There are other magical circles…
He stood tall in the circle facing east.
He had lost track of time hours ago – the incense was working well. His temple was a locked basement room that had been specially consecrated by the Master of his Lodge. He had worked unceasingly for months to prepare himself for the Abra-melin ritual to meet his Holy Guardian Angel. Since he had made a killing on the money markets he had retired early to dedicate his life to magick. Through his generosity, he had worked quickly through the Grades of his occult school. He had heard rumours of the propriety of the leaders of his school, but they had been good to him with advice and support on his magickal path. ‘Do what thou wilt’ they said, laughing after a rather pointed question timorously by one of the newer members. He had laughed too.
The Abra-melin ritual had a particular fascination for him, and he had purchased an ancient leather-bound copy in vellum of the book from a bookshop in Amsterdam someone had told him about. The shop was small and dingy, and the alley was easy to miss, sandwiched as it was between the sex shops and cafes where everyone smoked marijuana with impunity. The owner spoke excellent English, and was expecting him. Passwords were exchanged. The ritual daggers were beautiful and bejewelled, but he could not see how he could bring any back with him on the plane to England. Must be a craftsman in England who could do a similar job back home – he would ask his teacher. No, it was the book he came for, and that is what he should buy. He was hoping for a certificate of authenticity, but the shop owner merely smiled, these books are difficult to obtain… discretion guaranteed. He could have obtained a cheap copy from Amazon, but it would not have the dignity demanded of his Holy Guardian Angel. The price of the book in Amsterdam was bad enough, but it seemed even worse in Euro. He had the book wrapped in brown paper. Strange – when he held it, it did not have the vibrations he expected – maybe he was not as advanced as he expected. The handwriting was not easy to decipher. Perhaps he should get a copy from Amazon after all as reference?
Back in England, his teachers blessed the book, and placed it reverently next to the Book of the Law on the Altar in his subterranean temple. He had told his friends he was going on a long sabbatical, exploring the fleshpots around the world, so they weren’t expecting to see him for months. He had passed his Adeptus Minor Grade ages ago, and since then he had prepared for invoking the Goetia. They were scary spirits, but they wouldn’t get him. He was too ready, paying good prices for craftsmen to create his magickal weapons, and getting them consecrated by his teachers in the private rituals they had attended at his house after excellent meals with good brandy and whisky afterwards. He had been assiduously practising the pentagram and hexagram rituals for months, and he could recite the Enochian Calls from memory. For backup he had Crowley’s versions of the Calls on the Ipod which was kept in the middle of the circle. His vestments were the best money could buy, and he had spent weeks carefully drawing out the circle on the floor of the temple and getting the inscriptions of the Holy Names right. Things were happening already – there were strange noises and voices, even perfumes unknown to him wafted about the house at strange hours; he knew the house was empty, so it must be spirits.
The Great Work
He had fasted regularly for weeks in preparation for the invocation; he had chanted the mantra given to him by his teachers for hours on end, and earlier he had a ritual bath containing the proper herbs – another cost. Life dedicated to the Great Work. His preparations were complete. He entered the circle and sealed it in time-honoured fashion, mystically circumambulating and setting the Wards in the cardinal directions. The church candles would burn for hours and incense filled the air. He had his magical weapons, his altar was perfectly arranged.
He had worked on the ritual for hours, and he was getting results – spirits could not get to him, but he had felt air currents and strange noises, so he continued chanting the ritual and continually invoking. Success would come soon. He had visualised the Tree of Life, vast before him, and he had put all the colours in their correct places on the sephiroth, and he could see the name of each sephirah in Hebrew. Below the Tree was another, inverse where the demonic spirits resided.
So intent was he on his visualisation that he did not notice a figure saunter past him – after all the danger was from spirits, and they could not break into the circle as long as he stayed in the middle. The casually dressed man had walked over much of the circle, stepping around the accoutrements – he barely glanced at the robed and hooded man imprecating the Heavens, dagger and sword in his hands. The stranger kept on walking at that same easy pace, and he didn’t look back to see if the magician had noticed. A few minutes later, more people walked past, unnoticed.
Imagine a sheer cliff rising so high that the top can only be guessed at. The face is smooth. No hand holds, no foot holds, no paths or fissures. And yet it has to be ascended (we are not told why – because it is there?). There is one way – visualisation. See the paths on the face, see the ledges where the climber can rest and recuperate. There is not just one path, there are several; there are several routes, some easier than others, but all are difficult, after all, they are not for everyone. Better yet, imagine the paths that others have trod before – why bother re-creating the wheel? On every path there are tests, ordeals and obligations, passwords, and even gatekeepers, and they have all been written about for centuries. Heck, there are even weekend courses on the subject! However, serious climbers have spent years preparing, for even the lower levels are fraught with danger. People have gone mad or fallen, so mental, physical, emotional and spiritual preparation is vital. Do we know how high, or long this cliff is? Nobody asks that question. Why should they? Ascent is through the twenty-two paths.
