Archive for the Animal communication Category

Channeling one’s inner Ogoun, plus signs from Puck

Posted in Animal communication, Animals, Art, lwas, Ogoun, Therianthropy, Vodou with tags , , , , , , on August 3, 2010 by cheshirecatman

I just returned from a sci fi convention in Western Washington. We rode up with a couple of friends and spent some time with another friend who lives over there, whom I’ll call Phoebe. At one point during the weekend, Phoebe and our friends were talking about my girlfriend Anne and I in our absence, and their general opinion of us is that we are gentle people who do really disturbing art. I found this amusing.

Amusing, because they are correct—our art is disturbing. Mine is full of monsters, blood and suggested violence. Anne’s art exposes the ugly underbelly of society’s rejected people. I was also amused because I am very aware of my darker side—the side that is aggressive, ruthless and has potential for violence. I am Therian, after all, but this is also a very human trait, of course.

There was some terrific art at the convention. On Thursday evening I spotted a relief that took my breath away: a realistically sculpted tiger head wearing steampunk gear. This doesn’t happen often, as the art scene (particularly the Seattle gallery scene) is full of conceptual crap by people whose work suggests that they don’t know how to draw. The tiger affected me deeply as an artist—it made me see my shortcomings and want to improve. I wanted to bid on the piece but there was no bid tag posted.

I returned to the art show on Saturday afternoon. Hardly anyone was bidding on anything. When I went over to visit the tiger, I was delighted to find a bid tag. The minimum bid was a mere $48 for an amazing piece of art. Of course I had to bid. I also bid on some jewelry for a friend and a print. I knew bidding closed at noon the following day, so I made a mental note to return before then and check on my bids.

Sunday morning I arrived at the art show around 11:30. Much to my dismay, there were higher bids on all three items that I had bid on (evidently I have good taste), including the wonderful tiger relief. It had been bid up to $60. I placed an additional bid on it for $65, just to ensure that it would go to auction and I would have another shot at it.

My friend Phoebe knew the other bidder, whom I’ll call “Mac,” and said she would talk to her about backing down and letting me have it. I shrugged, but thought it would be nice if I didn’t have to go to the auction. Phoebe came back a short time later saying that she tried, but had no luck. Apparently Mac was buying it for her daughter, who was sitting outside the art area and heard Phoebe and I talking. The daughter commented that she had fallen in love with the tiger and that I did not have a chance [to get the tiger] against two Macs.

Phoebe pulled me aside and suggested I at least go to the auction and bid on the tiger, to not let them have it cheaply. I was disappointed, but also  irritated by the daughter’s assumption that I did not have a chance. I hate assumptions, and am not sure why she thought that. Perhaps it was because I was quiet and not throwing a fit. Or maybe because I look Asian (nice, quiet, submissive Asian stereotypes, blah). Or perhaps she assumed that I’m a starving artist and would not be able to bid very high. (I have a day job. I’m not rich, but I’m not starving either.) Or perhaps she simply misread my reaction to what she said. I heard later that mother Mac told her daughter, “Don’t worry, we’ll get it.”

Their combined cockiness irked me. And it aggravated my latent competitive streak. I used to be an avid eBayer, after all, and master of the snipe attack.

In the hour that remained before the auction, I mentally calculated how high I could afford to bid. Phoebe told me that the Macs had money; that the mother had recently been promoted and gotten a raise, and had previously paid $200 at an auction. I was not sure exactly how high I was willing to go (and would change my mind several times during the hour), but the more I thought about it, the more irritated I felt and the more I wanted that beautiful tiger. I knew I would bid at least up to $150 (the after auction price of the piece, if no one had bid on it), but felt ready to go over $300 if necessary. I felt my cold calculating side take over, or what I now think of as channeling my inner Ogoun. Ogoun is the lwa of war, weapons and the battlefield, among other things.

The auction began late and I sat through over an hour of bidding before they brought out the tiger. I even refrained from bidding on two of the other items I wanted, in order to save funds for that tiger. By the time it was brought out, I was starting to get anxious. The auctioneer read off the title of the piece, and then read my last bid as the starting point. Immediately Mac Sr. upped the ante to $75.

From then on the auction was a succession of quick bids between me and Senior Mac–$80, $85, $90, $100. $110, $120, $130, $140. When Sr. Mac bid $150, there was a finality in her voice as though she knew she had won. Wrong. I bid $160, steeling myself to go past the $200 mark. But then, much to my surprise, Mac Sr. fell silent.

Phoebe was surprised as well. I heard her mutter, “What?”

$160 going once. $160 going twice. Sold! To yours truly. I couldn’t suppress a victorious “YESSSS!”

$160 was only $10 over the regular asking price for this wonderful piece. If I commissioned the artist to make another one, I’d have to pay for shipping from Colorado. So overall, I felt I got a good deal. I plan to hang the tiger near my art table for inspiration. As I sat through the rest of the auction, I felt energy suddenly leave my spine, which then felt a bit sore and stiff. Almost as though Ogoun were leaving me for now. Silently I thanked him for his help. I shall have to find him a nice offering.

