Halloween: Exacting Justice and Revenge

Halloween: Exacting Justice and Revenge October 31, 2021

Drumming for the dead in my zendo (photo: Camelia Elias)

I woke up to the recurrence of the letter O. Hallooowen, All Hallooow’s Eve. ‘Ooo, I how nice!’ I said to myself, when I noticed in my inbox a review written by Emma Giannini of my latest book, Tarot for Romeo and Juliet: Reflections on Relationships. Before I thought of what costume to don in celebration of the dead, I threw myself at Emma’s words. I was curious to hear Emma’s impressions, as we share a similar fate. Emma also went from a life of being an academic to writing and practicing the so-called ‘occult arts.’ So she understands a premise in my work that’s not always apparent to all. Once she was even the teaching assistant of famed professor of comparative religion, Ioan Couliano, who also equally famously got himself murdered in the bathroom of Chicago University’s Divinity School. Talk about the dead… Emma decided that my new book is brilliant, which brought the letter O on my face. O, indeed, I liked to hear that, as I’m of the conviction that my books always find just their discerning and fair readers.

After thinking of Couliano, whom I often mention in my classes, in fact as recently as my latest, though past, course in Cartomancy and Necromancy, I looked at my table, always ‘decorated’ with some fine edition bindings. The Oresteia by Aeschylus was right next to my Romeo and Juliet. I looked at the covers of these books and I was pleased. I like it when typographers use letters as glyphs to decorate their book covers, and I thought it was about time that I returned myself to this practice. Last I played with a glyph for the cover of a book, which in my case always functions as a sigil, was eleven years ago, when I published Mark Daniel Cohen’s book, Coarctate: Antigone’s Return. Now, what’s up with all the Greek drama, Shakespeare, and the Renaissance Tarot?

A collage of the books on my table (photo: Camelia Elias)

Well, since we’re with All Hallow’s Eve, I thought it quite befitting that I have the classics on my head. Playwrights of caliber, from Aeschylus to Shakespeare, had a knack for describing the human condition, and when they all got heated about it, they wrote about justice and revenge. That is to say, they wrote about the way in which the dead have a way of demanding justice and revenge.

Based on this I thought of giving you an idea, that is, in addition to whatever else you happen to sit with, in case you want to perform a ritual and tread the now thinly veiled space between the living and the dead. First off, if you cast the cards for the dead, you may want to ask about what justice or revenge they seek that you may ‘help out’ with. But you may also do something else that’s interesting. Let me give an example from my own practice.

What I like to do around the days between October 31 and November 3 is recall to my mind the last thing that had significance to me. This can be an event, or a thing I acquired. I like to acknowledge the realization or the manifestation of the thing, and then give it a blessing in the presence of the mighty dead. First I call on the dead. I use percussion for this, as in, drum my own skull out, while dancing frantically in my zendo. Then I light some candles and make an offering of water. If what I want to acknowledge is a thing, I bring it in the proximity of the human skulls I have in the house. If it’s an event, then I create a sigil for it in the form of a calligraphic glyph that captures its essence. I look at the thing, sigil, and the skulls and bless them all. Note that for this I use my own agency. I don’t ask anything of the dead. I just acknowledge their presence next to my presence and that of the thing. I let my body and my head together decide on what emotion I want to try next. This can be exuberance, joy, or indeed, anger and regret.

A human skull in the company of my Romeo and Juliet book (photo: Camelia Elias)

In my case this time around, it was obvious that I’d use my latest book for this ritual, as it’s one that’s special to my heart. The fact that it was also produced as a fine binding edition for which I spared no expenses – don’t ask about that, but ouch – gave me plenty an occasion to sit in contemplation. I offered beauty to the dead I was communing with, as beauty softens the heart – dead or alive. I did this as a conscious ritual that counters the notions of justice and revenge, two hard aspects that follow people both in life and in death. Although we don’t know anything about life after death, if there even is such a thing, this we do know: many die having regrets. Perhaps we can say a prayer for the dead that addresses regret directly. This would be a way of exacting the justice and revenge that some dead souls perhaps are still seeking.

Enjoy your celebration of your dead. Don’t forget to celebrate yourself in the process. Indulge in something nice, a rare, or limited edition book. I can recommend The Oresteia and my own for precisely the value of their luxury in both thought and physical appearance. Words are magic. In a book, they carry even more weight. And if the cover is silk, then your heart will start singing…

Note that the fine binding edition of Tarot for Romeo and Juliet is only available in the Cloak and Dagger variation. The other two on offer, the Icon and the Spell variations, are sold out. Grab this book while you can, as there are only some copies left.

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About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias walks the path of Zen: cards in one hand and a sword in the other. You can read more about the author here.

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