Robert Kelly: An Alchemical Journal (9)


It was in front of the cathedral that the lepers gathered, the same in every city. They were the imperfections of the system, hopefully consigned outside it, segregated, wished to death. They showed themselves to men while men were on the steps of the place they went to show themselves to God. Heal me cries the burnt tree. Heal me, the new-born lamb.

The phone rings twice eight times. Party line. They’re getting the car ready. Four Queens. Four Kings. Four Princesses. Four piebald serving men. Four times four. 4! 2=3.

Scholars of the Collegium Spiritus Sancti are born under an extreme elongation of Mercury from the Sun, or when Mercury is in the Heart of the Sun. Melville is an example of the first, Egypt of the second. But when Aquarius ascended at nightfall Nile flowed us his waters. Yeats watched his cold moon rising. There are Arabic terms for all of these things. Ibn al-Arabi for instance said the most accurate vision of God was in of & as woman. If you add enough prepositions, they approach that totality wherein the relations they designate cease to exist. This is called coming home.

Four fields? There was a fifth. Let her right side from upraised shoulder to waist be called Connaught, her right side from buttock to toe Muns-ter, her left leg increasing to hip & flank Leicester, her left breast & chest & heart & head Ulster. Where all four fields come together, womb=well, sheath of all forms, was the fifth of the four, where even becomes odd & the world is saved: Meath, the mid-ground, the High King’s own.

Summoned from the access of sleep by repeated instruction, I rose & looked out that window indicated by the voice. Across a continuity of dark there grew one lighted space & into it what seemed a young woman came & took all cloth away & joined her hands beneath tender small fresh breasts. Some say I saw the moon, but I say I saw a different thing.

It would end if I heard the horn, if I looked out & saw her in the backseat, waiting quietly. They go for me, my emissaries to an unrelenting world immediately above my own. Below. They are the bondsmen, bailiffs, dunners, process-servers, revenuers; they pay all debts; they say they work for the Queen. I say the Queen wears a red Dress & her neck is white above it as ermine & there is a crown of my desires round her head. Some leaf-shaped, some masoned square, some like the tips of lances.

“All these old letters of my Book are aright; but Tzaddi is not the Star.” Tzaddi is the woman, kneeling under the star, reaching ‘down’ through the worlds for starlight, stirring the waters of our lake (Dante’s lago), the pages of our secret books. Tzaddi is fish-hook, hamus hermeticus, to angle in the genetic pool, catch the fish of justice, Maat the feathered fish, eat in one great blaze of hunger the consequences of all our acts. The quotation is from the Book of the Law given to Frater Perdurabo in 1904. It took Aleister Crowley a full forty years to articulate his misunderstanding of the instruction. This is a very important contribution to the praxis of the tarot. As a beautiful old musician once said, when told his fly was unzipped: The cage may be open, but the bird is dead.

To stick to the work like a fish to water.

“I saw myself & some of my company riding by the shores of the sea, & lo! the sea had folk living in it, each mating with other, yet nothing conceived or brought to birth; trees they planted, but none bare fruit; seed they set down that did not grow.”

There is a city on or under the sea where men sleep with men & children do not come. Its king was a fish, or a fisherman. We were driving one summer &, came to it; I sized that town up pretty quick: no women in the streets, women they needed. At considerable personal expense I performed with my company certain acts of sexual polarity on the beach, in the waves, on the rocks, full privily in the heart of their houses in word & thought & deed. They do not love me in that City, because they rightly associate me with the changes that begin, though little do they comprehend them as yet. “Strange things are happening in this City,” one of its folk told me. Praegnating winds, the moon declining, new faces in town, an energy. At winter solstice a child will be born. “O our sterility dies away, as a live ocean sucks at the sterile sand,” they say. But I was ignorant too, & knew only the Queen & how much stronger than the king. God is our mother. Alchemy is the science of associating yourself with the ‘movements’ of time.

The arrogant magician imperils his own seed. Some people think that sex lies behind magic, that all magic is sex magic. That would be true if we truly knew sex, the dynamic behind the metaphor of intercourse, impregnation, love. If men love their wives the City is fruitful & masters Ocean. Love your wives.

[… to be continued]

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