I just wrote (and submitted!) this new short story for a collection I’m working on about every day magic, witches, and extraordinary women.
There was a lot of research for this story: Germanic mythology (new explorations for me), more folklore than ever (love those Grimm Bros), German history (aside from WW II, also new territory), and the German language (blech, not my favorite). Lastly, a lot of study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and too much of his Requiem on repeat. Chills!
I hope this story leaves you with chills. I’m quite proud of it. If you want the second half, message me here, or PM me on facebook, and I’ll email it to you. That’s the only way you’re gonna see it… unless Cicada publishes my work. Without further ado…
ROSE AMONG THE VIOLETS
Maria Anna Thekla Mozart, born September 1758, was the cousin of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She grew up in Augsberg, Bavaria, the daughter of a bookbinder named Franz. She was educated in Munich, at Catholic school, as her family was elite. In the autumn of 1777, Wolfgang (then 21) grew close to his Bäsle (“little cousin”) Marianne (then 19), returning to Augsberg with his mother on a job-hunting trip. The two wrote to each other after their affair, scatological humor and inside joking abounds in their letters, of which only ten penned by Wolfgang survive. In early 1779, the cousins spent more than two months travelling together, much to Leopold and Franz’s dismay. Wolfgang and Marianne met for the last time in Salzburg, Austria (Wolfgang’s home) in March 1781, where Marianne probably listened to her cousin’s music at the Monastery of the Holy Cross.
In August 1782, Wolfgang married Constanze Weber, the love of his life. In 1784, Marianne gave birth to an illegitimate baby girl, Maria Josepha. It is unknown who the father of the child was, but Dr. Theodor de Baron von Reinbold paid generously for Marianne and her daughter’s comfort. Marianne never married. Wolfgang died in December 1791; it is unknown whether or not his little cousin attended his funeral. Marianne’s daughter Josepha married postmaster Franz Streitel in 1808, and they moved with Marianne to Bayreuth in 1814. There they stayed for 27 years, until 1841, when Marianne died at the age of 82, fifty years after her beloved cousin Wolfgang passed. Only a year later, the daughter Josepha also died. Both were laid to rest in the Bayreuth municipal cemetery, but their graves can no longer be found.
Augsberg, 30 April 1778 . Walspurgisnacht
arianne could hear the trumpeting already, an echo of Wolfie’s laughter, an echo as the blare of trumpets were somehow quieter than her cousin’s cackle. She waited all evening until the sun had sunken down beyond the three hills where the road disappears, and it seems as though there is no way to leave Alois Manor to Augsberg proper, of which, once there, certainly there is no exit. Marianne longed to visit her cousin in Mannheim, to hear his stories of la Hague and perchance to experience a moment of his latest opera.
Franz forbade Marianne to visit her cousin after their most recent rendezvous in Paris left Marianne beside herself and lost in the thirteenth arrondissement, drunk on wine and brandy for the first time in her then nineteen years.
It had been half a year, but Marianne received no leniency from her father Franz, who she continually failed to provide a worthy heir to his bookbinding business, a craft he had been unwilling to teach any of her suitors.
“The sons of metalsmiths have not the dexterity of hand to match my craftsmanship. Our clients have a certain quality they have come to expect.”
This and such statements Wolfgang had taught her to respond with a roll of the eye. To dwell on his laughter, and chuckle internally.
It isn’t you I seek to summon, though your company is sorely missed. By conjuring Mimir I will request he allow Oma Anna to appear to me. Oma left this earth when I was only eight. Wolfgang, you had two more years with her, and when we spent that October together, nearly a year ago now, we spoke of Oma Anna frequently. How it must be she who bestowed her loving-kindness upon us through laughter, as both our fathers are humorless.
I slept all day, and when I rose, downed a glass of wine for courage and good measure. I stood at my window and watched the crepuscule dissipate. Once the moon revealed herself to me, pregnant with all the light of the reflecting galaxies, I knew I could begin.
I had, on a prior midnight, cast Mimir’s seal in copper, hesitating only once to consider calling Beleth instead.
t was not intimate love Marianne truly desired, merely companionship, someone to point at peculiar fellows and make jokes. Her mentor, an Italian mage called only Corvo, had trained her to compel demons still in league with certain angel legions, in case the incantation should go south.
