Milky Moon

Full moon in Capricorn Phoenix Wolf-Ray flickr

Photo credit: Phoenix Wolf-Ray

One by one, the boys are silhouetted against the fire, dancing the ritual, stomping harder to compensate for small numbers.  The burnt clove smoke of the women’s pipes weaves around the lone drum beat and the girls’ high chant.

We sing prayers to Sambar, thanking him for the harvest we slaved to save.  But it was Sambar who sent our men to war.  Secretly, sinfully, I pray to his wife.

Dearest Elsanami, dampen your husband’s angry flames, soothe his brow, sweeten the world.

I imagine she is the moon, watching, weeping–perhaps helpless, as we down here, to do more.

Word count: 100.  Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge.  Thanks as always to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting!  See the original prompt photo, below.

I almost titled this one “Morbid Moon.”  Just a couple days ago, I was saying that I didn’t think my stories were that morbid, but recent events in Las Vegas and politics overall in my country have turned my thoughts decidedly in that direction.


Photo © Ted Strutz


42 thoughts on “Milky Moon

  1. Sad, but understandable that your fiction might turn that way, especially after such a horrifying event. The world seems such a battered place these days with one thing and another.
    Grand tale, Joy and I don’t blame your MC for searching for softer ears that might listen to her. Some kinder times would be gratefully received.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Loving life and being joyful is a great idea when you can do it. But if all the men in my village had gone off to war and probably weren’t coming back, I wouldn’t blame anyone for being angry and sad about that. Thanks for reading!


    • Most of the religions worshiping Sambar hold him as the supreme, monotheistic father god. Some of his “children” (read: gods from other regions that got absorbed into the pantheon) are okay to pray to for specific, small purposes, but praying to his wife is strictly verboten in this patriarchal society.

      But yes, I’m with you, which is why I created a whole splinter sect that worships the “wife” goddess Elsanami equally or even primarily. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this one, Joy. The discrepancies in power between Sambar and Elsanami bring out the type of civilization that they are. They clearly know that he wields the greater power, so despite the issues they have no other option other than to pray to him.

    On a completely unrelated note, Sambar is a type of lentil based stew we make 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it, thanks for reading!

      I’m always fascinated by what inanimate things people ascribe as being more female or more male. In the culture this story is set in, the big “sky god” is male (although he’s more associated with rain and storms than the sun) and the actual moon goddess (who isn’t his wife) is female. But in the great Azza’at Empire, the pantheon was led by a goddess associated with the sun, her husband was associated with the earth, and her lover was a minor moon god.


    • I’m with you on that! Although in Eneana, as in our own world, the anger and war-mongering turn out to be less about what the gods actually want and more about what mortals in power want and ascribe to their gods to bolster their own rationales. Thanks for the great comment, Bjorn.


  3. I love the tone of this short piece, Joy. You’ve created a great atmosphere around that campfire with the wonderful imagery of the dancing and chanting and the drifting of clove-scented smoke – and all beneath that huge, sad moon. I think many women through the ages have considered the gods of war too harsh and turned to gentler female deities. Lasting peace is something we all yearn for.
    I’ve just noticed your comment about what the gods actually want (above) and wholeheartedly agree with that, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Millie, glad you liked the imagery! Sambar isn’t quite a god of war, and other religions devoted to the same deity interpret him quite differently, as a sky god primarily associated with rain and crops rather than with storms and strength. But the most prevalent Sambaran religion is the closest Eneana has to Christianity, with its monotheistic father god and its patriarchal roots, so a lot of things (like men going to war and powerless women seeking a gentler sense of the divine) will seem familiar. But Eneana also has religions with female gods of war and death (more like the Hindus’ Kali) and male gods of peace (more like Buddha), You know me, I like to mix it up. 🙂


      • I suppose it would be unrealistic to expect all male gods to be gods of war and female ones to be gentle and peace-promoting. And I do know how you like to be adventurous with such matters. 🙂 I somehow thought that Sambar was a god of war in your story. Thank you for filling me in on the background and I’ll try to remember if I ‘meet’ him again.. It was a great scene, anyway, beautifully written.


      • I don’t expect readers to keep track of the religions, there are so many! In the case of this story, the leaders used Sambar as their excuse for war. But then, Christians have done the same thing all across history, even though I don’t think they’d call Yahweh a god of war.


      • Throughout history, people of most religions have gone to war in the name of their god(s) and you aptly use the word ‘excuse’.
        Are you doing NaNo this year, Joy? Just wondered… you often do.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I was just debating that with another blogger friend. Um… probably? I’m competitive enough that I don’t want to start it if I don’t think I can get 50K. I know I can’t get 50K unless I can get some time off work, and I need to sit down with my teams to figure out whether my projects can manage well enough if I drop back to part time for four weeks. Because the idea of a few 4 or 5-day weekends in a row sounds like heaven! I’m also debating between two new novel ideas (the Corwallen novel needs a ton of revising, I can’t use that one again). So far the one with Dar in it (from my story Unreachable Peak) is “winning”.


      • I know how hard it must be to write while you’re still working – especially with a position like the one you hold. You do brilliantly to keep your blog going as well as write your books at home. I only asked because I know how successful you’ve been on NaNo other times. I’m sure you’ll make the right decision for you.
        I imagine starting something comletely from scratch for NaNo could be a great challenge. You could just let the ideas flow that you seem to have crammed in your head right now. Lol. I’d love to be starting something new, but I’ve got to get my Book 3 finished by Christmas.
        Must go to bed – I seem to have been on WP for hours today. Too much catching up to do. I’ll read a few more of your posts asap.

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’ll see how it goes. This new project isn’t completely from scratch; I have a pretty decent idea of what happens and who the main characters are, although there’s a TON more to be worked out. There might be a lot of spots where I write [culture thing goes here] and just keep going…


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