Skirting the Edge
Shaman of Centraxis 22
*The young Centraxian shaman gradually came to realise he was free – actually, truly, really free! – when he began xploring the rim of the great southern continent that surrounded his birthplace in the
The desperate teenager who’d found the weight of the world’s difficulties and expectations too onerous to bear was gone. Rank fears had been replaced by a burgeoning confidence that mirrored his newfound demeanour - yet Ram’s every step now appeared to be guided by the hand of an invisible puppet master. On many recent occasions he’d silently marvelled at the way the world seemed to open its arms to him and declare, “Take whatever you want! Take me!” Ram’yana gladly went with the flow, but suspected his path through life was being guided and prefigured by the timely suggestions of an invisible yet all-seeing advisor.
Moving and mingling among various secretive and rivalrous magical groups in the
A cautiously inveigling neutral expression was oftentimes tinged with sly curiosity or outright suspicion as he was surreptitiously examined by a peer or superior mage. Almost everyone the teenager knew and hung out with was older than he, and it was oft hard to tell if a magus or witch was simply making seductive overtures; a very common occurrence in their uninhibited milieu of orgiastic melees, swinging coupling and regular ménages.
Yet he gradually became aware that initiates and adepts of various covens and magical circles often nodded respectful if guarded acknowledgement - as if subtly greeting a nominally equal contemporary among far more experienced elders. Sometimes these looks betrayed an ego-inflaming hint of unheralded respect; occasionally they even verged upon an unexpected and inexplicable fearfulness.
Most true seekers and truly talented practitioners blended into the ubiquitous mundane milieu. They moved through shifting tides of humankind as unremarkable yet potently charged lodestones, drawing invisible wakes through a receptively somnambulant world - wavelets of change streaming around the powerful loci of their uncommonly wakeful wilfulness. Many a time the young mage had rubbed elbows with some unprepossessing Master or High Priestess, without being aware of the fact until alerted by a cautionary comment or advisory nudge from a helpful peer.
Ram’yana soon came to realise that the secretive habits and hidden orders within many competitive schools of Wicca, High Magic, Chakra Yoga, Satanism, Witchcraft, Tantra, Alchemy, Taoism, Crowleyan Magick and most other sects, cults and belief systems ensured their adherents maintained a faintly comical masquerade, wherein each player in the Royal Game was only vaguely aware of another’s true role, abilities, stature or intrinsic nature. Long centuries of occult suppression by new falsified religions had occluded everything of substance. Masters and Mistresses subsisted behind masks that assured protection and survival for the far more ancient verities they transmitted into the future.
Ram’s solo studies informed him that similar situations had pertained throughout the ages. The fraternal lodges of the last Enlightenment had been easily usurped and infiltrated by change agents, who exploited loopholes in codified and hierarchical old structures to graft new schools of magic onto ossifying systems of command and control. Established orders often used the same techniques to take over rival or newly appearing circles.
Just as had occurred within fractured and pathologically uncommunicative cells of revolutionary arcane lodges and prototype intelligence agencies, very few within modern magical fraternities or Wiccan sororities could be certain what others within their evolutionary clans and creeds might know or be capable of. They usually had even less idea of the status and abilities of those in other secretive groups.
The young mage couldn’t be sure which undistinguished individual may be privy to deeply arcane secrets. There were few ways to know whether a prancing peacock or regally costumed drama queen was a truly talented potentate or merely a theatrical dilettante pretender; not without violating the boundaries of ethics and privacy by resorting to psychic probes, divination or similar means. Most of these methods were easily detected and rebuffed by genuine practitioners and tended to make situations decidedly volatile and fractious.
Nor could Ram’yana accurately gauge the psychic abilities of those who were known to be masterful practitioners of the Great Work or Craft. Most gifted parties quickly learned various techniques of psychic defence and concealment and a precautionary scan could be all too easily mistaken for attack, importunate intrusion or sign of ill intent. Even a simple attempt to examine an initiate’s aura could meet with a savage response. All genuinely potent power was guarded by circles within circles.
