Completing the Circle

Why did I keep on dreaming of a childhood home, always at night, garden overgrown like a wild jungle. Why did I keep on dreaming of the past?

It was not the past. It was the future.

The circle must be completed and every point along its line must be passed through. As sentient beings move in circles, the past is to be lived and relived, to become the future again, then the past again.

Getting stuck is extremely easy – life is hard in this age, time for reflection is scarce. Discovering the true self is not encouraged – such empowered people do not follow orders or build craven systems, so we are separated from ourselves. And even if we were encouraged to find our true selves, the journey would be a terrifying one many would not want to make.

Depression, feeling lost, isolated, purposeless, insomniac and anxious – all this comes from stopping at a point, a failure to complete the circle. No wonder it never goes away if you never try to move on! Until movement returns, the soul is truncated, growth is violently retarded, the lesson is not learned.

The soul will always rebel, it cannot be silenced for long.

You may love where you are today and love who are with today. But this may not hold true in a year, or two, or ten. Places you thought horrible may again become sanctuaries, and safe havens may become pits of boredom. People you thought safe may become dangerous, people you thought you hated may bring tears to your eyes when they pass away. Emotions that you avoided may become more relevant than you thought; the darkness you feared a guide back to the path you must return to. Things change and shift because this is the nature of life itself. There is no solid ground to stand on forever.

The circle must be completed.

Of course we cannot see into the future, nor predict what it will bring! Life is a labyrinth which must be explored and traversed, not a puzzle to be pieced together by a mind from without.

I know where my soul is calling me – back to the source.

But why would a traumatized soul want to return? Because through adult eyes it can see anew, re-evaluate events, cast off chains of dread and haunting shadows, allow healing forces to enter the soul. With adult strength it can endure past endurance, face demons and scatter them before it. Prepare itself for the next challenge – for the quest is never complete and a strictly happy ending is never achieved. But at least there is always movement and change, as the seasons do change.

There is no use lamenting, where you are is where you are. Sometimes it is necessary to go on detours, to spend years in one place, to suffer for some greater goal, or to run off and go crazy. All that matters is that the circle is completed. Forgiving ourselves for not always being perfect or doing what is best for us is essential – we are finite and mortal modes of nature, rather than the little gods we are expected to be.

My rational mind could not make sense of that obsession with the past. Why was it always night time? Why was the garden always overgrown? The subconscious (where the truth of your self and its relation with the world truly lies) knew long before the surface-mind which direction it had to go. Such dreams seemed irrelevant or historical only because the part of the mind above water, above the mist and shadows, was living only its present and not its place in the whole. It was afraid even, of that whole. And maybe rightly so, because at one point it had to be. But where will it lead now?

All you have to do is complete the circle and you can find out.

 

 

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On Nyteshades

Nyteshades are the most shadowy of all wizard orders. Taking after their Originator they are dark, solitary and mysterious creatures, more at home in the woods than in the cities of men. Representing the aspects of Night and Chaos above all else, they are unashamedly cynical in most matters of civilization – particularly those of Light and Order. Often isolated from people – or spending most of their lives in their heads – Nyteshades are quick to anger, ill-tempered and extremely impatient. Their expectations of people are unrealistically high, fueling feedback loops of expectation and disappointment. This in turn leads to the grim faithlessness, lack of cohesion and cynicism which is the great flaw of this order.

Yet despite the endless struggles of their lives, Nyteshades tend to be very intelligent, cunningly wise, songful bards and delightfully unpredictable company. Folk would think twice before risking the sardonic tongue of these umbrageous sorcerers, yet equally glad that they were not on the wrong side of their staves! They are powerful presences, their deep rage and sacred anger translating into warrior spirit – if not ill-disciplined berserk wrath – when strife calls. Trained to deal with the anxiety of their lives, they can face crisis with confidence. In times of need, most of these dark veterans can be relied upon to come out of their shells and cooperate with the resistance, until the battle is won or the problem solved. Often they will slink back to their hiding holes immediately after the dust settles, leaving no trace that they were ever around.

Shunned by most other orders, Nyteshades have nonetheless made a disproportionately large contribution to all fields of Lore. Their lack of dogma or hierarchy allows for free thinking and thus immense levels of discovery, even in spite of their low numbers. As expected of such a solitary, scattered order, they have no central shrine, no great gathering, no chapters and no permanent dwelling in any city. Nyteshades meet in the sacred groves, beneath the earth in crystal caverns or among the ancient stone circles of the Old Races. It is these places that this normally-irreverent order consider sacred and powerful, unimpressed by the pretense and symmetry of ‘high civilization’.

