I stood in my attic workspace, staring down the pieces of jewelry arranged on the table in front of me. The earrings, shaped like crowns of cactus thorns, and the braclet in the form of a red serpent are symbols of my craft, foci from the magical tradition that I was steeped in in Mexico, my family legacy of Brujeria and Nahual.
I felt an unfamiliar scowl on my face as I considered them, because they weren’t working anymore.
I paced back and forth a little, and finally dropped into a cross-legged sitting position just outside the silver circle embedded in the floor. Over the last few months, it has been a struggle to use my magic. My focus words still convey the right images in my mind, I’m more than confident in my ability to shape the energies, but there is … dissonance.
I should call Erica about the dissonance thing, but she’d probably just laugh at me. And besides, I know what the problem is. El problema es Mateo.
No, eso no es cierto. Matthew isn’t a problem – well, most of the time. The problem is that since we started seeing each other, I’ve been thinking more about my faith – I had some guilt originally over my lapsed Catholic practices, but Matthew has slowly introduced me to his Lutheran faith. Although it feels more right to me now, it has caused a change to part of my identity – my sole reliance on myself without acknowledging a higher power – and I’m pretty sure that is what’s causing my current issues.
My foci are the biggest point of disconnect right now, and I imagine it’s because the crown of cactus thorns and the red serpent are symbols of Chantico, the Aztec goddess of home and hearth. I imagine that she and the White… er, God don’t get on so well.
It’s been strange, dating a minister – especially one so intrinsically tied to his faith the way Matthew is. Belle helped me see that, and while I didn’t jump in with both feet by any stretch of the imagination, Matthew’s faith has rubbed off on me. Earlier this evening, Matthew and I were at Zion Lutheran Church, going through another session of marriage counseling that the church requires. Six total sessions – and there’s homework! I’ll admit that I was surprised when Matthew took us there one Sunday – it’s in North Dallas, far from his usual haunts, but it’s a nice, homey church with a strong Hispanic presence. It came out during our first meeting with Pastor Preece that Matthew had subbed there a couple of times over the years, which is how they knew each other.
So far, the topics have been mundane, about our relationship and backgrounds, but we’re starting to get into more matters of faith. I’ve been to church more times in the past year than in the 5 before, and the Missouri Synod flavor of Lutheran comes very close to what I remember from my childhood in Mexico attending Catholic Church. I think I might even be getting comfortable with it – well, okay, the giant projection TVs are going to take some getting used to.
The thing that I’ve come to realize as our relationship has progressed – and my “faith journey,” as Matthew puts it – is that my magic is changing. For so long, I’ve relied on myself, and that strong sense of self is a major factor in my magic. Now, my belief in a higher power – no, my belief in God, call it what it is – is re-kindled, and my convictions have changed. They aren’t less, but they are different, and I need something to symbolize that as a foci for my changing magic.
I hopped to my feet and headed downstairs to see if I had something that struck the right chord with me (see, all these music references, maybe I should call Erica). As I begin to go through my jewelry box, I spot the first item that I could use for a focus. And it had been with me the whole time.
The engagement ring that Matthew gave me.
Matthew found a ring that suited us both, simple and tasteful – a reflection of him – yet it has a certain flash to it that appeals to me. The main gem is a Mystic Fire topaz, and it refracts so many different colors… it would be a perfect focus for my photomancy.
I set the ring down on my dresser under a light and examined it carefully and thoroughly for the first time. It’s beautifully crafted, and –
Why did I not notice before that one of the side diamonds is pink? I looked at it more closely, and realize that it’s not pink, but is set in something reddish…
Chico astuto. I smile to myself as I realize what Matthew did, and I wonder what kind of conversation he had with the jeweler to let him do that – to put a drop of his blood underneath the small gemstone. That’s what he meant when he said that I could always find him using the ring. I thought he was referring the symbolism of the ring itself.
Nothing further in my jewelry box seemed right, so I continued to search. Eventually I ended up in a first floor closet, looking a small wooden keepsake box that had been covered up over the years by other collected junk. I opened it slowly, remembering that this was one of the few things that I brought with me back when I first came to America.
As I remembered, the box contained all the trappings of my childhood Catholicism – a rosary, prayer book, a multicolor cross pendant from my First Communion. Tucked underneath was the item that finally caught my eye – a worn oval medallion of St. Joseph. I pulled it out of the box with some reverence – it was my final gift from my father as I struck out north to make my way in the world. I smiled, remembering that Saint Joseph is the patron saint of house sellers and buyers.
I took the box and medallion back up to my bedroom, leaving the box on my dresser, and continued back up to the attic. My steps carried me mindlessly as I slowly rubbed the worn medallion between my fingers, letting the texture carry me back to what Papi told me about it – and about Saint Joseph.
Yes, it’s that Joseph, the father of Jesus Christ – he was sainted a bit over a century ago. As I first recalled, he’s the patron saint of house sellers and buyers. Also, of immigrants, travelers, working people… and unofficially, a patron against doubt and hesitation. A saint’s medallion is invoked for blessing and protection – another ideal focus for the defensive aspects of my magic, and more appropriate to my changing convictions. I smiled slightly as I wondered if Matthew and I would already be married if he’d carried this medallion. Las dudas y vacilaciones…
The ring and the medallion will take time to attune, with my old earring and bracelet in my jewelry box for a while as I adjust, but I can already tell I’ve made good choices. The ring, of course, already has a prominent and comfortable place on my finger, and the medallion is a comforting and familiar weight on a chain that’s slightly longer than strictly necessary, but lets it nestle just in the rise of my breasts, over my heart. There is no discord for me in these items, and I don’t think it will take as long to empower them as I first thought. Cambio de las convicciones son una cosa divertida.
With that taken care of, I can get back to planning the wedding…
Player note: I wanted to do something for Barbara’s first earned significant milestone, so this reflects an increase in her Conviction, as well as re-tooling her focus items.