Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Building of a Shrine - Part One

Shrine making is a big part of my creative output. I have a loyal following who love my art and ask for specific shrines for their spirits. I have detailed elsewhere my Ghede shrine for a client. Today, I want to begin sharing my journey for a shrine to Gremory, the goetic spirit who brings people together and who is exceptional at divination.

I had made this client a vessel last year. It brought him a girlfriend who turned into a partner and now they are having a child. He contacted me again, to ask if I would make a shrine the vessel could be placed in for safe keeping. Of course, I replied, let me begin.

The first thing was to find something that will serve to house the vessel. It can't be too big or too heavy. Shipping becomes prohibitive when these items go over 50 pounds. I found an octagonal cabinet at my local thrift shop that will be perfect. Round, with some exterior design, and made of a lightweight resin material.  That's excellent as I work in acrylic paint, so it will adhere without issue.

Cleaning comes next. I use rubbing alcohol, to lift grease and anything "else" from the surface. It roughs up the finish enough, so my paints and glue can adhere without fault. Nothing worse than sending your finished piece off to someone, only to have its bits and bobbles drop off.

Then four coats of primer to seal it and give me a clean canvas to work with.  This is followed by my initial three dimensional embellishment. I keep a supply of wood ornaments, metal and plastic do-hickeys around, so I have a big palette to pick from. My teacher, Michael DeMeng is big on keeping large boxes of items handy, so you don't have to stop the process of decorating as you go. I agree. Nothing is worse than having to hunt for that "something" while you are in the midst of your creative heat!

The embellishments are further added to by my all time favorite art item - DAP.  Good old caulk. If only Home Depot knew where their caulk goes. I use it to finish the exterior, make wavy lines, anchor the wooden ornaments and texturize the surface, a la DeMeng.  After applying the caulk with a large (and slightly heavy) caulking gun, I use a brush, a comb, my fingers and anything else I think leaves a cool impression.  I draw vines and leaves with it, pull it into points, pile it on, then scoop it out. It's very forgiving and if I don't like it, I can easily change it. At about a buck a tube, art supplies don't get any cheaper.

Then, I hit it with a heat gun to fry it.  The surface bubbles up like soap bubbles then falls, making dents and pools and places where my washes can slop together. It's messy at this point, but it gets better over time. I usually do this three or four times, giving it 24 hours in between to dry. The more texture I can create, the better the finish when I begin painting. I even "paint" the caulk over the wooden ornaments, to help them be less perfect. If I have learned anything from DeMeng, it is that imperfection is its own kind of perfect. As a graphic artist, I was trained to make straight lines, balanced compositions and keep everything ultra clean and sharp. This is freeing to me - using my hands, making a mess and seeing how the imperfect method becomes a thing of beauty. I am drunk on imperfection these days.
After working my way through four tubes of caulking and applying the first round of embellishments, I paint the whole thing white again. It kind of resembles a decaying Gothic wedding cake at this point. I will admit that is how I work with the caulk.  It's a bit unwieldy using a caulk gun, but it's just like icing a cake. I cut off the tip a number of times to make ribbons, dots, leaves and rose buds. And the best part is that when I make a mistake, I just smear it off, and begin again. The smeared layer I go back over with the heat gun to make it look like burned skin. Evilly wonderful.

 I also have to consider the interior at this point as well. Won't due to finish it on the outside, then mar the surface trying to decorate the interior. I will be hanging red velvet curtains in side, to further enhance and uphold the lush nature of the cabinet.

Once this initial coat of paint dries, I will be placing a base coat of color onto it. That will mean three layers of wash in three tones to give it depth and richness. When that coat dries, I will evaluate it to see if it needs more bits and bobbles. In this business, one can never have enough embellishment.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Working with Spirit Says Much About Who We Are: The Result

(Yesterday, I wrote about the ritual we did with Simbi Makaya this past weekend. A fiery, hot Kongo spirit, he worked hard, and focused on one initiate in particular. This is what occurred following the rites.  The results are not typical, and each rite can end very differently. -- Mambo Vye Zo)

Monday afternoon, AK called.  He said he was surprised by how quickly the gad had worked.  I asked what happened.  He then related to me the events that had occurred on Saturday at home around 8pm. That was approximate to the time we were in ritual here with Makaya. And it was so clearly a Makaya event, I was surprised too, but then – it is Makaya we speak of here.

