She allowed her mind to go into a state of deep relaxation. In this way, she was able to connect with Bran's memories.
An image came to her.
Bran was a young child. Only a few years old. He was traveling with his mother through a graveyard of animals who had been slaughtered by white hunters. The skins of the animals had been removed, but the bodies were left facing the sky. The spirits of those animals floated above the bodies as small blue flames. Those spirits were confused. They didn't know what had happened to them. They did not realize that their bodies were without breath. Then Stella saw how Ascentia had called those spirits to a white beam of guiding light. All but one of the spirits were called home then. That one spirit, a blue flame, found a home inside of Bran. But because the spirit did not know that his animal body had died, the one was still between worlds. Bran had felt this spirit throughout his life but thought that it was his own emotions. He did not know that another was using his body and thoughts as a home. The animal spirit was a cat.
Normally the cat was a creature of great confidence. Cats were not afraid. But this spirit was troubled. This cat spirit felt homeless. Confused. Weak.
Stella knew she could help.
That was when she stepped into Bran's thoughts on that snowy day as a child. She was now a child in her meditation. A child of 5, like Bran. She sat with Bran under the trees of the forest at the edge of the killing field. She told Bran that one of those animals had come to Bran because he had a gift for Bran. The gift was courage. Fearless strength in the face of danger. Bran needed to meet his spirit animal. The spirit animal required to become friends with Bran. She told Bran the child that the first step of becoming friends with so powerful of a guest was to greet him. Just say hi.
The second step, she told him, is to say to the cat spirit what qualities Bran noticed in the cat. The cat would respond she said with a purr.
However, the greeting must be done soon, or Bran would quickly join the spirit animal in the world of ghosts who have no home.
The child Bran looked at her spirit sitting next to him and asked her how? How can I invite a spirit in?
Her memory played more of her father's conversation.
As her father instructed her over that dinner fire, she needed to construct a fire ceremony. She stood and walked over to the hearth. Under the firelight she took the small branches and wove the image of a creature with four long legs, twigs, wrapping the twine from his pocket around and around a short thick branch, then another branch, wrapping more twine, and then she created a head with pointed ears with one last shorter branch. For a tail, she took the pine needles and wrapped them around the end. She created the image of a small cat. She stood it on the floor next to the small glow of the fire.
She then closed her eyes. In her thoughts, she went into the memory of that day when Bran and his mother walked through the killing field. She found herself next to Bran as a five-year-old child. Stella looked around and saw the blue flame of the cat spirit hovering over the cat's body. She took a deep breath and stepped into the cat's body. That was when Stella felt the energy, the shock of the wounded wild emotions of this creature. Those emotions overwhelmed her until her own thoughts were nearly obliterated, and she could not think anything except one thought.
The thought came as an instruction: Put this entire memory into the symbol of this one wooden cat. In her thoughts, she placed the whole scene into a bubble, reducing that bubble to the size of an apple. Then in her thoughts, she imagined the bubble overlapping the image of the small wooden cat. They sat like two images overlapping each other until they became fused. When this was done, she opened her eyes and peered down on the little cat. Stella breathed in and then out through her lips so that she created the sound of a whistle. She lifted the cat and set it on top of the burning embers. Within the space of three breaths, the cat combusted and with it the memory that event into the flames of the fire.
"From ashes to ashes, dust to dust," she repeated the mantra her father taught him. "From the Mother you came and to the Mother, you now return."
When the burning cat was reduced to warm ashes, she pushed them onto the cold stone at the edge of the fire with a stick. When they cooled, she scooped them into her palm. She stood and walked over to Bran's quietly breathing form. With both palms, she crushed the ashes of the small cat to dust and allowed the ash dust to fall over Bran's chest.
At that moment she saw the image of a blue ghost cat, as large as her hand sitting on Bran's chest. The Blue Cat was watching her. He closed and then opened his eyes. A sign of friendship. Then the cat looked at the moon in the window and jumped from his chest, floated through the air and out the window.
Bran breathed deeply.
The Blue Cat was returning to the Earth. From the Earth had this wound had come, and to the Earth, this wound would return. The Earth, like a Mother, would take over Bran's healing from this moment on. The slice of the missing pie had been restored to the whole. Bran would be fine.
"However," she recalled her father had said at the end of his talk of the recovered pie slices, "the patient is not out of trouble yet. The painful memory that got pushed into another world deep in the psyche would resurface. As it did so, inform the patient that the memory of the pain would become as fresh as though it just occurred. They were to do nothing about it. Just allow it to float through the mind, and then allow it to float away. Let the Earth have it. Our mother knows what to do with it."
He woke to a view of the window. The sky was blue. The flowing branches of trees and the sound of birds poured into eyes and ears. It was their sound that made him smile. And then he began to feel a heaviness in his chest. It was sadness.
A heaviness sat in the region of his chest that so great that he had no words, no thoughts. He felt the helpless suffocating pressure of a grey cold of a winter sky. He felt the inexpressible anguish of watching the animals dead body in front of him. He comprehended the event with the understanding of a child. He felt the force of a net pulling him away against his every wish to stay. He felt it as though he was there now. Back in the killing field with his mother.
A moan escaped his lips, and that sound woke Stella. She had been asleep on the floor next to him. She rose to her feet. She touched his hand with her fingers. She said that she would be in the next room if he needed anything. She walked from the room. Space is what he needed now.
The force of the weight caused him to feel exhausted. His eyes drooped. They closed.