The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:10 pm

Chapter 7: The Cinnabar Book

Fever is hammering at my temples; the boundary between the inside and outside world is as blurred as that between the sea and the sky. I am drifting helplessly on the surging breakers of my blood, now tom down into yawning funnels filled with the blackness of deepest unconsciousness, now floating in a blinding light, flung upwards towards a white-hot sun that scorches my senses.

A hand is holding mine tight When my eye lets go of it and, tired of counting the myriad tiny holes in the lace cuff from which it protrudes, makes its way up the sleeve, I have a hazy sense that it is my father who is sitting at my bedside.

Or is it only a dream?

I can no longer distinguish between waking reality and my imaginings, but whenever I feel his eye resting upon me, a tormenting sense of guilt forces me to close my lids.

How has it all come about? I can no longer remember. The thread of memory has tom at the point when the actor was shouting at me.

There is only one thing I am clear about: at some time, somewhere by the light of a lamp, I wrote out a promissory note at his order and signed it with my father's forged signature. The writing was so like his that, as I stared at the paper before Herr Paris folded it up and put it away, I thought for a moment my father had signed it with his own hand.

Why did I do it? It seemed such a natural thing to do that even now, with the memory of the deed tormenting me, I cannot wish it undone.

Is it only one night that has passed since then or a whole generation?

I feel as if the actor had vented his spleen on me for a whole year of my life without ceasing. Then, finally, my lack of resistance must have made him realise there was no point in continuing his rage; somehow he must have convinced me that I could save Ophelia by forging the signature.

The only ray of light penetrating my feverish torment is that I am certain I did not do it to save myself from the suspicion of intent to murder.

How I managed to make my way home, whether it was already light or still dark, is a complete mystery to me.

I have a vague picture of myself sitting by a grave, weeping in desperation, and from the scent of roses that flows over me whenever I think of it, I almost believe it was my mother's grave.

Or does it come from the bouquet of flowers there, on the counterpane?

Who can have laid it there?

'My God! I must go and put out the street-lamps!' The thought is like a whiplash on every nerve-end. 'Is it bright daylight already?' I try to jump out of bed, but I am so weak I cannot move a muscle.

Wearily I sink back into the pillows.

'No, it's still night-time' , is the thought that comforts me, for my eyes are suddenly plunged back into deepest darkness.

But immediately afterwards I can see the brightness again and the rays of the sun playing on the white wall. And once again I am overwhelmed by the idea that I am neglecting my duty.

I tell myself it is a wave of fever sweeping me back into the sea of delirium; but I am powerless to stop a familiar, rhythmical hand-clapping rising, like something from the dream world, and beating, ever louder, ever clearer, against my ear. Night and day alternate in time with the rhythm, faster and faster, night and day without any transition, and I have to run, run, to be in time to light the lamps, put them out, light them, put them out.

Time is rushing after my heart, trying to catch it, but it manages to keep its pulse one step ahead.

'Now, now I am going to sink beneath the tide of blood', I feel. 'It is flowing from a wound in old Mutschelknaus' head, pouring out between his fingers like a torrent as he clutches at it with his hand. Any second now I will drown in it.' At the last moment I grasp a post that is fixed into the embankment, and hold on tight. As consciousness recedes, I clench my teeth in response to my one remaining thought, 'Keep a finn hold on your tongue, otherwise in your delirium it will reveal that you forged your father's signature.'

Suddenly I am more awake than ever I was by day, more alive than ever in a dream. My hearing is so sharp that I can hear the faintest sound, whether near or far.

Far, far above in the treetops on the other bank the birds are singing, and I can clearly hear voices murmuring their prayers in St. Mary's.

Can it be Sunday?

Strange that the usual roar of the organ cannot swallow up the whispering in the pews. Strange that this time the loud noises cannot harm the soft, weak ones.

What are those doors banging in the house? I thought the other floors were uninhabited? That the rooms below were filled with nothing but dusty old junk?

Is it our ancestors who have suddenly come to life?

I decide to go down. Why shouldn't I, I feel so fresh and full of vigour? Immediately I remember: to do that I would have to take my body with me and that is the difficulty; I can't go down in the broad daylight to pay a visit to my ancestors in my nightshirt.

Then there is a knock at the door. My father goes over, opens it a little and says through the crack in respectful tones, "No, grandpapa, it's not time yet As you know, you can only come to him when I have died."

This is repeated nine times in all.

When it is repeated the tenth time, then I know that it is our Founding Father outside. I know that I am right by the deep, respectful bow my father makes as he opens the door wide.

He goes out, and by the slow, heavy tread, accompanied by the tapping of a stick, I can hear that someone is coming to my bed.

I cannot see him, for I have my eyes shut. There is an inner feeling which tells me I must not open them. But through my lids, as clearly as if they were of glass, I can see my room and all the objects in it.

Our Founding Father pulls back the covers and places his right hand on my neck, the thumb sticking out at right angles to make it like a set-square.

He speaks in a monotone, like a priest saying the litany, "This is the storey on which your grandfather died and awaits the resurrection. The human frame is the house in which one's dead ancestors live.

In some people's houses, in some people's bodies, the dead awake, before the time is ripe for their resurrection, to a brief, speetral life. Then the rumours fly of 'haunting', then the common herd talks of 'possession'."

He repeats the process, placing the palm of his hand with the thumb outspread on my chest. "And here your great-grandfather lies entombed."

And so it continues, down the whole of my body, over stomach, loins, thighs and knees, to the soles of my feet. When he places his hands on them, he says, "And this is where I live. For the feet are the foundations on which the house rests; they are the root joining the body of your person to Mother Earth, whenever you walk.

Today is the day following the night of your solstice. This is the day when the dead within you begin their resurrection.

And I am the first."

I hear him sit down by my bed and from the rustle of pages being turned from time to time I guess that he is reading to me from the family chronicle, which my father mentions so often.

It comes to me in the tone of a litany, which lulls my outward senses but excites my inner ones to increasing, sometimes almost unbearable wakefulness:

"You are the twelfth. I was the first. We start counting with 'one' and we stop counting with 'twelve'. That is the secret of God's incarnation.

You are to become the top of the tree which sees the living light; I am the root, which sends up the forces of darkness into the light.

But you will be I and I will be you when the growth of the tree is complete.

The elder is the tree that in Paradise was called the tree of life. Even today legend has it that it possesses magic power. Cut off its top, its branches and its roots, plant it upside down in the earth, and lo! what was the crown of the tree will become a root, what was a root will put out branches. so completely is each of its cells imbued with the communion of 'I' and 'you'.

That is why I have put it as a symbol on the coat of arms of our family. That is why it is growing as an emblem on the roof of our house.

Here on earth it is only a token, just as all forms are only tokens, but in the incorruptible realm it is the first among all trees.

Sometimes in the course of your wanderings, both here and on the other side, you have felt old: that was I, the foundation, the root, the Founding Father, that you could feel within you. We are both called Christopher. for you and I are one and the same.

I was a foundling, just as you were; but in the course of my wanderings, I found the great father and the great mother, losing the little father and the little mother; you have found the little father and the little mother, but not yet the great father and the great mother.

Thus I am the beginning and you are the end; when each has penetrated the other. then shall the ring of eternity be closed for our family. The night of your solstice is the day of my resurrection. As you become old. so I will become young. the poorer you become, the richer I will be ...

Whenever you opened your eyes, I had to close mine, if you closed yours, then I could see; thus it was until now. We stood facing each other like waking and sleep, like life and death, and could only meet on the bridge of dreams.

Soon all that will be changed. The time is approaching: the time of your poverty, the time of my wealth.

The night of the solstice was the watershed.

Anyone who is not ripe will sleep through it, or will wander the earth, lost in darkness; his founding father must lie entombed within him until Judgment Day.

There are those - they are the presumptuous ones - who believe in their body alone, and commit sins for their own advantage, the ignoble, the ones who despise their family tree; the others are those who, for the sake of an easy conscience, are too cowardly to commit a sin.

But you are of noble blood, and were willing to commit murder for the sake of love.

Doing good and doing evil must become the same, otherwise both will remain a burden, and one who bears a burden can never be a Freeman.

The Master whom they call the White Dominican has forgiven you all your sins, even your future ones, because he knew how everything would come to pass; but you deluded yourself into thinking it was in your power to commit a particular deed or not He is, from time immemorial, free from both good and evil and therefore free from all delusion. But those, like you or I, who still delude themselves, load this burden or that on themselves.

We can only free ourselves from it after the manner of which I have told you.

He is the great crown of the tree that is to come, arising from the great source-root.

He is the garden; you and I and others of our kind are the trees that grow within it.

He is the great wanderer and we the lesser.

He descends from eternity to infinity; our path takes us from infinity up into eternity.

Anyone who has crossed the watershed has become a link. in a chain, in a chain formed from invisible hands that never let each other go until the end of days. From that point on they belong to a community in which each one has a mission which is destined for him alone.

There are not even two among them who are alike, just as among the human animals on earth there are no two who share the same destiny.

Our whole earth is imbued with the spirit of this community; it is ever-present at all times, it is the living spirit in the great elder tree. It is the origin of all religions of all peoples and ages; they change, but it is unchanging.

Anyone who has become a crown and consciously bears within him the source-root, consciously enters into the community through the experience of the mystery that is called the 'Dissolution with Corpse and Sword'.

In ancient China thousands upon thousands were initiated into this secret process, but only meagre reports have come down to us. Hear now some of them:

'There are certain transformations called Shi Kiai, that is the Dissolution of the Corpses, and others called Kieu Kiai, that is the Dissolution of the Swords. The Dissolution of the Corpses is the condition in which the form of the dead man becomes invisible and he himself reaches the rank of an immortal. In some cases, the body merely loses weight, or retains the outward appearance of a living man.

In the Dissolution of the Swords, a sword is left behind in the coffin in place of the corpse. These are the invincible weapons, destined for the last great battle.

Both dissolutions are an art which those who have advanced along the path communicate to the favoured among the younger followers."

The tradition from the Book of the Sword, quoted above, says:

"In the method of the Dissolution of the Corpses it comes about that one dies and then comes to life again. It comes about that the head is chopped off and appears from one side. It comes about that the body is present, but the bones are missing.

The highest among the Dissolved receive, but do not act; the rest dissolve in broad daylight with their corpses. Their achievement is to become flying immortals. If they want, they can sink into dry ground in broad daylight.

One of these was a native of Hui-nan and was called Tung Chung Kiu. In his youth he practised inhaling spiritual air and thus purified his body. He was unjustly accused of a crime and was tied up in prison. His corpse dissolved and disappeared.

Liu Ping Hu has no name and no boy's name. Towards the end of the days of Han he was the Elder of Ping-hu in Kieu- Kiang. He practised the art of medicine and came to the aid of his fellows in their illnesses and sorrows as if they were his own illnesses. Journeying on foot, he met the immortal Chu Ching Shi, who revealed to him the path of hidden existence. Later he dissolved with the corpse and disappeared."

I could tell from the rustling of the pages that our ancestor passed over several pages before he continued:

"Whoever possesses the Cinnabar-red Book, the plant of immortality, the awakening of the spiritual breath, and the secret of bringing the right hand to life, will dissolve with the corpse.

I have read to you examples of people who have dissolved, so that your faith will be strengthened through hearing that there were others before you who achieved it. It is to the same end that the Christians' Book tells of the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, however, I will tell you of the secret of the hand, the secret of the breath and of reading the Cinnabar Book.

It is called the Cinnabar Book because, according to ancient belief in China, that red is the colour of the garments of those who have reached the highest stage of perfection and stayed behind on earth for the salvation of mankind.

Just as we cannot comprehend the meaning of a book if we just hold it in our hand or turn the pages without reading, so we will not profit from the course of our destiny if we do not grasp its meaning. Events follow each other like the pages of a book that are turned by Death; all we know is that they appear and disappear, and that with the last one the book ends. We do not even know that it keeps being opened, again and again, until we finally learn to read. And as long as we cannot read, life is for us a worthless game in which joy and sorrow mingle. When, however, we finally begin to understand its living language, then our spirit will open its eyes, and will start to read, and will breathe with us.

This is the first stage on the path to the Dissolution of the Corpse, for the body is nothing other than congealed spirit; it dissolves when the spirit begins to awaken, just as ice melts in water when it begins to boil.

Everyone has a book of destiny, which is meaningful at the root, but the letters in it will dance around in a confused jumble for those who do not take the trouble to read them calmly, one after the other, just as they are written. Such people are the hasty, the greedy, the ambitious ones, those who use duty as a pretext, those who are poisoned by the delusion that they can mould their destiny to a different shape than the one Death has written in their book.

But anyone who can ignore the idle turning back and forth of the pages, who is moved neither to tears nor to joy but who, like an attentive reader, concentrates his mind on understanding it word by word, will fmd a higher and higher book of destiny opened for him, until he is one of the elect, for whom the Cinnabar Book, that contains all secrets, lies before him.

That is the only way to escape from the dungeon of fate. Any other attempt is merely a vain, tormented wriggling in the snares of Death.

The poorest in life are those who have forgotten that there is a freedom beyond the dungeon cell, those who, like birds that have been born in a cage, are content with a full feeding bowl and have forgotten how to fly. For them there can be no release.

Our hope is that the great white wanderer, who is on his way down into infInity, will succeed in breaking their bonds.

But they will never look on the Cinnabar Book.

Those for whom it is opened will leave no corpse behind in a higher sense as well; they will drag a lump of earth into the spiritual realm and dissolve it there.

Thus they will take part in the great task of divine alchemy; they will transform lead into gold and infinity into eternity. Hear now of the secret of spiritual breath.

It is stored up in the Cinnabar Book, but only for those who are root or crown; the 'branches' have no part in it, for if they were to understand it, they would wither on the spot and fall from the trunk. The great spiritual breath does, indeed, flow through them - for how could even the smallest being live without it? - but it passes through them like a wind that sets them in motion but does not stop.

Physical breath is only its counterpart in the external world.

Within us, however, it must settle, until it has become a shining light, penetrating every mesh of the net of our body and uniting with the great light.

How that is to happen, no one can teach you, it is rooted in the most delicate area of our sensibility.

It says in the Cinnabar Book, "Here lies hidden the key to all magic. The body can do nothing, the spirit can do everything. Put away everything that is body, and when your self, your 'I' , is completely naked, it will start to breathe as a pure spirit.

One will begin after this fashion and another after that, according to the belief into which he was born; the one through an ardent longing for the spirit, the other by persevering in the certainty that he was born of the spirit and only his body is of the earth.

Anyone who has no religion but believes in the tradition, must accompany all the labours of his hands, even the least, with this constant thought, 'I am doing this for the sole purpose that the spiritual essence within me shall begin to breathe.' Just as the body transforms the earthly air you have inhaled, without your being able to see the secret place of its labours, so does the spirit, in an incomprehensible way, weave with its breath a royal garment of purple for you: the cloak of perfection.

