Archive for category The Keeper of the Key

The Keeper of the Keys XI


About The Keeper of the Key

Previously …

The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII
The Keeper of the Keys VIII
The Keeper of the Keys IX
The Keeper of the Keys X

It was as if I was surrounded by the light of the full moon in a crystal-clear sky and I felt completely calm, all feelings of failure, anger and fear seem to dissolve into the clear light. Incredible warmth filled my being and the light changed into that of brilliant sun light. I felt all desire dissolve into the brilliance of the light and I drifted in sheer bliss, and then it was dark and I felt no more.

I became aware of the warmth of the sun on my skin and a minty herbaceous scent drifted into my consciousness. The scent stirred hazy memories and feelings inside me but they were too indistinct to take any form. I was lying on what felt like straw, or perhaps dry grass, but I felt strangely reluctant to open my eyes. I took a deep breath and inhaled the scent of earth. Still I did not want to open my eyes and tentatively reached out to feel what surrounded me. I could feel the dry hard powderyness of unturned soil the rough coolness of stones and as I reached out further, I could feel the smooth slenderness of dry grass. I knew that I was somewhere in a wild veldt. With conscious effort I opened my eyes. The brightness of the light dazzled my eyes and I closed them again. I felt surprised that I could see and I slowly opened my eyes again. At first all I could see was bright light and the slowly vague shapes started to take form and for brief moments I could see what appeared to be small sparks jump from the surrounding vegetation.

I waited until my eyes became accustomed to light before I ventured to stand up. I found myself standing in a field of tall dry winter grass that stretched beyond the horizon with a few clumps of umbrella shaped thorny trees scattered amongst the swaying grass. I had no idea where I was, neither did I know who or what I was or what I should do. I part of me wanted to sink back down to the earth and another part of me felt a desire stirring. The longer I stood in the warm sunlight, the more distinct the desire grew. I must go somewhere; I must be somewhere.

But in which direction shall I go? I turned to look at all the directions and they all appeared much the same to me with nothing in particular beckoning me. I closed my eyes again and could feel a soft breeze tugging on my hair caressing my skin with its breath. I could near buzzing insects and birds twittering in the distant trees and the air smelled sweet to me. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my back becoming warmer and warmer the longer I stood there without moving and suddenly I clearly knew which direction to go. I will follow the path of the sun.

As I was about to take my first step, I felt a warning stab of fear. I could feel the presence of a snake and in the long grass I will not be able to see a snake on my path and there was a great likelihood that I will step on it. I was barefoot and had no protection with me but I also could not just remain where I was. Suddenly, a man with white robes and with a long white beard and hair appeared in front of me. “Fear not the snake, for he is as much part of nature as you are, become one with nature and he will not harm you. Close you eyes and receive the spirit of the snake into your being.”

I closed my eyes and breathed in what felt like warm air which tingled all the way down into my lungs. “The snake knows you, it will not harm you; it will slide away. You must not be afraid if the lightning strikes in front of you. You must just go through and say, ‘I am your child, one of you’. ”

I felt a warm breeze on my skin, and in its caress I felt my fear drain away. I could walk fearlessly through the grass, experiencing freedom in the touch of the grass, the warmth of the sun, and the breath of the wind. On my way through the grass I saw a black snake slithered away to find a comfortable spot on a sun-warmed rock.

To be continued …

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The Keeper of the Key X


About The Keeper of the Key

Previously …

The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII
The Keeper of the Keys VIII
The Keeper of the Keys IX

An image appeared in the mirror of a dusty alley set between red mud brick buildings. Curled up against one of these buildings I saw a motionless figure. I felt myself drawn to the figure through the mirror. As I merged with the body I felt intense feelings of failure and I knew that the body I now inhabited was dying. Memories came flooding through and I knew I was blind.

So proud was I when I began this life. As a seer priest I was respected and had a place of honour among my people. So distant and so far away now seem that time of my arrogant youth. Here I am now, a blind beggar among strangers. I knew I was dying. I no longer had any strength to lift my body to beg for food. No one will mourn my death. I died a long time ago, on the day I lost eyes. That day still burns as clearly in my mind as did red-hot iron poker that burnt out my eyes.

I felt no resentment towards those who blinded me. It was the custom amongst our desert tribes to and to burn out the eyes of those vanquished in battle. I should have seen the trap but I did not. As seer priest it was my duty to keep my people safe. On that day I did not just lose my eyes, but I also lost my sight.

My body was feeling a great thirst and I knew that the time of my passage was close. I did not want to see anymore, that much I could see now. I did not want to see anymore cruelty, if I could do nothing to prevent it. Suddenly I could see with clarity that my failure was to give up. I could have returned to my people and shown them another vision, but instead I withdrew from life into my self pity. When my people needed my vision most, I failed them. I failed to rise from my darkness.

I was feeling my bond loosening with my body and I became aware of two identities within the body at the same time. I was separating from the memories but could still feel the sense of failure. A deep compassion stirred inside me and I embraced the soul as it separated from the body, merging once again in love. As we drifted towards the light, a vision of hope filled our sight and in the darkness there was light.

Upon a cold winter’s night.
I found myself alone.
A stranger in a once familiar land
A world of dark despair.
So many dead and many dying

Entrapped within
their own pain,
monsters of humanity
roam the night

Doors and windows bolted
Against the fear
Unspeakable abominations
of human behaviour,
in search of innocent prey
Eyes cold and dead
A world where sanity is lost

I call for help
But silence greets me
Answers eludes me
Anger rises inside me
Against my own helplessness
But even my anger
Falls into the mud of despair
I am tired
Caught in a web

I find myself in a marsh
Where it is cold and dark
No light to guide me
Too tired to struggle
I am afraid I will sink into
The mud of despair
Into my infirmitas

In the darkness I see
A light dancing,
A will-o-wisp
I reach out
And fall sobbing
In the mud

Slowly within
I feel rising
Like far-off rumble of thunder
With lightning flashes of joy
Distant memories

How swiftly you can shake the mud
From your wings
Remember you can fly
Soar into the blue heights of joy
Knowing that love surrounds
You always
Knowing
Even for a brief moment
That nothing can harm you.

