Ruby Sixpence is a very ordinary woman. At least, to look at. But she has power and wisdom which the rest of us can only dream of. I think the underlying message is; don’t judge by appearances – people are surprising; and never underestimate the hidden power of older women!
I have great fun writing her and as the next book takes shape, I wanted to share with you some more ways in which she weaves her magic, unseen, unsung and without fanfare.
Ruby is a humble character. She dresses casually, and is treated with benign indifference because she hides behind homespun clichés and apologises a lot. It gets her the information she needs and makes her unthreatening. She also tells us that because she is an older woman, she gets ignored and patronised a lot of the time, which makes her feel invisible; but she uses that to find out what she needs to know because she can ask questions and no one takes offence or gets suspicious.
I can also act surprisingly well, because acting is just lying convincingly, and I have always been able to lie. It has been a key survival technique in my unusual life, and I soon came to realise that the thin line between truth and lies is blurred into every shade of grey.
In my last blog post, I talked about words and water as tools Ruby uses to make her magic. Today I want to tell you how she uses different forms of energy and spins it into a visible shape, like an energy wave. Visible to her and others skilled in these arts, but not to those around her. It is all about focussing her intention. Something I think I need to learn!
This energy is all around us, whether it is volatile, capricious, pure or negative – it is so often carelessly discarded by all of us as we stumble though our days, unaware.
Ruby has to take great care when she sends out these little power balls and test the recipient so that she gets the right force and the right effect. In this case, she is visiting Mary in hospital who has just given birth and the pure energy of the newborn is precious. But so also is the receptivity of the new mother which leaves her open and vulnerable.
There is magic in this room which comes with the new-born. I start cautiously with ripples and test the recipient; an equal force comes back to me, so I know how they have responded. Right now, I could send any intention to Mary and she would absorb it with joy and act on it because she is so open and receptive. It is a careful balance and a huge responsibility.
Reading and responding to this energy is one of her key skills. Whenever Ruby enters a room, she ‘feels’ the energy of those present – she assess the situation and tries to head off disaster before it happens. Or, on rare occasions, lets them happen if no-one gets hurt and it suits her purpose.
Here is Ruby’s first day at The Haywain Community Arts Centre, as she steps into the theatre to work with the children:
Downstairs, I get an instant hit of youthful energy as I step into the studio and stand still for a moment to feel my way into the cavernous space; soulless and uninspiring. The boys are dominating the room, charging around, generating most of the moving energy, which is volatile and excitable; the sort of unstable energy which causes wars. The girls sit in huddles around the edges of the room in twos and threes; the largest group are loud and goading the boys. The others whisper and share secrets as they thread beads on strings and look around at the other children and giggle; smug and self-confident energy. Two more groups play pat-a-cake, and their energy is unintentional and casually disregarded, like they have accidentally thrown it away, but it doesn’t matter; there will be more later. There is also an intense and anxious feeling from a couple of bystanders, not attached to groups; watchers and waiters on the edges. One, a small girl with a fragile air holds something in her palms and looks around at the other children like a doe from the undergrowth. A boy runs over, snatches the snow-globe she is cradling and runs away waving it in the air. Time to intervene.
We all do this to some extent; we survey the scene and read the flow of energy between people; sometimes it more obvious than others, even to an untrained eye. But Ruby also needs to apply a defensive tactic to protect herself from harm. Not all energy is benign and positive. For example, when she first meets Katie Hope, she describes the hostile energy which flew from Katie, driven by insecurity. Ruby’s shield goes up automatically to protect herself. This is how she describes the effect:
‘If this had been a film, it would have been one of those special effect thingies – CGI they call it nowadays. There would be a whoosh on the soundtrack, the film would slow down, and we would see the fretful energy flow out of her and hit my shield. It would then reflect back onto her, and her eyes would widen with the force of her own surprise, enough for me to catch a glimpse.’
From the first impressions, Ruby can then use another technique to delve deeper into an individual, to ‘read their soul.’ She calls this a Glimpse; which means that she can see into the core of the person she is facing;
‘… where the hurt and the walled-in pain lies; (cue more whooshing noises and flashing scenes of a past life….) It only takes a microsecond and is a very powerful tool, although it is voyeuristic and it can be unpleasant to eavesdrop on a person’s naked soul. It doesn’t seem fair, but sometimes, it is forced upon me.’
This technique allows Ruby to get under the skin of the person she is trying to help, much like a therapist would do, only quicker and more direct. And she doesn’t charge for her services! From her first glimpse, of Katie she forms a conclusion which enables her to make a plan.
‘Katie is not sitting comfortably inside her own skin; she is hedging her bets on who she ought to be; half in, half out, like she may need to make a quick getaway should she decide she doesn’t like herself very much.’
In this case, she understands more about how and why Katie is so hostile and this gives her a chance to work on the solution, because after all, her primary task is to make sure that Katie and Joe end up together. They won’t manage it on their own; there are too many barriers, and as Ruby says in the early part of the story –
‘Joe is going to have to use more than charm to get past Katie’s defences. I might suggest crampons. Dynamite will be the last resort.’
Next time I will talk about some of the other magical things in the not so very ordinary world of Ruby Sixpence