Magnum Opus – How To Be Your Own MasterpiecePosted by VI
This too shall pass.
There is a story that when Moses was small, everybody loved him – and why wouldn’t they? The Pharaoh’s Daughter loved him as her own, this miracle prince that had been delivered to her by the Nile, source of all life. Everyone admired this handsome baby, even Pharaoh kissed his head and dandied him on his knee. Think about that for a second:
The living god, embodiment of the sun, ruler of all Egypt, called this child beautiful. The being who kept the kosmos of the world going, called this child special. He loved Moses.
Now, for the Egyptians, the kosmos was quite simply As Above, So Below. The Nile was the source of all life and being – its waters rose and fell, dictating the rhythm of the civilisation like a heartbeat. It was there, in their blood, in their bone and breath. Even the name, Khem meant ‘The Black Land’, for its soil was made black and fertile by the Nile’s inundation.
So when the Egyptians raised their faces to the heavens and gave thanks to the gods, they not only saw the sun, but the god there, with them. When the sun set, when the glorious bright being began his nightly sojourn through the underworld along the Nile, they saw far more than we. Without the light pollution we have today, the stars were bright; millions of them shining in the heavenly vault, and winding through them was the ribbon of Milky Way – or perhaps, more accurately – winding through the infinite darkness was the Nile.
We are not speaking of representation or symbol – the peeling away, the notion that meaning operates at one remove. The Galactic River did not symbolise the Nile, or vice versa.
They were identical. A name was a person, and a person was their name. The Pharoah was Re, was the Sun, was Osiris/Assur. They were each other. Numinous beings all the way up, and down.
Imagine then, that you are a court counsellor, a priest-sorcerer schooled in the Mysteries. You understand the nuances and shifts in a way that uninitiated do not. You speak from your heart, your essence. You interpret dreams and manipulate Heka, the magical quality which infuses all things.
You see the Pharaoh as man and god both, with no dissonance at all. You know the man’s actions are guided by the bright sun within him – you see the shining serpent wisdom gleam between his brows. You know the man must die, as the sun must set, to rise again – ever immortal. You understand, for you have seen the feather of Ma’at and the dark twin of it in Mut’s vulture plumage. You have heard the laughter of the grey wolf and the jackal; the wisdom unveiled by the Opener Of The Mouth.
You have listened to the scorpion, when it tells tales of how Isis/Aset gathered up the pieces of her beloved husband from the places where Sutekh had scattered them, and how she learned Re’s secret name. How she used the knowledge of the name of the Hidden Sun to re-member her brother-husband, to make him whole once more.
You see the stars and know each is an immortal soul, an akh existing in its perfect fullness, requiring naught but itself. You have dressed gods and stripped them naked. You have pressed your flesh against theirs, eaten them up and laid in the beds of their handmaids. You have heard the voice of them amidst the sweet songs of praises, felt the truth of those words, the ineffable quality there that set things in their proper places.
All this you have done, and you know too the power of the Lord Of The Red Desert – the spear-carrier who slays Osiris and Apep both. You have felt Sutekh pass close in the hot wind, seen the power of his staff, gifted and mirrored to all the other gods in the was sceptre that all carry.
You have held conference with your colleague, who tells you he dreams of another life, another name, further down the River. He whispers a name:
Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu. He who lives for Khonsu – the traveller, the son of Mut.
Far and wide, like his lord, that priest walks, far downstream, near the end of things. He walks beside the Nile beneath the hawk’s cry, smelling ash on the wind as the conquerors slowly but surely bring the Black Land to its knees. There, in that dream within in a dream, he watches the shining marble that clads the Pyramids crack and flake – the gleam and shine of the immortal stars is stolen from the land, revealing only pitiless blank stone beneath. The fields are salted, the bright colours and Names hewn into living rock are eroded and broken, amidst a landscape of ruins and half-buried monoliths – the temples closed and shuttered.
Still onwards presses the traveller, heart heavy as he stalks unfamilliar streets, the Mysteries veiled in coarse shouts promising wonders in exchange for coin. The Hellenes and the Hyksos long gone now, invaders shifting like the tide in the Nile, swallowed up by Time, wisdoms as shining things cloaked in crude clay and dust.
