Chapter Four

True to Esmerelda’s prediction, the meeting of Theodore with Joshua Starr had taken place only one week after Theodore came to the farm. Joshua had seen very quickly that Theodore was the missing link in their planned experiment, and the training towards the ritual went on apace.

Theodore had spent the ten days of preparation working harder than he had ever worked in his life. He had potential, of course, strong potential towards the positive, and Joshua’s lessons sat well with him. He tentatively began to learn the disciplines of magic. The meditations took a great deal of emotional strength, for the physical self is not geared to the contemplative life. The concentration which these disciplines demanded made Theodore feel drained, mentally and emotionally; he often doubted that he had any aptitude for this at all.

But the days were better spent than he thought; although he did not gain the confidence in his magical personality that is so important to the success of ritual magic, he did become able to clear his mind of the daily personality of Theodore Behr, so that his very positively oriented light-body could be sent forth to the aid of Esmerelda and Joshua. He had no real idea of what he was doing; it takes years of apprenticeship for that. But what they needed was developed: Theodore could take a secondary part in the ritual. His teachers were well satisfied with him.

They had spent far more time than Theodore in preparation for this experiment; their magical personalities had been years in the making. Joshua had practiced white magic since before Esmerelda had been born. His childhood had been spent in England, and a magician there had had a leading to the boy. He had taken him into apprenticeship when he was ten years old. Joshua had worked each day within the realms of the thought universe, gaining with slow sureness the proper emotional biases for power within the mental planes, developing his will towards the good. He was an alien, as had his teacher and his teacher’s teacher been; he had progressed until, in early manhood, when he had come to the United States, he had no peer in white magic in the western world.

Because he was an alien, he shared with Theodore and others of his kind the lonelinesses of his difference. The consciousness of one of the more highly evolved entities drift like pollen across the universe; most are sown close to their homeland. Only a few stray on long journeys, and come to be warmed by suns not their own. When Joshua had met Pablo Padeyevsky’s little niece, ten years ago, he had recognized a fellow wanderer in her. Padeyevsky had taken the child in and grown to love her because she had lost her father and her mother. Joshua had loved her because she was orphaned on this planet.

Esmerelda had become Joshua’s apprentice, at the age of nine. Through the years, she had in her gentle way assumed more and more of the true magical personality, until she had reached and passed Joshua’s flexibility in the role of magus. Her discipline, for all its being hidden within the inner folds of her woman’s pliant self, was very intense, and she was able to overtake her teacher’s successes in the sphere of occult manipulation, just as Joshua had become more skilled than his teacher before him. Esmerelda’s successes pleased Joshua greatly, for the bias towards the positive which she generated filled his consciousness with light, and he felt her strength added to the small community of white magicians on Earth, and to their aggregate polarity.

As Esmerelda had grown in years, she had gained much understanding of the more subtle emotional realities of the world she lived in, and her wisdom was far greater than her chronological age. She had kept herself apart from the contact with others of her own age that might have made her vain of her beauty, or eager to influence others by it. Her most intense physical desire was towards living quietly in the rural contentment of her uncle’s farm. She spent her days supervising the care of the house and its environs with the help of a daily housekeeper and a twice-weekly outdoor man, in reading and studying on her own, and in her daily times of meditation alone and with Joshua in their temple. Although she had turned nineteen now, and was full-grown, Joshua thought of her still in terms of an apprentice. And Esmerelda, seeing the difficulties with which Joshua would have to deal, if he ever saw clearly that she was now his equal, was content to remain in the supporting or reinforcing role. She saw the doors that he had closed against his loneliness. She had watched the moment when Joshua might be able to take comfort in the warmth of her new womanhood come and go.

She was content, therefore, to let him think of her as a child still. And so she treated him also as a child, cherishing him and humoring him, happy in her ability to support him in his ritual work, happy to lend her will to his when he spoke the ceremonial words, and etched his forms of light in the air.

Not that Joshua was an incomplete magical entity. Years had taken their toll on a man ill fit to withstand easily the foolishness of the culture in which he lived. His social personality had deteriorated somewhat; he was not wont to expect sanity from people, and he had nearly lost the art of being open to the outside world. He could not see Esmerelda clearly because of the growing limitations of his daily thinking. There were other details of the physical world that were also lost to him.