Gradually the spirit will penetrate your whole body in a deeper sense than with those humans who remain in the animal state. Anywhere its breath reaches, the limbs will be renewed, to serve a different purpose than before.

Then you will be able to direct the current of this breath as you wish. You will be able to drive the Jordan backwards, as it says in the Bible. You can make the heart in your body stand still, you can make it beat slowly or quickly and thus determine the fate of your body yourself. From this time on, the Book of Death will not apply to you.

Every art has its laws, every coronation its splendour, every mass its rite, and everything that is born and grows has its own course.

The right hand is the first limb of the new body that you should wake with that breath.

There are two sounds that are heard first, when the breath meets flesh and blood: the sounds of creation, I and A.

I is 'ignis', that is fire, and A is 'aqua', that is water.

Nothing is made that is not made of fire and water.

When the breath touches the index finger it becomes rigid and resembles the letter I; "the bone calcines" as it says in the sources.

If the breath touches the thumb, than that will become rigid, stick out at an angle and form, with the index, the letter A.

Then "streams of living water will go from your hands", as it says in the sources.

If a person were to die in this state of spiritual rebirth, then his right hand would no longer be subject to the corruption of the flesh.

If you place the awakened hand at your neck, then the 'living water' will pour into your body.

If you were to die in that state, your whole body would be incorruptible, like the corpse of a Christian saint.

But you are to dissolve with your corpse!

That comes about through the boiling of the 'water', which itself is brought about through the 'fire', for every process, even the spiritual process of rebirth, must have its own proper order.

I will bring it about in you before I go from you this time."

I heard the Founding Father close the book.

He stood up and again, just as he had the first time, placed his hand, stretched out like a set-square, at my throat I felt a sensation of ice-cold water running down through my body to the soles of my feet.

"When I bring it to the boil, the fever will awake within you and you will lose consciousness", he said, "so hear me before your ear grows deaf.

What I am doing to you, you are doing yourself, for I am you and you are I. No other could do to you what I am doing; you could not do it to yourself alone. I must be present, for without me you are only half an 'I', just as I am only half an 'I' without you.

In this way the secret of its accomplishment is guarded from misuse by humans who remain in the animal state."

I felt the Founding Father slowly remove his thumb; then he passed his index finger quickly from left to right across my neck, as if he wanted to cut my throat.

A dreadful, shrill sound like an 'I' scorched through flesh and bone. I felt as if flames were shooting up from my body.

"Do not forget: everything that happens, and everything you do and suffer, you must bear for the sake of the Dissolution of the Corpse." I heard the voice of my forebear Christopher for one last time; it sounded as if it were coming up out of the earth.

Then my last scrap of consciousness burnt to ashes in the blazing fever.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:12 pm

Chapter 8: Ophelia

I am still so weak that my knees tremble when I walk round the room, but hour by hour I can feel evermore clearly that my health is returning.

I am devoured by longing for Ophelia and I would love to go down the stairs to peer into her window and try to catch a glimpse of her. She came to see me when I was unconscious with fever, my father told me, and brought me a bunch of roses.

I can tell by his look that he has guessed everything. Perhaps she has even admitted it to him? I am afraid to ask, and he shyly avoids the topic as well.

He tends me with loving care; the least thing I need, he brings me; but at every token of his affection, my heart pounds with shame and sorrow when I think of the crime I have committed against him. I wish the forging of his signature were nothing but a feverish dream! But now that my mind has cleared, I know all too well that it really happened. Why did I do it? What did I think it would achieve? All the details have been erased from my memory.

I am not going to dwell on it. My only thought is that somehow I must expiate the deed; I must earn money, money and more money, to buy back the note. My forehead is bathed in sweat at the thought It will be impossible; how should I earn money, here in our little town? Perhaps it would be possible in the capital? No one knows me there. If I offered my services as a servant to some rich man? I would be prepared to work like a slave, day and night.

But how can I ask my father to let me go to university in the capital? What reason could I use, given the number of times he has told me how he hates all learning that has been acquired from books instead of from life itself? Anyway, I lack the required knowledge, or at least a school-leaving certificate.

No, no, it is impossible!

My torment is doubled at the thought that I will be separated from Ophelia for years and years, perhaps even for ever. At that awful thought I can feel the fever start to rise within me again.

I have been ill in bed for two whole weeks. Ophelia's roses are already withered in the vase. Perhaps she has already left? My hands are wet with perspiration as despair takes hold of me. Perhaps the flowers were her farewell to me?

My father can tell how much I am suffering, but he does not ask the reason, not even once. Does he know more than he is willing to say? If only I could pour out my heart to him and confess everything, everything! But no, it cannot be. If he were to cast me off, how gladly I would accept it, that would be an expiation of my guilt. But I know that it would break his heart if he were to learn that I, his only child that he found through a stroke of fate, have behaved like a criminal towards him. No, no, it must not happen!

The whole world can learn about it and point the finger at me for all I care; he alone must never know.

He gently strokes my forehead with a look of love and tenderness in his eyes, and says, "Do not look so horrified, my dear son. Whatever it is that is tormenting you, forget it. Think of it as a feverish dream. You will soon be healthy and happy again."

He hesitates as he says the word 'happy', and I feel that he senses that the days, months, years to come will bring me much pain and misery.

Just as I can sense it.

Does that mean Ophelia has gone already? Does he know?

The question is on the tip of my tongue, but I force it back.. I think I would break down in tears if he were to say 'yes'.

He suddenly starts talking, very quickly, the words come tumbling out; he talks about all sorts of things in order to distract me, to turn my mind to other thoughts. I cannot remember having told him of the dream visit - or whatever it was - of our Founding Father, but I must have. Otherwise how could he suddenly start on the same subject? Almost without introduction, he says:

"You cannot avoid sorrows as long as you are not a 'Dissolved One'. Someone who is still bound to the earth cannot erase what is in the Book of Destiny. What is sad is not that so many people suffer, what is sad is that their suffering serves no higher purpose. That turns it into a punishment for deeds of hate committed in the past, perhaps in an earlier existence. We can only escape this terrible law of reward and punishment if we accept everything that happens with the thought that its purpose is to awaken our spiritual life. Everything we do should be done from this perspective alone. The spiritual attitude is everything, the deed itself nothing! Suffering becomes meaningful and fruitful if you see it in such a light. Believe me, you will not only be able to bear it more easily, it will also pass more quickly and, in some circumstances, turn into the opposite. The things that sometimes happen in suchlike cases are close to the miraculous, and it is not only inner transformations that come about; no, our material destiny can also change in the strangest way. Of course unbelievers laugh at such claims, but then, what would they not laugh at?

It is as if the soul will not allow us to suffer more for its sake than we can bear."

"What actually is to be understood by 'bringing the right hand to life'?" I ask. "Is it merely the beginning of a spiritual development, or has it some other purpose?"

My father thinks for a while.

"How can I make you understand? We can't keep talking in parables.

Like all forms, the limbs of our body are only symbols for spiritual concepts. The right hand is, so to speak, the symbol for action, doing. If, then, the hand takes on spiritual life, that means we have become spiritually active on the other side, whereas until then we were asleep. It is similar with' speaking' , 'writing' and 'reading'. Talking, speaking is, in earthly terms, to communicate. Whether the person with whom we communicate acts on it, is up to him. With 'spiritual' speaking it is different It is no longer communication, for who is there we would communicate with? 'I' and 'you' are the same over there.

'Speaking' in the spiritual sense is the equivalent of creating, a magical calling up into the world of appearances. Here on . earth, 'writing' is the transient setting down of a thought; over there 'writing' is to carve something on the memory of eternity. 'Reading' here means to absorb the sense of a written document; over there it is to recognise the great, unchanging laws - and to act according to them for the sake of harmony. But I think, my lad, that while you are still so weak we should not be talking about things that are so difficult to understand."

"Won't you tell me about my mother, father? What was she called? I know nothing at all of her." The question suddenly appeared on my lips; only when it is too late do I notice that I have touched a wound in his heart.

He paces restlessly up and down the room; his speech is disjointed.

"My dearest son, spare me the pain of having to bring the past back to life. She loved me. Yes, I am sure of that And I loved her - more than I can ever say.

In this I fared the same as all my ancestors. For the men of the line of Jocher, anything connected with 'woman' was ever a torment and our undoing. Without it being our fault, without it being the fault of our mothers.

None of us, as perhaps you know, has had more than one son. The marriage never lasted beyond that It is as if, with that, it had fulfilled its purpose.

Not one of us had a happy marriage. Perhaps it was because our wives were either much too young, like mine, or older than us. There was no physical harmony between us. With each passing year time tore us farther apart. - And why did she leave me? If only I knew! But I ... I do not want to know!

Did she perhaps deceive me? No! I would have felt it. Would still feel it My sole belief is that love for another woke within her; and when she realised she could no longer avoid her fate, that she was about to be unfaithful to me, she preferred to leave me and seek death."

"But why did she abandon me, father?"

"For that I have only one explanation. She was a strict Catholic and, although she never said a single word on the matter, she considered our spiritual path a devilish aberration. She wanted to keep you from it, and that was only possible by keeping you away from my influence. That you are my true son you must never doubt, do you hear! She would never, never have given you the name Christopher. That alone is an infallible sign for me that you are not the child ... of another."

"Father, tell me just one more thing. What was she called? I would like to know her Christian name when I think of her."

"She was called" - my father's voice gave out, as if the word had stuck in this throat - "she was called ... her name was ... Ophelia."

At last I am allowed out again. I am not to light the lamps any more, my father said, not even later on.

I do not know the reason.

The beadle will see to it, as he did before me.

The first place I go - with heart aquiver! - is down to the window on the stairs, but in the house opposite the curtains stay closed all the time.

After a long, long wait in the alleyway I meet the old woman who looks after the house and ask her what has happened. All my vague forebodings and fears have become reality: Ophelia has left me! The old woman says Herr Paris has left for the capital with her.

Now I can also remember why I signed the promissory note; my memory has returned. He promised me he would not make her appear on stage if I could supply him with money. Three days later he broke his word!

Every hour that passes sees me making my way down to the garden seat. I delude myself into believing that Ophelia is sitting there, waiting for me; she is just hiding so that she can leap out with a cry of joy and rush into my arms.

Sometimes I catch myself behaving oddly: I start turning over the sand around the seat with the spade that is leant against the garden fence, with a stick, with the remains of a plank, with anything that happens to come to hand, sometimes even with my bare hands.

It is as if the earth concealed something that I must tear from its grasp.

I have read in books that people who are lost in the desert and dying of thirst root round in the sand in the same way and dig great holes with their fingers.

The pain is burning with such a heat, that I can feel it no more. Or am I hovering above myself, so that the torment cannot reach me?

The capital is many miles upstream; will the river not bring me greetings?

Then I suddenly find myself sitting at my mother's grave, not knowing how I came to get there.

It must be that same name, 'Ophelia', that drew me there. Why is the postman crossing Baker's Row and going towards our house, now, in the midday heat when everything is sleeping? I have never seen him here before. There is no one who lives round here to whom he might bring a letter.

He sees me, stops and rummages round in his leather bag.

I know my heart will burst if it is a message from Ophelia!

I stand there, dazed, holding in my hand something white with a red seal.

"Dear Baron Jocher,

If you should open this letter to Christopher, then please, please, do not read any further. I beg you, from the depths of my soul, do not read the accompanying pages. If you are unwilling to pass the letter on to Christl, then bum both of them, but whatever you do, do not let Christl out of your eyes, not for one minute. He is still so young, and I would not like to be the reason for him committing a rash act, if he were to learn from other lips than yours what you - and he - are bound to learn soon.

Please fulfil this request that comes from the bottom of my heart (I know that you will).

Your most obedient servant,

Ophelia M."

"My beloved child, my poor, poor, beloved child,

My heart tells me that you are well again, and that means you will have the strength and courage, as I hope with heart and soul, to face up to what I have to say to you.

I am sure God will never forget the deed you did for my sake, and I send up a hymn of joyful praise to him for giving me the opportunity to undo it. What you must have had to go through for my sake, my dearest, my own!

That you could have told your father of my situation is not possible. I begged you to say nothing to him about it and I know you respected my desire. He would certainly have hinted at it when I went to see him, to tell him how much we loved each other and to say farewell to him - and to you.

So you are the only one who can have signed the promissory note.

Today I weep tears of joy that I can return it to you. I came across it by chance on the desk of that horrible man, whose name I refuse to speak again.

How can I express my thanks to you, my one and only child? Could there be anything I could do to prove how grateful lam? It is impossible that such great gratitude and love as I feel for you cannot reach out from the grave. I know that they will persist through all eternity, just as I know that I will be with you in spirit, accompanying your every step and protecting you from all danger, like a faithful hound, until we meet again.

We never spoke about it. How could we have had time to, when we had to embrace and kiss each other? But believe me: just as surely as providence exists, so there is a land of eternal youth. If I did not know that, where would I find the courage to leave you?

There we will meet again, never more to part; there we will both be - and stay - as young as each other, and time will be an eternal present.

There is only one thing that saddens me - but no, I am smiling at it already! That is that you will not be able to carry out my wish to bury me in the garden by our darling little bench.

I beg you, more passionately, more urgently than the last time we saw each other, to remain on earth for the sake of our love. Live your life, I implore you, until the Angel of Death should come to you of his own accord, and not because you have called him. I want you to be older than me when we meet again. That is why you must live out your full life here on earth. And I will be waiting for you over there in the land of eternal youth.

Rejoice that I am free, free at last, now ,just as you are reading my letter.

Would you prefer to know that I was suffering? What that suffering would be, if I were to remain alive, cannot be put into words. I have seen - once and once only - the life that would await me, and I shudder with horror.

Better hell than such a profession!

But even that I would suffer with pleasure, if I knew it would bring me closer to the happiness of being united with you. Do not think I am throwing life away because I am incapable of suffering for your sake. I am doing it because I know our souls would be separated, both here and on the other side.

Do not think. these are mere words, set down to comfort you, a delusion to ensnare you, when I say that I know that I will survive the grave and be with you once again. I know that it is true, I swear to you. My every nerve knows it. My heart, my blood knows it. There are a hundred portents that tell me. Waking' sleeping and in my dreams.

I can give you proof that I am not mistaken. Do you think I would be so presumptuous as to promise you something if I were not absolutely sure it would happen.

Listen; now, as you are reading these words, close your eyes. I will kiss your tears. Do you know now that I am by you, that I am living?

Do not be afraid, my own, that the moment of death might be painful for me. I love the river so much; it will not harm me when I entrust my body to its care.

Oh, if only I could be buried beside our bench!

I will not beseech God to let it happen, but perhaps he will read my mute, childish wish and let a miracle happen. There are so many other, greater ones he has performed.

One more thing, my love. If it is possible, and when you are a true man, in the fullness of your strength, then help my poor foster-father.

But no, do not trouble yourself about it. I will be beside him myself and will support him. At the same time, it will be a sign for you that my soul can do more than my body ever could.

