Archive for the Animals Category

Thoughts on the afterlife (Part One in a possible series)

Posted in afterlife, Animals, Dreams, Legba, Meditation, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2016 by cheshirecatman

(This is an informal discussion between myself and one of my sosyete sisters.

I’ve been thinking a lot about death and the afterlife since I saw John Edward.  As my sister has had similar topics on her mind, we decided to discuss publicly. Plus it’s a nice way to close out November, when we honor the dead.)

afterlife

©Arbi Babakhanaians, Dreamstime Stock Photos

Cheshirecatman (CCM): My interest in death started at an early age–probably from fear of losing my mother, then later continued when i became suicidal and wondered what would happen if I did it. It’s since grown beyond both into an interest in what comes after this. I don’t consider it morbid. It’s more fascination and interest in a little-studied aspect of reality.

Shibamistress (SM): My mother would say I have always been interested in the trappings of death: I have always been a collector of bones and skulls and skull imagery. Then, it was just something that appealed to me. But I also began to think of it more when I was suicidal, wondering what it would be like. Since my mother has been suicidal most of her life, I had to deal the idea of death for a long time, and I did not believe, like she seems to, that it was just like “going to sleep.” I started getting interested in other people’s ideas of afterlife, though admittedly, I haven’t read as much as I could (I’m sure you’ve read a lot more than me about it). But I started thinking about it a lot, and like you, not in a morbid way, but with real interest.

CCM: My long interest really piqued when I lost Puck. I was working with a skilled animal communicator both before and after he passed, and he continued to talk to me after he passed, and knew things that happened around me. As regular readers will know, the first time Legba appeared to me he was with Puck.

SM: That is amazing! So how do you envision an afterlife? (I’m so curious about this!)

CCM: Having read or listened to various accounts, it seems somewhat subjective.
I believe the reason for this is because, on that side, it’s much easier to manifest things by thought and energy, so you kind of manifest to some degree what you want. Sylvia Browne saw it as a beautiful place with all Greco Roman architecture. Mine most frequently is some sort of alternate reality Seattle. It’s my city but things aren’t quite the same and landmarks are messed up.

SM: Oh, that’s so interesting! This is sort of a side note, (or perhaps not), but I often have reoccurring dreams that take place in alternate reality cities. Meaning, I have many San Francisco dreams that are not in real SF, but are consistent from dream to dream.

CCM: I have dreams in other cities as well. Browne wrote that a version of everything on this earth exists over there. Maybe. I do think that we might easily manifest places similar to what we are used to, especially when visiting from here.

SM: And I very much agree that it is subjective. I also believe we manifest things in that other world.

CCM: Yes. Browne talked about how you could manifest a home to live in, which makes sense.

SM: Yes! I have done this, based on more reading/discussion about building things on the astral plane rather than looking at it as necessarily the afterlife. But my feeling is that building on the astral plane IS (perhaps) building for the afterlife. So I have constructed a small space that is the same space I use for meditation (as much as I do that) astral journeying, feelings of safety, etc.

CCM: I would agree with that. Death seems like a transition to another plane, and astral travel is about other planes.

SM: I was working on a novel in which the main character dies in the opening chapter, and the rest is about her navigating the afterlife (and also helping her sister who is still alive). I don’t know if I will ever finish the novel, but it really helped me think about the afterlife and how I imagine it. Her first task is to learn how to manifest what she wants, to create a home, even create a world. One of the big points I thought of (not an original thought, but something that intrigues me) is that everyone gets the afterlife they expect, because to some level or another, they are manifesting it. Now if they become adept at that, they can change and reshape things there. If they don’t believe they can do that, though, they may be stuck for a very long time indeed.

CCM: That makes total sense to me. It might also explain why some people experience hell. I’ve been a lucid dreamer since early childhood, and one thing I’ve noticed is that in a dream, when you succumb to fear, the dream literally goes to hell. Or, if I become lucid, I can change the dream from a nightmare to something peaceful. It is about mindset and control though.
I think the dream state teaches us some things about the other side, although I think we have more control there than in dreams. And I don’t think all dreams are necessarily visits to the other side. I do think some are just the brain working stuff out, and some are a mixture.

