I remember being nineteen, standing with my then-best friend in the dark of a glass campus walkway on a new moon night, looking at our reflections and seeing someone else in mine. It was terrifying but also exciting, proof to my mind that this was real and that I wasn’t wasting my time on other realms and the supernatural. I used to do a lot of stupid magical things to get that thrill of realness, to see if I could and to see what would happen.
It’s not that I would recommend that kind of reckless thrillseeking to somebody new to magic; actions have consequences, and yes, some of them I’m still living with. But I used to take risks, all kinds of risks, considered risks and desperate risks and insane risks. I’m not sure when that changed.
I mean, a few years ago I quit my job and my significant other and I sold everything we couldn’t fit in the car and moved to the Pacific Northwest with no plan. It worked out, obviously. But since then, perhaps because of the OCD and the anxiety, I’ve struggled with even reasonable risks.
“What do you want from me?” I ask Hekate.
“Magic,” she says.
And I don’t know how to answer that. You’d think it would be easy, given how much stupid magical shit I’ve done, but somewhere along the way I lost my confidence. Everything I do feels empty, and that emptiness isn’t suited to magic. In the thin dark of Walpurgisnacht I confess my emptiness.
I have made progress. Asking for Mars’s energy has inspired discipline. I’ve meditated, written, made progress on chores. But the emptiness only recedes temporarily, because whatever I am given seems always on the verge of slipping away. When I close my eyes I feel the ragged edges of a hole in my chest. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s depression or an energy body issue or just my nature. At one point I thought maybe the cancer was a product or a representation, and the double mastectomy would remove it or something, but you can’t remove a hole. You can only patch it or fill it, and if you don’t tend to it, your bucket drains away no matter what you do.
I suppose that leaves two choices. I can find a way to patch the bucket, and look to be refilled, or I can accept that an empty bucket is still full, just of something else entirely.
It hurts to look at myself when I am empty and self-destructive and desperate for that realness, especially since I’m not nineteen anymore and I have people who rely on me. But I’m not doing them a whole lot of good the way I am right now anyway, and I can push myself and work with that emptiness without doing things that only sound like a good idea if you want to be a protagonist in a horror novel.
Sometimes the Dark comes with a warm blanket, and sometimes she comes with stompy boots. I need stompy boots, and strong hands that don’t let me flinch away from the mirror. I hate looking at myself, but I have to see myself. Since last fall, really, I’ve been treading water. I spent March caught in a riptide, and April giving in to drowning grief.
I’m tired. I’m ready to crawl onto the shore and let the seawater drain away and confront the emptiness. To find fullness in the void, if that’s what it takes. If I’m going to be thrown into the fucking abyss, I might as well cross it, right? There’s no point in going back to the other side of the sea. Hekate is known as a guide in dark places. I used to know how to trust the Dark. I don’t know when I forgot that.
Teach me, Lady. Teach me, Lady. Teach me, Lady.