Discover more from The Integrity Talks | Dina-Perla Portnaar
Short story on the history of witches
A while ago, I followed the news about setting up a witch monument in the Netherlands. At the same time, I had a number of conversations with people about ayahuasca, a plant medicine that is, as far as I am concerned, the real deal for growth and healing. Those people asked me what it felt like to undergo ayahuasca. Both inspired me to write a short, fictional story.
We still do not know exactly how many women were killed in the Netherlands because they were accused of being 'witches'. After all, the archives are flawed. What these women have gone through, of course, is extremely dark. We do not know how the fate of many victims turned out because there have not been any legal processes. In other words, the fate of women who succumbed to interrogations, or to the consequences afterward, has not been recorded anywhere.
This historical theme also belongs to the era of apologies, recognition, and justice in which we live. To HERstory instead of HIStory, as I call it. But alas, we live in a time in which prejudice against women is still worrying, and witch hunts still exist in various guises, as also shown by a recent study done by the United Nations.
The Gender Social Norms Index shows that nine out of ten people are biased toward women. For example, people – men and women – believe that men are better political leaders. That education is more important for men than for women. That men are more likely to earn jobs than women, and be better leaders in business. That men can still beat their wives. And that abortion is never justified. Distressing.
My suspicion, incidentally, is that the UN's statistics do not reflect reality quite accurately. But that it is indeed as bad as what these results show us. We also live in a time in which women in Italy are taken off birth certificates because they are not straight. We will have to enhance our efforts to stop decay and marginalization.
In short, all of this is a long introduction to indicate that I fully support a witch monument in the Netherlands, and that this chapter in history, combined with the question from a number of people on how ayahuasca feels when someone undergoes it, inspired me to write a short, fictional story.
In the story, you get to travel along with someone who ends up in the sixteenth century while undergoing ayahuasca. You get to realize that our brains can enter various dimensions. In addition, it is a tribute to impossible loves, by which women were bombarded as witches. Enjoy reading.
As if water flows through my body, I feel the peace of truth. The body feels light and warm. I open my eyes, I look up, and smile. Go on, my beautiful soul. Be well. I give you to whoever you want in this life. You have never been mine. And yet, I am letting you go now. Dizzy as I am, I then spit it out in one go into the bucket next to me. Because I remember.
I am on my knees in the grass, my hands tied behind my back. My long, dark locks go in all directions because my hair has been ripped loose. My long, green dress and white blouse with wide sleeves are soaked in blood. Stains that are starting to turn brown. My body is partly visible through the ripped pieces.
I hardly feel the pain in my body anymore, only the shame, despair, and humiliation. Why hasn't the community finished it off? Tears fall silently down my face, on the scraps of fabric that still partially cover my body, even in the grass.
Stones. Spits. Knife cuts. Iron hands. Then the sticks. On my stomach. My cries. “Not my baby! Have mercy! God, where art thou?" The cheers of the community. Encouraging. Deafening. "Witch. Sinner. Adulterous woman. Traitor. The devil. Save us from this heretical monster.” Lord, mighty as thou art, I turn to thee. Please take me with You. I beg You with all I have.
The child who was created out of love, in the presence of God, flows in a pool of blood over the grass. The horror of the community. Complete silence. They turn their faces one by one, and walk away. There are sounds of people vomiting. Strong arms lift me up. When I wake up, I lie in the dark on the cold floor made out of stone. But the sweat keeps pouring from my limbs.
He was a forbidden fruit, and so was I to him. But life without him turned out to be impossible. The love seemed supernatural: magnetic, all-encompassing, and magical. Love made us heroic. Although, we didn't know how to be combative. We often talked about leaving everything behind to flee from his kingship and live far away in freedom with each other, and without connections to the community. In complete bliss.
Though it was all our souls craved for, we knew our escape could be short-lived. Europe knew the heir to the throne and his powerful wife. The daughter of the French king. To me, he was the king of my heart and soul. To Europe, he was the king of the country.
The constitutional treaties had been carefully negotiated and drafted over a ten-year period in preparation for his office, and they were not long ago read by the newsmen in the various market squares of the European communities. The treaties had entered into force. How far would we get before the honor of the present king had to be restored? Even worse, before my love would be punished?
I have to open my eyes. The sadness weighs heavily on my insides. Just breathe. Not from the lungs, but from the heart. The secret of life. This too shall pass. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I listen to Mother Earth and keep breathing deeply. From the heart. Never before have I felt a breath in my whole body like now.
I get it, Mother Ayahuasca. The world is ancient. There have been so many unimaginable human lives in the past. Stories that were never heard. Never told. Never seen for what they were. Stories that we carry with us in the now. In our guts. My eyes close again.
The circle of women around me. Women I have known from the beginning of my life. Mothers with whom I stood at the market and went door-to-door selling fabrics. Mothers who often offered me an apple, a piece of bread, or some milk. Their daughters, with whom I had run through the tall grass, and with whom I had picked fruit while climbing the trees. These women must take care of me now.
“You will have to flee tonight to never return. The Queen and the State have ordered us to inform you that you can choose between the death penalty or total banishment. Save yourself. You cannot become a slave of the state in repentance. Flee and repair your sins in the name of the Almighty. We will arrange a horse and carriage for you. So that you are on your way. Forget the king. Never come back. God be with you. Amen."
The unconditional warmth that I feel with you. From the first time I saw you. We were children. We are not meant to be together. In this life. Besides, we are not good for each other right now. But I will always see you. I know who you are. I will always know who you are. In any lifetime. Every time I see you in this life, I will hug you from a distance. I will cherish us. Like the twin souls that we are.
Every few years, you appear unannounced in my dream. You then tell me again who you are. And you know again who I am. Every time I wake up, I try to step back into the dream. Back into the unconditional warmth of my soul’s return home. You have the same. In those extremely short dreams, we can breathe again from the eternal knowing. From the heart. And we laugh. It is pure. Exuberant. Like children. Sometimes incessantly.
A lost tear appears from the corner of my right eye. I breathe deeply, from the heart. Look, everything follows when I am ready. Then I go back to myself in the sixteenth century. To me in the circle, surrounded by the women. I walk over and wrap my arms around me. I rock myself.
The women take each other's hands and shuffle quietly on Secret garden. The secret garden of this soul’s love. I take the baby wrapped in white cloths and give the child to myself in the sixteenth century. I look at how I hold the child. It is healed in eternal knowing. Through the barriers of matter, time, and space.
I open my eyes. It is all good. The longing for a home with you in this life. I can say goodbye to that in the presence of Mother Ayahuasca. The earth. The universe. Thanks for the wisdom. Insights. Healing. The lessons. Above all, thank you again for the eternal knowledge.
Look next to you, Mother Ayahuasca whispers to me. Slowly, I lift my head from the pillow to see a golden egg. Big. Shiny. Full of promise. Of something that I have not yet discovered in this life.
The Dutch version of this article was published by BNNVARA, Joop.