All right. I worked with the Thoth deck (image here
), although very little imagery from the card ended up manifesting in the pathworking itself. I did use the Tree of Life, even though I know that some others in this group may elect not to; I agree with Zephyros's contention that it's important to have a standardized Tree of Life for a group exercise like this, so I'll do all of my work with the traditional Kircher tree even though it's not usually my jam.
Below is a transcript of my pathworking. Be warned, it's quite long, and the language is a little weird. It reads as rather self-absorbed, artificial, and self-important, but I just transcribed things exactly as they happened. Part of this is probably that it's been a while since I've pathworked, so I'm a bit rusty. As we progress in this process, things will start to read more naturally, I'm sure.
At some later point, I'd like to go through and do a symbolic analysis of certain elements of the pathworking (in particular the name of the dragon; anyone have any ideas what this could mean?), but for now I'm exhausted. So I'll post the transcription, and come back to analyze at a later date.
Here goes nothing:
I sat alone in a dark room with a white candle lit before me. I spent a while meditating and emptying my thoughts until my field of vision narrowed and all I could see was the candle. Eventually—I’m not sure when—I became aware that something in my environment had changed. I looked up, and I saw that on the other side of the candle there was now a door carved out of ebony. I stood, stepped past the candle, and examined the door. It was intricately carved with the shapes of angels and with writing in languages I didn’t recognize. Its handle was made out of gold, and was cast in the shape of a lion’s head. I reached out and put my hand on it, and it said, Enter in the name of the highest.
I opened the door and walked through it, and found myself in darkness. Unsure of myself, I put my hands out before me and shuffled forward, trying to feel for any obstacles in front of me or any shift in the terrain that might trip me. Eventually, the darkness started to lift, and I saw an intersection ahead, where the darkness ended definitively and turned into a room. The room was made of marble, in the four colors of Malkut, laid out in an alternating pattern across the floor and ceiling. The room itself was small, and circular, but several passageways branched out from it into a labyrinth beyond.
A man appeared from one of the passageways to my right. He was short and balding, with cracked, yellowish skin and very sharp teeth. He wore a robe in the four colors of Malkut, and put his hand upon my arm.
Come, he said, gesturing to the passage from which he had come, I have many wonders to show you.
But I stopped short and shook my head. There was a door on the far side of the room, this time made of a somewhat lighter wood (mahogany or walnut), and I thought I was meant to go through it. The man (who called himself a priest of the temple) sneered at me.
Through that door lie the mysteries of the universe of mortal men, he said, You have discovered all these mysteries. There is nothing for you that way. Come with me and I will show you greater delights than are dreamed of by the men who walk through that door.
As he said this, his grip on my arm tightened. I looked down and saw that his hand was actually a claw, scaly and reptilian. At that point, I understood that he was not actually a priest of the temple of Malkut, but was the dragon that lived beneath the world and ate the souls of those who fell out of it. And I knew his name was Areshem.
No, I said, I will not come with you. I am a child of the spirit of the light, and my soul is not for you to devour.
Upon saying this, I ripped myself free from his grasp and started to run away, down one of the corridors to my left. But Areshem gave chase, and I found myself running through the labyrinth, past several closed doors of various colors and sizes, trying to escape from him. Eventually, I came to an open door, painted bright orange with a seven-pointed star on it, and I slipped inside. I found myself in a room with a large table, laden with tools and books. I ran to the far side of the table, but Areshem came into the room and confronted me.
You are my twin, he said, For I am also a child of the spirit of the light. Come with me, and we shall rule the darkness of the world.
He lunged towards me, but I reached out and grabbed a censer from on the table, lifted it and hit him over the head with it. His skull cracked and he crumpled to the ground. I saw that his blood was sticky and black.
I dropped the censer and backed away, but as I turned to run from the room, I saw two figures standing in the doorway. The first was a tall, beautiful man with the face of a lion, dressed in white robes. I understood that he was the true priest of the temple, and that he had been roused by the ruckus in the room. To his left stood a nude woman with dark hair and full lips, wearing a crown made of black wires on her head. She was a visitor from another temple, a temple that I did not yet have the right to see; she said nothing, but I saw judgment and fear in her eyes.
You have done murder in the holy place, the priest said. I protested that Areshem had been trying to kill me, but the priest shook his head and raised a hand to demand silence.
