Today the tapping on the other side of the wall got louder and seemed to come much closer.
When I heard it, I laid aside my own poor tool and put my ear to the damp stones. I held my breath while my heart kept time with the steady tick-tick-tick. But on this occasion there was no need to strain. The sound was clear as a winter dawn, sweetest of my dim memories. And with it came an even clearer mental picture: a chick inside an egg; a tiny, wet, bedraggled prisoner patiently picking away at the last thin, frangible barrier between constraint and freedom, night and day, dark and light.
In the Signatura Rerum Jacob Boehme speaks of the Philosopher’s Stone as the New Birth. I begin to understand why. The fire-flash of the Flagrat is the end of the first desire. Sulphur is the dry hunger, Salt the working life, Mercury the walm and wheel of the moving spirit. The goal is heaven, which, as I now see, must be as death in the soul.
I suppose I listened for an hour or two—perhaps longer—before resuming my own work. Then I went at it with gusto. By the time my meager supper came two more stones were free of the clinging mortar …
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