To be continued …

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The Keeper of the Keys IX


About The Keeper of the Key

Previously …

The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII
The Keeper of the Keys VIII

I stood in front of the mirror gazing but not gazing into my eyes as we were instructed to do. It was surprisingly hard to do. I kept finding my eyes wanting to wander off and that it was a lot easier to look at one eye in focus and the other not. Thoughts arose wanting to know why that is, but I gently steered my thoughts on their way by telling them we will have plenty time later to discuss it. The Blacksmith told us to be aware of any thoughts that arises during the practice; allow them to rise but do not fix on them, they will pass away.

“Just be aware of the passings, they are the footprints of your shadows,” the Blacksmith told us “you will start to recognize which footprint belongs to which shadow.”

After our ritual cleansing and swearing in ceremony, the Blacksmith put drops of stinging liquid in our eyes.
“So that you will be better able to see the shadows.”

“There are three kinds of people who raise the shadows: the shaman, the warrior, and the black magician. Everything within this world has a shadow. Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see. You may summon an old warrior to guide you in the arts, or an old medicine man to guide you in medicine. In this way you begin learning from someone you cannot see – getting in touch with the master who can create movement within you. Even the shadows of plants, stones and animals can teach you.”

For three days we had to practice the mirror gazing. On the first day I barely thought I was going to survive 5 minutes of doing it, but he advised us to continue for as long as we could with breaks in between until we could gaze continuously with ease – “until the mirror image became the shadow.”

“You will not be able to see clearly until you find what blocks your vision. Each one of you has something from your past that blocks your view and which will be your weakness when in battle or when you enter the shadow lands. In the shadow lands this weakness will be used to trick you.”

“After three days of mirror gazing you will be ready to enter the land of your shadows to find what blocks your vision.”

I closed my eyes as I lay my head down upon the pillow, repeating the words “Show me what blocks my view,” with as much earnest desire as I could muster, until I drifted over.

I found myself once again standing in front of the mirror. This time I felt afraid to look into the mirror. I had a feeling of dread that I will see something truly horrible in the mirror. I closed my eyes and turned my head away. Invisible hands seized my head, forcing me to turn and look into the mirror.

To be continued …

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Keeper of the Key VIII


By: Gallego Caldas Jordi

About The Keeper of the Key

Previously …

The Keeper of the Key 1
The Keeper of the Key II
Keeper of the Key III
Keeper of the Key IV
The Keeper of the Key V
Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Key VI
The Keeper of the Keys VII

I felt absolutely paralyzed, as if I was immersed in a lake of pure fear. I could not even scream so overwhelming was the fear. I knew that there was no way out, no turning back. The first coils of its bulk reached me and rubbed against me. I could feel its immense embodied power in the coils. Almost simultaneously in that instant when it touched me and when I reached a point of unbearable fear, in that instant my fear dissolved into love. An all-consuming love, a love, such as I could never have imagined. I wrapped myself around its body and immersed myself in the love so that I was no longer feeling the love but became the love.

I became conscious of being as I drifted to the surface of the river, the flames of the braziers calling me back harbour. Dazed, I joined the others surfacing from the river. In naked silence we stood before the blacksmith. His dark eyes was filled knowing compassion as he handed each one of us a black robe.

“Now take up your shield, and follow me …” he said simply, turned and walked back up the steps.

With numbness I found my shield and as I saw the serpent embossed on its surface I felt breathless in recognition. Layers of meaning just flooded into my awareness. Tears reached up from deep inside me as I realized what I was taking up as I took my shield. I have the key now I have to find the door.

In the dark of the night
where deathscapes of hopelessness
haunts the unwary traveler of the Path
The Shield of illuminated Faith will protect me
From the flaming arrows of despair
From giving up the quest
And I will don the helmet
of hope that will illuminate
my path through the land of shadows

To be continued …

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The Keeper of the Keys VII


Shadow Warrior

Previously …

I felt puzzled after hearing the story. Is it me who is experiencing or is it my shadow? Will what I think I am now also disappear, and be replaced what I now think is my shadow, as in the story the blacksmith told? Am I who is thinking and feeling now actually the shadow of my previous shadow? Yet, if there is a shadow there must be a light. I am but a shadow of the shadow of the Shadowless one. Something else from the story stuck in my mind,” in that anteroom I came to know my true nature.” What is the anteroom? Somewhere in the back of my mind I remember something about the anteroom. But before I could continue my musings, the Blacksmith started to speak again and in his hand he held a small vial.

“You are but the shadow of the shadow, yet you also cast a shadow. When the Creator created this world, and the sun, he also created shadows. The shadow is there with or without light, when you strike off the light it doesn’t mean the shadow is not there. The shadow is there to help you in this world. Because of this, you can evoke it or make it your friend. The Master mystical warriors learn how to develop their shadow. If you want to become a master, you have to learn how to bring it to life consciously, so it can come to your fighting aid. Have you not often wished that you can be in more than one place in the same time, or be more than one person? In reality you are already, but you are not aware of it. How do you know that I am not your shadow? The masters know how to make the shadow come alive so that it will speak like you, look like you, but not be you. The shadow may be used to assist you when fighting, so that there are two of you. It is said that if the shadow gets a punch in, the injury is incurable. But first you must get to know your shadow, because if you do not, your shadow will be your master and use cunning means to control you. Do not be surprised if it was your shadow who tricked you into coming here. Your shadows know which door the key belongs to.“

All of us felt bewildered hearing the blacksmith’s words and more than one glanced at their shadows apprehensively. I tried not to obviously look at my shadow but could not help but look at it from the corner of my eyes. How could a shadow possibly come alive and aid you? It is just fairytale stuff!

