III – Petra the Earth Mother

In the beginning was the Great Mother, and her name was Penna. And Penna had four daughters, whose names were Petra, Edna, Callan and Corva.

The daughters of Penna, who were bound together by the woven cloth of the Great Mother, and who were created from her womb, themselves began to create. They gave life to plants and animals, fishes and birds, rivers and mountains and many other works of creation.

As they did so, Petra began to long for her own daughter, and to stand for that daughter as Penna stood for Petra. She longed herself to become a mother and to bring forth new life that was not a plant or animal, or a bird or fish, or a river or a mountain. A new life, like herself, reborn.

At first, Petra turned to the rocks, but her creations of rock neither moved, nor spoke, nor loved. Then she tried to create a daughter for herself in the same way as she had created the animals of the forest. Some of her creatures were failures and did not long survive. Others were strong enough to survive but were not at all like Petra, and these creations later became the monkeys, baboons and other apes of the forests and plains.

But Petra never came close to creating a daughter.

She came then to seek out her own mother Penna. Penna was making bread and as she kneaded the dough to make it elastic and smooth she thought deeply, pounding the bread in a rhythm with her heart’s contractions. At length, she covered the dough and placed it in the warm dark. Then she brought a dish of pomegranates to the table to share with her daughter.

As they ate the red seeds, Penna spoke: This is a sacred mystery, and the making of a daughter is not to be done simply, or lightly. You may think of joy and that a daughter is a gift. She is also a sorrow and a burden, which will tear out your love, and wring your heart, and pound your soul. It is not an easy thing.

Petra bent her head respectfully, but she continued to yearn for a daughter. Penna therefore sent her to reflect in a cave for seven days. After seven days, Petra returned to her mother. Penna was weaving a linen cloth and as she worked the shuttle across the warp, she again thought deeply. At length, she put away her weaving and infused a tea which she brought to share with her daughter.

As they drank the green tea, Penna spoke: This is a powerful thing that you wish to do, and irrevocable. The making of a daughter will create a bond that cannot be broken, a connection that may not be severed, an evergreen obligation.

Petra continued to yearn for a daughter and Penna therefore sent her again to reflect in the same cave. After seven days, Petra returned to her mother.

This time, Penna held Petra in her arms and then, placing her hands on the belly of her daughter, gave her gift.

Months passed and Petra began to prepare herself. A child grew within her and became a burden so great that Petra could not walk. And then, squatting with her mother in the quiet dark, Petra gave birth to a daughter, Cleista, the first grand-daughter. The child was strong, and Petra took her immediately to her breast to suckle and to grow with the love that flows.

And, because Penna was pleased with her daughter and with the infant Cleista, she gave another gift.

She gave to Penna, daughter of the Earth, in honour of Cleista, the wisdom of fertility so that from that day Petra, eldest daughter of the Great Mother, became the Earthly Mother whose life and power was to cover the earth with daughters.