Conjuring Encounter

I love New Orleans. I love New Orleans history. I love conjure magic/root work and what bits I know about New Orleans and Haitian Voudous. I love being queer and trans, and all the possibilities therein. So, I wrote a story that combined all those things.

I wrote a story responding to a prompt/submission call for, “Lesbian Historical Motif Fiction”. Though not a lesbian, there was part of me growing up that watched my lesbian friends and wished that I was/could be them or have their experience (nascent seeds of trans ness and queerness). So I got to connect with that old grief.

The story is set in 1830s antebellum New Orleans, following the transfer of colonial power from the French to the Americans. It is about Creole culture, which included much racial mixing and the capacity for movement between classes in spite of one’s skin color—New Orleans at the time was arguably the most racially progressive city on Turtle Island/the North American continent if you don’t account for native societies. Then, the Americans arrived, and attempted to enforce their rigid, Puritanical and racist standards on the locals.

And there was resistance. But it had to be more clandestine. Enter Voudou, magics, Sunday dances/ritual of people of color from many African nations (up to 600 people each time)—all forms of cultural resistance and preservation of their ways of life in the face of white supremacist attempts at their erasure in the name of slavery.

And, enter legends like Marie Laveau and her daughter by the same name—the fabled “Queen of the Voudous” in New Orleans. Without going into total detail of what is or might not be true/known about her, she/they represent deeply empowered women of African descent, in this case mixed race, descendants of slaves, who through their magic, communalism, entrepreneurial-ship, and intelligence, formed networks of strong women of color who resisted white supremacy and oppression.

While I was in and since I left NOLA, I have felt a communion with the spirit of Marie Laveau, not knowing if it was the first or the second. It’s been a mystery what that relationship will develop into, but writing about her helped flesh that out more. I feel her (whichever her) more. She makes a cameo, and everything else that informs the characters’ experience in the story is historically accurate. Researching this historical fiction piece was all play, not work.

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This morning I never would have imagined myself at the door of a negro voudou , petitioning for help to avert me from a sin of this type, Catherine thought to herself.

Standing in front of a simple Creole cottage on St. Ann St., just across Rampart and towards the river from Congo Square where this whole affair seemed to have hit its crescendo, she could feel something emanating. This particular cottage in the Vieux Carré, or French Quarter, looked nothing like those in the American Quarter above Canal St. where she lived with her husband.

Enter the rusting patina gate, she’d been instructed. Pass the chickens roaming and pecking about under the shade of the banana trees. Never mind you the Indian woman camped to the right. 

She won’t tell a soul she’s seen you here.

Yes, a far cry from my usual world. What with its manicured gardens, elaborate fountains, stale receiving parlours, she thought. She hesitated, but here is where she had been told she could find the answer to her dilemma.

Her hairdresser’s own home, whom Catherine had come to find was also known as—in more sensationalist articles and community whispers—the Widow Paris, Marie Laveau, the Queen of the Voudous.

Before the invitation, Catherine had sat in front of Marie who offered in-home appointments to ladies of class. A bundle of wheat colored curls that extended from the sides of her head kept her from directly seeing Marie. Abruptly, Catherine moused out, “I…have a problem that I…"

She paused, biting a finger lightly. “…that I don’t know how to solve”.

As Catherine divulged this, Marie’s hand’s pining other curls ceased. After some silence, her dresser leaned in and and through the wet heat of her breath whispered, “what kind of problem, mon cheri?”

“One that requires…discretion,” Catherine’s voice descending to a whisper as she shifted in her seat.

“One that can’t be spoken here, and perhaps can’t be solved by…natural means”.

“Ah, I see,” Marie whispered back, her eyes shifting subtly left and right before continuing to pin Catherine’s hair. Between curls, in a low voice she asked, “and how did you come to believe that I might be able to help you in this way?”

Swallowing noticeably, Catherine said, “I’ve…heard things. Read things—articles about you, for instance. Often a tad sensational, but sometimes…sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction,” she said more directly. “I’ve also seen you dance at Congo Square on Sundays after Mass. Seen you walk past the colonial officials without harassment”.

“Oh, but dancing is religion in New Orleans. And you mustn’t trust everything you read, mon cheri.” Marie smirked, reaching down to a side table to grab a small pewter hand mirror.

“I also saw how the negro crowd there awaits your every move. Follows you in dance and a kind of ecstacy”. Looking through her curls to either side as well for signs of anyone else, Catherine continued to whisper, “I know they call you Queen. And I know Queen of what”.

