Ghost River – 10

October 17, 2006 at 6:16 pm (Ghost River)

 

“The pious mind does not devise for itself, any kind of God, but looks alone to the one true God.”                                                                                –Calvin

I have been doing some research on the Kanza, as part of a larger study of Indian tribes that once lived here. I have become fascinated by their stories. My own farm, sits on land that was once theirs and contains several unexplored burial mounds, which I have left untouched out of ancestral respect. In my research, I found, that in some accounts, there are more than the 27 Kanza deities I mentioned earlier. For example, in Creuzfelder’s History of the Plains, he lists an additional six: the dry creek bed with white pebbles, the young woman with flowers, the man in light, the blue snake that sheds its skin, the tree shaped like a spiral, and the raven.

There are several stories of individuals, usually medicine elders, who have met the ‘man in light’. Some have met him before they came to this world, others, during a near experience of death, and still others, shortly before they themselves crossed over. He is a great man, one who appears in a special manner – not only all light himself, but surrounded by a light that allows one to see the thoughts and hearts of others.

My grandfather was also fascinated by lore of this sort, and in fact, refers to a ‘man in light’ in his Alchemical History. Since seeing my grandfather in the flesh so to speak, I have gone back to his work that I am editing, for clues as to what might constitute his reappearance. It appears that in 1941, which was sometime before I was born, the last experiment he conducted, the one that caused his disappearance – and his disappearance was total, unlike our townspeople – he was attempting to reach this ‘man in light’ to reverse some rather unfortunate events that occurred some years before. I had always assumed that his experiment had completely failed, but now I am not so sure.

For several weeks after the reappearance of my grandfather, Dr. Oostenburg and I have kept a close watch to see if anything else out of the ordinary has transpired. So far there has been nothing. Everything has been quite still. We did find a note in the pocket of my grandfather’s suit which I have been puzzling over,

The girl with the black hair will reveal the luminous orchids that grow inside the skulls of the newly forgotten dead. The wet gray moss will form a blanket you cannot remove. The black wood of fallen trees will stir the vessel as it rises from the Earth to form the canopy of your head. Her eyes are dark, her skin white. Slowly, she moves closer and it all becomes clear. The texts are true – it is the daughter you love, not the Father.

If the reader is able to make any sense of this, they will have done a greater work than Dr. Oostenburg and myself, who are at a complete loss. At the same time, I must admit, I am becoming a bit worried. I have gone back to staring at the Owl. There’s something he’s hiding – I’m sure of it. Something they all are hiding.

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Ghost River – 9

October 16, 2006 at 4:48 pm (Ghost River)

 

In my father’s house there are many rooms.

Late at night I got a call from Dr. Oostenburg. “You should come over to the Court.”  

When I said my late wife was buried, I’m afraid I was talking somewhat euphemistically. Actually, since 1941, no one who has passed on in Stranger has been buried.  We ‘preserve’ them so to speak, and since the Courthouse has been vacant, it has worked well for this purpose. We kept this rather quiet as you can imagine, as we would rather not draw attention to our somewhat unique local customs.

Arriving at the Courthouse, I found Dr. Oostenburg in an anxious state of mind. “Something’s not right. You better take a look.”  I went down with him into what we call the catacombs where the more silent residents of the town are kept.  I do not want to give the appearance of anything macabre – due to Dr. Ooostenburg’s good care, the residents look quite fresh, and he has done a good job of arranging them in lifelike positions. Women are always dressed in white and the men are given fashionable suits to wear.  

As soon as I reached the alcove where my good wife was resting, I could see what had caused Dr. Oostenburg’s concern.  We had dressed my wife in her bridal gown and given her a bouquet of flowers. We did not give her a groom – but somehow she had found one.

“I thought you would want to see this,” Dr. Oostenburg said, his voice still visibly shaken.

“My God,” I said, falling back against the wall, “That’s my grandfather!”

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Hotel Buenos Aires

October 15, 2006 at 4:39 pm (Borjes Society)

 
It was the end of November and I was passed out in a hotel room next to a woman who did not appear to be breathing. If  I could have remembered anything of the night before it would perhaps have helped to clear things up, but then, sometimes it is better not to remember.

 I have learned in situations like these it is best to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible, without calling attention to myself. I looked about – found some clothes that fit, and a wallet in the pocket of the pants and within a couple of minutes, I was out on the street.  

Sometime later I found myself at the bar of the Hotel Buenos Aires. I was finishing my second drink when a man sat next to me and introduced himself as Senor Novalis. I did not know who he was, but I knew for a fact he was not the noted scientist, Senor Novalis for I had buried the good Senor some years ago in an empty monastery in Uddiyana.

