The Feman

The hanger was immense. It was created within the rock of a mountain, and made me, Nefir, feel as if I were outdoors under a stone-grey sky. I often visited this colossal space to experience the feeling of ancient times created by this old space craft. My race had not built the craft or carved the hanger in the mountain. The Fe People had found the prodigious cave and the galaxy ships, made in times so unimaginably ancient they seemed alien to the Fe. But the long passage of time was part of their thread of life. Mystery and the exotic were everyday and not questioned, made real as they were by long custom and by the mist that clouded the endless past they inherited.

Today was a festival to be celebrated by all Fe. While the sun was in the sky on this day, gods and goddesses might be seen. On this day Fewomen {Pronounced Fee-women} would be surging power through the systems of the ancient ships, perhaps moving them in order to evoke the past. Without apparently leaving their own time or space, those within the ships would thus be engulfed in a past so strange they would seem to be in an exotic dream, estranged from their own life and person. Even now as he watched, people were in the moving craft, and Nefir could imagine their experience from the many times he had himself been moved beyond himself in the belly of the ancient craft. Taken from themselves by the twisting of time within the ships, they would not be the person who had entered the craft. In some alternate aeon they would be living a life wondrous by its difference. The million common informative associations of their everyday life gone, replaced by a million more, different and shifted to place them in another life and time.

Nefir had not planned to come today. Many people had been walking on the road to the hanger, and he had become caught in their mood. Indeed the question of why he had come had risen to his thoughts. It made him pause, watching people, some of them friends, move to the different skycraft while he stood leaning against the rock wall. But he knew there were no accidents. Fate was crafted by the tidal forces of the skies and the living mind of the People – even the gods. So what was entering his destiny this day?

As he stood against the rock watching the gentle streaming flow of his thoughts, one of the great ships, shaped like a rounded streamlined fish, drifted toward him. It floated almost mute inches above the rock floor. As it drew near, Nefir could feel the past, the unbelievably ancient, begin to fill his consciousness. Time was black on the body of the huge fish-craft. Dark on substance that was stainless – yet the passage of aeons had etched it with an overcast of mystery, so old was it.

Even though he stood outside of it the craft’s magic took Nefir into itself. The hurrying moments slowed their pace leaving his body dancing a ballet of infinitely slow motion. Or perhaps time had touched its finger to Nefir’s mind and sent it spinning so fast that all else lived on at the speed of a flowers growth? His barely moving eyes watched the craft hang above the ground and exude noiselessly toward him like rising yeast in bread. It crept, it menaced, it longed quietly for him, but time itself held it at bay. And in the cave, where sound hung single noted in the throat of eternity, Nefir knew in his mercuric mind that someone wished to crush him against the rock wall – crush him with the ancient ship.

And from that knowledge he implored, he screamed, he wept upon his body to move. Such acceleration had time given his mind, he watched each muscle’s twitch, each eyelid’s inclination between his tears. And speed too allowed him to run questioningly, questingly along each avenue of thought, each thoroughfare of his mind – WHY KILL ME? – WHO WISHES ME DEAD? – CAN I ESCAPE? – WHAT IS MY LIFE? – OH LIFE, WHAT IS DEATH? And as he ran the pathways of his mind he smelt the odour of each path, saw their population of memories and imagery. He collected the multitude of answers and images the paths offered as he ran, and knew wonder in his questing, woven as it was between his tears.

But one answer stopped his questing and stopped his supplication. It ran through his slothful veins and nerves even as he watched. His fleet mind observed each tiny movement of skin and hand signalling it to him. For by each cry in his mind, by every flutter of fear he felt, by every questing, he saw his body moved or hindered. By his fear his muscles were paralysed, his body trapped against the rock wall, confused in its tiny movements to escape. Like a rodent caught in the light from a hunter’s lantern, scuttering this way and that but not escaping – so his body swung in indecision.

And as if by some wisdom gained in a time unknown to him, Nefir knew with calm what he must do. He stopped his questing, standing calm and still within the fleetness of his mind, amidst the slow eternity of his body. Speaking to each fibre of his being he called up its eagerness like a lover calls the heartbeat of the beloved, showing it in a thought how to leap. In his mind he sprang upon a protruding fin of the great device oozing toward him. Breaking the barrier of time, his body was instantly upon the fin of the craft.

