MADAME MOTHER MIRIAM
This is going to be fun, she thought as she settled into the soft velvet chair. She set her forearm crutches on the floor beside the chair and smiled at Mother Miriam’s assistant, a beautiful black girl with dark and inquisitive eyes, sitting in a chair beside Mother Miriam’s figurative throne.
The girl smiled back, saying in her Bayou accent, “Miss Miriam…” (pronounced Meeree-ahm) “…will be here in only a moment or two.” She stood and sasheyed from the room with stunning grace, leaving her to her thoughts.
This trip was a long time coming, this sojourn from their home in Maine down here to haunted New Orleans, as both were interested in the paranormal and had lots of fun with all its many diverse delights. They’d been friends for pretty much all their adult lives, and ever since the multiple sclerosis had worsened, her dearest and best friend in all the world doted on her, really overdoing it, but she couldn’t complain. It had become difficult to walk since the MS spasticity had struck her legs and caused painful contractions and weakness, necessitating the forearm crutches.
When the diagnosis of the MS came down like God’s gavel in an echoing and lonely chamber, it just piled onto a lifetime of weakness and feverishness and frequent illness. The diagnoses were as varied as the number of specialists she’d seen, but none could help…ever. She’d stopped the medications long ago, which ignited a heated argument with her parents. But she was stubborn, and this was good for her way of being.
Despite it all, she’d managed to stay positive and happy, and with her friend giving so much of herself, providing reinforcement, strength and emotional and physical support whenever possible, life had become something of a contented smile for her, a smile that just sort of lived in the middle of her.
Their strategy for the day was sound. Since she couldn’t get around so well, she’d sent her friend off shopping while she herself planned to hobble browsingly about and check out some of the local color involving the rich tradition of voodoo magic in this part of the world. She was surprised by the number of “Queens” and “Priestesses” and “Mothers” and “Reverends” there were around here, in their shadowed dens, rattling their gourds and shaking their chickens feet, speaking in tongues. Well, anyway, that was her probably quite stereotyped perception. After all, her entire experience with voodoo came from TV and movies, but she’d also read an interesting book…what was it called? Something about a serpent…oh and maybe a rainbow. It was years ago she’d read it.
There were incense burning over there on the table behind Mother Miriam’s throne, and she found it to be pleasantly and mildly intoxicating, which likely accounted for her wistful day-dreamy mood right this second. This had all been so much fun, and maybe this experience would be the icing on the cake. Covering everything were masks, both tribal and like those you’d find at a masquerade, dried plants, old bottles and tapestries, and animal bones, and some quite good art pieces that looked as though they’d been done in oil or acrylic. They were visionary pieces, like the visions a shaman might see in an altered state, where everything is a flow of brilliantly colored energy patterns with stylized renditions of animal totems, like panthers and snakes. Squinting, she made out a signature at the bottom, also heavily stylized, so much so she couldn’t be sure it said MM. If so, then Mother Miriam was also a gifted artist.
There was a rustling sound beyond the curtained and beaded doorway, and then a surprisingly tall woman with a markedly noble bearing breezed in with a flourish, bringing in her wake unidentifiable scents. She wore a wrap on her head that resembled a turban, and it had a deep red stone shaped like an eye on its front. In the little bit of light, the stone “winked” at her. For a top she wore a simple bright purple, short-sleeved shirt with breast pockets, and denim jeans which accentuated her figure.
Mother Miriam descended into her chair with such grace it all seemed contrived, yet she was pretty sure it was just her natural way. Around her neck she wore a variety of stones and amulets, each without question worn for a specific magical purpose, but absolutely nothing on her fingers. This seemed curious. Looking her square in the eye with a discomfiting penetration, the priestess smiled radiantly and said with a thick Bayou accent, “What can I see for you today?”
“Hi...” she smiled unsurely, “…I heard of you on a TV show and had a pretty strong feeling I needed to meet you…”
“Oh, dat,” the priestess said with a dismissive wave of her hand, and then she laughed with infectious gusto. “Dose fools. We toold nutting but lies. Never would we give away our secrets! Can you imagine anything so abzurd! It was truly fun, dough. Did you enjoy da show?”
