The Magic Room
It was late October 1974, there was a feel of Indian summer in the air and Max was driving up Skyline Drive to visit his friend Chrystallyne. He was approaching the nearly destroyed driveway that would take him and his 64 Volvo 2 door up to the shack where Chrystallyne lived. He knew he could make it; he had done it several times but with one side washed out by a landslide and the other side eroded and appearing like something between potholes and ditches it was always precarious. Chrystallyne had told him that he was the only person to ever try driving up that driveway and to never do in again.
Max Brighton is a classical guitarist and he was on his way to visit Chrystallyne after playing a couple of hours at a pub called the Old P.O.; 20 years before it was the post office of the small town of Topanga, an artist colony, just far enough out of Los Angeles to not be considered a suburb. Now it was still an artist colony but had become the Mecca for a growing community of hippies, the serious hippies. At any time in the Old P.O. one could find a collection of witches, wizards, Gypsies, writers, poets, cowboys, transvestites, artists and musicians. A few from this unusual collection of characters were gifted and productive, most were living in a drug induced fantasy world.
Max made it to the top of the driveway, turned around and parked as he always did with the car aimed down ready for the exit. He got out and was met by Humshaw and Chrystallyne’s other four Siberian Huskies and joined in as he always did in their traditional collective howls. Max patted all the dogs and started the walk to the shack. Suddenly the door opened and Chrystallyne snapped out, “Your late”! Max hadn’t told her he was coming but he was used to this, in fact, this was one of the more gentle greetings!
As Max approached the door Huldra, Chrystallyne’s big black cat came to him and began to rub her face on Max’s shoe. “Stop that,” shouted Chrystallyne. “You stay away from Huldra, I know what you’re up to”.
Max had moved to Topanga four years before, he moved there to get away from the mega urban existence of Los Angeles, to better find and get to know himself and because he simply found these outrageous Topanga characters interesting and entertaining. He was a very good classical guitarist, he got frequent engagements with many small community orchestras in the Southern California aria, occasional recitals and concerts with orchestras across the US and once a year or so he would be asked to play in Europe or Japan. He enjoyed this work immensely but he was still a little disappointed and adjusting to the fact that he was not destined to be the next Andre Segovia, he was never going to sell out Carnegie hall three nights in a row. He was, however, moderately charismatic and he liked the fact that in this time of high disable rock and roll, he was able to play for the exotic anti social frequenters of the Old P.O. and cause them to get extremely quiet so they could hear him. He played there at least once a week.
One of the things that Max noticed since the time that he had moved to Topanga was that most of the numerous practitioners in the occult community were clearly attracted to him. He never spent too much time asking why this was so but he usually enjoyed the friendships with these interesting people; life was never boring. He had never in his life thought about astro travel, communication with extra terrestrials, casting a spell (unless this was one of the secrets of music performance), putting a hex on someone, talking to the dead or telling the future but now he was both amused and fascinated by listening to his occult acquaintances discuss such things in the way you hear more normal types discuss sports or shopping.
Chrystallyne’s shack was nearly falling apart; it was very old with raw natural old gray, black and dark brown wood. The front door was shaky and hanging on it was beautiful dream catcher, the most beautiful Max had ever seen, made by Chrystallyne. Passing through this door was like entering into another world. First, an exotic cocktail of pleasant but unidentifiable aromas met the nose. It was smoky but what kind of smokes were they?
Chrystallyne was a truly great artist whether it was painting, sculpture or jewelry. If she could envision it in her mind she could create it and her mind was abundantly creative. The first visual impact entering the house was a huge painting conceptualizing her version of the creation of the world. There were several incense burners hanging from the ceiling made of gold and silver, small bowls of made of gold, highly ornamented with silver, platinum and colored gemstones and filled with dubious substances. The kitchen had a very old wood-burning stove that heated half the house and the living/bed room was heated by a small and also very old potbelly stove. On the horizontal beam that separated the two rooms was a decretive jar filled with formaldehyde and containing a human fetus.
