Discover more from Bonesick
1. The Alchemist
Magic is just science we don't understand
Last episode, I re-introduced “The Fool / The Reboot” card to introduce the framework of my Bonesick project through the lens of The Tarot story arc. Today we are taking a sharp left to really give this story some legs.
1 | The Magician
Remember when I mentioned that The Fool is like Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings? Well, The Magician is like Gandalf the Grey. Playing the role of a messenger from the gods and a guide for wandering souls, this archetype has the ability to summon power from the natural elements of air, fire, water, and earth. On an admirable day? This power is leveraged for favorable resourcefulness and guidance. On a bad day? Questionable intentions may lead to incendiary manipulation. Magician be up to noooo good. When you pull this card, it asks you, “What subconscious desire should you bring to fruition, and what natural tricks can you work with to manifest it?” (Bonus question: “Will you use that power for good or evil?”)
The main symbolism in the traditional Magician Tarot card features all four natural elements, oftentimes represented as such:
Air is represented by a sword and symbolizes mental power and action.
Fire is represented by a wand and symbolizes creative imagination and inspiration.
Water is represented by a cup and symbolizes emotion and love.
Earth is represented by a coin-shaped disc marked with a pentagram and symbolizes natural materials.
Other symbols include the infinity symbol or ouroboros (snake eating its tail) which symbolize wholeness and the infinite interconnectedness of the universe. The background is often a barren landscape and the Magician is performing at a crossroads. With one hand pointing to the sky and the other pointing to the earth, the Magician personifies the ancient Hermetic axiom, “As Above, So Below.” In short: life in the material world around us is an avatar of the universal mystery beyond our understanding. The Magician is the conduit between those realms.
Whew. Ok so with all that meta swimming around in your brain, let me introduce a mysterious character and story slice in the Bonesick universe. See if you can spot the way I incorporated traditional symbolism in a new way.
1 | The Alchemist
“…the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.”
(Revelation 6:12-13, ESV)
The doctor took a quick sip of cold cafeteria coffee that, oddly enough, paired well with three fingers of High West Double Rye from which he snuck gulps in between shifts. It had been a perplexing day. The soft piano plinks of “Pink Moon” that sparkled from his record player wouldn’t even smooth out the edges. To pile onto the day’s typical challenges he found himself fretting over a thick envelope his assistant placed on his desk. Despite a thousand tasks that should’ve taken precedence, his curiosity gnawed at his willpower. He sliced it open, its contents all the curiouser.
From the envelope, he pulled out an old letter from his clinic addressed and written to a candidate from decades ago, a Polaroid photograph of what appeared to be an expectant couple who looked more bewildered than in love, and another letter handwritten by someone he could only assume was the sender—no return address, of course. The correspondence was predominantly formal, but the doctor could sense an underlying frustration. Or perhaps he just assumed the writer was upset because his line of business was often quite upsetting.
The doctor hadn’t a clue as to how these three items connected to one another. The candidate was long dead. He didn’t recognize the couple in the photo. The letter’s writer was certainly well aware of the unconventional services offered by his clinic, but they completely refrained from referencing either of the envelope’s accompanied items. Was this a game? Some sort of puzzle?
“I simply have no time for these shenanigans,” the doctor huffed aloud.
His assistant lightly rapped at his office door, left slightly ajar, and poked her head inside. “Well, that’s good because we’re going to need you to see this.” She lifted a manilla folder of brain scans, tipping them toward the hallway behind her. “It appears as though we can’t turn back on this one, but you’re the judge, jury, and, well…” she trailed off.
The doctor sighed, “Let me take a look.” He stuffed the handwritten letter back into the envelope, away from any prying eyes. He grabbed his glasses and followed his assistant into the hallway.
Before she even finished sliding the first scan into the lightbox, the doctor eagerly pointed up toward the top and tapped on the scan. “Indeed. Right here, see?”
“That’s what we caught too,” the assistant commiserated. And then she added as more of a statement than a question, “It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?”
He took off his glasses, looked her square in the eyes, and in a soft hush he whispered, “Yes, but I can fix it. Prep the candidate, please.”
Synchronicities of the Week:
A. I started this story the moment I had the whole Tarot idea, and shortly thereafter, I received this Goodreads notification in my email:
B. While drawing The Alchemist card last weekend, I listened to Lil Yachty’s new deliciously sonic album Let’s Start Here, which just so happens to feature a song called “The Alchemist.”
References: “Pink Moon” is a song by Nick Drake and legend has it, the lyrics are a nod to the 6:12-17 passage from The Bible’s Book of Revelations. I also love the connection of Nick Drake’s lyric “Saw it written and I saw it say” to the Arabic phrase “Maktub” frequently mentioned throughout the book The Alchemist—which translates to “It is written.”
The quote “Magic is science we just don’t understand” is paraphrased from sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke (i.e 2001: A Space Odyssey).
Next time: I introduce a character I’ve been hesitant to fold into the Bonesick universe. But it’s time.
On the search for a little more magic in your life? Bonesick is apparently where it’s at.