The Machiavellian-manufactured melancholy of the made-up self

A single consciousness exists outside of space-time.

To exist within space-time it must be broken up to inhabit forms.

These forms (in the case of humans) possess an ego as a survival function that scans the landscape and organizes sensory input in order to inform physical responses to threats and opportunities in the environment. The ‘I’, the ‘ego’, the ‘self’, the ‘me, was not initially perceived to be the totality of consciousness. Rather it was the speedometer of the car… the fuel gauge — not the motor and the drive train it is thought to be now.

Upon discovering that humans, in whom this scanning-functionality eclipses endemic mystical awareness become unfulfilled, regretful, hopeless, pathetic and needy, the elite ruling class begins to order social institutions in a way that prioritizes development of the favorable trait (from their perspective) of identity-construction over the political and economic liability associated with allowing mystical awareness to persist in the population. The sense of fulfillment and belonging so prevalent in Eden does not a worker/soldier/voter/shopper make!

The mystical awareness (and sense of connectedness with nature, reality, and one another) that was once our natural state and divine right, having become counter to the interests of the few at the top is reimagined as ‘arcane’, ‘occult’, ‘witchcraft’, ‘evil’, or merely just ‘woo-woo’, hokum, and ‘mumbo-jumbo’.

Fast-forward to, “you are special and unique, now go get a job and show everyone just how special and unique by owning newest phone/video game/sports car/brand of jeans… — or, more recently — by posting pictures of your avocado toast on Instagram or showing how outraged you are by issue X on Twitter. With everyone now on the treadmill of perpetual dissatisfaction with their made-up ‘me’, identity-construction becomes the raison d’etre in our culture: the ultimate fuel for a consumption driven economic growth paradigm.

Desperate to end the hollowness and dissatisfaction inherent in trying to make their imaginary notion of self a real thing, things like indentured servitude, championing false-choice political parties, participating in false-choice elections, and dying in wars for other made-up things like countries (imaginary lines represented on maps) and religions (reverence for giant, invisible, sky-people), become the norm. Why? Because CEASING TO BE A NOBODY AND BECOMING A SOMEBODY is the only thing to care about (despite it being an ultimately futile exercise given the natural, mystical fabric of consciousness and reality). And all the way to the bank, the people who benefit from the mass proliferation of the delusion of the distinct self, the people who — either intentionally or through institutional social Darwinism — have facilitated the evolution of the perfect mechanism for exploitation and oppression of billions, laugh and laugh, despite, probably at this point, now being victims as well to the fruit of Eden they wrought.

Read (and please share) The Andy Crowley Saga.

All is Self

I am sure my ham-fisted conveyance (though it is my intention that it be fun for the un-initiated) of the concept of mysticism in the Andy Crowley Saga gets lost in my peculiar penchant for a pulpy preponderance of purple prose. The documentary I share below, however, speaks concisely about the mystical nature of consciousness that is counter to the deluded notion of a distinct self perpetuated by those who would prefer us divided, deluded, disenchanted: labouring in their factories, worshiping in their churches, voting in their elections, shopping in their malls, and warring in their armies.

Read (and please share) The Andy Crowley Saga.

A Real Man

“True manhood revels nought

In the waging of war

Or the weaselling of  wealth.

A real man revels in cosmic ponderings

Cultivates a magnificent moustache

And, above all other things

Endeavours to realize a world

More beautiful, gentle and kind

Than the one he received”

 

~ The Banjoman, Lord of Limbo 

 

Moustache

Read (and please share) The Andy Crowley Saga.

 

A simple graphic to convey what meditation is

I talk a lot about how Andy uses meditation to relax into a mystical state where he can access the delta quanta at the centre of being in order to manipulate probability and spell out new reality. Of course, the probability manipulation part is just sorcerous science fantasy fun — but I feel the conception of meditation I use in the story is valuable.

Below is a diagram I created to convey my thoughts about a skill we should all take much more seriously.

For me, meditation is not an add-on or an afterthought. It provides a foundational clarity that results in subtly forgoing shallow and self-destructive choices that benefit the consumption paradigm for a compulsion to undertake pursuits that are more beneficial to physical, mental and creative health.

consciousness3

Read (and please share the Andy Crowley Saga

Liberation from the Question that drives the loop of becoming

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

Quiet your mind and it will be revealed

That you ask this question on a loop

It’s what drives you. It’s what makes you a consumer. It’s what makes you exactly what they want you to be: an unfulfilled shell obsessed with stitching together a costume that will win you the favour of others.

