The Broken Violin
A strange tale about discord and harmony
If you have read our article on the science of occult symbolism you will recall that there is no ancient myth, legend or folk-tale which does not contain within it some concealed fact, Hermetic law or philosophical truth. This allegorical tale is no exception. We publish it to give you the opportunity to put the keys of symbolism we have placed in your hands to practical use. But be warned. . .there is more than one truth hidden in this fable as we explain in our afterword. Please try to extract the hidden meaning yourself before reading our explanations. Only in this way will you develop your powers of discrimination and deduction by using your own Intuition.
NCE UPON A TIME in a land far, far away and yet very near in Time and Space, there dwelt a very strange tribe called the "Children of Harmony." They were laughed to scorn by all their neighbours for their rustic ways, quaint customs and odd beliefs, the strangest of which was that they claimed to be descended from Heaven and not arisen from Earth like ordinary mortals. This caused much merriment among the neighbouring tribes who traversed the skies in their great jet-propelled airships and, having discovered no trace of any children in all that vast empyrean concluded the tribe were mad as well as silly. But because the Children of Harmony kept themselves to themselves and possessed nothing any sensible person could possibly want—not even a used iPhone—they were left alone.
Surprisingly, the Children of Harmony quarrelled a great deal amongst themselves, for this strange tribe was made up of men and women of many different races, colours, shapes, weights, heights and depths who held conflicting opinions about almost everything. But to make up for this deficiency, they had in their possession a musical instrument, bequeathed to them by the Goddess of Wisdom, upon which—if it was properly tuned—the music of the heavenly spheres could be heard. But none among them now knew how to do this, for the last virtuoso had departed long ago, taking his secrets with him. For that reason the violin was almost constantly out of tune, and when the winds from the four corners of the earth blew upon it, which they did from time to time, such discordant notes issued from it that the tribe was in state of almost constant disharmony. Some blamed it on the thickness of the strings. Others on their thinness. Yet others on the bow, while a few sceptics wondered that even if it could sound forth the music of the spheres how were they to recognise it when they heard it?
So the arguments raged on and on, century after century. The one thing the Children of Harmony did all agree upon was that it needed the great Genius from the upper spheres to descend to earth and put the instrument in order, so that the music of the spheres could be heard once more, but no one knew where to find such a virtuoso. Despite this continual bickering there was no gainsaying that the violin was a very strange instrument indeed. One of its most remarkable peculiarities—dismissed by all sensible people—was that if anyone with a very inharmonious mind came anywhere near it, it would begin to make the most disagreeable and inelegant noises. Stranger still, it was observed that very few children drew such groans, shrieks, moans and rasps of derision from the violin. On one occasion, a ragged little boy, who had escaped the watchful eye of the custodian of that ancient instrument, caused it to emit a long sigh of contentment when he reverently stroked its golden-brown body with his fingertips. But such occurrences were as rare as they were magical. Mostly the violin was obstinately silent and had remained so for longer than anyone could remember.
But that was about to change, or so it was hoped. For the present custodian was an uncharacteristically adventurous member of the tribe, who said they should seek for the great Genius from the upper spheres in the sky, if only someone could reach that high. So he steeled himself to ascend in one of the neighbouring tribe's airships but however high, far and wide he searched he found nothing but clouds and was laughed at by his less aspiring colleagues. Yet he remained undaunted in his determination to bring the mysterious qualities of the violin to the attention of the whole world so all could hear the music of the spheres. Some were unkind enough to suggest that his quest was prompted by pride rather than altruism. Perhaps they were right, for unbelievable as it may seem to us today when pride has been almost completely abolished from the hearts of men, this very strange tribe were even prouder of themselves than their marvellous instrument.
One day when the Keeper was searching for ways to realise his ambition, he learnt of a tribe of thoroughly unmusical but very clever men in a country that lay towards the setting sun. So he commandeered the fastest horse and carriage the tribe possessed and travelled across the great ocean to that distant land to tell the clever inhabitants all about the magical violin. To his great surprise and dismay they did not believe him and said that there was no such thing as any 'music of the heavenly spheres'. "Nor," their wisest men added sagely, stroking their exceptionally long beards, "is there any Genius dwelling in the upper spheres for we have thoroughly investigated all such regions and found nothing but empty space."
The intrepid Keeper was not to be fobbed off by such unimaginative objections and insisted that the music of the heavenly spheres did exist, and what is more he promised that if they would send some one to look at the instrument, he would show them how it was constructed, and would ask the Genius of the upper spheres to come and play a tune for their instruction and edification.
Quite how he was going to accomplish this he wasn't entirely sure, but he would think of something, for he was nothing if not resourceful. The important thing was to bring the existence of the marvellous instrument to the attention of the whole world and he was quite certain that no one was better qualified for that task than him. Whereupon, the very learned leaders of the Western tribe put their clever heads together, chewed things over, debated weightily and consulted far and wide. After long and arduous deliberation they chose a very smart young scientist with impeccable credentials. He had penned more peer-reviewed theses than you can shake a test-tube at and had 100's of hours of prime-time TV documentaries to his credit. He, they announced portentously, would travel across the seas to meet the great Genius of the upper spheres, and report the result of his observations to those whose beards had grown so long in the acquisition of scientific wisdom that they reached their feet and had to be tied to their trouser legs to prevent their owners tripping over them.
