“Okay, one part, one part and one part,” mumbles Anna as she opens the package of cinquefoil. I watch as she takes a tiny scoop and dumps it into a stone bowl before she mixes in equal portions of orris root and dried mint. “Plus five almonds finely ground.” She dumps another dish into the mix. “Add just a pinch.” She opens a container and I catch a whiff of the distinctive skunky smell of pot.
I swivel in my chair at the counter in her tiny kitchen. Anna must read my thoughts because she pauses to meet my eyes, one brow lifted in question. I hold my tongue so she turns her attention back to her preparations as a smile spreads across her face. A myriad of candles flicker around her filling the air with fragrant scents and though we've yet to do anything magical, the space already has a sense of power to it. I close my eyes and breathe in the moment.
“Dragon’s blood…. dragon’s blood. Where is the dragon’s blood?”
I open my eyes to find Anna rummaging through a drawer. She shoves it closed before disappearing around the corner into the bedroom. I steal the moment to glance around. Anna explained when I arrived, that the building was once an old guesthouse behind the large home which the new owner converted into four separate apartments but left the guesthouse, this place, standing alone. It is very small, but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in charm and efficiency. Not counting the bathroom, the entire place is comprised of only two rooms that meld from a living space, into a kitchen/dining area to a bedroom. I notice that there is even a fireplace in one wall and that the other is made up entirely of windows looking out onto the garden. It’s pretty cool really. Still, I'm surprised that Anna lives here alone.
I look back to see Anna come through the doorway. “So what are we doing here tonight?” I ask.
I must sound pretty wary because she instantly gives me a big reassuring smile. “Just some focus work to open doors…ah, encourage intuition. I have been feeling so stuck lately I thought that if we worked to manifest a muse—”
“Manifest?” Memories of the séance we held leap up fresh and I sit up and clamp my eyes on to her. “You don't mean calling something into being.”
“Of course not.” She drops her eyes and goes back to her preparations. When she doesn't add anything, I sigh and turn my back to the counter. A bookcase draws me to peruse its shelves and I heed the call. I'm not surprised to find it holds mostly magical titles. “You sure have a lot of books on House Magick.”
Anna doesn't comment.
I run my fingers over the bindings. A slim blue book titled Moon Spells catches my attention. I pull it from the shelf and look at the cover. The three phases of the moon are artfully etched in blue glitter along with the phrase, “a book of simple enchantments”.
I crack the cover and read, 'The four tenets of magick are: To Know, To Dare, To Will, and To Keep Silent. When we gain the ability to successfully do these four things, we become magical. But just what is magick? Magick on its practical side is accessing the hidden powers of the human mind and finding the links that echo through the Universe. For every spellcaster knows that there is a truth that is greater than he can see or comprehend, but that by acting on that which he can understand he may perhaps influence other things associated with it.'
“Okay, I'm almost ready,” Anna calls.
I close the book and slide it back into its place on the shelf. Then I turn to take in the finger she is crooking at me. I obey and cross the room. She points to a spot on the floor and I drop and settle in a heap. Candles flicker all around setting the room to glow in golden light and I swear the air itself feels heavy with energy just the way it does before a summer storm. I am energized and curious and, at that moment, very open as she settles next to me.
“First we are going to ground and center.”
Ah, familiar territory again, okay, I can do this. I sit up straight, cross my legs and turn my thoughts inward. Anna moves and I can't help but peek with one eye to watch as she reaches for a silver platter loaded with half a dozen candles of various hues of blues and purples. She sees me watching and shakes her head. “Hey you, you are supposed to be meditating. Close your eyes. I just have to do a couple of things before I can join you. She reaches for a small bottle of oil and anoints several of the candles from the tiny dram. I am too excited to focus so I cheat and watch through half-closed eyes as she takes a large white candle and sets it on the floor between us. I follow her movements as she places a candle at each quarter: green in the north, yellow in the east, red in the south and finally blue in the west. My interest piques when she bows to place a small dish of something before each one. The last bowl is empty and I ask about it. “So why is that one empty?”
She gives me a long patient look.
After a second I get it and I smirk. “Oh right, I'm supposed to be meditating.”
She grins as she takes the bowl and sets it in her lap. “Here let me help. I'll lead you. Just give me your hand.” She offers me a gentle smile as she stretches out her hand and waits for mine.
