Revival of the Vision
Long ago in ancient days there were very powerful elemental spirits who lived in the earth; in stone and tree they dwelt, and in river and sea, field, mountain, valley and cliff, and in all the formations of the earth.
In those days there were humans who were able to see these powerful spirits, hear them, commune with them, even summon them, though they remained always outside the will of man. It was believed that these abilities were gifted to the people by the brightest star in the night sky, who was for them a patron deity of dreams and visions.
But as the ages passed, the people who could see and hear the spirits became fewer, and their senses dulled, until there was no longer any one who could see or hear the elemental spirits dwelling in the world.
Now, I was a member of a tribe who lived in the plains. To our tribe, one had been born after long ages who had the acute sensitivity of the ancestors. He was taken in by the priests, and was tested and trained, while rumours of his purpose ignited among the people.
Eventually there came the time for a trial of his prowess. The tribe travelled with the priests into the mountains where this talented one summoned a great spirit from the stone.
The spirit rose up out of the stone and showed forth its form to all, and it was like a colossal masked man with many heads and many limbs, and his body was continually shifting and changing shape, matching in mere moments the movements of the earth across aeons. The spirit did not speak, but its manifold transformations told to us the history of the world, and every witness there present knew in his heart a profound hope, for the power and vision of the ancients had been revived into the world.
A Secret Murder
An urchin boy comes up to a man in the midst of his business one day in the street, begging for money so he may feed his hungry father. The man becomes morally indignant and berates the boy, telling him he ought to wash and find work and earn his living. The boy spits on him and runs away.
Then that same man, about a month later, for no particular reason, decides to take a different route home. He passes by a large area of neglected land with long grass and a section of abandoned railway. He sees a filthy young boy running in the grass with no parents, and goes to investigate.
The man comes to a dilapidated house, barely standing amidst the grasses. He finds the boy inside, playing with the corpses of birds, pinching the limp wings of pigeons between his fingers in a grotesque imitation of flight. He speaks with the boy, but the boy never looks up.
Man: “If someone finds us here, we’ll be in trouble. It may have gone to shit, but it’s someone else’s house.”
Boy: “Not anymore. The man who lived here died.”
Man: “Did you kill him?”
The man felt strongly that this was a lie, but he had no evidence. Surely the boy’s presentation sufficiently attested to his character. It reminded him of another boy he had met, not long ago.
Man: “Don’t I know you? Where is your father?”
The boy ignored that, and the man made to sieze him by the arm.
Man: “We have to go.”
Boy: “I don’t have to go anywhere!”
And the boy ran out into the grasses again. The man went out after him, but only got a little way from the house before tripping over something in the grass. He brushed off his clothes and was suddenly seized with horrified disbelief at what he found before him.
It was a corpse, a withered corpse, dressed in clothes all too like his clothes, with a face all too like his face, and starved, emaciated. The horror stopped the world, for a moment there were no thoughts, there was no time, only that dreadful face.
When he finally remembered himself, he turned to see where the boy had gone. He was nearby on the rise, sitting in the roots of a tree that had grown entangled with the train line fence and subsequently died. The man approached him, pointing at the corpse in the grass.
Man: “Who is that? Did he live here? Did you kill him?”
The boy turned up his nose in defiance.
Man: “Tell me! or I’ll have you thrown in prison.”
The boy looked at him sharply and spoke.
Boy: “I’m already in prison. You don’t remember? Can’t you recognise yourself in your acts? That is my father, whom you have killed.”
The Myth of The Veiled One
Short story for my fiction, thought I’d share:
Long ago in the country of Evenei there was a General of the King’s Army. In those days, the King had taken it into his head that the city was afflicted because of a witch who lived in the hills. There was a famine, but the land belonging to the witch was reportedly rich and abundant.
And though she would speak only with prominent men, the King was loath to be seen treating with witches. Therefore, he asked his General to visit her on his behalf, in order to request some of her magic seed, that they may feed the people. This the General did, but the witch was offended that he offered nothing in return. She refused and sent him back, but secretly, she had placed a flea in his clothing. Soon after that the palace became infested with fleas, and the King believed there was a curse over them.
