The Crossed Ring

September 18, 2017. Shortly before dawn…

«I accept. … your next step … will be to obtain this ring.» He lifted his right hand and twisted the small gold signet ring on his right little finger.

“To obtain that ring is to bind you to me… or to bind me to you. Won’t have need of a card after that. First you say that ring is to be the last tool to be acquired for this art. Now you are requiring it ahead of requiring self-control. Moving up the timeline, are we?”

«I have stated the terms of my acceptance. Have we an agreement?»

One thousand and fifty one days later, I placed a small gold signet ring on my right pinky finger. In that interval, I have changed. I was promoted at work which gave me the financial means of obtaining the ring. I moved out which gave me the physical space to take care of myself. Ironically, the release of pressure allowed the fantasies I needed at the time to fall apart and a series of personal crises to strip away what I thought I knew about myself.

Despite knowing where the ring was in transit once it left the engravers, I did not have a set plan for dedicating the ring once it arrived. As it sat perfectly on my finger, I understood why. The ring itself had to be involved in the matter.

Shortly after agreeing to obtain the ring, I had pressed [Patient Caller] for details about what to look for. In his usual frustrating way, he answered with a series of vague generalities.

Must be pleasing to look at, but not extravagant or gaudy. Must be of personal cost but not so much that I can’t afford it without placing myself in debt. I asked him if his other jeweled and chunky rings met his requirements. He answered that some of his other rings were marks of obligations, and others were marks of his vanity. But the signet ring was something personal between us, much like the name I was given.

His hard requirement for the ring is that it be gold only, with no jewel or other material set in it. He left open the possibility for the ring to be carved as a true signet ring, or if the ring would be suitable as obtained.

The ring warms to my hand. It is pleasing to look at, but it does not draw attention or clash with my personal appearance. If anything, it is simple in comparison with the other rings I wear on a regular basis. It is of cost, but as I had begun to save for the ring from the day I entered into the agreement, I spent less than what was placed aside for it. It is gold and preciously so, but it is white gold because I like the subtle look of that alloy.

A year after the agreement and as he distracted me from a concern, he gave more instructions regarding the ring.

The ring must be gold, but it need not be yellow gold, as long as it contains enough gold to be valuable. No stone is to be set in it, but the small face (round or oval but no corners) is to be flat and engraved with at least three symbols that have yet to be revealed. The ring must be worn daily in public, as needed in private. Of course, this means that the symbols will be seen by the public. I will be free to discuss the meanings of the symbols if I choose, or to spin a deflection if I choose. It would not matter who knew the shape of the symbols as only I would know their meaning and relevance.

He would later inform me that the symbols on the ring would be personal to me. As I continued with my study of (and with) Saint Cyprian, the symbols made themselves known one by one. The final symbol that I developed for the ring is three individual symbols crossing each other at a common point. Of course, one of the symbols is for Saint Cyprian. Of the other two, all I will say is that they represent individuals, ideals, processes, and consequences all at once.

Before the ring arrived, I had planned a three-day ritual to install the spirit of [Patient Caller] into the ring as well as prepare it for other off-book purposes. Once the ring arrived and I placed it on my hand, I found that the greater part of my preparations were not needed. It was gold, as required. It bore the personal symbol set, as required. It was worn on my right hand, as required. The process of preparing myself for the ring mostly prepared the ring for me.

Mostly. I had an understanding that the work wasn’t completed yet, but I had no guidance on what to do next. So I acted on instinct and “vibes”. The ring arrived on a Tuesday. I immediately began wearing it that day. When I came home, instead of placing the ring with the rest of my jewelry for the night, I was led to not only place it before St. Cyprian’s statue, but to place it on the ebony wand dedicated to him as if I was placing it on his finger.

The next morning, I would perform my daily obligation to him and don the ring. For the rest of the week, it felt like I was borrowing the ring from him in the morning and returning it to him in the evening. So it was until the first Saturday after receiving the ring.

My Saturday routine for St. Cyprian is more involved than the rest of the week. There are more prayers and a meditation. Before I started, I asked St. Cyprian to reveal to me what needed to be done to complete the work for the ring. I saw a glimpse of a banquet, with a place setting next to the lord of the house for a special guest. The place card was the Hierophant tarot card. On the plate for the guest was placed a shiny gold ring.

I took my copy of Peterson’s reproduction of the Noblet tarot and ransacked it for its Hierophant card. Placing the card face up on the table beside St. Cyprian’s statue, I then took the device I had used before as a spirit chamber and placed it on the card as I did when summoning [Patient Caller] before. I thought about placing the ring on the card as well, but was suddenly uncomfortable with the idea. I opened the chamber of the device and closed the ring within it. The size of the chamber was such that the ring fit best “face down” in the chamber.

All set, I called [Patient Caller] to attend the proceedings and went on with my usual Saturday obligations to Saint Cyprian. Once completed, I went to take the ring from the chamber.

«Not yet.» [Patient Caller’s] voice was unusually loud and clear between my ears, startling me. «Leave it in my care for the day. Return for it after the day has yielded to the night.»

And so, I did. My hand felt unbalanced at first, but as the day went on, there were enough distractions to keep me occupied. Immediately after sunset, I went back to the table. While no further words were heard, I knew that the night was not deep enough to begin the conversation.

The night deepened as did my tiredness. The week was long and catching up to me. I worried that I would not be aware enough to do what the spirit might want me to do. Just when I thought that I would have to force an action, I heard a voice from the table.

«It is time. Come here that I may give you instruction.»

I needed to be in a place that was within the confines of a building yet outside of a room. I needed to be visible to the sky without interruption or being watched myself. I needed incense and anointing oil. I also needed the ebony wand and the Hierophant tarot card. But I did not need the device.

