Copyright © 2010 by William R. Mistele. All rights reserved.
Ahmed the Wizard
(from Undines: Lessons from the Realm of the Water Spirits)
There are a great many tales I could tell about Istiphul. But these pertain directly to issues that must be addressed if I am to reveal Istiphul to the world. Consider this story about Ahmed the Wizard.
Ahmed, with the power of Merlin, could summon Istiphul and keep her with him. But Ahmed did not realize that when it comes to the intricacies of magic and the heart, the issues are seldom those of the subtle nuances of servitude and domination, of mastery over nature, or of Mars over Eros. When dealing with Istiphul, the issues are altogether different.
Ahmed was a giant man. He had a thick neck and dark eyes with an uncanny, penetrating gaze. He had a lion’s roar for a laugh. And though Ahmed was jovial most of the time, when he was not, he sometimes had a fiendish look on his face. An insatiable hunger was devouring him from inside.
But what was his hunger for? For knowledge? For mysterious ways to gain power? For some dark mystery hidden beyond the stars? Who could ever really say for sure? After all, as everyone knew back in that age, magicians and wizards are half-breeds. Their bloodlines mix with those of dragons or salamanders, devils or angels, creatures known or unknown, or celestial beings galore.
Of course, I am not arguing for the existence of angels or demons. I wish only to point out that at times we experience hungers and desires that are stronger than we are and that defy our attempts to understand them. But there are always a few individuals who will hold nothing back in seeking to master what is hidden within them.
I speak of wizards and bards. And this is because they usually make it a vocation to pursue the mystery and beauty of life. They will stop at nothing. They will risk sorrow, loss, and regret in order to fulfill their quests. They may be wise or foolish, possessed of high ideals or corrupt. But they know better than to rely on secondhand information or hearsay evidence when it comes to experiencing life. It is not that they violate morality or disregard science or reason. It is that they seek to be complete in ways unknown to society.
As for Ahmed? His approach was systematic and experimental. His will was implacable as he sought to comprehend the energies underlying nature. Though, like any scientist, Ahmed preferred empirical observation, in a pinch he would use magic to supplement his methods.
And so, one day Ahmed gazed upon his crystal ball in search of the mystery of water. With his clairvoyant vision, he beheld the vast, magnetic field of energy—the sea—that cloaks this planet in unfathomable beauty. Then he spoke aloud, as was his custom. He drew a sigil or two in the air. He burnt a little incense. He set a jewel in the sunlight in front of a mirror. He waved his hand over a silver bowl filled with seawater. And then he spoke to his crystal with a quiet voice that resonated throughout the room.
This is what he said:
Show me the sea and the spirit that dwells within it. Show me her essence, pure and clear. Show me that creature so hidden that mortals are forbidden to speak of her. Bring her for me to see, to feel, to smell, to taste, to touch. Materialize her presence so she is real! Transport her here and now. I will have nothing less than her caress to ease the pain within my soul!
You may begin to understand Ahmed from those words. He was a bold adventurer. He had a good sense of command, an iron will, massive power, and, of course, a hunger like a raging dragon.
With the intensity of air the instant before lightning strikes, Ahmed prepared to bind another to his will. Few spirits could resist—even I must admit that Ahmed had the rare and powerful profile of a wizard belonging to a small and elite social class. Obviously, Ahmed was more focused than poor Donovan and thus was probably not likely to lose his body due to infatuation.
Within moments after he called Istiphul, Ahmed’s crystal filled with a cold, softly burning light. Within that light Istiphul appeared. This was neither an image nor a reflection. It was a direct link—an unmistakable presence.
Ahmed’s first thought was,
What is this? A garden in the wilderness? An oasis within the eye of a desert? A well of living water? I see a light that shines even amid the greatest darkness of the soul! A light that can pierce Vishnu’s knot in an instant!
And there he sat, entranced, neither blinking nor moving, his breathing undetectable. Ahmed dared not lose even for a moment what he held in his gaze. He traced every thread of the connection, memorizing it, analyzing it, devouring the pathway that linked his mind to Istiphul, who dwells in the sea.
But to Istiphul, Ahmed was a soul haunted by emptiness. A woman might be offended if a man tries to reveal all her secrets and discover the very feelings that arise from the core of her being. She might consider such an attempt by a man to be overly aggressive and invasive. But this does not offend Istiphul.
With a single note of music, she can beckon the flowing essence of the entire sea—in all its languid and tranquil receptivity and nourishing presence—to caress her shoulders, to shine from her breasts, or to shimmer in the soft curves of her hips. So when it comes to spells of enchantment or to wagering sheer willpower against the distilled essence of beauty, we might do well to place our bets on Istiphul. When it comes to magical, ocean-styled erotic arts and sensory bliss, Istiphul’s skill has no equal on earth.
Istiphul saw that Ahmed viewed himself as a giant cavern beneath the earth—a dark, unknown place. As Ahmed explored these depths, he found that reason and wisdom alone were unable to light his path or explain the powers he found within himself. But Istiphul was not uneasy or put off by the discovery that the mystery within another has no boundaries or is beyond the power of the mind to define. For Istiphul, Ahmed simply had a need like any other—to find a place of peace, a restful place where bliss is unleashed by a caress.