Chrystallyne always complained of poverty but in this small domicile was more gold, silver, platinum and jewels than one would usually find in most museums and her floors were covered, sometimes several thick, with the highest quality middle eastern carpets. This struck Max as being strange each time he visited Chrystallyne but he instinctively never asked about it.
The Magic Room was behind and between the kitchen and the living/bed room. This room was full of art treasures, all of them created by Chrystallyne; in the center there hung a very large incense burner made largely out of gold but richly accompanied with silver, platinum and an extraordinary array of fine colored stones.
Chrystallyne was not what one would call a beauty nor was she ugly. She was very small (4’11”), thin, perhaps gaunt is the right word and very angular, her physiognomy was angular as were her arms, shoulders and fingers. All references to living creatures in her artwork showed the same angularness. Although Max never heard any reference to this from Chrystallyne, many members of the Topanga occult community spoke about her being an extra terrestrial. Max always avoided taking seriously such murmurings from that community, it was more just part of the amusement and fascination that he enjoyed so much.
The Magic room was full of truly wonderful treasures. There were sculptures of mythical creatures, all a little monster like and all gaunt and angular but all of exquisite workmanship. In the front of the room was an assemblage she had made that she called the Energy Suck Machine. This was a massive wooden cross which was made out of some sort of heavy dark hardwood, Max knew it must have weighed at least 60 kilos although he had consciously never touched the Energy Suck Machine. At the center of the cross there was a seven blade-rotating propeller, which was made by seven mandibles of donkeys, or as Chrystallyne referred to them: seven jaw bones of an ass. This troubled max deeply because he new that between six months and a year before there had been several decapitations of donkeys in the Topanga aria. She swore she knew nothing about these decapitations.
Above the Energy Suck Machine in an elegant wooden showcase with a light shining on it. In it was an amazing piece of Persian glass that Max had brought back for her over a year before from a tour in New York City. Max knew a little about antique glass and although most of this piece was covered with crust having been buried for hundreds of years, it was perfect and undamaged. Max had paid a few hundred dollars for it and he knew it was quite a reasonable buy. However, Chrystallyne had taken this glass and with her artist’s hand and an exacto knife she had flaked off almost 100% of the crust exposing rainbow colors on the opalized surface, the piece surely became worth thousands. It was breath taking.
“What do you think you’re doing with Huldra?”
“ Nothing, She just started rubbing her face on my shoe”
“ You stay away from her and don’t let her get near you or you can go and never come back to this Temple”
There was something chapel like about the Magic Room but this chapel absolutely was not the sweet little country chapel one envisions.
Max and Chrystallyne sat down and had a cup of a smoky and very tasty tea that Chrystallyne called caravan tea, whatever it was it was good. As usual Max’s eyes wandered around the room from artwork to artwork, while they were talking he sometimes would get up and walk around looking, sometimes going into the magic room. Huldra followed him wherever he went and he was becoming more and more aware that Chrystallyne was watching very closely.
“ Come out of there, I don’t want you in the Magic Room anymore, especially with Huldra”
Max came back, sat down and waited, he didn’t know what it would be but he was pretty sure it would be memorable. Finally Chrystallyne said, “Do you want to astro travel?”
“Sure, how do we do it”?
She then took one of her most beautiful carpets, it was about a meter square, the colors were brilliant and especially the very center, which was like an explosion of light and energy. She put the Carpet on the floor between them.
“We will concentrate on the center of this carpet, I’ll say a few words and then we will pass through the center of the carpet which will become our portal. OK?
“Make sure you concentrate, if you try any of your games it could be dangerous”
Chrystallyne had been accusing Max for nearly two years of trying to negate everything she was trying to do, she was absolutely convinced that they had been opposing warriors for thousands of years and that for thousands of years Max had been negating her magic. In one specific story she tells of when in the post-Gothic period of Saxony they were both living in a desolate monastery and were a nun and an abbot. They had established some kind of a symbioses as they were trying to come to terms with this they also discovered they both had a proclivity to the dark arts; now they had a double secret and they needed each other to prevent being discovered. As the story goes, the abbot, in order to divert the attention that was being directed to him for his suspected dark magical aptitudes, betrayed the nun, which resulted in her being burnt at the stake and he being released from all suspicion. Chrystallyne was still extremely angry about this!
