There are a total of four books currently on my Kindle: The Book of Honorius, The Greater Key of Solomon, The Munich Manual of Demonic Magic (or the Forbidden Rites), and From Grief to Growth: Coming to Terms with the Death of a Loved One and Getting the Most Out of Your Life. My aunt had made me download the last one. She’s convinced that it’s essential reading for me, a girl who recently experienced the death of a loved one, namely my mother. She succumbed to a year long battle with cancer a few months back. The latter is also the only e-book I have yet to open.
During the period of time directly after my mother’s funeral, I was in sort of a weird place. I was reeling from her not-so-sudden death and a not-so surprising break-up (if you could even call it that). Can you break up with someone you were never technically dating in the first place? He was the guy I had been talking to. The guy I was no longer seeing where things were going with. In his defense, he had been pretty upfront about what he wanted from our relationship at the very beginning, which was next to nothing. He was careful to throw the disclaimer “I’m really just looking for something casual” my way the third or fourth time we “hung out”. Casual definitely did not mean a girl with a dying mother. A girl with a soon-to-be dead mom. Death was decidedly not casual.
So we ended things six months ago, and by “we” I mean he told me he thought we should just be friends, and I pretended to be cool about it because at that point I was determined to prove just how chill I could be for the benefit of the most half-assed dude I’d ever dated. Sorry, “talked to”. Also because the rest of my life was falling apart in the most horrifying way, and it was getting harder and harder to even be bothered by any of the bad stuff anymore. I was desensitized to all the bad, like a teen boy after endless hours of Call of Duty.
In retrospect, maybe the half-assed dude could sense that I was on the verge of some kind of massive psychotic break, or maybe that’s giving him way too much credit. Either way, it was in the aftermath of the death and the break-up that I started practicing black magic.
I was a novice, for sure, having never been formally trained in witchcraft. As far as I knew there was no coven in East Harlem currently accepting initiates, and even if there were one they probably wouldn’t approve of my motivation for practicing magic. This meant that I had to start from scratch, and so I spent endless hours typing phrases like “summoning the dead”, and “invoking the spirits of the deceased” and simply “necromancy” into Google. Initially it was all out of curiosity, but the further I went down the internet rabbit hole, the more I started to believe that this was a legitimate outlet for my grief. I bought incense and oils from those stands along 125th Street. I Yelped occult stores in New York City and actually had the balls to visit one of them on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I briefly considered Craigslist as a means for finding a fellow black magic practitioner, particularly one with more experience who could help me to prepare for the ritual, but I was unsure which category it fell under. I poured through PDFs of different grimoires in search of the right demon to conjure as a bridge between my world and the one in which my mother now resided.
I shared my new-found obsession with no one. I regularly stayed up too late researching spells and rituals and then slept in till the mid-afternoon, only leaving my apartment for class, and blowing off my small group of friends so consistently that eventually they stopped texting me altogether. I couldn’t even blame them for abandoning me. Someone else’s grief can be too much for most people my age to deal with, especially when you just want to worry about normal things like the stress of midterms and chatting with dudes on the latest hook-up app. Grief had made me into a social pariah at school, and it suited me just fine.
Anyways, I know what you’re thinking. Clearly I was meddling with forces far beyond my control, and I did briefly imagine a scenario where I accidentally unleashed a seriously evil demon into our physical plane, hence setting into motion the end of the world as we know it. However, I figured it was highly unlikely a demon that powerful would ever appear before a witch as lowly as myself. We all do stupid, and sometimes dangerous, things out of a misplaced sense of love, and I am no exception. So believe me when I say that I never meant for this.