The anomaly and the goddesses
The anomaly and the goddesss
work in progress, January 2008
to the many Muses who inspire and help me to create
to all goddesses who grace the story with their presence
(doubly so to Hera and Artemis for their assistance)
to the scribe and Aphrodite -- congratulations!
and to the anomaly on her birthday. you're the anomaly for me!
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/)
- To: Recipient, From: Lyon Cheathem, Craven, Swine, Re: The golden apple and term "kallisti" in your story "Eris and the anomaly (http://www.achangeiscoming.net/e-luminatus/index.php?title=Eris_and_the_anomaly)" In my email is a takedown notice for the golden apple from the law firm of the Gods of Olympus, LLC (GoOCo). It informs me that the image of the apple I used in my remixing of the Judgment of Paris was originaly from GoOCo.com and thus is copyrighted and licensed under the GoOPL; like the GPL, GoOPL is "sticky", and thus they also are claiming ownership of my story. They tell me that I'll have to award the golden apple as per the original agreement to one of Athena, Aphrodite, or Hera -- and then rewrite the story appropriately. I should contact Hermes to discuss further. Bummed, I discuss with Eris and the anomaly. Eris says "oops": she thought she had the rights to the apple. Still, the goddesses involved in my version are all part owners of GoOCo, so if I talk with them and get them to release the apple under a Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/about/) license, it shouldn't be a problem, right? The anomaly's not sure: she remembers from law school that under the GoOCo's bylaws (also known as Laws of Olympus), goddesses typically have few or no property rights. Plus we realize that we're not actually sure that the goddesses will agree. So perhaps a good first step is to talk to Hermes. How to get in touch with him? Eris knows a way that's worked in the past: "he's got a list of keywords; if you put ads on Craigslist with those titles, he'll check them out." Hermes gets a lot of requests, so for best results I should include some information about myself and the matter at hand, and make it entertaining.
- I place a couple of Craigslist ads, one with the keywords "And you?" in Seattle, and another with the words "You shouldn't exist" in San Francisco; I include poems with an elliptical descriptions of myself, and the word "kallisti" and a picture of the golden apple to describe the matter at hand. I get a lot of responses: mostly single guys who clearly don't meet my criteria, wanting to know if I want to party, but a couple of more interesting ones. A musician named Orpheus is working on a concept album, could he join up with me? Via email he explains that he used to be on GoOCo's label, and when he tried to do his own thing he lost all the rights to his songs. "Apollo was still at the label and he's a good guy today but, man, back then he was a total dick. He just killed me in negotiations." He's familiar with the issues and knows a lot of the right people (Chuck D, Trent Reznor, Radiohead, Prince, Barlow) -- and so I tell him the background of the takedown notice. A videographer making a documentary about goddesses is also interested; I introduce the two of them, and they decides to consider working together as well.
- I also get a response from Metis, who wants to know if I'm the guy who wrote Eris and the anomaly; if so, she has a subject that might interest me. We decide to get together. She confirms that under the Laws of Olympus the goddesses probably won't have the autonomy to make the decision themselves, and tells us that she has a proposition for me: the Goddess International Resistance League (GIRL) has been looking for a good test case and suggests that if the goddesses agree this could be an ideal situation. Would we like to work together? The anomaly quickly checks with some of her contacts (IP Justice, EFF, Andrea) on the legal front, and we decide it's worth exploring. To keep GoOCo from suspecting anything -- and to have a contingency plan in case the legal approaches don't work out -- Metis recommends that I temporarily take the apple down, let GoOCo know that I'm getting started on awarding the apple as per the original judgment of Paris, and contact Hermes to recapitulate his role. Metis also invites the anomaly to join GIRL ("but I'm not a goddess!" ... "close enough") and proposes Ariadne as my contact with GIRL. Since I'm not that familiar with all the background in the tradition, it'll be good for me to check in with Ariadne regularly to keep from doing anything stupid, so she sets both of us up with accounts on GIRLnet, the social network they use to keep in touch with each other, as "Anomaly" and "kallisti" respectively. Metis also suggests I talk with Hestia first and ask her for her advice -- and support. I'm worried that the goddesses won't think much of me, just a mortal and not even a hero, but Metis reassures me that I've got a lot of fans both for Eris and the anomaly and some of my other work -- plus of course I get points from a lot of the goddesses just for being with the anomaly.
- a DHL letter shows up for me from South America. When I open the outer package, I find an envelope hand-addressed with lovely calligraphy, on beautiful paper, delicately scented. After opening that, there's a notecard with complementary paper and a picture of a golden apple. Opening that I discover a brief note from Aphrodite: she doesn't usually read personal ads, but a friend told her about mine and it piqued her interest. Does this have something to do with the golden apple and the judgment of Paris? If not, apologies for wasting my time ... if it does, though, she would love to meet me. She's currently offline, but will be back online in a few weeks. If I'm interested, she asks me to add her on Facebook; she usually blocks friend invites, and so gives me the secret passcode to let mine go through: "LoveConquerzAll!"
- at a temple in Cambodia, I meet Hestia. It's a soothing, relaxing environment. She tells me why she left the GoOCo board (aka "the Olympians"). I tell her about the apple; she's sympathetic, and warns me that it's often difficult for mortals to be around goddesses: "when you feel overwhelmed, remember to breathe deeply, and think of being here in this sacred place with me to help you relax." She suggests I talk to the Pythia (oracle). It's an immersive trance-like Ephesus-like setting and the Pythia (completely calm and in control in the middle of it) begins to prophesize. She starts with "secret ... Iris ..." I say "oh, like in Suspiria?" She sighs and says "I'll need to start again," and after a few moments says "Venus ... Mercury ... "; I'm thinking "planets", but then she says "Ariadne" and I realize that maybe it's spacecraft, and start thinking about the classic software bug that caused Ariadne V to crash. The Pythia seems irritated and stops talking and instead does a tarot card reading ... Hestia walks me back to my room afterwards and tells me that she's noticed I seem to have a hard time shutting my brain off even in situations like with the Pythia; did I ever find that I analyzed things too much? I'm up all night thinking about it. The next day, I can't remember anything about the tarot reading other than the the Page of Cups showing up and Pythia telling me that it represented "a person ... or maybe a message". Hestia won't tell me anything more; she says it'll be a good lesson for me.
- my first contact with Ariadne in chat, updating her on the discussions with Hestia. She too is prone to overanalysis, and so is sympathetic. She likes Hermes, though sees why I don't trust him. She tells me she apotheosized relatively recently after marrying Dionysus, and had interned with Athena right after that: she learned a lot, although Athena was sometimes autocratic and condescending with her, and coaches me on how best to approach her. Hera on the other hand has always been surprisingly respectful to her, but dislikes Dionysus a lot, so no suggestions there other than not to mention that she is my GIRLnet contact. Ariadne asks me about the anomaly and I give her some background. She shows me around GIRLnet.
- Hermes finally responds saying GoOCo has already let him know about the situation, and he's ready to reprise his role. He tells me that GoOCo's also assigning a scribe, to try to build on Homer/Hesiod's franchise with a blockbuster sequel. All the gods and goddesses have accounts on Facebook and that's where the scribe will be doing a lot of the work. I bring up Facebook's draconian IP policies, but Hermes tells me not to worry -- GoOCo's got a stake in Facebook and so has a special arrangement. He also warns me that the goddesses will probably first try to bribe me, as they did Paris, and if that doesn't work try to seduce me. As a mortal I'll be powerless to resist -- Aphrodite's cestus, and more generally their goddess-like feminine powers. He recommends that I ask Artemis for help.
- Under a full moon in the middle of the woods, with me wearing the bracelet I had on when we first met, I describe the situation to Artemis and ask for her help. She explains how arrangements like this are done in the Olympian tradition: she will grant me immunity to the cestus in exchange for a boon she'll request later. I'm appreciative and agree; we kiss chastely to seal the deal. I also ask for help resisting the goddesses charms more generally, telling her about Hermes' warning. She asks what I'd do if one of the goddesses asked me to become her favourite: would that affect my (previously-stated) desire to become her favourite, or the pledge I had made to her a while ago that I wouldn't be any other goddess' favourite? I tell her that I wouldn't want it to but am not sure whether I will be able to resist the goddesses, which is why I'm asking for her help. She's quiet, and I have a feeling I've said something wrong, but after a few moments she tells me that if I make a pledge of chastity until the matter is resolved, she will (in her role as virgin goddess) reinforce this for me. I make the pledge; she tells me that whenever I feel desire for any goddess I will immediately think of making the pledge to her and that it will assure my chastity. However there is something I should keep in mind: if I'm kissed by seven goddesses her reinforcement won't apply any more and I'll be on my own. I thank her; this time the kiss to seal the deal feels more perfunctory, and she very quickly tells me she has to be going and leaves, and so I wonder whether I've said anything wrong. On the way out of the woods I feel the moonbeams on my face and remember back to when I first met Artemis and Selene and how I still am not sure which if either of them kissed me that night on the train.
