Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nun נ ן

Nun is the fourteenth, and it is void. It calls to you like doom.

It is the voice of the abyss, the great fish at the bottom of the sea, the sound of a gong and the cry of the trumpet. At the end of things, it awaits, as it was in the beginning.

Nun is the feminine mystique. It is the beginning of worlds and the end of sorrow. When a brazen serpent was raised in the wilderness, was Joshua her child and salvation her fruit?


Friday, April 29, 2011

In between M and N

I remember many days in the old lecture theatre, when Prof G would start her long but useful exegesis on calculus with lines such as, "In between M and N..."

Or perhaps I misremember. But there it is. Last night I spent some time watching the beginnings of the cycle turn. As the Thunderer emasculated his father Kronos, who in turn had done the same for old Ouranos, so too is the prophecy likely to come true. One of the Thunderer's psychic offspring may yet turn out to be his bane.

If I were a gambling man, I would put money down on the new Thunderers, from another pantheon altogether.

But I'm not a gambling man. I will just mark my box, and hope that the best is yet to be.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mem מ

Mem is thirteenth, and it is water; it is the sound of making.

It is a place, and a placeholder; when an action is defined, the nature of the action is framed. It is the silence in the centre, a coalescence from the void, the Lord moving over the face of the primordial deep.

Mem is elemental. It is before and after, existent and co-existent. Yet, while it is still and silent, it is also a home of power; if it makes waves, it changes all things, all at once, like the sea.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lamedh ל

And Lamedh, the goad, is twelfth; it is forceful direction.

It is the instrument of intent; it tells you the way if you will not see it. It is the arbiter of choice; if you will not choose, it will be chosen for you. It is hammer and thunderbolt, tool of God's will.

Lamedh denies magic; it collapses the wave-function of possibility. You will go, or not. You will go for something, or to something, or not at all. As the rain falls on the grass, remember this.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kaph כ

Kaph is the open hand, and it shows likeness, the act of finding commonality.

It is a palm, and also the statement that this is what another holds, and what that seems like to you. It is the sound at the back that mirrors the sound in front; it is the throat-clearing noise of God.

Kaph wields the power of bisociation, to make things unalike seem one, to close that which was opened while opening that which was concealed. It makes two that are different into two which are friends.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Yodh י

It is the tenth, and it is small. It is a hand that turns. It is the act of holding.

It is the sign of the Presence, the controlling element of the Universe that can somehow be overlooked and remain unseen. It punctuates and changes what it touches.

Yodh is magically small, but not insignificant. Yet there are those who look at its tip and see the whole, who focus on the truly insignificant. The fingertip is not the hand.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Teth ט

It is the ninth, and it is good. It is an open tomb. It means what it says.

It is a wheel, it spins a tale or drives a cycle. It tells us that God is good, and it is used to measure what is risen. It looks a lot like the tensor product, but isn't.

What teth is, is a remembrance and a sign. O look to windward, for change is coming; look about you, for the flowers are blooming and he is here, for he is risen indeed.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heth ח

It is the eighth, and it invites. It is open yet warded. It is the laughter of men.

It is an opening and a closing, fresh air and threaded myth. It separates brothers by the way they are amused, and it is the great abundance of the Highest.

The magic of heth untethers; it is a magic of release and confinement, for is it not true that they are the two sides of the same coin of man's wealth?


Friday, April 22, 2011

Zayin ז

It is the seventh, and it divides. It is a sword that burns. It is violence against violence.

It is a mystery; it can carry a crown, or remove it. What does it mean, except the sudden and quiet preparation for strife? It is the other hand of the Almighty, and it is swift.

Zayin is magic in blood, both hot and cold. Where it passes, things are changed forever, and questions are put to rest. Who is to say if the answers would have been any better?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vau ו

It is the sixth, and it joins. It is a hook and a nail. It is violence put to use.

It is a delicate reversal of time's arrow; it brings together that which was separate. It defines or frames a promise, sometimes made in the Name of the Unnameable.

Vau is a magic of fury, flying through lips and teeth. Where it passes, things are changed or made unchanging. And who is to say if this is better or worse for all?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

He ה

It is the fifth, showing the way. It is guidance and jubilation. It is expression of purpose.

It is a hand, providing direction; it is breath, and it is feminine. It is a secret marker for the Name of the Unnameable, and it is therefore blessed and blessing.

The magic of he is in the movement of air, voiceless but controlled. At the end or the beginning, it changes the qualities of what it frames. Somehow, it is a sign of life.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Daleth ד

It is the fourth, framing what must pass. It is gateway and passage. It is what gives.

