With all the talk about Friday’s blood moon, the longest total lunar eclipse in the 21st century, I can’t help but think about the moon goddess who controls King Aikah and many subjects in his kingdom in “The Gate of Aleph.”
Livnath is the classic archetype of a seductress, with the cool white moon as her luxurious habitation. Though she seduces, she dominates with a raw, iron-like strength. She’s nonhuman and seeks a wicked glory in the power she wields over men and women. She practices night arts to attract worshippers, but she cares nothing for those who love her.
I chose her name from Libnah, one of the cities conquered by Joshua in the Bible. The word means whiteness or transparency. Other sources inspired this character, such as moon worship in ancient Jericho, another ancient city conquered by Joshua and the Israelites.
A seductress who drags kings from honorable paths fits the patriarchal kingdom motif in “The Gate of Aleph.” Livnath disrupts that patriarchal order for evil. In real life this character can be male or female, but in the book, Livnath is an ethereal woman who shapes the destiny of Seth for generations by crushing the souls of its people.
Livnath woos kings to her bidding and promises etc fulfill every ambition whether for success in battle or prosperity in the kingdom. With every pledge she makes, destruction lies ahead. In this way, Livnath is much like a “blood” moon goddess. Her hands are bloody with the lives she has snatched because of an insatiable desire to control human affairs.
She’s star-born, a powerful sky entity who abandoned her abode in the skies to interfere with the lives of men and women. Other star-born, like the male and female Zuzim, pursue relationships with humans and produce actual offspring: the monstrous Mikana. But in “The Gate of Aleph,” Livnath seeds wanton loyalty in her lovesick worshippers.
The ancient kingdom of Seth is a picture of kingdoms and governments throughout the ages, not just the city-states of Sumer that first inspired me. The jewel of Seth is the City of Kings. From there, Livnath rules and her priests and worshippers petition her from the temple tower in the center of the city. You can compare Livnath’s cruel fist on the City of Kings with the possession of the human soul. As seen in “The Gate of Aleph,” the person who controls a life influences the world.
It won’t be until King Aikah’s adopted son — Shammah — inherits the kingdom does Livnath’s power weaken. During Shammah’s rein, the mysterious deity of Mount Aleph loosens Livnath’s hold on Seth, and her bloody reign begins to end.