W H E N T H E S T U D E N T S C O M E T O V I S I T
I’m about to have vacation. Finally. After a month of exams and conferences, I’m ready to hit the road in a few days and drive up to Norway where I’ll be doing nothing on top of the mountain for five weeks. I’ve been doing this for some 16 years, so it’s familiar territory. For me vacationing is the opposite of playing tourist. I don’t get hot on the tourist trap. Big cities, hundreds of museums, and dubious restaurants don’t excite me. Not any more, anyway. When I’m on vacation I conserve my energy in a very conscious way. I take time to think of how I am in the world, who I serve, and how well.
Today I had an experience of ‘how well’. I’ve received a visit from 4 graduate students. Two from Prague and two from Berlin. The ones from Prague picked up the ones in Berlin and they all drove to Roskilde in one stretch.
These are not students who just happened to be in Copenhagen, revisiting their alma mater university. They came all the way to Roskilde to see me. Just me. ‘Why?, I asked. ‘Because we want to receive your teachings. We want to hear about living the magical life.’ ‘OK,’ I said, and then served them a long lecture on attention, dedication, radiance, resonance, and rhythm.
They had gifts for me. All hand crafted. Some took several years to make. A sword made from ash, hand picked in one of the students’ childhood woods. The sword has three edges finishing up in a sharp blade. A geometrical feat. The handle is encrusted with stones: Olivine, Czech granite, and clear quarts. Within the handle, a secret chamber.
The sword was handed to me wrapped in thick brown-green satin cloth. When I unwrapped it, I swear I heard bells ringing. The sword is made to perfect pitch and balance. A martial arts warrior would know just what that means. I cut the air with it. Swoosh, swoosh. Sharp as an iron blade. But this is ash, so the sound is touched by fiber and feather.
Then the absinthe. Homemade. ‘Be careful’ the second student said. ‘This one has a very high level thujone.’ The bottle is decorated with a feather. All magical travels must be blessed with a gesture of lightness.
Or ink. The third student had an old letter for me, a scrying device painted in marvelous colors, and a salt block from Morocco. ‘I found the letter in the streets,’ the student said. ‘I thought of you, of words and fragments’. ‘And ink,’ I said. ‘Ink is magical. Passed through this fine pen, it tells a story all its own. ‘Yes,’ he said. I was already lost in color through the looking glass.
The only girl among the boys had carved wood for me, decorated with an eye made of real camel bone. She had picked the pieces herself: walnut and desert visions. ‘The camel bone came to me on my travels,’ she said. ‘Travels of the mind,’ she said. ‘Strange perceptions of the desert’, she said. ‘You understand’, she said. ‘Yes’, I said. She carved the wood herself. In a shape that’s hers, she said. A shape that is her magic, she said. The eye of the camel is not fixed in its orb. ‘I wanted it loose, not for fixed visions,’ she said. ‘I understand’, I said.
We all met at the university library, among cards and books of magic. The K. Frank Jensen Collection was blessed today with students who want truth, a glimpse into awareness. ‘When you make a gift in exchange for magic, you must pay with your soul for it. There is no compromise. No hesitation.’ I said this three years ago. Or was it four?
Somebody paid attention to this teaching. Today they gave me their souls. Or was it four years ago? I gave them all a lesson for life. My best ever. I don’t think I’ve ever taught with so much nerve, so much compassion and admiration. ‘Pay attention,’ I said, ‘you’re all going to die. In this awareness of death you’ll find the key to all the mysteries.’
My teaching was cloaked in attention, dedication, radiance, resonance, and rhythm. I gave all this to begin with, without thinking; without ambivalence. The gifts at the end mirrored the intention.
‘Ah,’ I said to the students, looking at their gifts, full of soul power, strength and discipline. ‘The magic beyond words and consecrations is true magic.’ They nodded.
I think that my teaching life knows truth and beauty. Perhaps for once I won’t think of how I serve, as a solution to the general problem of never paying enough attention to one another, to what we need, to what drives our narratives forward and towards each other.
I think I’ll take my magic gifts with me on top of my magic mountain, and play with them the magic way. Play with what I do already as a matter of course, and because I cannot help it: Teach the art of asking real questions, and the sound of true vision.
A magical summer to all.
© Camelia Elias
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