Photo Credit: D. M. Roadifer

Magdellaina was a whirlwind, all energy with no control or inhibitions. I was in awe of her. Lainie had all the qualities I didn’t: she was unafraid to speak her mind, unabashedly hedonistic and gorgeous. I was more than a little in love with her and the fact that she studied magick was an added bonus.

I was surprised, though, when she asked to join me in a Full Moon Ritual. Despite my years of study, natural abilities and a summer spent with my mentor, I was still a fledgling Witch with a lot to learn. My self-initiation was a few months behind me and my only partner in magick up until then was Lynx, an admitted Gray Witch. Lainie and I came from even more disparate schools of thought. I was resolutely Wiccan whereas Lainie’s Native American grandmother taught her the basics and her knowledge was augmented by a year spent abroad.

I couldn’t say no to her, few people could. Lainie was a force of nature; she was dynamic and magnetic and not to be trifled with for she was as quick to anger as to laugh.

The night of the full Moon we slipped out of the dormitory near midnight, making our way to the creek that ran through campus. We were all nerves and giggles, as if we were doing something illicit, even though no one cared. Magick wasn’t a crime. We scurried down a set of steps to a cement platform overlooking the brook. It was out of the way, even during daylight hours, so we wouldn’t be disturbed by raucous frat guys, but we still had a perfect view of the full Moon hanging above.

It was one of those hot, autumn nights in the desert, where even the breeze rustling through the trees didn’t bring relief. Lainie set up the circle, sweeping back dead foliage, exposing the rough concrete beneath. She sketched out a pentacle with chalk, adding symbols I didn’t recognize. She said they were Arabic elemental symbols to strengthen the circle. A cold chill snaked down my spine and my inner voice screamed at me to leave. I didn’t heed it, too caught up in Lainie’s enthusiasm.

We walked the circle together, spreading holy water and blessed salt. Lainie chanted in a language I didn’t understand, one she’d picked up in North Africa. We sat within the circle across from each other, the Full Moon lighting our way as we lit the white candles set on the compass points. In the center of the pentacle I created a small mound of blessed sea salt while Lainie kindled the incense in the brass censer; she lit the red candle while I poured holy water into a vessel. We had all the elements covered: Earth, Air, Fire and Water as well as their corresponding directions: North, East, South and West.

She grinned devilishly and produced a bottle of Blackstone wine from her bag. She winked, “An offering for the Gods and us.” She opened it and took a slug. She offered me the bottle but I shook my head. She shrugged and took another drink before pouring a generous libation in the middle of the circle.

Lainie wanted to do the ritual and I agreed. This was now her rite, not mine; I felt as if I was there to be her audience, not a participant.

She held out her hands and I took them, our bodies creating a circle within the circle. She closed her eyes and started chanting in Arabic. I closed my eyes and pulled energy up from the Earth through my spine, anchoring myself to the World while filling myself with Power. I breathed slowly, finding the rhythm in Laine’s chant and using her song to fuel my magick. I pushed the energy within me outward, forming it into a sphere of Power, encompassing us in a perfect bubble of protection.

Lainie gasped in pain; I opened my eyes and reflexively dropped her hands.

She was surrounded by a swirling black mass. The sight of it undulating around her made me physically ill. It obscured her features so all I could see were her green eyes glowing from within the darkness.

She spoke, and her voice was strangled, “Can you see it?”

“Yeah, what is it?” My own voice trembled. I’d seen some weird shit in my life but nothing like this. It was not of this plane and should not have manifested in it.

She shook her head and didn’t answer me. “You need to go. I can get rid of it.”

“Lainie?”

“No, Rowan. This is my burden. I don’t want it infecting you. Take down the circle and leave.” She closed her eyes and began to chant.

I closed my eyes and reached out to the sphere of protection, prepared to remove it just as I’d built it. It’s something I’d done hundreds of times but this time a thought occurred to me.

Whatever was in the circle with us had come from within not from without. I hadn’t trapped the demon, for lack of a better term, inside the circle with us, it was already there. And it hadn’t come from me.

I saw Lainie through new eyes as I brought down the protection circle and released the energy back into the Earth. Lainie’s lifestyle caught up to her – the drinking and drugs had more than a physical effect on her, it had a mystical one as well, and now she had to battle it on a spiritual level.

I cleaned up the remains of our physical circle, removing all traces of magick from the platform. All the while Lainie chanted and the black mass twisted around her. I’d catch sight of it from the corner of my eye and each time I got nauseous.

As I scattered leaves over the blurred chalk circle I said, “Lainie, I’m leaving. Are you coming with me?”

She shook her head, “No, I have to take care of this. Go home, Rowan, this has nothing to do with you.”

“May the Lord and Lady protect you.” I murmured as I stumbled up the steps, leaving her alone with her personal demon.

Lainie laughed, but there was no amusement in her voice, “The Gods aren’t here anymore.”

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