The sun is just setting when I get back to the store. I walk in to find Heather alone counting out the till. I greet her and since I'm still lugging around the arrowroot cookies, I offer her one.
She shakes her head. I nibble one as we chat. Anna comes in a few minutes later. She looks flushed and she's slightly out of breath. There is a small smile on her lips as she slides up to the counter. I notice that she looks very pretty with her color high. She gives me a grin. “And how did your afternoon turn out?”
I think of the afternoon with Jared and I know now I too am grinning. “It was fine. How was yours?”
I pull a cookie out of the pack and push the whole thing into my mouth.
Anna crooks an eyebrow at me. “Oh I see you've already started.”
I throw her a questioning look. She answers by crossing to the herbal section and grabbing a package from the shelf. She tosses the bag to me and I read aloud, “Arrowroot Powder-Maranta Arundinacea. Magical Uses: Banishing, Defense, Protection, Psychic Awareness. Ward negativity with Arrowroot Powder or dust over your body to change your destiny.”
“Are they helping?”
I scrunch up my face. “I think so.”
She regards me. “How do they make you feel?”
She rolls her eyes. “Why do you keeping eating them? What are they giving you? What are you getting from them?”
“Oh,” I say as I give her an understanding nod. “Relief.”
She cocks her head. “Relief?”
I nod. “A small, momentary relief.”
“That means you really have been worked over.”
I give her a quizzical glance. “You mean by magick?”
She nods. “It would seem that someone has spelled you.”
“You mean someone besides you?”
She makes a face. “I did not spell you.”
“So what are we going to do here?”
“I have a couple ideas to try and the first will include this.” She takes the bag of arrowroot powder from me and pulls me to the middle of the store. She chooses two chairs that she drags up to a table before arranging them face to face.
“I want you to sit here,” she says.
I sit down watching as she opens her purse and takes out a white box. She sets it on the table. My eyes are on the box wondering what it might hold as she arranges a several black, gold and white candles on a silver tray. Then she takes a stick of incense, lights it and wafts the sweet aroma around us while we wait for Heather to finish.
Soon the store is closed, the doors locked and we are alone. Anna switches the music to the Native Flute CD before she tells me, “I want you to start with a centering meditation. Close your eyes and relax. I'll chime in when I'm ready.”
I draw a breath and close my eyes. “You're not going to jab me with anything sharp are you?”
I jerk my head up to glare at her and catch her grin. “Just kidding. Go on, close your eyes.”
Now I've done a thousand centering meditations so I just go along with the plan. I start with a conscious breath, letting go of the world as I draw the air slowly in and then let it slowly back out, focusing completely on my breath. I do this while I feel Anna moving around me. I know she's smudging me with sage because I can sense her movements and smell the tangy aroma. After the initial realization, I let the image go and return to my breath.
I relax my face and jaw, relax my neck and shoulders and soon my body begins to feel light. Still I sense it when Anna settles in front of me. She is silent for a moment but I can feel that she is still moving. I flinch when she softly touches something cool to my forehead. I keep my eyes closed trusting her as she presses her hands down my shoulders and runs them down my arms. She does this several more times as she mutters something under her breath. I catch a few phases like 'spell be undone, your power is gone, hex broken…”
Then she kisses me on both my cheeks and I feel her settle back in her chair.
I open one eye. “So that's it?”
“Not quite.” She takes the white box from the table and offers it to me.
I look at her for a long moment before I take the box and pull the top open to reveal a small plain doll made from white cotton cloth. “Really, Anna? A voodoo doll?”
She shakes her head. “Not a voodoo doll. It’s a protection poppet.”
I know I'm still frowning as I gaze down at the poppet. “And just how is this supposed to help?”
“By transference. Any harm meant for you is caught and held here in the poppet. We just have to name it and stuff it with some of your hair, a drop of your blood—”
The word blood jerks my head up and I look up to catch her eyes. “No, Anna. I said no more blood magick!”