“To get to know your shadow you must enter the underworld of your being, where you will encounter the guardian of the gateway before you can proceed. It will be different for each of you, and it will be your first real test. But many have failed the first test.”

For the first time I noticed that behind the blacksmith stood what looked like a stone sarcophagus. The stone was well worn with no rough edges as if it had been worn away by countless hands. It was plain and unadorned and I could not help but wonder what it was.

“Before you begin your journey, you must first purify yourselves of the past. Be prepared to leave behind everything that you have any attachment to, even your names. “

We followed the blacksmith back down to river with its dark waters. The flames from the braziers reflecting on the surface of the water like molten lava.

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“ You will leave all your belongings and clothes here , except your keys, as you prepare to jump into the waters. Know that just as you leave your clothes and belongings behind, just so you leave your old lives behind. This outer action is joined to the inner action; the outer person is dead, and the inner person will be conceived in the living waters.”

As I hit the water I found myself instead standing on a ledge, looking down into what appeared to be a volcanic lake. All around the edge of the lake stood black hooded figures holding flaming torches. Looked down into the blackness of the lake’s depths, and I knew that within was a monstrous serpent. I had to jump into the lake for my initiation, but I was very afraid. If I did not jump all my training would have been in vain. What did I fear most? So I jumped. From deep below I could feel the surges of something huge moving through the water, up towards me. My fear grew as I could feel it coming closer, until it felt as if my heart would burst with fear.

To be continued …

About the Keeper of the Keys

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The Keeper of the Key VI


Previously:

“All of you come from many places that you call home. Your home towns, your country, the people whom you felt you belonged to became lost to you the moment you found the key. You now stand on a threshold between worlds; the world you left behind and the one you are about to enter. You hold a key to the door of your future but none of you know which door the key will unlock and to which room the door belongs.

You have come here to find your perfect weapon but before you can find the perfect weapon you must find the door that your key will unlock. I am sure that you all know that weapons are also called arms. Just like your arms are extensions of your bodies and your bodies are extensions of your will so will your perfect weapon be a reflection of your will and what is your will? Move your arms and look at the shadow it casts.”

With a twinkle in his eyes he looked straight at us and asked. “Who moves?”

‘It is your shadows that moves. Your shadow is cast by your outer body, and the person whom you think you are. It is your skin, your flesh, your bones, and your movement, but where are you? Do you exist or not? Who you think you are do not exist. Your shadow is not just a dark spot on the ground it is also a reflection of something else. That which cast the shadow that you see is the outer shadow of an inner shadow, itself a shadow of the Shadowless One. You do not exist only the Shadowless One exist, you are but a shadow of the Shadowless One. What casts no shadow? It is the light is above all other lights, it is the light that knows no darkness.

The glass we erected to see through and think is so clear is in fact the opaque screen of our selves that we set up for the lantern to throw its image on with an illusion of movement, a shadow play of reality. What you now think is your will is but a shadow casted by your inner shadow, a reflection of the Shadowless one.

You whom are to become warrior shamans will all wear black, and train only at night to remind yourselves that you are but shadows. It is here in the darkness of the mother’s womb that you will find your arms, the gift that you will carry back to your people. “

He sat down and told us story.

A learned man once travelled into a country where the sun had great power, from the cold regions of the north, and thought he would roam about as he did at home; but he soon had to change his opinion. He and other sensible souls had to stay inside. The shutters were drawn and the doors were closed all day long. It looked just as if everyone were asleep or away from home. The narrow street of high houses where he lived was so situated that from morning till night the sun beat down on it – unbearably!

To this young and clever scholar from the colder north, it felt as if he were sitting in a blazing hot oven. It exhausted him so that he became very thin, and even his shadow shrank much smaller than it had been at home. Only in the evenings, after sundown, did the man and his shadow begin to recover.

This was really a joy to see. As soon as a candle was brought into the room, the shadow had to stretch itself to get its strength back. It stretched up to the wall, yes, even along the ceiling, so tall did it grow. To stretch himself, the scholar went out on the balcony. As soon as the stars came out in the beautifully clear sky, he felt as if he had come back to life.

In warm countries each window has a balcony, and in all the balconies up and down the street people came out to breathe the fresh air that one needs, even if one is already a fine mahogany-brown. Both up above and down below, things became lively. Tailors, shoemakers – everybody – moved out in the street. Chairs and tables were brought out, and candles were lighted, yes, candles by the thousand. One man talked, another sang, people strolled about, carriages drove by, and donkeys trotted along, ting-a-ling-a-ling, for their harness had bells on it. There were church bells ringing, hymn singing, and funeral processions. There were boys in the street firing off Roman candles. Oh yes, it was lively as lively can be down in that street.

Only one house was quiet – the one directly across from where the scholarly stranger lived. Yet someone lived there, for flowers on the balcony grew and thrived under that hot sun, which they could not have done unless they were watered. So someone must be watering them, and there must be people in the house. Along in the evening, as a matter of fact, the door across the street was opened. But it was dark inside, at least in the front room. From somewhere in the house, farther back, came the sound of music. The scholarly stranger thought the music was marvelous, but it is quite possible that he only imagined this, for out there in the warm countries he thought everything was marvelous – except the sun. The stranger’s landlord said that he didn’t know who had rented the house across the street. No one was ever to be seen over there, and as for the music, he found it extremely tiresome. He said:

“It’s just as if somebody sits there practicing a piece that’s beyond him – always the selfsame piece. ‘I’ll play it right yet,’ he probably says, but he doesn’t, no matter how long he tries.”

