“If you would all bow your heads and close your eyes we will close out today’s service.” Pastor Darius says as he kneels down beside the pulpit and begins the closing prayer. Micah follows suit, kneeling in his pew and bowing his head. You’re supposed to use this time to pray and reflect,but today, he cannot make his mind focus. How many years have I been sitting in this same back row pew, saying the same prayers? His mind continues on the dangerous pathway he is on. A slideshow of faces and regrets flash by one by one until familiarity pulls him from his daydream. “And all God’s people say…” The congregation simultaneously replies, “Amen”.
As Micah opens his eyes, he notices something sickeningly familiar, yet strikingly out of place. No! Not here. Please, not here too! Under the pew, a small tendril of swirling black haze is reaching for his knee. The hair on his arms stand to full attention and he feels chilled to the bone. The sermon isn’t officially closed yet, but staying a minute longer is just not an option today. As the rest of the congregation takes a seat in their pews once more, Micah quietly slips out the back of the church.
For years now, the darkness has haunted him. Everywhere he goes, the shadow seems to follow. The only place he has ever been able to find peace has been here, in the small country church house. It’s the only place he’s ever felt that he could breathe fresh air and open his mind without the threat of a tendril creeping in. Today, that peace was shattered once again and with that shattering, he knows what he feels he has to do.
Flying down Route 3, the feeling of desperation takes hold. The small voice in the back of his mind begs with him to be heard. Reach out one more time. Reach Micah. The risen hair on his body has yet to lie down. The panic and need to get away seems to be growing, instead of fading, no matter how far away from the church he gets. He’s to scared to even look in his rear view for fear of seeing IT. “Come on service, please pick up. I need to call Jamie, NOW! My sister will know what to do. She always knows what to do.” Another minute of driving grants him his desperate wish, cell phone service.
“Mm, hello?” His sister sleepily answers on the other end of the line. “Jamie, I need you to get up, now.” The sleep instantly clears from her groggy mind as she listens to him. “Micah? What’s going on? Why do I feel so much fear coming through?” Micah pulls his truck to the side of the road. He knows he shouldn’t be driving like this. “It came into the church Jamie. You said it couldn’t come in there and it did. Now what am I going to do? The one piece of solitude I have left in my life and it’s gone!” “Calm down dude, just take a deep breath and listen to me” his sister says. “Now, here’s what I need you to do okay? Swing by Montgomery’s and grab some candles, I’m out. Also, I’m going to need a coffee and a biscuit.” A hint of a smile appears at the corner of his lips. His sister always had a way of comforting him, no matter what was going down in his life. “I am having a life or death crisis and breakfast is on your mind? You realize it’s noon on a Sunday right?” She giggles and says “Yes, and since you woke up early on my day off, I’m going to need payment. Add a hash brown on the side. See you in 20.”
Pulling into Jamie’s driveway was always a welcome feeling of relief for him. Jamie was into all things otherworldly and she always had wards of protection up around the property. She was gifted, something our parents had tried to pray out of her growing up. He didn’t bother ringing the bell and let himself into her home. The smell of smoldering sage and warmth from the hearth knocked the eerie chill off of him that had been with him since this mornings service. “I brought candles and a number four, as requested.” She smiled, snatching the fast food bag from his hands. “Set those candles out by the fire, I’m going to wolf this down and we can start. Micah, I know we’ve tried this before, but I need your cooperation. This is only going to work if you let go.”
Micah settles down onto the floor before the hearth, arranging candles for his sister as instructed. Jamie comes in from the kitchen a moment later carrying a large jar labeled ‘Salt’. She makes a circle around the workspace, making sure there are no gaps in the line. “Listen, I’m not sure what is going to manifest here. Whatever you do, no matter how scared you are, do not break the circle until I close it out. Whatever has marked you is not welcome here and I will not have it loose on my land.” Hesitantly, Micah nods in agreement. “Let’s just get this banished and over with.”
Jamie begins and opens her elemental circle, starting with Air, her gifted affinity. “Air, we greet you and welcome you. Breathe into my brothers soul and purify it.” As commanded, a small tornado of wind whipped around the circle and Micah’s head was thrown back at its power. His lungs felt like he had never truly breathed air until this moment. It was glorious. “Fire, we greet you and welcome you. Seek and destroy. Burn the dark mark that rests on his soul.” The flames in the hearth roared at the request. Micah’s skin was glistening as he felt his temperature rise. It was like his blood was on the verge of boiling. “Earth, we greet you and welcome you. Find my brother and root him solidly. Anchor him to this cleansing and secure the bond.” With this request Micah’s body felt frozen. He couldn’t have stood to run if he tried. His back sat straight and tall, like an ancient tree had grown to replace his spine. He felt as though his hair were leaves and the pure wind his sister evoked was rustling them joyously. “Water, we greet you and welcome you. Wash my brother of this darkness and nurture him as he grows.” Jamie handed him a cup and told him to drink. The water was unlike anything he’d ever tasted. It was like drinking straight from a cloud, pure and clean. He felt the tree inside him fully take root at the nourishment. A hurricane couldn’t uproot him from his spot on the ground. “Are you ready, brother?” Jamie asked him. “It’s not to late to stop.” In all the years his sister had been practicing, he’d never seen her do something like this. This was real power, and he trusted her with his life. “Call spirit. I’m ready.” Jamie settled herself in once again and called to spirit. “Spirit, we greet you and welcome you. Find my brothers soul and replace the mark of darkness with your light.”
