In the wanderings of the Goddess, she came upon a traveling wrestler challenging all comers. The wrestler said, “They call me ‘I am.’ For within this ring, I am the power that determines the worthy. All that are not worthy shall be cast out. Then, when all are cast out, only I shall remain. Therefore they call me ‘I am.'”
Now the crowd was inflamed, and three of the heftiest of them rose one by one to the challenge. To the first the wrestler said, “I shall call you Greed. Thus calling you, I grasp you. Thus grasping you, I cast you out!” And Greed was cast out. To the second the Wrestler said, “I shall call you Ill Will. Thus calling you, I grasp you. Thus grasping you, I cast you out!” And Ill Will was cast out. To the third and final the Wrestler said, “I shall call you Misperception. Thus calling you, I grasp you. Thus grasping you, I cast you out!” And Misperception was cast out.
All comers were called by one of these three–Greed, Ill Will, or Misperception–and all were cast out in just this way. The crowd surged forward with praise and reward. But the wrestler refused all, mounted a wagon, and left.
The Goddess followed the wrestler. In the next village, the same events took place. All comers were called Greed, Ill Will, or Misperception, and all were cast out. Still the wrestler refused both praise and reward.
In a third village it was so yet again. Finally the Goddess approached the wrestler. She said, “Fellow wanderer, stop apace and talk with me. What is it you seek, if neither praise nor reward?” The wrestler answered, “They call me ‘I am.’ But I am not worthy. Therefore I feel obliged to seek someone worthy of ‘I am.’ Everyday I cast out all comers, countless incarnations of Greed, Ill Will, and Misperception, and I never find anyone worthy of that name.”
Then the Goddess said, “Wrestle me.” They did and she was called Greed, but she was not cast out. Then she was called Ill Will, but she was not cast out. Finally she was called Misperception, but she was not cast out.
Then the wrestler cried, “At last!–someone worthy of ‘I am!’ I shall call you my Self! Thus calling you, I grasp you. Thus grasping you, I cast you out!” And the wrestler was cast out.
The next day a crowd came looking for a bout, but they found the wrestler sitting idly in the wagon. The wrestler explained, “She followed me and stayed with me all the radiant, blissful night. But in the morning she was gone. Now there is no one left to wrestle. Never again need I ask ‘Is anyone worthy of ‘I am?'”
Image Credit: “Conscience” by Kharlamov
Rotting Silver is a column devoted to this Earth in all its tarnished radiance: poetry, prose, and parables of ugliness alloyed with joy.
This piece was first published at The Witch’s Voice.
B. T. Newberg: Since the year 2000, B. T. has been practicing meditation and ritual from a naturalistic perspective. He currently volunteers as Education Director for the Spiritual Naturalist Society, where he created and now teaches an online course in naturalistic spirituality (including Naturalistic Paganism!). His writings can also be found at Patheos and Pagan Square, as well as right here at HP.
He also hosts a new podcast called Dead Ideas: The Podcast of Extinct Thoughts and Practices. It explores ideas once believed to be true, but no longer.
Professionally, he teaches English as a Second Language, and hopes to begin a PhD program in the psychology of religion soon. After living in Minnesota, England, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea, he currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with his wife and cat.
After founding HumanisticPaganism.com in 2011 and serving as managing editor till 2013, he now serves as advising editor, and feels blessed to be a part of this community.