And yet there was something in the eyes and manner of the strange gentleman who stood before me that suggested more than a chance resemblance. I stared at him a moment and then went on drinking. After some time, we went into the dining room. The waiter had just taken our order when a tall, pale woman with long black hair arrived.

 “Countess Tegre,” Senor Novalis said, standing. I stood along with him.

 “Who is your friend?” she asked with more than casual interest

“This is Dr. Gelupka.”

“My pleasure” she said, “I have heard so much about you.”

 “The pleasure is mutual,” I replied and our eyes met.

 We sat down and ordered several bottles of Argentina’s best reds.

 Are you now in the rare book business like our friend Senor Novalis?,” she asked.

 “Not really,” I replied, “Senor Novalis traffics in a large number of books. There is only one book that interests me.”

 “Is that so?” she smiled, “What book is that?”

 “You must know,” I replied. Otherwise, why would we be conversing? It must be close at hand, since we are all stumbling into one other.”

 “But where?” she asked.

 “I don’t know,” I answered. “Perhaps Senor Novalis knows.”

 “It doesn’t exist,” Senor Novalis replied smiling, “If it did, I would have catalogued it by now.”

She laughed, “How could you? I don’t think it would stay still enough for your efforts. It is just as well you haven’t found it.  There are less than a dozen people alive who know what this text is, and each of them would give their life to protect it. They would also take life to obtain it.”

 “It is kind of you to warn me,” Senor Novalis replied.

 “It is only fair since I am one of the interested parties.”

 “When do you intend to kill me?” he asked.

 “I am not in a hurry,” she said.

 “I do not know what Dr. Gelukpa would say, but it would not be so bad to die in hands such as yours. But we speak prematurely of such matters. I do not have the book. In fact I’ve never even seen it.”

“I have seen it many times,” she said, “I have been to libraries where it lies forgotten on some dusty shelf.  I have been to churches where a strange copy of it, with all the parts out of place is read. And I have been in rooms where the text was used to conjure apparitions. But all of this has been while I’ve slept. I’ve never seen it in the clear light.”

 As she talked I felt her leg brush against me. She sipped her wine slowly and said, “And Dr. Gelukpa, you are so quiet. Surely, you have seen it.”

 “Only once, a long time ago,” I answered, “It was late at night and I was with the girl I would later marry for the first time. We went to the theatre with a friend, then to a party.  We met some other friends there and went to another party, and then another.  Sometime, near dawn, I was in a small library and caught a glimpse of it. But I had to leave suddenly.  I never saw it again.”

 “On the shelf in the library, what was the book next to it?” she asked.

 “The book next to it?” I thought back, “A blue encyclopedia.”

 She smiled her best. “That is wonderful. We have shared the same dream then…”

 At this point Senor Novalis interrupted, “So you have both seen the book. That is very sweet. But what is it?”

 I turned and said, “As you may imagine, there are many different views on what the book is, and to the manner of its existence, if it even exists. My own feeling is that it is a book of infinite dimensions, and unlimited pages. And yet it is all contained in a single manuscript.  The best account of it is in Grunwald’s Texts of the Ancient Church.

 “The 1789 edition with the red spine?” the Countess asked.

 “Yes.  He claimed that when the Church Council put together the ‘Book of Life’, a second book came into existence at the same time. It was never intended to be read.”

 “The text is said not to even have words at all, or to have words that always change, or to have words one time and not another, or to swerve in and out of words, or to consist only of mirrors, that by reflecting back and forth on each other bring entire languages into being.”

 “It has also been called the ‘Book of Death’. It is said that anyone who opens the text instantly dies.”

 “Why would anyone want such a book?” Senor Novalis asked.

 “It has its purposes. The Church has had many enemies. The ‘Book of Life’ is not enough to sustain it. It also needs the second book. If it weren’t for the second book, no doubt Julian would have succeeded in making the Church a mere historical footnote. Or perhaps an altogether different faith might have arisen.”

 “I thought Julian died at the hands of Persian cavalry?” the Countess said.

 “No,” I replied, “His wounds were not serious. The book was.”

 “Supposedly, it has come to the aid of the Church on any number of occasions, the last being about thirty years ago. You will remember the Pope who died a few weeks after his election…It disappeared after that. Something went awry and the Church lost control of it. That is why finding it is now a matter of some interest.  The fact that our paths have intersected suggests that the book may be very close. I suspect it is even in one of the rooms of the Hotel itself.”

