This is the one hundred sixty-eighth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

Our one hundred sixty-eighth random selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality offers ritual magic to face loss. It’s They Stole The Moon, by Tabletop Hotdish (more specifically, by Aven Elia McConnaughey, one half of Tabletop Hotdish), and its tagline in the bundle reads:

A short story and ritual about grief, loss, and magic.

I can confirm that it contains both a short story and a ritual.

They Stole The Moon is definitely short. There are a few different PDF formats offered (for print, for web viewing, and text only), but each is only seven pages, plus a front and back cover. The short story is written in the second person, telling the reader about their horrifying discovery that the moon is gone. Stolen. Worse, no one else knows what you are talking about, when you point to the void in the sky where the moon used to be. It has been erased from time.

Trying to cope, you return home and find a ritual you wrote long ago in an old notebook, back when you looked to magic for meaning. It’s called “The Glyph of Finding”, and while the story describes what happens when the ritual is performed, I believe the intention is for readers to perform it themselves. Most of the instructions are included in the story itself, and the ritual is reprinted in full at the end. It asks readers to find a book to use as a guide, perhaps a favorite book or one that the reader has some other connection to. It also asks readers to find a place to perform the ritual, and some time to identify specific moments.

These moments can be anything from objects to bits of overheard conversation to patterns of light glimpsed somewhere nearby. Once the reader has collected enough moments that speak to them, the ritual begins, during which they arrange the moments around a circle, along with sentences taken at random from the book. Upon considering the moments, readers must draw lines (they need not be straight ones) between different things on the circle, connecting them. When the connections are complete, readers consider the patterns of lines drawn across the circle, and pick some section within — also circular — to become their glyph. When the glyph is cut out of the piece of paper, the ritual is complete.

Unfortunately, I am traveling right now and lack access to my collection of books, so I did not actually perform the ritual. At least, that’s the excuse I used. I think the real reason is that I feel I would have trouble finding the intended meaning in the ritual. The story makes it clear that the ritual is intended as a way to deal with grief and loss, things that I am fortunate to not have experienced much in my life. Pondering my chosen moments as instructed, I worry I would not experience the emotions that the ritual describes, and that my connections would lack the weight that they should. Those connections seem critical to me, because they imprint meaning onto the glyph itself at the end.

I do really like that aspect. The instructions for the ritual take the time describing how performing it may make one feel, and how to process those feelings as one proceeds. Loneliness and love are given particular emphasis, and should guide the connections one will make. Those emotions and connections are then captured as a symbol, imbued with the memory of facing these feelings. I like the idea of condensing all of this meaning into the glyph itself, which in a way is magic: gazing upon it, at some future time, will summon again the experience of forming connections between words and moments, will summon again the loneliness and love that one felt when doing so. If this process sounds intriguing to you, and you missed it in the bundle, They Stole The Moon is sold for a minimum price of $5.

That’s 168 down, and only 1573 to go!