And now, my beloved, my faithful child, a thousand, a million kisses from your happy Ophelia."

Are these really my hands holding the letter and then slowly folding it up again?

Is this person who is touching his eyelids, his face, his chest really me?

Why are there no tears in these eyes?

Lips from the realm of death have kissed them away; even now I can still feel their caress. And yet I feel as if an infinitely long time has passed since their touch. Is it perhaps just a memory of that night in the boat, when Ophelia kissed away my tears?

Is it the dead who bring our memories back to life when they want us to feel their presence? Do they cross the stream of time to reach us by turning back the clock within us?

My soul is paralysed. How strange that my blood is still ebbing and flowing. Or is it the pulse of some other person, a stranger, that I can feel beating?

I look down at the ground. Are those my feet moving mechanically, step by step, towards the house, and now up the stairs? They ought to be trembling, stumbling at the pain the person they belong to is suffering, if that person be me.

For a moment a terrible stabbing pain, as if I have been pierced from head to toe by a red-hot spear, knocks me sideways against the banister; then, when I search for the pain within, I cannot find it. It has burnt itself out like a bolt of lightning.

Have I died? Is my shattered body perhaps lying at the foot of the stairs? It this merely my ghost opening the door and entering the room?

No, it is no apparition; it is me. Lunch is on the table, and that is my father coming towards me and kissing me on the forehead. I try to eat, but I cannot swallow. Each bite I take swells up in my mouth. My body must be suffering, though I know nothing of it.

Ophelia is holding my heart in her hand - I can feel her cool fingers - so that it does not burst Yes, that must be it, otherwise I would scream out loud.

I try to rejoice that she is with me, but I have forgotten how to rejoice. Rejoicing needs a body, and I have no power over it anymore.

Must I then spend my days wandering over the earth, a living corpse?

Silently the old serving woman clears the table. I stand up and go to my room. My eye lights on the wall-clock: three? It should be one o'clock at the most. Why is it not ticking?

Then I realise: Ophelia died at three o'clock in the morning.

Yes, yes; now memory returns. Last night I dreamed of her! She was standing by my bed, a smile full of happiness on her face.

"I am coming to you, my love! The river has heard my plea. Do not forget your promise, do not forget your promise", she said. Her words re-echo inside me.

"Do not forget your promise, do not forget your promise", my lips keep on repeating, as if they were trying to awaken my brain so that it would finally comprehend the hidden meaning of the words. My whole body starts to become restless, as if there were an order it was expecting me to give.

I make a great effort to think, but my mind remains dead.

"I am coming to you. The river has heard my plea!" What can it mean? What can it mean?

I am to keep my promise? What promise did I give?

I feel it like an electric shock: the promise I gave Ophelia that night in the boat! Now I know. I must go down to the river. I am in such a rush that I jump down the stairs four, five at a time, letting the banisters slide through my hands.

Suddenly I am alive again. The thoughts are racing through my mind. "It can't be true", I tell myself. "It is the most improbable story I could think up."

I try to stop and turn back, but my body drags me on. I run down the alley to the water.

There is a raft tied up to the bank with two men on it.

"How long would a tree-trunk take to float down this far from the capital?" is the question I want to ask. I walk right up to them and stand there, staring at them. They look up in astonishment. I do not manage to say anything for I can hear Ophelia's voice coming to me from the depths of my heart. "00 you not know better than anyone else when I will arrive? Have I ever kept you waiting, my child?"

Inside me all doubts are banished, and I can feel the certainty, as solid as a rock and bright as the midday sun. It is as if the whole of nature around had come to life and were calling, "At eleven o'clock tonight!"

Eleven o'clock! The hour I have always looked forward to with passionate longing!

The moon is glittering on the river, just as it was on that other night.

I am sitting on the garden seat, but I am not filled with my usual expectation; I am united with the stream of time, how then should I want it to go faster or more slowly?

It is written in the Book of Miracles that Ophelia's last wish is to be fulfilled! The thought is so shattering that everything else - Ophelia's death, her letter, the gruesome task of burying her corpse, the cruel emptiness of the life that awaits me - pales in comparison.

I am suddenly seized with the notion that the myriad stars above are the all-knowing eyes of the archangels, looking down and watching over us. I feel a boundless power close round me, flowing through me. In its hand all things become living tools; a puff of wind touches my face, and I feel it saying to me, "Go to the river bank and untie the boat."

No longer are my actions guided by thought. I am woven into nature, its secret whispering is my comprehension.

Calmly I row out into the middle of the river.

Now she will come!

A patch of light is floating towards me. A white face, the features rigid, the eyes closed, is drifting on the smooth surface like an image in a mirror.

Then I am holding the dead Ophelia in my arms and pulling her into the boat with me.

I have bedded her deep in the soft, pure sand by our beloved seat on a cushion of scented elderflowers and covered her with green boughs.

The spade I cast into the river.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:13 pm

Chapter 9: Solitude

I had imagined the news of Ophelia's death would become known the very next day and spread like wildfire through the town, but week after week passed, and nothing was heard. Eventually I realised that Ophelia had taken her leave of this earth without telling anyone but myself.

I was the only living being on earth who knew of it.

I was filled with a strange mixture of indescribable loneliness and an inner richness that needed no one to share it. All the people around me, even my father, seemed like figures cut out of paper, as if they were not part of my life but just background scenery.

I would spend hours every day sitting on the garden seat dreaming, with an almost constant sense of the closeness of Ophelia; and whenever I thought to myself, 'Here, at my feet, her body, that I loved so passionately, is sleeping', I would be filled with such astonishment that I was incapable of feeling sorrow.

How sensitive, how right had been her instinct when she had asked me, during that night in the boat, to bury her here and to tell no one! Now the two of us - she on the other side and I here - were the only ones who knew, and this knowledge held us in such intimate communion that at times I did not even feel her death as an absence of her body.

I only needed to imagine her lying in the town cemetery under a gravestone, surrounded by the dead and mourned by her relatives, for the thought to pierce my breast like a knife, banishing the sense of her spiritual proximity to a place beyond reach.

The vague belief people have that death is not an unbridgeable chasm, but merely a thin partition separating visibility and invisibility, would turn into absolute certainty if they would bury their dear departed ones in places only they knew of, only open to them, instead of in public graveyards.

Whenever my sense of solitude became especially intense, I would remember that night when I had laid Ophelia's body to rest as if it had been myself I had buried, as if I were a mere ghost on earth, a wandering corpse which no longer had anything in common with people of flesh and blood.

There were moments when I had to tell myself, 'This is not you any more. A being, whose origin and existence lie hundreds of years before yours, is slowly, inexorably penetrating your shell and taking possession of it until soon there will be nothing left of you, apart from a memory floating in the realm of the past, on which you can look back as on the experiences of someone who is a complete stranger to you.'

It was our Founding Father, I realised, risen again within me.

Whenever my gaze was lost in the haziness of the misty heavens, images of unknown regions and alien landscapes would appear before my eyes. I heard words which I grasped with some inner organ without, oddly enough, being able to comprehend them; I understood them in the same way as the earth receives and stores seeds, to bring them to fruition much later; I understood them as things which you feel that one day you will truly understand.

They came from the lips of people in foreign dress who seemed like old acquaintances, even though I could not possibly have ever seen them in this life. The words were addressed to me, and yet their origins lay a long way back; they were suddenly born from the past into the present.

I saw snowy peaks rising to the sky, their ice-bound summits higher than any clouds. 'That is the roof of the world', I told myself, 'the mysterious land of Tibet.'

Then there were endless steppes with caravans of camels, Asian monasteries in deepest solitude, priests in yellow robes carrying prayer-wheels in their hands, rocks that had been carved into huge statues of the seated Buddha, rivers which seemed to come from infinity and flow into infinity; the banks were a landscape of loamy hills, the tops of which were all flat, flat as tables, flat as if they had been mown with a gigantic scythe.

I guessed that these must be regions, objects and people that our Founding Father had seen when he was still wandering the earth. Now that he was entering me, his memories would also be mine.

On Sundays, when I came across young people and saw how in love they were, how they were enjoying life, I could certainly understand what they were feeling, but inside me was nothing but cold. It was not the freezing cold which comes from a pain which chills emotion to its very core; nor was it the cold that comes from the weakening of the life-force in old age.

The sense of immense age was so powerful, so permanent within me as never before, and often, when I saw myself in the mirror, I was surprised to see a youthful face looking at me, with no sign of frailty in it; the deadness had taken hold solely of the bond that ties men to the pleasures of this earth, the cold came from regions alien to me, from a glacial world that is the home of my soul.

At that time I could not fathom the state that had taken hold of me. I did not realise that one of those mysterious, magical transformations was in progress that we often find depicted in the lives of Catholic and other saints without comprehending their depth or their significant vitality. As I felt no yearning for God, I had no explanation for it, nor did I seek one. I was spared the scorching thirst of an unquenchable yearning, of which the saints speak and in which, they say, all earthly concerns are consumed by fire, for the only possible object of my yearning was Ophelia, and I bore within me the assurance of her constant nearness.

Most events in the physical world passed me by without leaving any trace in my memory. The images from that time are like a dead lunar landscape full of extinct volcanoes without a path or track to connect them to each other. I cannot remember the things my father and I said to one another, weeks have shrunk. to minutes, minutes expanded to years. Now that I am using the hand of another to review the past I feel as if I must have spent years sitting on the garden seat by Ophelia's grave. For me, the chain of experience, by which we measure the flow of time, consists of disconnected links hanging in the air.

I know that one day the water-wheel that turned the carpenter's lathe stood still and the whirring of the machine stopped, filling the alleyway with a deathly hush; but when it happened, whether on the morning after that night or later, has been expunged from my memory.

I know I told my father that I had forged his signature; it cannot have happened in a rush of emotion, for I cannot remember any such outburst. Nor can I remember the reasons I had for doing it. All I have is a faint recollection of feeling a certain pleasure in the fact that there were no longer any secrets between us. And in connection with the mill-wheel standing still, all that comes back to me is the feeling of happiness that old Mutschelknaus did not have to work any more.

And yet I am sure it could not have been I who felt these emotions, they must have been transmitted to me from Ophelia's spirit, so dead to all human concerns was the Christopher Dovecote whose image I now see before me.

That was the time when the name that had attached itself to me, 'Dovecote', became like a prophecy from the lips of fate that had been fulfilled: I was a lifeless dovecote, the place where Ophelia resided, and the Founding Father, and the primal essence that goes by the name of Christopher.

There is much knowledge I possess which has never been recorded in books. No one ever revealed it to me and yet it is there. I assume it awoke within me during that time in which my outer form, in a sleep that resembled death, was transformed from a shell surrounding ignorance to a vessel of knowledge.

At that time I believed, just as my father believed up to the day of his death, that the soul could become richer in experience and that the life of the body could be used to that end. That was the way I had understood our Founding Father's warning.

Now I know that the soul of man is all-knowing and all-powerful from the very beginning, and that the only thing man can do - if there is anything at all that lies within his power! - is to remove all the obstacles that hinder its development.

The most profound secret of all secrets, the most hidden mystery of all mysteries, is the alchemical transformation of external form. - This I say to you who have put your hand at my disposal, as a token of my thanks for writing this down for me. - The hidden path leading to rebirth in the spirit, which is talked about in the Bible, is a transformation of the body and not of the spirit. The spirit expresses itself through physical form; it is constantly carving and moulding it; the more rigid and incomplete the form, the more rigid and incomplete the manner of its revelation; the more responsive and subtle the form, the more manifold its manifestation.

It is God alone, the all-pervading spirit, who transforms it and spiritualises our bodies so that our innermost, primal being does not send its prayer outside, but worships its own form, limb by limb, as if each part were a different image of the divinity residing concealed within.

The change in physical form that I am talking about only becomes visible to the eye when the alchemical process of transformation is approaching completion. Its origins lie hidden in the magnetic currents which determine the axis of our physique. It is our way of thinking, our inclinations and instincts which are transformed first of all, followed by a change in behaviour and, with that, the metamorphosis of physical form until it becomes the body of the resurrection from the Gospel.

It is as if a statue of ice were to begin to melt from within.

The time is coming when the doctrine of this alchemy will be erected once more for many; it lay as if dead, a pile of rubble, a ruin which is the ossified system of India's fakirs.

Under the transforming influence of our spiritual forefather I had become, as I said, an automaton whose senses were cold, and that I remained until the day of my 'Dissolution with the Corpse'. If you want to understand what I was like during that time, you must see me as a lifeless dovecote, with the birds flying in and out without my being in any way involved in their activity. You must not measure me by the yardstick of human beings, who know their own kind alone.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:13 pm

Chapter 10: The Garden Seat

There is a rumour going round the town that Mutschelknaus has gone mad.

Frau Aglaia has a doleful expression. Early in the mornings she sets off with her little basket for the market to do the shopping herself, for she has dismissed her servant. Day by day her dress is getting dirtier and slovenlier, the heels of her shoes are worn down: Sometimes she stops in the middle of the street and mutters to herself, like someone who is so worried they do not know where to turn.

Whenever I meet her, she looks the other way. Or is it that she does not recognise me any more? Anyone who asks after her daughter is informed curtly that she is in America.

Summer has ended and autumn and winter have passed, and I have not seen the carpenter once. I have no longer any idea whether years have passed since then, whether time is standing still or whether one single winter seemed so interminably long to me. But I can feel now that it must be spring again, for the air is heavy with the scent of blossom, after the storms the paths are strewn with blooms, the young girls are wearing white dresses and have flowers in their hair.

The air is vibrant with music.

The rambling roses are hanging down the embankment walls and trailing in the river, which carries their delicate, foamy pink sprays past each square block to the pillars of the bridge, where they adorn the rotting beams so that they look as if new life were sprouting from them.

In the garden, the grass in front of the seat has an emerald glow.

Often, when I go down there, I can tell from all kinds of tiny changes that someone must have been there before me. Sometimes there are little pebbles on the bench, set out in the form of a cross or a circle, as if a child had been playing with them; at others, there are flowers strewn all around.

One day, as I was going down the alley, the old carpenter came towards me from the garden, and I guessed that he must be the one who sat on the seat when I was not there. I greeted him, but he seemed not to notice me, although our arms touched.

He was staring straight ahead, absentmindedly, a happy smile on his face.

Soon after that we chanced to meet in the garden. Without a word, he sat down beside me and started to trace the name of Ophelia with his stick in the strip of white sand. We sat like that for a long time, and I was somewhat bewildered. Then all at once he began to mutter softly; at first it sounded as if he were talking to himself or to some invisible person, only gradually did his words become audible to me. "I am glad that only you and I come here. It's good that no one knows about this seat, Christopher."

I started in astonishment He was calling me by my first name?!

Was he confusing me with someone else? Or was his mind wandering? Had he forgotten the submissive formality with which he used to address me?

What did he mean by "It is good that no one knows about this seat''?

