After traveling high into the mountains Paul and Professor Not reached the end of a dirt road, and followed a foot path into the pine forest. Along the way there was a great many people and donkeys moving up and down the narrow trail, carrying in supplies for the Ass Festival. Paul volunteered to carry in a large box of green beans intended for "Pinkbeard's Kitchen" beyond the main circle. Carrying this box proved to be more difficult than he first expected as the trail carried on and on, soon he lost sight of Professor Not.
Paul knew that there were countless people, many of them quite high, who would respond to any cry of distress. So hedid not worry about finding Professor Not, and proceeded to set a leisurely pace. Soon he found a shaded spot to stop and take some water. There he heard an old man, muttering a prayer that had become popular in certain circles in recent years.
"Our Mother, The Living Earth
Sacred is your Body
Your wounds shall heal
Your lessons be heard
In deed as well as word
Thank you for my life
And the Joys within it.
Endure my pollution
As I must endure the pollution of other beings
Lead me not to over consumption
but select me for your service
For you are my Love, my Sustainer, and my Teacher."
After hearing the prayer Paul asked "I am surprised to hear that song in these mountains, at this festival. What brings you here?"
And the man replied "I have prayed this for many years, long before it became popular, indeed it is my invention. I have come seeking Zarathustra's children, in hopes that this 'Ass Festival' might have attracted them. It was Zarathustra who taught 'stay true to the Earth'. And this teaching of his is the one that has been most negelected, just as the Earth herself has been so neglected. But I have been here for two days. I have found a festival, with much celebrations and debauchery, I think I have even seen Silenus and Dyonisses running through the woods. And I have found much ass, I have counted at least three different kinds in great abundance one pleasing, one useful, and one neither. But, I have not found Zarathustra's Children."
Paul questioned him further "How do you imagine you would recognize them? And what do you intend to implement by finding them?"
"I would recognize those who can command themselves. Those who have learned both to obey and to command, and they who further can conjoin these different skills in one act. They would be able to help me."
"But, I thought you hoped to serve the Mother?"
"Oh very much, and I do in many ways, but servitude to her is but a start. Something else is needed, for she will survive the worst that we can dish out at her, as the prayer states "Your wounds shall heal". But it is her children who are in existential danger. Humanity less that most, when counted as a species, but when counted as a cultural being, which is the most human thing about humans, we are the most endangered!
"You see I am a master at obeying! By worshiping the Earth, who is directly tangible, and sensuously knowable, one can learn obedience in a way that no God of pure imagination could teach. Still over developing one skill can impoverish another, and I cannot command, not even one as obediant as myself. When Mother is exposed I cover her with what ever green reinments I can find seed for. What poisions I can prevent for bring released I prevent, and destroy what poisons I have power to transmute. But I don't know how to go on, how to survive as my self as my kind!
"I feel extinction breathing down my neck, not of my species, but of my culture. The Children of Zarathustra I seek, maybe those born from his imagination would have the spirit to bring forth a culture hard and endurent."
"Is endurance enough?"
"Of course not young man. But, it will be needed, you and I don't need to fret the details, but great change uproots and over turns cultures; and we are seeing the beginning of a change greater than the art of writing has had opportunity to record. But, I cannot imagine what can bear such turmoil but maybe the Children..."
"But what do you care what endures Mother Lover? Won't the Mother, in her vast fertility, re-cover herself with a new generation of Life?
"So that the worst of this, this great catastrophy can mean something. I can tell you aren't as foolish as those who say "meaning is what I say it is" as if they were capable of issue meaning, or as if much more powerful forces weren't issuing meanings of their own. No! Some seed, some sense of this mess, of what happened, and how must survive! This must be learned from, and Zarathustra's Children were my hope, until I saw this place."
"Oh, I think I understand you now." said Paul "When you prayed 'endure my pollution' do you now mean 'learn from my pollution"? The will to teach even a Goddess, you yourself may be the Child you sought? I am hardly ready to say what the Earth should learn myself, but I know enough to say that she will have a worse time of it all if you give into grief." And then well rested Paul continued along the trail, looking for Pinkbeard.