The Order of Nyteshades consider the Black Swords to be the most sacred of relics, longing to have one fall into their hands again. They take the Raven or the Cat as their totemic sigil, juxtaposed against the light of the moon or the glow of the crystal. Every incarnation of their Order sigil is similar but different, representing that every Nyteshade follows the pattern, but none so dogmatically. And always imperfectly.

A toast to perfect health

Entropic machines which build and fall apart
Multi-layered trauma catchers which never let go
Wounded angels torn apart by nature
Who still swear fealty like loyal children
Moss clinging to life upon a window sill
Trees reaching blindly up to the sun
Fucked-up seasons, spiked circles
Running roughshod over the universe
Sacks of broken nerves pulsating
Ghosts afraid of their own reflection
Stark poets inebriated by their own hubris
Futile voyagers on the hopeless rock
Misunderstanding their own dreams
(If they dream at all)
The saddest joke evolution ever played
The souls even Christ gave up on.

Here is a toast to perfect health.

 

The void inside us

He crested the edge of the Earth-Plane.

A void stood before him, a starless one. He reached over the side of the earth and his arm vanished into the darkness. The wreathe of plane-light could barely reach his fingers and he recoiled. Letting his boot slide back down into a foothold, his bunched muscles relaxed and he slid down the rock-face. His cloak snagged a sharp rock. He reached for it, feeling its familiar texture through his gloves.

‘No!’ he roared and then he leapt into the darkness.

He drifted through the cosmos, he was alone. Little would he know it but he would pass worlds at war, held in common by bridges across the empyrean. He would be seen and ignored by great minds, unable to comprehend his role in the universe. Or perhaps indifferent to him, for perhaps he deserved only indifference. He could see nothing, although he could sometimes feel the breath of gods upon his frail form. Even that subsided. He thought he had a hum, the distant beating of a dragons wings.

The thought occured to him that maybe he had fallen so far outside of time that he could not possibly turn back now. The last of his sentiment drained and he found himself desiring nothing. Finally, something tangible began to form before his eyes. Upon a flat rock of smooth obsidian, a tower seemed to rise, bands of light pulsing out from it and dissipating into crumbling rings. It was impossible yet ge accepted it as it was, having abandoned the power of logic long ago. Nor did he think much of the spindle which rose out of the tower and surrounded him like a net of crystal, gently guiding him to an open dais. Between gargantuan sculpted hands he was drawn and he accepted it. Figures stood there, vast men in vast armour, impassively staring at the drifting man. As he set down upon the smooth rock, Beorec bowed slightly. A low voice carried across the void and echoed inside the traveller’s helm.

‘It has been long since one has visited this place from your obscure plane. Who are you?’

‘I am Beorec Sertanus. Or at least I was, for my family does little to understand me and I have abandoned them. I would bargain with Azymuth.’

‘Then despair thyself. You do not belong here and shall gain nought from us.’

‘Let me. I would bargain with you, however you please. Anything!’

‘One does not simply bargain with Azymuth! Besides, what would you offer?

Beorec held himself tall and gazed into the pitless helm of the sentinel. ‘My blade’

The armoured giant lowered his hands, palms upturned. Beorec held the sword upright, smiling as the cosmic torchlight played upon its elegant hilt. With gentle ceremony he handed over his father’s old sword, and then he stepped away with a slight bow. The sentinel of Azymuth grunted and snapped the blade in half, crushing it to dust in his gauntlets.

‘Is that all?’

Beorec thought of offering his heart. He thought better of it.

The armoured giant sighed with a slight shrug. ‘Begone mortal, this is no place for you.’

‘I will slay you and take your place.’

The vast sentinel stood patiently, as if he was perplexed by what he had just heard. ‘Unlikely.’

‘Face me!’ cried Beorec, drawing a hand axe from his belt.

‘Nay.’

Beorec hurled himself at the giant and hacked into his armour, the axe-head scraping against a domed pauldron. The sentinel remained as he was, gazing down at the little man.

‘Ah, but this one has pluck. Very well, I take pity on you.’