“I did. And I knew you couldn’t have been showing them anything. That’s a big reason I wanted to meet you. I wanted to see a real priestess in real action.”
“Oh, my darling flamingo, dat is only your conscious mootivation.”
“I suspected that. It was an intuitive compulsion I followed. And here I am,” she finished, hands splayed, eyes honest and blinking, a twinkly smile blazing away just above her chin.
“Well then let us see what there is to see, and I see there is much to see.”
Mother Miriam unbound and unrolled a piece of worn and stained leather. On it was a circle formed with a dark red pigment of some kind, and around it and within it symbols she couldn’t make out, much less understand, except for one that was like an all-seeing eye. From a bowl made from the top of a small human skull, she took what appeared to be small animal bones. Closing her eyes, she muttered what was probably some sort of prayer, or benediction, in an unknown tongue. Then she cast the bones onto the leather.
“Hmmmm…ah…mmm,” toned Mother Miriam, looking into and what really looked like through the bones and leather. Then she closed her eyes and waved her hands through the air in a motion you might use to splash your face with water. It looked as though she was gathering smoke that wasn’t there and in a sense concentrating it, all the while breathing in erratic gasps through her nose. Then she opened her eyes wide and spoke briefly in a completely alien tongue with the voice of a male somehow acoustically laid over her own. Even her facial features had morphed a little, the set of the chin, the cheekbones. It was wild to see, and a little intimidating. But this woman’s energy was so kind and open and comforting.
“Darling, one of da most difficult parts of what I doo is sharing da troot…” (no “h” sound with it) “…if my clients want to hear it. Sometimes dey doon’t. Noo shame in it if you doon’t. You can leave and pay me nutting, and we can be grateful of our short time together.”
“That bad, huh?”
“Oh…der is nutting bad. Der is oonly da belief in da bad.”
“Will it make me cry?”
Blinking, the priestess nodded knowingly, her eyes a marvel of wordless communication.
“Does it have to do with my health? With my…my condition?”
“Am I gonna die or something?”
“If death were actually true, den noo.”
“I want to hear it.”
The following is a transcript from the digital recording, absent the Bayou-accented spellings, which is why it’s included here in this more readable and mildly edited form.
“You were a rich girl from a powerful noble family. This was sometime in the sixteen hundreds, I think, in France. I have to admit to a little surprise, as you used something our religion might use for some reason or another, usually for a reason of bringing harm.
“You were spoiled, and untempered, even with your family’s every effort to put into your conscious being something of their breeding. It was a failure. You were jealous, given to rages, and they were often embarrassed by you in public, or in social situations. You didn’t know it, but your father seriously considered killing you…having you killed. A riding accident…that sort of thing. You were strikingly pretty, the blood you came from, your skin porcelain and your hair raven. Your beauty is one of the things that got you in your many troubles.”
“I’m not so sure I believe in past lives, in reincarnation,” interjected our heroine’s voice on the recording. “I’ve read about it. I’m interested in that stuff. I get why they believe in it, but I’m not so sure there isn’t a more rational explanation for it.”
“It is the most rational explanation for it, but what you believe is of no consequence and can never alter the truth. Anyway, you will know the truth of it one way or another, maybe by the time we’ve finished telling this story.
“The family employed an astrologer to help with business decisions, which helped your father and uncle increase their already large holdings, and he was a man who could see through your false outer self, and for this you were grateful. He spoke through me just a moment ago. It was only with him you felt truly comfortable, because he was one who knew you were mentally ill with something like what they would now call maybe dissociative disorder, or even mild psychosis.
“You had a friend who was not of the so-called noble blood, a girl who could have been your sister and who was your age. She was the daughter of a busy metal-smith, and so her family was by no means poor. To hang out with her presented no social or political problems for the family, and so you did. You found true joy with her, but you were also secretly jealous. This friend, she also understood you, like the astrologer.