So he sent the General again to treat with the witch, to ask her to give them seed and also to relieve the curse. This time the King, though grudgingly, sent the finest gilded sword his smiths could produce as a gift. But the witch laughed at this gift, and mocked and derided it, and accepted it not. She utterly refused to help. Instead, she took inspiration from the King’s superstition and spoke a secret curse over the sword so that it would always miss its mark and slay the one who wields it.
The General returned, having failed, and gave the sword into the King’s keeping. When the King learned that the attempt had failed, he grew wroth, and mobilised a division of his army to slay the witch and take her land for the good of the people.
Thus the company went to march, vanguarded by King, and the General at his right hand. They came to the land of the witch, and the company established a perimeter while the King went with his General to treat. She was gardening. The herald announced the King, but she ignored him. The King addressed her;
“Traitor, kneel before your King.”
“Let your people take heed that you stir yourself not to help them, but to slay me. Kneel before yourself, for I take no kings.” She looked not up from her earthwork.
Enraged, the King drew the sword and charged at her, but at the last moment he stumbled, and fell, and impaled himself.
“There,” the witch said calmly to the General, “witness the fate of the proud, and take heed.” And passing him, she carried her basket inside her tiny house.
The general followed her, leaving the herald in the garden. The herald ran immediately back to the line to inform them of what had happened, and as the news touched their ears, they charged.
The house had only one room. The General observed the witch’s basket on the table, full of exotic fruits ripe to the point of bursting, but he was the only one in the house. Upon examining the furnishings, he discovered a richly coloured tapestry hanging on one of the walls which altogether seized his attention. In it he saw now one image, now another, and yet another, all interwoven in the fabric, seeming to collide and tumble through each-other.
It seemed to him as if he was standing there for hours before he heard a rhythmic beating of drums, and suddenly, to his astonishment, a woman was revealed within the pattern of the tapestry. She turned herself toward him, dancing seductively with many gossamer veils of rich and beautiful colours. Her eyes were dark-lined, and her features all obscured. She danced with a sound of bells and of rustling silver chains, giving him the impression of a living flame of fire, and of a coiling serpent. He fell into a stupor of affection for her, becoming enraptured, intoxicated by her beauty, and was tangled up into the tapestry.
The soldiers of the army stormed the house, but found nobody. So after scouring the house for spoils, and searching the surrounds, they ransacked the witch’s garden and made their way back to the palace.
The General remained behind, embracing the Veiled One in that place where She hides. She showed him great truths, explained to him his nature. She showed him visions of history, highlighting Her movements across the centuries, winding like a serpent. He saw that unless they came to know Her, his people would unwittingly complete the work of their own destruction.
He began to feel a deep urgency. She assured him it was a sign of the times and warned him to remain with Her, for the fate of the world and of other men was none of his concern. But he was unable let it go and it pulled him from Her.
Eventually he asked his mysterious Goddess directly to let him leave, and She denied him not. He came out of the tapestry as if out of a trance- it was as if all this time he had been standing there, simply observing the pattern on the wall. So he left, noting the advanced state of dilapidation into which the house had fallen, and that the earth where the witch had tended her garden was now barren.
When the General returned to the palace, he found that he was no longer a General welcomed at court, but a fugitive who had abandoned his King. There was now a new King. The ex-General was thrown in prison to await trial.
Throughout his imprisonment and his trial, he was kind and generous with all who come across him, telling them of the Veiled One and Her secret truths, of Her presence among men, Her power in history, and Her warnings for the future. He was taken for a raving lunatic, and it was agreed that his time away had driven him to madness, though this absolved him not- he was sentenced to hang.
