The pot came to a lethargic, steaming brew. I straightened in my stance, shoulders tall and broad; mimicking the signs of a powerful creator. The night of initiation was both intense and troublesome for all of us. The night rolled in steadily, with its potent, iced air and iridescent stars. Annually, the meetings are held at the highest peak of a full, patient moon; monitoring its prodigies from an intimidating standpoint. Looking around, you can see all of us shuffling in our dark cloaks and oversized hoods. Many of the other applicants’ faces could be seen not without the sparks in the fire, as if they wore nighttime as a mask. I wanted to inch closer to the heat source to absorb the most warmth offered, but I decide it is not a time to appear weak. Our faces solemn with focus, each of us reciting our rites silently in the back of our minds. Although much of us were born to try and continue the bloodline and be initiated into the cult; it was not handed to us, regardless of heritage. The toasted, rotten smell of the created recipe proclaiming the night of initiation had begun filled my nose; toying with my repulsed senses. I wonder if this group of young women knew what this night would entail; I had a brief overview from my sisters and cousins of my maternal side. They would speak about this night in a sing-song voice and sinister whispers; careful to not let out the secrets of the darkness. At the conclusion of the night; I hoped I would be able to, too.
The catch is, we all won’t make it through tonight. If Hell permits the way it promises, we may not even see to tomorrow.
Each aspiring witch is allowed to bring one tool to the congregation, as a secretive weapon of protection. My grandmother, a patriarchal witch; had provided me with a small pouch of some sort of beneficial spice, saying that it would be "purposeful enough." The spirits are high, our souls running deeply in tune with our ancestors' shadows to guide us along through the evening as it evolves into Samhaim. This is our traditional name for The Day of the Dead; or Halloween, respectively. My attention is caught as the mist from the cauldron is pulled high into the air, almost reaching the decaying, autumn trees that are showing their preparation for rebirth. Each of the girls’ faces light up in apprehension, both doubting and hoping to succeed their potential. We have been training for this, I remind myself. As the trees began to dance in an orchestrated, accumulating motion we began to feel the spiritual energy around us, feeding off of us like incapacitating leeches. It was hungry, ready to devour us from the elusive, obscure forest surrounding us. The vibrations peaked, the older women grinning inaudibly at their creation. I thought for a second that I had heard one murmur that, “this would be the best one yet.”
Each of us would be called to the challenge. It was simple; if thou could not match thy masters’ creation, thou would be excreted from the cult. In many surrounding organizations, that was the epitome of the worst outcome. In my family’s, the foulest outcome was death.
Suddenly, the flames drew high, with an intense and infuriating force. The fire spilled from the sides of the metallic cauldron, engulfing it whole. The creation was feeding off of the most powerful, advantageous source; the fire itself. In stories, I have only heard of creations encompassing the elements of air, water or earth. Fire was a recognizable assurance of the darkest of artistries. The witches frolicked in their cloaks, intricate and multi-colored. As initiators, we wore black; the infinite color of the universe, symbolizing ultimate protection on our endeavors. They squawked and cackled, amused at their work as they glided under the cover of the thick confinement of the forest.
Without warning, the creation immerged from the flames with an unrecognizable force that shook the ground from most of our feet. Through the intense heat of the enraged, spitting fire, at first we were physically blinded by the invigorating emphasis on what it had produced. Gasps shook the crowd, incapable to unbind what they had released into the atmosphere. A monstrous silhouette towered over our helpless beings, looking for what the witches had offered it. A few of the girls threw their bits of protection into the air, doing little to impress the beast. I hadn’t looked into dark magik much; but it didn’t take much knowledge to know this was a malignant force. The figure reached out over the flames, feeding on those deemed fearful and weak wihin the group. You could see their flesh being mutatlated as their skin was raped with flames. Their eyes hallow and petrfied, skin melting like plastic around their inverting muscles. The creations's blistering, red eyes injected its horror into our souls; shocking many to stone. I pulled my hood over my eyes, shielding myself from its fury.
As the demonic energy increased, its might flourished into atrocity. The witches could not contain their creation; many had fled into the nurturement of the woods. Those courageous enough to stay, were shouting memorized rites ritualistically to ward off evil. This did little to entertain or withdrawal the prospering creation; in fact, it became enraged. The dark mass shape shifted into a being from the depths of Hell itself, rummaging the air with these treacherous claws and grabbing the girls one by one. I remain frozen, plastered to the Earth and pleading for resistance. The witches who had remained in the little confidence they withheld were the cult leaders, calling the positive forces from the complex corners of the universe in attempt to ward their creation away. Chanting rites from the cults’ indigenous book of shadows, they plummeted in at the feet of their own fashion. Hearing their séances was something eerily satisfying; as I knew it was something they would never do in the presence of inductees.
Suddenly, the ferocious being struck again; this time clutching my arm with one devastating latch. I could feel the heat of the flames it held, penetrating my arm and branding my flesh like cowhide. My frail body skidded across the dirt, ready to be fed to the underworld. Pulling at my pocket, I rapidly reveal its contents. I knew that my time was drawing near. I briefly thought of the disappointment that my family would feel within these seconds of ultimate possession; disregarding the immense danger I was in. With one glance, I realize that my grandmother had provided me with a small pouch of Valerian. I cursed her efforts, shooting the spice into the flames with one final throw of a free hand. The herb was of a romantic descent; it would do nothing to ward this demonic force off.
Thrashing at its power, suddenly I am released; pivoting to the ground as if I had fallen a thousand feet.
Valerian was provided as a mechanism to attract romantic energy. It also has the power to ward off evil, malevolent, forces. The creation screeched, moaning recollections of what sounded like Latin, in a shamble of agonizing pain as the spice repelled it. I am dizzy with pain; hazily whitnessing the figure dissipate into the tamed flames of the fire. Finally, the couldron dissolved to a simmer; the sky regurgitating a heavy blanket of smoke and spiritual energy.
The cult was in shambles, weakened and lacking numbers. The leaders dropped their hoods in a honorable manner, faces plagued with exhaustion and relief. We had lost many of the inductees to the underworld; many of the witches who conjured much a force would be condemned to join them on behalf of the witches' creed.
Today, I am inductee 4,871. I am one with the cult. To the present, I show the aspiring women the shiny, opaque scar remaining on my forearm. They say that I had been touched with Hell itself; the gift of treacherous magik stuck to my soul indefinitely. One day, I will join my lost, fellow witches because of it.