SM: Yes, that makes sense to me. I am not able to lucid dream (or at least my attempts have not been successful) but I do believe that it is the same skill set, so to speak. And I do also believe this is why some people experience hell. They expect to. In my novel-in-progress, the narrator is able to visit some of other people’s afterlives, and some seem to be living in a classic “heaven” with angels and pearly gates and all that crap, and some are in a traditional hell. some are in their private hells. All would be able to move out of those if they chose to and were aware enough. (The visiting part made sense in a novel and the idea of creating what one expects makes sense to me, but I don’t know what I think about actually visiting other people’s afterlives)

CCM: I am hoping you finish that novel now. I do believe in what I will loosely call the angelic realm, but what I think of as different levels of beings including angels, the lwa, and different deities. One thing I did gather from reading various books is that once you cross over into the next realm, you have more understanding of things but you still don’t know all there is to know.

SM:  It may not be a real novel. It may be just me thinking about the afterlife!

CCM: But you could turn it into novelic form.

SM: Oh yes, on the other side you still don’t know all there is to know! My thought is death is a beginning…and the afterlife, which may or may not end in another incarnation for some, is just the beginning! There is much to learn there too!

CCM: Murry Hope talks about it in terms of time and center points. The “godhead” or what people think of as the one God is at the center, the rest of us are navigating inward to that center. So as we get closer (through transitions to closer dimensions) we gain more of the larger picture.

SM: Oh I like that! That makes a lot of sense!

CCM: So if you have wise guides, they are not God but are closer than you to the center.

SM: There was a writer whose name I can’t recall now who I read a while back. I think he may be Australian. Anyway, he talked about there even being “universities” in the afterlife, where people can learn many many things, and I loved that idea! I also very much agree with the lwa and others closer to god than us and can guide us.

CCM: I think the universities are very possible.

SM:  I’ll have to see if I can dig up my reference too. I believe I wrote it down somewhere.

CCM: Sylvia Browne talked about that a bit too. On the other side, she did not see you as sitting around singing praises to god. People could work in areas they were passionate about, to help people on earth (or other similar worlds). There were vast libraries of knowledge you could visit too.

SM: Yes! I think so too!
I also believe we can take any form we choose there, once we learn how to do it. That is so appealing to me.

CCM: Yes, the physical form would be part of the energy manifestation thing. You could take on a form that matched a former life, or something else. I am often very much a shapeshifter in my dreams.

SM: In my writing, I had a scene where my narrator goes to a school to learn and encounters a black jaguar, and asks how the jaguar learned to take animal form, and the jaguar says rather huffily that he has never incarnated as a human! *lol*

CCM: Smart cat, lol.

SM: And the shapeshifter dreams are the best! I don’t think they are entirely dreams…perhaps memories….

CCM: Yes, memories. I am probably dumping human form after this, but who knows how I will feel when I get there. You also have the opportunity to be an incarnated person’s spirit guide, which i think could be rewarding and aggravating. So I could see briefly adopting human form if working with a human. They freak out kinda easily lol.

SM: Oh yes! That makes sense! I was thinking that perhaps my character might work herself up to doing that kind of work or working as a psychopomp, so I was thinking something similar.

CCM: You seriously need to write that book. I probably am gonna bother you about it now.

SM:   Here’s something relatively new. I’ve been thinking on this topic, but it is not all clear to me yet. See what you think. So often I feel as if I am separated from something so close to me, so important, it is stronger than any human bond. And I miss it. And I thought about how when I die, perhaps there is a sort of soulmate I will finally meet in that world. Then I started thinking about Vodou and our two souls. What if we somehow are just meeting another part of ourselves there? A part that did not incarnate with us? And that is the longing that some of us feel?
Or perhaps it’s like Freda, longing for a closer connection with the divine? Who knows. But the two souls things started me thinking.

CCM: There are theories that we live simultaneously in different dimensions or time zones, even though we are only aware of one during our waking hours or during normal consciousness. So part of you (some might say your higher self or possibly your future self) is literally missing from normal conscious life.
I have gone through various beliefs about soul mates and/or twin souls and have not exactly come to a conclusion. I will say that soul mates of that sort do not always incarnate with us. so that is entirely possible.

SM: That’s one way I thought of it too.

CCM: I am thinking mine is Puck, as his loss affected me like no other in this life. The main thing I want when I leave this life is to reunite with him. I know some will poo poo me feeling that way about someone who isn’t human, but I poo poo that sort of limited thinking. I am not sure Puck is “just a cat” even though that is what he incarnated as.

