Previously: Musical Chairs Alone.
I was unable to find out anything about the ritual game called The Raven Man’s origins; I was, however, able to find two different versions of the game: One you can play alone, and one that requires three people. The three-person version is a liiiiiiiittle sexist — the rules stipulate that one of the players must be a “virgin girl” intended to function as a symbolic sacrifice, while the “incanter” must be male — so if that gives you pause (it did me), then you may want to stick with the one-person version. In either event, though, I’ve provided the instructions for both; each required a good deal of cleaning up, but I believe the instructions I’ve put together here to be the clearest and most precise versions out there. Once the Raven Man has been summoned, you may ask anything of him: Questions for information, tasks for him to complete; and so on. Be careful not to ask too much of him, though; he does not take kindly to being used.
Ravens, of course, have long been believed to be ill omens. Carrion birds are not often looked upon kindly; as such, it’s perhaps unsurprising that many cultures associate ravens with death and lost souls. They’re also, however, sometimes considered very wise, indeed — which, when combined with their less-than-savory reputation, may account for the Raven Man’s dangerous nature.
[Like what you read? Check out Dangerous Games To Play In The Dark, available from Chronicle Books now!]
As always, play at your own risk.
- One principal.
- A quiet, dark room. It is recommended that this ritual be performed in a non-urban setting, as any light pollution may cause unintended and unfortunate results.
- Five candles.
- Matches or a lighter.
- A sharp object capable of drawing blood, such as a needle or knife.
- A candle snuffer (optional).
- A talisman or object of protection.
- Begin at night, ideally on a cloudy, moonless one.
- Prepare the room: Draw the curtains, ensuring no light leaks in from the outside, and turn off all lamps and other light sources. Keep your object of protection with you at all times.
- Draw a circle with the salt. Do NOT step inside the circle.
- Line up the five candles up in front of you.
- Using the matches or lighter, light the first four candles in sequence. While lighting them, recite the following incantation (lighting one candle per line):“On this dark nightI call on the Raven Man/ Appear before me here and now/ And do my will.”
- Using the sharp object, pierce your finger until it bleeds. Touch your blood to the fifth candle and recite, “The flame is my beacon, the blood is my sacrifice.”
- Light the fifth candle.
The Main Event:
- After you light the fifth candle, the Raven Man will make his presence known, although he will be confined to the interior of the salt circle. You may be able to see him; however, it is more likely that he will remain unseen.
- You may now ask whatever you want of him. If you seek information, he will provide it for you. If you require a servant, he will complete any task you put him to. Treat him respectfully, and do not overstep your bounds.
Releasing the Raven Man:
- Once you have asked all you wish to, thank the Raven Man. Thank him for coming; thank him for answering; thank him for granting your requests. Do not bypass this step.
- Put out the candles one by one. As you snuff them, speaking the following words (putting out one candle with each word): “I release you now, Raven Man.” Do NOT blow out the candles. Either use a candle snuffer, or pinch them with your fingers.
- Clean up the salt, but do not dispose of it. Instead, place it outside any doors leading into your home.
- Keep your object of protection close by for the next several days. Do not go anywhere without it, for leaving it behind may invite the Raven Man to call upon you for service… and you don’t want to do whatever he asks of you. Trust me.
- At least three participants. One must be female and a virgin (the “Offering”) and one must be male (the “Incanter”). The third may function as a “Witness,” as may any other additional participants.
- A quiet, dark room. Again, it is recommended that this ritual be performed in a non-urban setting so as to avoid any issues with light pollution.
- A stationary burning flame. A candle may be used; however, a Zippo-style lighter — one which will remain light when set down — will also suffice. If using a candle, also bring the means with which to light it.
- Enough stones to create a large, unbroken circle.
- A sharp object capable of drawing blood.
- A small piece of paper or cloth.
- Three questions.
- Begin at night, ideally on a cloudy, moonless one.
- Prepare the room: Draw the curtains, ensuring no light leaks in from the outside, and turn off all lamps or other light sources. Remove any pets, animals, or non-participating humans from the area.
- Create a large ring with the stones. Each stone should touch the one on either side of it, ensuring that the circle is unbroken. The Offering and Witness should stand within the perimeter of the circle; all other Witnesses should remain outside of it. The Incanter should bring with them the flame (plus the means to light it, if using a candle), and the sharp object; the Offering should bring the piece of paper or cloth. If a candle is being used, the Offering should also have matches or a lighter with her.
- Light the flame and place it in the center of the circle. After it is lit, the Incanter and the Offering should both approach it and face each other over it. Do NOT allow the Incanter and the Offering to touch each other.
- Using the sharp object, the Incanter must draw blood from the Offering. It is recommended that this be done by piercing or slicing a finger. As previously stipulated, the Incanter and the Offering may not touch flesh to flesh; however, it is possible for the Incanter to make the cut without otherwise touching the Offering.
- The Offering must deposit a drop of blood on the piece of paper or cloth before handing it to the Incanter. Again, the Incanter and the Offering should not under any circumstances touch each other during this process.
- The Offering may then return to the inner perimeter of the circle.
- The Incanter must burn the paper or cloth over the flame. After this has been done, all participants must close their eyes. Do NOT open your eyes unless specified to do so at any point during the ritual.
- The Incanter must recite the following words:“We summon you, Raven Man, to grace us with your supreme presence, we come to bid you offering of this virgin girl, to take as your own, and use as you please. Show your form to me, so that I may present you this gift.”
- The Incanter should repeat these words until complete and utter silence falls. When no other sound may be heard, the Incanter must open his eyes, snuff out the flame, and return to the circle’s inner perimeter. ONLY the Incanter may open his eyes. All other participants should remain with their eyes closed.
- If this is done correctly, the Raven Man will appear within the circle.
The Main Event:
- The Incanter may then ask the Raven Man if he is willing to answer any questions.
- If the Raven Man declines: Proceed immediately to Ending the Ritual.
- If the Raven Man agrees: The Incanter may ask the three questions he has prepared. Make note of the Raven Man’s responses, for the knowledge they contain will be of much value indeed.
- Do NOT anger, provoke, disrespect, or irritate the Raven Man.
Ending the Ritual:
- To release the Raven Man, all participants must open their eyes and yell, “Leave us, Raven Man!”
- The Offering must then rush forward and relight the flame. This will banish the Raven Man back to whence he came.
The Raven Man’s answers may be vague or enigmatic, but they will always be correct.
During the three-player version, it is not recommended that the Incanter ask the Raven Man more than three questions.
The three-person version of this game is far riskier than the one-person version. For this reason, the three-person version should NOT be attempted more than once. Ever.
If the Offering Fails to Relight the Flame:
Those within the circle of stones may vanish. It is uncertain what happens to them or where they go; however, should one ask the Raven Man that question, he will respond only this:
“You would wish I had not told you.”
[Photo: Douglas Brown/Flickr]