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The Gift of Magic
S: “Do you not hear something?”
I: “I’m not aware of anything, what should I hear?”
S: ‘~ringing.”
I: ‘~ringing? What? I hear nothing.”
S: “Listen harder.”
I: “Perhaps something in the left ear. What could it mean?”
S: “Misfortune.”
I: “I accept what you say I want to have fortune and misfortune.”
S: “Well, then, raise your hands and receive what comes to you.”
I: “What is it? A rod? A black serpent? A black rod, formed like a serpent-with two pearls as eyes-a gold bangle around its neck. Is it not like a magical rod?”
S: “It is a magical rod.”
I: “What should I do with magic? Is the magical rod a misfortune? Is magic a misfortune?”
S: “Yes, for those who possess it.”
I: “That sounds like the sayings of old-how strange you are, my soul! What should I do with magic?”
S: “Magic will do a lot for you.”
I: “I’m afraid that you’re stirring up my desire and misunderstanding. You know that man never stops craving the black art and things that cost no effort.”
S: “Magic is not easy, and it demands sacrifice.”
I: “Does it demand the sacrifice of love? Of humanity? If it does, take the rod back.”
S: “Don’t be rash. Magic doesn’t demand that sacrifice. It demands another sacrifice.”
I: “What sacrifice is that?”
S: “The sacrifice that magic demands is solace.”
I: “Solace? Do I understand correctly? Understanding you is unspeakably difficult. Tell me, what does this mean?”
S: “Solace is to be sacrificed.”
I: “What do you mean? Should the solace that I give or the solace that I receive be sacrificed?”
S: “Both.”
I: “I’m confused. This is too dark.”
S: “You must sacrifice solace for the sake of the black rod, the solace you give and the solace you receive.”
I: Are you saying that I shouldn’t be allowed to receive the solace of those I love? And should give no solace to those I love? This means the loss of a piece of humanity; and what one calls severity toward oneself and others takes its place.”
S: “That is how it is.”
I: “Does the rod demand this sacrifice?”
S: “It demands this sacrifice.”
I: “Can I, am I allowed to make this sacrifice for the sake of the rod? Must I accept the rod?”
S: “Do you want to or not?”
I: “I can’t say What do I know about the black rod? Who gives it to me?”
S: “The darkness that lies before you. It is the next thing that comes to you. Will you accept it and offer it your sacrifice?”
I: It is hard to sacrifice to the dark, to the blind darkness-and what a sacrifice!”
S: “Nature-does nature offer solace? Does it accept solace?”
I: “You venture a heavy word. What solitude are you asking of me?”
S: “This is your misfortune, and-the power of the black rod.”
I: “How gloomily and full of foreboding you speak! Are you sheathing me in the armor of icy severity? Are
you clasping my heart with a bronze carapace? I’m happy with the warmth of life. Should I miss it? For the sake of magic? What is magic?”
S: “You don’t know magic. So don’t judge. What are you bristling at?”
I: “Magic! What should I do with magic? I don’t believe in it, I can’t believe in it. My heart sinks-and I’m supposed to sacrifice a greater part of my humanity to magic?
S: “I advise you, don’t struggle against this, and above all don’t act so enlightened, as if deep down you did not believe in magic.”
I: “You’re inexorable. But I can’t believe in magic, or maybe I have a completely false idea of it.”
S: “Yes, I gather that from what you’re saying. Cast aside your blind judgment and critical gesture, otherwise you’ll never understand. Do you still mean to waste years waiting?”
I: “Be patient, my science has not yet been overcome.”
S: “High time that you overcame it!”
I: “You ask a great deal, almost too much. After all-is science essential to life? Is science life? There are people who live without science. But to overcome science for the sake of magic? That’s uncanny and menacing.”
S: Are you afraid? Don’t you want to risk life? Isn’t it life that
presents you with this problem?”
I: ‘~l this leaves me so dazed and confused. Won’t you give me an enlightening word?”
S: “Oh, so it’s solace you long for? Do you want the rod or don’t you?”
I: “You tear my heart to pieces. I want to submit to life. But how difficult this is! I want the black rod because it is the first thing the darkness grants me. I don’t know what this rod means, nor what it gives-I only feel what it takes. I want to kneel down and receive this messenger of darkness. I have received the black
rod, and now I hold it, the enigmatic one, in my hand; it is cold and heavy; like iron. The pearl eyes of the serpent look at me blindly and dazzlingly. What do you want, mysterious gift? All the darkness of all former worlds crowds together in you, you hard, black piece of steel! Are you time and fate? The essence of nature,
hard and eternally inconsolable, yet the sum of all mysterious creative force? Primordial magic words seem to emanate from you, mysterious effects weave around you, and what powerful arts slumber in you? You pierce me with unbearable tension-what grimaces will you make? What terrible mystery will you create?