His blind faith and foolish haste began to fall away as it dawned on him that he could not bring about what he had thought to bring about. All at once, his power withdrew from him and he saw it was not his power which carried him, but Hers. He became as one who is no-one and nothing, frail and brittle as an empty shell. Thus his desperation returned with even greater force and threatened to crush him. He cursed himself, for he knew now he should have remained with the Veiled One. The salvation of men did not belong to him, but to Her, yet She is rejected by men. He was among those to have rejected Her, in the hope of influencing others. He felt ashamed, and a failure, and at that moment, She whispered to him.
“Fear not, for I am with you.”
He saw a movement in his cell wall. A veil withdrew, and there She was, in the very substance of the wall, as if She had been there all along. He fell on his face and cried out.
“As soon as I turn away, I am lost! How now shall I navigate these circumstances of my ending?”
But She embraced him, and spoke not, and Her silence was pregnant with a meaning too much and too little for words to convey. He was still and silent now, and breathed deep, measured breaths.
The day of the execution came, and he walked as one whose wits have left him. He came to the gallows and faced his death, yet to the observers, he seemed altogether elsewhere.
And when the King’s law had been fulfilled, and the hanged man cut down, it was seen by all those looking on that he had died with a smile upon his face.
The Stranger and the Fount
In the country of Theriat there is a castle which has stood desolate for many years. Since the day of the coming of the Stranger it is home only to ghosts.
No signal preceded his approach before that day, but the mark of his passing was great; this was the manner of his coming. The Stranger’s presence was as a dream: unbid, unseen, and from seemingly nowhere. But really it was a nightmare, for his mere presence had the effect of unleashing hell from among men.
At his appearance the inhabitants and many visitors of the castle were suddenly seized by insane power and blind bloody lust. A terrible slaying took place. Parents murdered their children. Siblings took each-other’s lives. Lovers plunged blades in the hearts of the beloved, and friends put an end to friends. It all was over before the sun had set.
Some few had remained immune to this sudden madness. Of them, those who had the sense to hide during the slaying managed to escape. It is from among them we have the tale of the Stranger, for it seems they alone saw him. It is said that after this heinous work was done, the tattered black cloak was seen sauntering out of the main gate.
The survivors armed themselves from among the discarded blades to be found throughout the castle, and formed a travelling party- though, the horses had all been slain in the stables, and they would be forced to travel afoot. They crossed the field of the dead and fled the castle, whereupon they headed for the woods, meaning take the cover of trees and return unseen to their villages.
They journeyed secretly in the woods for the duration of that day, and when night came, they were forced to establish camp. As they sat about their small fire, the Stranger stood unnoticed in the shadows.
He stepped suddenly into the light and beckoned to them. They looked at each-other, terrified. His beckoning divided the group.
“See, he slays us not,” said some, “we ought to follow, since he has spared us.”
“He is Death itself,” the others reviled them, “and has only spared us for some other design, but shall slay us once he has had his use of us. Follow him and earn your fate!”
But some followed, bound by his mysterious horror, and others stayed behind. And the ones who stayed behind said of those who departed that they were fools.
The Stranger led his band deeper into the woods, making their own ways, except when they would occasionally cross a game trail or a holloway. By night all was impenetrably dark, and they were fearful, for they knew not where their journey may lead.
Soon enough they came upon an unfamiliar road. That was a strange fact, for they had lived in this region all their lives and believed they knew all its main roads. But it was also unlike the roads of Theriat in that it was gleaming white, studded with countless smooth white stones that glistened like pearl, undulled by time. It was as though it were built only yesterday.
The road seemed illuminated with moonlight, though no moon was in the sky.
When they stumbled on this, they also became aware that the Stranger had disappeared, and they never saw him again until they reached the end of that road.
They followed the path of gleaming stones deep into the forest for many days before they reached its end, whereupon the path terminated in a wide ring which enclosed a bright and magnificent marble fountain. Dense, wild forest surrounded them on all sides.
The fountain was structured in three tiered bowls, and a platform at the top bore the carved likeness of a maiden in generous swathes of sheer fabric, pouring out water from an urn with a look of serenity and subtle knowing.
The image transfixed them for a great while, until a few of them began to murmur.
“Then, what now? This is what we have come to see? We must turn back the way we came.”