Listen! Underneath the avalanche of nattering about what you need to do right now, what you should have done before and where you are going to get to if you start <insert thing you should be doing here> right now.

See! you just said it!

There! You just said it again!

Start meditating and you will realize that — especially in modern Western culture, which is fuelled by consumption driven economic growth — the only thing you do is ask this question. Again and again and again.

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

Buy new jeans? Take a better selfie?

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

Change my job? Clean my car?

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

Buy a cooler phone? Go back to school?

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

Wear a tighter T-Shirt? Tweet my outrage about some evil of the week or another?

When consciousness stops asking this question and opts instead to be aware of and engage in the world — it is awake; it is free; it is at peace.

That liberated mind has forsaken the fruit of Eden

And knows again the grace that lay beneath

That infernal, incessant question.

“What can I do next to become who I should be?”

There is nothing meaningful you can become (how would that even be defined?)

There is no pot of gold for the soul.

There is only cessation of asking that question

in order to completely, simply — be.

consciousness3

Read (and please share) the Andy Crowley Saga.

Kindnessism

Gentler than Capitalism

More inspiring than Communism

Were the Three Grand Traditions of Limbo

Revere liberty was one

Never raise an angry hand was another

But the highest rule of all

Was keep less for yourself

Than you give to others

“Any one can get rich. But you’re not truly rich until you can give away more than you keep.” The Banjoman tipped his bowler hat. The flare from his amethyst eyes lent a peculiar hue to his crimson gunslinger moustache.

“When we all give more than we take, we are living the mystical truth of all reality.” Suddenly, he was on his feet. The magic banjo on his back struck a dramatic chord.

“Over billions of years, across billions of planes and worlds, few have listened.

And it really is all just as simple as that.”

Read (and please share) the Andy Crowley Saga.

Chapter 6

“Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void. Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act.

Therefore is Abraxas terrible.”

~ Carl Jung, Seven Sermons of the Dead

 

Because Andy refused to set foot in the mall, Dave O’Finnegan operated as something of an acting Deputy Dungeon Master while they were there. Some members of the group couldn’t regulate their enthusiasm for discovering what arcane mysteries lay hidden between the covers of the D&D adventure modules that lined the store shelves at Leisure World.

“Hands off, Baker!” O’Finnegan snapped. Sheepishly, Jason Baker put the module back on the shelf. Leisure World, the sole purveyor of D&D merchandise in Belleville, was always their first stop at the mall.

“Ok, hard-ass! Slow down. I’m not looking inside.” Baker put the module back on the self like a cornered perp putting his weapon on the ground for the police. In his head, he was working out how to get out of O’Finnegan’s line of sight.

“So what’s with Nick, do you think?” Ian Grayson held a translucent, orange 20-sided die up to the light and inspected it as though it were the Hope Diamond. On their way to Leisure World, after Nick had told them he was going to look for Deb at Sneaky Petes, they had been discussing his sudden disinterest in game night.

“Jesus!” O’Finnegan said. “If I had the prospects with the ladies Morrison has, I wouldn’t be spending Friday nights with you nerds!”

“So it’s girls then?” Jason was eyeing the TSR module “White Plume Mountain. “I like girls.”

“Or girl. Singular.” Dave Grayson was with O’Finnegan looking at other role playing games. There had been buzz recently about taking a shot at the newly released Marvel Superheroes RPG. “He did make a b-line to find Debbie Holcroft.”

“Shani, Lori, and Tracy will be with her. So it could be any one of them.” Ian said.

“Or all of them!” O’Finnegan’s face lit up. “He’s Nick friggin’ Morrison.”

“Deb’s got a thing for Andy,” Baker said it absent-mindedly. “I was on the bus the other day. Those two are like Siamese twins. It’s not Deb.”

“It’s not the other three either,” Dave Grayson said. “Nick would’ve said so. If anything he can’t stand those three. He doesn’t get why Deb hangs out with them. If it’s anyone, it’s Deb — or someone else altogether. Probably one of the city girls.”