But this in no way hindered his magical personality. It remained strong, as repeated summoning lent it more and more substance. Indeed, it was extremely well established now, and Joshua could slip into it with the slight amount of will it takes the normal person to decide to put on a piece of clothing.

Joshua and Esmerelda had worked for a longtime together, and as they progressed in strength, they graduated to the ranks of what Joshua called experimental magic. Because they were both aliens, they had often sent their consciousnesses past the mental planes, searching for a planet closer in positivity to their desire. They had found such a planet, and during their research on it, they had discovered a potential that transcended the illusions of space and time. There had been a partial transfer of mind from this planet to Earth. One of the two mind segments transferred was the being now known as Esmerelda Sweetwater: in her searching, Esmerelda had happened on her homeland. It had now been determined that the other mind segment was the individual called Theodore Behr.

This discovery had been the basis for all of the planning that had led up to the coming ritual. They had carefully brought the ingredients of the experiment together through the years. Finding Theodore had been the last requirement, and the time of action was now here. The ritual was about to become a reality.

Because the ceremony was so important, the purifying preparations had been more careful than usual; the occult preparation for the coming of the people from their sister planet involved the purging of all negativity from the temple to which they hoped to call their counterparts, their higher selves, that had remained behind on the planet of light.

They had done this purging ritual many times before. But it had never been so important to them before, because this time, they were not simply purging the place of their magic, they were also attempting to raise the purity of this place and its surroundings to the level of a far purer planet’s. They wanted very much to succeed in this, for the actual landing of their counterparts seemed to promise in reality much that they had worked for in faith for so long. Therefore, all four had fasted for the last seven days: for Joshua and Pablo this had been hardest to accomplish; Esmerelda and Theodore were abstemious anyway. Their amorous inclinations had been left to atrophy for the same period of time. For this time, Esmerelda and Joshua worked together in their place of ritual, preparing their consciousnesses together for the ritual to come. In silence and in reflection, Joshua sent his consciousness into the light, and Esmerelda sent hers towards it, finding and becoming totally one with it with more and more ease. These were days of nearly total peace, and later Joshua looked back upon this preparation period with much happiness.

The eleventh day was the day of the ceremony. In the morning the Padeyevsky faction came to Joshua’s house, and the group sat and chatted through the noon hour. In the early afternoon, they all sat in silence together for a while, for the Doctor and Behr were to be within the ritual as secondary members. As the afternoon hours passed, Esmerelda and Joshua removed themselves from the other two and went, each alone, to a final preparation.

It was dusk when Joshua and Esmerelda opened the door of the five-sided building that stood, small and quiet looking, in the middle of Joshua’s European garden, lending to its casually placed lawns and plantings the centrality of the old-fashioned garden alcove. But this building was for more of a purpose than the spending of summer evenings under the stars. It had been built by Joshua. He had placed every nail, and set every stone, long ago. This was hardly in character for the man: Joshua looked as though he spent every day on the open range roping wild longhorns. In reality, his whipcord strength had always been maintained in spite of his temperament, not because of it. He never did any physical work that was not necessary.

But he had built his garden chamber because it was quite necessary that he be its builder. For it was a magical chamber, designed for his magical personality’s use, and the strength of the talisman of the building’s being his work was considerable. And for ten years, he and Esmerelda had studied and done their ritual work here. Here lay the forms of the eternal channels of power, strengthened to an almost independent life through the long and constant repetition of their invocation. This was, before Joshua and Esmerelda began this central ritual, already a place of light, where spirits of healing and wholeness dwelled, waiting only invocation to join with the consciousness of the two magicians in achieving the motionless and timeless praise of the dawning light of the one who is all.

Joshua walked in his golden robe into the chamber and moved towards the altar, a table in the middle of the chamber, twice as long as it was wide, and covered with a golden cloth, a candle, and an open Bible. Esmerelda also moved towards the altar, then stopped and beckoned Pablo and Theodore to come towards her.

She halted them two paces into the small chamber, four paces from the altar, and placed them on a line with the sides of the altar. Joshua stood motionless, facing the door on the eastern side of the chamber, his hands held over his breast in an attitude of prayer. Esmerelda touched Padeyevsky’s hands and then Ted’s to form them in the same posture. There was a pause, during which Theodore attempted to calm his mind, and Pablo, his mind already calming, reflected and then released thoughts of a church he had been taken to when he was a child. He had never thought to have clasped his hands in prayer again. Amen, he thought. So be it. Ritual is ritual, and I don’t suppose they could help using some of the same symbols.