SM: Makes total sense to me. Puck’s soul wanted to be with you, even if it was in the shorter life as a cat. And you will meet again, and have no doubt been with each other for a very very long time indeed in one form or another.

(This is part of a planned ongoing series about death and the afterlife. To be continued.)

Cat visitations and repeating patterns

Posted in Animal communication, Animals, Ghosts with tags , , , , , , , on August 2, 2015 by cheshirecatman
Snowman and Puck, in the 1990s

Snowman and Puck, in the 1990s

I had two visits from my late cat Puck recently. The first time was last month. I was resting on top of my bed, facing the wall, when I felt the distinct sensation of a cat paw touch my leg. I turned, fully expecting to see Luna looking at me from the edge of the bed, but nope. She was sleeping near the foot of the bed, on the opposite side. Smiling, I said, “Hello, Puck.” Then I was inspired to write this blog post.

Then yesterday, while I was sitting at my computer desk, I distinctly felt a paw bat my elbow. Again, I looked down expecting to see Luna, who was nowhere in sight. I think Puck was reminding me that I still hadn’t edited and posted this.

His first recent visit got me to thinking about cats, breeds of cats, and how I’ve come to have the cats that I  have now.

The first really special cat that came into my life was Clive, a hard-of-hearing flame point Siamese. We were brought together via another cat in my life, a domestic gray and white shorthair named Jay. It was Jay who became friends with Clive, and I would see them playing together in the backyard of the triplex I lived in with my mother. Eventually, I became friends with Clive. He was eccentric and highly intelligent—he understood the concept of doorknobs, for instance, but could not quite get enough of a grip on the thing with his two paws to actually open the door.

Sadly, I only had him for a few years. I came home from work one day to find him dead on the bedroom floor. I had him autopsied (and kudos to the wonderful vet and vet tech who stayed late to perform the procedure, and never even charged me–yup–they did it for free) and the culprit was heart failure. I missed my eccentric blue-eyed boy for a long time.

Flash forward a few years and Anne and I are living together for the first time. We are sharing a crappily built mother-in-law unit in Queen Anne. We have our first Schipperke (the scary territorial Lucy) and I realized I needed to have a cat again. However, Anne at the time was severely allergic. So, after some research, I narrowed my possible choices down to either a Sphynx or a Devon Rex.

Not too long afterwards, a Devon Rex kitten was posted in the classified ads of the local paper (this was before I had a personal computer or internet access at home). As fate would have it, the breeder was a customer of the company I worked for at the time. He brought baby Puck into the office.

Baby Puck was not at all what I had visualized my future cat looking like. I’d hoped for either a black or a white cat, and he was sort of a pointed champagne color, and very skinny looking because his adult fur had not grown in yet. But the moment I held him, I was in love. I asked a co-worker who was also a cat lover if she would like to hold him, but when I went to hand him to her, Puck leaned back into me as though he did not want to leave my arms. That moment sealed the deal–he was mine.

Moving forward a few years, and Anne and I were living in separate apartments in the same building. I was at a different job, and took the bus up north to Bothell. On the way home, my bus traveled right by a small pet store and, lo and behold, in the window—flamepoint Siamese kittens! I still missed my Clive and so made it a point to stop there the next day.

And that’s how I found Snowman. I think he may have been a kitten mill cat, as he developed health problems early on. Personality-wise, he was not much like Clive. While he shared Clive’s high intelligence and talkative nature, he was not particularly goofy. Snowman was loving but also very no-nonsense and stoic. After some initial bickering, he and Puck became the brothers they were meant to be. It was with these two cats that I realized how much I loved these two particular breeds.

Flash forward again to 2008. I lost Puck to cancer, and it was heartbreaking. Perhaps I should have waited longer, but I decided to begin searching for another Rex after learning from my animal communicator that my next cat would be a female. I find Luna, and although her personality is not as outgoing and in your face as Puck’s, she and I gradually developed a bond that is just as deep and intense (I think of her as Puck’s little sister now). Luna and Snowman developed a love/hate relationship–I think they did care about each other but Luna was a young goofball which irritated the no-nonsense older Snowman. Then, in 2013 I lost Snowman to cancer. I resolved that, because I am not a man of great financial means, I would stick to just one cat.

