Water and Music

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It is five in the morning. I stand on a beach and gather light in my yes and my mind. It is not a normal beach but rather one with a bed of small round stones. They have no color yet, but promise to gather some as the sun rises.

There is a hint of pink on the horizon but no real light. The stars remain visible above the sea. Among them is the phenomenon of the Milky Way. It rises from the sea; upward and to the right, continuing towards the heavens until it disappears. There is not a clear demarcation of its trajectory. The lower parts of the Milky Way appear as stars – – although a bit muted. As my eyes follow its path the stars join together and lose their granularity; they become a giant cloud. This cloud has upper and lower limits which define it

There is a cliff to my left. It also, like the beach stones, has little color. A minute passes and some light tends to make the cliff a brownish hue. Yes, I can now clearly see its outline. It is not a normal flat cliff but rather one whose geological lineage have given it character. There are fault lines rising from left to right; almost following the path of the Milky Way. The fault lines are irregular, no two separated by the same distance although following the same path. There are a few outcroppings that cantilever out into the night sky.

Out, sitting in the ocean, with its toes on the beach and its heals buried in the water, is a tall rock island. Its birth mother appears to be the cliff. They have the same fault lines and color. Mother and child are separated by eroded rocks that appear to remain behind as the result of the natal event.

There are beach stones that lay beneath my feet, and extend to the area between the cliff and the island. These stones seem to also have been left behind as a result of the birth of the island. However, these have been smoothed by Father Ocean who has given them a personality due to a continuum of waves of advice.

In the distance and to my right a small island appears in the muted sun. The pink on the horizon has turned to white and a thin layer of blue exists between this and the dark sky. The stars within this blue band have disappeared; yet my heart can still feel the Milky Way and my mind contemplates it.

The sea becomes silver as the sun rises farther. The islands and cliff in front of me remain dark and foreboding. I wait for the remainder of the musical and am not disappointed. The small rounded stones appear to gain in color and harmony. I wonder and this wonderment leads me to the memory of a visit I once paid to a mountain stream.

I had a lot of leisure time then. My weekly income from industry gave me time to do the things I always wanted to. One of my desires was to own my own automobile so that I could visit the countryside.

And I did.

I drove for miles and enjoyed every month of it. Some of the roads were unique. One was along an old canal bed. Another went up and down like a roller-coaster (but, of course, not as steep). My favorite mountain road was helical shaped that went around and around as well as up. I enjoyed the feeling of “Déjà Vu” each time I made a left hand turn (which was continuously).

But none of my trips would be as memorable as the one I was on at that moment. It was a two lane macadam road that followed a beautiful mountain stream. I saw an interesting dirt road to my right. A rickety bridge allowed me to cross the stream. The steep mountains closed in on each side as I followed my hood ornament.

Suddenly the mountains parted and I found myself at the edge of a large flat area. It must have been five hundred acres in size and as flat as a postage stamp. The whole plain was covered in grass. It was not normal grass; it was blue. Not the blue of oceans, nor turquoise blue, or the blue color of melancholy. It was not the blue of azure, nor sapphire, nor peacock blue nor the blue of despair. It was the blue of amethyst.

It had the same quality of an amethyst gem; translucent. I departed my car and studied the grass. When I stood up it looked like a dark hue of blue. When I lay down and looked across the top of the grass it looked like the amethyst of an apothecary jar. In either case it was a mesmerizing experience.

I removed my shoes and socks to enjoy the softness of this blue grass. I walked around the amethyst plain for quite some time before I noticed a stream along one side. I ventured down the bank and into the water. The stones on the bottom were all the same size; about the size of an egg. Yet they were rather flat and pleasant to walk on. The stones appeared to have spent quite a bit of time in a giant lapidary tumbler; they were polished.

I reached down and picked one up. It was onyx black with ivory colored large spots here and there. The spots were not clearly demarcated as on a polka-dot dress. They were more like the penumbraic spots on a brook trout.

“PUT ME DOWN” cried a voice from seemingly nowhere.
I looked around but there was no one there.
“Put me down before I die” cried out the voice again.
I scanned the blue grass but saw no one.
“Please, I beg you, put me back in the water or I will expire” came the voice for the third time.

I perceived that the voice might be coming from the stone. I carefully lowered my hand until the stone was under water. Nothing happened. No voice, no movement, no sign of life. After a minute or so I decided that I must have had a day dream in this strange place of amethyst grass and shiny stones with soft ivory spots. I lifted my hand out of the water so that I could once more inspect this strange stone.

“Thanks for putting me back under water” said the stone.
Without thinking I responded “Why sure! Sorry about not listening the first time.”
“Put me back in so I can take a breath” pleaded the stone.
I did as I was asked and then lifted the stone up again. “Are you a real stone or a turtle or a fish?” I asked.
“A stone” said the stone. “Now put me back.”