“Some spit and nails trimmings will work too.”
I make a face. “I don't know. I've got a bad feeling about this.”
“So you just want to continue suffering then?”
I drop my head and sigh. “No.”
“Then why not give it a try?”
I don't say anything but when I look back at Anna, she hands me a nail clipper. While I'm cutting my nails, she goes behind me to snip a lock of my hair. I hold my tongue but I can't keep the accusations out of my eyes as they follow her back to her seat watching as she stuffs the long tress into the belly of the poppet.
She glances up when she is finished and catches me watching. “Here,” she says as she passes me the doll. “Stuff them in.”
I gather up the tiny pile of genetic material and push them into the doll. Anna hands me a small piece of white cotton. “Spit on it and tuck it in too.”
At her command my mouth fills with moisture and I follow her instructions, as I spit a gob of spittle on the fabric and stuff it in. “Now you only need to sew it closed,” she tells me as she holds out a needle that's threaded and waiting. I'm oddly calm as I make a row of neat, tiny white stitches sealing my DNA into the doll.
Anna strikes a match and lights the candles. She closes her eyes in meditation. I try to join her only to find my thoughts divided, my emotions jumbled. I can only wait as the silent minutes pass before she begins. “This poppet I bless with Rachel's name. That it may be she so that any and all harm, from both the physical and astral worlds, meant for her instead fall upon this poppet. Let this poppet gather any and all negativity. Let this small doll hold it in, until it returns from whence it came.”
I draw a noisy breath but Anna ignores me as she takes a handful of herbs and crumples them over my head. “Herbs of magick, herbs of power, root and bark, leaf and flower. Work for me as this charm is spoken. By your strength, the curse is broken!
“As it is commanded, so shall it be. Let evil be returned to those who sent it, by the power of three times three. That they might know your justice as you watch over and protect us. So shall it be. By your light and love we are protected. All negativity, to this poppet, deflected …”
When Anna is finished with the spell, she takes the poppet and wraps it in a small blue scarf. She lays a mirror in the box and set the bundled doll on top of it before resealing the lid. Then she hands it to me. “You should probably tuck this into one of your drawers.”
I start to make a face but then Anna surprises me with a beautiful moonstone pendant on a silver chain and I let go of all of my cynicism and let gratitude fill my being. “Anna, it’s beautiful.” I gaze down at the pendent as she fastens it around my neck.
“I intended to get you obsidian but this called to me. So I gave in.”
“I love it!” I give her a hug suddenly thankful for her friendship and all of her good intentions.
“Moonstones instill inner calm. In magick they are used for confidence and composure. So whenever you are feeling overwhelmed, slip it on and let the stone bring you peace.”
Later that night, when we're back in my room, a contentment like I've never known settles on me. Anna is at my desk while I lay on my bed propped up on the pillows. My laptop is open next to me, its screen glowing bright. The pendant catches my eye and I pick it up from where it rests against my heart. I gaze down at the iridescent light locked in its depths before I sit up and Google 'moonstone correspondence' and read, 'Moonstone - Lunar female energy. Powers: Inner harmony, Balancing, Calming. Wear this stone to promote emotional health or to power up your intuition. Also promotes rhythms, cycles, and destiny.' Destiny’, I like that. I know my gifts are meant for a life of service but still I flirt with the thought that I might have been born to fulfill something more… maybe something involving Jared? The thought sets a delicious shiver to trill through me.
Anna's voice calls to me from across the room. “What are you grinning about over there?”
I let my fantasies fade and turn to face her. “Hey, have you ever heard of the Rephaim?”
“No, but I can Google it.” She turns to her laptop and begins to type. “Uh, here we go, 'Giants in the Middle East, Descendants of the Nephilim'.” She sits up straighter. “I thought I knew all about the Nephilim but I've never heard them called the Rephaim.” She turns and looks at me. “Where'd you hear this?”
