BY RONNIE POPE
Mercury began its retrograde at six, so she called in her cat. They cooked up brown rice together, and she stirred in a little tuna for him. He brushed at her slippers as she brushed the stairs and the hallway leading to the porch. She switched on a copper shaded lamp and rearranged the fruit bowl. Pears to the left.
Venus rose at seven, and that's when she applied her lipstick and removed her calfskin-bound notebook of shadows from her doctor's bag. The owner of the bag who came before her would use it to carry manuscripts, pens and ink. The sharpened nibs had scratched at the inside, and she found a charm in the way that the inked objects, made for the hand of man, had worked unaided and alone. They wrote messages that only they themselves could understand.
Mars became ruby around eight. Her attire was important. Heavy eyelashes, the finest lace, and a covering of cashmere under a heavy herringbone woolen overcoat. In left pocket she'd sewn a blue eye, and in the right she'd sewn a brown eye - a nod to the lightning bolt of masculinity that she so admired.
Jupiter turned as it grew dark at nine. Penknife in hand, she took to the carving of the appropriate runes in her black candles. When her eyes were cast downwards, they rested on the woodworm tracks in the floorboards. She must choose to honour all - the physical, the greater than, the microbial. She chose. She waited. She went about her preparations.
Saturn grew large before ten, and the first step was to set out her alter. Placing a layer of white gauze over the block of walnut wood at her desk, she positioned her herbs, dried flowers, and tinctures. Twined stalks of dried lavender, two bundles of sage, one sprig of rosemary, a small cup of rose petals, rosehips to join, marjoram, geranium oil, preserved dandelion, and twelve cloves.
Uranus lowered its curtain at eleven, and she peeped through hers. She sensed that it was almost time. She felt it in her knees. She washed her hands and plaited her hair whilst kneeling on her Persian rug. She pulled some loose strands forward so that they would fall about her face, but held the burning sage at an arms length. The warmth of the flame danced about her collarbones, her neck, her jaw. The room was hexagonal. Once each corner had been visited by her pretty feet, and the dome of the roof had breathed her smoke, she sat down, facing the east, to read a while.
Neptune showed its strength at twelve, just as her juniper berries had bruised and become potent. Meditatively she painted her own nails a shade of crimson, and found that she could no longer turn pages freely. The fridge beckoned, and looking to the clock in the kitchen, she found that she had just enough time to brew some ginger tea, and bite in to a russet apple and a little cheese. She devoured her nourishment whilst perched next atop the kitchen counter.
At one, precisely, the moon had grown distant and the clouds had cleared. Aleister Crowley breathed life to her bookshelf. She turned Debussy to its B Side. She reached for the matches.
With purified water and sanctified salt, she cast her circle.
Ronnie Pope is currently based in the strange land of Wales, UK.