And so it went for the remainder of the next hour. I dipped the stone in and out of the water while trying to complete a conversation with it.

Finally the stone told me “Walk downstream and you will find a waterfall.”
I followed the stone’s instructions while holding him under water. When I reached the waterfall I lifted the stone up again to ask for farther instructions. The stone said “Hold me under the waterfall. That way I can get enough water to breath and enough air to talk.”
I followed instructions and soon realized why I had heard gurgling sounds at all the waterfalls I had ever visited. It was the sound of stones talking to each other. I wished that I had paid more attention to stones long before this.

“I can now complete what I wished I could have told someone years ago” said the stone. “It is a long story so feel free to ask questions; if you must.
The stone continued “This is the story of a blue grass festival and us who were once called caterwaulers.

“Eons ago in this flat amethyst plain,
Music existed whether in sun or rain,
It echoed on the mountains ag’ane and ag’ane,
While the red summer hawk was carnivorously preyin’.

People came from a’near and afar,
Some by bus, but mostly by car,
Two people brought elixir in a stone jar,
A wanna-be king and a Tennesee tzar.

So the blue-grass music played day and night,
While the clouds rolled by, dark or bright,
Eventually the moon played fiddle (out of sight),
And the night owl prowled in quiet stealthy flight.

The stream rolled by, oblivious of the noise,
Created by those grown-up country girls and boys,
With their banjos, harmonicas, and musical toys,
The audience had elixir and hookahs (their make believe joys).

Summer hawk and night owl with eyes e’spyin’,
Swooping talons exposed, in unison flyin’,
Picked up the singers and musicians (all cryin’),
Each and every one thought they were dyin’,

The winged ones deposited them in mountain stream,
And the caterwauling ebbed to a gurgling scream,
I was involved in that nightmarish dream,
For I was a caterwauler, or so it would seem.

Over the eons minerals invaded our bones,
And turned us into penumbrious stones,
Our caterwaulings are now gurgling moans,
The screeching songs melted into melodious tones.”

The stone then became quiet except for intermittent sobbing. Although I had previously intended to ask questions I avoided hearing any more of the sad story. I carefully placed the stone on the bottom of the stream and fled.

I never heard the voice of the caterwauler again.

©  2017        Copyright Waldo J. Tomosky

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The Dehkhoda S1:E5 (The Wagon Train Assembles; The Dehkhoda Speaks)

