Episode 05 - The Tunnels Collapse
Brennan hadn’t been sleeping well. He knew Shams was still mad at him, but if he remembered Campbell’s theorem that only meant his potential was mad at his present state, and this was not the end of the world. What nights he did dream had subtle and snarky comments from the angel scattered throughout the night vault of images. Brennan actually laughed at some of them – “Surrender, Dorothy!” was quite good.
The mage felt exhausted as Solomon trying to run the world. This sort of soul-weary tiredness came from the marriage of a futility and an illusion, and in this particular case that illusion was Irasomin, and his futility was wrath. The demon had sucked a good amount of energy out of Brennan’s aura and was embroidering tapestries out of it to decorate his private hell with. Brennan knew he had to find his inner strength again before it was too late, and the wrath demon took complete possession of his life and character.
This called for a bath. Not that he didn’t bathe regularly, but he didn’t always have magically charged herbal essences to work with, other than fruity shampoo. 7 key herbs dipped in holy water and infused with the essence of the Great Christos would clean his soul on a deeper level, and allow him to recharge his pneuma for additional adventures and a slightly longer life than the next guy. He was starting to get better at Greek but Brennan’s father tongue had always been Latin, and he found to his delight and surprise that the quality of his incantation slowly became more sonorous over the years with practice to perfection. Latin alone did not move the stars and planets as ignorant folk in Europe once believed, but it was a poetic and deep language with many shades and nuances of meaning that leant themselves to wonderful effect.
He was too old for candles and crystals, but he had one around for good luck and blessing anyway. Actual crystal balls are rarely very big without being extremely expensive, and have no advantage in size, merely demonstrating to the spirits that one is financially endowed and little else. A clean heart and a right, holy spirit, the centerpiece of ancient Davidic Judaism, was the key to making a good, strong impression. Brennan has been taught to never be haughty when calling up evil spirits, as even they had a role to play in God’s creation and it was pointless to fan the flames of hell with additional hatred and sorrow. Pride, as the primary sin, leads to wrath, and allows rage to indulge itself in selfish and stupid fashion.
Having made his prayers and a sincere act of contrition, Brennan bowed upon his knees to the Divine Father, the Head Honcho, and the Lord of All Mermaids. He knew it was wrong to make a mock of God, but he also knew the Lord had a fine sense of humor and wasn’t particularly concerned with trivialities.
“Forgiveness is the Key to this whole operation. That’s the Heart of God’s teachings: the appreciation and unconditional love of humanity. The spirit of self-sacrifice and gratitude leads to freedom and strength of character.”
Ken remembered Sham’s teaching. He was largely intimidated by Islam but Shams had showed him another way of looking at the religion. He had shown him the open secrets of the Sufis, and how much power there was in humility and acceptance of Grace.
“You beat your head against a brick wall Ken, because you don’t trust Allah to take care of you. He is utterly and completely Competent over, above, and through all things in Creation, but you are too arrogant to think that maybe your life isn’t as important as you’d like it to be.”
It was a tough message to hear. Qabalists don’t like severity as a rule – Jews tend to believe that the Lord has been too hard on them over the millennia and that we need more Mercy to balance out an imbalanced world. However, nothing is really broken in creation – it is all part of a whole. Reality has a crystalline, holographic structure, with multiple facets, dimensions, and worlds. The Holy Spirit of religion is Lord of all the worlds. And that spirit is Compassion and Peace, with or without capitols.
It’s not rocket science, but rocket scientists dig Qabalah, and so a great amount of superstition exists surrounding the Divine Names and the nature of the mystic.
“This is about Love, Ken. Love is not always easy. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t know it completely. Allah is Free of Need. It’s all illusion and play for the One who sits on the Throne.”
Why was it so hard to trust? To let go? Had magic become a crutch for him -- a way to escape and run from the world, shirking his responsibilities? They were the right questions to ask, and Shams had put those questions into Ken’s head when they were first joined ceremonially.
“I am not asking you to embrace an ancient alien exotic religion from another time and place” Shams had insisted. “You know the truth of what I speak”.