I look at her waiting hand. All of this is completely new to me so I only blink for a second before I decide to just go with it and I reach out to place my hand in hers. “Alright, now close your eyes. Tonight is your night,” she says softly as she draws my hand into her lap. “The moon is in Libra. It’s your moon. Take a deep, slow yoga breath.” She turns my hand palm up and begins to lightly stroke my fingers.
Now I'm well versed in the yoga breath, so even though this is a little weird, I'm curious. I follow her instructions with closed eyes.
“That's right. Relax and breathe.”
I'm expecting the familiar ground and center meditation to follow so reflexively I start to relax. I soften my jaw as I let the muscles of my neck and shoulders drop and release.
“See the energies in this room press around us and take notice…”
Hmm, I never thought of energy as sentient before, but always saw it more as a part of the fabric of the universe. I turn the idea over in my thoughts as I let the tension slip from my back and hips. Anna is still holding my hand but, by this point, I've moved my attention so far beyond her I barely notice…Until a sharp pain stabs the end of my finger and I yip and open my eyes to see Anna drawing a large pin out of my index finger. I sit up and try to take my hand back but her grip is like a vice as she sits, head bowed over my hand. “What the fuck, Anna?” I tug again.
“Hold on. I'm almost done.” My eyes follow the drop of blood, large as a big raindrop, as it falls into the bowl in her lap. I freeze in surprise and watch as she squeezes another large drop from the end of my finger into the collection bowl. “Hey, it’s over. Don't fight.”
Surprise, fear and anger flood me in turn as I watch her milking my finger. “Blood? You are using my blood?”
“I told you it’s your energy we were working with. The moon is in Libra. I just need a couple of drops.” She gives me a small smile as she releases my hand.
I frown at her as every story I've ever read of evil characters who worked their will in blood crashes through my memory. White witches and elves and faeries all use the natural energy from trees, rocks and flowers…only darkest beings work with blood. I lock Anna with a narrowed gaze. “You never said anything about blood magick.”
“This is not blood magick.” The eyes she fixes me with are so dark they look black.
I shiver. “Really?” I ask forcing all the cynicism I can muster into the single word. “How can you say that when you are sitting right there with a dish of blood in your lap?”
“Oh come on. It was just a little prick. Don't be such a baby.”
Baby? I am not being a baby. I'm not over reacting…am I? I look at her sitting there so cool, ever patient, and my anger gives way to confusion. Am I over reacting? I sniff. “Well, you could have at least warned me first.”
She offers me a small smile. “Would you have let me prick you if I'd told you what I was going to do?”
I stick my finger into my mouth and pout for a second before I give her a truthful answer, “Probably not.”
“Exactly!” She gives me a grin and I draw a breath and watch as she sweeps her eyes over the space. “Okay. The stage is set. We are ready to begin.”
She takes the bowl with my blood in it and sets it before an elemental candle. “That makes milk, honey, blood and salt, our offerings to the elements.”
I'm still frowning even though it doesn't hurt anymore.
She admonishes, “Hey, we need positive energy so I have to ask, are you over it yet?”
My open curiosity has turned to resentment and I eye her for a moment before I reply, “That depends on whether there will be any more surprises.”
“Nope,” she says with a shake of her head. “No more. I promise.”
I give a loud sigh.
“So you're like over it?”
I breathe out my anger. “I guess.”
“Good.” She gets up and sets a circle in salt before she hands me a box of matches and commands, “Light the myrrh.”
I strike a match and hold it to the resin. The aromatic smoke begins to rise filling the air with its wonderful perfume and my mood shift into something brighter.
Anna lights the yellow candle before she bows. “Beings of the Air, Guardians of the East, Breath of Transformation, I call you to guard and guide. Hail and welcome. Lend your energy to our working.”
She moves to the red candle, lights it and drips her head. “Beings of Fire, Guardians of the South, Spark of Creation that banishes the darkness, I call you to guard and guide. Hail and welcome. Lend your energy to our working.”
She turns to the blue candle. “Beings of Water, Guardians of the West, Rain of Inspiration, I call you to guard and guide. Hail and welcome. Lend your energy to our working.”
