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Dane Rudhyar's RANIA. Image copyright by Michael R. Meyer.

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To Aryel Darma
In Memoriam

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Written in 1930, RANIA was first published by Unity Press, 1973.

Cover for the online edition copyright © 2004
by Michael R. Meyer.

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The snow beats against them.

Huge white sheets torn from the skies lash galloping creatures sent through the storm by the haste-call of death. On the other side of the pass, the ghost-fury had not yet reached its full when they heard that fever had clawed him, savage fire amidst the icy wastes. Mother, daughter, they had left. Strong stock, Russian, Magyar, Gypsy . . . mixed strains and fervor of races that plough life to tear from it a harvest of triumphant pain and ecstasy.

The white gale slashes them.

The wolves' barking overtones the winds.

The snow made hunger, black snow moving with instinct, ferocious clang of winter's man-hatred. The horses know; they rebel against the master-hands. They drill madly into raging sails which flap against the white sea of the earth. Wolves, wolves . . . they howl. One jumps, cut back by the lash.

The wolves' hunger overtones the storm.

Big trees have been reached, with easy branches.

The sledge tumbles over roots scarring the snow. The mother, strong and fierce, slashes back the beasts that growl, pushes up the girl climbing the branches. "Hold fast! Peasants will save you after dawn. The farm is near." Bravely she beats, beats the horde that craves her flesh. "Hold fast!" she cries. "Have no fear. Courage, my love! I am strong yet."

Big trees stand like crosses over a grave.

She had been named Rania.

She stood with courage. She was of a strong stock. Her body seemed frozen, her mind deafened by the howlings of the beasts hardly fed by sacrificial flesh. But with power she clung to the ice. She clung to her soul trapped in this fierce planet. She called aloud: "I am not afraid. I am strong yet. I am strong!" And dawn saved her, with kind hands and warm bed from the farm.

She had been named Rania.

Her father recovered.

He was a strange passionate man, with Gypsy blood drawn from old India-lands. Something in him remembered the mounts where saints live who bless mankind with power compassionate and wisdom all-embracing. Something could not forget the lust of torrid plains sickened by fever, reeling with dances of sex, swirling around the brains. And these two clashed and struggled within his violent frame; great knowledge, great fervor, and the strong will of body craving its own against the god.

Her father took her far and away.

Over lands and seas they journeyed.

They reached the New World, where men who are young torture with machines their unborn souls, with greed for power, with rush everlasting. They scoured cities, factories, slums and palaces gilded with blood-dripping money. His many-tongued blood rejoiced in the Babels where all races lust, craving to be reborn as the little children of an earth prolific and strong, where destiny can be met and loved into great deeds and fortunes.

Over states and mountains they tore.

He was a restless soul.

He loved his daughter with a strange passion: that she was beautiful, that she was strong, that she could laugh and dance, yet plundered books for knowledge and gods for divinity. He loved her with a perverse love. He made her face his own debauches. He wanted to feel with her eyes and nerves his own passion. She was stirred, frantic. But she scorned, laughed; and her soul closed her stubborn jaws tight with defiance.

He was a tragic, powerless soul.

One day she saw him beat a young girl.

The girl was beautiful and frail. She had been stranded in some monstrous city and sold herself for bread and the few smiles of things that girls must own. Rania was in her own room; he called her, forced her to witness his shame. He was helpless that day for men had bruised his deepest longings. He must have revenge on life, brutalize bodies to pay for his shattered soul. The girl begged, cried. She tore her hands; she fled to Rania. "Oh! help me!" Daughter faced father in ghastly silence. Dumb confrontation of fates that stood apart, yet rooted in the same earth.

That day she closed the door and left him.

Rania wandered for many days.

She had reached her sixteenth birth. Men stared at her as she passed by for the fervent yet icy splendor of her eyes, the strong, defying pace of her walk that knew direction. She had taken with her but few dollars to start the search. She waited in tearooms; she knew the looks of men stammering over breakfast orders while unable to tear their eyes off her breast. She was assaulted with harrying smiles flushing with covetousness. She danced through music halls amid haggard bodies, and laughed off moist hands already clenching their prey.

Rania wandered, silent, unscathed.

Days and nights she worked, facing life.

Yet her body collapsed under the strain, as she was dancing in a small town. The hospital took her with its white-sheeted peace. For days she was burnt by the violence of the pent up fire within her flesh which had not given up, which had not opened to the craving of men. Then she recovered and was sent to the druggist of the town who needed help, while an official search was made for her father.

And Rania began her new work.

It was at first kind and pleasant work.