And a few left the group, believing there was no more for them here, and they departed down the White Road. Despite going together the same way, the road led each of them to their respective destinations.
Silence fell as the portion of the group that remained contemplated the fountain. Nothing was spoken for a long stretch of time, until, in that silence, a word was whispered, “look,” and a hand pointed into the forest.
There were faint lights moving, dancing behind the trees, casting shadows, appearing and disappearing.
The group became enthralled with fascination for the lights, falling into a sort of trance. Despite the protests of the others, some wandered off into the forest. After the last one had disappeared beyond the trees, only two remained standing before the fountain.
One gazed at the water, the other stared in shock at the trees. It was the latter who saw the Stranger approaching them once more.
He came and stood by the one gazing at the water, but when he spoke, he addressed both of them.
“Listen- the water- can you hear it speak? It is calling you.”
The one who gazed at the water took his words and listened, but his friend crossed his arms and scoffed.
The one who listened heard the babbling of the water, and it dawned on him that it had been speaking continually during all the time they had been here. Now as he listened, it seemed he could almost understand what it was saying. An instinct was rising in him. He reached out his hand to touch the water, but his friend restrained him.
“It’s bewitched,” he said to him. But the Stranger touched the hand of the friend.
“Your words bewitch, and you are their sole victim.”
The friend recoiled and collapsed, stricken blind and deaf and lame.
The one who listened reached out again and touched his fingertips to the surface of the water. And suddenly he was gone, taken into the fount.
Within, he floated dreamlike, suspended in endless water with neither surface nor floor. His breathing was apparently undisturbed.
He was surrounded by beautiful dreams, warm fantasies, joyous visions, inspiring revelations. All was lush and full of splendour and magnificence, embracing him as a welcomed friend. It was as if he had returned home after a lifetime away, and he was tempted to believe that he had found Paradise...
Yet, at that thought, doubt flickered somewhere in his mind, disturbing the perfect visions for just a moment. It was long enough that he was able to sufficiently compose his mind to formulate a question.
“Are these illusions? What lies behind them?”
As he asked this it sobered him, suddenly breaking the spell that was on him. Like a gorgeous, colourful sheet, the visions slipped away, and were torn apart, revealing behind them a dark, colourless wall of cold stone, riven and textured with the passing of uncounted aeons.
As he watched, the wall unfolded into a yawning chasm of a cave- a cave at the centre of the world, the deepest home of darkness.
Something was moving in those dark depths. He could feel its movements in his own depths as well- visceral, horrific, loathsome, like the world was slipping out from under him.
A collosal Creature raised its head, but its size was so great that it seemed as another stone wall, only moving. It appeared to him both incredibly close and impossibly far away.
Thereupon the eye rose into view- a midnight sun, blazing with age as old as the world- the all-consuming life of the dead, burning with hunger that appeared like malice.
The terrible Creature spoke one word to him, and its voice was like mountains rising, or planets colliding... it resounded through his being and across the ages, hideous, perilous:
He noticed that he was holding a knife in his left hand. It was a sacrificial tool from long ago, with a blade of bone inscribed with lost runes. He regarded it in astonishment.
The Creature, in the pit where are gathered the dead of the world, moved about its feet and stirred up a storm of the dead. The storm rose up in billowing clouds and enveloped him completely.
There were no ways to go here or there any more. Here and there dissolved and were indistinguishable. He attempted to search his past for help, but found none, for past and future were no more.
All his friends were gone.
He sought some basis for this decision, but there was none. He was utterly lacking in knowledge, bereft of certainty, and without distinction. Chaos surrounded him and tumbled through him.
Therefore he sliced his palm and bled into the abyss, and his blood fell upon the face of the Creature in the deep. At this, the Creature stilled his feet, and the dead all returned to their places of rest in the bosom of the earth, and were silent.
There was only emptiness, stillness.
His horror recalled to him the image of the terrible eye, and he reflected on it. It dawned on him that therein was contained a certain... humanity.
