When I scribbled my notes immediately after yesterday’s ritual, the agreement felt like something I had witnessed rather than something I had participated in. Even throughout the day, as I reflected on the actions to see if there was any scene where my memory proved untrustworthy, the agreement remained intact, word for word. It was only when I was finally able to sit down and type up the subtleties of the scene, encasing the event in parsable words for you to read, that the full weight of what I have done pressed on me.
I am terrified.
Not of the spirit, nor of his master.
Not of the godhead, nor of the angels.
I am terrified of myself and what I am becoming as I continue to challenge the fears that were beaten into me and defy the edicts that were supposed to protect me but kept me safely caged instead.
The hazel wand left the sense of oiliness in my hand but no sheen was reflected in the light. Funny how the process of removing the thin layers of bark left behind a surface that reminds me of bone when the light hits it just right. Even with the addition of a blessing for the space after the planetary prayer and before the consecration of the tools, the reading of the conjuration most necessary came quickly. Braced and prepared for literally anything to happen, I called [Patient Caller] to appear.
I reviewed my words and actions leading up to this point. I repeated the last paragraph of the conjuration most necessary again. I, closed my eyes, focused with deliberate intent, and called him to appear.
The scent from the candle suddenly intensified as if I had shoved it up my nose, then faded just as fast. In its place was a combination of scents that I somehow knew were cedar and frankincense, even though I have never knowingly smelled true frankincense before.
I opened my eyes.
Before the rational (read: disbelieving) part of my mind understood what I was seeing, I had already snatched the hazel wand and the black knife from the ground at my feet. Standing, I held them both at the ready as I turned around and noted the thick wall of light yellow-brown smoke that surrounded me as dense as clouds of dust.
When I stood still, I could feel my body still seated in the chair, my hands still holding the thin brown book. The sense of touch was still grounded in “reality”. The rest of my senses, not so much.
The smoke did not so much surround me as it surrounded the circle. After verifying the smoke completely encased the circle, I stood still and noted the smoke was moving slowly to my left as if I were at the center of a great vortex.
I did not feel any hostility from the smoke, or from anything behind the smoke.
“[O Patient Caller], if this is your work, or the work of your servant, [Mud], this would be a good time to assuage my fears, please and thank you and right now.”
I heard slow footsteps approaching. The movement of the smoke was disturbed as something large, heavy, and shining parted it. [O Patient Caller] was swinging a smoking brass censer as large as my
ego head while in [full dress] as he followed the direction of the encircling smoke to circumambulate me.
He said nothing to me, though he did glance at me with a very severe and serious look. Instead, he muttered prayers in a language that was both familiar and foreign under his breath as he progressed with a grave-measured step. He circled me once, then turned away from me and with the same slow deliberate steps, moved back into whatever was beyond the wall of incense smoke.
After he departed, the ambient light illuminating the smoke and the scent that accompanied it faded, and the scene became dark as night. I opened my physical eyes to find I was still seated where I was before, with my hands in my lap holding the book. Nothing had moved in my absence.
I understood this was as good as I was going to get today, so I gave the Apophenia Invitation and License to Depart probably to nothing in particular, as it would still be rude (and ill-advised) not to. Nothing of note happened as I put the tools away.
Total ritual time: 36 minutes.
I have been following up ritual time with meditation time from the beginning. As ritual has been just a wee bit more excitable than I had initially planned for, a twenty minute “time out” to collect myself before heading out for
cat-herding work has helped me gain perspective and acceptance regarding certain things.
Today, I cheated slightly, and instead of sitting down, I laid down in the bed. While I had my earbuds in, no music was playing except for a twenty minute timer that started and stopped with chimes. The earbuds helped me have the silence I craved during these moments.
So I was surprised to hear vigorous knocking on the front door followed by my daughter’s clear voice.
“Yea, Mom’s in there, but she’s doing ritual and it would be best if you waited a couple minutes until she’s done. She gets very cranky when she’s bothered, and she won’t care what you have with you.”
A deep male voice answered her with initially declarative tones that slipped into a question.
“She doesn’t even like it when I open the door to check on her. But you outnumber me, so I can’t stop you.”
Still kneeling with my hands held out before me and my eyes closed so I won’t be distracted by the stream of smoke from the incense, I did not move as the door to my room opened and the heavy footsteps from three large individuals stomped to a halt behind me.
Wait. Kneeling? Incense? I had a sense that something was off, but I did not identify what was wrong with my position as I was more perturbed by the sense of the three large men now behind me.
“Wow. She really is in ritual.” “Yea. In deep.” “Well, I’ve seen all I need to see, there’s nothing here.” “Still have to talk to her.” “Oh yea, that’s right. So, uh, do we just snatch her, or…?” “No. We wait.”
“Waiting would be the better option, gentlemen. I am almost done. I will have to lift a small knife as part of concluding the ritual, however that knife will not be wielded against you.”
