Sitting on a tree trunk in the old forest. In front of me dense leaves, the colour of mid summer, soft green before it becomes harsh khaki. The bark under my buttocks arranged in fine ridges, grey rather than brown, thin fingers, shallow grooves.
I stand and begin to walk the path. It’s red, the soil has a dusty quality, smooth and warm. Looking at my feet. They’re moving slowly, falling with certainty. I know this place. I’ve been here many times. And then the forest begins to clear. In front of me is a large, grassy area. To my left I can hear water. The trees fall away from me to my right. I can still hear the birds singing up in the branches. In the distance purple topped mountains. Closer a temple, round, pale skinned, blank windows set into thick walls. There are steps, four of them, massively horizontal, hewn out of light rock, perfectly worked into straight angles. At the top a dias, ridged to form sun rays, and then a door, above which is carved Malkuth. I’ve been here before. I know this place.
Inside pale becomes glinting orange, the light of sunset. Looking up and the ceiling is a dome, around which runs a balcony. The Ashim sing from the balcony, their flame bodies moving with breath and rhythm. They welcome me, some brush over my skin, with their words and music and spirit bodies. Their heat refreshes me.
I see the lady, throned, her hair coiled about her head, her arms resting gently at her sides. She smiles. I incline my head. Her clothes are richly decorated, with gold threads and lush red velvets. Although she is antiquated I can sense her agelessness. She is neither young nor old, instead she just is, seated in her place, her proper place, and I am her guest.
Three doors. On the left one marked XX, Judgement. Going. Not wanting to go. I cry a lot. It is fear real, ethereal. To want and not want. To feel desire and to be repelled. Forwards. Backwards. Swinging time.
Through the door and the ground is wet, clotted. The earth path here is dark. Underfoot rotting leaves and broken twigs. The leaves squelch. The twigs crunch. They are being squashed, breaking.
I am in a graveyard. Old tombstones rise before my eyes. One on the right, near the path, is covered in lichen and green moss. I cannot make out the inscription. In the distance I see a mausoleum. It’s square, white, columned with a pyramid roof. Someone important has died. They raised a shrine. Many of the tombstones are broken, lying at crumbled angles. There is a coffinesque one a few yards away. It’s lid is missing. My feet are wet. My hair is bound in elaborate coils and my white shift is damp and clinging to my body. I rise up, blood returns to my lips, it is as if I am waking from a very long dream, a dream that has kept me in this coffin for many years. I watch myself walk towards myself and then I join, black and white with colour. I feel my chill.
Above me a white light, conical, starting as a pinprick up in the night sky and falling to ground in shafts of luminescence. I don’t need to be scared. I am not blind. Everything is throw into sharp focus as I recognise him from his sword. Michael. He who has counselled me to take the blood of harvest into my wintering heart. He showed me once what to do with the seed, how to tuck it away and keep it safe until the spring would help to bring forth its promise.
The sword, double edged, shining steel, a hand guard, worked gold. His gown is white. He does not speak. I know already. I always have and always will.
Another door, thrown open into brilliance, a space with no walls, no floors, no ceilings. I cannot fathom the distance or proportions. This light is blinding and breathtaking. To step in? The door has been opened.
In front of me a wide staircase, stretching from beneath to above, curving around, encompassing. Marble. Alabaster. Iridescent clouds. I do not require air to be able to breathe.
Walking down the stairs, a man with a staff, he has two snakes, but I can barely see them. He flickers in and out of my vision, part of the light, part of my perception. The snakes provide the only colour, brown and green, a solidity of muscle and movement. He becomes a she, with breasts, his hair tied behind his head, her feet padding on the marble, all is toneless, there is no silver or gold or sound, just white and light. Silky satin.
Her lips move. He is talking to me. Hearing has no place in this space. Listening is irrelevant. Lips are moving. There is no strain, no gain. Lips are moving and they are beautiful in their movement.
She takes me by the hand, but not by the hand. He has my hand and I have her hand, yet there is no grip or force.
Up the stairs and everything shrinks. At the apex I find myself in a small room. Walls are brushed cream. The floor is boarded with dark wood. Along the walls bookshelves, filled with leather bound tomes. There are desks, a person sitting at each, their backs to me. They are silent. They are working.
I am led down a central aisle, past the desks. No-one lifts their heads. In small alcoves bell jars sit on plinths. I do not know what is inside them. There is a geared machine, proportioned to fit on a small table. Brass cogs. A turning device. The sphere rotates silently. And then an empty desk. I sit. The wood is very old, a black patina is engraved into a polished dark brown surface. An ink pot. A feathered quill. The feather is beautiful, fine, an abstract white not white. Set into the desk three buttons, brass, big, the size of my palm.
I press the left button. It shows me everything I know. Rapidly words and images flash in front of my eyes: ‘The Seventh Seal’, incalculate, a magnesium flare. I press the right button. It shows me everything I do not know: colours I have never seen, fascinating words, a wiring diagram. I press the middle button and a book appears, hard backed, dense woven fabric, blacker than black, the titled engraved in silver: ‘HOD’. I open the book and begin to read.