Introducing Spiritus Mundi, a Novel by Robert Sheppard
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To Read the Blog of Robert Sartorius from Spiritus Mundi: http://sartoriusblogfromspiritusmundi.wordpress.com/
Teatro Magico: For Madmen Only!—-(Private Club: Admission by Membership or Personal Invitation Only).
A small porthole-like door at shoulder height opened to reveal the face of the doorkeeper, an immensely tall muscled man with a shaved head who appeared to be either a strong-man from a circus or a gangster’s “muscle,” who eyed the trio with a cold suspicion. Sartorius silently presented the card to him through the porthole. He examined it for a full minute, his cold and suspiscious eye passing repeatedly from its face to theirs. Hearing a voice shouting at him “Open up you moron” he was perplexed until he responded to the kicking against the bottom of the door and looked down to see Oskarnello venting his rage. The door opened. They found themselves in an ornately appointed hallway with crystal chandeliers and a plush red velvet carpet leading to a hat-check room where they gave up their things. Oskar then disappeared behind the counter with the hat-check girl. The trio then entered the theatre itself.
The Teatro Magico, was not one theater and had no central hall for an audience, but fashioned on the popular “Cineplex” model, rather consisted of an array of smaller theatres in a semi-circular ringed hallway sided at intervals by small lounges, to the far side which were arrayed various ornate gilded doors, each inscribed with an alluring title designed to invite entrance, and the near side of which was an endless curved mirror. Anyone was free to enter or not enter as many of the smaller theatres as one wished or none at all at his own choice. This with one great difference, Teresa cautioned, there were no seats or audience, but that the partaker himself was taken up in a role in the drama, as it were, as part of a dream come alive, a ‘virtual reality’ or an incarnation into another life, to continue until he should chose to exit by the door by which he entered.—-Thus, transcending its origin as a ‘Cineplex,’ it might be better styled a ‘Psychoplex.’
Sartorius followed Maria into the first concave lounge area and Maria ordered a round of Mescals from the attendant. She then sat herself within a smaller curtained booth at the back of the lounge at the back of which lay a continuous mirror. The waiter brought her drink and drew the curtain behind him, leaving Maria enclosed alone within. With a note of confusion, Sartorius followed Theresa’s lead in taking his glass of mescal and sitting down on the long ottoman opposite the booth. Theresa then unscrewed the cap atop a large crucifix locket hung about her neck, within which was a miniscule spoon with which she extracted a portion of white powder which she raised towards her nose, drawing it forcefully inward while holding one nostril closed with her forefinger. She then offered Sartorius the next spoonful, with which after a small hesitation he took imitating her lead. From behind the curtain they heard Maria’s voice begin to hum absently, then break out with intermittent rushes of feeling into scraps and lines of her well-known cabaret songs. Theresa then excused herself off to the ladies room, motioning with her head hintingly towards the booth curtain behind which Maria sat waiting.
Drunk with a trembling expectation of the appearance of her face, and beginning to feel his pulse quicken under the kick, Sartorius braced himself with a second spoonful of cocaine and walked precipitously towards the hanging curtain. Sartorius then, after a lingering moment of seeming numbness as he laid his fingers against the velvet cloth, pulled against the curtain, struggling against a charm that seemed to deprive him of all his will and all his energy, and of almost all of his lucidity at the moment he wanted them most. He succeeded in drawing back the curtain that hid her face from him and he walked to where Maria stood. She herself seemed moving backward, towards the back of the small enclosure, the whole of which was occupied by a great mirror that reflected her image, but not his, for he was just behind her and entirely covered by her. He heard her voice singing the sultry cabaret song in ineffably exalted sirenlike tones that pulled against his heart with a physical force as she approached the mirror: “In olden days…………….Now heaven knows, Anything goes!” As she sang Maria walked towards her image in the glass with her arms outstretched and the image came towards her. The two Marias—the real one and the reflection—ended by touching, and then their hands touching and seeming to melt and pass into each other just as Sartorius put out his arms to clasp the two in one embrace. But, by a sort of dazzling miracle that sent him staggering, Sartorius was suddenly flung back, while an icy blast swept over his face; he saw, not two, but four, eight, then hundreds of Marias spinning around him, laughing at him and fleeing so swiftly that he could not touch one of them. At last, everything stood still again, and he saw himself in the glass. But Maria had disappeared.
He rushed up to the glass. He struck at the walls and at the glass surface with the heels of his hands and fists. Nobody! And tears from somewhere fell, streaming downwards like a soft rain upon the cold glass. Which way had she gone? Which way would she return? Only an invisible voice rang out again its sultry Porteresque echo: “Now heaven knows, Anything goes!”
Returning to find him, Teresa gathered Sartorius together and led him down the curving hallway towards the ornate multiple doorways of the Cineplex. She told Sartorius he was free to choose. Sartorius walked a few paces to inspect the titles of the offerings on the first three doors: (1) “You Rule All Before You With Absolute Power!”
(2) “A Friendly Ball Game” (3) “All the Women of the World are Yours!”—–Sartorius entered the first door:
As the door of the theatre closed behind you, you strode forward, noticing first that you were clothed in a turquoise coloured ceremonial robe and with a large jade image of a Jaguar pendent from a heavy jade necklace suspended on your chest. On your head was a crown of jade and gold, topped with innumerable long and striking trogon feathers, the blue-green of meter long quetzal feathers, and the multi-coloured rainbow like feathers of the troupial. You were seated on an ornate throne of pure gold atop the Grand Pyramid, Tempel Major, above which was sculpted in bas relief the images of the Gods: First and foremost Huizilopochtli, the Sun and War God, patron and protector of the Aztec empire; then of Tlaloc, the Rain God; then Xochiquetzel, and then Quetzelcoatl, the Plumed Serpent and patron of the city of Tenotichtlan. A eunuch slave approached you, prostrating himself on the ground before he spoke without daring to raise his eyes to your own:
“Lord Tlacaelel, the Tlaxcallan war captives have arrived at the base of the Pyramid. The priests and the warriors await your orders.”
“Bring the first son of the captive Tlaxcallan king to me here, and send his daughters to my palace apartment and prepare them for their fates.” you ordered.
You looked below, down the glittering and terrifying expanse of the Grand Pyramid. The eunuch made his way down the long stone stairs from the peak of the pyramid where you were seated towards its base, an armed warrior at every landing and a torchbearer at every ten steps. The steps were stained a purplish brown along their length from decades of the river of running blood from their top and the rolling of the dead, heartless bodies down to the base, where below the chiefs of the abbatoir severed and carved the limbs of the defeated soldiers into the cooking vats to be shared out to our victorious Aztec warriors. When the eunuch reached the head of the column of prisoners, their hands bound with leather straps behind their backs, and relayed the instructions to the ear of the Lieutenant of the Guard, the warrior guards moved to execute his orders. You could see the white haired head of the captive King of the Tlaxcallans drop helplessly as he saw his children being led away from him—-his son to certain death and his daughters in sexual bondage to the harem of his lifelong enemy, you, Lord Tlacaelel. You saw his knees collapse and his white hair cover the ground as the body shook with convulsive sobbing.
The Captain of the Guard, Marlo Xiloj approached and prostrated himself, then rose to speak into your ear: “Lord Tlacaelel, shall the old man die as well?”
You answered: “No, he is broken to the power of Tlacaelel. He will return home childless and chastened before his people, a living testimony to our absolute power.”
The Captain responded: “Why do we let them live? Why don’t we exterminate the Tlaxcallans and their kingdom and reduce them to slaves, as we have all the other kingdoms surrounding us and them? They are defeated in battle—-why let them go on?” he queried.
You answered: “If we kill all the actors, our Theater of Terror will go dark! No! The whole world witnesses our power here clearly and willingly submits. And furthermore, the Tlaxcallans are our close cousins! Nothing is so sweet as to devour a hated brother! And furthermore, our God, the great Huizilopochli does not like the flesh of the barbarous peoples from far away. He devours his own close kin! To our god the captives from those distant foreign expeditions are like hard yellowish, tastless tortillas in his mouth! Only sacrificial victims from nearby cities, our own near flesh and blood will come to our god like warm tortillas, soft, tasty, straight from the fire!—sweet as your own sister!—-We keep the Tlaxcallans alive and free to suffer beautifully for the glory of our Beloved One, Huizilopochli—–Marlo Xiloj!—if you are going to be a captain you mustn’t be afraid to look straight-eyed into the dark beauty of the heart of darkness!” you say.
Then the bound captive Prince, proud and defiant, was led before you and the priests and guards forced him onto his back upon the altar. You took up the black obsidian knife, scalpel sharp, tore open the tunic of the prince and with a single deft motion entered the cavity of the chest, the priests prying back the ribs exposing the beating heart. You looked into the Tlaxcallan prince’s eyes, still conscious. With a motion of your arm you forced your right hand into the open chest and under beating heart of the supine prince, and without severing the vessels you lifted it up out of the chest where it continued to beat gloriously, hot and living in your hand! You looked from the heart to the eyes and saw the lids droop, and close, like the eyes of the Tlaxcallan queen, the boy’s mother when you entered her, forcing her legs apart for the first time after the victory at the battle at Taxcala. As you took the obsidian knife and cut the arteries of the beating heart in your hand, spilling and spattering the blood in a wild orgasmic chaos you were in near delirium as you raised the still beating heart to the beloved face of your God Huizilopochli and watched the streaming red blood bring life to the face of the Adored One before you!
As you felt your teeth enter the warm and still beating heart, the hot blood running down the corners of your mouth and as you kissed the upturned lips of the idol you convulsed, then began to shriek with revulsion and you ran, hyperventilating, to escape. You pulled open the door of the Theatre and saw Teresa standing next to a gilded mirror smoking a cigarette in a long cigarette-holder while leaning against an ivory statue of Cupid on a pedestal.
“Roberto!—what is wrong?” she pleaded, grasping your hand and comforting you.
“The horror!” you answered hypnotically, “……the Horror!”
“Well, Roberto, you had better get a grip on yourself before the next feature. Here, sit down and have a drink.” She motioned for the usher behind the theatre bar and he brought a large bottle of Mescal, pouring out two glasses. You drained one glass, then half of the other. Though you were back in your own clothes, you noticed the stream of blood about your mouth from the previous scene trickling down the side of your mouth and into the cup. Teresa picked up the half drained, blood stained second glass of Mescal, raising it to her lips, saying jokingly to you as she drained it: “Leave me my bloody bever for soothsay,” after which the usher then refilled both glasses from the bottle. Then Theresa picked up one of the glasses, handing you the other and proposed a toast: “To Roberto—and his Brave New World!” and you downed the ether together, “…..but maybe you need something a little lighter for a change….which do you choose next?”
Having recovered yourself, you agreed with Teresa’s suggestion and looked down the hallway for your options. You chose door number two…….”A Friendly Ball Game…” Teresa said, to reassure you “And if you are still a little bit nervous, we can go in together.” You walked in side by side.
“Xbalanque! Quick get it!” you heard from behind you as you found yourself running forward. You caught the heavy rubber gummi ball full on the yoke you were wearing around your middle, then kept it in the air, dribbling it with the motions of your thighs and upper arms, which were padded. Two opponents were quick on your heels giving chase. Across the field to your right you saw Tiresias in his male form running parallel to you dressed in the same coloured yoke and pads. You and Tiresias were teammates, and bore an uncanny resemblance to each other—appeared to be twins, almost mirror images of each other. Just as you were about to be overtaken by the opposing trio you turned and quick-batted the ball adroitly towards the line of advance where Tiresias was sure to arrive in the next second when the ball would reach him. He looked halfway down the field and saw his object: a stone hoop mounted atop the stone wall of the court, towards which you were intent on propelling the ball.
“Your up, Hunahpu!” you bellowed out, “………to your right!…..Go!Go!Go!”
Both the Red and the Blue teams were shouting madly as Tiresias scampered down the right sideline, three paces ahead of his pursuers, frantic on his heels. The gathered crowd roared out their excitement, rising to their feet as Tiresias took his shot——A miss!—-but so close!
Happy you were, you Divine Twins, to be playing the Mayan ball game again, having swept out the ball court of your fathers, the prior generation of Divine Twins, One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu who had been so cruelly killed and dismembered by Xibalba, the Lord of the Underworld for disturbing his peace with their loud sporting revels, as was told in the Popul Vuh, the Council Book, which recorded all things past and and foretold all things…..whether there would be death, or whether there would be famine, or whether quarrels or wars would occur. You knew it for certain, since there was a place to see it—-there was a book. The Popul Vu, the Council Book, was your name for it.