Since his recent shamanic voyage to the undying borders beyond life, a fey voice had whispered gradually more intelligible messages into the awakening mage’s inner ear. Insightful suggestions defined glimpses of an underlying reality – a game plan behind the myriad masks of worldly appearance. The whispers soon swelled to a fully fledged voice, elucidating more subtle meanings and relationships than he’d hitherto been aware of; illuminating details which only the most perceptive elder initiate, adept or disembodied spirit could possibly know. The silent voice that filled Ram’s awareness bore all the hallmarks of a spirit guide – but the young shaman knew that many billions of spirits were garbed in thoroughly human bodies. Even as he marvelled at the insights provided by his unseen benefactor he slowly grew suspicious of their provenance.
When he espied the world through the lens of his advisor’s sight, bright glimmers of recognition and acceptance would shine in the eyes of contemporary and elder magi. Ram’yana understood he’d attained an indefinable yet integral role in the preternatural order that dwelt within humankind; a position that only became obvious when the unknown other’s eyes observed the world through his - quickening his latent talents toward fuller maturity and awakening him to the unfathomable benison of swiftly emergent gifts.
A year after his initiation into the Centraxian court, Ram’s death and rebirth had propelled their liege lord’s erstwhile Page unto a new plateau of focused perception. He’d adopted the role of the tribe’s allotted Shaman - Hierophant of the Centrax – to the mixed approval and consternation of his elders. Now, with or without the stagey props and educative edifices of divinatory tools, he could read the motivations and even the life-paths of others with dawning proficiency and burgeoning confidence.
He’d learned to cloak his innate insight behind a handy mask of palmistry, the oracular patterns of Tarot cards, or the I Ching’s yarrow stalks and square-holed Chinese coins. As Veritas - an unprepossessing associate of the fabled Witch of the Cross, Rowie Norton – had advised the shaman during a moonlit evening’s stroll from an upbeat gig at the downmarket Culture Palace; “Better to be regarded as a fool or knave than a sage; that way you can more easily continue to work unimpeded.”
Now he possessed – or was possessed by, he sometimes surmised – an advisory guide whose pointed remarks and suggestions came and went without warning or signal. Even as he absorbed the ineffable and mundane teachings imparted by the unseen being who’d accompanied him since his return from the brink of Beyond, Ram’yana wondered if he had simply become prey to one or more Adept or Master – someone inculcating him with telepathically imprinted concepts for some unknowable purpose of their own.
He often questioned his sanity, but was regularly reassured of his truly magical situation by serendipitously synchronous happenstances or by sage advice from mentors, friends and allies. Even as Ram’yana was tossed like a cork between clashing waves, Nathan the Marcon had swiftly noted the teenage magician’s premature ascendancy and the canny Welsh wizard had taken him aside during a boisterous backyard party to impart a few words of wisdom.
“So y’want to become a witch, hmm?” Nathan swung from side to side on a stringy hammock and stared up through passing panoplies of sculptured clouds that flitted across the star-freckled face of eternity. The frayed hammock swayed on a trellised front veranda of the antiquated cottage which they shared with two other brothers in alms. “Well y’don’t need no-one to teach y’what yer need to know – all of that comes natural, like, if yer really that way inclined.” He pinned the teenager with an icy glare and flicked a blonde fringe from his pinned blue eyes.
“Why d’yer want to concern yerself with all that rigmarole anyway? At your age I was interested in – well let’s say they was more down to earth things.” He climbed from the hammock to sit beside the young mage on the greying wooden planks of the porch, and immediately began fiddling with an antiquated wooden box of pre-electronic circuitry that was slowly melding into the fragile floorboards. “Yer ought to be off enjoying things with people yer own age – not hanging out with all these older types. They’ll eat yer up for breakfast if yer ain’t careful, y’know. And they’re mostly boring old farts.”
