He has allies on the other side of the fence; I know he does, even despite his oaths (or perhaps they are the ones who helped him to make those pacts), but the darkness still creeps in as he speaks, drawn to the cold flame of his voice just as it seemed to loom that night in our bright room when he asked me to perform a reading for him. “I’m not supposed to be doing this,” not supposed to be working around the agreement by having a witch perform the magic for him that he is not meant to practice himself. I don’t inquire, silently watching him pour himself into my cards, but as he hands me back my deck after infusing them with his energy and will, I accept them with reluctance; they seem more sinister now, as if crying out against the burden that has just been placed upon them. The deck has never felt this heavy before; I might as well have been shuffling a bag of rocks. I could see how the two professional fortune tellers could have been shaken enough by what the cards had to say about him that they told him to leave their venue. But I have heard the quake of Death on his voice before and little about him could startle me now.
But although I had already known that he had used magic in a powerfully negative way, the details of the story still surprised me then. “I abused magic at an early age and lost the privilege of using it” is how he summarizes the situation. Later, as we lay next to one another in bed with a third of the story now told, thinking and winding down before sleep, I laughed. “Wow. Using that which binds all things only to destroy; that’s pretty bad.” I laughed all the way until the lights went out.
This morning, when he returned from his night shift smelling of good things made and bad things thought, the lights were out to begin with. “We should really not discuss this at night,” he insisted several times. A sardonic pseudo-banishment ensued as I looked on with mouth agape like a mouse in a hole, hiding from his hubris beneath a pillow: spinning counter-clockwise flipping off and spewing profanities at whatever was watching, at everyone from the Phantom extending his skeletal claws towards the bed quilt to the “gods” and spirits who would ever dare to recruit me. “It’s all black and white, good and bad–bullshit and manipulation. It’s not a give and take relationship with those ankle-biters. They don’t need anything from you; and the idea that you’re gaining anything from them is just mental masturbation. Fuck greedy spirits.” I emerged from my hidey-hole with a sarcastic apology to the sky when I realized that he had cleared the darkness away.
*ghos-ti or “a gift for a gift” is the molten gravitational core of my spiritual and daily life; but his experiences with the spirits and other non-corporeal beings have led him to believe that any being who would ever make a request or have any interest in being “worshipped” isn’t worthy of that sort of attention; beyond that, he also posited that not only do we have nothing to give these beings, but neither do we have anything more concrete than allyship to receive from them.
That isn’t to say that he doesn’t have positive relationships with certain beings and spirits; more importantly, however, he thinks that any benefit received from prayer or magic is from something much more primal than what most consider their gods and spirits to be, something that would never even postulate an opinion on human worship, such as “magic” itself as an underlying connective current. The gods and spirits have been around far longer than we have been roasting them meat and dumping out wine bottles in their honor. Even in the dark, when we long for their comfort and protection, let’s not forget that our strength comes from within, that the true offering is the devotion of every action we take in this life to them, and that we will never be abandoned. As Rogue Priest Drew Jacob writes in his recent post “Are Your Gods So Easily Offended?”:
It’s bad religion. A question: why would you worship selfish pricks?
The gods I worship are ancient, calm, wise in their years. They are sages. They will speak to you if you approach, but if you do not? It isn’t their concern.
But some imagine the gods hungry, needy, jealous, impetuous, lost without humanity. They want bribes and they will make threats to get them. Their finger is on the button.
That is an abusive relationship. That is titans and devils.