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The New World’s immigrants met for instructions,
and encountered each other – hearty introductions,
“You all – at one time – lived under a king;
how is it that we have no such thing?
some say ‘Only a kingdom can be justly run’
I say that you will be king; a king of one.
As each of you find the land that you quest.” –
The Dehkhoda proudly expanded his chest,
and continued “Tomorrow we will be on our way;
may each one of you proceed safely; I pray.”
Each of them was brave, sincere and intelligent,
Dehkhoda spoke: “Each of you have been sent;
for some special reason, mundane or divine,
existing, although daunting, a reason sublime.
Now is the time to quit; for those timid and weak.
those who remain – surely fortunes you seek.
Get some rest, for tomorrow we must haste.
there is not a single minute or hour to waste.”
The immigrants – that night – dreamed of land to claim,
And filing homesteading papers under their name
To record them in county, state or territory court,
so that no false king, could invade, steal or distort.
Back to the old ways they wished not to return –
they chose to be free, no new king’s concern!
They arose in the morning and feverishly flew –
to prepare for the quest – which they knew;
would make them land-owners and free.
they would have pride – and – dignity.
Day after day they would travel over unknown land,
through chasms, mountains, valleys, and desert sand,
when a river obstacle arose, they would go around,
until they found a ford – yielding to dry ground.
They would walk or ride and sometimes explore –
a small side trip – knowing to return – before –
a hidden danger arose, and then they were alone,
Dahkhoda said; “What lurks in chasms unknown,
so, keep alert and mindful on this long quest,
you do not want a badger or bear as a guest.
Enter the land absent of royal villainy,
never lay eyes again on vicious tyranny –
He who travels farther west will transcend,
on his own, earns his keep, and thus ascend.
Let us no longer, this glorious quest, delay,
hitch up your teams, we are on our way,
we have a goal; beyond mountain peak.
The goal lives; the sovereign self you seek,
deprivation and worry follow us, though we –
travel through this great land of majesty.
Three thousand miles of dark and light,
although we must keep our goal insight.
In this New World there is no throne,
it is what you make of it; yours alone.
Quest beyond and westward, hence,
unbelievable scenes of magnificence.
The farther westward we penetrate,
the more opportunities; this I state.
For patience and true knowledge pray,
you are sure to be tested along the way,
On reaching your goal you may wish to claim,
homestead, ranch or gold mine in your name.
In the evening sings the lonely meadow lark,
while the fox and prairie dog play till dark.
A quiet supper will be enjoyed after saying grace,
another day will approach, tomorrow to face.
And you will receive sustenance from Him,
your cupboard and coffers filled to the brim,
however, not only work that you should wish;
you cannot grow all food – therefore you fish,
enjoy nature – catch the sweet pine’s scent,
it is solitude to drink in, not a tournament.
The aspen leaves shimmer and the eagles’ cry,
while the silver clouds sweep across azure sky.
Do not select a way that appears short,
the short-cut is a mirage that will distort,
errors – out here – may break your heart.
The west is lonely, the desert deep, vultures fly,
over chasm and mountain in the stormy sky,
it is your carrion they seek – not your soul,
hoping to keep you from reaching your goal.
But do take heart; I would say,
you are a pilgrim on your way;
stiff upper lip as you pursue,
a life that will be, totally new.
It was in Persia, late one moonless night,
a thought appeared to my mortal sight,
it floated down through the darkened air,
and truth appeared to me from everywhere.
A truth – a spiritual truth – spiritually conceived,
then I abandoned all – that I had once believed,
other’s private fantasies uniquely untrue,
I saw my very own way – clearly in view.
I had second-thoughts, misgivings, fear and doubt,
understanding – that you also – should seek out.
If you do not love your neighbor, don’t put him down,
try understanding him, – whether white or dark brown,
every man has his own ways, and you should give heart,
to understand his kind – when – not your counterpart.
No words suffice; of what use are mine,
to describe his exterior or mental design?
Whoever desires to understand the ‘other’s’ way,
must get on with this quest – I have no more to say.”
The Dehkhoda finished, and the immigrant herds,
of pilgrims understood the meaning in his words,
all praised the grandeur of their distant quest;
they mounted their wagons, all heading west,
renouncing political ideals, agreeing to be a friend,
to their fellow world travelers, till journey’s end.
However, as they lived total life’s length,
they often stumbled – lost moral strength,
each and every type of pilgrim, according to his kind,
failed to understand the ‘other’ – those often maligned.

 

Next Post;    S1:E6         The German’s Justification

The Dehkhoda S1:E4 (Welcoming Additional Questers)

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And welcome, Italian — the land of paradise,
your outward exuberance will surely entice,
others to follow your happy serene way,
leaving 1848’s sorrow for another day;
Austria broke Charles Albert’s heart and made,
an enmeshed obscurity of Sardinia’s shade.
Leaving your story unsung, you will surely be,
a fellow traveler – full of suspense and mystery.
Leave the memories behind and then,
you will find a new motherland again.

Scandinavian, welcome! With your staggering height,
look down to inspect the sweet earth, bathed in light,
you will find fresh earth and a water well,
and build a homestead, settle there to dwell.
Your bones, sinew and labor will gain,
a farm and pasture; a private domain.

Dear Slovak, welcome — you will soon learn,
fear and trepidation – will never to return!
Futures’ were dark, for both you and the Pole,
laboring for others – never reaching your goal.
Others enslaved you, for their delight;
enchained you – not for malice or spite,
but to keep you working under burning sky,
with mosquitoes, damp swamps and biting fly;
Escape those monsters and become a friend,
of this new land – bounties – from end to end.

Welcome, dear Pole, — welcome to you,
with tattered clothes and worn out shoe.
Magnanimity you show, to those around,
your friendliness and loyalty – is bound –
to be taken for meekness and easy acquiesce,
by other’s arrogance and smug ungratefulness.
Never abandon self-love and you will see,
that others will wish to follow your reality.
It will become obvious — this trek will soon bring,
a new life of happiness, riches, and many offspring.

And welcome, Scotsman! You are wise and proud,
you honor the Queen, with head politely bowed –
under subjugation your pride did drown,
in keeping your neck and head bent down!
You are more than brains and flesh,
with the others your politics mesh.
Leave it behind – leave it all there,
traveling with us – no crowns to bear.
This will be your opportunity; your land,
Not to be stolen by some royal black-hand.

And proud Ukrainian, welcome! Your fire?
Is it a reflection of the Cossack desire?
Your creativeness had died in the flames,
during arrogant and cruel Ottoman claims.
You write, dance and sing what you feel,
not allowing bad times squelch your zeal;
even during poor harvests, you give,
so that others may flourish and live.
Your creative exuberance challenges reality,
but you will always be, who you wish to be.