Apparently, AK and his partner (who I will call PK) have been experiencing tremendous difficulty with a neighbor's family and dog.  This neighbor’s kids are obnoxious and loud.  They constantly damage people’s property at the townhouse complex where AK lives.  The same neighbor’s dog is a nuisance. It appeared on AK’s patio area and barked threateningly at him and PK through the patio doors.  Repeat complaints to management and a trip to court have resulted in multiple fines for the neighbor who still continues to let the kids roam the neighborhood unsupervised.  Their dog is always outside off leash, charging at people and defecating everywhere.  

Saturday evening, PK texted AK, saying she caught the one of the neighbor’s boys climbing over their gate to get into their patio.  She was angry, as she’d previously told the boy she did not want him doing that. However, it felt rather pointless to complain, as she and AK had  tried everything to stop this behavior, yet the family continued to allow their boys to roam unrestricted in the complex.

On Sunday evening, PK thought she heard explosions.  A bit later, she was surprised to see a fire truck and approximately ten firemen in the backyard by the bad neighbor’s patio.  There had been a fire, one that did not damage any other property but this neighbor’s. AK observed that Makaya certainly cuts with precision: one side of the neighbor's planter box was completely ruined and will have to be rebuilt. Much of the junk stored on their patio was toast, literally, and the divider separating their patio from the unit next door was singed only on their side.

All this occurred around the time Makaya was sitting with AK here in Pennsylvania, and talking about AK’s partner.  I was a bit taken back, not by the action of the fire (that made perfect sense to me,) but by the immediacy of it all.  I said to AK that Makaya doesn’t do huge damage unless warranted. Mostly, he is a tit-for-tat kinda guy.  Like a mafia godfather, he inflicts revenge and quickly for those he likes.  Obviously, he likes AK (and PK by association.)  I am sure the neighbor will be busy with their own damages, and hopefully not with AK and PK's property. I reminded AK that he promised to create a sculpture of Makaya.  (AK had asked what he looked like, and of course, Makaya was very pleased to answer in detail.)  Makaya is such a narcissist that having his image created was enough to get him to act without asking.  It seems the King of the Sanpwel is quite taken with my initiate, agreeing to protect him for a graven image.

This is how a bargain is often struck in Haiti between a servitor and spirit.  A vodouisant will be approached by a spirit looking for a relationship. It can happen in ritual, in private work or just on the street.  It’s not unlike meeting a new person and asking to become friends. Sometimes there is a formal introduction as there was on Saturday night.  Other times, the spirit makes itself known either by approaching the servitor in dreams or through active engagement. If the servitor agrees to the relationship, then the spirit will work with or for the servitor. 

It most often happens with a ghede spirit. Despite the proliferation of Lwa on the web, the ghede are the most readily available to work. They are bored, restless and want to be of use. Striking a bargain with the living is one way they can make amends for their lives, be productive in their spiritual  amelioration and find solace in their loneliness.  Many of the dead in Haiti have not had the cleansing rites of consecration that free them from their earthly bondage. By working with or for a servitor, they can earn their way into the next life, escaping their earthly imprisonment and moving forward on their own path.

But it has been known to happen with a larger energy stream such as a specific Lwa as well.  I reminded AK that this was a special scenario, that it might not repeat itself, and that he should pour only a single shot of Dewar's for Makaya if he felt inclined to do so.  For all we know, it could have just been a coincidence. But I think not. After we hung up, I thought about this event, and realized a deeper truth.

I believe that perhaps AK and Makaya have had a long standing relationship, one that transcends this lifetime and dimension.  The spirits are omnipresent and omniscient.  If, in another time or place, AK worked with Makaya, then the godfather of Vodou would certainly remember his faithful servant.  I was told Makaya spent a lot of time with AK.  He was also quite taken with one of the Mambos and one of the Sevi Kanzo kids.  I believe that when a spirit comes calling unbidden, you and it have a long standing relationship.  If you didn’t believe in the continuum of life, then this could surely make you into a believer. How else would one explain the confluence of Makaya sitting with AK and asking about his partner, while simultaneously extracting revenge for the partner (unbidden), on the neighbor?

