Sunday, 14 November 2010

How did I get to this place?

Last night my beloved and I were getting ready to go to sleep when she pointed at my book at said: “Why do you have interest in reading such things?” The book, whose introduction I'd just started reading, was “Beholders of Divine Secrets: Mysticism in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature” by Vita Daphna Arbel.

What my beloved was really asking was not just about this book in particular, but instead my general hobby (it's not an obsession, honest) with Kabbalah, mysticism, magic and the occult. My answer to that was not very satisfactory in that it could be summarized as “I'm just drawn to these things”. They're not something that many have an interest in; it's considered hidden knowledge by some; and well it's just cool really. Doesn't everyone think the same about this?

Apparently not.

Instead of giving a detailed story of how my interest and passion in this field developed, I'll instead outline three scenarios of possible events in my life and ask you to guess which one is true.

Scenario 1: Cue violins

Having grown up a rather socially awkward lad, a family member took an interest in guiding this boy's keen and curious mind. All manner of subjects were broached including those that some teenagers would shy away from in a group not of their peers. Library visits were encouraged to explore the arts and sciences, as well as long walks in countryside to get close to nature.

However, this relative had a darker side. Perhaps it was a mental illness or some twisted desire to see how far they could use their manipulative personality to influence and dominate such gullible a young person. After many tales from this relative of contact with angels and other spirits the young lad grew ever more curious to find out about the occult. Pressing his older relative for a genuine experience of this hidden world - he finally learnt that it had all been a ruse.

After much soul-searching and anger, the lad grew to be a man and decided that he would one day become an authority in this field. No man, woman or spirit would ever lead him astray for their own ends. Knowledge is power the man decided and with that power he would become free.

Scenario 2: Family spirits

The family has long had an interest in ghosts and contact with those who have passed on. It's never something spoken about in family gatherings, but if you know what to look for then the hints are all around. Simple things like the witch bottles in the toilet, the mirror on the landing with lions around the frame, a magic mirror with sigils accidentally dug up in the garden and the curious mix of herbs growing in the window-box.

Outings to meet new family friends seemed like a delightful experience at first. There's a new house to explore, garden to run around in and perhaps even pancakes. Some houses have funny smells from candles and damp walls with ancient pictures. Others are bright and airy with wind chimes by the windows and strange bees on the lawn that do not sting - which the large dog chases around and around.

Each time the coffee and sweets have been cleared away the children are shooed away to run and shout to their hearts content. The adults speak of serious things, voices touched by sorrow of family members now in heaven. But overhearing conversation standing in the kitchen doorway or half-way down the stairs the thread of conversation becomes hard to follow as relatives long gone are given a voice. The messages are passed to and fro with some tears and occasional laughter. Upon leaving one house the lady of the house declines to shake hands, she smiles sadly and says it's how she looks in to a person's past.

Scenario 3: Invocation Interrupted

Torn from his native soil and brought to a land in which he could not speak the language, the cultural shift widened the void in the boy's life rather than papering it over. Home ceased to be place and instead became a state a mind. One readily sought after but not one that was easy to achieve or maintain.

So a new family was sought to make up for the one left shattered in pieces, A stronger and broader family who supported and nurtured. Curiously it did not so much come in the shape of a family unit but rather a religious movement. Though the tenants and practises of faith seemed constraining to some, it's structure came a breath of fresh air and forged order where once life had been chaos.

However, the past lay unresolved and needed to be dealt with lest it rears its ugly head once again. Lacking the necessary skills to deal with this lurking chaos another strategy came to mind. That of using an invocation in a rare book to bring about a solution. But alas the incantation was interrupted and before there was time to arrange another attempt to repeat it the damage had been done. Instead of strengthening the existing order - it was shattered. With life spinning out of control, the decision was taken to return to that point again in future. This time with knowledge, understanding and a mountain load of preparation.