Friday, November 14, 2014

Four Circles, Class Two launches in January

Honor Tout Moun!
Well now that I've gotten past Fet Ghede, I can finally fix my vision on the Four Circles program. Up to now, we've only had one online class. That would be the Four Circles - Year One, Class One: Zanset-yo!  It's been very well received and continues to have a robust presence online. Mesi anpil to all who have taken it and to those who have registered for January 2015.

But now, I am in the throws of getting Year One, Class Two ready. This class focuses on service to the Lwa. It won't be as broad at the first class, but more in depth on the specific topic making a service to your spirits correctly by following Reglemen.

I am taking all the students on the journey of discovery with this class, and I hope it brings as much joy to you all as it has to me just by writing it up. Please stay tuned for updates as I go forward with my writing and research. I hope to provide you all with a couple of ah-ha! moments and some new nuggets of thought on serving Vodou style!

The Four Circles - Year One Class Two: Sevis Lwa will be ready to launch in Mid-January. And for those who missed the current semester of FC Year One, Class One Zanset-yo!, that class is currently open for registration. You can go here for registration:

I look forward to meeting you all under the tonnel one of these days!

Kenbe La!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your Dead at Fet Ghede

Fet Ghede is just a short week away, and I thought you'd enjoy getting some additional information relating to the holiday.

Fet Ghede is a more than just a weekend celebration. In Haiti, the holiday is celebrated for the entire month of November. Families take care of graves and family plots; the demembre or family land is celebrated with song, food and drink; and the dead get to party with the living in close proximity. I have heard it said that the dead speak out of thin air in Haiti, and I totally believe it. When you think about the number of deaths the island has witnessed -- 350,000 Africans dying annually for 100 years; the multiple wars fought by the Europeans - Spanish, French, English, Polish; and the countless Native peoples who died at the hands of the Spanish -- to say the island is haunted is an under statement of epic proportions. In fact, death is the number one guiding principle of Haiti. It colors everything in life from holidays and national celebrations to family gatherings and worship services. It's no wonder the number one saying in Haiti is "After God, the ancestors..." meaning, the dead.

But Fet Ghede is also a time of joy. It is a reminder that life is short, and death is just a passage into another realm. The dead do not depart so much as stand and observe from a different vantage point. I recently wrote an essay on the life of land in Haiti. In it, I shared the philosophy of the Dogon people who work daily with their ancestors. If they need to access the dead, they simply go to where they were buried and through body trance, download whatever information they are looking for. The Dead are seen as an endless repository of information that can be called upon at a moment's notice. That same practice is held at the core of Vodou work. One doesn't go asking stray Lwa for answers -- you go to your Dead, your personal Ghedes, to find what you need.

This week was a particularly rough one for us. Don's pacemaker was making noises - yes, his chest was making the sound of an ambulance siren. And to top that off, he was rear ended at a stop sign by someone who was texting. I stood at the ancestor altar, made my offering of frankincense and coffee and requested that this nonsense stop now. The result - the pacemaker just needed to be reset in person at the hospital (more on that later), the fenderbender was a minor scrape and we're back on track again.

And that is the other clue to Fet Ghede. The Ghede are always personal -- sometimes, too much so.  I know we get all caught up in the gyrations and silliness of the party, but the Ghede are something of a rare opportunity to check in on your family. They are truthsayers - the Ghede never lie and why should they? They don't care about your feelings, or if you will be put off by what they say. They are DEAD and refreshingly so. So when you come upon a Ghede willing to focus on you or your question (and that's the real challenge) you will get an honest to goodness answer. It might not be what you want to hear, but by God, it'll be what you need to!

Our Ghedes are great fortune tellers -- I am never sure of what they are saying or willing to say. Yes, they tell the truth, but they also like to play games. So the truth might come wrapped in a paradox or an enigma for you to work out. They do that since everyone is listening. They will happily share the details of your sex life (they love sex and all its proclivities), but they will couch the delicate answer to a private question so that only you will get the answer. They love being the center of attention -- they often are -- but they do take care to give someone the answer they deserve when asked a painful question.

Ghede are also lost souls. They are the forgotten ones, the dead who have never had the rites of consecration to help them cross the waters. Again, how many billions of people died and are in the soil of Haiti? How many native Taino, Carib and Arawak people died at the hands of the Spanish and are in the soil of Haiti? All those who died at the hands of abuse, tropical disease and overwork on the plantations? How many foreign soldiers, merchants, trades people from the same causes? How many children? All these souls are in the soil of Haiti. And all of them are Ghede. Think about that for a moment.

I have to sit back and wonder at the people I know who feel they can call upon Ghede to do work for them. Ghede is word with many meanings - it means the dead literally in Kreyol. It means a specific soul - Papa Ghede or Ghede Nibo. Or Ghede John LaKwa. And it can mean plural as in many dead souls -- The Ghede. Given the knowledge that these souls died under horrific circumstance, what makes someone think they can command this soul to do anything? From a magical stand point, it's hubris at best to think you can command the Dead. They are Dead, and they answer only to God. Do consider that when calling upon anyone who has crossed the veil.

The Dead are very willing to work with you, provided they are YOUR Dead and not a stray Ghede. There are many souls wandering the earth all the time. In Vodou, we believe that you have a specific amount of time on Earth as an incarnate being. Let's say you and God decide you should be here for 180 years. Now, I did not say you would be alive for those 180 years, did I?  I said you'd be here, meaning earthbound for 180.  You end up dying young at 40.. But your ticket back is punched at 180, so you need to stay around for another 140 years. It's those 140 years that are the most important. Why? because on the otherside, you have knowledge, what we call Konesans in Vodou. You have access to all the Dead who have ever crossed -- all their knowledge, experience and training. Their answers and observations. And your family has it too, through you. Each successive generation, your kin, can call upon you for help, inspiration, answers, knowledge, faith, love. The dead are not gone -- they have simply moved to another level. And it is there, that you gain your greatest champion, you strongest protector, your perfect teacher. It is your beloved dead who can filter the answers of the universe down to you for the asking. But we never seem to ask, do we?

And so the dead wander aimlessly, waiting to be engaged, waiting to be asked. And for all those souls in Haiti, who asks? Who engages with them? Who puts them to work? No one, and so they are stuck between here and there, waiting for the proverbial bus to go home. Those who are related to you have a vested interest in you. They are the 'safe' ghede, those ones you can count on to actually be of service to you. The others less so - they are not related. Some maybe angry about being forgotten, others may be demented by their long stay or by the circumstance of their death. The dead are not so different from the living -- they mirror the human condition quite well. And that is why one chooses family over strangers, blood over water.

And that is why I always say feed your Dead on Fet Ghede / Samhain / Day of the Dead or however you choose to call this holiday season.  There is a reason for these days being so strongly celebrated. The egregore of this time is ancient and powerful. Engage with it, wade into the energy of it and feel it's potential for change. That energy stream is the most dynamic when it is fed by your own bloodline. To stand in another stream unrelated to you, is to reduce the amount of potential that is available for yourself and your family. So dive on in and celebrate the day.

After all, for this one day, it really is all about you!

