Tenacious Magic ~ Chapter 17 (Part 1)
G returns from Paris * A ghost that's taken a new wife * A prophetic dream * An apology and a lesson from The Priestess * John Middleton Murry arrives.
Katherine is within two days of dying at the Prieuré. It’s an intense time.
Friday morning, I was all set to edit and publish what had become a very long chapter (8,000 words). I labored over it. I struggled all week with a deep desire to resolve things for Katherine before her death; an impulse within me to lay her to rest with a feeling of completion. Not to mention, the writer’s desire to not leave threads hanging.
The task was overwhelming.
What I finally had to come to terms with was the actual chaos of those last days of her life. I had to realize that if she’d been completely resolved at the time of death, she wouldn’t have come looking for me in 2009! She wouldn’t have needed to find a partner to heal this part of her story, posthumously.
As Friday came to a close, I hadn’t resolved my inner conflict. I hadn’t finished the edit and I knew I needed a couple of days—some space—to think it through. I found the solution on Monday. I decided to break the chapter into two parts. Today, I release part one and Friday, I will release part two.
Writing this death sequence has been hard, more emotionally-taxing than I anticipated. I began to feel like I was there; that I was trying to write through the karmic swirl that inevitably happens as the death portal opens. I thought a lot about my own labor, the birth of my daughter, and how the veils are very thin in those threshold days just prior to a passage from one world to the next. I felt myself in the karmic field with Katherine—trying to write us through it.
A friend of mine, a deeply mystical alchemist and astrologer, A.T. Mann, reached out to me in the middle of all of this. We haven’t spoken in a couple of years, so the timing was quite something. He said,
I came across your writing piece about KM and G today, sort of randomly, but also not…I also came across Katherine Mansfield's chart and send you a copy. It shows your ASC (ascending) in Pisces, which using my reincarnation time scale, occurs during KM's very late life in early 1920s, probably when she met G…
I called to tell him about the feeling of being there at the time of Katherine’s death. His response was, “Of course! In an astrological sense you were there…almost as a third party in the dynamic.”
In another attempt to gain insight, I turned to the tarot. Friday morning, I spread the cards out in my room. My daughter walked in and sat down and the cat joined, too. I shared that this was the day I would be writing Katherine’s death and I wanted some guidance. So, we all picked a card.
The cat chose first (cats love tarot, if you don’t know). She stepped firmly on the seven of swords, which was quite cute in that the little fox looks a lot like her when she sleeps. I put the card aside…not quite sure if I should trust this selection.
I chose…The Moon. Yes! The Moon, my MAAAAAA. This moon that has followed and guided me all my life and through lifetimes. If you’ve been reading Tenacious Magic, then you know the moon is a key symbol in my awakening through chapters 14 and 16. That connected me to Katherine and our shared journey into the feminine mysteries.
Then, Matcha (the cat) chose again. She was insistent with her paw on one card. So, we turned over the card and lo and behold! She chose Death. As if to say, “Now, do you trust my choices?” I was humbled. I felt in connection to Spirit. I felt Katherine (who loved her cat).
Then, it was Eleanor’s turn. She picked Strength. It was the perfect support for our mission, not to mention that infinity symbol on the lion’s forehead—bending time, looping back on itself…
I began to write with The Moon, Death, and Strength on my desk. As I struggled with the unresolved parts of the story I fretted and then remembered Matcha’s first tarot choice. Aha! Maybe it held the key…I read about the seven of swords:
“Secrecy, Self-Interest: Six swords hang in plain view while the seventh is tucked under the sly fox’s tail. So goes the story of the seven of swords…a secret is being kept. Either you’re the keeper or the kept-from, and it’s time to identify which. Deceit and avoidance linger in the air. Face the cause of secrecy or risk ostracizing yourself.” —The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans
Of course. Thank you, Matcha. You are a real tarot master. Yes, I knew I needed to settle into the karmic field of deceit, secrecy and lies. There are many of them here in this story…and in the greater, archetypal story that holds all the characters here.
So, I gave myself some time for the revelation to come through the writing, not through “me.” The result is as true as I can manage. As always, I remind you that I am holding this as a communal project. Your comments and observations are needed and welcome. Please use the comments section or write to me if you want to share. Even if you are reading asynchronously, as I know many will…please share. I am still reading and responding and we can still change the course of history—or at least the story of what could have happened.
Note: If you are new to my Substack, Tenacious Magic is an emergent, serial novel about the teacher/student relationship, the masculine and feminine, Katherine Mansfield and Gurdjieff, power, sexuality, and time. I publish a chapter every Friday. Here is an introduction to the project. Here is Chapter 1. The chapters are free up to Chapter 7, at which point I took it behind the paywall. If you enjoy it, please subscribe and join the discussion. I incorporate reader comments and invite opinions and insights from readers to influence and inform where the story goes.
Now, back to the action. Let’s gently pull back the curtain on these final days of Katherine’s life…January 8 and 9, 1923….Katherine, thank you for entrusting me with this. I know you’re with me.
“This is a man’s world. This is a man’s world. But, it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl.” —James Brown, 1965
Le Prieuré, Fontainebleu, France ~ January 8, 1923
When Gurdjieff returns from Paris, he brings a woman with him. Also, two men. But, it is the woman that gets under Katherine’s skin.
Katherine is standing near the top of the stairs when they arrive; trying to get a large mirror up to her bedroom. From the moment she received John’s response to her invitation, she’s been terribly excited for his arrival tomorrow. She spent the morning cleaning her room, washing her hair, and bringing in items that might make his stay more comfortable. She wants him to see they are civilized here. Forest philosophers, maybe…but also civilized.
Now, she is trying to catch her breath. She overestimated her strength.
“Katya! What are you doing? You’ll kill yourself…” Olgivanna runs to her, taking the stairs two at a time. She wrestles the mirror from Katherine’s hands and they start towards the landing.
There’s a commotion as the front door opens and several people enter. Before she can turn around, Katherine feels Gurdjieff’s presence. She sees the small group reflected in the mirror. There he is. Then his voice—unmistakable. Her heart races.
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