Chaos in Cairo
If my life were compared to the Alchemical process, at present I would be in Putrefaction. The King and Queen (my wife and I) were hermetically sealed (Married) and then blackened by mundane existence. I had the grinding job at the university, while she maintained our house in the suburbs and due to the glass walls of the curibit neither of us were going anywhere. Hip people call it: ‘dead end life’; hype people call it the ‘American dream’.
My one burning desire is to clean up all the claptrap of meaningless dogma, which clings like barnacles to the great ship: MAN. Take Christianity: There seems to have been a genuine spiritual movement some two thousand years ago, however it was usurped and corrupted by the ‘Church fathers’ for political purposes. The myths of Osiris, Dionysus, Mithera, were borrowed and attached to the Christ image to make easy the conversion of the pagan masses. I mean they can do what they bloody well like, but it has nothing to do with the original spiritual experience – it is DOGMA!
But listen I rant; rather let me tell you what happened. I was wandering the vast halls of the Cairo Museum of Egyptian antiquities looking for exhibit 666, when I was completely taken by a simple statue: a man walking with a giant hawk morphing out of his back and head. It was like the Loa who ride on the neck and shoulders of a voodoo priest or priestess. I visualized the same hawk on my shoulders and I felt uplifted into the mind of the God. I mean, yes, it was imaginary yet it was extraordinary.
I walked back to the hotel with that same deity – the Hawk –attached to me as if I were his feet – I felt strong and mighty. I listened to the spirited tones of the noon prayers being chanted from the Mosque and it seemed to fill me. Overwhelmed by the full-bodied odor of the street I rose above it all. Even the heat rising from the hot brick as well as hot exhaust from the relentless little honking cars had no effect on me; the smells of sweating defecating camels and donkeys, burning incense, tobacco, perspiring peasants perfumed with patchouli and musk, all seemed part of my being.
Here one always has an entourage, beggars, children, merchants following, knowing you could make their day; eventually you become accustomed to it and in time don’t even see it. Today there was someone following but rather than being solicitous, he was lurking and sinister, even a little menacing; he was dressed in black native caftan with Arab headdress pulled over the face. His eyes burned with hate. Was he a terrorist? One part of me wanted to go back and confront him, I do have a pistol in my pocket, but the other less pigheaded part of my brain, which remembered reading The Stranger by Camus, wanted nothing to do with it.
O God I don’t look like an American do I? I have adopted the clothes of the average man on the street; I even have a Fez and sandals! Yet I feel like I am being stalked or staked out for robbery or kidnapping or God knows what with this crazy global terrorism. One thing I have noticed is that when you feel hunted your psychic powers move to the forefront and you see clearly; you will do the right thing as long as you don’t argue with yourself. I sensed danger so close I felt prompted to move quickly down an unknown ally. I race along the narrow cobblestone passageway with dogs yapping and run through a flock of pigeons that fly in my face. I hear a woman's voice, high pitch angry, then another female voice low pitch and calming, there were dishes rattling and the scent of garlic, cumin, peppers, frying in sesame oil...mmm someone’s kitchen. I became so engrossed in the common events around me I totally forgot the danger if there was any. I looked up at the aged walls and marveled at how old they might be...hundreds maybe thousands of years have passed on these alleyways. I smell tobacco and coffee and hear the murmur of men's voices. Seeing a door open and looking inside, I recognize the back entrance to a cafe I had been in yesterday afternoon. It is dark but friendly - perfect. I jumped in swiftly, thinking to have a coffee, smoke a bowl of tobacco, and relax! I mean it was an hour before your arrival. I slipped into a chair at a table in a corner and gestured the waiter for a hookah and a coffee. He fitted me with a fresh stem and mouthpiece and placed a red-hot charcoal in the bowl. He walked away got me a demitasse of coffee placed it on the table and then positioned a wad of what I took to be tobacco on the charcoal in the bowl of the pipe. I took a deep draw on the pipe, exhaled, and then sipped my coffee. What aromatic tobacco, I mused - maybe the water is scented. The tobacco made me feel a bit lightheaded but happy. I was smiling. My lungs fill with fresh air; I felt alive - refreshed.
I smoked more and drank my coffee, feeling better and better. I was entranced and transported by a musician playing the Oud; he was singing an evocative religious song. I felt my mind float free from the restraint of my body and rise toward a heavenly light; I was acutely conscious of wanting you; I thought of the verse, “For I am divided for love’s sake, the chance of union” this is not rational but rather effervescing, something closer to chaos - the very source of it all. Thinking of myself in conflict is inescapable, to resist is to realize defeat. One must let go to a melancholic optimism enter the realm of uncertainty before free falling into a spontaneous act of love.
