Fields of Broken Glass,
By Richard Behrens
the master sits, reads the signs
New York City, 1985. The Secret Chief's real name was Henry Barton and his identity in the mundane world was one of obscure wealth and power. This was not untypical of the great chiefs of the planet, especially those who opted to live among men in crowded cities like New York as Henry Barton did. At best, their highly advanced astral forms made normal earthly atmosphere difficult and abrasive to their sensitive flesh and many preferred the high climate of the Tibetan mountains to the crowded landscapes of civilized man with their diseased air, polluted waterways, and paucity of blue positively charged orgone clouds that carried with them the psychically potent life force. New York was a concentrated hotbed of psychic gunk and many chiefs puzzled why Barton chose such a collapsed area in which to manifest his mission.
He lived in seclusion in a dark York Avenue penthouse and never set foot outside the building. All of his communications were effected through astral means and this required the solitude and inactive atmosphere of an empty and darkened room, the only light being the glow of the sun through the drawn venetian blinds and the glare of the street lamps at night. Barton communicated through dedicated channels that were indeed susceptible to psycho-static interference (and York Avenue provided this nuisance in great abundance) but his will was strong and he exerted great effort to separate the signals from the noise.
There he sat in his cracked brown leather armchair, an old relic from a 1950s television commercial, his white hairy chest illuminated by the flashing neon lights of the TDK cassette sign burning through the window. An unruly and very noisy construction company had built the sign almost overnight without the consent of the tenants' committee (not that Barton was a member) and many were furious over the whole affair. It blocked off the windows of at least five apartments and made it impossible to have total darkness. The other retired businessmen, lawyers' widows, doctors and their wives, and even a convalescent circus clown who all lived in the building went to work on an angry protest. They had long since given up trying to enlist the aid of the creepy old man in the penthouse who never came out and never received visitors besides his young butler. Henry's protest was being carried out on an inner plane, but he could not, for obvious reasons, reveal that to them. His mind was working overtime and he laughed at the petty, liberal-hearted and, as far as Henry was concerned, totally hypocritical actions of the cranky middle-aged women, the iron-haired businessmen, and the aging acrobat with the trace of red around his lips.
Henry felt he had achieved more in one evening's magical workings than all the riots at City Hall could conjure. He had succeeded in giving the entire hard-hat work crew that had labored on the project severe stomach cramps. It didn't stop the sign from being completed, but it was a sufficient warning. The style of a secret chief, especially when he went on the offensive, had an element of chicanery about it. Sooner or later, and Henry had plenty of time, the sign would be wiped off the face of the Earth...forever. Not a trace of its sinister presence and energy would be left to light up even a toaster oven. Henry still wasn't decided if he would take along with it the bulk of the shorter, squatter apartment building it was straddled upon. What a joy to see nothing but the smoldering crater bubbling in the city concrete, burst water pipes spraying, large gaping holes revealing the rotting subway tracks below the street. Such is the works of the Secret Chiefs. To hell with letters to congressmen and apartment lobby petitions on hallway clipboards. (Through the Force of My Will I Have Conquered the Universe!)
The walls of Henry's room were lit red by the sign, but also tinted a soft shade of blue coming from hidden light fixtures installed in the moldings of the room's ceiling. Henry sat in his chair, facing east, the direction of his astral transmissions and also, alas, the side of the room where the TDK sign burned through the drawn venetian blinds.
Moving along the south wall of the room, his shadow being cast onto various framed prints from the east, was Andre the secretary, his white coat dipped in alternating bands of red and blue as the neon sparked on and off. Andre's brown hair and mellow body moved silently and came to rest besides the old man. He sat on a small black stool and held up his two gloved hands in a religious gesture of supplication. It was a secret sign that only Henry Barton knew how to decipher: it meant "May the Gods grant us what we wish." Henry knew that Andre was referring to the ultimate demise of the paid advertisement.
"The messages are fainter tonight," the old man spoke in a whispered hush. "I can barely hear them. I have contacts in city government who would gladly step on TDK's toes to get that damned sign removed once and for all without having to resort to bloodshed. Just think, coded messages from the forces of nature being blocked by a cassette tape ad. Ironies are boundless, human greed hath no end. Isn't that correct, Andre?"
"Certainly Mr. Barton. I can think of no greater irony on any level of existence. Not even in the Qliphoth."
