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Today I was reminded of a healing I was asked to do and with the passage of time I now find it rather amusing, so I thought I would share it here.

One evening there was a knock at the door and when I opened it there stood a lady that I recognised and who didn’t live far from me at all.  I invited her in and asked how I might help.

“Do you do Tarot readings?” She enquired.

“Yes I do.  When were you thinking of?” I asked.

“Ummmm, it’s not for me.”  She replied, looking a little uncomfortable.  “I have been asked by a friend of mine to find out if you do readings and if so, then to make an appointment.”

“That’s fine.  Tell me when is best for your friend and I will see if I can arrange a reading at a time to suit us both.”  I said

“Can I bring her round tomorrow morning then?  About 10.00 am?”

“Well I prefer to do them in the afternoons and evenings but if your friend can only do mornings, then yes, that will be ok.”

“Oh it has to be on a Thursday morning only.  That’s when I take her shopping and so I can bring her here afterwards, then when we get back I can explain shopping took longer today and the traffic was bad and nobody will suspect anything.”

“I see, I think.  Well there is no need to worry, I’m very discreet and no-one will know who visits me.”  I assured her.

This is nothing new really, I have clients from all walks of life and some really do not want their friends or family finding out they visit me, for various reasons.  For some, it is still awkward to admit they visit “the witch” for help.  For others, they come from a Christian family and so it really would put the cat among the pigeons if it came out they came to me.  So, unperturbed by the need for secrecy and the unusual way the request was made, we arranged for the following mornings reading.

At the allotted time, the knock came at the door and when I went to open it I found the lady from the previous evening and the most beautifully dressed elderly lady.

In they came and I was introduced to the elderly lady.  For the sake of discretion I will call her Mrs. Whitcombe here.

Mrs. Whitcombe was very slight of build and only stood about 4’ 8” but she was dressed in the most elegant clothes I’d seen.  Her eyes were alive with excitement and yes, I detected more than a hint of mischief in them too.

Well, I did the reading and she was extremely pleased, asking if it would be ok to come again at the same time next month.  This I agreed to.  As she reached the front door to leave, she turned and asked me if I had any idea how old she was.  I can honestly say that my instincts told me she was about 80 but my eyes told me she couldn’t be any older than around 70, so rather diplomatically, for me anyway, I said that it was very hard to judge the age of a lady, especially one who had obviously taken good care of herself.

“ 92” she announced proudly and with that added look of mischief.

To say I was taken aback would be an understatement.  I looked at her friend who was waiting by the now open door and she grinned and confirmed that Mrs. Whitcombe was indeed 92.

The next week, I was visited again by the friend of Mrs. Whitcombe.

“I’ve been asked to come and arrange another reading” she explained.

“Not for Mrs. Whitcombe again?”  I asked

“No, for a friend of hers”.

Well we arranged a day and time and off she went.

As before, at the allotted time, she arrived bringing the client with her and again it was an elderly lady with an air of mischief and excitement about her.  The reading went very well and again, I had a very pleased client who wanted to come again.  She asked if she could come the following week to bring a friend of hers for a reading and to this I agreed.

The following week, the client arrived and instead of there being one friend in tow, there were three.

“Would you mind awfully if my other friends come in too?  You don’t have to do a reading for them all but I wanted them to meet you and for them to arrange for their own readings” she said by way of explanation.

The evening went well and after I had done the reading I made them drinks and we all settled down to a little chat.  They were full of questions and again, they behaved like excited children.

“Now look, I don’t mean to pry but I know something is going on and you are all coming here almost as an act of daring.  I know through doing the readings and from reading you as you sit in front of me, that you are good women and women of considerable spirituality but you’re up to something.  Anyone like to tell me what that might be?”  I asked.

They looked at each other a little sheepishly and then one of them explained that they were all from the Alms houses.

Now, close to where I live is an ancient church and back in the 1800’s, alms houses were built around it in a way resembling cloisters.  The alms houses were designed to house the local estate workers once they were retired or retired through ill-health and had to give up their tied cottages once they ceased working.   Nowadays however, members of the church congregation can apply to live in one once they are retired and many of them do because they like the feeling of community it gives them.

So the secret was out; Mrs. Whitcombe and her friends were all residents of the alms houses, which meant they had to have been regular church goers for some considerable time to be living there.  Hence the air of “daring do” and the looks of utter mischief; they were behaving like school girls telling their parents they were doing homework at a friends in the evening but in reality, they were both sneaking off to the local pub!