One night the stranger woke up. He slept with the windows to his balcony open, and as the breeze blew his curtain aside he fancied that a marvelous radiance came from the balcony across the street. The colors of all the flowers were as brilliant as flames. In their midst stood a maiden, slender and lovely. It seemed as if a radiance came from her too. It actually hurt his eyes, but that was because he had opened them too wide in his sudden awakening.

One leap, and he was out of bed. Without a sound, he looked out through his curtains, but the maiden was gone. The flowers were no longer radiant, though they bloomed as fresh and fair as usual. The door was ajar and through it came music so lovely and soft that one could really feel very romantic about it. It was like magic. But who lived there? What entrance did they use? Facing the street, the lower floor of the house was a row of shops, and people couldn’t run through them all the time.

On another evening, the stranger sat out on his balcony. The candle burned in the room behind him, so naturally his shadow was cast on the wall across the street. Yes, there it sat among the flowers, and when the stranger moved, it moved with him.

“I believe my shadow is the only living thing to be seen over there,” the scholar thought to himself. “See how he makes himself at home among the flowers. The door stands ajar, and if my shadow were clever he’d step in, have a look around, and come back to tell me what he had seen.”

“Yes,” he said as a joke, “you ought to make yourself useful. Kindly step inside. Well, aren’t you going?” He nodded to the shadow, and the shadow nodded back. “Run along now, but be sure to come back.”

The stranger rose, and his shadow across the street rose with him. The stranger turned around, and his shadow turned too. If anyone had been watching closely, he would have seen the shadow enter the half-open balcony door in the house across the way at the same instant that the stranger returned to his room and the curtain fell behind him.

Next morning, when the scholar went out to take his coffee and read the newspapers, he said, “What’s this?” as he came out in the sunshine. “I haven’t any shadow! So it really did go away last night, and it stayed away. Isn’t that annoying?”

What annoyed him most was not so much the loss of his shadow, but the knowledge that there was already a story about a man without a shadow. All the people at home knew that story. If he went back and told them his story they would say he was just imitating the old one. He did not care to be called unoriginal, so he decided to say nothing about it, which was the most sensible thing to do.

That evening he again went out on the balcony. He had placed the candle directly behind him, because he knew that a shadow always likes to use its master as a screen, but he could not coax it forth. He made himself short and he made himself tall, but there was no shadow. It didn’t come forth. He hemmed and he hawed, but it was no use.

This was very vexing, but in the hot countries everything grows most rapidly, and in a week or so he noticed with great satisfaction that when he went out in the sunshine a new shadow was growing at his feet. The root must have been left with him. In three weeks’ time he had a very presentable shadow, and as he started north again it grew longer and longer, until it got so long and large that half of it would have been quite sufficient.

The learned man went home and wrote books about those things in the world that are true, that are good, and that are beautiful.

The days went by and the years went past, many, many years in fact. Then one evening when he was sitting in his room he heard a soft tapping at his door. “Come in,” said he, but no one came in. He opened the door and was confronted by a man so extremely thin that it gave him a strange feeling. However, the man was faultlessly dressed, and looked like a person of distinction.

“With whom do I have the honor of speaking?” the scholar asked.

“Ah,” said the distinguished visitor, “I thought you wouldn’t recognize me, now that I’ve put real flesh on my body and wear clothes. I don’t suppose you ever expected to see me in such fine condition. Don’t you know your old shadow? You must have thought I’d never come back. Things have gone remarkably well with me since I was last with you. I’ve thrived in every way, and if I have to buy my freedom, I can.” He rattled a bunch of valuable charms that hung from his watch, and fingered the massive gold chain he wore around his neck. Ho! how his fingers flashed with diamond rings – and all this jewelry was real.

“No, I can’t get over it!” said the scholar. “What does it all mean?”

“Nothing ordinary, you may be sure,” said the shadow. “But you are no ordinary person and I, as you know, have followed in your footsteps from childhood. As soon as you thought me sufficiently experienced to strike out in the world for myself, I went my way. I have been immeasurably successful. But I felt a sort of longing to see you again before you die, as I suppose you must, and I wanted to see this country again. You know how one loves his native land. I know that you have got hold of another shadow. Do I owe anything to either of you? Be kind enough to let me know.”

“Well! Is it really you?” said the scholar. “Why, this is most extraordinary! I would never have imagined that one’s own shadow could come back in human form.”

“Just tell me what I owe,” said the shadow, “because I don’t like to be in debt to anyone.”

“How can you talk that way? said the student. “What debt could there be? Feel perfectly free. I am tremendously pleased to hear of your good luck! Sit down, my old friend, and tell me a bit about how it all happened, and about what you saw in that house across the street from us in the warm country.”

“Yes, I’ll tell you all about it,” the shadow said, as he sat down. “But you must promise that if you meet me anywhere you won’t tell a soul in town about my having been your shadow. I intend to become engaged, for I can easily support a family.”

“Don’t you worry,” said the scholar. “I won’t tell anyone who you really are. I give you my hand on it. I promise, and a man is as good as his word.”

“And a word is as good as its – shadow,” the shadow said, for he couldn’t put it any other way.

