How I ate The Red Goddess book published by Scarlet Imprint

How I ate The Red Goddess book published by Scarlet Imprint November 29, 2021

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Here is a story about how I got to eat The Red Goddess book by Peter Grey, published by Scarlet Imprint. It goes like this:

I’m at an open door restaurant, high up on a mountain plateau. The view is breathtaking, with the mountain range looking like the Himalayas. This is a dream, as I’ve never been to the Himalayas. Nonetheless, the image stands as clearly to me as any reality I can imagine. Let me continue:

There are a few cars parked by the cobbled paved road, my own included, a black Suzuki Vitara. I have a fairly large paper box with me, one that has three drawers. The color is vernil, a variation of pale green. Somehow the color matches the sky and the rocky mountains. I open the drawers with some measure of care, as the box is fragile and wobbly. I take out a book from it, one that has no binding. The whole text comes in loose sheets. It’s Peter Grey’s book, The Red Goddess, the very first edition. In the upper drawers of my box there are amulets that look like Tibetan wooden charms and color prints of both Peter Grey and his partner Alkistis Dimech performing readings on a mountain plateau. Suddenly the prints come alive, and I see Peter coming down the road. He wears purple high heel shoes and a shade of a turquoise kimono. The kimono hangs loosely on him, and I note that he ears fundoshi, Japanese underwear. He also wears a silk pink scarf. Quite the drag. He is about to start reading right there in the middle of the road. I am amused because I figure that I can just follow him with my text, in case he decides to start with The Red Goddess.

Then Alkistis appears. She is dressed like a business woman. All in black. The only variation from the strict stereotype of the business woman is her flowing hair and red lipstick. She is on the phone with someone. Just as she passes my table, she notices my box. She recognizes it as the Red Goddess ‘package.’ She pulls a seat by my table and I notice she holds a wide rimmed bowl in the other hand containing freshly made green olive pesto, with big chunks of olives in it. She turns to me while covering her phone, and says: ‘Let’s eat this book. It’s meant to be eaten.’ I’m excited at this prospect, but then I have a moment of hesitation. As I turn the colophon page, I stare at the number. My copy is 66. I’m reluctant to eat 66. But then I say to Alkistis: ‘let me look at the last page.’

I turn the book over, and pick the loose sheet. It has a black stamp on it, featuring the head of the Little Red Riding Hood, alongside with some writing that has the flavor of selling something. I say to Alkistis: ‘we can eat this last page as it looks like a commercial ad to me, one that I can dispense with.’ She is fine with this plan, and then starts spreading the olive paste all over the page. We start eating and I make a remark: ‘this tastes just like Ethiopian injera,’ a style of sour fermented flatbread that has a spongy texture. Alkistis nods. I then what to know: ‘You spoke Danish on the phone, perfect accent. How did you learn Danish?’ She doesn’t answer the question, but laments: ‘yeah, well, no one speaks anything else over here, so yes, I have to speak Danish.’ Now it’s my turn to nod, though in bewilderment. I say to her, ‘yes, isn’t this odd, given that we’re in Ecuador?’ She nods again in return, having the air of someone who speaks Spanish too. I ask her about it, and before she gives me an answer, I add: ‘you must have a finely tuned ear for languages.’ ‘I do,’ she says, and then hurriedly gets up and leaves. She has more business to attend to.

With the feeling of contentment all over my face – the book tasted rather exquisitely and I even managed to save the colophon page – I get ready to clear the table. A man approaches me and points to a stain on the table cloth. He says, ‘if you’re not careful, your book will get that on it, and it would be a shame.’ I tell him without worrying: ‘this book has seen worse.’

I put everything back in the paper box: the loose sheets, the color prints of ‘the Scarlets,’ and the amulets. I go back to my car. This part is not so clear to me, but I have the vague impression that while on my way to my car, I pass Peter who is still getting ready for his performance. I don’t have any exchanges with him, nor do I get to hear him read. Apparently this dream was about an affair between me and Alkistis. I wake up at the sound of slamming the car door.

The real 66

Back to real time. I go downstairs. The taste of green olives still persists my in my mouth. I go to my shelf to check on my copy of The Red Goddess. All is well. The first page is intact and so is the last. I hold the last page up against the light though, as if to spot a faint watermark on it, or an embedded secret encoding the name of peace in it. For how often does one get to eat a book whose pages taste of green olives, while overlooking the Himalayas in Ecuador and speaking Danish, if not for peace, for the high altitude air, and the beauty of the image? Let me show you my book, now that I’m at it.

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)
The Red Goddess by Peter Grey in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)
The Red Goddess by Peter Grey in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)
The Red Goddess by Peter Grey in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Eating the body of the Red Goddess is like eating the sacrament. The actual book in my collection came well equipped. The first edition of 156 copies were all sent out as a talisman. The white, thin box that shelters the book was tied with a red ribbon. Inside it, rose petals too. The red ribbon has the smell of attar.