Lastly, she bows to the north, before the green. “Beings of Earth, Guardians of the North, Salt of Foundation, I call you to guard and guide. Hail and welcome. Lend your energy to our working.”
She comes back to the middle and settles before me where she strikes a match, lighting the white candle in the center. “Spirit, Goddess, Force of creation, Source of all our power, I come before you in this sacred space between the worlds.
“Tonight we gather to honor and give thanks for all that we have and all the potential we have to be. We ask that you speak to us in words and signs as you open our eyes that we may see the synchronicities at work in our lives... Open our ears so that we may hear your voice and the voices of our guides. Open our minds that we may know the magick flowing around us and understand the messages you send to us day by day.”
Perhaps the energy is sentient because when she closes her eyes, her face lit in flickering light, I swear I feel the energy in the room swell and press in expectantly around us. She draws a breath and takes a match and strikes it. “Goddess Luna, mother of all love and light.” She touches the flame to a wick and begins to lights the array of candles on the silver tray as she whispers, “Grant us the wish, we wish for tonight.” Soon the whole circle is flickering with candle light. She takes a pinch from the dish and sprinkles it over the flames. “Goddess Luna, mother of all love and light, grant us the wish we wish for tonight.” Several of the candles flare as they catch the herb and burn. She tosses another pinch of herbs. “Goddess Luna, mother of all love and light, grant us the wish we wish for tonight.” Then she looks up, eyes dark as night. In her hand is paper and pen that she holds out to me.
“What do I do with this?” I ask.
“This is the part of the spell where you write down your heart's desire.” My expression must show my confusion because she adds, “A wish. Write down what you wish for. You know. Something you want to work on? Something you want to ask the energy present here tonight to help you with…”
My eyes widen. Suddenly I know what I want more than anything else and a wish forms in my thoughts as I sit there… I wish I was popular like Veronica Torres.
How easy life must be when you are popular. Never having to work to fit in, but instead, living a life where everyone bends over backward to win your favor. How amazing it must be to have cute guys fawn over you…to have them try to initiate conversations…Oh yeah, that's what I wish for…A question forms in Anna's eyes. But the desire has me now, molding my thoughts, to wake in a world where people love me, where cute boys vie for my attention. Where everyone waits to hear what I have to say…where I am popular…where I am desired…where it is me who is liked best!
A smile creeps to my lips. Her eyes are still watching but instead of admitting my true desire I voice a nobler sounding wish. “I'd like to be more aware, more aware of things around me, more aware of the universe and my place in it.” My thoughts suddenly seem to become clearer. “I'd like to understand exactly what it is I'm supposed to be doing here... I'd like to empower my interaction with others and come more fully into my powers…that…and, uh, be more popular.”
“Okay.” Her eyes slide over me. “That's good. Now write it down.”
The moment I take up the pen, Sean Waverly's face floats up in my mind as he turns to look at me and smile. My heart begins to race and I flush from the top of my ears to my tailbone as I add his name to the scribbles on the paper.
I glance at Anna but her eyes are closed, lips moving soundlessly. Over her shoulder I catch sight of the full moon glowing, large and luminous through the window. The full Libra moon, my moon. I feel it call to me and I open myself to the presence of energy in the air pressing all around and in that moment I feel powerful. I close my eyes and meditate on my wish…my desire. To be popular…to be loved…to walk down the halls and be noticed…by boys…by Sean…to be desired…to be loved…
I don't know how much time passes before I feel a gentle hand on my shoulder. I open my eyes and see Anna watching me across the circle. Her face is beautiful, her eyes dark and curious. “Done?” she asks.
“Now take your paper and fold it in half. Is your finger still bleeding?”
I look at it. “Not really.” Her expression shifts and suddenly I am wary “Why?”
“You need to seal your wish in a fingerprint of blood, or maybe it was a thumbprint? I forget which is best.”
While she is distracted I press my blood-caked finger to the parchment and say, “Done.” Then I watch as she takes a small thorn and nonchalantly pricks her thumb before pressing it to the page.
“Okay now focus on your intention.” She closes her eyes.
“Wait, you mean like visualizing?” I ask.
“Exactly, be clear. Be positive and as focused as possible. We will meditate on it for a few more minutes and then I want you to chant with me.”
She opens one eye to look at me. “Just say what I say, but try to, you know…get into it.”
