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Grandmother’s Present

A Portent of Rain

A Pentagrammic Pattern

It is a mid-summer morning in the chaparral country of South Texas, about a day’s ride from the Mexican border. A young girl of about 10 stands on the side of a hill, on a foot-worn path that separates green-brown patches of weeds and grass.

She is a beautiful girl, sylph-like in stature and movement, pleasant in word and manner. And she watches with innocent dark eyes full of wonder the old woman some 20 yards away downhill. Her grandmother.

The old woman is standing up straight, looking away down the hill to the cotton-field, which extends out to a stream barely within view and is otherwise bordered by woods. She bears a stern look on her countenance. Her jaw is set, and her eyes are hardened and indifferent.

She is considered by the Mexican-American community to be an unfriendly woman, disagreeable, and possibly even malicious. It is often wondered how such a bitter and discordant woman has co-existed with and raised such an amiable well-natured girl. And there has been some speculation and intrigue as to the absence of the girl’s parents and other relatives. But no one dares to ask.

It is a cloudy morning, and it is expected that a heavy rain will come before noon, which may last for days. This portends that the field laborers will not be able to work, and much if not all of the harvest may become ruined.

The old woman stretches her arms out sideways, her left pointing north. She turns and, with measured steps, approaches the girl. And as she closes the distance, she produces a dagger from her garment and moves it in a pentagrammic pattern, while softly chanting a monotonous evocation.

The girl takes the knife reverently and likewise traces the lines of the pentagram between them. She then points it towards the sky and moves it in a pattern of lines that run east to west and south to north, all the time the two of them continuing the incantation.

She closes her eyes, and her mind reaches out, sensing everything around her. The air is humid… The breeze is soft and smells of damp earth. The grasses and wildflowers sing in pitches too high for the human ear to discern. The grass-burrs chatter and fuss like rattles. The mesquite and huisache whisper to each other somewhat surreptitiously, as the breezes pass through them.

Here and there, clusters of prickly pear hiss irritatedly and sigh in resignation, as if reacting to the climate. A rattlesnake is coiled up and sleeping within one such enclosure nearby. A tarantula traipses cautiously among the rocks, seemingly with no direction but probably on the hunt.

In the distance, a jackrabbit takes two short quiet leaps, stands on its hind legs, and sniffs the air. It dashes into some brush, sensing an energy in the vicinity, which it chooses not to encounter. And in the opposite radius, a roadrunner stops and looks about but seems unaware of the two lizards chasing each other among the rocks some twenty feet away. All this the girl sees, hears, or senses with her eyes closed and her mind open.

The girl’s consciousness rises, expands, passes through a large swarm of gnats, and continues to soar over the landscape. Soon, her incorporate awareness is looking down at the acres of rows on the face of the hill, the top surface of the woods, and the meandering, glimmering course of the stream.

In a pseudo-visual manner, she locates her own tiny figure and that of her grandmother’s on the dusty path below. Her removed consciousness inhales the moisture of the clouds, and it is felt by her corporeal being on the ground. Her mental gaze detects and traces the lines being drawn by the dagger, here augmented by the distance.

Now she senses the warmth of the sun permeating from above. Having risen above the clouds, there is light and blue sky. Responding in part to her will, the clouds are parted as if cut by the knife, and the rain is deterred.

As she gradually returns her cognizance to her body, she must concentrate to contain her excitement and elation. To allow any emotion to distract her awareness during this descent could disrupt the delicate transition, possibly breaking "the cord of light" which connects the self to the physical being. She then could be stranded in an ethereal, metaphysical existence for an unknown duration of time. And her mindless, inert body could simply waste away.

Later, as they walk back to their house, the girl runs ahead, skipping and cavorting gleefully, now able to embrace and express her feelings of merriment and adeptness. And sauntering behind, the old woman beams and smiles briefly to herself.

It is the girl’s first sorcerous execution. The fact that good has been committed is of no consequence for now, but only that the girl can do magic.

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