It is to the tune of screams that I wander out into the misty evening to do my work. My eyes drift across the headstones of my beloved cemetery and working space as I sink my fingertips into the grave earth in which I have grown the botanicals for this working. Nightshade berries in rich purples and reds, necromantic herbs climbing the iron bars of a forgotten mortsafe, a forgotten and withered bouquet from an ancestors grave, all bound for my cauldron.
Returning to my temple I place an iron cauldron over the fire, nighshade berries bursting and sizzling on the heat as I add an oil known to protect against evil spirits, flat wine, and crumbling in the grave bouquet – the air becoming richly perfumed with the scent as they bloom against the heat. More berries, sliced thick and purple with my white handled knife are placed into the pot along with sulfurous bulbs I scratched free of grave earth and the last of a crossroad offering to Hekate, the fermented and decomposing bodily fluids of an animal sacrificed and consumed, it’s life sustaining my own, and the broken leavings of lifeless bread.
It is this ritual creation still bubbling from my cauldron, that I ladle up and serve to my spouse and children; watching as they happily consume the magic of death.
What? Poisoning my children?
No! I was making Eggplant Parmesan.
Necromancy sounds all spooky and dangerous and impractical, but really, death is around us all the time. Did you know that tomatoes and eggplants were nightshades (and a berry)? That Thyme was used in embalming, and Basil is an herb common to death magic? That olive oil is commonly used for anointing the dead, or that Oregano is a common funeral bouquet, one that when left on a grave might bring joy to the dead? Evil sulfurous onions, and garlic, one of Hekates favorite offerings and an ingredient commonly used to purify “haunted” spaces. Don’t even get me started on cheese, which just sounds funky no matter how you describe it.
It isn’t hard at all to add a little death magic to your daily life, right there in your kitchen. This is a recipe that one could use to venerate the dead, to ask for their protection, to imbue oneself with the qualities of death; all for the hard work of a little grocery shopping and maybe some container gardening.
A Little Practical Necromancy:
- Plant a container garden with graveyard dirt to grow edible nightshades and other herbs useful to your work.
- Leave bundles of herbs as bouquets on the graves of trusted ancestors, returning to collect them when they’ve dried in the sun.
- Stale bread was historically eaten to connect with the dead, why not turn it into breadcrumbs, croutons, or even french toast?
- Another historical necromantic practice was to consume stale or flat wine – this is something that can be easily subbed in to any recipe that calls for wine.
Oh? The screaming? That was my twin toddlers; they threw most of that dinner on the floor.