And since Ahmed’s mind was not capable of swallowing the ocean whole, at least not on his own, Istiphul offered her knowledge and the release hidden in the sea: a place of enfolding depths, a place to drift and to float free. Here he could wander in safety. Here is a peace that flows like a stream from the dawn of time to the ends of eternity.
She offered Ahmed a path of beauty, a wilderness belonging to the heart: the sea yields and surrenders itself even as it embraces a thousand beaches and even more islands. Without being less of a man, Ahmed discovered he could relax, let go of his knowledge and quests, and flow with whatever sensation or feeling the moment was revealing. And so on countless nights, with far more skill than Donovan could ever imagine, Ahmed left his body to walk with Istiphul on all the seas’ beaches. He learned to see through Istiphul’s eyes the night, the sky, and the sand. He listened and learned the ways of the waves as they blessed the shore, curling over each other and caressing one another.
As wizards are wont to do, Ahmed could also fill his tower room with the element of water, so much so that the air flowed blue-green and felt thick, wet, and salty. There, Istiphul appeared before him and held him tenderly. She caressed him with waves of magnetic energy. She spoke to him softly of mysteries and wonders that have not yet entered even the dreams of mankind.
And so it was that within this enormous man, who had a fiendish hunger like a giant cavern without end, lay a tranquil sea. At the end of his desire, standing amid the sea, was this beautiful creature. Istiphul already knew far more than Ahmed himself about the roots of his desires: she knew his quest, loneliness, pain, sorrow, tension, and his path of fulfillment.
Istiphul learned from Ahmed as well. When a woman’s intimacy with a man is genuine, it is not difficult for her to learn his secrets or to absorb the internal forces that drive him. For example, Istiphul learned how to focus her powers of attraction so that even a wizard’s will would dissolve. She was no longer content to lapse during spare moments into pure sensuality—to feel at the core of her being the foam sailing free from a thousand waves and the songs of release they were singing.
No, Istiphul learned to focus herself so she could match Ahmed’s level of concentration. To be his counterpart and his equal, she needed to contain the fire burning within him. To this end, she learned how to gather all of her experience, knowledge, and magic and distill it into one feeling. She could then transfer this feeling to Ahmed as a gift.
Imagine what this would be like: imagine taking all the sensations, feelings, and moods that the seas create; imagine binding that beauty and wild passion into one light, one dream, or one vision of completion, and then being able to transmit this to another through your eyes, the touch of your skin, or a kiss.
Yet being the object of an undine’s love has its downside. Ahmed let slip his systematic quest for knowledge. His scientific methodology and his magical will were both compromised. Ahmed found mysteries enough in being with his mistress. The rest of the world seemed gray by comparison next to the light shining from Istiphul’s face. Even that city where he dwelt, Isfahan, that city of splendor and unmatched beauty, grew pale and uninteresting. When Istiphul sang to him he forgot where he was.
A king may lay claim to the treasures and resources of a realm. Other than the occasional need for entertainment or diversion, he will occupy his time with securing his borders and administering his kingdom. Similarly, Ahmed occupied himself with Istiphul.
What happened then was this: rather than being the leviathan of a mental giant with a great will searching the universe, Ahmed’s will weakened. It became enough to enter the sea with his mind and to float, dream, and drift with Istiphul by his side, her body’s magnetic field caressing and illuminating his heart and soothing every nerve and fiber of his being.
Incidentally, someone like Freud might say that Ahmed regressed back to the state of an infant being rocked in his mother’s arms. In truth, Ahmed did have a rather horrid childhood, what with wars, chaos, and slaughter—among other things—as he grew up.
However, back in the city Ahmed was said to have lost his fiendish look as well as his joviality. He became absent-minded. Yet he had a powerful and healing magnetic touch—if you only could find him. Ahmed could heal almost any disease. And many noticed that his eyes radiated the sensation of a great depth, though at the same time a small but cold and burning light shone within them.
One might ask at this point whether or not this was truly a tragic tale. Istiphul only did what she does so well: she embodied the magnetic essence of water, which she offers to any who would drink from her well. It is not for her to counsel or guide those who seek her out.
Technically speaking, by the stringent regulations governing a lineage of great magicians, Ahmed lost his destiny. It had been set aside for him to become wise in all things, as a gentile prophet. Ahmed’s task had been to present the wisdom that would guide nations, illuminate minds, and bring justice and harmony to mankind. Perhaps even the Crusades might have been abandoned had Ahmed been on the scene to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement in regard to Jerusalem. But his obsession with the sweet peace of the sea led him to lose the gift he was destined to receive.
Destiny and desire often strive with each other in a wild dance of ambition and surrender. How many sages and magicians have yet to learn that ecstasy is neither the reward nor the path but a wondrous treasure hidden in every moment and in every breath?
So, need I summarize the story of Ahmed? Is there a moral? Are these tales going to scare off the faint of heart? Let me answer this way.
It has been said that every man, in his soul, knows perfect love, but he must go on a quest to find it. A few have returned having given all to this search. They tell us that such love demands more than heart or mind can imagine. And yet they also say that if you can even dream of love such as this, your life will be blessed because the light in your heart will never go out. Or, as Solomon might have said, the wisdom required to fulfill this quest does not come cheap.