He had hardly completed this thought before a vision came over him-
A limitless ocean and empty horizon, totally still, sea and sky reflecting each-other. All in a flash, a brilliant searing light appeared in the horizon which blazed like the sun. Before long this blinding light dulled into flames of every conceivable colour, spreading like wildfire across the horizon, and advancing across the sea and the sky.
A flame of this fire licked him and burned his breast- and suddenly he emerged from the waters of the fount, spluttering like one nearly drowned. He found he still bore burn on his breast.
The Stranger was gone. Before the fountain his friend lay weeping, blind, deaf, and lame, responding to nothing. But he healed him by cupping in his wands waters from the fount and forcing him to drink. Together they followed the White Road out of the chilly grove.
There’s a pile of ash in my bed,
where I left it to serve as a grave for the fire.
At the seam, you know I'm weakest.
My bleeding leads you here, and you never tire.
Had I lost you on the wild path?
Forging pacts in stone- you know how hard that gets,
but do you know how much you’re risking
chasing my ghost into the wilderness?
let me ebb until I'm
blind and deaf, deaf and dumb.
The night, tonight is smothered and drowned.
Bedrock buried me,
held me to the earth and made me
deaf and blind, blind and numb.
Follow me into the empty.
You’ll never know how I’ve preyed,
how I’ve shielded the desert upon my tongue.
When I hold my breath, I'm weightless.
There is safety in sight when the morning comes.
I turn my crooked back to the wind.
Won’t the ground give way to the weight of my plea?
The chasm opens, hungry,
and in time it will swallow everything.
I‘ve lost your star
How was it so small and heavy?
Taking time, passing through,
colliding in the sky in secret.
You held a lie, I set it free.
Even in my dreams, I’m weary.
How could I have given you
the thumping of my foreign heartbeat?
You held a lie, bound the truth,
and dressed it in a shroud of mystery.
Now I pull apart the roots,
leaving them to dry in the air.
I cut my teeth making bets,
reaching in past thorns and thickets,
but you don’t see the bleeding hands-
just the window they’ve torn open.
Plant a tree, bear the fruit.
Take the seed and spill it freely.
As the ash fills this room,
I find the bedrock buried me-
Wonder and Trepidation
The gallery of time is opened up beneath a tunnel of oaks, wherein the called novice enters with wonder and trepidation.
Under the snow, all things are pristine.
The wanderer who proceeds along the path is transformed, and the end looks upon the beginning with a smile astonished and familiar.
The house is old, and sits on an ancient estate, and its halls echo with empty ages, with the absences of wanderers departed.
Hesitation is as foolish as haste-
He who lingers is swallowed up, while he who jumps blindly is broken against the earth.
I was on an expedition with several travellers whom I’d not met before. We were sleeping in bunked hammocks in a large canvas tent, with our tour guide and all our supplies, somewhere in a rainforest.
I know we will be soon to go on an adventure.
The next morning we prepare, packing everything up into our backpacks, and set out. First we have a short walk to examine the effects of human life on the forest.
Then, we journey into a deeper, more pristine space where all the trees are evenly spaced, facing the same direction, growing horizontally at their base, and curving upward. I am so inspired by this forest. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
The forest is restful, peaceful, but the guide tells us to remain quiet- we can’t make noise in this place. We are also warned not to step too heavily or to damage the trees.
After several hours of this, we glimpse a gorgeous castle of ivory, white through the trees, on the other side of a lake of electric blue which is perfectly still and undisturbed.
We get in a boat to cross the lake, and the guide warns us not to touch the water. We can see the skeletons of long dead beasts, fossilised in layers of brightly-coloured mineral deposits, red, and yellow, and brown. Rock pools, too. The water steams and gently hisses where the boat touches the water.
The Doorless Room
I had been taken through some featureless void by a nameless power, and my senses were confused, so I had no idea of where I had come from, or where I was going. Time did not exist during transit.
My destination, where I eventually found myself, was a large, dark room. The roof, walls, and floor were all of cold volcanic glass, as though the room had been carved with a small axe from the inside.
There were no windows, and no doors- no way to enter or exit.