As Makaya renews his relationship with AK, I will say that this isn’t a bad thing.  But it needs to be handled with care and thought.  Just as the Godfather in the movies would ask impossible things in payment for favors, I would urge caution in asking anything of this Kongo entity.  The universe that birthed him was a harsh one. And his work here is often the same.  How we act with spirit says much about us as magicians.  Invoking a dangerous spirit for fun or entertainment tells me that you are careless and thoughtless (and will most likely be bitten by said entity for wasting its time…) Ask a deeply moving question of the same entity and you might be surprised to find a powerful and faithful ally by your side.

When handling a dangerous being such as a deadly serpent (or a fiery spirit like Makaya) protection is the primary gesture.  We must act protectively to ensure a good outcome.  All Spirits are the mirror of Heaven; they are both terrifying and beautiful -- angelics as well as demonics. We are their reflection here on earth (angel or demon, take your pick these days...)  When Heaven and Earth connect with one another, a calm demeanor, a firm hand and a decisive Will ensures a good outcome for both parties. Otherwise, all hell will rain forth. And no one wants that to happen, especially this mambo.

Makaya! O ye Makaya!
Makaya, O ye Makaya Lembo!
Makaya men soley, ap leve djabo!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The way in which we work with the spirits says much about ourselves.

Part One: The Ritual
I recently gathered the Sosyete’s initiates for a weekend of magic, service and just fun.  Having eight assons in ritual space is pretty impressive stuff, and very powerful. We gathered to work Makaya this night, making magic, wanga and pwen.  Simbi Makaya came forward a month ago in my own ritual work, looking for me to acknowledge and serve him again.  He was very clear with me and several others that we were to invoke him. He was ready to begin again.  I felt it was time, having corralled Makaya due to a rather distasteful event he was part of last year.  I thought that his time out had cooled his over-eager desire to “help” me. And I use that word in the broadest sense. You will see why as you read down.

Simbi Makaya is called the Godfather of Vodou for a good reason. He is not some airy-fairy kind-hearted spirit. He is direct in his dealing, morally neutral in his choices and doesn’t give a hoot what anyone thinks of him.  He is huge, fiery, and angry.  The kind of anger that simmers until it reaches a boiling point and then spills over into danger.  Makaya comes from the Kongo state in Africa, where some of the hottest and most dangerous spirits originate.  In Haiti, one does not work in the Rada-Petro didactic method of service with Makaya .  Makaya is not Rada or Petro. It is a separate set of rites with its own reglemen, and is served by the Bizango and Sanpwel societies. It is so secret, that if you are not Haitian or initiated into it, you will never be a part of it.

Rough estimates say there were over 350,000 African slaves at the time of the Haitian revolution who had only recently arrived in Haiti – some as recent as three months prior. They were warriors, military men, and prisoners of the Kongo wars for land and people to work that land.  They were mad as hell, first at being in bondage to a King that wasn’t their own, and then for being sold into slavery.  They were not about to accept their bondage. They were ready, willing and able to take down the white planters and affranchise classes.

The Kongos also were the majority nation of the maroons, the runaway slaves who retreated to the interior of the island. Their leader was a man named Boukman Dutty.  Dutty ignited the revolution by setting fire to the sugar cane plantations outside of Cap Hatien.  So great was the conflagration, that the clouds two miles out into the Caribbean were lit up by the flames. These were dangerous times for everyone – masters, slaves and maroons.

I give you this little bit of history, so you have some context for what happened to our sosyete and one member in particular Saturday night.  We are fine, so let’s begin there.  When one works with the Lwa, it’s like the airplane warning for crash landings: put your oxygen mask on first, before helping someone else. When we work with Makaya we make sure we are safe before we invoke this fiery, hot spirit. So please be assured -- we are ok and so is everyone in the sosyete.

We had lectured and taught all day on Saturday about pwen, wanga and client work.  We discovered our own intentional power, and were ready to rock out in Makaya style that evening.  After a solid dinner, with offerings presented and space consecrated, we opened as usual with the Rada court, sang our way to Danbala, took the break, and came back to sing full on with voices, clapping hands and assons going full throttle.

