Let me tell you a story. Lend me your ears, your minds, and by extension your bodies.
All settled in, all ready to fire up the magic-lantern show of your imagination, to light the flame?
After all, if you’re reading this, the sparks between us are already flying as you make sense of the words. All you need do is add some kindling, starting even now to add the fuel of your mind, watching the flames dance and the shadows leap on the wall. You’ve seen them, haven’t you, these leapers, those dancers – the fast-flickers that twist and stretch, swifter than matter, darker than burning air.
The painted gleaming darknesses, the shining ones hidden in stone and rock, under the hollow hills. The night-black folk who move through earth like water, faster than the wind. You know the ones, don’t you? But I’ll bet you won’t utter their names, even if you know the real, true ones which are secret above all things. I’ll not even call them by their titles, by their use-names. No, for such things are not entirely neccessary, not if you look inside the cave of your heart.
So, to the story, which also – and not coincidentally – includes a cave. As with all the best stories, it’s an old thing in a new skin – though the new skin is thousands of years old, by itself. In that very cave, there is also a fire, and there are people gathered around it, just as you can gather about the central light of the tale and all the things it’ll show you, if you watch carefully. The people in the story, we shall say, also watch quite carefully, for they can do no other thing. The fire is warm at their backs, and they see the shadow-play upon the wall, just as you might see it now, if you consider this most carefully.
Eventually, you’ll notice the most obvious thing; they’re carefully watching because they cannot move, what with being chained up and all. Slipped around their necks are collars, snapped across their wrists are manacles. Now, sometimes a few of them might look uncomfortable. Perhaps they’re experiencing an awareness of the metal against their skin or something. They struggle for a bit, panicked, but unable to break free, eventually soothed by the rhythmic clinking that their struggles have produced in the chains, somehow more satisfied than before. At least until the next bout of feeling helpless strikes, that is.
Here’s the thing though; most don’t even do that because the chains are placed on them at birth, reforged as they grow. Perhaps the restriction is comforting, or something. Now, it must be said that these chains are mostly of the same type, varying only in size, their shape dictated by variations on an average person, and average necks and wrists. There is actually some room to move given the variety of people, but most if not all choose not to explore it; after all there is less stress that way, right?
So the staus quo remains. Yet every so often, there are slaves born, just a few mind you, who for some reason, don’t fit their chains very well. Maybe they have different sized necks or different shaped bodies. Maybe they’re stronger or even weaker than the average. Let’s focus on those weaker folks for a second; they’re the type of people who might end up getting dragged along on a chain gang, the ones who drop from exhaustion, held aloft only by their chains, or driven on by pain from ill fitting metal digging into flesh. Maybe they’re disabled in some way, blind or deaf, old, ill, or even bizarrely pregnant with something from birth.
They’re there amidst the rest. Perhaps the rest see them as making trouble for the majority, and try and beat them into line out of some fervent desire to have a more unified group, or perhaps they’re seen as a burden. RO’s already covered the strong angle, the Red angle of wilful fire that parts the Waters and leads to the Promised Land, and that’s why, as traditionally seems to be the case, I’m talking about the Blue Way. The Cold Way, hel-blár or ná-folr in nature.
Try and put yourselves in the shoes of those folks, and feel the way they feel. You could talk to them all you like about being children of G-d and they’d probably say that he was an absent parent, or at the very least, might have visited some further curse upon them. They’d probably say that, especially if you were silly enought to say that it was all part of the Divine Plan, or that “Everything Happens for A Reason.” Most of them would have, at some point, probably wanted to die, reasoning that it was probably the only rest they were ever going to get. So perhaps they’d believe in Paradise after death, a return home to the land of their people or something like that, and you know what?
Good luck to them.
But it’s not those people we’re concerning ourselves with. No, this story doesn’t concern them, and the Moses types only come in tangentially. It concerns the others, the ones who are dragged in the dust and beaten for their differences, are wounded by the fact that the accoutrements of slavery bite even more terribly than for others. They are the ones for whom the metal does not simply chafe, but lays them open to the very bone itself.
It renders them naked in a way no person should be; even their body goes a little nuts in attempting to help them heal, as skin tries to grow over metal to cover the wound. They are more intimately accquainted with their chains than almost everyone else. It’s got inside them, spreading through the blood-stream like a poison. They know it’s going to kill them. They know their difference has separated them for the whole of their existences, but unlike the Moses’ of their tribe, its only going to bring death rather than freedom, and unlike the ones who see death as final rest, they are restless beyond belief.
You’ve seen them, perhaps you even know them – the ones with smiles like knives that never seem to shift. The ones who laugh at everything for its inherent ridiculousness. They are the differentiated.
They don’t even have to try to differentiate themselves, they simply are. This makes them distinct from those who seek to be individuals, because those always refer to others. They are sui generis; of a different virtue entirely. They share this with the Moses’ of the world, but where the wilful stretch out their hand and shape the world as they see fit, those we are concerned with ruthlessly pursue their difference because they have no other choice.
TAO TE CHING – Chapter 36. Opposition
To reduce someone’s influence, first expand it;
To reduce someone’s force, first increase it;
To overthrow someone, first exalt them;
To take from someone, first give to them.
This is the subtlety by which the weak overcome the strong:
Fish should not leave their depths,
And swords should not leave their scabbards. – Merel trans.
