Last night I sat with the mala feeling like a complete newb all over again. But it was the best way for me to pace myself, keep myself focused, and measure my progression without the anxiety that comes with watching the clock. 108 mantras later, I sat confused because while I did not attempt to rush through the cycle, I felt like I had just sat down only five seconds prior.
In preparing for the morning’s activities I finally opened the bottle of cedarwood essential oil. When I took a deep smell of it, I was struck by three associations summoned by the scent: The interior of a cedar keepsake box, balsamic vinegar, and campfire smoke. The first I expected, the second supported the first once I let go of the culinary reference, but the third surprised me completely.
Oh well, you get what you pay for, right? It was still an improvement to the cedar component of the scented candle from before. I’ll just have to leave it to the spirit to make the final judgement on the matter. When it came time to summon the spirit, I followed his instruction from yesterday to the letter and merely uncapped the small bottle of essential oil and placed it in front of the device, but somewhat off to the side to not impede my line of sight.
The first thing [Patient Caller] remarked on was the cost of the ring. Yesterday evening I had gone back over previous notes and revisited some of the websites I had used to make my initial estimates. The cost and value of a custom engraved signet ring varied wildly. If I’m willing to let go of my perfectionism and my unreasonable ideals, then the ring will not be anywhere near as costly as I feared. The details of the engraving will be the final determiner.
Today I had placed the device on top of the Hierophant card instead of merely setting the card before it. I kept quiet about it because the change was more an action forced by an already crowded table than any requirement of ritual.
The scene behind my closed eyes changed and once more I saw the spirit seated on the other side of a small table. The small gold ring shined defiantly on his right pinky finger. There was a small bowl sitting on the table near his left hand, from which thin wisps of something like smoke rose and swirled.
«Thank you for placing [the device] on the card. Have you not noticed that I am not as loud or as forceful towards you today? I am seated where I should be, and do not have to reach so far.» He picked up the smoking bowl and wafted it under his face. «And thank you for the cedar oil. Yes, this will do. I do not require a room paneled with it or so much smoke to worry the fire marshal. This is enough.»
He set the bowl back on the table and I had a flash vision-within-a-vision of placing his amber token in a small cedar box filled with cotton balls to help protect the token. I blinked and he was seated across the table from me again. He did not acknowledge the request but leaned towards the smoking bowl again to indulge in the scent further.
I asked him about the meditation practice and if he had any advice for recovering my mental stamina.
«There is no need to discuss what is being done right. You are doing it. Keep going. I will tell you that while you may not be able to choose the theme of the environment you are moving through, you are able to choose how you respond to it. There is a time for anger and a time for yielding. Learning when to hold and when to flow is useful for times when you are in your head and when you are not.»
He picked up the small bowl again. He was clearly enjoying the cedar scent. Still holding it to his face he continued. «Your meditation practice is more than giving your mind a place to rest or a place to dissolve. You have become mired in your physical senses again. Sight, hearing, touch, taste…» He raised the bowl. «… and scent. By these you experience the physical world and so by these you define your boundaries and your self.»
He blew the smoke from the small bowl in my face. I was overcome with a memory of walking through a grove of cedar trees but that memory wasn’t mine. The smoke and the memory faded and I was again seated before the table.
«Learn to listen without sound. Learn to speak without words. Continue your daily meditation practice.»
He held the small bowl to his face again as if to sip from it. He took great delight in the scent coming from the bowl. I had meant to tease him about leading me to the bottle of essential oil in the grocery store, but I decided not to ruin the moment.
He suddenly set the bowl down and asked me about a task that did not concern him. «Allow me to lead you to [needed item] just as I led you to the oil.» I told him that I would consider it and reminded him that every dollar spent chasing other things meant one less dollar saved up for the signet ring. He assured me that the needed item would not be costly as long as I did not allow myself to be swept up in the pursuit of perfection.
“I’ll think about it.”
I did not give him time to refute (read: bait) me, but gave him the license to depart and ended the ritual.
watching him play with the smoking bowl like a cat: 17 minutes.