On and on the nomad goes, turning and turning in the widening gyre; the spinning vortex, the rushing rapids of river-torrent. His heart mourns, each beat a wounding, each pulse a terrible spike of restlessness. Here, now, you feel the knowledge of it scratching at the back of your tongue like a stylus engraving; meat instead of wax, flesh instead of papyrus, blood instead of ink. The bitterness sluices through you, the redness staining all your fluids, poisoning all your waters like a plague.
Yet still you listen, still you must have the knowing of it, because otherwise, how may you offer counsel to your king? How otherwise may you lend and blend your arts to strengthen the kingdom, to pursue Ma’at in whatever form her beauty may manifest?
He speaks with hushed voice, like wind whispering in the reeds – as if he fears the Great Devourer might surface in the river and pull him down, rolling, spinning; twisting and biting with its ancient jaws, gulping his souls down in an unending death-roll. As if his horrific journey might leave him torn in two, cloven apart and dispersed, forgotten in a howling gale.
The Nile rises and falls as ever, tombs broken open – the vehicles of the immortals ground up and consumed by hungry beasts, or imprisoned behind glass, to be slowly burned away to nothingness by a million hungry eys. Alien tongues stumble, corrupt and twist the language of the gods as smoke blots out the sky and clanking metal beasts tear across landscapes.
Through it all, the hawk screams, king of naught but desolation – and yet, the dreamer dreams hands upon his thread, fingering the weave with curiosity. They reach out, fragments of Mystery arranged like potsherds, grasping for him, trying to feel the fibre of the dream’s fabric, to pull back the curtain and reveal the will, the beingness of Ma’at.
Cold stone and darkness as the hawk screams, like an enraged and gleeful child. The dream thickens and then, the fragments begin to gleam like whitest marble. Pyramid luminescence shines out, the memory of reflected star-light all about him. Rising, like the sun, to emerge from the fragmentary darkness into somewhere new despite the horror.
He sees them grubbing through the dust, picking over the corpse of the Kingdom, digging in the dry soil, trying to crack it open to find the fertility beneath. He hears the echo then, sees them call on half-remembered gods, barely put together enough to find the essence of the names. Yet call they do, and it is the call that follows the River’s course, bending back upon itself.
He sees himself in new flesh, this dream of a dreamer seeing the light within his eyes. The innocent light, all unrestrained, childlike and as immortal as the fixed stars. Fear ripples down the River bank, as if someone has tossed a stone beneath the waters. It laps at, and through both of them.
The light grows. It burns all things, the wind of its wings scouring skin from bones as the crowned and conquering child swoops in all hawk-headed.
All knew then, he says to you, in that dryest whisper. All within the dream perceived the prophecy – a million years of darkness, where even the stars were cloaked, where even the immortals hid their faces. A million years of light, so long hidden, now unleashed in one moment – swelling to immensity from a single seed, as inescapable as Sekhmet, devouring all who comes before her. No escape from such light, do you understand? All reduced to ash, that glitters like the stars.
You understand of course. Even if you have not seen it, not known it as the dreamer knew it, you understand because you too have followed the River. You too have looked up at night and seen the stars, each one gleaming down upon you. You know of the sun, and the moon, and time and tide. of the secrets you keep, and the dreams you have, even when you don’t remember them.
You know and you understand this, and all that has gone before, because you’ve stood in the throne room, watching Pharaoh dandy Moses on his knee, seen his chubby fingers reach for the golden crown, innocent and playful. You don’t even have to imagine the chill racing up your spine, because it’s always there, with the hair rising up on the back of your neck, as you recognise hidden things revealing themselves, yes?
Think about it, the echoes of someone else’s dream still chilling you to the bone, folding together – disparate parts meeting and knitting themselves into the proper place, allowing you to remember, even now…
…Even now as you can see the child on the king’s knee, the hawk stretching forth its talons…
So perhaps it’s unsurprising that you’re worried for things. After all, you don’t want everything burned to ash – so you advise that the child be executed. One death, to avert a frankly horrific course of events. It’s supremely logical, and you wouldn’t be a proper counsellor if you didn’t warn the king.
But of course, if Moses had been killed as a child, then, well frankly, things would be very different. In an effort to preserve the child’s life, so the story goes, his future father-in-law suggested that they put him to the test, to see if he understood what it was that he was doing.
