Gird ye on Every Man His Sword: To Arm a Statue of St. Expedite

Since visiting Sfinga earlier this year (some highlights of which can be seen here and here), a great deal of my time and energy have gone towards better ensouling and anchoring spirits into particular loci of devotion; in this world as well as the next. These developments primarily stem from numerous midnight talks between Sfinga and I, in which we mused about and theorized practical strategies towards the “arming” of our spirits. After years of covering ourselves in talismans, phylacteries, amulets, powders, condition oils, and the like, it seemed the natural next step would be to give similar to our spirit allies, such that they may independently reap the boons from the vary materia that they helped craft. This is not only a core principle to much cross-cultural technology with respect to seating spirits and birthing their vessels, but also a rather intuitive concept: if you’ve hired a skilled mercenary to protect you, would you rather he defend you in the hostile wilderness with no supplies and rusty ammunitions, or amidst a heavily-stocked fortress complete with neighboring alliances whose spies would inform of you of danger well ahead of time?

I began by consulting with my court to me to see what could potentially be desired, and one of the most prominent figures that immediately stepped forward to request such a working was St. Expedite (conveniently adding to our rapidly growing series of Expedite-related posts). Himself a centurion in life and just a capable warrior in holy death, it was not the good saint’s appearance that surprised me, rather the specifics of his request, which to this day still do. As I sat in contemplation, he delineated the recipe for what remains one of the most involved, intricate, and complex magical workings that I have had the privilege to see to completion.

The good saint revealed a recipe to me for what would serve as a load to the statue that has been the centerpiece of my altar since my devotional practice with him began. On a basic level, to load a statue is to fill it with the materials that carry the virtues sympathetic to the spirit, arming the spirit with tools to use once it is more strongly linked to the image. Naturally, this involves properly baptizing the statue as the spirit’s own, and preventing other spirits from inhabiting the figure in order to steal any offerings made. In the majority of the traditions in which I am involved, there is always a warning about buying statues and figures for spirits without baptizing and dedicating them properly—at minimum, they should be washed, fumigated, and prayed over to ensure that only the spirit being called into it will take up residence within its shape (or rather use it as their glove if it is not itself a house for them), lest ambient spirits become attracted to the spiritual attention it receives and come to shapeshift into its form. Different techniques exist across the globe, some very rightly claiming to place the spirit into the image—my personal favorite examples of this come from Thailand, in which amulets or bucha pieces can be fully ensouled and inhabited by the spirits residing within them—whereas others serve to increase the sympathy between and co-mingle the essences of the image and the spirit without actually calling the spirit to fully live within. I want to emphasize that this particular recipe falls into the latter category—one could hardly hope to place an ever-wandering saint into such any such vessel!

The recipe itself begins with the time in which it was to be made—the ten day period from Palm Sunday to St. Expedite’s feast. For each day in the Holy Week, specific ingredients corresponding to the holidays were to be gathered, and then in turn blessed every day following their collection, such that each piece received a blessing “today”. As I began to compile the list, I was initially daunted by the sheer scale of what would be needed. However, fueled by the power and potency of the saint that has been such a trusted compatriot over the years, I became determined to see things through while the spirit of the work was upon me, my ambition fully stoked.

For the next week, it was if I was possessed by the spirit of the work itself, with every waking moment consumed either by the collection and processing of materia, or the inspired contemplation of the loads as they began to take shape. Each day consisted of a spirit-lead journey around the city, visiting dozens of locations and negotiating with the spirits of each for permission and blessing to do my work, making offerings at each place of power along the way. I began to notice early on in the process that each ritual step closely matched the Passion—Palm Sunday bringing with it workings at the gates of seven cemeteries to mirror the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday bringing with it devils that walk the earth on the eve of the crucifixion and their being crushed beneath the foot of St. Expedite, crossroads workings performed and dirts collected as Jesus walked through the streets toward Calvary, dives into the underworld during the Harrowing of Hell, the triumphant return therefrom on Easter, and the ultimate culmination of the work on St Expedite’s feast.

At every turn, the working moved to finish itself, with incredibly lucky opportunities enabling the acquisition of trickier-to-find materia that needed to be collected and blessed on the same ritually potent day. Finding floral and herbal materia drifting down the river or floating in sacred grottoes at the beck and call of my sea spirits, encountering doors and gates unlocked (or very literally opening before me at utterance of a charm and wave of a spirit’s hand!), chance encounters with people on the street handing me that which was needed in exchange for a cigarette—all these and more highlighted just how much the Good Saint and I shared in the desire to see the creation finished.

As the adage goes, a magician must never reveal his secrets, but what follows is a fraction of the saint’s armament, for those with the cunning to replace the gears and wind the springs missing from a watch that ticks ever onward to the beat of “to-day-to-day to-day…”

  • Blend of soils from 7 crossroads collected on Good Friday
  • Blend of soils from the gates of 7 different cemeteries collected on Palm Sunday
  • Blend of soils from 7 Catholic churches collected on St. Expedite’s Feast
  • St. Expedite’s Hodie Powder (as discussed in a post from Sfinga, here)
  • A few drops of my personal St. Expedite Oil
  • A vehicle for the spirit of the Crow-Devil crushed beneath the foot of St. Expedite crafted on Maundy Thursday
  • A wishing bean, baptized in a river on the Harrowing of Hell
  • A piece of a palm frond from Palm Sunday Mass
  • A piece of the pound cake offered to the saint at the start of the work
  • A piece of the pound cake offered to the saint on His feast
  • Wax from dressed candles burnt as offerings on His Feast
  • A small square of fabric torn from the cape that adorned my St. Expedite statue over the duration Holy Week
  • Herbs blessed on His shrine including Abre Camino, Basil, Myrrh, Palo Santo, Spearmint, Vervain, and Vanilla beans
  • A skeleton key blessed at a crossroads
  • A small ampoule of Mercury

At last count, each load totaled around 100 components, the most important of which were tokens of those intangible acts found in the unfailing collection and processing of the materia on each day of Holy Week. As the final assembly was performed, every component and individual blessing to this point snapped into place and began to hum with a potency far greater than the sum of the individual parts, almost rhythmically and mechanically whirring together into an elegant machine in my own sorcerous arsenal—and the arsenal of the saint alike. In taking stock of the work, I have a newfound appreciation for the tireless diligence that the saint brings to his works, and an enflamed drive to go the extra miles for my spirits, without hesitation or fear of complexity or effort required for certain procedures or practices.

Two statue loads, one for myself and one for Sfinga, receiving their final blessings on St. Expedite’s feast day.

I cased the loads into blessed wax, allowing them to sit in the containers of used tealights in order to retain their smaller shape. From here, they could be easily removed and fitted into the bottom of any such statue once it was sufficiently hollowed out with a drill. After the load’s incorporation with the statue, I’ve noticed any workings performed with the aide or through the intercession of St. Expedite have greatly increased in efficacy and potency, with the saint heavier upon me than ever before, more ready to step forth and provide his aide today, with his new armor in hand, and girt upon him, his sword.

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