“Listen to us cackling hens! Jesus!” O’Finnegan had a Star Frontiers boxed set in his hand and was reading the back of the box. “I’m done here is you guys are. Feels like Miller Time to me, gents? Tudor Arms?”

“Gary’s working!” Jason Baker dropped the Plume Mountain module back in its place on the shelf. Dave O’Finnegan shot a disapproving glance at him and shook his head.

Gary “Gare-dog” Murphy was one of their D&D friends from the city and a waiter at the British pub in the mall. He never hesitated to serve them booze.

“Let’s track down Morrison first,” O’Finnegan said. “What kind of fools would go into a babe-lair like the Arms without their 18-charisma wing-man?

“That’s why you are the DDM,” Baker said, trying to curry favour after getting busted for sneaking a peek.

“Douche Dungeon Master?” Ian said. They all laughed.

“Deputy DM!” O’Finnegan said, genuinely hurt that they weren’t taking his role seriously. “With new adventures in store, no less,” He proudly brandished the Star Frontiers RPG boxed set he carried to the checkout.

“Or just Game Master if you prefer.”

 

Nick hadn’t found the girls at Sneaky Petes.

Famished from hockey practice, he ordered two burgers, fries, and a large Coke and sat by himself.  He would need the fuel to track them down. He was not a big fan of doing laps at the mall. For a moment, he saw how Andy might be right. The hub of smallness Andy called it. The slackjawed hordes trained like dancing circus bears to construct identities for themselves with the shit they buy.

In his heart, Nick Morrison believed most of the same things as his best friend. He had always thought of Andy as no less than a brother. Finishing his second burger, he watched the people go by. Anxious moms, grumpy dads, crying kids. None of them realizing they already had everything. All of them jonesing for more.

Am I one of them? He thought.

Andy’s parents had left him and he always seemed satisfied with next to nothing. His bike, his dice, his records, and his library card were his only possessions. God knows he didn’t care about clothes. Nothing but jeans and goddamn concert shirts! He owned less than almost anyone Nick knew — yet he carried himself like the richest man in the world: a paradoxical cross between a stately philosopher-king and a squirrely 10-year-old hopped up on Halloween candy.

Nick admonished himself. Enough of this. Yes, he’s my friend. But I need to live a life. Andy isn’t Batman. And if he was, am I willing to be his Robin?

He thought for a moment about Andy’s insistence that Sam, not Frodo, was the real hero of Lord of the Rings. It didn’t matter. He’d made up his minds. Why all this self-deliberation?

Climbing out of the booth, Nick Morrison made his way into the crowd toward the Denim Nexus. There was a good chance he’d find Deb there.

 

Nick found Deb in front of Sam the Record Man. He prepared himself to fake interest in Platinum Blonde, Corey Hart or whatever other pop pablum the girls were into these days.

“I got the job!” Deborah Holcroft threw her arms around Nick Morrison.

Though Nick had thought himself confused of late — It was all nothing next to what he felt in this moment. Suddenly, Deb’s body against his, her energy, her enthusiasm, and the ferocity of the way she held him elicited unexpected feelings that threatened to overwhelm him. He was completely and utterly confused by his response to the girl down the River Road he had — until this very moment — only ever thought of as a sister.

“At Denim Nexus! I’m a sales clerk! Thursday nights to start and then Saturdays starting in December.”

Through the tumult of feelings and physical reactions, Nick managed a wide — what he hoped was not too nervous — smile. He knew Deb’s friends would be watching. Would they notice what was happening to him? I don’t know what is happening to me? He thought. This is Deb!

“That’s so cool!” he managed to say!

“I can get a discount on a new jean jacket for you!” She said. “You totally need one.”

“Sure thing. That’s awesome.” Nick lied. He loved his old jean jacket. Andy had painted a WWII Flying Tigers emblem on the back. There they are. He suddenly noticed Shani, Lori, and Tracy. Other girls, from the city, were with them too. He didn’t know who they were  — but he could tell right away they had been thoroughly briefed on who he was. He rolled his eyes in his head. He had learned how to control doing it outwardly in these situations.

He was relieved to note the expressions on their faces were the typical ones. He got the sense no one had gleaned anything from his unexpected response to Deb’s hug.

“Can we talk alone Deb. It’s about Andy.” Nick was sure he heard an “ewww” and a “gross” from the tittering girls. They all loathed Andy Crowley. This, despite Deb’s lifelong advocacy on his behalf.