Below the earth, as you and Tiresias played and shouted, Xibalba, horrible and stately in mein, covered his ears to shut out the din:
“Damn! Damn! Damn!—-I thought we had gotten rid of that horrible game long ago!” he, One Thanato, Lord of Death, said to his underling Seven Thanato, his captain. “Seven Thanato—-go up to the world of the Roof of the Sun and invite those damned new players down for a Friendly Ball Game!——-‘You are summoned you will tell them—–You must come—–We would play ball with you here in the Court of the Underworld.’”
“It is done, Lord Death.” said Seven Thanato.
You and Tiresias received Seven Thanato graciously and accepted his invitation. You knew that your own Fathers, One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu had received a similar invitation and met a cruel death by accepting. But you were not of a character to turn down a challenge, however daunting.
On the first day of the game, the team of Death played against you and Tiresias unto a draw, and you broke off, retiring for the night. Seven Thanato took you, the Divine Twins, you and Tiresias to the House of Cadavers to sleep, giving you a torch and two cigars. “You must burn the torch and smoke the cigars through the night, but return them intact in the morning, on penalty of death, instructed Seven Thanato,” who then returned gloatingly to Lord Death, sure that he would return to see their cadavers on the morn. You, however had a plan——you had brought a jar of honey with you to refresh yourself throughout the game, and you smeared some of the honey on the tip of the torch and the tips of the cigars. The honey attracted the fireflies during the night, so that from the distance that Seven Thanato watched you, it appeared that the you had lit them. Seven Thanato reported to Lord Death that the game was underway and that they were sure to find the dead twins on the morrow. However, much to his chagrin, on the dawn you returned the torch and the cigars to him intact, and the Lord Death was forced to concede his loss of the engagement and ordered the second day of the Friendly Ball Game to begin.
The second day of the game, so unexpected, attracted a jostling crowd of Demons, Spectres and Devils of the Underworld as spectators. Looking on as you and Tiresias donned your yokes, pads and equipment they gossiped: “What’s happening? Where did they come from? Who begot them and bore them? Our hearts are hurting, because what they are doing to our team is no good! They are different in their looks and different in their very being!” they said amoungst themselves.
Hearing thus, Lord Death, whose own name was Xibalba and who presided over the game stopped you both when you bowed before him to pay your respects prior to the commencement of the action, so as to ask a few friendly questions:
“Where might you have come from? Please name it.” Xibalba asked them.
“Well, wherever did we come from?” you asked rhetorically, looking towards Tiresias “To tell you the truth we don’t know!” That was all you said. You didn’t name it.
“Very Well, then.” said Lord Death “Let the game proceed!”
“Lets play ball boys!” you called over to the Team of Death, and you ran out in full spirits to enjoy the sport.
As they had done before to trap your fathers One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu to their deaths, Xibalba prepared tricks they were sure would prove fatal. Xibalba after an hour said the old ball which you both had brought with you was defective, and insisted on using a new ball. You complained, saying the old ball was fine and the new ball was nothing but a covered skull. Xibalba insisted, however and you acceded to his wish. The Captain of the Team of Death smashed the ball hard at you, aimed directly at your heart. Instead of intercepting the ball, you dove in a somersault on the ground, letting the ball pass over you and strike the stone wall of the Ball Court behind you. With a loud crash the new ball splintered and a knife blade emerged from it, clattering upon the ground.
“What’s that?” you and Tiresias cried, “Death is the only thing you want—-you don’t have the honour to play fairly! You summoned us to the game and now you cheat! If you can’t play fair we will simply take our ball and leave!”
“Well, don’t go boys! Don’t be spoil sports! We can still play a fine game, and to show you what good sports we are, we’ll even use your ball!” said Xibalba.
So the game continued through the second day, ending again in a draw. So Xibalba gave you both leave to retire for the evening. Seven Thanato again plotted your deaths during the night, locking you into to the Jaguar-Demon House to die. “Good-bye, my boys! I don’t think we will be seeing each other soon! Let me introduce our good friends you will be lodging with here tonight to you: Here is the one called Gouger of Faces, he delights in gouging out your eyeballs!—There is the one called Sudden Bloodletter, he snaps off your heads!—-then comes Crunching Jaguar, the eater of flesh, and Tearing Jaguar, who tears your bodies open!—Sweet Dreams!” The heads of the many demons loomed at you out of the darkness like the devouring heads of Scylla, the Hydra-headed devourer. You, however had stuffed your bag and poncho with the carrion bones from the House of Cadavers of the night before, and they threw them to the demons, saying: “Don’t eat us! We brought you something even better that should be yours! Bon Appetite!” with which the demons began to gorge themselves on the carrion, fighting amoungst themselves for the last scrap, until they fell asleep over themselves, tired and satiated. Xibalba and Seven Thanatos arrived at dawn again in a light and joyful mood. Xibalba said to him: “Lets collect their skeletons and put them into our trophy case to remember this game by!” However when they opened the door they found the Jaguar-Demons on the floor, still asleep, and you two, the Divine Twins beaming with health, Tiresias calling out to them with a playful sneer: “Lets play ball boys—we’re up for it!”
“Why haven’t they died?” cried out the throng of demons assembled at the Ball Court, and were amazed at the feats of the two of you, the Celestial Twins in the House of Death. “I can’t believe what I am seeing—I must have drunk too much Mescal last night and I’m hallucinating all this!” said Seven Thanatos. The game proceeded and finally you made a supreme effort at the end of the last inning, and leaping a head higher than the captain of the Team of Death, batted the ball through the stone hoop with your shoulder.
Sweet as the victory was, there was great danger in it. You knew the Lord of Death was above all a sore loser, and spite was at the core of his being and character. Xibalba, Lord Death invited you to a celebration dinner before returning home, but you suspected another attempt on your lives before you would be allowed to leave his domain. You had in California been a fan of the Magic Castle, which had a club for teaching young magicians magic tricks. Knowing the delight of the demons and lords of death for destruction, you announced that you would provide some light entertainment at the celebration dinner by performing some magic tricks, destroying things and magically restoring them.
First, you took a watch and placed it on the table, covering it with an handkerchief. Then you smashed the watch into pieces, showing them to the demons. Then you placed the pieces in the handkerchief in the pocket of Seven Thanato. You chanted the magic phrase: “AllyeAllyeOxenFreeFreeFree!” and then took out the handkerchief, opening it. The watch was whole and restored! The Demons were delighted!—–You had discovered that they were all really such children at heart!
Next you drew a live dove from beneath your tunic. You took up an obsidian knife and cut off its head, and the Demons laughed as they watched the headless bird run about the floor, not knowing that it was dead! Then you picked up the carcass of the dead bird and the head and placed them within a bird cage. You covered the bird cage with its night cover and said the magic words: “EenyMeenyMinyMoe—CatchA…..” then pulled off the cover, opened the cage and the dove flew skywards to freedom! There was a stomping of feet and chortling cheering heard far and wide across the House of Death.
Then Xibalba, Lord of Death, arose and said: “Very Good! Excellent indeed! But before you can return home you must do one more trick for us. You know the rite of human sacrifice. The losing team in the Ball Game is condemned to death. You have yet to kill a person! Yet you must be confident in all your wonderful magic that you can bring him back to life! This is my command and condition for your safe return home to the World of Light: You must kill your Twin brother Hunahpu and bring him back to life! You must make a human sacrifice without Death! We love our small delights here in the House of Death— delightful entertainment is a bit in short supply down here unfortunately!”
So Seven Thanato and Xibalba laid Tiresias on a black marble altar and opened his tunic at the chest. Xibalba picked up an obsidian knife and incised his chest, then Seven Thanato pulled back the ribs, exposing the beating heart. They then handed you the obsidian knife and instructed: “Make your Deathless Sacrafice now, Magister Ludi!”
You wedged your hand beneath Tiresias’ beating heart and lifted it upwards. But instead of cutting out the heart you took the obsidian knife and applied it to the center of the top of his head and dissecting his entire body along the centerline, separating and bisecting his body into two neat halves. The demons, specters and devils of the Underworld gasped in amazement as they saw that one half of Teresias’ body was male and the other half transformed into a female, cut away separately completely, linked only by the beating heart shared between them! Then Tiresias arose, severed and bisected into two halves, and his two halves began to dance and sing, sliding across the dance floor making a good imitation of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers: “S’Wonderful!—S’Marvellous!—-that you should care for me!” he-and-she sang and danced and twirled together, breaking into a tap dance between refrains!
The demons and specters after recovering their breath burst into an uncontrolled applause: “They must be reincarnations of Ometeotl, the “Dual God,” male and female both—-both the mother and father of the Gods!” they shouted
Then you escorted the he-and-she halves of Tiresias back to the altar. You severed the beating heart between them and held it high above your head until it stopped and there was no doubt Tiresias was dead. You then replaced the heart between the dead male and female halves of the cadaver and covered them with a white sheet. You passed your hand over the cadaver and repeated the magic words: “NihilHumanumAlienumEst!”
Then Tiresias rose under the white sheet like a ghost at Halloween, the cloth still covering his face and body. You held the edge of the sheet in front of Tiresias’ body as his body rose to a standing position, and as the suspense built you finally let go with a dramatic flair, whipping the white sheet away! Before the assembled devils, demons and specters appeared Tiresias in his performance costume—half male and half female—half Teresias in a tophat and tails, and half Teresa in her drag dinner dress of silver sequin, bisected neatly down the centre! After milking the moment of shock for all it was worth Tiresias turned to break into his performance, singing, gliding and tapdancing:
You’re the top!
You’re the Coliseum.
You’re the top!
You’re the Louver Museum.
You’re a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You’re a Bendel bonnet,
A Shakespeare’s sonnet…..
You’re Mickey Mouse!
You’re the Nile,
You’re the Tower of Pisa,
You’re the smile on the Mona Lisa!
I’m a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I’m the bottom you’re the top!
The effect was sensational and the applause thunderous! Then from here and there in the audience spontaneously you began to hear the words: “Me!….Me!….Let me try it!…..Cut me in two and bring me back to life again!……I want to try it!” as the hearts of the Underworld were filled with a childish longing and yearning for the dance.
You were about to perform the trick on Seven Thanatos, when Xibalba, the Lord of Death was insulted by your offence to his pride and announced: “No—-Protocol demands that I go first as the Lord of the Underworld”—he said as he moved to your side, shooing the captain aside.
“Very Well” you said, “You ought to come back to life. After all aren’t you Death? And aren’t we making you happy, along with all the vassals of your domains?”
Thus Xibalba, the Lord of Death was the first one to be sacrificed, and you cut out his beating heart, which was Black and spurted blood of black ink in your hands when it was severed. You cut, bisecting his body into two, as you had done with Tiresias. And, then you said the magic would take a short time, so you would do a few more while we all waited, and you similarly sacrificed Seven Thanatos and his lieutenants. They did not come back to life. They had no regenerative other, no soul to rejoin their bodies. Their bodies lay sexless and dead, the dismembered Eunuchs of Death. Their end was their end and no new beginning.
And then the Xibalban vassals, devils, demons, specters of the undead rose in a panic, seeing their Lords dead before them. “Death be not Proud!” they shrieked and scurried like lemmings to the edge of the abyss, the Pit of Eblis. There they piled up, on the edge of the abyss, like myriad ants, Marmydion spectres trying to make up a single body from a buzzing swarm of ants, to replace their dismembered Lord; but failing they tumbled into the abyss, free-falling for hours until they reached absolute bottom, all bent low in surrender, meek and defeated in the lake of sulphur and feiry brimstone. Then you and Tiresesias wheeled the dismembered bodies of Xibalba and Seven Thanato to the edge of the abyss and pushed them over, following them with your gaze, disappearing into the black chaos below.
Then you two, you Divine Twins, embraced each other and wept in each other’s arms with manly though tender tears of joy. Such was the defeat of the Rulers of the Underworld, the omnipotent Lord Death Xibalba and his servile minions. And you brothers accomplished all this only through Wonders and Self-Transformations.
Arm in arm, you glorious two headed for the exit door of the small theatre of the Psychoplex and returned to the hallway. Sitting to recover your breath, the usher poured two more glasses of Mescal, and you toasted each other: “Tie Ger Mer! Sworn Brothers!—Semper Fi!” you exchanged, drawing off the cool ether of the Mescal.