It was really remarkable how much of a man he had become, dressed all in black, with the finest cloth, patent-leather shoes, and an opera hat that could be pressed perfectly flat till it was only brim and top, not to mention those things we already know about – those seals, that gold chain, and the diamond rings. The shadow was well dressed indeed, and it was just this that made him appear human.

“Now I’ll tell you,” said the shadow, grinding his patent-leather shoes on the arm of the scholar’s new shadow, which lay at his feet like a

poodle dog. This was arrogance, perhaps, or possibly he was trying to make the new shadow stick to his own feet. The shadow on the floor lay quiet and still, and listened its best, so that it might learn how to get free and work its way up to be its own master.

“Do you know who lived in the house across the street from us?” the old shadow asked. “She was the most lovely of all creatures – she was Poetry herself. I lived there for three weeks, and it was as if I had lived there three thousand years, reading all that has ever been written. That’s what I said, and it’s the truth! I have seen it all, and I know everything.”

“Poetry!” the scholar cried. “Yes, to be sure she often lives as a hermit in the large cities. Poetry! Yes, I saw her myself, for one brief moment, but my eyes were heavy with sleep. She stood on the balcony, as radiant as the northern lights. Tell me! Tell me! You were on the balcony. You went through the doorway, and then – “

“Then I was in the anteroom,” said the shadow. “It was the room you were always staring at from across the way. There were no candles there, and the room was in twilight. But the door upon door stood open in a whole series of brilliantly lit halls and reception rooms. That blaze of lights would have struck me dead had I gone as far as the room where the maiden was, but I was careful – I took my time, as one should.”

“And then what did you see, my old friend?” the scholar asked.

“I saw everything, and I shall tell everything to you, but – it’s not that I’m proud – but as I am a free man and well educated, not to mention my high standing and my considerable fortune, I do wish you wouldn’t call me your old friend.”

“I beg your pardon!” said the scholar. “It’s an old habit, and hard to change. You are perfectly right, my dear sir, and I’ll remember it. But now, my dear sir, tell me of all that you saw.”

“All?” said the shadow, “for I saw it all, and I know everything.”

“How did the innermost rooms look?” the scholar asked. “Was it like a green forest? Was it like a holy temple? Were the rooms like the starry skies seen from some high mountain?”

“Everything was there,” said the shadow. “I didn’t quite go inside. I stayed in the dark anteroom, but my place there was perfect. I saw everything, and I know everything. I have been in the antechamber at the court of Poetry.”

“But what did you see? Did the gods of old march through the halls? Did the old heroes fight there? Did fair children play there and tell their dreams?”

“I was there, I tell you, so you must understand that I saw all that

there was to be seen. Had you come over, it would not have made a man of you, as it did of me. Also, I learned to understand my inner self, what is born in me, and the relationship between me and Poetry. Yes, when I was with you I did not think of such things, but you must remember how wonderfully I always expanded at sunrise and sunset. And in the moonlight I almost seemed more real than you. Then I did not understand myself, but in that anteroom I came to know my true nature. I was a man! I came out completely changed. But you were no longer in the warm country. Being a man, I was ashamed to be seen as I was. I lacked shoes, clothes, and all the surface veneer which makes a man.

“I went into hiding – this is confidential, and you must not write it in any of your books. I went into hiding under the skirts of the cake-woman. Little she knew what she concealed. Not until evening did I venture out. I ran through the streets in the moonlight and stretched myself tall against the walls. It’s such a pleasant way of scratching one’s back. Up I ran and down I ran, peeping into the highest windows, into drawing rooms, and into garrets. I peered in where no one else could peer. I saw what no one else could see, or should see. Taken all in all, it’s a wicked world. I would not care to be a man if it were not considered the fashionable thing to be. I saw the most incredible behavior among men and women, fathers and mothers, and among those ‘perfectly darling’ children. I saw what nobody knows but everybody would like to know, and that is what wickedness goes on next door. If I had written it in a newspaper, oh, how widely it would have been read! But instead I wrote to the people directly concerned, and there was the most terrible consternation in every town to which I came. They were so afraid of me, and yet so remarkably fond of me. The professors appointed me a professor, and the tailor made me new clothes – my wardrobe is most complete. The master of the mint coined new money for me, the women called me such a handsome man; and so I became the man I am. Now I must bid you good-by. Here’s my card. I live on the sunny side of the street, and I am always at home on rainy days.” The shadow took his leave.

“How extraordinary,” said the scholar.

The days passed. The years went by. And the shadow called again. “How goes it?” he asked.

“Alack,” said the scholar, “I still write about the true, the good, and the beautiful, but nobody cares to read about such things. I feel quite despondent, for I take it deeply to heart.”

“I don’t,” said the shadow. “I am getting fat, as one should. You don’t know the ways of the world, and that’s why your health suffers. You ought to travel. I’m taking a trip this summer. Will you come with me? I’d like to have a traveling companion. Will you come along as my shadow? It would be a great pleasure to have you along, and I’ll pay all the expenses.”

“No, that’s a bit too much,” said the scholar.

“It depends on how you look at it,” said the shadow. “It will do you a lot of good to travel. Will you be my shadow? The trip won’t cost you a thing.”

“This has gone much too far!” said the scholar.

“Well, that’s the way the world goes,” the shadow told him, “and that’s the way it will keep on going.” And away he went.

The learned man was not at all well. Sorrow and trouble pursued him, and what he had to say about the good, the true, and the beautiful, appealed to most people about as much as roses appeal to a cow. Finally he grew quite ill.

“You really look like a shadow,” people told him, and he trembled at the thought.