 “Since none of us represents the interests of the Church,” the Countess said, “Can we assume there may be others who will arrive soon?”

 We looked around the room. At the table next to us, sitting alone, an elderly white haired Priest smiled.

 “Ah, Father Lessant,” I said, standing up and extending my hand, “It has been a long time since we’ve talked.”

 “Always a pleasure, Dr. Gelukpa.” He seemed even frailer than the last time we met.

 He pulled his chair up to the table. “You are wrong about the number of those who are still searching. I think it has shrunk to just us four. It will be interesting to see which of us the book favors.”

 “So it is in the hotel,” she said, “But this is a large hotel. How do you intend to search all the rooms?”

 “I don’t,” I replied, “People always assume that to find things you have to go where they are. You can also ask them to come to you.”

 Senor Novalis nodded, and the Countess poured me a glass of wine.

 “You have a plan?” she asked.

 “You are all acquainted with numbers or you wouldn’t be here. So you know as well as I the combination that must occur for the book to appear. It will be midnight in just a couple of hours. At that time we can retire to my room. I have arranged things appropriately.”

 This seemed to suit everyone and we continued to drink and converse among ourselves. There were still some loose points left to be clarified. It is unfortunate that due to the wine I can’t remember exactly how the conversation flowed. I’m sure a transcript of it would be of some value. At the appointed time, we went upstairs. The room I had prepared was empty of all furniture and every surface had been replaced by a mirror.

 We did not have to wait long for the text. Within an hour it appeared precisely in the center of the circle we had formed. The text did not appear as a book. Rather, it appeared as a thin black bottle. 

 “What is this?” the Countess said surprised.

 I walked over and touched it. “This is the text. Look at the label.”

 I turned the bottle. At first we saw a drawing of a small map. But then as we looked closer, a swirling vortex opened up. We could only gaze for an instant and then our eyes were forced away. In the vortex was everything – all the natural elements – wind, water, fire, earth and space – and all the unnatural elements as well.

 “I understand,” she said with a hint of something transcendent in her eyes, “We are to open the text here.”

 “That is right,” I replied and the others nodded.

 She took the bottle from me, lifted it up and took a long drink. She then handed it to Senor Novalis who did likewise. Senor Novalis handed it to the good Father who drank, and then to me.

 I brought the bottle to my lips, but then suddenly a strange chill ran across my back.  My hands trembled, and I dropped the bottle which shattered in this and a thousand other worlds. When I looked up, Senor Novalis, Father Lessant, and Countess Tegre were gone.

That is all.  I went back to my room, saw that there was now a thin manuscript laying by the bed, bound in faded leather. With such a significant history, it was not a particularly striking object – it was hard to imagine that opening it would cause such fortune as was alleged to occur. But I was not one to put it to the test.   Bundling it tightly in old newspapers, I gathered my belongings and checked out of the hotel. For I have learned in situations like this it is best to leave as quickly and as quietly as possible without calling attention to oneself.

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Ghost River – 8

October 15, 2006 at 3:58 pm (Ghost River)

 

Bliss masks itself in the forms of emptiness

It is all noise, weather, traffic and the unexpected.

I do not think philosophy gives enough attention to the presence of the worlds intertwined with this one. You cannot count the number of worlds, and the facts of one world are not the facts of another. In one world numbers are infinite, in another they don’t exist at all. As you move toward one world it grows sharper, as you move toward another it grows dim. In one world everything is still at night, in another, everything is still at day.

Knowledge is itself daimonic. The serpent is always coiled around the tree. Once we leave the text, then we are on our own. Life becomes fiction, we pretend to pretend.

So what are these other worlds? If worlds are created by desire, and there are an infinite number of desires, there must be an infinite number of worlds. There must be heavens, hells, and all manner of in-between locales. There must be worlds of complete extinction where atheists find rest slowly dissolving into the elements. There must be fanatical worlds where the soldiers of faith receive the just due. Then there must be worlds like ours – where we live again and again, a dozen lives, a thousand lives, an endless number of lives.

Perhaps death is as illusory as anything else. The soul often leaves the body and returns later. At death it just doesn’t come back. It goes on in some dream that may even be similar to this world. In this way, the soul may not even know it has died until looking around it notices small things that are completely illogical. The spell breaks – then it realizes it has crossed over.

That is how it was at least with my wife. She is somewhere, who knows where, and she doesn’t even suspect that in this world she was given a funeral, buried and mourned and that I’m writing this about her now. Of course, with so many forks in the road, perhaps you and I, are in the same way, just as clueless.

