Spring, the Season (March Contest)
It was Spring. The air was crisp, fresh from the blossoming plants growing bright parsley-green, while moss crested branches overflowed with jade leaves. I breathed. The fields were covered in a bright sheen under the warm sun, and I could hear birds twittering in sweet tunes. Spring was my favourite season. It brought back memories of innocent childhood days frolicking in the sun, and the afternoons spent chatting with friends. My hands scrapped nervously against my palms. The skin on my arm had become more translucent ever since I had started reading “The Lesser Key of Solomon”. The grimoire, written in the mid-17th century, detailed extensive spells and instructions on conjuring the divine, from Seraphims and Demons, to even the 24 Elders of God. Studying the tome was like wading towards the deep end of a pool. Chapters extended to subchapters, over-descriptions of each of the 72 demon’s sigils lasted more than 300 pages, and rituals encouraged for spells required years of fasting, praying, and abstinence. Inspecting the veins on my fingers, I suddenly noticed how short-sighted human beings were. Demons and Angels, Cherubims and Spirits, divine beings that were limitless in power could be conjured and exploited. The ancients knew this power. Thousands of centuries had culminated to books filled with instructions on how to construct alters and summon beings, yet people were blinded. They didn’t know what kind of power they had. Instead, they stuck to there petty “science” which obfuscated there potential, worshiping buzzwords and abstract concepts. The divine, to them, was no more than a projection of alienated human consciousness. I let out a long sigh. It was time to go in.
My study room was a large, spacious area, made of stone and lit by candles burning purple and red. The candles managed to hide the scuff marks on the tired walls, but somehow accentuated every un-dusted surface and worn out spots on the carpet. The mismatched furniture, like the walls, had seen better days, and the mahogany table was covered in a hodge-podge of spiritual texts and scrolls. Books upon books were stacked on the marble floor, the result of years paying rare book dealers to give me the most esoteric texts on Earth. The Black Pullet, Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, Grimorium Verum, Lemegeton, I had them all.
Walking a slow gait, I approached my desk. On it was a thick, yellowed volume that gave out an eerie aura; more than 3000 pages long, my most prized possession was sitting there: The Lesser Key of Solomon. It was bound in leather and reinforced in iron, its pages were brittle and cover fragile. I stroked the top with the utmost delicacy, like a jeweller admiring his most precious gem. 10 years it had taken me, 10 years! And all of it, just to assemble the book was worth more than gold! It promised transcendental power, power to control man and Death itself! The book, so innocent, was just sitting there, waiting for it’s otherworldly power to be unleashed. It was a bomb. Ticking hour to days, minutes to centuries, waiting for the climatic moment of human’s own apotheosis: when man turned to God. Oh yes, the power lay in the divine, and nothing else could do, not science, not philosophy. The transformation was in my hands! In front of me! Blood coursed through my cold limbs, and I could sense the seductive chill, could feel the urge to read the book and use it’s knowledge. I gave in to the feeling.
The Lesser Key of Solomon is divided into five books—the Ars Goetia, Ars Theurgia-Goetia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria. The first 2, Ars Goetia and Ars Theurgia-Goetia issued a long warning on the practices of conjuration, something of which was of little importance to me, and presented sigils (a pictorial signature) of the 72 demons of Hell. Ars Paulina and Ars Almadel, on the other hand, provided instructions on how to draw wax seals and construct altars, both to communicate with Demons and heavenly creatures; namely, Cherubims, Seraphims, Angels, and even visions from God Himself. The last book, regarded as the most dangerous of them all, was Are Notoria. It was the shortest book and was split into four chapters, each dedicated to summoning or possessing a different entity. The chapters were referenced by the seasons. This was because, according to the author, only in there respective season could the entity be conjured. Satan, Baal, and Lucifer were the first three beings, and sacred orations to summon them took pages, not to mention the use of human blood, ashes, and fig leaves. Between those and the last entity, there was a long gap, pronouncing curses and blessings on those that used the being for dire intents. I flipped through the pages, curious of what this seemingly dangerous entity was. Gasping, I read the name. There was a mysterious cold, an omnipresent ubiety that ran up my spine and pounded my heart. It was Death.
Death is the flock of black birds, swooping ever-shrinking circles to kill, the untimely frost that settles when it prefers to, the hooded soul-collector always unknown. It is the bane of all living, the pitiless judge, the fear of Man. It is the unconquerable figure. So many had tried to prevent Death, driven by fear, but failing miserably. People, I knew, were so philosophical about death when they weren’t looking at it in the near future, when they were young and had no pains. The men who once thought that Death was natures best invention were hypocrites! Hypocrites! When the throes of Death were on them, did they rejoice at the ending of their life? No! They wailed, desperate to cling onto the last morsels of Earthly essence, crying because of there helplessness. What a bunch of liers, those philosophers, those “enlightened” ones. They spout on and on how Death is inevitable, but when humans have finally conquered over the unconquerable, they will leap to the treatment, will deny everything they said before, only to prolong there mortal life. Death of humans is the terror of all. But I was not filled with fear nor pain, for I had the cure, the most precious thing on Earth! The vanishment to Death.
