There is a town in the South of Brazil, atop mountains once volcanoes within which an ancient god-giant lies buried. Near it, Tibetan Buddhist monks built their first Brazilian temple, arguing that the land itself was magical upon its purchase with cash.
And indeed it has been the setting for miracles that changed the course of lives. The witnessing of spirits, the pure power in the air which makes even the simplest of magical operations be remarkable. A day prior to this ritual, by the same banks I would still visit, a white horse appeared from the woods to bear witness to my wife’s family casting of her mother’s ashes. Here, I travelled to bring gifts gained since the last visit, and to introduce a companion to this land where significant strides were made.
I stroll to a high point by the shoreline of an artificial lake, allowing me to oversee it almost entirely. The sun cuts through the clouds as I sit down on a flat basalt rock conspicuously marked by three adjoined bird bones. I chant the call of the Red Dragon and use the secret word of the house, and as it cuts crisply and painfully through my body, in another breath I chant the songs of a different tradition naming those who came before me. A dark figure inhumanly measuring up to the size of a tall tree appears at the other side of the shore and it watches what I do. It feels as if my field of vision sees a much smaller version of everything in front of me and gravity ceases to exist for a moment.
I tell all to heed me and declare I will return to fulfil my intent in a day’s time. I stumble back to the cabin where I’m staying with some difficulty. The next day, I walk to a nearby spot mostly covered by sparse bushes, and here I inscribe a stone with the shield of Bones. I trace a spiral with a stick and place it at the centre as I chant songs in his name. My breath feels like fire as the Lady of Catacombs manifests. I sense her awe as I look around with her sharing my eyes.
Under the stone, I place a token for binding the target of a ritual which began at the opposite side of the planet and now spans three places of power in three different countries. As the wind picks up and the temperature drops, the stars become visible and a sense of terror takes over, a glimpse at the possibility of losing oneself in the ruse of those who would have me remain blind to their subterfuge, now dispelled by the mere gaze of stronger, more virtuous allies. I request what I need and leave other tokens so that my spirits can return here on their own.
I walk back as I remember the words of one other giant, that this is all yet so poorly understood, yet there is comfort in the thought. A crisis was, after all, averted.
Tenzin Delek, one of the most prominent Tibetan religious leaders in Chinese custody, has died. Activists from the Tibetan community stood outside the Chinese consulate in New York to demand justice for Tenzin Delek, whose family suspects that the Chinese government murdered him while serving a life prison sentence.
In May of 1870, Thomas Child was hired by the Imperial Maritime Customs Service to be a gas engineer in Peking (Beijing). The 29-year-old Englishman left behind his wife and three children to become one of roughly 100 foreigners living in the late Qing dynasty’s capital, taking his camera along with him. Over the course of the next 20 years, he took some 200 photographs, capturing the earliest comprehensive catalog of the customs, architecture, and people during China’s last dynasty.
The wedding portrait of Zeng Jifen and Nie ji Gui, who were only recently identified. The bride is the daughter of Marquis Zeng Guofan, a high-ranking Chinese official during the Qing dynasty,
A photograph showing the section of the Great Wall that includes the Nankou pass leading to Mongolia.
A photograph of a traditional bridal sedan chair, which would carry a bride to her wedding. The journey in the chair is meant to represent the bride’s transition from one family to another.
A view of Spirit Way at the Imperial Tombs outside Peking. The avenue was lined with 24 stone animal figures, 12 standing and 12 recumbent, symbolizing the road leading to heaven.
An image of a “lama,” or Tibetan Buddhist monk, and his pupil. Both subjects hold prayer beads and bundles of “sutras,” or scripture, in their laps. On the table behind them are bronze sculptures and sacred Tibetan ritual objects, including a skull cup with a bronze Buddha and a statue of Kali, the goddess of Time, Power, and Destruction. This is one of the earliest photographic portraits of a religious figure in Peking
A view of a bronze instrument at The Imperial Astronomical Observatory. The location is a pretelescopic research center built during the Ming dynasty and expanded during the Qing dynasty.
A view of the Fountain Gate in Yuan Ming Yuan, or the Garden of Perfect Brightness. Beginning in 1709, the Qing emperor Kangxi began the construction of this garden retreat, which was modeled on the grand palaces, gardens, and fountains of Europe. Much of Yuan Ming Yuan was destroyed in the Second Opium War.
A view of the Forbidden City from across an imperial moat. This photograph shows 15th and 16th-century Chinese fortification systems which do not exist today.
The front view of Wan Shou Shan, or Longevity Hill, on the grounds of the Summer Palace.
A view of the Seventeen Arch Bridge, the largest bridge of any imperial garden, on the grounds of the Summer Palace. This photograph of the bridge includes the Bronze Ox overlooking Kunming Lake. Cast in 1755, the Bronze Ox was positioned on the lake in hope of preventing floods, as the ox is said to possess special power over water. Inscribed on the back of the ox in seal characters—the most ancient form of Chinese script—is the famous ode “Inscription on the Golden Ox” by the Emperor Qianlong,