Eliza wouldn't be an Apprentice Medium anymore. The next level of knowledge: the Occult.
THIRD PLACE in the Twisted Tales Contest by Arakun the Twisted Raccoon , February 2011
Eliza Santos was now on her final steps to being "crowned" and baptized in the Bantu Gege’s belief, knowledge and practice. She had studied hard and had learned everything inside that heavy, thick and complicated Guidebook to the Occult that they had given her. Three long years had gone by since she first became an Apprentice Medium. This meant that she would now become a “full-time” Medium if she passed with flying colors today.
She belonged to the Iemanjá Spiritual Center in Madureira, located in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. It was one of the biggest Spiritual Centers all over Rio de Janeiro and known for its powerful Deities, Demands and Offerings but mostly well known for its successful Voodoo practices. It was almost always jammed with cars parked around its fences and people from all over the country scheduled appointments – politicians, congressmen, socialites and actors. Some even talked about secret societies and private meetings held amongst those walls and regular visits of a former President’s wife. Today was a “special” calendar event. Today meant that she would have more “responsibilities” with the spiritual world around her now as well as with the “carnal” world (and she had noticed that the “carnal” world was sometimes the most difficult one to deal with in this complex world of ours). People were much more complicated in their “demands” and “requests” than the spirits were. When she became a “horse” for the poor, lost souls she noticed the difference. Her Deities would talk, through her, to many people, and they would send love messages and ask for simple favors, yet, alas, the messages and favors from the living ones - to the spirits, were always requests for money, important job positions, endless wish lists and impossible dreams. We always forget that we never take any of these possessions with us when we leave this planet. They never remembered that we only take what’s inside our soul and imprinted in our minds.
She had patiently waited for this day. When she started three years ago, she was aware that by carrying this belief in her heart, she would have to deal with the good and the bad… at the same time. She would deal with the good spirits and the bad spirits; with heaven and hell together because… you cannot separate the two forces or its state of being… just as you cannot have day without night and enlightenment without darkness. They come together. And she understood the consequences all too well now. It’s like a scale where you have two forces working together, yet, you need to maintain an equilibrium point… not too much of either one… not too bad, not too good and so on and so forth. White and black. Spirits and Humans. Good and evil.
She had read a lot and had studied hard. The Guidebook was divided in three parts: The Deities, The Symbols and The Fires. She knew them by heart but she was still a bit insecure and... a bit unsure about some unearthly things. Eliza knew all about the 7 levels of spirituality in the Bantu Gege belief and what each Deity was known for doing – good or bad, especially bad. She learned how to cut evil forces with knives and how to cut curses with the powerful help of fire. There were 7 types of fires and you needed to be real sure of yourself when dealing with the sacred sacrificial fire offered to Satan, at midnight… you had to be prepared to what you could hear or even see. And trust in your instincts. The problem, sometimes, was just getting there… safely.
As a Medium and with all the knowledge, she would become invincible, powerful and… dangerous, especially if she used these powers for the practice of evil or for the so called Dark Side. She was working with the elements, with deities, forces, spells, knives and fire; the 7 Planes of Spiritual Knowledge and the natural and unearthly sacred rules and laws. She knew so much now that she would become troubled and confused sometimes; not knowing what to do with so much "dark" information. Once, on a black consultation day, she forgot to fold and put in the proper box a long, black handkerchief that belonged to her recently known Eshu Pomba Gira Deity. A very bad thing to do. She knew she should have never, ever e v e r done this. She just... forgot. She went through really bad times and had nightmares --- her Deity from the dark side kept demanding, requesting her to go back and get the handkerchief and put it in the red box. She would mentally speak to her and tell her she couldn’t. The Center was closed. Only next week. Was that voice her angry Deity’s voice or was it her subconscious debating with herself? She tried to cover up her wrongdoing by lighting white candles and praying for her Guardian Angel to help her and to open her doors and give her clarity and peace of mind until the next "dark" consultation day but - and as she knew very well: if your chakras are not completely even - you wouldn’t be heard. The candles burnt but nothing changed. The good spirits couldn’t and wouldn’t interfere if you weren’t in perfect harmony with yourself and with your spirit. Besides, it wasn’t their business to interfere, she knew that Oh so well.
