Hell is Other People

The demons feast on dove hearts, blackened
charcoal at their eyes, serrated tongues
split open the elegy, this is no funeral,
just fucking on beds of sinners, frozen
Hell, Asmodeus picks his teeth clean with
a spine, Beelzebub’s flies clean rot from
the wreckage of a girl, decay is my name,
and I am dressed in meat, walk through rot,
ash of offerings to the Qliphoth husks,
I always wondered what a husk was anyways,
corn peel? Empty shells that mock Sephiroth?
Fuck the Kabbalah, I hate ceremonial crap.
I’m drinking wine – or is it blood? I am
plastered, and the wreckage of the ballroom
has broken windows and mirrors for orgies –
pound your cock into Lilith and defile her,
but she is already a Whore, Queen Babalon,
and Samael has been castrated, he spreads
pale legs to reveal a gaping abyss, jets
towards me and I reach my hand in and pull
out bloody pustules to pop like a cherry,
maybe I’ve taken his demonic virginity,
what the fuck is this night, I’m so drunk,
stumbling around in stilettos and swill,
Belial is playing some Kurt Cobain jam,
Asmodeus’ acid green eyes play poker with
Shedim breast, the Seirim are horny goat
dancing on the tabletops, Satan is trashed,
moreso that usual, I’m wasted beyond belief,
why I begged to be here is beyond me,
Hell is Hell because of other people,
and all the archdemons grate my nerves,
so I stumble out the door, into night,
I’m not sober enough to deal with devils,
and I could never hold my liquor, best
not to fuck anything in sight, better
to not fool around with Death, and shit,
exorcise the cum off your hands, girl.

You’ve been stained since you were born.

The Mother

I stroke broad white eagle wings up to the sun, torch in hand, into the Heavenly Throneroom, and steal Holy Fire.  The court is empty of angels and demons.  My hair is long and curled like a brass candelabra and my gown white and glistening as if dew is a second layer on it.

I come to the waterfall gateway to Earth and jump down into the Deep, away from New Jerusalem, my wings skirting skies of velvet red and violet.  Clouds dampen me and the stars stretch out like an elegy.

I come to the humans that amble about Africa without warmth or a way to cook their food.  I descend as lightning, and Jophiel’s eponymous torch strikes the brush and lights bushes on fire.  The ancestors of modern man marvel, kindle torches, and the fruit of the Tree of Life which I guard is given against God’s will.

I ascend back to Heaven, but as I break the boundary between the physical and the immaterial, I hear the cry of Heaven’s general, the shriek of a red-tailed hawk, a raptor of red and cream brown feathers, and he rises with the moon in the desert and dwarfs me, the size of a roc.

His eyes are not his own.  Michael is possessed by Divine Will, whether Sophia or Demiurge, I cannot tell, but the urge to run courses through my limbs and I flash serrated wings and fly on a gale away.

Dart, dodge talons, but soon his beak is around my throat, squeezing the breath from my throat, roc throttling me until a white ring of a collar scars my neck and my torch is dropped far below to the abyss.  For I have stolen from Heaven, and God is displeased.

Blood is hot on my breast, and I know in his divine berserk madness, it will take a miracle for Michael to hear me.  I scream his name, over and over again, pleading until he breaks and shifts to wings and man, and then he sobs, over and over, clutching my rag doll body and broken wings:

“I’m so sorry Jophiel.  The Mother told me to kill you.  I wasn’t myself – your screams awoke me.  Please, forgive me, forgive me!”

In that moment, Michael questions our Creator – or more properly, Creatrix – for the first time ever, and I clutch his face and kiss him.

“It’s okay, Michael – your madness has quit.”

He rocks me to sleep best he can as he sets to healing me, tears bright in his eyes.

“Why do we always hurt the things we love?”

Arguing with an Archangel

(Archangel) Michael, or as Samael calls him, stick-up-the-ass, is really stubborn and forceful and righteous – he sees things in black and white, evil and good, and when I once asked him about the validity of other religions – how there could only be One True God when there were so many pagan gods that were my drinking buddies, he smiled serenely, called them false spirits, and said they were, as I quote, “chaff.”