Idiots, Nick thought. What am I doing? Was he really trading his Friday nights with his best friends to be with these people? Suddenly, where a moment before he had been taken aback by inexplicable feelings for Deb Holcroft, he was angry at her for her shitty taste in friends.

He remembered all the years when it had just been the three of them. Deb, Andy, Nick.

Then she took his arm and pulled him back toward Sneaky Petes.

The moment she put her hand on him and set her eyes upon his, the confusion he had felt took him again. He was certain she had never looked at him like that before.

Nick Morrison did not know that Deb Holcroft thought he was going to die and so misinterpreted the way she was looking at him the same way he had misinterpreted the intensity of the hug she had given him.

The thought of just the three of them fell completely from his mind then, and he forgot about Andy Crowley completely.

 

There had been the monolith of black glass and there had been Andy Crowley. But not 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 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 names.

“No!” The ego of Andy Crowley exclaimed as it began to process appropriate some of the vast universes of 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 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 were sped away too. Then the galaxies. Then entire universes. All of them receding beyond reckoning.

And then, for the last of the shrinking particle of this thing that was Andy Crowley, something surprising.

Had the finite perspective of Andy Crowley’s egoic faculties remained intact, he would have ascertained he was growing in size upward beyond one universe, which became, invariably, the subatomic foundation of the next, larger, one.

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 to slowed, ceased altogether.

And then it started to reverse.

In relation, that fragment which was Andy Crowley was growing.

I love you,” Deb’s voice joined the malignancy, causing it 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 once 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 note of Subdivisions by RUSH.

He could not tear his attention from upon the bite from 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 of 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; murderer of souls beyond count.

The pain of the thought was a but a blip in the arrow of time known to his consciousness for it was impossible for him to carry any concrete memory of this magnitude into the everyday fabrication of 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 answers he had come looking for.

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, he saw it was gone from his hand.

GONE! Panic overtook him.

The loss dwarfed 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. And in that mysterious manner by which it always seemed to know what is best, his silver cord manifested to take him home.

 

To be continued in Chapter 7

Read (and please share) The Andy Crowley Saga

Abraxas

Preview of Chapter 6

 

“Abraxas is the sun, and at the same time the eternally sucking gorge of the void. Abraxas speaketh that hallowed and accursed word which is life and death at the same time. Abraxas begetteth truth and lying, good and evil, light and darkness, in the same word and in the same act.

Therefore is Abraxas terrible.”

~ Carl Jung, Seven Sermons of the Dead

 

There had been the small black glass monolith. And there had been Andy Crowley.

But not 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 from this new, merged perspective.

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

Microscopic creatures swimming in a raindrop on a dandelion leaf collapsed from the beyond all around them and receded into the singular point at the most distant limit of perception.

What is this now? Blood?

What is this? bone? Or is it stone? Illusory distinctions — crafted deceptions all. Unnecessary. Arbitrary. Petty.

But some small part of Andy held on. A speck of ego in the exploding vastness of being hungering to vanquish division and swelling fat on all it assimilated into its awareness.

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

There, shrinking away now, that is Terra, Earth, Joa, Arda, En, Totanay — so many names.

No! They call that one Sanctuary! That is its true name. Or rather, its name most true, for it is the name most beings know this world by.

“But again with delusional distinctions!” The monolith’s seething to the minuscule sliver to Andy-ego dripped with venomous disdain. “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 too fell away into the distance. Then the galaxies. Now entire universes. All of them receding away beyond reckoning.

And then…

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

And so, again.

And again.

And again.

Had the finite perspective of Andy Crowley’s egoic faculties remained intact, he would have ascertained he was growing in size upward beyond one universe, which became, invariably, the subatomic foundation of the next, larger, one.

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

The Hermetic expression came as a whisper in the sliver of mind that remained. The whisper sent a shudder through this — what was it now — a uni-mind? The whispering festered like an infection. This modicum of delineated thought, of self-awareness, was as a poison to the expanding thing: a pulsating gangrenous tumour. It bloated and spread, and in so doing caused the ascent through realities to slow, cease altogether, and then to reverse.

In relation, the fragment that was Andy Crowley grew again.

