There lands the Fiend

4 February 03:35. Stare into the coronal hole. It has fallen deep, as deep as only a hole can fall.

3 February. The stone writhes in pain down there in its prison cell. A circle of black blood holds it in place.

2 February. The 6 km wide comet 96P flies past the Sun deep in Mercury’s orbit and survives.

1 February. An unexpected CME hits the Earth’s magnetic field at 19:54.

31 January. See it at work at the edges. Soon it will devour the whole.

30 January. The Moon passes directly in front of Mars causing a lunar occultation.

25 January. The mice have licked the blood off the dragonglass. But not to the point that it shines like a mirror. It has more of a cloudy surface, but in some places I can see the fault lines of broken bones.

22 January. As soon as the image stabilises, I clench my hand into a fist. The edges of the obsidian stone are razor sharp. The dripping blood draws a cryptography of elliptical curves on the floor, filled with cells in which a black core pulsates, surrounded by halos of milky light.

21 January (new moon). The falling night bathes the shed in darkness. I hold the stone in my hand, along with the black earth on which it rests, as if in a nest.

17 January. A large plasma flare hits the Earth’s magnetic field at 23:05.

14 January. A soul remains a soul even if it detaches itself from the trunk.

13 January. Trees explode in the ribs and hurl splinters of wood into the bloodstream.

There lands the Fiend
A spot like which perhaps
Astronomer in the sun’s lucent orb
Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw.

You may have read in the news that increased solar activity has been observed since the beginning of 2023. Three solar flares of class X, the highest level on the scale, have erupted on the solar surface so far in January. They were not directed at Earth and have had no impact on us, but that could soon change. A steady increase in solar flares which are caused by sunspots, is predicted for the near future. Effects include auroras that become visible in areas where they are not normally seen. More threatening are the geomagnetic storms that could knock out the Earth’s power grids.

Proving the existence of sunspots through telescopes was tantamount to a blasphemous act in the 17th century in Europe, leading Milton to equate them with Satan, whose black, defiling presence challenges notions of a perfect universe and divine purity. Sunspots have been considered negative omens in the West since at least the 9th century, when a large black stain visible to the naked eye was seen on the sun before the death of Charlemagne. In China, where they have been described as sun eggs, they have been used for divination purposes for much longer. I therefore encourage you sorcerers to study sunspots and the effects of solar flares on the Earth’s magnetic field, and to use the current period of increased solar activity, which is expected to be one of the strongest since records began, to strengthen your rites. The exalted state of the current cycle should be reached in the summer of 2025.

* ​Milton, Paradise Lost​, Book Three, lines 588-590