There’s a form of ancestor magic which many people call Christianity. Jesus is my ancestor, and that makes God my ancestor too, since he is Jesus’s dear old Dad. I can call upon my ancestor for help when I need it, by going to the sacred place, drinking his sacred blood, and making a wish.
Is this really effective? My sceptical friends ask me. Why yes, I answer. Sometimes he makes it rain. This is very good for the cattle, and for the drought. When I ask too much he gets angry and then he sends too much rain, and then there is a flood. It makes us all think of that part of the bible, when Noah, another great ancestor, puts all the animals in his boat, to save the world’s ecosystem. This is remarkably forward-thinking of him, I think.
Some friends of mine are killjoys. They say there is no such thing as magic. There is only coincidence. They say wonder at the physical world should be enough. There is no need for faith when there is so much beauty all around. How do these people deal with their pain? I wonder. What do they do to battle the world’s cruelties? Nothing. They feel bad, but then they distract themselves with lattes. I feel sorry for them, but I would never tell them this, in case they become angry with me. These heathens will discover the light, one day.
During one of these floods my friend and I are on the little boat when a great crocodile drifts by. The crocodile is laughing, because the town has become like his river bed. My friend is afraid of the crocodile. Why? I ask. This crocodile is part of the natural, beautiful world. You are only afraid of him because you only know one story about him, about him eating you. Tell yourself another one, about you being in your boat, and him swimming along in the water, at peace. This is a good story, isn’t it? My friend looks relieved. Her faith is sitting in a new container now, and this shapes it, makes it happier, easier. ‘You are a lunatic,’ she says. She biffs me on the arm. Then she lets her fingers trail in the water.