“It’s just something I heard today. It sounded strange so I made a mental note to look it up.”
She turns back to her computer, “Well, the name is Hebrew and it’s referenced in Genesis, Joshua, Isaiah and Samuel…Umm, it also appears in ancient Ugaritic and Phoenician sources, all of them referencing giants who ruled the earth who weren't fully human.”
I smirk. “I have a hard time believing in semi-human giants.”
She locks me with serious eyes. “There seems to be a lot of scientific proof.”
“Really, not only are there all of these different written accounts, there are fossils.”
I flash her bright eyes. “Yeah right, fossils.”
“I'm not kidding. Across the world giant skeletons have been found. Even here in the US.”
“I would have heard of it, if there were such a thing.”
She makes a face. “Why don't you look it up?”
I accept her challenge and quickly do my own search to read 'giant fossilized bones appearing to be human found in Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Arizona.' Now I have lived here my entire life and I have never ever heard anything about fossilized giants. I pull up the account and read, 'In 1891, at Crittenden, Arizona, some workers digging the foundation for a new building struck at a depth of eight feet a huge stone sarcophagus. When they were able to open the lid, they saw inside the remains of a giant.' I glance up at Anna. “Anna, how much stock do you put in the things you read on the internet?”
She twists her lips as her expression turns thoughtful. “I guess for me, what matters most is where the information is coming from and if the site is credible. I'd tend to believe a CNN story over one I found on Aliens Among Us.”
I look over the sites and I am still skeptical.
She must read my thoughts because with a lift of her eyebrows she adds, “But I do believe there are a lot of things out there far stranger than giants.”
I snort. “Like what?”
“Uh, I don't know. How about: little blond ghosts that morph into monsters or strange UPS guys that seem to be visiting from another dimension. You tell me. You're the one who talks to spirits.”
We both laugh, but later, when I reconsider her words, I realize that she is right. There are a lot of unexplainable things out there.
I'm standing in the dark, at the edge of a huge black body of water. This time I’m quick to mount the platform and walk across to the other side. The woman in the white uniform is there to greet me. She takes me into the office and seats me at the table. I am only there a moment before she appears with a young sandy-haired man.
He sits down across from me and I realize that everything about him is dripping with sorrow. I ask for his hands but he is unresponsive, just staring at a space before him, at something only he can see. I rub my hands together and instantly they began to tingle. They are warm when I reach out and take his hands in mine.
With this one, I skip the grounding meditation and jump right to the healing. In a soft, hypnotic voice, I begin whispering to him while drawing on my energy reservoir deep within. I breathe deep as I draw the cool energy up though my chakras, drawing until they swirl and glow with bright radiant energy that spills out into my aura. I draw another breath and concentrate until my aura grows to encompass the man's tattered one and then I grip his hands tight in my left while I touch the top of his head with my right as I gather the energy and press it, funneling it down my arms, into my hands. I take a breath and plunge the energy down into his crown charka, down to his third eye. I shove it down into his throat chakra and then down into his heart. I work and wrap and funnel the energy, spindling it into his charkas and set them to spin with vibrant colors. I draw a deep breath as I gather more that I shove down into him, pushing it down to his belly until his solar plexus chakra glows a sunshine-yellow, I continue to fill him, pushing the energy to his sacral chakra, then to his root until he is filled with a rainbow of color that matches my own.
I'm trembling when I move my attention to his aura. I've never seen an aura so ragged and torn. I use the cocoon of energy to infuse his, clearing away the shadows as I fill in the rips and mend all the holes. I work until it is whole and healthy and bright and when I think it is complete, and there is nothing more I can do, I lift my hand and fall back into myself.
I am there gasping, sitting on the chair while shudders of exhaustion wrack my body watching, waiting for a response from him, when he locks bright eyes on mine, I know the tears I see shimmering in their depths are tears of gratitude and that he is whole again.