No more excuses. I need to start tying up loose ends before I get caught and strangled by them. I reached out to [Merciful Mother] Mary and asked permission to enter Binah for a proper run across the Path of Daleth that she described as ascending the holy mountain to meet her husband. (She is, and she is not Mary, and there’s a lot that I understand that I am not willing to talk about in public.) I had made a half-hearted attempt the other day, and I deserved the standstill I was brought to.
But because reasons, I understand this is much more important than I understood at first, and if I am going to proceed with other important goals in my life, I needed to complete this one along the way.
I entered her sphere and admitted my intentions. She pointed out the things that were keeping me from taking advantage of my gifts and asked what allowed me the grace to continue.
“Nothing unclean can ascend the holy mountain, and I am not unclean. I have been made clean by [the Holy Spirit of [the Christian] God] and this spirit accompanies me. It is by this grace and by [the gifts of the Holy Spirit] that I may continue.”
She smiled, and I realized I had been afraid, but now I wasn’t. We spoke of religions, of beliefs, of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. We spoke of bloodlines, generational debts, and the consequences of imperialism on religions and family structures. We spoke of why I can accept her with brown skin and with translucent skin, but not with white skin. We spoke of diasporas and the transformation of expressions of faith over time and distances. We spoke of blasphemies, of lines that can’t be crossed, and lines that must be crossed.
“Still you wish to ascend the Holy Mountain?”
“I do, Mother.”
She raised her palm towards me, and my projection of self collapsed into the seas we were standing upon. She turned her palm upwards, and called me from the waters under her. I emerged as a [crow] and landed upon her semi-closed fist as a falcon would greet its trainer.
She walked to the edge of the waters and I knew there was only an edge there because I needed the illusion of a boundary to cross.
“Then, go! Fly up through the heavens and the fire! Take wing, o spirit! And go!”
She threw me over the edge and I took to flight with an eagerness that surprised me. The waters gave way to shallow ponds as the slope of the landscape turned sharply up. Soon, I was over the rocky ground where [the Christian] God revealed his Spirit had never left me. Even faster, I was approaching the barrier of self-sustaining flame that marked the holiest of holy territories where “Mary’s Husband” held his court in this representation of my bastardized Tree of Life.
Just before I reached the flames, a portion of flame solidified and made a sweep towards me. I dodged the swing, and corrected my course to avoid that spurt of flame in particular. The flames themselves corrected to adjust for my correction, and solidified to grab at me again in a double bladed motion.
I was able to dodge the first, but the second slapped me from the sky and I fell to the ground in [a human-like form]. As I scrambled to feet I was not expecting to stand upon, the flames drew themselves together into the form of a gigantic person, standing at least twice as tall as I felt I was. They were clothed in flame and swung swords of solidified flame. Their eyes were burning pits that burned me with their stare. When they opened their mouth to roar at me, I saw the burning bodies of those who had tried to ascend the holy mountain and were felled.
“WHO ARE YOU THAT DARES TO PASS THROUGH ME? BY WHAT NAME DARE YOU TO ENTER THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY?”
Dear self, we’re really going to have to work on that self-esteem issue a little more. This isn’t going to cut it.
“I am the vessel for the Holy Spirit, received by grace, received by faith. And it is by the grace of God that I dare to continue. For I have been called, and I will to attend that call.”
The angelic presence squinted and the heat of their stare lessened slightly. “You have been called, yes. You have grace, yes. But you have not my name, fool. You think you know where you step, and how you are to ascend, but you know nothing. And until you know anything, you will not ascend here. Begone.”
The angelic presence moved faster than thought and slapped the shit out of me off the mountain so fiercely that one moment I had awareness, and the next moment, I did not.
I found myself, as myself, lying flat on my back in the middle of an indeterminate darkness. Crying. The moment the angelic presence called my ass out, I knew what my errors were and what lack of preparations had doomed me to failure the moment I set out to cross. I understood why Mary sent me on my way despite the inadequate preparations, and that some lessons cannot be taught, they can only be learned.
