Last year in the spring of 2021, while engaging in some work with St. Expedite in the buildup to his feast, I received a fairly complicated recipe for what I immediately realized was going to be the malefic companion to any Expedite-themed, fast luck (or otherwise “get everything done as expediently as possible”) type of oil or powder. I was in the middle of a walk through my local woods where I conduct many of my workings, when suddenly the trees I was hiking through swarmed with crows; dozens upon dozens of the murder gathering to perch upon the lanky branches in unison. The visions that came were unrelenting. Punctuated by the discordance of cawing, I was overtaken by the sight of thousands of holy relics, bones and skin and flesh and all, picked apart clean by crows, the birds penetrating the sanctums of the sepulchers with abandon. At each peck I perceived the impulse to wait, to delay, to savour the sweetness of resting now and the luxury of knowing that there will ever be a tomorrow, by which our deeds may be yet accomplished. The itch of the spirits to not come yet when called, but to not fully reject the petition either; only to fulfill it later, softly, timidly, with milder effort, and less strain. To reveal the omen that consents to the task at a future sunset. To finally, for the first time since martyrdom, sleep and be at rest—to lavish in the succors of delay, to have reprieve from the tortures of hymns; prayers wrought from ecstasy and yearning to call forth the saints again and again for intercession. I had often mused with my mentors on the nature of the sainted, holy dead as tortured; unable to move on, for we, as their hungry disciples, still call them, still beg them to deliver our prayers to the ears of the Lord, still grope at their statues and icons and medals, desperate for their gifts and signs. In this vision, oblivion in a crow’s maw seemed all too sweeter a death than immortality upon a cross.
When I came to, my eyes still awash with the sight of Christ’s spear-wound upon the cross becoming a feast for the carrion, I realized quickly that a recipe had been delivered to me; for the first time not from the boot of the saint who crushes such lurid temptations but of the Devil-Crow himself, entreating our martyr to convert the following day. While our beloved saint defeated such a foe with ease, few among us can say the same. The comfort of knowing that tomorrow awaits us will always cause for a great many missed opportunities, forgotten elections, and otherwise benefic confluences to slip out of our grasps as sorcerers.
My friends and I often discuss in depth the importance of intelligent shielding and protection. Beyond the usual wards, glamours, witch bottles, and talismans, we’ve experimented greatly with more substantive, self-monitoring and adjusting decoys—the kinds which not only obfuscate our spirits but ensure that divination or scrying performed will see precisely what is intended to be seen. One of my mentors, often besieged by envious eyes in her village, has an entire setup dedicated to ensuring this. In certain situations, that may be something along the lines of soothing the diviner, making them falsely believe that they’ve surpassed her, that their spirits are stronger and more capable than hers, and that she would not survive a psychic attack—only to inflate their already-fragile pride and bait them into her trap where the mysteries she keeps hidden would swallow them whole. In others, this dynamic may be reversed or entirely transformed, to make what is strong seem vulnerable and what is even stronger seem too close for comfort, even at a distance. While musing on the efficacy of these techniques intended to confuse and obfuscate, to lure and to entrap, we would often remark on that which could and may well undermine it all: the very procrastination and overconfidence Expedite’s Crow brings.
As soon as I had obtained the recipe, I was filled to the brim with the inspiration to make it. Its complexities, nuances, and ridiculously involved procedure by which to weave together each individual piece of materia under the auspices of the Crow had captivated me entirely. The idea of an Expedite-themed “cursing” powder was already fascinating in and of itself, but the applications were what had alerted Salt, Key, and I to its further uses. To gradually instill a sense of comfort in putting off important matters; to feel even more at ease, filled with satisfaction and bliss, certain that nothing will decline and no ills will come from neglecting friendships and spirit relationships; to persuade the mind under the banner of self-care to miss scheduled offerings and planned rites; and to corrupt divination attempts to reveal the truth behind if such procrastination would result in misfortune. Conjured over pentacles of invisibility and blended with numerous curated cantrips to obscured from detection, to replicate itself, to resist cleansing and protection, and to build on existing poor habits, this entire project was a nasty piece of work.
And every step of its creation was excruciating.
The first issue was that part of its process was to, quite literally, procrastinate. While the initial vision had told me to make it after St. Expedite’s feast had passed, it quickly became apparent to me that I needed to wait at least a year and a day from the feast of 2021 to even begin the next steps. The recipe, which I had written down on a piece of paper and hidden under the foot of my statue, literally collected dust for over a year before I even remembered its existence. When I finally did and found my passion reignited all over again, I found that this was only the beginning of the pranks this powder—which had evidently already taken on a life of its own—would pull on me.