I clasped my hands and began to speak a blessing. I heard the three men suddenly kneel as they recognized the words. Their gear clunked against each other and itself as they moved. When I said “Amen” softly, they also said “Amen”. They only interrupted when I lifted the small black knife.
“That’s your weapon? Jesus have mercy, Lady, my toothpick is more dangerous than that!”
I turned my head but did not look at the speaker. “Yea, that’s my ritual knife. I’d like something more appealing to my tastes, but one does best with what one has.”
The ritual was concluded with the words, “Go all in peace.” I turned as I stood as did the three men. “So, what can I do for the angels of the city?”
Three large SWAT officers in heavy black gear, black uniforms, and night vision goggles stared down at me. All three towered over me, but the one in the middle was the tallest and largest of them all. “We were called here because someone reported deviant acts being performed here. My apologies, Ma’am. There is nothing deviant here. If anything, we should be here to protect you from others, not others from you.”
I turned around and looked at the ritual table and the figures on it. A cedar carving of St. Cyprian stood eight inches tall on a miniature platform on the table with a string of captive frankincense “beads” draped over it in loops. A polished amber piece was sitting on the same platform to its right and something like a coin or medallion was on the table to its left. On the lower level of the table itself, a small brass censer held the dying remains of a piece of frankincense being burned on a cedar disk.
Wait. St. Cyprian? I became lucid and realized I had fallen asleep during my meditation. I looked back at the police officer. The green lenses of the night vision goggles obscured his eyes and the mask of the goggles itself hid everything but his mouth.
“Mom! The other officers want to know if they can have some cake!” My daughter’s voice sounded hollow and tinny, as if it was a playback of a recorded script.
Ya know… Why the hell not. It would be a sin to withhold cake without a damn good reason, after all.
“Yea, and cut three pieces for the officers in here.” The officers followed me into the next room where nine other SWAT members were sitting wherever they could find comfort and enjoying their pieces of angel food cake. I served the three that continued to remain close at hand, and all enjoyed their sweets with strange and buoyant happiness.
I made the decision to continue allowing the scenario to play out to its logical end, or when the meditation timer signalled the end of the period, whichever happened first.
The front door opened again. The apartment manager entered without pause, fussing about having to deal with the tenant who called the police in the first place. After a few steps into the room, he stopped to look at the sight of twelve fully geared and armed SWAT officers sitting on the floor, couch, and chairs in the living room, eating cake. As he finished examining the scene, I realized I had wound up in the literal midst of the officers. It felt like I was surrounded by twelve lions that had no interest in me as prey.
Though I did not recognize the appearance of the “apartment manager”, I had a sense he was the figure this scene to either [Patient Caller] or St. Cyprian. I called him over and offered him the last piece of angel food cake. As he started eating, I spoke.
“Tell your boss that he’s going to have to step up. This is not enough.”
“Enough for what? Mmm… good cake.”
“Enough to prove to me that [Patient Caller’s] hook via the Hierophant card will be enough [to achieve what I want]. I mean, this scene is pretty nice and all, and nice touch with the twelve incognito angels, but I have been imagining myself with such hope for the past couple of years. The only thing that marks this scene as not made by me is the presence of the St. Cyprian figure, the frankincense, and the angels.”
The manager finished eating his serving of cake. “But, it’s a start. And if you are taking this literally, you are in error.”
“Oh, I know that! No way in hell [the police in my city] would be this calm and genial to a non-Christian woman of color. That alone is a fantasy. If your boss knows my circumstances, then your boss knows where that protective line needs to be drawn. This is a speculative scene in my life right now. This is a draft epilogue of the book, so to speak. I’m still a chapter before the climax. He wants that card? He wants me to get that ring? He needs to produce more than a nice daydream to have. I already got that on lock.”
The manager placed the empty plate on the table. “What will it take? What is your level of proof?”
“Like I told him yesterday, he needs to prove that he can be a positive influence and assistance to [my goals] so that I can [accomplish what I need to do] without setting my world on fire. And he has eleven days to do it.”
I waved my hand and the scene disappeared. The figure of my daughter dissolved with the rooms and the furniture. The twelve SWAT officers became twelve pillars of light that hurt to look at. The apartment manager lost his modern dress and appeared as [Mud].
“If these angels are the real deal, then I’m going to need confirmation from a verifiable source other than my manipulated imagination. Otherwise, I’m just going to treat this as vain hope and continue on with my plans as is.”
[Mud] bowed. «I will relay your concerns.»
“You do that. I have to go to work, now.”
The meditation timer sounded the passing of twenty minutes as a punctuation to my dismissal. Fully waking, I silenced it and laid in bed for a few precious minutes remembering the surprise dream.
The wood figure of St. Cyprian felt real and tangible in the dream. More real than myself. I recognized [Patient Caller’s] amber piece as next to the figure. I assume the coin or medallion is [Mud’s].
I remarked to an associate the other day that I felt the ring was already as good as gotten and that the only thing left to discover was how. I’m not so sure, now. We’ll see.