You smile and nod. With a sweeping gesture befitting a sideshow illusionist, I unveil a glittering array of game pieces to choose from. There are the usual suspects: the thimble, the top hat, the baldheaded pegs and pawns; but in this game we have other options, which you are quick to note: the intricate sri yantra, the sturdy square and compass, the rosy cross, the bronze ouroboros, the filigree flower of life — endless possibilities. Your hand reaches toward a spinning purple torus, but I snatch it away at the last second.
I’m always the torus, it brings me good luck. You choose instead a simple blue triangle. Our board is designed by Fibonacci and distributed by Mandelbrot. FYI: it’s self-replicating and indestructible, so we may have to pull an all-lifer before this one’s over.
How do you play? you ask innocently.
It’s pretty straightforward. You can start anywhere. You roll, and move along the path, and certain cards are dealt from time to time, you know, stuff comes up depending on where you land — it’ll make sense when we get there. We might be doing a little spelunking. The important thing is to breathe, and quiet the vehicles. There’s less turbulence that way.
But what are the rules?
Rules are tricky to pin down, I admit. There are plenty of them, but their phraseology is relatively meaningless, until you win. Or so I’m told. There are some common strategies you pick up from other players, like the Queen’s Gambit in chess. Here there’s Evocation, and Invocation, and Alignment; those’ll get you started. Once in a while word comes down from a real master about an unfailing principle to adhere to. I forget what they are. Goodwill is your main one there, I think. It’s not really about competition, it’s about the team, you see. There’s a whole group of us playing, but we won’t be meeting the others until the game is finished, and the game isn’t finished until everyone wins.
So how do you win?
Well… you just go along the path until you come to, like… a door, and then, you know, you go through it.
And then you’ve won?
No, that takes you up to the next level, and you start all over, only it’s harder.
Okay, you say with a twinkle in your eye, so I stick to the path, sound a good evocation, and a great invocation, make an alignment, and walk through the door. I got this, let’s just play.
Overconfident is a word that comes to mind. I’m pretty sure you’re a novice, so I let you go first. You throw a 13, 21, 34, 55 and move your triangle up 4 whorls. Beginner’s luck, hitting the Fibonacci sequence right off the bat. I roll an auspicious 22, and my purple torus spins smoothly along the spiral, keeping me in perfect equilibrium. I’m not worried, things move fast on this board. On your next throw, you land on an inverted arc and have to draw from the Deck of Longing. Your face falls when you read the card: “An attachment to a lost love means you lose your turn.” I commiserate, and chuckle inwardly (though not without compassion).
This game sucks, you say, why are we playing, anyway?
Some are looking for a bigger playground, others just want to kill Time. Many see it as a promise of continuance. For myself — I think it’s the hope of transfiguration. You don’t really have to have a reason, we’re all sort of playing by default. I guess you have a better chance if you play for ‘humanity’ or whatever, but you’re new so just try and have fun out there.
But what’s the point, what does initiation even mean?
I’ll give you the standard definition: it’s an expansion of consciousness — but it’s not just that, is it?I mean, a few seconds ago, you weren’t conscious of me, but now you are. That’s an expansion of consciousness, do you feel initiated? You’re welcome; I’m a giver. Look, if I were fully aware of the meaning implied, I wouldn’t still be playing this silly game, would I? I’m waiting for the hypercolor to kick in, same as you; I’m still wondering where I can get those rad 4D glasses, I’m still waiting for the flood of Light and the Music of the Spheres.
