The Great Pall & Its Fall:
A Not-So-Grim Tale
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
September 13, 2004
Once upon a time, seemingly out of nowhere, a Great Pall settled over the
world. Marauding religious fanatics, each convinced their god was the one
true deity, tried to force their rule on their citizens and neighbors.
Scientific thinking and logic were regarded with suspicion. Greed held sway,
and many were poor or forced to work so hard just to survive that they had
little time or energy for anything more, certainly not for resistance to
It seemed as if the world had receded into tribalism, perpetual warfare, and
It wasn't clear from whence the Great Pall had come. Did it originate in the
East, born out of strains of fundamentalist purity? Or did it come from the
West, where rulers sought to rule by divine right of cash and more advanced
Or did it arise out of the seeming chaos and cruelty of the world, with many
wanting to return to a time of strict order and precision in order to
assuage their fears? Or was it the universal Shadow that needs every so
often to emerge into the public mind, to remind folks of their dark sides
and what can happen when those forces and aspects are not dealt with?
Whatever the origins, the situation was dark and depressing, and the ruling
cliques seemed to like it that way. The Marauders remained in power by
constantly frightening their fellow citizens with how awful and bestial
their enemies were -- and with the wrong god, too.
THE DANCE OF THE TARANTULAS
Those who tried to find alternative ways out of the morass were regarded
with great suspicion and fear. These idealists, from various religions and
tribes, came to be known as Lantern-Bearers or Lanternists; they were more
interested in bringing light than in enforcing darkness, which focus
fingered them as potential troublemakers.
In country after country, the Marauders held sway. Former liberties were
curtailed, under the guise of protecting the citizenry from the Enemies.
Most people went along, worried for their families that the enemies -- and
many of the Lanternists also were regarded as Enemies -- might come and harm
them. (Those Enemies might indeed harm them; the Marauders on all sides
almost seemed to welcome those attacks -- as long as they didn't go too far
-- since they provided the Marauders with more fear-ammunition with which to
exercise their rule.)
The Marauders, being in control, were able to make themselves and their
closest friends rich, in money or in power. The ordinary people had to
struggle just to make ends meet. The Marauders talked about helping the
people out, but doing so would "have to wait" until the enemies were
In short, the world seemed locked into a permanent state of warfare and
greed, which appeared to suit the Marauders just fine, no matter what side
they were on, no matter what gods they prayed to, since their power remained
In sum, each enemy needed the other, as if they were tarantulas intertwined
in a grotesque political/military dance, never striking the fatal blow lest
their reason for being disappear.
THE LANTERNISTS MAKE THEIR MOVE
All around the world, more Lanternists sprang up, wondering why they had to
accept this Great Pall, this grim status quo. They realized they were in the
minority, that most of their fellow tribesmen had fallen sway to the ideas
and propaganda of the Marauding leaders. But these few idealists wanted to
do something anyway, to try to alter the situation in which all found
They began meeting and talking with their neighbors, passing information
from community to community, getting together with the like-minded. And
slowly, a movement began to form. Some of the resisters continued to call
themselves Lanternists; others called themselves Pendulum Soldiers, because
of their desire to reverse the horrific momentum of the Marauders.
Whatever they were known as, they found that whenever they began to be
effective, the Marauders would find them and stomp them out, divide and
scatter them and their idealistic energies. The Great Pall settled in even
deeper, and there was much depression and anxiety in the various lands.
THE FORBIDDEN SONG OF LIGHT
Some of the Laternist elders recalled from their mythology the ancient Song
of Light (now banned everywhere), which had been invoked at times of great
stress. The myth told them that children represent hope and light, and
therefore they were the only ones able to rekindle the flame of truth and
compassion and eventually force the Great Pall to retreat.
The elders searched far and wide for courageous, creative youngsters, those
relatively free from the enchantment that enthralled so many children -- the
hypnotic messages and images that flooded so powerfully into their lives
each day and evening.
These children were brought before the elders nightly, who taught them the
songs and poems of power -- especially the charismatic influence of the Song
of Light -- and schooled them in the truth of their people's history, and
what life could be like devoid of the Great Pall.
These young men and women located others like them around the world, and
began sharing the Song of Light with them, helping break the enchantment of
the Maruauders' images. Little by little, the idea spread that perhaps the
peoples in all of the countries could unite in their desire to bring light
and progress to their peoples, and shake off the corrupt, brutal, dark rule
by the Marauders.
The Marauder leaders eventually heard of the childrens' plans, but dismissed
their importance. After all, these were mere kids, not to be taken
But slowly and then more quickly, the children's movement grew -- and was
joined in by many young grownups and many other adults as well.
THE NIGHT OF THE LIGHTENING
After many years of preparation and training, the children chose one night
for The Lightening.
The night they chose was moonless, to enhance the dramatic power of their
They met with their elders, received their blessing and good wishes, and
held their lanterns open while the flame was transferred to them.
The young people quietly walked into town after town, village after village,
city after city, bravely singing the Song of Light. So many lines of young
people carrying lanterns in the dark had the effect of creating a kind of
artificial dawn. Many citizens threw open their windows to see what was
When they heard the forbidden Song of Light, and saw that the children were
not afraid of the Marauders, smiles lit up their faces. Many grabbed torches
and lanterns and joined the growing line, humming and singing along.
It is said that so many people were involved in these snaking lines of light
that the world seemed aglow from the inside.
More and more ordinary citizens, tired of the Great Pall in their lives --
and of the constant fear in which they lived -- joined the swelling crowds.
Hundreds become thousands became millions. The chorus singing the Song of
Light grew so large and so loud that the walls of the Marauders' homes and
offices began to vibrate.
The Marauders, all over the world, looked out and were terrified at what
they saw. They ordered their armies to vanquish these light-carriers and
singers -- and there were some slaughters and mass arrests. But more and
more of the armed soldiers and police threw down their weapons and joined
It soon became apparent to the Marauders that the force of life was too
strong. It was time for them to go.
Some of the worst of the Marauders were arrested and tried for their crimes.
But most were permitted to leave, or simply melted into the dark of the
night. As they departed, many of them proclaimed "we'll be back, someday!"
But the children and their supporters were not afraid. They knew that, if
they stayed alert and dedicated to the power of the light -- and if they
took steps to correct situations that gave the Marauders entryway into their
lives -- the Great Pall would be lifted and they and their friends and
families could live lives of great peace and harmony. And would be able to
deal more bravely and intelligently with any Marauders who attempted to
return to power.
And it all came to pass...
*Acknowledgement: I derived great inspiration for this
metaphorical tale from storyteller Jim Thurston who, along with shaman Tom
Baker, years ago devised a community ritual in San Francisco that included
some elements included here.
Copyright 2004 by Bernard Weiner