Immortality, a Knife & a Tree
This article is about:
A magical knife
A linden tree
Tarot & doubt
How questions offer more certainty than answers
Have you ever made, ordered or built anything with the intention that it will last beyond the span of your life?
Something you imagine will be found 100, 500 or even 1000 years from now. Something that perhaps will tell your story or be a source of delightful mystery for those to follow.
Right now I want to order a knife. Not just any knife. A magical knife.
One I imagine (or experience) as focusing my mind between the worlds. Cutting into the ether, directing mists that form spheres around me as I meditate, divine or engage in rituals with which I paint with the colors of creation. A knife that I began to imagine as an artifact to be discovered in a hidden place by future generations who then use it as a single puzzle piece to figure out the kind of life I lived.
The knife maker I found offers a variety of woods, ethically sourced. From bog oak to beech, pine to ash, all woods are available and it is up to me to choose which one will be the handle of this knife I desire.
“Questioning everything before a successful magical act weakens it, questioning it after will strengthen it.”
With everything I do, my reasoning is most affected by my imagination. As I play with practices that more often than not garner results that exceed my reasoning and knowledge of science’s view on reality, I realize that for my own escapades into magical realms I must go with what feels most poetic in my bones.
When I follow my personal poetry, things can get pretty strange for my rational mind and intensely gratifying for my innocent mind that exists free from the constraints of culture and habituation.
Knowing this, I always seek precisely that which delights my imagination to such an extent that my reasoning lets go and is willing to sit in the audience’s seat. It is then, that I can fully dedicate myself to a magical working or technique without question or doubt.
This tension between imagination and logic is my personal way of activating my ability to take a full leap of faith.
Time after time it is only when I take this leap without a shadow of doubt that things get strange enough for my rational mind to say, “Ok. Something very real is happening here. We (all my minds) must continue to explore!”
This following is what is interesting: Questioning everything before a successful magical act weakens it, questioning it after will strengthen it. A simple example comes from my work with tarot: If I question the cards before and while reading them, I forfeit being able to read the cards with an unattached mind.
Desiring any outcome messes up the whole reading!
This can be from desiring a useful, precise and practical answer or desiring the cards or the reader (often myself) to prove that reading cards somehow works.
When reading cards for someone else, wanting to give them a useful answer makes things just as messy as wanting to prove to myself that reading cards is useful. Rather than looking at what is visible to anyone who sees the cards, I make up stories based on a desire.
Reading without questioning anything and while completely unattached to any outcome gives me the most useful insights. Only when I am willing to let go of everything I desire (ex: that magic is real and that cards can give eerily precise answers) and everything I doubt (that cards are a way to escape the reality of life and it is just one big con-art) can I get to something that surprises me, makes me think and brings the stuff of my subconscious up into the realm of the conscious.
“The fun of life is definitely not in finding answers, but asking questions!”
With all of the above in mind I am deciding on the wood for my knife. I know it is a tool that makes any act of magic more real to all layers of my being and will get me into the zone of faithful play much like I experienced in childhood when there was no past, no future, no present, only creation itself.
Now that I have established the reason of wanting a knife in the first place, I will now share with you the conundrum that arises when choosing the wood. It pertains as much to the title of this article as it does to the frequent conflict between the thinking mind and the rest of my being.
My thinking mind immediately wants the most precious wood with the most magic and the most likely one to survive beyond my own existence. It wants the oldest and best, that which is more than everything else. “Bog oak! That must be the wood I want! It is the hardest and most ancient wood and if I want the best results I must go with that which is objectively the best of everything,” says my rational mind. And it does make sense.
My mind also imagines myself as a powerful mysterious being with lots of artifacts used for varying purposes and that these artifacts will someday be found in a chest that somehow survived every fallout and catastrophe that the future might bring only to be discovered by the human or alien that stumbles across what I have left behind. I think of the boy in A.I. who taught the alien species much about humans at the end of the film, merely by surviving the cataclysm that destroyed all but this one robot boy and its memories. I think of the grave of the Viking warrioress that was dug up in our time by archeologists. And I imagine myself with that same importance as I piece together a movie of myself, my own archeological findings, planned for decades before even my own death (I would hope!).
“If magic is real, and I argue it is, then it is that which touches me deeply all the way down to layers that I cannot explain with words, that will carry the most power when I wield it.”
Today I sat beneath the linden tree of my childhood, leaning against its trunk. I felt my sunburnt body relax in its shade, the sun touching the grass around me at a safe distance. I felt the history of my body in this place, a tree that was cared for by my ancestors on a plot land that has been in the family for more than half a century.
Sensations of my own childhood arise as I remember playing beneath this gentle tree with my sister while our parents watched us, poking the tiny plants that grew according to season around its base. In this moment I realized, it is not the best of everything objectively that will be the most powerful wood for my personal knife, it is the wood that carries in it the memory of my blood and bones.
Whether the knife will be an item that marks my inner desire for immortality matters not because realistically this is something I can barely control. And what would the attempt of controlling this offer me now? A satisfaction of holding a knife that many others before me had made for themselves as they were enticed just like myself by the allure of a valuable and rare wood named black bog oak? This would be purely a mental joy and void of any poetry to the rest of me that carries no physical memory of black bog oak. It is from land I have yet to visit, whereas linden holds within it the physical memory of the pure magic of my childhood.
If magic is real, and I argue it is, then it is that which touches me deeply all the way down to layers that I cannot explain with words, that will carry the most power when I wield it.
The tallest trees have the biggest roots if they are to stand strong. This linden is part of my roots, if I am to experience myself as being like a tree. Not only does it hold the memory of my childhood, it also holds the memory of my family, my ancestors and the place where the shaping and molding of my mind and body has its some of its strongest beginnings.
It holds the memory of an eternally safe place that is filled with unconditional love.
Of course now I am left with more questions than answers: Do I wait until a large enough piece of wood falls off the tree to fashion the hilt of a knife? Do I assume that all lindens know each other and allow the knife maker to find a wood? And what about a wand? Does it, too, need to be linden?
The fun of life is definitely not in finding answers, but asking questions! At least in asking questions I can feel certain as I know for a fact I am asking them. All answers carry in them inherent uncertainty, for we can never know if something that is true today will still be true tomorrow.
I think I will sit beneath the tree some more.
I smile as I finish writing and consider how sitting beneath the tree, connecting to its roots and my own roots offers me more intimate knowledge of immortality than anything I can buy.
I am touching the infinite simply by being and relaxing.
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