Letters on Rilke, Part Three

Sep 08

cont’d from previous post..

I jerked slightly at the voice. The book, from a section filled with arcanum, was clearly for adults. Although it wasn’t illegal for me to leaf through its pages-I felt like I’d been caught. The store owner-an attractive, older woman-smiled at me. Somehow, it was okay, I was being given permission to go ahead and investigate something that would have been forbidden in the corners of my former life. But that was then, now, there was no one to look askance at what I read. There was no one to hold my mind in check, to restrain my questions, to tell me I had to to just believe what I was told.

“I think you’ll like that one.” she said. I blinked, nodded. I brought enough cash to buy a number of books-this one, a large and heavy tome, would cost as much as several paperbacks. It was worth it. I shelled out crinkled bills from my jean pockets and then hastily departed. Still young, I didn’t want anyone to see me with a book of secrets. I kept it in its brown paper bag, careful not to pull it out utnil I was home and safe in my basement bedroom. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized most wouldn’t recognize such a thing if you beat them over the head with it.

The book concerned Western Inner Tradition and covered a range of topics: Kabbalah, alchemy, sacred geometry, angelology, demonology-all coherently systematized in a manner that was approachable to the reader. Within a  week I’d collected the elements of ritual-nothing too impressive, just a candle, some incense and a makeshift altar. Having flipped through the pages (I’d already dispensed with the idea of a linear progression as taking too long-an ambition for another day), I’d decided on something that was suitably exciting, but not too dangerous either. The promised results were evocative to say the least.

In that sort of work timing is everything. The season, the phase of the moon, the day of the week, the hour of the day all have significance. This is true for all traditions, really, but in today’s hurried and material world, the subtler nuances of ourselves are hardly noticed, much less observed. I chose my own day randomly-in fact, I don’t think I really out too much thought to the matter. I got home from school. Within a few hours, dusk collapsed into full blown autumnal night. I lit the candles, I lit the incense. Essentially, these are mood-lighting. I sat and tried to breathe rhythmically but soon decided it was too much effort.

Then, still seated, I attempted to build the Tree of Life in the subtler body that is a gradation of the soul. To be continued.


  1. Frank Bragan /

    I’m intrigued…

  2. You never disappoint, Peter. We’re so much alike in our search. I remember the first time I dared step into the Occult section of a bookstore. I could almost hear the nuns’ gasps but I kept walking. Always Mysteries. It’s a mystery. Like a keyless door.
    You are good at building suspense. How long before you take us further?

  3. Peter Ristuccia /

    Thanks to you both. I’m so glad this is interesting to you. A fear of mine is that a piece will feel intriguing to me, and then turn out to be drivel to most others.

  4. Not a chance it will be perceived as drivel. It’s funny because I just started my site and most people comment outside of it- via email or even comment on FB. It is hard to tell if people appreciate what you say, or even bother to look. But in the end we write because we love to write- and you do it very well.

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