I begin, drawing the circle by moonlight. The snake’s coil growing, the stars cast in blue, red, yellow, green; the elements called forth already in an imminent mystic glow. The CHA-EL-MI triangle rises over top the circle, an epigram for Michael, the archangel who protects me here alone in my father’s carriage house, as he watches over all of Aux.
I wear Solomon’s hexagram in leather as a badge on my waistcoat (I have dressed as a lad in the case of which I am discovered). I also wear (in addition to Mimir’s sigil) a silver ring and a scarab amulet, a gift my father obtained from an Egyptian client.
These talismans protect me from both demon and spirit of the dead. Michael will steel my spirit if Mimir is successful in finding my Oma. He will also expel the spirit when my request has been fulfilled.
When I wrote to you, cousin, explaining my intentions, you replied only, “Warum nicht?” Why not, why not? Curious indeed, cousin.
Yes, you call me Bäsle, a nickname both our fathers find dreadful. Oi vater! But I tremble every time I hear the word.
It was with Autumn’s splendor falling all around us one crisp day last year when you first leaned down to kiss me, and then you looked up at the copper Zwiebel towering to the east. You chuckled to yourself as you said: “If the Fuggers be lilies, you are not Marianne, but meine Rose.” Do you remember? I can still see your glimmering eye, moist with the dew of self-delight.
With that gleam in mind, I now this year hence, take up my copy of Goetia and bless the circle.
I first came upon an interest in the occult as a girl—this interest piqued and grew to obsession when I was assigned Institoris’ Malleus in Catholic school.
It’s so cold this eve, Wolfie. The sun burned so bright, but offered no heat as the wind blew in a terrific chill. Now, I offer a simple blessing of sage and juniper, which I wrapped in bundles and hung in each room, with several in the barn where I drew the circle, so I could replace the hay over it.
I will run back inside if my energy-cleansing Michael incantation proves unsuccessful.
The barn and stable, where my first necromancy will be performed is the last place I tend to. It waits for me now, the circle, the candles, the herbs…
Wolfgang, I am writing this to you, because something could go wrong, but at least you will know why I was trying to summon Oma and with your imagination and my correspondence, you will be able to devise a good story for our family and perhaps even something to comfort yourself.
I am not afraid of the consequences if this may be the case.
You would shit your pants, darling cousin, if you were out in this heath in the moonlight under the circle of trees. It is a miracle of beauty—the glow cast upon the wood creating shadows across the clearing where I stand.
Oh Wolfie! I am silent, and my strength will not let my loneliness vex me!
I light the hyssop over a coal, and it burns, invading the clearing with a sweet smell—like licorice. It fills the air. Oma Anna taught me many things, scents and remedies, but never did she mention the invocation of a spirit. A little passé for an eight-year-old, I imagine. If all goes according to plan, I will stay in the circle, and he will remain in the triangle. And I will breakfast with Oma at sunrise.
How jealous I am, of your liberty. And why do you mock me with my French studies when you have more serious news to write about. Nannerl informed me of your mother’s illness. I was distressed to have not been more comfort to you. If only you had said something, cousin!
Please, Wolfgang, allow someone to ease your sorrows—I pray it might be me.
Adieu, au revoir mon cher Loup.
Je dîne au clair de lune et de fête sur le fruit de Yggdrasil.
t last Marianne knew she must begin the conjuring. The moon was climbing higher in the sky above the clearing within the circle of trees where she stood, shivering in the stable.
It was a humble shack, where she had chosen to draw the circle and the triangle. Close to the manor, but hidden away—a stable no longer used for horses, but for unseasonal equipment and other storage. Marianne lit her lantern with the wick of a candle nearby. She flipped through a small book with her grandmother’s handwriting across each page. Some pages had crude drawings Anna had intended for instruction, perhaps in such a situation as Marianne found herself in now.
Desperate for love, for company—desperate to entertain herself with an education the world had yet to give her, Marianne knew she was leaning toward what Oma had spared a few moments to warn her about. She told her the true tales of Docktor Faust, which had almost quite literally scared the shit out of the young Marianne. She told the girl to stay away from zauberei or der pfad zur linken. Marianne wondered if her Oma would understand.