The sense of Ophelia's presence was suddenly so close that I felt as if she were standing in front of us. The old man felt it too; he quickly raised his head and his features were illuminated with a radiant joy.

"You know, she's always here. When I go home, she accompanies me a short way and then comes back here", he murmured. "She told me she waits here for you. She loves you, she said!" In a friendly gesture, he put his hand on my arm, looked long and happily into my eyes and added softly, "I'm glad she loves you."

At first I did not know what to say to that. Eventually I managed to stammer, "But- but your daughter- your daughter's in America, isn't she?"

The old man placed his lips close to my ear and whispered mysteriously, "Sh! No. That's just what people - and my wife - believe. She died. But we are the only ones who know that, you and me. She told me you know as well. Not even Herr Paris knows." He saw my astonished look, nodded and repeated his assertion, "Yes, she died. But she's not dead. The Son of God, the White Dominican, took pity on us, and allowed her to stay with us."

I realise that the old man is in the grip of the strange psychical state that savage tribes call sacred madness. He has become a child, plays with stones like a child, speaks clearly and simply like a child, but his mind is clairvoyant.

"How was it that you learnt all this?" I ask.

"I was working at the lathe during the night", he began, "when the water-wheel suddenly stopped and I could not get it started again. Then I fell asleep at the table. I saw my Ophelia in a dream. She said, 'Father, I don't want you to go on working. I am dead. The stream is refusing to turn the water-wheel, and I will have to do it if you refuse to stop working. Do stop, I beg you. Otherwise I will have to stay outside by the river and I won't be able to come in to be with you. ' When I woke up I ran straight to St. Mary's, even though it was still night. It was pitch black and deathly still. But inside, the organ was playing. I thought, 'But the church is locked, you can't get in.' But then I thought, 'Of course I can't get in if I doubt it', and stopped doubting. Inside it was quite dark, but the White Dominican's cassock was so snowy white I could see everything from my seat below the statue of the Prophet Jonah. Ophelia was sitting next to me and explained everything that the Saint, the great one of the White Order, was doing.

First of all he went to the altar and stood there with his arms outstretched like a huge cross, and the statues of all the saints and prophets did the same, one after the other, until the church was full of living crosses. Then he went to the glass reliquary and put something in it that looked like a small black pebble.

'It's your poor brain, father', my daughter Ophelia said. 'Now he has locked it away in his treasury, for he does not want you to torment it for my sake any more. When the time comes for it to be returned to you, it will be a precious stone.' The next morning I felt I had to come out to this seat, but I didn't know why. Here I see Ophelia every day. She always tells me how happy she is and how beautiful it is over there in the Land of the Blessed. My father, the coffm-maker, is there as well, and he has forgiven me everything. He's not even angry with me any . more for letting the glue burn when I was a lad.

When evening comes in paradise, she says, then the theatre opens, she says, and the angels come to watch her act Ophelia in the play The King of Denmark, and at the end she marries the Crown Prince and they are all pleased at how good she is at it, she tells me. 'And I have you to thank for that, dear father, you alone', she keeps on saying, 'for you made it possible for me to learn to act the part when I was on earth. To be an actress was always my deepest desire, and you allowed me to fulfil it, father.'"

The old man is silent and gazes ecstatically up at the heavens.

I have a horribly bitter taste on my tongue. Can the dead lie? Or is he just imagining it all? Why does Ophelia not tell him the truth, gently, if she can communicate with him? The dreadful thought that the kingdom of lies stretches to the other side begins to gnaw at my heart.

Then realisation strikes. I am gripped so powerfully by Ophelia's presence that I suddenly grasp the truth. It is not Ophelia herself that he sees and hears, only her image. It is a phantasm, born of his long-felt desires; his heart has not become cold like mine, and therefore it sees the truth distorted.

"The dead can perform miracles, if God wills it", the old man goes on. 'They can take on flesh and blood and walk among us. Do you believe that?" He asks the question in such a firm voice that it almost sounds like a threat.

My answer is equivocal, "I consider nothing impossible."

The old man seems satisfied and is silent. Then he stands up and goes. Without saying goodbye. The next moment he comes back, stands in front of me and says, "No, you don't believe it Ophelia wants you to see for yourself and believe. Come."

He takes my hand as if he were going to drag me along with him. Hesitates. Listens as if there were a voice in the air. "No, not now. Tonight", he mutters absentmindedly to himself. "Wait for me here tonight."

He goes. I watch him feel his way along the house wall, tottering like a drunken man.

I have no idea what to think.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:14 pm

Chapter 11: The Head of the Medusa

We are sitting around a table in a tiny, unutterably poverty-stricken room: Mutschelknaus the carpenter, a little, hunchbacked seamstress that people in the town say is a witch, a fat old woman and a man with long hair, neither of whom I have seen before, and myself.

On the dresser a nightlight is burning in a red glass; above it is a cheap, brightly coloured print of the Mother of God, her heart pierced by seven swords.

"Let us pray", says the man with the long hair, beating his breast and reciting the Lord's Prayer mechanically. His hands are gaunt and as white as the hands of poor, anaemic schoolteachers. He has sandals on his bare feet.

The fat woman sighs and sobs, as if she were about to burst into tears at any moment.

"For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever, amen, let us form the chain and sing, for the spirits love music", says the man with the long hair in one breath. We hold each other by the hands on the table top and the woman softly starts to sing a hymn. They both sing flat, but there is such true humility and fervour in their voices that, in spite of everything, I am moved.

Mutsehelknaus is sitting motionless; his eyes are bright with blissful anticipation.

The hymn finishes.

The seamstress has fallen asleep. I can hear the rasp of her breath. She has laid her head between her arms on the table. There is a clock ticking on the wall, everything else is deathly silent.

"There is not enough power here", says the man, giving me a reproachful look from the side, as if I were to blame.

There is a creaking noise in the dresser, as if wood were splitting.

"She is coming!" whispers the old carpenter excitedly.

"No, it is Pythagoras", the old man with the long hair informs us.

The fat woman sobs.

This time the creaking and cracking comes from the table; the hands of the seamstress begin to jerk rhythmically, as if in time to the beat of her pulse. For a moment she raises her head - the iris has disappeared under the upper lid, you can only see the white - then she lets it sink down again.

I once saw a little dog die; it was just like that. I feel the seamstress has slipped over the threshold of death.

The rhythmical twitching of her hands is transferred to the table; it is as if her life force had entered it Under my fingers I can feel a soft tapping in the wood, as if bubbles were rising and bursting. They give off an icy cold as they burst which spreads out, hovering over the table-top.

"It is Pythagoras!" says the man with long hair in a tone of deep conviction.

The cold layer of air over the table comes alive and begins to circle; it makes me think of the 'deadly north wind' that my father talked of during his midnight conversation with the Chaplain.

Suddenly the silence is shattered by a loud crash: the chair the seamstress was sitting on has been torn from under her; she is lying stretched out on the ground.

The woman and the man lift her onto a bench by the stove. When I ask them whether she has hurt herself, they shake their heads and sit down at the table once more. From where I am sitting, I can only see the seamstress' body, her head is hidden by the shadow of the dresser.

In the street outside a lorry passes, making the walls tremble; the sound of the wheels has long since disappeared, but strangely the walls continue to quiver.

Or am I deceiving myself? Is it perhaps simply that my senses have grown sharper and can perceive something they would otherwise have missed, the soft after-vibration of objects that goes on for much longer than is generally thought?

At times 1am forced to close my eyes because the red glow of the nightlight irritates them; wherever it falls, the shapes swell and the outlines merge. The body of the seamstress is like a soft lump of dough; she has fallen from the bench onto the floor.

1 have resolved not to look up until something decisive happens. 1 want to remain master of my senses. 1 feel an inner warning- 'Be on your guard!' - and deep suspicion, as if something fiendish and evil were there in the room, some awful being formed from congealed poison.

The words from Ophelia's letter come back to me, so clearly that 1 can almost hear them. "1 will be with you in spirit, protecting you from all danger."

Suddenly all three of them cry out, as with one voice, "Ophelia!"

I look up to see, hovering over the body of the seamstress, a blueish cone of spiralling mist with the point upwards; another, similar one is descending, point downwards, from the ceiling, seeking the first, until they meet and join to form a hour-glass the height of a man.

Then, suddenly, like the image from a magic lantern when someone twists it into sharp focus, the outlines are clear, and there is Ophelia in person, in the flesh. So clear, so tangible is she, that I exclaim out loud and am about to rise and rush towards her. At the last moment Iam pulled back sharply by a cry of fear within my own breast, a double cry from two voices, "Hold fast to your heart, Christopher!"

"Hold fast to your heart", comes a shrill cry from within me, as if our Founding Father and Ophelia were calling out at the same time.

The phantom comes towards me, an ecstatic look on its face. Every fold of the dress is just as it was when she was alive. The same expression, the same beautiful, dreamy eyes with their long black lashes, the delicate line of the brows, the slim, white hands, even the lips are red with a living freshness. Only her hair is concealed by a veil. Tenderly, she bends down towards me, I can hear her heart beating; she kisses me on the forehead and wreathes her arms round my neck. I can feel the warmth of her body against my skin. "She has awoken to life again", I tell myself, "there can be no doubt about it."

The blood begins to race in my veins, my suspicions begin to give way to a sweet joy, but Ophelia's voice continues to cry out in ever more fearful tones; it is like someone wringing their hands in impotent desperation. Finally I seem to be able to understand the words, "Do not leave me! Help me! He is only wearing my mask!" But then the voice is muffled, as if it came from under sheets.

"Do not leave me!" That was a cry for help! It pierces me to my innermost core. 'No, my Ophelia, you live inside me and I will not abandon you.'

I clench my teeth and turn cold, cold with suspicion.

'Who is this 'he' who is supposed to be wearing Ophelia's mask?' I ask myself as I scrutinise the phantom's face. For a split second the face of the spectre freezes in an expression of stony lifelessness, the pupils contract as if they had been struck by a ray of light It was like the lightning disappearance of some being that was afraid of being recognised, but in spite of the speed with which it happened, for a heartbeat I saw the tiny image of another's head instead of my own in the eyes of the phantom.

The next moment the ghost has left me and is floating with outstretched arms towards the old carpenter, who embraces it and covers its cheeks with kisses, sobbing out loud with love and joy.

I am seized with an indescribable feeling of horror. I feel my hair stand on end; the air is like an icy breath, freezing my lungs.

Hovering in front of me I can see the image of that other head, tiny as the point of a needle and yet clearer and sharper than anything the eye can see. I close my lids and shut it in my mind. The face darts to and fro, like a patch of light in a mirror, then I force it to stand still and we stare at each other.

It is the face of a being of a strange, inconceivable beauty, the face of a girl and at the same time that of a boy. The eyes have no iris, they are as empty as the eyes of a marble statue and glitter like opals.

Around the thin, bloodless lips, drawn up at the comers by fine lines, is the suggestion of an expression of all-destroying mercilessness, only a suggestion, but all the more terrible for that. Its white teeth shine through the silken skin in a gruesome, bony smile.

I sense that this face is the optical point between two worlds; it is like a burning-glass in which are gathered the rays of an empire of hate and destruction behind which lurks the chasm of universal disintegration, of which the Angel of Death is but the mildest symbol.

'What is that figure that appears to be Ophelia?' is the fearful question I ask myself. 'Where did it come from? What power in the universe brought her likeness to life? It can walk, its movements are full of goodness and grace, and yet it masks a satanic power. Will the demon behind it suddenly throw off its disguise and grin at us in all its fiendish hideousness, simply in order thrust a few poor mortals into despair and disappointment?'

'No' , I suddenly realise. 'The Devil would not reveal himself for such a trifling purpose. ' Whether it was the primal essence within me that whispered it, whether it was the living voice of Ophelia in my heart which spoke, or whether it was the wordless source of understanding in my own being I can no longer say, but I suddenly knew that it was the impersonal force of all evil, using the mute laws of nature to conjure up miracles which in reality are only hellish phantasms serving the ends of the spirit of negation. The thing wearing the mask of Ophelia has no spatial substance; it is her magic image in the old carpenter's memory which, under metaphysical conditions that we do not understand, has made itself visible and tangible, perhaps with the fiendish intent of widening even more the gap that separates the realm of the dead from that of the living. It is the soul of the poor hysteric seamstress - a soul which has not yet reached a pure crystallised form of personality - that has provided the matter, emerging from the medium's body like magnetic modelling clay, from which Mutschelknaus created that spectre. This is the head of the Medusa, that symbol of the petrifying force that sucks us down, at work here on a small scale, bringing blessings to the poor, like Christ, stealing into their dwellings like a thief in the night.

I look up: the spectre has vanished, the seamstress is wheezing, my hands are still on the table. Mutschelknaus leans over to me and whispers, "Don't say that it was my daughter Ophelia, no one is to know that she is dead; all they know is that it was the apparition of a being from Paradise that loves me."

Then, like a commentary on my thoughts, the voice of the man with long hair begins to declaim. He addresses me in the strict tones of a schoolmaster.

"Go down on your knees and thank Pythagoras, young man! At Herr Mutschelknaus' request I asked him, through the medium, to allow you to take part in our seance so that you might be cured of your doubts. - The spiritual star, Fixtus, has detached itself from the cosmos and is speeding towards our earth. - The resurrection of all the dead is at hand. - The first harbingers are on their way already. The spirits of the departed will walk amongst us like living men, and the ravenous beasts will once more eat grass, as they did in the Garden of Eden. - Is it not so? Is that not what Pythagoras said?"

The fat woman gives a gurgle of affirmation.

"Young man, renounce the vanity of the world! I have made my way on foot (he pointed to his sandals) across the whole of Europe and I say to you, there is not one street today, not even in the smallest village, where there are no spiritualists. Soon the movement will flood the whole world like a spring tide. The power of the Catholic Church is broken, for the Saviour will come in His own form."

Mutschelknaus and the old woman are nodding ecstatically, the words to them are glad tidings promising the fulfilment of their longing; but to me they are the prophecy of a terrible time to come.

Just as, before, I saw the head of the Medusa in the eyes of the phantom, so now I can hear its voice from the lips of the man with long hair, both of them disguised behind the mask of sublimity. It is the forked tongue of a viper from the realm of darkness that is speaking. It talks of the Saviour and means the Devil. It says, 'The ravenous beasts will once more eat grass. ' By the grass it means the innocent, the unsuspecting, the great mass of people, and by the ravenous beasts it means the demons of despair.

The dreadful thing about the prophecy is - and I can feel it - that it will come to pass. But the most dreadful is that it is a mixture of truth and fiendish cunning. The empty masks of the dead will arise, but not the ones we long for, not the departed for whom those left on earth shed their tears! They will come dancing to the living, but it will not be the dawn of the millennium, it will be a carnival of Hell, a fiendish rejoicing in expectation of the cock-crow of a never-ending, gruesome, cosmic Ash Wednesday!
"Should the day of despair dawn today for the old man and the others? Is that what you wish?" I can hear it resounding, like a mute, mocking question, in the voice of the Medusa. "If that is so, I will not stop you, Christopher. Say the word. Tell them, you who believe you have escaped my power, tell them that you have seen me in the pupils of the phantom that I created and made to walk out of the cancerous cells of the decaying robe that clothes the soul of the seamstress! Tell them everything you know. I will back you up, and they will believe you.

