Friday, January 14, 2011

The Thirteenth Member

Submitted for Project #13 Triskaidekaphobia (Which is fear of the number 13)

Sunday, December 18, 2005
Dan McAvoy rapped on his twelve-year-old daughter's bedroom door. “Almost time for church. You about ready?”

“I'm not going.”

“Not going? What's the matter, Honey? Don't feel well?”

“I feel fine. Just not going to church anymore.”

“What? Ever? We've been going to church together for years. Now a week before Christmas you decide you're never going again? What happened?”

“I don't like the Church. I don't like what they did. Christmas is just another holiday they stole.”


“It's supposed to be the winter celebration of Saturnalia, birthday of the unconquered sun. Holly, ivy, mistletoe, even the Christmas tree, all symbols of fertility.”

“You've been talking to Aunt Debbie again, haven't you?. She's been filling your head with pagan beliefs.”  Dan waited for confirmation he really didn't need. His sister constantly influenced Katherina who seemed fascinated by her only aunt. The fortune telling, palm reading, crystal ball mysticism—the whole nine yards. “We'll talk about this later, Kat, because I have to go. You don't have to come.”

Dan went alone to church. Later he decided to confront his sister rather than argue with his daughter. He started as soon as she'd answered the phone. “I wish you wouldn't push your religious beliefs on my daughter.”

“She asked about Christmas traditions. I just told her where some of them came from.”

“Yeah, well she's decided she's not going to church anymore.”


“I don't think you realize how much of an impression you make on her. The other day I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner only to find out she's suddenly a vegetarian. I asked her why; she says, "Killing is wrong." She ate pasta without sauce because she didn't want anything to do with the "murdered cow"”;


“This stuff comes out of the blue. And her mood swings lately; like a roller coaster. She used to talk all the time; such an inquisitive kid; now I can't get two words out of her except in a fight and I think you're partly to blame.”

“She's going through puberty, you know.”

“Is that it?”

“Yeah. Remember that growth spurt a couple of years ago, when she shot up six inches? That was the beginning of it. She's had her first period, you know.”

Dan took a moment to recover. “She has? She never said anything to me about that.”

“Of course not; you're a man. She's not comfortable talking about her body with you.”

“But I'm her father.”

“You're a man.”

Dan understood. Since Amy's death a decade ago he'd raised Katherina by himself. He thought he did a good job, but realized he couldn't fill her mother's role. He disapproved of many of Debbie's beliefs but knew Kat needed a maternal figure in her life. He did not know about the coven.

♦   ♦   ♦

“Will our initiate be ready?” The High Priestess' voice crackled over the phone.

“Yes. On her thirteenth birthday I'll bring her to join the coven. January thirteenth, a Friday.”

“She'll be our thirteenth member, completing the coven. Do you know what that means?”

“More powerful magic.”

“Precisely. And by tapping the energy of her raging hormones, we'll accomplish amazing things.”

“I can't wait. Kat will be thrilled.”

“Friday, January 13. I'll tell everyone. Blessed be.”

“Blessed be.”

Sunday, December 25, 2005
Christmas morning Dan went alone to church. Afterwards he hid his displeasure when Katherina opened Aunt Debbie's present. Tarot cards. He hadn't been happy about last year's Ouija board either. Katherina, on the other hand, nearly burst with excitement. “Will you show me how to use them, Auntie?”

“Sure. I'll do a reading for you. No boys allowed.” Dan forced a smile.

“This layout is called the Celtic Cross Spread. A small cross, a large cross, and a pillar. First we mix the cards up real good.” Debbie shuffled, then drew one. “This card covers you and goes in the center.” She placed the Eight of Cups down. “See the man walking away? He represents you leaving the past behind. This probably refers to your childhood as you mature into a woman.”

Debbie drew another. “This second card crosses you. It goes sideways on top of the first to form the small cross. This card holds the key to what's bothering you. Don't get scared now.” Upon the Eight of Cups she placed the thirteenth card of the Major Arcana—the Death card.