Esmerelda, robed as was Joshua in gold, and wearing a cross on her breast of a very complex and intricately carved design, walked counterclockwise with slow steps around the chamber, and stopped by Joshua. They stood, shoulders touching, their eyes opening with a vivid clarity. “We are ready,” said Esmerelda.

Ringing with power and authority, Joshua’s voice pronounced the word, “Shemesh.” The sound vibrated through the temple and Esmerelda and Joshua seemed to see it with their eyes, watching it echo and strengthening its sound in the still air with the force of their will until there seemed to be, in front of their gazes, a bright place that shimmered with the effect of sunlight sifted through clouds; formless, but full of an untouchable life.

Esmerelda lifted her countenance towards Joshua’s, and her eyes closed briefly, just skimming shut, as though in some acquiescence. He bent his head to hers slightly, and they moved closer together behind the table. There was a pause, while silence seemed to settle about their touching shoulders like a mantle. Then, out of the silence and as a continuation of its protection, Joshua uttered the word, “Tiphareth.” Again, his voice seemed to vibrate with a timbre completely unlike his usual baritone speaking voice; it seemed quiet, but with the quiet that comes to the ear when it has heard a great deal of noise, and can no longer distinguish the actual volume it perceives. Again, the two pairs of magicians’ eyes stared into the atmosphere in front of them, watching its emptiness as carefully as the eagle watches the ground a mile below. There was no prey awaited here of earthly nature: they waited only for the blessing of the one who protects this planet, the one whose rays are the flashing light of the sun, and whose name had here been called.

The pause was as short as any time of concentration is short, as long as any time of desire. And then the motes of shadowed sunlight that had seemed to dance in front of Esmerelda and Joshua brightened, and for a tiny second of time, there seemed to be a flame about them both, and a blazing light in the whole temple. Pablo and Theodore stood nearby terrified by the evident power in the chamber with them, but the light seemed almost to become a part of Esmerelda and Joshua, as they who invoked this blessing accepted and assimilated it.

It was time now for the ritual itself, the purification of their place, which was the necessary prelude to a successful contact with the planet of light. There was a nearly imperceptible movement of separation between the two magicians as Esmerelda became again and more obviously Joshua’s assistant. He made the sign of the cross on brow, breast, and shoulders, very slowly. At each point of the cross he spoke a word: “Ateh, Malkuth, Ve Geburah, Ve Gedulah.” As he crossed his hands on his breast, saying, “Le Olahm Amen,” it seemed that the flame that had been about the two began to shine as the tracings of the cross. Joshua drew out more of this light as he drew in the air a five-sided figure with the top point at the top of the cross, and its five sides like a star superimposed upon it. After the star had been drawn and had begun glowing with the light of the cross, Joshua moved his hand in a swift and short stabbing motion in front of his breast and said the name, “Yod-Heh-Vau-Heh.”

With Esmerelda at his side, eyes focused in total concentration upon the forms in front of them, Josh turned from east to south, then west, then north, then back to the east again, building the five-pointed star in each direction and speaking the ritual words. “Ah-Doh-Ni” he spoke at the south, at the west “Eh-He-Heh,” at the north “Ah-Gla.” The words bodied forth into the shining air the shapes he drew, and he and Esmerelda were surrounded, at the end of their turning, with forms of light that all but hid them from Theodore and Pablo. The fence of white right shimmered before them for several minutes, while Joshua slowly raised his arms to make one great cross of his body, and Esmerelda closed her eyes and stood, chin lifted, arms at her sides, lending all her will to his.

Then Joshua spoke once more, his voice still vibrating with that fullness which marked Joshua the magician. “Before me, Raphael. Behind me, Gabriel. On my right hand, Michael. On my left hand, Uriel,” he said. And the watchers saw the light burst into colors and glints of substance: yellow, blue, red, green, and all the complements and undertones of those colors, one at each of the four directions. There was the breeze of gentle air, the soft gleam of light through water, the hard sheen of steel, the smell of ripe wheat and fragrant hay. The two that watched wanted to hide their eyes, and yet the will that would have raised their hands or shut their eyes was not theirs to command, for it was caught up in the power of the ritual, practiced many times by the two white magicians before them but never accomplished with such visible strength. For only now did the wills of the two practicing these rites come into complete union; only now was the work done completely. And as the strength of the two at last reached the perfection of its use, Joshua spoke the words that ended the ritual of preparation:

“For around me flame the pentagrams, and above me shines the six-rayed star.”

