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The Black Watch-Tower


The foundations of the Temple
The nine cunning Craftsmen who
laid them between the
Watch-towers of
Night & Day.


And from that place are cast
out all the Lords who are the
exactors of the debts of man-
kind, and they are subjugated.
        The Greater Holy Assembly, xx. 440.


The Nine Pointed Star



WHO has not, at some period during his life, experienced that strange sensation of utter bewilderment on being awakened by the sudden approach of a bright light across the curtained threshold of slumber; that intoxicating sense of wonderment, that hopeless inability to to open wide the blinded eyes before the dazzling flame which has swept night into the corners and crannies of the dark bedchamber of sleep?

Who, again, has not stepped from the brilliant sunlight of noon into some shadowy vault, and, groping along its dark walls, has found all there to be but as the corpse of day wrapped in a starless shroud of darkness?

Yet as the moments speed by the sight grows accustomed to the dazzling intruder; and as the blinding, shimmering web of silver which he has thrown around us melts like a network of snow before the awakening fire of our eyes, we perceive that the white flame of bewilderment which had but a moment ago enwrapped us as a mantle of lightnings, is, but in truth, a flickering rushlight fitfully expiring in an ill-shapen socket of clay. And likewise in the darkness, as we pass along the unlit arches of the vault, or the lampless recesses which, toad-like, squat here and there in the gloom, dimly at first do the mouldings of the roof and the cornices of the {167} walls creep forth; and then, as the twilight becomes more certain, do they twist and writhe into weirdly shapen arabesques, into fanciful figures, and contorted faces; which, as we advance, bat-like flit into the depths of a deeper darkness beyond.

Stay! — and but for a moment hurry back, and bring with you that little rushlight we left spluttering on the mantel-shelf of sleep. Now all once again vanishes, and from the floor before us jut up into the shadowland of darkness the stern grey walls of rock, the age-worn architraves, the clustered columns, and all the crumbling capitols of Art, where the years alone sit shrouded slumbering in their dust and mould — a haunting memory of long-forgotten days.

O dreamland of wonder and mystery! like a tongue of gold wrapped in a blue flame do we hover for a moment over the Well of Life; and then the night-wind rises, and wafts us into the starless depths of the grave. We are like gnats hovering in the sunbeams, and then the evening falls and we are gone: and who can tell whither, and unto what end? Whether to the City of Eternal Sleep, or to the Mansion of the Music of Rejoicing?

O my brothers! come with me! follow me! Let us mount the dark stairs of this Tower of Silence, this Watch-tower of Night; upon whose black brow no flickering flame burns to guide the weary wanderer across the mires of life and through the mists of death. Come, follow me! Grope up these age-worn steps, slippery with the tears of the fallen, and bearded with the blood of the vanquished and the salt of the agony of failure. Come, come! Halt not! Abandon all! Let us ascend. Yet bring with ye two things, the flint and the steel {168} — the slumbering fire of Mystery, and the dark sword of Science; that we may strike a spark, and fire the beacon of Hope which hangs above us in the brasier of Despair; so that a great light may shine forth through the darkness, and guide the toiling footsteps of man to that Temple which is built without hands, fashioned without iron, or gold, or silver, and in which no fire burns; whose pillars are as columns of light, whose dome is as a crown of effulgence set betwixt the wings of Eternity, and upon whose altar flashes the mystic eucharist of God. {169}

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Part I: Index | Preface | The Black Watch-Tower | The Miser | The Spendthrift | The Bankrupt | The Prude | The Child | The Wanton | The Slave | The Warrior | The King | The White Watch-Tower

The Temple of Solomon the King | Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX


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