But then in late 2013,  I got a message from Tracy, my animal communicator, asking if it was me who had said I was looking for a Siamese. I told her no, it wasn’t. And then she shows me a photo of Casper. Casper is built like Snowman but something about his eyes reminds me of Clive.

I was sorely tempted to say yes but decided to wait, telling Tracy to see if others were interested in him. When no one came forward, Tracy generously offered to drive Casper from Gig Harbor to my home. He was very bold and immediately stepped out of his crate, looking around our condo like he owned the place. There was a lot of friction and some all-out scary fighting between him and Luna at first, but they are gradually getting more used to each other.

The interesting thing to me is that, in spite of my plans to stay with one cat, Casper found his way to me. And now I once again have a Devon Rex and a flamepont Siamese. I think of them as my alien and my mini white lion. And we have a Schipperke again too, the much nicer Stella. And so the pattern repeats itself.

Highlights of a conversation with a medium

Posted in Animal communication, Animals, Dreams, lwas, Psychic, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by cheshirecatman

I’ve been sitting on this post for just over two and a half weeks. It’s tricky to write about messages from the guides and the Lwa. I have to decide what to share and what to keep private. While I like to record my experiences here, some things cannot be shared for privacy or practical reasons. But I’ll share what I can…

This session took place on August 11th.

Early in the session, the Lwa came through. My medium, Tracy, is not a Vodouisant so she was not sure of all of their identities. I was able to identify one, but not the others. I will refrain from naming the one I did identify for practical reasons. While they offered words of encouragement, some of their advice also had to do with protecting myself.  And the one identified said I could go to him/her for protection, so I think it best if s/he remains unknown for now.

They told me that a lot of the work I’ve been doing over the past few years has been paying off. Much of this work has been aimed toward removing my psychic blocks so that I could be better attuned to them, the ancestors, my guides and deities. They said it’s been easier for the spirits to get through and that the energy has been flowing more freely in both directions. This made me very happy, as I’ve invested a fair amount of time and money to resolve my issues. For this, I can expect a higher amplitude of energetic exchange.  They did advise me to pay attention to grounding, as it’s easy for me to take off in my head. When they said this, I immediately thought of someone I know who lives very much in the spiritual realm. The downside is that she rarely seems fully present in this one. I was told that I am not supposed to take off too much as I might not return. My body would be here, but my brain wouldn’t be. (Tracy was shown Alzheimer’s as an example.) It would take away from me.

I was also cautioned that someone is “coming at me.” I have not been aware of any attacks really, but I credit that mostly to the Lwa and my other guides rather than to any super ability on my part. Having a Lave Tet certainly didn’t hurt either.

One of the things that touched me the most is that they told me there is an integrity around my relationship with them. This was gratifying to hear, because I try very hard to maintain my objectivity (without overdoing it, which can be my downfall) and to accept experiences without embellishing them with my own desires. They also told me that my altar does not need to get bigger (audible sigh of relief here, as I am currently trying to figure out where to relocate the Ghede and still have not resolved the issue). Another moving and surprising thing they told me is that in some fashion I’ve helped to “pull those that transition into it (Vodou).” They made a comment that some who have transitioned are part of the group now. I like thinking that friends who have crossed over in recent years could be attending future fets. It brings me much comfort.

Random info from other guides: They said it’s getting easier for me to maneuver around/through/in (I think they were referring here to the astral planes). I am good at paying attention, even past the “whoa” moments (meaning even when something incredible happens, I keep some presence of mind to notice details). I was advised to pay attention to the foods I eat; I should eat more greens, which I’d already been thinking about. If I understood correctly, greens can assist in spiritual development. They told me when I need to ground myself I can eat meat (they advised white meats rather than red). “Eating greens will help your mind. Eating meat helps the body. You are doing a good job of staying away from bad things.” I haven’t felt that I’ve been doing that great of a job on maintaining a healthy diet, but I am grateful for the encouragement.

And now for the stupid question, which I mentioned in a previous post. I asked them if I get to leave soon. And yes, I meant death. I’m not suicidal but I sometimes get very worn down and tired, and eager to cross over to the other side. Plus I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently due to the loss of a friend and another friend’s serious illness.

The answer was a firm no, as apparently I chose this life and am in it “for the long haul.” I have mixed feelings about this (I am, at times, the king of mixed feelings). However, they are telling me to move past this latest bout of obsessing. And now that I know I’ll be here for a while, I feel free to make some long range plans.