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Ghost River – 7

October 13, 2006 at 4:05 pm (Ghost River)

“When I came I opened the way, and taught them about the bridge they will cross, those who are chosen and know…”

The experiments I have been working on are rather difficult and somewhat dangerous. They are similar to those of my grandfather, those I discussed in The Order of the White Rose. Western understanding of these matters has increased significantly since his day, and I believe through my close study of the Alchemical History I have detected the mistakes he made and have corrected them.

Our shared interest is in transporting ourselves with all senses and mental functions intact into worlds other than this one. That this is possible I have no doubt. The unsettled issue is how to do this with sufficient control to ensure safe and untroubled passage.

Of course we all leave this world eventually. Leaving is not the difficult part. The difficult part is coming back. This is not always given the consideration it should. One reads many narratives of investigators who started out with the best of scientific intentions, and then went native, so to speak, and just stayed over in some other world until everything they knew of this one had disappeared.

Unfortunately, my late wife was an investigator of this sort. Becoming interested in my work, I shared my discoveries with her and she proved a quicker adept than myself in putting them into practical use. While I can barely cross over for an hour or two at a time, she would cross over for days, then come back, glowing and full of strange conversation. Once she came back and wouldn’t eat or drink anything except ice cream that I fed to her. Another time, she brought some books, but when I opened them, there were nothing but blank pages. Then one time, she didn’t come back at all.

 

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Ghost River – 6

October 12, 2006 at 5:01 pm (Ghost River)

 

Words chose the poet…The art of the writer consists in little by little making words interest themselves in his books.

                                                                                                                                -Jabe

I digress. But you have to make sure no one is following. That is why you weave back and forth, here and there, over and about, east and west, and then, when Argos begins to shut his eyes one by one, then you can speak.

If you examine dreams closely, you will see that they never stay still. They are always moving. If you want to find the still point in the dream, you have to be alert. This kind of alertness requires practice.  Pretend that you are dreaming now.   Look at the room you are in, noting the doors and windows, what is on the inside and outside of them. Note what is close and what is far away. Look at the objects in the room. Which are speaking and which are quiet? Note the layers of sound. Note the light. Where is it coming from? What is it moving toward?  

Last night I woke up suddenly. Wind was blowing through the house. There was no one there. I saw a light on in the workshop and went out to look. It was empty. I saw lights in the forest. I walked up the hill path. I could hear sounds of animals.  The stars in the sky were not still, but moving and breaking into pieces. I walked deeper into the woods. A mist arose. I couldn’t see trees, only tombstones. I was in some cemetery.  The mist lifted and I saw a creek and a bridge, and beyond the bridge hills of black grass.    

I woke up again. I heard my late wife’s voice from inside the closet and went up and opened the door.  It led into an empty high school. The voice I heard was coming from a locker. I opened it.  There was a stairway leading down. I followed it into a cold stone room. My wife was standing at a thick wooden table mixing liquids in a chalice. “What is it?” I asked.  “I can’t show you,” she replied sadly.

Then a window opened up in the wall and I saw my father. He was standing in the snow.  It was snowing. He was holding up a photograph.  I began staring at it, then found that I was in the photograph.  It was the garden of my father’s farm. I walked inside and found him in the library. He looked up and put his hand through my body. It wasn’t solid at all.  Then I knew I was behind the mirror, where images no longer were forced to take a set form, but could appear intimately and randomly, in any fashion they chose.

 

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The Isles of the Blest

October 11, 2006 at 7:05 pm (Theosophical Museum)

We are fortunate to have a transcript of Helena Petrona’s lecture given this week at the Museum.

For a place that is essentially timeless, heaven has a long and colorful history. It is perhaps our most distant and yet most strangely familiar dream. No less sought after by poets and lovers, then by saints and philosophers, it is perennially evasive. Attempts to enclose it within dogma render it as lifeless as the vague accounts of psychics, mediums, and those who don’t quite cross over. Indelibly imprinted in the deepest longings of our hearts, heaven is so faint and wavering an image as to be almost invisible, and yet our nostalgia for it is at times so strong that it almost single-handedly carries us to the transcendent.

The ancients knew heaven by many names. It was sometimes called Elysium, other times the Elysian Fields, and to those who participated in the mysteries, it had yet another name – The Isles of the Blest. It was first envisioned as a meadow in the underworld where the great heroes were carried body and soul and made immortal. There they were free to pursue their favorite activities, and worries and illness were unknown. Soon, it became the abode of all the blessed dead, at the farthest and westernmost edge of the world, where souls of heroes, poets, priests and the virtuous lived in perfect happiness surrounded by grass, trees, and gentle west winds and enveloped in a rose-tinted, perpetual light.