Marie paused for a moment, and then she handed Catherine the mirror to ascertain approval of her work. Through the mirror’s reflection Marie looked deep into Catherine’s eyes for the first time and said without hesitation, “at sundown you will come to my home in the Vieux Carré, wearing white and with your hair covered. There we will fix your problem”.

***

Marguerite finished arranging jewelry in the window of her intimately sized shop on Dumaine St. and once satisfied, stepped outside into the already balmy sun before opening. Looking towards the river, the familiar and almost fond stench of rubbish starting to bake in the sun hit her nostrils, transporting her back to her days of hawking in the Public Market just blocks away.

She had spent many hours in the Market as well as going door to door in the Quarter—in between service at her French father’s estate and her periodic education with the local Ursuline nuns. Having been a slave at the time, she thought, my mother must have been her father’s favorite for me to have been afforded that time and education.

She had been young, having just bodily ”become a woman” the month before—first she’d promoted bread from the local French baker, carrying it to market on her head. She’d sell loaves for a few pesos more than the bakery’s asking price, retuning at the end of the day with her clandestine profit while being paid for her labor. She even, for a time, walked door to door vending—much to her and anyone’s dismay who smelled her at day’s end—local fish from the questionable waters of the Mississippi.

She did all of this with one goal: to purchase her own freedom.

As she earned, she invested in more sophisticated commodities, sometimes only able to afford a single item at a time: the colorful plaid fabrics from Madras for Creole women’s tingons for example (which had begun to be required by at-the-time, new Spanish colonial officials). With her earnings and a small loan from a friend, Marguerite had graduated to her truer passion: making jewelry.

After selling a few pieces to Northern tourists at ridiculous prices, she’d been able to procure her shop—no longer occupying the Market or having to circle the Quarter. “Shop” however, might have been a generous term for the sliver of space she occupied between a European women’s fashion shop to one side, and a Native-run hat shop to the other.

The latter shop must have catered to French and American women, given that the Creoles kept to their colorful headwear even after it was no longer required by their new American “saviors,” who had taken control of the city in 1803.

Saviors from what? thought Marguerite resentfully as she walking back into her shop. From the Spanish whose laws were more permissive even than the French? They are all the same—we are your stewards, and you ought to be grateful for the place we’ve chosen for you. But we Creoles and slaves have survived, thrived, without and through each of them.

Pausing to recognize that her mental state of affairs would not be good for business, Marguerite drew back a curtain in the back of the stop to reveal an alcove. Those early days as an entrepreneur were demanding, and not wanting to ever have to relive them, Marguerite constantly kept a dressed, prosperity drawing candle burning in the small alcove.

Her back to the shop’s entrance, Marguerite recited prayers of thanks and petitions to various saints, spirits, and ancestors for good fortune that day. 

Her devotion was abruptly interrupted by a young white woman stepping through her door. Startled, Marguerite stopped mid-prayer, covertly drawing the curtain as she turned to face this foreign arrival.

“Oh, my apologies, maam, I didn’t mean to bother. It’s just that, your sign said you would be open so naturally I entered. I…didn’t mean to interrupt,” the woman said looking slightly beyond Marguerite’s shoulder.

Marguerite studied the woman for a moment—clearly American by her accent and failure to automatically speak French to a mulâtresse. Her fashion betrayed her pre-New Orleans origins—Northeastern of some flavor. Flavor, and pedigree.

Another savior, Marguerite couldn’t help but think. Perhaps this one will seek to evangelize me, turn me from the decrepit ways of the Vatican or the heathen rites of Africa.

Through her judgements Marguerite noticed however that the woman had a peculiar necklace tracing her almost translucent skin. Marguerite was too far away to see further detail, but she could feel something about it, functionally curbing her negativity for a moment.

“Are you?” the woman asked, looking down at the case of jewelry and then back at Marguerite.

“Am I what?” Marguerite responded, her focus coming back from the woman’s neck.

“Open. Are you open? Your pieces are positively magnificent,” she said, gesturing downwards. “I would love to view them if possible”.

Shaking her head slightly, Marguerite responded, “yes, madame, of course. I am indeed open”. She walked the but few feet to her potential customer while saying, “My name is Marguerite, and welcome to my humble shop of handmade, Creole jewelry. There is nothing unique or singular you cannot find here—just like we Creoles,” she said with a playful smirk.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing. It certainly caught my eye as I was walking to the market,” the woman said. “I have a sense for unique things and I prefer to immerse myself totally wherever I am,” she said with a smile.