Kat's eyes bulged. Debbie explained. “The Death card almost never represents physical death, bur rather drastic, inevitable change. I think for you it signifies your maturity again; changes you're going through—drastic, inevitable changes—have you a bit nervous. Am I right?”

Katherina nodded.

“Okay. This third card is beneath you and goes down here below the others. It represents your subconscious thoughts.”

Katherina's eyes popped when she beheld three swords piercing a heart.

“This card has to do with grief. Because it follows the Death card, I think it represents the loss of your mother. Notice it's upside down. That's called a reversed card which means its significance is subdued. In this case, the reversal means the loss is past. The pain lingers on, but the separation is over.” Debbie frowned. “Has to be about your mother.”

Kat shivered.

“Do you want to stop?”

The girl shook her head. “No, let's keep going.”

Debbie drew another card. “This fourth is behind you and represents your past. King of Wands. Often kings and queens represent actual people. This is probably your dad, a symbol of security in your childhood.”

She drew again. “Your fifth card crowns you and stands for your conscious thoughts. It works with the tenth to predict the outcome. Often it's indicative of your wishes. The Seven of Cups—the Confusion card. You are being driven more by emotions than by rational thoughts. Is that a fair assessment?”

“Yep, I'm confused all right.”

“You also have a ton of energy but it's scattered and you need to focus it.” Debbie drew another card. “This card is before you. It completes the large cross and represents your immediate future. Look at that—the Queen of Cups. Keywords associated with her include mysticism, prophesy, and counseling. Know anybody like that?”

“You! That must be you!”

“Probably! Explains your father being behind you. He used to solve all your problems, but now you relate better to other women. Now for the pillar. This seventh card represents you as you see yourself. Four of Cups. Awful lot of cups in your reading. The Four is a loneliness card. Do you see yourself as isolated and alone?”

“Most of the time. Like nobody understands me.”

“Lots of young people feel that way. The next card goes above that and represents you as other people see you. The Five of Cups, like the Three of Swords, signifies loss. Your father and I are aware, perhaps even more than you, how the loss of your mother affects you, especially now as you face the challenges of womanhood. But the Five also shows the loss isn't total. See the two cups not fallen over? They represent people still in your life.

“We're almost done. The ninth card stands for your hopes and fears and goes next in the pillar.” She laid down the third card of the Major Arcana, the Empress. “Hmmmm. Tricky. Mother figure; could represent your mom and tie in with your sense of loss. Or me as a sort of surrogate or you in your passage from one stage of growth to another. I don't know what this particular card in this particular position means for you. But she's a powerful woman, the Empress.”

She drew another. “This tenth and final card crowns the pillar and gives us the possible outcome. The Wheel of Fortune, card of Fate and Destiny, usually represents a change for the better. It could pertain to your journey to adulthood. Sorry I can't be more more definite, but it's a lucky card, at least. Coupled with the Seven of Cups in position five, it could mean your confusion is the result of knowing your future has more to do with destiny than with anything you control. The abundance of cups shows a very emotionally charged reading. Overall it shows a confused person with a deep sense of loss caught between the past and the future. Between your father and I. Remember your first card? This is your journey, for you and you alone, but we're here for you and there's hope.”

Kat stared at the array of cards.

“Hey, cheer up! For your birthday I'll show you your birth numbers. Then I'll take you to meet my friends and we'll make some magic. Would you like that?”

“Oh, yes, Auntie, very much!”

Friday, January 13, 2006
“Happy Birthday! How's my favorite Capricorn? Ready to learn about your personal numbers?”

“Hi, Auntie! Yes, I sure am!”

“You know, people think thirteen's unlucky but it's not. It's powerful, though, and you have to use that power wisely or invite self-destruction.”

“Ohhh, self-destruction.” Kat giggled.

“Being born on the thirteenth, expect a great test of your faith during your lifetime.”