And so the very smart young man went and looked at the instrument. He examined it carefully from all sides and subjected it to every scientific test known to man, and quite a few he had invented himself. But when he attempted to play it there came forth such discordant sounds that the committee appointed to supervise his investigation stopped their ears and took to their heels. The more he worked with the instrument the more discordant did it become, leading many to conjecture that the young man's soul was in state of complete disharmony, an accusation he strenuously refuted as being wholly untrue and thoroughly unscientific.
Then the Keeper consulted the ancient books of Harmony and tried all kinds of magical conjurations to force the Genius of the upper spheres to come and play a tune for the clever young scientist, but the Genius would not come. He drew magic circles, lit hundreds of chakra-balancing candles and waved magic wands, swords, daggers and silk handkerchiefs. He tried Theta healing, crystal healing, Tibetan healing, fifth dimensional healing and even activated the entire tribe's DNA, all to no avail. He even summoned the young lad who had brought forth the melodious sigh from the violin before, but despite the boy's best efforts all the instrument would emit was a rather plaintive lament in the key of B-flat minor. So the clever young scientist packed away his smart meters, microscopes, oscilloscopes, microphones, iPads, tuning forks, vellum scrolls, abacuses, and other highly technical and cutting-edge gadgets, gizmos and widgets and went home again.
When he arrived among the grey-haired fathers of learning he told them with some satisfaction that he had not seen the great Genius and had not heard the music of the spheres. "In fact," he stated emphatically, "it is only a rather common little fiddle." Whereupon the learned men stuck their heads together for a second time. For weeks they ran ideas up flagpoles, peeled many onions, punched countless puppies, looked under bonnets, exchanged helicopter views, drilled down and up, thought inside, outside, downside and upside of the box, and after exhaustive and thoroughly exhausting brainstorming, decided that the very smart young scientist was extremely wise and that the Keeper of the instrument was——mistaken.
Now, when the members of the strange tribe of the Children of Harmony heard this important decision, which was widely reported by the town criers in all the market places, avidly debated by baristas in coffee bars, and broadcast at hourly intervals on YouTube, they were all sorely distressed and wept bitter tears. The Keeper wept loudest of all, whether from sadness at the fact that no one believed in the music of the spheres, much less wanted to hear it, or from wounded vanity this tale does not record. The next day the whole tribe assembled in the great concert hall of the land and with much pomp and ceremony, many sad eulogies, pious requiems, grandiloquent speeches and similar outpourings of grief, chagrin, disappointment and disillusionment, decided unanimously that if they could not have an instrument from which the whole world could hear the music of the spheres they would rather have no instrument at all.
Perhaps this was wise. There is some music very few can hear and fewer still who can harmonise with it. Perhaps the music of the heavenly spheres fell into this category? To broadcast it to the entire world as the Keeper wanted to do would have exposed it to the four winds, and not every wind is kindly. The icy blast of the North wind might shatter the music into a million broken notes, each one of which would breed disharmony and discontent among its hearers. The raging West wind might tear the music to shreds, giving birth to a multitude of discordant refrains, each clamouring to be heard above the rest. The East wind, exotic and inscrutable, might weave strange fancies into the music, leaving only its distorted echoes to reach the ears of the listening world. Only the South Wind, gentle and mild, might preserve some faint breath of the soul of the music, but the South wind rarely visited the Children of Harmony.
Perhaps this was what the Keeper was thinking when he took the violin in his arms and gazed into its mysterious depths for the last time. His hands trembled as he raised it high above his head and with a cry that echoed around the concert hall, dashed it to the ground. Through streaming eyes the same little boy who had once stroked its lovely body, watched the destruction of that Heavenly messenger. As he did so, a deep sigh rose from the broken body of the instrument, as if an angel had dwelt within its brown bosom and was now released from its erstwhile prison to return to the great Genius of the upper spheres.
The little lad walked away with a faint smile playing upon the corners of his mouth, musing upon mysteries only innocent children apprehend; but the Keeper sat down beside the broken body of the violin and wept bitter tears. With the loss of their precious violin the tribe dispersed to the far corners of the land. Some of them attempted to attune their own instruments to the harmonies of heaven. Many more were beguiled by the music of lesser instruments. Others believed that the great Genius from the upper spheres had never existed.
We cannot conclude this article without acknowledging our debt to German occultist and Homeopathic physician Franz Hartmann (1838-1912) who wrote the fable which inspired our story and H. P. Blavatsky who was the model for it. You can read Hartmann's allegorical fable and Madame Blavatsky's response to it in volume 7 of her Collected Writings, page 53-54. These are available both in print and to read online, free of charge.
© Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Article published 23 April 2017. Updated 5 March 2023.