Evil demoralizes, kills spirit, renders its victims helpless, seemingly abandoned by their God or gods.

A chilling instance of this scenario is found in the historical novel, The Dovekeepers (2012) written by the prolific author, Alice Hoffman. Gripped by her visit to the ruins of Masada, the 1,300-foot mesa in the Judean desert near the Dead Sea and the narration of what happened there by the historian, Josephus in The Jewish Wars, she creates a story shimmering with the Numinous. Centuries-old ritual and practice evolving from desert spirituality and mystic glimpses into nature infuse every page. The year is 71 AD.

Into this world come four refugees from Alexandria and Jerusalem: Yael, the red-haired daughter of a Sicarii; Revka, the baker’s wife; Aziza, a warrior’s daughter raised as a boy; and Shireh, versed in medicine, spells, and incantations. All are fleeing for their lives and find sanctuary with the Jewish Zealots and their families on the summit of Masada. Camped beneath them are General Silva and the Roman Tenth Legion, intent on slaughtering them.

Through the eyes of these women, intrepid, fiercely independent, and spirit-filled, the grim story unfolds; in the telling, each reflects archetypes of the Sacred Feminine, lover, mother, warrior, and healer, warring against insurmountable odds. Each resorts to violence tempered by justice and passion to survive.

A suitable template for our times, also fraught with subtle and in-your-face violence, this historical novel behooves us to arm ourselves in ultimate truth and remain vigilant.