by Ashara Mayim

The pain on the back of my shoulder is bad, but far from unbearable. Occasionally on the physical plane I feel the needle hit a bundle of nerves and the stinging becomes particularly sharp. I might squeeze the hand holding mine or kick my legs, but I’m not all there. I have one foot firmly planted in each world. In the tattoo shop, I am laying on a cushioned table, breathing deeply, listening to the steady, terrifying buzz of the tattoo gun. At the Crossroads, I am sitting, my knees tucked to my chest, looking at my hands.

There is a staff with a torch planted firmly at the “Y” intersection of the gravel roads. Several plates of food offerings are gathered at the intersection. Little blades of grass peek through the rocks and dirt, which crunch beneath the weight of my body as I shift to get comfortable. But there is no getting comfortable. The Crossroads isn’t a comfortable place. It’s a place of choices—of metamorphosis—of change. The Crossroads is a crucible.

She is standing over me, looking at me in her maiden face. Dark hair and glowing eyes—sometimes green and sometimes black (or maybe they are just dilated so far that they appear black to me), they seem to radiate in the light of the moon.

“Are you happy now” she asks. I look up at her in time to see that little smile trace across her face.

“That’s not the question, though, is it, little wolf? You didn’t do this to make me happy.” I feel suddenly offended. A surge of defensiveness, anxiety, and self-righteous anger well up in my belly.

“Of course I did! I did this ALL for you! I drew it for you, I planned it with you, I mixed my blood with yours, and you told me to earn it! That’s why I’m here at all! To show the world you are my Goddess!” My artist hits a nerve bundle. I wince and curse. Her hand on my chin pulls my attention back to the Crossroads—to Her. She is crouched down, staring into my eyes with her crone face.

“Stop thinking so hard. Get out of that HEAD of yours. Stop thinking and KNOW,” she tells me.

There is silence, save the howl of a wolf in the distance. I think I see his shadow out of the corner of my vision, but it is obscured by the light of her torch. My own appearance shifts to the Lady in the mirror with her blonde curls, her beautiful body, her full red lips…and back to my earthly form again. Her voice has softened, but that stern resolve is ever present. It’s hard to argue with the Lady anyway, but when she’s right, it’s downright impossible.

“I did it to prove…”

“To prove what, little wolf?”

“That I have a choice. That I can. That it’s my body—that other people, my past, and my fear… none of that controls me. I have control. I make my choices.” She grins at me, letting go of my chin and standing to full, imposing height, looking up at the moon again. Even in Her crone face, she is far from frail.

“And what have you chosen?”

“I choose you.”

“As I have you.”

We stare into the moonlight, in silence, my fingers tracing the scar on the palm of my hand. All at once, she is gone, the Crossroads are gone, and I am jolted back to the harsh reality of the physical world. To my artist telling me it’s over. To my friends telling me how well I did. I sit up, look at the pictures, brush sweat from my brow, and begin to cry.

Let the tears fall down and cleanse my emotions as the ink has cleansed my soul.

I am strong. I am made new. I am free.

Ashara Mayim has been a Witch since October of 2012 and is about to start her third year of study with the Temple of Witchcraft. She is a life-long learner, published author, and a teacher by trade. Mayim co-founded The Owl’s Well, an education-based pagan community in St. Louis, in December of 2013. She lives in St. Louis with Owl’s Well co-founder Andrew, her dog Ace, and her cat Isilmé.

Temple of Witchcraft