Thursday, July 05, 2007

"Have you come for another spell?"

The dream started off in the winding dense streets of a city. Not New York, but someplace vaguely European. London? Paris? Perhaps the sort of city that an Impressionist painter would have been familiar with. I wandered in search of something, my limbs moving as if my body knew where to go although my head didn't. Two and three story brick buildings greeted me along the way. And with each turn I made, the more familiar my surroundings seemed to become.

I came to an old store tucked somewhere deep in the urban maze and upon entering I felt a strong sense of déjà vu. The spacious interior gave the impression of an old apothecary with shelves of glass jars and dark wooden drawers studded with brass pulls and fading labels. From behind a long counter stood an old woman wearing a blue cardigan. Like her smile, her wispy white hair was pulled tight into a bun and she greeted me as if I were a regular customer.

How could this be?

At first she was pleasant and engaged me in light conversation, which gave me time to study her translucent skin and pink cheeks. "Have you come for another spell?" she asked, her tone clipped.

"A what?" I answered after an awkward hesitation.

She didn't repeat herself, but instead poked noisily around the many drawers and jars that lined the shop. After a minute of searching, she seized upon a small blue vial from a selection of equally small bottles and removed the stopper. With quick dip of the hand she poured a small amount of the blue vial's contents into her open palm.

I blinked to confirm what I was seeing because the drop of liquid instantaneously formed a swirling red cloud. It was as if her hand suddenly contained a miniature electrical storm both beautiful and frightening.

"You said I came here before?" I stammered to the old woman, unable to take my eyes off the tiny storm.

"Why yes, dear. Of course you don't remember, but you came in here only recently for a binding spell."

The news greeted me like a sledgehammer. I had been here before? I had purchased a spell from this woman? And I had no memory of it?

She read the look of confusion and fear on my face. "Losing something is always what the universe demands in repayment. Yes you have no memory of the last time you visited me, but the real price was the loss of something to you. Pity that you might never discover what."

Perhaps she hadn't intended to, but her words rang sinister. Had I really cavalierly purchased a spell, given up something as sacrifice, and yet I had no memory of what?

"So what will it be this time," she continued, palm still outstretched. "Another binding spell? A love spell?"

No, I wanted to scream.

That's when I woke up. I was not in an old shop, but in the North London apartment of my friend Karl and splayed across the foldout couch in his darkened sitting room. The dream was so powerful and the sense of urgency so pervasive that I couldn't shake the feelings nor the image of that woman with her open palm. I still to this day don't know what the dream meant, but I was reminded of it when I was reading this article in the New York Times. "Big dreams" Carl Jung once called the sort of dream that wake us with its vividness, crashes through our psyche like a thunderbolt, and stays in our memory for years with utmost clarity. My dream of the old woman and the spell was one of my "big dreams."

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