Kwa! Kwa sen bo!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Knowledge paper in the Sosyete du Marche library

I've uploaded a new essay to the SdM library. I love to write here, but the sosyete's coffer's need replenishing as well. So for an expanded essay on Fet Ghede, please go here:

Fet Ghede in Haiti

And to read what I wrote a couple years back, check out this blog here:

A Time for Healing

Fet Ghede is certainly big enough to encompass allt he writing one could offer. So enjoy, and be ready for some new offerings as well!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Enochian Rituals and Spirits that Haunt Us

Sorry for the quiet - I was practicing for a recital I participated in this weekend. The Maestro of the sosyete was engaging a bunch of friends to play music and sing with him. How could I refuse? We had a great time, but I had to put on my "A" game -- this was the real deal for me personally. There's a big difference between singing in my basement and then going on a stage in front of people. James said I did good, so that's all that counts for me -- but I think I did sound good. I am determined to keep up the "shedding" as James calls it.

I have been reading Crowley's The Vision and the Voice this past couple days. I had had a conversation with a friend in NOLA last month, regarding angels, the Nephilium and work of conjuring spirits. She highly recommended both Dr. Dee's transcripts, as well as Crowley's piece.  I am finding them to be very interesting as well. One of the reasons people are told to stay away 
from Enochian, is that it is very Apocalyptic in tone and wording.  Supposedly, if you do the invocations correctly, you could bring about the Apocalypse. I am not so sure I agree with that conclusion. The wording is archaic and definitely Elizabethan in nature. The two magicians who both scryed and conversed with the angels were very devote men of a Christian nature. So, it's no wonder to me that the verses are heavily tinged with Christian iconography and tone.  Likewise the Crowley material. It heavily features his version of the Book of the Law, including the Crowned Horus and other assorted characters from the Equinox.

Why am I reading this? Well, there is a faint Nephilium connection, but that is really only of interest to me. No, what I wanted to share with you is the timeless fascination we humans have for the spirit world, and the lengths we go to, to have interaction with it. That, and since we just passed the anniversary of 9/11, the human race's continuing fascination for the Apocalypse itself.

Spirits among Us
If any American City could be considered Apocalyptic, it's got to be New Orleans.  Apocalypse means "to uncover" and that's exactly what New Orleans does, on a daily basis.  With two devastating fires to it's record, and continual fighting over it's borders, New Orleans is truly the best example of being "uncovered". Founded in 1600s by the Spanish, sold to the French and eventually taken by the British and turned into American, this town is a true Babylon on the water. Along with the many make-overs, there came many dead and where there are dead, there are spirits - on just about every corner. The continual digging uncovers new history, new buildings, new graves. I think you could say New Orleans is always uncovering something. And that doesn't just mean uncovering archaeological stuff.  How about 'uncovering' corruption in the police department in the 70s?  'Uncovering' corruption in the mayor's office in the 80s?  'Uncovering' the potential of the CBD, the gambling industry, the casinos, the lake front - the list is endless. So, if we agree that apocalypse means to uncover, then NOLA wins by a landslide!

The Apocalypse doesn't end there either. Along with uncovering, comes the sister word, revelation - meaning revealing. Hmmm....well, let's look at the popular medium of TV for example. A cursory glance at the local offerings show that this revealing of spirits has moved into contemporary society. This fall's TV run features Sleepy Hallow "revealing" the four horse men of the apocalypse; Gotham "revealing" the underbelly of the city; and many other shows revealing secrets, new characters and dire plot twists. I am surprised there is no show called Revealing -- but that might not be revealing enough I suppose. We are also in the month of October, with Fet Ghede just around the corner. As the hauntings, Halloween parties and horror films arrive, Samhain approaches: the veil thins out and we're bound to have even more spiritual dalliances throughout the fall. More uncovering, more revealing - of what, I am not sure, but I am more than open to the event when it happens.

Enochian for Beginners - and We're all Beginners
Enochian is not child's play -  as in, let's call up Zoz today and see what he/she/It's been doing lately! The powers that rule beyond the borders of our world are not to be toyed with lightly. If the manuscripts are to be believed (and I don't see why not) they offer a glimpse into another space and time that is vast and endless. They offer proof of life beyond this mortal coil, and to that end, they have worth alone. Evidence of the great beyond. But more importantly, Enochian scholars all agree that the calls invoke a major power to create change on a global scale.  The word Apocalypse is a Greek word meaning to uncover. Again, it has grown to have many meanings - end of times, destruction, down with the old order of the world and up with a new, more invigorating one. But I don't think it means total destruction, as in thermonuclear war.

Perhaps, it's like the end of the movie War Games. The computer, Joshua, playing games with the lead character, demonstrates what total annihilation looks like, but it's a simulation, not genuine. Perhaps, this is a warning. "Here's what could happen if you all don't start behaving like rational adults."

Or, it's real, but in another way. The oungan has an interesting theory. If all we know about Egypt can only be traced back 5,000 years, then what happened before then?  Why is there no evidence of anything - language, rituals, nothing? Could they have had their own apocalypse and moved on? Not in a bad way, but transcended, as we keep seeing in so many books and movies today. Is this a trace memory from then? A past life memory, perhaps? Maybe they "uncover" a great truth, they had a revelation, something "revealed" to them, and they took the bait and left this world, for another level of existence.

Language is the Key to It All
I can't say for sure, but the reason I am rambling here is that language carries it's own nuances - you must be willing and able to look at things from many view points, to find the kernel truth in a story. I believe that truths or "revelations" come about when we need them to. I am not so sure that this one is the destructive, annihilating version we've all been primed to think of. Perhaps, the great Ones feel the time has come to re-think our approaches to life and each other. They are making available the method for doing so. There are 49 calls or Keys to Enochian, but only 48 exist in this world. Dr. Dee never got the Prime Key, as it is known. The going argument is that when the right person performs all the calls, the 49th will be given to them for their efforts. This person is sometimes referred to as the AntiChrist. I don't believe that. After all, the mere title  ANTI-Christ equates this with a Christian view point. I think the whole thing is way bigger than just this one view point, however documented it may be. (**and may I just remind folks how many permutations the Bible has been through, and how easily transposed, left out and mixed up the story can become over all that time?)

No, let me put forth here my own theory - that the Apocalypse is not the end of the world, just the end of our perceptions right now. There are many folks working Enochian magic today. The Golden Dawn utilized it on a regular basis. The general consensus among the knowledgeable is that their inner teachings were derived from the inner planes, and guess what they used to dial up the Masters of the Universe? Yes, Enochian. Some also say that Crowley was the Anti-Christ. Wishful thinking on his part, I'm sure. Others believe that by performing the Calls as he did in 1909, Crowley opened the gate to the other side and permitted some of the great beasts to come into this world, bringing about the World Wars (remember our four horsemen - War, Pestilence, Famine and Death). Well, maybe. But there were many great wars before those two, and lots of Famine, Death and Pestilence to be found, so I don't agree with that theory, either. Just good press for Uncle Al, that's all.

No, I don't think we've done the "Great Apocalypse" just yet. I think we still need a lot of work and a lot of will power before the great Angels of the Aires come down and change things for the better. The Tibetan Monks say that the only gate Spirit has into this world is through us - that the angels need us to do their work in this world. If that's so, then the apocalypse is within ourselves. The Revelation will be realizing our own Divine Natures, and the great changes that are predicted will happen to us 
on a personal level, not global. Well, global, in that we will all change dramatically. 

