BY BERE PARRA
It might be surprising given the fact that I am a witch but let me begin with a confession: I am not a spiritual person. Not in the traditional way, at least. My brain is a perpetual motion machine. The closest thing I can do to meditating is journaling. Elaborate ceremonial rituals? I get so caught up in the details that it’s impossible for me to settle down and focus on the intentions. My conversations with Satan take the shape of inner dialogs and monologs, and I address him as a close relative or friend, and only rarely with the solemnity described in countless volumes of dark ceremonial literature. Standing still is a nearly impossible feat. And so on.
For me to be able to engage into a relationship or dialog with a deity or a spirit, I must enter a long creative process. My hands must be able to get a feel of it, whether it’s through the typing of the keys, or crocheting or knitting a piece of thread as I visualize a specific goal, or planting flower seeds in a pot. Magick and witchcraft are thus made tangible to me in a way that is more immediate and, in my personal experience, more powerful.
Imagine the shock when a deity entered my life unsummoned and without any effort on my part. I had not been reading about her or thinking about petitioning her at all. I didn’t even know her. Not consciously, at least.
She came to me in a dream. I didn’t know who she was at first, this huge, beautiful being, her body similar to that of a snail or a slug but devoid of many of the traits that make these creatures repulsive in the eyes of so many. Her skin was translucent, its shade a musty yellow. She had no visible extremities, but she had this gorgeous, benevolent face. Her green, almond-shaped eyes reminded me of those of a friend I haven’t seen in over a decade. Her mere hint of a smile put me at ease. She didn’t speak to me, she communicated only through energy. Once I woke up I couldn’t remember what she had ‘said’ to me. Only vague sketches of what I had witnessed, and the feeling of absolute bliss and comfort, remained in mind, along with one single word: Nimue. I kept whispering it like a mantra, again and again, afraid that if I didn’t preserve it through spoken language it would vanish, as most of the dream had by then. The name felt familiar, like I had heard it or said it before, only many years ago.
As it often happens with old deities, Nimue has had several names and representations throughout the centuries: the Lady of the Lake, Vivien(ne), Niman(ne), etc. She’s even been linked to the Welsh mythical figure of Rhiannon. Her most culturally impactful appearance is in the Matter of Britain (that corpus of legends of which the most outstanding and popular one is the Arthurian cycle). As I was reading all this, I remembered when I had first heard the name: “Merlin”, the 1998 NBC miniseries. However, none of the stories featuring these names, myths, and legends coincided with the gentle, immense being that had appeared in my dream. In all the manufactured literature and imagery of Nimue, she is either a sorceress, or some type of water fairy. Her temper seems rather changeable, or she’s downright evil.
She also seemed to have a relevance only depending on her role in the Arthurian legends: in many cases she is said to have been the keeper of Excalibur, the powerful sword that decided so many fates of heroes and villains alike; whereas in other versions of the stories she is either an apprentice-turned-enemy of Merlin, or Merlin’s lover/life companion. I couldn’t find any rituals, prayers, or ceremonies in honor of Nimue, either. The lack of conclusiveness of my research endeavors frustrated me and I decided to let the topic rest for a couple of days. Maybe something would come up.
For a few years now, in a most random and not at all frequent manner, I have dreamed of unnatural bodies of water: think of huge fountains with pillars and statues, shallow enough for you to be able to see the tiles at the bottom; located in the center of a thick forest, all clouded in green. The water looked a bit yellow here and there. Sometimes they look almost haunted and yet I have never felt fear when I have dreamed these places. On another occasion I dreamt about a huge bathroom-house located beneath a huge tree.
It looked like a combination of the bath house in Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” and the prefects’ bathroom in Harry Potter, with the aura of “The wind in the willows”. Several small rooms, some of them with beautiful glasswork windows, through which I could see the light cascade in. The water smelled of candy and roses, herbs and fruits, all fresh and clean and alive. When Nimue visited my dreams, it happened in one of these wilderness fountains. There seemed to be a group of them, one after another, all connected by what looked like tunnels.
The morning right after I dreamed of Nimue I tweeted about it, explaining some of my initial impressions about Nimue: her appearance, her energy, and so on. I shared the results of my first online research, feeling excited at my discoveries and trying to understand why she had chosen to appear. What was her message? Why didn’t I remember it? Did she even have any message at all? Maybe she was just trying to introduce herself and my later research on her had been the message. And then, I remembered my complicated story with water.
When I was five we went on vacation to Cancún. Even though my mother kept a watchful eye on me, I managed to sneak out of the kids’ pool and jumped into another one not far off, where there were several people, mostly adults, swimming. It was one of those rectangular pools that gets deeper as you approach one of the sides and I didn’t realize this until was too late. The little lifesaver I was wearing wasn’t enough. I started panicking and flapping up and down and I had this certainty that I was going to die. At one point I sank to the bottom of the pool…I still remember how it felt to be swallowed by the depth of the water. Then, bam: somebody grabbed my arms and pulled me up. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that, I think it was some man who fished me out and he said something to me.
Even though sunlight was blinding my sight, I can still experience the huge relief it was to be out of the water. Maybe I cried a little, I don’t know. I think I walked back to where my mother was and told her about what had happened, but all those memories have almost faded by now. The only clear memory of that experience is that feeling of drowning, sinking, and then being pulled up. My relationship with the water element has been complex ever since; even though my sun and rising signs are both water and I love to look at the sea, and to take long relaxing baths whenever there’s a bathtub in sight, I’ve never felt at ease in water: there’s an intense attraction but also an impending and haunting sense of danger. I took swimming lessons as a child, a few years after that incident, but I was too afraid and dropped out after a couple of weeks.