I love you,” Deb’s voice joined the malignancy, causing it to accelerate.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole,” Nick’s words were there too, adding poison, which further shrank the collapsing merger of minds.

Suddenly, Andy Crowley knew himself again. Returned to the realm of ego, he hovered once again in the white expanse of the nothingness both beyond and beneath conception. In the palm of his hand, he held the small, black rectangle. It was a perfect fit. As he became himself again and his thoughts returned, he thought of Star Trek. The monolith seemed to him then some sort of futuristic device. He imagined the beeping sound made by Captain Kirk’s communicator as the grey apple icon appeared within the rectangle’s smooth onyx face.

A synthetic chiming sound exploded in his head. Later, he would recall it made him recollect the opening note of Subdivisions by RUSH. It was deafening.

All his attention fell then upon the bite from the apple beneath the black glass.

Forbidden.

His vision tunneled down and he fought to remain conscious. The limits of every aspect of the elusive notion of what constitutes of 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 for comprehension brought about crippling nausea. For an instant had a mute, obscured understanding of worlds and realms uncountable that had fallen crushed beneath his will to power.

The pain of the thought was a but a blip in the arrow of time known to his consciousness for it was impossible for him to carry any concrete memory of this magnitude into the everyday fabrication of existence that was self and world. Indeed, no sentient creature in all the multiverse could conceive of realities on this scale.

At least, not yet.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole. Nick’s voice echoed. His best friend had never said these words, but they could not have felt more real to him.

You’ve always been a selfish asshole.

He recalled he had come here searching for answers. Now he wondered if this was 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 answers he had come looking for.

But when he looked, he saw that the black rectangle of glass was gone from his hand.

GONE!

The loss he felt then dwarfed anything he had ever experienced before. He arched his back and roared unintelligible grief into the endless nothingness.

Such was the severity of his anguish that Andy Crowley did not feel the warm tingling at his navel. And in that mysterious manner by which it always seemed to know what is best, his silver cord manifested to take him home.

 

Read (and please share) The Andy Crowley Saga

Chapter 4

Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there, love is lacking. Each is the shadow of the other.

~ Carl Jung

 

The screams of the drowning thousands did not come that night — though thoughts of the mysterious blue mariner did find their way into what had been a peculiarly restful sleep for Andy Crowley.

“The blue mariner?” he thought.

Over months of having the same dream, Andy had become accustomed to the psychic signature of the seaman’s presence, and though he had not put his finger on it at Deb’s last night, he now realized he had sensed something of that presence accompanying the banshee he had seen in Deb’s mind.

What did this mean? So much in flux. So much coming to light. He would need to use his Saturday wisely.

The exquisite aroma of bacon sizzling in a cast iron pan wafted up the stairs.

 

Ruby Crowley wore her mother’s apron over her Canadian Air Force uniform.

She loved her weirdo little brother. He deserved better than he had gotten from his parents and yet he took it all in as though even the shittiest things in life were just more wonders to be experienced. The least she could do for the only family she had left was cook him a big breakfast whenever she was free. She was on leave from airbase in Trenton and had arrived home late last night.

“Cap’n Ruby bringin’ home the bacon!” Andy was wearing a Journey concert shirt, which raised Ruby’s eyebrows. She knew Andy’s taste in music well enough to be surprised by the fact he even owned a Journey shirt. There was only one reason he would wear it. And that reason made her heart flutter with excitement.

“How’s Deb?” She asked. Her tone was loaded with innuendo. Her eyes and a quick jerk of her head showed Andy she noticed the journey shirt.

“Why don’t you ask her yourself?” As he shoved bacon into his mouth, Andy used his head to indicate the stairs he had just come down. The suggestion was that Deb was in his bedroom.

“Oh puleease?” Ruby said. “Alfred E. Newman thinks he’s Jon Bon Jovi now? And what’s with that shirt?”

“Hah!” Andy laughed. “Nosy Aunt Ruby! It would make a good band name. Hey, maybe we’ll name the baby after you.”