I will be happy for you to carry out the work that is the task of my servants. Be a harbinger of the great White Dominican who is to bring the truth, as your ancestor hopes. Be a servant of the glorious truth, I will willingly bring about your crucifixion. Be bold, tell those gathered here the truth. I look forward to seeing how 'redeemed' they will feel."

The three spiritualists are looking at me, full of expectation of my reply to the man with long hair. I remember the place in Ophelia's letter, where she asked me to assist and support her foster-father and I hesitate. Should I tell them what I know? One glance at the joy in the shining eyes of the old man robs me of all my courage. I remain silent.

I feel that it is only in the hearts of those who have come alive in the spirit that the dead can find true peace; there alone is rest and refuge for them. If the hearts of men are sleeping, then the dead will sleep in them too; if their hearts wake to spiritual life, then the dead will also come alive and partake of the world of appearances, without being subject to the torment that accompanies earthly existence.

I am overcome with a sense of impotence, of complete powerlessness, as I wonder what I can do, now that it is in my power to speak or to remain silent And what shall I do later, when I am mature, perhaps one of the perfected, one who has achieved spiritual completion? The time is at hand when belief in mediums is about to inundate the world, like a pestilential flood-tide, of that I feel certain. I picture the abyss of despair which will engulf mankind when, after a short frenzy of delight, they see that the dead that are rising from their graves lie, lie, lie worse than any creature on earth ever could lie, they are demonic phantoms, embryos sprung from an infernal act of copulation.

In that day, what prophet will be strong enough to halt such a spiritual end of the world?

All at once my silent reflections are interrupted by a strange sensation: I feel as if my two hands, which are still lying idle on the table before me, have been grasped by beings that I cannot see. I sense that a new magnetic chain has been forged, similar to the one at the beginning of the seance, only in this one I am the only living link.

The seamstress gets up from the floor and comes to the table. Her expression is calm, as if she were fully conscious.

"It is Py ... Pytha ... Pythagoras", says the man with the long hair, but the hesitant, wavering tone of his voice is full of doubt He seems puzzled by the normal, sober look on the face of the medium.

The seamstress looks me in the eye and says, in a deep voice like a man's, "You know that I am not Pythagoras."

A quick glance at the others tells me that they cannot hear what she is saying, their faces are devoid of expression. The seamstress nods in confirmation. "I am talking to you alone, the ears of the rest are deaf. The linking of hands is a magic process; if hands are joined that have not yet come alive spiritually, then the realm of the Medusa rises from the abyss of the past and the depths spew forth the masks of the dead; but the chain of living hands is the rampart protecting the refuge of the upper light The servants of the head of the Medusa are our instruments, but they do not know it; they believe they are destroying, but in fact they are creating space for the future; like worms devouring dead flesh, they gnaw at the corpse of materialism and devour it; if they did not, its putrefying stench would corrupt the earth. They hope that their day is dawning, the day when they can send the ghosts of the dead out among the living. We are quite happy to let them be. They want to create a void, one that goes by the name of madness and absolute desperation and that will swallow up all life, but they do not know the law of 'fulfilment'. They do not know that the fountain of help only starts to flow from the realm of the spirit when the need is there.

And it is they who are creating this need!

They are doing more than we do. They are calling down the new prophet. They are overthrowing the old church and do not realise that they are calling up the new one. They want to devour living things, but all they devour is what is decaying. They want to eradicate humanity's hope for a life after death and only eradicate what must anyway fall. The old church has become black and lightless, but the shadow it casts on the future is white. The forgotten doctrine of the 'Dissolution with Corpse and Sword' will be the basis of the new religion and the armoury of the spiritual pope.

Do not worry about him" - the seamstress turned her gaze towards the carpenter, who was staring blankly ahead - "or his kind; no one who is honest is heading for the abyss."

The rest of the night until the sun came up I spent on the seat in the garden, happy in the knowledge that it was only the form of my lover that was sleeping there at my feet. She herself is as awake as my heart, is inextricably bound up with me.

The dawn rose from the horizon, night clouds hung down to the ground like heavy, black curtains; orange and violet patches formed a gigantic face whose rigid features reminded me of the head of the Medusa. It hovered there motionless, as if it were lying in wait to devour the sun. The whole looked like a shroud from hell with the face of Satan imprinted on it.

Before the sun came, as if in greeting, I broke a branch off the elder tree and, so that it would flourish and grow into a tree itself, planted it in the ground. I felt as if, in doing that, I was enriching the world of life.

Before the great light appeared, the first harbingers of its radiance had erased the head of the Medusa. The clouds that had been so dark and menacing were transformed into an innumerable flock of white lambs drifting across the glorious sky.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:14 pm

Chapter 12: He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease

I woke one morning with these words of John the Baptist on my lips. From the day I spoke them to my thirty-second year they were like a motto governing my life.

"He's getting to be an eccentric like his grandfather", I heard the old folk mutter when I met them in the town. "He's going downhill month by month."

"He's an idle layabout who wastes every hour God gave us", said my hard-working neighbours. "Has anyone ever seen him work?"

In later years, when I was a man, the gossip had hardened into the certainty that I had the evil eye - "Keep out of his way, his look brings misfortune!" - and the old women in the market-square would hold out the 'fork' - index and middle fingers outspread to ward off the 'magic' - towards me, or they would cross themselves.

Others maintained I was a vampire, one of the undead that came back in the night to suck the blood from the children as they slept; if two red spots were found on the neck of an infant, then people would say they were the marks of my teeth. Many claimed to have seen me, half wolf, half man, in their sleep and would run away screaming whenever they caught sight of me in the street. The place where I used to sit in the garden was considered bewitched, and no one dared to pass through the alleyway.

There was a series of strange happenings, which gave the rumours some semblance of truth.

Once, late in the evening, a large shaggy dog with the look of a beast of prey and which no one had ever seen before ran out of the house of the hunchbacked seamstress and the children in the street cried out, 'The werewolf! The werewolf!" A man hit it on the head with an axe and killed it.

At about the same time a tile fell off the roof, wounding me in the head; when I appeared the next day with a bandage round my head, people said I had been the nightmare beast and that the werewolf's wound had transferred itself to me.

Another time, in the middle of the day in the market square, it happened that a man from outside the town, a tramp who was generally considered to be weak in the head, threw up his arms in apparent horror as I came round the corner, and fell to the ground, dead, his features contorted as if he had seen the Devil.

Then again the police were dragging a man through the streets who was resisting with all his might, moaning all the time, "How can I have murdered someone, I've spent the whole day asleep in the barn?" I happened to come along, and when the man caught sight of me, he threw himself to the ground and pointed at me, crying, "That's him! Let me go, he's come back to life!"

Each time this kind of thing happened a thought appeared in my mind, saying, 'They have all seen the head of the Medusa in you. It lives inside you, and those that see it all die, while those who just sense it are filled with horror. That night you saw mortality in the pupils of the spectre, the seed of death that resides in you, as it does in all men. Death resides in men, that is why they do not see it; they do not carry 'Christ', they carry death within them, it consumes them from inside like a worm. Only someone who has disturbed it, as you have, can see it face to face; such people it will 'face up to'.'

And truly, at that time the earth became, from year to year, an ever darker valley of death for me. Everywhere I looked, in every shape and word and sound and gesture, I was surrounded by the constant! y shifting influence of the terrible lady that rules in the world, the Medusa with the beautiful, and yet so gruesome face.

'Earthly life is the continuing torture of giving birth to death, to a death that is renewed every second', that was the insight that stayed with me night and day. 'The only purpose of life is the revelation of death. ' Thus all thoughts within me had been transposed into the opposite of normal human feeling. 'The desire to live' seemed like theft from the being that shared my earthly form, and the 'inability to die' like the hypnotic command of the Medusa, "I want you to remain a thief, a robber and a murderer, and to walk the earth as such."

The verse from the Gospel, "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal", began to rise from the darkness for me, shining brightly. I understood its meaning: the one that must increase is our Founding Father, but I must decrease!

When the tramp fell down dead in the market-place and his features began to go rigid, I was standing among the people crowding round him and I had the uncanny feeling that his life- force was seeping into me, like refreshing air after a shower of rain. I slunk away, laden with a sense of guilt, as ifI really were a bloodsucking vampire, aware of the ugly fact that my body only survived by stealing life from others; it was a walking corpse that was cheating the grave of its due. It was only the strange coldness of my heart and my senses that stopped me from rotting alive like Lazarus.

The years passed. I can almost say that the only thing by which I noticed their passing was the way my father's hair became whiter and whiter and his figure more bent and aged.

So as not to encourage the townsfolk in their superstition, I went out less and less until finally I stayed at home for years and did not even go down to the garden seat In my mind, I had carried it up to my room and sat on it for hours, letting Ophelia's presence flow through me. Those were the only hours when the kingdom of death had no power over me.

My father had fallen into a strange silence; often weeks would pass without us exchanging a word apart from a 'Good morning' and a 'Goodnight'. We had almost abandoned speech but, as if thought had carved out new channels of communication, each of us could always tell when the other wanted something. Now I would hand him some object, now he would take down a book, leaf through it and give it to me; almost every time I found it opened at the place that had been going through my mind.

I could tell by the way he looked that he was perfectly happy. Sometimes his eye would rest on me for a long time with an expression of absolute content.

Sometimes we were both aware that for a whole hour we had followed the precisely same train of thought; we were, so to speak, marching intellectually side by side, keeping step with each other, so that eventually the silent thoughts did turn into words. But it was not like in the past, when the words came too soon or too late, but never at the right time. Rather, we were continuing a thought process, not feeling our way or looking for an opening.

Such moments are so vivid in my memory that the whole surroundings come alive in the smallest detail whenever I think back to them. I can hear my father's voice again in every word, in every note, as I write down what he said one day when I had been reflecting on what the purpose of my strange deadness might be.

"We all have to turn cold, my son, but with most people life is not capable of bringing it about and death has to do it Dying does not mean the same for everyone. With some, so much dies at the hour of death that one can almost say that there is nothing left. All that remains of some people is their works here on earth; their fame and their services live on for a while and, strangely enough, in a certain sense their bodies live on, for they have statues built in their honour. How little good and evil are involved can be seen by the fact that even the great destroyers such as Nero or Napoleon have their monuments. It is all a matter of how outstanding their deeds were.

The spiritualists maintain that suicides, or people who have come to some grisly end, are bound to the earth for a certain period. I rather tend to the opinion that it is not their spectres that manifest themselves at seances or in haunted houses, but their images together with certain factors connected with their deaths. It is as if the magnetic atmosphere of the place preserves the event and releases it from time to time. Many features of the conjuration of the spirits of the departed in Ancient Greece - that performed by Tiresias, for example - suggest that this is the case.

The hour of death is merely that point in a catastrophe at which everything in a person that could not be worn down during life is blown away, as if in a storm. You could also put it this way: first of all the worm of destruction eats away the less important organs - that is what we call growing old - but once it reaches the pillar of life, then the whole building collapses. That is the normal course of things.

Such will be my end, for my body contains too many elements which it is beyond my power to transmute by alchemy. If you were not here, my son, then I would have to return to continue the interrupted work in a new incarnation. It says in the books of wisdom of the East, "Have you fathered a son, planted a tree and written a book? Only then can you begin the great task."

In order to avoid having to return, the priests and kings in ancient Egypt had their corpses embalmed. They wanted to avoid the legacy of their cells being passed back to them and forcing them to return to new work on earth.

Earthly talents, weaknesses and defects, knowledge and intellectual gifts belong to the bodily form and not to the soul. I for my part, as the last branch on the family tree, have inherited the body cells of my ancestors; they went from one generation to the next, and finally to me. I can sense you wondering, 'How can that be? How can the body cells of my grandfather be passed on to my father if he did not die before the birth of his offspring?'

The cells are passed on in a different way. It does not take place at conception or birth, nor in a crude, physical manner, as if you were pouring water from one vessel into another. It is the particular fashion in which the cells crystallise around a central point that is inherited, and even this does not happen all at once, but gradually. Have you never noticed - it is a comical fact that gives rise to much amusement - how old bachelors who have a pet dog transmit their likeness to the animal over the years? What happens there is an astral transfer of 'cells' from one body to another; you impress the stamp of your own being on anything you love. The reason why pets have such social awareness is simply because human cells have been transferred to them. The more deeply human beings love each other, the more' cells' they exchange, the more they fuse with one another, until one day, after billions of years the ideal state will have been reached in which humanity consists of one single being made up of countless individuals. On the day your grandfather died I, as his only son, came into the last inheritance of our line.

I found it impossible to mourn for him, even for an hour, so quickly did his whole being enter me. The layman may find it a gruesome thought, but I could literally feel his body decomposing day by day in the grave, without finding it horrible or disgusting. For me, his decomposition released forces that until then were bound, and that entered my bloodstream like waves of ether.

If you were not here, Christopher, I would have to keep on returning until 'Providence' should arrange - if that is the word - that I myself had the same aptitude as you: to be the crown of the tree instead of a branch.

In the hour of my death you, my son, will inherit the last cells of my physical form, the ones I have not been able to perfect, and it will be up to you to transmute them, to spiritualise them, and with them our whole line.

It could not happen to myself and our forefathers that we 'dissolved ourselves with the corpse', for the lady that rules in the realm of decay did not hate us as much as she hates you. Only those whom the Medusa hates and fears at the same time, as she hates and fears you, can succeed; she herself it is who brings about what she would prevent When the hour is come, she will fall upon you with such boundless fury, in order to burn up every atom in you, that she will destroy her own image inside you at the same time and will thus bring about that which man can never do of his own accord: she will kill a part of herself and bring you your eternal life. She will become the scorpion that stings itself. That will be the great reversal: no longer will life give birth to death, death will beget life!

I rejoice, my son, that you are called to be the crown of our family tree. You have turned cold in your young years, we all remained warm, in spite of age and decay. The sexual urge - whether it reveals itself, as in young people, or whether it is concealed, as in the old - is the root of death; to eradicate it is the vain striving of all ascetics. They are like Sisyphus, endlessly pushing his rock up the hill, to watch in despair as it rolls back down to the bottom. They want to achieve the magic state of coldness, without which it is impossible to go beyond the human condition, and so they avoid women. And yet it is woman alone that can bring them help. The female principle, that is separate from man here on earth, must enter them, must fuse with them, only then will fleshly longing be stilled. Only when the two poles coincide is the marriage complete, the ring closed, then the coldness is there, the coldness which is self-sufficient, the magic coldness which shatters the laws of the earth, which is no longer the opposite of warmth, which is beyond frost and heat, and from which pours forth everything that the power of the spirit can create, as if from nothing.

