Friday, February 14, 2014

Reading of the Year: February is Les Barons

During our annual Legba fet, Papa Legba directed folks in the house to choose a card - Houngan G pulled this one for the month of February. Mambo Sallie Glassman envisioned the Barons as the unruly gede who stormed the presidential palace in Haiti, demanding money, gifts and cigars. Not even the president would refuse their demands, so great is the belief in their ability to manifest change in the world!

Legba said “These are Kreyol gedes who have no roots in Africa. They help those who wish to be free of bondage. They take away the unclean. Death is not always of the body. Let go of things we don't need. We need room for kanzo."

Traditional meaning: Your house is filled with ancestral dead.  Ask the Barons for difficult things, because they can move mountains. Unconcerned with normal or daily life, they take on the hard tasks. They are sinister only in the manner of their dress and behaviors. They are the undertakers, the ones who remove the old, the decayed or the rotted.  Clean your house (mental/physical/spiritual) in order to make room for new, clean and fresh things.  The universe needs space to doll out its gifts. If your hands are full or the house is full, then where can things go?

Today, I am home listening to the Boyz howl at the neighbors. They don't like these folks - and those of us with dogs know that dogs have a mystical understanding of people. I trust my Boyz - they never make bad choices about people. The neighbors are not what I would call "good" neighbors. They don't acknowledge me or the Boyz when they are outside - perhaps out of fear of dogs, but they could at least wave back to me.  Their garbage is never covered, and ends up strewn all over the yard by the squirrels. Bodhi invariable digs out bones, pizza crusts and other crap he's not supposed to eat, then comes in and vomits it up for me to clean up. Nice. (**sigh**) It's hard to be civil when so much uncivilized behavior is going on. All of this is why I find the scenes taking place so interesting, especially in light of the card and its meaning. The Universe has its own ways of dealing with things. Can't move that car? Won't cover your trash? Watch what happens...

The Barons are the Kreyol Ghedes in Haitian Vodou, meaning they do not have a root in Africa, but sprang forth on the soil of Haiti. They are called in at the end of a service to do a job. Though they kid and make gross jokes, they are there to "clean" up the spiritual trash that invariably goes along with a service. Not all things that arrive in service are good, regardless of how they speak or what they offer. Some come to take part in the dance, while others come to take part of your energy for themselves.  The Ghede's job is to remove the spiritual trash at the end of the night, thus cleansing the house for the next fet. It's not spoken about, because we all love their humor and their grossness. But they do a great service for the temple. This cleansing can also become a part of your own spiritual practice. But you need to begin with the most mundane task of all - housework.

Emptying your life to make room for spirit begins on the physical. Take a hard look around your home, your room or your office. I say this all the time - you manifest on the outside, what you carry on the inside. Is the house a blur of paper, clothes and whatever? If your home is a disaster in the making, Spirit cannot find a place to be with you. Begin by straightening up, putting away and settling things. And not just your altar - but your bed, your kitchen, your living room. If your home office is trashed, do that too. Even your place of business should be neat and organzied. Again, manifest on the outside what you carry on the inside extends to all your physical spaces - your car, your cubical, your desk even.

Having cleaned your spaces physically, now do it spiritually. Make a thurible fire, or light some incense. Walk from room to room reciting the Lord's Prayer, the prayer of Ginen or any prayer you love and find comfort in. You are cleansing the astral space of your home and yourself, chasing away the unwanted aethers and consecrating it for the Spirits. Cleanse your cubical by dabbing a bit of frankincense oil on a cloth and running the cloth around the desk, the chair or the cubical walls tops. Spirit responds to frankincense -- on many levels (a whole other blog post for that one!) Once these spaces are set, then you can approach your spiritual space.

How long has it been since you cleaned your altar? Is the altar cloth clean? If not, time for laundry. Toss out the unfinished candles, incense ash and other dirt. Despite what the media may portray, Vodou altars are always pristine: the cloth crisply ironed, and the candles new and fresh. Wash the dishes, candles holders, dust everything. Light new candles, fresh incense and clean water. Your sacred space is ready to receive its holy guests.

And finally, do the same for yourself. I know we all want to drop those 20 pounds so we can fit into our 80s disco clothes, but it ain't happening, at least, not right now. So try this - do a cleanse of water and lemon for breakfast, a light salad for lunch and soup for dinner. Stay small and quiet for a day -- or a weekend if you can. Cleanse yourself with a salt bath, dress in freshly laundered clothing and anoint your forehead with essential oils of spikenard or frankincense. Now you are ready to approach the altar of the Lwa. Sit, be quiet and see if They speak to your soul, your mind, your body.

The voice of the Spirit is soft. It's hard to hear over the cacophony of daily life. Taking a day or even an evening to speak with them can move your projects, your life and your job forward in amazing ways. Making room for them, to take away the trash of daily life, allows you to receive the gifts that Spirit has. If not, then Spirit has a way of making space for itself.

This morning, the plows were out in full force. The street in front of our house is designated as a snow emergency street. NO cars should be parked when it snows - the plows come along and clean it very well. Right now, the plows have done a magnificent job of covering the neighbors' cars (which are parked illegally on the snow emergency street) with dirty, salty snow, clearing the road for other cars to pass. Like, the dirty salty snow is over the hoods of their cars. And wouldn't ya know - the truck that did it was purple.

Who says Ghede doesn't have a great sense of humor ~ mesi anpil Ghede Nibo!


Olivia Destrades said...

A great post :) Lovely synchronicity with the purple garbage truck!

Olivia Destrades said...

If you have a moment I was wondering if you know why Damballah Wedo is portrayed as a red snake (rather than white) in the New Orleans deck. I was curious as to if it's artistic license, or if there's another reason? I recently ordered the deck and am awaiting its arrival, and meanwhile have been pondering this detail :)

Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo said...

Honor Olivia - I think its an artisitic interpretation. Manbo Sallie Ann received these images directly from Spirit, so in that moment, He revealed himself as a red snake to her. In Haiti, He is envisioned as a white snake but for you individually, He may be red or green or something else. The spirits show themselves as they wish their individual servitors to see them. Enjoy the deck!

Olivia Destrades said...

Thanks so much, that makes sense!