I like to think that I have the best job in the world. I review books. I can set up my schedule any way I like and my agent sends out copies of reviews I do for several newspapers and magazines. If I don't want to work one day, I don't. If I want to work at midnight, I do. I am in complete control.
I could live anywhere. All I would have to do is fax or email my reviews to my agent. At times I've lived in Cleveland, New York City, and Minneapolis. I think, though, that most people are comfortable with where they grew up. That's why I decided to move back to my hometown, the "Motor City," Detroit, Michigan.
It's been years since I lived there, and I was surprised to find a nice apartment that was very inexpensive. I was pleased to see the strong locks on the door. (That should have sent up a warning flag, but it didn't.) As I was unpacking my boxed belongings, I heard a knock at my door.
I looked through the peephole and saw a pleasant young woman dressed in simple clothes, her hair in a scarf. I opened the door and greeted her. "Hi. I'm Leeza. I live just down the hall," she said, handing me a card. "Here's my phone number in case you need help when you get robbed."
"Robbed?" I asked, my voice shaking.
"Yeah. This neighborhood isn't too bad, but this building attracts a bad crowd. Drugs. Gangbangers. You know..."
"Yes, I understand," I said, regretting that I had signed a one-year lease and wondering if I could sublease. She invited me over for coffee and we went to her place. I told her that I had grown up in Detroit and was now returning home. She told me how this neighborhood had changed.
"If it weren't for the criminals it would be really nice here," she said. "We're near two parks and a library."
Although I was still living out of boxes, I needed to get back to work. I looked through the box of books I could choose for review. The strange, almost mystical cover of Magical Use of Thought Forms attracted me. The authors, Delores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J.H. Brennan seem to be very well-respected and have written dozens of books. "Well," I thought, "at least they know how to write."
Typically, I will thumb through the pages of a non-fiction book and try to get a feel for it, focusing on anything that draws my attention. It was page 169 where my skimming finally stopped. It talks about using an "animal guardian." I thought, "Maybe some sort of guardian would be good for this place?" But I was no wizard or magician. I didn't even believe in this sort of stuff. Dare I make a guardian to protect my home?
The book says, "If you are using an animal guardian, try to obtain a piece of real fur, a claw, or a tooth—a taxidermist can often supply this...In this way nothing is killed unduly, and you can work with a clear conscience. If even this disturbs you, you can use...a piece of fake fur or patterned material such as a leopard print, and a sliver of bone from a chicken, and chant over them. Use your own words, for it is you who is working the change. Tell them that they are reborn into the form of (name). Speak the attributes of this new form and how it will serve your purpose...When this is done, grind the bone into powder, then burn the material and use the ashes. Gradually work this into the wax or clay." (p.169)
I went out to a fabric store and got some material that looked like a tiger skin. At a hobby shop I picked up some "Sculpy," a clay-like material that hardens only when you put it in the oven. On the way home I picked up some Popeye's chicken.
I started wondering what I should call my guardian. When I got home I looked up the word "tiger" in different languages. When I came to Sanskrit, I knew I had the name of my guardian: "Vyagra!" (I wonder if the makers of the drug for males knew the meaning of the differently spelled but similar sounding name they chose for their medication?) I knew that the female tiger was more fierce than the male and discovered that the term "vyagra vadhu" means tigress, but I decided to stick with the shorter name.
As I ate the chicken I found and put aside a small piece of bone. I put it in the microwave to dry it out. When it was dry, I put it next to the piece of cloth. I said to them, "Together, you now have the fierceness of a tigress, which is why your name is Vyagra! Like a tigress you are quick and strong. Like a tigress you will defend your territory, rending invaders with your sharp and terrible claws."
I really started to enjoy this. "Vyagra, let the good and decent people in this apartment building be as your children. Watch over them with a vigilance that only a mother could know. Defend them from attackers with your strong paws, vicious claws, and sharp teeth. Be our guardian and our friend. Protect us from those who would do mental, physical, or emotional harm." I lit the fabric with a Bic lighter and let the ashes fall into a bowl. I didn't have a mortar and pestle to grind up the bone, so I used my imagination and placed the bone and ash into my food processor. In a few minutes they were a fine, powdery dust.
The book continues, "Gradually work this [powder] into the wax or clay." (p.169) I blended the powder into the Sculpy and sculpted it into a very primitive-looking, four-legged feline. The instructions in the book said, "Now lay it aside and leave it for twenty-four hours. During that time think about it and picture it in your mind...try to hold that shape in your mind..." (P.169) So for the next day I spent as much time as possible thinking about my soon-to-be guardian, Vyagra. I saw her not as my somewhat sad artwork, but as an enormous animal, over eight feet long and weighing in at more than 300 pounds. I saw the muscles move under the skin as she gracefully ran over grassy plains and leapt small hills. Vyagra was breathtaking and beautiful. She would curl up, resting, but was always vigilant. I was starting to like this creature.