- A chat with Ariadne debriefing the discussions with Hermes and Artemis. She chides me for not having checked with her or Metis before talking to Artemis, and points out to me that I forgot to include an exception for the anomaly to my chastity vow. Ooops. The anomaly joins us and is not happy: "I have to get seven goddesses to kiss you if I'm going to have my way with you?" We agree that this is going to be a lot tougher on me than on her... While we're hanging out I get an email notification that Artemis has defriended me on Facebook -- and that she's "banished" me on GIRLnet, meaning I can't look at her profile or contact her! I'm incredulous, and don't understand why; the anomaly and Ariadne clearly have an inkling but won't share it with me.
- Hermes tells us the goddesses are all traveling, so we'll go to visit them. Fortunately he's a whiz at making travel plans, and so off we go: him, me, Orpheus, the scribe, and the anomaly. In Bornholm, Denmark, Athena is skeptical; while she likes the idea of "creative commonsing the apple", she's concerned that the Laws of Olympus (LoO) are too patriarchal for this to succeed. She's also pretty dismissive of the anomaly and other mortals' legal insights, but agrees to meet with them. She agrees with Metis' suggestion of getting started recapitulating the judgment, and echoes the warning that I shouldn't trust Hermes -- or Eris for that matter, and she's got her doubts about Orpheus and the scribe as well. On the other hand, she thinks very highly of Metis and when I tell her that Ariadne's helping as well, she praises her (although calibrates her as "very junior"). She tells me that unlike Hera and Aphrodite, she won't try to bribe or seduce me; but that from a strategic standpoint, if I need to award the apple, she's clearly the best choice, and she'll be happy to spend as much time with me as I need to understand that.
- We head to Los Angeles to meet Hera for dinner. She and Hermes don't get along too well, so he goes to the Skybar to hang out; the anomaly and the scribe join him, and we all plan to meet up at Bar Sinister later. She's beautiful (Orpheus: "have you been working out?") and is wearing a gorgeous dress. She likes the idea of asserting ownership of the apple, and suggests that one way to resolve the situation would be for me to get standing as a god, by apotheosizing: she's heard that Hephaestus might be interested in taking a break for a while. She doesn't like the "why choose?" approach at all, viewing it as encouraging unfaithfulness. We have a wonderful discussion and she invites us back to her hotel to continue it over drinks. We talk about the previous judgment and she laments how her offer of an alliance to Paris had been misreported as a bribe ("he thought I was offering him Asia ... he was right to turn it down, it turned in to a real headache, but really I just wanted the Trojans to ally with the Greeks rather than fighting"); she tells me that if she were to do it again, she'd have spent more time getting to know him and making a proposal more to his tastes. She still thinks she deserved to win; "in all the myths, I'm described as the most beautiful of the goddesses". She asks what we think are her best features, and after we find various things to praise she tells me that she thinks it' her feet. They are very beautiful and Orpheus and I admire them; I ask if I can kiss them and she says no: "you seem like you have a lot of practice with that, and I'm sure you do it very well, but kissing my feet is a privilege that you haven't earned yet." Going back to the matter of the apple she warns me to be on my guard because Aphrodite will attempt to use her feminine wiles on me, and Athena will try to pull the wool over my eyes with a complex plan; she doesn't like Eris at all, but at least she's a goddess-born-goddess unlike for example Ariadne. To protect myself against Aphrodite she suggests I wear a charm her friend Kali gave her; I agree, and she gives me Kali's teeth (http://www.backdrop.net/sm-201/index.php?title=Kali's_Teeth_Bracelet); gulping, I put it on, and we decide to see if it works: she kisses me (and she's a great kisser), and sure enough as I start to get turned on Kali's teeth kick in. We agree that I'll get together with her again soon to discuss my progress (Orpheus offers to be the liaison) and she thanks me and tells me that she's looking forward to getting to know me better. "So sorry to hear about your banishment by Artemis ... you're lucky, though, bad things tend to happen to her male companions." As we leave Orpheus is head over heels in love with her; he tells me that it was the cestus she was wearing. That was the cestus???? He explains that "girdle" is an overly-literal translation and we talk about the effects of the cestus -- we figure he might have gotten a double dose because thanks to Artemis' spell it didn't affect me. We meet up with our friends, a lot later than we expected, at Bar Sinister; I tell the anomaly about Kali's teeth and her eyes light up. "I like how she thinks!"
- Later in chat I tell Ariadne how whenever I see sexy feet they remind me of Eris because a while ago had changed my screensaver to be of her toenails (that trickster!) and so now I'm fixated. She tells me that she's heard that Hermes has great feet too; she says she prefers boots. I also tell her how when I was kissing Hera I was conscious of my chastity vow to Artemis, and how it made me all the more acutely aware of how bummed I was by the banishment. We agree that it would be a mistake for me to tell Hera about either of these things. We talk about how once the word gets around about me kissing Hera, Athena and Aphrodite will probably want kisses as well, but that still leaves me only at three, so I'm in okay shape. She uses a "kiss" emoticon and we jokingly wonder whether that makes four.
- A thread on GIRLNet about Dionysus' upcoming gig in SF; Ariadne's on the fence about going. I'd tell her how much I hope she decides to go because I'd really like to meet her -- and in any case, I'm planning on being there, because I'm a big fan of Dionysus and psytrance stuff in general. She tells me that people constantly confuse her with Ariadne from the Nommos, who was actually was the previous Ariadne; the legendary gig Dionysus did with her and Goa Gil a couple of years ago was the a/depotheosis.
- The anomaly and Athena come back from meetings with EFF and IP Justice in Kuala Lumpur and explain the legal situation: there's an (unpublicized) clause in the DMCA which gives GoO broad control over ancient greek IP, considered broadly -- Jack Valenti wanted to get them on his side and so his pet senators gave away the kitchen sink. It looks grim. But wait, Hera's idea might work; and maybe a broad PR campaign as well -- the anomaly and Orpheus sign up to work on a benefit concert.
- A thread on GIRLnet where Athena brings up more details on a few ways to apotheosize myself in a situation where the existing god is consensually depotheosizing; they're all kind of unpleasant, difficult, and tedious, but not impossible. oh, and I'm now showing up on Artemis' "wrath" list on Facebook. In video chat she warns me again to be careful around Aphrodite: Hephaestus is considering depotheosizing and so she may well be on the prowl. I reassure her that Artemis had granted me immunity to the cestus in return for a boon; she replies "too bad for me," and tells me that she's wearing the cestus -- she's used it in the past to get Barlow of EFF on her side (gee what a surprise), and she figured it would probably work with me as well. She pans the camera around to highlight the very flattering dress she's wearing -- different from the one Hera had on. I pretend to believe that it's the cestus; she asks if I'm thinking of Artemis; I confirm that I am; she thinks it's really funny that because of the spell, whenever I feel desire I'll think of my vow to Artemis -- and hence my banishment. She reminds me that if I do wind up having to award the apple to a single goddess, I should do it in the most strategic possible way, and that she's looking forward to working with me in a professional capacity to help figure it out. She blows me a kiss as she shuts down chat.
- Ariadne and I think that Athena probably wants the apple herself, and we dish the dirt on Hera and Orpheus (who are now going out!) in chat. She tells me that he scribe followed up with her and said that Metis had encouraged him to talk to the other goddesses to make sure all sides of the story are told. I say maybe when the epic's published I'll understand what I did wrong with Artemis. Ariadne encourages me to try to figure it out myself somewhat quicker than that -- and tells me that under the terms of banishment, I can contact Artemis with a plea for forgiveness, but suggests that I wait until I'm a little less clueless about things. I ask her whether she thinks the kiss from Athena counts; she laughs.
- Hermes, the scribe, Orpheus, the anomaly, and I head to visit Aphrodite in South America: in the mountains, near forest, overlooking the ocean, a relaxed and natural environment, with warm rains. Orpheus is working on some songs as we're waiting (about Hera, of course and he and the scribe and the anomaly talk about the IP issues; the scribe starts to realize he's getting screwed. Eros shows up, strokes me with one of his arrows, and tells me that Aphrodite would like to have dinner with me alone. As I'm leaving, he pulls out other arrows and strokes Orpheus ("for Hera") and the anomaly ("just cause").
- I meet Aphrodite in the woods just as the rain stops and the sun comes out and immediately feel like I'm falling head over heels in love -- well, thanks to Artemis' spell that's clearly not happening, but it sure feels that way. I do my best to put it aside. Surprisingly she likes the idea of not awarding the apple just to one goddess. She explains that she hadn't been trying to bribe Paris: he and Helen had had a brief fling long before she met him ("why do you think he was seeking a solitary existence?") and he had been thinking about her ever since; Aphrodite knew that Helen was really unhappy with Menelaeus, and so simply advised Paris that he should find a way to make his feelings known. "And of course he wound up falling in love with me, so gave me the apple even though I clearly didn't deserve it ..." She thinks Hera and Athena are both more beautiful than she is, and for that matter so are Artemis, Metis, Hestia, and Hermes, especially his feet. She also like the idea of getting ownership of the apple away from the gods; she isn't sure about Hephaestus depotheosizing but will ask him -- they're on decent terms these days, and he's patched things up with Hera as well. She suggests a much more pleasant way of apotheosis: hieros gamos, a ritual sacred marriage during which the candidate for apotheosis also becomes a goddesses' consort. We talk about the anomaly and how she would feel about this -- and Aphrodite tells me that most goddesses are likely to insist on some kind of exclusivity for consort status. Personally she's never had a consort, doesn't know how she feels about it; she doesn't think she'll remarry after Hephaestus, but is really in the mood for a favorite. She admires my bracelet and I tell her how it reminds me of Artemis; she's heard about my banishment, and I tell her that I had been on a quest to become Artemis' favorite as well; she's very consoling and tells me that maybe it was for the best.