The ceremony of preparation was over; it was time now for the summoning. Esmerelda stepped the four paces to Theodore, took him by the hand, and placed him with her, directly in front of Joshua, between him and the altar. They stood, hand in hand, their eyes closed in concentration, their posture straight with it, lending all their will to Joshua’s. There was utter silence for a long pause; they could feel a building tightness in the air. Then the many-colored light became white again, and two centers began to appear in the whiteness, molding light to themselves until all the light was built into two forms, two people made of light, with a twin shaft of light uniting the two forms of Esmerelda and Theodore, and continuing from them both into the air above their heads, disappearing through the ceiling of the little temple.

“Will you come?” asked Joshua.

“We will come, and we will serve,” they spoke in reply.

As these words faded from hearing, the forms faded from sight, taking the magically charged light with them and restoring the atmosphere inside the chamber to the normalcy of quiet, everyday air. The ritual was over, and it had succeeded.

The four members of its performance stirred, and began to walk to the door of the temple in silence. The waiting was over, and the action had begun. So thought Padeyevsky and Theodore, and so thought Esmerelda, until she took a close look at Joshua. He wasn’t really sharing in the moment of triumph, she thought; he was apart, somehow. She gazed at him until he felt her eyes, and returned the glance. Over his eyes a veil had been drawn; she would have to leave him to himself for now. Following the other two, who were quite unaware of this interchange of unspoken thoughts, she hastened towards Josh’s house. But, as she hurried, she felt the shadow descend into her mind: something was not as it should be. For Joshua’s gaze had held an unexplained, but very real trouble. It would be necessary to wait until he was ready to talk about it. Esmerelda gave a mental shrug and left Josh to himself.

Joshua had remained inside the temple, with the trouble in his mind. His eyes lifted their veil, and he sat down on the floor of the small chamber, his back to the altar, facing the door, as he often sat during his times of quiet and study. As he sat, he looked before him, and very quickly a form of light began to solidify in front of him. Unlike the two young, slim forms that had appeared during the ritual, this form was in the image of wisdom and age: a gaunt face, bearded, with its features and bones seemingly cut from chalk stone, white as its long robe. The sage’s long hair moved upon his shoulders as he looked down at the form of Joshua, which had bowed to the floor, and he spoke:

“Rise, my son, and be of calm spirit. I come, because you have called, but not to bring you the answers that you seek. For these answers are not within the realm of this planet’s aura. You have this evening done a thing that few on this planet’s surface have dared to do: you have summoned from the light of another planet counterparts of two of your number that are much more polarized towards the good than is thinkable on this planet. You have summoned, from the purity and the blackness in us all, the purity which does not dwell within us on this planet, but yet dwells in our total selves. You have acted as a part of the one who is all, and you have done as you think best, using your free will. This is your privilege, and I say to you that if you had not polarized very strongly towards the light, you would not have been capable of this act. It was your choice to find light, and it has been your choice to bring it here. We of the teaching realm could not instruct you towards any act; we could only make suggestions regarding your thinking and your intentions. This act cannot be either approved or disapproved by us, for such thinking is beyond our knowledge and understanding. I can speak to you only of the peace and the love of the Infinite One, which shall be with you always in your efforts to serve Him. I leave you in His love and in His light. Farewell, my brother. Farewell.”

The image of the teacher faded away as Joshua stared at it, until it was completely gone. The darkness of night had come to the garden, and Joshua sat against the altar no more than a shape, still and shadowed. His eyes closed and remained so for many minutes, opening only once, as his private thoughts brought him to his teacher, and a brief expression of exasperation crossed his face; his eyes flickered open.

