In the quiet mist, without boundary or Time, stood The Painter. In the inner compartment of his mind he contemplated his Art. The mist around him was cool and still, for there was no wind. The only activity was within the Painter, his Mind whirling. He was ready to paint, for his Mind was made up with vision; he picked up his brush. The brush was long, made of white oak (probably) with the finest bristles, soft and remarkable. He stood before the large white canvas that stretched before him, he lifted the brush as if conducting heaven, and he began to paint. As he painted, his lips moved in song, although there was no sound.
At first he painted all the images with the same joyous texture, each object was full of colour, light, and harmony. The canvas filled with ever increasing complexity, a great web of interconnected images. As it grew his song became audible. The colours on the World Canvas took on the timbre of his voice, and the song became full of chromatic harmonies.
The song and his painting ended together. The Painter stepped back from the Canvas to behold his handiwork, pleased with his industry.
Then his paint-speckled countenance fell. He squinted and frowned as he peered into the image. Behold! Among the beautiful and canorous figures was a dark image, a blemish. It was a pox on an otherwise beautiful face. His face. For staring back at him was his Shadow self, who was painted into the World Canvas. It was gruesome portrait in mirror image.
The Great Painter stepped back, horrified, as if he was pulling himself away from contagion. His Art was marred, spoiled. He tried to paint over this smudge, but it only made the image greater and more apparent. His many attempts made the paints and their hues muddied. Try as he may, he could not erase nor cover the Shadow portrait. Dismayed, he covered the Canvas in Time, for he did not wish his Enemy to escape, although he grieved knowing he would work to destroy the Canvas creation in which he was imprisoned.
He put down the Brush and called out to the Fates, for he knew the triple Goddess’ weave work and his Art were intertwined. Was it not they who made the World Canvas from their weavings? The white blank canvas was their handiwork.
“Wise Women” he called out “I have come to know your counsel. Tell me my Art’s Fate and mine.”
“Painter, heed our words!” said three voices. The young voice spoke first (for this was Clotho, who spun the canvas) “It is decreed you can not paint as you wish.” “Painter” said the matronly Lachesis “ Our task is to weave what you create.” “Painter” came the third and final voice of Atropos, thin and small, but as sharp as the schears used to cut Life’s thread. “It is not failure but fufillment what you must do. It is all that is the most that you can be.”
Their words did not soothe but angered The Painter. He felt the blood running riot in his veins. Angered at his Art he vowed to destroy both The World Canvas and himself with it. He stepped into the painting and shattered the Bond of Time. The Canvas, he and his Shadow began to burn.
However, now that he was inside his Art he saw it for the beauty it really was. He saw the folly attempting to destroy Shadow by destroying his Creation. He felt regret. It was too late to save his Art or himself, and Shadow would live on.
He picked up the Brush, and he drew an impromptu: a small crude black circle, like a black snake biting its tail forming an “O”. As he worked he moved his lips again, not singing, but as if in prayer for something to survive the flames by entering the O. He lay down and was engulfed in flame and ashes.
Out of the “O” came a new people. The Painter hadn’t noticed them; and the people did not know where they were, for they had never been. They looked around them at the neutrality of this new world. Before them on the ground among the ashes lay the Brush. Its bristles had been burned to a stump; it was blackened with soot. On the ground was an inscription, which was read when the ashes were blown away.
‘Be cunning and gather wisdom and your people will never disappear.”
So the new people (whose name I know not) stepped out of the ashes and through the circle beyond creation and into the newly made country. I can’t describe this land: it may be that is does not exist. But The People of the “O” go inward and onward, nevertheless.