The Sun Temple by Brian Spaeth

SERPENT 1-A-LO-RESThe Noonday Sun, directly overhead, and suspended so low in the sky that it almost touched the roof of the apartment building in which I lived, found itself in a quandary as it tried to make its way down to me on the first floor. It peered and squinted down through the dark and narrow alley between the old tenement buildings, generating sparks and flashes as it tried to navigate the fire escapes and ledges, losing a good deal of its flame in the process—then caromed off the moldering bricks which absorbed more of its strength, and finally arrived apologetically at my dusty and decrepit window in the form of a feeble ghost. Then, with a single narrow beam of sunlight that had painstakingly found its way through the aforementioned obstacles, it slowly and carefully inscribed a small arc—no more than 12 inches in diameter—across my kitchen floor: a Solar hand burning a hieroglyphic message, and then, quickly—before it can be deciphered—evaporates in the gloom of that unfortunate chamber, leaving me to ponder its significance. But the message was clear, and I could feel the mighty presence of the Sun—I knew it was out there—blazing right above the building, burning the black tar of the roof as it illuminated the East Village, and daubing a thick crust of Noon-Tide colors on those gray and listless streets and buildings.

This knowledge of the Sun’s presence is enough to cause an intense unease and dissatisfaction—an irresistible urge to break out of that damp and dreary shell and reunite with the Glorious Sun, who tries so diligently to find me. He is not easily discouraged, however, and seeks me out again from another direction: as I open my apartment door I am happy to see the reflection of his face through the thick prism of the small glass panes in the front door at the end of the long hallway, as he puts the lie to the counterfeit light from the florescent bulbs in the ceiling.

Once out on the street, I feel a tremendous sense of relief at having escaped from that sepulcher once again—I feel alive, as I bask in the radiance of the God who is so great that his face cannot be looked upon without being blinded. Yes, the Sun has returned and with him my imperative to continue wandering this jagged and refracting city, as I give myself over to the Solar bath.

But even at this supreme moment, the day’s demise has already been set in motion, as gigantic orbs twirl and turn majestically on their prescribed routes in the heavens. And as the afternoon slowly rotates away from us, the euphoria begins to evaporate, to be replaced by an aching sadness and nostalgia, as the Sun withdraws his favors, abandoning us to latitudes of blue, green, and violet as evening approaches.

But the sky has ignited in the west, turning an apocalyptic orange, and I have the notion that a great event is occurring, but is being obscured by the intervening buildings. Once again, I am troubled by a general sense of unease, as if life is taking place somewhere else—that I am missing out, and that I must hurry after it before it is too late.

As I hurry—almost in a panic— through the darkening streets towards the west, the Great Disc unexpectedly breaks through the buildings, covering me in red and gold, as I pursue it all the way down to the southernmost tip of the island, the oldest part of the city… whereupon is situated…the Battery.


I can’t recall exactly when I had first started becoming infatuated with the Battery—it must have been during that painful period of my life when I had gradually begun to find myself isolated and estranged from other people. My friends had fallen away, one by one, and I had become increasingly cut off from normal associations and activities, and had instead begun to prefer the spectral and consumptive nourishment that day-dreams provide. My life had somehow lost direction, with no plans or goals—that was it, really: I was aimless—that was the root cause of my perhaps unhealthy obsession with the Old Battery. The park and the harbor exerted a powerful psychological pull over me—a magnetic force that brought me back day after day.

Now, the Battery, by this time, had fallen into a state of neglect and disrepair—its roads and walkways eroded and crumbling—its beds untended and overgrown—its statues and monuments pitted and stained—its fountains run dry, and it’s buildings blackened from decades of exposure to the soot of the diesel engines of the boats that sail in that ancient harbor.

I had closely studied the Battery for several seasons, becoming intimately acquainted with and finely attuned to the psychological nature of the Old Park—each facet of which held its own peculiar spell that pulled me back to silent dreams of antiquity.

Of course the Old Battery is now hopelessly wrecked—all the wonderful old maritime monuments have been torn out (why?) and taken away to God knows where—a tragedy—especially for a fantasist such as myself. They destroyed the soul of the park…

But this was still the Old Battery—the way it used to be—before its destruction and “re-design” — still the Battery of antique, nautical monuments that had faced the harbor for an eternity of lost days & nights. It was filled with an obscure assortment of oddities and curiosities: the bizarre and disturbing statue of Verrazano, set in the middle of a circular, cobble-stone courtyard ringed by powerful arc lamps, who gazed out into the harbor from atop a ten foot pedestal and was guarded by a green-copper allegorical female figure who was meant to represent Discovery, but whose features had blackened over the years, and who now resembled an advancing angel of death with sword in hand.

Set a little further back from the water was the Wireless Operators Monument: a beautiful and delicate cenotaph decorated with a carved swag of seashells and foliage, and inscribed with the vague and long forgotten names found in the ancient texts. It was fronted by a small fountain set into a semi-circle facing the harbor, but was now given over to neglect—the fountain had run dry ages ago—the whole presenting a most mournful appearance and feeling of abandonment. [End of excerpt. To read more get the debut issue of Abakus magazine or get the ebook on Amazon or Smashwords.]

a29254f6169b3106ea3a8bc3aa5dbfb6bfb98673-thumbNot since DeQuincey, I suspect, can there have been a more candid and convincing account of a psycho-physical journey fueled by mania, obsession, and the highs and lows offered by psychedelic herbs. It opens our eyes to a different dimension mapped on to the reality that everyone can see. Read The Sun Temple for a “legal high” wherever you are.

Ian Mulder


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