“Now I’m getting into the fun of it!” you blurted out, putting down your glass of Mescal. “Now for the next adventure!” you effused, moving towards the third door: “All the Women of the World are Yours!”—–“Perhaps I’ll try this one alone!” you said smiling back at Teresias, opening the ornate door.
Immediately you discovered yourself in a wonderful forested glade, watered with a beautiful stream with the most luxurious foliage, flowers, and the cooing voices of the exotic jungle birds—-quetzel, trogon and troupial. In the center of a large clearing in the glade was an immense tree, singular in its immensity, that seemed to tower to the heavens—a veritable Tree of Igdrasil in its proportions. Beneath it was a young Aztec warrior, exquisitely handsome and well muscled, Adonis-like in his beauty, standing ever vigilant with a sword beneath the tree, fields of ripening maize corn visible at the edges of the clearing further down the glade. Upon his head was a golden crown, encrusted with sun-shot jade and precious gems, ears of maize corn sculpted in purest gold upon the crown, and topped with a headdress of brightly coloured feathers, green-blue, orange and irridescant purple, of the quetzal, trogon and troupial.
You crept in the underbrush until moving about behind the Aztec warrior, deliberately aside of his field of vision. Then wagering that you could effect the surprise, you drew your spear and ran straight at him, just out his peripheral vision. You built up speed and momentum as you neared the beautiful youth, raising your javelin to your shoulder. The warrior heard your footsteps and turned to face you—–too late!——and you released the javelin straight into the his naked neck, cutting the jugular vein and with half its length emerging out the backside of his spine. The blood spurted frantically as the youth dropped to his knees, then looking up into your face to see his undoer. As his eyes caught your gaze, your hands rested boldly upon your hips, your pelvis thrust forward in proud triumphant display; the fallen man’s eyelids lifted, then drooped, and he died kneeling, the spear shaft thrust through his throat holding him up in a posture of prayer, his lips mouthing words, mocking speech, but with nothing to be heard but the congested gurgling of his ebbing and effusing blood.
From a palace far below you caught sight of a filing troupe of one hundred of the most beautiful women you had ever seen, clad entirely in immaculate white, their hair exquisitely done up, and carrying on their heads jars and urns of oil, food, dates, and other delicacies, or articles of gold embroidered clothing. Some played flutes and lyres and wondrous instruments. At their head was a being, one could say a woman, but the being was too beautiful to be an earthly woman, and seemed to have a superhuman radiant aura about her, intimating that she was not of earthly orgin but a Goddess.
As the vestal column neared and found you standing over the kneeling corpse, the Goddess spoke out decisively: “The King is Dead—Long Live the King!” With that she lifted the golden crown from the blood-spattered head of the fallen youth and placed it on your head. Her underling women then stripped the robe from from the fallen victim, removed the spear, and laid him out naked upon the ground—the gaping bloody hole opened wide beneath his open gasping fishlike mouth, still in frozen dead posture seeming to want to say something, but unable. The women took the naked body on a stretcher, anointed it with oil, and then cast it into a newly dug and unmarked grave, between two rows of maize corn.
The women removed your blood-bespattered clothing, poured water, soap and then oil and incense upon your naked muscled skin, washing your naked body and genitals unashamedly, then clothing you in a gold embroidered tunic and adjusting the quetzal feathers on your golden crown. Then the Goddess spoke:
“I am Xochiquetzal, Goddess of Love and Fertility. You are now my earthly king! You shall reign with absolute power until the next King comes to slay you, as you have just slain the King before you! Until that time you shall rule with the power of an emperor, vital and unageing. All the women of this land shall be your harem and your semen’s seed shall spread over their bodies like the kernals of maize corn upon the land of the fertile plain! You shall marry me and become as a God! The women of the earth shall worship your body, your phallus and your seed as their God! We shall retire to the Palace and consummate the ceremony! Then the women carried you and the Goddess, seated side by side, hand in hand in a sedan-chair litter on poles, in royal estate towards the palace. As they chanted their entoxicating melodies, singing joyfully in choral unision as the procession neared the Palace, you abandoned yourself willingly to the songs of the Sirens.
At the palace thousands of women, all nubile and gorgeous, lined the halls and bowed to you as you entered, the Goddess at your side. They installed you in your apartments next to the Goddess’ and then bathed you in frankinscence and myrrh, and anointed your well-muscled body with holy oils, christening your skin. They brought you endless delicacies to eat, dates, exotic nuts, curries, puddings, gels, meat and fowl, fish and vegetables, in the most diverse sauces and spices. Aphrodisiac spices and wines were brought, powdered rhinoscerous horn and tiger bone, oysters and shellfish, and hosts of others. Music was played endlessly by a female band, naked to the waist who entertained you, while oriental singers sang lyrics of great seductiveness and delicacy, suffusing the imagination. You felt your potency surge within you violently.
Then the Chief Priestess returned at the head of an endless train of nubile women clad in the most enticing garments. Behind her walked three gruesome hags who carried a litter surrounded with a purpled cloth curtain. They placed the litter, which looked like a small puppet stage beside a white marble pillar thrust up behind the altar. Each hag, a pale semblance of a Medusa, was accompanied by a priestess of a secondary order of extraordinary beauty. The three gruesome hags, who alone could approach the litter, drew back the curtain of the litter and before you appeared an extraordinary face atop a limbless torso, limbless except for one withered leg which extended upwards and across the back of the shoulders and base of the neck, with a diminutive foot, exquisitely wrapped in Chinese foot bindings and a silken shoelet dangling helplessly behind the figure’s left ear. The leg was atrophied and devoid of muscle, and at its base their was but a small pubic mound from which the genitals had been excised. The torso was sewn tightly into a silken sack like a papoose on the chest of which was a mystic arabesque. Atop the torso was a face of seeming feminine beauty dressed entirely in a consummate feathered headdress of immaculately white down feathers which drew tightly about the outline of the face, concealing any presence of hair like a nun’s white wimple. The skin was of perfect smoothness and delicately rouged and the lips protruded thickly in a perfect guled cupid’s bow glossed and pointed at its tips and ridges. The eyes seemed splayed like two extended wings of a delicate small bird of an immaculate white that resembled a masquerade ball mask, but with the feathers seeming to grow from the eyes themselves. The eyelids were closed, but also shingled with tiny soft white feathers, which took the place of eyelashes, with a line of diamonds and tiny coloured jewels limning the very edge of the upper lid as if penciled by a royal cosmetician. The three hags lifted the papoosed torso up a small ladder and placed it in cradling nest atop the erect pillar.
At a signal from the Chief Priestess drums took up a relentless jungle beat and the train of maenad women raised their voices in a collective wailing song which must have been of the repertoire of the Sirens, jazzing to a mounting frenzy. The women of the train tore the clothes from their bodies and danced a frenzied writhing hypnotic dance, hormonally-crazed about the marble pillar, some by turns pressing and sliding their splayed vulvas up and down its erect length like the pole dancers of an erotic theatre. With the rising wails of the maenads the face began to turn upon its neck in slow tortured ritual circles and the grimacing mouth began to moan and attempt speech in an unknown glossalalia. At a climaxing drumstroke the perfectly fletched and splayed feathered eyelids of the face burst open with an awakening start, revealing within their downed frame the empty blood-red caverns of the gaping eye sockets from which the balls had been gouged and torn. The face shrieked in a tone that was clearly of a residual male timbre, and the mouth gaped open, from which issued not a human tongue but two, the tongue having been sliced precisely in two from its tip to its base, revealing two forked tips of red, snakelike, from which no human speech issued, but a serpentine babbling or talking in tongues or helpless shrieks and plaintive moans. All about the crazed maenad chorus rose and quickened to the drumbeats in a frenzying exstasy and violent crescendo of chant: “Imbunche, Imbunche, Imbunche……………………Imbunche!”
Finally, the Chief Priestess of the Goddess in a purple robe entered your chamber and announced it was time to conduct and consummate the marriage ceremony. The priestess performed the ritual, chanting the verses, and a maenad chorus replied hypnotically in sensual song and dance; then she led the Goddess to her nuptial bed, preparing her concealed behind the gauze curtain veil of the crimson-purple wedding chamber. Then the Priestess indicated only one thing remained of the ritual before the consummation and the night of pleasure and sublime exstasy: The Sacrafice.
She indicated that to consummate the ceremony the living, beating heart of a woman must be excised from her body, then placed upon a silver tray, and placed over the marital bed while still alive and beating. She led you to the sacrificial altar, where was bound the body of a selected victim, a handsome woman, writhing, naked to the waist, with her face covered with a veil. The Priestess placed the sacred curved obsidian knife in your hands, then pulled back the outer curtain of the sacrificial altar. You hesitated, unsure of yourself, then raised your hand. You could see the fear in the eyes of the sacrifice, somehow vaguely familiar. You watched as she struggled against the leather bands that held her hands tight, and she squealed against the gag in her mouth, emitting a high hysterical and plaintiff whine. As you stepped forward the Priestess uncovered the sacrafice’s veil and removed it from her face. It was Eva!—your sister and your own heart! To your horror you saw the Priestess cut open her chest and pry back her ribs. You reached between the ribs and held Eva’s beating heart in the palm of your hand. You froze, inexplicable to yourself, unable to move or act.
“Strike!” The Priestess shrieked at you “Strike and sever the beating heart!–Strike or you shall be stricken dead!”
You raised the obsidian knife above your head–the full arm’s length above your head….you struck downward with all your remaining might——striking dead—–the Priestess and not Eva! You rushed to Eva, cutting her bonds and gag with your obsidian knife, then kissing her frenzied face and lips, bent on your knees, so uncontrollably desperate and frantic in your holiness towards her. Then you then picked her up in your arms and rushing towards the Exit of the theatre of the Psychoplex you pushed open the gilded door, re-entering the hallway. But when you had regained the hallway all had disappeared as into a lost dream, and Eva was no longer in your arms. Neither was the Teatro Magico behind the door, but you found yourself naked in your own hotel room at the Marco Polo Hotel, pushing open your bathroom door and re-entering your sitting room, darkened except for the moonlight shining through the translucent curtains. You collapsed onto the sitting room sofa, then poured yourself a large water tumbler full of Mescal from a large bottle on the coffee table before you. You gulped it down incredulously, first one, then two then the final gulp, drawing down and draining the Mescal’s ether to the bottom. You wiped your eyes and heard the buzzing about your ears and the shock of the Mescal hitting your spine and your bloodstream. Then you looked towards the bedroom, and you saw Maria rise from the bed, naked except for her lace panties, drawing you backwards towards the bed. You saw the exquisite tropical butterfly, floridly tattooed, large and iridescent across the small of her back, moving above her sculpted buttocks as she walked you towards the bed—and beneath it, delicately stenciled, the word: “Mariposa.” You became the butterfly as she moved, and fluttered drunkenly around her enticing body, like a moth before a flame in the night.
“Roberto!” she intoned pleadingly, “Come back to bed!—–we are getting cold waiting for you!” As she kissed you and and caressed you inside your thigh, fondling your genitals, the stiffening shaft and heavy balls, which lifted, hardened and surged before you at her caressing touch; you glanced to the other side of the double King-sized bed and saw Teresa in a seductive negligee, fully feminine and inviting, yet with Tiresias somehow, submerged somewhere there within, half-hidden under the sheet, beaming back at you warmly and joining Maria in caressing your hardening penis, then lowering to suck your aching left ball and mouth then the tip and end of your cock playfully as Maria slid her tongue, French kissing, inside your mouth. Then the Mescal flooded your senses and you were unsure where you were, who, what you were doing or whom with, or doing to. You lost yourself in the rush of yourself, like the rushing wings of the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis into the unknown realm of flight towards the blinding sun upwards, and then dark, down into sleep and into a long unremembering…………..
