[i]"It's all right, it's all right, all right;
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She moves in mysterious ways.
-U2, "Mysterious Ways"
I sit on a high-backed wooden chair, in a pristine white dress, with my head wrapped in a kerchief of white cotton. I try to get comfortable, cracking my back a few times, and smile at my godsiblings in the semi-circle of chairs. At least two Sundays a month, I visit my godfather’s house; the godkids descend on him in the late afternoon with stories and food and gossip until it’s time to settle down and get ready for the misa. The spiritual mass. The séance. We are all facing my godfather’s kitchen table, which thirty minutes ago was cluttered with our supper plates, and is now covered in a white tablecloth and set with a vase of white flowers, nine goblets of water, and white candles.
My godfather’s deep, strong voice covers up our mistakes as we stumble through Spanish songs giving praise to the saints, and one by one we approach the table. We reach down into a large bowl of scented water on the floor, and with firm hands, we sweep over our entire bodies in a pantomime of a standing bath. We cleanse ourselves spiritually and, so anointed, we salute the spirits. Back in our chairs as the songs end, the medium begins a litany of Spanish prayers as I clasp my hands in my lap and close my eyes.
We say an “Our Father,” and it is the first time in over ten years that I have done so.
When the prayers are over, we all sigh into the silence. And wait. I light a cigar; I only ever smoke at misas.
The messages start to come from the medium and from others in the circle. “Be careful with your health.” “Your gypsy spirit wants more flowers on her altar.” “Someone at work is gossiping about you.” “Say a prayer to Santa Clara.” I try and clear and open my mind like I did back when I was a tarot card reader, or like I did back when I studied Zen. It’s much, much harder than it sounds. We take the messages that come through and mull them over as the air becomes thick with tobacco and incense. I keep trying to clear my mind and open it up to possibilities. My feet start to twitch. I feel as if there is music just beyond the reach of my hearing, and, in vain, I try to hum along. My feet arch upwards so that they are resting on the balls, as if I am wearing heels.
I close my eyes and try to relax my muscles, but it is as if the lower half of my body is suddenly running on a different circuit. My knees begin bouncing, as if I am nervous, and as I place my hands on my knees I marvel at the fact that I can not stop them. I press down on them, gently, but they keep going. Now my feet are leaving the floor when they bounce, and I vaguely recall a story about a girl with red shoes, but my shoes are white. I open my eyes, and the medium has approached me and beckons me out of my chair.
He starts singing again, and cleansing me with the scented waters, as he spins me around like a ballerina in a music box. I spin and spin. I can’t stop. There is a laugh bubbling up in my throat, but I can’t get it out and suddenly I feel like I am falling, falling, falling and, yet, still spinning. At the height of my dervish-like revolutions, I hip-check the kitchen table and it’s enough to snap me back. I realize that I am in the arms of the medium, my friend, and that we must look like he has dipped me at the conclusion of a very dramatic dance: I am still on the balls of my feet and my back is arched backward at a 90-degree angle. My kerchief has fallen off my head, and if my hair was longer, it would brush the floor.
I am extremely self-aware and present, mentally, but my physical body is still stubbornly contorted. I relax, and try to feel out if the presence that has been with me is still there. It’s like when you’re a child, and you’re running in and out of the kitchen, and the screen door keeps slamming behind you, and your mama finally get so exasperated she shouts: “In or out? Pick one and stay there!” Well, this time, she’s staying out. For the first time in over ten minutes, I have control over my feet. I stand, on my own, and the medium guides me back to my chair.
I take a deep breath.
I have another cigar.
It is the closest I have ever come to being mounted. To passing the spirit. To being possessed.
Originally posted to my Live Journal for LJ Idol
Lit.org Blog: http://amandakcampbell.lit.org/wordpress/