She had chosen Walspurgisnacht because she could wait no longer, and because she knew the veil was thinning between the living and the dead. Corvo, her favorite tutor, had picked up where her Oma had left off, leaving her with studies of “solemn and sacred instruction.” She doubted Corvo would understand, else she might have invited him to have someone experienced around.
Yes, there was a trembling within the young witch, some mixture of chemicals in her blood that both excited and scared her. The moon’s glow was dizzying, she thought she could feel a shift in the earth, as though the very ground she stood on anticipated the opening of a gate that rarely opened. She had feigned bravery throughout her letter to her cousin, knowing he would only be confident if she sounded so.
She continued to burn sage, and placed on her neck a chain with onyx beads her Oma had given her a week before her death. She took a mixture of sulphur and dew she had gathered from the grounds the morning past. She let a drop of wax fall into the bowl; it sizzled when it hit the sulphur, the scent punched Marianne with a strong blow.
The wind picked up around the barn, where Marianne looked out upon the trees—nine of them—she had counted. The moon was watching, the trees were watching, and Marianne opened her mouth, but found she was parched. She set everything down to grab her glass and drink another bit of wine before she continued.
She had taken the words by heart practicing them to herself. She had been instructed, over all else, to be prepared, when preparation was possible. And then, as though someone were helping her to speak, she heard the incantation escape her lips:
IN THE MYSTERY OF THESE VESTURES OF THE HOLY ONES, I GIRD UP MY POWER IN RIGHTEOUS AND TRUTH, IN THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH, ADONAI, TO WHOM THE PRAISE AND THE GLORY SHALL BE; WHOSE END CANNOT BE. AMEN.
OL VAVIN OD ZACAM, ILS GAH MiMiR. I INVOKE AND MOVE THEE, O THOU SPIRIT MiMiR, AND BEING EXALTED ABOVE YE IN THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH, I SAY UNTO THEE: OBEY! IN THE NAME OF BALDACHIENSIS— APOLOGIAE SEDES— AND OF THE MIGHTY ONES WHO GOVERN SPIRITS LIACHIADAE AND MINISTERS OF THE HOUSE OF DEATH, I DO INVOKE THEE AND BY INVOKING THEE CONJURE THEE! –OEL VAVIN-ILS OD ZACAM!— AND BEING EXALTED ABOVE YE IN THE POWER OF THE MOST HIGH, I SAY UNTO THEE, OBEY! IN THE NAME OF HIM WHO SPAKE AND IT WAS, TO WHOM ALL CREATURES OBEY.
I, WHOM GOD MADE IN THE LIKENESS OF GOD, WHO IS THE CREATOR ACCORDING TO HIS LIVING BREATH, STIR THEE UP IN THE NAME WHICH IS THE VOICE OF WONDER OF THE MIGHTY GOD, EL, STRONG AND UNSPEAKABLE, O THOU SPIRIT MiMiR, AND I SAY UNTO THEE, OBEY. APPEAR UNTO HIS SERVANTS IN A MOMENT BEFORE THE CIRCLE IN THE LIKENESS OF A MAN AND VISIT ME IN PEACE. –ZAMRAN C-NOQOD OL OANIO ASPT COMSELH AZIAZOR OLLOR OD F ETHARZI.— AND IN THE INEFFABLE NAMES TETRAGRAMMATON, JEHOVAH, I SAY, OBEY! WHOSE MIGHTY SOUNDS BEING EXALTED IN POWER THE PILLARS ARE DIVIDED, THE WINDS OF THE FIRMAMENT GROAN ALOUD, THE FIRE BURNS NOT; THE EARTH MOVES IN EARTHQUAKES, AND ALL THINGS OF THE HOUSE OF HEAVEN, AND EARTH, AND THE DWELLING-PLACE OF DARKNESS ARE AS EARTHQUAKES, AND ARE IN TORMENT, AND CONFOUNDED IN THUNDER. COME FORTH, THOU SPIRIT MiMiR, IN A MOMENT. LET THY DWELLING-PLACE BE EMPTY, APPLY UNTO US THE SECRETS OF TRUTH AND OBEY MY POWER. COME FORTH, VISIT US IN PEACE, APPEAR UNTO MY EYES; BE FRIENDLY. OBEY THE LIVING BREATH! FOR I STIR THEE UP IN THE NAME OF THE GOD OF TRUTH WHO LIVETH FOREVER. HELIOREN.
