“O God, hear us in thy righteousness and vouchsafe of thy holiness…” I held the hazel rod up as if presenting it to the godhead I was praying to. The twenty-six inches of long dried wood rested lightly in my hand as I recited Another Prayer to double-consecrate the introduced tool during the preparatory phase of the ritual.
The unyielding bark still held a hint of green amid the yellows and tans that developed from years of rest. The rod felt empty. An empty vessel not yet ready to be filled. I laid it in the circle at my feet. The slightly bowed rod turned as gravity pulled it from my hand. The sound was much like a fallen pencil.
Yesterday I had learned that the epithet “Cados” likely came from the Hebrew word “kadosh”, meaning “holy”. So the phrase “in the name of God, Cados, Cados, Cados…” was the same as saying “in the name of God, Holy, Holy, Holy…”. This morning I learned that the phrase “holy holy holy” is a trigger for me, regardless of language, when intoned in prayer.
I paused involuntarily as I suddenly lost my breath and unsummoned fear froze my spine. Memories I had tried to forget twisted with memories recalled into being as the history of the circumstances I would most likely have heard or spoken these words warned me that cruelty was about to be revisited onto me.
The weight of the pewter amulet on my neck reminded me of where and when I am. I took a deep breath, forced myself to look around and note all the things that were not present then, lifted the thin brown book with severe solemnity, and began the conjuration most necessary again in defiance.
«Open your eyes. The rod has no substance here, not yet. Pick it up and examine it. You cannot use it in its current length. You have enough for three wands if you cut them short. Two wands if you cut the rod in half. Or one specific rod if you desire a certain length from the midst of it. You only need one.»
I had opened my eyes immediately. I continued to “hear” him clearly even as I did as instructed. I was amused to see the physical amber was not unnaturally glowing and the candle was not lit yet I could somehow feel the light and warmth just the same as I felt his presence across the table.
My perfectionism was holding me back again. While the Book of Oberon had references to hazel wands for two specific rituals, there was no other information about wands in particular. A checking of websites gave instruction that the hazel wand should be fifteen to seventeen inches, or should be the length of the forearm plus the hand, or should be the length of the forearm only, or et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam. I only have one chance to do this right, so I am afraid to do anything at all.
“Okay. Let’s assume I’m able to make an executive decision and trim the length to something… appropriate. Then what?”
«Close your eyes, and I will show you.»
I had held the rod upright with my right hand as I spoke. When he began speaking after I closed my eyes, I realized I had just fulfilled a vision I had three weeks ago as I prepared for this undertaking.
I did not see the other-world version of the table, shewstones, and candle. I did not see [Patient Caller] or his rings. I saw myself seated at a worktable with a trimmed section of the hazel rod and an assortment of rasps, sandpapers, cloths, and oil. With the rasp, my alternate self removed the hardest outer layer of bark. With the sandpaper, just enough of the inner layer of bark was removed to reveal the wood itself. Finer and finer grades were used to smooth out the surface before being wiped clean with the cloths and smothered from one end to the other with olive oil.
«You will need to feed the wand for at least a day after shaping it before presenting and using it. You will need to feed it regularly after. Do you understand what I mean by feeding it?»
As he spoke, the secondary vision ended. I looked down to see the hazel rod resting in my lap. I looked up to see him seated across the table. “If it’s like [my other wand], it’s covering it with olive oil, letting it soak for a while, then wiping off the excess and buffing what remains.”
«Yes. Use the first press of olive oil, and take care that it is pure olive oil. The oil and your attention is what feeds the wand and converts it from a dog’s chew toy into an effective tool.»
When he fell silent, I turned my attention back to the rod. I noted where my hand was comfortable holding it and which way I tended to turn the curve of the shaft. The spirit watched me for a moment with his hands clasped and resting on the table as I have become accustomed to. I had no warning that he was about to speak.
«Holy, holy, holy… Holy is the Lord.»
I didn’t realize I had held my breath until I found myself unable to speak the thick obscenities clogging my mouth.
«You have worked hard to challenge yourself, your past, and the behaviors beaten into you. If you are going to continue, you will be challenged by other texts and spirits that will not have nary a stain of kindness nor mercy towards you. Remember what I told you of the amulet. To negate its protection, all I have to do is make you panic, for in your distress, you will voluntarily remove anything that reminds you of [what was done to you]. So. Cados. Cados. Cados.»
My mouth was dry but at least I was able to speak. He had spoken the last three words with an intonation that demanded a response. He lifted a hand to indicate it was now my turn to speak.
“Holy is the Lord.” My tongue felt and tasted like it was coated in rust.
«There are other passages in the [Book of Oberon] that call upon the name and names of the Most High God. Read them. Out loud. Not for ritual and not for intent. But to feel the names upon your tongue again. To hear your voice speak with strength and vigor and surety. To pull those portions of you that [spoke with eloquence] out of the bonds of memories twisted by the intentional evil of some and the unintentional cruelty of others. If you cannot speak without your spirit faltering in fear, not even the amulet will help you.»
I did not argue.
I spoke the Apophenia Invitation and the License to Depart without issue. Reciting Psalm 54 once more to secure my safety before breaking the circle was like licking galvanized nails. It was hard to focus on the words. Hard to visualize what they meant. Hard to accept their intent. I kept reminding myself of [Mud] and the difficulties I had peeling him off of me in my ignorance.
Only when all else was put away did I remove the amulet. As the cord passed my ears, I felt like I was removing a helmet, the world pressed itself into my awareness, and the clock announced that I was running late.
Total ritual time: 45 minutes.
This stopped being entertaining last week. I’m all the more determined to complete the thirty day commitment. I spoke with a peer about some of my more obvious fears in working with [Patient Caller] yesterday. A key concern is that I feel I am very clearly being groomed for something but that I have no idea what that something is or why.
Because reasons, I am very sure that [Patient Caller] was formerly incarnate. I don’t want to use so base a word as “ghost”, but once upon a time, he belched and shat just like the rest of us living. Which means [Patient Caller] is a “dead wizard with agendas”.
This is not helping my paranoia.
But so far, all the information checks out. I am finding confirmations and precedents for his instructions, warnings, and advice. He has not asked me to do anything that would put me in harm’s way. Even the intentional triggering, as sharp and painful as it was to endure it at the time, was to brace me and prepare me for an even stronger shaking so I would not fall when it comes.
All my checks and divinations still encourage me to continue. Those I have sought advice from before remind me that they are still within reach if I need help. My allegiances have not changed. I’m okay.
I’ll be making a 15″ cut of the rod. That feels a little too long, but I can always sand it shorter if the balance doesn’t work out right. I can’t lengthen what is cut.
I know how incongruent this sounds. I lay out the reasons why I should not do the thing, then turn around and resolutely decide to do the thing.
What can I say? I want to know more.