Gaea, Cerberus & the Glass Grimoire: Into the Astral Plane


You can’t lose your shit. You can’t lose your shit. Andy Crowly’s Northstar high-tops slid across the mall’s tile floor with a squeak that belied the severity of his immediate circumstances. His mind, which had been forced to process its fair share of peculiarities of late was not ready for this.

At the far end of the entrance to the Tudor Arms, there stood a robot. It was about seven-feet tall and had a tall cylinder of a head tapered subtly down to its chin. Its movements were disarmingly un-robotic: fluid and gracefully athletic. And its manner of dress was unlike anything Andy had ever imagined he might see on a robot: leather breaches tucked into high boots, and a blousy pirate’s shirt. A broad-brimmed hat with a massive black plume trailing from the band perfectly complemented a pencil-thin, swashbuckler moustache painted over its mouth. There were silver-buckled pouches around a wide belt, upon which hung a disturbingly large two-handed broadsword.

Andy followed the robot’s glowing amber slits for eyes to the object of their attention. Surprises upon surprises!

No, not now, Banjoman.” Andy heard the robot’s voice in his head. What a strange accent — right propa British, yet Alabama-somethin’ er’ other.

A powerfully built man in worn jeans and a hooded sweater of a thick, grey, heather fabric under a denim jacket glared at the robot. Amethyst eldritch fire blazed from his eyes. He wore a bowler had and had a spectacular crimson gunslinger moustache. Across his back on a strap of orange leather, there was a banjo.

“Andy!’ Deb screamed. Not the scream of terror he expected under these circumstances, but rather an expression of glee. Does she not see this? He thought.

Then everything changed.

Where the robot had stood, now stood Scott St. Pierre.

The Banjoman, likewise, was instantly gone. O’Finnegan, a bewildered expression on his freckled face, stood in his place.

And not a soul in the Tudor Arms seemed disturbed in the least. It was Saturday afternoon as usual — as though no extra-planar entities had been there at all.

Andy saw Deb coming for him waving papers. Over her shoulder, toward the back of the bar, his eyes met Nick’s. They were perplexed, and Andy instanly  knew his friend had seen what he had.

Three Hours Ago

Andy’s eidetic memory allowed him to remember — simply by glancing at their tables of contents — all the books he had ever read about astral projection.

He had dipped his toe in the astral realm before, but he had been hesitant to explore it. Now, however, trepidation slipped away by the moment. He would go beyond his boundaries today. He had read enough to confirm his suspicions about Guskar’s Earthsotone. It would help him unlock the confidence he needed to delve deeper into the astral plane.

In the basement recroom, Andy pulled back the worn, chorded, oval area rug that hid a protective magic circle etched into the floor. Settling into the full lotus position with a hand on each knee, he contorted his fingers into the necessary neuro-trigger formations. As he breached the inner barrier to the null-point, he felt standard gravitation collapse around his body: the telltale sign he had accessed the probability vortices where he could re-define reality itself.

Elaborate vocalizations, physical postures and gestures, and circles and mandalas weren’t the means by which the sorcerer altered probability. They were merely sensory stimuli, which, in various combinations, generated specific electrical patterns of impulses in the nervous system, and subsequently, specific vibrations in the body’s toroid-shaped morphogenic field of aether. These phenomenon and the quantum field variations they caused opened access by the consciousness to the deepest inner mind where the conceived world and the perceived world are one and the same: where probability could be altered by the dictates of one’s will.

As above. So below.

When Andy could no longer feel his physical body, he opened his eyes.

He found himself nestled between roots of a tree that felt as though their sole purpose was to help him relax. He looked out upon a golden field of tall grass beneath a glowing, peach-coloured sky. Conical islands, like inverted mountains, hung like clouds therein.

The tree at his back felt as if it were part of him. My “splinter of Yggdrasil” he liked to think. He had often imagined that every mind had a tree at its center; and that in-turn, every one of those trees was but a branch of a single tree – the Asgardian life-tree – winding through all the minds of all the realms in the multiverse.

He did not see it, but he knew his silver chord was there, connecting him to the tree, which in turn connected him to his physical form back in his the recroom. Perhaps an extension of his Kundalini, he had hypothesized.

Every being has a silver cord that connects to a touchstone on the astral plane – part base of operations on the quiet realm – part gateway back to the physical body. It was impossible to truly come to harm on the astral plane. One’s silver cord would always pull them back to their body in their native realm should the astral body be sufficiently shocked or wounded.

It was time. He reached into his purple velvet dice bag… and finding nothing like the gem he remembered Guskar’s Earthstone to be caused his heart sank.

But wait!

The six-sided die: the red cube was heavier than it should have been. And the moment he grasped it, it spoke on his mind.

“I am life. I am Gaea. Daughter of The All. You are less than, but also, me!” The voice was the voice of one’s mother — or, if not a mother one cared for, then instead, the voice of the mother one wished they had.

Andy felt strong. Not merely football-linebacker strong but tank battalion strong — grounded and solid. But at the same time limber and full of energy and vitality. He saw his body sheathed in a tight, bright emerald light. Gaea’s aether?

