Jumping into the generalizations again, there is another good way to split types of practitioners: ritualists and eclectics.

I’m perverting some of Maggie’s wordage here, admittedly, so what I mean might be different than what she does by the terms.  For me, a ritualist is someone who really does the practice.  They have stability because they do the spells the way they learned them, step by step in the ritual, maybe as their grandfather taught them, maybe as per the book, and there really isn’t a lot of innovation because unless you’re very learned you do not know exactly which part of the process you can adjust without serious issues arising.  I know that if I’m dealing with hostile outsiders I’m going to find more confidence in reading the same words and making the same bargain that worked in the past.  You can find more scientific method in this, and ritualists do sometimes learn they can skip inert portions or adapt new materials and orientations, but it’s a long, slow process.  When you wrap this with belief, it’s sometimes hard to get change – a lot of times the belief itself prevents it.  It is the blessing that is said for the wine, and I can say it in Hebrew simply from repetition, not because of any l33t skillz in the language arena.

Then you have your eclectics.  They can be split into a great deal of subgroups, of course, just as ritualists can, but generally they’re like me – they’ll grab what’s magically significant and meld it into hodgepodge that gets the point across.  Which isn’t to say every eclectic is lazy and/or willing to accept shoddy results, only that they’re more likely to hear the blessing for the wine and think, “Because wine is often more flammable than water, why not used blessed wine in killing vampires?  Holy wine grenades!”  It’s not just a mindset, though, because it’s a part of the practice.  Eclectics generally never specialize because they’re too busy learning a thousand things that can be “magically significant” and in what situation that’s true.  (Is moonstone useful in the sunlight?  When folding a protective hat against the martian mind-control rays, is it more effective to use the shiny side of the aluminium foil?)

I bring this up for a moment because I generally consider myself to be one of the eclectics.   I mean, I’m a specialist, but if there was such a thing, I’d major in magical theory.  I don’t bind myself to any of the particular style of closing, just as I haven’t chosen a religion – I’ll use whatever seems to work for me.  This gives me flexibility, but I think that when it comes down to it I might be weaker than if I focused and really worked at building the ultimate doorstop.   I am too intuitive and my seals may suffer for it, although I think sometimes I’m right on the money.  I couldn’t have closed the disharmonics of the Shadow King – convincing him to leave was the right thing to do.

In this case, I knew from general theory that what the Russians were asking me to do was both completely possible and impossible at the same time.  They wanted me to close an open portal that existed within someone.

Possession is a weird subject, and again, I am going to scrape and skimp and maybe cancel my Justice League subscription (I know – harsh!) until I get those exorcism lessons.    As I understand it, there is usually a gate involved.  Sometimes it’s an item, sometimes it’s an agreement, sometimes it’s a disease, heck, sometimes it’s all three.  Sometimes it’s voluntary, or as much as it ever can be – something about allowing in those from beyond is never a consensual act for me because they’re not human and humanity only can have so much of a glimpse into their motivations.  However human those motivations (curiosity? greed? lust?) the truth is that they do not belong here, and the rules of the universe have a way of making it more and more uncomfortable for what does not belong.  Horror movies are just an easy example of this.

So’s Doloise, which is why I needed to get rid of it soon.

So, he had a gateway within him to the halls of the dead?  Or whatever place they have designed with belief and vision over the centuries.  What would you like to bet I was going to learn firsthand what they looked like?