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Going Beyond Death to Live a Fuller Life: A Lifelong Study in Spirituality


Benjamin Seth Gabbard from Murrayville, Georgia has practiced metaphysics and necromancy since the age of nine. Gabbard goes by the name Cornixus, Latin for crow, which stems from his childhood nickname Scarecrow and is the spiritual name that Gabbard goes by. 

Cornixus and his fiancé Rita Knight. Photo by Sarah Cochran.

Webster Dictionary defines necromancy as “conjuration of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events.”

However, Cornixus defines it as “the art and science of understanding the different aspects of death and what goes beyond death in order to live a fuller life.”

Death and the finality of life can cause a lot of anxiety and fear for people, and necromancy is about trying to reach past that and have a more stress free existence. Necromancy is also “the practice of going out to places that are haunted and instead of banishing or making shit go away, you’re trying to help it move to the next plane of existence,” says Cornixus. “I’m basically a social worker for dead people.”

Cornixus’ family has been in Murrayville since the 1920s when they came to the United States from Germany. His ancestors are Romani gypsy that moved around a lot and have always had a history in the practice of magick. Once when Cornixus was about seven, he burned his leg riding a dirt bike, and his grandmother “talked the burn out” of his leg. When she spoke, the burn stopped hurting. 

Cornixus first learned about spiritual practices and blacksmithing from his grandfather. His step-father, who raised him, and grandfather practiced necromancy to a degree, but it was not their main center of focus like how it is for Cornixus. His grandfather would carry certain stones and acorns for prosperity. “Keep one in your pocket with some pocket change, and it symbolizes growth of your income,” says Cornixus.

Cornixus has also apprenticed as a tailor and jeweler that he ties in with his main focus of smithing and leather work. He has even been in art competitions for his sculptures he has created from silver and other metals. Cornixus also owns a welding and fabrication company with his brother and studies herbology.

“For some reason, I’ve always lived next to graveyards and was always drawn in,” says Cornixus. “I feel things and hear things that aren’t there. And I have been medicated for schizophrenia and stuff, and it’s never helped.”

“Between like [the age of] seven and nine, I’d hear things like call my name, and I thought it was my parents. I’d go on the porch and ask them what they wanted, and nobody said anything to me. And that all stopped and got very muted when I was baptized. I don’t really understand that, and then after that a lot of weird stuff happened, and then I immediately knew I probably would never be Christian cause it’s just not for me,” says Cornixus. “It used to be very loud, but it’s kind of toned down with age.”

Bone chimes made to ward off negative spirits. Photo by Sarah Cochran

What Cornixus believes happens to life after death boils down to psychology and the human psyche. “It’s whatever you believe. That’s a beautiful thing,” says Cornixus. 

“I’ve experienced different phenomena. Metaphysical, paranormal, and they’re different. Christian ghosts are different from native American ghosts. And that’s just right here in this area…You have two different styles of paranormal entities. Just like someone who died peacefully that is watching over their family instead of someone who died in a very traumatic experience. They’re both going to be very different as well because their psyche when they died was vastly altered,” says Cornixus.  “The energy that is released is going to be vastly different than if you’re old and just accept death and die in your sleep.”

 “So it’s not a set in stone thing, and it never will be. Not for any one person. Just as much as your life is unique to you, your experiences, everything that makes you you, so is your death, and it’s always going to be a personal thing. Everybody, everywhere, every death is unique, and it’s their own, and it always will be,” says Cornixus. 

Cornixus studies a variety of different religions in order to better understand spirits. When it comes to assisting spirits, he must understand what kind of spirit he is dealing with and what kind of behavior it is exhibiting, what the spirit wants and why it’s still here. Mediums and real ouija boards can help with communication. Blood is often used when communicating through ouija boards, but Cornixus uses apple juice because of the sweetness of it that calms spirits in native American tradition. 

Then he must decipher what the spirit says which can be a challenge. “It’s about like the movies in that. It’s just a garbled mess,” says Cornixus.  It’s not an exact science when it comes to helping the spirit move on. “It could be the simplest thing of a coin in the attic that the spirit was looking for. It could be any number of things,” says Cornixus. 

“One of the best ways I’ve found to practice necromancy is just being respectful to everyone because everyone has that different reality. Everyone has their own death. It’s more important in necromancy to understand all of it…It’s really overwhelming to understand all the different realities going on in one tiny area,” says Cornixus. “There’s no two humans that are the same.”

Putting yourself in another person’s skin and understanding the perspective they have on the world around them doesn’t always come second nature and is something people have to learn to do. 

“It’s hard to do. It’s very hard to do cause especially on days you wake up late, and you’re just in a bad mood. It’s really hard to see from other people’s perspective and do small things,” says Cornixus. “Doing the whole necromancy thing, it does help a lot… you feel other people, you feel the spirits inside…well, you train yourself to pick up on other people’s spirits. Everybody that lives has a spirit, so it’s like you feel other people’s emotions too. You become extremely empathic, and that’s the part that bothers me cause I don’t like ill intentions or negative behaviors.”