I don’t know why the scarlet book turned pale green in my dream, nor do I know why the focus shifted from smell to taste. What is the significance of the loose sheets as against the bound book? I don’t know. But this I know: in this form, The Red Goddess has a usefulness that the bound version doesn’t have. You can eat its pages freely without ruining the rest. In fact, if only a page or two are eaten, no one would even notice, if the book was resting in a pile on a table. I find this befitting eating a sacrament that leaves no trace. Inviting too. If a bowl of fresh olive pesto was nearby, I’d be tempted to spread some on a sheet, and almost eat it on the go. I may look at what words I’d be eating, but that would be besides my interest, which is to taste the sour fermented page turned bread and judge the combination with olives. I may even think of Noah’s Arc and the biblical story about just how many times the dove was sent out to scout for land. When it did find land, it came back with an olive branch in its beak. ‘Let us have peace,’ Noah decided as his boat landed on Ararat.

The last page in The Red Goddess (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The selective collector

On a number of occasions I’ve written in my own books that I find nothing sexier than peace of mind. Nothing can beat peace of mind. When Jesus said, ‘eat my body,’ what he implicitly also said was, ‘eat my body and have peace of mind.’ If it’s true that the Scarlet Imprint meant for their book to be eaten, then they succeeded. Their book does get eaten, one way or another. Eating together is also a sign of peace. I’ll take it. Though I’d say to others, make sure not to eat all the numbers. You may want to keep some for your own magical purpose.

I have quite a few books published by Scarlet Imprint. Not all, as some of their authors put me off, quite frankly, but because I appreciate what they are doing, also in terms of getting better and better where typography and bindings are concerned, I pay attention and go for it when the content matches the fetish. So I’m a collector, but I collect selectively.

A few Scarlet Imprint books in my collection (Photo: Camelia Elias)

When this is said, I should mention that I don’t personally know the Scarlet Imprint publishers. Apart from a couple of email exchanges and a book on butoh that Alkistis graciously sent me once, as we share an interest in this type of dance, we’ve never had any other dealings. So the ‘peace offering’ I’m reading into my dream here does not refer to a presupposed war that might now necessitate reconciliation. If there’s a war, no one informed me of it. Here I just read the presence of green olives made into a paste to spread on the pages of a book as a sign of goodwill.

Apart from this, I’ve no idea why these publishers have showed up in my dream. I thought I’d ask my own Red Tarot about it. I got Force, the Devil, and the Wheel of Fortune. The Devil insisted too. As I was shuffling the cards, it fell out of the deck. I put it back in and continued shuffling. And there it was again, the 66th time, as it were…

Red Tarot by Camelia Elias (Photo: Camelia Elias)

At first glance I thought about a tête-à-tête encounter suggested by both Force and the Devil, perhaps an encounter with the Rose, Babalon’s preferred flower. My Wheel of Fortune card rather looks like a rose. So, obsessive passions were served…

Red Tarot by Camelia Elias (Photo: Camelia Elias)

At the same time I thought about the circularity of the wheel and how I personally experience it whenever I have a shamanic dream, or a dream that is an omen. As far as I’m concerned, these dreams always have an element of circling around, before I get catapulted to the ‘other world.’ In this case here, before I got to meet the Scarlets and eat their book, I was waiting for my sister outside the hotel we were staying at. It was cold. As a bus was outside, I decided to get on and wait there. Before I knew it, the bus was moving. I got anxious, as going somewhere by myself wasn’t the idea. I tried to get the bus driver to open the doors so I could get off, but before I said anything, the bus had already made a stop. I got out and realized that I was back the the hotel, the bus merely having circled around it. I got elated and decided to wait instead at the restaurant that was at the top facing the cobbled paved road that was also in parallel with the mountain peaks. So, I went to the upper world…

More could be said about such dreams, but suffice it to say here that there are always elements in them that announce a significant event. I opened The Red Goddess at random. My eyes fell on the words ‘become flesh’ on page 45. It was a good message, as we feel the world through the flesh. I still need language and my mind to identify what I’m feeling, so as far as I’m concerned, I need words before I ‘become flesh,’ if I am to express anything to others and myself alike. Meanwhile, the smell of attar comes through the box, 14 years after the publication of the book. I take it in, and wait to see what else will happen.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities at Aradia Academy. Visit Scarlet Imprint here. Visit my own books here. For a book that has more cards, dreams, and magic in it, see The Oracle Travels Light (2015).

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias walks the path of Zen: cards in one hand, swords in the other. You can read more about the author here.
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