I am Marcella, called the Songbird because of my voice and because I can make men’s bodies sing. I can write my story in my own hand, because my father paid for a tutor. He was a merchant who sailed to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea.
Bruno brings me figs and young green olives of Lucca, the best of the new harvest. The cloth of gold that trims my dress belonged to my mother. The mad monk of Florence tried to kill her for wearing it, under his sumptuary laws. Witch, they called her, as they call me, though none dares to raise a hand against me so long as I have the favor of the bishop. I confess that I sewed the mouth of a toad shut to punish a calumniator for speaking against me and to silence his abuses, and that I melted a wax imago of Cosimo’s organ after he raped me.
I will never marry, but I know men and they know me. There is no one in the city as practiced in the arts of love, though there are acts I will not perform, not even for the bishop.
Bruno will guard my body with his life, and he is as strong as a bear. But I know I will not be allowed the fullness of my years. I have no wish to survive the withering of my body, still firm and juicy as a maiden’s after forty summers.
I will heed the wishes of my sisters of the Hive. We are about in all the countries of Christendom and in many that have never heard of Christ or accepted his message.
I wrote these lines after leading a group journey to a Chamber of Mirrors where you can look into the lives of personalities in other times who are part of your multidimensional family. Participants in the workshop were asked to write an autobiographical statement in the voice of a personality of another time. The voice that wanted to speak through me was that of Marcella. Her reference to her mother's persecution by a "mad monk" (evidently Savonarola, a Dominican who ruled Florence and staged the notorious Bonfire of the Vanities before he was excommunicated and executed in 1498) suggests she lived in 16th century Italy. I am glad to know her, because in most of my impressions of past lives closely associated with my own, I have found myself linked to men, typically men of power.
Where are the women? I have often asked myself. Oh, there is that woman of the future; I feel her even now, as I write. She is a priestess and a scientist, working to restore our world, seven generations into the future. Dreaming is central to her practice and that of her Order, and I am driven by a sense of obligation to her, the obligation - through my work as a dream teacher - to help make her possible.
Perhaps Marcella and I will now be able to share gifts. In psychological terms, such episodes may mean that I am getting more deeply in touch with my female side, and I would be happy with that. Except that the encounter also feels transpersonal. Jane Robert's Seth insists that "the entire reincarnational framework must involve both sexual experiences. Abilities cannot be developed by following a one-sex line. There must be experiences in motherhood and fatherhood." Perhaps I am making a little progress.
Marcella hints at an Order of women content to call themselves a Hive. I have encountered this language, and similar women, in other times and other lands, "in all the countries of Christendom and in many that have never heard of Christ or accepted his message", just as Marcella says.
Detail of a 16th century portrait of an unknown woman (sometimes identified as Lucrezia Borgia) by Bartolemeo Veneto.