“You must visit a watering place,” said the shadow, who came to see him again. “There’s no question about it. I’ll take you with me, for old friendship’s sake. I’ll pay for the trip, and you can write about it, as well as doing your best to amuse me along the way. I need to go to a watering place too, because my beard isn’t growing as it should. That’s a sort of disease too, and one can’t get along without a beard. Now do be reasonable and accept my proposal. We shall travel just like friends!”

So off they started. The shadow was master now, and the master was the shadow. They drove together, rode together, and walked together, side by side, before or behind each other, according to the way the sun fell. The shadow was careful to take the place of the master, and the scholar didn’t much care, for he had an innocent heart, besides being most affable and friendly.

One day he said to the shadow, “As we are now fellow-travelers and have grown up together, shall we not call each other by our first names, the way good companions should? It is much more intimate.”

“That’s a splendid idea!” said the shadow, who was now the real master. “What you say is most open-hearted and friendly. I shall be just as friendly and open-hearted with you. As a scholar, you are perfectly well aware how strange is man’s nature. Some men cannot bear the touch of gray paper. It sickens them. Others quail if they hear a nail scratched across a pane of glass. For my part, I am affected in just that way when I hear you call me by my first name. I feel myself ground down to the earth, as I was in my first position with you. You understand. It’s a matter of sensitivity, not pride. I cannot let you call me by my first name, but I shall be glad to call you by yours, as a compromise.” So thereafter the shadow called his one-time master by his first name.

“It has gone too far,” the scholar thought, “when I must call him by his last name while he calls me by my first!” But he had to put up with it.

At last they came to the watering place. Among the many people was a lovely Princess. Her malady was that she saw things too clearly, which can be most upsetting. For instance, she immediately saw that the newcomer was a very different sort of person from all the others.

“He has come here to make his beard grow, they say. But I see the real reason. He can’t cast a shadow.”

Her curiosity was aroused, and on the promenade she addressed this stranger directly. Being a king’s daughter, she did not have to stand upon ceremony, so she said to him straight:

“Your trouble is that you can’t cast a shadow.”

“Your Royal Highness must have improved considerably,” the shadow replied. “I know your malady is that you see too clearly, but you are improving. As it happens, I do have a most unusual shadow. Don’t you see that figure who always accompanies me? Other people have a common shadow, but I do not care for what is common to all. Just as we often allow our servants better fabrics for their liveries than we wear ourselves, so I have had my shadow decked out as a man. Why, you see I have even outfitted him with a shadow of his own. It is expensive, I grant you, but I like to have something uncommon.”

“My!” the Princess thought. “Can I really be cured? This is the foremost watering place in the world, and in these days water has come to have wonderful medicinal powers. But I shan’t leave just as the place is becoming amusing. I have taken a liking to this stranger. I only hope his beard won’t grow, for then he would leave us.”

That evening, the Princess and the shadow danced together in the great ballroom. She was light, but he was lighter still. Never had she danced with such a partner. She told him what country she came from, and he knew it well. He had been there, but it was during her absence. He had looked through every window, high or low. He had seen this and he had seen that. So he could answer the Princess and suggest things that astounded her. She was convinced that he must be the wisest man in all the world. His knowledge impressed her so deeply, that while they were dancing she fell in love with him. The shadow could tell, for her eyes transfixed him, through and through. They danced again, and she came very near telling him she loved him, but it wouldn’t do to be rash. She had to think of her country, and her throne, and the many people over whom she would reign.

“He is a clever man,” she said to herself, “and that is a good thing. He dances charmingly, and that is good too. But is his knowledge more than superficial? That’s just as important, so I must examine him.”

Tactfully, she began asking him the most difficult questions, which she herself could not have answered. The shadow made a wry face.

“You can’t answer me?” said the Princess.

“I knew all that in my childhood,” said the shadow. “Why, I believe that my shadow over there by the door can answer you.”

“Your shadow!” said the Princess. “That would be remarkable indeed!”

“I can’t say for certain,” said the shadow, “but I’m inclined to think so, because he has followed me about and listened to me for so many years. Yes, I am inclined to believe so. But your Royal Highness must permit me to tell you that he is quite proud of being able to pass for a man, so if he is to be in the right frame of mind to answer your questions he must be treated just as if he were human.”

“I like that!” said the Princess.

So she went to the scholar in the doorway, and spoke with him about the sun and the moon, and about people, what they are inside, and what they seem to be on the surface. He answered her wisely and well.

“What a man that must be, to have such a wise shadow!” she thought. “It will be a godsend to my people, and to my country if I choose him for my consort. That’s just what I’ll do!”

The Princess and the shadow came to an understanding, but no one was to know about it until she returned to her own kingdom.

“No one. Not even my shadow!” said the shadow. And he had his own private reason for this.

Finally they came to the country that the Princess ruled when she was at home.

“Listen, my good friend,” the shadow said the scholar, “I am now as happy and strong as one can be, so I’ll do something very special for you. You shall live with me in my palace, drive with me in my royal carriage, and have a hundred thousand dollars a year. However, you must let yourself be called a shadow by everybody. You must not ever say that you have been a man, and once a year, while I sit on the balcony in the sunshine, you must lie at my feet as shadows do. For I tell you I am going to marry the Princess, and the wedding is to take place this very evening.”

“No! That’s going too far,” said the scholar. “I will not. I won’t do it. That would be betraying the whole country and the Princess too. I’ll tell them everything – that I am the man, and you are the shadow merely dressed as a man.”

“No one would believe it,” said the shadow. “Be reasonable, or I’ll call the sentry.”

“I’ll go straight to the Princess,” said the scholar.

“But I will go first,” said the shadow, “and you shall go to prison.”

And to prison he went, for the sentries obeyed the one who, they knew, was to marry the Princess.