The waiter approached and asked would I like more coffee, I felt dry, parched, cottony mouthed, “no please mint tea and sweets” he smiled knowingly and asked would the gentleman now like some tobacco as well?” “What was that I smoking?” I asked him, keeping in mind that only moment before I had been flying among the stars like a God! “That was hashish sir, when you pointed toward the hookah and spun your hand pointing up that means Hashish” I blushed realizing I must have seen locals do it and assumed, “Ha! Well, how does one gesture for tobacco then?” “You point to the hookah turn hand palm up as if to admit defeat - no time for that, just tobacco.” I grew tired of the cafe, and thinking only moments had passed where as it had actually been an hour! I am late! Outside I heard a great clamorous sound: bells, drums, whistles, shouts hundreds of people shouting to the rising joy the rhythmic music; the drums grew louder and the rhythm faster and faster as if to create a frenzy. “It is the dervish passing,” said the waiter as I paid him. We both still were laughing. I made the gesture of the knuckle to forehead, to lips, to heart, and said,” Allah be with you.”
I went out the front door and into the street; the music was uproarious, devotees leaping laughing whistling hooting there are dancers whirling chanting loosing themselves to the maddening pace of the drums. I see whirling madmen obviously possessed, as the pace grows stronger; the very world seems captured in these rhythms. I become so excited by the spectacle that suddenly I am one with them floating down the joyous avenue. I went on and on and soon was lost. I caught a taxi.
With only one block to go, I saw that man talking to some men - I see him but he doesn’t see me. I manage to slip off the other way and go through the market, which is the long way back to the Hotel, when I got to the hotel they said you got tired of waiting and had gone out. I told the clerk to hold you here if you came back and went out to look for you. When I returned I found you in the lobby waiting.” It had been three months. Her smell excited me; I wanted to taste her flesh in my kisses. I imagined undressing her. She was all I could think of at the moment. I wanted to stop the conversation.
“Why should a total stranger have any interest in you and by the way you look ridiculous in that outfit!” she said.
“We leave tomorrow morning for the Temple of Hathoor” Julian stopped to think for a minute what might most please his wife, then said, ”I’ll ask the concierge to book us a room on the riverboat and have our luggage taken to that room. Tonight we can have a candlelight dinner in my room; it has a view of the Nile, it’s beautiful at night; we can eat in bed, there is a bottle of Champagne. We get up at four.”
“If you were feeling so romantic, you could have met me at the airport.”
The hours passed sub Rosa, in the name of Eros and we were soon standing on the bow of our riverboat. We looked up and to the left and saw Venus leaving with the remnants of night sky. A pink shimmering aura of light formed on the horizon illuminating the purple edge of darkness. It was an effervescence of delicate color as the sky slowly, gradually, developing from mist to cloud to bold solar beams launching the assent of the fiery globe on golden wings. OK so I’m waxing poetic here but I’m trying to express the feeling of that moment; it was stupendous. I could completely understand the myth of Ra in his rising. How many an ancient priest saw just that vision while singing the morning adoration.
We sat in the dining room looking out over the landscape slowly navigated its way up the river passing date palms, fields of cucumber and tomatoes, and melons, all of which we now eat along with pastries made from the wheat just up river. My wife asked,” since we are going to visit the Nag Hammadi sight which is basically a rocky cleft, like every other rocky cleft around, and even you confess it to be a total non event – why on earth do you want to go to a location where the evidence is gone?”
“Ah that’s the lawyer, always looking for the facts, it’s more that I just want to get a feel of the sight - I don’t know - its just a mystery to me.”
“So we both like mysteries only I look for the reason of a crime – you? I don’t know.”
“Its not so much to know as to understand. I had taken an interest in the Gnostic mysteries, one of my students suggested I read Aleister Crowley - that lead to here. It’s the feel of things I want. You see, in 1904, while Crowley and his wife Rose were in Cairo, something extraordinary occurred. He acted as a scribe to receive a 65-page manuscript dictated by a preatorhuman being named Aiwass. This Revelation claimed to bring to an end the Christian era or Aeon of Osiris and introduce the Aeon of Horus.”
She looked away in disinterest, “Look! Some water buffalo!”
“Wow, what really fascinates me about the Nag Hammadi discovery is that it managed to stay hidden for nearly 1600 years during the era of witch hunts, inquisitions, truth mongering till arriving at an age when it would not be destroyed as heresy; a time when it could once again be admired and contemplated,” I wanted her to understand why I was so excited by it, “it couldn’t just be a coincidence.”
I wondered whether I should ask, “do you believe in spiritual beings?”
“No…there are just plants animals and us. Why do we need all that superstitious crap?
“I believe our minds are capable of such a contact, we enter through the dream world and there are laws just like in this land.”