- Kali starts up a thread on GIRLnet saying she's hurt I haven't called -- is this the way I treat every goddess who brings me such pleasure? Several other goddesses join in saying that this is pretty typical of mortal guys. I apologize, tell her how much I'm enjoying her attention, and offer to make it up to her. Everybody warns me that I have no idea what I've signed up for; Kali thanks me for the boon ("think of it like a voucher that I can redeeem at any point in the future") and adds that she is willing to put my inattentiveness to date behind her and restart things ... we agree that since I'll be spending a lot of time with her teeth it would be very much in my interests to get our relationship on better terms. She mentions that if I see Aphrodite I should let her know that I'm wearing the special Kali's teeth that Hephaestus made for her. Aphrodite jumps in with "lol", and says while she personally prefers pleasure to pain, she loves Kali's sense of humor. For some reason I have a feeling I might know Kali from the psytrance scene so I ask her in chat if she's going to be at the Dionysus gig. She is evasive on whether I know her and says it's not her usual scene but she is considering going to the gig -- perhaps she'll see me there.
- a status update with GIRL in chat, with Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera there as well. The goddesses are willing to consider Creative Commons-ing the apple (although don't particularly trust each other), but the news is grim on the legal front: because of the Olympian property laws, if I award the apple to any of them, they wouldn't be able to. Athena spots a possibility: Hestia has never married, and her father isn't an Olympian, so if I become her consort and Eris and Hermes agree, I can expand the pool to include her, award her the apple. Since she's not the property of a god, she can then creative commons it! Much discussion: the anomaly and the goddesses are okay with it, and the anomaly even offers to be maid of honor at my next ritual wedding. My next one? I had never heard of a ritual wedding until Aphrodite brought up the hieros gamos. The anomaly tells me that we have already had a ritual wedding. Oh. Much laughter at my expense. The goddesses clarify that a consort arrangement doesn't require a ritual wedding. We all agree that if the apple was awarded based on "beauty" in the sense of "incredibly clear and brilliant thinking" (as an "a beautiful proof" in math), Athena would win hands down.
- On the thread on GIRLnet, Ariadne's coy on whether or not she's going to be at the show; she tells me that if she is, she'll be dancing down in front with the Thiasus (as the nymphs, Meneads, and raver chicks who are Dionysus fans call themselves), so if we're going to meet up it would be a lot easier to do so before that. Bastet is going to be flying in from London, and while Bridgid can't be there in person is going to incarnate with a Thiasid for a fire ritual, and they're looking forward to meeting me.
- On another thread on GIRLnet, I suggest a long-shot possibility: could I become a god's consort, either as a same-sex consort or (with the right outfit) as part of apotheosizing as a trans-goddess? Most of the goddesses are non-plussed, but Ariadne suggests that I go to the Dionysus gig in drag: if the vibe's right he may be able to apotheosize me as a trans-goddess -- so there may well be possibilities. It's worth looking into; we may be able to win on gay consorting or trans issues, depending about gods' property rights ... more legal invistigation needed. I suggest that we should have to take Hermes into our confidence as our bridge to the GGGLBTG ("gods and goddesses gay lesbian bi trans guild"; the goddesses are skeptical about how much support we'll get -- they agree about needing a bridge, but several of them just don't trust Hermes, and the consensus is that GGGLBTG is dominated by mainline gay organizations ("all the G's should tip you off") that might not be up for anything so radical. After some discussion, we agree it's worth investigating, and I'll give trans-apotheosization a shot. Ariadne suggests I ask Aphrodite for help with my makeup: "you'll look like a goddess". Afterwards I very nervously PM Aphrodite on Facebook and tell her there is something I would like to talk with her about ask if she'd like to have dinner before we go see Dionysus. She very quickly replies saying yes and that she is looking forward to it, and that there is something she would like to ask me as well.
- we're all in San Francisco for the Dionysus show. I plunked down for a makeover and am dressed for dinner: if I'm gonna trans-apotheosize, I want to look good doing it. Everybody thinks Kali's thread is really funny but nobody will tell me why. Eros hands me a little arrow with an attached note ("I'm supposed to shoot you with it but that would spoil the vibe"): Aphrodite is waiting for me to come by. The anomaly assures me she can take care of herself. Hermes and Orpheus are hitting on Eros, but he appears much more interested in the anomaly; they're heading out for dinner with Dionysus, Apollo (who's doing the 5 a.m. sunrise set) and the videographer. We agree to meet at the show early, around 10:00 while people are still milling around, so that we can catch up with the people in from out of town. Hermes takes me aside and wishes me the best on the trans-apotheosis; we do the male bonding thing, he slips me some pills that we take together, and he kisses me for good luck.
- At Aphrodite's hotel suite, she is shocked to see me dressed up and so my nervousness increases ... fortunately it quickly becomes clear that it's a positive surprise to her: she tells me that both Hermes and Dionysus did a lot of cross-dressing when she was with them, and it was something that she really enjoyed sharing with them, many more levels to connect at. She pours some champagne and we have some chocolate and hang out for a while relaxing; she is very complimentary ("forget what I said before about Hermes, if I were awarding the apple you would certainly win") and puts me at my ease. We talk about the apple, and gossip a little about Hera and Orpheus, who are on each other's Top Friends lists on Facebook. She asks me what it what I wanted to talk about with her and I tell her about the plan to trans-apotheosize. She thinks it's a great idea and wants to know if I want to borrow an outfit; she's got some things that'd look great on me. There's a dress she's thinking of wearing, and wants to see how it looks on me; I try on, but it's not a great look for me. Just as well, she puts it on and it looks incredible -- "it looks like it was made for you... I saw the cestus on Hera and don't tell her I said it but this is even lovelier." She tells me that speaking of which, once the matter is resolved the cestus' effects will kick in retroactively, and I'll be in love with everybody I've seen wearing it -- "if for some reason I need you to fall more deeply in love with me, that would be the perfect time for me to wear it, because all those feelings will combine with your desire for me. Or whoever else you're with at the time, for that matter, but since it was originally made for me it seems to be unusually powerful whenever I'm wearing it." She picks out another dress for me, "this is one of my favorite dresses, really magic especially under black light", gives me some "Erot-e's" fake breasts ("goddess power even stronger than you can pick up at Agent Provocateur") and once she looks me over tells me that she's got the right pair of boots as well: a gift from Ares but she's sure he won't mind if I wear them). She tells me how beautful I look and takes me to a full-length mirror (with particularly flattering light); wow, I am a babe -- but despite my vanity I pay more attention to how beautiful she looks. We look at each other in the mirror for a few minutes and then she says "My favorite necklace would go perfectly with that outfit ... it will make you look even more submissive. Would you like to wear it?" I tell her it would be an honor and ask if she would be kind enough to put it on me. When she puts the necklace on me, it pricks my skin; she adjusts it and asks if she can lock it shut to keep it secure, and I say of course. As she locks it, she whispers something in my ear but the sensation from the necklace is so intense and the sound of the it locking sounds overpoweringly loud that I don't hear what she says. I can feel myself desiring her more and more and so I ask her why Artemis' protection isn't helping; Aphrodite says when it comes to professional relationships like bartering spells and boons I shouldn't assume that goddesses are being straightforward -- the specific wording is very important. For example, exactly how had I phrased my request for protection from Artemis against Eros' arrows of desire? I hadn't asked ... should I have? Oh yes, they're just as powerful as the cestus ... oh dear, this is why Kali made such a point (haha) of telling me to bring up the special teeth. Hephaestus had made two of them using Eros' mini-arrowheads rather than spikes, and so in addition to their usual effects ... well, the one with the leaden arrowheads extinguished desire; given that Hera kissed me right afterwards (pics are by the way up on the GoddessWorld message boards and there are rumors a video will be up soon on YouGoddess), I probably was wearing the other one, that makes the wearer fall in love with whoever is causing the desire -- oh, and with Kali as well because it was made for her, and with Hera because she put the teeth on me. Of course there are only about a dozen mini arrowheads in Kali's teeth -- very sharp ones, true, but Aphrodite prefers the effect of the 216 gentler arrowheads in the necklace that she put on me. I stare at her kind of stunned. After a few moments of enjoying the look on my face she smiles and says she'd like to celebrate by geting a bite to eat before the show -- if we get there at midnight or so, there's still plenty of time before Dionysus goes on. Would my friends mind? I'm sure they wouldn't. She's touches up her makeup -- and mine, putting some liquid glitter on both of us.