Nathan was Ram’s senior by thirteen incomprehensibly long years. His beamish Welsh lips thinned into a sardonic smile as he dusted out the interior of the old valve radio. He blew the dried rime and grime of neglectful decades into the porch light, using squeezes of air from a camera cleaning blower brush he produced from the pocket of an embroidered vest. “Y’need to get outside more, or work with yer hands. An’ a girlfriend wouldn’t hurt… not at first, anyway.”
“It isn’t like that for me right now. I…”
“Oh, so the high and mighty Sir Ramses is all so very different from everyone else, hmm? Not into girls, huh?” He winked at the frowning lad. “Or don’t y’need to live yer life, y’can just watch it on telly, or record it for later, when yer dead - just hiding out behind yer fillum camera, eh?” He blew a few more specks of dust from the outdated radio’s electrical connections and squinted into the exposed innards of the Art Deco cabinet.
“David James wants me to get this going for him,” he said, shaking his head as he placed the forty year old laminated wooden box on the desiccating floor of the hundred year old Red Cedar cottage. Rambunctious noises burst from the cottage’s living room as the sound system cranked up inside. “I don’t know why he’s bothering with it – the case is the only useful part, seeing as everything’s going to go F.M. now anyway…”
“Mayhap thou couldst retrofit…”
“Don’t talk to me like that – I’m not one of yer Centraxian hooligans,” the Marcon sneered while music and laughter spilled onto the porch from the open window. “Speak plain – I don’t go for all that finery and la-de-da Queen’s English bullshit. And of course I can squeeze a new tuner in here, but it’d be a real shame. It all works just right as it is.” He tapped the side of the cabinet to dislodge an errant shard of wood.
“I’ve got one thing to tell yer that yer really ought to listen to,” he said through a faint grimace. “Whether y’get it or not…” One of the Welshman’s thickly curling eyebrows bristled into an arc as he leant back against the trellis. “Handlin’ responsibility for yerself and givin’ yer actions over to a higher power is never a good idea – whatever those Anonymous Alcoholics reckon. Get it?”
“But I suspect it’s too late for that.” Ram’yana mirrored the Marcon’s expression with a matching grimace, inclining his head to glare back at the older hippy. Emerald eyes blazed in a shifting fragment of lava lamplight, flashing beneath the teenager’s high, prematurely lined brow. “We’re all wriggling on the end of a line cast by fishers of men, whose agendas are unknown and dubious at best.” Nathan stared at his young protégé with a glimmer of renewing interest as Ram’yana continued; “What more can one do, but seize the day and follow one’s destiny?”
“Jus’ be careful you don’t seize the hook, line an’ stinker. If I was you I’d be more concerned with freedom than with destiny. Or better yet, concentrate on what’s right in front of yer senses. If y’say yer interested in magic then take a good look at the real world – that’s real magic. It’s all right in front of us, all the time, but hardly anyone seems to see it fer what it is. That’s what we’re here for, y’know – to live!” He threw his head back and his nostrils flared as he inflating his lungs in a theatrical display of deep satisfaction.
“But how can I know this world isn’t all a dream? Or just another datura flashback?” Ram’yana stared through the barred latticework at a gilded half moon that slowly plummeted toward the spiked heart of the
“Good enough. Now go join the party. I need t’concentrate here.”
“So tell me – do you think there’s going to be a nuclear war? Isn’t that why all you hippies run away to the country?”
Ram’s fingers hook round the taut elastic of Natasha’s bikini briefs. “Actually,” he begins, conspicuously matching her uppity diction with a lopsided smile and a gentle tug; “we generally live in the bush, not the ‘country’. Hippies live with the land because it’s so much better than filthy cities and redneck towns.” His knuckle brushes the tender juncture of thigh and hip as her tightening bikini pants begin to resemble a scantier g-string.