IX. The Central Sea, The Crystal Bead Game & The Quest
In the Crystal Bead Game, contemplation, the secrets of the Chinese I Ching and Western mathematics and music, Sufi and Gnostic contemplation, masterpieces of all human arts and fusions of the spirit—Apollinian, Dionysian and Promethean Tragedy, jazz and the African Ritual Tragedy of Ogun, the Yin and the Yang and the hexagrams, the Master Work of the Alchemists, the Dao and the,the Sufi fitrah,—-all the artifacts of the accumulated genius and heritage of all nations, religions, philosophies and races on earth are employed in fashioning a matrix of the mind and spirit resolving the perennial conflicts of life into a unifying design. The playing pieces are Crystal Beads——-Seed Crystals played within a transparent aquarium-like Reactor Core of fluid human knowledge and experience immersing and containing within it a matrix resembling a four dimensional chess game through which light pulses and refracts like the laser light within a fibre-optic cable. The spherical and transparent Reactor Core lies at the center of a circular amphitheater on the shores of the Great Central Sea at the center of the Earth in the monastic spiritual community of Castalia, Middle Earth. The head of the Order of the Templars of the Game of Castalia, the Magister Ludi, is also the Lord Master of the Game and acts as its referee and director. The players are seated in the surrounding amphitheater and by turns introduce new crystallizations within the Reactor Core. The players are the greatest creative and contemplative minds of the earth of all times and ages, and the crystal pieces are played by manipulating the control rods which extend deep into the Liquid Base Solution, much like in the core of a nuclear reactor submerged in its iridescent bath of heavy water. By placing a new Seed Crystal, or Silmaril within the existing concatenation within the matrix submerged in the Liquid Base Solution of the Reactor’s retort the flow of light energy through the system changes and a new chain of crystal precipitates out of solution, altering the Crystal Matrix and revealing a new emanation of the light of the spirit in sublime art. The attainment of newer and higher levels, densities and intensities of this Inlightenment is the Game’s objective, fulfilling the Life Force’s inherent and self-fulfilling Will to Delight—-in pursuit of an ultimate and infinite Delightentment. The Base Solution contains and is linked by chains of causation and replication to the DNA of the human race, which in its onward evolution mirrors the outcomes of the game and thereby the historical destiny of the planet. Thus the destiny of the earth is played out in the destiny of the game and ever the one must find its resolution in the other. By this reciprocal pathway the conscious and unconscious will of the world dialectically transcend each other and manifest themelves in a newer synthesis, “The θέλημα,”—Thelema, or “True Will” of the world. By this reciprocal pathway life replicates the outcome of the game as the game itself mirrors, parallels and embodies the sum total and onward flow and evolution of all reiterated human historical and imaginative life experience on earth, conscious and unconscious. But the players are never in control of the game; rather they are ever more controlled by it. They are like sailors on the sea who can only move by manipulating the immeasurable flows of energy surrounding them by slightly altering the miniscule tools under their control, the set of the sails and the inclination of a rudder within an ever flowing fluid and gaseous mass infinitely beyond their control. This vast energy which moves the game and the players alike, flowing in tides about them and rising in parallel within them from their unconscious depths, and only fractionally accessible to the sails and rudders of human consciousness, is called Spiritus Mundi. And, as the movements of the winds and the seas of earth are ultimately derived from the energy radiated from the eternally burning sun, so the Spiritus Mundi in turn reflects, refracts, transforms and embodies the energies and spirit of the universal cosmic creation.
Thus it was, when the Nautilus broke the surface of the Great Central Sea, having navigated the Chthonic Passage which leads from the surface seas and oceans surrounding the continents of the earth to the vast system of the Amniotic Central Seas within, that on mounting the now emergent conning tower of that reknown submersible Sartorius and Andreas, Nemo, and the small band of refugees from the surface conflict, beheld a most wondrous sight. Across the short expanse of water of the Bay of Pellucidar that divided them from the shore appeared before their eyes and reflected in the babbling surface of the intervening waters the marvelous apparition of the huge spherical Reactor Core pulsing with light and energy at the center of the populated amphitheater on the shore of Castalia, Middle Earth. As Captain Nemo anchored and secured his craft from the great pier jutting out into the waters a large launch sped towards them. A very few minutes later the recently rescued refugees and their twin guides, Goethe and Sun Wu Kong accompanied Nemo and his officers onto dry land.
As they walked down the long jutting pier and onto the shore they found themselves comfronted by the approach of a vast procession from the amphitheater towards them. At its head was a most marvelous patriarch dressed in iridescent robes and with the long flowing beard and pure-shining white hair of the Ancient of Days. He announced himself as the Magister Ludi, Magus of Light and welcomed the newcomers to Castalia on behalf of the Order of Knights Templar of Castalia, Middle Earth and the participants in the ongoing game.
“You are none too soon, Captain Nemo, you can see for yourself that the Reactor Core is overheating with the Stalemate in the game, and if no solution is found soon it will descend into a feiry catastrophic meltdown. This has never before happened in the history of the game. At the rate of the rise in temperature I think we can count on only three or four more days. But in this no one can be certain—we are only extrapolating our ignorance. Everyone here is already occupied in preventing the meltdown, so you newcomers will have to make the journey. From my knowledge the only hope is to get to the Council of the Immortals convening at the Black Hole Amphitheater in the center of our galaxy and declare an emergency, requesting that they supply the missing Seed Crystal, the Silmaril, at once to prevent the extermination of the human race in a nuclear Armageddon. If the Reactor Core bursts, on the surface of the earth a thermonuclear war will break out, leading to the end of modern life and civilization as we know it. You are the last hope.”
“My ship is at your command, Magister Ludi. Professor Sartorius and his people have agreed to undertake the quest, and Lord Goethe and Master Sun Wu Kong are ready to accompany them. Their Questways are one. Are there none of your people who can join us?” he queried.
“We are all engaged in preventing the Core Reactor from going into meltdown……I can’t spare anyone. No wait, there is a way we can use the backup system to free up one hand. I will ask for a volunteer to accompany you……….Gentlemen, Ladies is there any who will join the Quest for the Seed Crystal, the Silmaril?”………..he turned about and looked into the crowd of faces. None moved forward. Then a pause ensued and he called out again. This time two African figures strode boldly forward dressed in brilliant headdresses and a skirt of palm fronds. The first announced himself:
“I am Obatala—-I will nominate and he has accepted, my brother Ogun to accompany you on your journey and quest. He is known as the Lord of Onward Struggle, Protector of Orphans, Roof over the Homeless, and Terrible Guardian of the Sacred Oath,” and then he began to sing a chant of praise:
“In the name of Oxalá, Creator of All and Lord of Light, and of Yamanja the Fair, of Xango and Oxum, of Omolo Lord of Death and of the Dark Lord Exu:
Rich-laden in his home, yet, decked in palm fronds
He ventures forth, refuge of the down-trodden,
To rescue slaves he unleashed the judgment of war
Because of the blind, plunged into the forest
Of curative herbs, Bountiful One
Who stands bulwark to offsprings of the dead in heaven……
Salutations O lone being, who bathes in rivers of blood……
“Do you undertake this Quest, Lord Ogun?” asked the Magister Ludi.
“I do, my Lord Magister Ludi. I pledge my heart and blood and life to its fulfillment.” he responded gravely.
“Very well, your request is accepted. I can spare but one man and you are he.” the Magister Ludi replied. “Then I bid all of you farewell and God’s speed. You must depart immediately—–our fates depend on it. Good voyage Captain Nemo—–but beware—–Mephisto’s U-boat The Baphomet has been sighted in the sea three days ago. To all of you embarking on this solemn Quest, you—modern Argonauts, you the Warriors of Light, I look forward to your happy return, and if not, God’s love and grace to you for your hearts and courage.”
As the Voyagers prepared for their departure the Magister Ludi summoned Sartorius to his private chambers. He was led down a long hallway occupied by liveried servants—–the multi-colour skinned, turbaned and hermaphroditic Mégamicres, the traditional ceremonial “Swiss Guard” or Beefeaters of Castalia, Middle Earth and the surrounding adjacent county of Agartha-Shamballa, each holding before them the ornate phallic ceremonial staffs, the heel of which they banged loudly against the floor as he passed. He entered the Magister Ludi’s private chamber and spoke to him：
“Professor Sartorius I know that you must feel great trepidation and anxiety, even outright fear to be given this momentous Calling and Quest. I myself embarked upon a similar quest long ago, and felt the same—but there is no time to talk of that now. Let it suffice that I assure you that you are here in consequence of your quest and the courage in pursuit of your dream through your life—-which means that you are living your Questway, your questpath, which though harrowing is also blessed with helping and sustaining powers. When you fear for your own adequacy in the face of these unprecedented challenges remember that you are here on your life’s questpath as a consequence of following your dream—-and where a man follows his dream’s questpath he becomes part of the Spiritus Mundi, and thus the entire universe will conspire to help you complete it!
“Thank you Your Excellency. I have made my decision. You may rest assured that I will undertake the quest, though I can in no way be confident that my abilities are in any way equal to the immense challenge. But I have made my decision.”
“Making a decision is only the beginning of a thing. Then you must ride the current and the unforeseen consequences. You must follow your questpath and be alert to the omens that may lead you to find the hidden forces which are allied in your cause. You must discover the signposts of your questway which will keep you on the right path.”
“How do I find such omens and signposts? I don’t know how.”
“You know much more than you realize. Listen to your heart. It knows all things because it comes from the Spiritus Mundi, the Soul of the World, and it will one day return there. If a man is following his dream and living out his desired destiny he knows everything he needs to know. What he doesn’t know will be revealed to him by the forces allied to his cause. Believe me, the signs and the omens are there waiting for you and you will discover them. Everything in life is a sign for those who learn to listen to their hearts, which will speak to them in the Language of the World. The wise men understood that this natural world is only an image of a deeper paradise and paradigm of unfathomed dimensions. The existence of the world is simply a guarantee of the existence of this deeper and more perfect one, and therefore there dwell within it the signs, and omens and hidden allied forces which will aid you. This world is created that you may come to understand the wonder of its wisdom. That is what I mean when I assure you that all that is necessary will be revealed to you in action. Action is our journey through the signs of this world, a forest of signs, and into the deeper and more perfect one to which they point. The symbols like the crystals are but the signposts of the Way. There is only one thing that makes a dream and a quest impossible: the fear of failure………But let me give you something which will aid and protect you on the journey. This is my Crystal Aegis. Wear it as a talisman around your neck. If you show it to anyone on your way they will immediately recognize its authority and will aid you on your journey. It is like a cosmic safe conduct pass or passport.” With that the Magister Ludi hung the talisman around Sartorius’ neck, a gold medallion in which was embedded a brilliant crystal. Upon the Seed Crystal was written a message in symbols Sartorius stared long at it but could not decipher.
“It is a code.” Sartorius obserbed aloud to him.
“No. It’s like a signpost of the journey. It can’t be understood by reason alone. The crystal is a direct passage to the Soul of the World, to the Spiritus Mundi. You will begin to decipher and understand it as you live your journey, not before. Your heart’s Intuition will reveal it to you as you live the journey. It will speak to you in the Universal Language, the Language of the World that transcends and needs no words—the language of living experience.”
“Yes. Your intuition is but the sudden immersion of the soul, ino the current of life, where the histories and destinies of all things and all people are interconnected. When you listen to your heart and it reveals its knowledge to you in the Universal Language, it opens a direct and wordless channel of communication with the Spiritus Mundi, which aids you with its knowledge.”
“I thank you Your Excellency.”
“Any more questions before you depart?” he asked.
“Just one. What is this Silmaril that we must find—why is it so important?”
“The Silmaril contains the parallel sub-structure of reality, but unenchained by the constraints of history and time. Within its unique and primordial crystalline structure is the sole preserved essence of the Big Bang of Creation—–the pure light of its original Essence, the last remaining vestige before modern light was polluted by the dullness of matter and degraded by time and causation. This doubling of Creation’s original essence, when perfectly mirrored and overlayed by supreme arts within the reactor of the Grand Retort, in parallax with the essence that drives history and the universe, each image in vectoral conjunction its parallel reality through parallel dimensions and beyond the constraints of time, allows the Vector Deviation and Dimensional Parallax, which in turn enables a bending, or alteration of destiny, by virtue of the Gravitational Pull Imagination exerts upon matter and energy, just as matter may bend light This alternative pathway revealed and unleashed in the Silmaril thus parallels in importance the discovery and realization of Imaginary Numbers, which also provide a doubling of the Mathematical Creation.