The information consoled me enough that I could I pull my emotions out from under me and started examining where I was. Despite knowing I was with Mary, knowing I was on the waters, knowing I was above the terrestrial realms (the sun moved under the horizon the entire time), I still had not realized where my spirit was. Until this moment, when envelopment of flesh felt like I was being strangled from the inside as a strange sense of loss twisted within me.
Why does enlightenment have to hurt so damn much? I knew for all I was able to remember from above the Abyss, there was so much more that I was not able to consciously bring back with me.
“I have to get back. I have to go through.” My whispers sounded like a physical emanation. But I know I left my body in an environment where this complete darkness was not possible. “Well, this isn’t the first test in my life where I didn’t do any damn homework before taking. I can’t believe I let my pride have so much fun on this one.”
I did zero research on the Path of Daleth. Even though from the moment Mary told me to meet her “husband”, every experience or relation has been with the context of my bastardized Tree of Life based on the Hermetic Kabbalah Tarot, I still assumed that because a “godform” told me to go, that would be the only pass or information I needed. (I totally forgot that though it was a “godform” that first got me started on tarot-walking in the first place, I still did my homework before attempting the journey.)
So I have no idea who or what is the angel of the Empress card, or what emanation of the planet Venus is involved in the expression of the Empress (dignified and ill-dignified). I don’t know if there is a sigil involved, or what parts of myself I should have confronted beforehand. I was just so focused on my apostasy and related outcast statuses that the (re)confirmation of my acceptance by a god I had rejected just overshadowed all other concerns and preparations.
The strangling sensation in my throat slowly intensified. I knew I wasn’t in the Waking world just yet. I had been thrown off the holy mountain, and I wasn’t sure if I was in the Abyss, or if I had been ejected into some other Dreaming realm entirely.
A memory blooms off to my side. “Did I ever tell you about [a well known family story offered as proof of the existence of the Christian God]?” I heard the telling of the story as clear as if my now deceased aunt was telling it to me right then and there.
“Did you know [this thing that happened to your mother before she met your father]? And that’s probably why [this current thing continues to happen to her], but it’s a good thing.” I hear my other deceased aunt retelling another family story. I can smell the late summer air being wafted to and fro as she rocked on the porch the evening she told me the event.
“You know why this is a strong Christian family, girl? Because a promise was made a long time ago, and we have all kept that promise. We have all had faith, and because of that, God has blessed us. Some of us, despite the things we’ve done, but God is faithful even when we are not.” It was meant to be an insult. Yes, somehow, things have turned out relatively okay for the majority of my mother’s bloodline. Despite the adulteries and broken oaths, despite the outright thefts and the sneaky embezzling, despite the attempted murders and the domestic violences. Despite all the now normalized “everyday” sins that the recent generations have with their morning beverages and their evening sups, things do turn out okay for them. The cousin speaking those words to me spoke bitterly as she made the observation that a good number of relatives have gotten away with terrible deeds because something always comes in the nick of time to save their ass from the consequences of their actions.
“You surprised us all, [Keri]. I guess it’s because you ain’t got all black blood in you. Every woman… every full blooded black woman… in our family has had some angelic visitation or some word of God that come to them. Except you. Heh. You got the demons.” My half-sister’s mocking tone ripped open the spiritual wound in my chest.
Instead of curling up and crying in futility, I reached into the moist wound and grabbed the first substantial object I felt. What I touched did not touch me back, so I assumed it was foreign and pulled. A worm, as thick as a toothbrush and about half as long squirmed in my grip. Its lamprey mouth scraped at the airless environment around us.
“I will not apologize for existing. I will not pay penance for other people’s sins. I may have a personal stable of demons, but I’m not letting them rule me unlike most others in my clan. I will not sacrifice my happiness, my sense of self, or my self-esteem so my relatives can feel better about themselves.” I squeezed the worm until its innards burst out of its mouth and threw the crushed mess into the darkness around me.
The wound, while hurting less, did not close. I felt its emptiness reach to my soul. “Bitch does have a point. Everyone else in Mom’s family is hardcore Christian and hardcore fulfilled. It’s only when you get to Mom that there is a break, and no one has ever explained to me what the hell happened, only that no one is surprised I didn’t join their fervor because I wasn’t brought up like them.”