- We go to a Supper Club-like place for dinner, where she has a private room; she introduces me as "my date kallisti". the two incredibly attractive and attentive persons-of-wait admire our outfits and glitter and my necklace; she tells them I'm wearing Kali's teeth as well (solicitously adding "and I hope they're not hurting too much") and asks that they choose a meal to suit our mood. They ask whether I'm on anything and I tell them I had taken something with Hermes; Aphrodite adds that we had split a couple of bottles of her champagne (I notice their eyebrows go up a little at that) and that by the way they should keep that coming, perhaps along with some Tea for a Goddess. Over dinner, completely made up of aphrodisiac foods, she tells me that she and other goddesses have been talking about mortals as favorites; Hera is considering asking Orpheus, and so there's a lot of discussion of whether it's a good idea or how best to approach it. I think it depends a lot on the mortal, but tell her I don't have a lot of experience with this, and given my offer of exclusivity to Artemis combined with my banishment that isn't likely to change any time soon. She reassures me that my banishment means that I'm no longer bound by it; I say that while that may be true legally I still feel bound, and I hope that I'll get her to lift the banishment at some point. She says okay, there are same-gender and opposite-gender favorites, so I could potentially be somebody else's favorite as well as Artemis; suppose a god asked me? Or suppose hypothetically that Artemis wasn't in the picture, and a goddess asked me? And why did Artemis' opinion matter so much to me anyhow? Obviously I didn't care what the anomaly thought! To the contrary, I tell her, I had talked about it with the anomaly before asking Artemis, and if another goddess or I suppose the right god asked me, I'd get her perspective before deciding. For some reason the conversation has gotten fairly intense but fortunately the next course arrives and she pours some more tea and we relax. She asks what I think the anomaly would say, and I say that while there might be some specific goddesses she'd counsel against (Kali, maybe, or Hera, because of her attitude to non-exclusivity; Zeus and Hephaestus, because of their abusive tendencies; Eris, unless she agreed to keep her trickster side under control) in general she'd tell me that it's my choice. Aphrodite tells me that especially once I trans-apotheosize I'll probably get lots of gods and goddesses interested in me being their favorite or consort, and perhaps even propose ritual marriages, and that I should prepare the anomaly for this -- she may well worry that she can't compete. And I should prepare myself, because if a goddess ever decides that she wants me I'm very likely to feel that I have no control of the situation whatsoever. To illustrate she tells me to concentrate on the necklace and the feel of the teeth against my skin and to think of how it's making me fall in love with whoever's causing desire for me right now ... and with whoever the necklace was made for ... and whoever put it on me ... knowing that the arrows of desire have been affecting me ever since she locked it on me and how the effect was going to continue to get stronger and stronger over time ... and then asks how I'd react if she asked me to be her favorite, simultaneously same-gender, opposite-gender, and transgender in various permutations. She gives me a kiss. Note: although there's not enough information yet for the reader or any of the characters to know it, this is the seventh kiss from a goddess. Later on it will become clear that from this point on, none of Artemis' magical protections have any effect -- which is of course how she intended it. I'm utterly transfixed and go into a trance state for a moment; she kisses me again to bring me out of it and says "see, it's a lot different to experience than to talk about." I'm still in a daze as we leave and go to the party.
- It's midnight at the psytrance party when we get there. Aphrodite makes an entrance looking amazing just as the e kicks in and things get focused. We dance a little and everybody's in awe of her -- the dress gets rave reviews. We head over to meet Dionysus before he goes on, she introduces me, he asks if I'm enjoying the effects of the glitter and tells me my friends are looking for me. Aphrodite says she's going to change out of her dress to give it to Dionysus so she asks us to stand -- with our backs to her -- blocking everybody else's view as she strips down to her lingerie; she puts on a dress that matches mine, but of course looks waaaay better on her. I ask Dionysus if Ariadne's there, he says he doesn't know, she never tells him when she's coming to his gigs. I ask him to let her know I'm looking for her if he sees her; he says he's not sure what she looks like these days but if they run into each other he'll pass the message on. Aphrodite gives me some champagne and tells me to enjoy it as I'm dancing. When I find the anomaly she's hanging out with a ridiculously cute graver boy who turns out to be Eros (good look for him!); we share some champagne, and they take me out to the dance floor to meet everybody else. They're irritated with me for being so late but but it's a great vibe and Dionysus is just about to come on, so after this little hiccup we quickly get back into the mood. The anomaly is having a wonderful time with Eros, Orpheus, Hermes, and Trent Reznor, who she's recruiting for the benefit concert. I finally remember to check my messages and there are cryptic ones from Kali ('enjoy my kisses as you are dancing') and Ariadne ('r u @ the parT?') as well as more straightforward ones from Bastet, Bridgid, Hermes, and Orpheus wondering where I am. I text Ariadne, Bastet, and Brigid back apologizing for being late and telling them I'm there; I go to the bathroom to freshen up my makeup and run into a woman who's wearing similar-looking boots but says they're from Shiva rather than Ares, and go back to the floor. It's a great show; I wind up dancing with Aphrodite and Hermes for a while; he's barefoot, and damn, he sure does have great feet! Apollo and Hephaestus both show up; Orpheus is flirting with [in alphabetical order] the anomaly, Aphrodite, Apollo, Dionysus, Eros, Hephaestus, Hermes, the scribe, Trent, and me; we all flirt back. While I'm dancing my bracelet breaks and I try to pick up the beads from the dance floor; one the Thiasus helps me, introducing herself as "Helen". Once we've collected all of them Helen sees how bummed I am so she gives me a hug and a kiss. Helen's wearing a very similar dress to mine; we ooh and aah at how good it looks on each other. Orpheus comes over and flirts with her and a couple of the other Thiasus. I join back up with my friends and the anomaly is teasing me about the kiss; Aphrodite shows up, very unhappy, and says she's leaving.
- Aphrodite's clearly angry at me so I ask if I can walk her out; once we're outside she gives me a hard time for kissing another woman, in front of both her and the anomaly -- "mortal guys are all such sluts, and apparently so are trans-goddesses". I explain what had happened, also pointing out that it's just the psytrance vibe, and apologize for offending her. I also tell her how incredibly deeply I feel for her and ask whether she'd consider being my Muse once the matter is resolved. This only seems to make things worse: she tells me that she knows it's just the champagne and the necklace and the Dionysus vibe, but that I shouldn't say those things if I'm not serious: how would Artemis and the anomaly react? I tell her it's not just the champagne and necklace and vibe, and that the anomaly is fine with me having multiple Muses -- for that matter we've even discussed the possibility of me being a consort of any of the three goddesses (or Eris or Metis) and she's fine with it. As for Artemis, this doesn't have anything to do with being a favourite ... I mean, if she were planning on taking a mortal favourite, I wouldn't ask her to change her plans. She says "maybe it doesn't have anything to do with being a favourite to you or the anomaly, but maybe it does to others -- you should at least ask rather than assume." I agree she's right and am abashed ... she's obviously hurt but after we walk around for a while she calms down some and tells me that if I talk with the anomaly and Artemis, and depending on what they say she might consider it. Finally she says that we should get back in if I'm going to try to trans-apotheosize. She redoes my lips puts some more glitter on both of us.
- Things are intense. We run into Bastet on the way in and we all hit the dance floor. The anomaly and Aphrodite go off to talk, and the anomaly comes back by herself just as a fire ritual starts; Helen is part of it, and I notice a red-haired woman who I assume is probably the incarnation of Brigid. After the fire ritual ends Aphrodite, the anomaly, Hermes and I wind up dancing together and I get lost in the music. I have a kundalini experience but it's not clear whether or not it results in trans-apotheosization; I may not know for a while. Aphrodite and Hermes drift off and dance with the scribe and eventually wind up leaving with him; ditto for the anomaly who leaves with Eros and Trent. Apollo starts to spin and Orpheus I and wind up hanging out and partying with Dionysus and the Thiasus. We have fun. Orpheus and I leave to go back to the hotel but on the way there run into Hermes and Ares who convince us to go to an afterparty at a fetish/darkwave club. Things get wild ... the anomaly's there doing a scene with Eros and Trent, I pour my heart out to the bartender Diomedes, I run into Bastet and Brigid along with the woman with Shiva's boots (who quickly gets me on my knees kissing them before vanishing). Helen and Dionysus are there together, Helen now in the dress Aphrodite had worn and then given to Dionysus, along with several of the other Thiasus. As Helen offers to freshen up my makeup, Dionysus gives us all something to drink, ... the drink on top of everything else takes me to a different reality and ...