His theory had been correct. The Earthstone corresponded with the red chakra, the sacral chakra: one’s foundation. The cube of Plato’s forms was representative of the element of Earth in The Timaeus. He had not expected to encounter the mind of the demiurge Gaia. But it made sense that he had.

“Thank-you,” he said to Gaia. And his voice seemed to him then as gravel and gale.

“This armour will protect you.” She was referring to the thin bright green light that surrounded him. Gaia’s matronly, melodic voice whispered in his head. “Sorcerers call it brainmail. It is a construct of the aether of a demiurge and the confidence of its wearer. You are ready, Andy Crowley! Alexandria awaits!”

He felt Gaia’s mind depart from him then. He suspected a profound privilege had been granted him in experiencing her presence. In the brainmail, her aetheric energy remained and mingled with his.

Andy looked at the six-sided die in his hand. It appeared to be the old, worn plastic cube, but now it was heavy and he felt its charge in his hand. He knew it was, in essence Guskar’s Earthstone. Clutched it in his fist, he walked to the edge of the ridge.

He looked down upon the tall grass of pale gold. The earth at his feet was the colour of wine. Bending his knees slightly, he pushed gently off from the edge of the ridge the way one departs from the side of a swimming pool.

In the peach coloured sky of the quiet realm, Andy Crowley soared toward the island before him. And he somehow already knew he would find Akashic Library of Alexandria there.

 

Cerberus should not have been in the astral realm. But, in the closing hours of the Siege of Hades Prime, he had been sent to hide there by the Admiral of the Stygian fleet of Olympus. The three-headed hound, infamous sentinel of Hades, had been told that one day an Earther would seek to enter Akashic Alexandria, and that when that happened, he was to tear the Earther to shreds. This order from the admiral had come, in-turn, from Hades himself. The Lord of the Olympian soul-trading house knew his enemy Lucifer desired the young would-be Earth wizard’s soul. The lord of the Olympian underworld, assured of his coming fall, would do all he could to see that Lucifer, even in victory over him, would at least be denied this prize.

Cerberus, sat back on his haunches. Front legs stiff, his middle head was tall and proud. And it stared hard into Andy Crowley’s soul as it spoke.

“So a pretentious child of the magicless realm seeks the wisdom of the Library then.”

“Library?, I see nought but a misshapen whelp with shrill words that make me long for a return to a place I once knew as the quiet realm.”

Indeed, where Andy now stood there was nought but a flat rolling plain atop the massive inverted mountain he had landed upon. As he approached he had seen all manner of architecture from all manner of cultures veining the roots of the island like precious metals in the wall of a cave. Greek, Egyptian, Persian, North American First Nations, African, and Asian. Some of the styles he did not know at all and had a completely alien flavour.

The left head of the Cerberus, a pup’s, wore a puzzled expression. It was tilted. Its eyes looked up and to the side. The centre head’s eyes, wickedly smart, were locked onto Andy’s eyes — onto his soul. The head to his right, aged even beyond death and rotten, was mad and wild with ravenous hunger. Foam sprayed from its fetid, flailing maw.

The Cerberus, reared on its glistening black haunches to strike. Each head was the size of an African elephant. Andy knew his silver chord was assurance he could not die here — but Cerberus could certainly prevent him from entering the library.

“You have smart mouth.” The center head’s cool voice had a smile in it. “I’ve been told I have a mouth that smarts.”

Andy groaned and rolled his eyes. He almost heard the words in Schwarzenegger’s accent. Then his eyes were wide and he began to regret his arrogance completely. Where had it come from?

In the instant before Cerberus was upon him, by no will of his own, the green aether of his brainmail flowed into the form of an ornate trident in his left hand. But this mattered not a whit. The sight of it bewildered him. Then the worst pain he had ever known consumed his mind utterly.

Through his own screams, he heard a howl from the pup tear into the astral sky. It was so loud, Andy — had he been able, would put his hands to he ears to check for blood. He knew the howl was an alarm — a klaxon to signal his presence. The hound of Hades was a sentinel after all. But who? Who would now know he was here?

Through the explosion of pain, he lost all desire to answer his own questions. He heard his bones crunching in the fetid maw of the rotting wolf’s head. Teeth tore into his flesh as it shook him violently. Its foaming acidic saliva hissed as it ate its way into his eyes and open wounds. He knew his spine was twisting, snapping, and grinding in all manner of grotesque life-ending ways.

Then his pain was gone. A curiosity, strange and yet also somehow familiar had appeared and suddenly presented a fascinating matter, more compelling even than mere imminence of death.

A black monolith of glass had appeared in his right hand.

Where have I seen this before? No! he did not just hold the black glass, it was a part of him. No! They were one and the same! Where a moment before it was new to him, now it was as though they had never been apart. It was as though they were all there could ever be.

Spherical points of light shrank away into the distance from this new, fused perspective.

Quarks; atoms; molecules — is that what they were? — spiraled away and downward.

Next, alien creatures swimming in a raindrop came into view from all around them and receded into the singular point at the most distant limit of perception.

What now? Is this blood?

What is this? bone? Could it be stone? Does it matter? Are they not all illusory distinctions. Unnecessary. Arbitrary. Petty.

