Stones Upon The Path
One day the Lord Shantih was approached by an aged beggar who carried a staff.
“May I walk with you, my Lord?” said the beggar.
“And what path do you wish to follow?” Lord Shantih asked.
“I wish to follow the path that leads from today,” said the beggar, “for today I have killed a man.”
“No path leads there,” Lord Shantih said, dismissing him. “Your staff shall grow branches before you can leave your deeds behind you.”
Days later, the Lord Shantih saw the beggar seated beneath a tree by the roadside.
“My Lord,” called the beggar, pointing to the tree, “behold my staff.” And Lord Shantih looked and saw that it was the staff grown into a tree.
“Who did you kill?” Lord Shantih asked.
“I killed the man who sold my family into slavery.”
Lord Shantih removed his sandals and gave them to the beggar.
“Wear these,” he said, “for there are many stones upon the path.”
The Forest Of Shalaen
There are as many trees in the Forest of Shalaen as the number of hairs in a sage’s beard. Much of the forest is yet unexplored,<at least by man, and so it is the site of many legendary stories and heroic tales.
The Lord Shantih once lived in the forest and knew some of the places the legendary stories speak about. He had slept beneath the tree in which the warrior Barola was imprisoned for his gruesome crimes. He had drunk from the well the elves drank from when they journeyed to the Islands of the Outer Realm-the well whose water sparkles even at darkest midnight. He had walked the twisted, stony paths the trolls are said to walk upon when the moon is full and the blood-thirst is high. But he never saw the warrior Barola, the travelling elves, or the dangerous trolls men speak about.
“Perhaps these legendary characters are merely resting,” Lord Shantih mused, “between the sturdy covers of the books of men.”
The Sacred House
The teacher Harmal held that his house was sacred. He pointed out that each facet of his house could be interpreted as a symbol of truth, and in this manner a thoughtful man might gain useful insights into the nature of life.
Harmal believed that the doorway to his house was a symbol of both birth and death, as those who walked into the house through the doorway were born into the world of Harmal’s house, while those who walked out were dead to that world.
The windows of the house were carefully placed, Harmal showed, to allow a viewer to see specific, symbolic scenes. He spent many hours seated at one window or another, studying the views to ascertain their obscure but weighty significance, much as other arcane scholars study the visual teachings of the tarot deck.
In many ways the structure of Harmal’s residence held great and sacred meanings for him. The walls, floor, and ceiling represented the faith that protects the seeker from the evils of the world. The morning sunlight on the window sill or the star-patterns seen while lying on his bed were manifestations of the inherent joy and potential of the universe. The shiftings and weavings of the shadows in his house corresponded with the personal thoughts and emotions in the mind of man.
Students of occult philosophy still remember Harmal. Harmal.the eccentric hermit and teacher who lived centuries ago and was but little heeded by his fellows. And whose house burned down the very afternoon he ascended bodily into heaven.