Paris, October 1967
“Can I sit here?”
“Not you again, Zewedu!”
“This seat is spare.”
“I’m keeping it for Marcia.” Charlotte Howard put programmes on several seats close by.
Gold chairs with red velvet seats were arranged in several semi-circular rows, with a central aisle leading to a podium, where a table was set with a white cloth, flowers, a jug of water and a glass. Close to the table were two chairs, one occupied by a young man wearing gold-rimmed spectacles. He was short and rather plump, perhaps in his late twenties. The heat seemed to be troubling him and he frequently wiped his forehead with a large white handkerchief. Behind the empty chair a large white screen had been erected in front of dark blue curtains. A projector beamed the first image from the carousel of slides.
“There are plenty of free seats,” insisted Zewedu. “Why don’t I sit on the other side of you?”
“I’m saving that as well. And the next one. The hall is filling up quickly – and there are people waiting in the foyer. As soon as she arrives there’ll be a rush.”
“Then I’ll sit behind you and whisper sweet somethings in your ear.”
“Why do you keep haunting me?”
“You know the answer! My question is: why do you keep me at arm’s length? Is it the colour of my skin?”
“You are black, but you are comely, Zewedu. No problem for me there.”
“Ha! You sing me the song of my ancestor!”
“You must know the Ethiopian royal family is descended from King Solomon? Our first monarch, nearly three thousand years ago, was Ebn la-Hakim – Son of the Wise. Otherwise known as Menelik the First. Will you be my Queen of Sheba?”
“With my white skin and red hair? That’s enough! Here are my friends.” Charlotte turned away. “Marcia, I was beginning to wonder. Oh hello Naomi! And Dorothea! Can I call you Dot? Really pleased you could both come. Do you know Zewedu Bayissa, Ethiopian Prince? Descended from King Solomon. He’s very keen for us acknowledge his regal inheritance.”
“Hello. I’ve seen you in the library. Not my style to curtsey, sorry. I’m Marcia Downes – Art History. Post-grad. Charlotte, dearest, sorry our timing’s so tight. We were caught in the downpour and had to dry off. What a building! Impressive façade – and the foyer’s magnificent. Occultists always seem to have plenty of money!”
The chatter in the hall started to fade. Late arrivals making excuses began to whisper. A tiny woman was making her way from the back of the hall. She was elegantly dressed in a style at least a decade out of date: a fitted jacket and a wide skirt, all black. A crisp white collar framed her chin; a small, black velvet cap on grey curls was trimmed with a black spotted veil that clouded her forehead. Everyone was quiet. The sound of her walking stick echoed around the hall. Despite a slight limp, her posture was upright and she walked like a dancer, her skirts rustling as she brushed by the chairs.
Henri Zussman came forward and helped the Professor onto the podium, shook her hand and then turned to the audience:
“Mesdames et Monsieurs, I am welcoming you here this evening for a lecture from our esteemed colleague, Professor Tania Kosikowski. As local members know, our dear friend has spoken here many times and invariably delivers her excellent lectures in French. Due to interest expressed by international students from the Sorbonne, as well as a big contingent from the London Lodge, Tania suggested we host this evening’s lecture in English. Her scholarship is well known to everyone here, and those of you who have travelled a long way to attend will be very aware of the topics she’s been focusing on in her most recent research. I am sure she will deliver more than you can possibly expect. Thank you very much, Professor for being with us! We feel truly honoured.”
The hall resounded with clapping. Henri stood next to the projector and pressed the button to move the carousel of slides around to the next notch.
The Professor said nothing. She scanned the hall with an air of authority. Clearly, she was waiting to deliver important information. Then she spoke, with great calm and precision.
“What I am going to tell you this evening has rarely been discussed in a public environment, outside the very secret societies of those privileged scholars and initiates who have gathered together through the centuries to protect the truth. Many occult groups have been aware of this story for generations, but they have kept it to themselves, for excellent reasons. If the content is true, then greedy, selfish people, those who seek power in the material world, will strive ruthlessly to acquire the treasure that was given for the benefit of all humanity – and was then lost.”
“Before I begin, I want to bring to your attention some remarkable scholarship, an exciting breakthrough that has prompted me to share this information with you at this time. In the latter part of the last century, scholars gained access to a vast collection of ancient documents in a Jewish storeroom in Egypt: the Cairo Genizah. Many scrolls and fragments have been housed since then in the university libraries of Oxford and Cambridge. It was in Oxford just four years ago that Mordecai Margalioth uncovered a significant text concerning angelic revelations. His research was published just last year – although it will take longer to translate from the original Aramaic.”
The audience was entranced. The Professor nodded to Henri, who clicked a button for the next slide.
