Dreamt Hell had frozen over and I managed to attend a pagan con. There was a clash of cliques in one of the hallways and I got caught in the crowd that assembled to watch the catfight. As I struggled to move away from the knot of bruised egos, I was able to overhear enough of the verbal weaponry to understand the core of the conflict.
A fight over bloodlines usually ends with blood spilled. I had no desire for any of that promise to be fulfilled with any of mine.
Before I could get out of the crowd of onlookers, someone reached from behind me and grabbed my left hand.
“Sister! Join your power to ours and defend your family!”
I stopped and turned viciously to my assaulter. “Whose family?” I snatched my hand out of hers, scratching myself harshly on her many rings. “This whole day I had waited patiently to ask you and yours some questions, and this whole day the only words you returned to me were the insults you allowed me to overhear. I don’t wear your desired visual markers for blackness but now that your ass is on fire, you count me as one of your own?”
Behind her, the leader of the opposing clique mocked her for having to “drag mud to find water”. The woman who challenged me reddened in embarrassment and anger.
The challenger simultaneously reached for me again while turning to literally spit expletives at the domineering other. I lifted my uninjured hand to shield myself and received another set of deep scratches in payment for my independence.
People backed away from me as the deep scratches on both hands started to bleed. Not enough to be life-threatening, but enough to drip blood off the fingers. I asked for a towel or a handful of napkins to keep the blood from staining the carpet while also asking to be allowed to leave as I had no part in the conflict and had no desire to join them. No one moved to assist me.
“We… I… misjudged you earlier, I will admit. There are so many who think a hint of color allows them the right to what my ancestors…”
“YOUR ancestors? How the hell are they not mine as well? Am I too mixed for you to accept as black? White people sure as shit don’t have that problem! There are only six mothers between me and my direct maternal ancestor stolen from Africa. I’ll let you guess how many of them owned the choice to bear a child lighter than they. Why the hell are you judging me for the choices made by white men in power?”
She reached for me. To console me or to control me, I didn’t care. I slapped her hand away while forgetting that both hands were bleeding. The thin arc of blood singed her arm from a surprising heat. Everyone quietly looked down at the floor to watch the drops of blood move away from me to burn a blackened ring in the carpet around me.
“Blood so filthy it burns even in air.” The domineering woman snarled from a safe distance away. “This is why your house struggles. You lay with mongrels and wonder why your power never lasts, when you have power at all! Sic your new bitch upon me. I’ll have her hide to make new shoes to kick your ass with.”
That’s it. I’m done. “Sangre. Sucia.” The words flowed too calmly from my mouth and for a moment I frightened myself. “I used to want to be a part of your houses. But my hispanic bloodlines disqualified me, and my lack of ethnic markers were a mark in themselves. I lacked the funds to buy your approval of me, and lacked the resources you could leech from me, so you both judged me as filth, sucia, and promised me only fire to be purged by.”
I felt my wounds heat as the open scratches began to weep flame. “The promises were kept. By the Boneyard flames have I been purged. By holy flames have I been cleansed. To your standards, I am still an unclean mongrel of mixed blood and no heritage. I am only good to you when you can use me to hurt other people, to hurt each other, to keep your own hands clean.”
I lifted my hands and the scratches deepened into gashes by the actions. Burning blood flowed from me onto the floor and formed a ring of blood and fire around me that no one dared to cross. “I am barred from your communities for lack of family and lack of relevance. I will not challenge that. I am barred from your houses for lack of initiation and lack of sponsorship. I will not challenge that. But you would bar me from existing because by existing, I challenge you.”
I pressed my bloody hands together as I found I no longer had tears to mourn the loss of something I never had hope to have. I smiled. “Fuck. You.”
The challenging woman stepped away from the spreading ring of burning blood. She pointed a ring-heavy finger at me in accusation. “You. You are the foul spirit that is driving the families apart! I was fooled! You are no help! You are [the Devil]!”
“Typical. What you cannot use, you foul. Harpies keep harping, I guess.” She said other words that were reflected by the deeper tones of the domineering woman, but I had stopped paying attention. I was fascinated by the gleam of the near boiling blood squirming around my wounded hands. It had rolled itself into something that resembled thin snakes of garnet. The accusation of being an agent of [the Devil] amused me and reminded me of [OG], but I did not sense him actively nearby. Doesn’t mean he’s not up to some shit just the same.
From what I have been able to trace of my physical bloodline, I am primarily a descendant of peoples originally from the middle of the African continent. But I am also a descendant of the Tsars and even bear one of their names as one of Fate’s inside jokes. I am a descendant of Carib peoples secondarily, but also a descendant of several indigenous peoples scattered through Mesoamerica and the southern American continent.
My blood is very well mixed. Very well mezclada.
However “sangre mezclada” is a clinical term that describes me without emotion. Without judgement. Those words have no potency here.
“Sangre Sucia.” I whispered to the writhing clots and they ceased movement. Holding in impossible stillness, I felt my blood waiting for… something… I did not understand what could come next.
“Yo soy El Vaso de Sangre Sucia. La Ladrón de Los Dioses. Yo soy la Cuerva Negra que vuela libre arriba y debajo de la tierra.” I gripped the still burning clots of blood clinging to my hands. “And I may not know all I have, but I know I have this. It will just take me longer to learn what this is since the only teacher I have is la sangre sucia itself.”
I looked up and saw the formerly hostile women now standing side by side with each other. United to confront what they perceived was a threat to their way of life. Ready to confront me.
I tire of this theme repeating in my life. So many promises of community and acceptance, but only if I subjugate the very things that define me in the first place. This time however, I did not mourn the lack of what was never mine. If this is the drama those two women want to play out, about whose bloodline is more pure, more true than the other, then fucking let them.
I became fully lucid at last in the dream. I relaxed my hands and the blood soaked into my skin as the wounds healed. I dropped my hands and the ring of fire on the floor extinguished.
I regarded the two women closely, and realized neither one of them were reflections of anyone I knew. Just embodiments of the same damn set of responses when I inquire about traditions.
“Fuck this shit, I’m out.”
The dream ended as once.