I first performed the Stele of Jeu ritual in late January of this year, and for the last eight months it has been a regular part of my Dark and Full moon Esbats. At the beginning, I was advised to do the ritual outdoors, ideally at a trivium crossroads or in a vineyard, and that if I must—as my circumstances realistically dictate—perform the ritual within my temple, that I ought to do so within a circle of salt, as a Wiccan circle would not be adequate to keep out the wandering dead that would be drawn by the spell. Given that there is a graveyard next to the school I attend and live next door to, and given that Sunrise, IN is old Quaker territory, and they only started marking their graveyards when sectioning off the dead was legislated as a public health concern … well, let’s just say I took that advice to heart.
From January until May, it was my habit to move my rug out of the way and pour a circle of salt right out on my linoleum-over-concrete floor. The results ranged from spectacular to blasé, depending, I think, largely on just how much I heart I had to put into the ritual at the time.
In May, at the Heartland Pagan Festival, I had my first opportunities to perform the ritual outdoors. Just as the semester was ending, I performed the ritual on a creek bank in he woods behind campus as a part of my Full Moon ritual. The results were very different, but it ways that I find it difficult to articulate. The spirit world did not really become more aware of me, so much as I became more aware of it: it was both comforting and disconcerting to have a visceral feel for how vast the spirit world is, and for just how few shits it gives that humans even exist. Then again at the Heartland Pagan Festival, to incredible results that I have already detailed.
Things were a little different in Kansas City. Aradia’s apartment has old wooden floors that would be damaged by the salt, and hard to clean afterward. So I took a risk and performed the ritual without the salt: the results were unspectactuar. A Wiccan circle may be inadequate, but the years of circles and wards that Aradia and I put up around that apartment, to say nothing of the work done with Pasiphae and Aidan and the rest of the proto-coven, were more than adequate. I say “more than” advisedly, because the Stele of Jeu rituals I performed there were … limp. I actually wondered if I were performing the ritual too often, if maybe it was loosing its efficacy.
I moved back to Indiana just in time for the Dark Moon. I performed the Stele of Jeu as usual, but I had just acquired a new, heavier carpet which is too large to move readily, so, based on my experiences in Kansas City, I went without the circle of salt. And … things went off the rails, just a little bit.
I didn’t get any of the poltergeist effects during the ritual, which I had been warned was a possibility, but after is another matter. One the one hand, I’m fairly sure that that a lot of the weird-ass noises I was hearing that night were just the no-longer-familiar sounds of the Sunrise Temple. On the other hand, though …. I never did identify all of those noises, and they all stopped when I did some serious banishing work a couple days later. Also: the nightmares. That shit was out of control, and that’s all I’m going to say about that, except that those also chilled out when I did the banishing work.
Why did the Stele of Jeu have such strange and unfortunate side effects without the circle of salt in Sunrise, but not in Kansas City? Years of house-wards built up around the latter is my best explanation. But “why” is beside the point. The question is “what to do about it”. While the most obvious solution is to get rid of the rug that’s preventing me from pouring salt all over the floor …. The rug stays. It’s not actually mine, I’m just caring for it while the owner is doing a year abroad in China. So the solution, it seemed to me, was to come up with a way to have both the rug and the circle of salt.
When the full moon came, what I did was take three bowls and arrange them about equidistant from each other in a triangle around where I intended to sit while I did the ritual. I have a rock salt candle holder that lives on my altar, and I put that in the front bowl. After performing the first half of the evening’s rituals, I poured salt in each of the three bowls, going around the circle three times in order to do so, and lit a candle in the rock.
That worked beautifully. The ritual went fabulously: I did my banishings afterward, and slept … well, I’d say slept like the dead, but there are a couple necromancers who read this blog sometimes, and I know they’ll call me out on that. I slept soundly, dreamed as peacefully as I ever do, and went on to do another two nights of successful Esbat rites.
I count this as a successful experiment. If one needs a circle of salt, but can’t (for whatever reason) pour it directly on the ground, a simple solution is available. At least in this instance, the salt circle need not be contiguous; one may fill an appropriate number of vessels with salt and place them in a circle and achieve the protective effect.