“The astrologer showed you many things, taught you many things, a lot of it similar to what I know and do. He understood plants, and metals, and minerals, and was an ok healer, though the cleanliness around the manor held away many of the common ailments of the time. His concoctions helped to keep your family in quite good health, especially for the time. One of the things he taught you was the use of a medicine made from a plant. It takes a true artist to make it correctly. In small doses, it can be good for health, but in large doses it will cause someone to go into what your doctors call a catatonic coma, where even breathing and heartbeat are so slow and faint even someone who knows what they’re looking for can miss these life signs. It has many names and has been used by magi for thousands of years, but one that fits with your story is a slang word I can’t share with you that means ‘not really dead.’
“Whoa…do I really want to hear this?”
“Darling, in my line of work that is a question that can’t be answered by anybody but you. Although in my opinion you might want to look at the facts. You have a condition your doctors have made you to believe is multiple sclerosis. Even though you have come to accept this difficulty, it has burrowed into the back corner of your mind and festers there like a wound that someone chooses to ignore. Ignoring it is its biggest source of anger and the sore becomes inflamed, and anger lives like a plague all over the entanglements and agreements of this story. You watched a TV show. You saw me. You had an intuition you needed to see me. You and your friend had been talking about and planning this trip for years…”
“Wait…how do you know that?”
“Darling, I see everything that must be seen to help those who seek me. But those are the facts, and truth and fear are not good bed-mates. You can choose truth, or you can choose fear. Either way I understand your choice, and we can have tea together on the street and talk about the shivering cold of Maine. But I must tell you, the telling of this is going to release a flow of energy that can’t be stopped, and so not much further into this we’ll be at the point of no return.”
“Well, I guess all I’ve ever done is try to move past the fear. I don’t see a reason to change that now. Please go on.” As she was transcribing the recording back home in Maine, she remembered settling comfortably back into the chair despite the completely unsettling feeling she had in the pit of her gut. She also remembered her palms were sweating.
“There was a very handsome young man who had never taken a wife. You weren’t interested in him until your friend and he got close, and then were lovers. You were jealous, and only because that is the way you were. If she’d have given him up for you, you’d have cast him aside like garbage. You created all kinds of monstrous stories in your mind so you could justify what you knew you were going to do. You believed they said cruel things about you when they were alone together. And when you were with them, especially when drinking wine, you flirted with him but got no response in return, fanning your flames even more.
“Then one day your friend fell ill, and to everyone’s surprise and horror she died within two days. Her funeral service was held three days later in the churchyard, the box lowered and buried. You were there, a vicious smile inside your black heart. You cried on your friend’s beau’s shoulder, and tried seducing him to sleep with you, to help with your grief. He rejected you, truly disgusted, and you vowed to get him as well.
“Later that same night, your friend awoke in the burial box, in the pitch black, confused and terrified beyond all reason. After a time, she was able to calm herself enough to begin reasoning through everything. It wasn’t long before she knew it was you who had done this to her…”
“No no NO! Stop! I…I…no way could I do that to a friend!”
“Oh…Darling, you did, and so have we all, almost always for those we love.”
“I don’t want to hear anymore!”
“But don’t you see it is too late? Now it must be finished.”
When transcribing the recording, she was haunted, still is, by the sound of Mother Miriam’s voice as it became strangely monotone and solemn as she spoke some unknown words. Then she said, “You will sit and listen.”
If you had been a fly on the wall you would have seen Mother Miriam hold her hand out near her client’s face, the fingers splayed as though preparing to catch a ball. Using a low-level mesmeric technique, she burst a thoughtform into her which demanded acquiescence and put the subject in a more receptive frame of mind. This was all good, as she had to speak to other aspects of her physically disabled client.
“She remembered you telling her of the drug. That’s how she pieced it together. It was only a short time before she used all of the oxygen and with her re-breathing the poison exhaled air she became feverish and away from her mind. Her rage became a force of nature, and nature spirits of the Earth were instantly seized in her emotionally discharged web, though she didn’t know this. She cursed and swore at you, screaming her white-hot hatred. She scraped and pounded so hard against the wood of the box her fingernails were torn from their beds and her knuckles bleeding. In those few minutes, she lost her humanity altogether and became a sort of animal self. In her screamings, she vowed to haunt you for the rest of your life, and so a fragment of her tried doing this along with the Earth spirits which got caught in her rage storm and obeyed the thought images.