 

Next Post;    S1:E5 The Wagon Train Assembles; The Dehkhoda Speaks

The Dehkhoda S1:E3 (Welcoming those who Quest)

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Dehkhoda, will you be our story guide?
On you, these tired settlers have relied,
to get them safely, betwixt and between
Fort Pierre Chouteau and Aberdeen.
They knew not your language, but you knew their heart,
they – each one – were confidant, that you knew your art,
of piloting wagon trains over unknown ground,
for these exploits – you were well renowned.
All immigrants were welcome, when they pray,
with those hopes that take men’s logic away;
previous dreamers kept their expectations high,
on the Bittersweet’s slopes where eagles fly.
Over the Rockies, it is gold they did seek,
or on Colorado’s distant mountain peak.
They will not understand the Native’s words
all new, to the ears of the European herds.

The Dehkhoda answers;

Welcome, German, traveling in paradise!
Your splendid language has an odd device,
a necklace of joined words, a guttural throat;
a black forest hat, and a green loden-coat.
I understand your hell; it was wise to flee,
and please leave, in the dust, your enmity.
Over the Badland’s and beyond you’ll tread,
several times on this trek, you all will dread,
travelling the Great Plains – forever -; on and on,
several times you will say “My strength has gone!”
Yet you will hang on with strength and pride,
you will rest and dream by many a river-side;
rising early the next morning, on you trod,
in front of wagon, the humble oxen plod.
On one mountain, the snow-caps appear,
that destination is several weeks from here,
a trout will feed on flies in a mountain stream,
while honey bees mingle and blue-birds teem.
Urge your beast onward, to your journey’s end.
Others, settled, will greet you, “traveling friend.”

Rare African, welcome! I am happy to see,
Are you enjoying your newfound liberty?
Freedom from slavery – your future is tied,
leaving cruelty and imprisonment aside.
Settle this great land and you’ll surely see –
liberty, self-determination, and sovereignty.
Above all else, be resolute and brave,
then rest -no longer – the abused slave,
delight in that open, undisturbed bright air
on your own – you will earn your fair share.

And welcome, Frenchman! I know you have heard,
more than one accusing, and despicable word,
however, we loved you, in revolutionary times,
during the period of British over colony crimes.
You have a horse, obviously you attend to it;
and a team of strong oxen, I must admit –
also, a beautiful dog, a trustful soul,
I hope they take you to your final goal.
You are loved in other’s hearts and eyes,
your new opportunities will surely arise.

Welcome, dear Englishman – words from your throat –
speak with officialness, ‘All should take note.’
Alas, you end the deliverance with a sigh;
as an explanation point, letting real point die.
Walking your wagon with patriotic song,
“God Save the Queen” to an immigrant throng.
Some fellow travelers stare with eyes of steel,
mirroring their father’s revolutionary zeal,
as pomp and circumstance melts, like Victoria, you –
will eventually bid the British monarchy ‘adieu.’

 

Next Post;    S1:E4   The Dehkoda Welcomes Other Questers

The Dehkhoda S1:E2 (Emendations to the Introduction)

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The foregoing, a first draft of my introduction, was approved by my editor and ready for the press, when, in Kansas City, I found – – by chance – – a copy of a Catalog of Spanish Coins. I mechanically opened it, and the first thing that struck my eyes was the following section in the table of contents:
Coins of Iberian Granada; The minting by Arabs in Al Andalus.

My heart throbbed fast, I must confess. Was I at last on the trace of my coin’s engraver or was it spirituality that I was about to see nailed to the cross? I flew to the last pages of the formidable volume, and read;

In 711 AD, a Muslim general invaded Spain with seven thousand Berber horsemen. His name was Tariq ibn-Ziyad, and, he landed near the rock that would later bear his name “Tariq’s Mountain” (Gibraltar). The Muslims conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula. The coins they struck in Spain closely imitated North African coinage: small, thick, silver pieces inscribed on their edge, in Arabic, was a Muslim message: “There is no god but God and He has no associate.”

The obverse bore a star, and the reverse inscription “this coin was made in Spain” in Latin, along with a date in Roman numerals using the Islamic calendar in which the year “1” was reconciled as 622 CE; the year when the prophet Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina with his followers. The silver is often alloyed with small amounts of copper to increase the hardness.

After a few years, the reverse inscription changed from abbreviated Latin to Arabic. Such bilingual coins are very rare; a very fine (VF) specimen in an 1806 auction sold for US $750.

It was, indeed, the same type of coin that I held.

