Archive for necromancy


Posted in Necromancy with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2011 by Susana Romatz

(A magician raising a ghost. Illustration from Robert Cross Smith’s The Astrologer of the Nineteenth Century (1825)
I just watched a movie-based-on-a-book by the greatest all time story teller in the world, Sara Waters. The movie was called Affinity, and, while it wasn’t my most favoritest (see Fingersmith), it was pretty freakin’ great. No spoilers here, but it was about a necromancer, a woman who speaks with the dead.

Now, I’ve always been into a little necromancy–I dabbled in the ouija, did a little seance action, had some light-as-a-feather moments–but it was all before I turned 18. I think that the spirits are kinder to wee folk. While I still think that necromancy is really cool, I have to admit, I’m a little afraid to try it due to all the warnings about opening the gateways. I suppose it would be easy enough to just contact dead relatives, surely they would not be malignant…but, according to a Saturday Afternoon Special I saw once, nobody truly knows who they’ll get…some crafty spirits will even pretend to be your relatives just to get in the door…spooky.

Of course, there are also those who believe that necromancy is just a lie. Maybe it’s you lying to yourself. Maybe it’s someone else lying to you. But, when it all boils out in the end, it’s just a lie. Leonardo da Vinci says:

The belief in necromancy is reputed to be the most foolish of all human opinions. It is the sister of alchemy which gives birth to simple and natural things; but it is all the more reprehensible than alchemy, inasmuch as it brings forth nothing but what is like itself, that is, lies. This is not the case with alchemy, which is confined to the simple products of nature, and whose function cannot be performed by nature herself, because in it there are no organic instruments with which it can work, such as the hands are to man and which have enabled him to make glass, &c. But necromancy, the flag and flying banner, blown hither and thither by the winds, is the guide of the silly multitude, which constantly bears witness with gaping wonder to the countless effects of this art; and whole books are written which declare that incantations and spirits are efficacious and speak without tongues and without vocal organs, without which it is impossible to speak, and carry the heaviest weights, raising tempests and rain and [182] transforming men into cats, wolves and other beasts, although they who affirm such things are the first to be transformed into beasts. And certainly if such necromancy existed, as is believed by lower intellects, there is nothing on the earth which would be so effectual both as regards the service and detriment of man; because if it is true that this art has the power to disturb the calm serenity of the atmosphere, changing it into night and producing sparks and winds, with fearful thunder and lightnings that fly through the darkness, and overthrowing high buildings with violent winds and uprooting forests and striking armies and shattering and overwhelming them, and producing, in addition to this, devastating storms which rob the peasants of the fruits of their toil, what kind of warfare is there so deadly to the enemy?

And that’s just part of it! (find the rest here) That’s a lot of disagreeing. “The guide of the silly multitude…” Leonardo da Vinci was no dummy. But perhaps he’s being just the tiniest bit pragmatic?

Anyway, here I begin my foray into the study of necromancy. Please feel free to comment.


ghost stories.

Posted in Ghosts with tags , , , , on November 26, 2010 by Susana Romatz

(can you see the ghost between the cars?)

Everybody knows a ghost story. The best ones happened to you (first person), but most people will settle for a story with one or two degrees of separation, i.e. your babysitter’s haunted basement or your aunt’s housekeeper’s ghastly prank calls.

My dad told me a story once: He was up very late. He was reading a scary book and he finally got up to go to bed. He was walking down the dark hallway to the bedroom when he saw a swirling mass of darkness up near the ceiling. His heart began to pound and his mouth got dry. Then he said he shook his head and told himself to “stop being silly.” The mass disappeared and he went on to bed.

Also, when I was a kid, my cousin’s and I would tell a story about my great grandpa who was in the field plowing (because that’s what great grandpas do) when a huge red thumb came up out of the ground and thumbed in the direction of his shack (because that’s what great grandpas live in). He tried to ignore it (really?) but it continued to thumb at him. Finally he went back home to check things out and he found my great grandma burning up in the fireplace. I’m pretty sure my cousin Jamie made that one up. But still it used to send shivers up and down my spine…

I was never really sure whether or not I should believe in ghosts. Obviously I’m fairly susceptible to far fetched scary stories, which always made me second guess myself. However, now that I have matured a bit and really put my head to the question, I now know that I do believe in ghosts, I just needed to figure out my picture of them. I met a man named Andrew in a college religion class. He was the first “real pagan” that I’d ever met. He told me that he believed that whenever a person walks on the earth, that person’s soul leaves behind something like a fingerprint (I suppose it would be called a “soul print” though) of energy that sometimes shows its face to the people who are still here. That made sense to me. It feels like that’s right, because sometimes I can feel the energy of people I’ve known who’ve died, even though I know they aren’t here anymore.

I also recently read here (a super cool blog) that praying and meditating and speaking to your ancestors is another form of necromancy. I’d never thought of it like that. I always just picture Edward Kelly lying on the ground in a burning pentacle at midnight with his eyes rolled back in his head. Necromancy seems so dramatic, but it’s really just talking to dead people, whether you have a burning pentacle or not.

Ghosts are no different. You can get all Aleister Crowley/burning red thumb with it, or you can stick to knowing that people are made out of energy and that when they leave, they might leave some here, and you might see it. It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, it’s just something that happens. At the very least, you get a good story out of it. At the most, you get to experience first hand the mysteries of the other worlds…

ps. If you have a good ghost story tell it to me! I love them, red thumbs and all.