One time, one of the Mediums in the Spiritual Center had “sensed” that one of her “clients” that came for his regular monthly consultations, wasn’t in harmony with his chakras so she told him not make the requested Offering in a Crossroad, that evening. He was supposed to place a very special “dinner” offering that evening, at midnight and which consisted of a roast turkey, manioc roots, sweet potatoes, okra and pumpkins, plantains and wild rice. He had to offer this in the crossroad which was closer to the Center, together with 7 bottles of the strongest and most expensive moonshine he found in stores and 7 of the best Cuban cigars, altogether with a black suede hat. It was an honor to make such offering as only a few were granted this permission by the Pai de Santo or Spiritual Father of the Center. The Offering was to be given to the highest of Orishas – Mister 7 Crossroads, the most powerful of all and known to be connected with the Devil himself! If you wanted something better in your life, a radical change or urgent matter, he was the one you wanted to ask for “help.” What had the Medium done? She had interfered with the matters and affairs of the Deities’ spiritual businesses and prevented an Offering from taking place. Not good, not good at all. The Deity was mad, real mad. She was punished. All of a sudden, a big, black, gooey and stinky wart grew on her right toe and she was bed ridden for over a full moon cycle and, when she recovered, she had to place 7 offerings in 7 different crossroads to Seu 7 Encruzas on the same night, between midnight and 7 in the morning. Lesson learned? You never mess up with the spiritual matters, no matter what, if you believe in it or not!
During all those long years in the spiritual center there was something she grew to love. The sacrificial fire explosions done in the offerings or in the demands by the big door that led to that back entrance. She knew about its powers. The moment the symbols were traced by the white Pemba on the cement in the Center’s room, near that… red door; the moment the sacrificial fire exploded in hot, red, blue and yellow flames and the smoke filled the room up with the smoke and strong gunpowder… and the moment the Mediums fell on the floor incorporating their Divinities, she thought she felt the force of her Eshu inside of her, shaking and trembling yet, Oh so terrible to confess, think or even say it out loud… she.... she… wasn’t 100% sure if it was her imagination or if it… was a real Eshu inside of her! Maybe she had been brainwashed by so much information, sacrificial fires, moonshine and smoke and by the power of suggestion. The thing was… that she still didn’t… quite believe that an evil Deity incorporated her little body and used her mind during the dark spiritual consultation days. There! She said it! She confessed! It was still so difficult for her to imagine that she, Eliza Juliana Magalhaes, drank that sweet cachaça, smoked big, stinky cigars, laughed loudly, swore, cursed and danced with the rhythm of the batuques shaking her long red skirt and that, upon request, helped complicated, demanding living souls to reach their sick wishes and dark objectives.
But one more thing troubled her the most. That Red Door. What was hidden behind that door? She constantly looked at that red door during the spiritual sessions and tried to believe that something powerful lay in there. Whatever was behind that red door was protected and worshiped by the senior Mediums. They bowed and touched the entrance many times before opening the door. They walked backwards... facing the door when they closed it. What was inside that red door? It puzzled her. It was driving her crazy!
Nobody was allowed to get close to that place without permission. Only the Spiritual Father and the Mediums that reached the top levels of knowledge. Like her now, like her... today! She would be able to know. Yes! Soon. She would be able to see. Yes! Soon. Would this give her more power and knowledge? Would she know the answer to all her innermost questions by opening that red door... as all the others before did? This was the only thing she thought about today because of that restless feeling of not believing in her faith and in the Center's spiritual mystery. It was eating her up like boiling water. The tiniest of doubt could destroy the strongest of beliefs! She had to believe!