In other words, that coin, to all appearances original, except perhaps for that engraving around the rim, was minted somewhere between 800 and 1400 AD.
This required further archival investigation; for it is necessary to engage in research of that kind to appreciate the difficulties found in defining the coin’s history. I consulted the catalogues of ancient books that came my way. I also visited the Kansas City shops of the coin dealers, the antiquaries, as they say back in England, visiting especially the two or three dealers who in Kansas City apply themselves to old silvers. These coin sellers also wrote to the major dealers in New York, Saint Louis, New Orleans, Chicago and Boston; all to no purpose. The very concept of Arabic language coins minted in Spain seemed to be unknown.

I was finally obliged to resort to the Library of Congress, and there at least I obtained an emergent gratification. I was shown two images of such coins. Unfortunately, the first image had water damage which made it useless for my search. The subject matter of the second image was engraved in Spanish, which was quite disappointing. Equally disappointing was an index that told of a third coin’s image; however, that image was missing from the Library.
Yet, I had a positive indication, and I pursued my investigations.

I might be more fortunate at The Princeton Theological Seminary Library. True however; it was not open to the public. But then, the Lay Fathers are hospitable. I therefore ventured into the Hallowed House; it was half past twelve, and dinner was nearly over. I asked for the librarian. After a few minutes, I saw coming toward me a short old man, appearing exceptionably civil, who, leading me through the common area, introduced me into another much narrower chamber, which was open to corridors on two sides. Thus, I was exposed to all eyes. This ingenious facility created a new desire — escape — anxiety had fully shown the need. I had no small trouble in explaining the object of my visit to the good lay Father, who was deaf and near sighted. He left me and went to the library, and soon returned, but empty handed. There also, in that sanctuary of knowledge – the Arabic coinage of Granada — was entirely unknown.

But one more expedient could I try; namely, go to Granada, Spain. A cruel and extremely long trip by horse, carriage and ship, it is granted, and I had little chance of getting there without expending all my monetary resources.

Therefore, the post office was my best method.

At last a letter from the city librarian of Granada put an end to my perplexity. The missing information was found. I received a list of all Arabic coins minted in Granada, during the Islamic occupation; by denomination, by year and which Caliph was in power at that time. Sufi spirituality coinage was scarcely mentioned and only on two pages, without any difference in the text between the Latin inscriptions and those in Arabic. And those two pages are not even a summary of the manuscript which I am now about to present to you; they only contained minute hints of the proposition and conclusion of the story that follows.

As for what was found in my discussions with the Persian immigrant – and the thirty spiritualists he introduced me to – endowed like ourselves with a body and soul, and capable of receiving salvation and damnation – it is necessary to record here. Thus, after so many endeavors, I had settled all the points which I intend to elucidate to you; I had discovered the meaning of Chasms, mirrors and birds. From the comparison of the dialogues between all thirty men, the Persian immigrant, and myself, I had surmised that the fragments of spirituality had nothing to do with the condemnation of theology, since they had not submitted to any political or religious organization.

What I did learn from them was that all of us, at some time or another, experience a great feeling of hope. It is an unexplainable filling of the chest which makes the experiencer feel like he or she is going to explode with happiness. This surely is not logical, for these feelings come without any prior forethought. The feeling appears out of nowhere, and, it sometimes drives people toward something that they feel is an unknown or illusory goal. I suppose you could call this a “Quest.”

The best written description of a quest was “Don Quixote;” although the Don has often been ridiculed for his rationalism. I would suggest that most quests end in being nowhere close to what the quester had intended; although, if the person who experiences the quest is spiritual, that person finds the experience merits the trip.

I have come to the conclusion, after listening to flocks of settlers heading westward, that the great majority have suffered greatly; some through ignorance, some through fate, and some through the consequence of human intersections. I must admit, a small minority of these pilgrims do find their fantasies of fame and fortune, while the great majority find happiness in the philosophy of spirituality. Those are the voices that are mirrored in the following text.

Lastly, I had become convinced that, except for a few dervishes, spirituality, without a doubt, is reality.

A happy event of their odyssey, which I hope I shall be excused for relating at length, follows. It is for the justification of those who quest – and no one else.

Oh yes, one more thing, although it is unimportant at this time; the Persian’s name was Dehkhoda; which translates to “Administrator of Understanding.”

The Dakota Explorer
August 1875.

Next Post;   S1:E3 The Dehkhoda Welcomes those who Quest

The Dehkhoda S1:E1 (An Introduction)

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© Waldo Tomosky, 2018
 
It is known — that there exist spiritual thoughts within some men – men endowed with a yearning to understand why they exist. These thoughts are born with these men; yet refuse to die with them.

Abū Ḥamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm was such a man. His yearning started in 1145 AD; yet this yearning was not allowed to die (with his body) in 1221. He has, throughout the centuries been known by three names; Farīd ud-Dīn (فرید الدین), ʿAṭṭār (عطار) and Apothecary. Attar lived in Nishapur in Persia, where he wrote about “The Conference of the Birds.”

