“None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Home of Andy Crowley
1984 AD SR
In preparation for his big night with Deb, Andy had spent the whole morning putting the finishing touches on the rec room he had been cleaning up for the past three months. He knew the project was about more than just creating some private space that could be theirs; it also represented turning a page on a chapter in his life.
Before the incident with the demon on the astral plane, this rec room had been his sorcerous base of operations. Books, grimoires, potions, incenses, astrological charts, and various magic circles on large scrolls had been everywhere, interspersed with plastic milk crates of LPs, D&D paraphernalia, model rocketry equipment, and beta tapes.
His mother had been horrified by both the disarray and what she called “the devilry” of the place, but resolved to think it all no more than part of the typical weirdness of teenage boys. Andy’s friends, who played D&D down there, simply thought the arcane clutter was cool Dungeon Master research and props.
Andy had never really been concerned that anyone would discover he was a real sorcerer. That would have been ridiculous. He was just a strange kid with an interest in occult philosophy, which was really quite reasonable considering his love of other evils like rock music, role playing games and comic books.
He lifted the one remaining box of books off the floor and carefully set it on a portable card table so as not to smudge the elaborate dungeonscape he had drawn on the dry-erase hex-grid there. The box contained his most sacred tomes and he intended to savour a quiet moment with them before placing them in their new resting place in the space under the stairs.
Reaching into the box then, he could not help but pick up the battered, dog-eared, edition of the Ars Goetia, that sat on the top. It was the listing of demons he had immediately referenced upon returning from his encounter on the astral plane.
Happening upon this particular book was unfortunate, for he had intended to enjoy this moment of reflection – this quiet goodbye to a deep, true love – but now instead, he felt deep consuming shame.
Compulsively, he flipped to the page where he had read about Leraje, also called Leraie, Leraikha, Leraye, Loray, Oray. It described a handsome archer clad in green, whose arrows caused gangrene wounds.
He had suspected right away that the beautiful demon had been the Marquis Leraje and this book had confirmed it.
For a moment, he recalled the demon’s poise and stunning beauty and her irresistible voice – for his senses had interpreted the demon’s every facet as intensely female. Then the recollection of beauty was displaced again with how all he had done was stand there: enthralled, staring and useless. He imagined himself even drooling and pathetic.
Even now he did not know if Jasco had survived. And it tortured him to think he may never know, for he was not inclined to go back to find out. His failure as a sorcerer had been revealed entirely. He had been powerless against Leraje’s charms. He had succumbed completely. And a new friend had likely been destroyed as a result of his incompetence – and his cowardice.
Leraje had made him question many of the notions he had about himself and who he was but mostly the demon had made him realize he was a coward: a coward who would stand by while a friend was dismantled by one of the most capable combatants of Hell.
He was no sorcerer. Andy knew this now. Indeed, he had come to question whether or not he was even really a man.
Refusing to succumb to the spiral of self-pity, Andy reached back into the box and, this time digging a little, pulled out the Corpus Hermeticum.
The love he felt in that moment made him smile, though his eyes misted with a sense of loss.
He had thought of destroying everything. That is how sure he was that he was done with sorcery; but he could not shake the feeling that he still had some purpose to serve. After all, why had the dreams about Atlantis come to him as a child? Reflection over the past few weeks had brought him around to a notion that maybe he would become an occult scholar or historian. Maybe he could illuminate the deeper truths of reality and the realms beyond to a society that so desperately needed the ancient wisdom of mysticism. Perhaps his purpose was to do more than merely satisfy his own curiosity. Perhaps he was meant to light humanity’s way back from the preoccupation with the hyper-reductionist, ego-driven consumerist paradigm foisted upon them by the timeless aristocracy and made manifest through the limitations imposed through the twin shackles of science and religion.
His curiosity took hold then and he indulged himself with a visualization of the fateful moment in the 14th century when humanity had chosen the path of Aristotle over Plato and Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, when they could have – should have – embraced both.
He thought about how completely the literal, linear, mechanical perspective of the left hemisphere of the brain came to be celebrated and revered over the mythic, holistic functions of the right hemisphere, so that, in time, the right hemisphere came to be denigrated and oppressed. Under this assault, which eventually became social, political and economic, as well as cultural, the esoteric understanding and mystical perspective of the right brain came to be regarded first as arcane, then later, as profane. This process had continued and accelerated to this day.
And now, linear, delineating, measuring, categorizing, self-obsessed left-brained humanity – having lost all sense of connection to other beings, its environment, and even existence itself, stood at the brink of social, ecological collapse, living under the perpetual threat of nuclear extinction.
As Andy saw it – and indeed, as almost every great spiritual thinker in history had seen it – humanity’s salvation would come in transcending the constructed notion that we come into nature and so are distinct from it, and in so doing recovering the awareness of our own divinity, which is implicit in the idea that we come out of nature and so are of it — just as a leaf comes from a tree.
As above, so below.
The All is the thought that is the reality we know. And so then, The All is all things — though each thing is far from being The All.