Some small part of Andy was holding on to ask these questions: a speck of ego in the exploding vastness of this new being, hungering to vanquish division — swelling fat on all it assimilated into its awareness.

Are these questions or are they answers? The speck of ego’s whispered curiosity infuriated the monolith mind. This nonsense of distinguishing one from other was anathema to its very purpose for being.

Shrinking away now was Terra. or was it Earth, Diqiu, Arda, Kadoor Ha’aretz, Ea, Maapallo — so many pointless names.

“No!” The ego of Andy Crowley exclaimed as it began appropriating the vast knowledge it was acquiring. They call that world Sanctuary! That is the name most beings know it by.

“Enough with the delusional distinctions!” The monolith seethed to the now minuscule Andy-ego. “For what are labels and names, save the most heinous of attachments and deceptions! See that world now. It is a dust mote crawling with specks of meat: meaningless, pointless, temporary.”

Then the stars sped away too. Then the galaxies. Then the entire universe. All receding beyond reckoning.

And then, for the last of the shrinking particle of mind that remained Andy Crowley, something surprising occurred.

The remnants of Andy Crowley’s egoic faculties ascertained that he was growing in size upward beyond one universe, which alas was something of the subatomic fabric of the next, larger, universe.

Quarks to atoms. Atoms to worlds. Worlds to universes.

And then, again.

And again.

And again.

And in the very last moment, just before that sliver of ego would finally be amalgamated into the monolith-mind, the mind of Andy Crowley — filled with wonder — seized upon one last musing.

As above, so below. As below, so above.

The Hermetic expression came as a gleeful whisper that sent a shudder through — what was it now — a uni-mind? The words of it festered like an infection. This modicum of delineated thought, of self-awareness, was as a poison to the expanding thing: a pulsating gangrenous tumour. Writhing and bloating it spread. The ascent through realities sputtered and slowed. Then the expansion ceased altogether before it started to reverse.

In relation to the whole, that fragment which was Andy Crowley was growing.

“I love you,” Deb’s voice joined the now-shrinking malignancy, causing the reversal of its expansion to accelerate.

“You’ve always been a selfish asshole,” Nick’s words were there too, adding poison that fuelled the collapse of the merged entity.

Suddenly, Andy Crowley knew himself again. Hovering in the white nothingness, he now held the small, black rectangle — a perfect fit — in the palm of his hand. As memories and thoughts poured back to him, he thought of Star Trek. The little monolith seemed to him like some sort of futuristic device. He imagined the beeping sound made by Captain Kirk’s communicator.

The grey apple icon appeared within the rectangle’s smooth onyx face. A synthetic chime exploded in his head. It was a deafening single note. Later, he would recall it made him recollect the opening synthesizer riff of Subdivisions by RUSH.

He could not tear his attention from the bite out of the apple icon that floated beneath the black glass.

Forbidden.

His vision tunneled down. He fought to remain conscious. The limits of every aspect of the elusive notion of what constitutes mind came then to be tested in the egoic construct that was Andy Crowley.

Though he could not discern as much, a vague sense of having murdered all manner of beings in numbers too enormous to comprehend brought crippling nausea upon him — and for but an instant he had a veiled understanding of what it had felt like to be; vanquisher of worlds;  usurper of gods; and murderer of souls beyond count.

The pain of the thought was but a blip in the arrow of time known to his consciousness for it was impossible for him to carry any concrete memory of an experience of this magnitude into the everyday fabrication of consciousness and existence that was self and world. Indeed, no sentient creature in all the multiverse could conceive of and process reality on this scale. Not yet.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole. Nick’s voice was echoing in his mind. His best friend had never said such words to him. But they could not have felt more real.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

Andy recalled then, that he had come here searching for answers. Was this one of the answers he sought?

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

As the words repeated, it occurred to him to ask the monolith if it could help him know if this was indeed one of the insights he had come here to discover.

He didn’t know why, but he had the sense that touching a finger to the flat glass of the rectangle he held in his hand would cause something to happen.

But when he looked into his hand, the sleek, black monolith was gone.

GONE!

Panic overtook him.

The sense of loss transcended anything he had ever experienced before. He arched his back and roared unintelligible grief into the void.

Such was the severity of his anguish that Andy Crowley did not feel the warm tingling rising at his navel. He had altogether forgotten the torturous maw of Cerberus that had shredded his astral form.

And by way of one of the great mysteries even the most esteemed sorcerers in existence have yet to explain, the silver chord, which somehow, defying the arrow of thought and time, always seemed to know what is best, manifested to yank him home.

His trembling hands reached for the recroom floor to stop him from falling over. His hair was damp with sweat. Tears were in his eyes.

Mom! NO! Ruby! His mind roared. She is at the airbase.

He breathed deeply to calm himself. Reason was returning. The Earthstone was in his hand. He could not recall Gaea’s voice but he had a feeling she was with him, even here in the material realm. Andy heard the pup’s howl again. The alarm that had gone out. maybe even a summons. By now, as it usually did, all memory of the glass monolith had left him, but it had imparted something in his thoughts before it had departed.

A robot dressed like a pirate! A minstrel with purple eyes and a moustache! They had heard Cerberus’s alarm. They were coming.

Terror came over him. I have gone to far!

