Chapter One: When You Were Young, You Were the King of Carrot Flowers
Yeshua ben Yosef is eighteen years-old. He is the doted-on child of Joseph, a carpenter, and his wife Elizabeth. They are nearly 60 years old and call Yeshua—better known to us as Jesus the Christ—their “miracle baby,” because he arrived in their lives long after they’d given up hope of having a child to love.
Jesus works in his father’s carpentry shop. He is developing a reputation for the beautiful designs he paints on all the tables, chairs, and oaken chests he builds. During his off-hours he likes to wander in the desert searching for minerals like hematite, limonite, and lazurite, which he uses to make his pigments.
One day he came across a plant that was unknown to him. It drew his eye because it had flowers of an orange so brilliant, they seemed to glow. These flowers also smell good, and so Jesus, being the curious sort, eats a petal to see how it tasted. It has an appealing tang, and it doesn’t upset his stomach, so Jesus fills the purse on his belt with blossoms and munches them on them absently as he continues his exploration.
Not too long after that, he realizes something was happening. Not only is he in a giddily good mood, but the desert around him seems…more there. Everything feels alive, everything seems to be glowing like the flowers he had found, and the more he take it all in, the more he would swear that the whole world is singing to him.
This is the song it sang.
Song: “King of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1” - Neutral Milk Hotel
Chapter Two: With Them Ever Proclaiming Me
After a couple hours of wandering around alternating between slack-jawed wonder and fits of the giggles, Jesus turns a corner around a rocky outcropping to find a dozen date palms clustered around a small freshwater pond. On any other day, he would’ve been taken aback and more than a little frightened; he knows this area like the back of his hand, and there is no oasis here. But today he shrugs and laughs and runs to kneel at the edge of the pool and drink the cool water.
“Jesus,” says a voice.
Jesus looks up. Floating in the air in front of him, not ten feet away, is what appears to be a mechanical contraption made of a dozen rings of burning brass rotating in different directions around a small mirror that reflects the blazing sun. There are tiny letters carved into the rings, and between each letter there are eyes, and they all seem to be looking at him. This is the archangel Gabriel.
He too sings a song to Jesus. It goes like this.
Song: “King of Carrot Flowers Pt 2 and 3” - Neutral Milk Hotel
Chapter Three: You Better Cash In
“Yeshua ben Yosef, it’s time to remember who you are,” Gabriel continues. “The I AM has a job for you.”
Jesus say, “I have a job.” He is beginning to regret eating so many flowers. “I work in my dad’s carpentry shop.”
“This is your real job,” Gabriel says, and in the mirror where the sun had been, Jesus now sees the next fifteen years of his life. No more happy-go-lucky desert exploring, no more painting. He’s looking at ten years of being wracked by visions while studying the Torah and the Midrash any time he isn’t pounding nails, two years of halting attempts to explain what he’s learned, three years of sleeping rough with bunch of fishermen and roustabouts, some weird things he didn’t think he quite got (handing out lunch to a crowd? Raising the dead?) and then a detail he absolutely understands, all the way from the freezing center of his bones to his fear-loosened bladder: he is going to die nailed to a cross just like the ones the Roman governor occasionally requires Jesus and his father to build. He will die with thorns tearing his scalp and a spear sticking in his ribs and both legs broken and his friends that had been egging him on? On that day, they are nowhere to be found.
“FUCK THAT NOISE,” he says, and runs for it.
Gabriel rolls all ten thousand of his eyes and then lights off in pursuit. This is what that sounded like.
Song: “Mountain Song” - Jane's Addiction
Chapter Four: You Shoulda Heard Them Just Around Midnight
Jesus fled pell-mell through the desert for what felt like days. But no matter which way he went, he found himself confronted by an angel demanding he accept his fate. Each time the angel took a new form, even scarier than the last.
“Jeez, man, have a little dignity,” Gabriel said one point. This time he has taken the shape of Min, an Egyptian fertility deity with goat legs and a huge erection. “It’s actually a pretty good gig. You’ll be going to parties, drinking wine, hanging out with the demimonde. And you’ll end up being the single most influential figure in history! What’s one bad afternoon compared to that?”
Jesus was just not having it. He kept dodging until finally the effects of the flowers began to wear off and now he has finally figured out where he is: only a couple miles away from his friend Simon’s house. He goes straight there and pounds on the door.
“What’s up, man?” Simon says. “We’re having dinner, you want to come in?”
“I want to go to the brothel,” Jesus says.
“Really?” Simon says. He and their gang have been going to the brothel the next town over for several years now. But they could never get Jesus to go, no matter how much they ragged on him. “Yeah, that can be arranged. When do you want to go?”
“Tonight,” Jesus says. For reasons he himself couldn’t understand, he has kept himself pure, despite his friends’ teasing. Now, though, pure is the last thing he wants to be. So he's going to fornicate. Jesus figures that with the stain of sin on him, God will no longer want him for His plans. But he can’t exactly explain that to Simon.
