Chapter Ten ~ Catnip and Cleavages

Mar 26th, 2014 | By | Category: The Madness & The Magic

Was it right for a vicar to look like Johnny Depp? Minerva was past caring as she tried hard not to appear too fixated on the vision before her… drooling like a dog was not very becoming. David pushed his plate politely away from him and finished his wine, “Compliments to the chef… that was delicious,” he said, dabbing his mouth gently with his serviette. The Celtic knot edging fluttered against the dark goatee beard and Minerva couldn’t help noticing how his eyes glittered in the candlelight. Not that she minded one bit but it struck her as odd that a man of god could look so wickedly devilish.
“Good,” said Minerva rather abruptly, “I’m glad you enjoyed it. Could you taste the saffron?”
“Was it in the rice?” he asked.
“It was in everything,” she hissed, “It’s got…shall we say…certain qualities.”
She smiled slowly over the rim of her glass at him as one dark devilish eyebrow shot up at her. It was pure synchronicity.
“Oh, I see! You wouldn’t have an ulterior motive I don’t suppose?”
“More wine vicar?” She reached across for the bottle, feeling his eyes on her, “Go on be a devil!”
“Fancy bringing him up,” he laughed, “If any one’s going to come between a witch and a vicar I suppose it would have to be him!”
“Well funny you should say that. In the Tarot he’s a sexy beast you know, the embodiment of lust and desire…” She leaned towards him, “Is that allowed…vicar?”
He lowered his gaze to the top of her low cut dress. She had mastered the art of leaning forwards to display her best assets in the most alluring way. And it was working. He couldn’t take his eyes of her or her assets. Encouraged by his response so far, Minerva was pleased the evening was having the desired effect… that she was having the desired effect. She sent a few silent words of praise to the Goddess and stood up.
Without waiting for a reply, she picked up the wine and their glasses and made her way to the sofa, stopping on the way to discreetly add another ten drops of ylang ylang to the oil burner. It was a sweet and sensual aroma full of aphrodisiac qualities and although the evening was clearly going in the right direction, one couldn’t be too presumptuous. Minerva was not leaving a stone un-turned.
“Shall we make ourselves more comfortable?” She gestured dramatically, feeling rather proud of herself.
“It certainly seems like a good idea,” said a smiling David as he joined her.

Everything was going according to plan. The atmosphere was electrifying and alive with anticipation… it tingled and permeated from the walls themselves and David thought how cave-like and primeval it was, just like Minerva. Highlighting a wooden pentacle here and a brass goddess there, the soft glow of candle flames glimmered in unison around the room. The red candles for seduction, Minerva thought, were an obvious choice and with all the magical intent she could muster up she’d carved a word with the end of her nail file along the side of each one. Candle magic had always been a favourite of hers’ because of its simplicity; however one should never underestimate the power of it. Simple – according to Minerva – was always best. She just hoped David wouldn’t notice what she’d etched so carefully onto each one in large letters…
SEX was not exactly a word of discretion just as subtlety was of little use in the ways of magic – that is if one wished it to work. Minerva had never been so focused. The earthy sounds of her new shamanic cd filled the room with its pulsating drum and driving rhythms. Not quite the celestial spheres she chuckled inwardly. There was really no other way to go but deep down and tantric.

As they settled on the sofa, Minerva was careful to position herself so that the amount of flesh exposed was as tasteful as it was seductive. She didn’t want to come across like a brazen hussy (although absurdly she was enjoying feeling like one) and neither did she want to appear too prudish. It was all about getting the right balance.
“Is it too warm in here?” She asked, willing herself not to give in to the dreaded hot flush and prickly heat that threatened beneath the surface of her clammy skin.

“I don’t think so, are you ok?” He couldn’t take his eyes off her… all glistening like a goddess before him.

Such a considerate man, she thought, “Yes,” she lied, “Are you?”

“What’s that smell?”
He reached into his pocket and for a moment she wondered what an earth was in there – she wasn’t quite ready for the bedroom yet – but was relieved when he produced a handkerchief embossed with gold holy crosses. She doubted if god would save him now as violent sneezing proceeded to obliterate the pulsating sounds of the shaman’s drum and poor David pressed his hanky to his face as it turned a darker shade of beetroot. It seemed to go on and on.

“I think it’s that thing over there…” He pointed to the oil burner.

“Oh I am sorry,” said Minerva, “Are you allergic?”

“Only to certain scents, but that’s one of them. Its ylang ylang isn’t it?”

She nodded.