“Oh, my apologies for not introducing myself. My name is Catherine. My husband and I recently moved here from New York”.

As I thought, Northern, Marguerite thought to herself. Yet another of the countless new arrivals after this transition with the U.S.

Turning back to Catherine, Marguerite inquired as she began to remove trays of jewelry from her case, “New York is very far, madame. And very different from here. What could’ve brought you such a long way?”

“Oh, my husband is a respected physician with a deep interest in tropical diseases. He’s an altruistic man by most standards, and he was so was impressed when we heard the story of the local Hospital of St. John at one of the societies of which we were members. After hearing also about the various cholera outbreaks that have plagued New Orleans, he felt he was in a unique position to help”.

“We from New Orleans call it L’Hôpital des Pauvres de la Charité, or the Charity Hospital for the Poor,” Marguerite corrected her. Sometimes we simply call it, “Charity”. Pausing for a moment she said, “but you did not answer my question”.

“I’m sorry?” Catherine’s brow furrowing slightly.

“I did not ask about your husband. I asked what brought you from New York to a place like our New Orleans,” Marguerite asked directly, one eyebrow slightly raised.

“Oh, well, I…” Catherine looked down for a moment. “My apologies. Not many people often ask me about my life. You see, for others my life seems to always begin at my parents’ untimely deaths and my consequent marriage to my husband, as if I had no life before that…,” she said looking into the distance.

“…or after,” she spoke with barely hidden solemnity.

She shook her head slightly in kind, unknowingly mimicking Marguerite’s movements from earlier. “I suppose I came on one hand because I had to. My husband was set on coming, and a wife follows suit”.

“But I also came because I was fascinated by what I read in papers up North about New Orleans. “The Paris of the South,” they call it. All manner of ritual and culture, danger and exoticness. A world completely different from my own,” Catherine shared. “Moving here came up at a dinner party but more importantly in…” Catherine’s voice trailed off.

“In what, madame? Tell me,” Marguerite’s voice mildly demanded, not noticing that she had placed her hand on Catherine’s arm.

Catherine looked down at Marguerite’s hand unexpectedly on her body and paused, as if deciding at a fork in the road. Catherine then said, “it came to me in a trance. Well, up North we call it a seance”.

Catherine had never spoken those words to another human before. She looked deep into Marguerite’s eyes, searching for some reaction. But Marguerite’s face remained neutral and expectant, as if what Catherine had said was in no way foreign.

She was simply waiting for the next words.

Somewhat aback, Catherine continued. “You see, in New York, I would meet with others who had similar interest in things unseen”. Catherine leaned closer to Marguerite, their heads intimately side by side. “What some call the occult, or the esoteric. No one outside our group knew that I attended, not even my husband. I know he wouldn’t approve of such spiritualist orientations. He’s fairly devout in the Restoration Movement in New York.

Surprise rippled through Marguerite. She had not expected this seemingly demure, mouse of an Anglo woman to have any knowledge, certainly no interest, in transe. Though she had participated in such ritual herself and witnessed it regularly, it was not something that Creoles or slaves talked openly with outsiders about lest the colonial officials further oppress them.

There is much more to this one than meets the eye, she pondered. She decided to probe further, her interest in this unexpected and attractive novelty piqued. That was the sensation surrounding her necklace. This one know about mojos and gris-gris.

“And what about you, Ms. Marguerite? How is it that you know so much about these topics? How did you come to own this store? As I’m sure you know, negroes and whites do not so easily mix in other parts of the United States,” Catherine asked, ignorant of pre-American laws governing New Orleans racial life.

“I will tell you," Marguerite started. "It was January the 13th of the year of our Lord 1795—before your stars and your stripes flew overhead instead of the Tricolor. I was there you know—in 1803—watching from the edge of the square by the Church of St. Louis, as one flag came down and another went up. I felt in my bones that day that things would never be the same,” Marguerite said, her eyes like burnt coals.

“You see, though you seem agreeable, before your people came we Creoles lived with ease, with connection and kindness. White people such as yourselves, free people of color like myself, even slaves, lived in a kind of harmony. One could move about in many ways, so to speak”.

Sitting on her small stool, Marguerite continued: “This was before your American Governor Claiborne, whom the papers quoted about New Orleans, that he, “must confess [he is] not without apprehensions that disorders and disturbances may arise in a country like this where the negro population is so considerable. They should be carefully watched”.

Pausing for a moment, Marguerite looked deeply into Catherine’s pupils.

“Do you feel this way, Catherine?” Marguerite’s, right eyebrow raised, her eyes squinting hawkishly and almost imperceptibly.