The secretary sat on the floor with his legs buckled under him, facing the old man and staring into his aged gray face. He noticed with sadness the sunken jowls, the fallen temples and burning eyes. The blue lights still glowed above his head. Here was the man who had taught Andre all he knew, revealed to him how to decode the silence, how to see the lines of magnetic and organic forces moving through the atmosphere at twilight, how to penetrate the constantly shifting world of appearances and see the sublime and occult foundations beneath the boiling tide. His gradually wasting body, in that light, was no alarming sight to Andre; he knew that Henry Barton, once freed from the confines of his own molting flesh, would become pure blue light darting upwards, until it came to the corona of scintillating white intelligence that would gobble it up whole and never spit it forth again. However, this was not something they would find themselves discussing with the retired clown on the third floor.
"There is one on Staten Island, another in Jersey City," Henry Barton said. "Every day I catch wind of another, sitting among the ruins of abandoned supermarkets, waiting it out in basements amid test tubes full of earthen mixtures over Bunsen burners. I see a young boy discovering the forbidden books in his local library and just starting to put together the first clues; yet he is afraid to be caught by his parents reading such an un-Christian thing. Oh my friend, I had a beautiful dream last night that we were all able to get together, remove all our vestments, discard this putrid flesh, and dance in the love and warmth of the Great Light. It was a beautiful dream, but we were not yet ready. As long as we are tied to the notions of the physical body we cannot realize such a dream. The image would remain perverted, non-adhesive so to speak. The roles would become confused like actors upon a stage who have never seen the script of the play they are supposed to be performing. To connect with them now would be bad magic."
Andre was barely hearing the old man's words. He was thinking deeply about the beautiful young woman he had gone to bed with the night before, expressly against the old man's demands for celibacy, and how the breaking of the magical oath had turned the woman into a large, snarling Alsatian hound. She leaped at Andre's throat and tried to tear it out but the young, energetic man had managed to twist its neck painfully at which point it had turned back into the girl he had picked up in an East Side singles bar. The two lay side by side, exhausted and covered in blood from their struggle and in the morning the girl had remembered nothing.
This incident made Andre more committed to Barton than ever before. He knew that the act of magic had not been cast by the ego-centered personality and consciousness of Henry Barton but a line of force generated along the thought forms of his oath and his sense of obedience to the cause of the Secret Chiefs.
Now, Andre's mind started to drift even farther, towards the events of the preceding week and back through time. Back... back... clickity clack. Distant train in the sad mist night.
The old man was mumbling. "I see these amber lights over Tibet high above an old monastery that is now a Communist artillery outpost. There is blood on the walls where Gwalampa Kulgon, my esteemed and awesome friend from the days of the Mystery Cult, was gunned down in cold blood and even colder steel. Such is the retribution against those who doubt. That is why I am still alive, because I never let my thoughts stray from that one goal...that one moment...lost in time...but there, as a focus, as a goal."
Andre's inner eye was entangled in tunnels of thought and memory, breaking through the surface to amber fields, rye, wheat, dust and tar, roads, crumbled maps showing locations, specific landmarks in the life of Andre DeCampagne.
A soft scream was heard.
i remember the hovercrafts at dawn
Andre DeCampagne's life began in Lawrence, Kansas. His father, a moderately successful farmer and dealer in used tractors, had given his only begotten son the name Andre after their French heritage, which, of course, was not the name he later used when studying under Henry Barton. Andre ran through fields of wheat, sniffed the clean open air, and touched salamanders by the ponds, while other boys from his private school ganged up on weaklings and pulled off as many salamander tails as they could catch.
Andre took long walks in the woods, discovered abandoned quarries where antiquated machines rusted into a deep metallic red on the stone floors. He pitched his camp amidst overgrown weeds and broken glass. There were threshing machines in remote fields, deserted silos, long forgotten farm houses with collapsed roofs and worm-eaten furniture. Andre pillaged and looted broken armchairs and dresser drawers with rusted handles. He always pretended that the red metal was some exotic treasure, booty from his campaigns into distant lands. He imagined himself a Knights Templar crusading in the Holy Land, Andre de Champagne.
He tossed himself down hills of fine-downed earth, rested on thin grass, lingering between the hickory trees and white marble statues that dotted the fields. He was alone, abandoned by a business-oriented father whose world left no room for idle fantasy. The son lived in a type of dream world that required solitude and homeless wanderings. The smell of the fields were sad, the yellow sun overhead reminded him of his neglect, his unrewarded outpourings. It was an idyllic childhood tinged with sadness, the sadness of the broken fields, the rotted homes, and a lack of direction. The sun was his only constant.