In the fifth century B.C.E., Pindar described the Isles of the Blessed, governed by Cronus, as swept by ocean breezes, filled with beautiful trees and golden flowers, fields of grain, and meadows studded with roses and shaded by trees exuding fragrant balsam. There is no work and the fortunate inhabitants, garlanded with flowers, spend their time playing strenuous games, riding, playing draughts or making music on the lyre, while a sweet smell wafts over from the incense burned on the altars of the gods. Entry to it is reserved for those who have led three successive lives of purity on earth.

In The Dictionary of Imaginary Places we read of Lucian’s account which appeared in his True History written in the 2nd century:

“The Isles of the Blessed are some five hundred miles long, in the Atlantic Ocean, the home of a people who dress in beautiful purple spider webs. In spite of being bodiless, they can move and talk as mortal beings. They resemble naked spirits, each covered with a web that gives it the shape of a body.

The island is long and flat, ruled by Radamantus. The capital of the island, also called Blessed, is built of gold with walls of emerald. It has seven doors made from a single piece of cinnamon, and the roads that cross the city are of ivory. There are temples to all the gods, built of beryl and containing tall altars made of amethysts used for human sacrifices. Around the city runs a river of exquisite perfume, fifty feet deep and easily navigable, seven rivers of milk, and eight of wine, and fountains spouting water, honey and perfume. The city baths are large crystal buildings, heated with cinnamon, the tubs contain both water and hot dew.

“Travelers will not find on the Island of the Blessed the darkness of night or the light of day to which they are accustomed. The island is constantly bathed in a twilight, as if the sun had not yet risen. Nobody grows older on the island, it is always springtime and only one wind, the zephyr, blows here. In the middle of a wood is the meadow of the Elysian Fields, where there is a delightful permanent party in progress. The guests drink from two springs, one of laughter and one of pleasure. Then they lie on beds of flowers, while nightingales rain petals down on them, scent falls from the sky like dew, and the surrounding trees magically supply glasses of wine. The country is rich in every species of flower and every kind of plant; the vines give grapes twelve times a year; apple trees, pomegranate trees and others, give fruit thirteen times a year, because in the month of Minossa they give fruit twice. As well as ready-made sheaves, the wheat produces beautifully baked loaves, growing from its tips like mushrooms.”

The Elsysian fields or Isles of the Blessed were sometimes located on the earth’s surface, sometimes in the sky and sometimes underground as a separate division of the land of the dead in the underworld. The appearance on some Roman sarcophagi of dolphins, sea-monsters, sea-nymphs and Tritons, and of curving lines possibly representing waves, suggest a belief in the journey to an afterworld across the sea.

In the Neoplatonic tradition there are seven Isles of the Blessed, each ruled by one of the seven planetary deities. Each Isle is an outflowing of the One, that which transcends even the farthest stars and yet is closer to us than our breath. These seven islands all exist in the same timeless space that we do in our essential nature, yet are hidden to us as we traverse the intricate weavings of our varied destinies.

Yet even as we glimpse the outermost isles, it is rare upon dying for anyone to go past the Isle of the Moon where our souls are once again reunited with bodies and returned to Earth, each having drunken deeply of the River of Forgetfulness.

Cicero himself notes in The Dream of Scipio that,

“Below the moon all is mortal and transitory, with the exception of the souls bestowed upon the human race by the benevolence of the gods. Above the moon all things are eternal.”

Yet some do rise higher, to the sphere of the sun, and some higher still to the sphere of the stars, where they live with the gods.

Virgil’s account of Elysium, set traditionally in the underworld, analogous to the lunar Isle, also emphasizes the importance of this River.