We sang through the Reglemen up to the Kongo nation, before we swung into Simbi Makaya’s songs.  Having spent many years collecting, we have an excellent repertoire of songs, and could sing without repetition for a dozen or more tunes.  I was worried about the houngan holding Makaya, so I had coached all day to everyone that a passé was as good as gold.  We began singing, and dancing.  The houngan grew red in the face, and broke out in serious sweat. The room became intensely hot.  I could feel the sweat running down the middle of my back.  Everyone’s faces grew shining, then had little rivulets of water running down, but we kept singing.  And then -- I could feel something – the coppery taste in my mouth was overwhelming; the dizziness and the tilt of the room off putting.  The houngan saw my stress and rushed to me, touching his forehead to mine. A blaze of bright light tripped me up, and like Alice I fell down the rabbit hole.  I re-entered reality 45 minutes later, with my skin on fire and bright red like a sunburn. Some of the mambos rushed to get me water to drink and cold damp towels to cool my skin. We closed the night as usual with a recitation of songs, followed by coffee, rum and a summary of what had happened in my absence.

Makaya was stable, but many people said they could feel his underlying anger. He seemed tense, on point, tightly wound but highly controlled.  He demanded cigarettes and whiskey, drinking down a quarter of the bottle on the first sip.  Having settled into his smoke and glaring down his nose, he demanded to know what he was doing in the house. The houngan explained that people wanted to receive his gad for protection.  Payment was negotiated and accepted, and then the work of giving the gads began.  He called each person over, questioning them about the gad and administering it with quick efficiency. When AK knelt, Makaya seemed highly interested him.  They conversed quietly, and Makaya gave his gad extra attention.  When all the work of the night was done, Makaya lingered for another pull on the Dewar’s and another round of cigarettes. He pointedly answered a few questions, curtly reminded us of his payment for the gads and was gone.  I returned to the current time dazed, hungry and very thirsty.

AK told me later that Makaya expressed interest in AK’s woman.  I told AK not to worry; interest is not the same as doing anything.  His partner was not under any obligation to do, say, or be anything. That’s just the spirit talking.  Makaya is a blowhard, and will always puff out his chest to make a big show.  Saturday night finished with rum and a late dinner.  We talked about the fet, the Lwa who came, what was said. Folks had questions about the gads, but I asked to be allowed to crash.  I promised to answer all questions the next day, so the night ended with bed and blessed sleep for all.

Sunday was a refocus day. Having spent a good amount of time in ritual on Saturday with such a powerful spirit, people naturally had questions. The first was how to care for the gad.  Second was what to expect if it went off.  And thirdly, when would we all make payment to Makaya.

First off, I explained that the gad required nothing of them. It would simply be an early warning system; a way for them to know when there was danger nearby and to make preparation to deal with it. I also told them it could be many kinds of danger – bodily, mental and spiritual.  My own gad acts like a hair has fallen down my arm.  The feeling continues, until I do pay attention and act in whatever way is necessary to keep myself safe. It would be the same for them.

If indeed it did go off, the deal for protection was simple:  allow Makaya to do whatever was necessary in the moment.  That’s a big one – we want things fixed but we often put the brakes on the work as well.  “Help me, but don’t do this or that. Don’t hurt him/her/it, just make it go away.”  That is not how the deal works with Makaya.  You don’t get to dictate how he does his work.  You have to accept whatever he chooses to do.  I teach all the time that the Lwa are morally neutral entities. To expect them to act human is to deny their natural abilities.  They are like a knife.  A knife can cut food to sustain you or kill someone to save you.  Wielding that knife takes skill and finesse.  Working with Makaya is the same thing.  I don’t tell him what to do.  I just ask that my godkids be safe.  It’s his choice to do as he sees fit.  I reminded the godkids that even Makaya is beholden to the Almighty and cannot do anything without it being BonDye’s will.  That is a point often forgotten in all the magic and smoke and whiskey and bragging that goes on with him.

And finally, payment for this gad (like all gads) is a blood offering.  We will be buying a lot of roosters next year to fulfill our end of the bargain. But in this area, my godkids are good. We do blood work for Kanzo and other rites in Vodou. They’ve all assisted and seen how we do this work.  We do it with humility and with compassion.  Death is a swift gesture, meant to cause little pain and suffering.  Our African teacher showed us how, and we work in the African manner. (If blood work is not to someone’s liking, then a gad won’t work for that person.)  Having satisfied all questions, everyone said their goodbyes and headed off to planes, trains and buses for home. Sunday night was rum and coke with old friends, and a review of the weekend. We were very content all around.

