A Connection to the Deceased
When to Perform the Ritual
Begin by preparing your potion one Saturday on a waxing moon. Allow your potion to rest until the full moon, then begin the rest of the ritual.
Step One: Leave your cauldron out in the rain, to collect fresh rain water. Create your own if it is not already raining. When it is a quarter full, begin by adding a few drops of blood from your virgin. Do not kill the virgin at this point. Add a pinch of saffron, thirteen amaranth flowers, a handful of dittany, and another pinch of mugwort. Bring to a boil over an open fire. Stir occasionally with your wand of Yew.
Step Two: When your mixture has begun to boil, add in the animal heart. This works best if you kill the animal while your potion is boiling. Fresh is best.
Step Three: Allow your potion to cool. While it’s cooling, add your connection to the deceased. Let it sit now until the full moon, and you can begin the remainder of the ritual.
The polecat came towards me, instinctively thinking I wouldn’t hurt it. I snapped his neck with barely a second thought, before using my athame to open up the chest cavity. Removing the heart was easy, and I dropped it into the bubbling potion. With my new Yew wand, I carefully stirred the potion as I pulled the cauldron off the open flames.
Using my athame , I sliced the cord that bound his greenstone around my neck, dropping it into the cooling potion. I watched the stone begin to melt into the potion, and almost expected it to take on a green tinge. Instead, the potion turned completely silver, and I knew that it was done. I poured the liquid into a bottle I’d brought along with me, corked it, and slipped it into the large pocket of my pants.
With my potion prepared, I looked around the moonlit glade, a frown on my face. Any witch worth their salt would know what I’d been up to here so I had some cleaning to do. I tossed the remainder of the polecat on the still burning flames, and began to cleanse the glade.
I’d brought plenty of salt and white sage with me for just this. I started with the most immediate threat: the glade. Lighting an end of the bunch of white sage on fire, I began to smudge the glade, cleansing it of my intentions. That done, I scoured my cauldron with handfuls of salt, before filling it to the brim.
Only when I was absolutely certain that no evidence remained of what I’d done tonight did I leave the glade behind. My athame, cleaned from its bloody doings, and given a quick salt scrub, had been sheathed, and slipped into my pocket once more. The Yew wand I slipped into the cauldron, letting the salt shift to cover it, knowing I would need it again in just a few days time.
I’d made sure to only bring as much of the ingredients with me as I needed for the potion, so I wasn’t worried about getting caught as I walked home. Should I come across another witch, they’d know only that I’d been working magic in our town’s favourite moonlit glade. Not an uncommon thing, by any means. Should I come across a mortal, my usual spells of perception would ensure they simply saw me carrying a heavy bag.
Once home, I returned my cauldron to our storage closet, where it joined Dad’s, and Mum’s, which we had never gotten around to throwing away. Dad and I had a little ritual we performed each time we opened this closet. We would always empty the salt in Mum’s cauldron, and refill it. Dad said she would like it that way, keeping her cauldron clean, and always ready, as though she had simply gone away on holidays. Today I closed the door on the three cauldrons, with barely a glance towards the one that went unused.
In my room, I opened my underwear drawer, and stuffed the bottle with its silver potion inside. It was the one place Dad would never go snooping, and I needed him to not know what it was that I was doing.
Dad woke me with scrambled eggs. Their rubbery texture, and the frying pan still set up on the stove told me that these had started out as fried eggs before his inability to cook got the better of him. He could make a perfect potion, but mortal cooking had always eluded him. I ate the rubbery eggs regardless.
‘What are you doing today, dear?’ Dad asked, as he liberally buttered me a slice of slightly burnt toast. He had been doting on me overly much since Theo had passed away. At first, I’d tried to push him away, but he had only seen that as evidence that I needed him more. I had to come up with something to keep him out of my hair. Something to keep him from being suspicious.
‘I thought I might go into Town today, if I could borrow the car.’ I did my best Happy Catherine impersonation. It must have worked, because Dad was grinning from ear to ear as he slid the toast over to me.
‘Absolutely. Though could you drop me by Spencer’s before you leave? Her son’s having trouble with levitating, and I volunteered to help out.’ I nodded, and received the keys to his ancient Volkswagen for my compliance. Though, judging from how happy he had seemed at the idea of going into Town, he probably would have just asked Spencer to pick him up if I’d refused.
