To get to the quick of it: The notebook wasn’t complete. What was originally envisioned as a dedicated note book became something else by the end of the last day of preparation.
It had become a grimoire.
The first few pages were a walkthrough of the ritual in step by step order but only naming the relevant passages rather than writing them in line. Then a page listing the tools I was starting out with, and the rest of the page intentionally kept empty to list modifications as they arrive. Following that was a handwritten copy of each and every prayer and incantation referenced in the initial “How To”.
And block lettering.
Because I need to be able to understand what the hell I wrote down during the early morning hour that I will be performing the ritual as that is the only time during a twenty-four hour period I will be guaranteed solitude and silence from others in the house.
At the end of the third hour of continual but intentionally slow-paced writing, I realized what the book had become. I already had a high-level understanding of why the Book of Oberon was (dis)organized like someone had dropped a binder full of notes and hadn’t bothered to reorder the salvaged pages. But now I was experiencing it.
I had only intended to copy one version of “Hail Mary” because “who needs more than one, anyway?” I copied two. I had meant to fill the pages after the incantations with day-by-day notes of the experiment. I found myself adding other “little things” to copy over from the Book of Oberon to keep closer at hand during the experiment.
If I had all the prayers and incantations in digital format, either by blog posts or text files, why not just print them out and make a mini-pamphlet?
When I made my first mistake in the thin brown book, I understood why.
The word was supposed to be written with red ink. I had become distracted and had continued using the black ink I had started the sentence with. When I realized my error the moment the word was completed, the pain that arced through me made me cry out. It wasn’t just that I had marred a (relatively) perfect surface. It was that the book had become a mirror, and I just scratched it.
The act of writing out the words also wrote them to memory. I had practiced them before when I was marking the timing and choosing how best to fill the limited time I had for the ritual. But now as I wrote them, I not only chiseled the sounds to my tongue, but the very sight of the words were now burned into my sight. To say them was to call the shape and color of each letter into my mind where it would be expressed in my own silent way.
I could not allow myself to memorize the visual error even though it would have no effect of the sounds coming from my mouth. I hashed out the wrong colored word, muttering an unkind rebuke against it under my breath. I paused, listened to instinct and crossed myself, took up the proper color pen, and continued transcribing the prayers.
When I saw I had “only” two incantations left to inscribe late last night, I was happy. When I saw that one of them was the meat of the ritual, and more wordy than all seven of the Planetary Day Prayers, I was disheartened. I could either finish the notebook, or I could be awake enough in the morning to perform the ritual before getting ready for work.
But I could not have both.
Fear kept me in the bed for a short time after the alarm went off. Thunder in the distance reminded me that obligations still have to be met.
I found the difference between a walk-through and a rehearsal. Steps that seemed right in a thought exercise had me getting in my own way when actually doing them. I made mental notes to further modify the list of steps in the notebook.
I chose a candle rich with the scent of mahogany and cedar for this first attempt. It’s nothing like frankincense, but it reminds me of old churches with wood plank floors that creaked as you softly stepped to the pew and how the wood paneling would warm during services to release the scent of all the oils used to polish it over the generations. It’s a solemn scent, a sacred scent.
When I lifted the lid and set it aside, my room became thick with the scent. I could only imagine how much more the scent would pervade if I actually lit the candle.
I looked as foolish as I felt as the show went on without an audience or a response. I had remained standing for all the incantations, but after completing the “conjuration most necessary”, I sat down at the chair contained with me in the circle. The table with the also encircled Book of Oberon bearing the shewstones remained just outside of my space.
I did not have a prepared speech for this inactive moment. I expected nothing to happen, and unfortunately, nothing is what I prepared. So I spoke to the shewstones instead.
I admitted my ignorance and my hubris. I admitted where I was missing and where I was too focused. I spoke of this action being a direct result of the Birto working and that I could be easily misled due to my eagerness to challenge my beaten in fears of Christianity and its trappings.
“So, I guess I’m trying to say… I need to know if I’m on the right path with this. I need to know if this is how I start.”
I did not realize my eyes had closed until I failed to open them. I did not realize my hand was stretched over the shewstones until I failed to pull it back.
But in my false sight, I saw the room bright and clear. Each item was where I had left it.
Except the candle, was lit.
The scent changed from heavy mahogany and cedar to something that gripped me softly in my chest. I watched with false sight as the smoke from the lit candle bent towards the shewstones and wound around and between them as if it could not make up its mind which stone to steal for itself. The smoke then turned up and wound around and between my fingers. The warmth of the smoke gave it a sense of firmness and flesh and I had the sensation of something softly shaking my hand in greeting.
In the sizzle of the false flame, I heard a voice.
«It’s a start. But you are not halfway. Keep reaching.»
The false flame extinguished itself and my eyes opened without any will from me.
My allotted time for “wonders” had ended. I spoke the License to Depart followed by Psalm 54 and the “cutting” of the circle.
As I went about my day, I wondered if my excitement and eagerness for anything to happen caused me to see as I did. After all, Birto himself said that the only reason I saw him was because others in the group exercise had done all the proper work and I was riding in their wake. But the more I reflected on what happened when my eyes closed, the more I felt secure that this was my “thing” after all.
This evening, after work, I finished transcribing the “conjuration most necessary”, the modified “License to Depart”, and a modified “book blessing” into the thin brown book. It took three hours to finish it. Technically, it is a complete set of prayers and actions for the specific purpose of summoning [Patient Caller]. But with the listing of the Planetary Prayers and the book blessing, it has purposes outside of its initial scope.
I set out to summon a spirit and am winding up writing a personal grimoire.
Funny how magic works, isn’t it.