“But only the more adventurous, independent and luckier hippies actually get to go bush long term. Most live in the Big Smoke like everyone else. And most of the places we choose in the bush are much nicer than this…” He indicates the passing panorama of dry scrubby pastureland with a regal wave as a kaleidoscope of sun-scorched pastels rushes past the speeding panel van. “…Mainly subtropical – paradises on Earth.”
Natasha frowns at Ram’s offhanded denigration of her home state’s local coastline. Her eyes narrow to slits and the briefs slip upward and inward when her leg straightens to depress the accelerator. Her boyfriend is pressed back into the seat and his fingers hook more tightly around the stretchy material as the van leaps forward.
“But when it comes to The Bomb,” he continues, “I’m sure you know every city in Oz is a nuclear target – not just Pine Gap. They’re all strategically critical ports for
“The lesser of two devils, at least,” she replies, tilting the rear view mirror to examine her reflection. “And speaking of the devil, isn’t it amazing no-one ever tried to shoot Nixon?” Ram’s fingers slip upward to graze the warm silky surface of her belly. “Sure is,” he agrees as he strokes her pimpling skin. “Literally the son of the devil – ‘Nick’s son.’ They’re all lining up to shoot Ford for pardoning him, though.”
“Everyone from mad housewives to Charlie’s Mansonettes,” Nasher agrees. Her dimpling xpression is particularly alluring. “If anyone was mad enough to press the red button, Nixon was… Ooh!” She squirms and the van slews across the narrow highway as Ram’s fingertip burrows beneath her waistband. He makes a beeline through the underbrush of curls to reach her pink panic button. Dainty fingers grip his wrist and hold the insinuative digit firmly in place while she drives one-handed, readjusting their course on the winding road while his finger worms into the margin of her moistening crevice.
Her voice remains admirably steady and she keeps the van in the centre of the lane while her pelvis rolls around the fulcrum of his fingertip; “Uh… do you really like living in the bush, or…” Her breath grows shallower and the question is interrupted when she veers onto the wrong side of the road to overtake a lumbering council truck. “Doesn’t it get… mmm… too boring?”
“The bush is anything but boring,” he assures her; “Infinitely fascinating.” As his fingers part her curls and bore inward their eyes meet in the lopsided mirror. “It’s never boring, not to me – certainly not after a few months in the shitty. Besides,” he says as he watches the pointy tip of Nasher’s tongue paint her lips pinker, “whether there’s a nuclear war or not, it’s a good idea to learn how to grow food and live with like-minded people. Learning how to share isn’t easy when you’re not used to it - it takes practice for us kids from the nuclear family generation. And we do have a few stashes of food and essentials, just in case…”
Natasha squirms to dislodge him from the atrium of her labia and clamps his hand between her thighs. “A lot of good that’ll do you if they drop the big one,” she interjects in a breathless voice as her wandering attention returns to the empty road. “Whitlam will take care of Pine Gap. He’ll get rid of all the
“…And gave us free healthcare and free universities and easy divorce and equal pay for women and land rights for Aborigines and all those arts subsidies, and everything else that’s suddenly made Oz a great place to live. It’s almost unbelievable,” Ram’yana agrees. “And the way the Labor Party all call each other ‘comrade’ – it really pisses off the Yanks and rednecks…” He fiddles with the dashboard’s A.M. radio with his free hand and winds the dial past rural stations that blare random country music, cricket commentaries and racetrack results - all singing or speaking in a uniformly nasal and strident strine – in a futile search for real music.
“So you are a commo then, just like that Nazi dickhead called you - you and your friends all live in a commune, right?” Natasha squints at the side mirror and suddenly veers onto the gravelled shoulder of the highway to allow a couple of impatiently jostling speedsters to pass. The van slews to a halt in a gust of dust as she turns off the engine. She immediately unclips her belt and leans down to begin rummaging in the glittering purse that dangles from the tightly sprung seat.