Two piles were erected, one of gold, and the other of hot coals. It was determined that if the child reached for the gold, he had understanding, and if for the coals, he had none, and would survive. This was done, and Moses promptly reached towards the gold!
Fortunately for the Hebrews, and Moses (!), the angel Gabriel intervened, moving the gold away from the child and put the hot coal in Moses hand instead, which a surprised baby put into his mouth, as babies are wont to do. Needless to say, this burnt the child quite badly, and it is for this reason that Moses was said to be ‘slow of speech’ and let his brother do the talking.
But do you remember this?:
“I am Moses your prophet to whom you have transmitted your mysteries celebrated by Israel; you have revealed the moist and the dry and all nourishment; hear me.”
“…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.”
Remember the Crowned & Conquering Child of Thelema? Remember that the Crowley version of the above rite is said to be a pre-requisite for the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel? You know, the thing that sets you off on the Great Work?
All these pieces, all these parts coming together, knitting into their proper place…running down down the river, with the ebbs and flows, the times and tides. The land fertilised by the great inundation of the Nile – Isis re-membering Osiris, bringing back the risen sun.
(Numinous beings all the way down, and up.)
And we can’t forget Gabriel can we? The messenger of good news, the blower of the last trump. The angel of resurrection and judgement – and, what’s this? The angel of Elemental Water in the Western Mystery Tradition, but associated with Fire in Jewish mysticism…
Fire upon the deep. Have you ever seen water burn, or fire flow?
(‘The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.)
Careful now, lest you slide too far down the serpent’s spine – get too carried away by the intoxicating liquor, drunk on the burning fluid, the cross-roads of Atziluth, Briah, pouring down, shaped by Yetzirah. Temperance is a virtue, but being tee-total is a vice!
Perhaps, as they say, Osiris is a black god – recall the scorpion’s tale? Recall the venom with which Isis stung Old Man Re, until she had the secret of his Hidden Name?
There are whispers that Gabriel once gave Solomon a ring, a ring that gave him great wisdom, and it is with this wisdom that the great king could command demons and set them to build the Temple. They say Gabriel leads the soul down its path to the body, sliding in through the gate in the back of your head, lit by the light of the moon.
And Osiris sits in the Western Lands…
Pieces, fragments, all coming together, each part a potential path to the whole – for every man and woman is a star; be it supernova or black hole, blazing light or endless darkness, you are a star. You are Hadit, hiding at the heart of every atom, the centre of every circle. You are Behadet – the winged and risen sun that sits atop the staff of Hermes.
Have you seen a rainbow in the dark of the night? Seen the colours gleam, suddenly unveiled in a the wing of a carrion bird?
Bifrost bridges the gap between men and gods – the Rainbow Serpent writhes through the waters, slides down the Tree.
(IEOU PYR IOU IAŌT IAĒŌ IOOU ABRASAX SABRIAM OO YY EY OO YY ADŌNAIE, immediately, immediately, good messenger of God)
Papa Legba ouvri bayé pou mwen, ago é!
Atibon Legba ouvri bayé pou mwen,
Ouvri bayé pou mwen papa, pou m pasé,
Le’m retounen map remesi lwa yo.
Being the messenger, the doorkeeper and storyteller, one can only lead. The choice is yours as to when exactly you will come forth and follow!
This too shall pass.
All I can do is whisper, show you the pieces and demonstrate the strange unity behind it all – to reveal as best I can the transitory nature of identity and flesh and bone, of the flux of thought and form, to show that the end is the beginning. To show that the whole may be found in any and all of the parts. To return you to the water that dissolves and creates. The water that burns and freezes to smoking breath beyond stage or state.
Fire, water, air and earth – elements all, pieces arranged in myriad different ways for infinite variety. The periodic table, full of elements too, born of stars. There is no Great Work, but You. You are your Magnum Opus – the currents and movements of your life are yours and yours alone, and you cannot stop them. You cannot halt the river – cannot dam the Celestial Nile, cannot slay the serpent without being poisoned and changed by its blood.
You are Whole, by being a part. You are a member of some great body, some particle of supernova, a twinkle in the eye of the All. Play your part to the hilt – cease doing and start Being. You have all the pieces. Trust me.