Of course, I have some idea what it’s all about. My mind understands, I think. It’s more than becoming aware of something new. It is more than impression, more than epiphany, more than contact or connection with Spirit. It is something we are told we are working toward, yet it is also something which happens to us. Sometimes it happens gradually, over the course of several lifetimes — if you’re busy making babies you might not even notice. The word on the street is, after you’ve won a couple times, you definitely know you’re playing. You have to take a conscious part, or you get nowhere. But by then it’s obvious that there are other entities involved, sort of giving you a hand from the other side; you can’t do it alone, cooperation and assimilation are required. Does that help? Get it now? When you find that door, you step into a new sphere of awareness, a new identity, a more comprehensive egoic bubble. The frequency of the lesser, in its entirety, is contained within the greater. It is not eliminated, but integrated. The dance between Persona and Soul does not end with the eradication of the Persona, but with the abandonment of it. I, the observer, the thinker, take up residence in a grander house; one with more windows, a better view, and instead of a dusty attic there is a spire. From there the dance begins anew, only this time one is fully aware that the intention is to abandon this house as well.
You look dumbfounded, so let’s get back to the game. I cash in some Karma Points (which I got from letting you go first, natch) and slip past you while you’re pining for your lost love. Then you roll again, this time 1.618033988, the Golden Ratio (I can’t believe your luck. I call blue triangle for next time). You surge ahead of me again, laughing, those twinkling eyes shining.
Suddenly the Rosy Cross zooms by with a complacent smile, dropping a Revelation card in her wake. I pick it up, hoping to piggyback on her insights, but of course it’s blank, I had forgotten they are printed with disappearing ink. You chase after her as if she’s got all the answers, saying Isn’t she glamorous? I confess it’s a bit deflating, seeing as I was the one who taught you to play. I decline despair, however, and maintain my alignment. I am rewarded a mere two arcs later, when, on the strength of successive triplicities, I am catapulted upward to the very top of the board and the luminous lotus in its center. I whip out my Get Out of Thought Free card which I had cleverly stowed up my sleeve on the previous game night. Time stops. The whole board collapses, because without time there’s no progression, no evolution, no arc at all. I’m already there, I’ve won. The lotus opens. I’m expecting to see a shimmering blue pearl, or at least a nice rose quartz, but instead I find the putrid green Pear of Doxes, (a gem of inestimable value which, as you know, was named for the ancient ethereal city of Doxes where it was discovered, and was used by Atlantean scryers who gazed unblinking into its gleaming polished surface to intuit the final days of their world). I reach for it, but the moment I touch it, I’m slammed with a tingling gnosis, which fills me like a familiar song: I am you and you are me and we are all together. It is joyously undeniable in its mathematical exactitude: I = U = 1 = ∞. All is awash with love and gratitude for your gift to All, the gift of your existence, for I – U = Ø. And this very understanding, issuing from the Pear of Doxes like a self-protective venom, this turning of the mind of All back on itself in gratitude, causes me to lose my grip on 1, because All is grateful to U, so I + U = 2 which restarts my dualistic thought engine in the blink of your sparkling eyes. The spiral board reconstitutes itself, the lotus slams shut, and I fall about 400 whorls. Might as well be back at square one.
Before I can get my bearings, the sound of the Fifth Dimension singing Up, Up, and Away signals that the game is over. Turns out some guy named Ray pulled the hat trick. He threw seven sevens in a row, united Heaven & Earth, Spirit & Matter, and Soul & Persona all at the same time. We won’t be seeing him around here anymore, though I imagine he can probably still see us. He and his whole ashram slipped into the axis of the vortex, found the door, and moved up to the next level, which is like a whole different branch of the Mandelbrot, I think. He’s One.
Me, I’m flat on my back, crushed, exhausted. There’s a heavy powdered wig on my head. I manage to get upright, and there it is, still under my feet (now in buckled shoes), that damned threshold. It follows me wherever I go. I appear to be entering a 17th Century chocolate house. The smell is intoxicating. Not sure of the country yet. I look around for you, but you’re nowhere in sight. Pity, we were just getting to know each other. At a table in the corner a patron is sitting alone, sipping hot cocoa from a prettily painted porcelain cup, looking bored, purposeless, yet… promising. I smooth out the pleats in my waistcoat, step over to the table and offer a slight bow.
“Spel met me,” I plead.