment of orgasm it reaches the crown of my head.
The pressure of my self against her self bursts, a pressure never perceived until it vanished.
She abandons herself to me.
There is no longer a me and a her. There is only an us, a single person.
Our awareness explodes into a sphere of living light.
I can see, feel, hear only the radiance of our ecstasy.
Freude! Freude, schöner Gotterfunken!
Joyful, joyful, we adore thee!
The chorus thunders through me, the exaltation of the angels around the heavenly throne.
It’s true! It’s true! Dante’s Beatrice!
There is nothing but joy.
There will never be anything but joy.
Everywhere there is light, almost blinding light.
The light has been there all along, but now I can see it.
I am not different from the universe.
Nothing can ever go wrong.
I am feeling with senses I never knew I had, yet they have been with me all along.
I float in the joyful radiance, for an instant, forever.
As my vision begins to clear, I see that we are lying on soft grass in a forest clearing. How could we have gotten here? Around us in the sunlight are brightly colored birds and flowers, butterflies, and animals, fabulous beasts. A unicorn is grazing not ten feet from us. In the distance there are mounted riders—no, they’re centaurs! Winged men are circling around us, grinning, chanting, “So mote it be, so mote it be!”
Soon my vision changes again. The cabin walls have started becoming visible, first hazily, then they had become more and more solid, until we were back on the bed in the cabin.