She looked him up and down, “what got you on such a weird bent?”
“Well for one thing I think the hashish got me going but it is the whole Crowley myth – some part of me believes totally in that strange book – that coupled with the Naghamadi Text. Here we have living spiritual phenomena rather than all these static religions. The Gnostics wanted a personal experience or perception that could inspire a spark of real comprehension. This is what I feel is missing in modern religion. They wanted to nurture this spark that it might grow into an experience of existence; such an attainment would signify the ultimate accomplishment of a persons life. What could be deemed the authentic truths of existence would be realized on a personal level.”
“You get so carried away. So what happened?”
“What happened was the Judas kiss - they were betrayed, hunted down and murdered. All this personal freedom toward revelation and experience ran against the narrow dogma of the church fathers, which were so hot to establish themselves as the only authorities on the Gospel that they would kill anyone that got in their way.”
“That’s just it – religious fanatics!”
“Yes! Revelation had to stop. With a limited and restricted mentality they were only interested in a faith packed pabulum for the masses. They wanted control and power. They certainly did not want alternatives to their very narrow literal interpretation of the Gospel” We look out the window as the scenery drifts slowly by. I thought about how these grand ideals, and mighty kingdoms, come and go leaving traces like camel tracks through the desert.
“It’s interesting how much religious history is here.” she smiled, “like Moses and the Pharaoh.”
I felt like I was winning for the first time in our on going battle about my vocation. “It is most telling in that which Ireneaus says about the Gnostics: Every one of them generates something new, day by day according to his ability; for no one is deemed perfect (or mature) who does not.”
“How bad! I would hope they would say as much about me, it sounds more like a compliment than a criticism” she had a smile that absolutely melted my heart, so I made every effort to make her smile.
“What most annoyed the fathers were the liberties given to women as well as the Gnostics unabashed use of sex in worship.” I drank my very sweet coffee and dreamed of a perfect world where sex was unrestricted.
“I like that idea, I think sex is divine” she smiled and I just wanted to grab her up in my arms and kiss her. “But what do you mean about women”
“The way they made the mother of Jesus a virgin and made Mary, his favorite disciple, a whore. The message to woman is clear: stay at home! Religion is man’s work,” I saw a man trying to coax a stubborn mule along a dusty dirt road and felt an inward smile. I knew the old Gods would never go away. “Take the ass which transported Joseph and Mary from Egypt to Bethlehem - This is Typhoon - the old God. It was the ‘old God’ that Jesus came from. This God is latter labeled Satan by an over heated fantasy of the Church fathers. A boogie to scare children and old women. They wanted to stamp out all flames of liberated thought.”
“I love the old Gods” she smiled, “shall we go back to the room?” Yes, I thought, we both agree on that!
Back at the room Jane threw off her blouse and wrapped her arms around me, kissing me deeply. She pushed me toward the bed saying, “let’s make love.” she reached down to fondle my expanding member and laughed, “I want you in my mouth.”
“Well, that sounds groovy.” I was exploding with desire
“The gods and us. I feel like being naughty – I do love you – you know.”
Later at lunch we noticed a rather interesting looking character not local but rather a fellow traveler. I began to fantasize about his origin and suggested Transylvania with a laugh, because of his noble countenance, which included a walking stick sporting a Hawk for a handle, a pampered mustache and waxed black hair combed straight back. Accompanying him was a rather stout woman with a large white turban illuminated by a glittering stone. She wore a white satin dress and about her neck were pearls. The gentleman rose and approached; he bowed then spoke in a thick European accent, “I beg you pardon for intruding, but upon hearing an American Professor was on board, well I wanted to meet him.”
I rose and said, “I am Doctor McCoy.” I offered my hand then worried if that was the proper gesture. I then spilled my water on the table and created a ruckus.
“Oh dear it seems we have naughty sylphs at work - I am sorry. I am The Baron Voglebrine and the lady with me is Countess Frabreche...”
Sylphs? I thought, is he some Rosicrucian? Wow - life keeps throwing me surprises. The Countess motioned to him to return to her and whispered in his ear. He nodded then looking very grave as he returned to us; he leaned down and whispered, “she is a famous Medium - she said the Spirits are calling for you.”
I must say I felt a little disconcerted, “calling for me?” I mumbled not really knowing what to say, after all this 2004 not Victorian England. The Baron continued by saying, “tonight in Denderah we will hold a séance.”
We got up together and walked out on the deck, he offered cigars before explaining that, “a séance could not be held on a barge because only water Spirits travel over water.”
I asked, “How does she know they are calling me?”
“She can see it in your aura - they are Acadian spirits. They left their calling card.”
“Calling card?” I looked at Jane then back at him.
