Petwo fet

Last night I attended a fet for the Petwo lwa with my friend Slinky. It was held at Mambo C’s house in the north end of Seattle. She has a huge backyard, which worked well for the fet.

The invitation requested that attendees arrive between 6 and 7pm. Slinky and I got there around 6:45, and there were only about 4-6 other people there, some of them members of the drum troupe. We were a little dismayed, wondering how the fet would go down with such a small group, in the event that no one else showed up.

During the next 30-45 minutes, more people arrived; most of them regulars who attended the last two fets I went to.  We had time to talk with many of them prior to the ceremony, and it was nice to learn some names to go with the faces. The Mambo’s friend showed up, an attractive and pleasant young woman whom I met at the previous fet.

The service started around 8:00.  Mambo C handed out lyric sheets for the opening call and response songs, which was helpful but I still garbled many of the words. Slinky did better, but she is good at that.

After the songs, the drumming and dancing began, and what followed was a pretty wild night of possessions. V, an initiate whom I’ve met at the other fets, was possessed at least twice during the evening. One of her friends commented that she has “a very open head.” One of her companions was also possessed two or three times, once quite forcefully by Erzulie Dantor. He was squirming and struggling as three to four people restrained him and kept him away from the fire (which was lit about halfway through the evening). Houngan D greeted Erzulie in Creole, and instructed others to talk to her and see what she wanted. Later he said that Erzulie Dantor had shown the possessed man a “roomful of fire,” and that was quite an intense experience for the psyche.

One of the first-time attendees (new to this group but I am not sure if she is new to Vodou) was a young woman dressed all in white except for her long flowing red head scarf. During the evening she came close to a full possession, and Houngan D was walking around the circle of dancers with her. A short time later, he was physically supporting her and another possessed devotee (the same man who would later be possessed by Dantor), one under each arm. Fortunately, the Mambo and others were there to assist and relieve him of his double burden. The Mambo’s friend had some sort of experience with Gran Bwa…at one point during the fet she was walked around the circle by Houngan D and then they went off to a corner of the yard together. Next time I see her I hope to find out more about her experience.

During a break in the festivities, I got to talk to one of the drummers, a man of African descent who had not been at the last two fets. He had words of encouragement for both the Mambo’s friend and myself, telling us that he could see we had potential that was trying to get out. He said he used to be the same way, and that he would do his best with his drumming to help us reach that potential. He was quite an amazing drummer; his playing had subtleties that I don’t remember hearing at the last two fets. Also around the break, another of the regulars showed up, the African American woman who was possessed at both of the other fets I attended. I very much wanted to meet her, and was glad to have the chance to talk with her. She is warm and seemed to connect well with Slinky.

When the dancing ended, we enjoyed some delicious red beans and rice that Slinky made, along with some fruit, humus, chips, bread and cookies.

After the fet, Slinky mentioned that there were times when she was close to letting go, and then Houngan D would ask her to do something, as if he sensed she was not ready for full-on possession and intentionally interrupted the process. For myself, I did not sense much energy this time and have had very few physical after effects, not even sore muscles. I seriously suspect that I am hard to possess, and am more firmly attached to my body than I would like to be. There are a number of reasons for this, which may be the subject of a future post. So while I did not add to my direct experiences with the lwa at this fet, I was grateful to attend and interact more with the other attendees. The better I know the group, the more comfortable I will be with them. Being comfortable with those around you can contribute greatly to your willingness to let go. And letting go of my self-consciousness and suspicion of others is one of my largest hurdles in this journey.

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