Here’s a teaser for the next martial arts book which I’m working on now — the 100,000+ word redux of the Cabal Fang Martial Arts Manual which will be released later this year. This is the section on WONDER, the first and foremost of the Five Vital Graces of Cabal Fang, which are WONDER, SAGACITY, FRUGALITY, INDOMITABILITY, and FRATERNITY/SORORITY.
It’s impossible to find your way in total darkness. And so, because it’s the light of Wonder that illuminates the work of transformation that is the ultimate goal of Cabal Fang, Wonder is the first and foremost of the Five Vital Graces.
Some of us are blessed with an easy path through the world, but for most of us the quest to find our better selves often leads through tangled, troubling territory. It may be tempting to think of Wonder as the light at the end of the tunnel, but Wonder is something far more complex and powerful. Wonder is every light at the end of every tunnel; it is the very idea that light exists on the other side of every darkness. For without a sense of Wonder, the world is flat, hopeless, featureless and dead. Wonder is, in essence, the experience of our internal voice speaking the words, “Let there be light.”
Our wonder is with a capital “W”, that is to say, it’s “the father of all works of wonder in all the world” or as it is written, “Pater omnis telesmi totius mundi est hic.” This quote is from a Latin version of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, a very ancient and important document which will be fully introduced and covered in Chapter 5. Now this word telesmi which is italicized in the quote above is an important choice of words. Telesmi is a Latinization of the Greek word telesma, “a rite of consecration” which is in turn related to télos “a payment, accomplishment, or initiation” which comes I suspect from the myth of the departed paying the ferryman to guide the way across the river Styx. Telesma and télos are the root from which the word talisman originates, a talisman being a magical charm conferring benefits, powers, and/or protection.
What this means is that Wonder is our talisman – our antidote to and protection against cynicism, pettiness, triviality and darkness – and it encompasses all three of the telelsmi – consecration, initiation, and protection — into its three-parted light.
There is the light of the Sun, which is the creative light; the light of the Moon, which is the reflective light; and there is the light of the Stars, which is the revealed light. In the terrestrial, material world, the Sun’s light is responsible for the growth of all things. Without it our planet would be a frozen rock. None of the humans, plants or animals we take for granted, and none of the ecosystems they make up, could possibly exist. Metaphorically, this is paternal power of creativity, processes, organization, and structure. We are manifesting Sun power whenever we plant a garden, organize our personal lives, form our thoughts, frame an argument, start a company, construct a building. The light of the Moon is the reflected light of the Sun, beloved of all wayfarers, the nighttime light that guides us through a dark world. It is the maternal, accepting, gentle, empathic, and flexible light. When we sit quietly on our back porch and “reflect” on the events of the day we are manifesting the light of the Moon. The light of the Stars, the revealed light, is the light that shines through the pinpoints of the heavens. This is the light of knowledge and insight that comes to us from beyond, from angels, ancestors, and forces that we can barely comprehend if we can at all. When, upon reaching adulthood, we suddenly understand the wisdom of our parents, or when something brilliant suddenly dawns on us, we are experiencing starlight.
And so, when we gaze out at some breathtaking vista, from a high mountain top down onto a beautiful valley; when we stand at the base of a mountain and look up at its snowy top; when we see fish jumping in the rolling hills of the deep green, unbridled sea; when we suddenly understand that we are witnessing a miracle, like the embrace of a true friend or the delicate face of our firstborn child, we are struck by the threefold light of Wonder. We are overcome by the creative light, the light of the majesty of creation. At the same time, the reflective light fills us with empathy, making us feel small and yet somehow also important in the grand scheme; and finally we are struck by sudden awareness and deep, unbidden feelings and insights that are revealed to us as if by starlight.
This is why it is written, also in the Emerald Table, “Thus thou wilt possess the glory of the brightness of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly far from thee.”