During the transcription, she remembered vague images of memory of this event floating in and out of her awareness, and on the recording she was crying with loud sobs and sniffs.
“When she died, her middle awareness, the essence of your friend’s conscious self was taken by ancestors to an astral area to help her understand what had just happened. Her low self didn’t understand, though, because they often can’t, and it was detached from the body, leaving it in a limbo to this day it doesn’t understand…”
“To this day?”
If you were to hear the recording, you’d have heard this nearly shouted through intense sobbing.
“Darling, we’ll be coming to that. It tried to re-attach to the body over and over for what to us would have been months, but for it was only a wink in a frame of non-time. It gave up and came to understand in a very child-like way the Earth spirits who’d been caught up in the rage were its only friends. They became merged in ways that are hard to explain, and became what you would call a ghost that tried haunting you.
“You had no guilt, no conscience about it. You weren’t really capable of it, and so the ghost had no way to slip through your armor and get to you, to make you sick, to have its revenge. The astrologer had a fuzzy idea you were behind the girl’s passing, but he could say nothing. He prayed for many nights to keep himself from giving the ghost a doorway into you. He had learned to fear you, and from then on kept his distance. But he left you a note that said, ‘If you do that to anyone else I will forfeit my life to expose your terrible secret.’”
“Oh this is so awful. So awful. I can’t stand myself.”
“That is an expected response from those who do not understand, which is almost everyone. Anyway, your friend’s very emotionally charged low self, this ghost, had power it didn’t understand, and rage is almost all it knew. It caused havoc around the manor, moving and breaking things. The astrologer sneaked away one night, never to return, so affected was he by all of this typically tragic series of events. With him gone, the family brought in a priest, and eventually a famous exorcist. Despite their best efforts, they failed at turning your passed friend’s low self into a demon, but it watched sneeringly as they mumbled emptily through their prayers and demands. Eventually the manor was abandoned in favor of another, and your friend’s low self followed you to the new one, but it had learned a little something. It discovered it had something of a will, and with animal cunning decided to stop moving and breaking things so everything would settle into a routine. Then it found out it could get into your dreams, because that level, the dream level, is where it exists. It could then scare hell out of you at night, and then it found out the fear emotions were food, and it became stronger by consuming it. Generally happy, in a very limited animalistic way, it was content to fuel your nightmares and feed from the fear energy until the day you passed."
“Wow,” she’d heard herself say quietly on the recording. “As a kid I had what they call…”
“And I still have nightmares, but I’ve become so used to them I just wake myself up, drink some water, and go back to sleep.”
“Darling, I want you to know this is a far more common and typical story than you can imagine, and there is nobody that can’t tell it of their own multiple lives, including your friend. What is important for you to know now is your general sense of guilt even now, a guilt that seems to have no source, is what has let it through your shell, and it uses…”
“It’s still with me?” she’d heard herself shout on the recording.
“Of course. What would have caused it to go away?”
“Even after being born again? How’d it find me?”
“The same way a dog finds its owners’ home after being lost a thousand miles away. The same way fish know where to go breed. The same way swans know where to go when they fly South. Through instinct.”
“But…was…am I the next life?”
“The next one here, yes.”
When she was transcribing the recording back home, she remembered feeling genuinely perplexed by that statement, and forgot all about it afterwards.
“And it waited for four hundred fucking years?” she remembered shouting, livid about it all.
“Time doesn’t exist for it. Creatures like that don’t feel the passage of what you think of as time. Neither do I, for that matter. It’s just now, and it’s the same for it. So…it has influenced your own low self. Your own low self is perfectly aware of the guilt that was carried over…”
“I thought I hadn’t felt any guilt.”
“Let me say it another way. The personality that was her felt no guilt, but the memory of the event lives in you. You have a conscience, and therefore the guilt. Your lower self is quite aware of this guilt, and through its limited reasoning and programming you taught it, it only knows punishment. Therefore, your friend’s low self, which had become quite strong by now, had an in to your inner world, an opening, and together they’ve been punishing you since maybe six years after your birth. You have always been weak and given to illness, yes?”