Perhaps, this is the chance to focus and make the world change in accordance to our will. Love under Will. Climate change, global economies and monetary confusion all point to a unified vision of the future. And like any change, this one is fraught with stress, anger and the desire to just get it done. Perhaps, this is the way all change is perceived. I can't be the only person who wakes up, reads the news and thinks the world is ending. But then, I see the children of my godkids and feel if they felt secure enough to bring a new life into the world, surely they saw the potential good that the world still has to offer. And I give thanks for that little piece of peace.

My prayers right now are for Oliver, Lily, Zack, Stephen, Zahara, Zahir, Xavier, Khalaya, Ali, Devon, DJ and soon to be Cyrus. If they are the future of our world, then it is bright indeed. Love you all my sweethearts. And so do your spirits.

Your Loving GodMambo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Jaws as an Exploration of the Triune Nature of Man

From a magical standpoint, the year is halved. We're fast approaching Samhain, and yet the days seem longer, the nights too short (or my back is aching earlier) and there's nothing to watch on TV. I want to be doing lots of magical stuff, but then just when I think I should go do something constructive like laundry, the universe hands me a sign and says "See, we were paying attention."  So last night, I tuned into E!  Behind the Scenes and was reminded how close we walk in both worlds (this one and the astral).  Bring on "The Making of 'Jaws' the Movie".  Now before you go snorting and rolling your eyes, listen to this.

Jaws was filmed in six months off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. The mechanical shark was a problem child par excellence. From the moment it arrived on the Vineyard, it didn't work or only worked occasionally. This meant Spielberg had to shoot around the scenes that included the shark. The writer re-wrote the script daily, because once the shark arrived, it never consistently worked from moment to moment. And as I so well know, in film time really is money. So, they began to make up stuff so they could keep shooting without the shark. It was the old gag of "Let's show the shark, by not showing the shark". They even asked John William to make sure his score for the film had a "voice" for the shark, because no one was going to glimpse it until you had viewed three quarters of the film.

So what happens? Hollywood, in all of its brilliance, gives the film four Academy awards for editing, sound, musical score and production (despite the overruns) but nothing to Spielberg who figured out how to save everyone's butt by not showing the shark. But if you look through your occult glasses, what do we see?

How about inner knowledge of the astral planes, defined by not the presence of something but the absence of evidence - a true example of bringing the unknown to the known. Spielberg gave the world (in 1974) its first astral entity, manifested through the eyes and mind of the Sheriff on the vineyard, played by Roy Schneider. For in the beginning of the film, no one but Schneider even believes there's a shark. It takes the Sheriff going out to sea (plumbing the depths of his subconscious) to bring the creature to the surface of the water (manifestation) before anyone really takes him seriously. And then, the only people to actually see this manifestation are the other two men on the ship - his alter egos, as it were.

Why, if you look a little deeper, the triune nature of the Deity were in play.  You had the Youth, played by Richard Dreyfuss, the marine biologist and specialist in sharks. You have the Father played by Schneider – his character even has three little boys, a repeat motif throughout the production.  And finally, you have the Sage played by Robert Shaw.  The three figures go to sea.  The Sea is often a metaphor for intuition. This time sea becomes a visual metaphor for "seeing" - finding themselves or a deeper meaning to themselves. On the sea, the shark devours the Sage (knowledge returning to the primal waters), as the Youth flees (inexperience) and the Father saves the day by destroying the beast (conquering his fears). The fierce some beast never even makes it to shore.  It slowly dies in the aeonic waters of return (the astral) and sinks back to its other realm, awaiting rebirth in Jaws II.

Gosh, I felt like I had just watched a Grecian tragedy played out in modern terms! The production weirdly echoed the themes of the movie - three men at the helm of the project - Spielberg (Youth), Zanuk (Father) and Brown (Sage). Youth fleeing the project's formal storyboarding in favor of his own design. The Father taking them out to sea, literally to film each day, to avoid the phone calls and harassment from the studio in California. The Sage being devoured by the production costs and overruns. Art imitating life as it were.

And the shark? What ever happened to that cranking piece of machinery?  Well, he's guarding a junkyard in southern California, strung up unceremoniously over the gate, limp, rotted and ruined. A mighty lousy ending for a manifested entity. But then, perhaps, that's how we've always treated our gods - hunt them down, demand proof of their existence and then - when they actually do show up, we blow them to pieces, and string them up like cheap souvenirs of a by gone time.

Yep, art imitating life. So raise the popcorn and pass the Nietzsche, please. (And be grateful you don't live with me).

Much Love, The Existentialist Mambo

Monday, September 22, 2014

Days of Cyprian - Day Six and Devotion

Today is day six of the Saint Cyprian
Novena.  Today’s prayer deals with devotion to obtain success and advance your business.  Devotion is a loaded phrase – it brings to mind monks with candles in dark chambers, murmuring chants and sniffing the incense.  But in reality, one can be devoted to any number of things – people, objects, practices.  The list is endless and mind boggling in complexity.  But I feel that in today’s world of Instagram, Facebook and immediate results, a little devotion can go a long way toward focusing on a goal and (miracle of miracles!) actually obtaining it.

There was something of wonder attached to working toward a goal – and I am not talking about the completion of easy projects like tying your shoelaces or learning to ride a bike. Those are more of a rite of passage thing. No, I am talking about practicing to earn your chops by say, learning to play a musical instrument.  Unless you are a musical savant, it’s a time consuming, and yes, devotional practice.

Devotional practice is what makes a Vodou service so beautiful.  In a typical Vodou fet, we have to sing the entire service in Haitian Creole. It’s not French and it’s not African – it’s French with African syntax, a language complete and whole unto itself. And for those who are not attuned to language learning, it’s a challenge.  A typical service in Vodou works its way through no less than a hundred verses of the Priye (which is sung in French, Haitian Creole and Langaj, the forgotten African tongues of the ancients), followed by another 50 or so songs in Haitian Creole.  Adding to the complexity of the work is the clavé and drum beat that accompanies those songs.  Mix all of that with the correct dance to welcome the Lwa, the specific movement in the Temple that accompanies said Lwa, and the proper salutes you must give and you’ve got choreography worthy of the Metropolitan Opera being performed in your basement on any given fet night.

Devotional work has its own rewards, though.  Practice is what makes the work feel authentic.  Authenticity leads to deep and profound understanding of the goal at hand.  And understanding can invoke the numinous moment when the Spirit collides with the living and creates heaven on earth.
A belly dancer of my acquaintance has the following Yoga Sutra tattooed on her hip.  It’s from the Yoga Sutras 1:14 of Patanjali in Sanskrit and it says – In order for your practice to be grounded in the Earth, it needs to be done consistently, for a long period of time, with devotion.”  I love that quote and I might just get that one placed on my hip like hers. A reminder that time is great teacher who gives gifts to those willing to pursue them earnestly.

Back to Cyprian then.  Devotion is the key here – with great practice comes grounding, and through devotion, we find our way to that ground.  My maestro, James tells me to “shed” before every event we do. It’s a reference to shedding doubt, fear, anxiety, but it’s also a call to taking on confidence, energy and love. Through love we can earn that devotion and find the ground to plant it on, making a garden of efforts to enjoy.