Then his eyes closed again, and he was still, seemingly lost within the huddled shape of his physical body from that earthly essence that was Joshua Starr, the virile, surefooted man, and equally lost from the powerful, wise magician of the ritual. The spaces within his crouched body had become vast and empty, and within them, sitting small and lonely, was a third Joshua, a Joshua without personality or pattern; a formless entity whose essence was of this Earth but which yet partook of none of its stimuli. It was simply an entity, nothing more, as a tree was an entity, and the entity roused Joshua up at last and took him outside, to stand in the darkness of his garden. He seemed to have lost his sense of time; he only stood and blended, with the trees, with the ground that nourished them, with the air that stirred them. And as he stood he spoke to the infinity of darkness that was within him and without him; his Creator was everywhere, and to himself did he speak his thoughts. For it had happened that, at the time of his greatest doubting, Joshua had no one to speak with except this audience. His friends were up a hill in a house made tiny to his eyes by the distance it stood from him; he could not join them, and the Joshua that had brought him to this time of doubting had lost the ability to ask them to join him. And yet, in the loneliness of this night, he stood as a continuation of the abundance of the creation all about him, and he could speak his thoughts. And he opened his heart and he spoke.

“Out of the shifting sands of a thousand deserts comes the changing outlines of the surface of the planet; the mountains stand for a little while, to our eyes strong and unchanging; the sands come, and the mountains slowly are no more. People are far, far less permanent: the mountain is of flesh only, and the eroding elements have no need to be as harsh as the biting pieces of sand. And the thoughts of people are even less permanent than the people. Their shape is unknown to human eyes, for the material which makes them up is stuff too delicate to see: it is the medium of dreams, and its texture is thin and loose as air.

“And I stand here, on this living planet, and it breathes in, because it is night. Tomorrow, it will turn to the attraction of the day and exhale the sun’s light. Its rhythms are long, compared with the quick breaths of men, who breathe a thousand times before the planet has respired once. And the world within this pulsating mankind, the world of thought, has a respiration a thousand times quicker than even that of lungs and atmosphere: it thinks and thinks in unnumbered themes and variations, pausing long, long between each thought, pausing for the time it takes the creation to become fuller by each thought, pausing to turn to the sun or to the darkness for inspiration to think again.

“And men do not move separately, nor think separately. The atmosphere of one man’s thoughts touches other atmospheres, other thoughts, and their interaction becomes part of the creation. The meeting of world on world is perceived only dimly by us, because its nature is a thousand times beyond language and intellect. And yet thoughts, and the uniting of thoughts, are powerful, and move the universe.

“And where, in this combining of thoughts, does responsibility lie?” Joshua turned his closed eyes even higher to the night sky. “Who is responsible for this thing that we have done together this day.

“In truth, am I not responsible for all that is to come, in that my will was the leading one? What changes in their lives am I not responsible for, now that I have done this thing?

“And yet, I attempted nothing but the good. But what good is an attempt? What can we know, we creatures of the intellect, who can use only tools which are worthless? What conclusions did I come to by the use of this intellect that could be of any good?

“But if I was not placed in the physical world to act, then why was I placed here at all? For without action, there is no use for the physical environment. And all action is somehow a product of our consciousness, and all we can do is direct that consciousness towards our goals as best we can. What am I but the energy and the bias that is called consciousness, which has assimilated a chemical body and learned to stand erect upon the surface of this planet?

“And this energy that is myself moves with each of my actions so as to polarize, either towards the good or towards the evil side. With each of my actions I move from the center towards the unity of light or towards the separation of darkness, and yet how can I know when or how far I move, or in what direction? For I have only this intellect to use, this idiotic game-player of a mind.

“But Esmerelda and I tried, so long and so hard, to learn anyway, even on this plane and with these tools. And in our strength we decided to act in this way so as to bring this planet towards that positive pole of light.

“And why, why did it not strike me before that to bring outsiders here is to violate that goodness which is free will? For is it a good or an evil thing to force anyone to do or think anything? And is it not by force that we shall disrupt the evil on this planet, if we confront it with the light of a truly positive being, a pure product of a planet of unity? Can any evil ignore it? Can those who do not seek avoid finding?

“Oh,” said Joshua, “surely there is no doubt that what we have done, intended so for the good, may by this error be evil enough to cancel out the good, and bring confusion instead of peace?

“But perhaps my intellect is only producing these thoughts in its confusion; perhaps the fact that is important is that I have acted with all my strength on behalf of the one who is all. This is my gift to Him, my gift to the creation that is His.

“But of my wisdom I am not sure. I have lived, and I have acted, but I can never comprehend all that I have seen and done. “And yet I wish you peace, my planet, for now I am your child, and am humble before you. Peace, beloved planet; peace, peace be with you, creation of the Father.”