Overall, the guides and the Lwa are satisfied with the work I’ve been doing for them. And then they said, “If you are having to work on anything, it’s keeping the human bullshit away. Work on protection.” That got a laugh out of me.

I got to say hello to my beloved Puck (for new readers, Puck was my feline companion of nearly 15 years). He is still around, keeping an eye on me, as there is lots of activity. Last year I had a dream about my mother (who crossed over in the 80’s) driving my Siamese cat Snowman and I to a vet. In the dream another cat was at the vet’s office. Although the cat appeared to be an Oriental shorthair or Burmese rather than a Rex like Puck, I’ve been wondering if perhaps the cat was actually Puck, so I asked him.  Puck confirmed that he was there.

Then I said hello to Snowman, who crossed over earlier this year. Tracy said he was laughing as he greeted me, and said he is walking with me. Ever the one to seek confirmation even when I already know the answers, I asked him to identify the man in the last dream I had with Snowman in it. Cats don’t play the sorts of mental games that we play, so he simply responded with, “You know him.” Again, I had to laugh.

As I mentioned before in this post, I’ve been puzzled as to why the pain of losing Puck lessened a great deal after Snowman crossed over.  I’ve been mourning Puck pretty intensely for five entire years and Snowman’s passing hit me hard as well. You would think I would be feeling doubly horrible. But no, after I went through the initial grief of losing Snowman, the aching pain I carried in my solar plexus for Puck began to fade. So I took advantage of this opportunity to ask Snowman about that.

He said he realized he could do more for me out of his body. He has more malleability now. He said he “worked on” me. The idea of Snowman as healer doesn’t surprise me. He was always a wise cat, and tireless in providing me support.

Following the conversation with Snowman, I asked Tracy some questions about my current feline companion Luna and our dog Stella. I asked about my mother, and Tracy saw an image of her watching over me, smiling, and welcoming me to talk to her more.

After these sessions with Tracy, I always feel uplifted and have lots to think about. This time was no exception.

Ashes and skeletons

Posted in Animals, Ghede, Legba with tags , , , , on March 7, 2013 by cheshirecatman

For the past few weeks, there’s been a theme of death in my life, although not in a particularly bad way. It’s more like a reminder that death is always with us and is part of the circle of life. Not that I needed reminding, really, but Spring is around the corner and death is irretrievably connected with renewal.

Last Tuesday I went downtown to meet a friend and had time to kill, so I went to pick up Snowman’s ashes at the vet. I don’t get downtown very often. I ride the bus, which is time-consuming, so the ashes have been there for over a month while I waited to combine a trip to the vet’s office with other errands.

It’s nice to finally have his remains. Snowman’s urn is quite a bit smaller than Puck’s, but came with a plaster ornament imprinted with his actual paw print. Both now sit inside his food dish next to Puck’s items on the ancestor altar. I have a small ceramic figurine of a Siamese cat that Anne gave me a while back. Once I touch up some of the paint, I will place it next to his other items.

I’ve been mourning Puck pretty intensely for 5 years. What’s strange to me is that, once Snowman crossed over, the pain of losing Puck lightened considerably. Perhaps it’s because the two of them are together and, in some way that I don’t understand, Snowman created some type of bridge between Puck and me when he crossed over, and now we are more connected. That’s the only way I can explain the feeling, really.

Beginning in mid-February, I kept running across dead animals. The first was a dead squirrel near an intersection close to work. The next was a crow, also near work, that must have just expired. It was still so beautiful that, if it weren’t for a few light spider webs on its feathers, I would have assumed it was still alive. It was resting on the sidewalk, in the position that it might have sat on a nest of eggs. I had to gently nudge it with my foot before I was sure it was dead.

Then several days after finding the crow, I found a small skull with the lower jaw missing. I was getting off the bus near my home and there it was, just sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. Someone, a kid probably, had poked a stick through the empty eye socket. It’s cat-sized, but the eye sockets do not look like those of a cat.

So three dead animals, I should be through. Yes, I kind of believe in the ‘things happen in threes’ rule. But I am a Legba kid.

I feel a pull from the Ghede and also the animal world. It’s just a matter of pinpointing what work I am supposed to do, so that I can do it and then go home to be with Puck and Snowman, under the water.