It is a door and a preposition; it indicates and it beckons. It is the measurement of change, the portal that is increment and quantum, God's invitation.

Daleth is the magic of transition, the gate that forces and is forced. And as we reach out to touch the corner that it makes, who knows what comes next?


Monday, April 18, 2011

Gimel ג

It is the third, which pierces the universe. It is decision and resource. It is free will.

It is a gimlet, it is a man in motion, it is a man planted that he might move. Whatever God has given to us, it is what we do with it, and so everything waits for choice.

For with gimel is an end to magic, and its beginning. It is the ability to set free and give, or to force the gate; it is the Hanged Man in the moment of his change.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Beth ב

It is the second, civilisation in the wilderness. It is duality and establishment. It is the making of humanity.

It is always half-finished; it is the boundary marker. You may question what has come about, and what might yet happen, but not what came before God opened his mouth.

For beth's magic is that it is about what happened next, what arises, what separates. It is all about power, and the raising of it, and who knows where that leads?


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Aleph א

It is the first, fire between the firmaments. It is the sign of primacy and identity. It is the beginning of breath.

The Greeks called it the smooth, the lenient and light; it is not harsh, but is sometimes like the interminable pause before God said Let there be light and light was. And light continues to be.

For the magic of the aleph establishes cardinality, existence, and boundary conditions all at once. So it was at the beginning, and who knows to what end?


Friday, April 15, 2011


To confuse is to make two or more objects become a joint mass. If you say you are confusing everybody, it means you are taking everyone and joining them together in a lump. Or whatever you get when joining people together.

My thesis is confused. It is the granitic aggregate of many things that should never be stuck together, but which are now one mass. I suspect it may be the most thoroughly confused piece ever to grace the halls of the Southern Ocean Institute of Hired Learning.

For long-time readers of this blog, imagine all the stories and story threads here, smushed up into one overarching mythic narrative. With facts. Ho ho...


Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Week Left

OWL = 'One Week Left'. That is how I feel about my self-imposed deadline. I like owls. I just don't like the way people use them to say all kinds of things any self-respecting owl would deny.

In this case, an owl would just say, "Suck it up. Spit it out. In a little ball. Win."

I am having problems with the 'in a little ball' part. Sigh. Also, I note that you don't want to be 'full of win'. You should just win, and go on to the next target.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Re-Entry (Part II)

I've come to realise that perhaps a lot of people who might read this have no idea why it should describe a re-entry. Was there an exit that was missed somehow, like the one you miss on an expressway and notice too late that you have missed?

No, not quite. The mission launch was described in five parts: [we] [were] [good] [to] [go]. The point which apparently caused the Grand Inquisitor to foam at the mouth was this one. My last day in residence was here. All of that is ancient history, now.

Yesterday, I walked into a strangely-familiar conference room at Lady Wisdom's home. It had been the venue of an aborted launch, many years ago. I remembered being assistant mission controller for that event, and was pleased to see some also-familiar faces looking positive this time round.

I have high hopes for this old-new high frontier, though. Things are fresher, perspectives clearer. We've all learned much from previous failures, even those who won't admit to them. Perhaps the lessons I have brought home from the high frontier might be useful. When they recovered my re-entry module from the red ocean, what made me glad was the idea that the data would finally be put to good use.

There was a lot of ground to cover. I think I covered it well, but I know I could have done better. Nevertheless, we're on the way to yet another launch, with God to guide the way. I trust that as long as we remember it is all for the children, in the service of heaven and to the glory of the Highest, it will succeed.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Preparing for Re-Entry

I suppose that when I look back on the events of the last few months, I shall think most of those who fought with me and "saved the sum of things for pay." In a sense, Atlantis has become one of those states that the founding fathers would not have wanted; they followed old Nick, and his advice was that a Prince should never depend on mercenaries. But here we are, as they say.

Yet, I'm not a foreign mercenary, but a local man fighting for the integrity of a local institution. For pay. It does cause some unease that I am being paid extra to do what I once would have done for free. A man's got to make a living, but sometimes, one wishes that one had the faith to let God make the living while the man gets on with the mission.

So... preparing for re-entry. Odd ways. Clearing the decks, confessing the failings, digging out the old corpses, bringing out the dead. I have realised that somewhere deep in my heart, I thought I had retired to the afterlife of ease that I never wanted. But today, I am back in the field.