Will you bring bad weather, storms, cold, thunder and lightning, or will you make the fields fruitful and bless the bodies of pregnant women? What is the mark of your being? Or don’t you need that, you son of the dark womb? Do you content yourself with the hazy darkness, whose concretion and crystal you are? Where in
my soul do I shelter you? In my heart? Should my heart be your shrine, your holy of holies? So choose your place. I have accepted you. What crushing tension you bring with you! Isn’t the bow of my nerves breaking? I’ve taken in the messenger of the night.”
S: “The most powerful magic lives in it.”
I: “I feel it and yet can’t put into words the nightmarish power granted to it. I wanted to laugh, because so much alters in laughter, and resolves itself only there. But laughter dies in me. The magic of this rod is as solid as iron and as cold as death. Forgive me, my soul, I don’t want to be impatient, but it seems to me that
something has got to happen to break through this unbearable tension that came with the rod.”
S: “Wait, keep your eyes and ears open.”
1: “I’m shuddering, and I don’t know why.”
S: “Sometimes one must shudder before-the greatest.”
I: “I bow, my soul, before unknown forces- I’d like to consecrate an altar to each unknown God. I must submit. The black iron in my heart gives me secret power. It’s like defiance and like contempt for men.”
Oh dark act, violation, murder! Abyss, give birth to the unredeemed. Who is our redeemer? Who our leader? Where are the ways through black wastes? God, do not abandon us! What are you summoning, God? Raise your hand up to the darkness above you, pray, despair, wring your hands, kneel, press your forehead into the dust, cry out, but do not name Him, do not look at Him. Leave Him without name and form. What should form the formless? Name the nameless? Step onto the great way and grasp what is nearest. Do not look out, do not want, but lift up your hands. The gifts of darkness are full of riddles. The way is open to whomever can continue in spite of riddles. Submit to the riddles and the thoroughly incomprehensible. There are dizzying / bridges over the eternally deep abyss. But follow the riddles. Endure them, the terrible ones. It is still dark, and the terrible goes on growing. Lost and swallowed by the streams of procreating life, we approach the overpowering, inhuman forces that are busily creating what is to come. How much future the depths carry! Are not the threads spun down there over millennia? Protect the riddles, bear them in your heart, warm them, be pregnant with them. Thus you carry the future.
The tension of the future is unbearable in us. It must break through narrow cracks, it must force new ways. You want to cast off the burden, you want to escape the inescapable. Running away is deception and detour. Shut your eyes so that you do not see the manifold, the outwardly plural, the tearing away and the tempting.
There is only one way and that is your way; there is only one salvation and that is your salvation. Why are you looking around for help? Do you believe that help will come from outside? What is to come is created in you and from you. Hence look into yourself. Do not compare, do not measure. No other way is yours. All other
ways deceive and tempt you. You must fulfill the way that is in you. Oh, that all men and all their ways become strange to you! Thus might you find them again within yourself and recognize their ways. But what weakness! What doubt! What fear! You will not bear going your way. You always want to have at least one foot on paths not your own to avoid the great solitude! So that maternal comfort is always with you! So that someone acknowledges you, recognizes you, bestows trust in you, comforts you, encourages you. So that someone pulls you over onto their path, where you stray from yourself and where it is easier for you to set yourself aside. As if you were not yourself! Who should accomplish your deeds? Who should carry your virtues and your vices? You do not come to an end with your life, and the dead will besiege you terribly to live your unlived life. Everything must be fulfilled.
Time is of the essence, so why do you want to pile up the lived and let the unlived rot? Great is the power of the way. In it Heaven and Hell grow together, and in it the power of the Below and the power of the
Above unite. The nature of the way is magical, as are supplication and invocation; malediction and deed are magical if they occur on the great way. Magic is the working of men on men, but your magic action does not affect your neighbor; it affects you first, and only if you withstand it does an invisible effect pass from you to
your neighbor. There is more of it in the air than I ever thought.
However, it cannot be grasped. Listen:
The Above is powerful,
The Below is powerful,
Twofold power is in the One.
North, come hither,
West, snuggle up,
East, flow upward,
South, spill over.
The winds in between bind the
cross. The poles are united by the
intermediate poles in between
Steps lead from above to below.
Boiling water bubbles in
cauldrons. Red hot ash envelops
the round floor.
Night sinks blue and deep from
above, earth rises black from
A solitary is cooking up healing potions.
He makes offering to the four winds.
He greets the stars and touches the earth.
He holds something luminous in his hand.
Flowers sprout around him and the bliss of a new spring kisses all his limbs.
Birds fly around and the shy animals of the forest gaze at him.
He is far from men and yet the threads of their fate pass through his hands.
May your intercession be meant for him, so that his medicine grows ripe
and strong and brings healing to the deepest wounds.