He struck a match and held it to my cigar then lit his own, “You see the aura contains a history of our Spiritual life. You are highly evolved, but you have not realized your potential - there are impediments to your progress.”
“Yes our thoughts, habits, fears, desires, judgments - the list goes on,” he smiled casually. “You are crossed.”
“I was afraid you were going to call me a sinner!” I said with a laugh.
“Oh God forbid, I would never – just a few adjustments we must work on to make some progress. Everybody needs work, no one is perfect on the earth plane - it is too full of delusions.”
“So what is a séance anyway?” said Jane, holding the rail and staring abstractly over the water of the river.
“The word séance comes from the old French word ‘seoir’, which means ‘to sit’ The concept of spirits on the ‘other-side, demands some greater understanding than most men can gather but I assure you, it is a simple matter of focus. There is the sort of limited medium that one hears sensational stories about, does not focus but rather blots out consciousness and allows any form of mentality to operate. This is not really different from insanity and these types of mediums often end up going mad. No - our methods are of control and focus, as you will see. The Countess uses a spirit Arm.” he looked at me and seeing puzzlement realized he should explain further, “it is also called the phantom hand; this allows her to remain independent of intrusion upon her soul and spirit. Thus she remains singular of mind though out the opus. She directs the spirit into the hand to write its message. You must realize that the pure spirit will not and cannot objectify itself. We are not interested in communicating with the astral garbage of the qliphoph - what can we learn? There is more to learn from the worst humans here on earth. No we are interested in the higher intelligence's - the Angels. We open a window of time and see in all directions.”
“How does one distinguish from what is imaginary?” asked Jane
“One doesn’t and that is because ‘the vision’ is created in the imagination. The Spirit is a power summoned by will - we use the imagination to realize it - to clothe it in the light of our minds”
After the boat arrived at the village of Denderah, everyone disembarked; we then proceeded to our hotel. He had told us they had several rooms over a Bank where the evenings were quiet; we were to arrive promptly at 9:30 PM giving us time to eat and drink before the occasion.
The stars were profound as we strolled down the avenue toward our destination – the sky a radiant blue; we purposely left early and took our time. Jane seemed exceptionally enthusiastic.
Covered sidewalks surrounded the bank with arched colonnades made out of amber colored stone - behind a minaret towering above a mosque. To the left of the Bank’s doorway, now closed, was the arched door, with a silver crescent above, we were told this would be the sign. We followed the stairs leading upward to the first landing with a large Crimson door. After knocking in a prescribed manner of three then five then three, we were greeted by the Baron’s butler. Our host and several other people were chanting. He sprinkled himself then us then the room with a scented rose water. He looked at Jane and smiled, ““Many are the wonders of the universe, once we remove the veil of ignorance. At one time people believed that evil spirits caused diseases now we call them germs. In ancient times they could see these spirits with the spirit vision - now we see germs invisible to the naked eye with a microscope. What is funny is that no matter how we see them, they are ugly and we all agree a healthy dose of purification is required. Nothing fancy, we like to keep things simple, the important thing at this moment is to cleanse our motives and our desires, making all subservient to our one purpose.”
“Next I will ask you to think about the attraction and repulsion that keeps stars suspended in space as I touch your foreheads with the sacred oil. ”
Vogalbrine began a sonorous prayer while performing several theurgist gestures, then fumigated the chamber with an uplifting aroma waving a censor of incense singing:
Perfected - supreme - Lord of the universe
Come now for I chant this verse
United are we and single in aim
So guide me now in spirit and name -.
“The human spirit is so great, that no man can express it, but this much we know, it responds to will-power. Spirits are beliefs waiting to incarnate with a desire for action and an enthusiasm for life. The countess is not a negative medium - she wills herself unto the highest and from that vantage, commands the spirit to operate the spirit hand and write a message. Notice when she enters she will be in trance.”
We sat there waiting and I looked about the room. It was very plain but for a stele placed on the eastern wall and a round table with three legs - there was incense and candles burning. The Countess arrived staring blankly and sat in the only available chair. She placed her hands before her and stared into a black mirror. I could only describe the atmosphere of the room as otherworldly, rarified as if on a mountain peek. My ears felt strange, hollow, - popping. I began to see what appeared to be a sparkling in the air. A Red Rose appeared. I looked at Jane but she seemed far away - distant. I heard a kind of chimes or bells very soft and rippling. I stared at the pad and pencil - suddenly a hand and arm - so real and animated, yet as if an image on a film - transparent made of light, picked up the pencil and wrote in Hebrew a message:
Ain Amune (nothing is true)
KL NBVAH (All is Prophecy)
BBUA QBL (When Receiving)
Total value: 418 (Magnum Opus)
The Baron then asked the Spirit, “Who is the Speaker?”
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