Beorec backed away, gazing up confusedly. He swung his axe back and struck again. His arm hung in mid-air, caught by a vast gauntlet. Beorec screamed as he was lifted in the air and slung over an immense, rounded shoulder guard. Blackness followed as he was hauled into the tower like a sack of grain.

When next he awoke he was again wreathed in darkness, yet felt utterly connected with the one he had sought.

‘Is that you, great one? Where-‘

‘I am already here,’ the voice raced through his head and Beorec writhed on the ground. ‘I am inside you, as I am inside all mortals.’

‘Aaaah, wha-‘

‘I am Azymuth, and all that is sentient, all that reflects upon Nature, is part of I.’

‘What…are…you?’ he cried

‘You cannot comprehend me, for you can perceive only things only through the weak prism of your mind. To the thousandfold dimensions that make up the rest of the cosmos you are blind.’

‘Then tell me, master…tell me…’

‘I will tell you nothing if you continue to call me master, for you are not worthy to be called my slave. You are less than a slave; you are finitude to my infinity; you are nothing.’

‘Then I am no slave, but dirt, dirt at your feet, but tell me what you would have me do.’

‘You are not dirt, you are nothing.’

‘I am nothing, nothing! But tell me all I must know for I have left my home to find you! Tell me what I must do!’

‘Embrace me, seek me. Avoid me, hide from me. You shall find me, I am the void inside you. I am the feeling of carnage in your heart which loves the sight of war; I am the impulse which has you reach for your sword without provocation; I am three cups of wine too many on a night of hedonistic delight; I am that which disappoints you and yet keeps you coming back for more; I am the disconnect between morality and action which makes hypocrites of saints; I am that which prevents you from feeling empathy for life; I am that which causes you to despair at the suffering of the cosmos; I am the cyclical ennui which flattens your spirit; I am that which makes you feel alone in a full room; I am that which makes you hate yourself such that every day is a struggle against self-annihilation; I am the destruction of life, all life; I am the resolution of the universe; I am the supreme end; I am absolute entropy and negation for all of eternity. I am Azymuth, and my acolytes are legion, and I will destroy my brothers and sisters and children, and nothing will remain to oppose me.’

For a moment the voice formed into an image and Beorec’s heart exploded and his veins sundered and his ribs burst open through his mail as he saw what no mortal had yet seen and lived. As he lay upon the smooth rock and waited for the end of the vision he dimly heard the conclusion.

‘And then I will destroy the last of the Planes…’

He awoke again, against the crest of a tall, dark rock. The void lay before him, a distant city lay behind. He turned his back on the void, so that now the distant city waited before him. But now he knew he could not leave the void, that it came with him wherever he went. Beorec reached for the broadsword at his belt, it was gone. With a grim smile he trudged toward the city, he had abandoned, thankful just to feel hard stone beneath his feet.

I am waiting for you

I am waiting for you at the roots of a black mountain

At the axis of eternity where no falling stones may strike us.

I am waiting to hear of your tales in that voice:

Read me the letters sent by desperate princes from far places

Tell me where you wiped daemonic blood from you sword

And say if you found love so I can know if it is real.

Regail with battles won and lament the times you were routed

Tell of the spells you have seen cast from wizened claws

The beasts whose breath has panted on your neck

The artefacts which pulsed with power in cavernous shrines

The thousand-temple processions and the songs they sung.

Expound wild theories of the cosmos, or just speak in axioms

Say what we should do, counsel where humanity should go

Deplore idealism as you do, balance the scales as you can

Remind me of why I am alive, why we are alive.

 

I am waiting as I have been long waiting, and I will wait more

Yet I have done nothing, nothing but waiting and waiting.

I have created nothing with these fingers but brittle shapes

Sired no children in these lands and planted no great trees

I have just watched the hands of a clock pass, hidden from myself,

Seen decay turn to death, lost all purpose in a moment

Given up and given up and given up until my hands became empty

Of all but callouses and scars.

 

For as long as I remember things felt as if  they were slipping away,

At best and at worst things were unreal, illusive deception.

So know this, whilst I waited long, I know nothing, fathom nothing,

I have nothing to say, I can only hear.

I have achieved nothing and built nothing

Raised nothing and mustered nothing

As ephemeral as a pass of the sun or a moment of inspiration

But inspired no one!

