A second shrine, a Cartouche card reading and Vodou in Seattle

A brief note: I may have been misusing the word ‘altar.” Last week I read that a shrine is the area you set up to honor a lwa, and an altar is what you use for ritual work (with whichever lwas you are petitioning for that ritual). So if this is correct, then my ‘altar’ for Papa Legba is actually a ‘shrine.’ Thus the shrine I set up on Sunday for La Sirene would be my second shrine.

Her shrine looks quite nice. I set it up on one of my bookshelves, laying down the turquoise fringed Indian fabric. On top of this I placed the decorative box that I bought from Gargoyles, a blue votive candle in a blue candleholder, and a clear candleholder filled with salt water. The La Sirene figure sits atop the box, which is just tall enough so that her tail fin does not touch the surface of the shelf. Behind her hangs a piece of digital art I bought at Dragoncon last year. The image is of a pale blue-finned mermaid swimming serenely among underwater ruins.

Before dedicating her shrine, I lit a candle for Papa Legba and asked for his assistance. Then I did a quick Cartouche reading to see if it was all right for me to proceed with her shrine.

The Cartouche is a divination card deck that uses Egyptian symbols. I did a five-pointed star layout and got these result:

Point 1, the nature of the problem/question: Card 20, the Twins (Shu and Tefnut, twin lion gods). This card bodes well for partnerships of all kinds and anyone seeking harmony with another.

Point 2, the cause of the problem: Card 19, winged disk, emblematic of the flight of the spirit to higher realms.

Point 3, the factors to be considered: Card 15, Sirius.  This card has both physical and psychic connotations, as it represents all genuine contacts with other intelligences in the universe, and also down-to-earth physical strenghth and energy. Sirius can also be the guiding star of any pioneering project that required dogged determination and stamina. The imagery on this card (the obelisk and five-pointed star) reminds me of where I’ve been (Wicca) and where I’m going.

Point 4, the advice or comment offered: Card 4, Bast, reversed. The description for this card reversed is minimal: “…in reverse it could indicate cattiness and self-contained indifference.”

Point 5, the end result or outlook: Card 14, earth. Industry; thrift, money and possessions; conservations; practicality; all things that grow. Earth represents all those practical aspects of life that concern people so much. Pictorially, it shows the countours of the earth itself, that which grows from it, and the wealth to be mined form it. Apply these principles to the nature of the card and the story is complete. The imagery on the card makes me think that there are rewards for returning to nature/my true nature.

My interpretation of the reading: I am seeking to serve La Sirene, and the prospects look favorable (point 1).  The reason for this is for spiritual growth (point 2). I should keep in mind what this requires, possibly in terms of the obstacles I’ve had in finding resources as well as the long-term implications (point 3). If I persevere, I will get where I need to go. Point 4 may indicate my nature to be too isolated; I will likely need to seek assistance from others. In the end (point 5), my efforts can pay off.

Encouraged, I proceeded to purify and dedicate La Sirene’s shrine. Afterwards, I meditated for a while and allowed the energies to flow through me and around me. (Later in the day, I noticed that some aches that I’ve been experiencing in my lower body have disappeared.)

Later in the day, I found out via a Yahoo group that there are indeed a few people in Seattle who perform Vodou cermonies, including one mambo and one houngan. This is encouraging. Also, Mambo Racine Sans Bout is planning a workshop here in Seattle soon, which I hope to attend.

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