The First Gate
What shall you do with the Sword? Should you try and draw the Sword from the Stone? Surely if you were
meant to wield the Sword then fate would lead you to draw it from the Stone, if it is not your destiny then
surely you cannot draw it? If you draw it then who or what purpose shall it serve? If you use it for good,
then would not such power corrupt?

As you ponder you turn to look at the sword again. Alas! Now you see that the Sword is broken and the
Stone has been cracked asunder! You sink to your knees. How is it broken? Who broke it? As you heart
sinks all you hear is the gentle wind in the trees and the sound of crows, cawing as if in lament.

A shadow falls across you. You turn to see the figure of a man standing behind you. His scraggy cloak is
made of crow's feathers and his golden skull cap shines with a green light. He looks old and young at the
same time. His eyes are kind and gentle, and yet they contain a certain sadness and deep wisdom. He
smiles and his face shines brightly with a warming light.

'Who has done this, who has broken the Sword?' You ask.

'They broke what could not be broken.' He replies. 'The pride and vanity of humanity broke it, long ago.
They used the Sword to smite those who offended them, and those they deemed less worthy than
themselves. The Sword was forged Ages ago when all was One and humankind was One with Nature. It
was meant to bind all humankind together for the sake of Love, it is the Sword of Healing, and yet it is a
double-edged sword.'

'And the Stone, it's broken too', you lament.

'Many are those who have seen a single shard of the Stone, and mistaken that splinter for the whole.' The
mysterious man looks at you deeply. 'What must you do now, you wonder? You must seek what has been
lost. That secret that some call the Holy Grail.'

'Where can I find such a thing, after all so many have looked and to no avail?' You ask, with a sense of
pleading, as you wish things were different.

'Portents, follow the signs. Seek to the edge of within and to the edge of without.'

'Ab uno omnia, in uno omnia, per unum omnia.'
All things are from the One, all things are in the One, all things are through the One.
(Malachias Geiger, Microcosmus hypochondriacus, 1651).

You look again at the Stone and then back at the figure, only to find that he has vanished and all you hear
are the cawing of the crows.

You sigh as you think of the poison that there is in the World, that venom that so many, if not all, drink as if
it was a good wine: Virgin's Milk or the Juice of Grapes, Milk of the Earth that intoxicates.

To woman's breast apply the chilly toad, so that it drinks her milk, just like a child.
Then let it swell into a massive growth, and let the woman sicken, and then die.
You make from this a noble medicine, which drives the poison from the human heart:

A toad full Ruddy I saw, did drink the juice of Grapes so fast,
Till over-charged with broth, his Bowels all to brast:
And after that, from poyson'd Bulk he cast his venom fell,
For Grief and Pain whereof his Members all began to swell.

The Head of the Crow that token call we, and some men call it the Crow's Bill.
Some call it the Ashes of Hermes Tree, our toad of the earth that eateth his fill,
and thus they name after their will.
Some name it by which it is mortificate,
the Spirit of the Earth with venom intoxicate.

...The ugly toad, that did so swell,
With swelling, bursts and dies.

(Extracts from Ripley, The Twelve Gates).

Sweet are the uses of adversity; which like the toad, ugly and venemous, wears yet a precious jewel in his
head. (Shakespeare, As You Like It).
All these words and so many riddles, but it is not what is written on the page that matters, but what is
written in your heart.
Broken Sword
Living Gold