We'd had a good month in Malta and the UK, and the night before our flight out of London's Heathrow airport I spent nearly an hour carefully wrapping and packing my carry-on bag of ceramics and other fragile objects.

Just before boarding—this was back before post-911 air paranoia—they pulled me aside for a baggage inspection.

“Ye gods,” I thought as a young South Asian woman began unwrapping the objects on top. “If I have to repack all of this, half of it will be broken by the time we get home.” I stood there, fuming but powerless.

The clerk gave a little start. “What's this?” she said.

She was holding a little statue of Kali that I'd bought a few days before.

Playing dumb American, I said, “Isn't that a wonderful little Kali?”

“You know Kali?” she said, looking up.

“Oh, sure," I said. This was no more than the truth. Every witch knows the Void, the Dark Mother.

"I got her in a little Hindu religious goods store in Forest Gate," I continued. "Isn't the detailing beautiful?”

The woman looked at me. She looked at Kali.

Carefully, she rewrapped her and put her back in the bag.

“These bags are fine,” she announced, pushing them on.

Jai Ma Kali,” I said. Victory to Mother Kali.

Jai Ma Kali,” she replied.

Not one piece got broken on the way back home. Not one.

Jai Ma Kali.