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A reading from the Letter of Devi the Elder to Fiel

My fellow men, believe me when I tell you to be alarmed, to cry out in fear and
shame, and to rail at the indignity that you feel, for that is natural. A man’s first defense
is to deny wholeheartedly that which threatens to destroy his preconceived notions of the
world. But do not remain as such for long. Quiet you raging heart and make your mind
master of your body, for if you do not, you are not man but beast, following instinct
without regard for what makes you his better. Quiet that beast’s instinct that dwells
within you and listen to what I say.
Abandon hope. It was Dante, in his work of fiction Inferno that stated upon the
gates of hell there were the words, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here,” and these
words quoted appear upon the entrance to the Archimon’s realm as a mockery toward his
enemies’ cries of “seducer, rebel.” He minds not their incessant clamoring, for his
honesty is such that he does not deny those claims, even through these words, he seduces
men away from the path of their fathers and incites them to rebel against their sacred
commandments, but he does not do so without reason, like some wretched fallen angel
whose sole purpose for existence is to play antagonist. No, his will is free and his own,
and through his will, he commands both the wicked and the righteous to cast aside the
beliefs of their ancestors, saying not “follow me,” but “do as you please.” The Archimon
wants not your prayers for himself but wants you to abandon them altogether.
Abandon your good news. Abandon your prayers. Abandon your traditions.
Abandon all hope, ye who hear his voice. Abandon all hope, for it cannot save you.
When you go to the marketplace, what do you hear but the cries of missionaries,
from far and wide, begging for you to repent and turn from the path of wickedness and
materialism. “Return to the true path, for He shall save those of his children who are
obedient,” they say. “Which path is the true one,” you must ask yourself, for there are
more than a dozen such criers, and each one denies his brothers. Many of them even
speak of the same Heavenly Father, so why then do they squabble like hens over grain?
That is the very reason: they command their followers to tithe their income so that they
might tend to the poor, but then spend it on themselves.
“Lies and slander,” they cry again from upon their marble pedestals, “It is they
over there who do such things; we are innocent.” But with each man pointing his finger at
the next, none escape the guilt of the deed. Thus, they extol the virtues of humble men
who slept upon the dirt while they cloak themselves in ivory to hide their ebon hearts.
“Give not your money to me,” says the Archimon, “for I know not who is in need. Give
to the neighbor of the poor, for a man’s neighbor knows his need better than he does
himself.” “Seducer, rebel,” the missionaries cry, but when was the last time they slept on
the dirt as their holy men?
They speak of long dead men who performed mighty deeds in days gone by, but
where are they now? “The virtue of man is long gone,” they say, but that shows only a
lack of knowledge on their part. Show me the scripture wherein all the prophets are
wholly virtuous, and I shall rescind, but man has changed for the better in those long
millennia, growing both in virtue and wisdom. Why don’t miracles still occur today?
“They do, they do,” the missionaries cry, telling heart-wrenching stories of survival in
harsh conditions, all the while messengers come bearing tales of thousands more dying.
They speak not of pillars of fire to protect these victims, nor of floods to drown
the wicked, for all their claims of man’s virtue being gone. If a modern stage performer
were to appear in those days, what tales would we hear of his exploits? Abandon hope, I
say again, for while these magic-workers who dare not show their face in modern times
might save your soul, your body is still a valid target for all manner of disaster – not even
your life is safe. “The prophet raised this man from the dead,” the missionaries cry,
ignoring that he was allowed to die in the first place, perhaps even so that the prophet
might draw a show by resurrecting him. Did not the Archimon’s disciple Rev say, “I
awoke with great fear, for I was not in the land of the dead but of the living. Then I saw
my master and knew that it was he who saved me, but he looked away in shame and
bowed his head, saying ‘Forgive me for I was late.’”?
The Archimon did not make such a show of his power as a prophet and lowered
his head before a youth. Like a prophet, the Archimon walked through the desert, healing
the sick and driving out demons, but he did not say “Follow me, for I know the way,”
rather “Walk beside me if you dare, for the shadow of death hides my path.” The
missionaries in the marketplace demand you follow a path they do not and take benefit at
your diligence and earnest faith, preying on your hope for a peace that will come after
death. Abandon hope, for looking only toward the destination and not to the path will
cause you to stumble or even to fall from a narrow ledge. “Do as you will,” said the
Archimon, for only in seeking one’s own path and in forging ahead when there is no path
will you avoid the wrong turns and pitfalls that draw you away from your chosen
destination.
Abandon hope, for it is the true false prophet. Hope makes one think that by
simply praying, all his desires will be granted. Do men who pray to a faraway king
receive food when they are hungry? No, it is the man who works and breaks his back all
day in the fields to earn his pay that is able to feed his family. If his employer grants him
an extra day’s wages for his loyal service and hard work, does the man praise the king?
No, he gives his thanks to his employer for his generosity and takes pride in
himself for his diligence. The missionaries in the marketplace cry “Ungrateful wretch,
you shall pay for your disrespect,” but where is the offense? Did the king of a faraway
country make the employer give extra? No, he did so of his own free will, just as the
worker put in extra effort of his own will. If the employer had fired the worker instead of
praising him, then who is at fault but the employer?
The decisions of another man are his own, so those missionaries are but liars
when they claim that the king would have helped the worker had he prayed. If the worker
finds a new profession that same day, is it because of a foreign king’s order or because
the worker had built for himself a reputation as hard worker? Hope is not what fed his
family that night but his own efforts; his belief in himself was what saved him. So too
does the Archimon seek that each of us follow our own way rather than to seek refuge in
another. Each man is the master of his own fate, and to give one’s life to the words of a
man who does not follow the path he proclaims is folly.