She had to wait upon customers hurrying through indigestible lunches, often piercing her clothes with greedy eyes, yet distant and fearful, for the town was small and tongues easy to start. The druggist had a wife, cautious though considerate. She had a strange look, as if ever watching for some ghost to appear from behind things being moved. Her world seemed a shaky world, unsafe; and some troubled longing twisted her upper lip into pain, while her eyes belled suffering with a strange smile.

It was for weeks kind and pleasant work.

A peace-wrapped languor pervaded Rania.

Hospital days had been a long gaze into emptiness, a long waiting, soul-pregnancy in love with the unborn. They had been winter days muffled by snow, gorgeous ermine cloak sheathing the naked blade of sorrow. She had relaxed into expectancy, husband-weary mother loving inward life-to-be. Spring had liquefied the silence into dancing waters. The ermine cloak had shed its fur. Vernal breezes tore through the bethinned fabric and the earth-body stirred into buds like the fields.

The discontent of spring rose in Rania's soul.

Surge of greens, surge of dreams.

He was still a boy. He helped the druggist with his preparations working at night toward college. He was frail and strange-eyed like a deer surprised amid mountain meadows. He looked at life with the same delicacy with which he divided powders into small equal heaps. There was a mystery Rania had not fathomed; but she loved him for his insecureness, for his mother-need.

Surge of greens, surge of dreams.

One night she stumbled over the mystery.

As she stood in the street, breathing the warm spring breeze, she saw the druggist rapidly walking toward the boy's room a few blocks away. He often helped the youngster with his lessons when he had kept him longer than usual at the store. A strange premonition twisted Rania's heart into curious pain. She followed at a distance, waited. The room's curtains were not tight. She could see shadows coming close in the dimmed light.

Her mother-love fathomed the mystery.

Tenderly the little stalk had spun its life sunward.

Now it was crushed once more, with the bitterness of disgust. She understood the writhing lines of pain in the wife; but in herself, it was her heart that bent in awesome loneliness. She wanted to go, but was watched rather strictly. She drew within herself with vehement unearthiness. She hated the earth. She clung to her dreams, wild dreams she had to throw off to bear the contempt and irony of things.

Cypresslike, tense-nerved, she judged life.

Because she was strong she asked for judgment.

It would have been easy to accept and twist the mouth in restrained suffering. But Rania was of a stock of rebels and defiers. She wanted to face life. She did not deny. Her father beating girls, the druggist and his clerk, men, men, men with frenzied hands choking with the longing to pierce and to crush, as if beyond there were God . . . And if there were God beyond? Was she the weakling? Were they the victorious? Tensely, desperately, she flung questions at the silence of life.

Because she was strong she asked for judgment.

Something answered from within.

It was very faint at first, like translucid steam in a cold room. It shaped itself into moving forms, square, oblong, round . . . somewhere beyond her closed eyes; or was it within the hollow globe? She saw dreams, dreams which she knew were real. She could not grasp the meanings nor the source. But she knew another world had opened and it was a glorious, blazing, yet icy world. She was not frightened, only she could not see the whence nor the whither. Forms and colors were going on; beyond and through. All things, all faces became streaked with strange gyrations.

Was it the answer from within?

She had no one to tell whom she could trust.

She thought at times she was going mad. She thought she was not of the same race of men as others. But she had not the vain pride of men who fool their souls into belief of lone godhood. She passed through days of dry scorn, as if all her body were spitting upon all men encountered. And it made her so beautiful and wild that men dared not look at her. In the town many words converged toward her. Her father had not yet been found. She was watched. Around her she felt wonder, awe, suspicion.

And no one to tell she could trust.

Yet she loved him.

However much she despised, her youth loved and longed. Two strong streams bounced upon the rocks of pain of her everyday: the mysterious flow of forms and dreams which were like messages unread, letters unopened lying upon the door step, a flow ever more steady and rich threatening to absorb the whole of her in some supernal ecstasy: then the anguish of body, of the want to be loved and to mother, the want to take hands and head into one's own, to forget dreams in the throb of glorious oblivion.

Like a mother, she loved him.

Then she heard her father was coming.

He had been found in a northern city where he had married wealth. First he had refused to bother about her, but decided to send her until of age to a convent in the west. The news struck her, as the druggist's wife confided it. The first thought was: escape. The second, a terrific anger that shattered her bearings and left her powerless and dulled. Then she thought of him, the poor beloved, and his thwarted life against the grain of love.

Soon, soon her father was coming.

If she must go, then victorious.

Life was beating her. She would force life, bow it to her will. Rania, the strong, could not leave, defeated. Face to face she would make destiny, if destiny refused to make life for her. The next day she would be gone. She asked the boy to take her for a last stroll near the river she loved, an upturned sky frowning star-ripples under the strain of the winds.

If she must go, then victorious.

It was late summer.