“Thus with their liturgy to the goddess ended, they came to the place of joy, the pleasant lawns, the groves of the lucky, and the blessed homes. These lands are clothed in larger air and light the color of life; they see their sun, their stars. Here figures were training on the grassy grounds, some playing games, some wrestling in the ring, and some were treading the dance and singing songs. There stood in his poet’s gown, Orpheus, playing his instrument of seven strings…”

“Aeneas saw others about him on the grass, feasting and singing cheerful songs of praise. Above them hung sweet bays, and from a hill Eridanus tumbled his waters through the grove. Here were the band who for their country bled, here priests who in the world led saintly lives, prophets of truth, who spoke as a God would speak, those whose discoveries made a better world, those who by doing good earned men’s remembrance. Each one wore snow-white bands about his head…

[His father then explains] “None has a place assigned. We live in groves; our beds are the riverbanks and fields made fresh by springs…

“Just then, far down a slope, Aeneas saw a grove apart, with foliage thick and rustling: this was the haven of peace, where Lethe flowed: about it flitted the nations of mankind like bees in a meadow on a summer’s day….His father said, ‘Those are the souls whose fate binds them to flesh once more. At Lethe’s wave they drink and forget past years of care and fear…

“It is like this: the heavens, the earth, the watery wastes, the luminous globe of moon, the sun, the stars, exist through inward spirit. Their total mass by mind is permeated: hence their motion. From mind and spirit comes life—of man, of beast, of bird, of monsters under the foam-flecked seas. Life is from heaven—a seed of fire that glows bright, so far as flesh cannot repress it, or earthly, death bound bodies dull its glow. From flesh come fear, desire, pain and joy: its pitch-dark prison blinds us to the light. And even on that last day when life departs, not all our evil, all the body’s foul corruption leaves us: deep ingrained, in ways past comprehension, much has hardenened fast. Our souls, then suffer pain, and pay the price for wrongs done years before: some , like a cloak laid off, hang to the winds; some lose their stains by flood and swirl, or cautery of fire. We suffer, each, our ghostly selves, then pass—some few—to gain Elysium’s fields of joy. The years go by; Time makes his cycle just, our hardened filth is sloughed; intelligence pure, as of heaven, is left, and breath, and fire. After a thousand circling years, God calls these souls to Lethe in a long parade to gain forgetfulness, then view the sky once more, and wish to put on flesh again.”

Virgil, The Aeneid, Book VI, Copley Translation

Other accounts of heaven offer different imaginings. In a fresco from a fourth century catacomb in Rome, an angelic figure introduces Vivia, an elderly lady, to a banquet where she is reunited once again with her loved ones. Philosophers also imagined heaven as an endless banquet while there were no doubt others who perhaps thought of it as the late Argentine writer Borjes did, as an infinite library, not unlike the fabled library of Alexandria where the wisdom of the ages waited for us, who now with ample time at hand, could read it without interruption.

Cavendish in his Visions of Heaven and Hell notes that the ancients had many different ideas about how the dead reached the sky. They might fly up as birds or be carried up by birds or winged spirits, or they might climb a ladder or float up like specks of dust in the rays of the sun. Some thought that the souls of the pious rose up into the air where they were purified by wind, water and fire, and this was the real crossing of the Styx.

The Neoplatonists believed that the souls of the virtuous became stars and multitudes of them could be seen in the Milky Way. There they would live forever with the gods, having returned in remembrance from what we once forget as our true home. It is at the intersection of the zodiac and the Milky Way where both ascent and descent occur. Leaving the perfect sphere of the heavens we descend as a cone, moving into the realm of multiplicity drawn by the thinnest and most deadly of weights, our thoughts. As the Latin Neoplatonist Macrobius wrote in the 5th century,

“The soul from its lofty pinnacle of perpetual radiance disdains to grasp after a body and this thing that we on earth call life, but yet allows a secret yearning for it to creep into its thoughts, gradually slips down to the lower realms because of the very weight of its earthly thoughts. It does not suddenly assume a defiled body out of a state of complete incorporeality, but gradually sustaining imperceptible losses and departing further from its simple and absolutely pure state, it swells out with certain increases of a planetary body: in each of the spheres that lie below heaven, it puts on another ethereal envelopment, so that by these steps it is gradually prepared for assuming this earthly dress. Thus by as many deaths as it passes through spheres, it reaches the stage which on earth is called life…but to the soul is death.”

But as he further assures us…

“Be not disturbed that in reference to the soul, which we say is immortal, we so often use the term “death”. In truth, the soul is not destroyed by its death but is overwhelmed for a time; not does it surrender the privilege of immortality because of its lowly sojourn, for when it has rid itself completely of all taint of evil and has deserved to be sublimated, it again leaves the body and, fully recovering its former state, returns to the splendor of everlasting life.”

With these words Macrobius gives full expression to the recurring theme of all ancient visions of heaven— the immortality of the soul. Whether represented by Bacchus rescuing Ariadne, Attis rising to be with Cybele, Selene waking the sleeping Endymion from the sleep of death, angels guiding the soul to the heavenly banquet, or a hundred other themes from myth, there was always a firm belief that we were not abandoned at death. Christianity, the great survivor of the classical world, would only give new vision to a resurrection that was already well known.