Billy Snyder appeared on a gray memory-clouded afternoon, standing in a corn field, the swaying stalks gracing his hips. Air force jets from a local military base flew over that field, so Andre's earliest memories of Billy were punctuated by the blasting roar of the machines, a rank odor from burning fuel, sleek metal polluting the human air.
Billy Snyder knew about things that other people didn't. At age fourteen he was deeply immersed in certain books he had found in his grandfather's library, books that gave secrets.
"What kinds of secrets?" Andre asked while standing in the corn field.
Billy's only answer accompanied a smile which told everything. "If I told you it wouldn't be a secret," he explained. "You can't know unless you go through certain things first."
"What kind of things?"
"Like what my grandfather did."
The elder Snyder was a teacher at a local high school, a history teacher, but he did not acknowledge that his own father had been a Freemason, nor did he wish any of the old man's books to be read by his son. He never had the courage to burn the library, even after he had fled the fraternity himself: there was still too much of an aura about them, perhaps old memories of his own childhood. He probably was haunted by the image of his old man raising his oaken cane and threatening to wreck havoc if anyone even laid a finger on his books. They remained covered with old mold in cardboard boxes between the damp brick walls of the big house. It was a full decade after the old man's death that Billy Snyder broke open the masking tape on the box tops and discovered that there was more in the collection than stuffy old Victorian babble about stone cuttings.
Billy had read the books alone: he was convinced that if his father found out he had disturbed them, he would be sent away to a remote boarding school where no real knowledge would ever be taught to him. Grandpa's books, on the other hand, contained real teachings and Billy soaked them up like a sponge.
One afternoon, Andre and Billy met in the field. "Come, there are some things I want to show you. I have a little secret room behind my bed."
And it was true. Behind the bed frame in Billy's attic bedroom was a sliding wall that led to a little chamber, a square room with heaven wooden floorboards, a tiny window in the shape of a triangle through which came a stream of steady sunlight, and a pentagram made out of dirty masking tape on the floor.
Billy placed Andre on his knees before a large red tablet placed against a green felt backdrop. Then they stripped to their underwear and lay down beside each other in the center of the large pentagram. A darkness seemed to sweep over the window as Billy began to intone in a low moan.
Andre: remembering long country roads, stirring dust as the cars sped by, a motorized tractor on the shoulder, a silo under the darkening clouds, a house under thrashing rain...that afternoon in the secret temple...a pentagram of crumbling masking tape beneath a wooden beam painted the color of the stars...
...Billy running through the corn fields...
The two of them went together to visit the old man who lived at the end of the highway and came back with an arm load of comic books and detective magazines. The weak and senile man inhabited a little wooden hut he claimed was the house his father built for his grandmother. It was piled to the rafters with old newspapers and pulp magazines, filing cabinets filled with junk, and a multitude of stray cats that hopped from one pile of garbage to the next. Andre thought the old man was Billy's grandfather still alive but in hiding.
Andre took to wearing a little leather cap he had picked up at a shopping mall. He began to listen to rock music and took a small portable tape recorder out to an empty field where the drums would hit the sky-clouds and come down again. He tried to learn how to play the Pan pipes because he had heard a recording of Moroccan drumming that had used them. Nothing come if it because the pipes were old and the leather straps holding them together broke. He thrashed the little cylinders in the corn field hoping that they would sink back into the soil and grow a healthy crop of pipes.
Andre remembered the scene: suddenly, like a lightening flash illuminating a forgotten dream.
Billy knelt before Andre in the field of broken glass. Andre lifted his face to the sky and let out with a long moan that split the darkening clouds.
On Billy's T-shirt was a small green circle. He intoned: BAAA-TAAA-EEE-VAAA-HEEE! the field darkened and beautiful music emerged from the recesses, the sound floating in the absence of winds.
The beginning of the end came when Billy joined the high school basketball team. He was so busy at practice he had no time for Andre or the little secret room behind the bed frame. Andre had begun to feel very lonely and uninspired. There was still so much that Andre did not know. He desired to unlock the key to that little red tablet in Billy's room. There were planes of forced entry, theft, none of which came to any fruition. Andre was scared of getting caught and being sent off to a private school. Both Andre and Billy had a deathly fear of being distant from the corn field where they first met and where the Pan pipes lay buried under dirt and weeds.
