Selling my Soul to the Devil
Day before the eclipse. I gather my witchcraft books to the yellow velour armchair. Scan the yellowed circa 1939 tome of L.M. de Lawrence’s The Great Book of Magical Art . Weave together bits and pieces. Draft a thirteen page ritual in twenty-four fevered hours.
On my lesbian honeymoon in Mexico I bought a red leather clutch purse. Appliquéd with a viridian green heart framed by silver and cobalt flames. I pack it with occult supplies and Tarot cards. Carve “Eclipse Magick Deal Success” onto a yellow chime candle. Burn the candle down on my altar over the pouch of supplies to consecrate them throughout the night.
Midnight eclipse morning. There is no sleep for the wicked. I binge-watch American Horror Story: Coven to prepare myself for high magick. Listen to the Rolling Stones, “Sympathy for the Devil.” Take eight prescribed daily pills for my Schizoaffective Disorder. “Devil’s in the House of the Rising Sun,” sings like a prophesy from my headphones.
I light three white votive candles. Set them around the pink tiled bathroom in the dark. Papa Legba from Coven comes to me in hot ritual bath.
“You are a crafty little witch,” he whispers in my mind from the other side of the shower curtain. “I have read your terms and this is a sweetheart of a deal for us both. You wish only to remain protected, secluded, solvent and safe on Disability and Medicare within your House of the Rising Sun for all eternity? Haunting it with your lost lesbian love and guardian ghosts? In return I get your exquisite soul?” I accept this deal.”
“Seal it, Papa,” I say. Close my eyes. Duck my nude body and gray bob under the bathwater in the candlelight. Mouth a kiss with the unseen. I am now cleansed for ritual. I spritz Velvet Tuberose perfume. Dress in black American Apparel leggings. Cow skull tank top. Nasty Gal flowered velvet kimono with impossible fringe over my sore-encrusted shoulder. Paternal grandmother’s diamond ring on my right hand.
Nine am, August 21, 2017. I put the pouch of occult supplies in my grey suede fringe handbag. Step into the park-like backyard. Pluck four green crabapples from the tree. Sit on the grass in the middle of the sacred grove of cherry, dead and apple trees. Set the four apples around me at the cardinal directions. East is the nice old neighbor man who greets me mowing his lawn. South is my House of the Rising Sun. West is the widow and her boyfriend who knew my grandparents. North is the CVS where I pick up my monthly psych meds.
The eclipse begins. I glance upwards to see the first sliver of moon glide over the sun. Scalds my retina, but I could give a fuck. Game on. I drop a kernel of pink rock salt on each apple. Set the Hermit Tarot card at the East. Ace of Cups at South. Ace of Pentacles at North. Empress at West.
I whisper, “I call upon the Spirits of the East and Air: I bid you welcome; enter my circle.” Invoke South and Fire, West and Water, North and Earth. Place crystals at each direction. Sprinkle a pinch of cloves on each apple.
I whisper-read Doreen Valiente, “The Witch’s Ballad,” from The Book of English Magic . “Oh, I have been beyond the town, Where nightshade black and mandrake grow, And I have heard and I have seen, What righteous folk would fear to know!” I clutch a severed acrylic nail with my dried dead finger flesh attached in my fist. The moon begins to cover the sun. It grows darker. Colder.
10:20 am is the zenith of the eclipse. I set The Sun Tarot card in front of me. Hold the bedazzled Sweet Valley High compact that my domestic partner got right before her suicide. The moon blots out the sun. The sun’s energy of fire soaks into the crystals. The energy of earth comes into them from under the ground. The energy of Air from the wind. The energy of Water from the moon as it overlaps the sun.
I read from my iPhone, “A solar eclipse is the alchemical wedding where the sun marries the moon. Time for metamorphosis. Transcendence to a new state of being. May this solar eclipse magick give me the power to break this cocoon. Transform into a butterfly.”
I close my eyes. Surround myself with white light. Visualize myself inside a cocoon. As I have been for the first six months of Edenic purity inside this house. Visualize a butterfly with huge beautiful wings. Fringed like the kimono I wear. Emerging from my crown Chaka. Fluttering above. Flying off towards the joined moon and sun. I open my dead wife’s compact so it reflects what remains of the sun into my eyes. Touch each crystal and apple at the cardinal directions.
I say, “I call upon for help the Triple Goddesses: Persephone, Artemis and Hecate. I call upon for strength the Horned God Satan.” Who is this Horned God I have been praying to in my Wiccan rituals for years if not euphemistic, fancy, well-behaved nature Satan? Time to call a spade a spade.
I hold a Day of the Dead Bride in each hand. My casting gesture of double sign of the horns with fingertips joined. I whisper, “I call upon for help and strength the ghosts of loved ones who have passed on: Katie Jacobson. Janet Lambert, Dewey Lambert and Roy Guido “Gary” Garaventa. Theda Burrus Butcher, Harry “Butch” Butcher and Clementine Herrera. Mehitable Standish, Hester Friend and Myles Standish. Jean Genet and Kathy Acker. Bless my family and this House of the Rising Sun.” I kiss the ghost bride figurines. Place them at East and West.
