Saturday, May 28, 2016

Colors of the Simurgh

Overnight I was re-reading Borges' essay on the Simurgh, the mystical bird of Persian mythology. In exploring the mystery of how thirty birds become one bird, while the one bird is still thirty, he quotes these astonishing lines by his fellow-Argentine poet, Silvina Ocampo:

Era Dios ese pájaro como un enorme espejo:
los contenía a todos; no era un mero reflejo.
En sus plumas hallaron cada uno sus plumas
en los ojos, los ojos con memoias de plumas

This bird was God, like an enormous mirror
that contained them all, and not a mere reflection.
In his feathers each one found his own feathers,
in his eyes, their eyes with the memories of feathers.

My memories stirred of one of the big dreams of my life. I found myself in a house on a canal, perhaps in Amsterdam. The house belonged to a magician. I sampled the rich library. On a large table in another room, under glass, I found an elaborate machine signed by Israel Regardie, who disclosed the secret rituals and "flying rolls" of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
     Upstairs, in the master bedroom, I found a Persian rug, lying on the bed. Still rolled and tied with strings, it seemed to have been recently delivered, and still unused, at least in this house. While I contemplated the rug, a shamanic teacher with whom I had studied entered the room behind me. He was immensely excited by the rug, wanting to know when it had been delivered and when and how I planned to use it.
    I woke excited, with many questions. The first was: who is the owner of this house? Instead of speculating on this theme, I reentered the dream, with the aid of shamanic drumming, to make a full tour. I discovered what you might have guessed, had you heard my initial report. The house on the canal was my own, a place where I could explore my connections with many traditions of inner work and practical magic with which I appear to have connections across space and time. I went carefully through several volumes in the library. 
I examined the Golden Dawn machine. It was antiquated, with unnecessary Heath Robinson features, but still in fine working order.
    Then I went up the stairs to the bedroom and unrolled the Persian rug. I marveled at the beauty of the design. It was woven in colors of blue and silver. At the center was the form of a great bird I knew to be the Simurgh. When I spread out the rug, the Simurgh rose and spread its great wings. I found myself instantly on its back. We made a wild ride across space and time. I was drawn into the world and the visions of the Magi, and saw Bethlehem as they visioned it. I found myself chanting ancient names in Farsi. My mind opened to memories of the Fravarti, the Choosers, who make the choice to leave a higher world to come into this one to fight a good fight.
Leaving the Borges book aside, I went looking for images of the Simurgh. I have looked at many over the years, but I have failed to find the silver and blue image from my dreams. I have Peter Sis' beautiful illustrated and simplified version of The Conference of the Birds, the long Sufi poem by Farid ud-din Attar that is our main source on the Simurgh and the mystery of the many who are one and the one who is many. There is a lovely picture of thirty birds joined in the form of a giant bird in full flight, but not the colors from my dream. I decided to try my luck again with Auntie Google. I hit gold, or rather, silver. The mosaic in the photograph, from Bukhara, shows the Simurgh in the colors of my dream.

Note: "The Simurgh and the Eagle" by Jorge Luis Borges is one of his "Nine Dantesque Essays" reprinted in Selected Non-Fictions, edited by Eliot Weinberger (New York: Penguin, 2000). The Silvina Ocampo poem is Espacios métricos, 12. For more on own adventures in these realms, please see The Boy Who Died and Came Back chapter 38, "Flights of the Simurgh"

ImageSimurgh in a mosaic on the wall of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrassah, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

1 comment:

Carol Spicuzza said...

If only the Simurgh would come again and foster us on wisdom and peace.