Say this prayer tonight so that you will shed your fears and anxiety, find the devotion to pursue your passions and build a garden of earthly delights for yourself. Here’s day six’s prayer to Cyprian:

In the name of the great power of God, I invoke the sublime influence of Saint Cyprian in Christ Jesus. I pray and carry my devotion so I may obtain success and advance in all my affairs and business that I may undertake, to overcome all difficulties that may be in my way, so that you may be my protector by the virtue that God has given you.  To you I surrender all my needs so that you may offer me your protection and that you may deliver me from all evil. In your company I shall conquer with your force, I shall protect myself, and from all evil influence will you deliver me. Amen.

Light a candle before you say this prayer.and thank you dear reader, for following me on this path to Cyprian’s power.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Days of Cyprian - Day Five and Letting Go

I am feeling a bit like the Legba Avadra card - a wanderer, moving from project to project.  I need to get focused, and to do that, I am relinquishing control of fets to the current mambos of the house. I do not need to be the big guns all the time, and besides, I've worked hard to these folks up to snuff. Time to have payback. Mambo D is heading up the next weekend of service; I am retreating to the position of singer, and that's just fine. Besides, by the time the fet rolls around, I will have just come off a big high of singing with James. Read on:

We had a lovely dinner with dear friends last night. Spent the time talking about Seattle, sosyete and Kanzo. We are planning our next one, and want to find the right moment (astrologically, timing and so forth.) Unlike other houses, we don't offer Kanzo ad hoc to anyone. We look to folks who have taken our classes, understand what Vodou is about and are ready to make the commitment to the path. A lengthy 'get to know one another' often dispels the myths, makes friends and helps the inquirer find the truth they are seeking. Works for everyone.

By letting go of some things, I find that I have time for others. I am heading into a new phase these days. I am currently finishing the first draft of a new academic article for the anthology "Vodou I remember", that will be published by  Lexington Books, a division of Rowman & Littfield Publishers (in two volumes of 750 pages no less!) This project is taking up the lion share of my time. It will be on the concept of Oversouls and Egregores in Haitian Vodou. Stay tuned for more on that topic.

I've also finished the first draft of the Haitian Vodou Tarot. Hoping to get back to that puppy once I submit my essay to the above anthology. I've begun preliminary essays on the cards, but it's a long ways from finished. Maybe next year sometime. And still not sure whether I will go pro or self-publish it. A cursory spin around publishing houses shows a distinct lack of interest in accepting proposals. Just how does one get professionally published these days without an agent?

We are also heading into a busy fall season. The next fet is scheduled for the Maitresses - Freda, Dantor and Dayila. Hopefully, one or all three will make themselves known next month. Mambo Limeye is heading up that fet, so I am the ougenikon, which is just fine by me.

The Tambouyé and I will be performing next month at a faculty recital. I get to sing my my heart out for the Lwa on stage in the Winter Performance Center at Millersville University. Anyone interested in a great afternoon of music, come on out to MU on October 5th from 1 to 3pm.  Maestro James Armstrong is headlining, with three soloists. I am singing with james and and the  Portal  Percussion guys - Matt Bracciante, Brian Doherty and Rich Klimowicz. Look and listen here:

They are a trio of amazing percussionists that perform around the area. Its game-on with these guys. Consequently, I've been singing and running the stairs in the house, just to build wind and stamina. James has challenged to sing my fanny off. I accept this challenge...and want to make him proud too.

Ok, it is Day Five of the Days of Saint Cyprian. I wanted to get this out to folks earlier today, so that you can all recite your novena and keep that mojo working.  Here is day five's prayer, with a concentration on spells and sorcery:

O Lord, by the intercession of Saint Cyprian, I beg that those who are bound by spells, witchcraft, and possessed of evil, that you with Your infinite power unbind them and unensorcel them, so that the rabid wolf may not have dominion over ( name ), so that all who were bound may be unbound by You. Saint Cyprian, I pray by your intercession in Christ Jesus that you preserve me from all evil spells and treachery of Lucifer. Guard my words, sight and thoughts. May they be full of confusion those who attempt against my life. May my enemies be confused and driven away. Keep me triumphant of them eternally. Amen.

Remember that Cyprian's strength lies not just in his being a patron saint of sorcerers, but that he himself was one as well. Therefore, you can call on that part of the saint for protection and to deflect evil away from yourself, however you perceive of evil (physical, mental, or spiritual.)

Continue your novena - the real power of Cyprian lies in the number 9, so repetition is key to unlocking his strength and his blessings. Right now, I gotta go run the Dekalb Stairmaster - Ayibobo!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Days of Cyprian - Day Three and Four

I am behind here - sorry folks. Yesterday was Day Three of Cyprian - I met a new student and wrote fifteen emails at the behest of requests of clients for things - wow, never thought Cyprian would work THAT fast. So now if the money would just roll in, I'd be a happy mambo.

Ok, here's Day Three's prayer:

In the name of God, I invoke, pray and see with my devotion Saint Cyprian. Deliver me from all danger and the harm of those near me. Deliver me from evil, and from the rabid, venomous animal. Deliver from evil spells and malignant forces.  Lead me with complete safety and happiness in my travels, Clear the way for me, and remove all dangers and damage that may surround me. I beg my Holy Saint for his glorious intercession to God in Christ Jesus Amen.

Day Four: TODAY's prayer is this one:

O Highest God of all creation, to whom the archangels humbly respect and the Seraphim and saints render their servitude, I adore you as the center of all perfection, the author of all good and the inexhaustible font of all holiness.  I give you thanks, Lord, for the many and marked gifts of nature and grace with which you have enriched this world to you most faithful servants Saint Cyprian. We give you thanks, our protector, for the favorable signs that we have received from heaven for your powerful intercession.  I offer you, my advocate, the worship and honor that today is paid to you in all the Universe. My loving protector in Christ Jesus, help me obtain the grace that I seek from you:...if it suit my soul, so that I may enjoy your blessed company in heaven, amen.

I plan on setting a small table for Cyprian tonight with gold candles. We finally got our altar room/library put back together following Kanzo, so I have space again. This is the challenge of running a large Vodou society, with lots of godchildren who crash here. By the time I get the rooms re-set and the laundry finished, they're back in the house again. I have to make it work while I can.

I've also been looking for a statue of Cyprian that won't break the bank. So far, it looks like I'll be out $50 for a small resin one. I will get to it - right after I finishing paying for the dog's surgery bills. Meanwhile, I am gonna to work with the chromolith I have. I might even make Cyprian a boutey sculpture.

After I finish the article. Before next Fet. And right after I get all the ironing done for the temple. But at the moment, we are heading out to help a member who has been house bound for a while. Some things are more fun than others - I think dinner at the diner sounds divine, don't you?

A mambo's work is never done. Ayibobo!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Close of Kanzo and the Days of Cyprian

We celebrated the close of the Kanzo cycle last weekend. Desounen is really supposed to happen 41 days following the Kanzo, but with the sosyete's membership spread out over the entire USA, it take s a bit to get it all down right.  We flew to Seattle for the EBC, but did a sweet service there to consecrate a new temple, celebrate a new kanzo child, and help friends get in the groove of the work. Our Kanzo is complete, and now its writing season. I am hoping my article in the new anthology of African Religious experience is out soon (that was only three years in the making.) And I just finished a second article for a another scholarly collection. I am hoping these and other writings will begin to shed new light on Vodou as a faith of depth and breadth in the religious academic arena.

