‘ Amunet was supposed to be the mother and the father of all life, without the need for separate male fertilisation. She was therefore considered to be both the wife and mother of Amun.’
John Stanley-19th May 1355.
They returned to the inn where they found there were still many people enjoying themselves. They ordered two mugs of ale and settled themselves into what was a very happy atmosphere.
‘Well?’ John asked.
‘Pherrrr, I need to give some credibility to what I have to say.’
‘Go on, go on.’
‘I attended St George’s School in Windsor.’
‘We were taught classics.’
John shook his head in exasperation.’So?’
‘Stop it, John. Do you want to listen or not?’
‘Yes, yes. I want to know.’
‘We were taught Greek and Latin. I speak both languages quite well. We were told we were taught these ancient languages so that we could read the ancient documents without a translator.’
‘But it wasn’t. We were never given access to the original documents. There was a separate stream, clerics, those with ambitions for the church. They had a separate curriculum. They were given access to ancient documents.’
‘I was emphatically not interested in becoming a cleric but I made friends with some of them. They talked to me as if it was a great secret. They told me what they discovered and how that was interpreted by the monks.’
Piers opened his eyes wide open. ‘So here we go! Hold your breath! Amun and Amunet are the earliest recorded gods. They were worshipped in Egypt thousands of years ago. They were reputed to be the male and female aspects of a single god, the fountain of all life. Further, Amunet was supposed to be the mother and the father of all life, without the need for separate male fertilisation. She was therefore considered to be both the wife and mother of Amun.’
‘She is the symbol of matriarchal rather than patriarchal succession. She is also the god associated with the moon, whereas her partner Amun is associated with the sun.’
‘It is all consistent with the context of what is happening on the hill. In a festival of the moon, Amunet could be expected to be dominant. However, why did these Egyptian gods have such a prominent place in this ceremony? I think a festival of the new moon has Jewish overtones but perhaps they got it from Egypt?’ He looked off into the distance. ‘And, to repeat your question why was the Earl involved in all this?’
John found himself saying, ‘If he has not told us, we need not know.’
After a moment’s thought, Piers nodded.
John dropped his voice to a whisper. He spoke quickly. ‘Pipa is coming,’ and then, urgently, ‘But later, tomorrow, or the day after, I want you to tell me all you know about the Gods, and not just Amun and Amunet.’
He looked up and smiled at Pipa. Paying compliments to women obviously worked. Pipa had a mug of ale in her hand and was now fiercely determined to be friendly.
‘I noticed you slip away. You did not take my advice! Now, did you see anything up there?’ she asked.
They both slowly shook their heads before Piers replied. ‘Except one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.’
Pipa paid no attention to Piers comment. For the first time in his life, John experienced female attention focussed completely on him. He was not sure how to react. He forced a smile.
‘Really.’ Pipa said dismissively. She took a deep breath ‘I have some real news for you. One of the guests at the Château this evening is Joan, Fair Maid of Kent. The Countess of Kent. Several people recognised her when she arrived. She brought with her chests full of clothes.’
John dismissed this as female tittle-tattle.
‘Apparently, her hair has been prepared in the most fantastic way. She has long, long curls all over her head and as she moves they bounce around. It creates the illusion that she has snakes instead of hair.’
John and Piers exchanged glances. Pipa was still talking.
‘I just cannot imagine what Joan of Kent would be doing here. Joan, a member of the royal family?’
She carried on talking, more or less repeating herself.
John broke into the tirade of information. ‘Pipa, do you know if what is happening here is part of a Cathar ritual?’
‘Why do you ask?’
John blinked. He had never before heard someone whisper and scream, both at the same time.
John nodded towards the stairs and Piers nodded back. They hurriedly bid their farewells and retired to their bedroom.
Piers turned to John as soon as they entered their room with a smile on his face.
So that is twice I have seen it happen! There is something about you that women like. Can’t see it myself, but it is obviously there. But why have you run away? I thought you would certainly end up in her bed tonight.’
‘Remember what was said?’ John replied somewhat testily. ‘It would be so easy in the morning for Pipa to accuse me of taking advantage of her and, to a certain extent, it would be true. She is lonely and she has had a little too much to drink. However, the main reason I wanted to leave was to talk to you.’
He paused to take a breath.
‘The woman with the Earl was quite probably Joan of Kent, wife of Thomas Holland, lover of the Black Prince and previous wife of our Earl. What on earth is the Earl up to?’ He narrowed an eye. ‘Is it treason to be with your Prince’s lover even if she is your previous wife? Furthermore, is this all part of a Cathar ceremonial? And why Amun and Amunet? Whose Gods are they? Greek? Egyptian you say? Have we been watching a heretical rite? A rite which predates Christianity?’
Piers looked him in the eye. ‘If he has not told us, we need not know. You said it yourself.’