Cult Illustration #29, ball point pen on paper, 11" x 8.5"

          This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  

In the teacher’s lounge, there were three long heavy wooden tables with blocky high backed chairs. It gave the space a banquet feel as opposed to the classrooms which were scattered with little spindly legged aluminum desks.

Ms. X found an unintrusive spot at the end of the middle table, a safe distance from a young teacher three chairs away. She gazed at the teacher to see if she were the greeting kind, but the woman peered instead at her sandwich. Ms. X took out her wildflower book and began browsing the pictures, seeing if she could remember their names.

As the minutes ticked by teachers trickled in until there was a gaggle at her table, filling their mouths and talking loudly, theatrically, the way Ms. X often talked when she had an audience, but in this case she was silent and nearly invisible as she barely whispered, “Blazing Star, Indian Paintbrush, Vanilla Plant, Wand Blackroot . .”

“Steven is such a sweet boy. Now he is talking about moving back to California to live with his mother!”

“Oh no, is he moving again?”

“Yes, all of this back and forth, it’s just terrible . . .”

“Oh, he is such a nice boy and where is his father?”

“He’s in the hospital, had an accident with his truck . . .”

“Some people don’t deserve to be parents!”

Oh, isn’t that the truth!”

“His father appeared the Friday before school started, just as I was leaving. He wanted to enroll his son and he had nothing! No records, nothing!”

“Oh my god!”

“Well, he’s paid for the house up until June.”

“Does he own the house or is he renting?”


“If I had a 17 year old boy living alone in the house next door I would be so scared!”

“He is just such a nice boy, it’s just too bad . . .”

The conversation turned to subs and their general lack of integrity. Ms. X felt a smile creep into her down turned face and wondered if it were perceptible.


“I just can’t stand the thought of having a sub in my class.”

“You need a good sub.”

“I don’t know any good subs and if the kids say they like them, I will never ask them back.”

“Oh, I know, it's such a problem.”

Ms. X flipped through the pages of her wildflower book, mouthing “Yellow Jessamine, Sand Vetch,
Tread Softly Nettle . . .”

“Well, if Steven were living alone next door to me, I would have to report it . . .”

“Yes, well, he could leave for California at any time  . . .”

“My god! Can you imagine leaving a 17 year old boy alone in the house?”

Ms. X was in a quandary now, struggling with herself, trying very hard not to let the words escape from her throat but she always lost these battles and without really trying, she sat up straight and spoke loudly.

“You know,” and she paused to give them time to acknowledge her, “Since Steven is such a nice boy, I am sure he will be fine!" She said it in an authoritative, priestly way. They stared at her now, wide-eyed and perplexed.

Ms. X excused herself from the dining table and retreated to the dingy worn sofa in the corner of the room where subs usually congregated. She sunk into the arms of the soft smelly cloth. This was her community now. This was the place where she needed to be. She was alone for too long in the cabin. And the signs from the insect kingdom informed her thus far. Ants had begun oozing up through the cracks in the floorboards, they came in file, unstoppable. She tried hard to stifle them. When she saw their complexes under construction outdoors she asked them politely to go away. When that did not help, she loudly commanded them to leave. Incensed, she brushed their carefully laid fortresses away with a broom and flooded their nests with the garden hose. As they persisted, ever more in numbers, on all sides of the house, she laid grits out for them to harvest. This they carried back to hoard and eat but it was indigestible, fatally so. She felt conflicted about this warfare but that guilt melted away as the problem became dire. She procured some boric acid powder and drizzled it along the edges where the floors met the walls and around the cracks where they streamed in. When they touched the powder they began to cripple and convulse and quickly die but there were always others after that. At last, she settled on diatomaceous earth.

And yet, she felt that the ants would remain until she committed herself to some form of community and she had only subbed for a few weeks when the urge to quit was taking hold like a good strong drink. She thought about persuading the landlord to let her stay in the cabin in exchange for some type of work. Maybe she could start poisoning the weeds and pruning the trees. She had quietly set up the subbing job in the waning days with the Foundation, but kept from plunging in by twiddling away as an ebay shaman, selling rocks and herbs and divination sessions online. She had wanted to focus more intently on selling homemade things, but this kept her alone in the cabin, with virtual customers that she consulted through email.

She divined for them, advised, and preached solely through the electronic word. She made up faces for them and body types and she talked to them while she typed. That’s the way it had been when the ants started coming in.