The grip of slowness broken, Nefir jumped from the fin to the cave floor again, away from the direction of movement of the ship. He had already, in running the thoroughfares of his mind, seen Sinta as the pilot of the threatening craft. She was high cast even among women, and he could, with the information he had, find no motive for her action. Neither could he find reason enough to confront her with his accusation. He did not doubt his sense of approaching death.

He simply observed the way of the Fe, in which a low ranking male would need more than his own certainties to meet in contest a female of her rank.

Nefir walked from the hanger into the warm and gentle sunshine. It was the fourth season of the pentamerous year – the season of ageing and giving of fruitfulness. It was a calm season but Nefir did not feel calm. His heart and mind were still racing, but the warmth of the sun, the jovial atmosphere of the people and the mood of the day began to smooth the peak of his disquiet.

He stood for a while looking at the scene. The land was dry, the road to the hanger unpaved, winding through the rolling hillocks. His people, as he, had light olive coloured skin and hazel eyes. Nefir wore his brown hair nearly shoulder length, and his build was slim but muscular from work. His clothing had a roughness about its surface which told of it being hand made. There was no sign in his face or body of years of toil. Along with the physical solidness and strength were signs of long refinement, generations deep, intelligence etched from more than his own lifetime.

Walking back to the small town of Trinos, to reach home before the festival processions, he passed one of the outdoors water pools the Fe loved. It was on the outskirts of Trinos, lying among mature trees and grass. The pool was tiled and surrounded by slabs of smooth tiling, and full of crystal clear water. Nefir was calmer now, but still wondering, both about what might have led Sinta to attempt killing him, and also the flavour of his minds fleetness remained. The trees and feelings of intent involvement coming from the people in the pool led his attention away from his preoccupations and he welcomed it. He joined a group around the pool. Several of them looked up briefly, first to his face, then to the insignia of family, social rank and situation all Fe wore. Two of the females looked again at his features seeing from his insignia that he was unattached to a woman.

The pool was alive with the movement of seven or eight men. They were being trained in the resources of the warm blooded sea creatures. One of these beautiful animals was in the water among them, playing and teasing them. Nefir opened his feeling and mind to what was created in mood and experience before him. He had not himself been allowed the training, as he was still an unattached male, and he wished to absorb whatever he could from the group in the pool.

One of the swimmers, a lithe male in his late twenties, hair streaming in the water, naked and tanned, caught and held the dolphin. Together they rolled in the water and Nefir felt the climbing intensity of sexual love and excitement in the movements of the pair. It was a part of the training to call forth the fire of passion, breath on it to make it flame and roar, and plunge it into the living energy and responses of the person or animal being learnt from. What one loved in this way, one gained the strength of – this was a knowledge one was reared with in the Fe People. In this way Nefir was already his father and his mother and several of his teachers. He had them now within his as living potentials he could call upon and allow expression in his life when he needed. When this happened it was like calling forth their living abilities and presence within him. He could see life as they saw it. Whatever talents they had were his – but only through love. Love has a great function in nature. It connects. In its most basic form in mating it gives to another being the complete and full physical potential of ones body in the seeds and eggs of sex. The Fe knew this, and taught their young to mate at other levels too in order to be enriched, not only with another beings body, but with their whole life experience. The beauty and valuable lessons animals can give in this way were held in high esteem, and their love and learning were earnestly sought. Without such capacity to learn through love, and without having earned the love and entrance into other beings in this way, a Fewoman or Feman were considered uneducated, even uneducatable.

Even as he watched, Nefir could sense the beginnings of change in the body of the man riding the dolphin. The rhythm of his breath became easier, making it a pleasure to stay under the water for long periods. There was a shift also in the man’s mind and view of the things around him. He was beginning to slip into the different mental life of the mammal he was linked to through his love. A new dimension of vision and insight was opening, but Nefir could only touch the fringes of it through his own rapport. It was a magical change, a transformation which stirred in Nefir memories of his own times of alchemical change which had left in him the wider dimensions of his own present life.

These feelings reminded Nefir suddenly that the reason he was walking back was to once more be in the presence of Mara. She would be in the parade that took place as the Sun was in the last quarter of the heavens. Even as he left the pool and walked on toward Trinos he could feel the stirring of his emotions as he anticipated the meeting with Mara. It was almost impossible not to love one of the immortals, and Mara was one of the great goddesses of the Fe. If you were ill at ease, sick in your own mind, then you might not feel the love Mara called up in you. Nefir felt certain, as most Fe did, that after being close to one of the gods or goddesses for even a short time, it would be obvious that while their body would die just as ones own, the consciousness living in them was eternal, was seeing life from a vast viewpoint. They appeared to experience life beyond a sense of time and space and had powers outside the normal.