I want to be with my friends. The urge was powerful — and it was tinged with peculiar urgency.

They are in danger!

Jesus! His calm was returning. He would need a level head. I have to get my shit together!

I have to go to the goddamn mall!

Read Andy Crowley, Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary

Intelligence vs. Wisdom; Physicist vs. Philosopher; Shiny Bicycle vs. Quantum Foam


It occurred to me once that, if monks in a Buddhist monastery were creating Dungeons & Dragons characters, is it possible they would NOT have to ask the Dungeon Master what Wisdom is? God knows that nerds getting down to same in our Western, indentured-servitude, conspicuous-consumption drone matrix ALWAYS ask! They, however, never need to ask what Intelligence is. What follows are my thoughts as to why this is the case.

Check this out and come back.

free-will-and-quantum-foam.html

For those who don’t want to click off — it talks about quantum foam and how — the further down you go (size-wise) the more crazy shit gets.

Many have had the experience or feeling of oscillating between large and small: the sensation that you are suddenly enormous and planet or universe sized — then atom or quark sized, a kind of disorienting weaoh-weaoh-weaoh-weaoh, big-small-big-small.

Having experienced this in meditation, I have decided to investigate it. Here is what I have found.  Once you acclimatize to the sensation, you realize it is not oscillation between big and small, it is actually oscillation between small and nothingness!

Or rather, more accurately, between chaos and void (I say void because, in my estimation, there is no such thing as order — only absence of chaos).

In our lives, there is only the imposition of perceived order (delusion really) upon chaos by a consciousness, which is generally unwilling to embrace the inherently chaotic nature of reality. And so, suffering (as the word is used in Buddhist terms, or in any other terms really) is just the inability or unwillingness of consciousness to accept the true nature of reality. Put another way, it is the pain incurred by wanting things to impossibly be some way other than the way they are or the only way they can possibly be!

“What has this to do with intelligence and wisdom?” the Dungeon Masters asks. I’m getting there.

We must begin with the understanding that we live in a society that values intelligence over wisdom: engineering over poetry for example (catastrophically so, in fact — but this is another discussion). The mathematician/scientist/physicist is held in much higher esteem than the philosopher/poet/priest. This because the first facilitates the twin delusions of quantification as control and egoic alienation from other that fuel consumption driven economic growth, and the latter undermines that paradigm. But this too is another discussion.

Suffice it to say — that, at least in systemic terms, the physicist is revered and the philosopher is diminished. Intelligence is king. Wisdom is sandal-wearing hippy clown.

Enough context then, here we go…

Intelligence is the faculty by which one OUTWARDLY (exoterically) measures, labels, and correlates arbitrarily designated variables in a reality demarcated by consciousness.

Wisdom is the faculty by which one INWARDLY (esoterically) directly experiences a reality un-demarcated by consciousness.

Having defined the terms, let’s put them in context using the experience of meditating and directly experiencing the fundamental chaos characterized by the quantum foam situation we discussed previously.

The scientist — who is intelligent — using measurement, (mathematics) theoretically observes the quantum foam as he constantly pushes to further the edge of how far OUT he can go in the quest to understand the nature of reality.

The philosopher — who is wise — using meditation (the obliteration of constructs such as mathematics), experiences the quantum foam (if you must call it something, sheesh!), as he pushes to further the edge of how far IN he can go.

Certainly, there is a longer conversation to be had here, but this is a start.

And one last point to ponder.

Intelligence has not risen to primacy as our modality of choice merely because it facilitates our ability to manipulate our environment (and certainly, to be manipulated as well). It has allure in that it empowers one to more readily share experiences using mechanisms such as words and numbers with another person or with all other people. Intelligence can be KNOWN, and so recorded and easily conveyed from one conscious entity to another.

The means of sharing the fruits of wisdom are not readily shareable. Approximations of direct inner experience rendered through art, literature, poetry, music are the best one can do. The fruits of wisdom can only, ever be FELT.

In a nutshell then, the spoils of our outer (exoteric) expeditions (endeavours of intelligence) can be more easily conveyed from one person to another. The spoils of our inner (esoteric) expeditions (endeaovours of wisdom), not so much.

Read Andy Crowley, Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary. (I dare say it is an attempt to render the fruits of endeavours of wisdom)

Rock n’ scroll!

Gaea, Cerberus, and An Astral Thrashing!


You can’t lose your shit. You can’t lose your shit. Andy Crowly’s Northstar high-tops slid across the mall’s tile floor with a squeak that belied the severity of his immediate circumstances. His mind, which had been forced to process its fair share of peculiarities of late was not ready for this.

At the far end of the entrance to the Tudor Arms, there stood a robot. It was about seven-feet tall and had a tall cylinder of a head tapered subtly down to its chin. Its movements were disarmingly un-robotic: fluid and gracefully athletic. And its manner of dress was unlike anything Andy had ever imagined he might see on a robot: leather breaches tucked into high boots, and a blousy pirate’s shirt. A broad-brimmed hat with a massive black plume trailing from the band perfectly complemented a pencil-thin, swashbuckler moustache painted over its mouth. There were silver-buckled pouches around a wide belt, upon which hung a disturbingly large two-handed broadsword.