He savored the toasted bacon sandwich he had constructed and got lost in his thoughts for a moment. He had gone to bed in a maelstrom of concerns about a banshee’s pronouncement of Nick’s impending demise; the bittersweet glow of Deb’s profession of love for him; and confusion about whether or not to reciprocate with his own profession of love for her. The absence of his regular drowning nightmare had made him feel better about Nick. His best friend’s death was not a certainty, Andy now felt. As for Deb, he felt like a weight had been lifted by hearing her say the words — but that the burden lifted was offset by another, heavier issue: could he — considering who he was and the trajectory of his reality as an entity chosen by sorcery — actually be with Deb? As he pondered these things, trying to assemble order from the chaos, he failed to notice Ruby’s silence following his joke about her being an aunt.

“Don’t even joke about that Andy,” she finally said. Her face was a mask of stone. It was Soldier Ruby. Andy had seen that face a lot when she — with the Morrison’s help — had fought for the right to be his legal guardian. She smiled so he would not think she was angry with him.

“We are dealing with enough, aren’t we?” She was pulling her shoulder-length auburn hair into a bun she would wear under her Air Force wedge cap. It told Andy she would be going somewhere for work. He was saddened that she would be leaving again so soon.

He summoned as much compassion into his face as he could.

“Ain’t that the truth,” he said around a mouthful of bacon sandwich.

Ruby could tell he felt bad about the joke and she let it go. This kid, she mused — so sharp; so tuned in; so insightful.

“I have to go to Germany for a week. But before I go, I want the total skinny on what’s up with you and Debbie Holcroft.”

“Of course,” Andy said. And he smiled. “Nosy old-lady-next-door Ruby.”

Ruby laughed. “Still better than Aunt Ruby!” she said. She loved him so much. And was so proud of him. Their situation was strange, but she felt no concern about leaving him alone so frequently. He was so far beyond his years. He was the most together person she knew.

Andy told her everything he could about what had happened with Deb last night. Omitting everything about the banshee, Nick’s death, and anything to do with magic or the occult was, however, required.

He sometimes wondered if his esoteric interests had played a part in driving his mother to church, which had in turn driven his father to drink. In no way did he feel responsible for what his parents had done to themselves. Nonetheless, he had sworn to himself that his mysterious vocation would never bring one of the uninitiated to harm.

When Andy had finished recounting the night’s events, Ruby came around the kitchen table, bent down, and hugged him.

“You know I love Deb, Andy,” Ruby was genuinely excited for him. “He needed this,” she thought.

“It was always going to be either you or Nick? But I always knew it would end up being you.” She looked at him as a mother — a good mother — would have then.

“Why?” Andy laughed as he asked the question. To his mind, Nick was literally the Jon Bon Jovi to his Alfred E. Newman.

“Because I’ve watched the three of you grow up,” Ruby looked away. An easy, dreamy smile was on her face.

“And I saw the way she always looked at you.”

Andy’s heart sank. Suddenly none of this seemed right. He couldn’t be with Deb anyway. could he? And what about Nick? If Ruby was right, then Nick and Deb should –

He needed to meditate. There was too much here to process.

“I love you, Roob,” was all Andy Crowley could think of to say in that perplexing moment.

It was all he wanted to say.

 

“Hey, Morrison!” Scott St. Pierre spat the words across the dressing room. It was not his intention to come off as rude and obnoxious, but any intention he ever mustered in that regard never seemed to matter in the slightest.

Nick ignored him. He decided he wasn’t quite hungover from last night, but he was still irritated about Andy’s self-centeredness. Why had he bolted out of their game like that? All his pontificating about selflessness and the construct of self, yet he always seemed to do his own thing with no regard for others.

“Morrison!” St. Pierre hollered again, louder this time. Suddenly it was quiet. Every player in the room knew Scott and Nick’s history. And considering Nick always managed to humiliate Scott — be it physically or intellectually — everyone there was dying to see why Scott seemed so insistent on poking the bear.

Suddenly, Nick determined he was hungover after all. He glared at Scott St. Pierre and remembered that Andy had humiliated him on the bus. Was this going to be about that?

“What is it, Scott?” The deadpan was not intentional, but to the room, it came off as delightfully dismissive.

The unexpectedly cordial tone of Scott’s next words caught everyone off guard — especially Nick. “I thought you were going to Cedars on Friday, I didn’t see you.”

Confused by the friendly overture, Nick, due more to laziness than anything else, deemed it easiest to just play along.

”I thought about going.” He said as he snapped on his helmet. He paused and the words in his head did not get to his mouth.  But Friday is always D&D night. Suddenly his truth seemed absurd to him: immature — even embarrassing.