“Yes. This is why I have MS?”
“It’s why you are sick, yes, but it is not MS. Your doctors don’t know this at all. It’s been bred out of them to understand this level of psychology.”
On the recording, some chimes sounded and Mother Miriam’s voice said, “Ah, there she is now.”
“Your friend. Your victim.”
She remembered being shocked to numbness by this revelation. She remembered whispering to Miriam, "My friend now was my friend then?"
Mother Miriam nodded in that doubtless way of hers, communicating volumes.
Oh my Gawd, she had silently mouthed to the Priestess. No way.
"Moana, please show our new guest back?"
Then a new voice materialized on the recording, excited and gleaming. “Hey there, Gimp! I’ve had so much fun! I hope I’m not interrupting. Ooooo, the energy in here is heavy. What’s goin’ on?”
“I...I'm speechless. I don't know what to think. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
“Reeeeely? That sounds fun!”
“It’s not so fun. Suffice it to say that I murdered you four hundred years ago, and your ghost is with us in this room right this second, making me sick.”
“Oh come on! Is this what this…this lady told you?”
“I remember most of it, actually.”
Mother Miriam’s voice cut in. “The low self of your past body has emerged from within your friend, and you two are occupying the same space at the moment. It’s not appreciative of this, and is quite confused. Could you step to your left, please? Thank you.
“I can help you with all of this, but it will take some time. Freeing you of this poor brainless creature will not be so difficult, because it can be reasoned with through thoughtforms to replace some of the things it believes. Getting your own lower self to be good with it all will take more work. Would you like my help?”
“Are you telling me my MS will go away?”
“Oh come on! You’re not going…”
“Shut up! What are you telling me?”
“That you will be well. But an important part of this must be known right now. I think you’d better sit down, Dear.”
On the recording, it was clear this last sentence was directed to our heroine’s friend.
“Your friend continues to feed off of you even now, draining you of your life energy, still set on revenge. That is the unconscious connection she has to her orphaned low self and memory imprint she can’t cope with or clearly see to examine. She’s only aware…”
“I’ve had enough of this,” the friend’s voice sliced into the recording.
“You don’t really believe what this bitch is saying, do you?”
“Yes. I think you’d better go. I’ll just see you later. It’s all good. Just go.”
“Fine! Wow! I can’t believe this!”
The recording reported a shuffle and some chimes.
“Her conscious self, the woman you think you know…she’s only aware she feels better around you, and her doting on you is just an excuse to stay nearby so she can continue the energy draining she’s been doing since the day you met. All of this can be solved, but it could take a day or two to make preparations for the more difficult parts.”
“I want it…I want it…I don’t want to deal with this anymore. I’ll sell my car to pay you!”
“Let’s think about such things another time. Would you like me to email the recording to play for your friend? It would help her to understand, maybe even loosen some memory pieces for her.”
In the end, it all got solved, and the phantom “MS” dissipated with very little fanfare. So moved was she by this entire experience, she relocated to New Orleans to learn these skills. Stunned when she found out Mother Miriam was 67 years old, but looked no older than 40, still vibrant and beautiful, she said, “How have you done that?”
“It is by da sex magick I will teach you,” the priestess had said with a wink and a smile.
Our heroine is now a practicing Voodoo Priestess, but she doesn’t let on to anybody the source of the methods. Instead, she maintains a natural healing front for new agers, and is becoming quite popular because of her track record in healings. Some would call them miraculous. To that, she shrugs and says “Hey, it’s just psychology.”
Her best friend gravitated away from her, mainly because the connections had been severed and she could no longer feed, although she didn’t at all believe that was what was going on. But the self-deception she created around it is that her best friend had lost her friggin’ mind. Even for that she wanted revenge, and it hadn’t helped to abate that living entity – the entity that was a feeling – even a little when she received a long and emotional recording from her friend, apologizing for the murder in the past life. She forgave her just to bring closure to it all, but didn’t believe any of it…”not for a second!” she told her new friend, from whom she drained lifeforce, again without knowing it.