“Why, you’re trembling,” the Princess said, as the shadow entered her room. “What has happened? You mustn’t fall ill this evening, just as we are about to be married.”

“I have been through the most dreadful experience that could happen to anyone,” said the shadow. “Just imagine! Of course a poor shadow’s head can’t stand very much. But imagine! My shadow has gone mad. He takes himself for a man, and – imagine it! he takes me for his shadow.”

“How terrible!” said the Princess. “He’s locked up, I hope!”

“Oh, of course. I’m afraid he will never recover.”

“Poor shadow,” said the Princess. “He is very unhappy. It would really be a charitable act to relieve him of the little bit of life he has left. And, after thinking it over carefully, my opinion is that it will be necessary to put him out of the way.”

“That’s certainly hard, for he was a faithful servant,” said the shadow. He managed to sigh.

“You have a noble soul,” the Princess told him.

The whole city was brilliantly lit that evening. The cannons boomed, and the soldiers presented arms. That was the sort of wedding it was! The Princess and the shadow stepped out on the balcony to show themselves and be cheered, again and again.

The scholar heard nothing of all this, for they had already done away with him.

The Shadow by Hans Christian Andersen (1847) Translated by Jean Hersholt

To be continued …

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Collage of Shadows – Prelude to Keeper of the Key VI


Previously: Keeper of the Key V

Each step of ascend rings out in shadow calls.
Who moves?
The shadow moves.
You are a shadow of your essence.
Who has no shadow?

A collage of shadows in the flickering light, swirls between light and dark awakenings.

Siegfried had no fear of dragons or another’s sword. He longed to know what fear was.

That is no man! Magical rapture Pierces my heart; Fixed is my gaze,
Burning with terror; I reel, my heart feels faint and fails!
On whom shall I call, For aid imploring?
Mother! Mother! Remember me!
How waken the maid, Causing her eyelids to open?
Her eyelids to open?
What if her gaze strike me blind!
How shall I dare To look on their light?
All rocks and sways And swirls and revolves;
Uttermost longing Burns and consumes me;
My hand on my heart, Trembles and shakes!
What ails thee, coward?
Is this what fear means?
O mother! Mother! Thy dauntless child!
A woman lying asleep Has taught him what fear is at last!
How conquer my fear?
How brace my heart? (Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods – Richard Wagner.)

“The sky glows one side black, three sides purple
After sudden rain, a clear winter’s night.
On golden waves the sparkle of the Jewelled Cord.
The River of Heaven white from eternity …
Reflections, pearls from a snapped string:” Du Fu (712–770)

Lost in a dream
in soundless eternity,
I watch them fall
sparkling pearl drops
bitter sweet tears of longing
drop
with a tingling glittering splash
your words
fall
softly
tenderly
merging with the still lake of my soul

Deep within the hidden depths
awakens the goddess
For how long has she slumbered
wrapped in memories of intimacy
A drop of love on her sleeping eye
She awakens with raging hunger
for him who filled her dreams.

To be continued …

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The Keeper of the Key V


The Keeper of the Key IV”>Previously …
The sound of our footsteps echoed with a hollowness in the flickering darkness of the cave. At the bottom of the stairs was a stone paved quay, stretching beyond was the subterranean river I heard. It appeared vast and I could not see across its dark waters. Whilst contemplating its mysteries, I became aware of a presence. Emerging from the gloom I could see a boat occupied by a dark hooded figure – the ferryman. The boat looked like a Viking ship with its voluted aplustre and with shields slung over the sides.

One by one the aspirants took their seats next to a shield. I followed and glanced at the ferryman. I tried to recall the tales I have heard about the ferryman as I took my seat. I remembered hearing somewhere that the ferryman was the off-spring of Nyx and Erebus.

The ferryman touched the water with his staff and the boat started to glide into the darkness of the tunnel. The silence covered us like a warm soft mist as we drifted towards our destination. Words from Hermann Hesse’s Siddartha floated into my awareness.

I am only a ferryman
and it is my task to take people across and to all of them my river has been nothing but a hindrance on their journey.

They have traveled for money and business, to weddings and on pilgrimages; the river has been in their way and the ferryman was there to take them quickly across the obstacle.

However, amongst the thousands
there have been four or five,
to whom the river was not an obstacle.

They heard its voice and listened to it, and the river has become holy to them, as it has to me.

The river has taught me to listen;
you will learn from it too.
The river knows everything;
one can learn everything from it.

I listened to the echoing cavernous water flowing from some unknown source; lulling me into calm drifting. I sighed with the intent just to surrender to the flow and inhaled deeply the moist scent of water slowly eroding the rock of ages. The scent of an ancient emergence swirling me through horizons of being. Thoughts whirling, and then sinking, gliding into the dark realm of unbecoming and becoming, drowning the rising questions. My last breath filled with the waters of surging memories.

I listened to the echoes of the cascading images rushing by my inertness. Out of the river of memories emerged an image; a sparkling tinkling Christmas tree fully adorned. Happy little lights twinkled from its fragrant branches. Underneath the tree were gaily wrapped gifts pilled in happy anticipation. Ice cold drops of sorrow filled me.

Slowly it dawned on me that I was watching the scene of Christmas when I lost both my parents. It was as if the room where my family and I spend so many Christmas celebrations was locked on that day and left untouched for all the years that had passed. Tears welled up inside me as I realized that it was on that day that I became homeless. I have been searching ever since for my home.

In the silence, I wiped away my tears, thankful for the cover of darkness. In the distance I could see a flickering light. As we glided closer I could see the light was cast by flames burning in two huge braziers cupped between the claws of two stone dragons that flanked the steps rising up from the river. Between them stood a giant of a man with thick black hair tied back. His muscular arms were folded over his leather apron. I was drawn to his intense, almost pitch black eyes. I could sense a man of great humour behind his unsmiling face and stern appearance. Something in me felt as if I knew him from somewhere, although, if I did encounter him before I surely would have remembered from where. This must be the great blacksmith we have come to see.

