Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My February Pilgrimage to Chicago: Part Two

Yesterday, I wrote about the Bizango show at the Field Museum in Chicago. Despite freezing temperatures, my intrepid husband got me to the museum and then let me go full throttle Vodou for the next 6 hours. Here's the highlights of my trip through the second gallery:

Having explored the Bizango altar, the seated group and those amazing mirrors, I turned to find a Rada set up right behind the four majors. There was a healing station, featuring a work chair, govis for elements of the ritual working and a small personal size agatwa or badji. The agatwa was well worn, and the door was open a crack, so we could peek inside at the instruments and items that were stored there.  It made me realize just how unique each one is to the individual practitioner, yet similar in presentation. Plates, dolls, and candles lined the dark interior. Next to it was the chair used for healing. A powerhouse object, it featured tied pwen (boutey), candles and the ubiquitous Vodou symbols.

There were many Bizango elements featured in this gallery - the most haunting were the Bizango army figures. I swear they looked like they could rise up at any moment and attack.  Even more interesting was the camera. I am a pro-photographer. I can get a shot hanging by my toes. But for the love of God, I couldn't get the camera to hold still for very long in this gallery. And that's because the
figures were moving. It was not noticeable to the human eye. But the camera on the phone kept refocusing, moving the field left and right and shutting off. It was only when I politely asked for them (the figures) to stop it, did the lens focus and I got a clear shot. Like I said, lots of palatable power in this room.  The figures were labeled as generals, angels and -- executioners. Gives you a sense of what life was like back in the pre-revolutionary days. That a role such as executioner took front and center stage made me feel very angry for the Africans and upset over their treatment. Such a violent history for such a beautiful place. Like I said to the curators, the didactic nature of Haiti is both its salvation and its destruction.

In and amongst the military figures were ones labels as angelic warriors. These featured bat like wings, and were said to have been sent overhead, to report back on what was happening in the field. Extraordinary, thaumaturgical beings who could come and go at will.  This alone spoke of the extraordinary powers that some of the Africans had, and of course, the way it was employed to defeat the French. This was no small act of ritual either. The beings called up were ancient and readily answered to the sorcerer. I still have Papa Domo's book on European grimoires -- and I now take a very different view of it, given this show's inclusion of such creatures.  One of these figures was very unsettling to me - he was in the back, and yet I could "feel" his eyes on me the entire time I was at this end of the exhibit. He was not labeled, had no wings but he felt very real and I felt very watched by him. This is the shot I tried to get of him - he was pretty cagey as well:

His shot is out of focus because he kept moving - or at least, the lens of the camera kept shifting fields, unable to find a steady place to settle on.  Trying to get this shot made me realized what was happening.  In the end, I just gave into the event and hoped I could find resolution with the figures.

I was quite taken by this fellow.  He had a military helmet on, but you could clearly see the skull's outlines beneath the cloth skin.  His missing nose  had a mirror as a replacement, which protruded out giving his face almost nature proportions. His face was unique among the many figures. His mouth was gaping open, as if in surprise at what he was seeing. He was slightly hunched forward, arms held loosely at his sides, with a lean to the left side. His stance along with the face gave me the impression of a challenger, some one who was testing the opposition. Most of the figures in this group were leaning back slightly, in parade rest stand. Not this fellow -- he was ready to leap at a moment's notice. And where ever I stood at this end of the gallery, he was watching me. Like I said, unsettling to say the least! I can imagine coming upon some of these figures in the woods at night - they would certainly give me pause before moving on!

These figures are life size - I can imagine them being placed outdoors to guard a temple at night.  You would mistake any one of them for a real person, so realistic and proportionally threatening they are. We pressed on further into the gallery to view the other items.

There were four display cases following the army: each one held a gorgeous statue, from 18' to 24" tall. There was a female figure with a cow's head and bell, a horseheaded man, and two Taino figures in full regalia. The horseheaded guy reminded me of Gamgina, the goetic spirit said to rule all the souls who have drowned. A interesting intersection of beliefs and practices, given the many Africans who died on the Middle Passage.

 It was also interesting to see the Taino statues. So little remains of these people, any representation is worth studying and thinking about. It is said that the maroon Africans joined the remaining Tainos in the mountains and that together, they plotted the demise of the plantation masters. Certainly the Tainos taught the Africans how to survive in the mountains - what plants to eat, what could grow, where there was water.  They are an important part of the island's history and deserved a more thorough study.