Andy followed the robot’s glowing amber slits for eyes to the object of their attention. Surprises upon surprises!

No, not now, Banjoman.” Andy heard the robot’s voice in his head. What a strange accent — right propa British, yet Alabama-somethin’ er’ other.

A powerfully built man in worn jeans and a hooded sweater of a thick, grey, heather fabric under a denim jacket glared at the robot. Amethyst eldritch fire blazed from his eyes. He wore a bowler had and had a spectacular crimson gunslinger moustache. Across his back on a strap of orange leather, there was a banjo.

“Andy!’ Deb screamed. Not the scream of terror he expected under these circumstances, but rather an expression of glee. Does she not see this? He thought.

Then everything changed.

Where the robot had stood, now stood Scott St. Pierre.

The Banjoman, likewise, was instantly gone. O’Finnegan, a bewildered expression on his freckled face, stood in his place.

And not a soul in the Tudor Arms seemed disturbed in the least. It was Saturday afternoon as usual — as though no extra-planar entities had been there at all.

Andy saw Deb coming for him waving papers. Over her shoulder, toward the back of the bar, his eyes met Nick’s.

Three Hours Ago

Andy’s eidetic memory allowed him to remember — simply by glancing at their tables of contents — all the books he had ever read about astral projection  The Eidetic Vault Trigger had been the first spell he had learned.

He had dipped his toe in the astral realm before, but he had been hesitant to explore it. Now, however, trepidation slipped away by the moment. He would go beyond his boundaries today. He had read enough to confirm his suspicions about Guskar’s Earthsotone.  It would help him unlock the secret to operating safely in the astral plane.

In the basement recroom, Andy pulled back the worn, chorded, oval area rug that hid a protective magic circle he had etched there with a pocket knife. Settling into the full lotus position with a hand on each knee, he contorted his fingers into the necessary neuro-trigger formations. As he breached the inner barrier to the null-point, standard gravitation collapsed around his body. It was the telltale sign he had accessed the probability vortices where he could re-define reality itself.

Elaborate vocalizations, physical postures and gestures, and circles and mandalas weren’t the means by which the sorcerer altered probability. They were merely sensory stimuli, which, in various combinations, generated specific electrical patterns of impulses in the nervous system, and vibrations in the body’s aetheric field. These phenomenon and their associated quantum field variations opened access by the consciousness to the deepest inner mind where the conceived world and the perceived world became one and the same: where probability could be altered by the dictates of one’s will.

As above. So below.

When Andy could no longer feel his body, he opened his eyes.

He found himself nestled between roots of a tree that felt as though their sole purpose was to help him relax. He looked out upon a golden field of tall grass beneath a glowing, peach-coloured sky. Conical islands, like inverted mountains, hung like clouds therein.

The tree at his back felt as if it were part of him. My “splinter of Yggdrasil” he liked to think. He had often imagined that every mind had a tree at its center; and that in-turn, every one of those trees was but a branch of a single tree – the Asgardian life-tree – winding through all the minds of all the realms in the multiverse.

He did not see it, but he knew his silver chord was there, connecting him to the tree, which in turn connected him to his physical form back in his the recroom. Perhaps an extension of his Kundalini, he had hypothesized.

Every being has a silver cord that connects to a touchstone on the astral plane – part base of operations on the quiet realm – part gateway back to the physical body. It was impossible to truly come to harm on the astral plane. One’s silver cord would always pull them back to their body in their native realm should the astral body be sufficiently shocked or wounded. Andy’s touchstone was this tree, with its branches, mostly unseen, stretching out across the planes and throughout the cosmos.

It was time. He reached into his purple velvet dice bag. He felt nothing like a gem in there and his heart sank. But wait!

The six-sided: the red cube was heavy! And the moment he grasped it, it spoke on his mind.

“I am life. I am Gaea. Daughter of The All. You are less than, but also, me.” The voice was the voice of one’s mother — or, if not a mother one cared for, then instead, the voice of the mother one wished they could have.

Andy felt strong. Not merely football-linebacker strong but tank battalion strong — grounded and solid. But at the same time limber and full of energy and vitality. He saw his body sheathed in a tight, bright emerald light.

“Thank-you,” he said to Gaia. And his voice seemed to him then as gravel and gale.

“This armour will protect you.” Gaia’s matronly, melodic voice whispered in his head. “Sorcerers call it brainmail. It is made from the aether of a demiurge and the confidence of its wearer. You are ready, Andy Crowley! Alexandria awaits!”

He felt Gaia’s mind depart from him, but in the brain mail, he felt her aetheric energy mingling with his.

Andy looked at the six-sided die in his hand. It appeared to be the same, old, worn plastic cube but now it was heavy and he felt its charge in his hand. He knew it was, in essence Guskar’s Earthstone.

Boldly donning his new brainmail, with the Earthstone clutched in his fist, he stood and walked to the edge of the ridge by his tree. He always enjoyed the springy surface of the astral realm. It was a hallmark of this particular plane that all the surfaces had a kind of spongy give to them. The grass was pale gold. The earth was the colour of wine. In all his travels so far, this was his favorite place beyond the threshold of the everyday plane of waking, material existence.

