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Sephia Logia

A Traveler's Tale

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished about a year ago 16 min read
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I am Malaki, Traveler, and scion of the Brotherhood of Light.

Let me tell you about the places I visit in my deepest meditations.

Many would suggest that I visit only my imagination; that rather than projecting an astral body, I create a scene in the theater of my mind. Those who suggest that to my face always get a visit themselves. Then they never suggest it again.

Today I must relate the story of the winged creatures of Sephia Logia who I here designate as Sephians.

Sephia Logia is a darkling dimension, which is a term we use to indicate that a place has been tainted by some malignant or dark force. The sky is an ever-stretching wall of gray clouds that trickle a faint purple aura. The landscape is all curved valleys and large mountains made of a substance that looks like obsidian glass. Yet when I observe the comings and goings of the winged creatures, I note that the surface of this substance is viscous. The creatures will land, and their feet will sink into it. They will plunge their hands in as well, and then pull themselves through. Sometimes they re-emerge, but more often, once they go through they do not return.

Before I tell you what lies on the other side, however, I must describe these Sephians. Their wings are not extensions of their hands, like a bat, but rather independent appendages, that grow from their backs, which look rough, like canvas. I could certainly see the Sephians being mistaken for angels by other travelers, though they more likely would be marked as demons, for their faces have only eyes, and mottled pink flesh that hangs down into their chest like a waddled beard made of skin. Their entire bodies were of this pink hue. The eyes are a fierce, burning purple, like the tinge of the clouds, and they have no pupils. There did not seem to be any genitalia, nor any gender.

(It may be that some of my ancestors made the mistake of thinking this place a level of Hell. Of course, there was a time when we thought everything was either Earth, Hell, or Heaven. The truth turns out to be a lot more fascinating, though not quite as reassuring for some.)

Their torsos are hulking things, the epitome of herculean anatomy. Their long arms have bulging biceps, ending in four-fingered hands that could engulf an entire human head, and most likely crush it as if it were naught more than overripe fruit. Yet their legs are short and stubby and end in hairy feet with three long toes. These feet are prehensile—which is to say, the creatures can grab things with them.

I traveled past the clouds to see what caused the purple hue. Yet during none of my visits did I see a sun. Only a brilliant white moon that took up half the sky. I'm unsure what causes it to appear so close, but I imagine it to be something like the atmospheric conditions that create our “big sky country” in parts of the Southern United States. Then again, I cannot say for sure that these other dimensions operate according to any of the same laws as our own, nor can I be certain that my own perception doesn't limit me with regard to what I am capable of observing.

There may be a multifarious array of phenomena happening which my eyes are incapable of viewing. I know this to be true of ultra-violet light on the temporal plane, and it doesn't seem to me that my astral eyes are any different. Some of my brethren say that they have developed the ability to detect things in their astral bodies that they cannot in their physical state. I had no such luck until I visited Sephia Logia.

I for a long time only observed the Sephians on the surface. I was reticent to travel into the obsidian mountains. For though I am largely undetectable to the inhabitants of the planes I visit, there are usually some sensitives, and the deeper one travels into a realm, the greater the risk that one may be caught, never to escape.

(The result of this to the host body can range from catatonia to what has appeared to some to be demonic possession, to others psychosis. Truth is, when left to its own devices, the body can function on its own. It doesn't always function (so with coma and catatonia) but when it does... the results are usually unpleasant. If you've ever blacked out from drinking too much and then been regaled the next day with stories of your misadventures, then you'll understand to some extent the dangers.)

I did not know what kind of material this obsidian sludge was. For all I knew, it could have some dampening effect on my astral powers, so that even if there were no powerful sensitives beyond it, I might still be trapped, or at least have a difficult way to go.

I would be the first to attempt such a journey. The records of the Brotherhood reflect similar misgivings about Sephia Logia. The last brother to travel here, Regulus Opti, a Franciscan monk from the seventeenth century, suggested that he detected power of a malevolent nature emanating from within the mountains, and did not think himself equal to the task of facing it, should such need arise.