That’s right, I had to look up what the hell chaff was: “husks, worthless matter, refuse.”

Obviously, Michael is not very fun at Asgard parties, especially Freyr’s feasts or Loki’s Jotun shindigs.  He kind of just sits there solemnly, watching, will smile slightly, and drinks a little bit while maybe grimacing.  Root canals are probably more pleasant to him than the presence of us godless, well, heathens.  When you think you’re better than everyone else, and that your God is the only god, it probably makes small talk with these so-called “false spirits” hard.  Demons will be the first to tell you angels are pricks.  But Michael is probably the most stuck up one.  Being the Prince of Heaven kinda means you gotta believe the rest of us heathens – and literal Heathens – are beneath you.

Michael can be really sweet when his I-will-smite-my-rivals and Allie-stop-fucking-getting-into-dangerous-situations-and-go-back-to-your-body snootiness is gone.  He loves Disney.  He thinks he is Prince Adam from Beauty and the Beast and has temper issues.  He likes Ryan Reynolds and always gets celebrities mixed up.  He loves Enrique Iglesias and gardening and his magic prayer roses and anything Lin Manuel Miranda touches, especially Hamilton and Moana.

Sometimes he rocks me to sleep and sings lullabies in Hebrew that don’t make sense cause I’m not fucking Jewish.  He’s said “You’re my Belle <3” while I’m watching the eponymous movie and calls me Icarus as my nickname, because I have a tendency to fly too close to the proverbial sun.  I probably should never have joked with Izzi when I was eighteen that while Gabriel was busy getting his Holy Presence down with the supposed Virgin Mary, Michael was relieving his anal-retentive tension with some sexy goats.  That’s like my longest-running joke about Michael and no, I don’t really think the foremost archangel is into bestiality, and as much as I shit talk him, I have to admit he’s saved my ass on countless occasions from the age of 12 on and that I can be really, really ditzy and stupid.  Icarus, remember?  I throw myself into the flames all the time just out of curiosity.  Samael doesn’t use Eve metaphors for me without reason.

Anyways, so the whole chaff thing.  That was insulting.  I’m Heathen and despite some whacked out woo woo angelic past life, I’m firmly human now, and as much as Michael calls me Zophael or Jophiel it’s just, hello, me Allie, the memelord, and though I can find beauty in the Abrahamic religions, I also think they are highly problematic and the theology is misogynistic af.  If I can’t be the Pope or Messiah because I’m a girl than what is the point!  I’d much rather chill with Deus and Beel and Sam.  Raphael, Uriel, and Gabriel are all much more polite about celestial divisions and fractures – sure, they don’t go out of their way to hang out outside their pantheon, but they also don’t call my gods “refuse” and sit awkwardly at celestial parties with sticks up their butts.

Michael is not a partier and a big introvert, so I get the cold feet at parties, but Jesus, Asgard has roast boar and busty elves and endless mead in ram horns!!!  What’s not to love?  I never see him at Deus’s bars, which even Gabriel frequents, or Beelzebub’s soirees.  Instead we spend a lot of time out in nature, hiking, camping… gardening.  So much gardening.  Sad plant man.

Anyways, he’s all about me being protected, when all I want is my freedom.  I’m not a dumb ass twelve year old that projects to the fourth heaven on accident in the midst of a battle and nearly dies anymore, only to be saved by Michael shoving me back into my body.  He’s very traditional in relationships, and kind of seems to want the astral equivalent of a 1950s housewife, but like???  I can’t even cook???  Sam cooks for me instead and he’s a shit cook.  So does Michael.  Also I’m pretty messy.  We’ve been clashing heads over how forceful Michael is – the unstoppable force, him, meeting the immovable object, me.

It’s a learning process.  In October I asked him to show me God as a joke and, well, he did.  To say I thought I had died was an understatement.  Samael has learned better now that I’m mortal, but Michael is all kinds of blunt and direct and doesn’t operate in subtle half-truths and persuasion like the eponymous Serpent.  He’s more fire and brimstone and I’m right and you will do as I say.  He also has PTSD up the wazoo so like, um, that’s a bit tough.

