The first time I saw her, was the summer of 2008. I was in the middle of a lucid dream, dealing with some (more) troubling issues when my shadow lifted off the floor and shuddered into existence. She wore my face and my body but at the time, she felt as different and as separate from me as my flesh and blood sister. She glanced at me then returned her attention to the darkness beyond my field of view.
“You know, if you’re going to be serious about this business of occult forces, you need to start learning how to shield and protect yourself.” She took a few steps past me, staring into the impenetrable darkness.
“I’m not doing anything occult!” I stared at her, wondering what part of my mind had decided to step away from the rest. She glanced over her shoulder, mocking me with her eyes.
“Sure, you’re not.” She was dressed in the same t-shirt and jeans as I wore. Same jewelry, same hairstyle, same scars. Truly my physical double. But there was a strange fire in her eyes. A look of determination and focus I never recognize in my own face. I was a coward. She was a commander.
“If you’re not doing anything with esoteric forces, then you won’t mind if I deal with some that are on the horizon, then.” She lifts her left hand, holds it straight in front of her. I see nothing in her open hand. She grips the air suddenly and with great force. There is a brief flash and I saw a reinforced longbow appear, gripped securely in her left hand.
She looks over her shoulder back at me. “Stay. Don’t move.” I find my feet rooted to the ground. I try to pull them free, but from the hip down, I am immobilized. With her right hand, she pinches her skin above the sternum, and pulls slightly. To my amazement, she pulls a thin sturdy arrow, fully fletched, from her body.
She winks at me before turning her attention back to her darkness cloaked target. She points the bow towards the ground, notches the arrow, and draws the bow as she aims with her left hand into the darkness. It is apparent she sees something as I watch her face tracking the mobile target. To my alarm, I realize the target is moving around us, stopping only when my double’s arrow is aimed at me.
“Wait! I can’t move!” I hold my hands in front of me in a vain attempt to protect myself.
“I know. I knew it couldn’t resist trying to use you as a shield.” She completes the draw, pulling her right hand to her jaw. She imbues the arrow with her power, the arrowhead glowing deeply crimson.
“The fuck are you doing!” I’m shrieking in panic. I hear a noise behind me, somewhat distant, but well within range of the bow.
“Kerian Nox. You are going to have to make a choice. The more you use ‘occult’ techniques, the more into the occult you are going to delve into.” The arrowhead pulses with my heartbeat. The shaft now also glowing with the crimson blood color. “You are going to have to decide between being a good Christian woman, and being true to Yourself. Because, my dear Kerian, the two are not compatible.”
“What’s behind me?” The noise is getting closer. Something is approaching, scrambling on the ground behind me, crouching low to avoid being struck. The closer it came, the greater my fear.
“Does it matter?” She is so calm. Her arm muscles so taut. The bow is trembling from the potential energy she was holding in it. I could feel the lust of the arrow to fly. “This time, I can and will intervene. But I can’t step where I don’t have leave to. If you choose to dabble while walking a Christian path, I will not be able to help you again. And face it, you suck as a Christian.”
I feel something scratching lightly at my back. At its touch, I recognize it from the terrors of my childhood. The demons have found me. The demons I was promised to by the sorcerer I worked with in high school. The demons I disavowed when I embraced what I thought was Christianity. I could hear them whispering, thanking me for opening the door to them again. Whispering they haven’t forgotten their promises of feasting on my soul and mind in exchange for their servitude decades ago.
And I was bound fast to where I stood and couldn’t escape. All I could do was scream. I covered my face and started screaming. I couldn’t call on the angels or the promises of God because I WAS dabbling again. I twisted violently but could not free myself from either demon nor binding.
-twang- I opened my eyes just in time to watch the freed arrow pierce my chest. It entered me on the same spot my double had fetched it from, right over the sternum. When it touched my skin, there was a very bright flash. A flash of light and of insight. I knew then, the arrow would not, could not harm me. All of time paused in the moment of touch. Then I yielded to the arrow and it passed through me like a gust of air through an open window as time started again.
The demonic shadows behind me, weren’t treated as gently. Before I could look over my shoulder, I felt the exiting arrow push against, then pierce, my shirt. Then a horrific wet rip as the arrow sliced roughly against the demons behind me. The sound of flesh being unmade should have contributed to my horror, but I found it strangely satisfying. As the shadow demons were unmade by the explosive effect of the arrow, I felt a lightness of freedom lift my spirits.
I look back to my double, her bow arm slowly descending. A greatly satisfied smile on her face. “So. You’re free.” With those words, I could move my legs again. I approached her, my body double, and raised a hand to thank her but she took a step backwards.
“Seriously, Keri. You have a lot of thinking to do. I could help you this time, only because you gave me freedom to do so. But you know, damn well, what will be expected of you if you remain Christian. To them, I’m just another demon like the ones I disembodied. Personally, I think you’re capable of defending yourself and more. But to find out, you have to take yourself back from those you have bent the knee to. And if you ever want to wield this,” she raises the longbow, “you have to master yourself. You have to be Yourself. All this little shit won’t matter, if you persist in allowing other people to determine who you are.”
She releases the bow. As it falls, it disintegrates into the nothingness that surrounds us. “Your trials are just beginning. Make the choice, before it is made for you. And whatever you choose, you better abide by it fully and with every ounce of your being. If you want to remain Christian, then do so. Devote yourself fully and truly. But make sure you can remain clean of… dabbling.”
My body double makes a gesture before me. She takes a step backwards like if to curtsey, and she bows her head slightly in a half nod. She brings her hands up to her face, palms together. Then drops her hands, parting them so they are palm up and spread out by her side. Her gesture complete, she disappears and I am left in the void of my mind, completely alone.
“Well, ain’t this some shit. I guess I better wake up.” So I did.
A few months later, I made my formal break with Christianity. I said the words of the Apostate and believed it in the depths of my heart. Christ is not my savior. Not really knowing what to do, I started my stumbling along the pagan path.
Since then, the bow-wielding double has made many, many appearances in dreams and visions. On occasion, instead of her appearing as separate from me, she appears in me. Sometimes, in an impromptu trance work ritual, I will become the bow-wielder. Speaking runes and power into the notched arrow, letting it fly knowing my magic is complete. Then the bow leaves me and I’m left wondering what the hell just happened.
The Bow-wielder has been on my mind a lot these past several weeks. So much so, I am compelled to write of her today.
I wonder how much have I become her, and how much more is she greater than me.
Make of it, what you will.