The following is a excerpt from the cutting room floor after being sliced out of my WIP where it was to be the start of the second chapter. It may end up reworked and find itself back in there at some point, but I decided the story need to go else where, but as a central idea I am a tad enamoured with this one. But as King once said, sometimes you ‘have to kill your darlings…

The ‘I’ who is speaking in the excerpt is Lucifer Mandrake, magician to the Court of Victoria Sax-Coburg.


I am sure you will have read in the less reliable periodicals of the practises of voodoo. In some part magic, in other a religion, oft attributed to the former slave populations of the Caribbean and southern states of the American republic. Lurid tales of priests, and in a certain kind of even less reliable periodical priestess, enacting strange dark rites, raising zombies to do their bidding, entreating with powerful spirits, and naked dancing with serpents… They also tell of those same priests casting auguries by biting off the heads of chickens and letting the blood run into offering bowls fills their own spital and ‘other’ bodily fluids.

The periodicals always say ‘other bodily fluids…’ while clutching at their pearls, I have found.

Such reports are of course wildly exaggerated and ‘colourful’ for want of another word. They expound on these questionable savage rites undertaken by members of a questionable religions of savage origin. No doubt such things delight the readers of such periodicals. It is after all the reason they read them. That and the artist impression of semi naked heathen women dancing with snakes that always seem to be used to illustrate the shocking nature of these acts… It’s astounding, don’t you think, that so many of these acts are undertaken by half dressed young girls, rather than well wrapped up matronly women of a certain age… But I would choose to let you draw your own conclusions as to why that is, and why certain periodicals feel the need to allude to this on the front sheet of there publications.

In actuality, of course, voodoo rites of augury are little different from those practised throughout Europe and indeed the rest of the world for centuries, right back to the roman empire and beyond. Admittedly priest of Voodoo do have a habit of using chickens in their rites of course. but the chicken itself is no more magical than any other source of augury. Voodoo priest use chickens, supplied by those who seek auguries, for much the same reason as Celtic priest used to use rabbits.

I myself have found it perfectly acceptable to use a frying pan and a quarter pound of lard. Place that over a naked flame and throw in a couple of sausages, a rasher or three of bacon, a fresh egg. As for spitting, the only spitting that goes on when I cast an augury is from the sausages.  

In fairness, the one element that absolutely must be involved in order to cast an augury is blood. Which is unfortunate. Every thing else your average voodoo priest might do, or at least is reported to do, is window dressing and theatre, but the blood from the chicken, snake or whatever, does matter. Though a little nick and a couple of drops would be enough in all honesty. There is no need to bathe in the damn stuff, and I am quite sure in actually they know this and just nick a finger or something most of the time and keep the chickens for eggs in a coop round the back.

To be frank however, I prefer not to go around cutting myself every time I want to cast a simple augury. Which is why I prefer a frying pan, because if you throw in a slice or two of black pudding then away you go. This particular morning however, I did not like what I saw between the fried egg and the mushrooms, and I don’t mean suspicious black bits that were the charred remains of ancient bacon…

A storm was coming, dark things on the horizon, a great gnashing of teeth, dogs and cats doing unnatural things together. That sort of thing, nothing specific, just general ominous stuff. But whatever was brewing it wasn’t the Earl Gray…

However, on the bright side, while it comes down to the blood and the bacon sausage and eggs are merely trimmings, I like a voodoo priest with their chickens or ancient druids with brace’s of rabbits, need to eat and to be frank a good breakfast sets up for the day.

Lucifer Mandrake originally featured in Mandrake a story in Harvey Duckman volume 8. The charcters world is more Victorian Urban Fantasy than steampunk. It was rather fun and spawned the novel I am in the process of writing which may find it’s way into the world by mid summer.

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