The day after I had the dream I grabbed my magick journal and wrote a few lines about my dream encounter with Nimue. I also did a little drawing of her which came out better than I expected. As I was coloring it I kept asking her: “What is it that you want or need me to do? Are you inviting me to get re-acquainted with water?” Oddly enough, and despite my fear, the only physical activity that has ever appealed to me is swimming – mainly because sweat isn’t a factor when you’re immersed in water. But my trauma has always pulled me back, kept me away from trying again. “Maybe you’re just telling me I need to drink more water,” I told her.
To this moment, I keep wondering.
My mother has told me the story of my birth hundreds of times and I always enjoy it the same way: it always feels thrilling and new. Part of the reason why it’s so exciting is that I was one of those babies who moved a lot when I was in the womb, which caused my umbilical cord to get tangled around my neck. From my mother’s recollection of events, the interns who were assisting during my delivery hadn’t noticed this issue until it was almost too late.
There was quite a great deal of obstetric violence involved, of which I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say I am rather fortunate to be alive and typing this. The reason I bring this up is because when we’re in the womb we’re essentially enveloped by water. It’s our crib, our safe space, our first home. A few years ago, during my time managing a holistic center, a couple of practitioners offered something called ‘rebirth therapy’. I didn’t trust those practitioners enough to undergo such a delicate process, but I did read the literature and, indeed, it sounded a lot like something I should consider: the facilitators create a safe, sacred, and intimate space within or near a body of water, which can be natural or artificial, and then they lead the participant(s) through a
recreation of the moment of their birth. Rebirth therapy borrows from Jodorowsky’s psychomagic theory, and it also incorporates shamanic approaches and Jungian undertones. You can understand now why I didn’t feel comfortable doing this with people I hardly knew.
Before reading about rebirth therapy I’d never considered myself a trauma survivor but, coming to think of it, birth is trauma.
As we grow up, that experience gets buried under hundreds of layers, aided by memory, experience, societal conventions, and many other distractions. Those fortunate enough to have been born naturally and without complications might not need therapy or any other form of healing as they grow up, but for many of us the trauma will always sit there, unacknowledged and untreated, in the depths of our consciousness. We may even find its echoes in later experiences we go through.
Who hasn’t had the feeling that there is ‘something’ not quite in place, not quite alright, in the back of our minds? I have the privilege and fortune of having a close relationship with my mother, with whom I get to have conversations every day. We talk about these things: words are tools to fish for trauma in the depths of our subconscious: talk to your parents and grandparents if you’re able to. If they’re not around, become the detective of your past and research your own life as much as possible. The depths of the past can be scary, but I promise you that you will find the answers to many questions, and you will then be able to know what hurts and how to heal it.
After several years sitting with this knowledge in my mind, it has dawned on me that any type of reinvention or renaissance we consciously go through in adult life, which are in fact different types of rebirth, is often triggered or preceded by some form of crisis or trauma. When Nimue appeared to me in my dream, surrounded by bodies of water, her skin glistening with moisture, her face radiating kindness and peace, it made me engage in a cycle of self-analysis. I started asking myself questions I didn’t even know I had before dreaming of the Lady of the Lake:
What is missing from my life now?
Is there something in my past I wished I could ‘go back and fix’?
How can I reprise and heal my relationship with water?
Water: that was the key for me. Tears I’ve shed throughout the last decade or so, product of disappointments, betrayals, and bad experiences. A pain that dwells in the empty places in my heart. Acceptance and gratitude for the past, even if it brought me pain. Most of all: I concluded I need to make peace with my element (I am a Pisces sun with Scorpio rising, no less). Even biology backs me up on this:
our bodies are mostly made of water. At my age, my head hurts when I start to get dehydrated. About a year before Nimue came to me in dreams, I began to long for a vacation at sea level, which is odd because I’ve always felt more at ease in cold, urban settings. All signs pointed to a reconciliation: I need water in my life. I need to be more like water: relentless, shapeshifting, powerful, flow with ease, cleanse everything in my way, allow myself to adapt and to constantly transform. This was Nimue’s message to me: “Befriend me, come back, return to the water from which you came, realize it has always been your safe space…”.
I moved to Guanajuato City a little over a year ago. It has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. There is a state-of-the-art public pool nearby, it would take me a 10-minute bus ride to get there, and the admission fee is extremely accessible. I can’t wait to see it for myself, and who knows? Maybe I will enroll for swimming lessons or aqua-aerobics. I don’t care if I only waddle in it or if I stay behind when they do laps, I don’t even mind if I don’t learn to do laps at all. I just want to say hello to an old friend, to make amends for taking so long to get back in touch. I want to feel myself float, and to recognize Nimue’s skin in water’s surface.
No doubt her skin will look bluer than in my dream, but I know she will be there. She is already waiting for me.
Bere Parra is a Mexican theistic satanic witch residing in Guanajuato, Mexico. She majored in Hispanic Literature and has had many occupations: teacher, executive assistant, holistic center manager, translator, and social media pro. She has innate strong connection and interest in the occult practices, which led to her 'coming out of the broom closet' in 2018. She mainly works with Satan, whom she considers her father figure and main guiding light, but she often works with the ad and blessing of Lilith and the lady Moon. Her life mission is to shine a light on the 'uncomfortable' truths most people like to ignore. The shadows are her second home and greatest teachers. Website. Twitter. Instagram.