I am circling around the Discarnate, around the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song.
— Chant for Kylix passage
Ordinary thought is impossible in the baffling avalanche of the Kylix: sensations strike with such speed and force as to crowd out thoughts of a conscious mind, and upon returning from this manic dream no clear memories remain, only a flood of images and a delirium that can last for hours. As a result it is nearly impossible to describe this lamina, and quite dangerous to venture there, but recurring images provide some insight as to its properties.
Observations from the Kylix are not reliable, as they flower and unfold with related sensations. For instance when you observe a boy, you also observe a baby, a wailing, a grown man, memories of play, a mother, a tiger cub, a seedling, the taste of fruit, a dewdrop. When you perceive a chariot, you also perceive a horse, a wagon, the feeling of motion, a manor, a tree, a rustling, a carpenter, the smell of sawdust, a castle. Each observation leads to more observations and all are accompanied by powerful feelings and memories; it is impossible to get one’s bearing. Those two images, however, recur: a boy and a chariot, along with a third, that of a broad drinking vase—hence this lamina’s name: the Kylix. All who have ventured here return with thousands of images, but these three are in common.
Through aperturesLocations where two realms are joined in such a way that you may slip between them. They appear as uncanny distortions through which passage can be disorienting and dangerous.Turn to chapter the Kylix appears to be a roiling storm of colors, and more than one unfortunate explorer has ventured there only to become incapacitated by its effect and fail to return.1 The safest method, which this visitor undertook, belongs to a community of mystics who practice an ecstatic ritual during which the participant ventures alone into a sacred cave that contains an aperture to this lamina—though of course they do not understand it in these terms, and instead see the lengthy ceremony as preparing the mind for the reception of the hopes and inspiration of one’s descendants yet to be born, who they say reside in primordial form in this cave.2 In preparation for this ritual, supplicants must repeat a particular series of actions every day for a month, a series of actions that, once committed to instinct, appear to guide a traveller safely into the Kylix and back despite the loss of conscious faculties.3 Even with this precaution, some members of the community have never returned from the cave, but this is not seen as a loss: they are presumed by their brethren to have joined the unborn Discarnate and as such will rejoin the community in future generations.
This visitor was determined to return from the Kylix with words to share, and so added onto the customary ritual a final component: a lengthy monologue of free-association relating anything that she could bring to mind, with the hope that her companion could return in time from the mouth of the river to record these words. Though she had no memory of the process, this attempt was successful, resulting in the following ramblings presented here with equal parts reluctance and wonder:
No void. A fractured rainbow riverbed. A chariot. A waterfall up from the stone. A hedge of scales, a branching catacomb translucent rock. A cliff spire, a wind topped pedestal. A water drop. Lightning strike turns lake to ice. A snake peeks out a hole, a whip, a belt, a rope. A sudden calm. A pit in the gut. A ring, a ringing. A gust of rosemary. An orchid leaps a life, a praying mantis. A flute lays white notes eggs. A mountain coils and sings. A chariot rides its wave, foam, a labyrinth, a maze, a boy, an outstretched hand, a mission, a foe, a dialog, an image, a geyser, a trickle, sadness or joy, or a gate, a library of colors, a frown, a smile. The color is noise, breathe. A warm welcome. Wine from a bowl, a starry night, a white horse, wooden wind chimes, the smell of grass, the color, an orchard. An orchard! Silent heavy snowfall, rustling leaves, freshly baked bread, full moon over an empty lake, an elephant lumbering overhead, a boy in an orchard, a plum bite, a big old house horses, father can’t look, sun setting, ripe apple cheek blood, a crowd, a flock of swallows, their wings. I’m standing barefoot a field of deep moss. A trickling stream, thick steam. An antelope stops turns its head. An owl perches. One room of dancers in red and white. A framed picture a silver thread. A book open gilded curls, illuminations, a door to black and white, one tulip in mirrors. The indigo sisters. Touch of soft leather. A glass ocean. You watching me. Look please you’re watching, a gulf into water, your ankle,4 fear, three brothers on a row boat laughing, rope, one, Tristo—
And here fortunately this visitor fell silent, and remained so until regaining her faculties the following day.
Attempts at safety have included the explorer being tethered by rope to an assistant remaining on a cardinalThe cardinal worlds make up our foundational, everyday reality over which the laminae are layered.Turn to chapter world, but journeys have resulted in the snapping of such tethers, or the explorer becoming snagged or perhaps resistant to returning. After having visited the Kylix, this visitor offers a strategy that might improve the chance of a safe return, though she dare not hazard another journey there to test it. The proposal is that by reducing one’s sensory surface to a fraction of what it normally is, in order to perceive less and so have one’s perceptions not cascade uncontrollably, one may be able to avoid being overwhelmed. This might entail wearing pinhole goggles that let very little vision in, stuffing the nostrils (to avoid that most evocative sense), and wearing thick earmuffs and clothing to inhibit sound and touch. Perhaps the Kylix could be more sanely observed through this narrow window. This approach will be left to an adventurous reader to test.↩︎
They refer to these unborn as “the Discarnate”, a term which is as good as any for identifying the boy on the chariot and any other petitioners this realm may hold.↩︎
The series of actions is as follows. You begin with a lengthy dance involving a great amount of whirling, leaving you disoriented. You then play a particular tune on a simple flute while walking unsteadily into a cave designated for this purpose (distinct from the cave that contains the aperture, which must only be entered during the actual ritual). In this cave you must recite a chant many times (a translation of part of which provides the quote that opens this chapter) as it echoes off the stone. You then walk backwards out of the cave, with hands over eyes. Out of the cave, with eyes still closed but no longer covered, a companion (it must be a close friend) exchanges your flute for very ripe fruit, which you eat. After eating, you hold out a hand sticky with nectar, which your companion cleans with a cloth, and then takes your hand, guides you to a river, and hands you a broad jug with which you, with eyes still closed, scoop water to pour over your body, during which time you must focus on a powerful childhood image. When the water has ceased running down your body, you must open your eyes and dive into the river. This procedure must be repeated every day for a month. On the day of the actual ritual, your companion must leave alone to make the hour-long hike to reach the mouth of the river, while you enact the same procedure but using the cave that leads to the Kylix. This visitor has memories only to the point of beginning the chant. It is of course unclear how this ensures safe passage, but participants inevitably return out from the cave hours later, without the flute they went in with, and completely drenched.↩︎
Apparently this companion, when returning from his hike to the head of the river, had a moment of reverie during which he stumbled over some rocks and injured his ankle.↩︎