I take in a deep breath and close my eyes. The room grows distractingly thick with silence and it takes a little bit of effort to find my Zen place but I get there. I begin to see my wish manifesting as a glorious gown. I'm only partway through my exercise, visualizing myself shining with love as people turn to me and smile when Anna's hum pulls me from the place.
Her song turns into words that, at first, are whispered so low I can't catch them. It’s not until her voice grows louder that can I join in. “Goddess Luna, mother of all love and light, grant us the wish we wish tonight. A quest for synergy to glow and shine, infuse this spell with your energy sublime.”
The third time through Anna rises. She takes my hands and pulls me to my feet and we begin to move in a circle around the dancing candle flames as our chant becomes a song. Energy is all around us I can feel it pressing at our back, spiraling with as we move around the circle.
“By moon and thorn and witch's fire, what has been granted we now acquire—”
The energy thickens to become a soft breeze and I call to it like I do in my dreams, like it’s a living thing that can see and hear me. I am wonderstruck when I feel it respond, circling around me, pressing around to lift my hair in locks from my shoulders. It inspires me and I leave Anna's song to whisper my own, “Oh to be one of the chosen, loved by all. …to emanate …to radiate… to be more…to just be more….Oh to be so much more.”
Our dance picks up speed and I laugh and hold Anna's hands tighter. Our fingers braid together as we spin and I sing my song… Then I hear Anna's song change. Her voice seems far away as if she's in another room even though I know she’s right there holding my hands, “We honor and thank the Guardians for their presence here. We claim their power now.”
I join her looped chant halfway through the second time round and we keep it up until our voices rise and I can feel the energy we've raised echo in the vibration of the room. I am encouraged to the point of pouring more effort into my words and it is then I feel the pressure around us shift and just when I start to become concerned Anna exclaims, “Together we release our wishes to the universe with perfect love and perfect trust. Release the magick as these words are spoken!” She swings her arms up, taking mine with hers as she flings them up, only letting go when they rise to the ceiling and just as our arms extend I swear the pressure in the room pops like your ears do when the altitude changes. “By the power of three times three, so mote it be!”
I giggle and fall to the floor. The room still softly spins as I gaze up at the ceiling.
Anna's face hovers above me. “Wow.” She grins. “That was awesome!”
“It was!” I laugh again watching with bright, flashing eyes not wanting it to end. “So that's it? We're done?”
“No, not yet. We have to thank everyone and release them. Just relax while I finish.”
I give her a nod and pull myself into a sitting position.
“To all spirits visible and invisible that have been present in this ritual, depart in peace, my thanks and blessings.”
I give the room around us a curious glance as Anna thanks the Goddess and then each element ending each with, “Hail and farewell.” Then she unwinds the circle. “The circle is open but unbroken.” She bows placing her forehead on the floor. “Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again.” Then she laughs and clambers to her feet. “I knew you'd be perfect!”
“So what now?” I ask.
“Know that your wish has been heard. Your heart's desire will be granted within the space of one lunar cycle.”
“So that's it?”
“Yep, that's it. Now I clean up and you go finish your homework,” she tells me. “Oh here take this cookie and save your wish and put it some place special. Some place safe.”
I take the offered cookies as I echo, “Safe?”
“Where it won't get lost.” She stuffs a small shortbread into her mouth before she turns from me and begins to gather up the candles which she sets on the breakfast bar that divides the kitchen from the living space. Since I still haven't moved but simply gawk at her from the floor, she turns to me and says, “Go on. It’s getting late.”
I blink at her.
“Maybe I should I walk you out?”
“Okay, okay I'm going,” I put the cookie in my mouth and chew as questions about the ritual ping around in my mind. “That went well then?”
I rise and grab my purse. “So, I'll see you tomorrow?”
She wrinkles her forehead. “Won't you be at school?”
“Not this week, it’s spring break. I'm working all week at the store.”
I watch her eyes narrow. “Oh, so the homework thing was just an excuse then?”
Suddenly I'm on the defensive. “No, not at all. I have tons. A research paper even and since I'm working all week I need to use my evenings wisely.”
Her expression is still closed when she gives me a measured nod.
“Well, bye then,” I say as I walk through the door. I almost miss her answering call of, “Good night.”