Wednesday, June 29

The Ritual

Most of what I used, I had on hand, either in my tub-o-magical-whatnots or fresh from the garden. The only thing I splurged on, and believe me this was a hunt, was a bottle of absinthe. At least it’s legal to buy it in New Jersey, even if feeding it to a seventeen year old kid is not. (Note: I’ll tell you what I did, but I‘m not going to go into great detail on why - just so this doesn’t turn into a scholarly dissertation on makeshift exorcisms. If you’re curious about some aspect of the ritual, just ask me.)

Lullaby had seemed almost sedate the past two days. Dollmaker didn’t seem worried; at least, she wasn’t showing it by trying to rip my throat out.

If this thing had been in Lullaby since birth, then the best time to have dragged it out of her would have been her birthday. That was just over a week ago, so close enough I guess. It wasn‘t like I was going to keep her chained in the cellar for a year to wait for her next one. I don’t usually care about the waxing and waning of the moon in my work either, but a waning moon is considered auspicious for the removal of things. So I got lucky there as well.

The fire, coupled with the heat of the day, made the root cellar extremely unpleasant. Unfortunately, it was going to get worse.

wolf's tooth rune 
Symbol of Vesta

Beyond water, neither one of us had had anything to eat or drink since Monday. So we were hot and hungry and all around miserable even before we began. Using an eyeliner pencil, I drew a wolfs tooth rune on the back of my right hand and a Pictish knot on the back of my left. With a circlet of vervain on my head (thanks again to Trina for braiding for me while I worked on other things), I drew the symbol of Vesta on Lullaby’s forehead and gave her a bowl of dandelion and thistle tea with a bit of ground sulfur in it to breathe in.

Symbol of Athene
While Lullaby irritated Dollmaker with stink water, I prepared the doll. I’d etched the sign of Athene into the dirt of the root cellar, and I placed the doll at the center of the triangle. There was already a hole in its chest and a needle and thread inserted so I could close the hole with minimal handling. It was also a good bit more robust, as I’d stuffed its chest full of violets and vervain. Lullaby looked dismayed when she saw what I’d done to her doll, but she didn’t complain.

The fire was little more than smoking coals, at this point and I dropped the last of my sandalwood incense on it. I dabbed an ointment of mallow and basil on Lullaby’s temples, sternum and wrists. She was looking decidedly green between the fasting, the heat, and the infusion. I set an empty bowl on the ground in front of her with cuneiform written along the rim with sharpie marker. This was my makeshift demon trap, since I didn’t have access to a real one from a museum and didn’t have time to make one from clay.

I poured out a small glass of the absinthe (chosen for its wormwood content, not the alcohol) and held up one black bean. “Try not to swallow this.”

“Okay?” She sounded shaky as I handed her the glass of green alcohol. There was something glittering in the back of her eyes like panic, or maybe it was just exhaustion. Considering Dollmaker’s freakout on Monday, Lullaby’s cooperation was shocking.

She made a face at the glass and the bean. “Put the bean in your mouth and drink.” I was extremely relieved when she finally did it. Forcing her would not have made either one of us happy. Tears rolled down her cheeks, either from the smoke or the alcohol. (I don’t drink, and I’ve never had absinthe; so I don’t know how strong it is.)

In the dimness of the cellar, I could see she’d gone pale under her tan. I pushed the demon trap into her hands. “If you have to throw up, do it in there.”

She, or rather Dollmaker, glared hatred at me, clamping her mouth shut. I grabbed the bowl in midair as she attempted to throw it across the room. No doubt she would have spat curses at me or threatened me if she hadn’t been trying to keep that bean in her mouth. Between the heat, the smell, and the wormwood, she was too weak to do more than sit and pant.

I dipped a bundle of herbs (birch twigs, mint, marjoram, and rosemary) into a bowl of saltwater and hit her lightly on the head and arms. Dollmaker shivered, covering her face with her hands and trying to make herself as small as possible. I felt sorry for her (more so for Lullaby), but that didn’t mean I was going to stop. She convulsed a little as she began to heave, and I quickly grabbed the demon trap, trying to keep it in position. Dollmaker didn’t make it easy. I finally had to grab her by the hair and hold her in front of the bowl. She did her best to splatter me with vomit, but I’d protected myself from possession and most of it landed in the bowl, along with the bean. Vomit, I can clean up.

Lullaby gasped and pretty much fainted at my feet. Setting the demon trap on the floor by the doll, I placed a second vervain crown on her head and also slipped a peach pit pendant stuffed with gardenia petals and a bloodstone around her neck.

The bean danced around in the green bile like an angry insect, but even if Dollmaker had been able to get out of the bowl, Lullaby was warded. I had a hell of a time snagging the bean with the tweezers, but once I did, I stuffed it into the doll’s chest and pulled on the red thread to seal the hole. Its little button eyes glinted with malice as I dropped it back into the triangle.

It’s too soon to say if it’s worked or not, since Lullaby is still passed out. I'm gonna go collect Ecko and Drake, or if they're not there yet... pass out for a while myself. I don't think even caffeine can keep me up at this point. Hope they don't mind if I'm a less than attentive hostess.

If you guys don’t hear from me the next few days, it’s only because I’m resting. If I do post before Friday, well, then it didn’t work (or worse). Black Hawk, I’ll work on that post I mentioned on DAS in the meantime, and you should have more mobile protection by Friday.


  1. I pray that your cleansing had its desired effects. I hope that Lullaby is free of Dollmaker now. I do have one question, for clarification. You trapped this Dollmaker spirit in Lullaby's doll? And if it worked, this spirit will stay trapped there?

  2. Sounds incredibly complicated, and well done for an apparently makeshift exorcism ritual. I hope you got the job done Mystery. Rest easy, and get to that post only when you feel up to it. It's no emergency right now~I haven't seen my faceless stalker since I arrived in the city.

  3. I hope it works. You really should get some rest, Mystery.

  4. Eternity- More precisely, I trapped her in the bean. It's a bit of a mishmash of Roman lore. Once upon a time, the head of a Roman household would toss black beans behind him during certain annual rituals to propitiate the Lares, basically ancestral ghosts. Beans have also been used in rattles to compel spirits to leave and have been spit out in certain Italian rituals to expel dark influences. I figured putting the bean in the doll was better than getting rid of it somehow or throwing it away where something might eat it and become possessed. At least while the bean is in the doll, we'll always know where Dollmaker is.

    Hawk -I don't like to do anything halfway. I already had the seed of the idea in my head when I saw the doll. It's the fine tuning and scrounging for ingredients that took the most time. I will have better wards for you come Friday though. Promise.

    Skan- Thank you. Just checking my messages now that I've picked up Drake and Ecko. Lullaby seems to be resting peacefully. Yes, now I will pass out. :-\

  5. Ah. That sounds quite effective. So long as no one gets their hands on that doll.