Colorful dreams and a second Snowman visitation

Posted in Animals, Dreams with tags , , , , on February 4, 2013 by cheshirecatman

Last night I had another visitation from my late Siamese cat Snowman. I call it a visitation because, even though it happened while I was dreaming, the look and feel of the dream was extremely vivid, complete with tactile sensation (which many of my dreams do not have). I was also aware in the dream that I was not seeing him with my physical eyes, but with the third eye.

In the ‘dream,’ I was lying in bed and saw him standing on the floor to my left. I sat up and leaned down to pet him, I scratched his chin and ran my hand along his back. I was delighted to feel that his fur was sleek and soft; it had gotten so scruffy during his illness. He plopped down on his side and I saw that his body was lean and muscular; none of his legs were swollen or misshapen. Then he went under the bed and vanished. After I woke up I was not sure if this visit had occurred when I was asleep or awake, but after giving it some thought I am guessing I was asleep.

In a later part of the dream I am in bed again, but my room is huge and contains 4 televisions of various sizes. I leave my room and go outside (apparently on my way to another ‘home.’) Once I am outside I realize I forgot to bring some things from my room, but after trying fruitlessly to return to the condo and also failing to find an office building that I needed to go to, I decided to continue on my way to my second home. At this point I realized I was dreaming, so there was no need to waste time going back to where I’d already been.

I am in a huge city, and interested in seeing the sights.  I am walking, floating, and flying along. At one point, I was waiting at a busy intersection and a gigantic (about the size of a small car) blue hand is making its way across a concrete island in the middle of the street. Also standing in a crowd of people was none other than the Incredible Hulk.

I have really no idea what most of this means, but am just glad to be able to see Snowman again and stroke his fur, and know he is doing well.

Haunted by cats

Posted in Animals, Ghosts with tags , , , on February 2, 2013 by cheshirecatman

I was lying in bed one night last week, about to drift off to sleep, when I felt a cat jump onto my stomach. Those of you with cats know the feeling, it is a distinct sensation.

I thought it was Luna, but when I opened my eyes and started to sit up, I found she was in her usual spot on my legs and under the quilt.

I whispered a warm hello to Snowman, and laid back down.

I don’t have tactile or visual experiences with ghosts very often. It’s interesting that the most powerful experiences involve cats. I guess it validates that I am very much an animal person.

2013 begins: a fet, a farewell and renewal

Posted in Animals, Legba, lwas, Ogoun, Possession, Religion, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2013 by cheshirecatman

I apologize to my regular readers for not posting for a while. I have some catching up to do, so this will be a lengthier post which I have divided into sections. The content should explain my absence.

2012 ends with a blah

I will  preface this section by saying I haven’t been really sick in about two years, which is amazing for me as I am susceptible to all kinds of lung-related problems (to which I credit allergies, a past bout of pneumonia and being a former smoker). During the fall and winter I was becoming really unmotivated with sculpting, feeling tired, overworked and generally blah. At one point I asked Legba to help me overcome my lack of motivation and I realize that, in retrospect, perhaps that was not such a bright idea.

Keep in mind that one of Legba’s aspects is that of Trickster. Consider this account from Houngan Hector’s website:

Legba is a trickster too! He has been known to play quite a number of tricks on people, some nice and some not so nice! I know a woman, who after doing a service to Legba for money, got into a terrible car accident, broke two of her legs, and then got her money – from the insurance company! She is alive and well now, but that definitely wasn’t the way she wanted to obtain the money! (This is another reason why one should serve the Lwa under the guidance of a Houngan or Mambo)

So, after making my rather whiny request I came down with a light cold about a week before Christmas. The girlfriend (Anne) had already had it, and it had run its course pretty quickly with her. I hoped for the same, and by Christmas eve when we attended a celebration at her mother’s house, I felt almost normal. All was good.

And then suddenly it worsened. I ran a fever, developed a  hacking cough, and got so ill I went to the doctor the day after New Year’s. I got antibiotics and almost was well again a week later when I developed a sore throat and went through the entire cycle again (although of shorter duration as I appear to be on the upswing again, let’s hope it lasts). During this very annoying and exhausting illness, I was forced over and over again to sleep and rest, as it seemed to be the only thing that helped. Rest, even though I have major art deadlines looming in March and April. Even when I wanted to work, coughing made detail work difficult and the fever left me very tired.

However, I am now cured of my lack of motivation. Be careful what you ask for. Plus it probably helps to be more specific.

