If you told my fifteen year old self that someday he would be making a painful offering to a Catholic Saint by his own choice, he would have told you to fuck off…
Of course, he would have told you the same thing if you were to suggest he would be a practicing occultist and magician as well…
At fifteen I was a psychonaut struggling with a protestant upbringing and confused about what I believed and what I wanted out of life. I did my best to synchronize my faith to constant experimentation with psychedelic and enthogenic substances.
Eventually, the death of a good friend would be the straw that broke the camels back in regards to my Christianity. Shortly after that event, I set my bible ablaze with gasoline and pissed on the burning embers.
This event took place after I had already started practicing magic. It was occultism that gave me the courage to finally rid myself of a religion that I had hated since I was twelve years old but was ultimately controlled by via fear until that urination ritual at the age of twenty eight.
And so, it is in some ways very odd that this past week I decided to make a rather painful offering to the non-canonical Saint Anne at her shrine in the town where I grew up.
These are kind of things you end up doing after listening to a Rune Soup podcast I suppose…
While listening to Mallorie and Gordon on the podcast linked above, I stopped dead in my tracks when Mallorie mentioned Saint Anne’s connection to the black Madonnas.You see, I listen to Gordon’s podcasts in my car in a special spot by the quinebaug river which just so happens to be less than half a mile from Saint Anne’s shrine in Fiskdale, Massachusetts.
At the moment Mallorie mentioned Saint Anne and her connection to the black Madonnas, I received a very loud and clear message to go to the shine and make an offering to Saint Anne. Who was I to say no? It felt right and I decided to head the call. I turned the ignition and drove off to the shrine.
On the way there, I thought about what I would offer to the spirit of the saint. Upon arrival, I found that the parking lot and the shrine sat covered in a foot of snow from a storm a few days prior. It was clear what the spirit was asking for. I had to walk through the snow. As I was in my work attire and had leather shoes, I realized the offering had been chosen for me.
I was going to have to walk barefoot…
Ok, no big deal I thought. How bad could it be? I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up my pants and got out of the car. It was about thirty degrees out. I put my feet down upon the asphalt of the portion of the parking lot that had been cleared. Damn, it was cold.
I looked up to the hill that I would need to climb to get to the shrine. I stared for a moment and then, I was off.
Upon placing my feet into the snow, I realized how very unpleasant this was going to be. It was shockingly painful to walk in the snow barefoot after the first ten steps, but I pushed forward. The spirit had called and I had chosen to answer.
By the time I had made it halfway up the hill I was walking as fast as I could, which all things considered, was not very fast at all. My original plan was to go straight to the Shrine, present my self to Saint Anne’s statue and then return. This was not going to happen as each step drove home the reality that if I did not find a place to warm my feet, I was going to have a problem on my hands (well, feet actually).
Fortunately for me, there was a pavilion about half way to Saint Anne’s statue where I sat down and rubbed my feet until I was able to regain some sense of feeling in them.
As I had also chosen not to wear a coat thinking this would be a much quicker trip, I was rather freezing by this point. I must have been quite a sight. Sitting there with a work shirt and tie, pants rolled up to knee height, rubbing my bare, red and throbbing feet in the middle of February…
I knew the next bit of the journey was going to be painful. I prayed to Saint Anne, asking for protection from physical harm if not the relief of the pain in my feet.
I walked out of the pavilion back into the snow, my feet feeling like they were burning and freezing all at once and then becoming so numb, it was hard to walk. I trudged past the statue of Saint Peter and then that of Fatima followed by the holy stairs which lead to the Shrine’s giant crucifix.
The last hill, was the most painful. Half way up, I had thought about turning around and how ridiculous my actions seemed to the logical part of my brain. I felt foolish and was stumbling over my thoughts of how I would explain myself if a priest or parishioner with boots arrived but still, I persisted. Eventually, I arrived in front of Saint Anne’s statue.
I looked upon the icon of Saint Anne and her child, Mary. I said a quick prayer of thanks and asked for the spirits blessing before turning around and making my way back down the hill.
At this point, I was seriously concerned that I may have caused actual harm to my feet. They felt like heavy metal stubs made of frozen flesh. Stepping through the crust of the two day old snow felt like stepping through glass.
My mind drifted to the possibility of sitting in the ER trying to explain myself to what would likely be an annoyed nurse yet still, I moved on.
I once again stopped at the pavilion and attempted to warm my feet which felt like frozen steaks to my hands as I attempted to warm them to no avail. I did not hesitate and took of fast as I could.
By the time I reached my car and got inside, I was partly delirious with pain. The asphalt felt very strange to walk upon and my senses of the frozen meat nubs that were my feet were sending mixed messages to my brain.
As I sat there with the heat on, I pondered my actions with eyes closed. For thirty minutes I sat there as my feat thawed leading to the sensation that they were giant pin cushions with nails sticking into them.This sensation continued through the rest of the day which came and went as I returned to the office and went about my business, walking as little as possible so as not to induce the pin cushion sensation any further.
I am not sure why I was summoned. I am not sure what Saint Anne wanted. But she called and I answered willingly. It is in my experiences thus far as a magician that when a spirit requests your attention and offering, ultimately it will result in a reward for said actions.
As for what rewards will come of this?