And as always, I bow to the four corners of the Earth, and the regents thereof. I give thanks to God, their master and mine. I express gratitude to my wingmen. And I perform the dutiful obeisance, heartfelt and true, to my ancestors who have taught me so much. Lastly, my love and fond appreciation go out to the Lady who sits in my tree.

Thus, prepared for re-entry, I rest on Him, and in His name I go.

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Monday, April 11, 2011


It always entertains me. Whenever someone uses the word 'wicked', I always think to myself, "One of the few things that is by definition wicked is a candle. Most wicked things provide illumination."


Sunday, April 10, 2011


This is the vigil of an archaeologist. He digs, and waits; his dig is more like the careful raking of a sand-garden beneath the rising sun.

This is the vigil of a librarian. He shelves, and waits; his shelving is more like the careful playing of a gigantic cathedral pipe-organ.

This is the vigil of an alchemist. He blends and distills; the burbling of the retorts is careful but the transcendence reeks of danger.

This is the vigil of a knight. He knows that time is short; the beast is nigh, and yet he must pass the night in silence and watchfulness.

Thus, invigilation finds her sons across the far-flung lands. If they were joined by line of light and thought, they would be a necklace of many strands thrown around the neck of Gaia. And oh, how beautiful it is.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Blue, Gold and Red

In heraldry, blue represents the heavens and the spiritual virtues; gold represents the earth and the temporal virtues; red represents sacrifice, courage, and the common blood of mankind. And so Sir Wolff, knighthood regained, looks upon the armoury of his forefathers and meditates on the shield thereof.

It is divided blue and gold, and the blue is on the shieldbearer's right, for it serves him foremost and is the source of his virtue. The gold is on the shieldbearers's left, for it serves to support him and is the product of his virtue. Across, in letters of crimson fire, is the monogram of his order — it reminds Wolff of the blood shed by the Redeemer, that binds heaven and earth as one.

In chief azure is an historical and legendary wyvern limned in gold and fire, but not the poisonous serpent with an envenomed tail of other traditions. Rather, this has the head of a lion, for courage is its first answer, and it was born from the power of the Lion Throne. It has the wings of an eagle, for excellence lifts it, and it was brought here by a mission of Eagles. It has the body of an oriental dragon, for the wisdom of the past and the wealth of the Middle Kingdom gave it form and substance.

Thoughtfully, Wolff lifts it. It is heavy, for its gravity is great; it is light, for its burden is balanced. No helm goes with it, no armour is specified for it, and it has no visible supporters — all that is supplied by the invisible realm.

Tonight, he will stand vigil. He will speak to the memories of his ancestors and the histories of those who served before. He will bow in the presence of his Creator and give thanks. And the crosspiece of the blade Perdurias, the glaive of the Dauntless, will be the focus of his thought.

Who knows the mind of God, and who will be His counsellor? Not Wolff, never. But he who lives to serve will some day be rewarded — for the best is yet to be.


Note: The fictional adventures of Sir Wolff do provide much that is of interest. You can find some of them linked here. Just ignore the one about earwax. That was an accident. And you might want to start here.

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Starting Points

Starting a new life. Note to self. Starting is important. Nothing is new. Life is good.


Starting a new note to self.

God first, chemistry second, education third. Really?

Starting a third note to self.

Is an integrated programme or a differentiated programme better?

Self: kindly stop sending me all these notes; some people have to work, you know.



Thursday, April 07, 2011

Re-Entry (Part I)

It was strange to be driving in to school. I drove up to the security post; the guard checked the vehicle registration plate, smiled, and waved me through. I made the necessary 270° turn in the middle of the fortress and found a parking lot.

School offices. Spiral staircases. Coffee and busy people.

It has been a long time since I've seen the usual cluttered mass of desks and partitions that is the modern office. The layout at the Institute tends to be less dense, and hence the clutter is spread out and neutralised.

But there always is clutter in the modern office. The paperless incarnation of human toil never quite took off. Humans need material things, for they are not virtual.

Oddly, I saw few students. I felt almost as if I were in a convent, with the young ladies hiding behind the stone walls and whitewash.

I note, in some semi-detached corner of my mind, that this staircase is not of military bent. It winds to the left and up, which favours the attacker and obstructs the defender. Castles have them the other way around, unless the defenders are left-handed, which is quite rare.

One thing I like about the place is its sense of open plazas. I'm sure that at the end of the day, the throng of students must cover the ground like pigeons at another open square far, far away. But the open lines of sight appeal to me, though I am not a claustrophobe.

