Body of the Earth

I, Johann Faust, hereby do bequeath myself, body and soul, after the space of twenty-four years, to Lucifer, Prince of hell, upon the following conditions:

That Mephistopheles, arch-regent of hell, be my servant as long as I live and that any wish I desire should be granted, providing it is in the realm and capabilities of the servants of hell;

That I not dwell on any thoughts of heaven, God, or any aspect of the Christian faith, nor should I seek Salvation by any means, else my life and soul are forfeit.

This I do sign, in my own blood, in the presence of Mephistopheles, this 1st day of May, in the common year of 1516.

§ § §

The year was 1502, and I was in the midst of my studies at the University in Cracow, a peaceful Polish town. I do not remember what the day was, but I do remember that the sun was shining overhead. The sky was blue and clear of clouds, and only a slight breeze was blowing. A very nice day, indeed, for it was September.

I was a junior at the school, and a favorite of the teachers. Though I was not as intelligent as some of the other boys, I was willing to learn. And while the others were outside playing sports in the field, I would be deep in study at the library. Needless to say, this did not make me popular with the younger, more rowdy boys. But there were a few who took pity on me and befriended me. I especially remember a young man. He used to come inside after whatever game was being played and sit beside me, smiling, his bright blue eyes gleaming. And he would always persuade me to take a long walk through the yard, just to ask about what I had been learning.

And on our walks, amidst the green grass and blue sky, we would just talk. He was always interested in what made things work. I, who had trusted established science my whole life, found him to be a source of inspiration. After some time, I requested to the school that I be able to change my degree from science to divinity. It would take an extra year of studying to graduate, but the school approved. Careful spending of my inheritance allowed me just enough money that I would not be reduced to applying for a special scholarship.

My friend, who was neither a pious Christian nor a sarcastic atheist, applauded me. And I’m sure my father, who had died two years before, would also have approved. Although my intentions were good at the time, I had no clear road ahead of me. My friend would always tell me to trust God, that he would guide me through it. And I would look at him quietly, for I was sure that he did not believe in God. And, knowing what had happened to me, he knew that I only believed in devils.

I had come to Cracow a joyous young man, anxious to be a great doctor. My father had decided that it was time for me to receive an education. He wanted me to graduate from his alma mater, and I wanted so to make him happy. I told him that I would make him proud before the same professors that he had learned from. He smiled at that, knowing that, indeed, some of the old graybeards that had lectured him were still teaching at the university.

But when I wrote home later that year, my letter was answered by my elder sister. My father had suddenly become sick and quickly died. His last request was that enough money be set aside so that I could at least finish my education. I would have been summoned, but there would not have been enough time. The very expense of the journey would’ve taken away from my studies. I was to stay and mourn him alone. Included with the reply was my mother’s gold wedding ring, which my father had worn on a silver chain around his neck. I have worn this around my own neck since.

My friend had given me much comfort those long months, until I was able to return home to Knittlingen. I went to visit my sister Beth, my only living relative. She held my hand, as she had when Mother died, when we went to visit the grave. It was a noble-looking stone, pure polished marble that was inscribed with a solemn epithet. I left a bouquet of roses, tulips, and wildflowers for my parents, who were finally together. The visit was not pleasant, in light of what I was searching inside of me, but I learned that I also had to remain strong, for Beth, too, had contracted my father’s sickness. But it did not kill her. She said she had survived for my sake. But I knew, as she did, that the unborn child that was inside her might not.

Two weeks later, she went into labor. Beth wanted me close, for her husband was on a journey for the king, and would not return for at least a week. So, while she endured the pangs of labor, I held her hand. At first I thought that we were wrong about the harm done to the fetus while she had been sick. And as the midwife prepared her for the birth, I knew something had to be wrong. Suddenly Beth’s face grimaced in agony. At first I thought this just be a minor complication. But nothing was minor about it. The baby, once born, did not move or breathe. Nor did Beth.

I returned to Cracow with a heavy burden on my shoulders. My entire family had perished, leaving me the last of the Faust line. And I wished for the end of that line to come soon. But my dear friend kept me occupied from my morbid thoughts long enough to find a goal. I decided to pursue a doctorate in divinity, and then retire to a monastery and become a hermit. He would take my hands in his, and laugh, telling me that surely I would be happier doing something else. But he knew my depression and encouraged me to become a priest, to study the ancient texts and learn the ways in which men worshiped God. He had always been full of questions, and over the next year, still supplied me with many of these.

He knew that I did not actually believe in God, so obtained for me a collection of books on the subject of mysticism and magic. He managed to purchase them from a band of gypsies that had come through town. He gave me a small black velvet bag, that contained three ancient texts. I examined each one carefully, turning it over before opening the cover. The first was a battered black journal, labeled with strange symbols on the front, and even stranger symbols on the inside. It was a spell book, with herbal formulas and magical recipes filling the handwritten pages. The second was a small plain-looking blue book. It was labeled in German and was filled with all sorts of songspells and incantations. The third was a very small red book. It had no label but the pages inside were covered in all manner of strange symbols and icons, each carefully labeled in Latin. These books were my first encounter with the occult. And I would wake every day with the sun so that I might read them for an hour before class.

My friend and I grew close in our time at the university, but the time came when we finally had to separate. I loathed losing someone else I loved and begged him to stay, but his father required him in Venice. And I could not join him. We parted with unshed tears in our eyes, never to see each other again, for he was lost at sea in the Mediterranean that year. I was only 25, and had surely lost every important person in my life. I was completely alone.