- When I wake up the next morning I'm back in the hotel with no idea how I got there. I can feel the necklace a tattoo on the base of my spine, and vaguely remember a goddess (or a god? or a mortal, perhaps the anomaly?) there with me as I got it, but no other details come to mind. I feel very clear and relaxed, and a little tired, and have no idea whether I've trans-apotheosized: I don't feel particularly different, but then again, would I? I fumble with the necklace but can't to take it off. I write a long letter to Artemis telling her about the bracelet, and my conversation with Aphrodite. I tell her how well her spell is working and how ever time I feel desire for any goddess it reminds me of my vow to her, and that my thinking through what would happen if any goddess offered me favorite status and makes me realize that I still really do want to be her favorite -- but that looking at my own actions I now see the various ways I haven't been acting in accordance with my words, and will start trying to mend my ways. I let her know about my potential trans-apotheosis and tattoo. I click send (without saving, oops) and the browser hangs so it is not clear whether the mail ever went out. I update my Facebook and GIRLnet status messages, text Aphrodite thanking her for a wonderful evening, email Ariadne and then go out for a late lunch with the anomaly. I tell her about the tattoo and ask her whether she was there with me when I got it; she laughs ("that really was quite a night you had"), and asks what I think the tattoo is of ... I tell her I have no idea. We talk about my dinner and walk with Aprhodite, and she asks why I'm still wearing the necklace; when I tell her I couldn't take if off, tries as well -- but isn't able to either, and we realize that Aphrodite really did lock it on me. She echoes Aphrodite's point about how I shouldn't be making assumptions that things are okay with everybody and brings up that Athena and Hera aren't likely to be happy about my asking Aphrodite to be my Muse, although of course it's fine with her. She teases me about Helen and asks if I caught up with Bastet and Brigid at the darkwave club. She tells me how wonderful Eros is and how Trent really is as submissive as it seems from his music.
- people on GIRLnet are talking about Aphrodite's entrance in the cestus and how great it looked on Dionysus once he put it on -- and later on Helen. I'm confused, I saw the cestus on Hera and it was a different color. Turns out that Hephaestus made Hera a cestus as well -- at Aphrodite's request, because she was really tired of Hera borrowing it all the time -- and ones for Athena, Artemis, Selene, and perhaps one or two more. Does this mean Athena really was in a cestus on videochat? Yepper. So were Artemis and Selene when I met them on the train. They fill me in that after Hephaestus was booted [I don't understand the reference but don't bother to ask], GoOCo started up a label "cestus", which is currently being run by Iris ... I bring up the Pythia's prophecy but nobody thinks it's relevant.
- Back on the job I go off to consult with Hera in Cannes, in her role of goddess of marriage. My goal is to get advice on how to broach things with Hestia -- and more generally goddesses and I suppose gods in general, just in case I happen to propose to somebody else in the future. She immediately remarks on the necklace and asks if I'm going to be giving the apple to Aphrodite; I tell her no, this has nothing to do with the apple, the plan is still to Creative Commons it. She is angry at me for my sluttiness at the Dionysus party (not telling me how she's heard about it). She's also miffed with Orpheus, and while she appreciates his hymns to her (a good counterbalance in her mind to the scribe who she thinks has fallen deeply in love with and so may well be favoring Aphrodite), she feels that it was very disrespectful to her. We agree to put this to the side for now and return to me potentially being a goddess' consort. Hera's skeptical that the anomaly will be okay with this, and doesn't approve of the anomaly and Eros. We discuss and I put forward the case for non-exclusivity but she's not sympathetic. We agree to disagree for the time being. As I'm leaving I tell her that if I were awarding the apple just on physical beauty, it would be hers: she's as beautiful as any woman (goddess or mortal) I've ever met. She is appreciative ("although you're seeing me at my best -- everybody always says I'm beautiful when I'm mad"), although admits that she feels like she as she gets older there are a lot of incredibly-nubile women who are as or more beautiful than her -- some of the Thiasus for example. I agree that some of them are incredibly beautiful, as much so in their way as she is in hers, but remind her that I generally like older women.
- in chat Ariadne is frosty, upset that I was at dinner drinking champagne with Aphrodite rather than trying to connect with her after I had made such a point of telling her I wanted to meet; she lets me know Brigid and Bastet are slightly miffed as well, although enjoyed meeting me once we finally did hook up, and she's heard that Hera's way pissed. I admit I screwed up and that I've been doing that a lot and will try to be better. She won't tell me whether or not she was there. I mention Dionysus' comment that he's not sure what she looks like these days and she tells me that as far as he knows they've never met in person -- he asked her to be his consort after they got to know each other online. Speaking of online and mystery people there are pictures of me kissing Helen both at the Dionysus show and later at the afterparty up on GIRLnet and Facebook papparazzi sections as well as one of her leaving with Dionysus. Nobody seems to know who she is -- there's all kinds of speculation that it's Helen of Troy and/or a goddess incarnated into her: Eris, Athena or Hera, perhaps Artemis or Kali, or maybe even Hestia. Ariadne thinks it's the kind of thing Aphrodite might do ("I can practically hear her recommending this to me if I wanted to seduce you") and wonders if I had ever seen the two of them together; I don't think so but am a little hazy on the details; she suggests I ask Aphrodite and see what she says. I say that Aphrodite was pretty upset at me and Ariande says, "well, no wonder, seeing two of her 'dates kissing". I hadn't realized that Helen was Aphrodite's date, and Ariadne says "oh yeah, you could tell from her dress, that's Aphrodite's favorite dress, so she was offering herself as a candidate for Aphrodite's favorite -- a 'date." Hey wait a second. I had a matching dress on ... "didn't she tell you it was her favorite dress?" Well, yeah, but I thought ... oh. And the favorite necklace? Oh yeah -- speaking of which, did I enjoy the arrows of desire when I kissed Helen, and has my desire for continued to increase since? And how do I like my new tattoo? She wishes me luck with Hestia but I can tell she's not real happy with me.
- Aphrodite finally gets back to me -- in text: she's in Walla Walla, wine-tasting with the scribe. Have I talked with Artemis yet? She hopes the aftereffects of the champagne aren't affecting me too much. I text her back quickly but she doesn't reply.
- back in her temple in Cambodia, Hestia tells me that while she doesn't take her pledge of eternal virginity 100% literally any more, she's not the consorting kind. Ah well; I'm not surprised. I tell her about situation with Artemis' banishment and how I'm trying to get back into her good graces, but have no clue what I should be doing in terms of letting her know about my discussions with Hermes and Ariadne; and I tell her about Aphrodite's, Hera's, and Ariadne's displeasure with me. She asks if she can see my tattoo and tells me it's very beautiful and fits me perfectly, but won't describe it further. Between Kali's teeth and the necklace and the tattoo, which I'm convinced also has some magical powers, and now whatever the aftereffects of the champagne are, I feel like I'm in an dizzying and overwhelming unfolding of constantly increasing desire -- and continually screwing up. She gently reminds me of her earlier advice to me: whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, think of being with her in this sacred space, and feel myself relax. It gets dark and she pours some ambrosia and I start to relax. We talk about the Pythia's prophecy: "Venus ... Mercury ... Ariadne" and what pops into my mind is that Venus is the Roman name for Aphrodite and so maybe this something to do with Venus, Hermes, and Ariadne -- maybe I'll award the apple to the three of them? I ask her if this is an example of my tendency to overanalysis and that I should stop analyzing things so much and trust my intuitions. I drift off to sleep and wake up in the morning very relaxed and blissfully happy ... and I realize that if Dionysus agrees, which he probably would, Ariadne could creative-commons the apple if I awarded it to her -- and so could Hermes. So just as with Hestia, if I ask them to be my consort and Eris agrees, this could be another possible solution to the apple problem! Not sure about Aphrodite (both because of her marriage to Hephaestus [which even though she's divorced leaves him with rights] and because as her father Zeus holds veto power on her property), but still, there some possibilities....
- Chatting afterwards with Ariadne, I realize it would be a spectacularly bad idea to mention the idea of her being a potential consort; we instead discuss Hermes, and she suggests that given my crush on him and his feet it could make a lot of sense to ask him. I'm surprised because I don't think I have a crush on him; she sends me a link to another pic on Facebook that is me kissing his feet at the afterparty in San francisco and yeah, it really does look like I'm crushin'. I'm surprised and a little concerned that I don't remember it and wonder if it's got something to do with the tattoo but hey I was kinda out there. She tells me there are apparently some videos on BitTorrent but that they haven't hit YouGoddess yet. We agree that I'll talk with Hermes. Ariadne asks if I've been paying attention to Kali -- "you know how she hates to be ignored." I realize I've been somewhat remiss. I debate about asking her for advice about Aphrodite but decide not to.
