The Rite of Saturn by Lew Finzel

The Officers of the Temple

Magister Templi, Nuri Bey

Mater Coeli, wife of Nuri Bey

Brother Aquarius, faithful servant of Nuri Bey

Brother Capricornus

Brother Capricornus Emissarius.

The Leader of the Chorus, or Choragoge.

In the East is a veiled shrine, containing an altar.
To its Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, and Geburah are M. T., M. C., Bro. A., and Bro. C. respectively.
Bro C. E. is disguised as an ordinary member of the garrison.

The Rite of Saturn

The Ancient Coffer of Nuri Bey

Choragoge

Nuri Bey was a reflective and respected Albanian, who had married a wife much younger than himself.

One evening when he had returned home earlier than usual, a faithful servant came to him and said:

'Your wife, our mistress, is acting suspiciously.

'She is in her apartments with a huge chest, large enough to hold a man, which belonged to your grandmother.

'It should contain only a few ancient embroideries.

'I believe that there may now be much more in it.

'She will not allow me, your oldest retainer, to look inside.'

Nuri went to his wife's room, and found her sitting disconsolately beside the massive wooden box.

'Will you show me what is in the chest?' he asked.

'Because of the suspicions of a servant, or because you do not trust me?'

'Would it not be easier just to open it, without thinking about the undertones?' asked Nuri.

'I do not think it possible.'

'Is it locked?'

'Yes.'

'Where is the key?'

She held it up. 'Dismiss the servant and I will give it to you.'

The servant was dismissed. The woman handed over the key and herself withdrew, obviously troubled in mind.

Nuri Bey thought for a long time. Then he called four gardeners from his estate. Together they carried the chest by night unopened to a distant part of the grounds, and buried it.

The matter was never referred to again.

Part I

The Temple being in darkness, and the assistants seated,
let Brother Capricornus arise from his throne, and knock thrice with his spear-butt upon the floor.
Magister Templi in the shrine, with Mater Coeli.

Capricornus

Procul, O procul este profani!

He performs the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. He next lights the hell-broth and recites:

Even as the traitor's breath Goeth forth, he perisheth By the secret sibilant word that is spoken unto death.

Even as the profane hand Reacheth to the sacred sand, Fire consumes him that his name be forgotten in the land.

Even as the wicked eye Seeks the mysteries to spy, So the blindness of the gods takes his spirit: he shall die.

Even as the evil priest, Poisoned by the sacred feast, Changes by its seven powers to the misbegotten beast:

Even as the powers of ill, Broken by the wanded will, Shriek about the holy place, vain and vague and terrible:

Even as the lords of hell, Chained in fires before the spell, Strain upon the sightless steel, break not fetters nor compel:

So be distant, O profane! Children of the hurricane! Lest the sword of fire destroy, lest the ways of death be plain!

So depart, and so be wise, Lest your perishable eyes Look upon the formless fire, see the maiden sacrifice!

So depart, and secret flame Burn upon the stone of shame, That the holy ones may hear music of the sleepless Name!

Holy, holy, holy spouse Of the sun-engirdled house, With the secret symbol burning on thy multiscient brows! ....

Even as the traitor's breath Goeth forth, he perisheth By the secret sibilant word that is spoken unto death.

Capricornus

Brethren, let us awaken the Master of the Temple.

The Leader of the Chorus beats the tom-tom,
and the other brethren clap and stamp their feet.
No result.

Capricornus

Silence — it is in vain! Brethren, let us invoke the assistance of the Mother of Heaven!

He goes to veil and reaches through with his hands.

Mater Coeli

Passes through Throne of Magister Templi and enters the Temple.

Children, what is your will with me?

Capricornus

Mother of Heaven, we beseech thee to awaken the Master.

Mater Coeli

What is the hour?

Capricornus

Mother of Heaven, it lacks a quarter of midnight.

Mater Coeli

Be it unto your desire!

[Song: Deep Red Bells (Neko Case)]
Mater Coeli brings Magister Templi from the tomb.

Magister Templi

Mother of Heaven, beloved of the Stars, wherefore hast thou awakened the Poison of Eld, the Dweller in Eternity?

Mater Coeli

Shabbathai.

Magister Templi

Comes down to hell-broth and recites "Paradise of Song".

Ahangar was a mighty swordsmith who lived in one of Afghanistan's remote eastern valleys. In time of peace he made steel ploughs, shoed horses and, above all, he sang.

The songs of Ahangar, who is known by different names in various parts of Central Asia, were eagerly listened to by the people of the valleys. They came from the forests of giant wanut-trees, from the snowcapped Hindu-Kush, from Qataghan and Badakhshan, from Khanabad and Kunar, from Herat and Paghman, to hear his songs.

