Moon day: Temple

Jan 5, 2009

I woke before the children this morning, and drank tea while I cooked simple pancakes with chives and fish. A simple pickle to go with it followed, and then I woke Heiye with my instructions of the day.

I hardly know where to begin. The high priest was inspiring of fear, and awe, and he seemed wise and perilous. I do not believe I have endangered our cause, but I fear my husband’s opinion on my impetuous confessions of the day. I simply see no recourse, and the high priest said he was grateful that I brought this to him, that it was appropriate and he would think on it.

That is not where my mind rests, though, when I think about today. It rests on me, garbed as an old woman, being ushered in chill silence through the white pillars of the outer temple, through the incense of the meditation hall, through the wood-paneled corridors of the inner temple, until I reached a small room without obvious adornment, where he sat waiting for me, garbed in ceremonial gold.

I knelt formally and bowed low, and he asked me for my business, in as kind a tone as you could please.

“I have come with a question about divine blessing, oh most holy.”

Something in my tone or my words gave him pause, for he considered me for a time.

“It is not usual for women to seek to act in the affairs of men.”

“Only when it is proper for women to receive guidance in those affairs, most holy. For do not women live in the world as well?”

“Our teachings say that women do not live in the world, they live in the bosom of their family’s guidance.”

“But if the mother of a son were to need to explain to that son the guidance of the most holy, surely that would be permissible? For women are teachers.”

“You speak quickly, but the gods do not guide your words.”

I bowed my head, because I was censured and knew it.

“Why come you speaking of divine blessings, your ladyship? Be plain.”

“I fear that the emperor has ceded the blessing of the gods to the next in line for his throne.”

“Prince Hinata¬†will take the throne in the fullness of time.”

“His highness will never return from the northern jungles.”

And there I was committed, and the moment hung between us like a teacup that had fallen and might shatter or might be caught.

“Her highness would be the next, by blood,” he said. “And then the emperor’s brother.”

“Her highness is a woman. The emperor’s brother, may he live a thousand years, is missing in the chaos of Ojia.”

“From there, there are multiple arguments for imperial descent.”

“There is a theory that the divine blessing will make succession clear.”

“Is there.”

“Yes, most holy. There is.”

“You had better tell me about this theory.”

“Do you think it has any merit?”

“I have not been so informed by the Father, but even I must wait for his word. I am an old man, and have seen many things that are stranger than the gods deciding on a new heir.”

And if there were undercurrents to his words, are not our gods gods of water, deep and flowing, yielding only so that they may drown you? Let heretics worship the gods of sun and sky. Water is true, and necessary, and vital.

I explained.

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