Reading about mysticism is somewhere between a bit of a hobby or addiction of mine. I grew up religious, which for some people probably provides a comforting childhood. The idea that there’s someone watching out for you and a greater meaning, even when you’re alone or suffering, I expect, can give a sense of assurance. That if you just have the strength for now, something better will come. Admittedly, I never tapped into that side very well, usually getting stuck somewhere between original sin and the apocalypse.
However, one thing I loved about religion was the magic in it. Of course it’s not supposed to be magic, but it has all the best parts if you read closely—staves that can part seas, the sun standing still, instant healing at the touch of a finger, and most importantly—the feeling that anything could happen.
As I grew up, what pulled me away from my childhood beliefs was not so much rationalism but mysticism. The centripetal force of Sufism and Rumi’s poems, the inaccessible voids of the Vajrayana school and its sand mandalas. Don’t get me wrong, there is an attractiveness to logic, that given two points you can draw a straight line between them and be assured that that is the shortest distance, but it’s still more fun to bend that line and see how far it goes before breaking.
Along those lines and a little late, this week’s poem is an acrostic. Up till now, I think I have written only one acrostic before, for a college class, and it was terrible. It was was about a junkyard, the first letters of each line spelled “ROTTWEILER,” and I may or may not have switched the I and the E around because the only absolute rule in English is that rules are meant to be broken. I don’t think I’m a huge fan of acrostics, but I gave myself an extra challenge for the poem—if you find it, feel free to note it in the comments.
The Secret to Alchemy
Lies on the page, in formulas hiding
Elements obscuring, well moreso
Ancillary to the transmutational
Discovery revealed in the end.
As an epilogue but not an explanation, I should note that alchemy never had much of a hold on me, but I was a fan of the color changing compounds in chemistry. Next week (well, this week), I think I will tackle a triversen in honor of the William Carlos Williams poem that’s become a meme.