Mr. Thane, who previously discussed with us the perfect cup of coffee, has once again delivered to me--and, by extension, you, dear reader--a piece exploring the social and power dynamics of those maneuvering within the realms of the dark arts. Making friends when 'normal' is hard enough; making friends on the fringes is even harder. Mr. Thane is here for you with some sage advice.
No one chooses the life of a Dark Artisan without also accepting some fairly monumental sacrifices, a few of which I mentioned in my “How-to” guide to good coffee. I don’t mean to complain about my lot in life, I did choose it…more or less, but the deeper you progress into the realm of the occult and practice of Black Magic, the fewer invitations you get to things like high school reunions, neighborhood block parties, and church socials. And until we get our new dating app CINDER(s and Ashes), a Dark Art-friendly version of things like Tinder and…Tinder, romantic inclinations are pretty much at a standstill for myself and members of my hive.
I’m not whining about it, gods no. I’m just stating facts. I’ll admit it was hard at first and that there were times I was tempted to turn back to the light just so I wouldn’t have to spend Midsummer’s Night alone, year after lonely, soul-crushing year. But I persevered, I made it through, and I now want to help my fellow occultists thrive in their social lives. To that end I present a short word on an occultist’s guide to making friends and influencing people:
Part 1: Making Friends is Hard
The world likes to act that friends are easy to find, that one day you’ll be walking down the street and a friend will leap out of the shadows at you, fully formed and perfectly compatible with your every whim, quirk, and star-charted destiny.
This is false.
Friends have to be made, formed, and shaped over time. They don’t just appear or materialize from thin-air. Those are called Sprites, Phantasms, or Wandering Goblin-Ghosts from the Everrealms of Patagonia. And they are most certainly not your friends. No matter how much they smile or whisper sweet thoughts into your ears, they are not at all friendly and will steal your soul and your girlfriend the first chance they get.
If you’re lucky they’ll keep your high-maintenance girlfriend and sell your soul back for a reasonable ransom.
I was not lucky.
They are not your friends.
No, friends are much more difficult to come by. They require effort and perseverance. And, for the best-quality friend, three-cubic yards of clay from either The Riverbank of the Lost Euphratian Channel or the Forbidden Tombs of the Enchanted Terra Cotta Priests. Barring either of those (and trust me, get your clay from of those places if you can) you can sometimes luck-out and procure some higher-end clay from Gruvvel’s Mire Pit on the East side of Nivania, but don’t hold your breath. Most of that is lower-end tripe that doesn’t bake evenly and won’t hold a charm. So if you just cannot swing the price for some higher-end stuff…stay-tuned and I’ll give you some graveyard shift options later on.
Once you have your clay you’ll need a mold, an oven, and a proper source of heat. “Free-form” or “all-natural” molds are having their hey-day right now, but believe you me…they are crap. I have seen more good clay go to waste in some crunchy-mom, quasi-hippy “all-natural, organic free-form mold” than Pharaoh wasted building that stupid sphinx. My old roommate let himself be talked into trying to use one of those and he wasted almost 8-cubic feet of high-grade Euphratian clay on something that ended up looking like the son of a Wizened Crone of Owl’s Peak Abbey and a Wart-Troll. And it had all the personality to match, complete with hippy overtones (If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like the guy…thing that runs Frau Gretchen’s Spa for Crunchy Moms of Death and Darkness, then you’re onto something)!
So, what kind of mold should you use? Le Crux of the Matter has the best selection of shapes and sizes, has excellent craftsmanship, and is reasonably-priced. Add to that the semi-annual sale they run on Winter’s and Summer’s Solstice and you’ve got the best option, hands down. I know some people are a little leery of the blood contract they require from every customer and, yes, I’ve heard the rumors about what happens when you break it. But my mantra is that so long as you don’t break it, you don’t have to worry about it.
If you’re a member in good standing of any decent coven, hive, guild, or temple, you won’t have trouble finding an oven. No collection of Dark Artisans can survive in any one location without a means by which to dispose of their work, so trust me…you have access to an oven. The next question that arises is then one of heat sources. Honestly, so long as you can control the length and intensity of it, it will get the job done. So straight fire is good or Eternal Embers of Hades’ Seething Envy. Really, almost anything will work, so long as it burns at a steady rate. This means fire-breathing creatures of any kind should only be used as a last resort, if at all. They’re flames are inconsistent in both intensity of heat and longevity. You could end up with a friend who is three or four different skin tones at once. That’s a tough burden to bear. Especially when you’re already a social pariah by virtue of your Franksentien-ian origins.
Don’t make it worse by cursing your new-found friend with a poorly baked body.
Speaking of Frankenstein, if you can’t get good clay from which to fashion a suitable host golem for the wandering spirit of your soon-to-be best friend (with any luck), I’m sorry to tell you that full-on grave robbing is your only viable alternative, and it’s a sketchy one at that. Digging up graves is no easy task, especially when you’re doing it on the blind hope that the left arm in one coffin will be a match to the right leg from one across town and that both are compatible with the torso you dug-up from the cemetery two towns over. And even if they all fit perfectly you still have to hope that none of them were carriers for The Angola Virus, which prevents regeneration, and that none of them were secretly sons or daughters of Vampire Wraiths or Grim-Dark Witch Hunters. Because if even one body part has cursed blood, anti-enchanted marrow, or an Atlantean STD, your plan is royally doomed.
And that’s not even a metaphor, because this is all because of an edict made by the Elf King of the High Woods of Eselton after the War of Wraithian Witch Hunters. So, you’re literally royally doomed.
And your soul would likely be damned until the reigning Moon Goddess’ regent dies or is deposed. Which isn’t due to happen for approximately eighty-three years.
The point being, if you can’t make a friend the right way, don’t bother. Only certain vessels are fit to serve as hosts of wandering spirits, and only so many of them can actually receive and hold the necessary enchantment that prevents that spirit from body-hopping from person to person on a whim. And that would be disastrous. How do you think the War of the Wraithian Witch Hunters began in the first place? I’ll tell you how, because some idiot tried to make a friend using a combination of low-grade clay and scrounged body parts and the next thing you know, Atlantis is trying to rise from the ocean, the Orcs of the Germanic Underbelly are revolting against their Druidic Overlords, and the Elf King of Eselton is damning souls left and right.
And you thought your mother was exaggerating when she warned you about the trouble you could find yourself in by choosing friends from “the wrong crowd.”
(True story, “the wrong crowd” is actually a modern-English derivative of the East Lower Realm of Southern Asia term “ti wong kuh woudd” which, roughly translated, means “half-formed, half-baked, and full of bad spirits, woe unto those who call such of these a friend, a comrade, or a bosom companion, share not your table or your heart with such a one, for down that way lies madness.”)
Making friends just isn’t for everyone, some of us are just doomed to eternal loneliness. But, if that’s your lot, you still have hope.
In Part II of this series I’ll discuss ways to influence people to get what you want in this life.
And no, that doesn’t include girlfriends.
Archiba’ald Thane is an author, speaker, enchanter, and Proto-Atlantean Warlock of the Seventh Spire. He has been published in Dark Arts and Culture and The Bloody Grail. His books are available for purchase in the Kindle Store of Fire and Ice and his newest book Spellbinding: An Occultist’s Guide to Beauty and Fashion will be available in the Fall of 2016. He is also a part-time employee at Whole Foods. You can find him on FaceTome or on Screecher: @THE_Archiba’ald_Thane