Tag Archives: wonder

Wonder: The First Vital Grace of Cabal Fang

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.”

I am so High Right Now


It’s a clear and cool morning with a wonderful sunrise dawning.  I have sounded the temple bell three times and performed the simple rites — the greeting of the Sun, the burning of the incense, the candle offering, the clearing of the space and the contemplation.

There is baggage behind me and there are problems before me, obstacles to overcome in the hours and days ahead,  things to do, endure, and achieve.  But this morning I have allowed my body to feel every breath of the breeze, allowed my spirit to hum a tune in synch with the universal rhythm, allowed myself to merely be.

I go forward now to face my day with a heart, mind, and body filled with easy bliss.

Riffing on a Fortune Cookie

wpid-20150419_055349.jpgI like fortune cookies.  To be clear, it’s not the cookies I like so much but the fortunes inside.  They’re fun.  I love that moment of anticipation as you prepare to pop it open and wonder what it’s going to say.  And afterward you can do that thing where you add “…in bed” or “…in jail” to the end of the message and make it funny.

(Pro Tip: When you order Chinese delivery they always give you way more cookies than you need.  Save them up so that next time you have people over for dinner you can give everybody a cookie at the end of the meal.)

Like all life’s experiences, opening a fortune cookie is what you make it.   I once got a message that said I was a true friend.  That message helped me realize that I wasn’t being such a good friend to someone.  If you want to learn things — here’s a shocker — you have to listen.  A fortune cookie can be the first sentence of a conversation with yourself.  Open one.  Read it.  Ask yourself if the message is appropriate, true, or possible.

On Saturday I got the message you see above: “Keep on charging the enemy so long as there is life.”  And yes, I added “…in bed” to the end.  Not so funny.  But when I thought about it, it came to me that the enemy is me.

Lately I’ve been following my writing and workout routines in a mechanical way.  I haven’t been taking joy in simple things.  In this context, “charging the enemy” means that I need to continuously challenge myself to be relaxed, open, and receptive.  I need to switch off my autopilot and engage the controls.

Without a sense of wonder, life is as dry and lifeless as a somewhat stale, vaguely sweet, mass-produced cookie in a plastic bag.  But when your sense of wonder is fully in gear, inside every experience there is a mystery, a joy, and a pleasure.

Fairy Pool Surprise

Fairy Pool at Bryan Park

Fairy Pool at Bryan Park

The first of the Five Vital Graces of Cabal Fang is Wonder.

A powerful sense of wonder inoculates against cynicism, encourages empathy and peace, and generally makes the colors of the world around seem brighter.

On a whim, with a few minutes to spare, I pulled the truck into the park and took a walk.  I saw may wondrous things, amazing things really.

Can I prove that, when I’m not around, fairies play in splash in this pool?  Of course not.  But I can imagine that they do.  I can hope that they do.  Because a world with fairy pools in it is a much more interesting world than a world without them.

And then I can go get back in the truck, and I run my errands.  I go and practice martial arts and think about self defense, and all the dangers and horrors that the world around me threatens.

But through it all I know that for every evil in the world there are a thousand beauties, and miracles, and wonders seen and unseen.