“No. No, of course not,” Catherine said, stammering and putting one hand on her breast. After looking at Marguerite awkwardly, she said, “Though it is more common from where I’ve come from. I still I find it positively dreadful”.

“Many Anglos act this way, as if who and what we are, is and will always be an abomination. How we’ve lived as people, before they, you, came,” Marguerite retorted. “They could never understand the fact that I could work harder than any of them and purchase my freedom. That I would be a slave no longer like my mother, who was and died a négresse despite her significant relationship to my white father”.

“That I would be more than just a mulâtresse, born of their permissed but sequestered love—but could and would be a mulâtresse libre, free to associate with whomever I choose”.

“But on that day, January 13th, I appeared with my mistress—my father’s white legal wife with whom I had an affection but little overt association—before the notary. She stated that they entered into my emancipation both, “voluntarily and out of charity,” during which time I paid the notary 600 pesos cash that I had earned through years of hard work”.

“You’re right. They can’t, I can’t, fully understand,” Catherine said, following Marguerite’s story.

"I was fifteen years of age. And I left the notary not as I have been recorded at my baptism by Father Père Antoine, but as a mulâtresse libre,—though, in those times when the Spanish were here, una multa libra. From that day forward as well, I was a listed as a marchande, what you might call a trader”.

“I prefer the English term “merchant,” to be frank,” Marguerite said, adjusting her green, yellow, and black tingon. “It is plus sophistiquée, as we say in French.

Seeing Catherine staring at her head covering, Marguerite answered the unasked question: “I have worn some combination of these colors since—green for drawing money, yellow for prosperity, black for absorption and protection. The Spaniards may have made us wear these, attempting to make us less attractive than European women. But we Creoles are proud, and claim it as our own now”.

Suddenly the church bells rang and both women jumped. “Oh, I’m so sorry Marguerite, but I have to go. I must attend to some errands for tonight’s dinner party, and I have an appointment that I cannot miss”.

She started to leave and turned back. “But it was a delight to meet you, Marguerite”.

“And you, Catherine. You will come back. There is something valuable here for you,” Marguerite said with an otherworldly certainty.

***

 

As Catherine skittered towards, she could hear from Congo Square the slow building of drumbeat, an animal’s horn trumpeted fours times. She doubled her pace, not wanting to miss the beginning of the dance which Marie always heralded. She’d read plenty of newspaper accounts of the dances the negroes had held since the founding of New Orleans—many of them degrading or simply fetishing for tourists.

The benefit of the latter was that she most likely wouldn’t be noticed as a white, or as her self, by an acquaintance. As she approached she could see through the Square gates that Marie had begun to dance. Her hips, joints, limbs, all seemed to have their own life.

She danced with her serpent that was rumored to be called, “Zombi”. Not a single negro joined her yet—they played drums, hands, and shouted as the beat built.

As the climax neared, she could hear Marie speaking to the serpent slithering along her body, “L’appe vine, La Grand Zombi. Pour faire gris-gris. Pour faire mourir…

At this point other women joined her, their torsos swaying in waves, their hips undulated like the lapping of the river. They formed a circle around, dancing in a line. Suddenly, Catherine noticed the one was Marguerite. Marguerite, she devoured the beat, dancing serpentinely, her feet somehow never leaving the ground.

Catherine watched, entranced—no other moment existed and as the drums got faster, BAM. Everyone shouted, “Danse calinda, boumbou, boumbom! Danse calina boumbom boumbom!” the drums punctuating the end of each phrase. Suddenly everyone jumped up and began to dance. Contrarily, Marguerite—who was now on the outskirt of the circle—stopped, mid undulation.

Turning her head, she looked straight into Catherine’ eyes.

Catherine panicked and looked down, then turned away as fast as hurricane winds. Despite wanting to keep looking, she started walking, then jogging, away from the Square, her face alight with anxiety.

And shame.

Shame because she had turned from Marguerite. Shame because she wanted to stay. 

All that awaited her when she arrived to her home was silence—not even her husband home.

She thanked the Trinity for that.

***

Passing the patina gate, the chickens, and the mysterious Native woman, Catherine approached the front door. Finding it slightly ajar, she noticed its handle was absent any lock. Yet, something served as security for the entrance.

She could feel it—an electric breeze on her skin though it was a dank and early summer evening. The type of weather that kept most denizens of New Orleans napping or at the river to avoid heat exhaustion.

 

There had been few others on the walk as she approached the Quarter.