This end of the exhibit was populated by full figure representations of the Lwa. I have to say here that the size of the artifacts took me by surprise. There were no small, dainty items. Most were large, life size or even oversize.  The Erzulie doll that has been reprinted many times, over is 3 feet tall.  The Danbala was my height (5'5") and the Sen Jak canari jar was easily 28-30" tall.  Nothing small enough to tuck under a shirt or arm. Which remembering how Marianne Lehman came to have these things is even more impressive.  How did the priest hide a full scale Danbala statue during transportation? Knowing that most statues are concrete or stone makes their journey even more impressive. I have been studying this collection for nearly 8 years, and yet I came away with a stunning view of all the pieces, due to their size and presence in this exhibit.

Even the flags at this end were huge - this flag is for Sen Nikolis and was 6 or 7 feet in length, 3 feet wide, and the entire piece was done in gold seed beads with padding to make the image three dimensional. Every flag in the collection had fringe on it, marking it as a ceremonial flag. We here at Sosyete du Marche have two such flags.  They are big (3 x 4 ft), covered in minute seed and sequins, and edged in satin fringe.  True works of art, I found them on eBay. Someone who owns a costume shop was selling them for a pittance - they obviously did not know what they had. Their loss is our gain!

The last grouping of Bizango figures was the really active one. I had to lean against the wall to study them -- the energy made me both dizzy and light headed. This collection was the most brutish in the exhibit. These figures had seen war - they were amputated, tied down, heavily embellished with mirrors and details.  The Erzulie Mapyang sat in the middle, heavily roped to her seat. She stared balefully at me, her one over sized-breast hanging out, displayed with contempt for all to see. Many were labeled Executioner, General and Warrior.  Small zin pots were topped with one armed, one eyed spirits; some held implements of war like heavy clubs while others displayed their magical pwen and wanga. And this group just would not sit still for me. I must have shot 25 images to get this one, and even its not that clear! On the opposite side of the gallery, in contrast to the war-like visages and heavily armed Bizango figures, was a serenely set Rada altar. A delightful comparison of cool to hot!

Styled with appropriate tiers, offerings of perfume and water, plates of pierre stones and govi large and small, it was the perfect compliment to the raging figures opposite it. Janet had told me they thought about making a space for offerings, but decided not to go forward with that idea.  I thought they might have made a space on the floor for mange sec (dry offerings) -- I told her about the Legba badji we brought to Between the Worlds, and how after we moved the table, we found all these offerings -- candy, flowers, tobacco, soap and money. I think it would have worked here too, but caring for the offerings would have proven to be a task that they did have enough folks to handle. Perhaps, the spirits will find a way for them!

At this end of the gallery were additional Rada elements - a lovely sculpture of LaSiren, and a host of Rada Drums. The Mama, Segon and Boule looked well played and were displayed with a large amphora decorated in magical veves and serpents.  There was also an Assoto drum - the holiest drum that is played in a Vodou ceremony. Gathered together, they informed the viewer of the connection between Mama Siren's waters of return and the job a drum holds in service: to create the water road back to Ginen. Again, not sure if this was the intent, but it worked very well for me.

I re-visited all the videos one last time, just to catch any nuances I might have missed going through the first time. And again, I was impressed by the content. Although very relevant to me as a servitor, I think they also helped the non-practitioner get a better handle on how Vodou works and is served by the faithful.

All in all, I felt it was very good show, well worth my time and effort to fly out to see it. I give thanks to Janet and Holly for being such lovely hosts. And I poured water for the Lwa and Spirits of the Bizango. They have traveled further than their predecessors ever dreamed, but they have touched more people and places that their fore bearers intended. Or maybe that was the intent all along. They did not seem surprised to be in that place -- but then I have found the Haitian people to be the most erudite folks on the planet. And I give thanks to BonDye for having a small role to play in this exhibit.

Janet told me she thought the show was going to Boston after April. I hope so - I will make the trek to Boston as well. This time, I will leave the camera home and just come to sit and visit with them. They have much to say, if you take the time to listen to them. And I will bring an offering next time - something they can share and remember me by. I feel as if I left old friends behind. Next time, I'll arrive sooner and stay longer.

Ashe. Amen. Ayibobo.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My February Pilgrimage to Chicago: Part One

Ok, so February isn't the best time to visit the Windy City - it was minus 12 degrees with a wind chill of negative 21. Good grief. People dressed as if they were in Siberia. I saw folks with no less than four scarves tied around their heads looking like nomads lost in the desert. The wind was so icy it burned my eyes and made my chest ache with each breath. But the Field Museum was worth every frigid moment indeed.