“I went to the flat rocks with some friends from Toronto,” he lied. Nick didn’t know why he lied. It just happened. He felt shame — but also an unexpected sensation. Was it liberation?

“Maybe next time, Scott.” It suddenly occurred to him that he could go to Cedars with Deb and her friends next Friday. The reception the idea had received at the game last night had been cold, to say the least. He resolved to go to the mall after practice to talk to Deb about this. He could also ask her what the hell was going on with Andy. His gloves were on now. Grabbing his stick, he stood and made for the door, which required him to walk right past Scott St. Pierre.

Standing up on skates caused Nick’s hangover to descend upon him in earnest. He had too much on his mind. There was too much in disarray for his liking. He felt like a lost soul and it irritated him.

Impulsively, he tapped the heel of his hockey stick on Scott St. Pierres’s shoulder pad as he walked past. Scott was bent over and lacing his skates.

”I’ll save you a dance.” Nick said. This time the dismissiveness was intended.

A snicker rippled through the dressing room. But if Scott St. Pierre noticed he was being laughed at, he did not show it.

“Patience, Scott,” The voice in his head was intoxicating. Had he possessed the worldliness to discern such things, he would have noted its peculiar mixture of British and Midwestern American accents. He was enthralled by the electronic tinge it possessed — like Max Headroom on TV, he thought.

“Nick Morrison is donefore.” The alluring synthetic voice said.

“You just need to be patient.”

Because his face was down as he finished lacing his skates, nobody saw the malicious grin that split Scott St. Pierre’s wide, freckled face.

Had they seen it, they would have been horrified at how much that grin was not his own.

 

Andy knew Deb would be at the mall today. She and her friends spent every Saturday there. Rumour had it Deb had even applied for a job at the Denim Nexus. He reminded himself to ask her about that.

Nick would be at hockey practice.

Andy was glad his friends were busy. His breakfast with Ruby had given him room to think more about what had happened with Deb.

He knew he loved her. What he didn’t know was whether or not he should let that take its natural course. Andy Crowley did not know why he had become a sorcerer. But he had. When the dreams of the strange runes had come upon him, he had not questioned what they were. He had assumed this was normal. Nick had helped him realize it wasn’t. The cruelty of children — and their parents — had brought him around to keeping his occult knowledge to himself. He had come to understand the importance of flying under the radar. He had also read enough comic books to know that possessing the kind of knowledge and power he did would eventually place the ones he loved in harm’s way.

He quashed the fleeting thought of his broken parents only to have it replaced with something even worse.

What if I’m the reason the banshee came to Deb? What if I’m the reason Nick is supposed to die?

This menacing notion only reinforced his fast-solidifying position that there was no way he could be in a romantic relationship with Deb. And the thought was excruciating. Despite realizing that being with her was what he wanted more than anything — all the more, now that he knew she wanted to be with him — he was also realizing that getting what he wanted in this regard would put the one he loved in harm’s way.

But couldn’t he just drop sorcery: walk away?

Really?

He had transcended the prison of everyday consciousness and explored the proximal planes that were the springboard to the mystery and wonder of the wider, wilder multiverse. He pondered all that he had already experienced — and what miracles there were to come: Olympus, The Hells, The Nine Realms of Asgard, Heliopolis, the realm of Fae! Could he really walk away from all this?

But could he really walk away from Deborah Holcroft? He was convinced he could not remain upon the mystic’s path and also have a life with Deb. He now knew this much completely. And there was another complicating factor. His friend’s — no his brother’s — name had been uttered by a banshee of Fey. Who but he, with all he had so fervently endeavoured to learn and know, was equipped to save Nick? He had wondered if there were others like him: other true magic-users. But all indications were, from the research he had done, that there were not.

If it fell upon him to save Nick, why was he focusing on what to do about Deb?

Selfish bastard, he admonished himself.

Too much was happening. Forces were converging. It had not been like this since just before his father left.

He assessed the prevalence of the mariner in the night-blue cloak in all the events that now perplexed him. The one, simultaneously so strange yet so familiar, who had come to him every night in his dreams — and whose presence he had sensed when he had seen the banshee through Deb’s eyes last night.

Enough with conjecture, he thought. Ruby had left for the airbase. He needed to use this time wisely.

