Norman Allan
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Art and Fiction

Chapter Thirty Two

Bathed and fresh Hallelujah, Christopher, Ishtar and Zakeri continued their meander through the Roaratuni jungle. Shortly they came to an open meadow. Middle distance on this swathe stood a thatched cottage. Though at first it appeared to be a stone construction, closer inspection revealed it to be a tanding of the tree itself. In front of the cottage there was a pool. A stream tumbled into the pond with musical burbling. Between the pond and the house, on the lawn, ducklings waddled and kittens scrambled. In the pool a woman bathed. Butterflies sparkled around her while she sang and rinsed her hair. Hallelu sang out hello, and a form like Aphrodite rose from the water. Water dripping from her hair played diamonds on her ebony skin. She carilloned a greeting to Hal and Chris and Ishtar. Mooed hello to Zak. In the light of the butterfly dust that sparkled in her song, the travellers gathered that the woman was Hallelu’s mother, Shekinah, and that she had been expecting them.

Communication in Roaratuni is a fulsome thing. One spoken word, the world over, carries many nuances. In Tuni each tone mediates a myriad senses, essences, and each overtone shines lucid in the God's wing's matrix (of light). Any dialogue I might attempt to represent here will be gubbage in comparison - like, "Come," trilled Shekinah. "Let us goto the Node," and they set off again.

Along the way the out-worlders and Joju respectively talked and sang. Chris asked, for instance, "Why d'you Joju hide yourselves away?" and Shekinah retoned, "To be free."

"But if the secret of Roaratuni and Wheretsat is so jealously guarded," Chris inquired, "how has the music disseminated?"

"Airs roam," riffed Shek.

"Then how have the Joju managed to keep secret for so long?"

"The mysts of Tuni," She sang. (footnote)

The party now walked on the ground through the web of the boa-tree. Shekinah pointed to a small root/branch at her feet which emerged from the soil and inclined into the air. "We must follow the bough," She sang, mounting it, balancing, and walking gracefully along this "wire". Zak, even with Ishtar on his back, had no trouble following, but Chris, to begin with, stumbled. Gradually, however, other branches joined and plaited widening the route until it became a broad latticed roadway. And slowly but steadily this roadway climbed till they were high in the topmost reaches of the tree and eventually emerged out from the jungle ceiling. Before them was a rock face leaping towards the sky. The viaduct, the branch that they followed was soon engorged within these hills. Still it climbed snaking through a tight canyon till quite suddenly they emerged high above a vast space. The hills to either side to either side of them formed a chain that ringed a lake of deep crystal waters. Away across the water, at the centre of the crater lake was an island. The great arm of the boa-tree they trod bridged the waters snaking through the air to the island. "This must be the Node." thought Chris.

Chris looked down on the waters of the lake, and fell into a reverie. Concentric waves: a ring of rings. Some of the rings were moving inwards, while others, like conventional ripples, were expanding, and others again stood still: all perfectly concentric. Every now and then two wave travelling in and out would meet and leap white horse into the air.

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Chris and his friends followed the Wherzat along the bough, high above the waters, for maybe fifteen minutes. They had crossed about halfway to the centre, to the island, when they reached a point on the limb-bough where it fell away too steeply for them to follow.

"I think I will swim," said Ishtar as she slid from the yak's back and from the boa-bridge to fall towards the lake so far below that only after a breath-held spell did she enter the water. No more splash than a pebble.

"I don't know if I can swim that far," said Chris. "And I’m not sure that Zak can handle the drop."

"Have faith," sang Shekeena. "We will gate with the flow."

The boa-bridge was moving, alive, undulating. The slope before them was gradually rising, while the place where they stood was slowly falling, so that soon that portion of the bridge levelled. Shekinah, extending her arm out towards the island in front of them, sang of the centre of the world: of "its conception point".

The central island was fifty yards across. It rose from the water in a low dome. The boa-bridge curved down to meet the land and branched to filigree the ground. This nexus of branch and root coalesced at the centre of the island springing into the air again as an edifice, rising like a Delphic temple, eleven pillars spaced in a circle, which high above joined and arched into a helm-shaped dome. Branches sprung again from the dome, and from the centre of the dome, which came to a sharp point, a small sprig of foliage sprouted. And "Yes," sang Hallilujah, "this too is boo." Shekina sang how the great nodes were foci of the ley-lines that patterned the vibrations of the earth. "The song of the nodes modes the land and all that grows. So at the Node we lay down the good vibrations. Listen!"

