So I have this story. I don’t tell it very often because it’s so outrageous that it’s almost like one of those stories that people just make up so that they have an interesting story to tell. Come to think of it, it’s kind of like Coach’s story of surviving being eaten alive by natives in a foreign country.
But I swear, it’s true, and I’ve been thinking about it lately because in a wild way, I am relating it to this bunk uterus thing.
So I was kind of hippy-like in my early twenties. I was going to a community college, wearing hideous shoes and no makeup, with perhaps an occasional twine bracelet for decoration. I know! I cringe too. It was before I understood the redemptive power of lip gloss, or how a $200.00 flat iron can change your life.
I was really into dreams, trying to analyze them, boring the shit out of my friends talking about them, etc. So I see a flyer at the school for a “dream retreat” and I pull off the little number and give to my mom and tell her that is what I want for my birthday. It was put on by one of the adjunct professors, so I didn’t worry about it being some serial killer luring me into his creepy lair.
I had a friend (she is reading this right now) who was supposed to go with me, but at the last minute she ditched out, so I was going alone. I was a little nervous, it was deep down on the coast, it was overnight, and I had never done anything like it before.
Let me just cut to the chase: it was a witch retreat. It was a coven* of witches and me, the hippy girl from the community college. I had started to get a bad feeling when I was driving up the driveway; it was one of those long country driveways, a mile or so long, not even wide enough for two cars. Looking back on it now I can’t believe anyone let me go on this by myself, but again, I digress.
The house was massive, and still under construction. It sat up on a bluff, with the ocean off the one side and miles and miles of woods off the other. Let me just sidebar here and say that concurrently a huge storm was headed for the coast. I had heard mention of it on the radio, but I was so far out in the country that I had lost reception a few miles back.
I guess I was expecting that other college students would be there since that where I had seen the flyer, but when I got out of the car I was greeted by five or so middle aged women. They clearly already knew each other, so I already felt odd man out. One smiled at me and her teeth were all gray. Another had all gray hair tied close to her neck. The others were normal housewife looking.
So we go inside and the first thing I see is a huge cauldron. I am not even kidding you: a bubbling cauldron. My brain had still not made the connection to witches, however, I was still like: oh, stew. On the sheet I got in the mail it asked everyone to bring something. So I don’t even remember what I had, Doritos’s or something. But the spread in front of me was all hummus and wild root vegetable. I was way off.
There were no shoes allowed in the house, but she had huge basket of tie-dye socks for everyone, so we all put them on and sat one the couch to chat. I was uncomfortable, and not talking much. We chatted for a while and then they said, let’s go in the other room! I follow, and in the other room is an alter-like thing, with North, East, South, West points marked and candles in between. This would be the precise moment that I began to think: whaaaa? So one of the younger women says something about how she would like us all to speak to her uterus because she was having trouble conceiving. And then she laid down in the middle of the thing and bent her legs like she was giving birth and each one of them went up and rubbed her stomach and said stuff, I don’t even remember what because I was too busy shitting my fucking pants.
When it came to my turn I lamely said: I don’t have any special powers. Could you die? I didn’t know what to say. They told me not worry about it, and just to send her good energy. So I went and put my hand on her stomach but I didn’t send any good energy because she was staring at me all funny and she smelled weird and I couldn’t even begin to think about fertility.
So then they say we are going out in the woods. And she calls her dog. And again people, I am not making this up, it is this HUGE wolf dog. I mean, for the sake of not sounding like Coach, I will say it was a dog but I swear it was pure wolf. It had light blue eyes and it stared IN MY SOUL the whole time like it knew I was a poser witch.
We all go out to the woods, and we are instructed to just walk and listen. I was just trying to make myself calm down, and the outside was helping, so I really wasn’t “listening” to anything other than the voice in my own head. By the time we were back up at the house (to stir the cauldron) I had calmed down a tiny bit. It was starting to get dark, and the storm had started and it was pouring rain.
We go back to the alter room, and take our places. The main lady tells us to make the sounds that we heard outside. Wait, what? So I am like, ummmm, and I make this like trickle sound because we were by a stream, and fuck if I know if that is what the stream was doing when we were there, but it was the first thing that came to my head. And the other ladies start make these WILD noises. Like, where were they? If I would have heard that when we were outside I would have died. It went on for what seemed like forever, and then just as abruptly as it started, it was over and we (they) ate stew.
After we ate they suggested we go in the hot tub. So ok. At this point I had just realized that there is no electricity at this house, because it was still under construction. Hence all the candles, etc. But I still had not asked myself; Self, how do you think the hot tub is hot? Because you know, it hadn’t occurred to me to ask, what with all the white hot terror about the alter and the wolf dog.
So I said, I don’t have a bathing suit. And she says: honey, we go in our soul skin. (As I am typing this I am sitting at Starbucks I just laughed out loud remembering my poor little 22 year-old self understanding that “soul skin” meant naked. With the gray-tooth lady, and the uterus lady that smelled like beets.)
They all went to change. I went out on the balcony and smoked roughly sixty-five Marlboro Menthol Lights that I had stashed in my purse. Then I get in my bra and underwear and wrap a towel around myself and go outside.
Here is where I think I usually lose people: the “hot tub” was a giant horse trough heated by coals underneath it. There were six naked witches in it. I was seriously starting to freak out. So I dangled my feet in the water and kept going back and forth in my head of how I could possibly leave. I can’t even remember what they were talking about because I was consumed with the idea of leaving.
Then the main lady says: When it gets really dark, we will go for a midnight walk in the woods.
That was the very end of the road for me. No way was I going out into the woods with the witches in the dark, and NO WAY was I staying in the candlelit house on the bluff with the wolf dog. Just. No. Way.
I excuse myself and go into the bathroom to pace and think. It’s stormy outside, and it’s dark. It’s a long way home, it was hard to find in the light. If I stayed: witches, woods, midnight, wolfdogs.
So I go out and say that I have to go because I just realize I forgot my medication at home, and I have to have it.** They all make disappointed sounds and ask if I am sure, because they have lots of herbs there that would work. My brilliant response:
No, I have a brain condition. If I don’t have my medicine I will die.
I am furiously packing at this point, I know they don’t believe me and I don’t even care. They all follow me to the car. The one in charge says, “Get in the car Lindsey. We will ask that you have a safe journey home.” So I get in the car and they make a circle around me and start chanting. I mean, what do you even say to that? Do you start the engine? Nod a thank you? I just started the car, and they parted, and I left.
This story has gone on long enough, so I will spare you the drive home part. Long story short, it ended up being one of the biggest storms in the NW that year, with flooding and trees falling. There were times when I had to swerve around tree limbs. I sweat through my sweater. I started to pull off at a little motel for the night but then thought of Norman Bates and kept on going. It took me hours to get home.
I have NEVER been so glad to be home in my life. It stands out still as one of the greatest moments of my life.
(Whew. I haven’t ever written that story out. The reason I’ve been thinking about it? It was really tied to fertility. I’m experiencing some kind of witch-karma right now. What exactly were they chanting around my car? Stupid witches with their stupid wolf dog.)
*I know that a coven of witches is thirteen, so maybe it wasn’t technically a coven. Maybe they were looking for me people so that they could be a coven. I don’t know, and I don’t care.
**Is there a lamer excuse? I don’t know. Desperation people. Cold desperation.