The first thing I remember is that I was a normal child, a little girl who played in the streets of Bonsucesso, a suburb of Rio de Janeiro. Today, when I am over 80 years old, I hardly have memories of that time, but I know that at first glance I did not seem like someone special, and that nobody expected me to have an intense life full of adventures, torments, loves, and victories, that was going to happen to me soon.
I had arrived in Rio de Janeiro with my father, fleeing poverty and harassment from the church, in the conservative field of Brazil. My mother had died shortly after my birth, leaving my father in the care of everything. Despite all this, I felt my mother's presence gravitate with me at every moment, when I was crossing the big city in search of adventure or escaping from the dangers of the streets.
During my adolescence, I began to suffer attacks in dreams. Sleeping, for me, was a torment. I dreamed of lights, with very realistic sounds. Usually, I dreamed of a fire that surrounded me, of flames that bit my skin. I woke up at night perspired, scared, often screaming.
I knew somehow that these nightmares were connected to my mother. When I talked to my father about this, he looked at me like he didn't know or didn't understand, but he gave me the address of a woman I should see. The next day I met Mama Xicuba, a woman consumed by the years, who lived at the bottom of a tall and dark house with the smell of rosemary and incense.
Madam Xicuba had the deep gaze of the people who have lived all things, and her voice was sweet, but she imparted millennial authority. I still remember that with that voice she told me the origin of my nightmares:
I was the last of a long family of witches who had reached the shores of Brazil from Europe in the 16th century, had suffered persecution by the church, harassment by rulers, and rejection by the upper class, but despite that, we had managed to survive. The dreams that haunted me at night were a call from my blood, demanding that I continue the tradition that forced me to take on the duties of witchcraft, to receive communion at the altar shared by my ancestors, and to honor the gods that were familiar to me.
I was a young woman, back then, who strongly believed in modernity, science, and progress. I was part of that innumerable army of people who firmly believe only in what they can verify, and who distrust everything they don't understand. I was innocent enough to believe that witchcraft does not exist, and what is worse, that magic is a child's play. I was so naive!
That night I slept worse than ever, and the bad dreams grew more and more, demanding (now I know) that I take charge of my destiny.
I finally made the decision to return with Madam Xicuba. Before I spoke, she looked me in the eye and with a slight smile ordered:
“Pegue o pentagrama. Eu estava esperando você começar o ritual”*
(* Take the pentacle. I was waiting for you to start the ritual ”)
It was then that I first saw a magic altar: there the candles burned, the crystals shone, the symbols multiplied.
It was with this ritual that I began to be a witch and nothing would ever be like before.
Every afternoon after school, I went with Madam Xicuba to practice my spells. She, with her laconic and authoritative voice, forced me to repeat the same prayers over and over, to rehearse the same rituals, to memorize the names of the deities, to know the usefulness of each type of candle, and to investigate the properties of the herbs.
I came home late at night. My father waited for me for the meal and did not ask much: he had been married to a witch for many years and he knew the path that awaited me.
The lady of the forest
When I turned 20, Madam Xicuba convinced my father to send me on a trip, seeking to hone my knowledge. At first, my father refused, but the old witch's authority outweighed his stubbornness. She gave me instructions on the places I should know and the people who were going to help me on my way. She clarified for me, and at that moment I could not understand, that everything was already arranged so that I had no problems. Before leaving, she took off her old amethyst pendant, which she always carried with her, and hung it around my neck, saying "thus, you always take me with you." Today, more than fifty years later, I am holding the pendant in my hand as I write this story.
The first place I traveled to was the green Roscommon, in the heart of Ireland. There, Ms. Erin Kilpatrick, the wisest, grumpiest and blondest of all the Irish witches, received me as a student. It was a small, thin sorceress, with eyes between greenish and brown, which changed color depending on the weather. She lived in a stone house, protected by a forest, not far from Ardsallagh.
Mrs. Kilpatrick had a very intimate connection with this forest. She used to walk on it barefoot, and often bathed in the stream of clear water and polished stones, which runs incessant, an hour from there. I have seen her stopping in the middle of a walk and put her hand on the bark of a tree, then change her mood, either because she was happy or worried.
As soon as I got to Roscommon my training started. I should have learned the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, the behaviors during Sabbats, the significant dates of the Celtic Calendar, the routines of the Pentacle, in addition to the proper collection of wild mushrooms, the energy enclosed in the different stones, and the selection of appropriate wood for the cauldron fire. But above all, with her, I learned the unlimited power of the moon, the mother of all things.
Mrs. Kilpatrick taught me how to properly prepare moonwater, how to consecrate my body and soul to Mother Earth, how to respect living beings, and how to connect with Nature. I learned to recognize essential herbs and their uses, to cleanse my aura with rosemary, to take refuge in the protection of rue, to calm my anxiety with lavender, to balance my heart with dandelions, to earn the wealth of clovers, to invoke the fertility of mallow.
It was really an intense year.