Slim thighs squeeze Ram’s hand more tightly when he attempts to shift his grip. She liberates a slim hash joint from the purse and lights up with a flaring match. “I’m glad you’re not that other thing he called you,” Natasha remarks through a puff of smoke while she examines her reflection.
“Which one? He yelled a lot of things…”
“You know, a poof. Oh, I know you aren’t queer – but for all I know you swing both ways. Do you guys share everything in your commune?” As she turns to face him a plucked eyebrow arches into a chevron and smoky serpents stream from her flaring nostrils while an incomprehensibly rapid spiel pours from the dashboard speaker; “…annese gotta ballbutt ’ere’s nowhere t’go annese maykinna pass…”
“Just about everything.” Ram’s eyes drift toward the diminishing blue angularities of a passing police car as he twiddles the dial and finally finds a station playing a classic rock and roll riff. He turns to stare at his girlfriend’s unforgettable profile while the tactile allure of her smooth teenaged thighs flexes around his knuckles and pins his palm to her silken skin. The fingers of his other hand begin to explore beneath her skirt, outlining the steamy rim of her bikini briefs while he considers his reply.
‘…You can’t always get what you want…’
Mick Jagger’s insistent voice fills the smoky interior of the van while Natasha holds the joint to his mouth. “Well”, he says after a few rapid puffs, “we live communally, but it’s more of a clan than a kibbutz.” Ram’s words are wreathed in fragrant smoke that wafts across her face and curls into her hair. “We’re twenty-first century medievalists, actually. And democratic socialist monarchists - but not communists, no. Nyet. We’re not into following a totalitarian dictator. After all, the only thing the Yanks have going for them is the fact that the Soviets are actually far worse - but they’re still both sides of the same coin; the words ‘Soviet Union’ mean ‘United States’ in Russian, right?”
‘You can’t always get what you want…’
“Sort of,” she concurs between puffs. As his index finger stretches the waistband of Nasher’s skirt and plunges into her belly button she immobilises his other wriggling hand with a tighter squeeze. Her eminently kissable lips slowly approach his yakking mouth; “The world would be far better off if they both just quietly faded into the mists of history and were replaced by something far better…”
Their kiss is a squelching feast that stills all thought of the outer world. The teenagers’ awareness is absorbed in the fresh fleshy hashish-tinged taste of mingling mouths and the closely pressed heat of their eager young bodies. When her tongue reaches Ram’s upper palate Natasha relents and frees his trapped hand. Questing fingers immediately slip upward along the smooth inner rim of her slender thigh while his other palm cups a formfitting handful of bikini-sheathed breast.
‘But if you try sometimes, you just might find…’
A burning cascade of hash nuggets tumbles down upon Nasher’s bared leg and she breaks their clinch with a rapid flurry of slaps and pats, dislodging Ram’s hands as she jiggles around on the bench seat. She has a brief puff and passes the smouldering joint. “But what do you think would happen if the cold war just suddenly ended?” she asks while he takes a cautious toke, almost gagging at the unfamiliar bite of tobacco. “Do you reckon there’d be universal peace? I don’t think so.”
The hippy shaman enjoys the challenges Natasha brings to their conversations. Her perspectives continually distract him from ingrained modes of thinking, and the inexorably persistent urges that overwhelm his rational mind whenever he sees her beauteous face or inciting figure. There are so few people who’d speak with me about any of this… who grok the same concepts and think like me…
‘…You get what you need!’*
“And after all,” she says, “where would we be without the Seppos?” Her carefully articulated words and seductively succulent smile bring the young shaman back from the depths of internalised monologue. “We’d be fair game, wouldn’t we? The Yanks are like our big brothers. They settled their “New World’ a couple of hundred years ahead of us and we both speak English – more or less. We’re pretty similar in most ways.”
