We are tied together by a billion invisible strings, each one of them glorious and trembling, completely invisible, and you never know how tight the bindings are until you try to pull away. Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio.
Welcome back to Spirit Box Radio, faithful listeners! Thank you so much for the incredible outpouring of support over the past couple of weeks. Some of you have had really interesting suggestions about what could be happening with Kitty, and it’s been great to have all of your support. I’m also sorry about the continued issues with the Spirit Box services you’ve been having. Either someone is consistently trying to hold commune and not letting the message boards know, or something has gone horribly wrong. Unfortunately, I don’t actually know how the Spirit Box works. I don’t know where the sound comes from or how to vary the speeds it’s skipping through stations or how to implement any of the other fixes you’ve all so helpfully suggested on the forums.
The only person I can think to ask about it now that Madame Marie is– The only thing I can think to do is ask Anna, and she’s still not talking to me. She won’t answer my calls and I even tried to go to her house, but she didn’t answer when I knocked on the door. Otherwise I’m afraid I’m at a loss. If any of you happen to know where I might find these things then do tell me, but don’t know how any of you would know.
At any rate, I’ve got lots of fun things planned for this episode! You may have noticed already that things sound a little bit different today, I’m not actually in the studio. I’m here with a very special guest at the Hatfield Karpos! Oliver the Florist is going to explain a little bit about hedge-witchery and answer some questions that those of you on the forums have been burning to know. Thanks for agreeing to be on the show, Oliver.
OLIVER: It’s a pleasure.
SAM: Well. Um. Yes. Right. So I thought we’d start with you giving us a little introduction, you know, tell us about who you are, and what you do.
OLIVER: I’m a florist. I work with flowers.
SAM: That was very… succinct.
OLIVER: My apologies. I don’t often find myself in conversation with people. I’m out of practice.
SAM: Right. Okay. So. Um. We could start with you telling us a little bit about why you’re a florist, maybe?
OLIVER: Just admitting to an affinity for flowers is going to be insufficient, I take it?
SAM: I think we’d all love a bit more detail, for sure.
OLIVER: Let’s see.
[CHAIR LEGS SCRAPE, FOOTSTEPS]
OLIVER: Every flower in this room, save the snake plants in the corner and the succulents on my desk, is dead. Each one was carefully selected for its beauty, and as a reward for that beauty, sliced from its roots. As deaths go, it’s a violent one, oozing sap and juices, separated from the parts of itself that keep it alive.
It’s not over then, of course. We preserve them in vases, suspended at the moment of death for as long as we can manage it. We feed them chemicals, change the water we hold them in, trim visible signs of the progression of death from their stems, but it’s a losing battle. The moment we sever the bloom from the plant, we are merely delaying an inevitable decline into decay we ourselves condemned it to.
And yet, this condemnation we have made of these flowers is not a tragedy. If the blooms had been left on the plant, they would not be saved. The life-span of a flower is fleeting; ephemeral by design. Nothing you can do will keep a plant in bloom for ever. The best you can do is weed out the death as it appears, allowing new bursts of life.
So, why not cut the bloom from the plant, and place it in a vase, preserve it in its beauty for as long as it lasts? Why not stop and appreciate this fleeting, ephemeral thing for what it is? Does it make the flower less beautiful, knowing that it will be over soon? Perhaps. Such is the way with all things that live; eventually they must die. When you have lived as long as I have, everyone’s timeline is revealed to be hardly longer than that of these blooms, not really, not in real, cosmic terms. So why not stop and notice it whilst its beautiful, and hang on to that beauty for as long as you can?
I think deep within many of us there is an instinct for this. It’s why people love flowers, why they dress them up and adore them. It’s why they are the things held in sweat palms as you walk down the aisle, why they are handed over in anxious fists towards objects of affection. It’s why they adorn the besides of the sick, why they are sent as well wishes, apologies and thanks. After all of that, when a person’s life is eclipsed and they to are held suspended at the moment of death to be gazed at a final, finite time, they are often nestled in a bed of blooms. Vibrant pinks and blues will fade to sludgy beige, and then nothing.
OLIVER: [HIS VOICE MUCH CLOSER NOW] That, dear magpie, is why I am a florist.
SAM: Oh. (pause) That was very beautiful.
OLIVER: Thank you. I’m finding my conversational feet rather quickly, it seems.
OLIVER: Was there anything else you wanted to discuss?
SAM: Yeah! Loads of stuff. First, can I ask a question?
OLIVER: I’m sure you realise the irony in that statement. Ask away.
SAM: You said ‘when you’ve lived as long as I have’. How long is that, exactly?
OLIVER: Hmm. Well. I’m not entirely sure.
SAM: You’re… how can you not be sure?
OLIVER: Records of birth were poor if they existed at all, back then, and there was… some controversy around my birth. Rest assured that I was born sometime after Elizabeth the first, though before her mother was decapitated, along with my parents. I had to flee. For a time i lived in London, until a… great tragedy. The result of which was this. Me, as I stand before you now. As you can imagine, it took a while to get used to. I’d say I started paying attention to the world again around the time that Louis the thirteenth of France had his eldest son, who would go on to become Louis the fourteenth, the Sun King, who of course built the palace of Versailles. What an uproar he caused at court. They did debauchery very well at Versailles, especially for a bunch of ostensible catholics.