I thought I couldn't do it. But one day, finally, Mrs. Kilpatrick looked at me with her green eyes (it was sunny that day) and told me that I had already finished my apprenticeship there. It was time to go. She led me deep into that forest, cut a branch from an old oak tree with herm delicate fingers, and gave it to me to use as a magic wand. "Always take her with you, she will guide you" she explained.
I hugged her tightly in that sacred forest and soon continued my journey.
The Hidden Sorceress
A few days later I arrived in Zagan, Poland, near the border with Germany. When I got off the train, there was a beautiful young woman waiting for me, dressed completely in white. She was Alenka, my next instructor.
She led me to a small but very nice house near the Bobr River, where I was able to settle into a neat and well-kept bedroom. Alenka was a cheerful, friendly woman, always attentive to the needs of others. Her blonde hair, her eminently Polish face, helped give her a doctor or nurse appearance. It was hard to think that one was facing a real witch. I watched her perform the spells with her delicate hands and I couldn't help falling in love with that splendid woman, who seemed to be ageless and unaware of the world.
Alenka always took care of me. She cooked me delicious bigos (a typical Polish dish) very good for the cold, and taught me every day different ways to connect with people's needs, listen to them, understand them, and try to solve their problems by finding the right spell for them. In Poland, I spent the whole winter. During that time, I learned the principles of magic that seeks to help, heal, and improve people. That is to say, White Magic.
During the morning, Alenka encouraged me to walk around the town. Heavy snow covered the streets and made everything look pristine. In the afternoon, day after day, Alenka gave me classes on the different problems that people usually have, and the proper way to help them.
Once I had the opportunity to hear one of Alenka's cases. She received desperate people at her house, crying and pleading for the return of a husband, for the impossible love of a woman, for taking off bad luck, or for getting a decent job. She let them speak and seemed not to listen to them, but then she asked them, with her delicate voice, for a picture and her date of birth. She did not promise them anything, but she said goodbye with a comforting smile that soon made them trust her. Then Alenka prepared her rituals, lit candles, sprinkled her altar with flowered water, recited beautiful incantations that looked like poems, and a few days later people came back thanking the miracle, to which she denied having had anything to do with it.
Because Alenka was a silent, humble witch. She did not want to be venerated, much less be famous, and preferred to deny her intervention in the fate of people. She was like that.
After being with her all winter, learning, and practicing my White Magic lessons, Alenka told me that I should continue on my way. At first, I refused, I didn't want to leave her side, I thought about staying forever. But it dissuaded me with her soft voice, she said some words that I will never forget. That will remain in my privacy.
I packed my luggage crying, and the next day I traveled to my next stop: now it was going to be difficult.
The dancers on the beach
A few days later I landed in Haiti. There I stayed at the home of Mama Kande, a medical witch from the community of Lafiteau, north of Port-au-Prince.
My season in Haiti was most fruitful. There, between the palm trees and the beach, I learned the elements that make voodoo magic, their rituals, and their gods. I practiced many times how to make a voodoo doll, I tried different methods and various materials, until I managed to master the technique.
One night Mama Kande took me to a beach, a half-hour walk from Lafiteau. She was ahead, walking on the sand with a torch in hand, and I behind, looking at the blue night of the Caribbean, full of stars. I remember that we came to a cove with a log pier. There was a fisherman's boat moored there, gently rocked by the sea. I jumped into the boat and helped Mama Kande down, carrying the torch. Once settled in the boat, she ordered me to row.
We went to Isle Cacique, a small desert island 200 meters from the beach. I knew that the boys from the town went to the island swimming, and there they collected formidable snails to make pendants or fished pufferfish with a spear, but to my knowledge, there was no one living there.
On reaching the island, I helped Mama Kande out of the boat, and she immediately led me through the jungle on a very narrow path, barely distinguishable from the large tropical leaves. We arrived at a clearing somewhere on the island. It was there that I took one of the biggest scares of my life. There was a large bonfire burning, torches creating a circle, and people kneeling on the ground, performing what appeared to be a ritual.
A witch-doctor walked among them, muttering words I couldn't understand. He walked past each person and prayed with them, chewing on what appeared to be green leaves with powders wrapped around them. I stared in fascination at those kneeling, wide-eyed, totally still. Mama Kande must have seen my face, because she said calmly, "Those are zombies."
Mama Kande made me kneel too. Drum music began to play soon, and the zombies began to move slowly at the same time. The music rose in pitch until it became frantic. I remember those people dancing furiously by the fire without stopping, increasingly seduced by their own movements and the fire that surrounded everything. I remember that music also took my body by storm and that the night was as bright as fire.
What happened later I will not tell: up to here I allow myself to be an infidel, there are things that should not come out of the intimacy of religions, and it is good that they do. I will only say that that night my spirit reached a new level of openness, and since then I carry with me an indelible mark somewhere in my soul, since I was not the same person again.
After that definitive experience, Mama Kande recommended me to continue on my way to my next destination.