“Yes I thought so. My grandmother used to burn it,” he said, “Had the same effect on me then…”

“Oh I’m so sorry!”  She gushed, “David…Shall we go upstairs… Is it allowed?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” he said in between loud nasal blasts, “Who do you think I need to ask…god?”

“Do you think he’d approve?” She asked, taking his hand and pulling him up the stairs.

“Whole heartedly!” he sniffed, “How could anyone not approve of you Minerva…You’re an angel…in disguise maybe…but definitely an angel no less.”

“Well I’m glad you can see beneath the surface,” She said, peeling off the clingier than ever top, now soaked in a mid- flush sweat.

“Oh I can see alright,” he said, “And I’m liking what I see.”

However, there was something that they both didn’t see. Lucifer… curled up in a tight black ball on the end of Minerva’s bed and undisturbed – until now. That was until every piece of outer clothing had been removed and cast hastily on the floor. And until they had dived under the billowing duvet covers in a flurry of unabandoned urgency.
It was then…that he pounced. It could have been worse, he could have gone for both of them but he was only interested in Minerva. He was frantic. He was possessed. He jumped between them and all over her in a most bizarre fashion, as if he was playing with some toy.
A catnip toy.

“What the…  Lucifer…get off you rogue!” Cried Minerva, tussling with the beast.

“What’s the matter with him?!” David’s muffled voice came from underneath the duvet which he’d managed to pin around himself. Cat claws in such close proximity were not what he’d had in mind.

“I think it’s the catnip! She said, bravely fending off the crazy cat.

“What?! Cat toys in the bed?!”

“No! I’m in the bed!”

“I know you’re in the bed Minerva!” David’s exasperated cries rang round the bedroom, “What in heaven’s name are you talking about?”

“I used the catnip in his toy for the Follow Me Boy! Oil… it’s a spell,” she said impatiently while managing to grab Lucifer by the scruff of the neck.

David looked at her… this wild woman, plugged into the national grid, flaming hair on end, skin beaded with sweat, reddened with bloody scratches and not a stitch on. She was a woman on fire… a sight to behold.

“A spell?” He said, “Well it’s worked Minerva… You’ve got me well and truly under it.” And he didn’t mean the duvet.

“Are you sure?” Said a somewhat sheepish looking Minerva.

“As the Lord is my witness,” said a flustered but deadly serious David.

It hadn’t all been for nothing then, thought Minerva as she threw Lucifer out into the night air and bolted the cat flap firmly behind him.

~ *** ~

Ronnie had been home for weeks and it wasn’t getting any easier. The small thing was an intrusion into her world…. a world shrunk to the size of a baby. It was a constant reminder of the shadow which had been cast over her life and every day it proclaimed: YOU WILL NOT FORGET!  in loud wails until, eventually Ronnie would pick her up without saying a word, just hold her and the small thing would stop. It became an automatic reflex and Ronnie drifted from one day to the next in a trance-like state in this forced robotic role that was motherhood. It did nothing to satisfy the longing she still had for her beloved horse. In fact it was the poorest substitute she could ever imagine and she spent what seemed like hours staring past the small thing and into the empty space around them.
The small thing did not fill the empty shell that she had become. All it did was irritate and wear her down with sleep deprivation and constant demands. The one saving grace was her mother. Without her help she would have crumbled.

“Ronnie darling, have you thought of one yet?” Minerva asked her one morning as they shared breakfast together.

“Thought of what?” said Ronnie, chewing on her toast in slow motion and staring out of the window.

“A name of course! I can’t believe this poor child still doesn’t have one!” She looked at her sleeping granddaughter in the Moses basket beside her.

“No.”

Minerva was getting tired of these one – syllable answers from Ronnie. She was being as patient as she could but it was a virtue wearing thin. She had listened to David and taken on board everything that he’d said… all the good advice. She was trying, she really was. But Ronnie would not snap out of it. This aftermath of fate’s cruel blow, this darkest of moods which had descended upon her; seemed to have her in its grip and was not letting go.
She could at least make some kind of effort to let it go… but no. Minerva didn’t want to push it but it was worrying her. The child needed a name. Without it she was undefined. A no-thing. She didn’t deserve it.

She went to the bookshelf, came back and placed a book firmly on the table in front of Ronnie who glanced down lazily at the cover: ‘The Goddess Path’.

“You might get some inspiration from that…all the names of every Goddess and what they mean,” sighed Minerva, “Both of us are in there, wouldn’t it be lovely if she was too. I’m sure she is… somewhere.”

Ronnie looked at her mother. She would do it for her if nothing else. She leafed through the well- thumbed pages in alphabetical order and stopped at M. That was it. A perfect name.  She turned the book round and pointed it out to her mother, “There it is…that’s her name.”

