FOI Online Liturgy
Booklet: Ishtar of the Starry Heavens,
Shape-Shifting of the Alchemical Twins
Written by: Olivia Robertson
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9. Mirrors of Deception
"To know true friendship you must look within.
Gaze in a mirror: You will find your kin."
TEMPLE OF ALCHEMY
PRIESTESS ALCHEMIST (TO TWIN APPRENTICES AIDEN & ELAINE): Deception is the torture of lovers and the disillusion of visionaries. Truth is obscured by veils of lies. The Alchemist needs to learn to see through deceptive appearances to discern the Truth. To do so we need to invoke the Queen of all illusions, the Goddess Lilith.
PRIEST ALCHEMIST: Divine Goddess Lilith, Who haunts men’s dreams of divine yet ever concealed beauty; who fills the hearts of women with desire for a perfect mate, yet find cruel deception, help us to know good from evil; truth from lies, and so find love that is honest.
ORACLE OF THE GODDESS LILITH
Know Me and you know yourself. I am She Who brings all dreams, whether these be the ambitions of the warrior; the yearning of artists for beauty; the endless struggle of philosophers to find reality.
Yet it is simple to penetrate my many appearances. You will never unmask my fleeting forms through endless ruthless endeavour to hold Me. What you seize will never be the Goddess: only what you have created yourself! Know yourselves to be the creators. You are the cause of your passions, and scientific hopes that may end in disaster.
The way of the alchemist is not to reject with hatred liars and traitors. It is to recognise the existence of the eternal divine Flame within all that is. So do not repudiate distorted shadows of evil, but rather find its source from Divine Being.
PRIESTESS ALCHEMIST: We give thanks to the Goddess Lilith for her Oracle.
PRIEST ALCHEMIST (TO AIDEN): Aiden, you find yourself caught up in delusions that appear as friends – and then transform into mocking phantoms. You need not flee from delusions. Rather face them! Endure the traps set for seekers within the Constellation of the Water-dragon of the Moon, the many-headed Hydra.
AIDEN: I would be rid of being fooled and laughed at! I will face the trials.
PRIEST ALCHEMIST: Then find the portal of Hydra in the Temple of the Stars. We will join your trance, but may not help you.
AIDEN: I climb the hill, and reach the beautiful Temple of the Stars. I enter and seek reassurance from the Central Flame. Then I search for the Portal of Hydra, within mists in the North-East. *** Yes, here it is! It holds everything that attracts me. On the left side is the form of a Magician with his harlequin cloak. Round him rotate endless occult formulae – his face is masked. On the right side is a Priestess wearing deep violet. She is crowned with the Moon. She holds a wand – yes – this wand is the source of a stream of ever-changing stars, and about her feet are moons in their many changes, from waxing to waning. My eyes are dazzled, because the stars and moons are flowing around the portal, - I shade my eyes – and I pass through the portal. ***
All the lovely music has stopped – instead my ears are blasted by the hideous cacophony of fairground music – mechanical, repetitive, discordant. Various booths in this vast fairground advertise computer games for gambling, deformed humans exhibited for show, so-called magicians who are cheap-jack conjurers. There are daring acrobats performing dangerous acts to delight a heartless public. I find no temptation here…
I avoid a circus ring where wild animals have been trained to do meaningless tricks. Monkeys look more attractive, with their sad eyes, than the human onlookers.
I seem to be getting more like Elaine – all this indignation… I wish I could do something to bring reality to these gamblers in glittering casinos – to men besotted by painted models with no talent and as little clothing.
Suddenly a quiet man in a dark suit comes up to me, smiling. On his lapel is the gold insignia of some occult Order, which I do not recognise. It is a pentagram reversed, with two snakes twined about it. I start. They seem to move. The man speaks softly: “I see these ignorant games do not divert you! These would-be witches, these ventriloquists giving messages from Atlantis – do not deceive you and me. Why not come with me, to our Hall of the Holy Grael of Truth. Crater, the Cup, is enfolded in the spiral arms of the Hydra.”
I ask cautiously: “I long to know truth from lies, so I can find true friends. Is it difficult to find this Holy Grael?”
“Not for a man with your discernment, which you are clearly showing,” says the man. “After all, you know it is all done with mirrors.”
So I am led into a great dark building apart from the fair. It has no outside windows. After the vulgar razzmatazz of the fair, I am only too happy to enter with him this Hall of the hidden Grael. ***
At first it seems easy enough. My guide indicates the Grael before me on an altar, much as I imagined it would be – a gold and silver chalice. I notice on it is engraved a reversed pentagram with two snakes. A gold one is moving upwards, forming an arch. A silver snake coils downwards, forming a V. They form a 6-pointed star. The cup moves up and down – left to right as I do – so I realise it is a reflection in a mirror. I swing round to see the Grael in reality – but only a long corridor confronts me. At the end is my friend the Red-haired Witch. I race towards her, forgetting my Guide. But as I approach her – I see there are five red-haired witches – one is laughing at me as she usually does. Another turns her back on me. The third conceals her face with her long red hair. The fourth is ugly – she is a withered old woman with white hair. The fifth has the shaved head of a nun, and she has tears in her eyes.
Which is the true friend? All of them suddenly become exceedingly tiny and recede from me at a speed that is accompanied by mocking laughter. I lose all control. I swing around – only another corridor. I find a sharp crystal at my feet. I pick it up and throw it at these mirrors – There is a mighty crash – glass, splinters – and to my horror, every shard has the image of the red-haired witch – some make faces at me – some have transformed into watery Dragons – the largest, into a complacent furry black cat.
The cat gazes at me with large luminous green eyes. They reflect the phases of the moon – slit – then whole – then shut. My attention is drawn to its paws. Between them is an earthenware saucer of cream. As usual – I swing round to find the real cat. And as usual, there is only a long corridor.
Suddenly the truth dawns on me. It is I who am casting the reflections! I am the cat. I have achieved the quest and found the Grael of Truth. It is resting between my black furry paws. My saucer of cream is the Holy Grael. I like it. I purr. Reluctantly I return from trance. It is such perfect relaxation, being a cat.
***END OF TRANCE***
REPORTS ARE SHARED AND THANKS ARE GIVEN TO THE DEITIES. IT IS AGREED THAT AIDEN HAS WON HIS ALCHEMICAL DEGREE HAVING EXPERIENCED THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS. AH – BUT WHICH IS WHICH?
END OF RITE.
Sources: “Metamorphoses,” Ovid. “Babylonian New Year Ritual,” Maspero, trans. Davidson. “The White Goddess”, “The Black Goddess,” Graves. “The Sayings of the Ancient One,” Bowen, Rider. “Goddesses of Chaldea, Syria & Egypt”, Durdin-Robertson, Clonegal Castle. Used in all Rites: “Star Names, their Lore & Meaning” Richard Hinckley Allen, pub. Dover. “Jorkins Remembers Africa,” & other Jorkins novels on shape-shifting, Lord Dunsany.
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