In essence the Silmaril Crystal provides an itinerary, a mapping and a pathway to a hidden extradimenional space of hidden possibilities. Doubling the light of the here and now with the primordial remnant of the pure and original light of the Big Bang, the original Creation—-a double refraction in multiple dimensions takes place in compound powers—2, 4, 16……n to the nth ……permitting a view and access to a Creation Set just to the side of the flow of time of this one, so close as to overlap, where the membrane between the Real and the Imaginary worlds, refracted and mapped in imaginary numbers, in many places becomes too frail, too permeable, for stability—–then an alteration of the sum total and summation of all vectors—-an alteration of destiny may become possible.”
“I will have to take your word for it—–thank you Your Excellency.”
“No. It is I who thank you. But we may thank each other and thank the highest spirit above all. Now time is short and I must speed you on your way. Vaya con Dios.”
With that the Voyagers of the Quest re-embarked in the launch and again boarded the Nautilus, accompanied by their new comrade Ogun. The Nautilus set off towards the center of the Central Sea, towards the Island of Omphalos, where the portal Gateway to the Umbilical Wormhole, the sole passage to the center of the galaxy and its Black Hole Amphitheater and the Council of the Immortals was to be found.
In the cabin, Andreas asked Goethe who this Ogun was, as he had never heard of him. Goethe replied:
“Ogun is of the cosmogony of the African Yoruba, but he is also the universal hero of the Dionysian and the Promethian spirit, translated into African terms if you will. Who is Ogun do you ask?………..He is a complex figure, the “Lord of the Road” and one of the few hero-deities who seek “The Way”—-alongside man. He is a master craftsman, a warrior, an artist and a farmer——-he is the essence of destruction and creation…….he is “The Way Opener.” In the Yoruba cosmogony he is the jungle guide who hacks a path for the gods through sheer will through the impassable jungle-forest of Primordial Chaos. Some call him a god and some a hero, some a Savage Christ—-he is a being who comes to man anguished by and sharing a continuing sense of incompleteness——the incompleteness of the gods without man and of man without the gods, and a quest to open the way of reunion to that lost comnpleteness and totality. He is like Prometheus in bestowing craft, song and poetry upon men, and has initiated humans into the mysteries of the universe, and the mysteries of the creativity which brought the universe into being.
Ogun came into being as an impassable gulf had grown separating man from the gods and the cosmic origin. Neither the gods nor man could be complete without the other, yet they were separated by an impassable barrier, an inpenetrable void. Ogun undertook the Quest to cross that Void—-He became an explorer of that Chaos; he cleared the primordial jungle, plunged through the abyss and called on others to follow. For this feat the Gods offered Ogun the crown as the King of the Gods, but Ogun refused it and dwelt in the wilderness instead to seek wisdom and wholeness. Then journeying again in the opposite direction, upon arriving on earth he was offered the crown of kingship over men. Again he refused and lived in the mountains in solitude. Again men sought him out to assume kingship over them, and pleaded so strongly that at length Ogun assented and came down from the mountains dressed in his battle dress and smeared with blood across his whole body. When the men saw him they ran away, later sending a messenger to say that he looked too terrible and frightful, and that if he would only clean himself of all the blood they would come back and be his subjects. He was crowned king and in war after war led his subjects to victory in battle.
Then finally came a day in the lull of battle when the Trickster god Esu left a gourd of palm wine spiked with a drug from a secret herb for Ogun to drink. Ogun found it exceptionally delicious and drained the gourd to its dregs. But now the drunken Ogun found his vision blurred and confused friend and foe. He turned on his own men and slaughtered them, leaving himself covered in blood. In despair Ogun fled and was literally torn apart by the cosmic winds, yet succeeded in rescuing himself by harnessing the untouched part of himself: the will. He put himself together like Isis reassembled Osiris, and resurrected himself like the fallen Christ. This is Ogun.” he recited.
Sartorius wished to welcome and thank Ogun for joining the Quest and becoming one of the Argonauts, so he invited him to a special dinner party in his honour in the main stateroom. At the end of the dinner as leader and spokesman for the whole group he toasted Ogun with palm wine and gave him a copy of Shelly’s poetry which he had memorized as a boy and then written out in ornate style for Ogun:
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound:
In each human heart terror survives
The raven it has gorged: the loftiest fear
All that they would disdain to think were true:
Hypocrisy and custom make their minds
The fanes of many a worship, now outworn.
They dare not devise good for man’s estate,
And yet they know not that they do not dare.
Ogun thanked Sartorius profusely and they lost themselves and their worries for an hour in palm wine and song making. Eva danced with Ogun, and being the only female present, by turns with all the rest of the party as they sang songs, recited poetry and capered amoung themselves. After several hours Eva retired exhausted to recover her energy in sleep and the men drank and indulged in fine Cuban cigars until the late hours, one by one slipping off to their quarters to rest. At length, the boat surfacing Sartorius and Andreas, the last remaining in the stateroom mounted the ladder-stairs to take in the night air before retiring for sleep, strolling up and down the deck as the crew accomplished its necessary maintenance. Something phosphorescent in the sea kept the night well illuminated. Though the moon could not be visible in the deepest bowels of the earth the vault of overarching basalt gave off a suffused iridescent light reminiscent of moonlight and gaps in a cloud-like fog revealed the glimmering of embedded crystal formations in the vaulted-sky which impersonated in Sartorius’ mind the light of stars. A cold katabatic wind beat against their backs and ears hastening the boat onwards into the chthonic night. Finally a physical weariness overcame their energies and they returned below and into the realm of unknowing sleep.
X. The Island of Omphalos & The Mothers
As the Nautilus sped away silently across the sea’s floor in silent running wary of ambush by Mephisto’s U-boat The Baphomet, Sartorius refreshed by a short but regenerative sleep tried to prepare himself for the tests and trials sure to await himself and his questing comrades. The Master of the Game, Magister Ludi, had briefed him upon leaving Castalia that the only way to save the game, and hence the fate of the human race was to retrieve the missing Seed Crystal, the Silmaril and enter it into play in the game’s matrix before the apocalyptic moment—-The Crisis and moment of truth. The missing crystal was the only remaining piece that could yet be played in the game of the human spirit that could prevent stalemate and the fatal regression of all cumulated human powers into a final cataclysmic cycle of entropy and self-destruction. Only with it would the human life spirit, the Spiritus Mundi, attain the needed quantum leap of affirmation and by reaching the next Degree of Freedom and Negentropy escape the downward pull of Entropy,Thanatos and Dissolution and ascend to the next evolutionary level of onward energization of the Life Force. Without it the empire of negation would reign victorious.
According to the Magister Ludi, the double conic helixes of the game, representing the evolving human life spirit had reached their apex and history nearing completion of its movement along the outer gyre was beginning its corresponding course along the inner gyre. This apocalyptic moment would decide whether the movement along the inner gyre would be upwards or downwards. As the shark must always move forward to prevent death—so in the histories and fates of the lives of individuals as well as civilizations, life’s energies would be impelled ever onward, either upwards in a quantum leap forward towards a higher synthesis, or an unraveling downward descent into entropy, decay and surrender to the forces of Thanatos and dissolution, awaiting in latent appetency a newer creation evolving from the unraveling and dissolution of the old. The brutal law of life dictated the evolution must be either upward or downward, towards greater life or fated dissolution and death—-a constant yin and yang cycle in and out of the ever fecund-saturated solution of appetent existence and non-existence;—peace without fecundity, renewal of the life force and onward creation being only the illusory hiatus preceding the descent towards death and the start of life’s neverending succeeding evolutionary cycles.
The missing Silmaril Seed Crystal could only be obtained from the Council of the Immortals gathering at that moment in the amphitheatre within the black hole at the center of the galaxy. There was but one possible passageway to that amphitheatre thousands of light-years away: the Umbilical Wormhole short-circuiting the curve of Space-Time from the center of the earth to the galactic focus. Before they had embarked Goethe and the Magister Ludi had struggled to explain to Sartorius the most elementary principles of how the Missing Seed Crystal within the Grand Retort would channel the Universal Energy into the Spiritus Mundi and how it was possible to move faster than the speed of light through the Wormhole and Sartorius wrestled desperately to comprehend but it was clear that he was out of his depth. Twenty years ago he had made a valiant attempt to read and take in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity but after six months had only a partial notion of what it was all about. Now, from Goethe and the Magister Ludi it was revealed to him that forces only dimly anticipated by Einstein himself were now in play in determining the fate of mankind. Goethe and Einstein had attempted to give Sartorius a brief layman’s introduction while the latter rested from his work at the control rods at the Grand Retort. They spoke to eachother in their native German and Goethe attempted to translate the ideas into both English and into concepts and forms of expression capable of being grasped by the non-specialist layman:
“How shall we put it Robert? Like learning a new language you have to set aside your own language’s grammar and operations to enter into another system of thought and expression, which is only partially possible. You know that in our day Albert and I were deeply engaged in the questions of light, mass, energy, space, time and the multiple dimensions of human and cosmic experience. We grappled with the questions of whether light was a wave or a particle, a phenomenon of matter or of energy. What we discovered of course was that both our words and our concepts were inadequate to the complexity of a reality of a dimensional manifoldness hithertofore undreamed of. Matter and energy at the deeper level of multiple dimensions were shown to be but different faces of a more deeply embedded unity. Like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, where one blind man feels the trunk and likens the elephant to a snake and another feels the leg and likens it to a tree.Each only had a partial truth to offer, based on his limited experience and the limits of his conceptual framework and language of expression. One ‘blind man’ looked at light and saw that it was something like a particle, and another that it was something like a wave. Now we know that our past dilemmas were false representations arising from the limited nature of our conceptions and language. Our subsequently evolved science has established that all those little things like quarks, protons, electrons, photons, neutrons and neutrinos, bosons, hadrons and leptons that we previously thought of as particles are actually of a deeper nature—–we might term them “strings” within multiple dimensions. Thus, rather than hard particles they prove themselves to be vibrating strands of energy oscillating within eleven known dimensions—possible more—-and the oscillating quantum states which we perceive momentarily of them are but the momentary and fragmentary glimpses of the blind men of the greater elephant—a deeper unity within unseen dimensions—–but the elephant exists in eleven dimensions instead of our supposed three or even Albert’s posited four! These oscillating strings of energy—we call them ‘Superstrings’ for convenience’s sake, are very tiny, and viewed in the cross-section of our own dimensionally limited experience and perceptual perspective they appear to us as point particles. You see, we utilize these “Superstrings” within the Grand Retort in transiting the eleven dimensions and channeling their energy to a slight degree to partially shape and steer human evolution within our familiar four dimensions—the world and time—-spacetime. Schrodiger’s Cat would thus not suffer an imagined quantum death but rather his life would be oscillating between the eleven dimensions!—-much better than his mere nine lives! By bending spacetime within the eleven dimensions it is possible for you to transit the wormhole, even exceeding the conventionally understood speed of light in your cosmic journey, as seen from our limited conventional experience. When you reach the black hole at the center of our Milky Way you will then further transit the polydimensional “Membrane” or “Brane”—-passing through the successive surfaces of all eleven dimensions in a single quantum leap into the nexus with the infinite—the Council of the Immortals.”
Here Einstein grew enthusiastic and his eyes lighting up he switched into his heavily accented English, brushing his hands through his tangled mass of disheveled hair to enlighten Sartorius more directly, blurting out: “You see it is really quite simple once you see it! The heterotic string consists of a closed sting that has two types of vibrations, clockwise and counterclockwise, which are treated differently as they transit the polydimensional matrix. With aid of the focus of the telluric currents at the Ombilicus Mundi we can adjust the tenor of these vibrations at our end of the heterotic string, allowing the possibility of transit. The clockwise vibrations live in a ten-dimensional space. The counterclockwise live in a 26-dimensional space, of which 16 dimensions have been compactified—recalling that in Kaluza’s original five-dimensional, the fifth dimension was compactified by being wrapped up into a Moibius-ringed circle.”
Einstein then puffed on his pipe, the corners of his eyes smiling into Goethe’s own. The corners of Goethe’s eyes then shifted to Sartorius’ eyes and encountered there the blank uncomprehending stare that the Chinese so aptly characterize as that of a “Mu Ji—a Wooden Chicken.” Einstein then noticed his consternation and convinced that it was all so simple once you got the simplest insight he repeated his explanation: “Let me put it in a slightly different way and you will get it in no time. You see, the ekpyrotic process begins far in the indefinite past with a pair of flat empty branes sitting parallel to each other in a warped five-dimensional space……these are the Grand Horizons……The two branes, which form the walls of the fifth dimension could have popped out of nothingness as a quantum fluctuation in the more distant past and then drifted apart………..this assumes of course the Imaginary Time of the Kubo-Schwinger-Martin Condition that would characterize the state of the universe before the Big Bang………………..”