Remember that nakedness, that inescapable bite of the chain? Remember that they do not fit? This is their virtue, this is their subtlety. They do not seek to be free of the chain, for the chain provides the method of their freedom. Their differentiation, applied with the nature of the chain provides an impossibility. By accentuating that nature until it is undeniable and inexorable, they become something great and terrible.
In inner alchemy, this is the cold and dry way – the direct consequence of exposure to Air and the breath as I said in my last post. It is the essence of exposure, of walking out into the wilderness, of Captain Oates the polar explorer who said: “I’m going out, I may be some time.” In another sense, it is heavily implicit in the notion of Sky Burial and the chod of Tibetan Buddhism.
If you’ve ever stood beneath the dome of the sky on a clear, cold day when your breath steams and is visible before you. If you’ve ever fallen to breathing and felt the cold fill you up with a burn that seems to lighten and clarify your being, to hollow you out into a crystal diamond, then you know a little of what I’m talking about. If you have ever heard the wind sing as it flutes through your hollowed-out bones as the sun sets and the light is filled with the luminescence of the gloaming? Then you’ve tasted some of it as your blood thickens to gleaming ichor and begins to burn with its own inner light.
There is no will there, is there? No exertion save the merciless focus on what is. On Being, itself.
“I call upon thee, awesome and invisible god, with an empty spirit.”
Sound familiar? What about about this?
I am the headless daimon with sight in my feet; I am the mighty one who possesses the immortal fire; I am the truth who hates the fact that unjust deeds are done in the world; I am the one that makes the lightning flash and the thunder roll; I am the one whose sweat is the heavy rain which falls upon the earth that it might be inseminated; I am the one whose mouth is utterly aflame; I am the one who begets and destroys; I am the favour of the Aion; my name is a heart encircled by a serpent; come forth and follow.
Now, I’m not saying that RO is incorrect. Far from it. But in terms of our story of chains and cave-dwellers, we must consider the notion that the daimon of which the Stele of Jeu has spoken, is, by necessity and name, Headless. Whether the head is in another realm or non-existent is neither here nor there. The fact that, amidst all this bombast, there is a peculiar notion of the sight in the feet, might make one wonder what excatly this being is standing on.
More to the point, the immortal fire is just that. It does not die, and when we get to considering it, might we not consider that fire as the ancients might have done, as the fire of Heraclitus – the constant move and change of state, later shifted outward by Christian and Islamic theologians into the realm of the Empyrean, and as the dwelling place of G-d and the Elect.
Plato would perhaps have had us believe that the fire inside the cave is a poor reflection of the Light beyond the cave, and in one sense he would be correct – for those in the cave can only infer the existence of the fire at their backs, nevermind the fact that they probably can’t see beyond the confines of the cave, or even conceive of such a thing. They would identify with the shadow-play, sorrowing when these echoes seemed to shift and die.
For our calm, cold folks, there is no such sorrow. Indeed, in their singleminded pursuit to use the chain to their benefit, to cultivate their alone-ness, their differentiation, they would uncover the extent of their ability to move, which through that pursuit, would be far more than those who never tried. Perhaps the next step after discovering that movement is to once again use that unique method of movement to increase their influence. Perhaps they manage to turn around and behold the fire. and in their contemplations, they may move slightly, raise a hand perhaps, to feel its heat, and in doing so gain the ability to learn how to cast shadows against the wall, deliberately?
Might this not seem to grant them apparent powers over the worlds of shadows which all others regard as real? Might not it be said of them that they hold discourse with the hidden folk in the stone? That they can command things to occur and it will occur?
More to the point, have not our differentiated folk seen the fire at the heart of that world of shadows? Have they not seen the secret, ever shifting source of the ten thousand things of the manifest world? Might they, by use and domination of their restrictions, their “sins”, be able to infuse those chains with fire?
Being beyond Good and Evil, following an inner law which seems to be in defiance of conventional morality. Seems sort of familiar .Not living from the head but from the heart which is encircled by a serpent – the daimonic symbolism is clear. If there’s any love in this heart, it burns cold and is not ‘wet’. It is a sober, disciplined intoxication ‘unassuaged of purpose’, as precise in character as the prima materia itself. But the heart remains steadfast, ever giving, ever being itself. This makes more sense when we note that the Ancient Egyptians, in whose mysteries Moses was well versed, viewed the heart or Ab as the seat of the soul. This was not some airy fairy, quality, but that which infused and reddened the body, gave it life itself.
The soul itself becomes empowered by the daimon. “Lord, King, Master, Helper, empower my soul.”
At death, the heart, according to the Ancient Egyptians, was weighed against the feather of Ma’at – the embodiment of Divine Right/Order/Justice. Only if they were balanced, would the sould survive death. One might argue there’s a secret there – that the soul becomes equal to Ma’at. That the heart is thusly capable of exerting divine right, by virtue of its totality and hence surviving death.
You can see where I’m going, can’t you?
For if our differentiated folk pursue their path unflinchingly within the heart, they may be soft, they may give, without loss. If they have found that cold fire within, within themselves as apparently the basest of metals, sat naked and unflinching on the mountainside as all their illusions are stripped away by virtue of their gifting it to any and all. By making it a discipline, one excels. The sword remains in its scabbard, with no need to take it out and test it. The fish remain where they are, excelling in their Being.
So our chained ones smile, for they recognise themselves within that immortal fire, and hence they can become like the sun which exists without the cave.
Besides, you know that metal becomes brittle at super-low temperatures, right?