And then, with a push from the edge of the ridge the way one pushes from the side of a swimming pool, Andy Crowley soared toward the island in the astral sky he somehow already knew was Akashic Library of Alexandria.

 

Cerberus should not have been in the astral realm. But, in the closing hours of the Siege of Hades Prime, he had been sent to hide there by the Admiral of Sygia. Cerberus had been told that one day an Earther would seek to enter Akashic Alexandria, and that when that happened, he was to tear the Earther to shreds. The order to the admiral had come from Hades himself. Hades knew the fiend Lucifer desired the Earth wizard’s soul. The lord of the Olympian underworld about to fall would see Lucifer denied his prize.

Cerberus reared on his haunches. His three heads lathered and foamed as he spoke.

“A pretentious child of the magicless realm seeks the wisdom of the Library then.”

“Library?, I see nought but a misshapen whelp with shrill words that make me long for a return to what I once knew as a quiet realm.”

Indeed, where Andy now stood there was was nought but a flat rolling plain atop the massive inverted mountain he had landed upon. As he approached he had seen all manner of architecture from all manner of cultures veining the roots of the island like precious metals in the wall of a cave. Greek, Egyptian, Gothic, Renaissance, Persian, North American First Nations, African, Asian — some of the styles he did not know at all and had completely alien alien (an hence, beguiling) flavour.

The left head of the Cerberus, a pup’s, puzzled, tilted, and looked up and to the side. The centre head stared hard and smart into Andy’s eyes — into his soul. The head to his right, aged even beyond death, was mad and wild with ravenous hunger. Foam sprayed from its fetid, flailing maw.

The Cerberus, reared on its glistening black haunches to strike. Each head was the size of an African elephant. Andy knew his silver chord was assurance he could not die here — but Cerberus could certainly prevent him from entering the library.

In the instant before Cerberus was upon him, by no will of his own, the green aether of his brainmail to on the form of an ornate trident in his left hand. But this mattered not a whit. The sight of it bewildered him — until pain consumed his mind.

From the pup a howl went up. It was so loud, Andy — had he the option, would have checked to see if his ears were bleeding.

The beast was upon him. His last thought before the pain was that the howl had been an alarm — a klaxon to signal his presence. The hound of Hades was a sentinel.

Before he could even respond he was in the fetid maw of the rotting wolf’s head. Teeth tore into his flesh as it shook him violently. Its foaming acidic saliva hissed as it ate away his eyes and open wounds. He knew his spine was twisting, snapping, and grinding in all manner of grotesque life-ending ways. His curiosity however, was transfixed on matters much grander than the mere imminence of death.

For in the hand that did not clutch to the trident, a small monolith of black glass had appeared.  Where have I seen this before? No! he did not just hold the black glass, it was a part of him. No! They were one and the same! Where a moment before it was new to him, now it was as though they had never been apart. It was as though they were all there could ever be.

Spherical points of light shrank away into the distance from this new, fused perspective.

Quarks; atoms; molecules — is that what they were? — spiraled away and downward.

Next, alien creatures swimming in a raindrop came into view from all around them and receded into the singular point at the most distant limit of perception.

What now? Is this blood?

What is this? bone? Could it be stone? Does it matter? Are they not all illusory distinctions. Unnecessary. Arbitrary. Petty.

Some small part of Andy was holding on to ask these questions: a speck of ego in the exploding vastness of this new being, hungering to vanquish division — swelling fat on all it assimilated into its awareness.

Are these questions or are they answers? The speck of ego’s whispered curiosity infuriated the monolith mind. This nonsense of distinguishing onefrom other was anathema to its very purpose for being.

Shrinking away now was Terra. or was it Earth, Diqiu, Arda, Kadoor Ha’aretz, Ea, Maapallo — so many names.

“No!” The ego of Andy Crowley exclaimed as it began appropriating the vast knowledge it was acquiring. They call that world Sanctuary! That is the name most beings know it by.

Enough with the delusional distinctions! The monolith seethed to the now minuscule Andy-ego. For what are labels and names, save the most heinous of attachments and deceptions! See that world now. It is a dust mote: meaningless, pointless, temporary.

Then the stars sped away too. Then the galaxies. Then the entire universe. All receding beyond reckoning.

And then, for the last of the shrinking particle of mind that remained Andy Crowley, something surprising occurred.

The remnants of Andy Crowley’s egoic faculties ascertained that he was growing in size upward beyond one universe, which alas was something of the subatomic fabric of the next, larger, universe.

Quarks to atoms. Atoms to worlds. Worlds to universes.

And then, again.

And again.

And again.

And in the very last moment, just before that sliver of ego would finally be amalgamated into the monolith-mind, the mind of Andy Crowley — filled with wonder — seized upon one last musing.

As above, so below. As below, so above.

The Hermetic expression came as a gleeful whisper that sent a shudder through — what was it now — a uni-mind? The words of it festered like an infection. This modicum of delineated thought, of self-awareness, was as a poison to the expanding thing: a pulsating gangrenous tumour. Writhing and bloating it spread. The ascent through realities sputtered and slowed. Then the expansion ceased altogether before it started to reverse.

In relation to the whole, that fragment which was Andy Crowley was growing.

