Monday, November 24, 2014

Magic in the Blood

By Lisabet Sarai

He may well be the love of my life, but I haven’t seen him in years. Now I sit beside a hospital bed where he lies pale, still and swathed in bandages. His chest rises and falls with his breath, but his eyes are closed. He doesn’t see me.

Something terrible has happened to him; I don’t know what. I hold his chill hand, willing comfort across this fragile physical link. A terrible grief overwhelms me. Sobs catch in my throat. I mustn’t cry. He needs me to be strong.


I wake from the dream disoriented, but the sadness lingers. This is long ago, long before email. I call him when I can grab a moment, long distance, a rare indulgence back then. He can barely speak. His father committed suicide last night, he tells me. Under my sympathetic pain there’s a flicker of wonder.


She’s a free spirit, my wild, artistic friend from California with whom I drove a thousand miles across the frozen west one icy winter, in order to spend New Years with our respective lovers. We’ve been out of touch for quite a while, though, since I returned to the East Coast. I know she has married a physicist, a deceptively normal guy whose order balances her chaos. She makes her living as a freelance journalist. She plays French horn in a rock band. She has a pet pig and a female store manikin she dresses in retro clothes and poses on her front lawn.

In the dream, over coffee, she tells me she’s pregnant. I can hardly believe that she would tie herself down with that sort of responsibility. Of course I keep quiet, but inwardly I marvel at how unlikely a mother she’d make.


Two days later, I receive her email. She and Dan are expecting a baby in six months’ time. She’s delighted but full of doubt. I am, too.


I’ve always had vivid dreams, the sort that haunt you after you wake. My dreams are like movies, with startling, brilliant images, exotic and mysterious locations and compelling characters, often but not always amalgams of people I know. Desire stalks me in many of my dreams; more than a few of my stories have been born from my night time visions.

I’ve had lucid dreams, where I know I’m dreaming, dreams I can control. In some of them, I have powers. I can fly. I have telekinetic abilities. If I concentrate my will on an object, it will fly across the room to my hand.

Yesterday while I was working out, I tried this on one of my weights, which had rolled away from my mat, out of reach. I wasn’t successful in drawing it back to me. However, the problem may have been insufficient mental focus or inadequate confidence rather than lack of ability.

When I was in grade school, I had a magic ring, adorned with a lovely faceted garnet, my birthstone. The ring granted wishes. With enough belief, I could cause a blizzard that would result in school being canceled. No homework! I lost that ring somehow when I entered junior high. By that time, though, my powers had shifted in new directions.

At the student summer carnival, I dressed as a gypsy and told fortunes. I’d studied the basics of palmistry, so I could identify the various lines. The process was anything but analytical, though. When I gazed at someone’s upheld palm, my predictions started to flow. I have no idea where the notions came from, but my clients seemed impressed.

And did the events I foretold come to pass? Of course I don’t know. As with the recalcitrant hand weight, I could be deceiving myself about the power I felt. Then again, maybe not.

My father told fortunes. He could read palms, tea leaves, crumpled paper. Once, at a party, I’m told that he read someone’s future in the bumps on a pineapple. We all laughed at this story, but his tight-lipped smile whenever someone brought it up made me wonder. He had a first cousin who made her living as a psychic.

Could it be that I have magic in my blood?

Could that be true of us all?

I do believe in magic, in the ability of mind to shape the material world. Too many of my desires have come to fruition for me to doubt that truth. The things we label as paranormal, in my view, are simple demonstrations of the fact that reality is a malleable construction of our collective consciousness. Our perceptions shape the world. We change our world by changing the way we see it.

All that sounds easy, but of course it’s not. Mystics and yogis have perfected techniques for controlling the mind and hence the world, but most of us only pierce the veil of illusion occasionally, as in my prescient dreams. I think it’s a mode of consciousness, not something to be achieved via intention or effort. My dreams reveal truths only about people with whom I have strong emotional connections. Love, not reason, is the origin of magic.

I’ve explored this view a bit in some of my stories. Right now I’m working on a story about a trio of witches. Two of them are aware of their power; they’re in the process of initiating the third. I don’t usually publish excerpts from works in progress, but this is so relevant I’ll make an exception.


Come, sit. Across from me, thats right. Were going to play a game.

A game? What kind of game?” Memories of high school spin-the-bottle flashed through Emmelines mind. I wouldnt mind kissing Beryl, she mused. Or Marguerite either. Shed never been attracted to women beforeat least not consciouslybut now the notion seemed almost natural.

Cards,Marguerite answered. She lowered herself to join them on the floor, tucking her legs underneath her, then placed an over-sized deck in the center of the triangle formed by their bodies. An intricate design decorated the back of the cards, full of stars and planets, fanciful animals and twining vines. The illustration, plus the size of the cards, led Emmeline to expect a tarot deck, but when Marguerite turned over the top card, it was an ordinary three of hearts.

Take a good look at this card, Emmy. Fix it in your mind. Close your eyes and visualize it.

Card tricks? Spin the bottle sounded like more fun. Brushing the thought away, Emmeline did as Marguerite instructed.

Can you picture it?

Yes. Of course.

Now open your eyes. Ive hidden the card somewhere in the deck. I want you to find it.

Dont be silly!

I think you can do it, Emmeline.Beryl fixed her with that penetrating green-gray stare of hers.Concentrate. Send your mind out seeking that three of hearts. Listen until you hear it call.