On the Cliff
Our magician stands in his underground temple, the vast cliff before him. He will climb by visualisation – after all, he has done this many times before, and even if he has not penetrated beyond Tipareth, the paths below are very familiar. His senses heightened, and his awareness raised to new levels, he has the strength to sustain any assaults from the evil spirits who will bar his path, and overcome them, for his destiny is to know his True Self, and his Holy Guardian Angel.
From our new vantage point we see the stranger approach and step across the circle almost as if it is not there. The flames do not even stutter in his wake. Has he no respect? He certainly is not blind. He does not even have the courtesy to nod or acknowledge the magician hard at work on his holy mission. The stranger hides nothing yet is stealthier than any war machine produced by the American military machine. Perhaps it is the magician that is blind.
Where has he come from? What path does he follow? He does not glance up at the cliff to the side of him. His gaze fixed ahead, but he still walks carefully and considerately. He is not following the cliff, and there is path ahead of him, but he moves forward. Behind there are no footprints to record his progress. What is his past? How does he know his future? Where is he now?
Following on the Path
We follow discretely at a distance, but we get the impression he cares not if we are there. Is he allowing us to tag along? The magician recedes behind us. Although the cliff face is flat, nevertheless we seem to go round a corner, for looking back, the magician has disappeared. Following the stranger, we approach another figure standing before the cliff. His visage is different, contorted. Instinctively we look to the cliff and we see an image projected from his mind. The paths are inverted! Is he following the path of Frater Achad? The thought forms; we doubt he will find his magickal child. The man seems is in rags, and has no possessions. We pass by unnoticed. Who will we see next? The stranger barely looks down at something. When we get to that point, there is a couple lying on the ground, and yes, they are having sex. We instinctively look to the cliff, and the images are jerky as they inter-mesh. The fantasies of both are oddly in-congruent – we doubt they are in love. There are two sets of paths that swim dizzily together and apart as if watched by a drunk. Maybe the couple are high on drugs. Suddenly the images coalesce into a picture of a pile of money; the couple stop moving and slump apart.
We pass many people engaged in sex, sometimes solitary, and sometimes in a group. Unless an individual is very attractive, interest quickly returns to the images on the cliff. Some images have a three-dimensional quality. Others seem to focus on demonic activity.
As our sensitivity increases, we become aware of the space between these people, who seem oblivious of everything except the images they create before them. Occasionally darts or arrows emanate from one person and go to another group or person, who may react, but generally they are insensate. Between people are whitish lines like strings of pizza cheese. Some lines are flexible, some like concrete, and they seem to have an energy flow. Touching the lines cause a ripple that flows to the ends of the line and the people attached. Some have dead areas around them, like black holes that suck in energy. There is a stench of decay. Some seem set on mutual destruction, imagining they have at their disposal demons as weapons. Some demons appear as facile golems, paper tigers all of them.
Some people are miles away from the cliff, and their view obstructed by all kinds of objects, but they still try to make the same images. We pass sadly by. Some people sit in the lotus position, some squat, others are in the repose of Pharaohs on a throne, sitting upright. Some look for aliens or UFOs, or past civilisations. What none of them see is us, and our strange, anonymous leader as we wend our way along. Nobody else moves, as they are safe and secure in their magical circles, fighting other people in their own magical circles, while we are free to wander and explore. There are so many of them, all in their own little worlds.
A strange Guide
We have seen enough. The childish games, the pointless attacks, the mindless actions, empty rituals, empty words, all of people who look up for inspiration, yet who go nowhere. With a start we find our strange guide looking at us, perched on a rocky outcrop. He motions us forward. We are bursting with so many questions, but before we can speak, he puts his finger to his lips. The cliff face suddenly rushes up behind him; will it crash into him? We flinch, obedient to his command for silence, and then as the cliff face engulfs him with a roar, and it becomes translucent then shatters into billions of shards, each encompassing a universe.
We remain silent, shocked as the shards rain down on us. Ignoring the spectacle he points to our pockets. We look down, and discover we each have a tarot deck in our possession. We look at the cards then look to the stranger. He grins, and shows us his, deck; he fans them, motioning to us to do the same. We look down at the cards in wonderment, and we see an infinity of universes, of unknown numbers of spirits and worlds, of change and transformation, all within us… Nothing. Within the cards we see innumerable paths open out for us, all within us – nothing is beyond us. All we have to do is make choices, none of which need involve climbing sheer cliffs. We skip and dance through eternity, creating and destroying and living our worlds as we need to, truly free, truly strangers to all we meet.