The belief in a pure abode beyond this world would continue to thrive not only in the West but in the East as well. When Greek thought traversed the silk route to Gandhara and gave Buddhism its first images of the Buddhas, with their distinct resemblance to Apollo, a new idea arose in Buddhism about an island paradise presided over by a Buddha of boundless light. This paradise was named Sukhavati, the blessed or pure land curiously enough envisioned as lying in the West.

According to the Pure Land scriptures this blessed island is fertile, prosperous and crowded with gods and men. It has flowers, fruits, fragrant scents and flocks of birds with sweet voices. There are no mountains there but a great plain, through which streams and rivers run, some as much as fifty miles wide, flowing over golden sands and emitting delicious odors and beautiful music. The temperature of the water in the rivers varies to suit each inhabitant’s preference at any particular moment. There, banks are lined with scented jewels and trees in hundreds of thousands of shades of color, made of gold, silver, beryl, crystal, coral, red pearls and emeralds.

And everywhere there are beautiful lotus flowers made of precious jewels, jewels such as have never been seen on Earth, but which we know have a long history in the realm of visionary experience.

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Theosophical Museum

October 11, 2006 at 6:45 pm (Theosophical Museum)

The Stranger Creek Theosophical Museum is renown for its lovely grounds. On the estate of the Arthur Olcott are many small chapels and temples that are open to members for prayer and meditation.


Entrance to the Gardens


Small Gnostic Chapel


Temple to Amen-Ra


Shrine To Hermes

Temple to the Moon Goddess

Temple to the Teutonic Gods

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Ghost River – 5

October 11, 2006 at 4:25 pm (Ghost River)

It is all good and well to speak vaguely of other worlds. To visit them and take up residence, that’s an entirely different matter. Worlds of course each have their own physics, their own logos and mythos. Of course we are speaking of pure worlds where the mythos is not fractured as in ours. Our world is a not actually a world per se, but more of a vast central station, where one can purchase passage to one destination or another. Everyone passes through, but no one stays. Destinies are revealed but do not begin or end here.

As a transport station our world is a bit of a free zone. It accommodates a lot of modes of travel, not merely human. All the beings here have over time developed rather complex forms of interaction, utilizing and being utilized by one another. There is a natural hierarchy of capability – plants are at the bottom, then animals, then ourselves and then spirits – but all share the same moment, the same presence to that moment.

Now there is much misinformation on the nature of spirits. One reads accounts of magicians who force spirits to do their bidding. In the East too, one reads of great masters who bind spirits to their purposes. It is possible of course, but the general trend is quite in the other direction. As a class of beings, spirits, or daimons as they are better called, have considerably more powers than humans do. Their ethical range is at least as diverse as ours. Traditionally there are said to be nine orders of angels and nine of demons, but this bifurcation ignores the vast numbers who like ourselves have a mix of good and not so good intentions.

Of course boundaries such as inner and outer blur considerably at times. And since the rip in the fabric occurred, daimons have had a lot more free play then they did previously. Whereas possession was once rare, over the last hundred years it has become depressingly habitual. Modern consciousness has become so fragmented that daimons have little difficulty continually moving in and out of beings.

Hence to draw attention to these matters, to actually engage the daimons directly doesn’t put us at any special risk. Quite to the contrary – it is clear to anyone who watches the subtle flow of events that the daimons are already out – those who are aware have the protection of their awareness, whereas the great majority of individuals wandering about dazed and confused, let every kind of spirit flutter through them constantly like wind rippling in the wheat.

Not impeded by physicality, spirits are not just flowing in and out of human beings, but also animals, plants and so called inanimate objects. Quite a few spirits are even able to manifest physical bodies on their own even. The ordinary person has no appreciation of the rather large number of people there are roaming about who strictly speaking, are not real at all.

 

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Ghost River – 4

October 10, 2006 at 5:01 pm (Ghost River)

 

The Omaha Theosophical Society’s Hermetic Lodge formed in 1927. That was the year my Grandfather would later claim “the rip in the fabric” occurred. Of course if he had known that then, he could have done something useful, like sell stocks and buy gold. But these things only appear later in hindsight. The Lodge led a rather tumultuous existence for a number of years, and then started losing members until it was formally disbanded. My grandfather lived a little while longer working on his manuscript until he died in 1941at the age of 49.