The trees wept golden seeds into the ceaseless flow of the waters oblivious of their love. The boy was silent, nearly trembling from some fearful ghost, inescapable. In the darkness she took him by both arms; she gazed at him with the passion of willful love. She cried to him: "Look at me! Look at me! Am I not beautiful? Take me. I shall release you from your curse. I shall drop upon you my strong purity. Grow into me, my boy! Laugh off into me your fear and your ghosts. Ah! take me . . ."

It was late summer.

There were no clouds, nothing hidden.

It was a great fierce gesture of will and strength. She tore him from his shell; she dug into his heart for life to spout and free him who had been slave and bound. She stirred in him the muscular strength that makes the first birth of man toward the second birth of supernal power. As they arose, he was glowing like wild fire with the passion of her in his breast, with the taste of her in his skin. As they arose, he would sing, he would cry, he would dance. She looked at him. She was proud in her fierce motherhood of him as a man.

There were stars, clear, strong, nothing hidden.

The following day she left.

Her father was cold and distant. He had climbed up in the great game of respectability. He was not eager to have his past mar his never-too-safe present. She greeted him with amused scorn. Now, she did not care. She wore red blood over her pale cheeks. Life within pulsed high and rich. She bid the boy good-bye with a triumphant glance. Even the druggist she laughed at, with merry wishes. For her blood knew that in her had come the mystery.

Victorious and fulfilled, she left.

First days in the convent.

Rania entered the gates with laughing defiance. She knew herself powerful and would take it as a test of strength between the life in her and the fallacious benevolence of the grey shells parading silently through endless corridors. She felt the whole atmosphere so ludicrous that it stirred her sense of humor. She faced the frowning nuns with challenging eyes that said: "Here I am. You fools, what will you do with me?" Condescendingly she performed routine work with perfection. The nuns glanced at her, wonderingly, as leisurely travelers at powerful dark bodies hoisting cotton bales in Asiatic harbors.

First days in the convent.

She took refuge in her mystery.

While her body and brains were retailing muscle and nerve tension in ordinary gestures, her soul was sweeping through aeons in great flights of wonderment. In her first sense of motherhood she seemed to have pierced through many crusts, scraping off the dirt of self from the skin of eternity. The great stream of forms and colors which she had beheld in her dreams had taken some inchoate yet deep-thundering meaning in her very fecundation. They were more real, yet less important. They shone now with reflected light like huge moons of some inner skies haloing her heart; but Light itself, the Power, she could sense at the centerstreaming, bold, thrilling Light yearning to become form and gesture.

She took refuge in her mystery. She flung it at her schoolmates.

She faced them, a perpetual mockery aimed at their childish purity, darting poisonous spears at their innocence. She rode through bewildered minds, a fierce Amazon amidst a female herd, slashing prudery and prejudice with sarcasm. A few grew hateful; most worshiped. The irony of her position delighted her, upstrained her. Her acts being reproachless, none could blame her. But her looks and gestures shrieked out her insolent joy.

She flung it at her schoolmates.

And a letter came that shattered all.

The druggist's wife who loved her was writing how the boy-clerk had poisoned himself two days before. No one knew exactly why, save that since Rania had left he had become dreadfully nervous, had made dangerous mistakes in filling prescriptions, had had several angry word-battles with the druggist who was ready to throw him out. His body was resting now at peace under golden oak leaves near the river on which stars were still dancing under the winds.

Then Rania flew into a great passion.

She tore the sheets of her bed.

She beat her womb savagely with terrific laughter.

She jumped from her first story window.

Half-numbed by the fall she ran across sloping fields.

Above, rigid mountains heaved frozen sighs

as of some old unbearable pain.

Trees flung themselves many-handed to the sky,

dried up sarcasms of earth-pangs.

She ran to the stables, unleashed a horse

and beat him like mad until the beast,

with foaming mouth, raged with elemental passion.

They tore through ravines and stony fields.

The winter sun stared with hellish fire.

Rania's face reddened with its menace.

Jaws strained, eyes devouring the light,

she was singing, singing, singing.

A wild steppe song of old remembrance

had flared through her brains and body.

She cried it to the darkening skies.

She shouted it to winds gashing through canyons.

Until she and the beast,

spent flames of anger,


All night she lay in the ravine. Her body was bruised and panting, wounded by aborted life. Her body was bleeding like a broken jar; her mind reeling, lashed by words darting through feverish cells: "I have killed him! I have killed him!" Until the sun rose again from the dead, golden and young with triumphant light which caressed her face, which warmed her broken body, which was kind and strong. Rania awoke from the raving stupor and looked at herself, and looked at that other tragic death of the unborn. She smiled, "Poor little one! No chance, this time!"

