If you give monsters a deck...

...apparently they get really demanding. I finally have the money to buy some things I've been wanting for some time. One of them was the Flowers From the Dead oracle deck, which I've been wanting for communicating with my monsters for quite some time. As soon as it arrived, the day before yesterday, within minutes of me having the deck in my hands, they became far more vocal -- and demanding -- than they have ever been. Each of them (or group of them) needed their own signifying card from the deck, so I could tell who was speaking. Then they started clamoring for a shrine. With bones and masks. And that dead tree decorative thing from the top of the book case. Which needs a noose. And so accordingly, I ordered a couple of small lots of cruelty-free bones off Etsy, and a set of Astragaloi off Ebay (half of which will go to my Toys set, and half to the Monsters), and started talking to my maskmaker friend about a monster mask. Today I went to Goodwill and found not only a small table to be their shrine, but a glass-fronted wall cabinet of precisely the kind I'm always looking for. (I think this will belong to the Purple Thread. They need to be up off the ground.) Score! I have black velvet for the altar cloth, and the dead tree, and some goat foot bones to start with, and the deck and a book to record oracles in, and the rest will come along as they can. Later: Well, what I have for now is set up. I'll post a picture eventually, but probably not until I have a mask....

Empousa, who follows behind

clop-clank, clop-clank, clop-clank Behind you, on the road. What is that sound? When you look, there’s nothing there, but still, the sound follows you. clop-clank, clop-clank, clop-clank Slowly, slowly it gets closer and closer. It’s an old, old campfire story. The footsteps that sound wrong, that follow you, usually in the dark, but when you look, there's no one there. You can’t escape them, though you might be able to avoid them for a while. They’re coming for you. Eventually they’ll catch up. Empousa is an ancient Hellenic iteration of the tradition. A monster (from the Latin monstrum, that which is shown forth) of Hekate’s retinue, with hair of flame, with one donkey’s leg and one leg all of brass. A shapeshifter, though, who could come to your bed in the night and seduce you, then devour you. When she followed you on the road, you could drive her off for a while by taunting her, making fun of her. But she’ll find you in the end, if her mistress commands it. There’s no escaping her in the long run. Empousa is a creature of the roads, hunting travelers at Hekate’s will — or whim. She’s both terrifying and comical. A shapeshifter, yet unwilling or unable to shed her strange form. Inescapable — unless you drive her off by making fun of her. Why do taunts upset her so? Why, if she can change her appearance, does she keep what many would consider a deformity? Why does Hekate send her to frighten travelers at all? I’m attempting to work with some of the monsters of Hekate’s train. Empousa is the first. When I have built a relationship with her, I’ll try Lamia, and then Mormo. Eventually, the Underworld nymphs known as the Lampades. I make offerings of lavender to her, as suggested by the strophalos oracle, which also told me to accept her as a guide. I call her, invite her into my dreams, and drink dreaming teas to try to open myself. So far, I have had only one brief glimpse. I expect her to take other forms, to be a dream-lover, waiting for me to see her, and once I caught her that way, and she laughed, pleased with me. But since then, no matter how I call, my dreams remain dry. I’m patient. Eventually, I’ll find her, or she’ll find me. Empousa... I call to you, Empousa With your hair of flame With one leg of an ass And one leg of brass Relentless pursuer Shapeshifter, seducer I call to you, Empousa Come to me, and let me know you...