In other news, our online class is percolating along just fine. If you are interested in signing up, registration is still open for the Four Circles. The class runs through the end of November, with 2-1/2 hours of protected video, a lively discussion board, and of course, the requisite weekly video of yours truly sharing insights, answering questions and keeping the class entertained (which is what I feel my real job is anyway...)

Pumpkin season is around the corner, which means - Fet Ghede is coming back soon. But before Fet Ghede, we are currently in the days of Cyprian. St. Cyprian of Antioch was the sorcerer turned martyr; his 'days' as they are called lie between September 16 and September 23rd.  I am doing a novena to Cyprian each night, and I will share my insights when I am done. Last year, I did the 9 invocations, and saw an increase in our work efforts, my writing projects and Don's health. I am hoping to repeat that with the Novena again this year.  If you would like to join me, then light 3, 6 or 9 candles in purple or gold to Cyprian.

Today is Day 2 of the Novena. The prayer is as follows:

"Saint Cyprian, I ask that you protect me from all evil spells that are made against me,that you keep away all temptation and that my enemies  may be confused and kept far away. I pray that my supplications may be attended to help obtain security and prosperity in Jesus Christ. Amen, Ashe, Ayibobo."

Cyprian has enjoyed a resurgence on the Internet, but he has always been a Catholic saint. Some of you may be uncomfortable with Christianity and Catholicism. The Church as certainly done its fair share of work to deserve enmity. If you feel uncomfortable, then please don't do this - there' s more than one way to find protection in this world. Cyprian is simply one.

Meanwhile, for those who do want to engage the sorcerer saint, then set out your candles, say the prayer and pay attention to your dreams. Just like the Lwa, the saint plays his role in dream time, and will deliver messages, advice and blessings there. Then, watch for the changes as they happen in your own life.

Some excellent books on Cyprian can be had for a pittance. The first one (which is where I got my Novena prayers) is here on Etsy: Polyphanes

Jake Stratton Kent's excellent book on Cyprian is from Scarlet Imprint

A collection of excellent prayers (for free!) can be found here: Cyprian Prayers

And finally, a friend who works regularly with Cyprian offered his prayer here: Inominandum

I am currently writing about egregores, in particular egregores in Vodou, but Cyprian is enjoying a big push in his egregore right now. I would advise engaging with this energy ray - you don't need to do anything other than read the prayers. Leave off the candles if that is not within your ability right now. But read the prayers, and see if you can't get old Cyprian to turn his wise and generous gaze upon you and your affairs. I'll bet you will find that things will change for the better.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

And now a word from our sponsors...

I just received this from Brill Publishers this morning. 

It's the cover of an anthology on African American Religious experience. I am very honored to be included in the work. My piece is on Esoteric Writing in Haitian Vodou. I compared the art of veves to sigil writing in Western Ceremonial work. The commonalities are far to close to dismiss out of hand.

The gestures of blessing, the veves themselves and the proper way to actually draw them (as opposed to slap-dash method I see many folks doing) is a ceremony in and of itself. I was taught that to draw a veve is a dance - moving slowly and deliberating clockwise around the artwork. The houngan who showed me this was named Jean Vale. He would arrive each morning at the peristyle, a cigarette dangling precariously from his lip and a large plastic bag of cornmeal in hand. Eyeballing me and my husband, he'd gesture us over, and through creole accented English, with a voice thickened by smoke and phlegm, he gave us the finer points of writing "the words of the Lwa." The ever present cigarette never strayed from his mouth, while he spoke.

Jean particularly like Don, and spent an hour each day, showing him how to "write" the veve properly.  Bent from the waist for an hour at a time was hard on the legs, but the artwork was stunning.  Jean showed us how to use other materials - coffee grounds for instance -- to color a veve so it would have depth and vigor.  He even drizzled clarin (Haitian Moonshine) over an Ogoun veve one night, then lit it on fire. A spectacular piece of artwork, he then made all the girls present dance over and through it -- said he was heating us up for love later one. (That Jean, quite the ladies man!)

When we worked with Papa Edgard, he was very impressed by Don's artwork, nodding and complimenting him. "Hmm-hmm, tres bon" he would grunt, as Don finished the details on a rather complicated Danbala piece one night. Taking a bottle of rum, Edgard then "foulye" the drawing to enliven it (sprayed rum over it in a fine mist).

I was taken by the artwork I saw, both in person in Haiti and in older books. The floor work was spectacular - huge lacy patterns, some that filled the floor of the peristyle. You couldn't help dancing on the image - there was literally no where else to stand. The hours spent drawing these beautiful pictures was mind boggling. Bent from the waist, with nothing but cornmeal, the houngans would drizzle the cornmeal out in thin rivulets, all the while holding the image in their mind. Sometimes, we couldn't even see the whole piece from one side - it was a 360 degree artwork, meant to be seen from all sides, and enlivened throughout the night with rum, water and candles.

Today, I see Veve's all over everywhere - on artwork, on jewelry even on myself (I am tattoo'd with Legba's veve on my upper arm - the same arm I use to hold my asson.)

The humble veve has moved out of the Haitian temple and onto the world stage. I do hope the Lwa are pleased - after all, they are the ones who chose to enter the world of non-Haitians. Surely they picked the sites and places where they can best be seen and understood. I am always amazed by where the Lwa have landed - from my own simple household to the places as far away as Norway and even Japan. Some day, I hope to draw a veve for them on each land mass of the world. But for now, I am pleased to do it here at Sosyete du Marche. I know they are, too. Ayibobo.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Vodou Garden

I have been swamped with writing and Kanzo these past four months. My apologies to everyone who follows me on this blog. But there's just so many hours in the day, and a mambo's work is never really done.

I am hosting a one day class on Vodou herbs this September 14th. (go here for details) We will walk the property here at the houmfort, look at weeds and things, then get down to business. Due to the way a distiller operates, I can only make a small amount of hydrosol in an afternoon, so we will vote on either make a mugwort or a spearmint hydrosol (it's also the most prolific on the property, as well!)

I am also working (frantically) on my herbal compendium. It won't be ready the 14th, but I thought I could wet everyone's whistle by posting the occasional tidbit now and then here on my blog. And since my favorite plant produced an abundant crop of flowers this year, I will begin with the Aristilichia Trilobata or Dutchman's Pipe, also known as Tréf  Carayib in creole.

The Dutchman's Pipe is a reference to the shape of the flowers as they bud - like a Sherlock Homes pipe, with a large bowl bottom and curved top. They open into these stellar looking purple faced creatures, with a gaping throat in green and yellow. I know the bees find them irresistible, but they can be rather off putting. They have a simple scent that the honeybees adore, and the blooms last about two days before quickly fading and dropping off. I have found the vine growing in other places in my gardens, so I think it's capable of reproducing itself easily in a sunny location. This plant needs full-on sunshine. It spends the summer here in Philly outdoors in the front yard, where the sun comes up like the star on Crematorium in the Riddick movies, and burns just about anything I put out front save geraniums, roses and now the Dutchman's Pipe.