The next day, I went on in the book. "When the shaping is complete, it is time to do your part. Hollow out the underneath of the figure to the size of a thimble, and put a flake of flint into it to represent fire." (p. 169) I dug out a small section from Vyagra's belly, found a flint from an old lighter, and put the flint inside. I followed the instructions in the book, saying, "Let this flint become the fire within thee, that the qualities of that element shall be yours until the end of your task, which time shall be appointed by me." (p. 169)
"Hmm," I thought. "How long should this task of protection last? I'll set it for a year and see what happens."
"Now take some soil (a few grains will be enough) and put them into the hollow to represent the element of earth." (p. 169) At first I thought I'd use some of the soil from one of my potted plants, but then I decided to get some from the flowerbeds outside of my apartment building. I had a feeling that this might link Vyagra to the area. I put some into the belly cavity as I said, "Let these grains become the earth within thee, that the qualities of that element shall be yours until the end of your task, which time shall be appointed by me." (p. 169)
Per the instructions in the book, I put one drop of water into Vyagra saying, "Let this drop become the water within thee, that the qualities of that element shall be yours until the end of your task, which time shall be appointed by me." (p. 170) The next section involved using personal fluids. I won't tell you which ones I used, but I did say the appropriate words as I took them from my body: "This came from my body; this is of myself and I acknowledge this, but now it is gone from me forever. It has a task to do that it must do alone. Go from me with my blessing. Be separated from me and be blessed in your task" The book explains that "This is so you do not become identified with the guardian of its task once it has been set in place. This is important, and you must separate yourself in this way." (p. 170)
I put the mixture of fluids into Vyagra, saying, "These gifts of life I bestow upon the guardian to be set in a place that shall be appointed. With the power that is in them, let the guardian be raised up and given the name of... [Vyagra]." (p. 170)
Finally, I took a straw and put it just into the cavity in Vyagra's belly. I gently blew into it and immediately sealed the hole as I removed the straw, saying, "Let this breath become the air within thee, so that the element of air shall be yours until the end of your task, which time shall be appointed by me." (p. 170)
Finally, I put Vyagra into the oven and let it harden.
Following the instructions in the book, I wrapped the now-solid and cooled Vyagra in a piece of white cotton that I had purchased with the other fabric. The book said to, "Seal the temple or sacred space in your usual way, and call in the elemental Kings at the quarters." (p. 171) Well, I had never done anything like that before, but I had a good guess as to how to do it. I stood in the center of the living room and said, "I call on the powers that be to protect me and this space while I do this ritual. So be it!" Then I took the box with Vyagra to each quarter, east, south, west, and north. At each place I stopped and, feeling a bit foolish, I said "Greetings, King of the East [changing for each direction]. Within this box is Vyagra, fierce tigress who will guard this building against all evil and violence. I ask that you give your blessing to Vyagra."
Next, I put the box with Vyagra on the floor in the center of the room. The book then said I would have to do an invocation. "Your invocation to raise the guardian must include a definite time of service...Build into your invocation a request to the Creator, God, or Goddess, and ask for a blessing 'to the amount it is able to receive...' When the time is up, open the box and destroy the model." (p. 171)
I don't remember exactly what I said, but somehow I felt very inspired. I remembered my Catholic upbringing and was easily able to come up with a wonderful request to enliven Vyagra with power.
I put the box under an overstuffed chair by the door. Then I tried to see the full-size Vyagra in my mind. Per the instructions in the book, I called her three times by name: "Vyagra! Vyagra! Vyagra!" I told her that she was an essential part of my life, my apartment, and this apartment building. For a moment I thought I could hear her purr. I said, "Goodbye" to all the powers-that-be and the Kings and thanked them for coming to this "Raising."
For the first several days I lived in my apartment I had trouble sleeping. There were frequent sirens going by, yelling, and even an occasional scream or gunshot. I thought I would get used to it, like people get used to sleeping near noisy trains or busy highways. And indeed, my sleep did improve. But it wasn't because I got used to the sounds. Rather, it was because the sounds diminished.
Within six weeks there was nary a scream or gunshot to be heard. The sirens became less and less frequent. I had become friends with Leeza, and we frequently had coffee or tea together. One day she said to me, "I don't understand it. All of the junkies and gangs have moved out of here. This place is actually becoming a great place to live." The next day I received a notice that the building owner was repainting and improving the heating of the building and adding air conditioning, but that our rents would not increase! And best of all, I heard children laughing and playing in the streets. Leeza and I would often walk together in the afternoon to the local coffeehouse, and we heard other people talking about crime dropping, too.
I can't say that Vyagra was the cause of the improvement, but whatever the cause is, the situation is wonderful, and I love living in Detroit.