You will have nothing to learn, except perhaps how a life can flash by

How a phoenix can fall back into the embers

Or a sycamore seed can miss the soil.

 

I am waiting here, in the node of oblivion, at dark gates

And I will wait til you come here to spar with me again

Lips crooked, swords drawn.

Song for the precarious generation

A merchant fallen from fortune
Might find a mere basement before his eyes

And a man safe in his lover’s arms
Might find himself alone when she dies

A king commanding a kingdom
Might find himself thrown out on his arse

And a beautiful woman of elegance
Might find herself horribly scarred

A city overlooking a river
Might find itself flooded and drowned

And a castle safe on the cliffs
Might face tremors and come crumbling down

A keeper who tends to his bees
Might find them all wiped out by disease

And a bard who depends on his fame
Might be forgotten in song and in name

One thing is for certain in life
That nothing is ever so safe as it seems.

All hearts stop beating, all bodies grow old
All beauty is fleeting, all heat goes cold.

The only strength that always remains true
Is to adapt and survive with empty hands

For you never know, when it will be you
Dispossessed and disowned of your power and lands

Human dignity – ah what a noble attitude!
But Nature is a mocking skull, who laughs at our finitude.

Absolute peace

Once there was a troubled soul who sought tranquillity. He heard of the Sage who lived deep in the forest and trusted in his reputation. So he sold his house and sold his belongings and donated the proceeds to the church, then he left his home with empty hands.
 
Finding the Sage of the forest he asked: ‘Is it true that you can show me the way to absolute peace?’
 
‘Yes’ replied the old man. ‘But first you must trust that this is what you want. Is it peace you desire over all else?’
 
‘Aye’ replied the troubled man.
 
‘Next you must trust me, trust my deeds and not just my reputation. Do you trust me? Have I ever failed one of my disciples?’
 
‘Not that I know of’ replied the troubled man. ‘So I trust you will show me the secret to absolute peace.’
 
‘Very well. First you must find the greatest oak in the forest and wait there. I will find you there.’
 
So the troubled man sought the greatest oak in the forest. In about a week he had found it and took his place beneath it. He waited hours, then days, then weeks, then months before the Sage found him.
 
‘I have been here many days. Am I on the path to absolute peace?’
 
‘Yes, you have done well.’
 
‘What must I do now that I have waited so long?’
 
‘Continue waiting. It will come to you.’
 
So the man waited beneath the tree for weeks, then months, then years. Again the Sage found him, sitting in almost the exact same spot.
 
‘Am I closer to my goal oh Sage?’ asked the troubled man.
 
‘Yes, not long to go now.’
 
‘What should I do?’
 
‘Nothing, just keep on waiting.’
 
So the troubled man waited patiently,  for months, for years and then decades, dreaming of the day he might finally reach enlightenment. Now old and haggard the troubled man felt he was running out of time. He started to worry that he had been forgotten, but then he remembered to trust the Sage and continued to wait patiently.
 
Until finally, one day in early Winter, the Sage returned bearing a bone-white cloth.
 
‘Oh  Sage, I have done as you advised. Am I close to the peace I desire?’
 
‘Very close’ replied the Sage, who watched as the troubled man took his last breath and slumped over. There was a look of peace on his lifeless face.
 
The Sage covered the body with the cloth and returned to the depths of the forest.

Dealing with duality

If you dare to love, you must dare to lose.

If you want to feel joy, you must also sense sorrow.

If you wish to live, you must also expect death.

 

I have just thought of the most succinct conception of ‘fantasy’ ever. Fantasy is when life is one thing and not the other. It is good without evil, love without loss, life without death, change without chaos, pleasure without pain, and so on.

Reality is double-edged. Everything that can sense pleasure can feel pain. Everything that can soar high will be pulled down by gravity, everything that grows will decay.

The rough ground of reality leaves no space for perfection. Imperfection and finitude is hard-wired into us. Sentience contains suffering, and acceptance of this is necessary for us to feel anything good at all.

The closest we can get to fantasy is a grim remedy. Either to deny our own emotions and effectively be already-dead, a being without total sentience, a truncated being of ignorance and inhumanity. Or we can forever seek to get high and stay high – a biological impossibility, the destruction of our brains and natural rhythms, a constant urge to stay awake, never dream until the body collapses.

