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This is a quote I love from my favorite book (Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco). This book made me imune to any "secret society" crap.

<<You know how curious I am about these oddities. So back in Milan I got hold of a copy of Picatrix, from which I learned that an evocation of the spirit of Cagliostro was to be held in a few days. I went.

The walls were draped with banners covered with cabalistic signs, an abundance of owls of all kinds, scarabs and ibises, and Oriental divinities of uncertain origin. Near the rear wall was a dais, a proscenium of burning torches held up by rough logs, and in the background an altar with a triangular altar-piece and statuettes of Isis and Osiris. The room was ringed by an amphitheater of figures of Anubis, and there was a portrait of Cagliostro (it could hardly have been of anyone else, could it?), a gilded mummy in Cheops format, two five-armed candelabra, a gong suspended from two rampant snakes, on a podium a lectern covered by calico printed with hieroglyphics, and two crowns, two tripods, a little portable sarcophagus, a throne, a fake seventeenth-century fauteuil, four unmatched chairs suitable for a banquet with the sheriff of Nottingham, and candles, tapers, votive lights, all flickering very spiritually.

Anyway, to go on with the story: seven altar boys entered in red cassocks and carrying torches, followed by the celebrant, apparently the head of Picatrix-he rejoiced in the commonplace name of Brambilla-in pink-and-olive vestments. He was, in turn, followed by the neophyte, or medium, and six acolytes in white, who all looked like Bing Crosby, but with infulas, the god's, if you recall our poets.

Brambilla put on a triple crown with a half-moon, picked up a ritual sword, drew magic symbols on the dais, and summoned various angelic spirits with names ending hi "el." At this point I was vaguely reminded of those pseudo-Semitic incantations in Ingolf's message, but only for a moment, because I was immediately distracted by something unusual. The microphones on the dais

176 were connected to a tuner that was supposed to picjc up random waves in space, but the operator must have made a mistake, because first we heard a burst of disco music and then Radio Moscow came on. Brambilla opened the sarcophagus, took out a book of magic spells, swung a thurible, and cried, "O Lord, Thy kingdom come." This seemed to achieve something, because Radio Moscow fell silent, but then, at the most magical moment, it came on again, with a drunken Cossack song, the kind they dance to with their behinds scraping the ground. Brambilla invoked the Clavicula Salomonis, risked self-immolation by burning a parchment on a tripod, summoned several divinities of the temple of Karnak, testily asked to be placed on the cubic stone of Yesod, and insistently called out for "Familiar 39," who must have been familiar enough to the audience, since a shiver ran through the hall. One woman sank into a trance, her eyes rolling back until only the whites were visible. People called for a doctor, but Brambilla involved the Power of the Penta-cles, and the neophyte, who had meanwhile sat down on the fake fauteuil, began to writhe and groan. Brambilla hovered over her, anxiously asking questions of her, or, rather, of Familiar 39, who, I suddenly realized, was Cagliostro himself. And now came the disturbing part, because the pathetic girl seemed to be in real pain: she trembled, sweated, bellowed, and began to speak in broken phrases of a temple and a door that must be opened. She said a vortex of power was being created, and we had to ascend to the Great Pyramid. Brambilla, up on the dais, became agitated; he banged the gong and called Isis in a loud voice. I was enjoying the performance until I heard the girl, still sighing and moaning, say something about six seals, a one-hundred-and-twenty-year wait, and thirty-six invisibles. Now, there could be no doubt: she was talking about the message of Provins. I waited to hear more, but the girl slumped back, exhausted. Brambilla stroked her brow, blessed the audience with his thurible, and proclaimed the rite over.>>

Edited by zdr
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