“Are you ready”? She said.
“OK” Max didn’t know what to expect and he was feeling a little apprehensive but it was an adventure and what could go wrong just sitting on the floor on one side of a rug?
Chrystallyne began her incantation. “Keeper of the gate, Keeper of the gate, grant us permission to pass through this portal into the other world. Let your light shine on us and guide our way”
It was very quiet, they could hear the fire burning in the potbelly stove and someone somewhere off in the distance was driving a car. Suddenly Huldra walked onto the carpet and began to rub her face on the on the brilliant spot at the center.
Chrystallyne became furious. “Stop that, I’m not trying to harm anyone, I’m just trying to take you somewhere you never been and you’re just playing games”
“Honest, I’m not doing anything” This is not the first time Max had seen Chrystallyne behave in a strange way but this was the first time he had seen it at this level. “Look Chrystallyne, let’s just try again, I’m trying as hard as I can to cooperate, Let’s just try again”
“Alright but none of your tricks. I know it’s you that’s causing these problems”.
“It’s not, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Let’s try again.”
“OK, Start concentrating. “Keeper of the gate, Keeper of the gate, Please grant us passage through this portal, lighten our way and guide us to the path in the other world, we seek wisdom, we seek knowledge”.
Max and Chrystallyne concentrated on the bright center of the carpet when suddenly Huldra returned and this time began to rub her face on Max’s stocking feet. That was the limit for Chrystallyne, she began yelling at Max as she picked up Huldra and jettisoned her out the door.
“That’s the last time! You will never use Huldra again to play your tricks on me. That’s all for today, go home”
“Look I really haven’t done anything and I find what we’re trying extremely interesting, let’s try once more”
“Do you promise to keep your mind free of interfering thoughts and to follow me, what ever I do through the process”
“Yes I promise that”
It had gotten dark; this time Chrystallyne had let several candles and they listened to an incredible recording of Balinese music called Ketjak: the Ramayana Monkey Chant, on of the most primitive sounding pieces of music ever written and at the same time it was a very sophisticated opera regarding exorcism. This was a favorite album of both Max and Chrystallyne; the conditions were perfect for astral traveling!
Again she Chanted, “ Keeper of the gate, Keeper of the gate, Grant us passage through this portal and illuminate our way that we will better see the wisdom on the other side”
It was so quiet, time passed, it seemed like hours. Suddenly a huge crash came from the Magic Room. They both ran in to see what had happened and neither one could believe what they saw. The Energy Suck Machine had fallen forward, the cross had broken into three pieces and the jaw bones were reduced to just bone fragments and donkey teeth all over the floor, the golden incense burner with the silver, platinum and fine colored jewels swung back and forth and the showcase with the Persian glass bottle shined in its light except the showcase door was wide open. Both Max and Chrystallyne stood there in complete disbelief for a very long time, they were both shaken.
Chrystallyne was the first to speak, first quietly and with a poco a poco crescendo. Her voice was shaking.
“Get out... Get out. GET OUT OF HERE NOW!”
Max quickly moved to the door opened it and stepped onto the porch. They both saw Huldra at the same time; she was lying on the doormat, cold, stiff and dead. Chrystallyne began to scream, it was so loud and so distorted that Max couldn’t understand the words other than it was clear Chrystallyne was sure he was responsible. Suddenly the air was full with small golden-jeweled bowls that as far as he could tell were meant for his head. He ran to his car, leaped in and was costing down the driveway before he could locate his keys. He drove as fast as he could to the Old P.O., went inside and had a large beer.
“Hi Max, Is everything ok?” said Karen, the owner and bartender there that night.
“Yeah, I just saw a scary movie on TV, that’s all”.
“Sit down, take it easy, what did you see?”
Max didn’t see Chrystallyne again for 7 years. She called once a few months later after that night and told Max she was going to burn his house down and Max choose to just ignore the threat.
Seven years later Max met Chrystallyne in a parking lot in the city. She looked bad and she told him that she was now the official jeweler for the Southern California Hells Angels gang; she reached in her bag and pulled out several silver skull rings. Max had no words.