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Primitive Goth Ferryman Of The River Styx!
You don't remember the details of what happened.......you just know that you are here, in an unknown land.
Your eyes struggle to adjust to the change in light. The sights, smells, and sounds begin to give you a hint of your whereabouts, however, you are slowly beginning to understand that you are in a temporary situation. You continue to walk closer to a river.
Birds are flying about, but they make no sound.
There's an eerie silence, except for the gentle lapping of the black waters against rotting logs and driftwood that has washed up along the shore.
The stench of the river begins to fill your nostrils.
You also smell hints of fires that are burning....
You now know where you are. You have reached....
The River Styx.
Instantly filled with fear, you realize that you are now among the dead, on your way to Hades.
Your mind races with thoughts and memories of the things you had learned about the Underworld.
In the book The Iliad, the river Styx was the only river of the Underworld; in The Odyssey it is coupled with Cocytus and Pyriphlegethon, which flow into the chief river Acheron. There was also the river Lethe in the Underworld.
These are the five rivers that surround Hades. However, the river Styx was always the most well known, and the most sacred.
To the Gods, there was no oath more sacred than to swear by the river Styx. Some have said that the river was so foul that to drink of it brought instant death. Some said it bubbled with fire. By some accounts, Achilles was dipped into the River Styx to wash away his mortality.
Although you really don't want to be here, Hades, or the Underworld, is not a place for evil men. Instead, it is a great omnibus... a place for everyone.
While the Greeks have always viewed Hades as a dismal depressing place, it does have it's paradise, the Elysian Fields, where heroes went when their time came. It also had its punishments for those, such as Tantalus, who upset the Gods.
The realm of Hades was beyond the ocean in the far west, which to the Greeks was always the region of darkness and death, and the east was of light and life.
This is the view of Hades presented in the book The Odyssey.
Besides this gloomy region, as we know, we find in another passage of The Odyssey a picture of the Elysium Fields, a happy land at the ends of the earth, where rain and snow fall not, but the cool west wind blows and all men live at ease.
After the situation with Homer, this happy land, the abode of the good after death, was known as the Isles of the Blest.
But in the oldest Greek mythology the House of Hades was simply the home of the dead, good and bad alike, who led a dim and shadowy reflection of life on earth.
As your mind reasons with your new surroundings, you feel something strange in your mouth......it's a gold coin. It was then that you remembered that those who were buried properly would find a coin called an obol under their tongue, which they would present to Charon, the ferryman of the river Styx.
Charon, pronounced kerŽen (like the girl's name Karen, or Karon) was known for being uncommunicative, and would ferry his clients across the river without saying a word.
You also remember that those who were not buried with coins in their mouths were doomed to wander the river's edge until they found the Pauper's Entrance to Hades.
Although when Heracles went to Hades to bring back Cerberus, he gave Charon such a menacing glance, that the ferryman took him across without payment.
That's the only time that something like that had happened here.
As you look around, you see the faint shadows of those who are wondering around aimlessly. A few of them moan out of hopelessness. A few more are huddled together, trying to give comfort to the newly arrived ones.
You shudder at the sight and feel a sense of gratefulness that you are not among them.
.....gives a whole new meaning to being one of the Grateful Dead, huh?
And if the dead didn't receive a burial, Charon may make exceptions or allowances for those visitors carrying a certain Golden Bough....a golden branch of a tree.
Otherwise, Charon always keeps the souls of the unburied at a distance. None may be taken across from bank to bank if he had not received burial.
Suddenly, you hear a Crow calling out, and a cool wind from the west engulfs you......the Zephyr.
The Crow lands on the front of a small wooden boat.....and the boat is headed right for you.
You can't move. You are scared, yet strangely fascinated by a movement in the fog upon the water.
As the fog dissipates from around the figure, you realize that you are looking right at Charon himself....
Charon, the Ferryman of the River Styx has come for YOU!You had never seen anything more fear-inspiring, yet you sensed comfort, knowing that Charon was not your enemy. Still, his looks were gruesome and foreboding.
Cool stuff: As I began writing this story, one of my favorite older movies from back in 1981 came on TV.....Clash Of The Titans. This movie has a scene in it of the Ferryman of the River Styx.
Also, Susan Fleetwood (may her soul rest in peace), sister of Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac fame, is also in this movie. She played the part of Athena.
There he was.....just as you had imagined him. You could hear the creaking of the wooden boat as it eased itself towards you.
The boat was made of real wood. It had been painted black and sanded down for an aged look. Inside the boat were two wooden oars, also painted black and sanded.
The boat measured 24 7/8" X 9 3/4" X 3 5/8" thick.
Perfect for table top or window display.
In his right hand the glow of Charon's golden lantern nearly blinded you, for a second. The globe was made of real glass and inside the lantern, illuminating Charon's way, was a dark blue candle.
Charon himself was wearing a large hooded cloak made of hand-dyed 'shop' rags. All of the seams of the cloak were exposed and made his appearance more ominous. He also wore an overlay around his shoulders. It was of a gauzy gray fabric and was tattered and showed several rusty stains here and there.
Resting upon the chest of Charon was a heavy pewter human skull pendant.
As he came closer to the banks of the river, you could see a golden coin in his left hand. He had just transported someone to the other bank of the River Styx. The coin was a real $1.00 gold U.S. coin.
Another 'golden thing' caught your eye. There, on the bottom of the black boat, was a Golden Bough.
Indeed.......earlier in the day, some poor soul didn't have a coin, yet they had a Golden Bough to offer the ferryman in exchange for transportation.
The boat finally comes to a stop. Without so much as a wobble, a 27 inch tall Charon stands to greet you.
Just then, the Zephyr blows once again, this time revealing the horrid face of Charon.
His wind-swept hood exposed his vinyl skeleton face. Down deep inside yourself you wanted to scream from fright, but you knew better. You needed the services of Charon, you couldn't afford to insult him.
His face was like nothing you'd ever seen before. The skeletal face was evidence that his own flesh disappeared thousands of years ago.
Charon was considerate to wear the dark, heavy robes. It kept the newly arrived souls from being too frightened upon seeing him.
His hood can be worn pulled down, to hide his face, or it can be worn back ...just far enough to see his face.
Charon is waiting on the banks of the River Styx for you. He won't be there for too much longer.
The others are getting closer to you.....who will be the first to give Charon a coin, and embark on a journey with him?
Copyright © August 7, 2003 Cathy Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander
Another super special thanks to eBay seller imosh for the skull pendant.
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My dolls are not for everyone, they are my art. If you are offended, I suggest you hit the back button. It will not do you any good to write me 'hate mail'.
In spite of the dolls I create and the stories I write, I do not use recreational drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't even drink alcoholic beverages.. I out-grew a lot of things a long time ago.