Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Sleeping Lady

The Tiny Sleeping Lady, Malta
This is the story of The Sleeping Lady, but not the one most commonly known by that title. This one was not crafted 5,000 years ago in Malta nor was she painted by the post-impressionist artist, Gauguin, but she was entombed. Buried in sleep; trapped in coma. Her existence was blotted out, as in the past, her story was interpreted as evil. People were discouraged from spreading rumours of sightings. Reclining ladies that were immortalised were often hailed 'Sleeping Mother Goddess', but she was called “Sleeping Magdalene.” There's no rest if you sin. 
Gauguin's Mette Asleep On A Sofa

In repose, to the few that observed her, she was a beauty. Her skin was translucent and her long hair was as dark as a raven's. She was dainty with delicate limbs, which were longer than those ever seen before on a woman. She was temptingly elegant, and laid out on a stone bed even more so, which led people to say that 'her torment would be catching', and so she was removed to an underground temple. A sealed tomb that cannot now be found, for its location if it was recorded has been lost. She was meant to be forgotten about, but in their dreams people saw her; felt her trying to fight her unnatural sleep. A sleep, it was said, she was bound to. They felt how she struggled to toss and turn; how she tried to shout 'Stop!' or moan. They too felt her paralytic state, and saw how despite her best efforts to awake, she in fact remained still.
Other nights, people dreamt what she dreamt; they hallucinated with her. Guardian Angels standing over their beds, Spiritual Guides holding their heads, Gospel choirs, and arrhythmic drumming. Some were euphoric, others woke up fearful, dripping with sweat and dreading this wilderness. A small number were concerned that this lady's sleep was far from peaceful; she was clearly trapped and wandering. They said: 'Nothing hurts as much as a scream in silence.' Too many, however, felt this was her evil doing: Sleeping Magdalene was trying to drug them! Attempting to bring her Hell to them.
Magi were sent to rouse her, but nothing could stir her; nothing could rescue her from this nightmarish dead sleep. Whatever spell had been cast, it was too powerful, and some people worried that if she awoke, her wickedness would overcome them. So they dug an even deeper pit and added more bricks to the outer walls of the temple, in the belief that by doing this, the living could no longer be affected. Interred in the bowels of the Earth, her unwelcome side effects did cease.
However, curiosity about her did not. Where had she come from? People moved; the landscape changed; sleep and dreams returned to normal, but some still wondered. For many years, those in power said her blunder was unpardonable, but nobody knew what that was. It was discovered much later. 'Sleeping Magdalene' anointed men's feet, which at the time was considered shameful. With these hands, she unwittingly touched a holy man's feet and instantly fell into a deep slumber. He marked her with sin to save her from him.