Above all, the people came to hear the song of all songs, which was Ahangar's Song of the Valley of Paradise.

This song had a haunting quality, and a strange lilt, and most of all it had a story which was so strange that people felt they knew the remote Valley of Paradise of which the smith sang. Often they asked him to sing it when he was not in the mood to do so, and he would refuse. Sometimes people asked him whether the Valley was truly real, and Ahangar could only say:

'The Valley of the Song is as real as real can be.'

'But how do you know?' the people would ask. 'Have you ever been there?'

'Not in any ordinary way,' said Ahangar.

Aisha, a local maiden whom he loved, doubted whether there was such a place. So, too, did Hasan, a braggart and fearsome swordsman who swore to marry Aisha, and who lost no opportunity of laughing at the smith.

One day, when the villagers were sitting around silently after Ahangar had been telling his tale to them, Hasan spoke:

'If you believe that this valley is so real, and that it is, as you say, in those mountains of Sangan yonder, where the blue haze rises, why do you not try to find it?'

'It would not be right, I know that,' said Ahangar.

'You know what it is convenient to know, and do not know what you do not want to know!' shouted Hasan. 'Now, my friend, I propose a test. You love Aisha, but she does not trust you. She has no faith in this absurd Valley of yours. You could never marry her, because when there is no confidence between man and wife, they are not happy and all manner of evils result.'

'Do you expect me to go to the valley, then?' asked Ahangar.

'Yes,' said Hasan and all the audience together.

'If I go and return safely, will Aisha consent to marry me?' asked Ahangar.

'Yes,' murmured Aisha.

So Ahangar, collecting some dried mulberries and a scrap of bread, set off for the distant mountains.

He climbed and climbed, until he came to a wall which encircled the entire range. When he had ascended its sheer sides, there was another wall, even more precipitous than the first. After that there was a third, then a fourth, and finally a fifth wall.

Descending on the other side, Ahangar found that he was in a valley, strikingly similar to his own.

People came out to welcome him, and as he saw them, Ahangar realised that something very strange was happening.

Months later, Ahanger the Smith, walking like an old man, limped into his native village, and made for his humble hut. As word of his return spread throughout the countryside, people gathered in front of his home to hear what his adventures had been.

Hasan the swordsman spoke for them all, and called Ahangar to his window.

There was a gasp as everyone saw how old he had become.

'Well, Master Ahangar, and did you reach the Valley of Paradise?

'I did.'

'And what was it like?'

Ahangar, fumbling for his words, looked at the assembled people with a weariness and hopelessness that he had never felt before. He said:

'I climbed and I climbed and I climbed. When it seemed as though there could be no human habitation in such a desolate place, and after many trials and disappointments, I came upon a valley. This valley was exactly like the one in which we live. And then I saw the people. Those people are not only like us people: they are the same people. For every Hasan, every Aisha, every Ahangar, every anybody whom we have here, there is another one, exactly the same in that valley.

'These are likenesses and reflections to us, when we see such things. But it is we who are the likeness and reflection of them — we who are here, we are their twins...'

Everyone thought that Ahangar had gone mad through his privations, and Aisha married Hasan the swordsman. Ahangar rapidly grew old and died. And all the people, every one who had heard this story from the lips of Ahangar, first lost heart in their lives, then grew old and died, for they felt that something was going to happen over which they had no control and from which they had no hope, and so they lost interest in life itself.

It is only once in a thousand years that this secret is seen by man. When he sees it, he is changed. When he tells its bare facts to others, they wither and die out.

People think that such an event is a catastrophe, and so they must not know about it, for they cannot understand (such is the nature of their ordinary life) that they have more selves than one, more hopes than one, more chances than one — up there, in the Paradise of the Song of Ahangar the mighty smith.

A pause.

Part II

The Temple in Darkness

Magister Templi

[1.] Brother Aquarius, what is the time?

Aquarius

Midnight.

Magister Templi

[1.] Brother Capricornus, what is the place?

Capricornus

The Fortress that is upon the Frontier of the Abyss.

Magister Templi

[1.] Brothers Aquarius and Capricornus, is the Beloved with us?

Aquarius and Capricornus

The Mother of Heaven is enthroned.

Magister Templi

Mother of Heaven, let us lament together!

[Song; Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen)]
M.T. and M.C. dance
Food is served.

Magister Templi

[1.] Brother Aquarius, to what end are we assembled?

Aquarius

Rises and whispers in his ear

Shabbathai.

ALL aloud

Shabbathai.

Magister Templi

[1.] Are the brethren fed?

Aquarius

Upon the corpses of their children.

Magister Templi

[1.] Have they quenched their thirst?

Aquarius

Upon poppy-heads infused in blood.

Magister Templi

The raven has croaked.