“I love you,” Deb’s voice joined the now-shrinking malignancy, causing the reversal of its expansion to accelerate.

“You’ve always been a selfish asshole,” Nick’s words were there too, adding poison that fuelled the collapse of the merged entity.

Suddenly, Andy Crowley knew himself again. Hovering in the white nothingness, he now held the small, black rectangle — a perfect fit — in the palm of his hand. As memories and thoughts poured back to him, he thought of Star Trek. The little monolith seemed to him like some sort of futuristic device. He imagined the beeping sound made by Captain Kirk’s communicator.

The grey apple icon appeared within the rectangle’s smooth onyx face. A synthetic chime exploded in his head. It was a deafening single note. Later, he would recall it made him recollect the opening synthesizer riff of Subdivisions by RUSH.

He could not tear his attention from the bite out of the apple icon that floated beneath the black glass.

Forbidden.

His vision tunneled down. He fought to remain conscious. The limits of every aspect of the elusive notion of what constitutes mind came then to be tested in the egoic construct that was Andy Crowley.

Though he could not discern as much, a vague sense of having murdered all manner of beings in numbers too enormous to comprehend brought crippling nausea upon him — and for but an instant he had a veiled understanding of what it had felt like to be; vanquisher of worlds;  usurper of gods; and murderer of souls beyond count.

The pain of the thought was but a blip in the arrow of time known to his consciousness for it was impossible for him to carry any concrete memory of an experience of this magnitude into the everyday fabrication of consciousness and existence that was self and world. Indeed, no sentient creature in all the multiverse could conceive of and process reality on this scale. Not yet.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole. Nick’s voice was echoing in his mind. His best friend had never said such words to him. But they could not have felt more real.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

Andy recalled then, that he had come here searching for answers. Was this one of the answers he sought?

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

As the words repeated, it occurred to him to ask the monolith if it could help him know if this was indeed one of the insights he had come here to discover.

He didn’t know why, but he had the sense that touching a finger to the flat glass of the rectangle he held in his hand would cause something to happen.

But when he looked into his hand, the sleek, black monolith was gone.

GONE!

Panic overtook him.

The sense of loss transcended anything he had ever experienced before. He arched his back and roared unintelligible grief into the void.

Such was the severity of his anguish that Andy Crowley did not feel the warm tingling rising at his navel. He had altogether forgotten the torturous maw of Cerberus that had shredded his astral form.

And by way of one of the great mysteries even the greatest sorcerers in existence have yet to explain, the silver chord, which somehow, defying the arrow of time, always seemed to know what is best, manifested to yank him home.

His shaking hands went to the recroom floor to stop him from falling over. His hair was damp with sweat. Tears were in his eyes.

Mom — NO! Ruby! His mind roared. She is at the airbase.

He calmed himself. He breathed deeply. The Earthstone was in his hand. He could not even recall Gaea’s voice but he had a feeling. Andy heard the pup’s howl again. The alarm that had gone out. maybe even a summons. Fear came over him then. I have gone to far!

I want to be with my friends. The urge was powerful — and it was tinged with fear and peculiar urgency.

My friends are in danger!

Jesus! His calm was returning. He would need a level head. I have to get my shit together!

I have to go to the goddamn mall!

Read Andy Crowley. Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary

Cosmic Showdown at the Pub at the Mall


The sugar-high Nick Morrison felt as he walked through the mall with Deb Holcroft began crashing just before he rounded the corner into the entrance of the Tudor Arms. The tiny acorn in his memory that was the knowledge that Jason, J.R, Bill, Ian, Dave, and Dave went to the Arms, every Saturday to get illegal beers from Garedog Murphy exploded in an instant into his conscious mind like a towering century-old oak.

It stopped him short in the wide entrance to the mall’s pub. I’m an idiot, he thought. Deb hadn’t noticed he’d stopped. She was running to the table where Dave O’Finnegan beckoned to her. Nick noticed two empty glasses in front of O’Finnegan. Double rye and gingers no doubt. The rest had steins of beer. He gritted his teeth and followed Deb in.

“There he is!” O’Finnegan, as per usual, was far louder than he needed to be. Why did everything the guy said have to be burdened with eight layers of meaning — seven of them (or more) being insults of one form or another. Nick forced a smile. Then he saw Dave move over in the bench and pat the seat as an invitation for Deb to sit down. NO! Nick’s mind lurched. Grabbing Deb’s hand he pulled her back from taking the sit. Every eye at the table, Deb’s included, were on Nick hand holding Deb’s.

Realizing his emotions had, yet again, gotten out in front of his thoughts, Nick froze. Deb’s eyes were wide with surprise — what the Hell has gotten into Nick? Remembering she still held the new employee information from Denim Nexus in her hand, her quick mind sprung into action.

“For some reason, Dostoyevsky here wants me to read his hobbit essay,” She shook her papers to sell the deception and, reversing the grip Nick had on her, she yanked him away from his friends toward a table for two.

Nick was awestruck, as much by his serial stupidity today, as he was by Deb’s quick thinking.

She lunged for the drink menu before Nick had even settled into his seat. “What the Hell is up with you?” she whispered while pretending to read the menu and casting a careful glance at the table from which they had just escaped. She was relieved to see that any interest in them had already passed.