Andre fell out of touch with Billy. He never knew if it had anything to do with Billy's father...did he find out about the books, the hidden room with the pentagram and Enochian tablet? Billy didn't show up at school anymore. The house was sold. The family moved. And once again Andre was alone.
these rooms contain the echoes
During his first year at Harvard University, Andre was invited to become a member of an elite company that possessed knowledge that was rare and exotic. The invite came from a professor of European studies in the history division, an aging and uninspiring man with a shock of white hair and ashen-gray skin. He was tutoring Andre on the history of the Thirty Years War. Working from a book by Frances A. Yates called The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, Andre obtained a thorough knowledge of the myths and legends surrounding Christian Rozencreutz, a Renaissance nobleman who obtained the knowledge of the mysteries from other adepts in Jerusalem and Damascus. He later took the knowledge back to Germany where it began the basis of the Rosicrucian movement, a fraternity that later flourished and revived ancient and hidden wisdom in the west.
"Is this knowledge still available?" Andre asked the professor. "Are the Rosicrucians still around?"
The professor, smoking on an odorous pipe of perique, let loose with a devious laugh. His eyes sparkled in the darkness of his private office. "There is an order of which I cannot speak," he intoned. "But I could point you out to the Chiefs and get their approval for your admittance."
Andre was hungry for knowledge. In the throes of his passion, in the central storm of his meditation, came a burning sexual fury that demanded satisfaction. It was a lusting of the body that strived to go beyond the body, to seek Truth and Enlightenment in the throes of tantric frenzy. In the tale of Rosencreutz, the adept had risen from the decay of his physical body one hundred years after his death. Andre felt this as a sexual thing, a physically present body without organs rising within his own flesh.
In reading the Rosicrucian manifestoes in the back of the Yates' book, he sensed the form of Billy Snyder struggling to break through to the surface. It was something Andre felt physically, that the unlocking of the mysteries would somehow bring Billy back to life.
One night Andre took a cab that had been sent for him to Beacon Hill. The interior was completely black. It got to the address in less than five minutes from the train station, leaving Andre in front of an old stately house with a private verandah and lawn furniture on a neatly clipped sheet of low cut grass. The two front pillars of the porch were painted black and white respectively and the rest of the house was shingled brown. He was received at the front door by an elderly man with gray hair who pushed his left forefinger to his upper lip and urged the guest not to speak or drift about.
In the front hallway, shadows moved down the end of long corridors. Andre sat in the oaken window seat and listened to the murmuring, the low chants, and then the thud of a rod against the ground. The elderly gentleman came back and put a blindfold over Andre's eyes. The initiate knew nothing of the old man's purpose, nor did he know anything of the house itself, its layout or inhabitants.
A hand took his left wrist and guided him down an echoing corridor. All the time he could not hear the guide's footfalls on the floorboards, nor did he get the impression that anyone was actually before him...just this warm, gentle hand pulling lightly at his forearm. He followed it and found himself passing through a doorway. Before his eyes, a bright light shined through the fabric of his hoodwink. It revealed no part of the room, it was light illuminating nothing but itself.
A voice spoke: "Inheritor of a Dying World, arise and enter the darkness."
Andre later wrote in his magical diary: "It was an invitation to step forward into the darkness. The lamp before me glowed but did not touch the path. I knew not what rested before me, where my feet would fall, of what nature the path consisted. I merely knew the road was dark and my eyes were shielded from the light."
The voice spoke again, cold and resonant. "Your soul wanders in Darkness and seeks the Light of the Hidden Knowledge. We of this Order do admit you into our Hall. But first you must pledge, acknowledge the Darkness in which you work, admit into your hearts the secrets and your oath of silence.
"Long have you dwelled in darkness. Follow the lamp of our Kerux, guided by his warm hand, and let us help you enter through to the Brilliant Ones."
The lamp was dulled, the blindfold covered the room. The darkness was maddening. Thoughts spirals through Andre's head, he did not knew which way was up or which was down, the silence pounded, pulling him into a deep trance.
"No longer shall you be known among men as Andre DeChampagne. Tonight you will leave the Hall of the Neophytes as Andre DeCamp."
The blindfold was removed and Andre found himself surrounded by older men with iron gray beards, dressed in long flowing white silk robes with intricately embroidered and colored sashes and belts, their hands holding beautifully constructed wands, and lotus pedaled staffs. The light from above was infused with a dull glow.
That night Andre was reborn, the memories of the corn fields and the broken glass, the empty silos and buildings, the pillaged furniture and the hidden Temple of Billy Snyder, all merged in his mind...one fabulous image of amber tints, private adolescent solitude, and an identity that had been shed and left behind. In the Hall of the Neophytes he felt a rush of sadness, the breeze whispering through the threshing machines near the rock quarry, felt his first lover kneeling before him in the farmlands.
Andre DeCamp had been liberated from a lifetime of darkness.
Continued in Part 2
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