- I fill Hermes in on what's up and we talk about Aphrodite; how crazy I am about her, my multiple faux pas. I tell him about the idea of creative commonsing the apple and even thought he's a GoOCo board member he likes it -- and thinks Dionysus will as well, and maybe also Apollo. When I tell him about Ariadne as a potential consort, he tells me he's not sure why, but for some reason he doesn't trust her. I tell him that speaking of potential consorts who might be able to resolve the situation ... I had been thinking about the Pythia's prophecy and ... er, um ... ... "Me?" he asks. Well, yeah. He's willing to consider the possibility of me being his consort, and we agree that we're incredibly close ... but says he's only into a consort if there's more than friendship behind it. Would I be willing to be his favorite? I explain to him about Artemis. Okay, then, how about a physical relationship? I cop to my feelings about his feet and after I worship them a little we wind up kissing. Sparks are starting to fly when he pulls back and reminds me of the Olympian lack of status of same-sex marriage, even in ritual. I suggest that we may be a good test case ... he's visibly uncomfortable and says he'll think about it, assuring me that "it's not you ...." We decide that now might not be the best time to explore; I've got a lot going on, and he'd rather wait until I'm not constrained by my chastity vow to Artemis. Also we seem to work very well together, maybe we should start up a consulting business. "You have a lot of Hermes in you as well -- Apollo, too, and of course Dionysus." He offers to be my best man if I do wind up becoming somebody else's consort. When I debrief with Ariadne she notices some nervousness but assumes that it's just because of the interactions with Hermes. We talk about how I don't see myself as an Apollo. I wonder whether my kiss with Hermes counts; she brings up that depending on who (if anybody) incarnated as Helen, that might be another kiss from a goddess. How close am I to seven? Better be careful ... I debate about sending mail to Artemis asking about this but decide not to, instead just changing my Facebook status message to "thinking of the woods in the moonlight" hoping she'll know it's a message for her.
- Hera and I go to a show by Orpheus: solo, acoustic, all love songs to her. She tells me that she's very impressed by all the work he's done building up the "Hymns to Hera" forum, and is thinking of giving him a second chance -- if he's willing to commit to an exclusive relationship, she'll consider him as a favorite. She and I go back to her place afterwards and she pours some of Aphrodite's champagne. We get really drunk and she asks if she could be my Muse. She says that she's already Orpheus' Muse (no, ya think?) and that I already seem to have several other Muses; we talk about non-exclusivity and Muses. I explain about the situations with Artemis and Aphrodite and that I feel I have to ask them; she's not real happy about it but agrees it's the right thing to do. I ask her for advice about Kali; she tells me that Kali's from a different tradition, and so doesn't have favorites, "just lovers and toys," and suggests that a toy could be a good role for me if I don't mind the pain. I try to write Kali an email, with coaching from Hera, saying hi and telling her that I hope I'm paying enough attention to her and how much I enjoy her teeth; we're both drunk enough from the champagne that it doesn't come out particularly well but Hera encourages me to send it anyhow so I do. She asks if she can check out my tattoo and loves it: "it's you!" Since I'm so drunk we agree it would be better for me to spend the night rather than driving home and we wind up in bed together ("it's so wonderful that you've got Kali's teeth on because I don't need to worry that you'll try anything"). I write her a poem before she kisses me goodnight and goes to sleep cuddled around me ... when I wake up I am thinking of another poem about her and she tells me that this will probably be a good habit for me: write a poem to/for her each night before I go to sleep and each morning as I wake up, just in case she does wind up becoming my Muse.
- Aphrodite's added the scribe as a favorite on Facebook! I tell Metis that my first reaction was envy, and maybe even a twinge of jealousy; I admit that this is irrational, and she tells me that's a pretty common reaction for guys who are friends with a goddess when she takes a favourite. Ariadne starts up a thread on GIRLnet talking about how I would make a good favorite and drops tantalizing hints of what she likes to do with hers ... and adds that any guy in his right mind would be very envious of the scribe right now because everybody knows just how happy Aphrodite's favorites always are, drinking champagne all the time. In chat she tells me questions my judgement considering Aphrodite as my muse; especially with the scribe as her favorite, the other goddesses are likely to see things as biased if I award the apple to her -- and if I award it to somebody else, she may be bitter. I'm confident everybody can make it work out but see why she's skeptical.
- I start up a thread on GIRLnet asking the difference between favorites, lovers, and toys. Various goddesses give their positions; a common thread is that favorites may or may not be sexual, and lovers invariably are. Kali weighs in saying that for her, attitude is the key: a toy sees himself or herself as existing for the pleasure of the goddess, and adds that for her toys the feeling quickly becomes intensely sexual whether or not they are also her lovers: "they learn to appreciate the pain from my kisses as bliss." She describes some nipple clamps she's just asked Hephaestus to make using some extremely sharp multi-pronged arrowheads from Eros; and in PM, asks whether I'd like to try out these -- or perhaps the very special ones which have barbs on the arrowheads so that they can't be removed without her permission. I reply her that with the apple and all, now's not a great time, but maybe we can discuss once the matter is resolved. She agrees to defer but tells me I might not have any say in the matter: she is thinking she might take the boon I so kindly offered her in the form of service to her as a toy, and thanks me for not having put any cap on the duration. I reply with a poem about her teeth and the clamps; she's appreciative, and tells me we'll discuss more in person.
- Another GIRL meeting, with Hermes and Dionysus there as well; there's dismay about things not working out with Hestia or Hermes. Before we discuss what's next, Hermes brings up rumors that somebody else has apotheosized as Ariadne -- one of the three goddesses, or maybe Eris, or who knows else -- engaging in an underhanded trick to win the apple. Dionysus says he's never met the current personification of Ariadne, as far as he knows -- they've only communicated online. After some surprise that it's now possible to e-apotheosize (and a clarification by him that 'e' in both senses of the word is required), Athena said that she similarly only interacted online with Ariadne during her internship. I realize that since we've all only communicated with Ariadne online she could potentially be anybody. Suspicion initially falls on Eris who hasn't been around much. When we think it through, though, she doesn't have a lot of incentive -- and once the anomaly and I decide that we both trust her, and Hermes points out that this really doesn't seem like her style, everybody else comes around. Athena thinks it could be Aphrodite; Hermes suggests this is the kind thing Hera would do "although Ariadne's much nicer, maybe she hired a nymph"; Hera suspects Athena. Hestia intervenes to try to calm things down. Ariadne's really uncomfortable and leaves the conversation. People think this shows Ariadne's guilty of something, and that we should force her to reveal who she is; the anomaly, being a privacy advocate speaks up on her behalf; I back her, so do Aphrodite and Dionysus and eventually Athena. The meeting falls apart. Hestia PMs me afterwards saying that this is why she stepped down as an Olympian.
- At the Arboretum in Seattle, the anomaly and I discuss. We agree that several of the goddesses and Hermes are acting like they've got something to hide, and it's certainly conceivable that somebody may have apotheosized as Ariadne. We realize that we have no idea whether it's possible for a goddess to apotheosize as another (as opposed to incarnating as a mortal as may have happened with Helen). I mention that my becoming Ariadne's consort could potentially resolve the matter; she thinks it's worth a try. I ask the anomaly whether she's threatened and tell her that I worry I'm spending too much time with the goddesses and not enough with her. She reassures me that she's not feeling threatened or neglected and points out that she's getting to hang out with Orpheus and Hermes and her new favorite Eros ... oh and Trent, too. I'm surprised to hear that Eros is her favorite; she tells me they're keeping it quiet and reminds me that we haven't seen each other in a while. We agree that we would really like to be spending more time together; fortunately it seems like the matter is close to being resolved. I tell the anomaly how weird it is to be constantly overwhelmed by desire for different goddesses and that it just makes me all the more aware how much I love her and how just being around her is being in the space of desire. She says she's glad and has something for me. She gives me a ring that looks like a present and asks me to be her concubine; "under the Laws of Olympus this will make you my chattel." I happily accept and as we kiss I tell her "you're the anomaly for me!"
- Aphrodite and I finally connect in chat. She apologizes for being so busy. I congratulate her on her new favorites, the scribe and Helen; she laughs about Helen ("I'm teasing Dionysus about the rumors that I incarnated in her") but then more seriously thanks me for my advice about the the scribe. She hoped she hadn't been too distracted that night at the Dionysus concert by thinking about asking him. I reassure her that I had an absolutely wonderful time. I do however ask her about the champagne and she tells me that whoever drinks it falls in love with the next goddess they kiss -- depending on how much you've drunk, it can be very subtle at first (a little tickle that's barely perciptable) or more intense like being hit over the head with a very soft delicate velvet-covered sledgehammer (I flash on the staff at the Supper Club's surprise on hearing we had split two bottles and they should keep it coming) but in any case its effects get steadily stronger and stronger over time, like teas such as Fantasies of sensual enchantment and Tea for a goddess. She also apologizes for getting so upset when she saw me kissing Helen ("I had wanted everything that evening to be perfect and when you kissed her I was worried it had messed everything up") but things are working out great both with Helen ("she's such a quick learner!") and even more so with the scribe: the early drafts of his epic are incredible -- and by the way there's something he would like to ask my and maybe the anomaly's advice about, is that okay? Of course. Enough about her, did I want to get together for some sushi and let her know what was new with me?