She heard the trumpet sound—much louder than that dirge-tune of before. She had expected to say the incantation at least three times before it was successful, but she could swear she felt the ground quaking beneath her. Outside, on an otherwise clear night, Marianne heard donner crash and blitzen streaked across the sky.
Then Marianne was struck down. She fell to the ground, though her body remained within the circle of salt.
hen Marianne awoke, she was on the floor of the barn, still within the circle. She had a bump on her shin from how she collapsed to the dirt floor, but was otherwise unharmed.
The awakened witch sat down on the hay, and as dawn crept in through the windows of the stable, she penned these words:
Oh Wolfgang! What wonders I have seen!
I awoke to find myself on the floor of the old carriage house. The cock has not yet crowed, and yet, I have slept unlike any night in my twenty years.
Having said the invocation rites, the ground shook, loose beneath my body, which must have fallen then to the ground. But the spirit Mimir did appear, riding on a chariot drawn by… oh, but you will laugh, cousin—the chariot was drawn by cows!
I took his hand (not even thinking of how this would release me from the circle’s protection. His countenance was indescribable Wolfie, or perhaps it is that I forget his face. The chariot took the wind into the night, the cow’s hooves hanging in the sky before us. Off we flew, to the peaks of the Alps, to what I can only compare to legends of the Brocken.
When the chariot set down again on land, we were surrounded by whirling spirits, dancing in the misty night. The moon was our sentry. I joined in the dance a while, taking the hand of a young spirit-girl who was previously dancing alone. I felt I was in the presence of the goddesses and gods. I felt I was on sacred ground. Still, I danced.
I forgot about Mimir, until the spirit beckoned me. I left the dancing throngs—oh you would have loved to be part of that waltz, Wolfgang. If only I could have taken you. Mimir frightened me, though showed me no signs of ill will. He did have a morbid sense of humor, and often called me his pet, which made my courage wane.
“My pet, why have you summoned me on this night of feasting and celebration?”
I know I spoke, but I scarcely heard my own voice. “I need to see someone who has long since departed from the earth.”
The spirit looked at me. It was not shadowy or opaque—I could touch Mimir, had I so dared. It raised a ragged and jewel-adorned hand to my cheek. I shivered at the touch. “I recognize thee, child, for someone who loved you very much once summoned my comrade. It is the most interesting, heart-warming (BLECH!—Mimir snorts) story. Ahh, do you know whom I speak of, my pet?”
I hesitated. I knew it must be Oma, Wolfgang, but oh that the demon had already known of her! “I believe it was my beloved Oma Anna Mozart, whom I hope very much to see this Walpurgisnacht!” My voice was bold, despite my trembling.
“Ha ha! Yes, I thought it might be the same Anna whom tonight you hope to speak with. Hmm… but she is in attendance tonight on the Brocken! She dances now on these very hills, Child.”
“Surely, you can take me to her.” I had no thought of fear or deals with spirits, when I asked. I did not want to waste even a minute.
The spirit laughed. I watched Mimir’s belly, which proclaimed gluttony; it danced in tempo with the spinning throngs beyond where we stood. “Oh, but don’t you want to hear the story? It’s such a juicy gem. You’ll love it. Oh, that Anna loved all her grandchildren very much, didn’t she? Didn’t she, my pet, Marie Anne? Or are you not your Oma’s namesake?”
“I am!” I declared, Wolfie. I claimed our Oma as our own, and then I requested her presence again. “Bring me to her, Mimir.”
“Just one moment longer, child, while I recount the tale. Or should I say recollect. Ah, What’s a memory when you have eternity?”
I didn’t reply. I didn’t know what to say. Was it some kind of riddle, do you think? “Is that meant to be a question for me?” I asked.
Message me here or email me at email@example.com for the complete Rose among the Violets, and updates on the witch collection.
© 2015 Lorna Festa