“Before the Great Flood, which some archaeological evidence suggests can be dated to Early Dynastic I, circa 2750 BC, the ‘great ones of old’ described in the Book of Genesis lived, by present-day standards, exceptionally long lives. The men who descended from Adam routinely lasted several hundreds of years. One, named as Methuselah, was on our planet for nearly a thousand. What kind of people were these, who could live to such advanced ages in times when we assume there was no competent medicine, no supporting technology, no quality housing with decent sanitation?”
The carousel clicked again.
“There is an ancient myth which describes how, after the expulsion from Eden, Adam was given a book of knowledge containing information that would help him survive and his descendants to thrive. We are told the book was written on sapphire tablets and delivered to Adam by an Archangel called Raziel. This angel’s name means ‘keeper of secrets’. He is also called Gallizur – ‘revealer of the rock’, because he stands on a rock hidden from the Divine Throne by a curtain, or veil. He was instructed to reveal God’s truth to humankind. Raziel, or Gallizur, is a divine messenger of the first order. Like Gabriel he is commissioned to announce future possibilities. We hear how Gabriel arrived at a major historical turning-point to announce the birth of the Master Jesus. Raziel’s energy delivers a higher vibration – the next octave up from Gabriel – and now, nearly two thousand years after Jesus, we are ready for that high-speed input. It will provoke a paradigm shift and allow humanity to resolve some of our age-old issues. This is not about a ‘Second Coming’ of a particular person, but a new understanding for the collective; a new state of consciousness. I believe there is good reason to assume that Sefer ha’Malach Raziel – the Book of the Angel Raziel – still exists. If I am right, it is the most precious and valuable artifact that exists on this planet, which must never fall into the hands of ignorant or foolish people. The signs are perfectly placed for members of our present generation, being wise and humble initiates, to uncover the whereabouts of the Book and protect it for the future wellbeing of humanity.”
Professor Kosikowski looked around the audience for a reaction. Silence. Then a few coughs and a flutter of hands. Henri Zussman indicated in Charlotte’s direction.
“You have a question for the Professor?”
“Two. What is the your good reason for assuming the Book still exists? And what are the signs you referred to?”
“I was given instructions by a celestial emissary, whose name I am not allowed to speak, to offer this lecture. The signs are astrological. You can look at the planetary configurations for the next few decades and see that a vast shift in human consciousness will evolve. Some of the changes will certainly be very challenging and humanity won’t be in for a joy ride. Such a dramatic transformation is bound to mean upheavals – political, social, geographical. My information is that the Book of Raziel will play a major part in the positive changes that will emerge.”
Zewedu raised his hand and Henri acknowledged his request. The prince stood up and his voice boomed around the hall. People turned to stare, but he carried himself with such authority and grace they averted their eyes, careful not to offend.
“I am intrigued something called me to attend this meeting – I just saw a notice on the student’s board this afternoon. It seems like a curious coincidence, because I have heard people in my own country speak of this ancient book. I understand King Solomon, whose son by the Queen of Sheba was the first king in Ethiopia, was once guardian of the book, from which he learned the magical powers necessary for the building of his great temple.”
“I am delighted to hear from you! Of course, there are many rumours, mostly in Jewish legend, about what happened to the book after Adam died. One important story tells us that angels came to our planet and fathered children with human women. It is suggested that Noah, who acquired divine knowledge in order to build the ark, may have been one of these hybrids – half angel, half human. They were known as Nephalim. Their descendants may still be around on earth right now. ”
* * *
“That was the most exciting lecture I’ve ever heard! Really can’t take it all in – none of the stuff I’ve read by Madame Blavatsky and her cronies even hints at this ‘book’.”
“But, Charlotte,” said Marcia, “Do you remember how she finished? Like she was throwing down a gauntlet, almost suggesting the people in the audience had been called. I felt we were being summoned to get on with the search.”
“I reckon we could gather a meeting of interested parties and see who turns up… I’m definitely up for it, seeing how my family played a key role in this history.”
“That’s great, Zewedu, as long as you don’t start playing the monarch around us!” Dorothea gave the prince a warning glance. “I’m sure my friend Alan will be keen as mustard. The St. Clair family have been interested in hermetic studies for centuries – nearly all of his books are about alchemy and such. He was just too tied up teaching a life class to join us tonight.”
Charlotte was flushed with excitement. “We need to get together as soon as possible. Grab Henri when he’s finished – I bet he’s already got something in mind. Maybe we could use a room in the Theosophical Lodge, for an informal gathering… there must be about seven potential interested parties, here right now… even if we only attract a dozen or so, we’ll be off to a strong start.”
“The Gallizur Group” whispered Marcia.
* * *