The Dutchman is a vine, with heart shaped, lemon scented leaves that display pale green markings. A vigor vine, I don't think its hardy here in Zone 6. Friends in the south tell me that it's a nuisance vine there, growing wildly and freely over anything it encounters. My Dutchman is babied in the winter, lounging window-side in the dining room, where it climbs all over the blinds, hunting for full sunlight. The US plant data base says its a perennial, so I guess if you don't have harsh winters, you could have quite the plant in a few years outdoors.

Houngan Ray Malbrough associated this plant with the Ghede and he is right to do so. The lore surrounding this plant is that it grows spectacularly in cemeteries in Haiti. That location, combined with its lemon scented leaves and ugly purple face blooms, make it the perfect "breaking" plant for taking off attachments -- spirit or otherwise.

The plant that actually grows in Haiti is Aristolochia cordiflora mutis. A true tropical, it is not available here in the USA. This plant is known as Fey Kadav Gaté or Poison Breaker.  Also a vine, it's blooms are smaller, and far less ugly than the Trilobata. It's uses are much the same - added to bathes to remove negativity. This plant is also said to remove bad luck, reverse witchcraft and is used in certain guards.

If you can find a Trilobata, I promise you won't be disappointed by it. As a green plant, it's pretty much a weed that can't be killed. And if it does bloom, you'll have quite the conversation piece.  Easy to grow, lovely to look at and handy when needed, the Dutchman's Pipe should be the center piece of any Vodouisant garden.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Vodou Garden Redux

Summer is coming and that brings me around to thinking about plants, herbs, alchemy and elixirs. It's not a lack of things to do - it's the rhythm of the land. The ground feels alive beneath my feet and I want to dig in, to get dirt beneath my nails, and make time with the devas. Mind you, I am not about horticulture, manicured lawns and things all neat and pretty. No, my gardens are wild, barely tamed and hardly within their perimeters. I revel in big, blowzy plants that take over the fences and trees. We lost a lot material from the winter, so I have been haunting garden centers for replacements.

The mugwort came back in a ferocious way - it's waist high in front bed.  We lost all the wormwood, so I had to plant anew. It's beginning to settle in, though I won't have much to harvest this year. The Lovage is as tall as me and twice as wide. It's dominating the cooking herb beds at the moment. And I just found my precious Dittany of Crete on online. Gonna give it another go round.

I planted my sole Calea Zachatechichi, hoping it will do it's usual habit of turning into a big tree. And the Salvia is doing fine. I finally hit on a solution to keep it happy - basically growing it hydroponically. It's big and thriving - I have never had this plant do this before.

The Dutchman's Pipe (on the left here) is outside, turning green. And even the Mapous survived their indoor stint - they flank the front door, and are beginning to groove on the weather - rain overnight followed by warm sunny days. I hope they will bloom big this year. They are easily three inches around and eight feet tall. I had to top them last year due to blight. Hoping that pruning will lead to a bigger canopy this year.

I went back over my planting plan - I didn't actually get too far last year. Here's my picks for this year:

Moon (Water): Chamomile, Poppies, Mugwort, Orris Root. This year, I need to add Chamomile.
Sun (Fire): Bay, Hops, Hibiscus. NO wonder I am so drawn to the hibiscus plants at the garden center - I need one!
Mercury (Air): Cinquefoil, Damiana, Fennel, Lavendar. Can't find cinquefoil (its wild anyway). I will find Damiana.
Venus (Air): Angelica, Feverfew, Passionflower, Pennyroyal, Vervain, Spearmint. Got them all.
Earth (Earth): Patchouli, Sage, Spikenard, Vetiver. No spikenard to be found in Pennsylvania. I think it's a zone thing.
Mars (Fire): Bloodroot, Cardamon, Coriander, Dittany of Crete, Wormwood. Covered.
Jupiter (Earth): Hyssop, Valerian. Valerian I am leery of, only because it stinks. It stinks so bad, even when you walk by it, it smells like dirty feet. The fresh root is really strong - but it's a great skunk repellent.
Saturn (Earth): Fumitory, Mandrake, Monkshood, Solomon's Seal. Would love to plant fumitory all along the fence line. Still looking.

So I am a true Mars girl - I have all of the martian plants except Bloodroot, and even then I have it dried in the apothecary cabinet. Hmmm....I better print this out and carry with me, so when I swerve into garden centers on a whim, I have a method to my madness here.

One plant that has been doing exceptionally well are my mandrakes. No, not Mayapples - real Mandrakes. They have warty, twisted thick roots that look like a human body. They'd make Harry Potter's Professor Pomfrey proud.  I have White, Finnish and European Blue. They are producing serious amounts of leaves at the moment. I believe they need to be four years old before flowers begin. But they survived indoors for the winter, and are now languishing on the screen porch, soaking up the sun and rain. I have high hopes for those bad boys.

All this is to say that come August, I expect a bumper crop of crazy plants for Vision Quest. Once we are past Kanzo, I will have time to dedicate to the plants. I am currently writing the next class on service styles for the Vodou. That one will be followed up by the Herbal book. Stay tuned ~

Monday, April 21, 2014

Medical Volunteering this August in Cap Hatien, Haiti

Honor folks,
I am currently running a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for my medical volunteer mission to Cap Hatien in August. I have worked with the VOSH folks in the past, but this year, they have asked me to be an ambassador with them to Cap Hatien, in the north of Haiti.  VOSH is Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity, and the local chapter is hosted by my dear friend, Dave McPhillips.  Dave has been doing eye work all over the world, and has turned his amazing talents to my favorite island Haiti.  I have done translation work for him, fund raising, donations and tried (failing spectacularly) to teach him creole. Well, he's medical skills are impeccable, even if his creole is not.

Dave has a large family, a big medical practice, a passion for collecting sports memorabilia that borders on fanatical and he still manages to work in Haiti four times a year. I wish I had half his stamina. So having spent many years saying I would go, this year, I am. I will be going with him to translate, carry bags and do paperwork in Milot, which is outside of Cap Hatien. Last year, Dave and company saw a staggering 1500 people in a little over five days. The need is always pressing, but those numbers can give even the most stalwart of us pause. 500 people a day - in the course of a ten hour day, that's 50 patients an hour by four doctors and eight volunteers. Staggering. Maybe I need to start drinking rum now.

VOSH numbers in general will give you pause: from their Facebook page - "Since 1997, more than 235,000 patients have been treated, over 160,000 eye glasses provided, and 16,455 sight-restoring surgeries performed."  Like I said, the need is staggering, but these folks are doing it the right way. They are training local doctors to do the eye exams and critical care, not just giving them a hand out. And its working. There are three new clinic in Milot, Cap Hatien and a small village just outside of the Citadelle.  Having gotten those practices established,  Dave is now turning his talents to my hometown of Jacmel, where the local need is just as big as it is in the north of Haiti. With the help of some of my contacts and friends there, Dave hopes to have at least one clinic up and running by next year. Ayibobo to that!