Please! I dont have any kind of psychic abilities or anything.The two women stared at her, focusing on her face. Their scrutiny sent hot blood climbing into her cheeks.Aside from a couple of strange dreams that seemed to predict the future... Honestly, I cant.

I believe you can,said Marguerite, her voice rich and sweet as whipped cream.You can if you try.

Do it for me, Emmeline.Beryl leaned forward. Her blouse gaped at the neckline, revealing the symmetric curves of her bare breasts. Emmelines own nipples snapped into aching knots.



She heard authority in Beryls voice, power that had been cloaked until now. It simply wasnt possible to refuse.

Okay, okay...Emmeline shut her eyes once again and summoned the image of the card.

Some force tugged at her hand. At first she tried to ignore it, but as the pull grew stronger, she gave in. With the three of hearts blazing behind her closed lids, she reached for the deck, gripping it with her thumb and forefinger about a third of the way down. She cut the cards, laying the part of the deck shed removed on the floor. When she opened her eyes, a ten of clubs lay at the top of the deck.

You see? I told you...

Marguerites voice was almost inaudibleLook at the bottom card of the stack you removed, Emmeline.

She flipped the pile over to reveal the three of hearts.

Fear, excitement and lust washed through her in alternating waves. She pushed the exultation away.Its just random luck,she said, wanting but not daring to believe. That force, that attractionshed imagined it. She was suggestibleRichard had always said soand these two women had formidable wills.

Try again,Beryl urged.

The two of spades, the Jack of diamonds, the ace of heartsshe found them all, one after the other. The pull of the card she sought grew stronger each time.

What does it mean?she asked at last. She sounded small and scared to her own ears.

Lets try something else first.Marguerite drew a card from the deck, gazed at it for a moment, then placed it face down in front of her.Tell me which card I just picked.

The answer came to her almost before the tawny beauty had asked her question, with no effort at all.Four of diamonds.

Now me.Beryl selected not one but three cards, setting them out in a row.You know what to do, Emmeline.

The messages werent so clear this time. She felt as though several different people were shouting in her head. Images of cards flashed by, too fast and indistinct for her to decipher.I dont know,she whimpered.I cant...

Beryl seized her by the wrist across the gap. Power jolted through her. The pictures snapped into focus.Nine of spades, six of clubs, Queen of hearts. Oh my God...

Marguerite gathered Emmeline into her arms as the girl burst into ragged tears.

Of course I identify with Emmeline. It would be scary to discover irrefutable evidence of one’s own magic powers.

But thrilling, too.


  1. Lisabet:
    When I look at a chart of the electromagnetic spectrum,( which unfortunately I can't post in an answer) I'm struck by the fact that out of the massive range of this phenomenon we only consciously perceive the smallest part, aptly tagged, "the visible spectrum". Yet we are surrounded, inundated through and through by it. Birds navigate by the slightest variations in it. It only seems logical that at some level our brains and bodies have receptors for parts of the spectrum that our conscious minds don't acknowledge. Incidents like you describe with your friend's pregnancy are so common it leads me to believe that we send and receive messages by other means. Only in our dreams, when the homunculus in our sculls that we call consciousness is off duty, do these signals register, often in oblique ways. I recommend reading "With Love and Light" by Jamie Butler. She is a psychic (I think she would say 'a medium'). There is a wonderful section where she describes becoming aware of her gift. You might find it useful in developing your WIP.

    1. Really good points, Spencer. You don't need to believe in some sort of mystical mind over matter powers in order to explain many so-called paranormal phenomena. Thanks for the book recommendation. I'll look it up (though I've finished and submitted the story - Yay!)

  2. I take huge comfort in the fact that my dreams aren't prescient. Terrifying, sometimes, but never prophetic. And sometimes I have feelings that seem like premonitions, but they never are. I'm so glad.

  3. I wish my dreams were that vivid. Every so often, I have a coherent dream that I can remember, but they're few and far between. It's like going to the movies!

    As coincidence would have it, Momma X took psychic healing classes with an old school teacher Beryl Petschauer back in the70's.

    I think anybody who has been with another person long enough can verify communication that bypasses our conscious. Even those 'first impressions' often prove true. Don't discount any of it. There are lots of things we haven't figured out yet.

    1. I don't discount ANYTHING. Well, that's not completely true. There are lots of conspiracy theories that I discount.

  4. I read somewhere that dreams are the opposite of reality - glad about that as some of my dreams are quite scary. Happy that most times dreams don't come true!

  5. Lisabet, this excerpt from your WIP looks totally convincing. Every few months, there is a Psychic Fair where I live, and anyone who wants to test & exercise their psychic ability can try their hand at this kind of thing. One of the simplest tests is to find one red card out of six. (All are face down on the table, and they look identical from the back.) The instructions say that if you hold your palm over each card, the red one will feel hotter. I found that it works! Practice seems to improve accuracy. I also find that it's easier to pick
    the right card when the audience has faith in the process, and there are no skeptics making sarcastic remarks on the sidelines. :)

  6. I flip back and forth on these sorts of things. I've had a few experiences like the ones you describe that made me believe, where I felt a real sense of knowing and connection. But I don't officially believe these things are possible. Jean's comment sort of describes what happens to me—if I'm around skeptics, I get more skeptical, but I get more convinced when around those who believe in these sorts of phenomena. Plenty of it scares me, though, so I find it convenient to try not to believe.

    1. Why does it scare you? Wouldn't it feel better to believe one had some power?


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