“My man!” Simon grins and punches his friend’s shoulder. “Old Jesus is finally going to bust his cherry!”
After dinner they gather up their friends and set out. On the long walk they sing a song to celebrate their young lust and its imminent relief. It goes like this.
Song: “Brown Sugar” - The Rolling Stones
Chapter Five: Voulez-vous Couchez Avec Moi?
As they enter the brothel, Simon tells Jesus that he already has the perfect woman picked out for him. Her name is Mary.
When he meets her, Jesus is poleaxed. Mary is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.
To Simon, Mary is only a prostitute. But of course she is a person with a story. She was found to be with child at the age of 13. Nobody listened to her stories of an angelic visitation. Having brought deep shame on her family, when an arranged marriage fell through, she was sold to the brothel. After the baby was delivered, she never saw it again.
She has worked in the brothel now for almost twenty years, is now in fact the owner. But as she stands before Jesus, she too feels a shock. What she’s feeling, she’s astonished to realize, is desire. She has known thousands of men. But she’s never met one that affects her like this slim youth she is now leading to her bed chamber.
She can tell he is nervous but is determined to work her wiles on him. So she sings him a song. It goes like this.
Song: “Lady Marmalade” - Labelle
Chapter Six: I Know What I Am, I Am Who Am
Jesus is really nervous.
Mary has her hand on him but is not getting the expected results. She arches an eyebrow. She bites her lip. She says, “Let’s have some wine.”
At a side table she half-fills two golden goblets and brings one to Jesus. On impulse—later, he couldn’t say what had prompted it—he reached into his purse and pulled a handful of the remaining orange flowers. They have gone very dry just from one day of desert heat. He crumbles them into their glasses.
Mary sips her wipe. “Oh!” she says. “That’s strong. But…oddly delicious.” She drinks some more and then runs her tongue over her lips. Her eyes never leave Jesus’ face.
He stares back at her as he drains his cup. Then he cuts his eyes to the record player in the corner. He says, “Do you like music?”
“I do,” she says. She goes over to her collection of vinyl and pulls a 45 from its sleeve. “Do you like to dance?”
He does. Mary drops the needle. Then things get interesting. It sounds like this.
Song: “French Song” - Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Chapter Seven: We Are Eternal, All This Pain is an Illusion
They dance. They sing. They play more records.
Soon they are moving together, limbs entangled. First, fulling clothed and standing upright. Then with their clothes scattered around the room and the two of them prone and supine on the bed. Then on the chaise longue. Then on the vanity.
Mixed with the wine, the effect of the flowers is even stronger. Mary and Jesus share a vision. They are revealed as incarnations of the two penultimate aspects of the Divine, the Feminine and Masculine, the Goddess and Her Consort, the Dancing God. In the ecstasy of their sexual congress, they are One--the One, Being Its No-Self. Led by the archangel Gabriel, the angelic Thrones shout with joy at this reunion.
Song: “Parabola” - TOOL
Chapter Eight: God Only Knows Where I’d Be Without You
When They’ve had their climaxes they fall asleep in each other’s arms.
In the morning when they wake, this Self-revelation has not receded. They are human again but remember just who They are. And more importantly, they remember that everyone in the brothel, and everyone in the town, and everyone in Palestine, and everyone in the world are all avatars of the Divine Couple as well--they’ve only forgotten. In their love for each other and all these aspects of Themselves wandering lost and lonely in the world, Jesus and Mary set out to remind them. Now that he is reunited with his Goddess, Jesus is no longer afraid of the fate that awaits him.
Song: “God Only Knows Where I’d Be Without You”
Chapter Nine: Special Elixirs Flow
Mary and Jesus begin throwing parties at the brothel, inviting all the customers to attend. They serve their special sacred wine, and dance and sing with the guests, until their spirits get so high, they catch fire and the new friends know Spirit for themselves. All the stories in the Torah that had been just words, and the very Law itself, become illuminated for the partiers; it’s not so much that they understand, they feel the Truth behind it all. And when the morning comes, they go home in the knowledge that they are immortal. Everything is going to be alright.
Song: “Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox” - Guided by Voices
Chapter Ten: Never Leave You ‘til My Life is Done
Not surprisingly, these parties become very popular. Soon hundreds of people, thousands, are attending. They are held on Friday nights, and the next day people sleep off their exertions rather than attend services at the temple.
The rabbis become agitated, and complain to the Sanhedrin, and the Sanhedrin become agitated, and complain to Romans, and when the Romans become agitated, they arrest Jesus and crucify him.
Mary they ignore. She is, after all, just a woman.
Jesus’ body is washed and anointed and laid in a cave. Mary sits beside the corpse, refusing to leave. She insists that their friends leave her there and roll the stone to block the entrance. She promises they can come get her in the morning. When they are gone, she fills a goblet with wine, and then adds a lethal dose of the flowers they use at their sacred parties. But this isn’t a suicide--not exactly. She is going to find Jesus in the underworld and bring him home.