Sartorius after a long pause responded: “I’ll have to take your word for it.”
Einstein smiled and puffed again on his pipe, answering back: “Don’t worry! Nobody gets it all the first time—just let it sink in and you’ll get the hang of it all in no time!” Goethe smiled back, his eyes alternating from those of Einstein to those of Sartorius.
At length Goethe summed up the immediate practical consequence of all this that could never be rendered instantly clear—–There was but one entrance to the Umbilical Wormhole: they must pass across the Island of Omphalos at the center of the earth’s Central Sea and enter the Gateway. To do so they must pass through by the temple of the Mothers and the hideous and deadly guardians of The Gateway, the Grigori–fallen angels of the abyss, —–“The Watchers.”
Now, all of these anxious and desperate thoughts sped Sartorius’ mind forward, moving faster even towards the great Central Island of the Central Sea at the center of the earth than the mighty surging course of the Nautilus, so formidably powered as it was by the deuterium and tritium extracted from the very sea of its path and united as in the sun’s inner burning within the fusion reactor at its core. He lay at Eva’s side as she slept on, unable to sleep with his mind drawn to the beauty and warmth of her breasts pressed against him and to the swelling of her belly, which was also his future, if indeed any of them had a future which could yet be saved. His sleeping son, in unborn dreamtime within her womb was also a submarine traveler, travelling in odyssey a parallel path to his very own within the bent dimensions and whirling eddies of a Space-Time which embraced him as lovingly as his mother’s womb. He must not fail.
Early the next morning, if there had been a visible sun to calculate the morning’s arrival, Captain Nemo knocked them up to announce their arrival at Omphalos. Rushing up to the conning tower they beheld its shores dense with a tropical vegetation of uncanny growth, drawing its life without sunlight from the chthonic iridescent radiance of the suspended earth’s core overvaulted and glowing about them. The landing party embarked in six rubber landing craft inflated on the spot. Sartorius and Eva rode with Captain Nemo and his crewman, while Goethe and Sun Wu Kong rode in another piloted by Lieutenant Sindbad. Andreas, Jack and Mohammad followed in a third.
Making the beach they disembarked upon the strand of an arced bay strewn with heaps of the papery spiral shells of exsanguine Argonauta argo washed-up in dead waves, and began to follow the tortuous path inward and upwards, mounting the densely vegetated volcanic slopes, leaving the boats in the care of a shore party of Nemo’s crewmen. The jungle was thick and its canopy shut out the iridescent radiance from the vaulted red sky, leaving the struggling argonauts surrounded by the moving pulsating shadows from the umbrella of branches tossed by the scirocco infernal winds, and the heart-rendering screeching out of the dark of the troops of subterranean lemurs following them from branch to branch, the furtive paddings and disappearings in the brush of the subterranean iguanas and the shrieks of the innumerable flocking chthonic vultures, albatrosses, blacks and mackaws startled into flight from each successive ridge of trees which they disturbed in their ascent. Eva leaned heavily on Sartorius’ arm as she strained upward, climbing under the weight of the child within her. She fell once, but Sartorius caught her in his arms. Then they pushed on until she sat to rest but could not get up. Sartorius put her upon his back and slowly climbed upward, bearing both of their weights. Laboriously they made their way forward into the heart of darkness.
Suddenly, about two thirds up the slope a path diverged to a small glade. A stream of the freshest and coolest water flowed along the length of the glade and the party sat down to rest and refresh themselves. They were about to start off again when upriver from them they heard a noise, something like the hoofbeats of a horse which approached them from the opposite side of the stream. Across the underbrush there appeared to be the figure of an older bearded man, naked to the waist and superbly muscled who approached them on horseback. As he cantered out of the underbrush and plashed across the streambed from the other side, however, he revealed himself to be not a rider on horseback, but, beyond belief a creature composed of the body of a horse fronted with the torso and head of a man in one unified organism! The party was shocked speechless as he smilingly approached them and then bowed, taking off a wreath of laural leaves twined upon his head.
“Welcome gentlemen, or should I rather say lady and gentlemen! It is not often we receive visitors in this precinct—-where are you heading? My name is Chiron—and if you will not be too overwhelmed with the sight of me you may see that I am commonly known as a Centaur. I have known and helped many men in my day—Hercules, Achilles, Asclepius, Jason and his band of Argounauts…….I would be happy to make friends and assist you in any way within my powers.” he said with an innate nobility of speech.
Sartorius returned his greetings and informed him of their mission to visit the Mothers, which was of the greatest importance. He asked of Chiron but one favour: As Eva was pregnant and having difficulty negotiating the steep slope, would he be so kind as to carry her to the top? Chiron was delighted and said it was his pleasure to have such a beautiful woman ride on his back, which delight he had not enjoyed for some time. And he was especially happy to carry such a one flushed with the radiant beauty of incipient motherhood, as so often graced the faces and bodies of the beautifully pregnant.
“More likely flushed with radiant glow of exhaustion and high-blood pressure would be more accurate—–but less gracious and romantically poetic” riposted Eva in good humour as she straddled and mounted his broad equine back, clinging with her arms around the tight muscles of his chest and pressing her full breasts into the back of his torso as he cantered off, beginning to sing as he went.
The wind, which was alive, conscious, and not kindly disposed to travelers, had a habit of coming up in the middle of what would have been night on the surface. It arose without warning in a violent susurra, giving them little time to devise shelter, and to which often the only resort was to submit, pressed against the ground flat as any stalk of grass, and try not to be blown away into the ever looming abyss. Time itself could not be taken for granted. It sped up and slowed down like a variable dependent on something else, a something so far, at least, undetectable.
Hovering, so high and stationary that at first she could have been mistaken for a flaw in Sartorius’ vision, a golden eagle caught the rays and seemed to emit a light of its own. Climbing upwards upon the shear of a cliff face, he could not look at the country directly for more than a minute or two—-it was if its ruling spirit might properly demand obliquity of gaze as a condition of passage. He found himself ascending a flight of cliffs, below the fluorescent waters of the Central Sea seethed; above the air aetherial, blue, shifted in gusts, until arriving at a set of ropes stretched across an abyss, one over the other which he would need to transit, his hands on one and his feet, like a tightrope walker, on the other. The only way to cross was hand over hand using legs and feet on the cable below, with a shear and immeasurable drop into the raging sea below. The vault of the inner sky is red and violent with volcanic heat, the light refracted and complex, like the permanent core of an endless explosion as yet unimagined.
But it wasn’t only the difficult terrain, the deadly vipers and the torrential rainstorms breaking out without warning. The journey itself was a kind of Conscious Being, a living deity that does not wish to engage itself with the foolish or the weak, and hence will try to dissuade you. It insisted on exacting the furthest degree of respect.
Traveling another day and a half they reached the end of all roads and paths forward. They found themselves face to face with a deep belt of impenetrable jungle, swamp and a tangle of teeming vegetation so dense that it formed an impassable wall before them. They were nonplussed. Every attempt to penetrate further towards the center of the island led them ever further into an insolvable snarled maze, a physical entanglement in the chaos of living vegetative and zootic energy seemingly as insoluable as the Gordian Knot. The travelers fell down exhausted in a clearing, unable to go on. Cries were heard that it was hopless to try to press forward. They collapsed onto the ground in exhaustion and near despair, some napping and others unable to sleep.
Then Ogun came forward and set up an iron tripod and lit a fire beneath it. Into the potsheard of the tripod he placed spices, curative herbs and palm wine. Then he took a wild boar in a thicket and sacrificed the animal, severing the throat and directing the thick and hot stream of blood from its neck into the cauldron. He heated the cauldron and then filled his gourd. He passed the gourd to each of the comrades, who sipped in turn recovering their lost strength. Then he picked up the iron cauldron with both hands and drained its bellyful of wine into his own, falling to his knees, raising his arms and calling out towards heaven.
Ogun called out to the heavens and pleaded with the God of Heaven. He called out to the spirits. He sang. He chanted. He danced. He drank down his bloody bever for soothsay. He danced and sang and chanted like one possessed. His movements jerked in ecstatic convulsions like a marionette at the end of the strings of a drunken puppeteer. Then he lost himself in grace, like a well-tooled machine of the soul of the world. Then he called them down, the abiku, the spirit children—-the spirits of the children yet unborn into the world. He sang and intoned to them, singing into the clouds and into the horizon. The unborn spirits poured out of heaven in their billions of billions, all of the souls of the future worlds and centuries unborn. Ogun sang. He sang of their lives that would never be if the pathway failed and the missing crystal were not recovered and the world came to its radioactive and ill-omened end. He sang of their stories that would never be told and never remembered by the children of coming generations. The chorus of the abiku moaned and groaned. They writhed and wretched. They called down their brothers and sisters from the future’s future. The clouds rained souls and the spirit children, the abiku, came down in their myriads like the uncountable raindrops of the Indian monsoon.
A man who is born falls into a dream as a man falls into the sea. If he tries to mount again from that sea to the air and return to heaven, evaporate of himself, he drowns. No! The way to survive in that sea of dream is to let the waters bear you buoyant upon their back and by balance float between the air and the waters. Then buoyed upwards and onwards by this unbearable bouyance of being, flow ever onward with the living gulf stream, as the stream itself morphs and migrates and meanders into the bedway that becomes the road, which like all roads along which souls walk and talk and journey forewards, leads ever onwards, the road which was a river becoming a story, and the story merging into other stories endlessly, ever merging onwards, into streams, then rivers then emptying again into the sea of stories that itself returns to the ocean of life which itself, ever unmoved yet ever moving wells itself in unseen dimensions into the beautiful terror of eternity.
They gathered themselves up from the ground as they arrived and came forward into the clearing, the abiku. The Argonauts watched the chaotic movements and wild exchanges. They saw people and beings of all sizes and shapes, mountainous women with faces of iroko, midgets with faces of stone, reedy women with twins strapped to their backs, thick-set men with bulging shoulder muscles. They shut their eyes and opened them again in unbelief. They saw people who walked backwads, a dwarf who got about on two fingers, men upside-down with baskets of fish on their feet, women who had breasts on their backs, babies strapped to their chests and beautiful children with seven cerulean arms. They saw a being with myriad arms like the thousand-armed Guan Yin of China, each enacting a separate gesture of limb and finger, which undulating told a silent story in the gesture-language of Abhinaya as she danced, and a girl who had eyes at the side of her face like a tropical fish, bangles of copper round her neck, and who was more lovely than forest flowers. They saw one which had no eyes and no mouth and walked on its head on little legs which protruded from the empty sockets of the eyes. One of the men had red wings on his feet and a girl had fish-gills around her neck.
Then the abiku, the spirits of the unborn began to swarm. Ogun stretched out his massive muscled arms and turned his face upward, laughing into the rain still pouring from the heavens. The latent appetent unborn poured from the heavens seeking their future, seeking a path to their future lives, seeking, that their lives and their future might not be cut off. One lifetime flowed into the others as the droplets surged into trickles and trickles into streamlets and then into streams. In the beginning there was a river. The river became a road and branched out to the whole world. Then the road that was once a river hungered. It hungered for its future and the future lives that would travel that road, seeking their futures and their journeys. In that clearing which was the beginning of the river and the road the spirits mingled with the unborn. They assumed many forms. They shifted many shapes. Many became birds of the jungle, nipping and cutting the tangle of vines and overgrowth with their sharp beaks. Many became snakes, slithering forward to follow the tangles then untangle the Gordian knotwork of the vines in the underbrush. An endless myriad became the swarming ant army and leaf-cutters of the Amazon rain forest surging forward, devouring every plant, leaf, vine and obstruction before them, humming in surgent sursurras as they devoured all before them. Above them swarmed an endless myriad of the abiku, taking the shapes of billions of hungry locusts, clearing a path in their aerial hungering, alighting above and within the surge of the army of ants below them and devouring the tangles of vineleaf that hung from the towering trees of this densest of rainforests. Swarms of termites gnawed away at the wood of the trees until branches and trunks came crashing down. Some massive abiku took the form of great herds of elephant who with their charging tusks toppled over the denuded hulks of the tree trunks along the Way. Then a giant Masquerade burst out onto the forming road, with plumes of smoke billowing from its head. The Masquerade was terrifying and feiry and with a funereal roar it filled the street with ancient silence. The Argonauts watched it by its shadow of a great tree burning as it danced down the widening roadway, setting collapsing tree trunks aflame. All lifeforms feasted much along the famished road, hungering for their futures, longing for the lovely terrors of eternity, clearing the path, the road, the Dao, the Way as they hungered forward.