The purpose of the Hermetic Lodge was to conduct experiments. My grandfather was not only a theosophist but a scientist. He had limited patience for theosophists who merely advanced theories and collected antiquarian lore, and presented it as if that alone should suffice as proof of something. Certainly it was evidence enough of the unexplained, but knowing that, what was one to do? Believing in subtle forces was one thing, utilizing them was another.

He also had limited patience for science which did not go beyond science itself. The edge of science is always speculative. He favored what he called ‘spontaneous experiments’, those that precede without assumptions. Of course even these experiments do not always turn out as one intends.

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Ghost River – 3

October 9, 2006 at 8:48 pm (Ghost River)

History is an odd thing. Out of the densely interwoven fabric of destiny, we attempt to form a narrative from only a few threads. We are not sure that what we capture or recover is even significant. And then from the few remnants and patches that survive we give voice to only a fraction, letting the rest lie in silence. We speak, briefly interrupt the flow of events, then our conversations slowly vanish into nothing.

But then there are times when a single word can suddenly strike one with the force of unimaginable recognition. This I have learned from reading the unpublished manuscript of my grandfather, “An Occult History of the Midwest”, a dense and obscure 1,300 page narrative which traces the lineage of the Omaha Theosophical Society back to various mystery schools in Vienna, Prague, India and Tibet before it suddenly breaks off.

Interlaced with the history are many short texts, some of which are familiar, and many which I have been unable to find mention of anywhere else. The manuscript is primarily in English, although certain parts of it, which are preceded by warnings and cautions, are written in another language which I believe is the tongue of a certain class of minor deities who specialize in foreshadowing destinies, deities who are long lived, and have the time to engage in vast studies of human events utilizing resources we can’t even dream of.

These deities are impossibly hard to attract though. They are not impressed by credentials. They are not interested in flattery. They are not moved by offerings. And they are indifferent to worship. To befriend them you have to become one of them, and that is not an easy task. My grandfather understood this and was willing to make the required sacrifice. He had seen something, an outcome he wanted to prevent, and did not have the luxury of following a slow path to attainment.

 

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Ghost River – 2

October 8, 2006 at 6:14 pm (Ghost River)

“To tell the truth, prose doesn’t exist. There is the alphabet and then there is verse.” -Mallarme

Like almost everyone in Stranger Creek, I am a collector of rare texts, but the texts I collect are somewhat unusual. None of them have ever been written. I collect them from those who have crossed over. This is not a vocation that I chose, but one that come to me by chance.

Everyone should believe in something. I believe in texts. I believe there is only one and many mirrors that make the one always appear different. These texts move and vary while the one remains the same and never moves. The texts have qualities — some are clear, some are clouded, some reflect the whole, some the part — the one is without qualities.

Whatever I believe, when something asks where I live, I answer Kansas. It is important to maintain appearances, to keep them fresh, but actually, no one has ever lived in Kansas. The only place anyone has ever lived is the present.

The owl might live in Kansas though. That is definitely possible. Not the Kansas that is shown with towns and roads, all neatly named and diagrammed, but the real Kansas, the one not on the map.

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Deserter

October 6, 2006 at 5:18 pm (Films)

     

     

     

     

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    Ghost River

    October 5, 2006 at 4:54 pm (Ghost River)

    There are miles and miles of emptiness. Driving through it you are easily lulled to sleep. But if you are out alone in the emptiness, where there are no roads you will see it is actually quite alive.

    Once this emptiness belonged to the people of the wind. They have almost entirely vanished. The last fluent speakers of Kanza lived over 30 years ago, and six years ago, the last full blooded Kanza died. In a small museum in Council Grove you can see a drawing of an old Kanza song prayer from the 1880s. The songs are addressed to the Kanza deities.

    There are 27 of them – the sacred pipe, the venerable man, the old man with a cane, the four winds, the planet Venus, the bow, the sacrificial offering, the deer, the elk, the old man who makes night songs, a certain large red rock, the wolf, the crow, the moon, the yarn belt, a very old man, the sun, the shade, he who brings restful sleep, a certain small rock, the Wichitas, the new moon, the buffalo bull, the planting season, cooking, stilt-walking and the owl.

    The drawings are very simple and not especially haunting except for the 27th deity, the Owl.

    Alone, at night, I spend hours staring into his eyes. I begin to feel that everything I know is just on the surface – that something else entirely lives in the depths.

    A few years ago, a Tibetan Lama visited. He looked around and asked, “Are we near the sea?” “No” I said, “we are a thousand miles from the sea.” He looked around again, as if the sea were very close, and I thought not that sea – he can’t be seeing that.

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