Way back in October, Holly Smith from the Field Museum contacted me to inquire about Vodou and to ask a couple questions. I responded as best I could and that was that. I did not realize at the time, that the exhibit she was asking me about was the Lehman one from Canada. I contacted her again, and we exchanged several more emails, with additional details regarding Vodou. We had tried to get to Canada to see the show there, but time had been against us. This year, for the Oungan's birthday, I decided we'd take the plunge and head to Chicago to see the exhibit. I let Holly and Janet Hong know we were coming, and they gladly signed us in to see the exhibit.

We entered the long covered entryway early Friday morning, so as to try to get into the show without a crowd. I am very glad we did - the gallery filled up quickly with folks looking to get a peek into the world of Vodou.  Janet the exhibit curator and Holly were on hand to greet us as we began our journey into the gallery. Both ladies were very lovely, engaging and did a fantastic job getting the show in order.  With thanks to my ever patient husband, we spent four hours going through the show, so I could read every label, watch every video (some twice) and absorb it all. It was time well spent.

The exhibit opened with a timeline of the island, beginning with the First People (the Taino and Ciboneys)  and moving through the plantocracy, the revolution and into Independence. I thought the choice of using a first person narrative was a great idea -- it brought an immediacy to the words, making them sound fresh. As an independent scholar, I've read everything I can get my hands on about Haiti, its history and of course, Vodou.  The timeline was a fresh take a well worn idea.

The very first piece I encountered was my beloved Bossou, standing with his pipe, surveying the entrance to the gallery. I do not know if the curators knew this or not, but liturgically Bossou is the Lwa who guards the realms between here (meaning the New World) and Ginen. I thought the choice of placing him first, between the world of men (those coming into the museum) and the world of spirits (those in the gallery) was very spot on.  He was accompanied by two Bizango Angels, the guardian spirits who were said to fly above the island, and report back to the Africans. Here they guard the exhibit, watching all who enter through their looking-glass eyes to ensure we are all safe and well protected.

As we moved through this first gallery, the curators had placed Taino and Ciboney artifacts for us to contemplate. The Spanish had done their work so well, there is precious little left of those First People. Yet I felt the exhibit did much to show how involved they were with the Revolution.  The large grinding stones, the sacred cemi stones and round ball seats were a testament to the creativity of these people.  A statue of a man said to be a First People image stood over the stones, offering a hand of something to the audience.  His presence lent a melancholy note to the display.  Said to be gentle people, the First People actually tried to make peace with the Spanish.  They repaid this kindness with brutal slavery.

As we moved into the main gallery, we encounter the four majors of the Rada pantheon - Papa Legba in his guise as San Lazaro.  Papa Loko carved out of a tree and invoking his windy spirit (perfect I thought for Chicago!) and of course, the Marasa with their twinned vessels and a stunning flag to help salute them.  There was also the odd placement of Azaka Mede who, though not considered a major (there was no Ayizan artifact to complete the Major quartet),  is a Rada spirit, served with the Djouba nation.  Other than this one oddity, I thought the arrangement worked very well.  All Vodou rites open with these Lwa, so it was a fitting placement to host them at the opening of the venue.

As I turned the corner, the didactic nature of Vodou came into focus again.  There was a stunning set up of a Bizango altar room hidden away, juxtaposed a circle of  Bizango figures seated out in the open area.  I loved the idea of the figures representing public power while their real power lay tucked away inside the hidden room - bravo!

Magic rooms or badji are always hidden - and the decision to tuck this room away, yet allow us to peek in was a beautiful designation of  honor and respect.  The room was a riot of color, movement, power and contrast.  Thrones for the King and Queen were decorated with skulls, faces and divine symbolism.  They sat opposite a quiet working altar set with a mirror, human skulls and lamps.  Below the altar were powerful kanari jars, their occupants obviously initiates (their kolyes lovingly wrapped around the vessels.) These were seated at the foot of the thrones, indicating their status in the sosyete. I was quite taken by the visual nature of the items. Having seen some of these in situ in Petionville in the early 2004-2005 period, they have been lovingly cleaned, conserved and should last for generations. (I told Janet her hair would have stood on end, had she seen the condition of things in Haiti!)

The didactic nature of Vodou was clearly expressed by the hidden altar room opposite the public seating of the Bizango figures. Seated around the Empress's throne, the figures gave the impression of a meeting. I felt we had come into a secret space, where important members made powerful decisions.  One figure in particular stood out - a figure called the General. Seated facing out, he was a visual reminder that Bizango protects always.

