Saturday, January 31, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Interlude

A Brief Meditation

Perhaps you have heard a story similar to the following. A smith makes a weapon so fine that its like has never been seen. The patron comes for his new blade, and is overcome by its beauty. In his passion for the blade, he slays the smith, ending forever the smith's art.

To think, that an art can be its own unmaking.

Friday, January 30, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 2


The grove sheltered mayhaws as large as they grow this far south. For those not familiar, mayhaw is the may hawthorn, Crataegus aestivalis, a species of hawthorn that is used to make a delightful jelly, a southern delicacy. Hawthorn species are also significant to some druids for symbolic reasons, to others for medicinal reasons, and I have observed them to be common in groves where climate makes the rowan tree impractical.

Atum-Ra walked the grove with me, describing the trees and their history. I remember thinking that if the man had not found his way into a druidic order, he surely would have been a priest, or a rabbi, or a monk of some monastery. His voice held a note of sincerity that made other voices sound weak in comparison.

“Last season,” he told me, “we didn't have a harvest at all.” He paused then, locking dark eyes on me; waiting, I imagined, to see if we could arrive at the same understanding.

“It will be February at least before the mayhaws are due to bloom again,” I said. “Surely you're not worrying already.”

“Oh I'm not worrying so much as just waiting.” He smiled when he replied. I imagined the thoughts of a man 30 years my elder, the head of his order; what could I possibly offer in the way of wisdom, who had not even delivered a particularly notable presentation that day? Ah, well. But I think he was worried about the coming Spring.

“You know how superstitious people can be,” he said. “We actually had members leave the order. I think it's the first time that's ever happened.” I didn't have the gall to ask who he meant was superstitious; him, or the ones who left. I don't think I will ever know everything about druids. It is just part of their mystery.

When we returned to the temple, Brother Osiris approached carrying an enormous sword. This is no cause for alarm, by the way; druids frequently keep swords for ceremonial purposes, just as churches are known to have crosses and incense and chalices.

It also turned out that Osiris knew of my interest in historical blades. He thrust the pommel into my hand, beaming.

“Thank you, Brother,” I said, and examined the workmanship. They will forgive me for noting that the blade was balanced rather too far forward. The sword was intended for ceremony, after all.

“The Sword of the Order,” Osiris told me, though I had observed as much. “Look, have you ever seen turquoise worked like this? The eye on the cross guard?”

“Do I detect the pride of the craftsman, sir?” I sometimes follow hunches, and this time at least I was not wrong.

“I reworked it a while back. I was hoping to get your opinion; most of the blade was broken off for many years. Can you tell?”

“Hardly,” I said. He told me that a friend of his had one of my pieces. Blacksmithing was a hobby of mine back then, and an art, and a small business. Later the corner of the workshop where the forge sat would become so cluttered, years passed between uses.

Asking if I could test the blade, I said, “You gave it a spring temper. You are serious about your craft,” and that seemed to satisfy him.

Later I recalled Atum-Ra looking uneasy during this conversation, frowning on the periphery. I thought he might have a concern over me handling the order's ceremonial sword; but in retrospect, I doubt that was the issue at all.

1999, The Turquoise Eye: Part 1


This is one of my earliest confrontations with our enemy. I had little idea of the meaning until several years later, but I felt at the time that something miraculous had happened. To this day I look back on the encounter with Apep, and wonder whether my friends were cursed or blessed to know their enemy so intimately.

In December of 1999 I was asked to speak before a congregation located in my home city. They were and are a very private group, and asked that I not disclose the identities of their membership; but they agreed that there was no harm in relating this story and giving the name of their order, which is The Turquoise Eye.

First a little background for those who are not routinely contacted by off-mainstream religious orders. They are rare beasts compared to the usual institutions. For example, on the stretch of road between my wetland home and the nearest grocer, there is one Catholic church, 6 other Christian churches, and an administrative headquarters for a Christian charity.

As far as I know, there is only one group of druids in our whole county (there is, interestingly enough, a secular monastic order of scholars on occultism; their story comes a bit later, however).

