Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Emperor of Enchantment

I've been meeting again with the Emperor of Enchantment in a certain quarter of the imaginal realm, somewhere beyond the swamp of half-forgotten dreams but a far journey from the scholar-city of Anamnesis. He shows himself without ostentation, in a smoke colored burnoose like a man of the desert, sometimes riding a mighty smoke-colored horse.

I first met him in a busy open air market alive with flashing colors and the rich aromas of cardomam, coffee and jasmine. I was drawn at first, naturally, to the alley of the old book dealers. The billowing white canopies above their stalls recalled my boyhood sessions reading under the sheets with a flashlight after my mother had issued firm instructions to go to sleep. I thought I might find a rare volume that has long eluded me, a chronicle from an eastern kingdom, known to Marco Polo, that is said to contain the true story of the Magi. That book eluded me, but I was delighted to rediscover a companion of my youth, a tale in which the hero can only get to the object of his desire by enchanting the guardians of a magic apple orchard by making up stories.

I walked on, down the alley of the bird-sellers. The best of them had no need for cages. They displayed their birds on golden flowering bushes from which the birds had no desire to fly away until the right person appeared.

I came to a humble section of the market. The stalls seemed to be devoted to items rescued from attics and garages, broken toys and disheveled dolls. Nonetheless, I was drawn to a stand where the dealer had spread his wares on a rug on the ground. There was something familiar about a knight in armor whose horse was missing one leg. He was the old kind of lead soldier you don't find anymore, now they make toy soldiers out or pewter and plastic. A scene hovered before me like a mirage floating out of a heat haze, of a set of these knights, mounted and foot, on a tray table over a hospital bed, where a sick boy was too weak to avoid spilling them, one by one, to break on the floor.

I squatted down to inspect the lead knight more closely. Then he appeared, cloaked to the eyes in his smoke-colored garment. His eyes glowed black as coals. His presence was eerie and unsettling, but fascinating. He indicated that I should inspect all the contents of the stall very carefully. I could take any item I chose, but I should choose wisely because each item opened a different door. I studied a little pair of opera glasses wrapped in mother-of-pearl, a hand-me-down from my great-aunt the opera singer. I remembered using these glasses at a matinee when I was possibly ten years old, to get a better look at the pretty girl leading the Mickey Mouse Club songs. There were many things. A teddy bear, a strange ring, a cardboard periscope, a miniature chess set, a spaceman's gun.

I picked up the knight whose horse had a broken leg. Instantly I heard the stirring and snorting and stamping of great horses. Beyond the market, beyond a high wall I had not noticed until now, was some kind of stables. There was no gate in the wall, but as I hurried towards it, with my boyhood toy in my hand, the wall opened and a great horse with a star on its forehead trotted out to meet me.

This was the start of my adventures in the Empire of Enchantment. There is something you should know about it right now. It is easier to get in than to get out. That is why some parts of you - a Lost Girl or a Lost Boy or a Lost Traveler among the Mountains of the Moon - may be living there, gone from you for longer than you remembered until now.

[to be continued]


Unknown said...

Story time - what a treat! Feel like I just went through the wardrobe... [tbc] is a brilliant trick, oh masterful weaver of story. ;-)
This Lost Girl is glad for time to ponder, though - can't quite make up her mind - can't she be both in AND out of the Empire? Enchantment is so enchanting.

Wanda Burch said...

I have been privileged to share an invitation to the Empire of Enchantment but oh, the vibrancy, mystery and sheer beauty in today's telling and sharing is even more stunning, magical and impossible to resist. I am immersed in the sensory aroma and exquisite visual presence of the journey and find myself once again approaching the sky-bending gate of my journey where one turn of the ornate brass key in the lion-headed lock opens once familiar childhood adventures, my steed the large black stallion from my inventive dreaming, my destination, the ancient Arabian desert where the mirage of magic sifts over even the most seemingly mundane. Thank you Robert!

Robyn said...

Robert, thank you for your beautiful story. It is a spoon to me this morning, giving nourishment to imagination and stirring memories of my own. It is touching how you chose the horse with the broken leg as your doorway, as throughout history a broken leg has meant certain death to a horse. But thanks to your compassion and right sense, this one got the gift of life. And then the power of the Star!
I'm reminded of a dream I had many years ago, of finding five gold apples in the backseat of my car. Ever since then I've been seeking, and when I'm lucky--finding--their home orchard.
Your story stirred another memory too--of a magical, physical black horse with a white star on her forehead. Her name, of course, was Star. She was my partner at a healing workshop several years ago. When I was deep in the river of grief, she came to me and pressed her nose against mine, "just breathing" with me. Our breath was one, and in some miraculous way released the tears in me so they could stream on to bigger waters.

And once in a dream, I looked deep into the left eye of a white horse and the cosmos opened up. But that's another story... :-)

Barbara Butler McCoy said...

Ahh, now I see. Since I began reading your book "The Three Only Things", a week or so ago, I've been 'sensing' things about emperors, but had no idea why. Thank you! Your writings have been a tremendous resource for me. Again, Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hello Robert. So happy that you've taken up blogging. I love this story, and the idea of keys that open doors. It reminds me of a dream of my own where I and two friends, from Florida and England, each had keys of amber. We threw our hats into the air at the seashore, where the only thing that really mattered was that we did it together.

Unknown said...

A beautiful story and my heart goes out to the broken boy so full of life and unable to play.

I love this story because it heals that boy through a broken horse who becomes strong...beautiful.

I see and smell the market and love the birds in the flowering tree.

I too have been going to an enchanced place in search of myself. I had a dream that I was given a medallion to wear. The medallion was in the shape of a Celtic illuminated manuscripts beginning letter.

I found myself at a monestary where the one who gave me the medallion was living and working. He has sent me on several quests.

One quest I found a satchel with a lioness on the front. The tail of the lioness was curved up over her back and a blue 7 petaled rose floated above her. I opened the satchel and found a costume inside. As I put it on it made me laugh. At first I thought I was a chicken because of the shoes (feet) then I realized I was a bird.

I tried to fly, fell, got up again and was airborne. I flew around and around a castle and lighted in some trees. From there I could look out over a valley with a river. The sky was pink with the first light of a new day.

Robert Moss said...

Dear MamaBird, Wanda, Robyn, Barbara, Alice and Naomi -

Thank you so much for your fabulous creative feedback. Those five golden apples in the back seat of Robyn's dream car make me think of the apple orchard of Merlin, said in legend to travel with him wherever he goes. I love the amber keys, and can picture stepping out into that pink light of a beautiful new days.

The experiences all of you evoke reminds us that dreaming is indeed a factory of stories, producing entirely rich and original stories, and also fresh versions of the neverending stories, worth telling and retelling, generation to generation.

I'm sure everyone will understand that I'm not going to attempt to respond to every comment, even in this fashion. But you can bet I'll read all of them, and your presence here is greatly appreciated.