Regulus Opti was one of our most renowned and powerful magi. I, on the other hand, am largely renowned for my foolhardiness. My Elders call me “The Pure Fool”. I wish I understood why. I try to be cautious, but my curiosity overwhelms me.

After many visits to Sephia Logia, I noted that those Sephians which emerged from the mountains after going in consistently failed to live out the next few hours. With no pupils or other appendages on their face, it is hard to gauge how they feel, but it did seem that their purple eyes were not quite as fierce, their hulking bodies less confident. They would fly into the valley, lay on their backs with their wings stretched, and stare at the wall of clouds.

Then at some point they would rapidly deflate. Where once from the fierce eyes radiated light, now would ooze a putrid purplish slime, and so would the skin also coagulate, becoming one with the obsidian landscape. For a while there would remain a luminescent purple blotch in the shape of the body. Then it would fade to black.

After watching this tragedy unfold several times over many visits, I could no longer bear the weight of my curiosity. I floated to a mountainside. As I collected my courage to push through, a Sephian emerged and passed through me. With this came an unexpected rush of telepathic images.

I saw that the inside of the mountain was one gigantic, hollow cavern. I saw that the only light within was provided by the glowing eyes of the Sephians. The mountain's interior wall was dotted with large cones made of the same blackened substance as the rest of the landscape. I saw, through the eyes of the Sephian who traveled through me, other Sephians hanging upside down with their prehensile feet gripping the insides of the muck.

Then I saw a dangling Sephian fold the giant wings over each other so that it was completely enveloped within them. All the contours and curves of the Sephian body melded together, forming one smooth and continuous cone.

Suddenly, my own view turned upside down, and the wings closed over it; but not for long.

For the Sephian whose life I was viewing became afraid of the darkness. I felt stark terror of the unknown in his heart, and the wings burst open as it pushed itself back through the mountain, where it passed through me.

All of this came and went quickly. I turned to see my Sephian already laying itself out in the valley below, and now I could imagine in the dimness of its purple eyes the forlorn sense of its own impending doom. Yet, what had it to face on the other side that was any better? It seemed to be a bleak existence either way for these creatures.

I discerned where they went, but not yet where they came from. They were very solitary creatures. They did not interact with one another at all. I saw no indication of how they were born, let alone how they reproduced. It seemed to me that they were androgynous beings, and though I spent much of my own existence in solitary observation, theirs seemed all that much lonelier to me. At least I interacted with the Brotherhood.

Regulus Opti once wrote: “We must abstain from interfering with the native inhabitants of the realms we visit. The manner and method by which they exist is God's will, and we have no right.”

I have raised many an objection to this notion about God's will. For instance, if we are also God's creatures, would it not be His will that we interfere if we are so inclined? It doesn't seem that God spelled out the rules of conduct for astral travel, so far as I can tell; and, though I've never spoken to Him personally, I should think that the Almighty One in his ineffable wisdom and power would be capable of curtailing my interference.

Besides, unlike Regulus, who was a Christian, I am a Pantheist. The Brotherhood is a loose knit organization of sensitives from many different backgrounds. This is very fortunate, as it does not allow any one respective ideology to dictate the mode of experimentation. Ultimately, our goal is scientific discovery, not theological confirmation.

Nevertheless, Opti's comment flared up in my mind as I approached the Sephian.

It lay sprawled, its wings outstretched. It was like a child observing the stars; but there were only the gray clouds with their purple hue. I floated above the Sephian, eye to eye. At the edge of his eye sockets, I could see the purple slime begin to form, and I realized these were tears. The Sephian wept. I reached into it with my right hand, and this is as close as I can come to translating what I felt in its grieving heart:

O Great Being Eternal, forgive this failure. This one is not prepared for Thine Infinite Grace, but in humility asks that it be bestowed, that this one may be reborn with a pure heart, and better suited to communion with the Great Moon.

The purple eyes flared brighter, very briefly, and then the eyeballs erupted, and the body began to dissolve, until nothing was left where my ethereal hand remained.

In the Sephian's prayer the motif of rebirth resonated strongly, and with it came the image of a sacred place, a valley between four high mountains which cradled a dark lake. It seemed to be an extremely liquified form of the black substance of which the rest of this realm was made. It reflected the purple hue of the clouds, a black mirror reflecting a violet aurora.