Kat looked down at her shoes. “I feel like that's happening now.”

“Maybe. As a Capricorn you must guard against discouragement. Don't be afraid to take chances and never give up. Tough challenges await but you have instinctive knowledge and potential to grow beyond your limits. Trust yourself. You're ruled by Saturn and Uranus, both large and powerful planets, though Uranus tends to be erratic and difficult to control, which might explain your violent temper and explosive energy.” Debbie raised an eyebrow. “You must try to harness that energy and use it to advantage by choosing the right time to unleash its force. Hey, Joan of Arc was a Capricorn, you know.”

“She was?”

“Yep, know who else? Your favorite author, J. R. R. Tolkien.”

“He was?”

“Yes, he sure was!”


“Now for your special Birth Number. Write down your birth date.”

Kat wrote: 1 13 1993.

“Now, add the digits.”

Katherina wrote: 1 + 1 + 3 + 1 + 9 + 9 + 3 = 27.

“Twenty-seven. Adding those digits, two and seven, gives nine. Nine is your Birth Number. The last of the single digits, it signifies the end of a cycle and a new beginning. Very appropriate for you as you leave childhood for womanhood. It's a number of Destiny, which fits with the Wheel of Fortune we saw in your Tarot reading. And it happens to be my Birth Number, too.”

“It is, really?”

“Yep, really. And now for some presents.”

Katherina opened the package and removed a brown hooded robe, a book, a knife, and a necklace.

“The necklace is a pentacle, a symbol of the earth, especially connected to you because Capricorn is an Earth sign. The knife is called an athame. It's not a weapon but a tool used in rites and rituals, so it's not very sharp. Keep it wrapped in a white cloth. That's a Mirror Book. A journal to keep track of your experiences as you practice your new craft. You'll need these things for tonight's ceremony, when we induct you into our coven.”

“Really, Auntie? Do you really mean it? Will I learn to do magic like you?”

“Yep. In fact, right now we're going to give you a Witch Name, a secret name you only use with other witches.”

“My own secret name?”

“Yep. The value of its letters match your Birth Number. I've got one for you but I'll teach you how to do it so you can choose your very own. Write down the numbers one through nine across that paper. Then the letters of the alphabet under the numbers.”

Kat produced:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

“Now, each letter has a value. To get your Witch Name, choose letters whose total values add up to your Birth Number. Here's what I chose for you: Princess Kat of the Full Moon. Write that down and put the appropriate number under it, Then add them up.”

7 9 9 5 3 5 1 1
2 1 2
6 6
2 8 5
6 3 3 3
4 6 6 5

Kat wrote them down: 7 + 9 + 9 + 5 + 3 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 6 + 6 + 2 + 8 + 5 + 6 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 4 + 6 + 6 + 5 = 108.

“Adding the digits one plus zero plus eight yields nine. Voila! Your Birth Number.”

“Princess Kat of the Full Moon. I like it. I don't think I'll ever change it.”

“Well, we'll use it tonight for your induction.”

♦   ♦   ♦

Debbie brought Katherina, adorned in her brand-new robe, to the house of the High Priestess of the Coven. The others were already waiting downstairs, where an altar was set up. An ancient woman greeted them. “Welcome, Morning Sun! Blessed be.”

“Blessed be. Allow me to present my niece, Princess Kat of the Full Moon.”

“Welcome, Princess Kat of the Full Moon. Blessed be. Please enter, we are about to cast the circle.”

“Blessed be.” Kat looked around nervously.

The High Priestess took her athame and moved clockwise around the perimeter of the large room. She lit sage, producing thick white smoke. She murmured something about purification by air and fire while carrying it around the circle. Then she mixed three pinches of salt into a cup of water. Murmuring about purification by earth and water, she circled again, sprinkling the liquid as she went.

She returned to the altar. “The circle has been purified with the four elements. Call the corners.”