The sexual urge is the yoke on the triumphal carriage of the Medusa to which we are harnessed.

We of the older generations all married, but we were never 'wed'; you have never married, but you are the only one who is 'wed'. That is why you have turned cold, while we had to stay warm.

You understand what I mean, Christopher?"

I leaped to my feet and grasped my father's hand in both my hands. His eyes were shining, and that told me he knew.

The day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin arrived, the one on which, thirty-two years previously, I had been found as a new-born child by the church door. Once more, as in my fever after the boat-trip with Ophelia, I heard the doors in the house open and close, and when I listened, I recognised my father's footsteps coming up the stairs and going into his room.

The smell of candlewax and smouldering bay leaves came into my room.

A good hour must have passed, then his voice softly called my name. Filled with a strange unease, I hurried to his room and saw by the sharp lines cutting deep into his cheeks and the pale colour of his face that his hour of death was at hand. He was standing up straight, but with his back against the wall, so as not to fall. His appearance was so strange, that for a moment I thought it was someone else standing before me. He was dressed in a long coat reaching down to the ground; a naked sword hung from a golden chain round his hips. I guessed he must have brought both from the lower stories of the house.

The table was covered with snow-white linen, but all that was on it were a few silver candlesticks, already lit, and an incense burner.

I saw that he was swaying and fighting to control the death-rattle; I was about to rush over to support him, but he held out his arms and waved my assistance away. "Can you hear them coming, Christopher?"

I listened, but everything was deathly quiet.

"Can you see the door opening, Christopher?"

I looked, but to my eyes it remained closed.

Again he looked as if he was about to collapse, but once more he drew himself up and a radiance shone in his eyes such as I had never seen in them before.

"Christopher!" he suddenly called to me in stentorian tones, which chilled me to the marrow. "Christopher, my mission is at an end. I have brought you up and watched over you, as was my duty. Come to me, I must give you the sign."

He took me by the hand and entwined his fingers in mine in a strange clasp. 'This is the way", he went on softly, and I could hear that he was having difficulty breathing again, "that the links in the great invisible chain are coupled. Without it, there is little you can do, but if you are joined to it, then there is nothing can resist you, for the powers of our Order will help you, even in the farthest comers of the universe. Listen to me: Be suspicious of all figures that come to meet you in the realm of magic. The powers of darkness are well able to feign any shape, even that of our Master; they can even imitate - in physical terms - the handclasp that I showed you, in order to lead you astray, but what they cannot do is remain invisible at the same time. The moment they were to attempt to enter our chain as invisible beings, they would dissolve into atoms!" He repeated the handclasp. "Remember this clasp well. If an apparition from the other world approaches you, and even if you should believe it is I, always insist on clasping hands. The world of magic is full of dangers."

His last words turned into a death-rattle, his eyes became veiled and his chin slumped down onto this chest. Then his breathing suddenly stopped. I took him in my arms, carefully carried him to his bed and kept watch over his dead body, until the sun came, his right hand in mine, the fingers intertwined in the clasp he had taught me.

On the table I found a message, which said:

"Have my body buried in my official robes, together with the sword, alongside my beloved wife. The Chaplain is to read a mass for me. Not for my sake, for I am alive, but to reassure him. He was a loyal, considerate friend."

I took the sword and looked at it for a long time. It was made out of the reddish mineral called haematite - the name means bloodstone - such as you often find in signet rings. It appeared to be of far-eastern workmanship and very ancient

The dull, red hilt had very cunningly been made in the form of a human body. The arms were half outstretched to form the guard, the head was the pommel. The features of its face were unmistakably Mongolian and were those of a very old man with a long, sparse beard, such as you see on the pictures of Chinese saints. On his head he wore a strangely shaped hat with earflaps. The legs were only indicated by engraving and merged into the sharp and shining blade. The whole was of a single piece, either cast or forged.

As I held it in my hand I had an indescribably strange sensation: it felt as if streams of life flowed out from it. Filled with awe, I placed it beside my dead father again.

Perhaps it is one of those swords, I told myself, of which legend says that they were once people.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:15 pm

Chapter 13: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy

Once more months have passed.

The evil rumours about me have long since gone silent; the townsfolk probably think me a stranger, they hardly pay any attention to me, so long have I lived a hermit's life with my father, up there beneath the roof, far from any contact with them.

When I think back to that time, I find it impossible to believe that I did indeed mature from a youth into a man within those four walls and completely shut off from the world outside. Certain indications - for example the fact that I must have bought new clothes, shoes and suchlike things somewhere in the town - suggest that at that time my inner insensibility must have been so profound that everyday occurrences made no impression at all on my consciousness.

When, on the morning after my father's death, I went out into the street - for the first time in years, as far as I was aware - to make the necessary arrangements for his funeral, I was astonished at how much everything had changed. There was a wrought-iron gate across the entrance to our garden; through the bars I could see a large elder tree where I had once planted the branch. The seat had disappeared and in its place, on a marble plinth, stood a gilded statue of the Mother of God, bestrewn with wreaths and flowers. I could not think of the reason for this change, but to me it seemed like a holy miracle that the spot where my Ophelia was buried should now bear a statue of Mary.

When, later on, I met the Chaplain, I hardly recognised him, so old he seemed to have become. My father had visited him occasionally and brought greetings from him, but I had not seen him for years. He, too, was very surprised when he saw me, stared at me in bewilderment and refused to believe it was me.

"The old Baron asked me not to come to his house", he explained. "He said it was necessary for you to remain alone for a certain number of years. Although I could not understand his request, I respected it."

I felt like someone returning to the town of their birth after a very, very long absence. I met grown-ups whom I had known as children; I saw serious faces which had once been wreathed in youthful smiles; girls in the springtime of life had become harassed wives.

I cannot say that the feeling of being frozen numb inside left me at that time, it was just that something extra had been added, even if only a thin deposit, which allowed me once again to see the world around with more of a human eye. I assumed it was a breath of the animal life-force which had come to me as a legacy from my father.

As if he had an instinctive sense of this influence, the Chaplain developed a great affection for me and often came to visit me in the evening. "Whenever I am close to you", he said, "Heel as if my old friend were sitting before me."

As occasion presented itself, he told me the details of what had happened in the town during those years. It is part of that period that I now want to recall from oblivion:

"Do you remember, Christopher, that once when you were a little boy you told me the White Dominican had heard your confession? At the time I wasn't sure whether your imagination wasn't playing tricks on you, for what you told me seemed beyond belief. For a long time I wavered between doubt and the assumption that it might be some kind of demonic spirit or, if that sounds better to you, some kind of possession. Today, of course, when such unheard-of things are happening, there is only one explanation for me: a time of miracles is approaching, here in our town."

"What are all these things that have been happening?" I asked. "As you know, I have spent half a lifetime cut off from the world."

The Chaplain thought for a while. "It is best if I tell you about the most recent period first, otherwise I wouldn't know where to begin. Well, it all started when more and more people claimed that at the time of the new moon they had seen with their own eyes the white shadow that our church is, according to legend, supposed to cast. I spoke out against the rumour wherever possible, until I myself - yes, I myself! - witnessed the phenomenon! And then ... it always moves me deeply when I talk about this ... but enough of that: I saw the 'Dominican' himself. Do not ask me to describe it; for me it is the most sacred experience imaginable.

"Do you think the Dominican is a man who possesses special powers, or do you believe, Father, that he is a kind ... of ghostly apparition?"

The Chaplain hesitated. "To be perfectly frank, I do not know. He appeared to me in the robes of a pope ... I believe, yes, I firmly believe I was seeing into the future, that I had a vision of the great pope to come who will be called "flos florum". Please do not ask me any more. Later there was talk that Mutschelknaus the carpenter had gone out of his mind with grief because his daughter had disappeared without trace. I followed the matter up and went to comfort him. But - he comforted me! I soon realised I was dealing with one of the blest. Today everyone knows that he can work miracles."

"Mutsehelknaus can work miracles?!" I asked in astonishment.

"Yes. Didn't you know that our little town is well on the way to becoming a place of pilgrimage!" exclaimed the Chaplain in wonderment. "Goodness me, have you been sleeping all this time, like the monk of Heisterbach? Haven't you seen the statue of the Mother of God in the garden below?"

"Yes, I do know that", I admitted, "but what is the reason for it? Up to now I have not noticed many people making a pilgrimage to it."

"The reason for that", the Chaplain explained, "is that at the moment old Mutschelknaus is wandering about the countryside healing people by the laying on of hands. The people are following him in hordes. That is why the town is almost deserted just now. He is coming back tomorrow for Lady Day."

"Has he never told you that he attends spiritualist seances?" I asked cautiously.

"It was only right at the beginning that he was a spiritualist, now he keeps well away from them. I think it was a transitional stage for him. It certainly is true, unfortunately, that the sect has spread enormously. 'Unfortunately' I say, and I have to say it, for how could the teachings of these people be reconciled with those of the church? On the other hand I do ask myself which is better, the plague of materialism which has seized humanity, or this fanatical faith that has shot up all of a sudden and is threatening to consume everything else? We really are stuck between Scylla and Charybdis." The Chaplain gave me a questioning look and seemed to be expecting me to answer; I remained silent, my thoughts had returned to the head of the Medusa.

"One day", he went on, "they called me from the church. 'Old Mutschelknaus is going through the streets, he has raised a man from the dead', they were all crying excitedly. It was a most strange happening. The hearse was being driven through the town when the old man had ordered the driver to stop. "Bring out the coffin!" he had commanded in a loud voice. As if they were hypnotised, the people obeyed without hesitation. Then he himself unscrewed the coffin-lid. In it was the corpse of the cripple, you will remember him, he always used to hobble along on his crutches in front of wedding processions. The old man bent over him and said, using the words of Jesus, 'Stand up and walk.' And ... and ...", the Chaplain was sobbing with emotion, "and the cripple woke from the sleep of death. Later I asked Mutsehelknaus how it all came about. I have to tell you, Christopher, that it is almost impossible to get anything out of him; he is almost permanently in an ecstatic state, which is getting worse by the month. Nowadays he gives no answer at all to questions; then, at least, I managed to get a little out of him.

'The Mother of God appeared to me", he said, when I questioned him. "She rose from the earth in front of the seat in the garden where the elder tree grows."

And when I pressed him to tell me what she looked like, he said, with a blissful smile, "Just like my Ophelia."

"What gave you the idea of stopping the hearse, my dear Mutschelknaus?" I went on. "Was it the Mother of God that ordered you to?"

"No, I knew that the cripple only looked dead, but wasn't really."

"How could you know that, not even the doctor realised?"

"I knew because I was almost buried alive myself', was the old man's strange reply. I could never make him see how illogical his explanation was. "Something you have experienced in your own body, you can recognise in others. It was a great mercy the Virgin showed me that they tried to have me buried alive when I was a child, otherwise I would never have been able to know that the cripple wasn't really dead." He repeated this in all possible variations, but although I tried to pin him down, he never got to the heart of the matter, we kept talking at cross purposes."

"And what happened to the cripple?" I asked the Chaplain. "Is he still alive?"

"No, that is the strange thing about it, he met his death in that very same hour. Because of all the noise from the crowd, a cart-horse shied and bolted across the market-place, knocking the cripple to the ground; the wheel broke his spine."

The Chaplain told me of many more remarkable cures performed by the old carpenter. In vivid words he described how the news of the appearance of the Mother of God had spread throughout the region, in spite of the mockery and scorn of those who called themselves enlightened; he described how many pious legends had arisen and how, finally, the elder tree in the garden had become the focal point of all the miracles. Hundreds who had touched it had been made well, thousands who had lost their faith had repented and returned to the fold.

By this time my mind was only half on what the Chaplain was telling me. I seemed to see, as through a magnifying glass, the tiny, yet so powerful gears of spiritual history mesh. The cripple, in the same hour brought back to life and then delivered up to death: could there be a more obvious sign that a blind, equally deformed and yet astonishingly effective, invisible power was at work? And then the old carpenter's explanation! On the surface childish and illogical, but below the surface opening up depths of wisdom. And how miraculously simple was the way in which the old man had escaped the snares of the Medusa, the delusions of spiritualism: Ophelia, the idealised image to which he was attached with all the power of his soul, had turned into a saint, full of grace. She was a part of his self that had separated from him and was rewarding him a thousand times over for all the sacrifices he had made for her, was performing miracles, bringing enlightenment to him, drawing him up to heaven and revealing herself to him as the divinity. The soul its own reward! Purity of heart: a guide to a state beyond the human condition, a channel for all healing power. And like a spiritual contagion, his faith, which has taken on living form, has even infected the mute creatures of the vegetable world: the elder tree makes the sick well again. There are, however, still certain puzzles, the solution to which I can only vaguely guess at. Why is it that the place where this power has its source is the one where Ophelia's bones have been laid to rest, rather than any other? Why is it that this tree, which I planted with the inner sense that in so doing I was enriching the world of life, why is that particular one chosen to be a focal point of supernatural events? It was for me beyond doubt that Ophelia's metamorphosis into the Mother of God must have taken place according to similar magic laws as happened at the spiritualist seance. But then what has happened to the deadly influence of the head of the Medusa, I asked myself? In a philosophical sense, were Satan and God, as the ultimate truths and paradoxes, the same, destroyer and creator one and the same?

"From your point of view as a Catholic priest, Father, do you think it is possible for the Devil to assume the form of a sacred figure, say Jesus or the Virgin Mary?"

For a moment the O1aplain stared at me, then he clapped his hands over his ears and cried, "Stop, Christopher, stop! It's your father's spirit that prompted you to ask that question. Please leave my faith in peace. I'm too old for such shocks. When I come to die, I want to die with my belief in the divine origin of the miracles I have seen and marvelled at intact. No, I say, no, and no again. However many forms the Devil can assume, he must stop at the Blessed Virgin and her Son, who is also the Son of God!"

I nodded and said nothing. I kept my mouth shut tight, as I did during the seance when in my mind I heard the mocking words of the head of the Medusa, "Why don't you tell them everything you know?!"

What is needed for the future is a great leader who will have complete mastery over words and use them to reveal the truth without killing those who hear them. Otherwise all religion will be nothing more than a half-dead cripple. At least that is what I feel.

I was awakened early next morning by the sound of the bells ringing from the towers, and I could hear a soft chant with a barely subdued undertone of wild excitement.

"Hail Mary, Mother of Grace, blessed art thou among women."

An eerie rumbling went through the walls of the house, as if the stones had come alive and were joining in the singing in their own way. 'Years ago it was the hum of the lathe that filled the alleyway; now the torment of labour is silent and the hymn to the Mother of God is rising from the ground as a kind of echo', was the thought that passed through my mind as I went down the stairs.

I stood in the house doorway, and along the narrow street, with Mutschelknaus at the head, came a procession of people in their Sunday best, thronging together and carrying mountains of flowers.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us."

"Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy."

The old man went barefooted and bareheaded, his dress was the habit of an itinerant monk.; it had once been white, but now was threadbare and covered in patches. He walked unsteadily, feeling his way like a blind old man. He glanced at me in passing; for a brief moment his eye rested on my face, but there was no trace of recognition or memory to be seen in it His pupils were fixed in parallel axes, as if he was looking through me and the walls into another world.

More drawn by an invisible power than under his own impulse, or so it seemed to me, he made his slow way to the wrought-iron gate at the entrance to the garden, opened it and went up to the statue of the Virgin. I joined the crowd shuffling along a respectful distance behind; they seemed to be in awe of him and stopped at the gate. The singing grew softer and softer, but the undertone of excitement was becoming more intense by the minute. Soon it was a wordless, vibration of notes; there was an indescribable tension in the air.

I had jumped up onto a ledge projecting from the wall, from which I could see everything clearly. For a long time the old man stood motionless before the statue. It was a disquieting sight; I began to wonder which of the two would come alive first. I was seized by a dull fear, similar to the one I had felt at the spiritualist seance, and once more I heard Ophelia's voice in my heart, "Be on your guard!"

Immediately after that I saw the old man's white beard begin to quiver, and from the twitching of his lips I guessed that he was speaking to the statue. A deathly hush suddenly came over the crowd behind me, even the soft singing of those at the back stopped, as if a sign had been given.

The only sound that was left was a soft, rhythmical and repetitive jingling. I looked around to see where it was coming from: timidly squeezing into an alcove in the wall, as if he were hiding, was a fat old man with a laurel wreath on his bald head; with one hand he was half covering his face, while the other was stretched out, holding a tin box. Beside him in a black silk dress, with such thick make-up on as to be almost unrecognisable, was Frau Aglaia.

That toper's nose, shapeless and blue, those eyes, hardly visible behind the rolls of fat: there was no doubt about it, it was Herr Paris, the actor. He was collecting money from the pilgrims and Frau Mutsehelknaus was helping him. I saw her quickly lean forward from time to time and cast an anxious glance at her husband, as if she was afraid he might see her there. Then she would whisper something to the people around her, who would mechanically feel in their pockets and, without taking their eyes off the statue of the Mother of God, drop a couple of coins in the tin.

A furious rage took hold of me, and I glared at the actor; immediately our eyes met and I saw his chin drop and his face turn ashen grey. He almost let the collecting box fall with shock. Filled with disgust, I turned away.

"She is moving! She is speaking! Blessed Virgin, pray for us! She is talking to him! There! See, she is bowing her head!" Suddenly a hoarse muttering, scarcely comprehensible, as if it were muffled by shivers of abrupt horror, ran through the crowd from one set of pale lips to another. ''There! There! And again!"

I felt that any moment one single, piercing cry must erupt from the many hundred living lips and release the dreadful tension, but it was as if all were paralysed. Only here and there I heard an occasional confused, babbling "Pray for us". I was afraid a riot was about to break out, but instead the crowd just slumped somewhat: they wanted to fall to their knees but were too tightly packed. Many had closed their eyes, as if they had fainted, but they could not fall to the ground, they were wedged in. They were so deathly pale, they looked like corpses standing upright among the living, waiting for a miracle to wake them from the dead.

The atmosphere had such a kind of stifling magnetism that when I breathed in it felt as if I were being throttled by invisible hands. My whole body was shaking, as if the flesh were trying to free itself from the bones. So as not to fall down, I clung to the window-ledge.

I could clearly see the old man's lips in rapid movement as he talked. His emaciated features, bathed in the rays of the rising sun, shone with an almost youthful glow.

Then he suddenly paused, as if he had heard someone call out to him. His mouth wide open as he strained to hear and his eyes fixed on the statue, he nodded with a beatific expression on his face, quickly gave a soft reply, then listened again, raising his arms now and again in joyful excitement.

Every time he thrust his head forward to listen, a throaty whisper, more a wheezing than a murmuring, went through the crowd-''There! There! She's moving! There! Now! She nodded!" - but no one pushed forward, rather they drew back in horror, staggered back as if hit by a gust of wind.

I scrutinised the expression on the old man's face as closely as I could; I was trying to read his lips to see what he was saying. Secretly I was hoping - I had no idea why - to hear or read the name Ophelia, but all I could make' out were long, incomprehensible sentences followed by something like "Mary".

There! It was as if I had been struck by lightning: the statue had smiled and bowed its head! Not only the statue, its shadow on the light-coloured sand had also moved!

In vain I told myself it was an hallucination, my eye must have involuntarily transferred the old man's movements to the statue, making it look as if the statue were moving. I looked away, determined to regain control of my senses, and looked back again: the statue was speaking! Was bending down to the old man! There was no longer any doubt about it.

"Be on your guard!" What use was it that I dwelled on the inner warning with all my strength?! What use was the clear sense of a vague yet infinitely dear something within my heart, what use the knowledge that it was the eternal presence of my beloved trying to resist, desperately trying to take on tangible form so that she could stand before me with outstretched arms and protect me?! I was slowly being drawn into a vortex of magnetism, stronger than my will-power. All the religiosity, all the piety which I had absorbed in my childhood and which, until now, had lain dormant in my ancestral blood, broke loose, engulfing cell after cell. A spiritual storm in my body began to hammer at the back of my knees, repeating the order, "I want you to kneel down and worship me."

'It is the head of the Medusa', I told myself, but at the same time I felt that reason was futile. I took refuge in my last line of defence: 'Do not resist evil.' I gave up resisting and let myself sink into an abyss of complete acquiescence. I became so weak that even my body was affected by it; my hands let go their hold and I tumbled down onto the heads and shoulders of the crowd below.

I have no idea how I managed to make my way back to the door of my house. The details of such strange events often do not penetrate our perception, or pass through without leaving any trace in the memory. I must have crawled like a caterpillar over the heads of the tightly packed throng of pilgrims! All I know is that I found myself back in the arch of the doorway, incapable of moving forwards or back; but the statue was removed from my view and I from its magic influence. The magnetic current emanating from the crowd flowed past me.

"To the church!" From the garden echoed a cry in which I was sure I recognised the voice of the old carpenter. "To the church!"

"To the church, to the church." The call rebounded from mouth to mouth, "To the church. It is Mary's command", and swelled into a many-voiced roar that finally released the tension.

The spell was broken. Slowly, step by step like some gigantic fabulous beast with a hundred feet that was freeing its head from a noose, the crowd backed out of the alley. The last ones had surrounded the old man and, as they pushed past me, they were tearing off pieces of his robe, until he was almost naked, kissing them like sacred relics.

When the alleyway was once more deserted, I went through the thick covering of trampled flowers to the elder tree. I wanted to touch again the spot where the bones of my beloved were laid to rest. 1had a clear feeling that it would be the last time. "Can it be that 1will never see you again, Ophelia? Not even one more time?" 1 poured out my entreaty into my heart. "I long to see your face again, just one more time."

A current of air carried the sound of the chant from the town, "Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy."

Involuntarily, 1 raised my head.

The statue before me was bathed in a light of unutterable brightness. For the tiniest fraction of a second, so short that a heartbeat seemed a lifetime by comparison, it was transformed into Ophelia and smiled at me; then once more it was rigid and motionless, the golden face of the Madonna gleaming in the sun.

I had had a brief vision of the eternal present, which, for us mortals, is nothing but an empty, unfathomable word.
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:15 pm

Chapter 14: The Resurrection of the Sword

It was an unforgettable experience when, one day, I started to go through my inheritance from my father and our forebears. I inspected one storey after the other; I felt as if I were climbing down the centuries until I was back in the Middle Ages.

Above elaborately inlaid pieces of furniture, the drawers full of lace, were blind mirrors in shimmering gold frames from which my image looked back at me like a greenish, milky ghost; there were darkened portraits of men and women in antiquated dress, the look changing according to the period, but always with a certain family likeness in the faces, which sometimes lessened, the hair changing from blond to brown, to reappear in its true lineaments, as if the blood-line had suddenly decided to revert to type.

I found gold boxes decorated with precious stones, some still containing traces of snuff, as if they had still been in use only yesterday; mother-of-pearl fans; bizarrely shaped high-heeled shoes of threadbare silk which, as I placed them beside each other, called to mind youthful female figures, the mothers and wives of our ancestors; sticks with yellowed ivory carvings; rings with our coat of arms, some tiny, as if made for a child's finger, and others so large that giants must have worn them; distaffs on which the tow had become so thin with age that it disintegrated when you breathed on it.

In some rooms, the dust was so deep that I waded ankle-deep through it and it made huge ridges when I opened the doors; in my footmarks floral ornaments and animal faces appeared as my steps laid bare the patterns of old carpets.

I was so enthralled by the sight of all these objects that I spent weeks examining them and sometimes lost all sense that there were other people than I living on this earth.

Once, as a boy, I had been taken on a school trip to the town museum, and I can remember the weariness that befell us as we looked at all the antique objects that meant nothing to us. How different it was here! Every object I picked up had a story to tell, they all exuded a particular sense of life: they were steeped in the history of my own family and filled me with a strange mixture of past and present. People whose bones were now rotting in the grave had breathed this air; forebears, whose life I bore within me, had lived in these rooms, had begun their existence as snivelling infants and ended it in the rattle of death throes, had loved and mourned, rejoiced and sighed, had cherished things which now stood where they had been abandoned and which filled with secret whisperings when I picked them up.

There was a glazed corner cupboard containing medallions in red velvet cases, golden ones with the profiles of knights, still bright with a lively glow, and silver ones that had gone black as if they had died, all laid out in rows and each with a ticket on which the writing was faded and illegible. They transmitted a decrepit and yet passionate craving: 'Collect us, collect us, we must become complete'. Characteristics which I had never possessed fluttered up to me, caressed me and begged, 'Take us in, we will make you happy.'

An old armchair with wonderfully carved armrests, apparently the personification of dignity and repose, lured me to dream in its arms with the promise of tales from the old days; then, when I had entrusted myself to it, I was smothered by a wordless, senile torment, as if it were the grey spirit of care itself in whose lap I was sitting, my legs grew heavy and stiff, as if a cripple had been bound there for a hundred years and was trying to escape by turning me into his likeness.

The farther I penetrated into the lower rooms, the darker, grimmer, plainer became the surroundings: rough deal tables; a stove instead of elegant fireplaces; whitewashed walls; pewter plates; a rusty chain-mail gauntlet; earthenware jugs. Then came a chamber with a barred window; parchment volumes scattered about, gnawed by rats; clay retorts such as alchemists used; an iron candlestick; phials in which the liquid had solidified: the whole room was filled with the dismal aura of a life of dashed hopes.

The cellar, in which, according to the chronicle, our Founding Father, the lamplighter Christophorus Jocher, was supposed to have lived, was blocked by a heavy lead door. It was impossible to break it open.

When I had completed the investigation of our house and returned, as if after a long journey into the realm of the past, to my living room, I had the feeling I was charged to the fingertips with magnetic influences. The forgotten atmosphere from down below accompanied me like a horde of ghosts whose dungeon door had been unlocked, releasing them into the open; desires that my ancestors' lives had left unfulfilled had been dragged out into the light of day and had woken up, fiJIing me with unrest and bombarding me with requests, "Do this, do that; this is still undone, that only half finished; I cannot sleep until you have completed it in my stead." A voice whispered to me, "Go back down to the retorts, I'll tell you how to make gold and the philosopher's stone; I know how to do it now, I couldn't manage it before, I died too soon." Then I heard soft, tearful words, "Tell my husband I always loved him, in spite of everything; he doesn't believe it and he can't hear me now I'm dead; he'll understand you." "Vengeance! Seek out his brood. Slay them. I'll tell you where they are. Remember me! Yours is the inheritance, yours is the duty of the blood feud!" another hissed with breath that scorched my ear, and I felt as if I could hear the rattle of the gauntlet. "Go out into the world! Enjoy life! Through your eyes I want to see the earth again", the cripple in the armchair called out, trying to ensnare me.

When I drive them out of my brain, these spectres, they seem to turn into unconscious scraps of electric life fluttering about that is absorbed by the objects: there is an eerie cracking noise in the cupboards; a notebook lying on the shelf rustles; the floorboards creak, as if under the weight of a foot; a pair of scissors falls off the table and sticks with one point in the floor, imitating a dancer balancing on one toe.

I pace up and down, full of unease. 'It must be the legacy of the dead', I feel. I light the lamp, for night is falling and the darkness makes my senses too sharp. The spectres are like bats; 'Surely the light will drive them away; I won't have them going on raiding my consciousness.'

I have silenced the desires of the departed, but I cannot get the restlessness of the spectral legacy out of my nerves.

To take my mind off it, I start rummaging around in a cupboard. I come across a toy my father once gave me for Christmas: a box with a glass lid and base with little figures formed from the pith of elder branches in it: a man, a woman and a snake. When you rub the glass with a leather pad they become electric and join, separate, hop about, stick to the top or bottom, and the snake wriggles and jiggles with joy. 'Those figures in there think they're alive, too', I muse, 'and yet it's only the one, universal force that makes them move.' However, it does not occur to me to apply this example to myself. I am suddenly overcome with a desire for action towards which I feel no suspicion: the vital urge of the departed is approaching me behind another mask.

'Deeds, deeds, deeds, that's what is needed', I feel. 'Yes, that's it. It's not the selfish desires of our forefathers that I should be carrying out', I try to convince myself, 'no, it's something much greater I should be aiming for. '

It is like seeds that were slumbering inside me, now they are sprouting, shoot after shoot: 'You must go out into the world, and do great deeds for the sake of mankind of which you are, after all, a part Be a sword in the general battle against the head of the Medusa.'

The atmosphere in the room is unbearably sultry. I fling open the window. The sky has turned into a leaden roof, an impenetrable, blackish grey. In the distance there is a flicker of lightning on the horizon. Thank God, a storm is coming. For months there has not been a drop of rain, the grass is all withered, during the day the woods quiver in the shimmering haze of the parched earth.

I go over to the table to write. What? To whom? I do not know. To the Chaplain, perhaps, since I am thinking of starting out on my travels to see the world? I cut a quill and set pen to paper, but then I am overcome with tiredness. My head sinks onto my arm and I fall asleep.

The table-top is like a sounding board, amplifying the beat of my pulse; it turns into a hammering, and I imagine I am hacking open the metal door in the cellar with an axe. As it falls from the rusty hinges, I see an old man come out. At that moment I wake up.

Am I really awake? There is the old man here in the room, looking at me with his dull, aged eyes. The fact that I still have the quill in my hand, proves that I am not dreaming and that I am in my right mind.

'I must have seen this peculiar stranger somewhere' , I think to myself. 'Why is he wearing fur ear-muffs at this time of the year?'

"I knocked at the door three times", the old man says. "When no one answered, I came in."

"Who are you? What are you called?" I ask in bewilderment.

"I have come on behalf of the Order."