SAM: You were at the palace of Versailles. When it was built.
OLIVER: Well, I didn’t live there throughout the process, no. Much like the noblemen at the time, I was very much of the opinion that Paris was where I was supposed to be. I was very happily proven wrong of course. I was quite the pet to the Duke d’Orleans.
SAM: ‘Quite the pet’. So. The Duke, huh?
[HE TAPS HIS FINGERS ANXIOUSLY ON THE TABLE]
So you’re, uh…
OLIVER: Queer? Perhaps over a long enough timeline everyone is, to more or less of a degree, if only out of boredom.
SAM: [SNIPPILY] Was the Duke out of boredom?
OLIVER: No. I’m queer, and I have been since the word has been applicable to this particular usage.
SAM: Oh. Yeah. I. Me too. I. Well, Pansexual is what I’d describe myself as but you know queer is, um. Cool.
OLIVER: Quite. But I am sorry I have failed to answer your original question.
SAM: My… what.
OLIVER: I’d say in body, I am twenty five, perhaps twenty six, although as I say I am not entirely sure what age I was when this… happened to me. But in terms of how many rotations I’ve had around the sun? I’d estimate around five centuries.
SAM: Five centuries.
OLIVER: Does that upset you?
SAM: No. I mean. It’s a lot. But it’s not. I don’t know. Are you joking? If you’re joking you’re going to need to be more explicit than that. You’re just staring at me. I. I don’t know what I’m supposed to— Five centuries? Centuries? No. But. How?
OLIVER: Suspension at the moment of death. Or something along those lines.
SAM: I mean I guess I’ve heard of people living a really long time. And there are these stories, these kids. They just stay children forever, apparently but. I can’t find anything else about them anywhere.
OLIVER: I have met some of these children. What happened to them is similar to what happened to me. But it’s not the same, not exactly.
SAM: You’re a different flavour of immortal?
OLIVER: The impossible children are trapped as a result of the mistakes of others. I’m like this as a punishment for my hubris.
SAM: How is immortality a punishment?
OLIVER: As I said before. On a long enough timeline, it becomes very clear just how fleeting life really is. At this point, I think I am outlived only by trees. If you can count what I’m doing as living.
SAM: Don’t you?
OLIVER: On a good day.
SAM: Right. I. So. Hypothetically. If you’re telling the truth. It’s a curse of some kind?
OLIVER: Yes. You don’t believe me?
SAM: I mean you just told me you were alive during the construction of Versailles, you can see why it’s hard to.
OLIVER: I suppose. This is why I’m out of practice in conversation. I avoid it so can I avoid making people uncomfortable. No, actually. That’s a lie. I avoid it so I avoid making myself uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, I cannot seem to keep my mouth shut when you’re here. This may pose significant problems.
SAM: You like talking to me?
OLIVER: That’s not what I just said nor can it be construed as a reasonable interpretation of it. As another matter entirely, though. Yes. I do enjoy talking with you.
SAM: Great. I’m glad. I’m really glad.
OLIVER: Your flattery is exceedingly charming.
SAM: [SQUEAK] Thanks
Well. If you don’t want to get into details, I suppose we better talk about some of the questions the faithful listeners on the Spirit Box Radio forums have been asking!
OLIVER: You’re moving on this swiftly?
SAM: Yes. You said you felt like you were running your mouth off, right?
OLIVER: In so many words I suppose I did say that.
SAM: I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, so let’s stop talking about your… um. Long-lived-ness. And talk about something else.
OLIVER: [genuine surprise] Thank you. That’s very generous of you.
SAM: Uh, okay?
OLIVER: [the surprise is immediately replaced by fond exasperation] You’re ridiculous. You really have no idea.
SAM: So people keep telling me. Anyway, lets move on from that particular note and, let’s see what people have been dying to– well not dying to. Ugh, never mind! Questions! Forums! Yes.
So, Abigail from Burnage wants to know how it is you can grow flowers that are naturally poisonous to be totally safe?
OLIVER: They’re not totally safe. But they are a fraction of their natural toxicity.
SAM: How do you achieve that? Is there a specific kind of soil, or?
OLIVER: Yes. But it’s mostly about persuasion.
OLIVER: It’s a simple matter of convincing them to change. Being flowers they cannot be convinced of this verbally, of course, so chemical persuasion is a part of it.
SAM: I presume there is some kind of arcane artistry at work, too?
OLIVER: Of course.
SAM: So, what do you do?
OLIVER: It’s a trade secret. I would tell you if you asked directly but–
SAM: I won’t press it, then. Trade secrets. Good. Right. Next question. Oh, this is a good one! Frank in Abergele wants to know about the rose I brought to show you. I did my best to relay details about it but I think my retelling was a bit patchy.
OLIVER: It was.
SAM: Oh, gods, you actually listen to the show?
OLIVER: Of course. You told me to. I am charmed by how frequently you bring me up.
SAM: It’s not that frequent.
OLIVER: Of course.
SAM: You’re interesting, that’s all.