I am asking for some help to get there and back. I am running a GoFundMe campaign to help with my own costs of getting there. Anything money collected that is above and beyond my immediate expenses will be donated to VOSH for eyeglasses, contact lens, medicines and surgical supplies. I will take lots of photos, blog heavily, cry a lot and try not to be a burden to anyone, much less you all.

If you can spare me some money, I promise you will not regret sending it. My campaign page is here: Thank you for helping me get to Haiti, so I can participate in this very worthy cause. Ayibobo!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April is Mambo Petro

April:  Mambo G picked the Mambo Petro card:  Legba said, “This can be a sexual or physical alliance.  Sometimes it means exercise.  Sometimes it means physical konesans.  Let go of things that hold you back.”  Traditional meaning: Be willing to dive deep this month, to find the answers you seek – whether it is inside of you or somewhere outside.

This card has always given me pause.  As a Mambo I am always hyper-aware of myself and my words, actions, and gestures.  I constantly review what I am doing, how I am doing it. When I write to you either as a group or individually, I check and re-check my words – to make sure I said what I meant to say and did not imply something else. On a recent TV show, one character said “I always examine my feelings for motive.”  I feel much the same – what am I saying and why am I saying it.  Hence, my pause over this card.

The traditional meaning is one of intimate power. We see a nude woman sitting astride a bright red snake, flames extruding from its mouth.  The card exudes sexual innuendo galore – she is Babylon of the Bible, or Pomba Gira of Quimbanda, displaying her female sexuality in full command of the allegorical snake she is riding. But she is also the Queen of Wands in the traditional deck.  There she is imagined as a woman with a small black feline at her feet, a sunflower in one hand. The implication here is one of fertility, sensuality, life.

Glassman’s queen is all that and more.  The traditional little black cat has been re-imagined as a fiery red serpent and she communes with it in a green field, in the nude.  Her sunflower has been blasted into the flames that the serpent breathes out, and the entire image is one of energy and power.  This queen is stripped down, there is no need for decoration or decorum. She does not need the trappings of her office to command the serpent.  This queen is a take no prisoners kind of woman.

When this card comes forward, the meaning is one of cleansing and clearing. The Petro Mambo is a stern queen. She does not mince words, and doesn’t candy-coat the discussion. It is what it is. Her ability to speak clearly is supported by the fiery breathe of the serpent – her very konesans in physical form, writhing between her legs, lending her its strength to conquer what’s in front of her.  One way of looking at having the serpent as an ally is to acknowledge the gifts of knowledge, transformation and secrecy. It also means taking the plunge for yourself.  The Serpent in the Garden of Eden did not make Eve eat the apple - he merely implied that if she did, wondrous things would come her way. This serpent on the card is making the same statement - embrace all that I have to offer and find the truth of your divine nature.

This month, be prepared to hear the hard truth.  It won’t be easy and it won’t come with sugar to make it more palatable. It will be tough talk that will hurt - not intentionally, but for your own good.  That hard talk will bring about transformation, hot and fast. It will be a change for the better, even if it doesn’t feel like that at first.

As Betty Davis once said, hang on – it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Time to Talk About the Ugly Stuff

Kenny Klein was a Wiccan leader, a pagan elder and a musician. He was also a pedophile, a known creep who followed young kids around at pagan festivals. And no one, not his wife, nor his coven nor anybody in the pagan universe said, or did anything to curb it, end it or call him out on it. Yesterday morning, he was arrested for owning child pornography. He didn't even try to hide it - owned up to it and got himself arrested. And now, the blogosphere is -- what?  Well, doing exactly what they did all the past years of Klein's pedophilia career - ignoring it, hoping it will go away and blow over, without tainting anyone in the community.

Guess again. How we stand up as a community says a lot about who we are and how we are perceived in the world. Frankly, I find the silence deafening.

It's ugly, but let's review the facts. Klein and his wife started out in the Blue Star tradition. It was a pretty big deal here in the Philadelphia PA area during the 70s and 80s. I was not a part of it but I know many who were. Klein also appeared as a regular entertainer at pagan gatherings up and down the east coast. Many folks have some of his music. But those festivals are magnets for pedophiles. Kids are generally allowed to run wild through the camps. Clothing is optional, and parental over-site is near-sighted at best. It's a pedophile's dream, actually.

Notice I keep saying pedophile? That's because that's what Kenny Klein is  - he is a pedophile. A man who to see children as sex toys for his own amusement and pleasure. He hunted for small kids at festivals and the Feds found over 3500 photos as well as hours of videos showing children engaging in sexual activities on his computer. His excuse - they were for his own viewing pleasure. Wow.  Just Wow. I find it morally reprehensible and absolutely disgusting. So what is the blogosphere saying?

Well, some folks are saying, he was a good leader, that one should not throw out the magic with the man. Really? Are they that blind? From one side of the mouth, we say a leader should walk his talk, be an example to to his students. I have read reams of writing talking to this very point - the sterling attitude and positive outlook every leader needs to exhibit. How a leader must be upright, of good character, doesn't have ego, doesn't abuse his students, doesn't prey on younger members. F*&%ing REAMS.  That if said fictitious leader does not exhibit all this, then run as fast as your little Frodo feet can carry you, this is the wrong person, run away, run away!

What hypocrisy.

Here's what I think (don't candy coat it Mambo - ok I won't...) Your leader lied, Blue Star. He was a fake, a phony-baloney leader who hid his sickness in plain sight. How about this - just take a look at some of the books attributed to him - The Flowering Rod, Girls I have Known, Faerie Tale Rituals. Ick.  He was such a good liar, that all pagans have been accomplices to his pedophilia. Yup. If you were at a festival and saw that letch leering at kids, and you didn't go find the organizers to have him thrown out, then you just helped him hide his illness. People have said they remember him leering at kids in the pool at Free Spirit. Those same people are now saying they thought he was a creep, they thought he was a letch. Well, he was always a creep, he was always a pedophile and we let him come amongst us; we let the wolf into the lamb's pen and by god, we are lucky he didn't devour them whole before our turned-away eyes.

We can't say the magic was good, but the leader wasn't - it doesn't equate. If a leader is supposed to be an upstanding person of good moral character, with no ego, is helpful and insightful, then they cannot simultaneously be sexual predators, pedophiles, and morally bankrupt characters. No they can not. And I got one more news flash - a pedophile is born that way. Not made, not led to it, or forced into it or moves to that side or any of the other idiotic and stupendously ignorant statements I have seen today. Pedophiles comes into the world as pedophiles.

Pagans need to begin policing their own or the world is going to come calling and do it for them. And it won't be pretty. The rest of the world follows a pretty strict moral compass. It's very simple - don't touch children. Do whatever thou shalt to your adult partner, but leave the kids alone. That's it, plain and simple. And the punishment metted out for breaking this rule is just as simple. The Law (however you wish to define such a thing) places the pedophile in the general population of prison, and allows said population to level the playing field. Right now, I actually feel a tad sorry for Klein. He's about to learn what the repercussion of his illness is about to bring to his person.

Kenny Klein is and always was a pedophile. He found an easy way to satisfy his sickness. He joined a Wiccan coven, became a pagan leader, and then used his position and status to gain access to our most vulnerable members - the children.  He attended pagan gatherings where young children ran free (and often naked) for his viewing pleasure. The real question now is: who else is hiding in sheep's clothing?