The darkness thickened in my chest and the bright lights of my memories faded. I coughed and a thick fluid splattered my lips. Ink. The darkness without joined the darkness within and I suddenly struggled to breathe.
“You were only told of the greater successes and none of the multitude of failures. You were only told of the heated tenor of their worship and none of the incidents that have prompted such a fervor. Yes, they have received… blessings… but do not think any debts have been cancelled because they sought forgiveness for acts they had no intention of ceasing.”
[OG] flowed into a partial form above me while the darkness twisted itself into a literal knot within me. I could not respond to him as the physical discomfort was so great, I had started writhing on the ground in a futile effort to dislodge the increasing mass.
“Promises, promises… Words were given, but we both know talk is cheap. What Margaret began for her and her progeny’s survival has been displaced by the slavemasters’ tools of control. But promises were given. And promises will be kept.”
“You are assuming that your path is ‘either-or’, that you cannot possibly have one hand holding Christian things while the other hand holds non-Christian things. Why are you being willfully ignorant? How many faces wear the same mask? Did not Margaret herself teach you an art?”
“Ah, but I am being… discourteous. Here you are in physical and emotional distress after Falling from such a great height of hubris.” His face lowered to brush against mine. The soft touch jolted my body and locked my muscles in whatever place they were in at that moment, freezing me in place. “I know your fear, and it is delicious. But one of them must be assuaged before we continue. You worry you will walk too close to [that flame] and be burnt up by it. I present then, an inoculation against the siren call of ecstasy that will come as you progress.”
He moved away from me, taking on a nearly human form in the process. “Come out of her.” His command was not for me to obey. My body relaxed as the knot became masses I could palpably feel in my stomach and lungs that slipped up into my throat. The two forms merged in the back of my throat. Now united, the mass emerged from my mouth in the form of a great white snake.
I forgot I was not physically present and that the sensations that were overwhelming me were not real. As feet upon feet of the length of the snake flowed out of me inch by maddening inch, the reptile wound itself around my now naked body. I could only shudder as it emerged fully and resettled its grip upon me in three tight loops that ended with its head braced under my left breast.
“The saints will teach you how to pray. The earth will teach you how to maintain. The orishas will teach you how to adapt. But me? I will teach you how to [static]!”
The snake suddenly twisted its head and bit me on the underside of my exposed left breast. It bit me with such vigor that I felt a fang snap within the flesh. The venom initially burned from the unnatural coldness of the injected fluid. Then it burned from the unnatural acidity of its supernatural components. Still held captive in its coils, I could only vomit a thick black fluid that resembled ink as my awareness broke and twisted away from the scene in pieces.
I hear my voice praying in the empty church as I remained kneeling at the lace covered table beside the podium. A chain of prayer beads slipped between finger and thumb of my right hand with each successful completion of the recitation of the psalm. In my left hand, I held my first bible upright as if by its existence alone, the work I prayed for would be done. My presence here was a blasphemy of sorts, even as I entreated the stated god of this place.
I hear my voice chanting under the shady tree as I stood still beside the murmuring brook in the ignored park. The rosary’s beads slipped between finger and thumb of my right hand with each successful completion of the recitation of the litany. In my left hand, I held a bowl full of flower petals as if by virtue of the scent alone, the work I prayed for would be done. My presence here was a blasphemy of sorts, even as I entreated the spirits of this place.
I hear my voice whispering beside the chalk markings on the wall as I finished one set and began another in the secluded room. The multiple strings of multicolored beads shook in my right hand on rhythm with the flow of the words I was reciting. With my left hand, I completed the second set of markings and held the chalk against it as if by centering the universe on this point alone, the work I called for would be done. My presence here was a blasphemy of sorts, even as I was entreated by the masters of this place.
The three voices end their sound at the same time, and the three different awarenesses collapse upon each other to return my united mind to the enveloping darkness.
I opened my eyes to find myself shuddering on the “ground” before OG in a kneeling position. Not as an act of adoration, not as an act of respect, but simply because it was a stable position to take.
