Raising the Dead
“Hic en Spiritum
Sed non incorpore
Evokare lemurs de mortus
De Angelus Balberith
En inferno inremeablis”
Beneath the Palazzo Arcivescovile, the stone barrel vault cellar echoed eerily with Malvolio’s deep incantation of the ancient spell for raising the dead. He was dressed in a black Dominican cowl and cassock, a blaze of an inverted Roman cross traced with his own blood, over his third eye chakra. Upon the pentacle he’d drawn on the floor in front of a makeshift altar, illuminated by thirteen tall black pillar candles, he thrashed fragrant boughs of freshly cut yew, symbol of eternal life, and cedar, protection for his open psychic channels. On the altar were all the elements of manifestation; a gold coin, a crow’s feather, cylinders of water and a wide black granite bowl in which he laid several strands from the stolen braid, after breathing upon them and chanting three times, the Hic en Spiritum.
Two of the cylinders contained turgid, turbulent water; on one was written Mortus (death), on the other Resugere (resurrection), the third cylinder contained a small lock of Savonarola’s hair and Angelica root known as the Archangel herb, used in exorcism and uncrossing or removing spells, in this case the spell that Samuel Iacobello placed on the braid, locking-in its disturbing spirit and blocking-out all other forces. In preparation for this event Cardinal Malvolio had placed Mortus and Resugere side by side, and left them so, undisturbed for three days; three being the number most sacred to the Catholic Church, symbol of the beginning the middle and the end, the Holy Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, the triad of life eternal, and more to his present purpose, The Magician in the Tarot, who is Binah, the third Sephira on the Tree of Life who gives form and shape to energy through manifestation... ‘as above, so below’.
The Magician is the twelfth path; he who takes it commands the power to manifest their desires with clarity of purpose and plan. But the Magician is governed by Mercury in the sign of Gemini and Mercury was now retrograde, spinning backwards, its attributes inverted and intensified. Gemini brings with it duality, giving the Magician two sides depending upon how he uses the Divine Energy being channeled. In his dark side he becomes the Trickster, the ultimate narcissist, a master of deception, in this guise he has roamed the world for centuries preying on the weak and gullible. He is elusive and evasive, magically appearing in a flash then vanishing in another. And since his ruling planet was retrograde, it was likely that the power of the Divine energy Malvolio was channeling would create a portal through which the dark Magician could appear.
The cardinal, still chanting, set the hair in the bowl alight, immediately the repulsive, acrid odour of burning hair assaulted his nostrils, making him recoil in disgust. Then chanting ever more fervently and loudly now, he grasped the two cylinders, one in each hand, and poured them together into the third, upon the lock of black hair. Suddenly the room was filled with sound, the echo of a deep voice chanting each word after him, the voice emanated from all directions at once, its clarity and volume oscillating, creating the peculiar effect of someone speaking from under water; it was the Magician; he began to laugh, mocking Malvolio.
The water in the third cylinder became a tiny whirlpool, changing colour from the bottom upwards, yellow, cyan, magenta and finally clear. At the moment of clarity a bolt of jagged light split the ceiling, striking the pentacle with thunder, making the cardinal cover his ears and stagger back. The bolt of light lingered, forming itself into a horizontal figure eight, the sign of infinity, the sign of the Magician. From it beamed a throbbing miasma, swaying and shifting, slowly taking on the shape of a tall, cloaked figure.
The only illumination left was from the flickering candles and the eerie glow of the infinity circle hovering above the figure as it assumed solid form. It was dressed, as Malvolio was, in the black habit of the Dominicans, the order to which they both belonged. But the heavy cowl obscured the downcast face of the spirit, until it suddenly stepped forward, out of the pentacle towards the altar, throwing back its hood, revealing its face, it let out a mighty, sulfurous roar; a cloud of yellow dust spewed from its mouth and the stench of sulfur sent Malvolio reeling then retching, his stomach, empty from fasting, could only heave uncontrollably as he doubled-over in pain.
“Who is it that summons me from the depths of eternal despair?” growled the non-finito, its purple-veined claws grasping the edge of the altar, thrusting-out its jaw, its livid, sunken eyes burning with indignation, the oozing scabrous lips stretched across long, blackened teeth. Malvolio struggled to steady himself, although he was terrified, he tried not to show it. He hadn’t known what to expect, but not this, surely not the repulsive, vehemently threatening presence before him. He must gain control and the upper-hand, Savonarola must not feel his terror.
The cardinal gathered his resolve, straightened himself and pulling-up to his full height met the spirit’s burning gaze with as much intensity and terribilitá as he could muster. “I am a prince of St. Peter’s church, champion of sacred Ecclesiastes. I am his Eminence Cardinal Archbishop Ermengildo, Domenico, Severio Malvolio and I have summoned you to help me in my sacred mission.” He answered with haughty authority. “Oh? And what ‘sacred mission’ is that you puny magus?” Savonarola challenged, sneering.
Malvolio softened his tone, assuming a conspiratorial attitude, “The mission that you in righteous vision undertook so many centuries ago, to rid the city and the church of the infidel and vain glorious pretenders to Christ’s humble, virtuous light. Together we can finish your work, setting them on the true path to salvation” implored the cardinal. “What makes you think you can succeed where I have failed, prince?” laughed the spirit. “I have ascended to the status denied you by those fearful of your righteous vision and the power of your divine inspiration upon the people of Florence who are so long abandoned to the influence of false prophets. Through my power we can cleanse the church and its innocent flock, completing your divinely inspired mission.” Malvolio responded fervently.
“I no longer have any interest in the affairs of men, sacred or profane. So, what then is in it for me Malvolio?” he scoffed. “Sainthood, that’s what’s in it for you, dear evangelist. To assume your rightful place in heaven amongst our illustrious communion of saints. As I rise, so shall you rise with me, ‘from below to above!’.
Savonarola’s countenance relaxed, he was interested, Malvolio could see that he struck the right chord, the only thing that this non-finito, demon zealot wanted was to get out of hell and into heaven. And not just any place in heaven, to join the celestial company of the exalted saints, those to whom the faithful prayed and implored, laying bare their torpid souls, promising anything for relief from their earthly woes, peace and redemption for their tortured spirits. Yes, he wanted his supplicants, his desperate following from which to choose and the eternal devotion they endowed.
After a moment of reflection Savonarola answered, “Alright, Malvolio, I will help you. In the meantime, I shall take my repose in the Baptistery of St. John; behind Ghiberti’s gilded doors of Paradise...I who have had my own baptism of fire will wait there in the shadows of Paradise for you and the course of our sacred mission.” With that, he turned away before Malvolio could protest, the non-finito demon knew that the Cardinal would be ill at ease with his incursion into this ancient sacrosanct space. But Malvolio knew better than to argue, he must grant Savonarola the foothold he wanted into the sacred realm.
After the demonic apparition vanished, rivulets of cold sweat ran down Malvolio’s body; he began to shiver uncontrollably, I must get out of here. Seized by a sudden panic, turning away from the altar, he hurried away to the warmth of his apartments where, wet and exhausted, Malvolio slept the sleep of death for twelve, dreamless hours.