Think about that while you've got your head down that hole. Just remember, your ass is still showing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

LaSiren's Pwen - Part Two

We consecrated the pwen on Saturday at Loko's fet. It sat front and center on the Rada altar, just soaking up the power.  The client adored her - as did everyone else. We sang, we danced, we saluted, and then I realized that C was here. She is a child of LaSiren, and a pretty powerful medium. As she is four months pregnant, she was sitting down at the point in the service.

 I was singing through Agwe and Siren, when I got to C's chante vayan (her valiant song).  My legs turned numb - a wierd enough sensation, but then the numbness crept all the way up my body and I found myself being propelled over to the other side of the temple - and then I was gone. Siren was in my head and blessing her child and the child-to-be in her womb.

Should have  known Siren wouldn't allow her child to leave without her protection and blessings. Anyway, back to the pwen - she was gorgeously consecrated by the spirits and handed over to the client. But as promise, here are a couple shots of her for your viewing pleasure:

Siren very much had her own desire when it came to how she was going to look. First was the demand for a cowl of wavy, fin like structures to the back of her head.  The wave structure was continued down her face and over her cheeks. At this point, I thought she resembled a Lion Fish, with the waves and  projections.

Her body was determined by the bottle that I used as her armature.  It was basically square, but twisted 45 degrees around, giving it a sense of motion in stillness.  I also did wave like appendages and fins off her back.  I used a subtle imprint of stones and building edifices, like a submerged Atlantis for the body embellishments. I also sculpted cockle shell attachments, and sea-snakes that undulated down from her arms.  The hands were heavy covered in clay and decorated with sea sigils, as Siren is a sorceress and commands the dead of the waters. face was another challenge. I did not want her to look like a baby doll, nor did I want a Disney-esque visage with doe eyes and wavy hair.  If she spends her life in the water, I mused, submerged, then she would resemble a fish.

I sculpted out the nose entirely, replacing it with a smoother, more fish-like profile. The mouth I modeled after my beloved Parrot Cichlids, whose mouths are heart shaped and open. I also obliterated the cheeks in favor of a gill-like shape, also modeled on the cichlid face. Finally, I painted and repainted the eye, but it still looked too human. Again, refering to the cichlid, I painted out the entire eye and simply dotted the pupil over the iris. It looked eerie, not human and perfect in rendering.  This is the first time I have used Interference paints.  I used them to highlight her head so it had a bio-luminence to it. And I diluted it as a wash on the fins and wavy cowl. I think it lent the right amount of "otherworldliness" to her overall visage.

I kept to a blue green palette and added a touch of red to hint at her Petro nature. And finally, I doused her in matt finish help tone down the sheen that makes this look so plastic. All in all, I am very satisfied. And I believe the client was as well. Here's a couple more shots of her completed:

Like I said, creepy cool and I can't wait to sculpt her again for my own altar. Mesi anpil Legba, for opening the way between myself and LaSiren. I will again complete her next week. Ayibobo.

March is Papa Legba on the Petro side

Legba from New Orleans Vodou Tarot

At the Legba fet in January, Papa pulled the Legba Petro card for March – well, Mambo G pulled it.  Legba said “There will be fast changes.  You need to pay attention.  Some may change in kanzo.”  As Legba Petro is Mambo G’s Met Tet, I thought it very appropriate as the card for March.  We sang Saluwye Legba e! Legba nan Petro, Saluwye Legba E! and I felt as if I had grabbed a live electric wire for the rest of the night.  The Lwa train pulled into Station Scheu and we danced with the angels till they departed – Ayibobo!

So what does this card mean for us as a house? The traditional meaning that was given is that this lwa represents the fire of the sun.  The sun is fertility, male and power.  As Legba is considered to be the solar lwa of the Word Made Manifest, he is the ancient male creative force.  And in his Petro aspect, he is explosive creation, like the Big Bang in action.  This avatar represents explosive and sudden transitions of a magnitude that boggles the mind giving way to choices that reverberated own the halls of time forever.  Bilolo!  Fiery Legba Petro, the younger, more aggressive avatar, speaks loudly and aggressively.  This is the Legba of impulse, fast paced moods, and multiple choices.  He is said to walk the fiery points of Mars, aggressively and without fear.  Legba Petro is quick-fire, a true mercury in the sense that he can move fast, make quick decisions, change his mind, turn around, do it, not do it, change how it's done, undo it and do it again a different way!  Bilolo!
This is the avatar of the Haitian Revolution. This was Toussaint L'Overture's Met Tet.  This Legba inspired and gave voice to L'Overture so that he was able to speak to an entire island of people and unit them against the common enemy.  This is the Legba who helped Toussaint gather the 21 nations of Africans into a cohesive army capable of defeating Napoleon.  And this is the Legba who rode into the Battle of Vertieres in L'Overture's head, clearing the Big Road (Gran Chemin) for all the freedom fighters to find courage and resolve.  So blazingly alarming and seemingly insurmountable were Toussaint's talents, that Napoleon sent an entire battalion of men to capture just him.  When Legba Petro speaks, nations listen.
In this month of March with its erratic weather patterns and wildly fluctuating temperatures, Legba Petro will be speaking loudly and aggressively for change.  Revolutionary energy will be at play. This is the kind of energy that can make your life feel out of control.  We just exited out of an incredible difficult Mercury Retrograde period.  And when things have been stopped or misdirected for so long, it's only natural that the first impulse is one of explosive action.  It's like Bodhi when I let him off leash outdoors.  He goes a little berserk, running pell-mell around the yard, up the hill, jumping wildly off the ledges and highpoints and running full tilt boogie for the sheer joy of having no tethers. But I watch him carefully -- he's still a pup and I don't want him to hurt himself.
You need to be your own constraints at this time.  Pay attention to your choices this month - they will come on top of one another, with seemingly little or no warning.  You will need to make choices quickly.  Those choices will affect your life and your outlook for a long time to come.  Be ready to change or be changed.
Set a place for Legba Petro in your home. As this Legba opens the way for the Petro nation, place him before or on your Petro altar.  Use spice scented candles (Anise, Cinnamon) or red candles or make your own, with cinnamon and anise scents.  Offer him spiced rum, spicy candies, spiced cakes.  This is not a HOT Legba -- this is still Legba, but the facet of Legba who opens the road for the Petro Lwa to come forth.  This Legba smokes cigars, not pipes, so a good cigar is always appreciated. And sing for Him - the "Legba Gwetor-a, ki lwa ou ye!" is a perfect song.
One final note – this is the Legba who will produce His shadow come September.  Mambo G will have to watch her work and her choices then. The road opening talents that are so prevalent this month, will revert to the opposite in six months time.  Everything has its opposite – and it is the same for Legba.  Where is He is quick to move things now, He will become sluggish, lackadaisical and pouty.  He will be more of a trickster than an opener of the way and much more likely to cause you to step off the beaten path but not for a good reason.   It is part of His nature – all Lwa have two sides, the positive and the negative.  It is naïve to think that They only do good in the world, when we know They can do the other and quite well.  So a word to the wise – be more aware in September.  But for now, Legba is a power house of possibilities.  Make good use of Legba during this timeframe – He can open paths before you that you never thought possible. And He will just as quickly close them down in six months time.