Anything that I needed to buy, I could only do so if my trip downtown for its purchase was only for this end. In other words, I could not make the process in any way expedient, and combine each trip to shop for other necessary items or to spend time with friends. Instead, every step had to be as drawn out and inconvenient as possible. A crow’s heart and feathers formed the basis of the nest in which the rest would grow, combined with dirt from a mass grave of cholera victims, the mass grave of all those who had donated their bodies to science, seven cemetery crossroads dirts, the ashes of all the incense charcoals that had not been emptied yet, dust from bookshelves upon which not as single volume had been retrieved or read in the past year, and dust from every mess, pile, and bed post that had not been cleaned. Wasp’s nest, blackthorn, calamus, snakeskin, poppy seeds, black mustard seeds, onion powder, tobacco, and a great number of other herbs found their way into the mix, slowly combined with sleeping pills dissolved in offering glasses of alcohol that had long-since been consumed and yet still had not been fully washed or replenished. Eye crust wiped off after missing morning alarms was added to the printed calendar notes and e-mails of agreed-upon meeting dates that were not only neglected, but that no negative consequences arose from. In this way, the relief that not only can important events be evaded, but that all will be better for it, with no penalties being incurred, became an important part of the base. These slips were joined by the sections of Exodus in which Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, as well as other passages of note in which delay brought further ruin.
As part of our increasingly intimate work with the good saint, Key and I had agreed to make two significant projects on our own to exchange when we next saw each other. On my end, it was this “Cras” powder, and on his, a statue load crafted carefully under the auspices and direction of the martyr. Key had already completed his project around the feast, and I had already bought tickets to see him in the States for late May. Yet as the date of the flight approached, the powder was still nowhere near complete, with each step being dragged out to the point of mischievous agony.
Other ingredients included spilled rice and beans that were individually, painstakingly counted, only to not end up in the final batch at all—their wasted time instead being the true essence. Pacing around the bowl in which everything was being constructed was another facet, as was including bits of other powders I had intended to remake and supplement the mother bottles of, but had either forgotten or procrastinated on myself. Even those around me were not spared, as the sinkhole of the recipe continued its burrowing, wasting the time of even those near me in a lurid manipulation that came to exemplify its living spirit’s nature. With the aid of one of my dear familiars, a two-headed raven who is also far more, I was able to eventually contain the broken clocks and time loops involved in the process and finish the mother jar—the literal day before my flight—and package Key’s portion. Immediately afterwards, I decided to go on a walk to clear my head, and somehow found myself browsing Reddit for the next hour instead, completely missing my time. I then realized I truly needed to take a Psalm 51 shower before I decided on anything else!
Even delivering the smaller jar to Key was a hilarious set of circumstances in and of itself, with it constantly being left behind, then other people forgetting to bring it over to his apartment where I was staying, and then at one point even he drove off without waiting for our friend who had just ran to retrieve it and hand it off to us from where we had somehow, absent-mindedly, left it. I had to employ the cantrip which neutralizes its effects from leaking for us to finally take it home. Because each vial of it is its own “mother jar”, with its own independent spirit not subservient to the original batch, each must be subjugated and trampled like the Crow himself by its new recipient, so that they may claim mastery over its control and immunity to its effects. Anyone I would give a portion to (as this would never be for sale) would have their own, unique cantrip channeled to allow them to “finish” the spirit with their own dominating boot. While mine was contained, this one began to act up as soon as it was near the person it was intended for, and so even getting it to his Expedite shrine where it could be fully completed was an adventure. Finally, once it was in place, it began to hum in its containment, and served us well when we needed to employ it in a Law Keep Away working to great success.
This was a real exercise in creativity, patience, care, and staying on one’s toes as a project takes on a life of its own. It was especially fascinating to see how the spirit of the working became its own tempting devil, and how the process of creation was more a battle of wits than a cooperative effort. Ultimately, in order to complete it, I had to get a glimpse of not only the nature of the temptation our martyr endured, but also to further cultivate respect, reverence, and piety for his immediate ability to overcome it in ways that no one but he who would be sainted for this very triumph could. It is too easy to simply hear the story and not recognize the magnitude of St. Expedite’s immediate and swift response, and how this has transformed him into the lightning-fast intercessor we adore today. Even in learning how to make what is a malefic, cursing materia with him, I found myself in further adoration and humility through his great works, and in further knowing a fragment of the temptation he combats.