Minerva caught the hint of darkness in her voice before she saw it. It came as no surprise.
“Morrigan!” she cried, “Goddess of war and death. Oh Ronnie are you sure? Is it fair on the poor thing?”

“Is anything fair mum?! I think it suits her. Very apt don’t you think? She represents the circle of life and isn’t death part of that?  That’s what you’ve always told me and she was born out of it after all. However, she is the patroness of priestesses and Witches so surely that makes up for it!”

Something had stirred thought Minerva. This was the first time she’d seen any kind of life in Ronnie for what had seemed like an age. She daren’t knock it. It was true; the forces of death and darkness were as much a part of life as was the living and the light. She had brought her daughter up to know that and now that she was experiencing it how could she deny its existence? This tiny thing who had entered their lives was here to remind them. How poignant was this divine timing of the Great Goddess?

“Rhiannon, I named you myself and it is only right you should name your daughter. I think it’s actually an incredibly beautiful name. Such power and strength! She will grow into that power just as we have grown into ours and will ever continue to do so for the rest of our lives. This is an important moment…” She stopped and strained to listen, “The maiden, mother and the crone… The triple Goddess! We are as one! Can you feel that magical energy? It’s palpable!” Minerva flung her arms wide and looked around in wonder.

Trust her mother to turn it into some big deal, thought Ronnie.
It was only a name.

~ *** ~

Isis needed some fresh air. Cold it may have been, but wrapped up in her latest charity shop number she hardly felt the bitter January wind as it whipped around the fake fur and escorted her away from Crafty cottage and towards home. Two hours of Minerva was enough under the best of circumstances but two hours of listening to her steamy stories of newfound love (with quite a lot of sex) and the heavenly David was more than she could bear.
Isis was quite sure that getting hot under his dog collar must be a very private affair and not one he would appreciate being so publicly flaunted by a fired up and theatrical Minerva. But there was no telling her once she had the drama queen’s bit between her teeth; it was as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike as Derek would say. And given her ex-husband’s opinion of her friend it was the very description he would use for her… how ironic!
However, getting hot under her hairpiece was usually the sign for Isis to leave and prompted by a glaring Minerva – who Isis was sure had the power to make it slide and topple – she was up and off when it did. There was only so much a girl could take, especially when Minerva was not only narrating but demonstrating at times – in quite graphic detail – what they were getting up to in the bedroom, the Morris and even in the woods of all places. Whatever next, thought Isis, stopping herself as an image of the church and its altar arose on the screen of her mind in full technicolor. That was the trouble with being highly strung, one was saddled with a highly imaginative thought process which behaved like a runaway train at times… and the only remedy was running away from it. She picked up speed and her bright, wrap-around skirt and with great gusto, marched headlong into the facing wind which had picked up with alarming ferocity.

Ronnie squinted beneath her woolly hat at the colourful, whirling figure coming towards her. Caught up in wind and fur with head down and hairpiece at an extreme right angle; she couldn’t help but smile. Just the sight of Isis lifted her spirits… she was a watery rainbow in a gloomy sky. Fragile but lovely.

“Hey Isis! Looks like you’re on a mission…”

“Oh Ronnie,” Said a startled Isis, “You made me jump! I didn’t see you… and oh yes, a mission indeed…” She laughed nervously, “What have you named her?” She peered into the pram against the wind, “Your mother did tell me… but then she was telling me a lot of other things too and… and well you know I get a little distracted and confused at times.”

“Yeah well, that’s not hard with Mum around is it? She’s enough to distract anyone…” said Ronnie, “… especially at the moment… vicarly love and all that. What do you reckon then?” Ronnie winked at an embarrassed looking Isis.

“Does she have a name yet?” Isis was looking with great intensity into the pram, “What have you named her Ronnie?”

“What…” said Ronnie looking at the small thing, “Oh…its Morrigan… Goddess of battle and death… and sex of course!”

Isis looked up with a start, “Oh!” She said, “Well… I’m sure she will grow into it in the nicest possible way.”

“Actually it also means ‘Sea Queen’,” said Ronnie, softening, “Do you like it now Isis?”
“Ronnie she’s an absolute dear and whatever her name will be just perfect I think,” Isis was under the small thing’s spell already, “Baby Morrigan it is! Let me know if you ever need a babysitter Ronnie… I’ll be only too happy to oblige!”

And with that, Isis hurried on away blowing a huge kiss behind her.

“Oh thanks Isis, you’re a star woman!”  Shouted Ronnie, the first pangs of guilt setting in. Why did she do that? It was awful really, poor undeserving Isis… so easy to wind up! But she could see why her mother did… it was just too tempting not to.