I set out Tarot Cards: Four of Wands at South, Queen of Swords at East, Queen of Pentacles at West. I say, “Air, fire, water, earth, elements of astral birth. I call you now; attend to me! In this circle, rightly cast, safe from psychic curse or blast, I call you now, attend to me! From cave and desert, sea and hill. By wand, blade, cup and pentacle, I call you now; attend to me! This is my will, so mote it be!”
I visualize a coil grounding me. Digging into the earth from where I sit in my circle. The coil heats up. Glows orange-red like a space heater. I rub my hands together until hot. Form a ball of invisible energy between them. Opening palms, I direct and shoot the ball of energy South towards the house.
I whisper “After I die, I bind my soul and spirit to be entombed within the four walls of my House of the Rising Sun.” Close my eyes. Visualize my long-deceased domestic partner and I waltzing together in our black and white hers and hers wedding gowns in the living room. Ringed by ancestralghosts.
The sun is blotted out. I set the Devil Tarot card in front of me. I long felt cheated that I led a charmed tragic life yet never had my chance to make a conscious deal with the Devil. I like to own my choices. Now is my chance, as the sun slips behind the moon.
I clasp the etsy Sigil of Bahomet cameo around my neck. Whisper the incantation from Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner , “I call upon the great Horned God Satan. Beast and man. Shepherd of goats and lord of the land. Horned one of the wilderness. Winged one of the shining skies, Rayed one of the sp’ledrous sun. Fallen one of the Samhain cries. I call amidst the standing trees, praying that you, O ancient one, will deign to make a deal with me. O fiery lord of the blazing sun. O Great Horned one, this witch comes in supplication to make a deal with her soul.” I place one of my baby teeth and a ball of gray hair from my hairbrush on the Devil Tarot card.
I whisper, “Horned God, in the past forty years I have unknowingly traded you mental health, employment, straight marriage, children of my own, a normal life, Living in San Diego, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. All that I freely gave up to you. In return, I received literary publication, sobriety, this House of the Rising Sun, delusions of fame, otherworldly power and ghostly communication through my Schizoaffective Disorder. The Horned God giveth and the Horned God taketh away. You have taken and given much. I am satisfied with our unconscious transactions. I would like to raise you one for an explicit consciously made deal for my future. Ave Satana. Invocatio Mallum et invocabo. Let’s make a deal, I have my soul to sell.”
“O great Satan, I now trade you sex with other people, all future romantic relationships except that pre-existing with my wife’s ghost, ever driving my car again, ever publishing another book length manuscript within my lifetime, ever going to a twelve step meeting again, ever drinking again and ever living anywhere other then this House of the Rising Sun under total and permanent Disability for the rest of my days.” I place a hand over my tooth and hair on the Devil card. A raven crows above.
I say, “In return, I shall remain on SSDI with Medicare and full psychiatric medication coverage for the rest of my long, creative, sober, celibate, safe, solitary life. I will never be institutionalized again. Never have any more debt. Never have a visit from malevolent authorities. Never go hungry again. I will live out my days in a gilded cage half-life under this roof. I shall be happy in this life that I have chosen.” The raven crows thrice.
I whisper, “Thank you, O great Horned One. Now for afterlife arrangements. I will die in this bed of our madness where slept my grandparents. The ghost of my domestic partner will come as the Angel of Death in her black Louis Verdad wedding gown to give me Death’s kiss. My soul will be yours. As long as it remains in my House of the Rising Sun. Entombed for all eternity. There is a light that never goes out and my star shall shine in perpetuity.” I visualize my dream future. Murmur, “If this deal is satisfactory, O Great Satan, send a sign.”
“NO! NO! STOP!” My elderly neighbor yells from behind the western hedge. I freeze. Begin to gather my occult supplies. His dog barks around him. He yells, “No!” in the tone of voice reserved for dogs. Without naming me. Or what bedevilment I am up to. Or looking through the hedge. I decide he is disciplining his dog. Probably has no idea I am even out here. Sitting on private property. Looking a my iPhone as I so often am. Fiddling with trinkets from my purse. My sweet harmless neighbor has no idea I am right in the middle of selling my soul to the devil. A Christian man protesting is the sign I await.
I say, “Thank you, O Great Horned God. Our deal be done under the eclipsing sun.” Surrounded by a cast circle of apples, tarot cards and crystals. In the sacred grove. Under the cold rays of the solar eclipse. I close the circle. Take a bite out of each apple as I bid farewell to their directions and elements. Like Eve bit Satan’s apple to gain forbidden knowledge. The angel Lumiel revealing to women the clarity of their oppression. I taste sweet bursts of juice, cloves and salt. Go inside.
If the witches of Salem were burned for fornicating with the devil for their dark power? I’ve had some pretty shitty boyfriends. Given up dating human men altogether. Invisible imaginary demon consorts I can use my vibrator with sound pretty damn attractive by now. I consummate this deal with sex magick. Masturbate with the end of my ceremonial broomstick like a woodcut illustration in the Malleus Maleficarum .
My will be done. So mote it be.
Originally published at http://www.quailbellmagazine.com.