Before I digress too much, let me tell you why this particular group contacted me. Over the course of 1998 my local reputation had grown, through word of mouth, regarding my investigations into lucid dreaming, sigils, and other topics typically shelved near the metaphysical section of your local book store. I was neither journalist nor debunker nor evangelist, but was driven by honest curiosity, and I think that is why I was well received. “New Developments in Sigil Magick” was the topic that day at The Turquoise Eye, and it was not one of my better presentations, alas.

After I spoke to the congregation, the head of the order asked if I would join them in what they called a looking back. Not knowing what to expect, and hoping it would not involve chemical intoxicants, I agreed. The head of the order went by his ceremonial name, Lord Atum-Ra.

Atum-Ra introduced me to the Justice of the order, who went by the name Brother Osiris. Osiris described details of the order's 98 year history, from its founding as a correspondence group in 1901 to the planting of their grove and later addition of a brick and mortar temple. They were a quasi-druidic order, in that they mixed elements of Druidism with several other schools of religion and ceremony. Notably they had no qualms about writing, one of my enduring frustrations with more traditional druids.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Letter to My Distant Cousin

Coming to the grove I find every tree
hacked to a height, and it matters not:
tamarind or pear, tropical or temperate;
all are waist high to you, my distant cousin.

You are a man of mechanics, standards,
and comprehend, do you? the intricacies
of screwing together a standard design,
yet have nothing your own, or kill it in pruning.

I should have seen in your ragged garden,
untrimmed, and sick from the overgrowth
that where you restrain the hand, Gevurah,
you bury a tree of nothing; shears are your nourishment.

Time to heal, and merciful cuts,
not this sap-soaked hacking, cousin;
could we enjoy this fruit together?
Ah, but you have no art, my distant cousin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birds

ON a slightly less dire note, I give you a bit of verse that came to me, unasked, this evening. Perhaps, as time permits, it will benefit from several rounds of revision; but here it is, now, in its raw ethereal form.

Birds

I feel a tightness as I walk, and wonder
what so itches and stiffens my gate
and I am greeted by a stranger, one
of the ragged black-feather birds of our day.

A grackle, cackles, yellow eye stare
quick motion and flitting tale she glares
her eye directed at a stiff-packed rash of flesh,
there, undetected till now she points it.

Only a scale of the skin, I pick, curious, and the bird flits
and no, oh no that hardpacked hill of flesh splits
dry skin scratched and seeds scatter;
seeds drop from the rash rend, my wound.

Never would I bring these ragged birds
upon myself, though there is beauty I suppose,
the quicksilver glisten their wings, bright coins their eyes,
but feed one and bring them all, I know.

And seeing spelt pour from my wound
The first of these black wings, my guest begins
to fill her craw, caw, a harvest of spelt
should be shared with friends.

They flood the air, scratching, screeching
for love of the feast, damned beasts!
Rake aside flesh, and such precision, their beaks
honed, for naught but the rich seed concerns them.

In their raking scattering slaking cackling cawing
the excitement of carnival, they miss some grains
I suppose. And left in the rends of the rest of my flesh,
by careless claws, focused eyes, forged beaks, forgotten seeds grow.

Carved, caricatured in ruined lumps I lay, spent
from spewing spelt; but perhaps these ragged black glistening
quicksilver wings will be sated, less ragged for the feast.
But no, as dark wings descend on the last of me I know
they are ever more ravenous.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mind's Eye

Soon, very soon I will begin our conversation here. Our task is dire; I must not hurry. To you who have met in dreams, remember. Remember the shape of the dream and together we will forge the tools.

This is my first waking message to you. But your mind must be strong, lest we do great harm. Therefore, find the words before reading them. Use the words to find and forge the tool. The key is in your mind's eye.

Up zaes nupf't ozo. Vxu treisot itlux
up zaes nupf't ozo. Cev apmz apo mupo va fsix vjon.
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Alu3vxov3pw3evenur;
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Iix3lr3sewark3rru3hrh3rru3px3eugequw3zuyur,
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Zxvurkxl3lr3hwcqquxvc7
ot 6 siol 9 sotj'y 6 ysy. 9 Ayk 6 cn, 9 g 6 mbcyfx 9 gmgotyz 6 ypcf.
wu zeah b'dfuv oho. U ttuf faqb eah.