- I am just about to leave and Ariadne comes in on IM. She has something to tell me and wants to know if it's okay for Metis to join us; I tell her I have to go, she says it's important, and so I call up Aphrodite and ask if it will work as well for her if we meet a little later; I'm not sure why, but Ariadne says it's important. She says it's no problem; I'm very nervous and apologetic, and she reassures me that it really is okay. We agree I'll text her when done and go back to chat. Ariadne tells me that she's actually been Hestia's, Artemis', and Aphrodite's, favourite all along, and more recently Athena and Hera have approached her; she's occasionally shared her password with them -- so they've all seen my chat logs with her. Not only that, a few times it was one of the other goddesses chatting instead of her. I ask whether this is very standard in the goddess world, and they tell me that gods and goddesses have always occasionally apotheosized and incarnated as each other but admit that this is kind of an anomalous situation. As well as Ariadne's skill, the specific vibe Dionysus is creating these days may have something to do with it. Ariadne's concerned that as mortals the anomaly will feel deceived -- and will think less of her because of this. I'm not thrilled; the anomaly had wondered whether other goddesses had apotheosized or incarnated as her (Metis confirms that this would be possible) and that this kind of has the same effect. Metis helps us talk things through; We discuss the assumptions that lead to this miscommunication, and they're both relieved I'm not more upset. I ask Ariadne if this is something she'd do in the future, and she says not without asking permission and so we agree to put this behind us. And now I really do need to go to talk to Aphrodite ... Ariadne says there are a couple of other things she wants to talk about with me but they can wait; we agree to sync back up later. I text Aphrodite and hurriedly leave.
- Aphrodite is waiting for me at the sushi place and despite my worries isn't upset; in fact she says she put the time to good use. We're glad to see each other. She orders: uni, anago, toro, hamachi, and some Ocean of Wisdom tea. I tell her about Hera's offer to be my Muse, my response, and the poems. I'm pretty embarrassed about the poems but Aphrodite tells me that this is one of the side effects of the champagne and I shouldn't be too hard on myself -- and she is very glad I asked her first; let's finish catching up and come back to this. She tells me there are videos of me kissing Helen floating around (oh great), and I tell her Ariadne's comment; she laughs, and tells me that she's been mentoring Ariadne ("the girl's a natural, never had anybody pick things up so quickly") and actually did say to Ariadne that if any woman wanted to seduce me a good first step would be to wear a matching outfit; coquettishly she leaves open the possibility that she incarnated as Helen, and also points out that it could just as easily have been Ariadne. She tells me that she has looked a lot at the pictures of me Helen and kissing each other, in her favorite dresses (and cestus) and jewelery, and really wonders how much of the desire on my face at that time was for her, how much for Helen, and how much for Hera, Hermes, Artemis, Ariadne, the anomaly. I tell her that if the definition of "beauty" is creating desire via seductiveness and sexuality she would win hands down in my books. She plays it down, says that really it's skills anybody can learn, and in fact Helen's another example of somebody well on her way to being as good as her. I tell about my asking Ariadne to be my consort and she thinks it's a great idea, as long as the anomaly isn't threatened, but looking at my ring she doesn't think that's likely to be a problem. We ooh and ah over my ring. She brings up my asking her to be my Muse and tells me that a part of her wondered whether I was doing it for self-interested reasons, that it had something to do with resolving the matter of the apple. I say no, that was just how I happened to meet her and that even without the champagne, e, and vibe, even under the influence of Ocean of Wisdom instead of Tea for a Goddess, I would still like to ask her to be my muse -- and I really didn't think it was just the necklace either, because I felt that strongly even before I put it on. She thanks me and tells me she now believes me that I was asking her sincerely and not for any self-interested reasons and is willing to consider it, in fact would like to say yes, but first she wants to hear about my talk with Artemis says. I point out that Artemis isn't speaking to me; Aphrodite tells me that she thinks I'm very clever and will find a way to end my banishment soon.
- Back home I chat again with Ariadne and finally tell her that the Pythia's oracular pronouncement may have revealed another solution; she asks "Hermes? Aphrodite? or me?" She had figured this out on her own and talked with Dionysus about it; she would be very happy to be my consort, likes hanging out with me a lot, but is worried about what the anomaly might think and assumed that's why I hadn't asked. I tell her it's fine with the anomaly, and formally ask for the honor of being her consort. She tells me that there are one or two other secrets that she can't share with me yet; I ask her if they are anything that would cause problems for me or the anomaly, and she says no; so after thinking about for a moment, I say okay, and repeat my offer. She consents. Cool!
- I tell Athena that I think there's a potential path to resolve things; she agrees, says she that she can claim autonomy and if I become her consort I can award the apple to her, and she can release it under creative commons; however, consort agreements are only valid to GoOCo if Hera ratifies them in her role as goddess of marriage, and Athena thinks that Hera would be jealous of her. So she suggests then suggests that a better solution would be for me to also become the consort of the other two goddesses -- because now Hera is more likely to buy off on it, of course -- and that I can also become her favorite. I tell her I can't become her favorite explaining the situation with Artemis, but suggest that we might be able to work together professionally at some point. We agree the three-consort approach is worth talking to Aphrodite and Hera about. I ask Athena what she thinks about me becoming Ariadne's consort and she is very skeptical ("she's so junior! and any association with Dionysus exposes you to risk") but after a little discussion agrees that it could be one more alternative to argue against GoOCo.
- I'm by myself walking in the woods in the mist trying to think how to pitch things to Hera. Artemis shows up. I tell her how glad I am to see her, how much I've missed her, and how often I've been thinking about her, and apologize deeply for my past lack of consideration and respect. She tells me that she had lunch with Aphrodite and the anomaly a few days ago and has decided to lift her banishment and refriend me; I'm grateful. She is okay with the other goddesses being my Muses as well; there will be some ground rules, but it's something we can all work out together. I thank her and tell her that while I realize I'm starting from scratch I still hope to be her favorite someday; she tells me that it will be a long path but that perhaps sometime soon she may allow me to start on it. She gives me another bracelet. As she puts it on me I feel a familiar tingle, and ask her if it's got Eros' arrowheads. She smiles mysteriously and tells me not to worry my pretty little head about it, I'll find out soon enough. I surprise her by giving her a pair of earrings I've made from the fragments of the bracelet, and showing her the matching pair that I made for myself. We hug and she kisses me; I say "that puts me over seven for sure", and she laughs, and says not to worry about it, the kiss hasn't changed anything.
- I meet up with the scribe at a bar in Shanghai. He would like to break his contract with GoOCo and Creative Commons his epic in progress. He thinks this is a better homage to his Muse Aphrodite ... by the way, had I heard that she's his Muse as well as him being her favorite? We detour a little into how very happy he is as Aphrodite's favourite -- he's been reading the threads about how lucky her favourites are, and it's an understatement. At any rate, since the epic includes a revised history of the original judgment of Paris (in which the goddesses weren't all trying to bribe Paris, he just misunderstood), he'd also like to get the word out as broadly as possible to start trying to undo the 2500-year-long smear campaign, so it's going to be the license that allow for unlimited sharing, reuse, and remixing. The EFF and IP Justice attorneys, along with the anomaly, have come up a novel legal theory that Muses have some interest in any work of art, and if a super-majority of the Muses of a work of art agree, they can Creative Commons it. They think his epic in progress is a great test case, and so is the matter of the apple. Did it make sense to join forces? I'm confused: I thought Aphrodite couldn't have property interests due to her divorce and father; he tells me that Zeus isn't actually Aphrodite's father: her alternate birth myth where she and Eros spring forward spontaneously from the ocean is the true one. I'm incredulous; then how did Zeus give her to Hephaestus? He didn't; she chose Hephaestus -- it just didn't work out. And after they split up, the original Hephaestus was such a jerk (doing drive-bys to check up on her -- a real problem because due to the volcano connection they'd cause earthquakes) that in a rare occurrence the Olympians voted to depotheosize him and elevate somebody else who proved to be much more reasonable -- so they not only became friends, he reverted all the property to her. (This is by the way what they meant on GIRLnet when they talked about Hephaestus being booted.) Wow. The anomaly and Aphrodite, who have been out shopping, come by to join us and we agree to combine the legal cases, and then move on to discussing Athena's three-consort strategy. We realize that by the same legal theory, if I become Aphrodite's consort and award her along with others the apple, she'd similarly be able to Creative Commons her share of it -- so the Pythia's prophecy was right! I ask Aphrodite to be my consort; she accepts; Ariadne joins us on chat (yes, while we're still at the bar), and we break out champagne to toast Aphrodite's new favorite, the scribe's new Muse, the ring the anomaly gave me, and to Hera's approval of my consort proposals to Ariadne and the three goddesses. Much champagne is drunk.
- I get together with Hera and before I can bring anything up with her she proposes that I not only be her consort, but also ritually marry her. She explains to me that because of Zeus' abusive treatment of her, when she divorced she was able to get autonomy, so if I become her consort and award her the apple, she can creative commons it. If on top of that we ritually marry then I will be apotheosized-by-marriage as a god which in turn means that because of our past ritual wedding, the anomaly is apotheosized-by-marriage as a goddess; while she knows how we feel about these traditional gender roles, it's got a lot of value ("some would say even better than ruling Asia"). Somewhat nervously I bring up Athena's suggestion and my discussion with Aphrodite and the scribe; I also bring up Ariadne and Hermes and ask for her blessing on all these other consort agreements. She says that her blessing for a consort agreement (as opposed to a marriage or hieros gamos) is a professional arrangement; usually it would be one boon for each consort arrangement but she might be willing to consider a volume discount. Rather embarrassed, I realize that a goddess has just asked me to marry her (ritually, that is, but still) and we've somehow wound up talking about business before I said yes ... so I belatedly and effusively accept her proposal and tell her how honored I am.
