I ran my thumb over the smoothest side of the small piece of amber, feeling the rippled surface. “Too bad I can’t smooth it with my rough hands alone.” I had originally discounted this particular piece because of its size in the store, but I remembered that the Book of Oberon, along with other grimoires, had methods for scrying using a polished thumbnail. The amber was larger than my own thumbnail, but still small enough to offend my perfectionist sensibilities. How much better to try, then.
I failed to notice during the day how often my thoughts returned to the amber piece I was using for a shewstone along with the larger piece of rutilated quartz. Both stones felt “right” for the task of becoming [Patient Caller’s] dedicated tool, but for different reasons. I could not sort out those reasons in the store, and my time was woefully short, so I purchased both and am using both with the hope that [Patient Caller] himself will sort out which is his preference.
Of course, the cheeky shit is winding around them both.
I do not have the tools to properly polish the shiny yet rippled surface into a flat mirror finish. Any other time, I would be eager to experiment, but I don’t have a second piece of amber in similar condition as a backup should I foul or break this one. I am further concerned by the deep crack nearly splitting the piece in half across the “shiny” face. I don’t know how the piece is holding itself together.
As evening became night, I caught a strong scent of my mahogany and cedar candle that I have been using as the source of scent for the rituals. Knowing that the sealed candle is in a closed drawer on the other side of the room and therefore not the immediate source of the scent, I paid attention to whatever thought or event would follow.
A thought came to my mind, more of a sight than an idea. I saw myself seated across my point of view at a work table. A rough paper of some kind was on the table. It was wet. I was pinching something small and carefully rubbing it back and forth with deliberation, in circles, and in figure “eights” across the wet, rough surface. Occasionally my unprotected grip would slip and a layer of skin would be sacrificed to the uncaring paper. I stopped, lifted the small thing, and wiped it clean to inspect it.
I was slowly smoothing and polishing the amber by hand.
I blinked and the moment was over. I made a note to myself to trawl online forums for actual examples and how-to’s. I went to bed and dreamt of mirrors.
I laid in bed after the alarm just enough to regain the physical grace necessary to move swiftly and quietly in the pre-dawn morning. Remembering yesterday’s lesson, I laid the material for the circles in a different manner. As the material is longer than the widest circumference I have room for, this meant it was no longer connected to itself as a single loop. Instead the extraneous material was double laid upon itself as an incomplete second layer.
As I finished, I noted that the ambiance in the room felt better. I tell myself that the cleaner presentation was providing psychological relief and continued with the ritual.
My recitation of “a conjuration most necessary” was more animated, surprising me. I knew I was likely going to memorize the roughly 1,500 words of the core ritual long before the month of September ended. So as I “got into the groove” of the ritual, I expected there to be less “reading of the book” and more “performing of the ritual”. (Another reason why becoming comfortable with Christianity again scares the shit out of me.) I did not expect the transition from “reading” to “performing” to be evident in only four days.
Yesterday I had noted certain names of God in the conjuration most necessary seemed to echo in my bones as well as in my ears. Today I tried as best as I could to be both performer and observer. Again, those same names caused a felt echo to reverb within me. Perhaps after the challenge, if I haven’t thrown everything into the sea, I’ll research those specific names and see what their histories are. (Surprisingly, Tetragrammaton is not one of those reverbing names.)
After reciting the conjuration most necessary, I will pause for a breath and close my eyes before commanding [Patient Caller] to appear before me. Today, in mid-pause, I saw the candle light with my mind’s eye before giving the command. I studied it and the rest of the unreal scene for a moment before opening a physical eye and confirming that the candle is not physically lit.
I felt something beyond the book and table, waiting for the command to enter.
I didn’t trust it.
I picked up the black knife and pointed it across the book into the expanse beyond.
“Nothing unbidden may enter. Nothing deceptive may appear. In the name of the Most High God and with the strength of his angels that he has set as a force around me and these circles, I command all spirits of ill and evil intent, and all those who are set to deceive, cause despair, mislead, and do work contrary to all that is good to disperse and depart or be set upon by those same angels and be chained in perdition!”
Script? What script? Is there a script for this?
Though my eyes were wide open and focused on the indeterminate shadows across the room, in my mind’s eye, the candle was lit with a fierce, smokeless flame.
And then it wasn’t.
I didn’t notice the room had become warm until it suddenly felt cool. (Or was it that the room temperature was unchanged all this time and then suddenly chilled. It could go either way, actually.)
I pointed the black knife at the floor, took another breath in preparation, and commanded [Patient Caller] to appear.
In my mind’s eye, the candle’s wick was touched with a small flame, as if from a dying match. The flame slid down the wick to release more scent and a thin stream of smoke without consuming any of the wax. Matching this appearance to the previous three days, I found no mismatching tells. I placed the knife back on the table.
From across the table, I felt someone smiling with satisfaction and approval. I felt like I had just passed a surprise test.
“What shall we speak about this morning, [Patient Caller]?”
The stream of smoke bent to flow over the candle, up the side of the book beside it, and tightly circle and entwine the two shewstones sitting plainly on the top cover of the Book of Oberon. It moved around the underside of the uneven rutilated quartz, giving the appearance of a small pillow supporting it. It moved over the shiny surface of the rough amber and flowed through the crack to fill the stone itself.
I was reminded of the multitude of times I had thought of the amber unprompted yesterday.
“[Asking you to choose between stones] is going to be like asking me [if I want chocolate or vanilla ice cream]. We already know the answer is ‘both’.” The stream of smoke thickened in place. I felt a wave of amusement flash over the table.
“So… speaking of the amber… and smoothing it out. I take it that is a request from you to make it more suitable for your purposes?”
«No.» The answer surprised me. I was straining to pay attention to subtle changes in the environment and feeling sudden emotions that were not mine to bear. The chorded voice was heard very plainly in the space between my ears even as it was not heard by my ears at all.
Remembering again my motive for performing these rituals, I thought about what benefit would learning the skill of smoothing out the amber would have for me.
“It’s not for your purposes, though that is an intended side-effect. This would be for my purposes, not only for this endeavor, but others to come and others still waiting.”
I thought about my other tactile projects that were never completed. Time, ignorance, and environment always seemed to combine to make sure I never do the thing. “You have high hopes in me, [Patient Caller], but I don’t think I’m capable of following up this challenge. My hands are thick and my fingers are clumsy. Even if I had thirty days dedicated to learning this, I don’t think I can.”
«You are capable.» The candle extinguished and my mental view of the scene ended abruptly against my will as if to punctuate the spirit’s assessment. No amount of imagination on my part could call back the scene to my mind’s eye, not even to merely recreate what was right in front of me.
I had the sense that I may have been able to force the spirit to return by reciting the conjuration most necessary again. But I also had the sense that hubristic action would have a knock-down effect later in the day. Picking fights with incorporeal entities that know more about you than you know about yourself rarely ends well, after all.
I mutely accepted my homework, then spoke the Apophenia Invitation and the License to Depart even though it felt like closing the barn door after the horses had fled. The ritual was closed without any incident.
Once again, I saved removing the Solomon’s Seal amulet from around my neck as the last action, even after putting all other items away in their respective places. And once again, it felt like removing a barrier between me and the rest of the house and I was aware that the rest of the world existed.
Total time from Planetary Prayer (of Monday) and removal of the amulet: 42 minutes.