He was not the only poet who wrote in the Sufi style; a style which invites every man to interpret the story in his own way. Most of these men lived near Nishapur, then known as “New City of Shapur”, a city in Razavi Khorasan Province, situated at the foot of the Binalud Mountains. You may — or may not — recognize the names of some of these men;

Mazdak; a Zoroastrian prophet, reformer and religious activist
Kanarang; commander of the Sassanid Empire’s northeastern most frontier province
Behafarid; an 8th-century Persian Zoroastrian heresiarch
Abu al-Abbas Iranshahri; philosopher, mathematician, historian of religion
Ibn Khuzaymah; Muslim scholar
Abu al-Hassan al-Amiri; a Muslim theologian and philosopher
Abū al-Wafā’ Būzjānī; a mathematician and astronomer
Hakim al-Nishaburi; a Sunni scholar and historian
Tha’ālibī; a Muslim philologist, writer and poet
Ahmad ibn ‘Imad al-Din; a Persian physician and alchemist
Abū-Sa’īd Abul-Khayr; a Persian Sufi and poet
Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tha’labi; an 11th-century Islamic scholar.
Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawāzin Qushayri – a Philosopher and Sufi
Omar Khayyám; a Persian, philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet.
Mu’izzi; an 11th and 12th-centuries poet
Haji Bektash Veli; a Muslim mystic

These men, who yearned to know the Beginning and the End, lived in the territory and times of Attar. Possibly, through the multiple faces of God, some of Attar remained in them after his body died. On the other hand, possibly some of these men remained in Attar (or us) after they had died.
The following account of spirituality and yearning continued in the American territory of Dakota; which accidentally and minimally, crossed over into Canada.

The Nakota Sioux lived in the Dakota Territory prior to the arrival of European settlers. They were visited by Lewis and Clark in August of 1804 on a Missouri River bluff. I was introduced to Chief Pale’ne’a’pa’pe in 1856. This will be verified by George Kingsbury in 1915 on page 115 of the tome he is currently working on. Two years after my meeting with Chief Pale’ne’a’pa’pe the signing of the Yankton Treaty (1858) opened the territory for settlement.


Fort Pierre Chouteau

I was trapping beaver hard by the Dakota Trail near Fort Pierre Chouteau at that time. Settlement was encouraged; however, the Dakota territory had not received the protection that formal states were acquiring. European settlers kept coming for farm land, despite the fact a treaty with the Sioux had not yet been signed. Scandinavian settlers had fled to the fort to find relief from Indian raids. The fort was located on the confluence of the Missouri and Bad rivers in Dakota.

I was inside the fort in the year 1857, and I hunted after the coins that had been held by Scandinavians who were unsure of the American currencies. The Scandinavian Monetary Union had provided fixed exchange rates and stability in monetary terms, but the member countries – Denmark and Sweden — continued to issue their own separate coinage. The coins were accepted, with a small exchange rate, equal to the coins normally used throughout the area. It was apparent to me that the individual Danish and Swedish coins would soon be disappearing. Investors would be clamoring for these coins if the over-burdened American budget collapsed.

These old coins represented the past. I was happy to escape from the muddy Dakota trail, and, to exchange the smell of semi-dried beaver pelts for the inspection of skillfully engraved images of kings, queens and a variety of birds. One of my favorite coin sellers was Mr. Gould, an old gentleman, whose one room store was located inside the fort.

Gould’s store was not particularly rich in paper currency; quite the opposite, it specialized in small silver and gold coins. Scarcely four or five hundred dollars-worth at any one time. They were carefully washed, cleaned, and arranged with great care in glass enclosed cabinets. On the top shelves, Danish and Swedish coins; on the lower shelves, the American and Canadian in the majority, with some French and English. Such was Mr. Gould’s specialty; it appeared as if he absolutely ignored Mexican coins, and as if, in his mind, the coinage of that country did not go beyond the copper of the United States’ one cent piece.

What, at my first purchase, struck me most about those coins, was Gould’s low exchange rate compared with his meager inventory. They had, evidently, not been bought in a lot, at so much an ounce, like the dross of a coin auction typically held in Saint Louis. Yet, the handsomest, the most ancient, the most admired for their diameter, thickness and quality, were not exchanged higher than an eight percent rate.

Therefore, Gould was a logical man if ever there was one. And he was all the better for it; he was faithfully patronized by investors and collectors who were heading west for the newly opened territories. He renewed his stock at a rate which more assuming speculators might have envied.

But how did he get those coins, which anywhere else, a dealer would have charged, at a minimum, eighteen percent exchange rate? Here also Gould had his method; it was as sure and regular as the return of the Snowy Owl. No one attended more assiduously to the destitute who had left the majority of their coins buried in a tin box while fleeing an Indian raid.