The boat came to a halt in front of the steps. My fellow passengers each took one of the shields hanging from the boat’s sides and followed the sage warrior up the steps. Not sure what to do, I remained in the boat. The ferryman turned to me with his blazing eyes and said;
“ You know that you cannot turn back once you embarked on the journey?”
“I am here by accident”
“Ignoratio legis neminem excusat – ignorance of the law excuses nobody. You are still bound by the law, or do you prefer to drift in between like a hungry ghost?”

I stood up uncertainly and followed the others. The blacksmith saluted us, and uttered;
“Ephphatha – be thou opened”
They raised their shields and cried in answer “Deus vult!”
“Ascend and gather in the great Hall.”

I recalled from somewhere that ”Deus vult – God wills it” was the cry of the Crusaders. I started to follow the rest up the stairs but the blacksmith stopped me.
“Where is your shield?”
“ I am no warrior, I am lost. I am just looking for my way home.”
“ What is a home but a shield from the elements? A shelter that shields and protects, conceals your weaknesses from the outside world. Was not the first weapon made to protect the home? If you are searching for your home then you are searching for your shield. The shield represents the warrior’s personal vision and inherent power or special qualities and quest in life. If you are looking for your home are you not looking for exactly that? Before the warrior can gain his weapon, he must know himself. To know himself he must open himself, ephphatha. You have the key to your door. Those who carry the key carries the power of the keys.”
“What is the power of the keys?”

“A key either locks or unlocks a door. The power of the keys is the power to bind or to liberate. The power of a weapon has exactly the same quality. The warrior can either liberate or bind. Go fetch your shield and follow me.”

The ferryman was still waiting in the boat. There was only one shield remaining. It was made of wood and strengthened with iron bands. Circling around the center spike were anguine shapes of olive green and bronze that slithered to form interlocking patterns. I wondered from which tree the wood came from, but I saw the blacksmith disappearing into the shadows beyond the flickering flames. I gave a parting glance at the ferryman and hurried up the stairs into the shadows.

Dark flowing immortal river
Where is your source?
Cavern of fire
Torch of spirit
Sought through five
Drinking strength from immortal fire
The darkest prison sheds the light
Churning beneath a swirl of salt
Burning within a throne of rock
Floating among the eyes of the ages,
Unmired in the stream of the sky
From; Ronin Warriors

To be continued …

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Keeper of the Key IV


red desert

 

Previously …
The landscape was familiar. I have encountered it before; in another place, another time, a different culture. Perhaps more often than I would have like to as the memories brought me feelings of fear, pain and failure. Why must I come back here?

Down below I could see a crowd of people gathering on the city plain. Feeling reluctant to go among the crowd, but yet at the same time curious, I made my way towards the gathering. In the center of the plain was a circular podium made out of red stone. On this podium stood a man who looked like a classic sage with long white hair and beard, dressed in flowing white robes. The only thing that did not fit the picture of a sage was that this man had a Kaskara sword across his back, tasseled with silver bangles.

I looked around at the people in the crowd. All the men, women and even the children, had some weapon strapped to their bodies. A woman standing next to me, lifted her excited child up to get a better view of the podium. She had a knife in an ornate silver scabbard, girded to her waist. She looked harmless enough though, so I ventured to ask her what the event was.

She looked at me in disbelief for a moment, saw the key hanging from my neck and laughed.
“Are you humoring me?”

But before she could continue the sage started to speak.
“The moment has come for the brave warriors selected to begin the journey to the Great Blacksmith. Will those who have received the keys please step forward. Men and women from among the crowd moved forward towards the podium with loud cheers of encouragement. I strained to have a better look. The woman next to me gently pushed me and said,
“What are you waiting for?”
“What?”

She touched the key hanging from my neck, and pushed me forward. “Bring back the perfect weapon.”

In my mind’s eye I saw the man who knew the way, handing me the ribbon, and I realized that he knew and tricked me. Who was he really?

Reluctantly, I joined the others on the podium, and sure enough, they all had black keys with a red ribbon. I did not have a good feeling about this at all. I most certainly did not feel very brave, and had no desire to go and meet the Great Blacksmith, whoever he was, looking for some mythical weapon. How could this possibly help me find my way home? All I want to do is just to go home.

While I was silently bemoaning my fate, I saw the others follow the sage down steps. As I started to descend into the darkness, I heard the echoing sound of underground water, and cavernous coolness greeted my face.

A refinery for silver
A furnace for gold
Who tries the heart?

To be continued …

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About The Keeper of the Key


The Keeper of the Key is an unfolding story; a personal experiment into the adventure of the soul’s unfolding.
It has a beginning and a name, but how the story will unfold, or where exactly it will end,  is a mystery even to myself. The process reflects for me the unfolding of a life. We have a beginning and a name but where exactly will it lead to? Do I trust enough in the process to write a story without any pre-thought plots?

In this unfolding story each installment will contain an element that is a clue to the unfolding of the next part. This is akin to following an intuition; intuition gives us clues to the next step, never a complete plan. Events that may appear random links up in retrospect to reveal a perfect plan for the unfoldment of the soul.

No story exists in isolation. If this unfolding story inspires any paths of thoughts in you, let me know, perhaps it can be interwoven. Perhaps a poem, a picture who knows.

When life’s twist and turns does not derail me, I will update this story weekly.

To the delight of life’s mysteries,
Sophia

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