The Gypsy Kings
When I arrived in Bulgaria Madam Gergana hosted me. The old woman greeted me with a big smile, took my hands warmly, and without any concealment looked at my palms. For a few seconds, her little eyes traced the lines, while her face was thoughtful, like someone reading a book. After a brief silence, she sighed and out of nowhere gave me a big hug. With time I got used to it, it was just a plump and happy grandmother, with quirks and quirky customs, who scared the pigeons with her uncontrollable laughter.
That day, as soon as I arrived, she said to me “I was waiting for you, daughter. Just yesterday Madam Xicuba warned me that you would come, I did not have time to prepare a room for you ”. This surprised me greatly "Is Madam Xicuba here?" I asked for. She kept talking without hearing my question. “She told me in a dream. I was surprised because since she died she had stopped talking to me in dreams, but yesterday she came and told me, my dear Gergana, take care of my girl, and so you see that I will accompany you. The good one of Madam Xicuba was so beautiful when she was young, and we were so friendly, but now, she takes advantage of me, but I will reach her in eternity ”.
So I found out that Madam Xicuba had died in Rio de Janeiro. That night, lying in the makeshift room for the gypsy witch, I cried until dawn holding in my hands the talisman that my teacher had given me when I left for this trip.
The next day my training started. Madam Gergana was a very strange and very affectionate woman, who taught me everything I know about tarot and gypsy magic, in addition to cooking some delicious musakas and knitting beautiful stockings, as if she were my grandmother.
Every morning she sat in her big purple chair and consulted the tarot, drinking tea in a small porcelain cup full of symbols. Of course, it made me sit next to her and go over the meaning of each card and the orders of the arcana. I learned to wisely evaluate the influence of The Magician, to respect the wisdom of The Priestess, or to wait for the influence of The Hermit, and so with each card.
In this way, every morning, Madam Gergana elaborated on the origin and meaning of a certain letter, listing its uses, its combinations with other characters, and its possible interpretations. She could spend hours talking about a playing card, relating a character to a Greek myth, a Celtic legend, or an ancient story.
I spent a few months in Bulgaria, in which I received endless tarot lessons. Every night I fell asleep with my head full of strange images of deck characters. When I thought I was going to go completely crazy, Madam Gergana, without warning, ended the learning. That day I packed my luggage and continued on my way.
Then I traveled through many places. I lived for a time in the fields of Calatrava, in Spain; I participated in Orphic rituals near Elafonisi, in Crete; I collaborated in the celebration of the Inty Raimi in Saqsaywaman, Cusco; I lived for days in a Mapuche community, in Patagonia, where I learned her medicine directly from an old machi woman.
But soon it would be time to face the last great learning, the end of my long journey. New York was waiting for me.
The Dark City
Almost at the end of that year, I arrived in New York. I have never seen such a city. There were no taller buildings, more colorful streets, and more egotistical and smarter people.
I was greeted at a Brooklin home near Brower Park. It was a house with high ceilings, with a small staircase at the entrance and a porch. From the outside it looked like a simple little house among many others, all more or less the same. No one imagined what was happening inside.
I was warmly greeted by Lady Mallory, a languid, pale-skinned woman who always wore rigorous black. She accommodated me in one of the rooms, which had no window and only had an iron bed and a wardrobe.
Lady Mallory introduced me to Black Magic, curses, and dark spells. Usually the strangest, most obscure of New York's elite gathered in the basement: satanic men, dressed in brilliant talismans, or women made up like Egyptians, who spoke in an expressionless and blunt manner. I, of course, was not allowed to participate.
I was to take my lessons at dusk, surrounded by burning candles and devilish signs. It was really scary. I hardly slept during the day, and when I did not sleep I went out to walk the streets. There I saw birds nest on the ledges of skyscrapers, the moon hidden among the electricity cables, or the beautiful cats desperately devouring the garbage.
My mind began to darken with each passing day, I thought I was going to go crazy. Lady Mallory hardly spoke to me, and forced me to perform horrible spells against people I didn't know, and who had done absolutely nothing to me. It was unbearable pressure.
One day, tired, tormented, with a dark heart, I told Lady Mallory with my last strength that I gave up, it was too much for me. I began to cry uncontrollably, I needed to expel all those toxic feelings from my being, and I no longer cared about failing, it was too much. "Black magic is not for me," I said out loud.
-Well. -Lady Mallory said, and added to my surprise. –That's exactly what you came to learn in this city, there is nothing else I want to teach you. Now you can go.
When I returned to Rio de Janeiro, I soon got to work. Madam Xicuba was dead, and I found to my surprise that she had left me her home in the suburbs. Soon people began to come looking for me to tell me about their problems, their needs, and their wishes. It was then that I learned that old Madam Xicuba had trained me to be her replacement. She knew from the beginning what would happen.
Since then, I work honestly helping those in need with my spells every day. That is why I created my website, in order to help people from anywhere in the world who need to recover a loved one, or improve their financial situation, or purify themselves from bad vibes, or attract luck.
If you need my help, just write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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