Only on the 12th hour of a Spring day could you summon Death, the tome said, and so I waited. The date was May 24, 2017, which meant it was Spring. Why they did this, I had no idea, but it was probably purely symbolic. I abstained from meat for 7 days prior, as according to the book and gathered the necessary ingredients. Wax, charcoal, and embers were easy to find; the others, not so much. I killed 5 young birds to fulfill a cup of blood, scouted in forests to find Inkcap mushrooms, and waited hours to ferment the tissue of bitter herbs. At last, I could see the clock ticking. It was an old wooden clock, handcrafted and built in wood, making an almost inaudible ‘tck’ – not a ‘tick’, not a ‘tock’- every second. My eyes were filled with excitement. It was 11:58. Fingers twitching as I thought of myself as the great lamb, the mighty warrior, the pure one who would liberate the humans from it’s greatest bondage! Death! The tension I felt was God urging, telling me that it was the right thing. For, what is Death if not evil? God has chosen the Shepard of His flock, the great peace bringer of Man! Heaven is only an ascended Earth, the holding place for the victims of Death, all of them, all of them waiting for a new Saviour who will punish Death for the pains it has caused! Yes, and it will be me!
The clock struck 12:00.
There was a silence. A long silence, where I could hear no ones breath, and only the ‘tck’, ‘tock’ of the clock. Then I heard cheering. It grew stronger, and louder, until it was with me, and I could feel the pulse, could sense the pressure, the thousands of men and women who were taken by Death, cheering me on to become there salvation. They were chanting, yes they were, louder and louder they were chanting, shouting my name, and somehow I saw them and knew each of there faces, somehow I was with them, feeling the surge and anger towards Death, and somehow I knew they wanted me to deliver them from it. Determined and backed with ghostly voices, I began the process.
I first drew a pentagram with charcoal. Lines of gritty black were traced on the stone floor, while I continued to mark symmetrical circles on each side. It represented the five wounds of Christ. On the bottom, I outlined another pentagram, this time facing downwards, followed by five neoplatonic elements on each point. Finally, in blood this time, I drew the symbol of Mars, or Man, in the middle, circling it twice around the top pentagram, then making a straight line towards the edge of the bottom pentagram. The charcoal, representing bitterness. The pentagrams, symbolizing the divine. The blood, as in sacrifice. In a clear voice, I spoke:
“Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Camael, Jophiel and Zadkiel, assist me in this holy deed, so I may take hold of the sacred duty. From His Holy name and all Celestials, aid me so I may fulfill my destiny.”
An odd chill filled the air, but I ignored it.
“By the rebirth of Spring, may rejuvenation of eternal life for all begin, may the Earthly ties to the Fear of Man be released, may the messenger, the boatman, the end of life be conjured in the most Holy name of Heaven!”
I sprinkled wax on the floor, along with ashes and herbs. I was on the last instruction. Cold sweat dripped down my shirt as I knew what had to do, but it was for a holy cause was it not? I took the silver dagger in my hand, its blade rusted and broken, and I knew God would resurrect me, yes, I knew, because I am the new one, the pure one, the Saviour! I would be celebrated, risen to Heaven as God’s new son! I was euphoric, beyond happy, and as I thought of what I had to do, no regrets came to me, nor sadness. I steeled my nerves, hoping my body would not betray me. The climax of ghostly shadows started to build up now, the cheering, the glee, loud as can be, it echoed around the room, and I, with one last glance at the book, took the silver dagger and sliced my heart out. It was a clean cut. My heart, still beating, red and bloody, fell out and landed on the floor. The chill intensified, and the air felt icy, as if snow was compacted on my body. Incredibly, I felt no pain. The cheering reached its climax and it stayed there, and I could feel the boisterous shadows, telling me, reassuring me, that I did the right thing. I could not see my heart but warm, crimson liquid was drooling down my chest, the silver dagger sweaty and bloody in my hand. The odd chill was getting unbearably colder now, seeping through my veins, and I was lighter than ever before.
Then, there was pain.
It was nothing I had ever felt before. Hard, merciless, pain was crushing my bones, the place where my life-bearing heart was, an empty hole. This was not what I had expected. Was this not the apotheosis, when Man finally became God? Was this not when Death was finally conquered? The once-cheers of the ghosts were reduced to wails and crying, and I knew these were the souls who had went down the same path as me. I felt like a feather. The pain, sharp and striking was dulling each moment, replaced by a sense of fearful solitude of my consequence. It was misty, fog covering up my charcoal drawings, my Earthly tether loosening little…by…little. I was fading away, and in that moment of clarity, I saw the truth. Death catches all of us, no matter what. Its just a way of keeping us in check, making us know that anything we do is reduced to dust in the end. The ancients also knew this. The reason why Death could only be conjured in Spring was because it gave new life. Like the pumping heart of nature, Death repeats itself again, and again, each time bringing new life. Chaos from Order. Life from Death. And as I wisped away, on a journey none came back from, I caught a glimpse of my favourite season, Spring. Strands of thin light signalled the fading sun, while tiny dewdrops fell from grass blades. Waves of coruscating light immersed the meadows in sheets of golden flame, the weeds, daffodils, and twigs, all in nature’s finest art. And I was blown away in the wind.