Aquarius

The owl has hooted.

Capricornus

The bat has flapped its wings.

Magister Templi

[1.] Brother Aquarius, I scent danger.

Aquarius

[1.] Master, there are evil things abroad.

(To Capricornus)

Turn out the guard!

Capricornus

Brethren, stand to your arms!

All Probationers rise and follow him. He pricks all assistants with his spear, inspects doors, etc.

Capricornus

Master, every man is vigilant at his post. There is no alarm.

Magister Templi

[1.] Brother Aquarius, I scent danger.

Aquarius

[1.] Master, there is a traitor within the gates.

(To Capricornus) Inspect the garrison!

Capricornus

Brethren, purify your hearts!

He rises and looks into every eye. When he comes to Bro. Capricornus Emissarius,
he hales him forth by the hair, before the altar, and plunges his spear into him.
He completes inspection. Returns and bows to Magister Templi.

Capricornus

Master, justice has been executed upon the traitor. Only the faithful remain.

Magister Templi

So perish all traitors! Mutilate his corpse, and bring me the skull of Capricornus Emissarius.

Capricornus extinguishes light.

A pause.

Part III

Darkness

Aquarius

Comes forward and kneels to Magister Templi.

Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi

There was no crackling in the dried leaves.

Capricornus joins Aquarius kneeling.

Aquarius and Capricornus

Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi

There was no heart in the black lamb.

All Probationers join Aquarius and Capricornus kneeling.

All

Master, we beseech thee to permit the ceremony to proceed.

Magister Templi

The sacred python was found dead.

Mater Coeli

Yes, the sacred python was found dead — last winter!

Magister Templi

Let the ceremony proceed.

Everyone dances [Song: More Than This (Roxy Music)]

Magister Templi

Silence!

A pause.

Magister Templi

[1.]

Aquarius

[1.]

Magister Templi

[1.] Holy be the Lamps of Joy!

Aquarius

Holy be the Lamps of Sorrow!

Magister Templi

Let us enter the ark of Increased Knowledge!

Capricornus

Hail, thou that sittest in the City of the Pyramids!

Aquarius

Hail, thou that art encamped upon the Great Sea!

Magister Templi

Hail, brethren!

Capricornus

Master, what is Increased Knowledge?

Magister Templi

Death.

Aquarius

Master, what is the Ark thereof?

Magister Templi

The grave.

Aquarius and Capricornus

Master, how shall we enter it?

Magister Templi

Arise and follow me!

He rises and circumambulates the temple widdershins.
Capricornus plucks forth every third person and makes them follow him, continuing this process until one only is left.
To this one Magister Templi addresses the allocution, as he hales him forth.

Magister Templi

Thou also must die!

Magister Templi stops in East.

Magister Templi

Brethren! let us humbly seek for help behind the veil!

He throws veil open, showing the empty shrine.
Bro. Capricornus Emissarius must have well dissimulated himself so that he is not discovered.
Magister Templi draws veil again.
Capricornus puts out light.

Magister Templi

Alas! there is no God!

Returns to his throne. All move confusedly about wailing aloud.

Magister Templi

[1.] Silence.

All resume seats.

Behold, I declared it unto you and ye believed me not!

A pause.

Part IV

Darkness

Aquarius

In truth, master, the ceremony cannot proceed. There is no god in the shrine.

Magister Templi

Brother Aquarius, let search be made.

Aquarius

Brother Capricornus, let search be made.

Light on.

Capricornus enters veil and walks up and down. He returns.

Lights off.

Aquarius

Brother Capricornus, what do you find?

Capricornus

Master, there is nothing but a little pile of dust.

Aquarius

There is no living thing therein?

Capricornus

There is no living thing therein.

[Song: Romeo and Juliet (Dire Straits)

Magister Templi

Mother of Heaven, let us work together!

Mater Coeli

Behold thine handmaiden!

Magister Templi and Mater Coeli go together hand in hand, towards the tomb.

Bro. Capricornus is seen with a skull.
Next to him is Bro. Aquarius with a rose.

[Song: Dueling Banjos (theme from Deliverance)]

Magister Templi

He's shore got a pretty eye socket...

He takes the skull to the shrine.
Mater Coeli takes the rose and runs off with Capricornus Emissarius.
[Song: Forget Your Life (No Means No)]

Bro. Capricornus Emissarius runs out of the shrine beating a drum, dancing wildly.
The veil is opened. Magister Templi is dead, head lying in Mater Coeli's lap.
[Song: Wind and Rain]
Wine is served.

Aquarius

Brother Capricornus, what is the hour?

Capricornus

Noon.

Aquarius

Let us depart; it is accomplished.

In Oakland CA, it is
Thu, 19 Oct 2017 2:3 PM.
 

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