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 clav√© 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 Tambouy√© 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.