by Michael Parra Callas
“Of course, witchcraft happens via the internet,” I say, “all the time.”
“But how?” asks Eddie, an old customer to our humble altar.
I am Don Maximiliano Plata, curandero in and for Albuquerque, New Mexico; Max, to friends and witnesses.
Eddie and his new girlfriend, Sylvia, his third since he’s come here, are here seeking help in this new relationship. There’s some trouble with sexuality, which goes with this kind of thing. Both, but especially Sylvia, feel contempt from friends and from both sides of the family. They can’t spend an hour together without fighting, and there’s a “presence,” says Sylvia,” an “espanto,” a ghost, says Eddie, that terrorizes them at all hours.
“Internet is new, but cyberspace was here before the Earth began,” I add.
The Santa Muerte statue, our physical link to spiritual power, affirms it once more. Today’s diagnosis: witchcraft for revenge, in matters of the heart. The Tarot showed an ex-lover, a girlfriend I’d known as Delphine. The Santa reminded me that Delphine was drawn to that dark manipulative magic back then. She must have found a bruja to do this brujería for her. This foreign energy, made of raw emotion, has been professionally placed, with abundant malevolence. It is well-disguised and since it was so recent, the spell likely still has some fight left in it.
Sylvia says, “You say she placed the curse…in the email…she sent us, right?” Pause. “How?”
“The way witches do with a strand of hair, oils, a picture – with their minds, only this time using Google – like downloading a virus that gets in you, not your computer” and then I add, “I didn’t say ‘curse,’ remember, I said ‘placed a muerto.’”
The malevolence spell opens on them by their reaction to the email, but I’m not going to try explaining that to them right now. Delphine and her bruja, maybe brujo, caught Eddie and Sylvia’s attention with pictures and inflammatory statements. Once their attention was primed the bruja delivered the ghost and the curse it carries, via cyberspace.
“Yes,” she agrees, almost whispering, ”that presence…that breathing, the shadows…from where, who?”
“The muerto, baby,” corrects Eddie, grins at me as he does when he brings someone to the altar.
“No!” says Sylvia, “Unacceptable, a dead person haunting us, trying to hurt us. It’s too much, I mean…what the fuck?” Then, realizing she cursed at an altar, she makes the sign of the cross, “Sorry.”
“I understand,” I say, “believe me.” I place a hand on her shoulder, “Is it OK to cleanse you with this little egg I have in my hand? Give you a limpia?”
She sighs, looks at Eddie who nods his approval. I face her East as I consecrate the egg for the limpia, first up to the Creator and then toward the Santa Muerte, the Angel of Death.
Delphine essentially had a witch place an enslaved spirit to exact revenge – if she can’t have Eddie, then nobody can. When a human spirit doesn’t follow the Light at death, it strays from its safety, because it’s confused, or doesn’t think it’s dead. That spirit falls prey, way too often, to living humans, who sometimes use it for a good purpose, but mostly they use it to serve good old malevolent, manipulative intent of some type.
The egg I pass over Sylvia will either cut the muerto from her or make it easier when I bring the fire. “Sylvia, the egg has magnetismo that extracts, foreign energies from you.”
“OK. That why I feel stuff, like moving around inside me when you’re not even touching me with the egg?” she asks.
“The egg’s magnetic field doesn’t tolerate impurities within itself, so when we ask for help, it repels our impurities.” Not sure if that satisfies her curiosity, but it always sounds good.
In my mind’s eye, a dark mass shows itself behind her liver. I place the egg there and watch magnetic waves pull the mass together into a thicker and more manageable cord-like mass. I turn the egg slowly, drawing the dark cord out to the edge of her skin, then with a tiny bite I perform “psychic surgery.” I don’t touch her, I snap the cord out, spit it over into the bottomless abyss, where it belongs.
Some people call it imagination, fantasy, but that’s why they can’t see much magic.
“You got it, didn’t you, Max?” asks Eddie, who sometimes wants to become an apprentice.
“Got what?” asks Sylvia.
I say, “Got it. You don’t feel anything moving any more, right?”
She listens. “Yes, you’re right, nothing’s moving,” she smiles.
“Eddie, your muerto poisoned Sylvia. She’s clean for now, and will stay clean, if we can keep it off you now.”
“Oh my God,” says Sylvia, “It was on Eddie? Not on me? Are we going to be able…?”
“Let’s step here to the fire,” I say, turning her slightly toward the rising cedar smoke.
We have a fire prepared, a few coals in a sacred burner, red hot now. The smoke circles her ever so subtly. It will protect her should something go wrong.
I adjust Eddie now to face me. I sprinkle cedar leaves on the coals. When the smoke comes up thick, I use an old Eagle feather fan that has chased away more evil than God’s Archangels. I fan the cedar smoke around, up, and off Eddie.
The sweat on Eddie’s brow signals the creature senses my threat. His thighs tremble and his liver, where we find sudden power, is humming. I close my eyes so I can see better. It’s a human ancestor there, but in her condition, “creature” is a kind term.
My eyes flutter, scanning again. The dreamways open, aka the astral worlds, and yes, aka cyberspace, too. A whirlwind of waves unravels out from Eddie’s center, weaves through his aura and moves toward me, reluctantly.
“Who are you?” I say.
The waves want to move toward Sylvia. It’s how the creature is programmed. But since I have it gripped with my eyes, I repeat, “Quién eres?”
Her name pours out in a wail, “Leticia,” but from Sylvia’s vocal cords, not Leticia’s, who has none. Makes sense – Sylvia, female, empathic to the female that’s been tormenting her, the “connection” does the wailing – but always a bit unsettling when it happens.
You know that once these things are captured, we humans of flesh and bone have all the authority, but lording authority over spirits isn’t exactly our style. I add, “Leticia, pretty name, amiga. No one has called you that for a long time, have they?”
In the wailing sounds I see deeper, into the whirlwind, past the illusion. Something controls her… a brujo on the other side of her, controlling, orchestrating. I say to him, while I can still glimpse him, “Hey Dumb Ass, wannabe Digital Demon, that’s a human ancestor there, and you and I know you have no right.”
Sylvia will be fine, but Eddie’s hunched over now, “I am almost finished, a few more seconds,” I assure them.
In mind’s eye, from mind’s voice, I speak into the whirlwind, “Leticia is a formidable acquisition and I see what you have done, but you have crossed lines holier than yours and mine. Let her go, and there will be no pain.”
He answers with blood. Blood flows in streams in the whirlwind. “Damn, I wish you guys could be more original. It’s pointless, I swear…In the name of Seven Flower and the Rights of the Dead, and with the permission of the spirits of this place, you will release the woman…Leticia.”
I see a sword cross the wind ripping the whirlwind, causing it to sink and deteriorate. The blood disappears, all at once. A yellow ash, what’s left of the cord used to hold Leticia, crumbles in the breeze. It should have burned the brujo.
In some unseen distance, Leticia wails on her own now, still wretched but free, until she finds Light, or until some other predator/brujo finds her.
I smudge Eddie with the cedar smoke as his pain subsides. Sylvia leads him to the bench, where she sits, sobbing with relief. Now I can see something of what Eddie sees in her.