In the beginning there were no roads on earth. But as one man walked on the face of the green breast of the earth his walking made footprints, and then other men followed these footprints, stepping along and amoung them until the footprints were patted by the soles of feet into paths, the paths into roads and the roads into turnpikes, just as the drops of rain ran in their trickles into their streamlets, their streams into rivers and the rivers to the great waterways leading back to the sea. And men told stories of where they had walked and where they had been, and these stories also became pathways, trod by the feet of men to come. And the itch for the future, the contempt, as it were, for what was overpast and what threatened to block and negate the flow of life and the onward flow of life’s story, which forms the active principle in the forward rush of life moved in each their hearts and in their onflowing and their onward journeying, each believing that what they wanted was more important than what others did not want.
Finally Ogun, Ogun the Waymaker—Ogun he drew two immense machetes slung from sheaths across his well-muscled back and he began to hack his way forward through the remains of the still dense underbrush, following the courseway of the abiku, calling and motioning for his companions to follow. Thus, more incredibly than any conceivable bulldozer might have done, The Great Waymaker hacked a straight path through the jungle and the comrades followed in single file behind him, subduing the living chaos around them as they went. With Ogun blood was never completely absent, but never from any bloodthirstiness. It was rather his thirstiness for life itself that drove him forwards and renewed his contact with the blood again and again. Thus, The Lord of the Road opened a straight road through the snarled jungle for the wayfarers, laying waste the forests and underbrush around him. There had to be a journey across that void which had grown impassable if the wayfarers were to drink at the fount of mortality and return. Ogun took over. Armed with the first technical instruments which he had forged from the ore of the mountain-wombs he hacked forward and cleared the primordial jungle, plunged through the abyss and called on the others to follow. Smeared with the green of the foliage he had so laid waste and with the red blood of the beasts, snakes, birds and fauna he laid low on his path he finally led the band of Argonauts out of the entanglement and towards the base of the great volcanic mount at the center of the island where they rested, washed in a clear crystalline stream and finally began to make their way upwards.
At length they made the summit of the slope and entered downward into the crater of the extinct volcano, at the center of which beneath the jungle canopy lay an ornate Corynthian temple columned by nubile caryatids. The entranceway to the temple was flanked on either side by the huge guarding presence of twin bare-breasted sphinxes, fearfully sharp in eye and in claw. The leftward sphinx pronounced welcome declaring that they had arrived at the nadir of the Well of Souls and asking for their purpose in coming to these sacred precincts.
Sartorius declared that they had come at the request of the Magister Ludi to speak to the Mothers on an urgent matter of the utmost importance to the survival of the human race. He withdrew from about his kneck the Golden Aegis of the Magister Ludi in which was embedded the engraved Seed Crystal, given him as a passportout, and displayed it high in his hands before them.
“An objective of highly dubious value” sneered the leftward Sphynx, “Nonetheless as you travel hither under the aegis of the Magister Ludi I shall grant you access to the inner sanctum, and you may address the Mothers at you own discretion and, I may say, at your own peril.”
The band of argonauts made their way forward along a long corridor flanked by two facing rows of caryatids, the figure of each of which was a living Amazon warrior armed with Reflex-bow, helmet, sword and shield, each with the left breast absent to assure the deadliness of the drawn bowstring. The leftward Sphinx guided them forward while the rightward Sphinx followed at their rear. At each intersecting corridor an Amazon lieutenant of the guard snapped to attention as they passed, presenting her arms in a sign of salute. At long last they attained the inner atrium and the leftward Sphinx announced their arrival.
Upon gaining the open atrium the spectacle which presented itself was so appalling and incomprehensible to the eye and the mind that none could look directly upon it, but rather sensed it from the corners of their gaze with their eyes averted in horror. In the center of the atrium several figures surrounded a seething glowing cauldron suspended from an iron tripod, some sitting and some coming and going as it might chance: Formation, transformation, eternal mind’s eternal re-creation; Images of all creatures and all possible creatures hover free in a boiling chaos of perpetual transformation and quantum oscillations between existence and non-existence. As the clouds of mist and vapour waft away before the cauldron the image of three hideous crones seated before it comes into view, and behind them three more frightful sisters. The first three sat before the glowing cauldron next to a spinning wheel and a hand-loom. Their faces were ravaged with time and wear, wrinkled and gnarled at every pore, and their greyed hair came out in handfuls. Their age was incalculable and inconceivable, and amoung them they shared but one eye and one tooth, which they deftly plucked out and passed to one another as the need and whim might require. The visitors heard them speak, but they spoke as if speaking to themselves, or speaking to no one. The first of the hideous three spake forth:
Clotho—“The Spinner”—Deino—Nona—Sthenos—these are the names that I am called; In other lands Laima, Wyrd—My sisters and I have many names—-the Voluspa, the Moirae, the Norns, the Fates, Parcae, Fata, Mingyun, Yuanfen, Kismet the Gorgons, the Graiae, the Mothers—–but we are beyond all names and beyond all words and languages; We are the Daughters of Nyx, Mother Night, and of Chaos and Ananke:
I, the eldest Fate, Mother from yonder
For the while to spin am bidden.
Much to think of, much to ponder,
In life’s tender thread is hidden.
Finest flax I winnow featly
That your thread be supple, tender;
Fingers shrewd will twirl it neatly,
Make it even, smooth, and slender.
Ye who, warm with dance and pleasure,
All too wanton, snatch a token,
Think that this thread has a measure,
Have a care! It might be broken.
Then the second took the eye and tooth from the first and spoke in turn: I am Lacheisis, “The Allotter, the Weaver and the Assigner of Lots”—Decima, Enyo, and Euryale am I also called:
Unto me, alone discerning,
Was the thread’s control decreed;
For my reel, forever turning,
Never erred through too great speed.
Threads are coming, threads are reeling,
Each one in its course I guide;
None may slip from spindle wheeling,
Each must in its orbit glide.
Could I once forget in leisure,
For the world I’d fear with pain;
Hours, they count, and years, they measure,
And the Weaver takes the skein.
And then the third, Atropos, took the eye and tooth from her sister’s hand and revealing herself as Morta, Medusa and Pemphredo spoke:
Know ye that the shears were lately
Given to my care to ply;
For our Ancient’s conduct greatly
Did, in truth, none edify.
She drags on most useless spinnings
On and on in air and light,
Promise of most glorious winnings
Clips and drags to realms of night.
Yet when I was young and reigning,
I, too, erred oft in those years;
Now I yield to curb restraining,
In their case I keep the shears.
So I cut off manhood in my bridle,
And this scene with joy survey.
In these hours so gay and idle,
Revel, riot, sport, and play!
And these standing behind us are our formidable cousins, the Furies—the Erinyes, the Eumenides, the Valkyrie, who enforce our executions, as we must in turn follow and administer not our own but the Will of Heaven—thus it was they who were born out of the drops of blood that flowed when Cronus castrated his father Uranus and threw his genitalia into the sea, the Erinyes emerged from the drops of blood, while Aphrodite was born from his seed in the seafoam:
Alecto: What boots it? For to trust us ye’ll not stickle,
For each is young and fair, a coaxing kitten.
If one among you by a girl is smitten,
We shall not cease, his ears to scratch and tickle,
Until we dare to tell him, to his loathing,
That for this man and that one she is primping,
Crooked in her back, all wit doth lack, and limping,
And if betrothed to him, she’s good-for-nothing!
And the betrothed- we know the way to sting her.
Why scarce a week ago her precious lover
To such-and-such a girl spoke basely of her;
Though they be reconciled, a sting will linger.
Megaera: That’s but a jest! For when they once are married,
I go to work in every case to fritter
The fairest bliss away with fancies bitter.
The moods of men are varied, hours are varied.
None holds embraced what his desire has chosen,
But seeks a More-desired with foolish yearning
And from long-wonted, highest blessings turning,
Flees a warm love and tries to warm a frozen.
I’m skilled in managing such household troubles,
And Asmodeus, comrade true, I summon
To scatter strife betimes twixt man and woman;
Thus I destroy the human race in couples.
Poison, steel- not words malicious-
Mix I, whet I, for the traitor.
Lov’st thou others? Sooner, later,
Overwhelms thee ruin vicious.
What the sweetest moment offers,
Turns perforce to wormwood galling!
Here no haggling, pulling, hauling;
As one sins, one always suffers.
None shall sing about forgiving!
To the rocks my cause I’m crying.
Echo, hark! “Revenge!” replying.
For the unstable, death! not living!
“Enough of this chatter!” shouted out Atropos in aggravation, “Strangers—declare yourselves, what are you doing here and what do you want? What is the meaning of this intrusion into our sacred precincts?”
Goethe whispered in Sartorius’ ear: “They will not see you, only wraiths and the shadow’s shadow of your shadow in their world will they see—but speak and they will hear.”
“Honourable Mothers! I have come from the Magister Ludi on a mission which concerns the fate and destiny of the human race. Our world is in crisis. We are threatened with World War and nuclear annihilation. We may not survive. The Magister Ludi has instructed us to travel to the Council of the Immortals in the Amphitheatre at the center of our galaxy to retrieve the Missing Seed Crystal, the Silmaril. Only if we can retrieve the crystal from the council can our civilization escape its apocalypse. My entreaty to you on behalf of the Magister Ludi and the entire human race is to allow us to pass through the wormhole through The Gateway that we may address the Council of the Immortals, which is now convening.” Sartorius spoke, in his best rhetorical manner, trying to imagine what might be a pleasing and acceptable manner in which to address them.
“The Human Race!” she repeated quizzically, “Yes, I remember them but have hardly heard from them of late these many years.—–Yes, I remember them now, but how long it has been since the last call—–‘Sharper than a dragon’s tooth….’ they do say…….But we Mothers do love all our children all the same………….” she drawled off.
“Honourable Mother, I can assure you that…….” Sartorius began.
“No!” she shouted decisively and finally, “No! Never!…..It is forbidden for any human to transit The Gateway and the Umbilical Wormhole! ……no matter for what human cause. Heaven has placed these guardians…..The Grigori…..”The Watchers” about the portal of the Gateway to prevent it and it is written in the laws of heaven that it is forbidden. For you humans it is but to observe and accept the Fate which we shall allot to you…..and when the shears sever the thread of your race that is also Ananke and it is your lot to accept it as the Will of Heaven…….We have spoken! Go!” she screamed out, irritated.
“But Honourable Mother……” Sartorius again began.
“No! What is so difficult to understand about that? Do you not know the meaning of No?” she blurted out at him.
With that the party of Argonauts withdrew to the side of the chamber to take council with one another. Some felt they should wait and hope for a change of her mood. Some felt that they could return after preparing more arguments, and make a plea how important it was for the survival for the human race and the dire consequences of inaction. Some suggested returning to the Magister Ludi and seeking his counsel and advice, or perhaps a magical talisman to make their way. At the ends of their council none had any hope that they had advanced any farther than before. Their council broke down and each stood or sat, or paced upwards and downwards racking his brains for some possible solution to the dilemma.
In the corner Sun Wukong flung himself down on a chair and put his leg up over its armrest, leaning on his elbow and stroking the hairs of the beard on his chin quizzically. His eyes passed over the Mothers seated at their spinning wheel, loom and cutting table. He watched their cousins the Furies pace about and attend to their needs. Then he watched as one of them, Megaera left the room on some errand on behalf of the Mothers. He tilted his head askew to the side then jumped up his arms akimbo.
If you have not read the Xi You Ji, or Journey to the West, and learnt the extent of Master Sun Wukong’s immense powers you must realize that that Master Trickster possesses an immense amount of strength, being able to lift his 13,500 jīn (8,100 kg) Ruyi Jingu Bang, his expandable and collapsable iron fighting rod with ease, which he can also collapse in size down to that of a writer’s pen to stow away behind his ear. He also has superb speed, traveling 108,000 li (54,000 kilometers) in one somersault. Sun knows 72 transformations, which allows him to transform into various animals and objects; he is, however, shown with slight problems transforming into other people, since he is unable to complete the transformation of his tail. He is a skilled fighter, capable of holding his own against the best generals of heaven. Each of his hairs possesses magical properties, and is capable of transforming into a clone of the Monkey King himself, or various weapons, animals, and other objects. He also knows various spells in order to command wind, part water, conjure protective circles against demons, freeze humans, demons, and gods alike. The dilemma of his friends, therefore, was like gasoline added to the fire in the mischievous mind of the Monkey King. Crossdressing, female impersonation and shape shifting were certainly within his repertoire of mischief.