- another thread on GIRLnet. Metis, Aphrodite, and Hestia discuss the plans for the ritual marriage; Dionysus, Orpheus, and Trent will do the party afterwards, but the ritual itself needs to be all female except for me. I'm bummed because I've already asked Hermes, but that's how it's gotta be.
- I talk with Hermes, who reveals that he's actually Eris -- the two of them frequently swap bodies and apotheosize as each other. So he can be my best man after all! And this is why he was so dubious about me becoming his consort: it's a pretty lousy test case for same-gender consorts, between my trans nature and her/his body swapping. Oh well. We decide to become consorts anyhow -- and we agree to have me jump out of a cake at the bachlorette party.
- drinks at an Orpheus show, with Hera, Aphrodite, the scribe, the anomaly, Athena, Artemis, and her date (a really cute young singer rumored to be in the running for a stint as Adonis). All the goddesses are in their cestuses (cesti?). Artemis is in a very good mood and approvingly tells me that if I continue my recent improvement she might well consider me as a favorite at some point if I'm willing to take the risk. The woman who was in Shiva's boots at the Dionysus show is there as well, and introduces herself to me as Kali. She and Hera offer to come by the morning of the wedding to take Kali's teeth off me for the ceremony if I'm so inclined; I gratefully accept. Artemis tells me that if I ask her really nicely she might consider renewing her spell; I thank her put pass. Everybody thinks the necklace looks great on me and encourages me to keep it on permanently; I agree. Kali asks how I've enjoyed her kiss for the last several weeks ... I realize that her teeth were effectively a kiss from a goddess ... oh man. Is this the seventh kiss? Much laughter at my expense. Kali tells the anomaly that she would like me as her toy once the matter is resolved; originally she was going to ask this as her boon, but she's heard that I'm the anomaly's chattel, so she'll just ask her instead ("depending on how much you want for his time, I might well save the boon for later"). Hera tells the anomaly that she should take Kali up on her offer: "mortals are so much better behaved after a stint as Kali's toy!" Aphrodite enthusiastically agrees (the scribe looking visibly nervousn), and much to my surprise so does Artemis ("sometimes I think Kali's methods are a little extreme but I think this might be just what kallisti needs"). The anomaly asks Kali if a pair of those nipple clamps she's so excited about would be a fair price for a few weeks; Kali says it's a fair price. They'll talk more after the matter is resolved, but if Kali would like to test-drive me for a night before the ceremony it's fine with the anomaly.
- at the bachelorette party at the Supper Club; not just Aphrodite's private room, we've taken over the whole place! All the goddesses and GIRL members are there except Ariadne and Selene. Lakshmi in charge of the kitchen so the food and wine is all wonderful and abundant, and there is plenty of champagne. There's a lot of discussion about all the goddesses I owe boons to and what they might request. Aphrodite, Metis, Hermes/Eris, and the anomaly who are all talking with Helen -- who it turns out is really Ariadne. Ah, but were one or more other goddesses also incarnating in her during the kiss at the Dionysus show? That's her secret. Anyhow she's glad to see me again, hope I don't mind that she couldn't reveal this to me earlier, and looking forward to the ritual. The videographer has assembled a rough cut, and shows us a scene: Ariadne thanks Aphrodite for letting her wear the cestus that night in San Francisco. There's a voiceover of me saying "fortunately I'm immune", and Artemis then explains that this my immunity only lasts until the golden apple situation is resolved: "once kallisti awards the apple, he will fall in love with everybody who he's seen wearing a cestus to date -- or fall more deeply in love with them, as the case may be." Over clips of Ariadne [as Helen], Hera, Athena [on the video], Hermes/Eris who of course has "borrowed" it from time to time, and Dionysus; and of Aphrodite making her grand entrance at the Dionysus show and a closeup of the thread on GIRLnet with me saying "I'm confused" and hearing that there were two cestuses, Artemis then tells the camera that since I didn't recognize the cestus at the time I saw people in it, her spell didn't help me at all ... so I fell in love with each of Hera, Athena, Aphrodite, and Ariadne when I saw them in it. However, since I've been anticipating the retroactive effects so much, they actually will kick in when the matter is resolved. Metis discusses the most likely that the matter will be effectively resolved when my ritual marriage becames official and I kiss Hera -- who may well be wearing her cestus at the time. Everybody applauds the videeo and although I'm worried I come across as somewhat clueless; there is much laughter at my expense and general agreement that it's part of mu charm. Ariadne says she's going to cut out early from the bachelorette party to spend the night with Dionysus. Aphrodite leaves too to spend the night with the scribe. Back at the hotel Hermes/Eris in her role as best man and Orpheus (with Hera's permission) get me really drunk and when Hera and Kali and the anomaly come by in the morning they discover us waking up in bed together and in mock disapproval tell me they're not going to take the teeth off for the ritual. After much pleading on my part they relent.
- in the desert with Hestia. I tell her how it's only by thinking of our time together in her temple in Cambodia that I've been able to keep from feeling overwhelmed. I also feel like I'm making progress on the over-analysis and thank her for all her counsel. She tells me that she's proud of me, and ever since she kissed me the first time we met she was confident that I'd be able to resolve the matter in a way that works for everybody. She kissed me? Yes, during the Pythia's prophecy. I finally realize that I had been kissed by seven goddesses before my discussion with Aphrodite where I said I would continue with my quest to be Artemis' exclusive favorite -- and when I reaffirmed that the anomaly had veto power -- and so my worries about being tempted by goddesses and losing judgment had turned out to be just my insecurity. We talk some about the Pythia's prophecies and Hestia tells me that Hestia had done two tarot readings for me. In one, she chose the King of Swords as the significator (representing me), and as well as the Page of Cups, all the other Pages and all four Queens showed up. In the other, she chose the Fool as the significator, and the cards included the Magician, Tower, the Moon, the Lovers, the Star, the World, the Empress, and the High Priestess.
- ritual in the Mojave, the full moon low and beautiful in the sky, with Hestia officiating (assisted by Metis), Hermes/Eris and the anomaly in roles of "best man" and "maid of honor", GIRL including new members Artemis and Kali attending. Everybody's stunned how gorgeous Aphrodite looks; she tells us the scribe asked her to marry him last night and so she's deliriously happy. The hieros gamos starts with me becoming Aphrodite's consort, in her role of Goddess of Desire. Next I become consort to Athena; Ariadne; and Hermes/Eris. I formally thank all my Muses, including everybody in attendance as well as Selene (we all pause briefly to admire the moon which is now even more beautiful) and dedicate my work in progress to them. Then I ritually marry Hera, in her role as Goddess of Marriage; this apotheosizes me as a god (in addition to my already potentially being a trans-goddess). And finally the anomaly (dressed in a cestus) and I renew our vows. "You may now kiss the bride and consorts and Muses and the anomaly." It's an overwhelming experience ...
- post-ritual party, with Orpheus and his band (and Trent Reznor joining on a few songs) opening, Dionysus spinning the overnight set, and Apollo flying his chariot in for the dawn set. Orpheus wraps up his set, with the final song a cover of Bob Schneider's "Tarantula", and we all dance. Before Dionysus goes on at midnight, it's time for me to award the apple; I award it jointly to twelve goddesses (Hera, Aphrodite, Athena, Ariadne, Metis, Hestia, Artemis, Selene, Eris/Hermes, Kali, Bastet, and Brigid) in their roles as Muses and in some cases consorts -- and the anomaly. Everybody's happy! Orpheus dedicates his songs to Hera as his Muse; the scribe dedicates his epic-in-progress to Aphrodite. Not to be outdone, after hurriedly caucusing, the goddesses and the anomaly decide that us guys should also share the apple along with them, and Athena announces that she and Ariadne have been writing a strategy guide for artists and Muses, dedicated to Dionysus, Orpheus, the scribe, and me. The goddesses jointly announce that they'll release the apple, songs, epic, and strategy guide under Creative Commons licenses, and that they're confident enough about the results of litigation (and ready to fight it, on multiple grounds, to the Supreme Court if necessary) that they're putting them all up on the web effective immediately! The videographer gets footage, useful for the documentaries and fictions she's working on for the anomaly, Orpheus, the scribe, Dionysus, Apollo, Trent Reznor, Athena and Ariadne, and the new business that Hermes/Eris and I are starting up. As Dionysus starts his set, after congratulations and hugs and kisses all around the others drift off leaving me and the anomaly together on the dance floor, alone in the middle of everybody ... and her wearing the cestus.
- if necessary, coda: GIRL final report, wrapping up loose ends and resolving plot points.