Nefir had been taken to see Mara as a child. His family had links with her from when Mara had lived in other bodies in the past – so she told them. The memory of that first meeting was still clear. It was in a garden. There was hot sunshine of a mid season’s heat. Nefir was looking for insects and butterflies while his parents walked and talked with Mara. It had been like any other visit to parental friends until Mara had gently taken his hand and lifted him into her arms. He had started to struggle free, disliking the attention of strangers. In doing so he had looked at Mara, looked her in the eyes to communicate his displeasure, and realised in a rush of awareness that he knew her. The memory seemed to come from some great obscure place within him, and it brought with it a torrent of pleasure, a sense of wonder and privilege that he had been allowed to get near this radiant love.

The memory of this replayed as he stood on the flat rooftop of his home. The sun shone from behind him as he watched the river of people flow along the curving road passing within sixty paces of his house. To the right the land dropped slightly to open areas unbuilt on. The road approached in an arc from a point in front of Nefir, then wound uphill and again away in front to the left. Coming slowly up the slight incline of the hill was a wooden tower about three times head height. It was not a heavy device, being on wheels and pushed and pulled by the crowded procession. On its top was a flat square area three paces on a side. It was protected by a raised rail and carpeted. In the centre of this platform sat Mara, quietly looking around as if on some necessary and interesting journey and not a festive procession. Other similar platforms had already passed, each with a special woman, man or animal. Each had special places in the lives of the Fe, and the music and songs played and sung as the people watched and walked, flowed and moved with the changing procession.

The tower was still slightly to Nefir’s right and Mara had not apparently seen him. As she slowly moved nearer she casually looked at him. Even though sixty paces away Nefir felt her power grip his body. Her love filled him and washed clean tensions Nefir had not even been aware of. He longed to be nearer to her and would have run down out of the house to be nearer and walk and run by her side, but she still gripped him. He heard her voice like it was speaking beside him. “I am always with you Nefir. There is no separation – but come!”

He found himself flying from his rooftop, carried easily by what seemed to be his own desire to be near her. He flew above the singing walking throng, and he experienced the energy of their song become the power with which he flew, the motive force of his transport. Then he was with Mara, filled with her presence. Her plain clear face with a subtle smile for him. Flowers were thrown onto the platform from below and Nefir stood against the railing surrounding the platform enjoying the new view of the procession – himself now a part of the display.

Nefir had with him a small apparatus for capturing images. He used it on Mara several times. She gave no sign of being interested or aggravated by it. Many of the Fe wanted such images of her, and because of his nearness to her, he had been asked to create them. The task over he relaxed and allowed himself to enjoy the experience of slowly moving to the centre of Trinos, to the great square. The processions from the four main directions entering the city would meet there. The physical collection of power in the form of the people and the gods would become a pool of experience which all would bath in to some degree. All things aged and died, and the festival was a time of learning and healing. In the pool of experience, the collective mind and body of the Fe, there was the healing of fears of death; there was adjustment to ageing; there was the learning of wisdom to recognise the new opportunities of the season of ones life.

Nefir could sense, first in his body, then in his emotions and mind, the building of the pool. In his body there was at first tension and coldness. It was the build-up of energy which then released into his system. The cold disappeared. In its place came a delightful sensitivity starting with his genitals and moving up to his head. The singing became quieter, yet deeper and with more power. When in the square itself the power was immense. Like many others, Nefir wept. In his case it was because he knew with great tenderness and passion that his season was that of mating and producing, either children, or the experience of a partners love in the heart of a woman.

Nefir looked across the packed square where the platform of Siranon, the god whose symbol was fire, stood amidst many flaming torches. Waves of feeling flowed through the mass of people as if they were a sea whose great waves lifted them in its swell as they swam suspended in its water. Mara rose and stood beside him. It seemed to Nefir that she was neither uplifted nor dropped by the waves, but was in some place which was beyond movement and change, although still the sea.

Quietness came in the square. It was the time of taking into oneself the waters of experience and absorbing them

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