Please note, this is the first seven pages of a story I'm working on. Any critique would be greatly appreciated, as it is my first try at a story longer than a couple of pages.
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“There are many events in the womb of time which will be delivered upon you. An intelligent man is observant of spirit, but a wiser man is observant of his ear, and perceives the serpent’s tongue where it is most likely to cause a vulgar thought.” - Frater Ego Esse
The sun rose over the windowsill, shining full on Astrophel’s face as the alarm woke him from his sleep. “Good morning”, he whispered, stretching the life back into his limbs. He could smell coffee rising on the air from downstairs, and climbed out of his bed. He could hear the sounds of his room-mates coming to life as he washed quickly, looked out at the cold autumn sky. “Looks like its going to be a brisk one”, he said to the walls, as he took out his clothing and prepared for the day ahead.
Situated in a large Victorian house, his apartment consisted of a bedroom, study, and bathroom. He shared the kitchen and common with four other students, each quite intelligent in their respective fields, and each getting along rather well with each other. The rental of the house was a common effort, and the tenants proved themselves to be responsible and dependable.
Astrophel took to the floor, sitting in a manner common only to those to whom meditation is practiced religiously. Coffee would have to wait, and it usually did. Kneeling on the floor with his feet tucked under his body, Frater Astrophel began to breathe deeply, counting to four as he inhaled, held his breath for four, exhaled for four, and held again in the same manner. This cyclic breath continued unceasing for thirty minutes, all the while his body controlled, his thoughts becoming less and less random, his mind trained upon the count between his breaths. He allowed no other thoughts to intrude, as he had done every morning for ten years. As he finished his meditation, the stretched again in a series commonly called the Sun Salutation, and went to breakfast.
Coffee did indeed wait, and his flat mates were kind enough to leave him toast, eggs, and a slice of bacon besides. When the meal was finished, and Astrophel removed all trace of the morning’s repast, he returned to his room.
One is often surprised at Frater Astrophel’s spartan existence. Most who have met him expected a life of eclectic affluence. Although his tastes were, in fact, more towards simple elegance, he never revealed himself to be anything more than a humble creature. Never was a word spoken of his endeavors in the mystical, and his room was never shared by more than his own small library of select manuals, his chest of magickal regalia, and a writing desk. He did not spend his money rashly, nor did he speak of his accomplishments or his effects. He chose his words most carefully, and this, when combined with his firm gaze and soft manner, created a personality that attracted the honest and banished the weak minded and foolhardy.
Astrophel was a writer, and never took credit for his own work. Not many people had ever read his books, and he never promoted them except in classified advertisements and letters to a variety of bookstores. He made a modest living, and his lifestyle required much less than he made. He shared his earnings with his mother, who lived across the country where the weather was more satisfactory to her health conditions, and he kept the remainder carefully concealed in a worn copy of the Gideon Bible. He never counted it, but knew that it was a significant amount. He was never found wanting, and indeed, was often able to afford himself simple luxuries, such as a beautiful felt overcoat and a small collection of leather bound journals, into which he wrote his revelations.
“Wednesday”, he said to himself, and glanced at his schedule, which read a coffee meeting with his friend Albus the Priest and dinner with a brief acquaintance, a young girl named Gypsy, who had taken an arbitrary sort of fondness for him.
Astrophel sat at his desk, opened his personal ledger, and began to stare at the sheet, his mind clearing and his hand resting softly upon the page. As he stared at the vellum, a beautiful handwriting began to appear upon the page, floating softly in light grey ink, forming the next lines to his manuscript:
“Visualize yourself as a young carpenter, hands toughened by a lifetime of labor, mind sharpened to a fine point, eyes that are able to discern the length, shape and angle of an object by its very appearance. You are as you think you are, and the skills of the imagined woodcarver are now yours, synchronous and wrought smoothly into your own.”
As his mind opened to allow the lines to unfold before him as a fine illumination, he traced over the hallucination, and the words in ink remained to be shared with those who might feel compelled to read them.
“These same hands, made used to honest work, also understand the meaning of gesture and symbol. As the simple carpenter realizes that his trade earns him his body’s nourishment, he also understands that the lessons learned him through mystical practice may also reveal the spiritual nourishment required to maintaining a healthy and enlightened mind.”
The letters filled the page with an ink only Astrophel might see, and these he revealed with his stylus, ink rolling smoothly onto the pages. Just as Amadeus Mozart could imagine entire scores in his head as he wrote them, so too could Astrophel imagine entire books printed on the page before him.
The words scrolled over the pages, one word at a time, as if some unseen hand wrote them upon the page. Astrophel was amazed that, upon a moment’s reflection, he was on his thirtieth page, the time passing such that it was nearly time to leave to meet the Priest. Quickly, he scanned over the pages, and upon the last page, which read:
“The hands that wrought harmonic measures within the wood might also fashion harmonic measures in the souls of mankind. There is nothing more universal in the awakened mind than the discovery that any structure in the cosmos has its parallels within other structures, and that the nature of this arrangement is a common bond within the harmonics of that family. What is known of one thing is known of another, and for the initiate who regards the hand as a figure of harmonic ratios and structure, so too will that initiate discover that all of nature contains that same structure: the measures of the body, the curve of the nautilus, the numbers of generative sequences, and the lengths between the points of a pentagram.”
The air was cold, and Astrophel kept his hands hidden in the folds of his overcoat, his boots crunching over the frost on the sidewalk overlooking the river. The house was thirty blocks from the Fauno Ebbrio Coffeehouse, but only a twenty minute walk away. He concentrated upon the scent of the air, the crisp outline of each form within sight, and the sounds of the city around him. Awareness of the moment was easily sustained for him, as he had practiced mindfulness for nearly ten years, never allowing his mind to wander, bringing it gently back to the task at hand, which was to experience the moment fully, without judgment or internal comment.
As he entered the Café, the air thick with perfumed smoke and filled with the scent of espresso and incense. The faces were familiar, the Gothic crowd of beautifics and trend-hippies, masquerading as if Halloween were a daily event. There is a singular irony in collective individuality. Albus sat in the corner, his priestly regalia melding with the monochromatic crowd, inseperate from their statement.
“Ave.” Astrophel removed his jacket, laying it against the sofa by the little coffee table in the corner. Typical new millennia style, mismatched furniture and local indie artwork upon the walls. “How are you? I haven’t seen you for weeks now. Anything new I should know about?” They shook hands over the coffee table, Frater Albus’ silver ring of his office flashing in the muted light.
“We’ll be meeting for mass again tonight, if you’d like to join us”, was the simple reply, filled with a bored discontent. This was a conversation which took place far too often between the two men, and it rarely led to Astrophel’s involvement in the Gnostic church’s exercise.
“We’ll see what presents itself in the mean-time. How is your lady?” A stunning fact of heresy to most, Albus was a married man, and loved as he lived - in the world but not of it.
"Perfection of self is the highest philosophy, one which most will never aspire to, nor admit to if they had." -Anon.