In “Mystical Circles” I explore the conflict between two sisters Juliet and Zoe. Juliet, the older sister, aged around 30, is worried that the impetuous Zoe, age 22 and fresh out of university, has fallen in love with charismatic New Age guru Craig McAllister, and rushed off to join his esoteric spiritual group in the Cotswolds, where she seems determined to stay forever. How can the more sensible, responsible Juliet make Zoe see otherwise, and rescue her from this unsuitable man?
EXTRACT No. 1 from “Mystical Circles”:
“How are things going with Craig?” she asked.
“Fantastic. Couldn’t be better.” Zoe scuffed her trainers against the gravel, then pointed in a northerly direction. “Come on. Let’s go round the house to the front garden. We can sit there and talk.”
“Sure.” Juliet hurried after her sister. How she hoped Zoe would be reasonable, and at least understand her feelings.
Unlatching the gate, Zoe went through, and Juliet followed. Before them appeared the uppermost of a flight of stone steps leading down to a sunken lawn with a water
“This is stunning,” she said in awe.
“Isn’t it?” Zoe indicated the Scots pines and the blue cedars over to the north of the sunken garden. The two girls went towards these. Scattered beneath were a number of white cane chairs, set amid clumps of purple delphiniums.
As soon as they sat down, Zoe burst into excited speech. “So Juliet, what do you think?” Her eye fell on Juliet’s pocket. “You already have the brochure.”
“I’ve started reading it. Craig makes big promises, doesn’t he? They certainly lead you to expect huge rewards.”
“And you’ll find them,” declared Zoe. “Wait till you meet him. He’s out of this world.”
Juliet’s confidence began to fade. How would Zoe cope with her objections? “I already have met him, Zoe.”
“No! But that’s wonderful. So you’ll already know. He’s perfect.”
Juliet fought to hold onto her patience. “Well, I’m not quite sure about…”
“Whose side are you on?” Zoe’s expression had chilled.
Juliet leaned forward, and took hold of her by both shoulders. “Hey, I can see why you’ve fallen for him. He’s the best-looking guy I’ve ever met.”
Zoe visibly relaxed.
“If he feels the same about you as you do about him,” continued Juliet, “then that can only be good news.”
A smile of relief spread over her sister’s face. Juliet hated to spoil the mood. But she felt compelled to push home her point. “You’re here for the best of reasons, Zoe. And I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s suppose that Craig is everything you believe he is. But even so – what’s with the Wheel of Love? Sounds a bit dubious to me.”
“We’re not like that Heaven’s Gate sect, you know,” Zoe protested.
Certain key words hammered into Juliet’s brain. Sharpen your subtle knife…cut a window into heaven…freedom you’ve never dared dream of… “This heaven stuff he goes in for… the bit about freedom you’ve never dared dream of, and him reaching into your spirit… What’s that all about?”
“You’d need to live as one of us to understand,” said Zoe.
So she was going to be evasive. Juliet flared up. “Give me a break, Zoe. I won’t do that.” She saw her sister bite back a swift retort.
Juliet is a freelance radio journalist. And while she’s here at the Wheel of Love she takes the opportunity to do interviews for a radio documentary about the group – with Craig’s permission of course. It’s a useful cover for her true motive of rescuting Zoe. But can Juliet stay objective?
Extract No. 2 from “Mystical Circles”:
It was probably best to concentrate on her lunch. But she couldn’t resist pushing Edgar further on the subject. “I’m not a member of the group, and have no plans to join. I’m here as an impartial observer. And there are various guidelines that I have to observe…”
“The broadcast media has the highest code of conduct…” murmured Edgar. A titter passed between the other three at this.
“What you suggest is impossible. If you’re to achieve anything here, you’ll have to take part, and live as one of us,” said Laura.
Juliet swallowed two or three times to control her sense of panic. Deep down she knew Laura was probably right. And that was exactly what worried her. Could she pretend to go along with their beliefs without compromising herself? Weren’t they all nuts, in one way or another? She shrank from it. And yet she knew she wasn’t the only one here who felt like that. Surely Don did too.