Isis felt decidedly better for their brief encounter. She loved babies. Maybe if Derek hadn’t been such a miserable cad she might have had one of her own before he’d gone and scampered off with the Molly maid. Perhaps all was not lost, she still had time. Lots of women had babies in their forties – forty three wasn’t so old was it?
Anyway, how good it was to see Ronnie recovering and about time too she thought… but how very much like her mother she’d become.

~ ***~

The wind was getting stronger and Ronnie spotted some shelter up ahead in the form of the village bus stop. It looked rather lonely with just the surrounding farmland for company so she thought she’d venture inside with the small thing and take the opportunity for a smoke.
It struck her suddenly, like a blow from behind. Grief has a habit of doing that. There she was in a bus stop with a baby on the very route she would have taken with her horse! It was him she should be with, Bob and his warm breath and soft nose. Bob and the smell of hay and leather and saddle soap and stables. Bob.

She couldn’t even light her cigarette for the tears and the shaking. Her whole body seemed to convulse into a heaving and sobbing she had no control over. She should be with him, not this… small thing in a pram. She allowed herself to imagine for a moment what it would be like… what it felt like to be dead. And the strangest part was, it didn’t frighten her – she felt no fear. In fact, it appealed in more ways than she thought it would. What if…?

“Now that’s not healthy thinking is it dear warrior soul..?”
She turned suddenly in the direction of the voice behind her. In the field just a few feet from the bus stop was the Hermit.

“Why do you call me a warrior?” She asked between sobs.

“Because you are strong and feisty and now more than ever you need to draw on your power. It will only weaken you to think of leaving the earth plane before your time is over on it. Turn to the living.” He gestured to the small thing.

“Well let me tell you old man, I don’t really feel like it so much anymore!”

There was desperation in her voice as she clung to her words and the side of the pram for support.

“Are you not the mother of this child?” He boomed at her, “She has been put in your care for a good reason which will reveal itself in the fullness of time and while you may think you are not worthy of motherhood she does not deserve your thoughts about her own unworthiness. She has chosen you before coming to this time and place… YOU, dear warrior have a sacred contract to fulfil!” He stamped the bent and knarled staff on the hard earth.

“SHE was the reason I lost my horse! If it hadn’t of been…”

The Hermit’s thunderous tones echoed around the small enclosure, “You are erroneous in your calculations of the circumstances surrounding her birth. It is true, it was preceded by a passing and your loss is great, this we know and understand…”

“Who’s ‘we’?” said Ronnie, “You mean there are more of you?”

“I’m afraid so,” he smiled at her, “There are many where I come from. The unseen and magical realms house the guides of the Ancients, ready to help when there is a need. We move and live beyond the veil and our work is great in measures you cannot conceive of until you have experienced for yourself the subtlety of these worlds.”

Ronnie thought for a moment, “Then how come I can see you now? How can I hear you and understand you if I am not experiencing that world now?”

The Hermit laughed, “Ah there is the spark of awareness! You are able to see and hear because you have the natural capacity to experience through the finer senses – my world. It is a gift, it is an opportunity to learn and grow and eventually help others. It is knowledge and it is power. But with power comes responsibility. This, young warrior soul is your lesson at this time. It hangs upon your shoulders like a heavy weight and you feel it keenly. But only because you fight it and think it is not yours to carry.

The last time we met, you were struggling with a choice and now that decision has been made for you but there is no blame… to any party,” he looked at the pram, “…or yourself. There is only acceptance. When you give up the struggle, life becomes easier dear soul. This is the way of the warrior… the battle is always with the self… to defend and arm yourself with the knowledge to proceed on your journey is the key to living fully. You know this.”

His words washed over Ronnie in soothing waves and she felt the burden of heavy emotion slipping away. She looked up at this magical being and felt an awesome peace.

“Thank you,” she said quietly, “And I’m sorry if I was rude… I…”

He said nothing, only raising a hand towards her in what appeared to be a blessing. She didn’t know how she knew but she did. Trying to work it all out was futile and she didn’t have the energy for it anyway; she was completely drained. She had never been closer to the edge… she knew that also.
But walking home she felt something coming back – a small glimmer of hope returning. She looked up at the land and sky around her and down at the small thing in front of her and gave thanks for the magic.
It was closer than ever.

~~***~~

Sheena Cundy is a witch, wife, mother and emerging Crone. Singer and writer of songs and stories, reader and teacher of the tarot and horseriding. Lover of all things mundane and Magical – even the menopause. www.sheenacundy.weebly.com

Leave a Comment