Part 1: Tormented Child
Œtean mountain shepherd family, dinner
Table eating, blood dripped from Aketra’s
Nose, pale fainting, falling on to father’s
Shoulder, parents learned of tormented
Adolescent daughter, lights approached
In black pines, hours wandering, time lost,
Aketra’s mind was dream-seized, god-
Influenced, for she awakened dazed and
Rambling, sight elevated to distant peaks,
Parents fearful some assault received by
Sanguine, now stoic shepherdess.
Healing crone parents and Aketra sought,
Upward winding mountain paths, spring-
Water rocky outcropping, smoky hovel,
Gifts they brought, cheese and bread taken
From their table, mother’s lambskin coat,
Few coins earned at markets, all given to
Find cause or cure. Chanting crone her
Bones tumbled cast, blurting verses of
Archaic tongues, Aketra witnessed ritual
Sexual acts, bloody childbirth, mysterious
Forest lights provided no explanation.
“What haunts you child?” crone asked Aketra,
Eyes fixed, mind delving gaze. “Human flesh
Created, I witnessed, mother’s womb erupting,”
She answered. Purification-consecration rites
Crone and parents performed to naught. Alas!
Aketra spoke her first oracular statement.
“Sacred verse I speak, not of Delphi nor of
Dodona, to blesséd sight raise altar-temple,
Hymns and festivals, sacrifice of lambs and
Pigs, offerings of fingerling fish, fruit, figs.
Parents lost this daughter to the gods.”
Lo! Tormented child, Aketra was by pilgrims
Approached, mother serving as guardian-
Scribe, sunlit rock escarpment, first rustic
Temple built, stone-pillar sanctuary open
To divine light, riddle-verse responses,
Interpreted by parishioners: farmers and
King’s envoys, when crops to plant, healing
Balms, waging war, Aketra sought wisdom
Of Œtean mountain deities. Whilst maidens
Danced to sylvan muses, all others, the
Penitent awaited prayerful entreaty.
What has happened to normally sanguine Aketra? After witnessing
sexual and birthing rituals in black pines, she had nose bleeds with family,
fainted, and had lost time. Aketra now provides oracular statements.