“This law that gives perfect freedom is not too hard. It isn’t up in Heaven so that you could say it’s unreachable. It’s not 10,000 leagues under the sea so that you need Jules Verne and a submarine to get to it. These are PRACTICAL ways to live your life, Mr. Brennan. There is no point calling yourself a wizard when you don’t act wisely! You are not a real mage unless you give God your treasure and honor the sacrifices of God’s people. A real Qabalist, a true Jew, surrenders to God, whatever may come of it: Hell or high water. It’s not your place to dictate how creation should or shouldn’t be. Not from where you are standing in the midst of this great drama.”
“Then what is the point of magic?!” Ken had argued. “If it’s not about power and control, and living 600 years in a mansion with aerial servants, what IS it about?!!”
That Sunday, after cleansing his mind and spirit, he called up an old friend from Mount Olympus to help him out with funding. Och manifested in bright sunlight, stormy fire, and a field of sunflowers, the smell of sandalwood filling the air.
“Ken Brennan, is that you?” the emperor declared. “My God, I thought I’d never hear from you again! Why call an old rascal like me at this point, you dirty dog! I know what you got up to with that sun spirit in Vegas!”
Ken blushed a little, recalling fond memories. Life had seemed easier there for a little while.
“Ah, you’re low on money, aren’t you? And you want me to make some gold for you! Aw, how cute! The great Brennan, Ipsisimus of the Ordo Templi Orientis, comes to me for alchemy!” Och laughed.
“Son of Sun, please light the way to the treasure for me.”
“You still working out of those old Catholic grimoires, Ken? What are you doing stumbling around in the dark with those silly college notebooks? I’ve got better magic for you than any shitty old demon! Come! Come up to the 4th with me!”
The solar emperor waved his scepter, and the gate to Fourth Heaven opened spontaneously, sun fire and glory pouring out from the Throne of the Lord.
“You spend too much time in the tunnels of Set, young Brennan! Come upstairs for some perspective! Good God!”
Astral travel was an old specialty of Ken’s but he hadn’t utilized the angelic faculty in many years. His wings were rusty, torn, broken, disconnected from heart and soul. Irasomin the cruel had told him he would never fly again.
“The Lord rebuke you” Ken had replied, channeling Michael’s spirit. Irasomin had given him some space but still powerfully tempted him, encouraging him to waste green days smoking pot and doing sorcery with his dick. The days of chaos and self-indulgence were over, but it was hard for Ken to let go of his punk persona. He was getting older, growing up, become wiser, and being humbled as usual.
“With every hardship comes ease, Mr. Brennan!” Och exclaimed as they warped through the solar system, shooting out through the Beautiful World into the dimension of God’s Glory and Triumph. Ken recognized the Temple of Mount TZion, the astral copy still being very much existent and as splendid in the noonday sun as ever.
“Och, you know the Quran? Are you a Muslim?”
“Sure! Why not?” the cheerful spirit exclaimed. “I am an angel of Lord Allah and his divine will! He gave me great gifts and responsibilities, which I have carried out dutifully and faithfully down through the centuries! I have seen civilizations rise and fall Mr. Brennan, but there was never a place where Love and the Light of God were gone completely! God does not forsake men; it is men who forsake God.”
The two arrived at the Solar Palace. Och called out to his guard to open the gates.
“Apollo, open up! We’re home!”
“Wait, Och – that’s THE Apollo?” Ken asked.
“Yep, and still as silly as ever. The Lord granted me the right to humble and command him for the last 200 years, so I’ve had him take care of repairs and gardening for the most part.”
“How the mighty are fallen” Brennan quoted. “Still, I guess I’m not that surprised. The pseudothei lorded themselves over so many different nations, it’s only fitting that they be made to serve.”
“And you, Mr. Brennan, whom do you serve? Where will this money I’m going to make you be going?”
“To pay off debt for starters. I need a clean slate and a good credit rating.”
The two companions entered the dining room of the palace. Brennan smiled at the gorgeous display of French cooking. The chefs had left a golden plaque next to the feast, inscribed with a dedication – “ to the Glory of Nobility and the honor of Saint Kenneth.”
“Lovely display. I sampled many of these fine foods over the years. I am grateful for what I’ve been given” Ken said.
“Are you? You must make good use of the gifts you have been given, Ken. Otherwise they turn against you. This divinity, this knowledge, is a sword in your hand. With it, you can defeat the legions of Hell, or you can cut off Allah and his angels. It’s your choice. It’s your only choice. That’s what magic is.”
“My choice. The one Allah wants me to surrender?”