Settling into the full lotus posture within the Solomonic pentagram carved into his bedroom floor, Andy extracted the five, coloured dice from their purple, velvet whiskey bag and placed each one at a point on the pentagram. Each die, a Platonic solid, represented an element, and as such, had its proper place in the magic circle.

Gesturing with his fingers, he chanted one of the first Atlantean incantations that had come to him in his sleep and willed his body’s natural aetheric field to pack tightly inward into the thin, hard suit of emerald green brainmail that would protect his astral form. His destination was one of the more idyllic and uneventful corners of the astral plane near its boundary with the realm of sleep, but Andy Crowley was nothing if not a cautious practitioner. He knew well the dangers of extra-planar transfer, even in the relatively peaceful proximal planes.

He envisioned the necessary visual triggers and recited the mantras required to generate the bio-electric field that would allow the transfer of his consciousness from his physical body to his astral one and he stepped onto the spongy surface of the astral plane.

The soft-edged, peach, pink and pastel ambiance of the place immediately set his mind at ease.

As he walked through tall golden grass beneath the sunless, perpetual pink daytime of the place known as the quiet realm, he once again thrilled at the sights of familiar towns, cities, and villages on enormous chunks of earth, like uprooted, upside-down mountains drifting lazily in the air. He had never been to any of them. He had yet to master the process of focusing and projecting his aetheric field in order to fly in this place.

For now, he was content just to rest and think. He still lacked confidence in his skills and was not ready to risk engaging the other beings he could meet here.

Andy always thrilled at the springy softness of the astral realm. It was a hallmark of this particular plane that surfaces had a kind of spongy give to them. The grass was pale gold. The soil 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.

Andy looked up at the grassy ridge he had been walking toward, and there it was – his tree! A “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 made his way up the ridge, placed his palm on the tree’s bark and invited its strength to enter him. His sphere of his awareness began to stretch out and he felt calm. 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 bedroom.

Every being has a silver cord that connects to a touchstone on the astral plane. It was impossible to truly come to harm here. 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.

Enough with thinking! He thought then.

Where blazes empty mind, no shadows pose as truth.

And so Andy Crowley nestled down between roots that felt as though they had been tailored specifically for the purpose of helping him relax. Then he closed his eyes, envisioned the enso (brushed circle of Zen), focused his attention on his breathing, and repeated his stillness mantra.

“Aum Namu Narayanaya”.

The chatter of his waking mind receded quickly and the quiet came with an ease – and to a depth – that was only possible on the astral plane.

The answers would come to him here.

The answers always came so easily in this place.

 

As Andy Crowley sat in quiet meditation on the astral plane, he did not sense he was being observed.

High atop a distant bluff, a handsome man of the sea stood in the tall archway of a massive structure of Olympian design. The archway delineated the event horizon between the astral realm and the Olympian realm of Stygia. His curly chestnut hair and night-blue cloak fluttered in the breeze that whistled up the bluff from the river Styx at his back. The mariner, could not enter the astral plane and so looked into it through the archway. What he saw there set his heart ablaze.

In the gravity pits of Jupiter; upon the Sea of Tears in the ra-ships of the legendary Martian Dynastic Navy; in hundreds of battles in hundreds of wars on a hundreds of worlds in hundreds of realms he had trained for this. For the entirety of two lives, the one he had forgotten and the one he lived now — he had prepared for this. To finally lay eyes upon Andy Crowley, Sole Sorcerer of Sanctuary — the only being ever to use magic on otherwise magicless Earth, quickened his pulse, brought tears to his eyes.

But he could not act yet. Jasco of Fey must do her work in the dream realm. The boy must not confuse what must now come with a trick of the mind, a dream, or some madness or other.

A smile, which had been likened by more than one poet across the multiverse to a supernova, spread then across the mariner’s face. He swung up into the saddle of his horse and spun it about. The clatter of its shodden hooves echoed through the massive Olympian hall.

His heart lusted for raucous celebration. And the Port of Stygia, where he had laid anchor the day before, was well known for the quality of its taverns.

TO BE CONTINUED

in Chapter 5

Read (and please share!) The Andy Crowley Saga

Black Friday is Black Magic

image_56099112217888

Please read (and please share) the Andy Crowley Saga!