Gould’s store was often suggested by the cavalry men who knew that the farmers hardly had enough time to save their silver during an escape. The rarest, choicest coins passed before his eyes and Gould smiled at such opportunities. Once a bid had been made he would not add a penny, even if a rare doubloon was at stake.

But if occasionally, through inattention or weariness of the farmer, a coin was left uncounted, sometimes even two, joined together for want of having been cleaned of mud, Gould would, regardless, pay its full worth. Any other time, sellers more attentive might perhaps have increased the price of a gold coin. This, however, did not change Gould’s exchange rate; size and quality were the only rules.

Now, one week, after a considerable number of Indian raids had occurred, Gould exhibited, in his shop, coins more numerous than usual. I especially noticed some of Iberian mintage, however, more remarkable, Arabic in text. The metal, the engraving and the lettering — of which Gould informed me — was surely of Iberian/Granada origin, and which might well be nearly six hundred years old. The designation of one was, I believe, الطيور, another مرايا, and another هوههوه. I queried Gould as to the meaning of these identifies. He informed me that the previous owner, a Spaniard of Arabic decent, had written down the meanings of these three coins as “Birds,” “Mirrors” and Chasms.”

Birds, mirrors and chasms; what a collection of images! Yet, were it but for the sake of civility, I was bound to purchase something. After some hesitation, I chose the last coin, chasms — for sure – – but birds and mirrors; the objects were not frightening, and still less so the way in which it seemed to me to have been engraved. In short, I had the chasm coin for five cents United States, an excellent price.

That coin, in silver of some previous century, engraved in Arabic, and beautifully preserved, had other text unknown to me. The original minting was in the engraver’s hand, that of a perfectionist; there were however, additional engravings on the circular edge of the coin. These engravings, on the rim of the coin, were very distinctly engraved by another hand; to all appearances unique.

Our dealer in coins, Mr. Gould, had purchased it a few days before.
One thing is sure, the coin held spiritual powers. Not necessarily the spirits that are found in the works of Edgar Allen Poe (whose death has recently occurred) but rather mystical, such as those found in the sects of the Sufi Muslims and Jewish Kabbalists, as well as the spiritual ground of the Sioux in the Dakota Territory. This, I discovered, through the research of many libraries – plus – a mystical encounter with a Persian immigrant that I met under strange circumstances at a tavern in Saint Louis. This writing is a result of those library visits and that mystical encounter.

The philosopher, the confessor, or a therapist of illogical thought, possibly in conjunction with the robust faith of a Caribbean Pentecostal, will find in the following text, novel and ingenious views. The literary man and the curious will appreciate the solidity of reasoning, the clearness of style and the liveliness of narrations — for these are stories which are delicately told.

Many theologians have devoted several tomes to the question of mystical occurrences between living man and reincarnated man. Thick volumes have been written about the art of praying, and the merits of those works were slim as they only developed the normal thesis; but such was not the character of the Saint Louis Persian. The basis, from which he derived a truly original and philosophical attitude, is an entirely novel demonstration of the existence of thoughts that occur in the individual mind but never in the mind of an alliance of men.

Al Ghazali (1058-1111 AD) had an encounter with skepticism which made him believe that all events are not the product of — occurrences of random conjunctions — but, are due to the Will of God. Ibn Rushd’s [Averroes] (1126–1198 AD) writings opposed al-Ghazali’s claim. Averroes believed that that the deity knows only the general laws of the universe, those that apply not to the individual man, but rather to the group known as mankind.

Mystics, as rational animals, are both corporeal and spiritual like our-selves, who live in our midst, being born and dying like us, and finally redeemed, as we are, through the merits of God (Bal/Allah/Yahweh or “he whose name is never to be uttered”) and capable of receiving salvation or damnation. Salvation as being born again and again into a good human spirit, or damnation, being born again and again onto an evil corporeal body.

In the Saint Louis immigrant’s opinion, those beings endowed with senses and reason are thoroughly distinct from Angels and Demons, who are pure spirits. These beings, that he avoided describing, are none other than the Fauns and Sylvans – – made up of lustful, drunken woodland gods with a horse’s ears and tail – – or on the female side, which are like our imaginary spirit of the air – – a slender woman or girl sylph – – or my English elves and goblins; which I am more prone to believe in. On this score alone, not to mention the interest of details, the following text will have a claim to the attention of earnest readers; I feel convinced, that type of close attention will not be found wanting.

Please read on, in the next episode (S1:E2) to understand where this series is going.

The Dakota Explorer
May 1872.

