Saturday, November 1, 2014

malkah's little crush on ba'al

She's not supposed to. He's not part of her tradition.  Except as a traditional enemy, I suppose. He's somebody else's god. And not even the top dog at that. So. I was asked the other day what drew Malkah to Ba'al. And I suppose I should come up with something that makes it all sound reasonable.

Believe it or not, it started with the Tetragrammaton. One night, a very long time ago, Malkah discovered that everyone she cared about seemed to act out one of the letters of the Tetragrammaton.

There were Yud people. They were El people. Frequently bullies in their insistence on (white) male privilege. They had created something (as a head of a pantheon ought) but then they didn't want any more change. "I made it.  Now leave it alone." Creation. Just as I put it there, and not a drop of evolution since. Yud people. Not very attractive.

There were Upper Hei people. As watery as El was fire. These folks just wallow. They gripe and moan, and nothing, just nothing, is ever quite right for them.  They sulk when they're supposed to be incubating.  They take a sabbatical and spend the whole time obsessing about how short it is.  And then they get nothing done.

I should say right now that we all do these things. Sometimes. But El people. Fucking control freaks. And Upper Hei people.  Too many anti-depressants.

And then there's Vav. Upright and slim. And tall, with his head held high. Ambitious Ba'al wanting to make a difference in the world. Baal people are fucking activists. Thwarted by the powers that be at every turn. And shadowed by the loving gaze of Upper Hei —Asherah (Athirat, if you will) at every other turn. Ba'al wants to change the world. He's the original ecologist. An agriculturalist. An inseminator. Of the earth, that is. He makes things fertile, if given half a chance. Not that El will leave him be. And, well, Ba'al's been shtupping the wife, Athirat, so yah, I guess El has kind of a reason to be pissed.

There's no reason to make such a fuss about Ba'al's peccadillos. It's in his nature to spread seed. That's what he's supposed to do. The real deal, though. No Monsanto for him.

I had a student once who burst into tears when I started talking about Ba'al. Really wailing. And shaking too. She was of African origins and was raised to believe that Ba'al was the devil himself. So. Just speaking his name gave her the willies. And hearing something positive about him —like that he was just one of the top four deities in the pre-Abrahamic pantheon of Ugarit— just was too much to bear. I might as well have been talking about Saddam Hussein (more of an El character than a Ba'al one, for sure, but you get the idea). Say something good about the devil and you've got to expect a bit of a rocky response.

In all fairness, I must say Malkah was drawn to Ba'al's sister, Anat, (the lower Hei on the Tetragrammaton)—but she didn't have a crush.  No.  Instead she wanted to be the fierce and loyal lady of the hunt. A natural born killer.  I think Malkah didn't take that part too seriously though.  She saw Anat as just incredibly competent and able to get shit done. She killed. But she didn't kill. Can you hear the difference?

So. Malkah's crush on Ba'al is a bit weird, I suppose, in that she started with YHVH and worked her way backwards in time instead of going along with the program.  Back and back and back until she met Abrahams's contemporaries in the land of Cana'an. And found those top four, El, Asherah, Ba'al, and Anat had all gotten carried over into the Judaic godhead, sight unseen, having a good laugh, maybe, and blithely going about their business in the god department as if they hadn't been slaughtered by the invasion of the monotheists.

So. What's the problem with telling Malkah's secret? I think it's that almost nobody's going to believe it.  But if they do, there's sure to be someone saying she took up with the devil. Or that she's gone all pagan on us. But I'd like to think that she's just gone deeper. Deeper into the history of her own tradition.

She came up for air, and there he was.

I know, I know. Alchemy makes for pretty crappy punchlines.  Either that, or I'm just very bad at it.


  1. Curious, isn't it? This one was by request. I'm afraid I'm becoming less and less accessible as a writer on these matters.