“If you wear a white cashmere sweaterdress to an important lunch, there is an eighty percent chance that you will spill shrimp cocktail or something else with tomato sauce on it — if only because you’re so worried about spilling something that you go all awkward. You know this, but you’re unlikely to act on the information, even if your mother, your roommate, and your best friend all tell you so.
“But if the cards tell you so — and mind, tell you what you already know — you’re more likely to accept and act on the advice, wear bottle-green wool gabardine, and avoid serious grief and dry-cleaning bills.” –Rosemary Edghill
Before we go any further, please know that this post is going to get pretty gross. Like, you know the commenter who called my Greek Festival Goddess article “fucking disgusting“? No judgment, but if that disgusted you, you are probably going to want to sit this one out.
As most everyone is aware — because I refuse to stop talking about it — I’ve been working with The Liminal Spirits Oracle as a belief system for the past couple of months, which has primarily centered on daily meditations with individual cards, prayers, devotions, and, of course, divination. And what I’ve found so far is that over time, my readings have gone from generally informative to eerily specific.
I’m nowhere near ready to break out the deck at a psychic fair or anything, and I’m not even reading for friends yet. But the cards are starting to come together in ways that provide distinctive details about the questions I’m putting to them, which is beyond fascinating.
Here’s a good example.
I messaged a buddy of mine a few days ago just to check in and say howdy, and he wrote back, “Everything sucks, and I don’t want to talk about it.”
Right, then. I didn’t want to press him for details while he was upset, but I was also a little worried, since he’s usually an optimistic kind of guy. So I asked the cards what was up with him, and they were like, “He got in a bad argument with someone over a past issue that was never fully dealt with, and this does not concern you, so stay out of it. He’s focusing on self-care and is currently stoned out of his mind, so just give him a little time and he’ll be fine.” [Update: He’s fine.]
Pretty cool, huh? I think so. Now take a deep breath, my loyal Clutterbuckaroos, because it’s time for the sanguinary anecdote.
Earlier this week, I noticed a sebaceous cyst coming in on the inside of my upper thigh. I was like, “Okay, that’s bad, but at least it’s not very big,” and I sort of gently poked at it, at which point it immediately swelled up and basically looked like someone had shoved a golf ball under my skin.
For the uninitiated, a sebaceous cyst is what the Old Testament refers to as a boil. In secular terms, it occurs when a hair follicle develops a subcutaneous bacterial infection and fills with densely-packed pus and gruesome fluids, which results in a large, red, very painful welt.
Treatment options are limited. Oral antibiotics don’t really work on them, because the cysts tend to seal themselves off from the bloodstream. Topical creams can sometimes take the edge off the pain, but they can’t always be absorbed deeply enough to have any effect on the cyst itself.
While doctors can lance them, I am uninsured at the moment, and paying for something this revolting out of pocket just doesn’t strike me as a win. Some people do lance their own boils, and I did consider that possibility, but the only suitable tool I could find in my supply cabinet was a hatpin, which felt a little too back-alley to justify.
Cysts will almost always go away on their own, either by being broken down by the body or working their way to the surface, and applied heat can help with that. But all of the above require time and patience, and it’s hard to maintain serenity when high-impact activities like walking, sitting, and sleeping on one’s side have become uncomfortable to the border of agonizing.
Oh, and even more fun, sebaceous cysts are usually brought on by stress. Considering the last couple of weeks I’ve had, this is understandable. But I’m still pissed off at my follicles for letting it happen in the first place.
I’d pretty much decided to just wait the cyst out and hope it would drain without the need for invasive measures. But then Reynard texted me all, “Hey! I’m going to be on your side of town this weekend. Let’s go do something!”
And I was like, “Well, phooey. Now we’re on a deadline.”
I knew the wise choice was to leave the cyst alone. But I also knew that if I didn’t do anything to manage it ahead of time, there was a chance that it might up and rupture while Reynard and I were in the middle of a diner or something, and I’d have to be like, “Oops! My moon time!” and go hide in the car with my blood-soaked breeches, sticking him with the check.
Considering I told him I’d spring for dinner, the ride home would be awkward, to say the least.
I wasn’t even sure if bodily functions were covered by the oracle, but I figured it was worth a shot. I mean, hey, Chaos Magic is experimental by nature, so it couldn’t hurt any worse than the cyst did. So I centered myself and was like, “Will the cyst be gone by Sunday?” and pulled four cards.
Crossing the present: Oak — a buried kernel working its way up through the ground; the cyst is going to drain (whew).
In the past: Snail — something slow-moving and slimy, protected by a tough shell; also a warning not to engage in risky behaviors (like jabbing the slow-moving, slimy thing with a hatpin).
In the future: Fiber — patience (aaargh); keep the cyst covered.
The cards seemed confident that the cyst was going to take care of itself without my intervention. But just to make sure, I fished out my angel/devil coin and was like, “So I definitely should not try to pop the cyst, right?”
The coin landed angel side up: “Be Good.” And even without the words, the look of resigned exasperation on the angel’s face was more than enough to convince me to not prod the cyst any further.
“Good call,” I said, to no one in particular. Slathering the cyst in drawing salve, I carefully placed a bandage over it and went to bed.
I woke up this morning in less discomfort than anticipated and was like, “Wow, I must’ve slept hot last night, because this bandage is really soggy, and… oh. Oh.”
And I hauled ass across the apartment and flung myself into the shower, because here’s the thing: When the medical websites (and oracles) say “The cyst is going to drain,” what they mean is, “Congratulations! Your immune system has just pulled the pin on a dermatological grenade, and you’ve got about 23 seconds to find a thirsty towel that you’ll never, ever want to use again.”
I made it into the shower with a couple of seconds to spare, ripped off the bandage (fucking ow), and let the cyst express itself. With aplomb. And now my bathroom looks like a crime scene. But ye Gods, I am floating on a Tempur-Pedic cloud of sweet, merciful relief.
Logically, I know the cyst would’ve cleared up sooner or later, regardless of whether or not I messed with it. But because the cards said so, some of my stress was alleviated. And since stress is the primary cause of sebaceous cysts, I suspect that my body’s reaction was like, “Oh! We feel better. No need for this cyst anymore. Let’s detonate it.”
Did my belief in the Liminal Spirits have a psychosomatic effect on the healing process? Hard to say. But even if Reynard and I just end up ordering a pizza and watching horror movies, the fact that I’ll be able to do so without having to sit on a donut pillow means it’s going to be an excellent afternoon.