These figures did not shy away from the reality of their work. The general had an amputated foot, indicating he had stood in battle and wore his wound proudly.  Many figures display some kind of battle trauma from amputated limbs to missing an eye or fingers.  This display of reality was unnerving for some of the people around us - they remarked on how awful it was to show this.  I thought then you have no idea how terrible life really was for these people. I found the reality of the faces (most were fabric over bone), the missing limbs and facial features made these figures come to life. I am always amazed at the ignorance surrounding Haiti - despite being tied to our own independence in so many ways. Perhaps if our life was less sanitized, we'd come to discover our own awful past as well (the movie, Glory anyone?)

The figures were further unnerving for their unwavering gaze. The eyes were most often sewn in mirrors that reflected our own image back at us. The heads titled left or right, mouths pursed in thought, clamped tight or weirdly smiling. The male figures were imposing, with big limbs, bulky muscles and they held tools in militaristic fashion across their knees.  But I found the female figures threatening, dangerous even.  They sat with clenched fists, chins raised in defiant forms, looking down their (sometimes missing) noses at us. Some figures glared, some gawked and all of them looked as startled to see us, as we them. They sat and leaned at odd angles, as if the spirit was sitting on one hip or the other. This lent a certain animation to the figures, and gave them real energy. I felt that at any moment they would all stand up  and push us all out of the gallery.

This circle of men and women was further empowered by my favorite items in the entire show - the magic mirrors.  Three were hung in small alcoves, and were approximately four feet in height and 3 feet wide. They were edged in oil drum steel with large figures over the center top, and smaller ones moving down the sides. One had a shelf, where ritual objects could be placed.  Its frame was painted in the traditional Bizango colors of red and black, with large serpentine figures moving up and down the sides.  The top had a more traditional fleur de lis decoration that was probably a part of the original frame and was kept by the painter as a decorative top.  Sitting on the shelf was a figure with a drum painted in Bizango colors, and a canari jar or possibly a govi, surmounted by a serpent in darker coloring. A stunning piece that I would love to hang in my own house! (Lots of inspiration in this show.)

The mirrors were set around the group of figures, making them double and triple in number. I am not sure if it was intentional, but the doubling of the figures gave a certain magical  intent to the figures. As if they appeared out of nowhere, more than we thought but not necessarily so - a magical move of empowerment not unlike the Bizango themselves! (Another bravo to the curators for a trick well done.)

There were approximately four mirrors that were smaller in size - like the kind you might hang over a sofa as an accent piece.  But four of them were easily 8 feet in height, edged in elaborate iron work, tied pwen and black/red Bizango fringe.  I believe they are called pier mirrors, as they cannot be hung, but merely laid back against the wall. They were a very popular item in Victorian homes.  Not only were these mirrors gorgeous to behold, they are also powerful repositories of Haitian history.

These mirrors were not made in Haiti: some idiot European had them brought over on a wooden ship to hang in the dance hall or parlor of their plantation house. During the Revolution, plantation houses were burned, furniture and household items destroyed -- yet the mirrors survived.  They were removed, hidden in Bizango temples, decorated, consecrated for their magical purposes and then -- they were saved again, by Marianne Lehman. All these items were brought to Lehman under cover of night to save them from the dechoukaj during Papa Doc's reign of terror in the 1960s. Just thinking of those brave men and woman who carried these magnificent and HUGE mirrors up into the hills of Petionville undercover of night to save them - it just took my breath away.

To give you a sense of size, here's Papa Don examining one of the smaller of the large group. It featured a large Taino face with axes, hatchets and other implements of warfare on the frame. The mirror above was heavily embellished with tied pwen, double faces and serpentine elements that entwined the frame. Yet beneath the embellishments, you could still see the heavy ornate frame that held the mirror originally. Several mirrors has goat or bull horns attached, chained with heavy links of iron and pins.  The mirrors were further decorated with fringe, bullion, stars, crosses, and hand painted elements that resembled veves.  And nearly all the big mirrors were deeply beveled with large sections further embellished and lifted from the backgrounds. They looked heavy, imposing and majestic.

