Monday 10 June 2013

Magic Falls Part Twenty-One


“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

I look into the black eye, and I cannot look away. I continue to chant.

“Isis Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

It draws me in, as Maria begins the invocation.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

The words begin to feel formless, but I keep saying them. I am unaware of what Maria is saying, but she has explained that she is calling on the dead. Calling on them to answer.

To help me find Nina.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”


“I wouldn’t have taken you as the kind of guy who believes in séances,” Maria says as she arranges the room.  Large cushions on the floor, with a candle between them. She lights a number of candles around the room while we speak, but she leaves the one in the middle alone. I have been forbidden to touch any of them. Not because of her Wiccan beliefs, but because she just does not let me touch any of her things other than those she hands to me.

“What kind of guy would you have taken me as?” I ask.

“More the arrogant atheist arsehole type,” she says without pausing. “The kind who would come up with some pseudo-psychological explanation for what actually happens if they can’t explain it any other way. Perhaps involving some patronising element about shared hallucinations or something like that.”

“Remind me why we split up?”

“We split up, my love, because we couldn’t stand each other as a couple. I’m far less likely to kill you as a friend than I am as a partner.”

“That was it. Along with you being generally annoying,” I say, trying not to smile.

“That was deliberately cultivated,” she says, closing the curtains and dimming the lights one-by-one, until we’re entirely in candlelight. The room is large – although it makes up roughly half the size of the flat. “If I’m not allowed to stab you repeatedly, I at least relish being able to get under your skin easily.”

“There are times I’d rather you stab me,” I say, unable to hold the smile back any longer. “That’d probably have healed by now, whereas you’re still annoying.”

“Does she really not like me?”

“She doesn’t know you.”

“That doesn’t matter. I want her to like me.”

“Maybe if you didn’t call her a skinny bitch all the time? That’s just a suggestion, you understand.”

“Where would be the fun in that? It’s a term of endearment.”

“Skinny bitch is a term of endearment?”

“You’re a man. You wouldn’t understand. In my experience, for all the rubbish men talk about being the more logical gender, your penises seem to act as a more irritating Jiminy Cricket. Just with a libido instead of a conscience. Sit down there.”

I take a seat on the cushion to my right, where she gestures. “That’s actually not a bad description.”

“I am marvellous at descriptions. Which is why I’m going to repeat myself for a change, and point out, again, that you do not strike me as the kind of person that believes in séances. No, sit cross legged.” She sits down easily and demonstrates.

I try to fold my leg the way she has, but it seems surprisingly difficult. “I’m not. Not usually, anyway.”

“What happened? Your right ankle goes underneath.” She gets up again, and continues the preparations.

“Thanks. I spent three months in the faerie kingdom. It changes your perspective somewhat.”

“Very funny.”

“It’s not so much about what I believe,” I say. “I think it’s more about the nature of belief. And right now, I believe that this could work.”

She looks at me, and for a moment, I think she’s going to call the whole thing off. But then she bends over, and in a more dignified manner than you’d think possible, starts drawing a large circle around the two of us. 

“That’s basically what this is,” she says.

“What is?”

“The whole point of the trappings, of the ritual, everything like that. It’s about focusing belief. That’s the point of the candle and the circle. It’s not important what you do, except that it helps you to focus belief. Whatever the explanation is for what actually happens during it, a lot of it is about the shared experience.”

“That sounds like my atheist arsehole explanation.”

“Isn’t that strange? It’s almost like it’s both, isn’t it?”


She sits down and lights the candle with a match. “Look, here’s the thing. Tarot cards don’t tell the future. Only charlatans and frauds pretend that. What they do is help you explore the present. One way of looking at it is that the Tarot gives you an empty canvas to project cold reading onto. Another is that, by forcing the connections between the cards, you’re forced to think more about the question you want to ask.”

“That’s what I’d always assumed.”

She looks at the candle, and, satisfied, settles back. “But here’s the thing. If I sat and tried to cold read someone without them, I don’t think I’d be able to do it. You can perform tarot with a deck of playing cards, more or less. But if I try to do it without the deck I usually use, I can’t do it.”

“But you’ve had multiple decks. I’ve seen you use different ones.”

“I know. I only use one at a time, and I have to go through a ritual for them to work. Is that because they won’t work without the ritual and the belief, or is it because my belief in the ritual stops me from being able to do it? I’ve tried doing it with different cards, and it just doesn’t work for me. Whether it’s causation or correlation, it doesn’t work.”


“And it’s the same for a séance. I haven’t done one before, but if we didn’t do it properly, we’d just be sitting in a room asking ghosts to talk to us, and only crazy people do that.”

“Well, that’s reassuring.” I say, and smile. She smiles back, and reaches her hands forward.

I take them, and we hold our hands on either side of the candle.

“So,” she asks me. “Do you believe?”

I think of Nina. The rest is easy. “I believe.”

“Then look at the candle,” she says. “And the first thing we’re going to do is to call on the goddesses to protect us. So you need to repeat after me… Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

“What is that?” I ask.

“It’s the names of the Goddess. We’re appealing to her to protect us, and chanting their names to honour them while I start the ritual. Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”

“Isis, Istarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Khali,Iyanna.”

“And again.”

“Isis, Istate, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Khali, Iyanna.”

“Keep doing it,” she says. “I’ll do it for a while, then start appealing for a guide to help us find someone with information about Nina… if we can’t find Nina herself on the other side.”

I do so. I concentrate on the flame, which is red on the outside, then yellow, and then black in the middle.

The black draws my eye, and I find myself staring at it while I chant.


The blackness seems to grow larger. I want to blink, but I can’t.

I keep chanting.

I become aware of Maria, who is talking.

“Are you there? Are you there? I need to find someone, and I’m asking for your help. Are you there? Are you…”

She looks at me. I can see her on the periphery of my vision, in somewhere that is not the dead eye of the candle. The words continue to form on my lips.

“Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna.”


I try to look away from the candle. It won’t happen.

“Darren, you need to stick to the chant. Please, for both of us.”

I try to tell her that I am, but I can’t stop myself from chanting.

And I realise that my chant has changed.

“Isis, astarte diana, hecatagen, fe’nglooee, miglu aknaf cuth ooloo, relyeh, wagar, nagal fetagen”

“Darren, stop.”

Fetagen, fengluee, mglu aknafcuth, ooloor’lyeh, wgar, nagal, fetagen.”

“Darren, stop” She screams, but I can’t.

“Ph’nglui, mglw’nafh, cuthooloo r’lyeh wgah’nagl, fatagn”

I try to move, but I can’t.

The words keep forming.

“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh cthulhu r’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

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