I heard the grumble of thunder.

At first, I thought this sound came from the vision. Soon I realized I could hear it off in the distance, and I quickly flew to investigate.

I came to the four mountains and the black lake. I had not been here before, so it seemed mere circumstance that I should happen upon it on this visit.

Or was it God's will?

Thunder rumbled in the clouds, rolling and reverberating, layer upon layer of deep, booming bass building and building until the surface of the lake visibly rippled from the concussive vibration, and then in one final sheer crack a single stroke of purple lightning lashed into the center of the lake. There wasn't even a splash, as the heat around the blast evaporated the sluggish liquid, and fingers of electricity danced about the lake's surface.

Then for a long while the lake was still. Yet, I felt some force, invisible yet still thick in the air, like an astral miasma. It pulsed like a heartbeat, and it made me feel weak. I knew that I should withdrawal back to my temporal body, but curiosity held me there, anticipating some great event.

The surface of the lake began to rock with subtle turbulence until two long, fibrous wings exploded from its depths, pulling up with them my Sephian, reborn. The astral miasma dissipated, and I felt my strength return. The Sephian continued skyward, up through the gray clouds, and I followed.

As it regarded the moon, I reached into it, and heard another Sephian prayer.

O Great Being Eternal, I praise Thee. May my rebirth afford me the insight to make communion with the Great Moon. It is in Thine Infinite Wisdom that I must remain here in solitude until such time as I can face the darkness.

It was then that I received the greatest shock, as the Sephian's God answered its silent prayer!

Be still, child. We have a visitor among us, an observer from a realm beyond your ken. It is to this visitor I speak, through you.

I am the creator of this realm you call Sephia Logia. I believe that the first of your Brothers that happened upon us labeled it so because where you have seen purple and gray, he saw a realm of faded red and brown. Where the first brother saw creatures of dull, shimmering light, the second saw these hulking monstrosities. It amuses me that your perceptions could change so much in what to me seems such a short time. Your kind is truly fascinating.

For instance, where the first Brother that visited saw a bland but austere realm which he believed was inhabited by Angels, and did not sense me at all, the Brother that followed found a darkling realm inhabited by faceless demons, and sensed me as a malignant force.

I did not know of the first brother who coined the name, but the second had to be Regulus Opti.

You seem to see this same darkling realm, but I wonder, why do you not face it with the same sense of terror?

At the time, I could not answer, and sensing this, the Great Being Eternal resumed.

It is no matter. For me it is immaterial, but I strongly suggest that you meditate on this. I would reward your courage. If you follow my child, you will learn more of the process by which he is refined so as to be welcomed into my fold. He will not mislead you. He is ready now.

With that, the Great Being Eternal withdrew.

The Sephian turned to me, and it seemed as if he could see me now. He passed through me again before disappearing into the bank of gray cloud, wings flapping steadily.

Thank you, strange one. Please, follow.

As I descended through the clouds, I reflected on the feelings the creature emitted. I felt its gratitude was genuine, and very strong, as if it thought me to be in some way responsible for the Grace of the Great Being Eternal.

I sensed excited anticipation where before I sensed terror.

I sensed that the difference was this: that it met its creator and felt now no fear of the unknown. It ventured into the liminal space between earth and heaven and offered itself sincerely to the divine, and the divine responded. A consummation devoutly to be wished.

Can I know my creator? The Great Being Eternal implied that there was some knowledge to gain by meditating on the way our perception changed over the centuries. When had we lost this personal relationship with the divine, if ever we had it? And with what have we replaced it if we need do so at all?

I followed the Sephian down past the fortress of peaks and the amniotic lake, through many valleys and over many mountains, until it fell back by my side. It communed with me by lightly touching the space where I floated, telling me the story of how it came to exist.

The Great Being Eternal always was and always is and always will be. It lives on the Great Moon and creates us from its shining rays by fashioning them into thunderbolts and casting them into the Great Lake.

One thing's for sure. Everything here is Great.