It got pretty bad on Monday and I told him and Sam to piss off and that I was an atheist.  That worked as well as you can imagine if you’re constantly tuned to their energies and your godphone is always on.  Sometimes I like to pretend they don’t exist and that I have a choice in all this.  I suppose I do, but when you love someone with all your being, were made by them, and would burn at the stake out of devotion and surrender to them, there’s a power imbalance.

I’m learning more things about Michael each day, and I’m still flailing all the way.  We may disagree on a lot of things, but we can find common ground in serving humanity and the planet.

I just have to convince him to loosen up at parties.  That is a work in progress.

Devil’s Masque

The pageantry, the placid glass –
eventide brings sly Devil’s Masque!
I Larva with gold lips, black eyes
a smile hidden under velvet lies.
The Devil is Arlecchino, master
of pomp, cane tap, dance faster –
lose yourself in Viennese waltz
hidden identity, swirl of a valse!
Skirts bell out, gentlemen lead
the ladies on like finest steeds
all Hell is resplendent, lowest
classes to high, a tango slows
the whole Masque down, Satan
rosins bow, croons strings in
we trade our masks amidst din
of lover’s quarrels, the flight
of bats, outside the blight
of plagues rage fast, sinners
bow to the Red Death, dinner
the flesh of forbidden pears,
silver wine, unearthly airs.
Lose yourself in Masquerade,
forget your name, come, trade
your mortal life for eternal
dance, the masque infernal
holds all Hell in his hands.

Dream Diary: Of Angels and Aliens

I dream I am in an intergalactic battlefield in a  far outpost of space, Samael the leading commander of a legion of demon aliens.  I’m a spy, with a laser gun and sleek gray uniform, and I show no mercy.  My friend is a star-crossed lover with a reptilian alien who is a thinly veiled Lilith, and her skin is poisonous to the touch.  She has long silky black hair, green scales, and is part serpent, with yellow slit eyes.  She is a leading general and their affair is across enemy lines, he the mad scientist that is trying to bridge the gap between man and beast through proteomics.  Zinc oxide forms on a potion he gives me, and the yellow crystals scratch my throat as I drink it, poisoning me only to acclimate my genes to space.  The high is crazy, and as my very proteins and genes shift, I feel the rush of interstellar travel slow to a halt.

Battle comes, and the scientist is dead.  Lilith weeps, and I go to her distraught side, reaching out to comfort her only to have my hands sizzle.  She puts on special gloves so that we can hold hands, watching nuclear bombs decimate a Martian planet, then slips me medicine that will make me able to touch the poison that drips from her skin.

We talk amongst the slain.  We wander.  Soon, we are in love, my assassin girl and I the scout, writing letters, only for her to leap into the range of attack before me and die in my arms, a final kiss our seal.

I wake in the astral in Samael’s room and tell him of my strange dream.  He is reading a paperback mystery.  I ask who the demon was.  He pulls out an old dusty photo album with a picture of serpentine Lilith and I holding hands on a sunset veranda, drinking wine, in days when bitterness did not run between us and I was angel, not human.  I startle at how whole Lilith looks, madness wiped from her face.  We are friends in the picture, and it aligns with recent divination on her I received.  She is my surrogate mother in a way, as Samael’s twin, a friend above all else, and memories of our times together in Heaven flood my mind.  I reel at the sudden influx of sensations – of her soft hands, of silky hair, and I wonder if the slaughter of her children drove her mad, or perhaps eons in Hell, or if she always had seeds of insanity to begin with.

Later that night I am with Michael.  We are in the astral in a breathtaking mix of Greece and London, endless coastline and sparkling blue seas crowned with villas, impeccable statues from Classical mythology, all woven into gardens, with a grand bridge that leads to nowhere.  We fly above through cirrus, and he tells me it is the end of the world.  We get lunch at a French restaurant, just light fare, and my onion soup is perfect.  Tired from our flight and the beauties that persist in the otherworld despite time, I ask who carved the statues.  He hints at Michelangelo, but I don’t press, as mortal’s lives in the afterlife are often quite private.

