The Annual Ritual of A Night in the Lonesome October.
“Those of us who remain will gather atop the hill at midnight. We will bring kindling and we will co-operate in the building of a big fire. It will serve as illumination, and into it will be cast all the bones, herbs, and other ingredients we have been preparing all month to give ourselves an edge and to confound our enemies…Forces will wrestle within it…Then we will position ourselves in an arc before the thing our divinations have shown us to be the Gateway…The strength of the individual counts for much; and these affairs seem to generate a strange byplay as well, which contributes to the overall dispositions of power. And then there is experience. Theoretically, everything should be conducted at a metaphysical level, but this is seldom really the case…We tend to retain our positions in the arc once the ceremony has begun, and sometimes things happen to players during its course…Psychic attacks may be shot back and forth. Disasters may follow. Players may fall, or go mad, catch fire, be transformed….Eventually….the matter will be decided…
Bad things happen to the losers.”
One of my favorite authors is Roger Zelazny, who wrote some fantastic fiction about a family of fratricidal princes in a magical realm at the center of reality. His final book, A Night in the Lonesome October, is written as a diary, by a dog called Snuff. Snuff’s master is called Jack, and carries a knife. Jack does bad things so that worse things will not occur.
Some of us take October as an opportunity to re-read Zelazny’s final book, with each page on its corresponding date. I tried it this year and was knocked out early. Better luck next year!