At roughly a third of the way through the text, on a Saturday the compulsion to honor the spirits of the book overtakes me. I use cascarilla to lay out the veve’s of Danto and Mal. I light three tall votives and a gold pillar; fire the charcoal in the brass vessel. I crush up the resin of Dragonsblood and scatter it over the charcoal. I open invisible doors and pour good whiskey over the smoking resin, already the heat is there. I take a long pull on the whiskey and spray the candles, tongue against teeth, they laugh and sputter. I take another long pull and swallow, that heat is everywhere now radiating out and up from my belly. I start with Cobayende, the lyrical passage from the book, then the honored dead that haunt the author’s bones. I close the Garden of Blood and Bones by Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, and place it on the smoking veve’s.
I crush more resin and scatter it over the coals, I take the Giving Hands that hold the solid gold seal of Baal and the polished copper of Gamori and put in my lap. I uncork sandalwood oil and begin to mark the pages of Jake Stratton-Kent’s Rouge titles, I start with the Verum. The book thoroughly perfumed I pass it through the incense smoke, let the heat rising out of the brass dry the oil and then place it on the veve’s. More whiskey, this time I mist the coals and honor the Grand Duchies and Satanachia as is my custom when working with this text. Continuing, I perfume both volumes of the Geosophia in the same manner, put them with the Verum and place the Giving Hands that cradle my devils upon them. More whiskey, a long pull that makes me shiver, then the author’s honored dead are saluted and more whiskey poured out over the coals.
If this seems like a lot of work to go to for a book, keep in mind that I only do this when I know that I am going to use it. Stratton-Kent’s Verum is actually the third Verum that I have consecrated in the above fashion. Love that book, hands down my favorite of the grimoires. Stratton-Kent though is the man, he places his Verum firmly within the greater historical perspective of the grimoire tradition (something that few authors have attempted to do in their work on other texts of this era and tradition), and streamlines the practical ritual aspect with the organic practices developed among the Palo who have worked with this and related texts for hundreds of years including the names and ponto riscado of the corresponding Exu. Simply spectacular.
I don’t want to comment over much just yet on the Geosophia but the two portions I happened to turn randomly to dealt with the significance of the big dog to the infernal Hermes and Hecate (and its subsequent adoption by the karcists of the grimoire tradition) and the extreme efficacy of the Lots of Hellenistic astrology in elective sorcery and determining daemonic sympathies respectively. So many curious synchronicities, for the last year I have used the Hellenistic Lots and their placements within the astrological decanates for just this purpose. Austin Coppock and I nicknamed it the shadow clock, now the secret’s out of the bag. Thanks Jake! Needless to say, since Mr. Stratton-Kent knows the best astro-juju I have in my bag of tricks I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the book.
At a third of the way through the Garden, with a few digressions into the Fundamento I just can’t speak highly enough of this book. I already know what a ‘ndoki nganga’ is for instance, for those of you who have been following my recent blog round with Jack Faust. It really isn’t the particulars though that makes me love it (though it is a veritable trove of information) but rather Frisvold’s unique ability to entrench the reader in the ambivalent worldview of the Palo, that swimming inter-mingling of the visible and the invisible, of the living and the not-living.
Later, after I left the books smoking sweet and pungent I lay down on the couch and smoked a joint and watched Vanessa move through her yoga asanas. A great swell of tension began in my solar plexus and continued to build into a rolling anxiety. I laughed out loud for no reason, saluted Cobayende, put out my joint and crawled off the couch onto Vanessa and stripped her naked. Lean death always leaves me hungry. Needless to say, this is obviously not a book review. I do not intend to review these books; I intend to use them, to submit to them, to learn from them.
I apologize to the Scarlets in advance because your beautiful books will be smudged, perfumed, thumbed and anointed, they will lay upon the grass of old woods and upon the dark earth of old graveyards, I will crane red-eyed and stoned over my favorite passages marking them with sweat, the ashes of my joints and the perspiring bottles of hard liquors. Dog-eared and sweet-smelling they will rarely find themselves in the relative safety of bookshelves and closed cupboards; one does not come to the house of the Valentines’ for relative safety. Even now Vanessa Valentine, fresh from the shower, naked and reclining comfortably on the bed is leafing through pages of the Verum, near her feet volume two of the Geosophia is partially hidden under a pair of lacy underwear.
Everything is just as it should be.