The summoning of the dead has always been considered by witches as among some of the most dangerous operations in the book, strangely enough, sometimes even more so than the summoning of demons. The truth of the matter is that it can be an extremely taxing operation to perform if the motivation is anything other than love, and if a physical manifestation is required, as is always the case when the shade is conjured to visible appearance.
Unless one who is suited to such energy transfers is present, that is, a materializing medium, the nervous and physical depletion visited upon the participants can prove truly onerous, and in some extremely rare cases, fatal. For this reason the ritual is often reserved for full-coven performance at Sabbat on those occasions when it is employed, in this way providing a good complement of participants to act as energy donors.
The best time for practising necromancy, however, is when the solar power is waning to its lowest ebb between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice; this fact is made use of in the traditional witch festival, Halloween, wherein necromancy is employed. This is, of course, the Feast of the Dead, one of the four great Sabbats. (See Chapter 7, "The Coven and How to Form One," for more on this.)
However, complications aside, necromancy is one of the more spectacular of magical operations when successful, and if a legitimate motivation impels a witch to have recourse to it, and she maintains a serious, respectful, and considered attitude toward the operation, then chances of success are high.
There are two types of motive which make the operation of necromancy feasible and indeed permissible: intelligence and love. The first, that of intelligence, is resorted to when all else fails, when tea leaves or Tarot cards give unintelligible answers, when the rune sticks talk in riddles, when even Vassago falls silent, and when the one person who can give you the answer to your question is dead. This is the more complicated operation to perform. The second permissible motivation, that of desiring to meet a loved one again, gives recourse to an operation which is easier than the first mentioned and is of the type which is often incorporated into the grand Sabbat of Halloween, although, strictly speaking, most Sabbat rituals do employ some elements of the first variety.
Halloween, or the Feast of the Dead, is the time when the illustrious magical dead are drawn back into the company of the living by the ties of love and magic, to share in the joy of the Sabbat and bestow their blessing on the Witches' New Year, which begins November 1.
Most witches refer to the necromantic operation of love (as opposed to that of intelligence) by its traditional name,
"The Dumb Supper"; it can be used to evoke the shade of one's future spouse as well as that of a deceased loved one. I shall reserve instructions for its performance for Chapter 4, which deals solely with amatory matters, and return to that operation concerned with "finding things out." Therefore, to conclude this chapter, here are the details for the performance of:
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