Monday, February 24, 2014

Spiritual Bejiggedity-ness

Working for spirit is a challenge - they can be cantakerous, touchy and outright indignant - sometimes all at once. I have a commission for a client. I need to make a pwen of LaSiren. This should not be hard, I am delighted to work with this spirit. She is the loving, kind, dangerously disciplined sorceress of the pantheon. Not for the faint of heart. She is NOT like Disney in any way. She can be vicious, mean, tough and tender all at the same time. Today, she's being difficult, irrational and to quote a my favorite niece, "be-jiggedity," a word that means all of the above - at the same time.

I gather Siren's thing - perfume, herbs and other ingredients to begin the process of assembling the pwen. Mind you, I am home alone. Siren slams down on me so hard I drop to my knees in front of my apothecary, the scent of perfume so thick its making me gag. My head spins, and because this is the kind of mambo I am, my first thought is 'I am having a heart attack and there's no one here to save me.' The dogs are not helping - I am now at their level and they begin to lick my face as they can smell the contents of the apothecary with it's doors open. Drooling in anticipation of what they think they might get, they are on high alert, snuffling and slobbering all over me. I get the boys under control, and rise unsteadily to my feet.

I check my list and fetch the items out of the apothecary, fighting off the poodles and my dizziness. I sit down at the counter, gather my wits, light Siren's candle and begin to sing for her. She's front and center, totally focused on the work at hand.

Allow me a moment to explain the importance of her presence: everyone, and I do mean everyone thinks Ezili Freda is the Lwa of love in Vodou. Well, she is but not the long lasting kind. And certainly not if you want to keep your mate. Oh, Ezili will get the guy/girl for you. Just not permanently. Want the real deal? Then you must approach the real sorceress in the gang - LaSiren.

LaSiren is often depicted as a dainty little girl, with sparkles for scales and large doe eyes. I am here to tell you this is not the truth - not even close.  Allow me to share a tale - two actually. First me -

I was about ten. I grew up on the shore in Connecticut. I could swim before I could walk - a protection all seaside communities should give their children. I am at the shore, happily digging for whatever in the sand, when a rogue wave takes me off guard and I am sucked under in a split second. I turn this way and that, but there's no up or down - just murky sand and water. It's getting in my nose and mouth, but I keep my cool and ride the swirling action along. I can't hear anything, much less see anything. But I feel - accompanied. Suddenly a large fish comes at me out of the murk. It stares me in the face - it's huge horse eye moving up and down. The mouth opening and closing. I am mesmerized - it's so big and so calm. It turns away from me, and I can feel the surge of the water's movement from it's body, when suddenly its huge tail swoops below me and slams me to the surface. I come up spitting and way off - like half a football field off, I see my mother frantically trying to get out to me. I gag, spit and look around just in time to see the tail of the fish - it's huge, silvery and sparkling - break the surface and then disappear below.  I turn and dog paddle for the shore with all I have left in me. I am shook up for sure, but also more than a little surprised by the fish's behavior. Blue fish are common in the waters I lived near - tuna as well. Not sure what it was, but I now feel it was a form of LaSiren coming in to help one of her errant children who turned their back on the ocean.

The houngan has a similar tale. He grew up on the beach at Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One day as he was wading out onto a sandbank with his father, he fell into a sink hole - mysterious drops in sandbanks that occur near the shore.  His father was a moment before realizing his son was gone from the surface of the water. Don was so deep in the hole, he couldn't get out - his father had to dive down to pull him to the surface. But he too did not panic - simply watched as a huge silvery fish swam around and around above his head, as if waiting until someone came along to help.

LaSiren is not pretty, dainty or even safe. She is a sorceress, an enchantress and very dangerous. She is half human and half animal - in occult terms, this means she has surmounted her (lower) animal half and is ruled by her upper (higher) human . But she is still half animal - and she can call upon her animistic tendencies when needed. Remember, everything that swims in the water (i.e. intuitive ideas, psychic impressions, emotions in general, inspiration) eats what is smaller or is consumed by that which is larger. In the case of LaSiren, she is the largest -- which means she can consume everything else at will. She will offer inspiration or take away any chance of creativity. She rules emotions, both wonderful and unworthy.  Siren can make your dreams come true or carry out your worst nightmare. As the queen of illusion, Siren is capable of many tricks and can lead men astray easily through her many avatars and paramours. She is not to be trifled with, and best left to those she has chosen as her servitors.

Siren can bring about real love, if it is God's Will, but otherwise, she delights in tearing errant men away from their wives. She is highly defensive about women in general, and protects mothers and infants in particular. But Siren is not to be trifled with. Married to the great Agwe Ta'Wayo, she is considered an ancient river spirit from West Africa.  She is not Mami Wata, and she is not Yemaya.  She is a separate entity with her own powers and protections. Those dedicated to her in Haiti dress in blue for life, live near the water and offer services on the shore to her. They dedicate themselves to the work of helping married women and pregnant mothers. And they are often very artistic and musical. Which brings me back to the pwen.

   I began to craft a traditional pwen - packing it and tying it according to reglemen, singing and spraying perfume all over it.  I smell like a perfume counter at Macy's. But when it came time to seal it, Siren had other ideas. I gathered my satin fabrics, but no, that wouldn't do. This pwen needs a house she said, hard and safe. I dug through my bottle collection and found the perfect specimen - square, spiraling with movement, flat topped. Perfect. Now to dress it in satin - No, no fabric!! Sculpt it - I want texture, surface embellishments, fins, a tail, shells, pearls, sand... ok mama, I get it!
So my client might have to wait, as the Pwen's owner has very specific ideas on how She wants it to "walk" as we say.
I'll keep you all posted...

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