I asked them how they squared their stealthy visits to me with their obvious orthodox beliefs and was quite stunned by the reply.  They told me how old Mrs. Whitcombe had told them on many occasions how it was perfectly acceptable to be of dual faith and that in fact dual faith had been practised in this country for generations.  She’d also been schooling them in alternative spirituality over the years and introducing them to all kinds of new, interesting and meaningful new experiences.  Mrs. Whitcombe was quite right; we have been dual faith in this country for generations but there are few of the dualist left nowadays.   Today it is drummed into everyone that you are either a believer in orthodox religion, in which case you can’t go near anything of the old faith or people are indoctrinated into believing that if you follow the old ways, you have to have nothing but utter scorn for Christianity.  So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs. Whitcombe was one of very few dualists.

They went on to tell me that Mrs. Whitcombe had decided that because of her advancing years, it was now time to introduce her friends to someone else who could further their education as well as someone they could turn to for readings, healing and any other service like the ones I provided.  She had picked me to be that “someone”.

Time went on and I saw the ladies regularly.   Then one day I got a telephone call from one of them; another of their friends in the alms houses had had an accident a couple of months ago and didn’t seem to be recovering as expected.  They and their friend, Mrs. Drake, were worried that if she didn’t make a better recovery, she would have to leave and go to a nursing home; none of them wanted this.  Could I visit and do some healing?

Because of the nature of the debilitation Mrs. Drake was suffering, the healing could only be done by my visiting her at her apartment in the alms houses.  It was arranged that I would go in the evening and be met at the gates to the grounds by one of the ladies and shown to Mrs. Drakes apartment.

At the arranged time, I arrived at the Alms houses and was met by one of the ladies.  We began walking through the grounds when all of a sudden one of the other ladies appeared a little in front of us and started gesticulating.  What happened next was rather surreal; I was grabbed by the arm and pulled towards the flower bed by the lady I’d met at the gate.

“Quickly, hide behind the bushes!” She shrieked.

“Whatever is going on?” I demanded.

“Father Mark is on his way!  If he finds you here there will be hell to pay”.

Because of her near panic, I did as asked while she pretended to be inspecting a rather fine specimen of a Hydrangea.

I couldn’t believe that I was hiding in the bushes like some sort of ne’er-do-well!  I wasn’t dressed in any out-landish way, I’m not one to have pentacles swinging off any available appendage and I certainly don’t sport a badge declaring “I’m a witch & proud!”  So why was I hiding I asked myself.

I heard footsteps and a man’s voice saying “good evening” and then the reply from the lady who had secreted me into the foliage; the footsteps continued on without a hesitation.

“You can come out now” she said to me.

“Exactly why was I pushed into a bush?  Who did you think he would mistake me for?” I asked quite sharply.

She went on to explain that he would ask her at a later date who I was as he was always interested in visitors and she didn’t want to have to lie, so she thought it best if he didn’t see me in the first place.

I enquired as to why she couldn’t have just given my name if asked and said that I was a visitor for someone else and she was showing me the way; not a lie as it happened.

But the truth is, I think the old dears were enjoying the excitement of bringing a witch into the church community undetected; I firmly believe this was the nearest they were going to get to their own “Mission Impossible”, thankfully, I didn’t self destruct!

Well, I saw Mrs. Drake and helped her in the way I thought was most helpful.  We arranged for me to visit her regularly until she was improved.  Then it was time to leave.

Again, one of the ladies appeared to show me out; a different one this time.  I explained that I did remember how to find the gate but she insisted on accompanying me just in case Father Mark happened to be out and about again.

As we walked through the grounds, she stunned me.

“Can you sing?”  She asked

“Ummmmm, no, not in any way that could be truthfully described as singing; more like a cat with its tail stuck in the door.  Why?”

“We need choir members and I thought it would be exciting to have you in the choir.  Could you imagine it?”  She asked gleefully.

I stopped dead and looked at her.  I couldn’t believe what she was suggesting.

I respectfully declined and left for home.  I sat with a cup of tea and mulled over the strange evening and especially the bit about the choir; did she really ask me?  But then a thought hit me; perhaps Mrs. Whitcombe had divulged how at one time, cunning folk practised subtle heresy, an example being the dual faith.  Had they taken this to heart and thought that getting me in the choir was, for them, the ultimate heresy?  May be.

I carried on seeing Mrs. Drake and thankfully I managed to arrange times and get to see her without the ladies knowing and so I avoided any future escorts.  I also never did have any awkward encounter with Father Mark.   I’m happy to say that Mrs. Drake made a full recovery and yes, I still see the ladies from the Alms houses from time to time but thankfully, their childlike exuberance has decreased now and we have had some very interesting evenings together but I will never forget my first visit to their community.