“Yes, because it’s not really ‘your’ choice as a separate, distinct, individual. I mean, don’t get me wrong Ken, you are a great character in this novel, but you are one aspect of a much larger reality that we call Divinity, and Spirit. Your life is weighed in what you do in the Spirit. You don’t exist just for bawdy storytelling.”
“What, you don’t like sex, drugs, and rock and roll? I’ve had a lot of fun being a punk ass street wizard!”
“At whose expense? You spent most of your parent’s inheritance. You don’t contribute much to the community other than cynicism and criticism. You’re a private, stoned Buddha, made of wood and earth, sitting on a deck, talking to spirits, and not doing anyone any good.”
“What would you have me do, Your Grace?”
“Control your divinity to good ends, lest it bedevil you. Here, have some of these.”
Och offered Ken some chocolates, and he partook.
“Now go into the other room and disrobe” Och commanded.
Brennan laughed. “You getting kinky man?”
“It’s for practical reasons. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.”
Ken gave a “whatever” reply, but as he walked through the door into a room that wasn’t a room, he suddenly doubled over with system shock.
“Disrobe? There’s no masseuse here. Why would he want me to… oh shit.”
Ken suddenly realized what Och had done as frightening if familiar powers gripped his form and began to fuck with it. He shucked his clothes as best he could as his muscles and bones exploded. Ken cried out in fright and pain and heard his voice deepening. The terror and horror he felt as his body changed mixed with a new sense of intoxicating power, strength, mass, and masculinity.
“No, I’m a nerd! I’m a fucking bookworm that hangs out at dive bar open mics! This can’t be happening!” he thought, but only bestial desire and hunger were coming out of his growing maw, as coarse cat hair covered his body, his chest swole up, and he transformed.
Even I don’t believe that high school crap anymore.
“Och!” he cried out in his thoughts. “Help me! Don’t make me into a monster!”
You’re not a lame nerd Ken. You’re a fucking lion. DEAL WITH IT!
The creature completed its change, leaned it’s hairy head back, and roared with ecstasy into the eternal sunlight, a portion of eternity too great for the mind of man to bear. Ken passed out within the god form.
Ancient Gnostic texts from Egypt depicted various advanced spirit states in the form of leomorphic creatures; mixtures of lions, snakes, eagles and griffins. These celestial creatures existed as spiritual points of light in the Divine Mind, called Æon. They represented and embodied the great driving evolutionary forces at work in human consciousness: the contrast of ancient, bloody, animal instincts with more modern conscientious perspectives. They were also extremely dangerous.
Ken was gone, consumed in the lion’s blood and power, roaring with absolute freedom and utter pleasure throughout the whole of the cosmos, free of place and time, name and number. He was ancient, eternal, strong, noble, and seeing. God could he see things. Vast eras of time, history, perspective and doubt poured out their time streams before his divine consciousness.
"The Divinity is not an end in itself. It must be shared and surrendered just like anything else in life. Equality with God is nothing to get attached to!"
The huge, brawny beast felt a tug and a pull as Och asserted his power over the creature. He roared struggling mightily, insane with Apollonian frenzy, loving every aspect of his burning existence. Och laughed in delight as he tug-a-warred with the magnificent creature, admiring his fine qualities and wondering what Brennan was really scared of deep down.
"Ride the lion, Ken! You’re a king! RIDE THE LION!"
Ken remembered his humanity. He was not ashamed. He was free.
Humility was good. It wasn’t a curse. He wasn’t cursed. He would be happy.
"RIDE THE LION!"
The tarot. Strength. Beauty and the Beast. Wisdom taming the lion.
Ken struggled back to humanity, frightened at his own strength and brilliance. Who was he to succeed in this strange, weird game when so many should fail? What did it mean to be a sacred mage in the postmodern world? Was alchemy anything more than legend and quackery?
He was human again, but changed. No going back from pickle to cucumber. Stronger, different somehow. His muscles were sore, but he also felt good. Capable of greatness.
Och gave him his robe and held his shoulders for a bit. Divine energy, spirit and love flowed through the good spirit’s blessed hands, passing a legacy on to the young mage.
“You can do this, Ken. You have everything you need, and all the time in the World. Use it wisely. Wisdom is Magic’s sister; they go together.”
“I…what am I now?”
Och smiled. “An honest man, I’d say.”
by David Stolowitz