It’s late 2006. The room is dark, aside from the awkward glare of European wattage streaming through the giant windows of my Moscow hotel suite. I hear the gentle attack of snowflakes trying to beat their way inside. My room, as per usual, is scented from an assortment of candles, bath products, and fabric softener. It’s competition season, so I haven’t eaten since noon and my stomach gave up growling months ago when it realized that the off-season had ended.
I kneel gently on a plush area rug from a former satellite state next to the rickety “antique” bed I’ve been occupying since arriving in Mother Russia. If the walls had eyes, which the may have, they would have seen that I was deep in prayer asking the Lord to protect me on the next day’s competition.
In my clasped hands I am holding something that isn’t an icon, a rosary bead, a Bible, Torah, or Koran. It’s something that I am not only holding, but also focused on so deeply that it’s as if I am trying to move it with my mind. Yes, I am crouched over speaking Russian directly into the rounded, bowled side of a spoon.
I know that visions of Tom Hanks talking to the volleyball Wilson may have just popped into my readers’ minds, or perhaps a scene out of a psychological thriller, but I promise I have a perfectly logical and honest explanation for speaking to cutlery. A white witch told me to.
I am not necessarily a God-fearing man; however, I reserve the right to attend a church, believe in a greater existence, pray when I feel like I need someone to listen, and wear religious icons around my neck for protection. I am more of a mystical person. I am a believer in witchcraft, supernatural energy, evil, ghosts, and things that in general can’t and/or aren’t to be explained. I have worked with healers and people with the special ability to see things most can’t for many years. I have worn a red string of protection since before Madonna made Kabbalah a trendy thing. There is so much in this world that can’t be explained by the good book or by science that I have always felt it appropriate to keep an open mind.
My “witches” have not been numerous. There have been only three that I have ever been connected with, and one who was brought into my life by my mother who charted my stars and read the energy of the time and day I was born to create a forecast of sorts as to what my life would be like. Every success and tragedy in my life has been documented in that chart created many years ago, and has been deadly accurate to this day. The chart was left open ended as my mother didn’t want to know my life expectancy and I am thankful that was left off of the books.
In addition to believing in the power of “witches,” I am a terribly superstitious person. I was having a terrible spell with nightmares a few years ago, and immediately put right-side-up mirrors under my bed so the spirits would be scared of their reflections and fly away before trying to scare me. Old-school folk remedies like honey on cabbage leaves and vodka on sliced potatoes to cure all ailments are commonplace in my house. Red brick powder may form a line in front of my doors so that nothing evil may pass it.
Hocus pocus may be smoke and mirrors to many, but every day I am reaffirmed in my belief of great and terrible energies that walk alongside us. I was confiding in that spoon, twisted thrice around by my helper, because it was a direct line to her. I couldn’t sleep; the next day was very important, Ambien wasn’t helping, and somehow by communicating through the spoon I found peace, heard a voice whisper through my head, and slept soundly and deeply.
Superstitions and mysticism are different in every culture and vary a lot considering the lifestyles and matter around the subjects. These remedies and beliefs exist though, and for good reason: They work.
This past week, my grandmother-in-law was hospitalized for numerous things that ail her, age being the main one. In horrific leg pain, she screamed for mercy in her hospital bed for something that would help. Potassium would help the cramps, but the potassium is something her poor stomach can’t handle. The nurse from a southern country, no stranger to voodoo and mysticism, whispered a thought to my frantic in-laws surrounding the bed, and it worked.
To be continued.