Saturday, 5 November 2022

Cults of the cuts of the Oceanic Star

 (The KICKSTARTER is still going, is at 90-sometthing per cent AND, I am reducing the print run to give a greater likelihood of being able to produce an artistically-complete book. We are down from 2000 copies to 1000, soon we may be down to 500, which, paradoxically, makes getting a book with full art and layout more likely. REDEFINING SUCCESS PEOPLE!)

Cults of the cuts of the Oceanic Star

So deep was the blue of the Oceanic Star that, with each fresh cutting of the gem new cults sprang up like grass, some focused on the stone-to-be, some raging in resentment at the losing of the stone-that-was, others worshipping the fragments, (of these, so many it would tire the tongue to tell of them all).

It was the quality of light, all agreed, though none who saw it could say precisely, exactly, in words,
just what it was.

Some compared the stone to sea-smoothed jade, not in its texture, for its surface, ever since the first cutting, was diamond-bright, but in its depths, as the texture of the light it held_. Soft, dark, as if it had a grain. Shadows pooled in the depths of the gem as if it were a shallow sea.

The Oceanic Star was first hauled from the belly of a mine so deep it touched the fire of the earth. Black with murderous fumes; great fan-towers heaved out the stinking air and flung it high, forcing down into the depths what must have seemed little more than breathable smoke, turning miners black from lung to limb, but vari-coloured at the limb-tips. The rainbow-handed quick-living  miners stained, perhaps by the curious chemicals of the mines rare ores, or simply poisoned by rare earth  or other toxins, fingers purpling and iridescing before they died

Here came forth the Oceanic Star, discovered by its glimmer. Nearly a boulder at first, black and stained, but curiously weighted. The miner who recovered it, famously,  received as their reward, one gold coin and two days off.

Careful cleaning bared shining adamant; the scales of a crocodile rising from a muddy bank. A gemstone, huge, a diamond perhaps, a sapphire, though coloured like no other seen before or since.


  • The followers of the True Shah
  • The Cult of the Inner Sea
  • The Cult of Depth
  • The Cult of the Coin
  • The Cult of the Ocean Star
  • The Painters Cult

Cut for the Shah, broken into several stones, its mass reduced by two thirds, the centre stone and largest still the biggest in the world. Almost un-wearable. Heavy, rounded, set in gold. When worn; well out of scale, like a child wearing their mothers things.

Thus was the Shah marked and his greatness maintained. Interpreted in a thousand paintings. (Famously a small conflict broke out over access to the precise pigments of blue demanded by the empires two greatest painters, even then, the blue caused bloodshed.)

Here the central stone gained its name; the Oceanic Star. Symbol of a landlocked Imperium burning on the plexus of the god-selected potentate. The Star flattened every other gem in that unserious panoply. There it was the night sky, a storm, in day so blue it was near-black at night so pale it seemed to hold the moon.

Here the Shah idled years away in contemplation of the stone, calling forth philosophers and creaking fools, madmen, prophets. 

"A prize to he tells me truly of the colour of the star, the star my son shall bear and be Shah after me"

O jealous son. O long-lived and indolent pa-pa. The Shah was hurled from his own tower, followed by his books. The son became a king through foreign gold and foreign guns, the price of which was either half the nation, or the gem.

And so was born the first (major) Cult of the Oceanic Star. The followers of the True Shah, who believed he did not die, or chose to die, or hid the secret of his death amongst the books with which he was buried in a secret tomb, but he, or his wisdom, or his True Line, shall return and he will come from the sea. The Star is required, the true star, not its false and altered selves, the True Shade must be known, it can be found in old illuminated texts and the nation shall be renewed.

Till then, the bombings continue.


  • The Cult of the Shah 
  • The Cult of the Divine Path
  • The Cult of the Worm
  • The Cult of the Order of the Star

The Star was surrendered to the Reasonable Mercantile Incorporated Gentlemen, and by them cut again. This was the Queens cut. The Star was re-shaped, reduced slightly in its gourd-sized roundness. Such stones were made for crowns, not to bounce on the chest.

It was delivered to the Queen of a far-away land, a sea-girt realm, rich in trade, investors, a line which must be pacified lest they interfere, and what better for that than the worlds greatest gem?

So, of Sea-Land the star became the crowns own Jewel, set amidships on the royal brow. Perhaps it never saw the sea, but in this cold, grey land, spread with white light it is said the Star grew colder, its texture changed, though its facets multiplied.

Borne darkly on a crown, wrapped in hymns, pinnacle of orders of decayed knighthood the star grew bright, blazed even, in this deeper darkness, astounded as it had not before, awed where once it seduced, now like starlight, or clear water, or like a spark. The Queens cut had no depth, did not exist in this world, could not be measured by the eye, was pure light alone.


  • The cult of the Head
  • The cult of Transport
  • The Performers of Mysteries

Revolution! The Queens head falls and in the chaos the Star disappears from history, red-flagged wood-shoed anti-tyrants rampage through the royal apartments, the powder store, the dungeons, the files and luxuries. Everything is packed up, itemised and sold for the revolution! the people need arms!

Amongst this, somewhere, the crown loses its star, only a blank space remains.

It takes a century for even half of the truth to come out. Darkness bears its fruit and in the last will and testament of a later age a strange "sapphire" emerges from the gloom of a merchants bequest
"a stone unlike any other" - the auctioneers say.

From there; trade and museums, court cases and newspaper drives, advertisements and arguments. Seen now, in this penultimate cut, by more eyes than ever, trapsing past in museum queues, photographed and visualised

What of the colour? the texture? the light? Mediocre, say the gem cutters and the aesthetes. Sky blue, sparkling, tangible, like bright ink, wowing the crowds, pleasing the photographers. Pop culture writers make book after book, but it does not burn in darkness, it has no depth.


  • The Cult of Meat
  • The Cult of the See
  • The Cult of the Eye
  • The Cult of the Dream

Delivered by thermic shock and high intensity bombardment, what little forces remain did not make it to the site in time. Not even looters survived the bombs.

The last cut shattered the star into an asymmetric curl of radioactive light. No longer anything like a gem. More akin to fulgurite or broken bone.

There it lay, a long while, buried in bone-ash and powdered brick until finally cold claws drew it forth once more into the light of a red sun, but the light of the Oceanic Star, lost since the Shah, or perhaps even before, returned now; deep, dark blue, shifting, endless and consuming, lit now from within, burning the hand if left there long, blinding the eye if gazed upon too much, sacred once again, though physically a mess. The dream of a forgotten ocean, the only living blue in a dead, red, world.


  1. Given "The Painters Cult" of the first cut, I am imagining a lot of pigment was made from the first cutting of Ocean Star the way the real lapis lazuri was made into the early (non-synthetic) ultramarine, and it was probably even more coveted than its (reported production) of 30g per year.
    Because such pigment would be once-in-a-history deal, I'd imagine the paintings (and the painters who made them) had a very colourful history. Even if the 5g of pigment was used on some boring emperor's robes, the picture itself was, probably, stolen and reacquired so many times that the painting became known as 'Stolen Emperor' informally. And this is not to say anything about more interesting, once-in-history paintings done with it.