From each birth this one was very afraid of going beyond the clouds. This one was afraid of going into the mountain. This one was afraid of the dark place which leads beyond incarnation. Such is this one's programming. This one and the other ones are all molded from birth to fear the sky beyond the clouds and go to the dark place to meditate on the fear. When the others go into the mountain and into the dark place, they stay still, and they disappear. This dark place is the way to beyond incarnation. Do you see?

What the Sephian was struggling to convey was that the trip into the mountain and the forming of its fellows into cones resulted in their passing to some other plane. I saw it clearly in my imagination as the Sephian related it to me, and I told it so, which filled it with joy.

When this one went into the dark place, so much fear. This one could not stay still. For shame must this one then go through the pain of death and be reborn. Yet this birth, fear was overcome! This one went beyond the clouds for the first time and learned that all conditioning was only a way to strengthen this one, so that this one could not be conditioned in the next world. For in the next world this one must be strong, strong as the thunderbolt that gave it life, and brave... as brave as the strange one.

So the Great Being Eternal conditioned his creatures to fear... so that they might overcome fear? I was touched that the creature thought me brave and did not seek to disavow it of this notion.

Yet this one believes that the presence of the strange one compelled the Great Being Eternal to speak, and this one is grateful. Now the strange one must follow this one into the Great Mountain and do this one the honor of witnessing its passage.

I saw them go into many of the mountains. Which one was the Great Mountain?

All mountains are the Great Mountain.

Ah. Great. Will I pass with you to the other side, beyond incarnation?

No. Only this one can go. The strange one is not of us and cannot go. But this one would be much honored if the strange one would see it to the dark place inside the Great Mountain.

I conveyed as best I could that I was the one who was honored, and we spoke no more on our way to the Great Mountain. I suppose even though any old mountain would do, the one a Sephian chose to pass beyond incarnation must indeed be Great.

Before the Sephian retreated into the form of a cone, it reached into me one more time, and I was made to understand that this next message was from the Great Being Eternal.

You are never alone.

With that its purple glowing eyes disappeared beneath its enfolded wings and there was a rigid cone where my Sephian had been.

Other Sephians entered and provided light from their own searching eyes. By this light, I saw some cones melt into the interior of the mountain. Trusting that my friend would make it in his own time and having fulfilled my promise to see him to the dark place, I retreated.

I came back to my body in the holy place I had set aside. It is a secret place of which I cannot speak, except to say that it exists. For to be disturbed during our travels could be disastrous, leaving us no body to which we might return. Only sanctioned Brothers knew of my whereabouts, and they would only search me out if I had not communicated for a period of three days.

At least, they would have sought me out if I informed them of my intention to travel. This time I did not. The Council of Elders took Regulus Opti's warnings at face value and forbade further travel to Sephia Logia centuries ago.

So perhaps I am a fool; but I wonder, how many other wondrous revelations have we denied ourselves by not confronting our fears?

I was not terrified of the Sephians, though their appearance was somewhat intimidating and grotesque by the traditional standards of our species. I view all phenomena with curiosity, and I was not conditioned to consider anything to be evil based upon its appearance, but rather was I frequently cautioned to investigate matters so as not to draw undue conclusions.

However, the Great Being Eternal suggested that my species once perceived its plane in a different light. Something about the manner in which we've evolved has distorted our perception. Is it the dualistic mythology of heaven and hell, perhaps?

Perhaps despite my equanimity, I am nevertheless conditioned by the misconceptions of my ancestors. Yet I suppose it is my equanimity that helps me to explore beyond the boundaries of their fears.

The first brother who visited Sephia Logia saw it in the tone of cuttlefish ink, which has been used since ancient times for writing. Sephia is this color, Logia means divine. He thought it a place of angels. Regulus Opti thought it some hellish nightmare, yet he sensed the Great Being Eternal, whereas the previous brother did not.

And I don't know still whether this Great Being Eternal is benevolent or malignant, though I take it as a pretty good sign that it didn't destroy me. Nevertheless, though my curiosity in this matter is not completely slaked, I shall not return to Sephia Logia any time soon.

There are other worlds to explore.

***** * *****

More fantasy from C. Rommial Butler:

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About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

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