Knowing that he’d be out of the house was a relief. It meant that I wouldn’t need to spend all day worried he’d go snooping, and maybe for the first time breach that barrier. Or even find some evidence of my misdeeds that I’d failed to notice and clean up.
With breakfast eaten, I grabbed my coat before we left. It was still only Autumn, and it was getting colder every day. I could hardly spend my day in the car with the heater on, simply waiting for it to be a reasonable time for me to head home. The battery might die, and then I’d have some explaining to do.
Dad and Spencer waved at me as I drove off from Spencer’s. Dad had been going there a lot lately. Her son always seemed to be having trouble with one thing or another. And he always offered to help her with any house or yard work that needed to be done. They were still visible in my rear view mirror as I flicked the turn signal on to leave her street.
With no real plans, I decided to actually go to Town. An hours drive from Worthsford, Bloomshire was hardly a great deal bigger. But it was closer to many other major towns, and unlike Worthsford it seems to have earned itself a mall of its own. With very little to do in Worthsford (at least, if you weren’t a witch, enjoying our wonderful local witches and spots of magical power) the teenage population could hardly wait to get their licences, so they could head into Town just about whenever they wanted to.
I ended up spending the day in a coffee shop, sipping chamomile tea until my phone buzzed with a text. Dad wanted to know if I could pick him up on my way home.
My Happy Catherine impersonation only seemed to get better over the next couple of days. I went to the movies with Brooke. I even went with Dad to Spencer’s on Tuesday, and looked after Tom while he and Spencer worked together on some spell or potion. When Spencer came out wearing a different shirt, I felt like I’d been hit by a lead brick.
I wanted to confront Dad the next day, but I had work to do. Borrowing the car, I went to Theo’s. His parents happily served me tea, and fussed over me. They were almost as bad as Dad, the way they had doted on me after his death. We hadn’t even been going out a year, yet as his parents talked about him, I found myself almost feeling like I was a part of the family.
It was easy enough to have them look the other way while I secreted Theo’s ashes into my purse. I replaced it with a fake, and they were none the wiser. Mortals were so easy to convince.
Hiding the urn from Dad was much easier than I’d thought it would be. He was in such a good mood, since I’d seemed so happy the last few days. I felt my chest constrict at the thought. But I’d be better soon. Really, truly better, not just pretending. Everything would be okay after tonight.
Pockets filled with what athame, potion, and wand, I clutched the ashes to my chest, and quietly left the house an hour after Dad was asleep. The full moon glowed brightly above me, as if it knew I needed its strength tonight. I walked to the glade with renewed vigour.
Setting the urn carefully in the middle of the glade, I hesitated. Now was my chance. I could bring him back. It was easy. We could be together again. No more would I be the tragic heroine who’s boyfriend had pushed her out of the way of danger, only to perish himself.
Tears dropped onto the grass beneath my knees, and I found myself shaking. Wind lifted my loose hair, and as I gazed upwards I felt moonlight falling on my teary cheeks. “Why did you have to be so selfish?” I didn’t realise until after I said those words just what hurt me the most. Theo had put himself in harms way in order to save me. In doing so, he’d been hit by the bus, instead of me.
If the bus had hit me, I would have been fine. I always covered myself with a cushioning spell when I went to Town. It was a smart thing to do, given all the crazy drivers there. I’d have been hurt, sure, but nothing I couldn’t heal. Instead, his mortal skull had cracked during impact, and I could do nothing to stop his life seeping out.
I jumped when I felt my coat wrapping around my shoulders. Looking up, I saw Dad’s weary face. I let him help me up, and he wrapped his strong arms around me. I let myself be comforted, as I finally let myself accept that Theo was gone, truly gone.
‘Let’s go home, sweetheart.’
‘Wait.’ Before I could, there was one last thing I needed to do. A quick spell unsealed the lid of the urn, and I lifted it up, letting the wind take the ashes out, and spread them around the glade. ‘This was where I told him I was a witch. Where I told him that I loved him for the first time.’ My voice broke.
‘Then he’ll be happy to rest here. I’ll tell his parents tomorrow.’ He took my hand in his, and we turned to leave.
Finally, I was able to say goodbye.
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