Wiping her brow and readjusting her red head scarf covering her resuscitated curls that tended to fray in the Southern climate, she slowly pushed the door inwards. The receiving room had no windows. And Catherine was greeted by a multitude of altars covered in flowers and innumerable candles throughout the room—all in various states of descent. So many in fact that she was astonished the house itself did not alight.

There was no need for light from windows.

Some candles stood alone, others next to dolls or statues. Their light illuminated the walls which were covered with images of saints. Though not Catholic, Catherine recognized Saint Anthony and St. Peter. A third figure, made up like the other two, was a haloed negro it seemed as she squinted in the dim light.

Moving towards it, she looked down at the picture frame where she could read an inscription in golden italics, “Saint Marron”. Catherine continued to examine the painting and upon turning around, jumped, seeing Marie standing in front of her.

Bienvenue, Madame Catherine,” Marie said with an air of ritualistic austerity. “I am glad you are here”. Stepping forward and looking on at the image of Saint Marron for a quiet moment, she turned back to Catherine.

“Before we proceed with addressing your problem, please tell me—would you consider the solution to be good or bad? In other words, do you see it as giving or taking? Pushing or pulling something?”

Catherine’s face crinkled with confusion for a moment, saying “more on the side of pushing, but I feel somewhat…unclear concerning it, to be honest”.

“Very well,” Marie responded abruptly. “Since we are not yet certain, I will wear white. Please, step through this curtain and sit at my table. I will be with you in a moment”. Marie said this as she wordlessly excused herself and vanished into the shadows.

Catherine did as she was asked, stepping into the next room through the heavy purple doorway drape and found a small table and two chairs awaiting. The walls were covered in various plants and other unidentifiable substances in jars, and herbs hung in bundles from the ceiling. Stones and even dried animal parts were stored on shelves and bookcases. As she looked, Marie re-appeared with elegant confidence, gesturing to one of the chairs, “sit, please”.

Following Catherine, Marie, adjusted her tingon into her characteristic 7 points, then sat herself. She placed two small satin pouches on the table. “Before we begin this work, we will need to be certain of the nature of this problem,” she said. She then leaned backwards into the chair’s support, and crossed her knees, fingers interlaced.

“So, tell me about ce problème”.

As earlier that day, Catherine shifted uncomfortably, looking slightly away and downwards for a moment. Marie continuing to look neutrally but penetratively at her as she looked up.

“Well, I suppose I must say once more that this is for no one else’s ears,” Catherine spoke with a meek firmness.

“Of course, mon cheri, said Marie, leaning forward slightly. “What is said here is and always will be, what is the word in English? Ah, in French it is confidentielle”.

“I am here to help solve people’s problems, not make more,” she winked.

“Thank you,” Catherine said hesitantly as she breathed more deeply. After a slightly exasperated exhale, she began to tell Marie the story of meeting Marguerite—the electric connection and unexpected expositional conversation in her shop, seeing Marguerite undulate at the dance at Congo Square, their eyes meeting. Catherine’s scurrying away despite her desire to move closer, to participate.

The pull of her desire to be closer to Marguerite.

“And I find myself deeply confused. And afraid,” Catherine concluded. “But also…transfixed,” she eeked out, bringing her hands to cover her mouth as if to swallow back what she had just said.

Marie, uncrossing her legs, broke her attention on Catherine for a moment. Resuming her gaze, she asked directly, “Quel est le problème, madame? I would like to ask, what is the problem?”

“Well…” Catherine dithered, frenetically playing with her fingers. The feelings in my body, they felt so…natural and yet, I am a married woman, and these feelings, well, they appear like the sins I have been warned of”.

“You come from a place different from New Orleans, and a people different from us Creoles,” Marie exerted. “You have been told certain things that betray the authenticité of what you feel. But I ask you, what could be more true than that which you feel in your body?”

“I, uh, I don’t know…” Catherine admitted.

“Often people come here thinking they know what they want. Often they do not know. So, we let the spirits speak—they are not confused in ways we can be,” Marie said, gesturing to the two satin bags between them.

“Choose one”.

Catherine, hesitating, closed her eyes and placed one hand on each satchel, feeling the sensation of the satin, and a slight spark of energy from her left hand.

“This one,” Catherine said, wrapping her fingers around the bag in her left hand. She placed it between them.

“Very well, the bones then,” Marie said. Closing her eyes and hovering both hands over the chosen purse. Catherine could vaguely hear her incanting in a language she did not understand but assumed was Creole:

Che ak pisans zanset, lespri, Bondye, pitit gason ak lespri a ki apa pou Bondye, gide li sa a lekti nan pi bon bagay fanm sa a…,” Marie opened her eyes and looked into Catherine’s. 