Most of the labels said the mirrors were dedicated to Sen Lisifir - Saint Lucifer, as in the Lightbringer, not Satan.  This was very interesting to me, given that the bulk of Africans at the time of the Revolution were only 3-6 months out of Africa. I will write further on this topic in another blog. All the mirrors were topped with elaborate figure heads - Taino, African and djab-like figures. The glass was gorgeous and perfect in ways that old mirrors are not - there were no mercury streaks, no blemishes. There was a bit of waviness but otherwise, they were perfect.  They are an astounding artifact from the history of Haiti.  I spent a lot of time staring at these mirrors, and thinking of all they represented. The only thing that would have made it better would be if they had been set up with more space.  You couldn't really step back away from them without bumping into the Bizango figure grouping. But that is small complaint and their space certainly did not take away from their startling power.

One additional thing I've not mentioned were the videos.  Through out the gallery were stations where you could watch a 2-3 minute video on a particular facet of Vodou.  I was heartened to hear the men and women interview repeating what I have been teaching for so long. How different the Africans were from one another. How they had to learn to live together, to create a language they could speak. The creation of Vodou as a method of worship for so many different people. The videos were short and informative, and added much to the surrounding objects in the way of information and clarity. There were also three video screens running excerpts from Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen; several specialty sessions (healing, divination, lave tet); and a film from Montreal of LaDeese DeReale's sosyete performing a Danbala Sevis. All in all, lots of good quality information and visuals.

As compelling as the mirrors and videos were, I had to continue through the gallery to see the rest of the exhibit. Excellent groupings of items lent power, imagination and energy to the viewers via the groupings and association things. I will write more in the next blog post.

My January Pilgrimage to the Temple of Mereptah

I spoke recently about making pilgrimages this year, as a way of honoring my spirits and finding spiritual inspiration. I have completed two thus far -

In January, we traveled to the University of Penn archeological museum, to visit the palace of Merenptah. The palace was built for the New Kingdom pharaoh Merenptah (r. 1213-1204 BCE) at the city of Memphis in Lower Egypt.The museum has done an amazing job of exhibiting it, through dramatic lighting, big panels detailing it's excavation and explanations of all its decor. he palace, which housed the king during religious festivals, originally stood in the vicinity of the Memphite sanctuary of the god Ptah, the patron of this city. Merenptah’s palace was originally decorated floor to ceiling with painted, inlaid and gilded images and symbols proclaiming the power of the king and his associations with the divine. The palace of Merenptah contained not only public ceremonial rooms such as the throne room and vast columned hall, but also private areas for the king and royal family, including bedrooms and bathrooms.

The first time I ever walked by through this palace, I was overwhelmed by and with emotions. It felt very familiar to me, as if I had been there before. Not a true deja-vu, but close enough. I am a huge fan of Egypt, and I've visited many, many exhibits over the years. (I still have my pin from the 1976 Tut exhibit in New York City...) But nothing has ever moved me like this palace. I try every January to visit, and each time, my reaction is the same.

I walk slowly between the lotus columns, their color as crisp and clear as the day they were painted. They stand behind the Sphinx, serene as a pool of calm water. The columns are uplit, making their hieroglyphs pop from all sides. The top fans are gorgeous, and you can clearly see all the colors that they were painted. It amazes me to find that after nearly 4000 years, they are as fresh as if they were hand done last week. I remember the Tut show in 1976 struck the same cord with me. Not every column has its crown, but they are intact enough to give one the sense of how it must have looked centuries ago.

There are four window lintels, and a doorway as part of the exhibit.  They are situated in the gallery, to mimic their original position when the palace was intact.  I stand before each one, saluting the four directions, and imagining myself on the river's edge.  If I try hard enough (and the loud, obnoxious visitors leave), I can almost feel the Nile breeze and smell the lotus blossoms in the water.  I study each window, the names in cartouches and the various symbols, and it seems as if I had stood before them before - every time. I find myself weeping softly, not because of death or misfortune -- but the feeling that I was there/here in this palace, and I want to go back, to reunite with those I left behind. How strange to be here, but alone without the family I feel I was a part of. It is a familiar feeling. The holiday season is bittersweet for me.  Both my parents shared a Xmas/Solistice birthday. Standing in the temple, remembering my own parents and my possible Egyptian connection leaves me melancholy. It is nearly overwhelming at some of the windows, so I move to the middle of the exhibit to visit with the Sphinx, and find the energy surrounding the venerable statue less upsetting to me.