Then the Joshua who was a stranger to the strength of his body began to take its leave. His everyday self began to fill up his earthly frame, and a Joshua capable of facing the house up the hill, with his beloved friends inside, began the walk towards the house, preparing himself to remove the robes which kept him from them, dropping from his consciousness that lack of identity, that oneness with the creation, that he had assumed. What he had puzzled out in his time alone could not be dropped from his mind, for he was a man, a creature of intellect, and doubt was not to be shrugged away. But he put it away within himself and took the burden of its presence as his own burden, as he turned from the dark paths of the garden and walked, head lowered for the climb, up the hill to the waiting house.

Joshua’s bonds with the three who awaited him were both strong and subtle. There were real affinities between him and Pablo Padeyevsky. Both were ruthless men. Padeyevsky was ruthless because of a lack of subtlety, and grew slowly wise through straightforward faith and seeking, using his tremendous intellect and ability to concentrate in equal doses. Joshua had become ruthless slowly and because of an unending subtlety of nature, and because of a sense of humor that partook more and more of pain, until when he laughed, it was as if he cried, and he ceased both to laugh and to cry.

His wisdom was built on this pain and its surcease, for such is always the road to wisdom for a subtle man. He had become outwardly congenial, simple, and successful as a product of his pain, and he had studied white magic as a product of the only part of his thinking that pain could not touch: the faculty of hope. Joshua the man, having decided to enjoy the accoutrements of success, decided to work in the mass media. What better place to be successful, if you understood the folly of so many people? Joshua had the reputation, as a television writer and personality, of turning every project he touched into pure gold. His excellent, intuitive mind had no trouble manipulating the minds of his audience.

And he and Pablo shared their success and their will to succeed, their ruthlessness and their minds’ abilities. The combination was a good one for friendship. Neither of them had other close friends. Pablo had no other friends at all; Joshua had many acquaintances who thought of themselves as his friends, without knowing that he did not reciprocate the feeling. No one except the small group waiting for Joshua fathomed anything of him past the first shell of personality, the good-looking, magnetic Joshua who could always be counted on to say something witty, or biting, or both, in any conversation. Pablo alone sensed the ruthless quiet beneath that congenial character, and Joshua felt correspondingly more comfortable around Pablo than around other men. Joshua understood Pablo too; he saw and forgave the coarseness of thinking that accompanies lack of humor, and saw also the seeking thirst for knowledge that actuated the man. They genuinely liked each other, and found each other’s mental atmospheres very capable of combination.

But Joshua’s strongest bond among the three who waited for him was not with Pablo; it was with Esmerelda. In terms of instinctive thought-bythought matching it was not strong, for although Esmerelda was capable of closely reading Joshua’s expressions and moods, his ability to understand or even fully notice her was limited severely by the fact that he still thought of her as the nine-year-old that he had begun teaching as an apprentice ten years ago. And yet, even though the time for speaking their bond into anything more than friendship had come and gone, there was still more to their relationship than the simple bond of friendship. For they were man and woman, and the feeling between them partook of that polarity. To Joshua, Esmerelda represented all that he hoped for: all good, all positivity. Esmerelda in her turn looked upon Joshua with the fuller understanding of which she was capable, and saw the great sadness of his deeper self, and took that sadness for her own, though she never spoke of it. She saw his love for her too, and cherished it as well, although this was never spoken either, and in silence she gathered him mentally to her and comforted him with the medicine of her gentleness. She did not understand the real wilderness of his lack of feeling for the world: she did not understand any part of negative thinking first-hand, and could not conceive it to be so. She missed the same ruthless lack of feeling for the rest of humanity in Pablo. They helped her miss it, and so the cold side of their natures was always turned from her. Which did not void the very real mingling that these three spirits enjoyed.

The fourth member, Theodore, had little real closeness with Padeyevsky or Josh. He was closest to Esmerelda; she had given his naive and inchoate personality a center from which to build. He had met nothing in his previous life which was capable of stirring him to real emotion; Esmerelda stirred him. The two were close as people who have been married for years are close: they had become comfortable together, and his world of intellectual seeking and ceaseless spiritual wandering had expanded to fit in the strong emotions of love for another human being, and surcease from loneliness. Each thought of his touched Esmerelda’s world of thought and found a companion. There was an automatic closeness between them that came, not from meeting first on this planet, as these people, but from many times of closeness in many, many times and places far separated from this present illusion, so that their thinking had blended in a final way. All his life Theodore had been totally uninterested in strength of any kind; now he had discovered his own strength. Esmerelda did not so much love him as recognize him; he was a part of her, and she of him. She, already strong, found support for her strength, for Theodore understood and cherished it. And Esmerelda, who had understood so much, and comforted so carefully, was understood and comforted.