Next Post:    S1:E2 (An Emendation) 

 

A DEVINE TRAGEDY: 10. CREATION OF THE AUTOMATONS

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The Virtue of Fortitude; Brueghel the Elder, Pieter, c.1560

“Brothers and Sisters, take no fear when the natural is overcome with the artificial. It is simply the creation of the overman.”

Thus spoke Fred as he departed company with the Seven Somnambulists and entered a large hall.

Fred was walking amongst contradictions of steam and chilling waters.

And these were contained in machinations, non-beings, no hearts.

They opened and closed their maws with the force of dragons.

These un-beings, hoping also, but hardly ever successful,

at masticating man’s extremities; right and left.

These were creatures of the creators.

They were the product of producers.

They had no life of their own,

but were the life work,

of the gifted.

 

“Yea to those men of discovery.”

“Yea to those men of courage.”

“Yea to those men of talent.”

Fred uttered yea unto them three times.

 

Fred asked of the only…

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: 9. VICTIMHOOD AND FAILURE

waldotomosky

The Virtue of Faith by Brueghel the Elder, Pieter, circa1559

AND FRED CONTINUED HIS CONVERSATION WITH THE REMAINING TWO SOMNAMBULISTS

“Next to last is you, sixth sleepwalker called ‘Victim.’

“Art thou only a victim of your own self-deception?”

“Doest not thou maketh thine own death bed?”

“You bed with short term concern for self.”

“He who deservith shall recieveth,

the true deserts he has earned.”

“Thou are the under man,

who has gone under,

with each rising,

of the moon.”

 

“Though are the victim of short vision and short days.”

“Thine melencholyness is won by thine own hand.”

“Doest thou wish to leap from the palisade?”

“Doest thou wish to leap from the boat?

“Thou hast not the courage to use,

thine own hand for the task.”

“You dream other hands,

attempt the wish.”

But when it fails,

thoust lay blame,

on them also.”

“Trust not,

“your fate,

to me!”

 

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: 8. CAPITULATION

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The Virtue of Charity , by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, from The World of Seven Virtues

AND FRED CONTINUED HIS CONVERSATION WITH THE SEVEN SOMNAMBULISTS

“The fifth among you shall be named ‘Capitulation.’”

“Thine cloak takes on a multitude of shadows.”

“Amongst these are the hues of passiveness,

and a worried and feigned friendliness.”

“Thy forms are ‘The Flock,

and The Multitudes.”

 

“Thine shape is that of the serpent, or at best the chameleon.”

“Doest the oily slime of a dead oasis make you jealous?”

“Doest it nurture more spine in the slime than thou?”

“Then shed your cloak of capriciousness.”

“Or is it vacillation?”

 

“Doest thou vacillate to save your hide or your mind?”

“Doest thou croak like a frog when he vacillates,

his bloated chin to hide his fear of the dark?”

“Or is it fickleness? Art thou fickle,

like a young girl with choices?”

Doest…

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: 7. NEPOTISM AND EDUCATION

waldotomosky

The Sin of SLOTH Pieter Bruegel the Elder Circa 1557

“Third amongst you is the most feared and despised,

yet thou are never spoken of in an open voice,

your six brethren nappers are very afraid,

aware of the poison of thine presence.”

that is you, pallid one – – – ‘Nepotism.”

 

“Thou steal honor and spirit from others.”

“Thou bow to that which is not earned.”

“Thine alter is built on the bones,

of your ancestors.”

 

“But this alter is not built of pride, its foundation – – -,

 the stiff necked haughtiness of rotting flesh,

inherited laurels bespeak of the smell,

of decaying ineptitude.”

 

“And you, fourth one with arms stiffly outstretched; O living zombie.”

“Thou shalt not hide behind the others. Thy name is ‘Education’,

and it shall forever be suspect and under watchful eye.”

“Do not saunter with the other seven diseases.”

“March…

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A DEVINE TRAGEDY: 6. ARROGANCE and SECRET SOCIETY

waldotomosky

The Sin of PRIDE by Dutch master Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“I speaketh to you Brothers and Sisters; forget not the seven somnambular plagues of Industry.”

 

And thus Fred then spoke to the first of the seven who walked as if in sleep:

 

“You, lead strides-man, thou are ‘Arrogance’,

from thine throat comes the roar of the lion,

yet yee knowest not the humility of time,

patience, perserverance and wisdom,

your roar finds itself covered,

as the moon covers the sun,

in full daylight,

the red corona,

of your roar,

is at once,

muted yet,

beautiful.”

 

“Therefore it will be remembered and practiced by the least amongst you; the under man.”

 

Fred then spoke thusly to the second somnambulist:

 

“You, second strident among the worst of plagues are ‘Secret Society.’”

“You walk behind hidden meanings and the pressing of the hand.”

“You meet in once…

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