The Spinx originally sat outdoors in the museum garden.
It is carved of red granite, which originated at a quarry in Aswan at Egypt’s southern border. In an incredible feat of ancient engineering and transport, this single massive block of stone was shipped on the Nile River from Aswan to the Ptah Temple at Memphis, 600 miles north. During much of its post-pharaonic history, this statue was buried up to its shoulders; only the exposed head was attacked by windblown sand, which eroded the facial features and the royal false beard. The inscriptions on the chest and around the base give the five names of Ramesses II. His son and successor, Merenptah, added his own cartouches to the shoulders of the sphinx after his father’s death. The Sphinx sits center in the palace, and is the first thing you see as you enter the gallery. It's a stunning set up -- tall lotus columns seem to surround the statue; a single pin point of light illuminates the now blank face. Yet for its age and it's infirmities, the statue exudes a kind of ancient grace.  Like the creature it is named for, it still holds mysteries for me.  I pat its paws, sing a song to it and leave feeling I have done my work.

Before we exit, I offer a short prayer from the Christian Jacq's Living Wisdom of Egypt prayer book. This book is my favorite set of prayers, and I have turned to them time again, for funeral rites I have done.  I remember reading a selection from this book, on the beach in California for Oungan Steve's memorial service. Several strangers stopped to listen, and came up to me later to ask where I had gotten the material. This is the one I offered for the oungan, and again at the palace this day:

I have practiced and preached the justice of Ma'at,
I have told the truth, I have spoken just words.
I have acted with justice. to profit by the love of mankind.
I have dealt justly with those who challenge it.
I have saved the weak from the clutches of the strong as much as I could.
I have given bread to those who were hungry,
Water to those who were thirsty,
Clothes to those who have none.
I have allowed those without a boat to cross to the other bank.
And I have given an eternal dwelling place,
To those who have no sons to build them one. ~ Mastaba of Sheshi at Saqqara

Ashe. Amen. Ayibobo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 February is Gede Nibo

In January, Papa Legba pulled 12 cards.  For February, he pulled GEDE NIBO -

Gede Nibo is the healer and the truth revealer.  He loves to air your dirty laundry in front of everyone.  One of Nibo’s stories is that Ogoun found a stone he brought to Baron. Baron named the stone Gede Nibo and told Ogoun to raise it as his son. Ogoun is not the fatherly kind of guy, but recognized the value of having a spirit who walked among the dead. As a military man, Ogoun had seen his fair share of dead, and believed that having a godson who could command them would give him an edge in battles.  However, he had not forseen the kind of spirit Nibo would grow into.  Ogoun could not command Nibo as he did his other men.  Nibo was obstinate, did not obey orders, talked back with a foul mouth and acted according to his own devices.  Agwe saw this as a plus, and offered to take Nibo aboard Immamou, so that he could put Nibo’s command of the dead to use in crossing the Atlantic.  Thus, Nibo became the “wet” Ghede, sailing alongside other Nago spirits such as Bhalindjo, Badagris and Ossange.  He helped Agwe manage to cross all the teeming dead in the Atlantic Ocean, calling out any issue he saw as truth.  When the Nagos gave him a hard time about his clothes, his eating habits or his distaste of getting wet, he readily pointed out their own hidden foibles, exposing their truth as he saw it: Badagris Type-A personality; Bhalindjo’s hyper focus; Ossange’s passive-aggressive attitude.  In this way, he helped Agwe manage the crew as well.  Sailing over the waters of the world, Nibo at last found a home and place he could call his own.

Gede Nibo’s true talent is for revealing the truth.  Nibo doesn’t shy away from pointing things out, particularly if he can get the last laugh about something.  This month will offer a revelation of some kind – both for each of you personally, as well as for the sosyete as a whole.  In the cold of winter, we often overindulge ourselves – we eat more, we drink more. It’s human nature to do so – a vestigial remembrance of cold winter nights when we had to pack it on for safety and sustenance.  Be careful of your food intake so as not to make yourself sick physically.  Keep warm, stay clear of liars and other assorted “ill” folk and their ability to project onto others.  Their B.S. will make you sick psychologically.  Ask Nibo to reveal them to you, so as not to engage in their illness.

February’s Shadow card is Gran Ibo: The messenger spirit, who cares for the unnamed and unremembered.  With Gede Nibo riding high this month, it will be easy to miss certain things.  Gede can misdirect as much as he can reveal truths.  Gran Ibo is the subtle energy that helps us remember who we are and what we are doing.  Call on her to help focus Nibo’s unruly nature, so you are not run over by his banda antics and his uproarious nature!  Keep a container of wild bird seed on hand and when the days feel like a roller coaster of crazy, toss a handful of seeds to the birds as an offering for Gran Ibo. She will “feel” your need and tame Nibo accordingly.