For a moment I wonder whether it is a ghost I see before me. The ancient face with the sparse, oddly shaped beard does oot go with those muscular, workman's hands. If it were a picture I was looking at, I would have said it was badly drawn. There is something wrong with the proportions. His right thumb is misshapen, too; that also seems strangely familiar to me.

Secretly, I touch the man's sleeve, to prove that it is not my senses that are playing tricks on me, and then turn the movement into a gesture asking him to sit down.

The old man ignores it and remains standing. "We have received news that your father has died. He was one of us. According to the rules of the Order, you, as his son by birth, have the right to demand that you be received into it. I have come to ask you, do you intend to make use of that right?'

"To belong to the same community as my father would be my greatest joy, but I do not know what purpose it serves, what its goal is. Can you tell me something about it?"

The old man's dull eyes wander over my face. "Did your father never talk to you about it?"

"No. Only in vague hints. I presume from the fact that he put a kind of habit on in the hour before his death that he must have belonged to some secret society, but that is all that I know."

"I will tell you then: since time immemorial there has been a circle of men on earth which guides the destiny of mankind. Without them chaos would have descended upon the world long ago. All the great leaders of the nations have been blind instruments in our hands, that is, if they were not members of our Order. Our goal is to remove the differences between rich and poor, between master and servant, the initiated and the ignorant, rulers and oppressed, to make this vale of tears that we call the earth into a paradise, a land in which the word 'sorrow' is unknown. The burden under which mankind is groaning is the cross of individuality. The world-soul has disintegrated into separate beings, and that is the source of all disorder. Our determination is to turn the multiplicity back into unity.

The noblest minds have put themselves at our service and the time of harvest is at hand! Every man is to be his own priest. The masses are ready to shake off the yoke of the Church. Beauty is the only god to which mankind will pray in future. But there is still need of men of vigour to set it on high. That is why we fathers of the Order have sent out currents of thought into the world which will sweep like wildfire through the minds of men and bum out the madness of the doctrine of individualism. The war of everyone for everyone! Creating a garden from the wilderness is the task we have set ourselves. Can you not feel how everything within you is crying out for action? Why are you sitting here dreaming? Arise and save your brothers!"

I am seized by a wild eagerness. "What should I do?" I cry. "Command me! Tell me what I should do! 1 will sacrifice my life for mankind, if it must be! What conditions must I fulfil to join the Order?"

"Blind obedience! Renunciation of all personal desire! To work for the whole and no longer for yourself! That is the way out of the desert of multiplicity into the promised land of unity."

"And how will I know what it is I have to do?' I ask, suddenly filled with doubts. "I am to be a leader, what shall my teaching be?"

"When you teach, you learn. Do not ask, What shall I say? If God gives you an office, he will also give you understanding. Go forth and speak. The thoughts will come, do not worry. Are you ready to take the oath of obedience?"

"I am ready."

"Then put your left hand to the earth and repeat after me the words I shall say."

In a daze, I am bending down to obey when I am suddenly seized with suspicion. I hesitate, look up, and a memory twitches at my mind: I have seen the face of the old man standing before me, carved out of haematite on the pommel of a sword; and the misshapen thumb belongs to the hand of the tramp who fell down dead in the market-place when he saw me, all those years ago.

I feel a chill of horror, but now I know what I have to do. I jump up and shout at the old man, "Give me the sign!" and hold out my right hand to him for the 'clasp' my father showed me.

But standing before me is no living man any more, but a thing of limbs loosely attached to a trunk, like someone who has been broken on the wheel. The head is hovering above, separated from the neck by a gap the width of a finger; the lips are still quivering from the expiry of breath. A gruesome jumble of flesh and bone.

With a shudder, I covered my eyes with my hands. When I looked up, the phantom had disappeared, but hanging freely in the air was a shining ring, in which hovered the face of the old man with the ear-muffs in fine, transparent outline like pale blue mist. This time it was the voice of the Founding Father that came from its lips, "What you have seen was debris, spars from wrecked ships that had been drifting on the ocean of the past. In order to deceive you, the spectral inhabitants of the abyss created the image of our Master as a phantasm formed from the soulless remains of drowned men, from forgotten impressions in your own mind; with your own tongue they were speaking to you empty, hollow words of temptation to lure you, like will 0' the wisps, into the deadly swamps of aimless activity in which thousands before you, and greater ones, have sunk without trace. 'Renunciation' is the name they give to the phosphorescence with which they trick their victims; there was rejoicing in hell when they lit it for the first person to trust them. What they want to destroy is the noblest possession a person can acquire, our eternal consciousness as an individual. Their teaching is death and destruction, but they know the power of truth, so all the words they choose are true, but every sentence they form from them is a pit of lies.

Whenever vanity and the lust for power reside in a person's heart, there they are on hand to fan these dull sparks into a bright flame, so that the individual concerned imagines he is afire with selfless love for his fellows and goes forth to preach without being called, becomes a blind leader and falls into the pit with the halt and the lame.

They well know that the heart of man is evil, from his earliest youth, and that love cannot reside within it, unless it is a present from above.

'They repeat the command, "Love one another", until it is quite worn away. The one who first spoke these words gave those who heard them a spiritual gift, but they spit the words into people's ears like poison, causing disaster and despair, murder, carnage and devastation. They imitate truth as a scarecrow imitates the wayside crucifix.

Whenever they see a crystal that is threatening to form a symmetrical shape - an image of God - they do all they can to shatter it. No doctrine from the East is too fine but they will coarsen it, bring it down to earth, surround it and perforate it until it says the opposite of what was intended. "From the East comes light", they say, and secretly mean pestilence.

The only goal which is worth pursuing - the cultivation of one's own self - they call egoism. They try to introduce into the minds of erring mortals the idea that they must save the world, without giving them any idea how to do it; they mask greed with the name of 'duty' and envy with that of 'ambition'.

Their dream for the future is a world of splintering consciousness, obsessions everywhere. Through the mouths of the obsessed they preach the coming of the millennium, as did the prophets of old, but the fact that the millennial empire will not 'be of this world' until the earth is transformed and man is changed through the rebirth of the spirit, that they omit to mention; they give the lie to the anointed ones by pretending the time is ripe before it is.

If a messiah is expected, they pre-empt him; when one departs, they mock him. They say, "Be a leader", well knowing that only one who has been perfected can be a leader. They invert it to deceive people, saying, "Lead, and you shall be perfected."

It is said, if God gives you an office, he will also give you understanding.

But they whisper, "Take an office and God will give you understanding."

They know that life on earth is only meant to be a transitional state, so they cunningly tempt you by saying, "Make a paradise on earth", well knowing the vanity of such attempts.

They have released the shades from Hades and brought them to life with a daemonic force so that men will believe that the resurrection of the dead has come.

They have made a mask, formed after the face of our Master, a spectre which pops up here and there, now in the dreams of those with second sight, now as apparently corporeal figures appearing at spiritualist seances, now as the automatic drawings mediums produce. To those who enquire after its name, the ghost calls itself John King, to give rise to the belief it is John the Evangelist For all those who, like you, are mature enough to see the face in truth, they pre-empt it; they are preparing the ground so that they can sow the seed of doubt when, as now with you, the hour approaches when unwavering faith is needed.

You destroyed the mask when you demanded the 'clasp'. Now the true face will become the pommel of your magic sword, fashioned without joint from a single piece of 'bloodstone'. Anyone who receives such a sword will find that the words of the Psalm become reality, "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, and ride thou for the sake of truth and to do justice to the afflicted and the needy; and thy right hand shall perform wondrous things."
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Re: The White Dominican, by Gustav Meyrink

Postby admin » Thu May 17, 2018 11:16 pm

Chapter 15: The Shirt of Nessus

Just as the cry of the eagle, piercing the air above the snowy mountain tops, dislodges a cornice which rolls down the slope and turns into an avalanche, uncovering the splendour of hidden sheets of ice, so the words of our Founding Father have dislodged a portion of my self within me. The words of the Psalm are drowned by a howling blast in my ear, the room vanishes before my eyes and I feel as if I am falling out into boundless space.

'Now, now I am going to smash against the ground!' But the fall seems never-ending. The depths suck me in at ever greater, ever more vertiginous speed, and I feel the blood shoot up my spine and break out of my skull in a radiant sheaf. I hear the cracking of my bones, then everything is over. I am standing on my feet and realise that it was an hallucination: a magnetic current ran through me from the soles of my feet to the crown of my head, giving me the feeling I was plunging into a bottomless pit.

Bewildered, I look around, surprised to see that nothing has changed, that the lamp on the table is still burning with an untroubled flame, for I feel as if I have been transformed, as if I had wings I could not use.

I realise that a new sense has opened up within me, and yet for a long time I cannot work out what it is and in what way I am different, until I slowly become aware of a round object I am holding in my hand. I look at it: there is nothing to see; I open my fingers: the thing disappears, though I hear nothing fall to the ground; I clench my fist and it is back again, cold, round as a ball, and hard.

I suddenly guess that it is the pommel of the sword. I feel for the blade; it is so sharp it cuts my skin.

Is the sword hovering in the air?

I take a step backwards from the spot where I am standing and reach out to grasp it This time my fingers close on smooth metal rings forming a chain round my hips, from which the sword hangs.

A sense of astonishment creeps over me which only disappears as it gradually becomes clear to me what has happened: my inner sense of touch, the sense that sleeps most soundly within mankind, has awoken. The thin partition separating earthly life from the world beyond has been broken.

Strange! So infinitesimally narrow is the threshold between the two realms, and yet no one raises their foot to cross it! The other reality borders on our skin, yet we do not feel it! Our imagination stops here, where it could create new land.

It is the longing for gods and the fear of being left alone with himself, to create a world of his own, which hinders man from unfolding the magic powers which slumber within him; he wants companions to accompany him, the power of nature to envelop him; he wants to feel love and hate, to do deeds and feel their effect. How could he do all this if he made himself creator of new things?

I feel the warmth of passion luring me on, 'You only need to stretch out your hand and you will touch the face of your beloved', but I shudder with horror at the thought that reality and imagination are the same. Staring me in the face is the awfulness of ultimate truth.

Even more dreadful than the possibility that I might have been touched by demons, or that I might be drifting out into the unbounded sea of madness and hallucination, is the realisation that there is no reality, neither here nor there, but that all is imagination.

I remember my father's anxious words, "Did you see the sun?" when I told him of my walk on the mountain. "Anyone who sees the sun will give up wandering; he will enter eternity."

"No, I want to remain a wanderer and see you again, father! I want to be united with Ophelia, and not with God! I want infinity and not eternity, I want the things that I have learnt to see and hear with my spiritual eyes and ears to become reality for my feeling. I renounce becoming a god crowned with creative power; out of love for you I want to remain a created man; I want to share life equally with you."

As if to keep myself from the temptation to stretch out my arms in longing, I clasp the hilt of the sword tightly.

"I entrust myself to thy aid, Master. Be thou the creator of all that surrounds me."

So clearly does my exploring hand become aware of the face on the pommel, that I feel as if I can sense it deep within me, it is sight and touch at once, raising an altar to contain the holy of holies.

A mysterious power flows from it, entering objects and breathing life into them.

I know - as if I could hear it in words - that the lamp there on the table is the image of my earthly life, it illuminated the room of my solitude, now its flame is smoking: the oil is running out.

I feel an urge to be out in the open air, under the sky, when the hour of the great reunion comes.

There is a ladder leading up onto the flat roof, where I often secretly sat as a child to watch in amazement as the wind blew the clouds into faces and dragon shapes. I climb it and sit on the parapet.

The town below is immersed in darkness.

Image after image from my past life floats up and anxiously presses up against me, as if to say, 'Hold me fast, take me with you so that I might live in your memory and not die in oblivion.'

The lightning is flickering all round the horizon, a glowing, gigantic eye, peering here and there; and the houses and windows reflect the glare up onto me, their flares treacherously sending back the signal: 'There! There! There is the one you are looking for!'

A distant howling comes on the air, "All my servants you have killed, now I am coming myself." My mind is filled with the thought of the Mistress of Darkness and of what my father said about her hatred.

''The shirt of Nessus!" hisses a gust of wind, tearing at my clothes.

The thunder roars a deafening "Yes!"

'The shirt of Nessus?' 1ponder. 'The shirt of Nessus?'

Then a deathly hush, an ominous pause; the storm and lightning are working out what to do next.

Suddenly from below comes the sound of the river, very loud, as if it were trying to warn me, "Come down to me and hide."

1can hear the horrified rustling of the trees, ''The strangling grip of the wind-demon! The centaurs of the Medusa, the Wild Hunt! Keep your heads down, the rider with the scythe is coming!"

A quiet, exultant voice throbs within my heart, "I am waiting for you, beloved."

The clock in the church tower breaks out sobbing as it is hit by an unseen fist.

In the glare of a flash of lightning the crosses in the graveyard light up questioningly. "Yes, mother, 1am coming!"

Somewhere a window is torn from its hinges and shatters on the cobbles with a piercing cry: the mortal anguish of objects that have been created by human hand.

Has the moon fallen out of the sky, is it wandering over the earth? A glowing white sphere makes its hesitant way through the air, swaying, sinking, rising, floating aimlessly, until, suddenly seized with a wild fury, it explodes with a clap of thunder. The earth quakes in uncontrollable terror.

More and more of the spheres arrive. One of them scours the bridge, rolling slowly, slyly over the planks, then circles round one beam, seizes it with a roar and smashes it into splinters.

"Ball-lightning!" 1had read about it in one of my childhood books, thinking its mysterious motions a myth, and now here it is, in all its destructive reality! Blind beings, balls of electricity, bombs of the cosmic abyss, demon's heads without eyes, ears, mouths or noses, risen from the depths of the earth and the air, tornadoes whirling round a nucleus of hatred, without organs of perception, but with a primitive consciousness that gropes around in search of victims for its destructive fury.

What terrible power they would possess if they had human shape! Is it my unspoken question that has attracted this glowing sphere that suddenly swings out of its orbit and flies towards me? But close to the balustrade it sheers off, glides towards a wall then sails in through an open window and out of another; then it stretches out and, with a crash of thunder, a tongue of fire blasts a shell-hole in the sand, making the house tremble and the dust spurt up to where I am sitting.

The flash, as blinding as a white sun, sears my eyes; for a second my body is illuminated with such incandescence that its image charges my eyelids and etches itself on my consciousness.

"Can you see me at last, Medusa?"

"Yes, I can see you, accursed mortal!" and a red sphere rises out of the earth. Half-blind, I can sense it is growing bigger and bigger. Now it is hovering over my head, a meteor of boundless fury.

I spread my arms wide: invisible hands grasp mine with the 'clasp' of the Order, uniting me with the invisible chain which stretches to infinity.

That which was corruptible in me has been consumed by fire, transformed by death into a flame of life.

Erect I stand in the purple robe of fire, girded about with the bloodstone sword.

Dissolved for ever with corpse and sword.  
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