A farewell

During my unmotivated fall and sickly winter, my Siamese cat Snowman became increasingly ill. He suffered from severe weight loss over the summer and had been to the vet in the fall and diagnosed with cancer. He was an old, independent and proud cat, and I did not want to put him through surgery that would likely not cure him at his age (over 17). So we treated his symptoms and waited.

He was treated with antibiotics, anti nausea meds and Vitamin B injections, and eventually he gained weight and some of his strength back. But as the holidays came and went, his abdomen became weirdly bloated and one of his front paws swelled up (apparently in cats, cancer metastasizes in legs). So I made an appointment with a vet who does house calls to assist him on his way. She was very gentle and compassionate with him, and he went amid love, much petting and tears from myself and Anne, and his favorite salmon treats.

The bill for helping him cross over at home was not cheap, but I have no regrets. It’s the least I could do for a friend who, like Puck, saw me through many difficult years. And, unlike Puck, Snowman was often stuck in the “second banana” role, as he was not as silly or attention-getting as Puck or my remaining cat Luna. What I realize, now that he is gone, is that I did not love him any less than them. He was my rock.

An amazing fet

The evening before Snowman’s crossing, I attended a small fet at a friend’s house. There were around a dozen of us there and, in spite of a late start and a mishap (a painting on the altar fell, resulting in some spilled water and broken glass) the energy was incredible. It may have been the best fet I’ve been to locally (the one I attended in Philly at Sosyete du Marche was also incredible).

Papa Ogoun made an appearance and actually claimed one participant as his daughter. Another Vodouisant announced abruptly that she needed to go outside (I would find out later that she had no memory of what she did out there). I made it a point during this fet to worry less about what was going on around me and instead focused more on the drumbeats and sending energy to the lwa. I was able to let go of more of my self consciousness thanks to a couple of shots of rum during the break. The fet ended with a couple of baths, one for letting go and one for luck.

So the baths were brought out and the presiding mambo took hers first. Then I had mine, and stepped aside. I remember my friend Slinky going up for her first bath and making a comment about all her hair. Then I briefly blanked out. Then I remember “Renee” going up for her bath. Again I blanked out. The part that was odd to me was when I opened my eyes and saw Renee getting up from her bath. I was really, really confused for a minute. I thought Renee was Slinky, and it took me a bit to figure out what was going on. Then I wasn’t sure if Slinky had the bath and was squinting at her to see if her hair was wet. Now, I often daydream and can go into light trances fairly easily, but am never this confused when I come out of them.

I didn’t think much about my confusion until later, when Slinky and I were comparing notes. Slinky mentioned (and I vaguely remembered) that someone remarked about “a roomful of half possessed people.” Slinky said she felt a bit different too. She felt a shift in her dance style, and also felt tipsy until after taking the baths, after which she felt very alert. At the time she wrote it off to just being tired, as she had not slept much the night before. And for the record, she drank only one small shot of rum during the break, not enough to be tipsy. I remember coming fully alert after the baths as well. Slinky also told me that she seems to remember seeing me wearing a straw hat and either khaki or olive-colored clothing, or there being someone dressed like that standing near me. (All of us were dressed in red and white.)

I feel very blessed to be at this particular fet and also grateful for the lave tet I had last year.

Final thoughts

The high of the fet followed by the pain of losing Snowman was quite a contrast, but the nasty cold/flu thing I had was in some ways a blessing. Much of the time I felt so rotten physically that I was mostly focused on taking care of my health and was somewhat distracted from fully mourning. It helps that I don’t view death as the end, just a transition and temporary separation. I think Snowman is hanging around because I have not felt the awful gaping hole in my solar plexus that I felt when I lost Puck.

Losing Puck marked a milestone in my life, as wanting to commune with the dead was part of what led me into Vodou (as well as Legba showing up during a chat with Puck on the other side). Now Snowman’s departure seems to be heralding more change. This recent illness (and perhaps the bath) not only has cured me of my lack of motivation but also seems to have cured me of my death wish. I usually obsess over death on a daily basis; it doesn’t always relate to depression, it’s just a matter of habit. I’ve been so focused on getting well so I can work on projects that I seem to have broken the habit. At the moment, I am just enjoying small things: being able to taste my food, sleep through the night without coughing to the point of back pain, and having a healthy young cat on my lap. These are wonderful gifts.

Ayibobo.