ARS LEGENDI - a few thoughts on the art of reading
Recently I received help to find access to the in the Inner Library. I can't share much about this work at this point. But I can share what happened afterwards. A few days later I was in deep meditation and in communion with my HGA. Without any context he suddenly said: 'Every book holds a light.' Like it does in rare moments of insights, my mind lit up like a firework when I heard his words. Let me try to explain...
The best point to start this possibly is the term of the 'armchair magician'. When most people use this term it is in a pretty derogative way. Derogative in a sense that the armchair magician doesn't seem to be 'in action' but simply sitting there, taking in information and showing very little output.
I guess it was mainly through magic I learned that observing without judgement comes as a handy skill. It is actually a skill without which very little will be achieved, both in magic and in life... So let's take a closer look at our magician, seemingly sitting passively in his armchair, reading and turning pages quietly. Let's zoom in and try to see the things actually going on in this very moment...
The first thing that comes to my mind is that I realize there is physical contact between our mage and the book in his hands. The book can feel cheap and feeble or heavy, clothed in leather with a strong, solid spine. Or a million different feelings in between. It might be cold due to the long time it spend on the dark shelves or warm from his touch already. The way the book feels might not matter to the information contained on its pages, yet it matter to our hands. In fact its their very own way to 'read' this book... Blind as they are they learn about the book by way of its surface and skin.
Consider this: When we stroke our child or lover at night how much of a difference does a bruise make on their skins? How many images and flashes of ideas come up once our fingers touch the bruise yet our eyes don't see...?
Books aren't lovers. Or are they? The word 'erotic' stems from the Greek word 'eros' which can be translated as 'desire'. When we are with our lover our senses desire to touch, to smell, to create physical contact as closely as possible... It's our senses' desire that we realize in these moments - to feel more, to smell more, to taste more, to see more. And it's only our mind that distinguishes between a lover and a book. Our senses are blind to social norms and attributed functions; they involve themselves completely each time they reach out and take something in, each time they fill themselves with the touch of a surface, a smell, a look, a taste of a fruit. Our fingers don't see wether we stroke the skin of a lover or the skin of a book.
I guess our senses go blind and numb when we think of ebooks? Between a kindle epub and a hardback, fine leather-bound edition of Scarlet Imprint our senses can see worlds divided by oceans that will always remain unknown to our logical mind... It's our subconscious that opens different doors for the information searching for entrance behind our eyes, looking for a place to rest and to connect with - depending on what our other senses say about the nature of the book we are holding in our hands.
But there is more to be observed about our magician sitting in his armchair. His fingers aren't holding dead skin, but a living one indeed. A Liber Spiritus is just one extremely powerful form of bringing texts and images to life. Each text printed is vibrant with force, some too subtle to feel, some so raw and imminent that humans decided to burn or hide them away. Each book is a living being, waiting to be released by our consciousness. And it's not one story waiting on their pages to be read but it is a thousand different stories, a new one for every single reader, for every different time its pages are picked up and opened again...
Each book holds a light.
It is this light we are setting free, we are connecting with and bringing to shine on reading its pages. If every human being is a star, then every sleeping book is a spark.
I look at my library with different eyes now. I look at the rows of books as sleeping friends. Spirits waiting on shelves to be brought to life. By my hand and their embrace, by my eyes and my breath descending on their pages for hours. Quite simply, by my desire.
What I have come to understand is that setting these lights free is a form of art in itself. It is a craft that has to be gained. Just like performing a ritual, like deep meditation, like communing with the spirits so is reading a magical book a form of art. Wether we write a poem or bring it to life again through reading, wether we create a spirit and put it to rest on pages of paper or wether we pull it out of its sleep and unite it with our mind and heart. Every touch is erotic.
One of my managers once explained to me the 80/20 rule in a slightly different way... She said whenever making a decision one should ensure to pursue new information, new perspective and context for 80% of the time and then dedicate 20% of the time only for executing the actual decision. This boss took some of the finest, most counter-intuitive decisions I ever experienced in business. She is a genuine artist and would never think of herself as one. But what a wonderful rule of thumb: 80% assimilation, 20% action. What a powerful way to ensure we don't waste our lives in action?
I am currently reading Josephine McCarthy's Magical Knowledge I. This book holds a lot of lights indeed. Some I found already, others are still waiting for me. Yet, I cannot read faster than my slow senses allow... Because if I tried to I would lose all sense of touching, of hearing and smelling and seeing. I would go numb. And I would start processing information like a machine. Without desire.
Yesterday night, after I had finished this post I continued my research on the Crooked Path from the little literature I own about it. I ended up lying on the couch deep at night and reading - just like the armchair magician observed above. I read in Scarlet Imprint's wonderful 'Diabolical'. Almost at the very end it contains a short essay by Mark Smith. He went out into the woods at night and performed an incredible simple yet powerful rite of self-initiation into the Sabbatic Craft... just by reading out loud Chumbley's 72 verse poem Qutub against the light of a candle and his wandering shadow in the brush-woods. --
Every book holds a light.