She pauses to retrieve the remnant joint and inhales deeply while Ram’yana watches her pursing lips and ruminates on his good fortune. Camping out all alone with her… just the two of us... “And besides…” she says through a stream of smoke, “they didn’t abandon us in the war like good old Mother England.” As she returns the rapidly dissipating number her fingers linger against his hand. The sensation is surprisingly intimate - every bit as arousing as his earlier, far more visceral experiences of Nasher’s precociously mature little body. “They’re like us and they like us,” she says.
Ram’yana takes a quick puff and recalls the words of a World War Two digger who’d been relaxing between two-up games after the last Anzac Day veteran’s march. The young shaman had overheard the tipsy old soldier reminiscing with a couple of mates when the aging serviceman made an unexpected observation. “Them Yanks,” he’d said, “they like us to think they’re our bloody big brothers from across the sea – but when we finally got to meet up with the buggers in the Pacific they looked down their bloody noses at us - bloody well treated us like flamin’ white Filipinos!” He’d glared at the stoned hippy as two pennies dropped to the ground beside him and the call rang out; “Heads!”
“Don’t be so sure,” Ram’yana advises his girlfriend while he represses a ticklish cough. “What about the bases?” he asks. “That’s all they’re…” She ignores the question and takes the roach from his fingers while she resumes her interrupted interrogation; “And you reckon you’re monarchists, huh? How inclusive of you!” Natasha winds the window down and a trilling laugh flies across the windy paddocks as she flicks the stub away. Tobacco-laced hash smoke streams from her mouth and pours from the van, rushing out the window in an incriminatingly obvious billow.
“Non hierarchical monarchists,” he assures her with a lopsided grin while his hand wanders back beneath her skirt. Sharp fingernails graze along a trembling thigh and encounter the fur lined mound of Nasher’s thinly veiled maidenhead as she leans across and kisses him with smoky passion. She reaches down to turn the key in the ignition with one small hand and grips halfway round his erection with the other, squeezing his hardness through tautly tented cotton pants. Her mouth slips around Ram’s tongue while her foot revs the engine in time with his slip-sliding fingers.
The brief blazing contacts completely mesh him into the here and now. He shifts his hand to pull the elasticised pants aside just as she releases his shaft and slides away across the sticky vinyl expanse of the seat. She eases the van back onto the road and continues voicing ideas with unabashed ease while she dangles the seat belt across her shoulder. “So what do we do, then – run off and live in a cave? Is it simply a case of ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst?’ ” She finishes shifting up to speed as Ram’s fingers slip back into fine coils of pubic hair that escape from her dislodged bikini. Natasha slides a little closer on the broad bench seat and spreads her knees apart. She drives one handed while she reaches down to massage his ready erection.
“Live for today and build for tomorrow,” the teenage mage replies though a haze of bliss as his index finger slips all the way around the elastic rim of Nasher’s bikini briefs. “And eat the food stash before it goes off.” His finger slips into her moist furry cleft and she squirms and gasps beside him. Her hand releases Ram’s member to shift to her lap and guide his unsubtle manipulations. As she leans across to kiss him the panel van swerves across the narrow two lane highway that skirts the windswept edge of the great southern island continent, and the gasping girl’s eyes swivel sidewise to watch for traffic while she sucks on her boyfriend’s tongue.
A true story
Images – author’s
Further true tales of The Prince of Centraxis -
Shaman of Centraxis Part 4 - To Infinity and Beyond Shaman of Centraxis Part 5 - Land of the Living Shaman of Centraxis Part 6 - All the Way Shaman of Centraxis Part 7 - South of Eden Shaman of Centraxis Part 8 - The Whole is Greater Shaman of Centraxis Part 9 - Crossing Boarders Shaman of Centraxis Part 10 - Believer Shaman of Centraxis Part 11 - Behind the Veil Shaman of Centraxis Part 12 - Peace, Love & War Games Shaman of Centraxis Part 13 - Pole Dancer
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From The Prince of Centraxis - http://centraxis.blogspot.com