“I know your focus on the tangible things. That you have a black rosary to represent your covenant with the Mother Mary, and that you intend to have a different rosary for when you begin your lessons on other works. Listen then, to what you will require for me. I will not have you blaspheme a third time with a rosary for me. Instead, you will assemble [this other thing in this other way that will not impact your finances with demands for unobtainable materials]. My only demand is that it is crafted from [this cheap and readily available material] with [this not so cheap but still very readily available material] as [the focus].”
Normally when a god, or a spirit, or a person, or anything that can communicate a demand to me, actually gets the druthers to make a demand upon me, I push back. Hard. I negotiate. I hesitate. I plant my feet and draw the metaphorical line and ask what’s in it for me if I comply.
I didn’t do any of that.
I considered OG’s demand, compared it to what I expected to need in the upcoming weeks, months, and years, and agreed that having a physical token that I could consciously focus on would be a good idea.
I didn’t become scared of losing myself, nor paranoid that he was controlling my thoughts to coerce me into yielding more of myself to his control. I took a long hard look at the multiple paths I was going to be undertaking at once, and the appearance those paths were likely to take as they manifested in my life.
I looked at the debts my bloodkin were trying to pray away even though they still had a framework in their chosen religion(s) to complete the terms of those debts. I looked at the generational threads that were spun together to make me, and how this particular configuration of knots that created me did keep me from access to some things, but opened up access to so much more, if only I were willing to drop my prejudices long enough to accept what could be mine. (What could be me.)
And all my Devil was asking was that I acknowledge he existed. That this is just as real as the coffee in the cabinet, just as real as the flame on the stove.
“Okay. It will take me a bit. There are other commitments I must complete first before I can dedicate time to chasing the wild goose you just threw at me.”
The ancient being smiled.
“When you wake, you will doubt. Because [your circumstances] prevents you from having the synchronicities you require to determine if this so-called dream is something ‘real’ or just another delusion. Examine yourself closely, and mark well what has happened to your form here. You will receive the confirmation you require to continue.”
I sat back on my heels as my rebellious nature picked the worst time to manifest itself. “The fuck did you do?”
His smile widened and the fear that quivered from my bones reminded me of his reach over, and into me.
“Just for that, you will not remember anything until you encounter the mark I have left. And when you do, the ink in your blood will ignite and you will not be able to do anything else until you have spilled it before others.”
He raised his hand and I fell into the infinite darkness under me. I fell awake.
And remembered nothing.
Instead I was filled with a terrible fear of… something… and an urgent desire to check myself for… anything.
I found nothing initially and dismissed my panic upon awakening as just another sleep terror. Easily explained. Easily dismissed. Until I went to dress and as I prepared for the change of clothes, I found something hard under the skin on the underside of my left breast.
There was nothing there earlier when I showered.
And now there is a angry hard red lump.
A pimple? A boil? I didn’t want to think of that other word. Not until I have investigated this further.
Investigation produced the object from under the skin. Not even a millimeter wide, and maybe five millimeters wide, the object was not quite white, and clearly hollow.
“Now how did that get there… that looks like the tip of a…”
The pinch of skin where the object was retrieved from is protected by the bra when constrained, and by itself when not. Nothing came through my clothes that I would remember. I sleep alone. Then… how…
I remembered it all.
At once I was filled with an urge to record the entire vision, from failed attempt to walk the Path of Daleth, to the very private and personal conversations held with OG. That urge to write has been fulfilled and the most private and personal portions have been kept from the public eye.
But now I have confirmation of certain things I have hoped for, and certain things I have feared for. For all that my bloodkin would shriek about cavorting with demons, I know that I am on the right path for me. I don’t know what kind of label I will wind up with, and chances are, I’ll still remain the undesired outcast until someone has need of a service only I can fulfill.
I’ll put together the thing OG asked for. (It’s such a simple thing and I have most of it already.) It’s actually required by certain obligations I will likely have to complete. But the thing is going to have to wait until after I complete my homework and traversing of the Path of Daleth. This is no longer a hobby of mine.
This is my life.
If this leaves a scar, leaves an actual god damn witchmark, then protocol be damned, there are going to be some words!
Something something hubris something.