she looked at me, red tattooed face almost glistening as if the red ink were fresh...or as if she had been upon that battlefield with me. amazed, enthralled, i slowly turned my head to look at her. she smiled, and let go of my hand.

i hadn't even noticed she'd been holding it. had she somehow given me the vision...?

"that was from you," she said, her voice lilting and hypnotic. "it was none of my doing." and she looked at me as if she truly had heard my thoughts. but then she smiled and the fierce countenance of the vulture goddess disappeared, and the impish gleam of the revolutionary trickster goddess flashed in her eyes. "you truly are one of us now, sister." she adjusted her skirts --which still dripped slightly with a red that stained into her skin-- and tucked her legs beneath her. she folded her hands and leaned forward, toward me.

it had been so real...the smell of horses, the sound of my men beating their fists against their armored chests and rattling their swords and spears, the feel of my blood pulsing through my body charged with battle lust, the terror and exhilaration of fierce battle...the exhaustion and exhilaration of learning the secret to taming my Inner Flaming Narcissist...

"...have you given any thought to which sect of us you feel most at home, sister?"

her question jolted me out of my reverie. as i looked at her, i saw in my mind's eye every single sister of the pomegranate priestesshood i had met up to that point.

there was the gentle, soft-spoken sister that greeted me when i first stepped onto the grounds of the menstrual temple of the funky grail, smelling of amber and rose dust, pomegranates and peace; the pierced one with the blood-red pendant who spoke to me of anti-role models and rent open my breast with her sickle; she who met me in Valley-in-the-Glade, who first called me "sister"; and the one who sat beside me now, with tattoos of a very different nature, marking her as a very particular sect within the pomegranate priestesshood...those who go into the death.

those who understand the simple yet intimate dance of Life and Death and Rebirth; those who look Death in the eyes and smile at Her eons-old companionship; who are comfortable with their robes dripping with staining blood, taking on the drips and patterns of blood --of life and death-- upon their own bodies; those who understand the balance of All Things...

...those for whom i have a deep affinity, in their eyes.

i looked away, down at my toes deep in the cool damp grass by the blood river, still holding the vial of water-turned-blood. ...i'd never turned water into blood before.

"yes, sister, you have. this is what you don't see," she said.

"you're in my mind," i said. "how?"

she smiled again, tucking a narrow dreadlock behind her ear. the bones and beads decorating the ends of her dreadlocks clacked softly. "it is you who is in mine, sister," was her reply. "we are all within each other's minds, connected through la salvaje dea, 'the wild goddess.' all there is to do is open your mind, which you do by nature of your soul, sister, for you are already open. in fact, you have always been so. those years when you believed yourself so closed, so cold, that was only your outer trappings, for you could never hide what you were.

"how is it you could hear, for a decade and more, la salvaje de la dea call to you?"

i pondered her true question, how it is i had felt deep within me the true Wild nature of the goddess through all the shit and doubt, and all the lies that had been fed to me. i had believed myself to be dead to it all, yet She had called, quietly at first. it had taken me long to understand the true song i was hearing.

now, the pomegranate priestesses called me "sister."

it was a good question: which sect did i feel i most belonged to?

...i thought about it for a very, very long time.

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