Every Occultist knows “The Itch,” is born with it, deals with it in her own way. The Wizard Folk have forever seemed odd to the outside world due to the peculiar natural cycles and rhythms they seem perpetually aware of that others don’t. The Itch is one of them. The Itch is that overwhelming feeling to do ritual, to cast spells, to totally throw oneself into some kind of magical release. It’s impossible to describe, an unsettling tension that feels like the gears of a clock all wound up. It starts on your peripherals, as if surrounded by a cloud, and slowly sinks into the marrow of your bones. Odd, jerky movements soon become the sole source of locomotion, a hideous grin stretching from cheek to cheek following what can only be described as a permanent sense of urgency. On the wrong night your spirit can slip so easily you want to die.
It does not stop until the magic is done, and I began to realize I was hopelessly in it’s throws.
Sunday, a beautiful Florida afternoon. Desiring some time to shoot the shit and get cheap food my wife and I walk up to a diner before I have to work. It’s a plasticine relic, a facsimile reprint of another age most American’s voted overwhelmingly to recapture, and all for the low low price of $4.99 a meal.
After getting our table my wife begins talking but I can’t seem to focus, something wrong with the corner of my eye. This little tiny light that slowly grows bigger, ever so bigger. I hold on to the table, keep my grin. Nod “yes” and say “mhm” as I slowly lose control. My bones light up with heat, I’m in my body, yet part of me is elsewhere, slipped through a crack in the back of my head I can only describe in synthesisitic references, a multi-color tear through the soft part of my spirit that usually sounds a little higher than the rest.
Everything around me pours in, sights and smells wafting past my nostrils and lodging in my spine. Voices of average middle America chime with the slink of silverwear, slices of conversation melting together like cheese on chili mac.
“…got me the best Christmas present…”
“…go out there and check it out…”
“….grandbaby. She never sees them and I just think…”
The crowd continues to pour in from churches, street corners, and lazy sunday livingrooms. Vet hats recall foreign killing fields that shaped young lives forever, places only dimly remembered by those that they “served.” Patriotic sweaters, a Florida favorite for 74 degree weather, seem as much a part of The Sabbath Day as anything else.
Eating, talking, children being raised tableside by parents as grandpa and grandma look on with smiling faces. Away from the news cycle and the dizzying images of television there is a sense that this is the real America, the keepers of slackjawed common sense that keep the power plants and auto shops running smoothly.
Homey, quaint, but not quite real. Even here was the psychology of the village, familial debates quietly raging at public audio levels. Questions about school, about work, about day to day living. Triumphs, failures, the quest for understanding, the need to be loved, all here between eggs and bacon; a temple of sorts to humanity, to the entire social organism stretched between generations. It may change borders and colors but it had remained unchanged for millennia.
Yet it still was not the core. I wanted more.
“I…have to do a ritual tomorrow.” My wife looks up, perplexed.
“I don’t know. I-I just know that I need to go out of this place. I need to go deeper.”
“Do you want to leave?”
“No, no,” I raised my hands in protest. “I’m going to be fine. I just know that I need to get out of the world for a bit. Things are too confused here, too muddled.” I unwrapped a fork and began twirling it in my fingers. “This retrograde…it’s fucked. Everything is fucked. The people, their ideas, everyone’s pissing and shitting all over everything and I just…I need to stick my head in the water and breathe deep if…if that makes sense.”
My wife, ever my anchor, nods. She’s dealt with far stranger and in a moment The Itch recedes to a manageable level.
Work came and went and Monday evening I was preparing what I would need as I’d been taught by the Spirits: a metal bucket, candle, incense burner, self-lighting charcoal, tongs, Solomon’s Seal Root, a Six of Diamonds, my rattle, and two beers. With the addition of my alligator staff I looked more like a Southern Gandalf than anything else, and with kiss on my wife’s cheek I was out the door.
The walk to any ritual site in town is always an interesting one, cars zooming by at 45 miles per hour, barely cognizant of your existence; you’re in the world but not entirely. With a strong enough intent behind your mission you can actually feel things warp around you; everything drools into symbols like a DMT trip, buildings and humans become accents of greater meaning speaking to you in a twilight language all your own.
My mind, sloshing around with plenty of 90 proof Pineapple liqueur, was placid and tranquil, and I began to sing lightly to the land under my feet. I was walking through “Babylon” as the Rainbow folks call it, on a mission to leave behind it’s trappings in favor of the Real. Each business I passed I felt another layer peel away, as if I was moving through physical countries on the map. I passed trendy restaurants and a mall, then run down buffets and furniture stores, culminating finally in a patch of woods as of yet undeveloped yet proudly for sale and ready for “immediate commercial construction.”
Here it was, the border of the World, an island of wild where the American Imperium had not yet tred. Just a few yards away was a hidden country, a faiery land I alone knew, my first meeting with it documented in a book sitting on the Gods & Radicals desk.
The exhalation however quickly turned to exasperation.
Trash, a sure sign of human habitation, filled the entrance I had thought hidden and was the first sign that something was wrong. Bending down I peeked around a corner. Ahead at perhaps 50 yards were three tents and the smell of burning wood.
All I could do was sigh. “The fucking bastards finally got to it.”
A few more steps confirmed my suspicions, grey human shadows moving beyond the trees. The path ahead was littered with Steel Reserve cans and every kind of plastic one could imagine, impossible to traverse stealthily.
But who cared for stealth? A garbage dump had thrown up in the woods I’d loved and the ones responsible were directly ahead. But a confrontation was not on the agenda, at least not tonight. I was 45 minutes away from moonrise and needed to find a new clearing free of human intervention. I made a mental note to begin hexing the place and sought to enter from a different angle.
A hop and a skip around the back of a few buildings brought me to the edge of a new entrance, a blown out fence of aged wood trampled over the course of a few weeks. “Fucking idiots. What assholes!” I stammered aloud, making my way across the broken wood. “T-there’s a-a-an entrance not 10 fucking feet away and they go ahead and just destroy somebody’s fence. This is why the cops get called.”
The path out of this entrance, once a small snake of matted grass, was now so big it could have been a fucking highway, broken glass and condoms becoming exit ramp signs towards beer can villages. Furious, drunk, I passed several empty tents surrounded by walls of refuse with no trouble. One more section of open field and I’d be safely back in the sandy thickets of palmettos, out of sight and out of mind and free to plot my revenge.
“Hey!” A gruff voice carried itself on a sudden wind from across the field. I had been noticed.
A figure in the distance was motioning me to come over to the main entrance, the large collection of tents under the pines I had first tried to avoid.. The liquor in my blood cooed at the chance to meet the neighbors.
And what a surprise it was…