(I will finish the tale in tomorrow's blog.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sciomancy is the new Necromancy

I am compiling new teachings for the godchildren. I've been writing like a drunk on a binge, and I still haven't found the right voice for much of my work. I want to bring something new and fresh to the table. I am going to teach the art of Sciomancy (calling up the soul of the dead) verses Necromancy (calling up the body of the dead), but I am being distracted by all the 'noise' in the occult world right now. This 'noise' is keeping my ideas from coalescing. I am calling it noise, because honestly, there really isn't much new out there these days. This is my own take on the current state of the occult world.  I came to this realization as I was combing through our library, perusing the old tomes and manuscripts for inspiration. I then jumped on the Internet and saw that the old has become the new again. Witness:

Due to the overabundance of goetic magic being disseminated on the Internet, a read of the original  Book of Black Magic by AE Waite feels more like a review of the Lady's Home Journal recipe book than a daring work of occult practices. Apparently no one is doing their own schtick anymore, they are calling up the demons of the Goetia to get their groove on. I am sure poor Bune would love to changed his sigil just to avoid the lot of us.  Even the serial bad boys of the Goetia -- Baal, Asmodeus and Lucifer -- are getting a serious work out by less than stellar magicians (I saw an on line game calling for these three - I means, really? You want that lot showing up in your living room?) Seems anyone with a scrap of parchment and a wand can command Solomon's team of demons to come on down and play. I have no doubt why the world seems so topsy-turvy. Literally, who let the dogs out?

Witness the many uses of the Clavicle of Solomon and I don't mean just armchair magicians reading goetic evocations out loud.  The Clavicle has been so trotted out, worked over, and stepped on so much, it's barely worth the paper it's written on these days. TV is the new minstrel on the block, and the writers have really been digging for stories (when they aren't reading comic books it seems.) There have been no less than five television shows that used some portion of the Solomonic work - The Librarians, The Dig, Grimm, Constantine and Dominion. Not the entire clavicle mind you, but enough so that if you are knowledgeable about the book, you will see or hear some of it in each show. I am sure the demonics love their five minutes of fame on the electronic circuit, but when the magic is so watered down as to feel comical, it loses all context and meaning for me. Alan Moore is probably turning green just thinking about how his work will be bastardized when he's gone (and if you don't know who that is, then you must go back a grade in Hogwart's...)

Being an occultist used to have such a mysterious air about it. Arcane tomes littered with odd languages uttered in dark chambers lit by candlelight while dressed in fabulous robes and weirdly symbolic jewelry. Nowadays, the world seems filled with social references to Cthulhu, the media is awash in zombies, ghost hunters, mediums and it seems everyone's a vampire. Or dating a vampire. Or hunting the chupacabra. Or the Jersey Devil. You can't watch television, read a newspaper or talk to anyone without them mentioning their current paranormal happening. Everyone's house is haunted. Every person has a spirit guide/guardian angel. Everyone is working with or married to or channeling various angels, demons and aliens. Hail me a UFO please - I need to get off the planet.

And in the midst of all this, the truly arcane knowledge has just dissipated into thin air, leaving behind more nonsense than ever. Writers are re-inventing, re-imagining and re-working the old information, quoting and misquoting it or one another so repeatedly that the real knowledge has become diluted; a mere shadow of what it once was. There are more books on the occult than ever before, and less information than there ever was to begin with. It's a downward spiral of repetition and adulteration that shows no sign of stopping.

Which brings me back to my teachings. I am no longer buying books to learn from. Yes, I buy books on occasion, but I no longer jump on every publication as soon as it comes out.  I have come to the place in my practice where the spirits are instructing me and although it takes longer, it's much more fulfilling.  I have taken the time to sit at my altar daily.  I light candles, sing my prayers and meditate.  My fellow mage, Jason Miller advocates meditation and he is so very right to do so. I am waiting - patiently mind you - for the download. It will be here, I am sure of it. And it will not be diluted, paraphrased, copied, repeated or plagiarized from somewhere else. It will be original, fresh and completely my own. I will be wholly liable for its efficacy or failure, and that works too.