The music that on his first trip Chris could almost hear came again now to his ear.

"The nodal points link through the leys in a global complexus, so that sitting here on the node we can tune in on the green energies of Glastonbury. Or the black node of Calcutta… To some extent we can influence these places by singing on the primary Node,"

"Is it a bit like a snowflake?" Chris thought aloud.

"?" Hal silently asked and Chris expanded. "Snow emanates as small thin hexagonal plates high in the sky and vibrates as it falls. Each additional mass added to it damps that vibration in a patterned symmetrical fashion so that further accretions of water crystallise in the echoing damped spots to mirror each change hexammetrically. Perhaps the earth has a similar mechanism, but, I guess, far more complex and subtle, more intricate than snowflakes, but less apparent. Have you seen snow?" Chris then thought to ask.

"Naturally I've seen it in the mountains," sang Hallelu.

And Shekina entoned, "Even here in the valley snow can be arranged with a little wishful thinking,". She stood straight and concentrated on her hand held out before her. A gurgling escaped her throat to be pierced by a scream, shattering and startling. From the lady's palm sprung a cold green flame. The air around her hand became lucid. The fire vanished, and slowly something began so define itself above her outstretched palm. A giant snowflake manifesting, to begin with, as a hexagonal plate a couple of centimetres across. Shekinah continued, now in a mellow fluted tone, to sing the monster snowflake into shape.

She picked up the snowflake gently with her free hand, and "Here", she toned as she placed it on Hallelujah's brow.

Then she clapped her hands together to break them into another movement. "Let us come to the point, to the Node."

The tree bridge merged with the island halfway between the temple and the shore. The temple stood on a pedestal of seven shallow latticed steps. These were worked in images: butterflies and caterpillars and copulating couples for the most part.

"We sing to shape the tree," sang Shek. "The steps are idle hours."

Chris, Zak, Shena and Hallelu mounted the seven stepped plinth and stood between two of the eleven columns as if within a doorway. The air within the temple was thick with butterflies and their light. Psychospludge and other flighted things winged through too. The ground held a variety of beasts. Several species of frog, for example, and giant crocuses, and other exotic plants. Ishtar among them. Beasts and leaves and flowers were all indefinably part of the music.

Patterned through the space Joju folk moved and danced. All Joju movement is dance, as speech is song.

There were six Joju moving, dancing, weaving through the throng. AIso several people sitting. A circle (of seven) humans ringed the centre of the temple. In the very centre stood a stone urn with flames licking up out from it: pulsing. "It is the earth's fire," sang Shekinah softly. "From the earth’s heart."

The seven sitting figures ringed the fire. Some played strings or flute. Some drummed. All, including the dancers, sang. All except one, whom Chris could perceive to be the centre of the ring, its stone, as it were, sitting motionless and silent. "This is Mjo," whispered Hallelu.

Mjo was an old man with long white hair and beard. He didn' t seem to be sitting quite on the ground. He sat with his eyes tight closed, though Chris supposed that he watched everything, not only in the temple, but beyond. He sat like the most divine of Buddhas. A thin black Buddha, and on his left shoulder sat a salamander.

From the circle of musicians, centred on this silent man, rose music, totally embracing. Here was the source of the almost song that haunted every corner of Roaratuni, that had silently haunted the corridors of all Chris Pasha's dreams.

Standing between the pillars of the temple node Chris tried to fit the music into familiar categories. Were there harps and sitars? Did he hear human voice or saxophone? At one instant Chris thought he caught the echo of a Parker scat, but the next bar a Bach fantasia wormed through his associations only to be trampled under a driving Chuck Berry riff, an evening raga, and Turkistani nose-harp rendition of Suite for Judy Blue Eyes. Chris could only struggle a short while before he was full to over-flowing, dizzy, and had to abandon his categorical listing and listening let the music wash over and through him.

