Everyone knew that Elethea had healing powers. She was amazed at how many were intimidated by her abilities instead of feeling welcome and worthy.
It started a few years back when Old McJerzyr boldly knocked on Elethea’s door and requested a healing for his son’s ailing heart. Elethea happily complied.
Word of the “miraculous” healing spread quickly throughout the land.
The McJerzyrs grew broccoli on their farm and the market hadn’t been too good lately, so when people asked if there was some special way to approach Elethea, the farmers informed their neighbors that Elethea would only grant favors to those who kept to a strict diet of broccoli and beer for at least three weeks before visiting (McJerzyr’s son, Barthel, had a little microbrewery going on the side).
It wasn’t long before the community could boast of a thriving broccoli cult, complete with leaders, slogans, songs, and a secret handshake. And it worked! Every adherent of the broccoli and beer regimen was granted a healing.
Terriana’s car broke down and she had to walk the last mile to Elethea’s place. It was forty-five minutes into the crepuscular hour. The darkening road was deserted. Terriana imagined she heard all manner of mischief on the road and in the woods. She kept a constant vigil, turning ever to the left, to look behind her, then into the woods on one side of the road, then up the road, then into the woods across the way. She walked in a panic, turning in slow circles all the while.
Elethea was quick to grant Terriana’s request to get rid of her headaches, fix her car, soothe her anxieties, and help her find a better job.
Terriana was delighted and grateful. She had fortunately stumbled onto the proper way to enlist Elethea’s help and she was quick to tell others every detail of how they, too, could get on Elethea’s good side. The notion soon took hold that the farther a person walked, while turning in slow circles, the more apt s/he was to get what s/he wanted. Hey, and if you crawl, you increase your chances all the more! Speculation evolved into fact. People arranged to be dropped off five, ten, up to twenty miles from Elethea’s front door.
Elethea knew nothing of all this. She thought it curious that some folks showed up half drunk, with little flakes of green trapped between their teeth, while others arrived dizzy and sweaty.
There was no end to the superstitions and rituals that sprang up around her. A seeker would ask Elethea’s advice about something and she would give it. Before long, that advice showed up as a strict rule in the creed or sacred writings of some group or another.
Elethea didn’t have to be cajoled or flattered into doing what she came here to do, any more than the sun has to be bribed to shine. That didn’t keep folks from figuring that the more complicated they made things, the more personal sacrifice and inconvenience involved, the better. And it did work. Can’t argue with success! Hey, if it ain’t broke….
[This story is from The Lonesome Wizard Boys’ Campfire Tales by Tom Hale]
Elethea: The English meaning of the name is “Healer.”
Jerzyr is a name meaning "Farm owner." (I added the “Mc” part just for fun.)
Terriana means “One who is innocent.”