my kabbalistic fantasy novel.
I love the scene from the fifth section of Radiance, Tiferet/Adornment, in which Asher and Virgo descend to the Lower Temple, the synagogue of the demons, but I felt that it wasn't quite living up to its potential. While I loved showing how frum (religiously scrupulous) Jewish demons are portrayed, the setting just wasn't rich enough.
Cont. after the jump
This is the original draft:
"Gripping the Staff of Moses tightly, Virgo stepped up to the side of a hill and tapped it firmly three times.
Immediately, a sensation of falling gripped her senses, though Virgo knew she wasn’t really going down in any literal or geographical sense - the Lower Temple was below the centre of everything, lurking beneath surface reality just out of reach. Yet sometimes a person shivers for no reason, or feels a chill run down their spine - and they feel that the Lower Temple is near.
And then she was standing on a wide marble floor with walls of stone tapering to infinity above her head. The rock seemed both damp and hot, flicking bursts of steam into the humid air. Around the vast cavern were wooden pews, precisely arranged to face east and the ark - at least they were normally like that. Right now many of them had been smashed as if in a giant barroom brawl. And there was Asher amongst the chaos, standing over a group of spirits.
Virgo strode towards him, her staff beating time against the black marble."
It got the point across but was lacking biblical references, and a real sense of wonder to the place. This is my newest attempt, with major additions in bold.
Gripping the Staff of Moses tightly, Virgo stepped up to the side of a steep boulder and tapped it firmly three times, to the left, to the right and in the centre at the base of the rock, balancing all sides of reality in this simple motion. Shall we descend together into the dust, she recited under her breath, visualising and willing each letter and vowel as they sank into the earth.
Immediately, a sensation of falling gripped her senses, though Virgo knew she wasn’t really going down in any literal or geographical sense - the Lower Temple was no more underground than above it, no more beneath Central Park than central London, or downtown Tel-Aviv.
No, the Temple of Ashmedai and his legion of demons was below the centre of everything in creation, lurking beneath the surface reality, just beyond the reach of mortal man.
Yet sometimes a person shivers on a hot summer day, or feels a chill run down their spine when engaged in the greatest acts of joy - the Lower Temple is near them, stirring in their hearts and behind their eyes.
A feeling of a rush of earth and blood and roots span past Virgo’s mouth and eyes, the human brain filtering non-sensory input through its own lens of normal experience. Another person might have cried out, or shut their eyes, but her eyes had seen all this, her ears heard and understood - the balance between perceived reality and experienced sensation was at the heart of what it meant to be Tiferet.
And then she was standing on a wide marble floor with walls of stone tapering to infinity above her head. The rock seemed both damp and hot, flicking bursts of steam into the humid air. Above her head was the eternal light, flickering bright and holy, suspended in the midst of the heavens, casting a strange glow over the scene.
Around the vast cavern were wooden pews, precisely arranged to face east and the holy of holies, the ark that housed the torah scrolls of the white letters on the black space - at least the pews were normally like that. Now they were in utter disarray, all around was tumult, trampling and confusion - and there was Asher amidst the chaos, standing over the denizens of the Temple.
Virgo strode towards him, her staff beating time against the black marble.
There is a sense of wonder and Biblical weight that I'm trying to lend to the second draft of Radiance, and I hope that these changes are steps in the right direction.