Full moon, and it was rising.They called out her name. It was her time! She breathed hard, smelling the cigars and red roses in the air. She heard the Mediums whisper her name. She heard the atabaques drumming behind her, at a distance. The Mediums stood up and shook their red and black clothes and the women’s long skirts touched the Center’s immense cold floor. She bit her lower lip in order to be strong. She was placed in front of that entrance door. She saw the night outside. It was close to midnight. It was quiet and still. The trees seemed like eerie ghosts with outstretched arms, begging for help. The Spiritual Father traced secret symbols of Deities on the ground. He poured gunpowder over them. He summoned the Deities to come. He asked them to participate and “open” Eliza’s doors to the "real" spiritual and universal world. He evoked the Center’s Protector and all of the Mediums supreme guides into the afterlife and after that. He chanted and walked around her as if he were in a trance, blowing cigar smoke on her head and demanding her to drink his cachaça. It hit her stomach like balls of fire. He softly whispered for her to humbly to go to the divine red door, ask for permission 7 times, kneel down with both knees and open the red door immediately after he exploded the sacrificial fire! She let the overly sweet, penetrating smell of incense and the familiar scenes of the center, the altar and the red door wash over her and do their spiritual work. She was inspired by the belief in something larger and more important than herself, and this is how she tried to lead her life. She gazed at the door, and a sigh escaped her lips. As far as God goes, she believed. It’s as simple as that and always had been. She thought she felt a little odd, or presumptuous, to imagine that God (or the Devil) thought as she did; that they listened to our prayers or demands day or night, anytime, anywhere. Was God white and the Devil black or yellow or green? She would have to survive this moment. Would she? She only knew that she would survive her wounds and worries in other important ways. She was in a prayerful mood and kept her thoughts clear. Don’t let your fears command your future. This was her secret ingredient, her mystique. She would go forwards, come hell or high water.
Her heart was beating faster and her body was shacking. She could feel the tears rolling down her face mixed with saliva from her trembling mouth. It was bitter-sweet because of the cachaça. She bit her lip again in order to feel stronger. Her long red skirt was blowing and she felt it touching her bare feet. Time stopped. Her body was warm now. Her blond hair was covering one of her cheeks and it was wet from tears and emotion; yet, she still couldn’t believe in magic and mystery. She blinked her green eyes. She was sweating. Should she believe no matter what? She couldn’t, not yet.
The Spiritual Father lit the sacrificial fire. All the Mediums clapped and danced. Red and yellow flames. The room was covered in smoke. He delicately touched her left shoulder. Go. She walked toward the red door. Her heart was nearly exploding in her chest. Her upper lip was wet from the sweat. She was a real Medium now, not an Apprentice anymore. She was a Quimbanda and Candomblé Medium and she needed to believe in all what she had learned. Ignorance wasn’t an excuse anymore, besides, she understood the reason of things… but did she really?
Her fingers were trembling when she slowly opened the Red Door. Right there, in front of her were lit black candles, Colombian red roses, opened bottles of cachaça, long Cuban cigars… and in the very middle of it all was Satan’s... statue --- big, magnificent and tall. He was dressed in black and red and he was wearing a long, red cape. He had a big, black fork in his left hand. He was ... smiling at her. He was oh so powerful. He was looking directly into her eyes with his deep, weird green eyes. Were there ... scales around his eyes, and face? What was he? It didn't matter now because he was so sensual and handsome, yet mysterious and evil. And that scent, so becoming. The energy so was strong that she felt that she was going to faint, lose her mind. She felt… as if her skin was peeling off and becoming like his… red and devilish. Yes, she could feel the heat boiling under her skin; it was hot and it was changing her. And, she liked it. She wanted more. She wanted it all. She finally understood. She stared deep into his green eyes and smiled; a smile of deep emotion for the first time in her life.
“Do you believe now?”, Lucifer asked her from the darkness around them.
"I do", Eliza answered, while closing the red door behind her.