I have civilised conversations about education. This is a novelty to me, almost. I have not had such conversations in school offices very often. Mostly they end with metaphorical hand-wringing about my inability to do the politically correct but ethically wrong thing.

It worries me that I am becoming domesticated. I shall try to retain a bit of the wilderness in my soul.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011


I used to dread 'composition' periods in English because they tended to render me unfit for the rest of the day. When made to write, I am a compulsive writer. I do not always have a compulsion to write, but once the impulse is formed, it compels.

The handing up of a 'compo' book to the teacher always used to make me feel as if I were giving a child away for adoption. I guess it is worse than that, in a way — you're giving away your child to have someone else stare critically and tiredly at it, and then make red marks in pen all over.

And now, I keep writing new stuff into my largest ever. My supervisor stands at the door and knocks (metaphorically). The ferryman grins mirthlessly. And soon I will have to give this one up for adoption into the literature of the time. Argh.


Note: I hereby define 'compulsition' as a compulsion to continue composing that derives from, or is initiated by, the act of starting to compose.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Bloat

Wolff has found himself back in the colours. With blade and long lance, on fully-caparisoned horse that is not a horse, he sits on a hilltop and gazes into the distance.

And there it is, as Chesterton puts it, 'like a fungus of a leprous white and grey'. It is the Bloat. Wolff remembers when a squad had one leader, and several squads a commander. The Romans had squads of ten men.

But at the Citadel these days are 265 who have been given rank, and of these, 90 have a higher rank. 90 out of 265. It is more than a third. It is as if out of every three, one is a leader.

Wolff shakes his head. He has looked at the banners of the Green Order, and for all their prayer and service, they have only one in four. It is the same elsewhere, perhaps as low as one in five or one in six. But at the Citadel, one in three.

He is reminded of the mighty Parkinson, who pointed out how the Admiralty of old swelled at the top even as the ships became smaller in size and the men became fewer in number. He too was based in Atlantis for a time and knew whereof he spake.

He remembers when the citadel was 1200 soldiers, with 80 knights, and among those, 20 of higher rank, who shared the work and tasks appointed unto all. Now it is 3000 soldiers, with 265 knights amongst which are 90 of higher rank.

How did this perversion come to be? It was all the fault of the Grand Inquisitor, Wolff decides, he who carefully scattered largesse around to secure his place, but not the Order. And hence the general incompetence, for if one needs not prowess at arms to win the prize, why should one aim for prowess?

90 in 265. Wolff laughs. The winnowing will not be a happy one.


Note: The fictional adventures of Sir Wolff do provide much that is of interest. You can find them linked here. Just ignore the one about earwax. That was an accident.

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Monday, April 04, 2011


Vincere, crescere, servare. I suppose I have nailed the blue and gold to the mast again. Ah well, there is never any getting away from the Hand or Hound of Heaven. Think Jonah, think Tarshish, think Nineveh.

And so, here I am again.


Sunday, April 03, 2011


In about 24 hours' time, I go back to the place of my ancestors, in a way. My great-grandmother served there; my late grandfather was schooled there. And I will serve for a time there. It has been a very odd journey indeed.


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Almost There

It's always a journey. And sometimes a journal. We approach the end of days.

Who cares about the terrible stories of the past?



Friday, April 01, 2011

The Cruellest

"April, she is here," announces Stearns. Wolff looks up. Indeed, April is here. It is time, and reluctantly, slowly, he draws the crystal-clear blade of the Dauntless.

"Don John's haunting, and his hounds have strayed," says Keith. Wolff sharpens his sword. It once belonged to Bishop William of ancient fame, and its name is Perdurias.

A decapitation strike, Wolff thinks. It must be that, or nothing. Who is complicit? All, especially the river-horse and the periwinkle. The magnates have agreed. It's time.

"It's time, boys, it's time," sings Stearns through the barrier. "And many a one grows witless in his acquired room in hell," replies Keith. Wolff nods slowly; it is time.

"Only on a crownless throne, a nameless," whispers Keith. "Fear in a handful of dust," hisses Stearns. It is time it is time. Trumpet that sayeth ha! Domino gloria! Donjon.

I shall break their bonds asunder. I shall break them with a rod of iron. Lean and foolish knight. Human voices waking. Echoes. Datta, dayadhvam, damyata. Cervantes, sultans.


Note: The fictional adventures of Sir Wolff do provide much that is of interest. You can find them linked here. Just ignore the one about earwax. That was an accident.

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