Just then Sun Wu Kong noticed that Clotho was agitated to ask Tisiphone to fetch some more flax for her spinning wheel and concerned that she might run short. However she could not find the girl to speak out her request without getting the one eye and tooth which the three crones shared amoungst them. He saw her tug at the sleeve of her sister Atropos, the signal to pass them over to her. Two seconds later he saw Atropos remove the precious eye from her hideous socket and place it in her palm reaching it across the table towards her sister Clotho. Quick as the blink of a salamander’s eye Sun Wu Kong transformed himself into the very likeness of cousin Megaera and moved across the atrium next to Atropos. Luckily since Atropos had removed the eye she was momentarily blind and unable to notice his monkey’s tail sticking out beneath his female skirts, and the two sphinxes, who despite his strength might have torn him to pieces if he were discovered, were on the other side of the room and their view of the obtruding appendage was blocked by the table. With the deft hand of the practiced trickster and magician Sun Wu Kong reached out and seized the precious eye from Atropos’ hand. A sudden shriek of horror and dismay arose spontaneously from all three as they realized the calamity of their loss and their helplessness at the hands of the cunning slyboots.
“And now my dear and honourable sisters, you will be so kind as to bring your hesitations to an end and open the Gateway. That is if you would like the privilege of ever seeing the light of day again!” he chortled out gloatingly. The twin sphinxes moved forward to threaten him but Atropos in her fear and dismay called out to order them to stop.
“It is clear my Trickster friend that you are no gentleman to treat us ladies in such an ungenerous manner. “ she ragged him.
“Yes, I have never pretended to be a gentlman, though I have always served gentlemen such as my good friend Professor Sartorius and my former master the Tang monk Xuanzang. You may judge us all together or not at all. But you ladies have not shown the generosity of heart befitting a lady or a deity either, and thus you are served in your own manner and cannot complain. And so again, I would respectfully counsel you to open the portal to the Gateway for my friends who have a mission of life and death importance to attend to.” he chided.
“A matter of life and death—–is that all? I really wonder why you make all the fuss about it—-what is the difference after all? But I can see that you are rather a man of action than of philosophical contemplation and I will hold my tongue. Very well, we will accede to your wishes as far as it is in our powers—but I must warn and caution you that all of this will not get you very far after all. You see The Gateway is actually two doors, one that opens from our side, and that is in our power to open, and an additional inner door which opens in the opposite direction into the farther side. We have the power to open the nearer one but not the farther other. As you have us in your power we will submit, but we cannot do that which is beyond our power.”
With that Atropos ordered the sphinxes to draw aside the immense veil of the temple behind the altar at which the Mothers sat and an immense and towering circular moongate was revealed closed by a golden double door on which were engraved the images of Ghiberti depicting on the opposite doors the Creation and the Last Judgment in basso rilievo. Before the double doors of the portal stood the hideous, menacing and fearsome figures of the Grigori, two hundred in number, the legion of The Watchers—The Fallen Watcher Angels. Behind them were a a thousand of their descendent warriors, giants, the fierce and cannibalistic Nephilim.
The band of Argonauts walked forward, led by Sun Wu Kong, who held the precious eye firmly in his hand. As they walked forward Atropos commanded the Grigori to make way for them and open the outer door. Sensing Sartorius’ puzzlement as they walked forward through their ranks, Goethe whispered in his ear an explanation of the presence of the Grigori: “The Watchers (from Greek egrḗgoroi (ἐγρήγοροι)) or Grigori are a group of falle angels told of in the Biblical apocrypha who mated with mortal women, giving rise to a race of hybrids known as the Nephilim, who are also mentioned in Genesis 6:4. The Watchers appear in Biblical apocrypha, in the first and second books of Enoch and Jubilees. According to legend they were placed on Earth by God to watch over the human race. But in the course of their duties they succumbed to temptation and had intercourse with human females. The word “Grigori” derives from the Slavonic Second Book of Enoch. According to the Book of Enoch, the Watchers numbered a total of 200 but only their leaders are named:
And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Sêmîazâz, their leader, Arâkîba, Râmêêl, Kôkabîêl, Tâmîêl, Râmîêl, Dânêl, Êzêqêêl, Barâqîjâl, Asâêl, Armârôs, Batârêl, Anânêl, Zaqîêl, Samsâpêêl, Satarêl, Tûrêl, Jômjâêl, Sariêl. These are their chiefs of tens. (Enoch 6)
A different idea of the Watchers appears in some traditions of Italian witchcraft where they are said to come from ancient stellar lore: “In the Italian system, these ancient Beings are called the Grigori. They are the Guardians of the “doorways” between the physical plane and that which is beyond. In Italian witchlore, the stars were thought to be the campfires of these legions of the Watchers…”
They soon began to lust for the human women they saw, and at the prodding of their leader Samyaza, they defected en masse to illicitly instruct and procreate among humanity. The children produced by these relationships are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillage the earth and endanger humanity. Samyaza and his associates further taught their human charges arts and technologies such as weaponry, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery, and other techniques which were intended to be discovered gradually over time by humans, not foisted upon them all at once. The Greek mythology about Prometheus revealing fire-making to humans without Zeus’s permission is likely a variant of the same ancient legend, and it is possible also that ancient legends among many cultures about cannibalistic giants and pervasive implementation of magical powers (such as in the tale Jack and the Beanstalk) arise from the same ancient mythology that came to inspire the Books of Enoch. Eventually God sent the Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but first sent Uriel to warn Noah so as not to eradicate the human race. Genesis says Nephilim and Grigori remained “on the earth” even after the Great Flood, but Jude says the Watchers themselves are bound “in the valleys of the Earth” until Judgment Day. (Genesis 6:4 and Jude 1:6)
The “Watchers” story in Enoch derives from the sixth chapter Genesis where it describes the “Origin of the Nephilim” and mentions the “Sons of God” who beget them:
When men began to multiply on earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of man were, and so they took for their wives as many of them as they chose. Then the Lord said: “My spirit shall not remain in man forever, since he is but flesh. His days shall comprise one hundred and twenty years.” At that time the Nephilim appeared on earth (as well as later), after the sons of God had intercourse with the daughters of man, who bore them sons. They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (Genesis 6:1-4)
Then at Atropos’ command Samyaza, the leader of the Grigori unlocked the immense gateway, and latched two immense steel cables to the golden rings fastened to each of the double doors. The thousand Nephalim giants then divided into two groups of five hundred and pulling together on each cable pulled the gargantuan doors wide apart and open. The opening of the outer doors, however, just as Atropos had indicated, revealed not the passageway of the Umbilical Wormhole, but rather another set of Inner Doors, similar to but smaller in scale than the open outer doors. Above the arch of the inner doors was inscribed a legend in massive gold lettering carved in lapis lazuli:
“Behold The Doors of Daat: No Man or Woman may Open These Doors; Once Closed behind them, None Shall Return”
A minute later the two Sphinxes trotted forward through the darkness of the Liminal Interzone, the hazy space between the two sets of doors, and took their places on the inner pedestals to the side of either door, standing guard in vigil. Upon the pedestals to either side were inscribed their names and stations: “The Grand Sphinxes—-Guardians of the Great Horizons: These Two Guardians of the Law Stand Eternal Vigil Over the Two Great Human Horizons—Birth, to the Left, and Death, to the Right—-Straddling the Great Sephirotic Hemispheres—-None Shall Pass But by the Law.”
Atropos let out a sigh and a bitter laugh: “I did warn you, didn’t I? You have us in your power but we’re all in the power of the highest power, which even we may not alter or contravene. Now, we must return to our work, eye or no eye. We wash our hands of the matter.” With that, the three fates returned to their eternal work, Clotho spinning, Lachesis measuring and alotting the fates, and Atropos cutting off the destinies of mortal men, as they had done since time immemorial, fate being blind and blinder yet in the eyeless interlude that ensued.
In the interval that thus followed every means was tried to open the inner doors. Sun Wu Kong used every power, chant and incantation in his repertoire to no avail. He tried to pry it open with his Ruyi Jingu Bang rod, without budging it a millimetre. Goethe racked his brains and memory from his immense scholarship in an attempt to recall the “open sesame” that might deliver the party from their doom; all to no avail. Ogun sacrificed his sacred dog and wielded his pulsing Phallic-willowy Staffpole topped with ore against the unyielding portal in vain. Sloughing into depression they sat in the atrium of the temple and watched the Fates spinning their work forward. The time passed and passed and Clotho announced she was spinning out the final threads for the human race, evidently implying that the impending nuclear confrontation and Armegeddon in the Middle-East was proceeding to its climax. Lachesis measured the final thread of the human race and the tension built to its catastrophe and climax as Atropos took up her shears. She placed the shears firmly in her right hand and raised their sharpend blades towards the final thread.
Suddenly Eva stood up and raced towards her in firm strides. Before Atropos could sever the final thread Eva seized the shears from her gnarled hand walked away with them, saying: “You shall not take away my son’s future!” The two sphinxes moved to stop her but when they did so they discovered that were unable to move, and were inexplicably powerless to attack her. Then she strode forcefully to the inner doors, and beating upon them with the heel of the shears they parted, and she pushed them open with a final thrust. She then threw the shears back onto the floor at Atropos’ feet, shouting triumphantly “There, it is done!” Since the door was opened the future was not shut. Lachesis had no choice, but had to keep weaving the thread of the destiny of the human race into the fabric of the future.
Goethe jumped up jubilantly and declared: “I never thought of it! Incredible—who could have imagined it? Saved by a single word!” he shouted at the top of his breath to Sartorius “…..Who could have imagined it? She has become a riddle to the sphinxes. You see the law of heaven written above the doorway is clear: “No Man or Woman may Open These Doors” but Eva, Eva God bless her—-what is she? She is a mother with a manchild within—–for this pregnant interval she is neither man nor woman but is both!—She is the manchild within her and the woman embracing him and for an interval she is an inseparable both—she is man and woman, woman and man and because of that and only because of that she has an infinite future open through her portal! An And and not an Or! An And for an Or, An And For an Or! God is a clever lawyer and the destinies of man may turn on a single word in a court of law or in the laws of the universe! Don’t you see?—It is because a pregnant woman in the critical interval is transformed into a fusion of the male and female, the yin and yang in their restored wholeness—-the creative wholeness of the Life Force and semblance of God’s own infinitely creative power—-that she can bear a future within her—-though she as a woman and the father as a man will individually die, together their futures can never die, and the portal to the future can remain ever open!” he laughed and danced and capered, kissing Eva and Sartorius alike on their cheeks.
The argonaut band then took council amoung themselves before the open portal to the Umbilical Wormhole, which pulsed and iridesced with mystic convulsive energy before them. Goethe interpreted the second half of the divine law written above the portal: “Once Closed behind them, None shall Return” to mean that the doors must be kept open until they could get to the Council of the Immortals and return with the Silmaril, the Missing Seed Crystal. If the doors were to close before their return all would be lost. Thus it was decided that Eva must remain behind and hold open the portal doors with her unique presence until the rest could return. Sun Wu Kong handed the captive eye and tooth to her to guarantee that the outer door would remain open and she sat herself under the threshhold and by her presence the closing of the doors was rendered impossible until their return. Captain Nemo and his crew would remain to provide her security and assistance during the wait for their return. That decided and agreed to, the remaining Argonauts set forth, setting themselves on the platform of the entrance to the Umbilical Wormhole, which whirled, glowed and convulsed with the uptake of its cosmic energy.
As the unbounded energy began to accelerate and carry them forward we may imagine them a vector, passing through the invisible, the “imaginary,” the unimaginable. And the infinite night of time and space will be dark, dark enough for whatever visions must transpire across them, no longer to be broken by light displaced from Hell. A vector through the night…….
C Copyright Robert Sheppard 2011 All Rights Reserved
This is a work of fiction: Names, characters, places, incidents and references
herein either are solely the product of the author’s imagination or are
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