My balcony is not on the first floor and can only be accessed from my apartment. It is completely under the building’s overhanging eaves and is shielded from side view by extensions of the apartment walls but has an unobstructed view of the north sky. Though the apartment complex has a series of bright floodlights over the parking areas, if I sit on the floor of the balcony, the solid half-height wall shields me from lights and nosy neighbors.

I laid out a throw rug on the balcony floor and put some cushions there as well. Everything else was carried outside with ease. I already knew the words I was going to say when it came time to the actual anointing, but I didn’t know what else the spirit was going to have me do.

I closed the door behind me and sat down. The incense and matches were before me. The ring was on the ebony wand to my right. The Hierophant card and anointing oil was to my left. Above me, the clouds had cleared and I had a steady urban-diminished view of the night sky. I recognized Ursa Major to the left and Cassiopeia to the right. They were the only constellations I could see and recognize.

I glanced at my watch and noted the time. Suddenly anxious about the watch’s presence, I took it off and opened my door just enough to place the watch inside the apartment. Closing the door felt like disconnecting myself from the world I knew even though I have sat vigil on this balcony many times before.

I picked up the tarot card and summoned [Patient Caller] via our agreed method. “Okay. I’m out here. What’s next?”

«The ring bears Cyprian’s mark just as mine did long ago. I have confirmed that the ring meets the requirements. It is now time for the ring to be passed to you. Dedicate the ring, just as you have dedicated the wand, just as you have dedicated yourself [to this lineage].»

So I did. Speaking the prayers that dedicated me [to this lineage], I lit the incense as homage. Then speaking the prayer that dedicated the wand, I dedicated the ring and anointed it as I had done the wand. Using the wand as a holder, I held the ring in the stream of smoke rising from the incense. The weight of its face turned the ring so that the engraved flat face was fully in the smoke.

Remembering the spirit’s requirement that I be exposed to the sky, I looked up to see what I could see. Ursa Major remained to the left. Cassiopeia remained to the right. But now falling into my natural field of view was a bright star that I did not associate with any particular constellation. As it is, I only know a handful of constellations by the naked eye and with the exception of Betelgeuse, no particular star at all.

But now this particular star, due north of me and about thirty degrees above the horizon, has seized my attention as if it were a spotlight exposing me to everything. Its light pierced me, nailing me to the spot and passing through me as observer, witness, and recorder. I could not look away from the star, but remain fixed in its gaze.

The symbol engraved into the ring was settled last year. I knew every curve and jot of it by heart. The star somehow seemed to be piercing the point where the three symbols mutually crossed. Though the symbol was not meant to be a star map, the observation of and by this singular star was adding a layer of meaning to the symbol that I had not perceived before.

I realize now it was there the entire time but I had not looked up to see until this moment.

When I dedicated the wand, the matter was concluded in a few minutes. It is for that reason, I had folded the wand’s dedication into the Saturday obligations so that the incense would not be wasted.

I had assumed that the dedication for the ring would also be short and had already planned to leave the incense burning (safely) in place as an offering to local spirits once the dedication was complete.

This arresting point of light changed those plans.

Without confirmation from [Patient Caller], I knew I would be sitting out here until the incense burned out or the star released me, whichever happened first. I was able to glance away only long enough to ensure that the ring was still in the stream of incense smoke.

Helicopters flew through my peripheral vision. Car doors were slammed too loud and children complained about the late hour beneath me. Yet nothing distracted me from my gaze.

I stared at the star for so long, that I realized enough time had passed for the star to have moved in the night sky. But it remained in place in relation to the few trees I was able to see from my seated position. Ursa Major was a little lower and Cassiopeia was a little higher, but this pointed star remained unmoved. Could this be Polaris?

Instead of meditating on the science of what I was seeing, I called to mind the ring’s symbol and what it meant to me. The star began to dance in my sight. It swirled and turned. It shifted and intensified. It became the only thing in the physical world I acknowledged.

Suddenly, I felt a chill near my hands. I looked down just in time to watch the incense stick self-extinguish. I looked up to a night sky that was suddenly filled with stars I had not noticed because I had not allowed my sight to settle this long before. The star that observed me observing it was now just another dot of light in the canopy of night.

«Well done. Speak now any closing prayers you wish to say and withdraw for the night. Come the dawn, you may wear the ring as you please and store it as you please. It is truly yours.»

The spirit’s voice came from the tarot card and the ring simultaneously. “What will happen come tomorrow?”

«As I told you, once you obtain this ring, I will never leave you. Does your education continue?»

Heh. Yea. He did warn me about that a few times here and there.

“Yes, my education continues.”

«Then save the morrow for the dawn. Your only remaining task tonight is to get some rest.»

I recovered my watch, put all the other items away, and set about my self-assigned task of discovering what star had seized my attention so completely for an hour.

Polaris. I had never identified the North Star before. And I never knew of its association with the Virgin Mary before. I’m beginning to think that [Patient Caller’s] instructions aren’t as by the seat of his spirit as they appeared before.

My late night searching turned up a one key association connecting the celestial north pole, Polaris, and an angel, but there was other work to do in the morning and the night was already long. However, I still had one point of reference to double check.

I compared the time when the spirit called me to the table and the time of the working actually beginning against the charts of planetary hours. Both times fell within the hour of Saturn which tied into Cyprianic work very neatly. Just as I decided to call it a night, I did a quick check of the angel’s name and found myself back at the beginning of my research.

The ring bearing the mark of St. Cyprian was dedicated on the day of Saturday, in the nightly hour of Saturn, under the gaze of the celestial north pole. And it turns out that the angel of the northern direction is Cassiel, who also happens to be the angel of Saturn and Saturday as well.

I’m beginning to suspect that nothing [Patient Caller] does is by chance.

My education continues, indeed.