Anxieties of perfect health, of immortal life, of endless pleasure, of freedom from chaos, of eternity and afterlife – all feed into the fantasy of a non-reality which is irresistible to use finite beings, yet must be acknowledged as harmful to the soul. We must accept the darkness as we accept the light; we must dispel our myths and fantasies as wishful thinking at best, and destructive ideals at worse.

How much we suffer depends on our expectations. The longer we expect to live perfectly happy lives, the longer we shall suffer. This does not mean giving up the struggle for better standards, denying happiness and accepting artificial suffering. Nor does it mean disengaging with the world around us.

It simply means being realistic about what is and isn’t possible. We should strive for better, but realistically so. We should enjoy moments of love and happiness but accept that they are ephemeral. We should add suffering aplenty into our equation. Fortunately this dark cloud need not depress us; we should know that suffering is the cause of solidarity, heroism and enlightenment.

Life without this struggle is beyond my conception.

 

Down the pit and into the tunnel

Does it make me a brave person to feel?

Feelings of extreme anxiety, compounding with feelings of extreme despair, sleepless sensitive nights and tiredness all day, no energy to reach safe ground.

Is there any place of safety out there? If there was silence would I just be tormented by my thoughts?

Security and insecurity – evolution strives for us to be safe and secure, but why doesn’t society comply with this. It is not in the interests of the powerful to have empowered or happy ‘lessers’.

Politicizing these extreme emotions puts them into a context, but they are still here to be felt because the political situation is still here to be felt.

Where to go when it feels like the world has run out of love or if it has any left that you will be overlooked for it?

Burdens weigh heavily in the background and sometimes the switch from stable to horrific is just feeling what is already there, what might be called a dark catharsis.

The endless dark way, the nature of reality itself for us material-sensitive-beings is sometimes sheer pain – I know this, to sense is to sense what is good and what hurts and you cannot have one without the other.

But our political situation does not allow for much vulnerability. Trained to be isolated, precarious and desperate. I could have a castle to myself and yet want to commit suicide. It is love and connection which saves us from addiction and self-destruction but where is that to be found? Does anyone know?

You can talk about ‘self-care’ but what if you cannot care for yourself because it is a time for suffering and pain rather than healing? The nature of the universe must contain great black patterns of suffering woven into it, so as to make it unavoidable.

I mean, are we a fucking joke? It feels like it, a sadistic, sick minded prank of a species. We get to die in the end, but that is less to be feared than prolonged suffering or psychological anguish.

Why did all those bad things happen and why do they continue to? I cannot turn a blind eye but to stare into an abyss means to slowly be destroyed by it. There is no one around because they are hollowed-out husks or trying to stay afloat upon their bubble-worlds lest they be burst by ill-fortune or poor foresight.

What most people may not realize is that there is an entire sub-species of us who sees through a different lens, one so powerful that it cannot be stopped and sees through everything, and this means a life with intense episodes of woe and misery that trap and isolate and snare you in despair until it slowly fades away again.

Then life resumes but you know how hard it will again become.

If I did not feel then I would not be alive. This at least is the consolation. You cannot live without feeling, and you certainly cannot live a moral life without emotions to guide you. So even if feeling eventually kills me or makes me want to kill or destroy myself, it would have been necessary to let me be anything authentic in the first place.

I do not believe in health anymore and know that order is impossible.

Caged beauty

You see beauty in the world and you want to hold onto it.

A beautiful woman walks past you. In that moment you feel the spontaneity of desire. She is framed by sunlight and the trees, obviously at the height of her power and confidence. You manage to just about start a conversation about which bus to take and mention your band. She finds your band on Facebook. You want to see her again, just to be near her; she is so beautiful.

You wait and wait and wait for a message. Nothing. You feel resentful, cheated. You look at her profile picture obsessively. Then she messages you! You write back excitedly. Then again, then again, then again. Two weeks later she writes again, a response with little or no opening for reply.

You message her again, again and again. And again. Your confidence starts to fade, your will falters. You message her asking if she cares about you. She never speaks to you again. You feel a deep sense of loss, an opportunity for happiness crushed.

Beauty cannot be caged or captured. It is the most fleeting of all things. When we let go of it, we gain a chance to refind it.

But there are no guarantees in life. You may find beauty or may end up with only vulgarity before you. This means the only way to contentment is to accept what comes and never to try and cage, or expect, beauty.