A member of the coven pointed her athame at a yellow candle and raised her left hand. “Spirit of the East, by the Air that is her breath, we invite thee into this circle to watch over the initiation of Princess Kat of the Full Moon. Welcome and blessed be.” An invisible force lit the candle. Kat stared in disbelief.

Another woman spoke. “Guardian of the South, by the Fire that is her spirit, we invite thee into this circle to watch over the initiation of Princess Kat of the Full Moon. Welcome and blessed be.” Instantly the red candle lit itself.

Another member pointed to a blue candle. “Spirit of the West, by the Water that forms her tears. . .” It too became alight and another member chimed in. “Guardian of the North, by the Earth that is her body. . .” The green candle lit up.

The High Priestess said, “Earth Mother, please join with us and bring us your love, guidance and protection. Welcome, Lady, and blessed be.” At once a green candle upon the altar lit itself. “Sky Father, please join with us and bring us your love, guidance and protection. Welcome, Lord, and blessed be.” The red altar candle lit as well. The woman gazed at Kat. “The orange candle symbolizes new beginnings. It will light once we have invoked the spirit that dwells within you. Everyone, focus your energy on that girl.” With uplifted arms, she invoked Katherina's spirit:
On the thirteenth anniversary of her birth
We invoke the spirit of Princess Kat of the Full Moon.
On her thirteenth year upon the Earth
We invoke the spirit of Princess Kat of the Full Moon.
Kat trembled.

The orange candle remained cold, unlit.

The High Priestess' tone increased:
Earth, Air, Fire, Water
Give me your Strength.
Give me your Power.
I invoke Coventina
Goddess of renewal, divine!
Let the Energy of this Youth
And her Years be Mine!
Debbie's eyes flew open. This was no part of an initiation ritual! She watched in horror as years melted from the face of the High Priestess. Meanwhile, Kat, convulsing violently, passed through her twenties and into her thirties. Finally Debbie yelled. “Kat! Remember your reading! I may be the Queen of Cups, but the Empress is you! You are the Empress!”

Kat's shaking ceased and her voice boomed. “I am the Empress!”

Her brown robe transformed to dazzling white. The orange candle burst into flame, brightest of all. Kat pointed her athame at the High Priestess, still standing, arms upraised. “You have forgotten your Rede!” She recited it:
Do what you will and have it done
For the good of all and the harm of none.
Enter the circle from below or above
With perfect trust and perfect love.
Debbie cried out. “Kill her!”

Kat, the Empress, shook her head. “No; killing is wrong. However, she shall be stripped of her power and I will have my years back.”

The process which had transferred those years reversed until Kat returned to her proper age. But she'd changed. No longer the timid, nervous teenager who'd entered the circle earlier, but a young lady in command of herself. She was the Empress. And as such she took charge of the ceremony.

“Farewell, Sky Father. Thank you and go in peace. Blessed be.” The red alter candle extinguised. “Farewell, Earth Mother. Thank you and go in peace. Blessed be.” The green one went out.

“Farewell, Guardian of the North, Ancient One of the Earth. We thank you for your protection. Go in peace and blessed be.” The green watchtower flame disappeared.

“Farewell, Spirit of the West, Ancient One of Water. . .” The blue candle died.

“Farewell, Guardian of the South, Ancient One of Fire. . .” Red.

“Farewell, Spirit of the East, Ancient One of the Air. . .” The yellow watchtower candle went out. The orange candle alone lit the entire room. The Empress pointed her athame at the ground and walked counter-clockwise around the circle, then closed the ceremony:
The circle is open but never broken.
In peace depart
With love on your mind
And love in your heart.
Do what you will and have it done
For the good of all and the harm of none.

♦   ♦   ♦

Friday, January 20, 2006
“Hi, Auntie! I decided upon a new name for myself!”

“Oh, yeah, what's that?”

“Empress Kat, White Lady of the Full Moon.”

“I like it. I think it fits you perfectly.”

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