My only sense of orientation came from two facts. First, gravity held me to the floor, or what I considered to be the floor, and second, a bare altar stood at one side of the room, and appeared to be carved from the same stone, as it was continuous with the wall and the floor.
Obviously, I was distressed at the situation in which I found myself, and yet I was apparently powerless to change it.
I wandered the perimeter of the room, touching the rough marks in the walls of dark glass, and stopped at the altar, and fell to my knees.
Something nameless in me called out to something nameless in the world.
The discarnate impression of a voice, as if in response, delivered me a wordless message.
This place is no place. That which appears is not as it seems. When the eyes close, therein is sight. Cease to seek, for then shall you find.
Nest of Light
I have gone on a journey to a city like Jerusalem, in a country like Peru.
I was with my tour group as we explored the city centre. It was a beautiful city, with new parts and old parts. Our tour group stopped for lunch in a square near a large fountain at the centre of town.
A festival goes on, there are beautiful coloured paper decorations adorning the streets, and all the people are dressed in richly dyed fabrics.
I look down each of the streets that lead off from the fount. There is one of them, the main one, that leads to a mountain in the distance.
As I’m looking down this road, I see an enormous jaguar as big as a hotel building jump down from the right and stalk slowly across the road and out of sight. It was a fair way away, but a creature that size could easily close the intervening distance in just a few seconds.
Its body was covered with bright glowing colours and patterns.
The creature disappears and I anxiously look all around for any sign of its movements.
I glimpse it again, and again. It’s moving just beyond the first row of buildings, circling the fountain. I move with it, as best I can, to keep the fountain between us at all times. I feel that the animal knows this is my goal, and instead of breaking through the fountain, departs for another part of the city.
Later we are all in the desert, in the mountains, in a garden of ancient ruins. The tour group is all gathered among the ruins having some interesting but ultimately meaningless conversations. I wander off and climb up to a high place where there is a house overlooking the world. Inside the house it is dark, and there are two windows. The first looks out over the mountains whence I came, and it is through this one that I enter. At its ledge, outside, there is a trapeze which leads to a nest in the sky which glows with inner light.
The second window looks out to the aerial nest of the great Jaguar, which overlooks the lesser nest.
I am in the house, examining the objects that lay strewn about in the dark rooms, when the jaguar comes to its nest and looks for me in the house. Everywhere it casts its eyes it casts a bright light. I try to escape its gaze, but everywhere the light falls, the Jaguar sees.
I try to get to the nest of light without the jaguar seeing me. I swing wildly, and cannot gain control over my trajectory. I let go of the trapeze above the nest of light, but I miss it by arm’s length and instead fall back to earth.
Precipice of Land and Sea
I had had to cross some barrier at the edge of the world in order to pass into the realm of the ancestors, where I was to learn a fundamental truth.
The barrier was like a wall of thick smoke which extended to the sky, and to both horizons, and obscured all that lay beyond it.
On the other side, I found myself atop an immensely tall cliff. It stretched windingly out of sight into the distance before me.
On the left was boundless desert, while on the right was limitless ocean.
For a time, I wandered.
I met an old man in the desert in my wandering, and I knew him to be an ancestor to mankind. He appeared as an embodiment of the principles of nature, naked, with dreadlocked hair, a gnarled walking staff, and ochre-painted skin. He had various things tied to his body and his staff, including animal pelts, nuts and berries, bunches of dried leaves, and wooden ornaments.
His skin was deeply lined and textured, telling stories as old as humanity. Together we walked along the cliffs, and though we talked, we did not speak. We walked along the edge of the precipice between land and sea. Perhaps we mirrored the walk of all mankind upon such a precipice.
Eventually we stopped, whereupon he revealed to me a vision in which a house was raised up in the wilderness. The house grew, and was destroyed, and grew again. As I watched, I knew it to be an image of the civilisations of man.
I felt a powerful sense that even as we stood on this precipice where the world meets the primordial sea, we stood also on the precipice where history meets eternity.
Thereupon I woke.