A long way down the cut stone corridor lie the ceremonial chambers. The doorway is unlit, the initiated alone know the complex’s plan mirrors the harvest constellations, that each lamp along the fences and central paths are positioned like the stars above, not as pathways. Over time they became useful as a way to draw the attention of interlopers away from sacred places, to fool the curious into walking into hazardous labyrinths, into chambers where they made the dreamwalk of sacrifices, unknowingly conducting themselves into the pits and traps of the tricking chambers, in darkness damp with blood. Some few such victims were necessary to preserve the holy aura of the temple precinct, without resorting to walls and locked gates which draw unseemly attention and are an affront to the gods. The temple hid no earthly riches, besides; only the greater secret of its hidden interior which could not be found but by those long trained to make their way through deadly traps with closed eyes.
The thin sand over the paving stones held no footprints, but catch the moonlight and prevent the necessity of torches on nights of the gibbous moon. The threshold of the long corridor is simple sandstone blocks, cut with the graffiti of generations of worshippers at the first holy sites, the only reminder that the current temple is a reconstruction. The air is humid in the stoneway, which leads downward on shallow sloping stairs, narrowing toward the bottom to prevent haste. Holding your hands against the walls, the entrant will feel the rough stone grow smooth and from the floor a gradually increasing warmth, signs that the entry chamber is near, and giving the necessary impression that one is leaving one world and entering another entirely, shaped by gods, chthonic, apprehended only in ritual. An hour’s slow descent brings the entrant to the first chamber floor, bloodwarm like the earth’s heart and glowing with reflected lights from the eternal torches in the interior. Fragrant smoke from unseen censors flows from small cuts in the walls, as the chamber widens and deepens suddenly, a wide plain up against the shore of the great pool obscured by fog. The entrant here places the representation of his chosen familiar on a small reed boat, letting it drift into the fog and darkness beyond. This is the chosen greeting of a novice. If the entrant was born with the caul, no such gift is necessary, the gods are expecting her. These entrants descend in daylight, when all but the highest gods are sleeping. Along the hundred foot shore run the torches, casting ghastly shadows on the further paths, which the entrant was not prepared for, the choice of direction telling the high priests everything about the entrant’s watcher, true familiar, and god spirit. The red glow comes from the flower chamber, the yellow pall from the wolf’s lair.
The entrant follows the color of power, sacrificial blood, and the thoughts of gods to the red chamber, and will accept a priesthood fated to a lower calling in the precinct. The entrant who follows the sickly color, the color of weaker stars, will be surprised that her surmise correctly guessed a trick: her lineage is clear, the predator is her familiar, the higher mysteries await, and she may gaze, eventually, after many trials and initiations, upon the deepest chambers of the temple, until she finds, at last, the final chamber, first built and long hidden, wherein she will perceive, at last, the tin-faced walls of the shape of the wolf.
Candle the wolf cut-outs, see what’s inside.