“Amen”.

“Amen,” Catherine mimicked.

“Before we begin, I would like to note that you have covered your hair like I asked. And you have covered it with a red mushwa, not white”.

Mushwa?” Catherine inquired.

“Nevermind. Just remember in our reading, your choice speaks as well”. Marie leaned back, the chosen purse in both hands. She emptied its contents into her hands, vibrating them slowly while praying, and suddenly tossed the contents onto the table without warning.

Catherine jumped as dried bones of various types leaped towards her on the small table. She could discern some parts of whatever animal’s bodies—thigh/femur, claw/hand, but couldn’t determine from what animals.

Interrupting her confusion, Marie looked over the throw of bones, murmuring “hmms” and “mmmms”. After what seemed like lifetimes, she stopped, was quiet, and said, “the bones and the ancestors have spoken”.

Catherine waited with deep anticipation.

And waited.

And waited.

Then, without seeming provocation, Marie launched into explanation.

“You think you are here for…pushing. But yours, and my, ancestors tell differently,” she said with great reverence.

“The bones tell differently”.

“You are here to receive, mon cheri. And expand,” Marie concluded, with an air of definitiveness which left no space for contestation.

Catherine sat in quiet disbelief. Marie had read her. Truly read her. In a way that she was barely able to admit to herself even now. She was not here to push away her nascent attraction to Marguerite.

She was here to draw in that which was true—to experience Marguerite and her true self. 

Sensing Catherine’s combined discomfort and relief, Marie nodded with, “In case you have any doubts, I will tell you a few details so that when you feel…uncertain later, you can call upon these”.

“There are three, no, four, things you need to know,” Marie said, gesturing to the bones between them. “The most important and first, is the hawk’s talon,” which sat immediately in front of Catherine.

“The hawk, well, she symbolizes letting go, being free. Hawks have been used for eons to carry messages and this one has a message for you: that you are afraid of a secret being told or found out”.

“Yes,” Catherine said as she stared at the bones.

“You see this one?” Marie interrupted, pointed at some pieces of vertebrae.

“Yes, I see them,” Catherine said.

“This is snake. It sheds the old and transforms anew. It mean healing is comin’. Marie went silent for a moment and then looked Catherine deep in her eyes.

“But I have to tell you that shedding is not…comfortable”.

Catherine gulped perceptibly.

“But what’s less comfortable, is trying to live in skin that doesn’t fit you,” Marie asserted.

“There’s only two more I’d like to share with you, mon cheri,”Marie said, pointing then at a small femur bone.

“This is my dearest baby, my black cat, verite,” she divulged.

“What does it mean?” Catherine inquired, coming out of a short state of paralysis and leaning in.

“It means, truth, in English,” Marie responded. Her spirit, a spirit, is trying to give you a message. Despite you tending to be quite secretive in your life—even though you have to—she has a lucky message for you”.

 

“She’s right,” Catherine admitted, “about my secretiveness. Even from myself at times”.

“The bones are always right,” Marie said, with a clear and stoney look. “Lastly, you need to the know that the final important bone is that of a wolf,” Marie said. 

“We had wolves in New York,” Catherine said. “What does that mean? We’ve usually seen them as predators, nuisances…”

“As I said before, this is New Orleans. Not New York. You must think before your judgement,” Marie declared. “In truth, wolves are loyal, compassionate. They’re also cunning, which is something you’ll need to experience your truth of life from this reading”.

“I….I don’t understand,” Catherine stammered.

“You see,” Marie paused, “wolves, they do not fight directly unless necessary. In their cunningness they will find an indirect way, but will stand their ground when demanded of”.

Leaning in, reaching forward and holding Catherine’s hands and looking into her soul, Marie said, “You have found the wolf. And the wolf has found you. She will stand with you forever. But you already know, that you have to be…estratejikstratégique, however you say it in English,” Marie said, waving her hands.

 

Looking again into Catherine’s depths, Marie said, “Though it will not need much help I think, I will help you draw her. She already wants in. But how you live and love together…well…” Marie shrugged her shoulders. “stratégique”.

“Ah,” Marie said, raising her finger. “Strategic, is the word”. “And so, we honor what is true, and we be ‘strategic,” Marie said with a wink while simultaneously drawing a red candle and some herbs from the shelf.

“Just like your mushwa,” Marie said with a wink.

***