From the webbing of thought which these four had made came power which was far greater than the sum of the strength of thought of each added to each; the power had been sufficient to raise the hand of their will and be felt.

Josh came through the door more slowly than was his usual habit, and closed the screen against the night breeze with some thoughtful deliberation. He turned, and Esmerelda watched carefully, as she had in the temple. Something was wrong. This time Joshua was aware enough of the outside world to see her glance; he returned it for a few seconds and then nodded, wordlessly. She rose from the couch and went to the bar. “I’ll fix you a drink, Josh,” she said. “Sit down and tell us what you think.”

“I think we’ve done it,” said Josh, sitting and accepting his glass. Esmerelda sat too, absentmindedly, on the edge of the couch and turned a face to Josh that was a tangle of several different expressions, a smile of success vying with a puzzled frown and bits and pieces of worry for Josh. “We couldn’t sit here for a whole incarnation and not even try, Josh. We’ve been working towards this for so long now, and when Theodore came …” She broke off. “What is it?” she said.

Josh sat looking at his glass, turning it around in his hand. “It’s all right,” he said.

“Is it that you’re worried they won’t succeed when they get here?”

“No, no. It’s not that at all.”

There was silence for a minute as Joshua closed his worry around himself and decided to speak no further. Theodore sat quietly, the most contented of the group. “How did you really know about me?” he asked.

Esmerelda pulled her attention from Joshua, whose mind was still in turmoil as far as she could tell. “Well, Ted, when you and I were born, we were born for a special reason. I suppose everyone is, but our reason was more obvious than some: the focus of our existence has been this ritual, its preparation and its consequences. Joshua and I discovered this, dimly at first and then more and more clearly through the years as we became more powerful. We discovered that there was to be a man involved in the ritual, and we knew you to be the one as soon as you came to Pablo. He guessed just from your being such a genius, from that paper that you turned in, and from the way you look, but as soon as you and I had been together for a little time I could tell much more surely, because of the way our consciousnesses fitted together. And, just the way this ritual echoed through time and space to call us here, so has it called our spiritual counterparts from the planetary system which we have seen in our meditations. It must be a very long way away, for it doesn’t seem to be known here in its physical configuration at all. But the important thing is that these two are our counterparts, and partake of the same consciousness. And the theory is, anyway, that through this union of ourselves here and ourselves from a planet totally in the Creator’s light may come an understanding of the conditions that have brought about the negativity that now resides on this planet. And, we have hoped, then we can do something, or begin something, that may have positive effect on this planet of our choosing. For we live on a planet that is diseased. And it would be a blessed thing to make it well.”

“That’s right,” said Pablo, “and there’s not very much time left, for the negativity is gaining very fast here. And, once it is chosen by enough people, by their free will, Esmerelda and Josh say there’s nothing that can be done without interference with the free will of many who live here. We’d just have to leave the planet to its negative polarity.”

“But right now,” said Esmerelda, “we’ve decided that there would be no infringement upon the collective free will of the planet if we just brought a beginning, just two people here.” She paused, her eyes suddenly clearing. “Joshua, is that what’s troubling you? Have you had second thoughts about free will being violated by all this?”

Joshua gave her a look that she recognized as one of reprimand. “Later.” He turned to Theodore. “We were so glad that you came. Without you, I don’t think there would have been any chance of this ritual succeeding. One person, no matter how powerful, simply does not have the available power of two people together, and in order to be able to summon the counterparts from our sister galaxy, we had to have the corresponding two here. With you here, it seems that we were successful. We can only hope that we have done well. Many teachers have been here in the physical before, and they have striven for good, but still the negativity has thrived. Perhaps this effort too shall fail, and those that are upon this surface will be bound closer and closer to evil, until we are all spiraled deep into the abyss of blackness that has taken a few other planets from the light of the Creator. Even now, as you have already seen in your life, and spoken of to Pablo, there is little or nothing on this planet that society does that partakes of any wisdom whatever. All we can do now is hope to begin a series of events that will give men on this planet a choice between good and evil, so that they can see both sides of consciousness, both the unity and the separation, and can choose freely between them.”

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