(Note: this story was inspired by a blog written by Carol P. Christ. But she’s not responsible for the nonsense I write.)
Once upon a time there was a woman named Carol who lived in the largest house on the Island of Crete and had the largest flower garden and the largest herd of cattle. Because of her riches, not to mention her common sense, she had been elected chief of the Council of Mothers, the government of the island. The Council had searched and searched for a proper title for their leader and finally, reluctantly, decided that Queen was as good as anything else…as long as everyone remained politically correct and understood that Queen was merely a handy title. Queen Carol had a husband named Minos who tried and tried to assume the title of King, but no one ever paid any attention to his pretensions. Because he had nothing else to do, he spent most of his time lounging in the front parlor and reading the Knossos Times-Myth-Dispatch.
“Look here,” he said one day, waving the newspaper at his wife. “The Greeks are ramping up for a war over in Troy. They’re calling for kings and armies to join them.”
Carol laid her feather duster aside for a minute. “Well, if you really want to,” she said, “you can go. It’ll be better for you than sitting around here all the time and complaining that you’re bored. But you’d better not come back here and set yourself up as a warrior king! None of those huge statues like they’ve built in Egypt. None of those huge temples with carvings of conquering armies on them, either. We mothers won’t stand for it!”
“Yes, dear. I’m sure it’ll be good to get out of the house. And I’ll collect an army to go with me and we’ll join Agamemnon and Achilles and Odysseus and those other real kings—” he emphasized the “real,” but she paid no attention “—and we’ll conquer Troy and I’ll be remembered in the popular literature for thousands of years.”
“Sure you will. But where are you going to get your army?”
At that very minute they heard a loud knocking on the front door. When Minos opened it, there stood about a thousand young men. They, too, had been reading the Knossos Times-Myth-Dispatch, and all of them being about nineteen years old and burdened by way too much testosterone, they were ready to organize themselves into an army and set out on an Adventure Across The Sea. Most of them were thinking, of course, that there were major babes in Troy (they’d read about them in the newspapers) that were available for seduction and abduction.
And so it happened that the self-styled King-General Minos and his teenaged army set out. Their grandmothers, mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and teachers waved good bye. Then the women got back down to the business of agriculture, viniculture, boviniculture, horticulture, and culture in general.
No sooner had the women returned to their normal routines, however, than Carol was called back to the harbor by one of the tradeswomen who worked there. Together, they watched a man ride up to the dock on what looked like a metallic seahorse, only it had handles where its ears should be and it roared. As the rider switched off the roar and dismounted, they saw that he was wearing furry trousers and his boots were like those of Hermes except they had little jingly wheels instead of wings.
“Howdy, Ma’am,” said this apparition, lifting his huge, wide-brimmed hat. “C’n I talk to th’ man in charge around here?”
“There is no man in charge,” said Carol. “We are a participatory democracy overseen by grandmothers and great-uncles and I am currently the first officer and who…who…who are you?”
“Waal, Ma’am, th’ name is Daedalus, only you c’n call me Deadeye, and when I’m not home on th’ range, waal, I’m a builder. Architect, general contractor and artificer.” He looked at the flat land near the shore and the flowery valleys between distant mountains and thought for a minute. “Ladies, tell ya what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna build you a palace the likes o’ which ain’t been seen anywhere in th’ whole historyo’theworld.”
More women had arrived by now. “Uh, Mr. Deadal—Deadeye,” one of them said, “we have no need of a palace. Who would occupy it? We have no hierarchies.” “But,” said another woman, “we could use some help with landscaping and public construction.” “You see,” said a third, “we have all these rocks. They’re excellent for building, but we need…” (she winked at her sisters) “…we need a Big Strong Man to help us move them.”
“Right y’all are, Ma’ams. I’m here ta help ya repair yer infrastructure. Though,” he paused and looked at a black band around his wrist, a band that seemed to have a mirror with moving pictures on it, “though…bigod…I’m not altogether sure where ‘here’ is.” He looked up into the sunny sky. “By th’ way, any o’ you girls seen my son? He’s supposed to be comin’ along ’bout now.”
“Where you are,” Carol told him, “is Crete. An ancient and sacred land where we care for our vast gardens and raise cattle and—”
She was interrupted as a flying ship came to earth nearby and rolled a dozen times until it crashed into some boulders. It had horses and an image of the sun painted on it, but no wings, and like Mr. Deadeye’s seahorse, it roared. The roar was turned off and a fairly battered young man opened a door and stumbled out. “Yo, Pop,” he said, “I though I’d never get here. Couldn’t control the altitude! I called Houston and said I had a problem, but they didn’t answer. Neither did Apollo. I thought this puppy was gonna fly clear up into the sun!”
“That’s nonsense,” said Daedalus. “Can’t nothin’ fly that high. But, son, I sure am glad you’re here. I’m just proposin’ to these nice ladies that I’ll build ’em a nice, tall palace,” he lowered his voice, “an’ we c’n take up residence in it so yer Uncle Homer can’t find us and send us back to Haephy’s steel mill.”
He looked around at his all-female audience and raised his voice again. “Ladies, tell ya what. I’m a-gonna build y’all a dance floor the likes a which you never seen before! An’ I’ll build ya somethin’ else, too, a special palace so fancy that arc-ologists ’n’ such’ll be talkin’ about it for…well, just about forever, and it’ll be so impressive they’ll be makin’ up fancy stories about it, too. Why, you gals’ll become Real Literchur! And since you’ve got all them fine stones, I’ll build it at cost. Well, nearly free. If you don’t mind me and my fine son here moving in and livin’ in it f’r a leetle while?”
Never ones to pass up a bargain, the women promptly appointed themselves a Committee to Oversee the New Architecture. And they did indeed witness and direct the construction of such a fine building that they knew would fascinate scholars and archaeologists for centuries to come. It did indeed feature a fine, wide dance floor and more winding corridors than the Grand Hotel. And you know what else? Daedalus also built them an arena in which they held what he called rodeos. They added bull-riding to the bull-leaping, and the women beat the pants (so to speak) off the two cowboys. Daedalus and Icarus stayed on the island for a few years, and then they repaired the flying craft and sailed away. Stories about them drifted back to Crete for years and years and were written down by famous old Romans and painted by young Romantics. But everything written or painted was pure fantasy.
Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic. Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations. When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.