A story, if you will, one of my favourites:
The Prince And The Magician
Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, and he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father’s domains, and no sign of God, the prince believed his father.
But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace and came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.
"Are those real islands?" asked the young prince.
"Of course they are real islands," said the man in evening dress.
"And those strange and troubling creatures?"
"They are all genuine and authentic princesses."
"Then God must also exist!" cried the young prince.
"I am God," replied the man in evening dress, with a bow.
The young prince returned home as quickly as he could.
"So, you are back," said his father, the king.
"I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God," said the prince reproachfully.
The king was unmoved.
"Neither real islands, real princesses nor a real God exist."
"I saw them!"
"Tell me how God was dressed."
"God was in full evening dress."
"Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?"
The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled.
"That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived."
At this, the prince returned to the next land and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.
"My father, the king, has told me who you are," said the prince indignantly. "You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician."
The man on the shore smiled.
"It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father’s kingdom, there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father’s spell, so you cannot see them."
The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eye.
"Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?"
The king smiled and rolled back his sleeves.
"Yes, my son, I’m only a magician."
"Then the man on the other shore was God."
"The man on the other shore was another magician."
"I must know the truth, the truth beyond magic."
"There is no truth beyond magic," said the king.
The prince was full of sadness. He said "I will kill myself."
The king by magic caused Death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.
"Very well," he said, "I can bear it".
"You see, my son," said the king, "you, too, now begin to be a magician."
– John Fowles, The Magus
It’s been a rough couple of days, and as always, I’ve got the scars to prove it.
I fled to Kommetjie on Saturday morning, I needed time to think things through, and I stayed over at my aunt’s place.
She did a tarot reading for me before I left, not a full one, she just asked me to draw a card.
Thing about her is she’s the real deal. We don’t believe in magic because it’s a childish, vague concept. We kill it at every turn and rely on our rational, logical faculties to see us through life, conveniently forgetting that those logical, rational faculties have been shaped and structured and manufactured since the day we walked into school to make us predictable and easier to manage.
It makes no fucking sense to me. People rely on their intelligence to get them through life and wonder why they feel so trapped and impotent.
Anyway, my aunt is the real deal. She’s read up on almost every religion man ever had the crazy-stoned notion to create and has dedicated her life to the arts of meditation and developing her natural intuition to levels that are unbelievably powerful.
I drew one card from her deck = the Son Of Swords – standing triumphant in his battle regalia, his eyes fixed simultaneously on the prize before him and the sun, a symbol of his next conquest.
In his right hand he held his sword, drawn and ready for battle, but in his left, he held a dead dove by its neck and stood in a scattered mess of broken roses.
In that moment I saw her sitting on my bag, crying. I felt her holding me, the softest she’s ever held me, I heard her whispering to me and I felt myself pull away, dump the bag in the boot and drive, not looking back, not wanting to see the destruction in my wake.
A scattered mess of broken roses.