Yes! He might still have a part to play. He could educate the world. He could open minds without actually practicing the mysterious arts of the deeper mind.
Perhaps he was the Hermes Trismegistus of his time. Perhaps he would have a part to play in steering humanity away from its self-obsessed, short-sighted, tunnel-visioned trajectory toward self-annihilation.
Having been a sorcerer, Andy knew well the significance of the crossroads. And, just as humanity had come to a crossroads in the middle ages, perhaps he had come upon his on the astral plane with Jasco that day. It was possible, he thought, that his crossroad could be a crossroads for humanity as well.
In that moment, for the first time he thought about taking school seriously and attending university.
Without ever again casting a single spell, he could still be an emissary for the essential ancient truths he knew he knew so well.
His thoughts turned to how excited Deb would be to hear that he wanted to go to university, which in turn made him more excited about the prospect himself. There were curiosities here, he thought. Other unknowns to be explored and mysteries to be celebrated!
Andy’s feelings for Deb, which had been impossible for him mere months ago, had come to exceed any thrill he had felt on the planes beyond.
Magic was an apt a term for the experience. As much as travelling to another plane; as much as the elation of astral flight, he had discovered the most wondrous thing he had ever known. Indeed, he had known no sorcery comparable to what he had experienced in the moment he had freed himself be with one who so deeply wanted to be with him.
Then Andy put the book back in the box, walked over to the door under the stairs and pushed the box into the scant remaining space available.
After closing the door, he turned and sat with his back against it so he could soak in what his three months of work had accomplished.
To his right, against the wall, there was an old chesterfield that had been in his nana’s and pop-pop’s basement. He had negotiated to get it as payment for cutting the grass at their place. A huge map of the world of Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melnibone hung over the chesterfield. Andy had drawn it himself. On a desk to this side of the chesterfield, there was a Commodore 64 and an assortment of games.
Against the far wall, opposite him, under a window well looking out onto the driveway, there was a large cabinet stereo system with a turntable under a flip-open top. On each side of it, stacked two-wide and four-high, there were plastic milk crates of assorted colours containing vinyl LPs.
A large cabinet TV with a VCR on top sat against the wall to his right. Two cardboard boxes of neatly arranged movies were stacked beside it. Two posters hung on that wall: the movie poster for The Empire Strikes Back and the starman album cover of the Rush album, 2112.
Also to his left, through a large opening off of the carpeted floor, there was the dungeon, where the D&D card-table sat between the furnace and the washer and dryer. Over an old, grey, metal filing cabinet where he had organized all his gaming supplies, a trippy, earth-toned Lord of the Rings poster was tacked into the two-by-four studs of an unfinished wall.
Centred under the poster on that filing cabinet, in pride of place, sat a small, purple velvet bag trimmed with gold cord. It had originally held a bottle of whiskey Andy had given his father for Christmas years ago. Now it contained the items he treasured most in the world: five amethyst-coloured, plastic gems – the ideal, fundamental forms that constituted all reality as postulated by Plato in The Timaeus. They provided a material focal point upon which Andy’s consciousness could concentrate his aetheric field – the forms functioned for him in the manner of a wizard’s staff or a witch’s wand. Because numbers had been engraved into the faces of the gems and filled with the wax of a gold crayon, the forms, which were known in lore as the Platonic solids, also constituted a macrocosmic representation of the microcosmic forces of probability at play in the subatomic strata of existence itself. This imbued them with an additional layer of meaning to Andy’s consciousness, which enhanced the degree to which they had served to focus and magnify his sorcerous aptitudes.
They were also simply dice; and as such, were the means by which he was empowered to create fantastic worlds in the beyond within – realms he occupied with his friends, whom, though they could never know true sorcery, could nonetheless indulge in a magic of another kind.
The dice were not being packed away. They would continue to go with him everywhere. They represented much more to him than their function as a magical tool. They were an anchor and a source of confidence, wonder and joy – both for him and for others in his life.
Andy felt satisfaction in that moment, he closed his eyes and pushed his head back against the door and succumbed to an urge to meditate, just for a moment.
It was not an act of sorcery that alerted him to his mother approaching the door in the kitchen at the top of the stairs. The natural talent he had developed for mystical awareness in the meditative state would always be with him. He knew her hand would be on the doorknob and the door would open, which it did. Then, he sensed her anxiousness in his mind before he would hear it in her voice.
And an instant later, when that voice actually manifested in his reality, it filled him with a momentary dread he could not explain.
“Andy, have you heard from Nick?” She yelled it down the stairs.
“Carol says he didn’t come home last night.”
“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
~ Albert Einstein
Martian Olympus Mons (MOM)
Prison for Gods
1984 AD SR
The remarkably tall, dignified gentleman sat writing at his desk. It was set against the bars so he could look out into the cell across the hall. In that cell, a man with an eyeless helmet covering his entire face walked on a mechanical escalator to nowhere. He was nourished with tubes from the walls and his arms were in front of him as though he was pushing something ever upward and onward.
