I sat still in the circle, after consecrations and prayers but before the actual invocation itself. I thought about the fears I have challenged during the prior twenty eight invocations and the way my life, spiritual and physical, has paused for this endeavor. The clock announced each second I spent in vain contemplation.
With my eyes open, the only change in my environment that announced the spirit’s arrival was the sudden intensity in scent from the unlit candle. With my eyes closed, I saw him seated as is his habit.
“We have now, and one more morning to annoy the hell out of each other. Is there any instruction you wish to give to me while there is the chance to receive and act upon it?”
«Yes. Regarding your tools. Some you will be able to repurpose should you wish to continue formally with this art. Some you are only able to use for summoning myself, and perhaps later, [Mud] independently. Some are completely useless, and the only reason why I did not say anything previously is because you had not made up your own mind yet about your goals. And some may have other uses after this obligations ends.»
“Okay. I’m listening. And can take notes if necessary. Get to it.”
«The cord you are using for my circle. Useless. Doesn’t contain me at all. It is soiled by what I presume to be years of other uses. I have complete freedom to circumambulate you, and I have demonstrated that at least once already. If I am not mistaken, you used this same cord during the Birto working. It is only by Birto’s amusement and weakness for fools that he only appeared to you. You have extra virgin cord remaining from when you made the cord you are using for your circle. Take advantage of that, and make another. It will be far too late to use it in this endeavor, however, should you wish to continue with this art, a new and dedicated cord will be necessary. [And when you make it, this is the length it should have.] Your cord, on the other hand, has proven itself well since its making and dedication. As long as it is only used for this art and for the purpose you made it, it will serve you well.»
«The black knife is more than suitable. If anything, your utter distaste for it has only purified its nature. You openly hate and loathe even the sight of it, and yet, you continue to stage and use it. You are not going to pick up that knife unless you must. And if you must pick it up, you are going to follow through with whatever motive inspired you. You may later acquire something more pleasing to your sense of aesthetics, but without the steps to dedicate and consecrate as laid out in the [Book of Oberon] it is useless. This knife is your black knife.»
«The hazel wand may be used against the appropriate hostile entities outside of this art, if necessary, however, until you are more knowledgeable and experienced regarding such entities, avoidance is the better action. When you put it away for storage, wrap it completely in white cotton so that no part of it is exposed or visible. A towel is sufficient as long as is white and purely cotton.»
«The large piece of cotton cloth that you use to shroud yourself is suitable only for workings with myself, my servant, or my master. Put it away in storage if you must, but be ready to retrieve it with at least a day’s notice. If you wish to pursue this art later, you will need a set of clothes that are dedicated for this purpose. Shirt. Pants or skirt as you please. Clean shoes. Some sort of robe to be worn over the other clothing. Head covering. All these items must not have been worn for other functions prior, and once dedicated, they must not be worn for anything else. The moment you do, they become unsuitable for use in this art.»
«The candle, also is an item that is suitable only for myself at this time. It may be that other spirits may delight in this scent as well, but until you are more experienced in this art, it is best to use the scents and method of scenting as indicated in the book [of Oberon]. However, I do understand why you chose this method in lieu of an open flame, and while admirable a decision it is to accommodate your roommates, there is a reason why certain scents have been used through the ages, and those reasons are best read than experienced.»
«This particular piece of amber is mine. You will not have need of direct use of it now that you have entangled the Hierophant tarot card with me, but I will not tolerate any other spirit… incarnated or not… touching it. Place it in storage with the rest, but keep it secure and safe from harm.»
“And the rutile quartz?”
«What is your opinion of it?»
“Shit. Utter shit. I bought it because I felt the small size of your amber was woefully inadequate. It’s only half finished, and to be honest, I’m being generous with that assessment. Perhaps some collector, or craftsperson can make better use of it. While I understand the use of a small pillow or cushion to support a shewstone or equivalent, this particular piece isn’t even worth the gas it took to get to the store I bought it from.”
«Let that be a lesson to you.»
«Before you put [the thin brown book] into storage, record the final version of all the prayers and words you have spoken, as well as record the steps you have settled on using as they do differ from what you originally wrote. Wrap the book in either white cloth or black cloth, preferably cotton as well. Avoid the use of wool or plastics if possible, even though the book is not of pure material, it is enough.»
“So. How much of all that is bullshit?”
«You will have to continue in this art to find out.»
My obligation ends tomorrow. After today, I will only have one more morning to summon [Patient Caller]. I have gotten used to the bastard and even though he forced me to confront some personal fears, I’m glad I went through with it.
“After tomorrow, I don’t know how long it will be until I go through this formality again. It may be a few weeks, it may be a few months, it may be a few years.”
«I have waited longer than your fears.»
“Answer me true and directly, [Patient Caller]. Do not lie to me, confound me, nor answer with double meaning words. Once, you lived and breathed as a mortal man, true or false?”
“And as a mortal man, you were [this type of person], true or false?”
“How then have you become as you are now, then? Why have you not [moved on as your religion dictated]?”
«Ah. But I have.»
“… I’m confused as hell.”
The spirit smiled at my unintentional pun. «Not all spirits require mortal intervention for redemption. As it is, I do not require redemption. I am neither in pain nor in peril. You do not yet understand why of all those under the command of my master, why I was the one tasked to wait for you. If I were to tell you as plain as you think you want to hear, you will not believe me. So instead, I shall speak of a saint, a personal saint of yours, who is not recognized by any formal body and doesn’t exist except for your own prayers for him. He, too, ‘moved on’ as you would say, and by his own choice, returned to you. If he, who is the worst of sinners as far as the papal seat is concerned, can intercede for you better than any red-crowned self-inflated sycophant, when what does it matter what office I held or manner of man I was while alive? I tell you plainly, [Keri], I am not here to vex you, but to teach you. And I am proud of my student.»
I knew who he referred to and the memory of all that happened to the man on the night of his death, how I released him, and how his spirit came back to me kept me silent and still in my chair. “Okay. I’ll save the interrogation for when I call you via formal ritual after [my life] has settled down.” I spoke the Apophenia Invitation for the last time, then the License to Depart. I closed the ritual with a recitation of Psalm 54 while turn around holding that damn detested black knife followed by the command for all to go now in peace.
Total ritual time: 37 minutes.