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After the cactus, after the tea of mushrooms, after the wormwood and sickly things, after you've dreamed too long, you might come to this place in the desert. You must come by day through burning dunes: you must pass the strange beasts, and the dens of hermits, and the ruins of ancient tombs. You must pass all of this blindfolded. The white sun will sting your eyes. The gold plains will sting your mind. Bring an offering for the prophets chained alongside the unpaved road: bread made from bonemeal or the dream of your first lover will do.

here there is no water but only sand

In this place, it has always been burning, and the graves in the shifting lands have always been empty. Never born, but always dead, there was never a spring to let the rains pour down, never a cloud to stud the effortless blue of the sky. Vultures circle, winnowed down to bone, picking at corpses and calling out over the rolling waves.

Shantih, shantih, shantih...

There are stairs to pass, too, and the stone itself will never chill to be a comfort for your passage. Burning footprints must be left on the rock. The blackened soles of your feet are payment; you cannot come to this place without a price. The vultures will be waiting if you turn back, but they are kinder than the sun. Pay in flesh; dreams of changing aeons have a cost.

svadhvar

The stairs and the mountain will part, and there you will come to her who dances. She is dressed in ashes; she is dressed in the colors only seen in dreams and acids. Her skin is eaten: her skin is perfectly smooth, and she dances with two swords in a ring of black stones. She dances, her face luminous with ambergris-scented fire: she dances in the shadow of the growing storms in this dead not-world. Her blades are Revolution and Remembrance: her blades are Destruction and Forgetting. She is veiled and naked all at a once.

with oblation, fuel, ritual lore, and reverence, skilled in sacrifice

And your feet will ache for an eternity but only seconds, and in this broken land, she will open her mouth and sing the song of the swords in motion: she will sing the song of the skies returning. The sand will slip through the earth like an hourglass, and as the land is broken and remade, the rain will wash the world clean of desert, of vultures, of dreams.

what comes next, you must do. take up the swords. take up her veil

dance the song of the sands reborn