OLIVER: [extremely sincerely] Thank you.
SAM: (clears throat) Anyway. The rose. Tell me about the rose. Here. It’s in it’s box.
OLIVER: You have been informed already that this rose is of the Black Bacarra variety, or at least, that’s what it appears to be. It’s not actually a flower at all.
SAM: I’m sorry, what?
OLIVER: It is an artefact of the arcane. A non-entity. In most real terms, it does not exist.
SAM: It does, though. You can touch it and everything. Well, you can’t, at least, not without… collapsing and… whatever happened last time.
OLIVER: [at this point he is definitely messing with Sam] Not without very briefly dying.
SAM: Sounds uh, pretty inconvenient.
OLIVER: It’s an unpleasant experience I’m afraid I’ve failed to grow accustomed to, despite my best efforts.
SAM: I— I am not going to read into that.
OLIVER: Very well.
SAM: So the rose is like… a rose ghost?
OLIVER: In a sense, you are correct.
SAM: Cool. Cool. A murder ghost.
OLIVER: A ‘murder ghost’. I don’t recall that being one of the Arcanist forms.
SAM: One of the… what?
OLIVER: [as though stating the obvious] The types of Arcana as designated by Arcanism.
SAM: I— I’m sorry, I’m I being very dense here, or something?
OLIVER: She didn’t even teach you that? My, she was being cautious.
SAM: [FRUSTRATED] Who?
OLIVER: Your mother.
SAM: You could just say that, you know. [PAUSE] Are you talking in riddles on purpose to try and make me feel stupid? It’s not working. You’re just being infuriating.
OLIVER: My apologies. I didn’t mean to upset you.
SAM: Upset me?! Oh for— [CLEARS THROAT] Tell me about the Arcanist forms.
OLIVER: There are forty eight. Do you want me to describe them all?
SAM: Now you’re definitely doing it on purpose.
OLIVER: I am, yes.
SAM: Glad we’re both clear on that. Are you going to explain these Arcanist forms or not?
OLIVER: It’s just a system for categorising different kinds of arcana and arcane artefacts, canonised some time in the 12th century.
SAM: Oh, you must have been what, nine?
OLIVER: Surprisingly, this system is older than even I am, not that I strictly age.
SAM: You are in pretty mint condition for an antique.
OLIVER: I’m unsure if that was a compliment.
SAM: Me neither.
OLIVER: Moving swiftly on again, then. When the Arcanists were first seeking to establish themselves away from the pagan traditions they had painstakingly reclaimed from invasive religious groups, their goal was the study, rather than the practice, of the Arcane Arts. They conceived of it primarily as a science, adjacent to Philosophy. They set about making definitions for the kinds of Arcana they had encountered, from ghosts and ghouls to arcane wind forms and various types of witch.
SAM: But, most of the Arcanists I know are witches or seers or at least try to commune with the other side.
OLIVER: The landscape of Arcanism, as with everything, has changed considerably since the rules were first codified. The witch hunts that scoured the globe considerably altered attitudes towards those with any even passing interest in the Arcane. Old rivalries between those who wished to practice, and those who merely wished to observe, were erased. It was largely out of necessity. There is safety in numbers.
SAM: I see.
OLIVER: Now, few people study Arcanism, and even among those that do, they rarely have a full account of the forms. The True Arcanist Tarot decks, once widely available and easy to commission from skilled deck writers, are mostly destroyed.
SAM: The… what now?
OLIVER: True Arcanist Tarot, an adjacent form of tarot deck created by Arcanists for the purpose of defining Arcana they encountered.
SAM: Hang on, is it sort of… weird? With loads of cards without names? And cards with stuff like ‘bog witch’ and ‘creeper’?
OLIVER: That sounds correct, if memory serves. I wasn’t aware Madame Marie had one in her possession.
SAM: I found it, in the studio. It was under a floorboard, actually. I know I shouldn’t pry, but… Anyway. It’s good to know what it is, at least.
OLIVER: I’d very much like to take a look at it, if you wouldn’t mind.
SAM: I don’t have it with me right now.
OLIVER: Then you shall have to return, if that would be acceptable.
SAM: Oh, um. Yes. Very. Acceptable.
[CHAIR CREAKS AS OLIVER LEANS FORWARD]
OLIVER: [CLOSER, SOFTLY] I’m delighted.
SAM: Me too. Um.
SAM: We could. I don’t know.
OLIVER: Much as I am intrigued as to where that sentence would take us, I feel I am obliged, morally, and much against my own sense of self-preservation, to advise you that you are, in fact, still recording.
SAM: So I am. Uhhhhh. Well! I hope that was as enlightening for all of you as it was for me, faithful listeners! Be sure to let me know if you enjoyed meeting Oliver and perhaps we can arrange another fuu— field trip episode to the Hatfield Karpos in the future! For now, though, I’ve been Sam Enfield, thank you for listening! Good night!
| Content Warnings |
– Background music of varying volumes
– Consistent, quiet, forest-y background sounds, including birdsong and leaves
– Discussion of death
– Implications of murder
– Implications of multiple deaths
– Implications of violence
– Implications of murder or wrongful death
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