Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Anatomy of a Horror Setting #2-9: Let’s Get Physical

The topic of physical components for use in spells cast in horror settings has been touched on only briefly so far. Where the spells are cast and the rituals performed can be a very important first step. A first requirement can be an altar. An altar sounds like a pretty specific thing. They are found in churches of all kinds and not just the forte of evil religions or cults. However, for magic, an altar can mean any separate staging area. The area must be properly set up, or ‘blessed’ as it were. Blessing methods range anywhere from special chants or prayers during the construction of the area, to anointing it in blood or other substances, to cleansing it of the exterior world and its energy. The blessings may even need to be kept up regularly.

Returning to physical components there are staples such as virgin’s blood, eye of newt, frog’s warts--anyone can find warts on a toad--wax, and incense. Some spells and rituals may call for holy water. Others call for unholy water. Unholy water is differentiated from the holy kind beginning with the fact that it has ingredients, only one of which is usually human or animal urine. Changing gears there are different roots and herbs. Mandrake root is a good example of an ingredient that has something innately magical about it from the start. Mandrake is said to scream when pulled from the ground. Then there is the magical component, the Hand of Glory. Initially the Hand of Glory was an alternate name for mandrake root. Since then it has become something vastly different.

A magical object known as a Hand of Glory starts with the severed left (or sinister) hand of a criminal, which is often turned into a candle. Symbolically a Hand of Glory might serve the purpose of a cross, Star of David, staff or sceptre, or even a knife. Knives often hold their own purpose and frequently are blessed similarly to altars. A knife need not only be used for bloodletting or sacrifice. What’s left then, aside from a laundry list of ingredients, are the one other common materials of casting spells, narcotics. Often the practitioners of rituals require being in a specific state of mind. Taking drugs, quite often hallucinogens, helps achieve these altered states. This is traditional to the magic of medicine men around the world, but some still see it as a modern, lackadaisical trend.

Mood: pleased.
Music: Too Young to Fall in Love by Motley Crue and Game of Fear by Royal Hunt.

Motley Crue: Shout at the Devil
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Royal Hunt: Paper Blood

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