For your sake he is solitary and waits alone between Heaven and earth, for
the earth to rise up to him and for Heaven to come down to him.
All peoples are still far off and stand behind the wall of darkness.
But I hear his words, which reach me from afar.
He has chosen a poor scribe, someone hard of hearing, who also stutters
when he writes.
I do not recognize him, the solitary. What is he saying? He says: ({I suffer
fear and distress for the sake of man.”
I dug up old runes and magical sayings for words never reach men. Words
have become shadows.
Therefore I took old magical apparatuses and prepared hot potions and mixed
in secrets and ancient powers, things that even the cleverest would not guess at.
I stewed the roots of all human thoughts and deeds.
I watched over the cauldron through many starry nights. The brew ferments forever. I need your intercession, your kneeling, your desperation and your patience. I need your ultimate and highest longing, your purest willing, your most humble subjugation.
Solitary, who are you waiting for? Whose help do you require? There is none
who can rush to your aid, since all look to you and wait for your healing art.
We are all utterly incapable and need help more than you. Grant us help
so that we can help you in return.
The solitary speaks: Will no one stand by me in this need? should I leave
my work to help you so that you can help me again? But how should I help
you, if my brew has not grown ripe and strong? It was supposed to help you.
What do you hope from me?
Come to us! Why are you standing there cooking up marvels? What can
your healing and magical potion do for us? Do you believe in healing potions?
Look at life, behold how much it needs you!
The solitary speaks: “Fools, can you not keep watch with me for an
hour, until the difficult and long lasting achieves completion and the juice
has ripened?
Just a little longer and fermentation will be complete. Why can’t you
wait? Why should your impatience destroy the highest opus?
What highest opus? We are not alive; cold and numbness have seized
us. Your opus, solitary one, will not be finished for aeons, even if it advances
day after day.
The work of salvation is endless. Why do you want to wait for the end of this work? Even if your waiting turned you into stone for endless ages, you could not endure till the end. And if your salvation came to its end, you would have to be saved from your salvation again.
The solitary speaks: What smooth tongued lamentation reaches my ears! What whining! What foolish doubters you are! Unruly children! Persevere, it will be accomplished after this night!”
We will not wait a single night longer; we have persevered long enough. Are you a God that a thousand nights are as one night to you? For us, this one night would be like a thousand nights. Abandon the work of salvation, and we will be saved. What stretch of ages are you saving us for?
The solitary speaks: What smooth tongued lamentation reaches my ears!
What whining! What foolish doubters you are! Unruly children! Persevere,
it will be accomplished after this night!”
We will not wait a single night longer; we have persevered long enough.
Are you a God that a thousand nights are as one night to you? For us, this
one night would be like a thousand nights. Abandon the work of salvation, and
we will be saved. What stretch of ages are you saving us for?
The solitary speaks: You embarrassing human swarm, you foolish
bastard of God and cattle, I’m still lacking a piece of your precious flesh for
my mixture. Am I truly your most valuable piece of meat? Is it worth my
while to come to the boil for you? One let himself be nailed to the cross for
you. One is truly enough. He blocks my way. Therefore neither will I walk
on his ways, nor make for you any healing brew or immortal blood potion,
but rather I will abandon the potion and cauldron and occult work for your
sake, since you can neither wait for nor endure the fulfillment. I throw down
your intercession, your genuflection, your invocations. You can save your
selves from both your lack of salvation and your salvation! Your worth rose
quite high enough because one died for you. Now prove your worth by
 each living for himself. My God, how difficult it is to leave a work unfinished
for the sake of men! But for the sake of men, I abstain from being a savior.
Lo! Now my potion has completed its fermentation. I did not mix a piece of
myself into the drink, but I did slice in a piece of humanity, and behold, it
clarified the murky foaming potion.
How sweet how bitter       The Form of the One                         East, spread yourself,         
It tastes                             becomes double                                South, die down.                 
The below is weak            The winds in between                       North, Rise and be gone
The above is weak            loosen the crucified.                         West, Retire to your place
The far poles are separated                                                The ash turns Grey              
by the poles in between.                               beneath the ground   
The levels are broad ways,                                                  the night covers the sky and far
patient streets.                                                                      below lies the black earth.
Night covers the sky and far
below lies the black earth.
The bubbling pot grows cold.
Day approaches, and above the clouds a distant sun.
No solitary cooks healing potions.
The four winds blow and laugh at their bounty.
And he mocks the four winds.
He has seen the stars and touched the earth.
Therefore his hand clasps something luminous
and his shadow has grown to Heaven.
The inexplicable occurs. You would very much like to forsake yourself and defect to each and every manifold possibility. You would very much like to risk every crime in order to steal for yourself the mystery of the changeful. But the road is without end. ~Carl Jung, Red Book, Pages 307-309