Shekhinah, Chris, and Ishtar went over to the circle of musicians to join them. Hal and Zakeri danced. (How did the mermaid move? Did she wriggle? Or did Chris carry her? I forget.)

"Welcome," sang the aura of the temple.

"Hi," said Chris. Ishtar clicked twice. (And Zak grunted.)

"Well Come. How do you do?" the spirit of the temple enquired.

Chris looked round. Ishtar wasn’t going to answer for him. Chris felt awed, and stuttered, "Aughummm I er..." The butterfly lights interpreted this thus: "I've come in search of the source."

This particular idea, the thought "source", is sung "ain". As with the HolyOM - "aum" - in whose pronunciation the initial "a" and the terminal "m" are silent, so in "ain" only the "i" is voiced.

"I.AM.AIN." retoned the moment in the temple. "I am I, Ain Soph, the endless, the source. At least the local source." And Chris, momentarily overwhelmed, was swept into an endless presence. Luckily, his experience in Murmur had somewhat prepared him. He blinked. "Shit," he said. "I was one with the Godhead. Yes," he thought, "God is alive, and well, and living in Roaratuni."

Thus encouraged, Chris began to sing of his times and troubles: of two butterflies and the Moroccan Nirvanaleaf crop failure; of the passing (and re-arrival) of the Berber and the flute knife; of the Gypsy's and other balls; and of the Messiah theme even, and a.. and everything that you've read here, and more (only excluding the shaggy. Chris did not then know much about the shaggy). He sung his whole soul there at the Node. Finishing his story he found himself taking the Inca flute-knife and placing it on the lip of the fiery urn in the centre of the temple. The flames lapped the blade, licked its stops: the flames from the earth's core.

Concerning the flute knife (now balancing on the edge of the fire urn): when the fire bird of the Andes attained perfection it became both single and immortal, holding in its beak and breath the full resonance and power of the sun. Being perfect, it sought no mate. It was complete, and singular. Every thousand years, however, it would re-emanate its material frame, renew its body. Returning to the high Node on the mountains at the edge of the world it would build a nest matrix of golden wires, and, centred in this nest-devise on the Andean node, it would call forth the power of the sun to consume its body of a thousand years in a new conceptual fire. Renewed, the Phoenix sprung again from the ashes. (And a salamander. The salamander is the pair to the Phoenix: its dark earth side.)

The Inca prince, Phoenoxious, debated with the Phoenix on the nature of one and two (the single and the manyfold), and substituted, by slight, a base gilt lead devise for its golden nest. Thus he contrived that when the Phoenix called down the sun and entered bliss, he, Phoenoxious, was able to seize the bird and tear its head from its body. (The salamander dashed from the ashes, dazed.)

Phoenoxious, and his successors, put the bill to evil use - blood sacrifice and power - but power brings no release. Karma rules and the Incas stewed still till a short sharp push from the Conquistadors brought the powdery edifice of their ossified socio-religious system to grit. The flute-knife, notwithstanding that it vanished into myth, lost none of its intrinsic powers. But being tainted by its bloody usage, it sang angry cadences.

Two hundred and twenty years ago the salamander had finally made its way to Roaratuni. Arriving at the Node it mounted Mjo’s shoulder and whispered in his ear. The knife needs fetching. The knife needs purifying in the earth's core's fire. But Mjo decided, after much meditation, that it was not a job for the Joju. By their five thousand years of isolation they had forfeited the right to play such a central role in human destiny. So they waited.

When Isador and Elenor met Chris and followed him, and left him, they laid on him the mission - the task of bringing the knife from the edge to the centre.

Meanwhile, in Roaratuni, Sokittoommee, one of the Joju sitting in the circle of singers, rose and danced to the central urn. Sokittoommee, god-like, brown, and Wertzat, took the knife form its lip and returned it to Chris Pasha. "Let us go and concentrate in a smaller space," he sang to Sheena, Hal, Ishtar and Zak.

Chris held the knife and looked at it. The knife looked the same! No change, no sign… and yet, Chris knew, it was cleansed.

The Node illustrated by Norman Allan
Shekina illustrated by Teresa Allan
Shekina and Hal by Teresa Allan

Chapter Thirty Three