Due to his empathetic nature and ability, Cornixus has to limit his exposure to people who harbor hate and negativity in their life. Being around negativity for a prolonged period “fucks with up my wavelengths like something fierce,” for Cornixus.

“Morals are the one thing I don’t argue with people about because there is no such thing. There is no morally right, morally wrong. Morals are what you feel like you believe. That’s it,” says Cornixus.

In the past few years with the rise of social media and Tiktok specifically, more and more people are learning about paganism and beginning to delve into their own practice and beliefs. 

“Cemetery” by enneafive is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“There’s now more people that believe in Othin and Thor and Freya and all the norse gods that supposedly is mythology. There’s more people that believe in that than a lot of [modern religion] now. That’s taking the world by storm. All the paganism and different things like that like witchcraft. That’s all coming back. All these old gods that personify different aspects of spellcasting and magick are coming back to light. There’s people worshiping them. There’s people calling on them. There’s people believing in them and less than the other religions, especially those that call for one god,” says Cornixus. 

“I think that’s why it’s [Paganism] making a comeback because you can pick and choose whatever the hell you want,” says Cornixus, “and it’s all to focus yourself. It’s centered around you. You’re not blindlessly following the gods anymore. You’re accepting them and what they can do for you, but it is also about you and how you can change your own life, and that’s what I like about necromancy: there are no gods. In true necromancy, you do not follow gods. You don’t have to. You follow basically yourself.”

Cornixus goes on to say, “I do believe in psychopomps. The ones that carry souls from one life to the next.” Psychopomps are spirits or deities that ferry souls onto the next realm. The grim reaper is the modern version of this entity.

“I get called chaos magician all the time because I pick and choose stuff I want which in traditional witchcraft is not acceptable, but in modern witchcraft, that’s exactly what it is,” says Cornixus. This practice of magick is also referred to as sorcery by traditional practitioners of metaphysics. 

“Magick is not black or white. Your intentions control the results,” says Cornixus. Many people that are first discovering this practice often think that is the item used in the practice that makes the magick.

“All the altars and the wands, you don’t need any of that because all that stuff is for putting your mind into a state where you go to your superconscious state. It’s like when you’re in a very lucid dream, and you’ve got that wavelength…It’s basically a meditative state and that’s what you’re trying to do is get into that with the candles, ritual baths, the aromas…” says Cornixus. This state can be achieved with the help of these items, but it is not necessary when it comes to the lifestyle and practice of metaphysics.

“The first thing I would suggest is finding yourself. That is the absolute first part, and that’s the part that’s not happening right now in the metaphysical community.”

“You’re getting Tiktok witches, and I haven’t even looked into it so I don’t know anything about it, but all I know is a few short things that I’ve heard, and I’m extremely skeptical cause these are young children with no background in it telling people to do this that and the other. If it wasn’t affecting other people, it’d be fine. Believe what you want, do what you want, I don’t care, but when you’re affecting other peoples practice that are trying to find themselves, and you’re influencing them in a negative way, that’s when I draw the line,” says Cornixus. 

Photo by Sarah Cochran.

Cornixus’ journey and life in this practice has been anything but linear as he continues to learn more about the world we live on and the complexities of it. 

“I went from hating everyone to loving everyone to ultimately disregarding everyone and realizing what truly matters in my life. That’s nothing fucking matters. We all die. What greater gift can I ask for other than the understanding that it doesn’t matter what you accomplish in life. It has nothing to do with your death. Just live your life how you would like to. What makes you happy and doesn’t affect people around you unless it’s making them happy,” says Cornixus.

“As long as you’re not harming anyone else, you’re living your life to the fullest and you’re happy with yourself and improving the lives of others…that’s where the wizardry background comes in.”

While Cornixus does not consider himself a wizard, he chooses to live his life by the same principles and help those around him in any way he can. 

“I don’t care if it’s just teaching them random facts every day…holding the door open for people, it’s just anything that simple. Just the simplest things, you do not understand how much they affect people’s lives,” says Cornixus. 

Cornixus also practices meditation and enjoys that there are so many different styles from different cultures all around the world. “Hell, you even have Jedi meditation,” says Cornixus. 

To Cornixus, one of the hardest types involves picking yourself apart, analyzing yourself and the ways you can improve your life. Like if you lose your keys often, get a key hook and force yourself into the habit of using it so every morning you know where your keys are and you’re right out the door without having to search for them. “One little bitty bitty bitty thing can affect you for the rest of your life… no one thinks that way anymore,” says Cornixus. 

Cornixous has also experienced the misconception that his practice revolves around curses and hexes with the intent to harm people. He even has had people seek him out for this purpose. “Everybody thinks it’s like in video games and dungeons and dragons. It is the exact opposite. It’s just studying the opposite side of the coin because both sides of the coin exists,” says Cornixus. 

Cornixus’ services doesn’t end with just necromancy and assisting the dead. “I do weddings…everyone assumes I just do funerals. Necromancy is two sides of the coin. I celebrate life to its fullest, but I worship death,” says Cornixus. 

If interested in Cornixus’ necromantic services or weddings, he can be contacted on his business email [email protected].

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Going Beyond Death to Live a Fuller Life: A Lifelong Study in Spirituality