Altar of Intention

“Perhaps you call on the energy of the elements in your space: Fire calls for your inner power. Water calls for intuition, emotion, and fluidity. Air calls for communication and planning. Earth calls for sowing, finding foundation, and grounding. What objects or colors invoke those qualities for you?” Lisa Marie Basile, Magical Grimoire for Writers

I’ve gathered items from the back room in my basement to construct my altar. This is likely a metaphor as well, because my spiritual and creative intelligence and voice is tucked away amidst the toys of my children, the stored furniture that doesn’t fit in our house, and lies deep beneath the surface (my basement). In this day, I’ve descended into the depths to retrieve my treasures, and I’ll rise to new life.

The Go board hails from a time in my life when I was obsessed with Pi (1998), by Darren Aronofsky. A young mathematician is driven to find the pattern in the number pi, and pursued by a conspiracy of mystics and murderers. He’s beset by migraines and visions. I loved this movie, especially the intense electronic soundtrack by Clint Mansell. I discovered mathematics later in my academic career, and now my work is based on it.

For example, the Hounsfeld unit is fundamental to CT. This is in itself a representation of the elements – the number of photons attenuated from the x ray beam is translated into an image on a computer screen; fire (electricity, heat from x ray source), light, passes through air, and skin, (carbon), bone (stone, earth), and water (blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, digestive contents).

At the top is a cube, many years old, depicting Christ’s redemptive story in pictogram form. Man has to choose between hell (fire) and life (light, water), through Christ, baptized (water), nailed to a cross and laid in a tomb (earth), who descended to hell (fire), who rose again, and gave his spirit (wind).

The sea shells are shaped by the water, made of earth. Their spirals are dictated by the Fibonacci sequence – the mathematics that dictate nature. Mathematics could represent the quintessence, that indefinable fifth element which is in all four elements, and emerges from their conjunction, fundamental to all matter.

My can of cold brew coffee represents the elements. It’s beans from the earth, roasted with fire, then ground and percolated through boiling water, then cooled with water and air in my refrigerator. I drink it, and extract the water, wasting what I don’t use.

This is written on my iPad, manufactured with fire and earth and water, burning with electricity.

And the books, some of my favorites, which survived my Marie Kondo – inspired purge, because they sparked joy. The Prophet by Khalil Gibran, given to me by my father on my wedding day, to commemorate how conventional life is a trap, and that I should seek my passions. I’ve enjoyed so many adventures in life with my wife, and this stage is an adventure too.

Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favorite authors and poets, with the Penguin editions that I so enjoy. Each has an imprinted raised symbol, paying homage to Borges’ visual impairment that he spoke of so often in his writing, that gave him the kinesthetic emphasis that makes his work so distinctive.

This book of cartoon art was one I found at the Strand in Manhattan several years ago for my wife. It has personal ads rendered as poems and inspirations for art portraits. I like it because it captures the moments we skim through in our day, that have a lasting resonance. This is an element I try to capture with my erotica stories, and also my ongoing fiction series.

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