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.

St. Expedite’s “Cras” Powder

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.

One jar of the completed powder, fully contained with a lead seal under the lid.

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.