Both men were Olympian, though Cronos, the one at the desk, was a primeval demiurge (called a titan in Olympian vernacular) who had witnessed the birth of this universe, and the other, Sisyphus, was an Olympian philosopher who had manifested from aether around the same time as Zeus, the emperor of Olympus.
As Olympians, and therefore aetheric beings, both prisoners were immortal and possessed powerful natural affinity for probability manipulation. They represented the very reason the leaders of over 118 realms had cooperated in the construction of this Martian prison inside the event horizon of Sanctuary where magic did not work.
Cronos had spent most of his eternal sentence alternately writing and contemplating whether or not Sisyphus across the hall on his escalator, suffered a fate better or worse than his. He wondered at what the boy was experiencing in that helmet and lamented that Zeus, his own aether — his own son — had grown into such a vain and cruel man.
Almost immediately, he felt guilt for judging Zeus, for he had been much like him. Indeed, all his sons had been like him. He could not help but think they would, every one of them, fall to ill fates.
It had been just a century ago, he now recalled, that the Martian Pharaoh Motankhamun had so kindly sat here with him drinking something called Canadian Whiskey as he informed him of the death of his son, Hades.
For a moment, Cronus was thankful Zeus had imprisoned him here. His isolation had forced upon him the perspective, and the contemplative life, that lead not just to wisdom, but also to grace. For most other beings, the situation would have led to insanity. But the Olympian demiurge was different.
As one of the first beings in existence, his consciousness preceded the propensity of sentience to construct the sensation of the passage of time.
On one occasion, in a fit of classically Olympian passion, Cronus had even used this trait, in concert with his remarkable sorcerous abilities to map a path along the temporal axis of spacetime into the past.
It had been the only occurrence of such an event in the history of reality.
And it had been a most unfortunate undertaking for the Titan.
Indeed, except for the fact it had opened a permanent tear between present and past, which had served as the means by which the Pentarchy would hide the Glass Grimoire in a time eight millennia before it was even created, the singular incident of time travel in cosmic history had been a complete disaster for everyone involved. But it had been particularly bad for Cronos.
Travelling backward against the stream of time had displaced most of his aetheric essence. And rendered feeble and confused by the undertaking, the Father of Olympus had been left completely vulnerable to the political aspirations of his conniving sons.
That consciousness could process and counter the natural entropic trajectory of the fourth axis of spacetime had been contrary to the popular understanding of reality in general. For millennia following the incident, countless mystics and mathematicians in countless realms had tried to replicate the Cronos Caniption as it had become known. Millenia after that, everyone had stopped trying.
Following consensus that the disaster had resulted from the peculiar primordial structure of Cronos’s consciousness, studying him had been considered. But after the titan, with all the gleeful menace he could summon in those days, threatened to do it again – only bigger and better, this idea was abandoned.
After that, everyone involved deemed it best to confine him within the event horizon of Sanctuary where his talent would not work.
Cronos revelled for just a moment in this recollection of the wily exuberance of his youth before quashing it. He had grown gentle and wise over millennia of monastic contemplation.
He blushed at the momentary lapse of mental discipline, and felt warmth in his cheeks. The warmth he now felt in the soles of his feet however was something new and he wondered at this sensation. Was it possible he was changing? Could he finally be growing old?
Cronus knew by now that the weakforce collected by the underground pyramids and channeled to the long-dead realization engines at Mars’s core was no longer enough to enable him to move imagination to manifestation. But perhaps something had changed.
It was what he wanted more than anything. In billions of years of living, there had been very few things he had not done. But growing old, experiencing death, and going through the transmigration on to a random, new, path in reality as a new being — perhaps even a biological one — was his only remaining desire. He had seen enough. He had contemplated enough. Few in reality had done more of either of these things.
The heat was intensifying. Could the volcano be churning to life? No. He remembered that Olympus Mons, and all volcanoes on Mars had been rendered inactive by the realization engines millennia ago.
His curiosity consumed him now. And so, by that peculiar means available only to the unique construction of the mind of Cronos, he merely willed an acceleration of temporal perception. There was no sorcery in this. He simply gave himself up to the natural direction of the arrow of time.
As he observed with his full attention now the corner of his cell heated to its glowing orange melting point before cooling again to its solid state.
Then a dull thud issued through the floor and into the titan’s feet. Cronos was giddy with anticipation. He had not know excitement like this in as long as he could remember, he was clapping his hands together and yelling. Another thud came, louder. Then another.
“Sisyphus! Sisyphus! Something is happening! A visitor, lad! A visitor!” In his excitement he had even forgotten his helmeted companion of fourteen thousand years could not possibly have known what was unfolding before his eyes.
Then the floor of the cell exploded against the ceiling and the Olympian titan’s mouth fell agape.
The silver circle of an ouroboros emerged from the ragged hole in the floor. It was fashioned from the metal of a star he had known in the earliest days of this universe when stars had been sentient entities.
And it mattered not that it could not speak to his mind here within the magicless sphere of Sanctuary, for Cronos knew well that the friend he had known in this sentient ore had long since been forged into the elegant head of a magical banjo.