During that final year at Cracow, I began to study the occult in earnest. Studying the three books that my friend had given, I learned the nature and ways of the spirit world. At night, I would creep out alone, and underneath the moon, practice the magic I had been learning. I lived for months with the fear that I might be caught, though it would be hard to produce evidence of witchcraft, and even harder to convict. Heresy, was of course, still a punishable crime, though the church’s position was growing weaker by the day.

One night, on my way to cast a circle, I was intercepted. At first I was frightened. It was then that I realized that this man was a professor at the university. I was lost in shock and couldn’t seem to find the words for a response. But I had no reason to be so surprised. After all, I already knew that I was not the only wizard in these parts.

The professor smiled at me and admitted that he had been watching me at work and concluded that although I was a natural, I still needed to be initiated. Therefore, he would take me as his prodigy.

To this I was dumbfounded, so I asked if it really was his intention to teach me. He nodded his head in assent. Magic is not a formal course at Cracow, but it is well known that it is taught, albeit not in a classroom. There was only one way to submit an application to be taught magic and I had passed it perfectly. He knew that I came to study science but had changed my field to that of the divinities, influenced by some rather unfortunate happenings. Then he asked me of destiny.

I was unsure how to answer. My life seemed to be one misery after another. But I had always believed that some things were ordained by fate, while others were not. But destiny, that was another matter. Some men surely were born to greatness. It was a medical and scientific fact that some men are born better. If that were to be labeled destiny, I would not disagree, except that sometimes lowborn men achieve much, too. Would that fit the definition as well? I asked him why he asked me such a question.

Instead of responding, he put his hand on my shoulder and then turned and led me along the way I had intended to go before he had stopped me.

We walked in relative silence. I was in a state of puzzlement, while he seemed mildly amused. Both he and I knew that few people dared go out into the countryside this late into the night. We would look suspicious, but the chance was minute that we would be seen, for no one lived within a good distance of where we were.

Eventually the road we were on led to an intersection which branched out in several directions, signs pointing the way to the nearest towns. It was here at the crossroads, that we stopped. Being the sixth night of the dark moon, it was a good time for any kind of insightful magic. I had only planned to divine the future, so that I might ready myself accordingly. But he obviously had other plans.

He smiled at me and pulled his cloak off, revealing a stunning ceremonial robe of darkest blue. It was decorated with a pattern of stars that seemed to match the sky overhead. He pulled a matching cap over his head, which fitted around his skull tightly. In his hand he held an ash wand with a blue crystal set into its tip. Under his right arm, tucked into the robe’s belt, a silver chalice gleamed in the moonlight. On the right side of his robe hung a dagger with a golden blade and an ornately carved hilt. And worn around his neck was a gray stone into which had been carved a pentagram.

I must have had quite a look of wonder on my face, admiring his costume, for he looked at me and smiled broadly. He then began to instruct me on how to cast a circle using the four elemental tools he wore. He allowed me to lead, so I cast the circle in the way I had always done, starting out by cleansing the area of negative energy. Invoking the sacred names of God, I concentrated on clearing the area of any negative energy. Then, I began casting the circle, invoking the Elements in each quarter.

When I had finished, I sat in the center facing the east. For a full hour I meditated and nearly forgot my companion, for no words were spoken between us as we gazed at the sky. There was absolute silence; there was not even a breeze. Suddenly the sky was lit with the light of a hundred falling stars. This, I was told, was all I needed for a sign: I was already initiated by the gods.

That night changed my life forever. Up to that point, I had considered myself a mere dabbler, with no particular specialty or talent. Now I had a teacher who entrusted me with the knowledge that someday would make me great. He told me that my abilities were natural, and that he worried my abilities would exceed his own too quickly. But his worries were unfounded. Though I made many discoveries in my studies of the occult, I made none substantial enough to warrant the belief that I would not need him. In fact, from that night until the day I left Cracow, he invested in me as much as he could, and indeed, nearly everything he knew. And every moment with him was another step in my growth as a magician and a human being. I graduated from the university with a degree in divinity, knowledgeable in all that was holy in 1505. After the ceremony my teacher handed me a book, gave me a hug and disappeared amidst the crowd.

Looking down at the book, I realized that it was not a faded grimoire or a copy of an ancient manuscript. The front cover was labeled using the code letters that he had taught me to use, and as it is one of only a few codes that I personally use, I read it with ease. Along with several spells protecting the nature of the book, the name of my teacher was inscribed carefully on the ash cover. It was then that I realized that it was his personal spell-book; he had spoken of our parting before, that when I was ready, he would pass his life’s work on to me and be able to die peacefully.

The contents of that book would guide my footsteps for the rest of my life. It contained what my master — and probably a few before him — had discovered in many more fields that I could ever have hoped to explore on my own: types of complicated divination such as geomancy, necromancy, and pyromancy; and special spells of magic, including those erased from the Necronomicon; information regarding alchemy; and pages upon pages of information regarding the practice of Infernal Magic.

I spent the next year cautiously guarding the remaining portion of my inheritance, using the time to travel Germany and study what my master had given me. But, as time and money finally came at odds, I returned to Knittlingen. It was late in the evening when I arrived, with the full moon hanging brightly in the sky. I found lodging that was not too expensive and resigned myself to bed. I wanted to be well rested, for the next day I intended to visit a few people who had known my father. But I slept fitfully that night, so badly that no sleep at all would have been preferable. I may have slept an hour or two before the day finally broke. Feeling tired, knowing the reason for my poor sleep, I walked to the cemetery.

Looking at the graves of my family, I began to weep. I came home expecting to find comfort, but found only the emptiness within myself.