This is how the majority of my summers played out. My grandmother was a host to a multitude of women, multiple times a day wafting into her home as if it were their own. This is culturally accepted were we come from. Come in, there is always kava (coffee) on the stove cooking.
Let me read your cup, why she said these words, I don’t know.? Since we all knew what was about to happen. These women, neighbors, friends, relatives and strangers alike all had something in common. That was questions, resolving problems and wanting answers.
I’m not sure if my grandmother understood that I fully understood what was going on. Perhaps she thought my comprehension of the Serbian language was not up to par? Seems silly, since I was very fluent. Maybe she thought I was simply to young to really understand these adult issues. Well, she was wrong.
The kava was poured, sipped and then tipped upside down waiting to be read. I listened to the endless tales of infidelity, unwanted children, secret abortions, drunk and abusive husbands, gossiping and mostly gut wrenching sadness of their daily lives. These women came to the “village witch” for comfort, solace and someone to confide in without bias or comment for the most part.
She would sit and listen and offer a few words of comfort, a charm or talisman to wear near their heart, for it was what their heart needed. She would get angry with them, laugh with them, and even cry with them. I was a witness to the power of female friendship, loss, grief and happiness. These women all cried together and laughed together, because what else was there to do? Hold each other up as best as they can….
As the cup reading comes to an end, my grandmother would console them and bless their wishes and hope whole heartily they come true. Witchcraft isn’t all light and bright, Its about dealing with what your reality is at that moment. That requires work on both sides of magic, light and dark and keeping a balance.. eventually.
In those quiet moments there was no discussion about karmic payment. These women needed solutions and no price was to high to pay. They knew the deal, they knew that what they asked for would have to be paid back. Some way or in some form, and not by legal tender or a freshly cut chicken from their farm.
At the end of the cup readings at her table, we would all kiss each other good day or good night until tomorrow. These women left that table knowing that tomorrow would be better. That somehow getting out of bed would be easier and the sun would shine on them. They made a deal with the universe and lived in content until next time.
I often think of these women and wonder how their lives have turned out. What they have endured, the price they have paid to keep their secrets. To right their wrongs. Since my grandmother is now gone, do they go somewhere else to read their cups? Do they cry to someone else and make wishes to someone else in hopes that they will come true?
Do they remember the little girl that remembers them and their wishes?