Michael goes inside to order more wine and I pull out his phone.  For some reason angels and demons are always a few years behind in technology, or perhaps they just like flip phones and clunky computers.  His cell phone has the angelic version of Facebook on it, and I laugh at the thought that angels have a social media network.  Curious, I pull up my profile, then find the phone has settings that let you see into the future.  I go to the year 2020, hesitant, as Michael comes back out, and the page loads:

“Am I happy in the future?” I ask, cautious.

Michael smiles like sunlight on birchwood.  “Extremely so.”

I load a photo of an older me, with longer blonde hair, a bit slimmer as I have shed winter weight.  It is the height of summer, and I am sitting on the porch with my father, who is ecstatic.  I am laughing like a burbling brook, in a flowing blue top and black skirt.

“What’s happening here?” I ask.

Michael eyes the photo, swiping to see the album.  “You just told your father you’re getting married.”

My eyes light.  “To who?”

Michael laughs, taking back his phone.  “I can’t tell you everything, can I?  That at least should be a surprise.  You always snoop around on my laptop or phone while I’m away.  Curiosity will be your downfall, but it is still a virtue, and it will also save you.”

I blush.  “Sorry, I can’t help it, angelic tech is so weird.  I can’t help but wonder how it works, how you can… see into the future.”

Michael looks down at the tides, which have skipping manta rays and coral sands.  “When you remember the future and realize everything is a cycle, that there is no time, then you’ll understand.”

We finish our wine and go walking along the shoreline.  The sun sets.  Gulls cry.  Nymphs and winged Victory cap the moon.

I awake to my alarm, feeling his lips on mine.

Dream Diary: Adoption

Freyr, Odin, Thor, Loki, Freyja, Skadi, Idunna – the Aesir and Vanir ring me at the Midwinter Festival in Vanaheim, where I make my home in a green-and-red palace built by the twin spirits I am devoted too – the wood and stone and silk dwelling they made for me on the night of my oathing ceremony.

The grass is frosted and sparse and we are in a forested fjord – cranes fly in great Vs across the sky. I am dressed in wolf fur and a buckskin dress with silver and azure embroidery, red paint of crushed yew berry rimming my eyes, and in my hands I hold a long sword. The gods raise their voices in galdr and I drive the blade into the ground – Freyja’s is sweet and sharp, Loki’s song dances with the bonfire we circle, and Odin is deep and earthy.

The cranes cry out and we fall silent.

We share mead in a silver horn and talk of why I am there – family, haminja, orlog – my blood called to them and they came, they came, from my childhood down the years, always there. We reminisce about my journey through marsh and meadow, through volcano and cavern, through ocean and forest. The mead is sweet and tart and we pour the remnants of the horn onto the ground where I have pierced it with my sword, then sprinkle some into the fire.

“Welcome, daughter of the gods,” Freyr, the Bright and Glorious One, says with a voice like honey as he beckons me. How I once thought him an angel is not so confusing, with the gold and fortune that radiates from his skin. He places a necklace of silver and sapphires on my neck and it sparkles like sky and snow.

One by one, I embrace the gods of my Yngling ancestors – of Harald Fairhair and Ragnar Lodbrok, of Aslaug and Brunhilde and the kings of Uppsala who have passed this legacy down onto me.

Loki I hug last. “You are always welcome in my hall. All you have to do is find the door,” he says with a wink, and I laugh.

The cranes reach their roost and Njord prepares our boat. We go to spirit markets on the dark marshes and bargain in souls and wyrd with gypsies and dwarves.

Later, I bring my spirits with me to the Midwinter Festival. Samael and Loki, old friends, drink and reminisce, and Michael lets down his uptight exterior and distrust of other races and for once enjoys himself. We eat roast boar and suckling pig and hearty bread and cheese. Elven dancers perform a Vanic ceremony of season’s turning and we watch, mesmerized.

The fire grows and night creeps up, and I return to my body, the taste of mulled honey on my lips.