“I don’t know?” Nick was genuinely confused. He didn’t know how to think his way through how he was suddenly feeling about Deb. “The guys are just on my nerves lately.”

“You really aren’t yourself,” Deb reached over and took Nick’s hands in hers. The embarrassment of before was gone. The banshee’s message that Nick would die had returned to her thoughts. In this moment it didn’t even matter that Andy had said it was just a dream.

“I have a lot going on, Deb. School, hockey, my parents –,” he started looking for Garedog, he wanted a beer. Then, not really knowing why, he added, ” — all the bullshit with the Crowley’s.” Deb let go of his hands and crossed her arms to hug herself. She looked down and Nick immediately regretted bringing up Andy’s parents. He should have known it would make her sad.

“Morison!” Garedog Murphy had appeared. His perpetually smiling face and blazing rosy cheeks were a welcome relief in that dark moment. Under the friendly face an enormous muscled frame strained against last year’s Quinte Saints Rugby jersey. Nick always thought he looked the part of medieval tavern owner with no patience for tomfoolery — the kind who had no need of hired muscle to keep patrons in line. Nick pictured him with robust inn-keeper lamb chops — a far cry from Garedog’s pencil-thin teenage attempt at a moustache.

“Two steins of Canadian coming right up. Nick is paying or you don’t get ’em. Isn’t that right, Deb?” Somehow his smile grew even more for her. The smile she gave him back melted Nick’s heart.

How had I not seen it before? But he caught himself then. Would he unnerve her if too much came too fast? They had been friends forever. His reason caught up and overtook with his passion for perhaps the first time that day. Time to cool it down and back it off.

“Ruby has too much going on. My parents are worried about her.” Andy was the last thing Nick wanted to talk about but he had brought up the Crowley’s and needed to follow through.

“If anyone has their shit together though, it’s her,” Deb said. She had always looked up to Ruby. Nick had too. “And Andy think about how Andy quit drinking and smoking. He reads more than anyone I know — ” she paused. “It’s almost like his dad and mom leaving them was… good for him.”

How had Andy come up? Nick was fuming. He needed to change the topic

Deb?

Nick? She was genuinely curious.

Would it be cool if I came with you and your friends to Club Cedars on Friday?

Deb’s head snapped back. Her eyes were wide. Friday was D&D night?

“Here’s your beers!” Garedog’s massive cudgel hands effortlessly tossed the steins on to the table without spilling a drop. He locked his eyes on Nick’s — they had the secret communication powers unique to teammates who have won a football championship together. The barkeep snapped his head sideways toward the wide pub entrance. “And please let me know if Sweetie Pie over there gives anyone a hard time.” — Sweetie Pie was the name they had for a shared adversary. Scott Pierre darkened the entrance way. He did not look himself. Was Nick seeing things or were the creep’s narrow eyes glowing an amber hue?

“You know we can’t do this here, Prince Twain!” Every eye in the Tudor Arms turned then to the source of the booming, otherworldly voice. Dave O’Finnegan had stood to his full height and strode with valorous purpose toward Scott St. Pierre. There was no mistaking that O’Finnegan’s eyes roared with flaming amethyst light. Though none their knew this was the light of Limbo, realm between realms.

“No. Not now, Banjoman,” the whisper came from Scott St. Pierre, but it was not his voice it was a strange mix of a proper Queen’s English accent and a Midwestern American twang, and it had an echosome, metallic tinge.

Then, “WOAH, WOAH, WOAH,” drowned out both the imposing alien voices.

It was Andy Crowley. His shoelaces — as was typical — flew every which way as he skidded around the corner into the pub.

Read Andy Crowley Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary

The soul business is booming…


TSR-Dice

There is but one mind in all existence: a single consciousness. Most call it the All. Sometimes, it’s called God. One day, out of boredom more than anything else, the All decided to divide itself up and forget that it had divided itself up. These parts are what we call souls. You have one. These souls are born over and over again as they figure out (more like remember really) that they are actually the All.

But in between lives, souls are bottled by reapers for the thriving inter-dimensional soul trade. This is because releasing a bottled soul to reincarnate punches a hole in spacetime, empowering sorcerers’ minds to access probability fields and rejig reality to their liking.

And so, because souls are the fuel of magic, the soul trade drives the economy of the planes and the soul trading houses vie for power.

You shouldn’t feel stupid for not knowing this, because, you see, you live in the one place in all reality where magic doesn’t work. We call it Earth. But in the sorcerous bedlam of the wider, wilder multiverse just beyond the doorstep of our perception, it’s called by another name…

… Sanctuary.

His dad has stockbrokered himself into a sanitarium; his mom has ODed on evangelism; and his friends are starting to want to go to the mall more than they want to play D&D.

Andy Crowley is getting desperate.

Under the circumstances, his aspiration to become the weird outer space wizard you see airbrushed on the side of a van shouldn’t come as a surprise.

His success in that aspiration, however, is something else altogether.

And when it happens on the one world in the multiverse where magic isn’t even supposed to be possible, well, let’s just say all Hell (not to mention Heaven, Hades, Helheim, Heliopolis, and other assorted soul-trading houses) is about to break loose.

Read Andy Crowley, Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary