I sat on a stool by the oversized desk and stared up at my tutors. I really needed to get downstairs soon as do an inventory before the signing next week.
“You need to have more confidence,” Cecelia said as if she’d been reading my thoughts. “You’ve already become one with your Ba, used Bella’s ability to heal yourself, and channelled; not to mention demonstrated my abilities as an oracle.”
“No, I haven’t. Have I? When?”
“My channelling abilities allowed you to hear me–.”
“Ophelia. Concentrate.” Cecelia snatched away Eliza’s sentence.
Eliza cleared her throat, eyeing me archly. Honestly, they tag teamed like a couple of old pros. “Usually hearing comes first. As a result of your … initiation, you can see us. Lucius assisted you to access Latrosis –healing, and each time you dream, like the ones with the child and the key, you use the gifts of the Oracle. Granted, each use has been unconscious. However, the point is, you have already demonstrated the power inside.”
“You know about the dreams?” Eliza eyeballed me. “Right, so you know about the dreams. Does that mean you could tell me what they mean?”
“Interpretation is also the responsibility of the Oracle,” Cecelia informed me.
“Right. Of course.” I did as she instructed and closed my eyes to centre myself, evoking a vision of my mother and her shen; of building a sphere of protection around me. I rubbed at the back of my neck, easing the stiffness. “I can see her image in my head, smell her, remember her cutting my hair and yet nothing happens. No shield springs up.”
“Why do you think remembering details about your mother makes a difference?” Cecelia asked me, curious.
“Well, because when I became one with my Ba, I held a vision of the rabbit in my mind and of the person I wanted to get too – Lucius. It makes sense I should be able to do the same with Mum’s shield. Mum especially.”
“Now I see the issue,” Cecelia said. “You need to tell her about the working Eliza.”
“I agree. It didn’t occur to me. Ophelia can’t read the material, given its disappearance. You would think I’d be cognizant of making too many assumptions.”
“Still here,” I reminded them.
“Quite right,” Eliza said. “Shortly before Sophia died, she, Julianna and I, tied a knot at the rising of Sirius. It was a powerful ritual, made yet stronger for choosing that specific night to perform it. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky, and very important to our Temple.”
“The Dog Star, I know the one. It’s a binary system.”
“Yes, excellent, although Sirius is the common Greek name. We refer to her as Sopdet.” She pointed to the hieroglyph on the attic wall, which also sported a head emerging from a lotus flower. “Sopdet is absent from the skies for 70 days each year. Her rising marks the commencement of a new year for the Temple and an opportunity for celebration.”
“You’ll learn more about the required rituals in time,” Cecelia broke in.
“Without a doubt,” Eliza agreed. “To continue… We three came to the Bookshoppe, which we used for Temple rituals, and bound our individual bracelets, worn since we were children and made for us by our father, as one. Yes, the one you wear now. Sophia’s hope was that by adding the diamond clasp Lucius made for her–“
“Lucius made this?”
“He found the diamond and then commissioned the golden book as an anniversary gift.” Eliza leaned forward. “Sophia hoped we could harness that stone’s ability to access divine energies, and in so doing, each be able to share in the ability of the other, her fire, my ability to channel and Julianna’s psychometry. We did not have your capacity for transference. What’s more, we did not sufficiently account for the power of the night, the almost explosive power of the combination of our particular gifts, or being three. We became like a basilisk–a powerful manifestation–impossible to catch–and the results were unprecedented.” Eliza closed her eyes briefly against the memory. “The bracelet was to be worn for one year and then passed on to the next sister. Sophia would be first, as our hmt-njr, our head Priestess, but she died and with Julianna–. Well, I kept the bracelet hidden until it could be safely handed down our line through Catte. The ritual was designed to share the gifts of the priestess, a quotient of our abilities if you like. We underestimated a number of variables – not least Julianna’s incarnation.
“The incarnation came with considerable responsibility,” Gran said, “which she shirked.”
Eliza sharply waved Cecelia’s comment away. “Never mind Cecelia.”
I said nothing; however something else was going on. Cecelia’s flinch at Eliza’s mention of the basilisk, and desire to explain…
“A Priestesses’ gift is an expression of the individual,” Eliza said. “For example, your great grandmother has an insatiable curiosity, hence her aptitude as an Oracle. I played the mediator between my sisters; I find a way to communicate when neither party is willing. You take my meaning?” I nodded. “Rather than merely sharing our abilities, we theorise the bracelet gathers and holds the defining personal characteristics of each Priestess who wears it, and consequently, her power.”
“I couldn’t access that power however,” Cecelia chimed in.
“None of us can child. I couldn’t, neither Jane nor Mary. You’re the one.”
Eliza added, “we didn’t have the chance to experiment prior to my sister’s passing. So we’ve been trying to determine out how this works as we go along.”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked.
“Crystals have vibrations, rhythms,” Cecelia said. “Look at the diamond, and attempt to connect with its inherent properties.”
“Okay.” Listening to rocks… no stranger than anything else they’d asked of me. I settled myself on the floor to better concentrate, leaned against the bag of cinnamon, which had arrived yesterday and held the bracelet in both hands. For the longest time, nothing happened. “It’s not working.”
“Keep trying,” Cecelia said.
I did as she asked. Just when I was about to give up on the whole thing, a shiver ran through me. A shimmer of sound wrapped me in colours of silver and amethyst, indigo and blue. The weight of the stone dragged at my hands, and I battled to keep them in my lap. The sensations intensified, and the pressure transferred to the point between my brows, which became at the same time heavy and tingling. Feathers puffed, and then an explosion of inner vision. My third eye opened! Everything I’d felt over the past few days exploded in flame behind my lids, and my head snapped back at the burn. For the first time in days, things didn’t feel skewed. Words resounded in my ears -‘neb arit chet’. I dropped the bracelet, shocked, and looked up at my ghosts.
“What is it? What did you see?” Gran drifted forward in her eagerness.
“Something, I don’t know, it’s…,” I trailed off, not sure yet how to explain.
“What?” She demanded.
“Cecelia give the poor dear a chance.”
“No, it’s alright.” I reached out and picked the bracelet up again. I understood Cecelia’s curiosity. We shared the same thirst for knowledge. “It’s like,” I started again, speaking slowly as I worked through the sensations. “It’s as if there is an awareness; like the diamond has a sense of its own being.”
I repeated the words aloud. “di ankh, means, gives life, yes?”
“I’m not explaining it right; the awareness rules the bracelet and the charms. You’re right, Aunt Eliza, each time a charm was added, it became part of the whole, subject to the diamond’s dominance and to the magic.”
“I knew you could do it!” Cecelia clapped. “Perhaps you could establish a relationship.”
“It’s a rock Gran, regardless of how much it glitters. I don’t know that the diamond is aware of anything but itself and the charms.” I trailed off again.
“You have an idea?”
The thought led to another one, but I stated the former. “I used my empathic ability to access the bracelet.”
Cecelia nodded. “Yes, that makes sense.”
“What would you say my Mother’s defining personality trait was?
She looked at me for a long moment before replying. “Denial. And she had a propensity for–.”
“Depression.” We finished together.
“Yes.” She replied sadly, though her tone wasn’t unkind.
“I don’t remember her at all much,” I admitted. “Snatches here and there.”
“Your mother’s depression was a habitual pattern of behaviour. She must have abjured us, her gifts, who and what she was. It’s the one action I can think of which might have hidden her so completely from me.”
It made me sad to think my mother felt the need to distance herself so much. Did she regret breaking with the Jane?
“Let’s focus on the bracelet,” Eliza instructed.
“Yes ma’am.” I tried to think about the best approach, and about the qualities of the stone itself. “A diamond is a crystal made of pure carbon, right?”
“Yes, in some cultures they’re thought to be intermediaries between humanity and the divine.”
I grunted. “Leaving that aside for a moment, carbon is found in almost every living thing on earth. Me included. Carbon is the basis for organic life.”
“Ophelia, what are you thinking of?”
“Shh.” This was going to take some concentration.
Cecelia fell silent.
I closed my eyes and searched out those elements within myself like those of the diamond. At last I found them, slivers of myself sprouting, burgeoning, like the branches of a new sapling. My whole body shook, and a heavy tingling told me my third eye was opening again. Crystalline vines of consciousness budded, bursting to life in the same colours as the diamond. I acknowledged the awareness in the bracelet formally.
And something embraced me in return.
First published: 15 September 2014
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