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by Patricia Day

I am a witch, but I am poor. I am not beautiful. I am not a worldly success. What good, you may ask, does my craft do me?

If you have to ask, I answer, you'll never understand.

I am very content, in my small house with my cat, my books and my garden. I make a small living by working in a coffee shop. By day, I write and dream and garden. In the evenings, I make espresso and cappucino and latte, dispense biscotti and scones, boil water for tea. Occasionally, on special occasions, I read tarot cards for the customers. They are curious and disbelieving, but it is $25.00 per session, and I never give a false reading.

My employer is half my age, and of a commercial mind. He does not believe in the cards or my power, but he uses it. On tarot evenings, profits double, not to mention the shop's cut, and he is too wise to cook the golden goose. There are younger employees, who can mop and sweep faster, clear tables faster, but I am thorough, and I contribute to the income.

My life is peaceful and productive. My garden is flourishing. My cat is sleek and happy. I am happy with my books.

I am so lonely I might perish.

This has come upon me suddenly, on very quiet feet. One day I was perfectly content; the next morning I awoke, aching for the touch of a man. Hormones, I told myself, and fixed myself a cup of raspberry leaf tea and ate sweet potatoes for two days. It didn't go away, though. Each evening I dreaded going to bed, alone, with no one to talk to, to hold me, to love me.

Shape Shifter

"Shape Shifter"
By Diana Stanley

It isn't as if I haven't had lovers, in the past. When I was young I was pretty, and stupid with it. I gave my body and my love to any fool who picked it up, and was crushed when the fool would throw it aside. I grew careful, and began to hide myself. I craved the peace of solitude, of a single personality.

As they say, be careful what you wish for.

So, here I am, in middle age, lonely and unsure. I have seen old school mates, with their husbands and children. I've seen them on Sundays, at the churches, leaving with their families. I do not attend myself, and often feel, keenly, the sense of being outcast. The fact that I cast myself out does not help.

What can I do? I am set in my ways, now. I have never been outgoing, and I attend few parties. Occasionally, I have attended a city council meeting, but only when there is a specific item I wish to address. I am not a business owner or manager, so I don't have those contacts. I am the rather quiet lady at The Mug Shot who hands out coffee and pastries and reads cards, and seldom socializes.

I've tried ignoring the feeling, and I've tried redirecting it. I started painting again, thinking it was creative energy. My images were sensual and lush, and didn't help one single bit.

Finally, I gave in. This past Imbolc -- Candlemas -- I did a spell, a calling spell, to bring the right love to me. That was all -- just the right love. I see attractive men, and women, all the time, but I will bind no one. Whoever it is, must come to me of his or her own free will.

I am very much afraid it will work. My candle flared, blazed -- very unusual. My parchment caught instantly, was ash, and then powder, in seconds. My house has smelled of roses for days, a scent growing stronger and stronger, more heady, though I have no roses inside and the bush outside will not bear until June.

I fear my Lady has someone in mind, someone She will send me, and I will be consumed. I'm not sure I can bear this.

At Eostara, the Vernal Equinox, I decorated my altar as a child would. There were bright flowers, and crayon drawings. I had toys; Silly Putty, and a Slinky, and a yo-yo. I am very fond of yo-yos, though not very good at it, and most of my ritual was spent practicing Walking the Dog. I think I mastered it. I did not think of my Imbolc spell.

Beltane is approaching, and my body is sensitive. I feel warm breezes, and cool rain, through my skin directly to my nerves. I sleep, deeply, dreaming erotic dreams, waking drenched with sweat and with aching thighs and a swollen mouth. Who am I kissing, I wonder? Who is loving me so thoroughly?

Lunar Beltane arrives, the Sun in Taurus, the Moon in Scorpio -- a Full Moon, large and silver and bright. I have to work, and the early May evening is warm, heavy with the scent of jasmine and honesuckle. I am wearing a light, floating dress, in a soft rose color. It honors my Lady of Paphos, and is far more becoming to me than my usual black. I walk to work, drinking in the night, open to all experience, hoping I will have someone to dance with in the damp grass, someone to hold.

All evening, my coworkers are jumpy. They giggle, flirt and squeal explosively. The youngest, Kristin, drops a whole tray of cups, and I sit her down with a cup of tea before cleaning it up myself. She is shaky, but still giggling, and Peter, the manager, holds her hand and smiles at her.

I'm not jealous. They leave early, and I will close up. At 11:30, a half hour before closing, a man comes in. He is not young, he is tall with dark eyes, intense eyes -- Scorpio eyes. He would like espresso, a double shot, and I fix it for him. I start the cleaning up as he drinks it, and am ready to close up when he finishes it.

He looks at me intently, willing me to look back. My body is so sensitive, it is as if he is touching me with his eyes. Something is shifting inside me, something hot is happening in my heart. It hurts, and he smiles at me and asks me to read his cards.

I put the closed sign on the door, and I sit down next to him. The shop is in darkness, except for the candle on this one table, and the streetlamp outside. I can feel his heat, and I can smell him, and I am so very calm.

I lay out the Court Cards, and he chooses the King of Cups. I place it in the center. "You only need three more cards," he says, his hand on my wrist as I begin to lay out the Keltic Cross.

I nod, and pull the first card. The Magician -- the perfect man, active, one who can make anything manifest, who can direct energy. The second card -- The High Priestess -- the perfect woman, who is the moon, receptive to the energy, keeper of secrets. The third card -- The Lovers, to make a choice, to blend, for two to truly become greater than one.

After I close, without saying a word, we both walk to the Library Park across the street, around the green spaces, sitting on a bench, feeling the evening coolness. We talk; he teaches at a local college. His subject is Physical Anthropology; what we used to call Great Apes. He is divorced, and felt the need for coffee. He has seen me, and wanted to talk to me, but put it off. Until tonight.

He walks home with me, and I invite him in. I have prepared my bed with this in mind, though no one person in mind. It is high, and soft, with many pillows and clean linens. My bedroom window is open, and the scent of jasmine fills the room, along with the roses. As he undresses me, and kisses me, and I fall back, pulling him with me, I thank my Lady of Paphos.

The next day, I give Her a rose candle, and I dry all of the two dozen roses he sent to me. I make incense, and potpourri, and the scent fills my room. He calls me all the time, and I stay with him, and we plan to jump the balefire at Midsummer. His cat and mine even get along, and I would have bet good money that my cat hated all others.

Was it my spell? Possibly it was, but more likely it was just time. It doesn't matter; the Lady arranges things in Her own good time. My solitude is gone, and I don't miss it. I have given myself, and the gift is valued. We are content.

Patricia Day is a 47 year old witch, mother to an adult daughter, and slave to The Cat. She lives in a small house in Southern California, and has finally decided that damn the torpedoes, she is really going for that Fine Arts degree. She believes that words are magic, and her motto is that there is a different path for every pair of feet.

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