Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I have chosen The First Love Stories by Diane Wolkstein. Included in her lovely book are the tales of:
1. Isis and Osiris
2. Inanna and Dumuzi
3. Shiva and Sati
4. The Song of Songs from the Old Testament
5. Psyche and Eros
6. Layla and Majnun
7. Tristan and Iseult
Oh, these were not very happy people and some of their tales are pure horror! Yes, If you think these are perfectly happy stories, without any horror, you need to think again. Like most fairy tales, these first love stories are rooted in the primal emotions of human desire and love. In basic psychology, it is known that human beings do not choose love consciously. Love comes because it must; it comes despite what we humans want. And well, the rest is a really good story, no matter what genre.
I don’t want to give the entire book away. If you aren’t interested in buying it, you can google some of the names and read about the myths, because they are timeless and could make for some fantastic retellings, even heavily disguised.
But there are a few tidbits:
Isis and Osiris were lovers and gods of Egypt. Of course there was a jealous brother named Set who murdered Osiris and chopped him to pieces. Isis, somehow found all the pieces, put them back together and resurrected her lover, and then they conceived a child named Horus. Of course, Osiris could not stay in the world, being really dead and all, so he became the god of the Underworld. Osiris and his brother Set fought for years and years. We can all understand why.
Inanna and Dumuzi were husband and wife and very much in love, until Inanna decided to visit the Sumerian Underworld. The whole story reminds me of Dante’s Hell and the people who went there on some sort of journey to find themselves. Sumerian culture is full of demons and some of the first non-European vampires. Yes, cups of blood were passed around at parties. So poor Inanna is facing her dark side and her husband doesn’t do the proper mourning and so, he must go and live in the Underworld six months out of each year. Kind of reminds me of Persephone’s trials. Ah, the power of Mother Nature. Now we know how we got the two main seasons, summer and winter!
Shiva and Sati were lovers and like most of the lovers in this book, were doomed not to be happy. You know that old story about Hindu widows burning themselves to death after their husband’s die. Well, that movement was started by Sati, only she did it for another reason. And her actions brought chaos and confusion into the world. Of course, Shiva became very angry. Who wouldn’t? Payback was awful.
I want to wish everyone a Happy Bloody Valentine’s Day!