from 'THE JEWEL OF PARADOX:
IN THE INCH-SQUARE KINGDOM
I'm flying. My body is full of intent, but there's no movement in my
limbs. I'm gliding aloft on my motionless outstretched arms. No, I hear
an engine and realize I'm flying in a single-engine plane. The pilot in
the bucket seat in front of me fills the cabin with his burly back encased
in a crinkled black leather jacket. He turns to look out a side window
and reveals a face like an ancient demon Coal black eyes. A honed curve
of nose. Pellets of gold and dark ivory are bared in his wide grimace.
He catches my eye, grins knowingly, and nods to guide my glance below.
He banks sharply and the side-window scans the view.
"The Ancient Place," he hollers over the engine's roar and the
buffeting rush of wind. "The Inch-Square Kingdom," he grimaces
again and taps at the center of his forehead.
Some thousands of feet below is an ancient city, some in ruins, of a period
and style I don't recognize. Mayan, maybe remnants of another Angor Wot.
Rows of streets and buildings organically radiate out around a huge pentagonal
shaped temple or shrine, all in ruins.
All at once, a shift. I'm no longer looking down, but am in the center
of the Inch-Square Kingdom. I'm standing before the Temple's high, rough
hewn walls. Every inch of the salmon-colored stone is carved with the
fantastically coiled and twisted signs and symbols I recognize from the
Wizard's Omen Book. The wide gables, the tall columns, all of the facade
around me writhes with them.
I enter the Temple's high arched entranceway and go through an ample hallway.
Its time smoothed walls rise to misty distances overhead. My steps are
slow, weighty with intent. The monolithic grandeur of the hallway draws
me on, coaxing me to expand to fill its proportions.
I tingle with knowing that my feet are on the path. Rich, stone-cooled
air bubbles through me so that the top of my head feels light and open.
"I'm a pilgrim to the heart of the Inch Square Kingdom," I chant
with joyful ceremony. Two objects I see leaning against a wall intrigue
me, a circle of hammered copper and a polished wooden pole. I realize
they are the Disc of the Sun of Truth and the Earth Staff. I hold them
high, eyes closed, head back in exaltation. I cross my arms so that the
Sun Disc is at my left shoulder and the Staff of Earth Power at my right.
I bow and dedicate myself to this quest for the wish-fulfilling Jewel
of Paradox, this mystery that lies before me, within me. I make signs
with my Sacred Implements of Office, gestures of body and word as if I'd
been instructed in them. Their meanings prepare the way. And prepare me.
Attuned and readied, I'm drawn to the consummation that calls me, flushed
with joy and glory.
The way goes smoother and faster while my legs seem to barely move, as
if the very stone floor and vaulted walls sweep me along. Hall joins to
hall through wide portals. Deeper and deeper into the Temple's heart,
and I find myself say aloud what's whispered in my thoughts.
"I float through doors,
doors that rise and fade before my eyes,
revealing other doors
that rise and fade before my eyes.
Effortlessly I pass them,
effortlessly but bewildered
by my inward revelation
that I am falling."
All at once, I arrive before a huge wooden portal I know to be the last.
I set my Implements of Office aside, grasp the two huge handles and pull
the doors to me. Beyond opens into an immense space filled with a luminosity
that beckons me. I float into the numinous glare and find I'm in a cathedral
sized, five-sided central chamber.
At the center of the five sided floor stands a grotesque altar. It looks
as though a black fist of lava had spewed up through the white marble
floor and jelled midair. In the uppermost crevice of this congealed lava
rests a kind of pearl or precious stone. It is difficult to tell because
it shimmers so. Gongs and brass bells hanging from the gilded lattice
of rafters overhead play like celestial leaves in the wind. Their tinkling
murmur is background to a deep resounding invocation of many voices chanting
"Oh, Jewel of Paradox, praise be, praise be.
In you is summoned and solved
All that is or could be.
Jewel of Paradox, praise be, praise be."
Awe stunned, I stare at this sphere of flickering, molten energy, amazed
at what had only been an image, a myth. It radiates the essence of opposites.
Matter and antimatter entwined. Shining luminosity merges with ebony black
in the gem's hidden emptiness. Whirling round and through each other in
the flickering swirl to become each other's opposites They intermeld,
blend to become the vibrant shimmering Jewel.
Boundless, edgeless, all containing
in its own tight vortex.
Center and circumference interchanging.
Stillness in the heart
of mind-blurring movement.
Illumined by its aura, I recognize how ephemeral my mind's edges and boundaries
are, no more than imaginings and interpretations. Selves of mine they
had kept apart and separate are now together. The selves I love and cling
to, the selves I hate and deny. Selves of wonder. Selves of despair. Selves
of terror. The desperate seeker of holiness. The hater. All together,
So bared and naked to myself, it's evident that what I had hated in others
is the hateful, hidden me. What I had sought and disappointedly expected
from others is already me and mine. My dearest friend. My total stranger.
Beyond resolving, beyond bearing. Parts of me that had not known of each
other's existence now rage and fight, while others meld with ecstasy.
I'm tormented at my ambivalence tearing apart every thought, feeling and
action in my life.
Yes, this is what I'd dreamed of, all my parts being one. But its all
too much for my mind to grasp and contain. I'm traumatized by the Jewel,
my world blasts apart. Everything burns and roars in me, floods and volcanoes.
I whimper with anguish.
My eyes bulge and spin, tongue jutting from my mouth in my silent scream.
My face feels blue, breath choked in my throat with this annihilating
threat to my sanity.
Is this the "wholeness" I sought? What mad agony! Although the
shimmering Jewel assures me, "I am the image of your Fullness,"
for me, there's no peace in that fullness. My inner wolf and lamb still
ravage each other through every cell and fiber of my being.
Now I understand why I created protective shields of anger and numbness,
the veils between my shadow and reflection. Without those protections,
I'm totally open to my agonizing vulnerability, my fear, my hopelessness.
Now I see the purpose of the my self-fragmenting and denial, in spite
of the costs of a constant sense of loss and defeat, always feeling unseen,
a misunderstood stranger. Now I see it was to mercifully blind me to this
terrible truth about myself.
I've found what I wanted least to find.
"No,' I scream in desperation, "no, I can't survive this wholeness.
It's too much! Too much! My mind can't take it. It'll burst apart at the
In a breath I'm lifted away, rising up through the Temple's roof, soaring
up through space, the pentagonal-walled town dropping away beneath me,
wafted up away from that terrifying confrontation with myself.
I'm back up in the plane. The burly pilot straightens the banked plane,
then weirdly spins his head full round to stare at me.
"The Inch Square kingdom," he repeats, demon face in a grimace,
and nods knowingly. He taps the center of his forehead again, madness
glinting in his obsidian eyes.
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Copyright Nathaniel Schwartz 2003