They haven’t saved enough people yet. It’s all too likely that the Great Secret will be forgotten again if they don’t complete their work together. So she drinks the wine, closes her eyes, and lays down on the stone slab beside his body to die.
Here is the sound of her human heart breaking wide open, and a portrait of the power that emerged from it when all hope was lost.
Song: “Could It Be Magic” - Barry Manilow
Chapter Eleven: Your Heart Brings Me Home
Weakened and disfigured by his brutal treatment at the hands of the Romans, Jesus was unrecognizable to the legions of demons waiting when the Boatman delivered him to their shore of the River that separates Life from Death. By order of their king, the Enemy of All, they tore his spirit body to shreds and scattered the pieces across the underworld.
But Mary passes from this world to the next with her full faculties. When she opens her eyes, she is the Great Goddess. When she walks across the River of Forgetfulness, from the Shores of Life to the Shores of Death, the demons cry with love and joy at Her presence among them. They follow as She harrows hell in search of the remains of her Beloved.
This is the song that she sings as she searches.
Song: “Beauty in Falling Leaves” - YOB
Chapter Twelve: A Spring Clean for the May Queen
Finally, when she has gathered all the pieces but one, she summons the Enemy Himself to stand before her.
“Where is Jesus’ penis?” she says.
The Enemy opens a jeweled box and there it is, the Blessed Phallus, laying on a bed of plum-colored velvet. When the Goddess reaches for it, though, the Enemy pops it into His mouth to chew noisily, insolently grinning the whole time.
He talks with his mouth full. “Your boyfriend is incomplete.” He swallows. “As long as part of Him is here with Me, He cannot return to the Land of the Living.”
“Is that so?” the Goddess asks, and reaching out, snaps one of the huge horns off the Enemy’s head. She affixes it between Jesus’ legs. Looking pleased, She says, “There, better than new.”
She places Jesus’ complete, but still-dead body on the Throne of Hell. She kneels before Him. Then, filling Her lungs with the essence of Death, She takes His Sacred Horn into Her mouth and blows with all Her might. She fills the body of Her consort, the Dancing God, with Her own Spirit.
Jesus’ eyes blink open. He yawns and stretches. He smiles at Her. He says, “What took you so long?”
Then he sings a song to celebrate Her and Her victory over death. It sounded like this.
Song: “Stairway to Heaven” - Led Zeppelin
Chapter Thirteen: It’s A Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock ‘n Roll
When Jesus stands up off the throne and begins to dance during the guitar solo, His footsteps shake the black iron ground beneath them and the abyssal void above.
The Enemy begins to laugh, and the demons about them begin to roar, and then all the souls in Hell join in too. The Enemy sloughs off His skin to reveal His true Self--he is Lucifer, the eldest of the Divine Couples’ Children. It’s all been a game. A show They put on to entertain Themselves. The demons shake off their costumes, spread their angel wings, and raise their voices to join the rest of the Thrones in thunderous praise: And as we wind on down the road/Our shadows taller than our souls/There walks a Lady we all know.
The tragicomedy is over. Now it’s time for the cast party.
Mary and Jesus sing and dance Their way back across the River from the Shores of Death to the Shores of Life. Raising hell in Their train are Their First-Born Child and all the inhabitants of the underworld.
The great stone laid before the grave of Jesus shatters and explodes. Out of the cave and through the smoke come the Great Goddess and the Dancing God, followed by the Child who provided the Resistance necessary to create drama, and then the rest of their Brood, and then all the angels who’d been disguised as demons, and then the souls of every human being who had ever lived, each an aspect of the One, and yet each unique, with a destiny bequeathed at their creation by She Who Gives Birth to All.
Here's the soundtrack.
Song: “It’s a Long Way to the Top If You Want to Rock ‘n Roll” - AC/DC
Chapter Fourteen: And When You’ve Got No Other Choice, You Know You Can Follow My Voice
Tonight the Divine Family celebrates; later (much later, They do like to party ‘til the wee hours), They’ll sleep. Tomorrow, They’ll begin another tale of agony and ecstasy and exultation and despair and damnation and salvation. And we, those of us who have forgotten our true natures, will suffer greatly.
And you might fairly ask, Why? We must we go through this?
The Great Goddess is, in a sense, a young girl on the floor of Her room with Her toys arranged around her. Sitting alone in a shaft of sunlight, She's lost in play. Her consort, the Dancing Horned God, and all Her Children, and all the angels and demons, and us, we poor mortals, we are nothing more, or less, than the characters in the stories She is telling Herself. We are instances of Her imagination at work.
Universes burst into being then fizzle out; civilizations rise and fall; loves are won; lives are lost. She is the Author and Audience of our stories. She is the Ultimate aesthete. She is fascinated by the jams we get ourselves into, and the way we deal with them, and how we feel about it.
To Her, all emotions are beautiful, no matter how painful they are to us. And contemplation of beauty throughout eternity is the function of Being.
That is the source of our misery, and our glory.
Glory to us.
Song: “Wicked Little Town” - Hedwig and the Angry Inch