Sciomancy is the truth that is kept by a living soul.  Truth never dies, never goes away and like a fine cognac, just gets deeper and smoother with time. To call forth a soul in search of truth is to touch God in a way no ceremony can ever come close to doing. Necromancy, on the other hand, is the calling up of the body; the physical cadaver of the dead.  It should not done lightly and requires a blood sacrifice to actually work. A real act of necromancy would send most armchair occultists running for the hills (no, a drop won't do...) Sciomancy is the real reason for "raising the dead."

Necromancy might give you an easy answer - but not necessarily the correct one. Sciomancy will always give you the truth, providing you approach the work in the light of truth.  Meaning don't go lying to the spirits, because they know before you do, what the question will be.  What I like to call the 'new occultists' are all looking for easy answers, like having the spirits to do the work for them.  So listen up, I have a secret to tell you. Ready? The spirits won't "do" your life -- you do. You need to do the work. They can inspire you, create opportunities and open doors. But you have to walk through.  You can certainly ask for help, and that's where sciomancy comes in. So I'll let you in on my new secret teaching for my godchildren this weekend. It's this:

Sciomancy is the new Necromancy. Let's get it on.  Ayibobo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June's Reading : Asogwe Kanzo

Just as Mercury kicks off one of the harshest retrogrades this year, the card for June is Asogwe Kanzo.  This is a card of leadership and all the challenges, joy and suffering that is entailed in being a leader. It’s about keeping the Reglemen of Vodou, your Kanzo promises and your own place in the world.  As an Asogwe, you walk in two worlds. Keeping them both in balance is your job.  Your spiritual life needs to be fed, but so does your mundane.  The family counts – both human and spirit.  Now is a good time to do some metaphysical housekeeping.  Clean the temple, freshen the linens and wardrobe, learn a new song or two, practice a new skill.  Mercury is just looking to make life a little more difficult, so don’t give him the chance.  Settle in and focus on yourself.  It’s ok at this time to let the world go by for three weeks. It’ll be there when Mercury goes direct.

Asogwe is the rank of service to the greater community. For those holding this rank, this month will make us really take that as fact.  We will be challenged to rise to many occasions that require our skills, our talents and our sanity to get through. As priests and leaders, the way we face these issues and how we handle them will say much to the greater community about whether we are worthy of the rank itself.  I include myself in this as well – I am not immune to the energies that are here. 

Since the retrograde went into effect, my email box has seen weird requests, tragic stories of love and loss, and one person who wanted me to do a month of ceremonies to fix their life for free.  I am being tested I know. This is why when retrogrades arrive I always try to remember the “R” words – Review, Reflect, Relax, Re-think, Re-consider.  This is the time to take measure, clean house and closets, reset the office, the temple and yourself. To do anything else is to test Mercury and trust me – you don’t want to test Him.  He’d love nothing more than to take you out behind the woodshed and showing you who is boss right now.

This is also a good lesson for all Asogwes.  We cannot and should not be quick off the mark when making choices. We need to gather information, review it, reflect on what we think and then speak. Taking your time right now is the best options.  Big decisions like Kanzo, Maraj Lwa and even a simple Lave Tet can all wait until after the 14th when Mercury goes direct again.

The Shadow card for June is Makandal.  I find this an interesting juxtaposition.  The fierce warrior leader of the revolution is the opposing force on June’s Asogwes.  Makandal was known as the poisoner, offering his deadly concoctions to slaves so they could do in their masters.   He became a charismatic guerrilla leader who united the different Maroon bands and created a network of secret organizations connected with slaves still on plantations.  He was burned alive in 1758 in the public square of Cap Francoise (today’s Cap Hatien).  I relate the story because this is a card of detriment like LaSiren.  Asogwe means leader, a person of upstanding moral and civic values.  Makandal was a leader, a man who took extreme measures at a time when that was the only avenue open to him. 
The influence of this card can bring down the Asogwe, just as Makandal was brought down.  Be careful what you do this month.  Do not overreach your talents and abilities.  Be wise in your decisions and choices.  Stay small for now.  Makandal took extreme measures, but the time in which he lived called for such measures. However, his influence on this month can mean an extreme choice is not the wise one to make. 

Take full measure of anyone asking you anything and wait until the retrograde has passed.  When Mercury goes direct on the 14th, conversations will become truthful and full of honest words; goals will come into focus and rituals will have greater impact due to the clarity of Mercury direct.  Makandal’s influence will still be present, but less so as the month progresses.