When she lived at the Concealment, working for the Foundation, she cooked and cleaned for clients, and cajoled them into pleasant moods. Back then, the pests had been fleas and ticks and mosquitoes, the ones that sucked the life force out of you. Yet, she had many ecstatic memories that tethered her consciousness to that place, memories that verged on the magical.

THE MAGICAL. Her association with the Foundation had started when she was given the Guru’s phone number by an acquaintance. She was told that he was a master of prophesy, a diviner who could manipulate the medium. Ms. X was intrigued. She called him several times and paid handsomely for his readings. These divination sessions helped Ms. X gain perspective in her life. She began Ancestor Worship and making offerings to the sacred energies. These energies, the Guru explained, were forces in nature, in the universe, and inside of us, and he tied everything together using eloquent analogies. He never seemed to use the word god, but these gods and goddesses had interesting names, a nomenclature for the insider.

She gradually healed her imbalances, at least that was the way she saw it and this compelled her to feel that she should heal the outside world around her. She began making journeys to the Foundation's Concealment where she was initiated by the Guru and his wife. And so began years of frequent visits, helping and learning the ceremonies, performed upon a steady stream of clients. They, like herself, had found power in his Analogical Magic, and his facile descriptions of the symbols that he communed with to make it all work.

The wife supplied clients with the physical objects, the fetishes, and beads, the rocks and trinkets. These were imbued with the Guru's words and the blood of a life taken. It was a death and rebirth ritual.

What Ms. X could not tell herself then but could tell herself now explained it all very succinctly, in terms that any secret society could agree with:

Birth (manipulating the physical medium)

can only come about through

Death (manipulating the physical medium)

and to control this,

one must control death.

Manipulating the physical medium means manipulating reality.

Something thought dead (the fetish)

was brought to life (with blood).

And the owner thereof (that dead but living thing),

uses it to gain power to manipulate

what happens in the Universe.

This can be done with people too,

Ritualizing the evil end of the spectrum with

Analogical magick, spelling, words, suggestions, concepts

blood atonement

from the first breath of life,

umbilical cords, circumcision skin . . .

(Where do all these things really go?)

Then education, modification, stupefication,




music, video games, television, movies,

All around and inside the human's conciousness is deadened

and reshaped.

The ultimate tool,

Tools itself.

Ah yes, sympathetic magick, thought Ms. X, the Cult of the Day. By manipulating the medium in one area, a human could, by perforce, manipulate another area of the medium and that was how it seemed to work. She convinced herself that she knew how it worked. There was really no exact understanding of the way it worked as it was a profound type of physics, of great antiquity, which the human race had forgotten almost completely, only hints remained. And here, in places, people tune into the darkest aspect of their violent nature, the ability to kill, using that acition to manipulate human consciousness . . . a consciousness reflective of, and interfaced with, the medium of reality.

Many times the Guru and his wife furnished her with room and board in their own private establishment, as a repayment for her work at the Concealment. When she slept there she had incredible experiences, where the Guru came into her dreams and transmitted strange, esoteric wisdom. It was as if she were sleepwalking, wandering around looking for crude fossils when she came upon a glowing treasure chest meant only for her. She would awaken not really rested but her consciousness transformed in a beguiling way. She was more alert to silent, invisible realities, but there was really no way to adequately describe it. One couldn’t imagine the greatness of it unless one actually experienced it. She couldn’t quite speak of it, lest the magic be broken and she never figured out if he were doing it on purpose or not. She did not feel comfortable telling the wife about the greatness because it was so weird and she could not understand how, or why it should happen.

Back home in Ohio, Ms. X worked feverishly making objects for the Foundation to sell. She would sculpt idols, bead necklaces, collect herbs for offerings, and write for the Q & A Database. Everything was sent to the Foundation to help pay for her rituals, including the yearly sacrifices which ran into thousands. Though she sometimes wondered if she should ask for more in return, she knew that the wisdom she was acquiring was more valuable than anything. She was happy and she was respected and things seemed to work magically for her now. Everything in life was better, just as the Guru said it would be.  Then there was talk of moving to Florida. She would be set up in a storefront in Miami to do readings for a nice fee and to guide new customers to the Foundation.  Ms. X began to disembowel her home, getting ready for the move. She gave away her furniture and books, she donated her artworks to be auctioned off at gallery benefits, all of her belongings were stripped for the great change in her life, the life of a true shaman.

Cult Illustration #38, ball point pen on paper, 11" x 8.5"


© 2017 Lea Atiq, all rights reserved