With great power of will she rose, whistled for the horse which was grazing nearby, unconcerned. She dragged herself upon the beast. She lay panting on his back and rode until men in a car saw her, stopped her and kindly brought her back to the convent.

She lay for weeks with fever.

The nuns were kind and strange, like beings of some other world not yet born, not yet breathing life. They moved gently, noiselessly with feet which had never stamped the pulsating earth. They were still wrapped in grey placenta, floating in the waters of childish belief and obedience. For her who looked with eyes that had known the bleeding of many deaths, they were like phantoms, unreal images of a dreamy limbo. The real, she heard and saw from within her closed burning body. Forms and faces, lights, words rose up, passed through, with meanings of power she felt like electric breaths, yet grasped not.

She lay for weeks with fever.

Strange, dark faces came to her.

With strong clear eyes they beckoned and pointed to great mountains with everlasting snow. They uttered familiar words, words that clanged with fierce majesty. A hidden self that she had never known arose in recognition; a self young and clear, with calm certitude even though its steps seemed so insecure. It moved in the world of forms that glowed from within — curious, geometrical shapes, bars of all colors, spheres, pyramids-swaying with tidal rhythm, yet propelled from within as if they were lives with great hearts beating at their centers.

Strange, dark faces spoke to her.

Slowly the fever left.

She found herself curiously calm and poised. Her eyes, turned inward, smiled with kindness, with amused gentleness at the outward. She was tender to all the grey unborn that paced silently through the halls. She was kind because they knew not, because one must be kind to the future — kind to sleepwalkers also, for fear one might awake them too suddenly and souls might forget the path to the body.

Slowly the fever left.

Something had been born in her.

She knew it from within. She knew it too from the mirror, telling her strange secrets of deepened lines and steadied eyes, of a mouth clear and firm that had been childish and stubborn, but now lived.

Mysterious life of human mouths! They open to food. They open to breath, and to love. Each time, some of the things that touch the quivering flesh write their names, not to be forgotten. One name after another, one dream, one passion after another. Long years of adolescence ridden through at mad pace, gallopings of proud soul, of heart of ancient stock untamed by the shams of this age. She had killed the still unborn, father and son; and yet . . .

Something had been born that was true.

The Mother Superior spoke to her.

She felt that after all that happened it was better for Rania to leave the convent and go to her father. She had written him and he was coming the next day. Rania answered politely with thanks for the care they had given her. Then, she hesitated as she opened the door. Should she tell words of life to the gentle, indrawn and dulled eyes of a woman who sent her away because she had dared to live and face tragedy? But she smiled, shook her head and then left the sleepwalker to the phantasms of her unformed world.

The Mother Superior stared at her, helplessly.

She met her father at the station.

He seemed older and weighted with unexpressed soul and distrust of life. She faced him in silence. He was almost afraid to look at her strong self which had found power in dying. He asked her at last what she wanted to do. Her stepmother was unkind and spoiled. He did not know whether he could stand it much longer. Money is a poor game to trifle with. He longed for the earth of wild humans raging through steppes and hills. He was yearning for the old earth of his forefathers where men are stolid and bronzed by secrets impenetrable.

She glanced at her father with pity.

But she could not follow.

She too had dreamt of Eastern faces. She knew they would call for her when time had ripened and destiny would speak. But she knew she had to master this, ere that could be reached — this soil of unborn, the mad rush of whitened faces with black sinful souls piercing through the pale joke of civilization. She had killed two unformed lives; she must pay for them with some great heroic birth of a new humanity. She knew life. She knew pain. She knew destiny. She had died within the white lips of beds that led to the greedy mouth of the beyond. But she had come back from below, and she had to prove herself master and mother.

She could not follow him.

He must let her go alone.

The roads were vast and open. She was not afraid. With her own soul she would stamp the earth and she would stamp life. She was not afraid. Somewhere there must be the true father, ready to concentrate his will into her own fruitful soul. If the path had to be through a hundred false fatherhoods and the lies of a thousand lovers, still she would go and falter not. For she was of age now, and not afraid.

He had to let her go alone.

And alone she took the burden of the roads.

He had given her enough to assure her life for a few months to come. He had pressed her into his arms, bowing before the will of the strong stock and the strong soul. He too would go. He was too old to search for true love. He had damned too many with his own lusts and his own cowardice. He had not dared be true to his god. But now he would go, go back whence light came and his own dawn also. He would go back and retrace the rungs of life's hell, and search for peace where glaciers bestow silence and bronzed faces tell no secrets, for they know.

And both took upon them the burden of the roads.

By permission of Leyla Rudhyar Hill
Copyright © 1973 by Dane Rudhyar
All Rights Reserved.

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