Prompt 19

If you could be a character from a book or film, who would you be? Why?

I am one of those sentimental folks who tend to make a parallel with themselves to the characters of a story in a book or film due to an uncanny spiritual ability to channel into the psyche of another. Methinks this could be something of an ancient Greek or Roman Sybil, who foretold the prophecies at holy places in ecstatic mania. Accordingly, my choice of avatars is of independent, strong-willed, but mistaken women whom people could not fail to notice out of the melee: Cassandra and Ariadne.

Cassandra, the daughter of the last king of Troy Priam and his wife Hecuba, was a priestess of the god Apollo, who bestowed the gift of prophecy on her. However, when she refused the god’s amorous advance, the cruel god fated her not to be believed in her predictions. So when Cassandra warned her people of the fall of Troy, they didn’t deign to acknowledge her but to scorn her for such hokum. Alas, poor Cassandra! I knew him, Ariadne, for your beautiful deed and heart was betrayed by Theseus, whom you helped kill Minotaur and save the Athenian youths from the labyrinth! Theseus abandoned his beautiful savior on the island of the Naxos and sailed on to Athens. Why did he forsake her? It’s because the goddess Athena told him that Ariadne would be nothing but a nuisance in his way of constructing her namesake city-state! Before being the sacred and immortal goddess, Athena was also a woman, but how could she force Theseus to bloodlessly forsake the poor Ariadne, whose benevolence saved the youths of Athens?

Both Cassandra and Ariadne’s benevolence and strong will were not appreciated by those whom they helped or tried to help. What a tragedy it was! Likewise, my heartfelt intention and humanity meet with cold shoulders or the least respect from the people I help and have helped. Sometimes I wonder if nature bestowed beauty on me, would they be unkind or appreciate who I am? Then I think of Cassandra and Ariadne and cannot help but feel for what they had been through.

Hounds of Night

The curtain of the night has drawn. Selene has started her nocturnal promenade with a moon mirror carried on her celestial chariot across the starry highway. Then the earth begins to bellow with great silent roars, trees to dance with leaves rustling in the wind as the chariot is racing, owls to call with their wings flapping, and the hounds howl from the end of the horizon in the glimmering light of the distant stars like lamps flickering in the desolate wilderness amid the haunting sound of Pan’s flute yonder. It’s Hecate’s Time, the Wandering Goddess of Night, appearing from the crossroads with her faithful hounds, heralding the staging of their divine mistress.

Hecate has often been associated with all things witchery, magic, and death, not in the least due to modern-day Wicca practice identified heavily with the Greek goddess, but there’s more to her. She is a protector of the wrongfully accused, a goddess of retribution against injustice and impurity, and an advocate for underdogs. Perhaps, that’s why her animal is a dog, not a cat, which betrays a common association of the latter with someone like her. (In fact, Artemis is the only goddess whose animals are a cat because she was once transformed into it when chased by a besotted man.) Her hounds all have names: Kynegetis (Leader of Dogs from the Orphic Hymn), Kyneolygmate (Howling like a dog), Kynokephalos (Dog-headed), Kyon Melaina (Black Dog), Philoskylax (Lover of Dogs), Skylakitin (Lady of the Dogs). Of all the hounds, Kyon Melnia, aka Black Dog, used to be the wife of the last Trojan King Priam named Hekabe, who threw herself into the sea after the collapse of Troy by the Greeks. Hecate took pity on the queen and transformed her into a great black dog that became her familiar. What a manifestation of divine mercy it was.

It is said that dogs and cats see the spirits of the dead, especially at night. If you have heard a dog howling, another howl, then another, and so forth, as if all of them sing in a canine polyphonic coda. When Hecate’s hounds howl, mortal dogs respond to their divine canine entity as the goddess and her entourage pass by. The hounds also bring victuals offered to Hecate to their mistress at a cemetery where she partakes her daily victuals. So if you think it’s just an ancient myth, listen carefully when your dog or any dog within your earshot howls. It’s either it sees a spirit or Hecate and her nine hounds. For me, well, I have a tabby cat named Toro, and he sees it and them but won’t participate in the chorus because he has her mistress at home.