To try and describe the way he felt was impossible. There are no words to accurately explain the purity and goodness that filled him. He could feel the sweet spirit traveling through his body. Spirit searched every inch of him, from his head to his toes. The joy was overwhelming. He felt that he would never be able to find this feeling outside of the sacred circle. He sat there, taking it all in, when suddenly his vision went black. “Jamie, I can’t see! What’s happening to me?” He cried out. “I can’t help you anymore Micah. Relax and let her work. I promise you are safe.” She said, as she reached for his hand. At his sisters reassuring touch, he let down the last of the walls he had built inside himself. Brick by brick, all the pain and heartache tumbled to the ground. All the doubts and insecurities crumbled around his feet and turned to ash.
“Open your eyes Micah and let me look inside you. Eyes are the windows to the soul, my brother.” As he opened his eyes, he felt Jamie’s hands on either side of his face, steadying his head. His eyes were purple, signifying that spirit had found her way inside and was ready to speak. She looked through his eyes, focusing with all her might to see what spirit wanted to be seen. Silent and still the pair stayed. For how long, neither can recall, for time had no meaning inside the circle. Jamie watched and absorbed the spirit’s brief message and with a flash of light, she was gone. “Micah, I know you can’t answer me right now so just listen. Spirit is gone and I am going to release you. Stay calm and still for me, alright?” No words came from him nor did any movement. The only acknowledgment of her statement was that of a small tear, sliding down his cheek. In reverse order, she thanked each element and released them from her brothers body, blowing out the candles as she went. The instant she blew out the candle belonging to air, her brother gasped, returning to the present of her home. Tears flowed freely now as Micah grabbed Jamie and pressed her tightly to his chest. In unison they spoke one, short phrase. “I have no dominion here.”
“Micah, what does that mean? How can spirit have no dominion over this? What did she show you that she didn’t show me?” Quietly, he reached for the cup of water. It tasted nothing like it had moments before, but he greedily drank anyhow. “She has no dominion because this isn’t of her realm. The darkness isn’t an entity, it’s me.” At the acknowledgment of this truth, the tendrils rose inside the circle. They rose higher and higher until they formed the shape of a man, but not just any man. It was Micah.
Jamie was stunned silent, something that has never happened to her in all her life. “Micah, what do we do?” She asked shakily. “We, do not do anything. I’m the only one who can fix this.” He stood to face himself, confident with his new found knowledge. “You are not welcome inside of me any longer. You are evil and you are weaved from lies. I will have my peace, I will have my joy and I will have my life back. No longer will I hide from you and hide from others in fear you’ll appear. You’ve stolen to much time already.” The more he spoke, the more his confidence rose. “You are nothing but my own minds creation, the monster I made inside me. I am worthy of living, just like everyone else. I am worthy of love and happiness. There’s nothing wrong with me and there never has been. You are nothing but a disease of the mind and I have let you win over and over again. I declare victory over you and I will never belittle myself in your name again. I have the power here, not you.”
The flame in the hearth roared once again, and parted itself like the Red Sea. His shadow self no longer had control. “I banish you from my mind and my life. I am enough and I always have been.” The shadow was sucked into the flames, piece by piece. The siblings watched as the fire swallowed Micah’s shadow, cracking and popping with victory. When the last of the shadow was burned away the fire extinguished itself. One, whoosh, and all was silent. A few moments had passed before either of them could speak on what had happened here. Standing, reaching her hand to her brother, Jamie said “Help me sweep this salt into ashes, we have to close the circle completely.” Jamie and Micah set off cleaning the home, literally and spiritually. “Hey Jamie, do you mind if I stay here with you tonight?” She smiled and replied, “You never have to ask that brother. I’ll make the up couch.”
The next morning, the two of them are having breakfast on the front porch. Jamie is first to break the silence. “So, now that you have had time to process it all, I have to ask. What happened inside you that I couldn’t see?” She looks to her brother, waiting on him to answer. She is searching for any sign of the darkness that used to follow him. Today, there isn’t a hint of a tendril to be found. Micah steps off the porch and into the bright, morning sun. It’s like feeling true warmth and happiness for the first time. “The shadow was me, or who I thought I was. For so long I have been so lost and so alone. I’ve fought this silent battle inside me, longing for happiness and peace. It seemed like the harder I struggled, the tighter the tendrils would squeeze me until eventually, I stopped fighting.” He walked back to the porch, taking his sisters hand in his. “I don’t say this to scare you or hurt you, but I planned on stopping it all yesterday, one way or another. Before I called you, I heard this voice begging me to fight, one more time. You saved my life, Jamie. Not from demons and ghosts or the things that go bump in the night, but from myself. You helped me unlock what I needed to see all along, that my life is precious. Without you, I never would have had the strength to claim my power. Like Spirit said, she had no dominion because I wasn’t marked by anything of her realm. When she spoke those words, it was like my soul awakened to the truth and the chains of darkness fell off.”
The siblings hugged each other and cried as tears of joy streamed down both of their faces. “You matter Micah, you’ve always mattered. I will always be here for you, sweet brother. I love you, more than my own self at times. Never forget this and blessed be, always.”
He smiles over her shoulder and squeezes her tighter, truly thankful to be alive in this moment. He was truly feeling for the first time in his life. “The darkness is gone and I’m not going anywhere. It’s time for me to live. I love you, always. Blessed be, sweet sister. ”