You have done murder in the holy place, he said again, This beast was like you, a child of the spirit of the light, and now he is no more. For while light begets light, it also must beget darkness, and now you have taken the darkness from the world. This is your sin, and for this you must atone. You must restore night to the outer reaches of the world.
How should I do this? I asked, and when I said this, the woman beside the priest smiled and whispered something in the priest’s ears.
He bowed his head and lifted a hand to me.
Come, he said, You must travel from this place. You are to see the mysteries of the universe, of the universe of men, for only then can you understand what you have done and how you can make amends. Your destiny is to become the dragon, the great destroyer that Areshem was, but in order to know destruction you must first have the power of creation. Come with me to the gates of the temple.
I wanted to protest, but I took his hand and he led me back through the labyrinth to the room where I had first met Areshem. Here, I saw the door again, and I saw clearly now that it was made of mahogany, not walnut. The priest’s companion walked up to the door and placed her hand on its surface, and it swung inward. On the other side, I saw a blinding light, and heard a noise like a choir singing.
Enter, the priest said, In the name of the mighty.
And so I bid him goodbye, nodded to the woman, and walked through the door.
Once I was through, I realized that the light I had seen was like the lightning inside the clouds of a storm. I was caught in the middle of a tempest, and pain pattered on my cheeks and plastered my clothing to my body. Wind caught at my ears, and I could hear the choir singing from a long way away, but I couldn’t make out their words.
I squinted my eyes against the raindrops and took a step forward, but my foot went into a puddle and I fell into it. The puddle was very deep, as deep as the ocean, and I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into it. I was worried that I would never find the surface again and that I would die. Something was swimming in the puddle with me, and I felt it graze against my leg. I thought that it was going to try to eat me, but then a mermaid appeared next to me. She looked much like the woman who had been with the priest of Malkut, except that her hair was much lighter and of course she had a fish’s tail instead of legs.
She took me in her arms and swam towards the surface, so fast that whatever else was in the puddle with us couldn’t catch up. When we reached the surface, I saw that the storm had ended. We were on an island in the middle of the sea, and it was a bright, sunny day. The sea was an electric blue-green color, and a single palm tree provided shelter and shade. The mermaid dropped me on the shore, then reclined on the beach with the end of her tail dipped in the water.
You have a long way to go yet, she chided, You’re not allowed to drown here.
Who are you? I asked, and she laughed.
I have many names, she said, As everyone in this place does. You have known me before as the Star, but today I am the Universe, and all my secrets are yours if you promise to love me.
She reached into the water and pulled out a conch shell, putting her lips to it and blowing. And out of the sea rose the choir I had heard earlier, a choir of mermaids singing in unison. I could understand what they were saying now; it was the song the sirens sang to Odysseus.
Do you want me to stay here with you forever? I asked the Universe. She pursed her lips and shook her head.
No, she said, Not here. You will be with me forever, for I am the bride of the dragon, but you aren’t the dragon yet and so we can’t be together. But know that in all you do, in all you pursue, you are really looking for me, for I am the creation to balance the destruction that is your inescapable nature. And only by finding me will you save yourself from the fate of your brother Areshem and prevent the destruction in your heart from turning on you.
I came and lay beside her, and put a hand to her face.
I love you, I said, and she laughed.
No you don’t, she said, Not yet. But you will. You will find me everywhere you go, and you will find me so many times that you won’t need to look for me anymore. Only then will you love me.
She sat up and pointed at the horizon.
But look, she said, The sun is setting, and it will soon be night in my kingdom. You don’t want to be here when night falls, for the choir gets very hungry and they will try to eat you if you are still here. They sing all day and they never have a chance to eat, so by night they’re famished. Leave now. I don’t want my husband to be eaten so soon.
I stood up and looked around the island.
How do I leave? I asked.
The Universe pointed out to the sea.
The same way you arrived, she said.
And so I stripped off all of my clothes and waded into the sea towards the singing choir. And as the water came up over my head, I closed my eyes and swam as deep as I could, until I hit something solid. I opened my eyes and saw that on the bottom of the sea there was a door, the same door that I had passed through in the temple of Malkut. I pressed my hand to it the way the priest’s companion had, and it swung open for me.
I swum through it and found myself in a small, dark room, painted a deep violet color. The room was illuminated by only one white candle, placed atop a wooden trunk. But as I saw the candle, I remembered the world I had come from, before I had entered the temple of Malkut, and I knew it was time for me to return. So I sat in front of the candle and meditated again, and the next time I looked up I was back in this world and the purple room was gone.