The tides, caused by the Moon and Sun. You've likely discerned that I'm not a huge fan of the sun. I don't have anything against Sun gods, but El's always claiming that the Sun's his symbol (as if he didn't already have too much authority). More importantly, the Sun itself is just not that interesting to me. The ancient astronauts really got around (ask Zoroaster), so why should I be impressed by such an insignificant sun out so many different stars?

The Moon, on the other hand... you humans may think of it as being devoid of life, but what do you know? It's the base of one of my best friends! Mara's base. Mara and Maya are the same. Illusion, romance, insanity, that's all his field.

It's been a while since I last visited the Moon (I think I last went there when Marduk was in his rebellious teen phase), but I see Mara all the time. He's actually fun to be around once to understand him. Life's always a party with him!

Many of you humans think he's an evil demon. He tempted your Buddha, right? Well, the only thing stopping you from rising above Mara's power is your own ignorance. Once you become a Buddha, I'm sure you'll see Mara for the entertaining guy he really is! I mean, without him, what would you strive for? How would you find your path without choice? Don't think that the mother of your age's Buddha being Maya isn't meaningful, either. After all, he did have to grow "out of" illusion.

The only real difference between a Buddha, an enlightened being, and an ordinary one is the ability to see things for what they really are. A Buddha sees how the past and future are connected, just like all the lives of everybody in existence. If you're wondering where the compassion part of Buddhahood comes in, well, do you really think you could get that understanding without it?

You should see where I'm going with this. Who has attained enlightenment? My old friend Death, of course!

If you're shocked, just think about it. Time and space don't mean much to him, he can manifest as anything, anywhere, anytime. He had better understand how lives are connected for his line of work, and he shows kindness when it's needed. He follows his own path, his job, to attain meaning. He's incredibly easy to get along with, if you understand Mara's plan.

Death was lucky that I was actually in a position to understand him. Mara is his youth was known as Sin, the moon god, son of Enlil. Believe me, it's no coincidence that "sin" means something bad nowadays. All El's design there. Anyway, Sin, surprise surprise, had a moral compass, and grew disgusted with El's ways. I think Sin finally had enough when he saw him abuse Ninlil, El's pathetically devoted wife.

Sin defected, and ended up getting stuck with a job as punishing and time-consuming as mine. While I administer karmic justice, Mara has to tempt beings to leave the spiritual path.

I had empathy for Mara, and the fact that a deity so close to El could defy him gave me hope. I had my co-workers help Mara get all the proper technology for his base on the Moon. We've been friends since then, and we keep in touch. We have to do business together a lot.

Death may be a butterfly, but Mara'd want me to be a Luna Moth (to stroke his ego). I could see that. If you're on Earth, better to be out when you can see all the stars instead of just one plain boring one. The moth just needs three pairs of wings, and it'd be set. They already have the eye-thing down, so they're two-thirds of the way to being a Seraph!

Hm? You want to know if I'm enlightened? Sadly, no. I'm still tied to Samsara. It makes me more of Death's disciple—no, that doesn't mean I follow him around like a little puppy going "teach me"! You want me to drag you to the Mountain of Knives for a nice long vacation? Didn't think so.

So the next time you're out for an evening stroll and the moon's visible, say hi to Mara for me (he's always watching, so don't worry about him not hearing). Our visits are often far too work-oriented.

Oh, and don't spray pesticides. You never know what contacts those butterflies and moths might have...

Author's Note: This is a special chapter! After all, it's chapter four. Before I write more, I'd like to say a few things:

—The cover image is a mystic rose, the kind seen on the Death tarot card.

—As far as I know, I'm the only person with this particular version of the Devil. If I had to compare him to another interpretation, I'd say Dr. D's personality is the closest to Mephistopheles from Faust, but with a more expansive view.

—I know people are reading this, so please, review! I'd love to see what you think.