Magic and Meaning

she

I tried to read her in stories, and in the books called sacred and most secret, yet she eluded me. Sometimes I thought I caught a glimpse of her in nature, but it resolved into shadows. I was sure, I knew, that if there were shadows there was also light. So I invoked an elaborate alchemy of approach, yet no prescription sufficed, and she yielded not. In the stars I looked for her, but every map gave more questions and never the face I sought. Glimpses, shadows, glimmers, always the gray game but never the luminous face. I made an alter of finest quality—by this I found exactly and only my creation, nothing more. She held herself aloof from the ancient images; my charms held no appeal. We gathered to invoke her name, but to no avail. Every charm was dispersed, and every craft and every conjurer’s task was as nothing to her. All commands, all entreaties came to naught. To number and element she remained immune. Nothing cast or broken, nothing done or woven, no cycle, no intonation served.

What was the strange and mysterious place of her birth? At first I thought the ancients had sent her, and that the word of her coming was already known among the simple people, even mirrored in their rituals. Then I thought she had always been with me, waiting for the day when she could speak. But I learned she had spoken long ago, and many times since, and down the ages to present moment. She had come to me in luminous dreams I had not remembered. She sang and whispered, but I did not notice. I know now how distracted I was by my toys and tricks. Coming to this, I dropped them, and on a morning before the coming of dawn, I left all behind. I went then to the mountaintop, and sat in silence for a long while. There was nothing within, and seeming nothing without, and I felt and knew that nothing of the old was needed now. Life became simple. I had nothing and needed nothing, save something to give—and that would now be the object of my quest.

And when the sun rose, she came to me at last. Not as whisper but as thunder, not as glimmer but as a storm of light. Her shafts of song assailed the secret places of the soul. She sang a new alchemy that cannot be bound in a sacred book. Her presence unveiled a new history of the world all laid in geometry of fire. Her charms were constellations, her craft a sphere of glory, her magic the sunlight of a thousand worlds.

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