Afterward I ran into Sr. Mac at the payment counter. She took it all in stride, but mentioned that her daughter was a bit upset. I didn’t gloat, but I wasn’t sorry for the daughter either. I felt she needed to learn a few things: 1) Don’t get cocky; 2) Know your enemy or at least don’t underestimate them; and 3) Don’t bait someone. If she had played her cards differently, played on my sympathies and perhaps said how her heart was set on the piece and it reminded her of a favorite character from a book or some such, perhaps I would not have tried as hard to win it. But again, I’m not sorry. I LOVE my tiger.

For some reason, since returning from the con, I keep thinking about Puck. I miss him so much, even though it’s been more than two years since he crossed over. I used to hold him, and he would place a paw on each of my cheeks and lick my face.

Luna, my young Devon, usually does not do anything like that, but last night it seemed as though she knew how I was feeling. I was lying on the bed, and she climbed onto my chest and licked my face.

Then today, at work, my Windows Messenger ID suddenly changed itself into one that includes Puck’s name. Obviously I must have changed it a while ago, but for some reason the online version of Messenger has been displaying one of my other aliases for months. Now suddenly this morning, I see Puck’s name. I think he knew that I needed to feel his presence.

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Conversations with the other side

Posted in Agwe, Animal communication, Animals, Divination, Dreams, Ghosts, Legba, lwas, Ogoun, Psychic, Religion, Sacred Geometry, Spirit Guides, Spirits, Therianthropy, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by cheshirecatman

The Buckland deck

Earlier this month I had a session with my friend and animal communicator/medium Tracy Ann. These sessions with Tracy are always interesting, enlightening and a lot of fun, except for when they dealt with Puck’s illness. (A note for my regular readers: I previously referred to Tracy as “Mary” in keeping with this blog’s anonymity policy. However, I have since received permission to use her real name and post her link on this site. I have gone back and changed all instances of “Mary” to Tracy, but if anyone finds a post I missed, please let me know.)

Some of this session dealt with the interactions between my two  living cats and some of their minor health issues, which I’ll skip over here.

Puck, my Devon Rex who crossed over in 2008, said that our upcoming move (from a tiny apartment to a spacious condo) will be good for both Anne and me. He suggested I perform a cleansing ritual on myself prior to moving; I think this is an excellent idea. The ritual will be to let go of old behaviors and patterns and to welcome new beginnings. His suggestion was to write them out on paper, then burn the paper and pour the ashes into a stream or a creek.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the subject of sacred geometry came up. Luna, my young living Devon Rex, mentioned that she likes a pyramid-shaped thing that you can see through. The only thing I could think of was a paperweight that Anne brought home from her mother’s house recently. It’s made of clear green glass, and is stepped like the pyramids in Central America. I am not sure if that’s what she was referring to, however, because when I showed it to her later she did not seem terribly interested. (Or maybe she’s just being a cat, heh.)

Luna also said that she and I see things in a similar childlike way. The example Tracy used was “like seeing a flower for the first time.” At first that did not make sense to me, as I tend to be rather cynical. But then after a moment it made sense. It might relate to being Therian, and refer to the way I see humans from a nonhuman point of view. From that perspective, one’s outlook would be childlike. I am often puzzled by human behavior. I understand it well enough from a left-brained analytical perspective, but my right-brained instinctive side says, “What the f*ck?”

One of Anne’s ancestors came through, a large man with a thick mustache.  He was originally from the British Isles. Anne has been doing geneology research for the past year, and when I told her the description she was quickly able to match it up to  a relative who fought in the Civil War.

Marie also came through, mostly with personal messages for Anne’s mother. I had to smile when Tracy commented that Marie is  a very clear communicator. In life, she’d taught classes at a local university for a while and was often a speaker at workshops.

As my regular readers know, I’ve been puzzling over the identity of my met tet for months. I have ideas who it might be, but am never quite sure. So in closing I thought I’d have Tracy take a peek.

The first spirit she described as short and busy. He likes to play tricks on me, but also can take himself seriously. If he were to play a prank and I didn’t get it, he might get pissy—sometimes he rides a fine line between being funny and being an ass. Tracy thought about Coyote and his wisdom/folly. I thought about Legba; Coyote is sometimes thought of as his Native counterpart. Tracy also got an image of Pan, another trickster.

The second spirit she felt was associated with thunder–in her mind she heard “Thor.” Thor is often mentioned as a Norse counterpart to Ogoun.

I have noticed that Legba and Ogoun turn up a lot in my personal tarot readings; although as I’ve mentioned before, that could be because of the particular deck that I use (the Buckland deck). The Sunday after my session with Tracy, I did a reading for myself and Ogoun turned up immediately in the first card of the Celtic Cross layout, which indicates the forces around you. This card shows a man sharpening a twig into what I assume is a spear, and very much seems to represent Ogoun.

What was interesting is that the second card was the Knight of Chivs. This card closely resembles a figure that appeared in a past dream and in a vision, both relating to water. Along with the blue and white of the card, I can’t help but think of Agwe.

The second card crosses over the first, representing obstacles. I am thinking that if Ogoun is my met tet, that Agwe is also close by for balance. I remember the subject of balance came up in Mama Lola. The author, having married Ogoun the fiery warrior, must also marry the cool serpent Damballah for balance. I know that I have a bit of a temper, and am grateful for Agwe’s presence to keep it under control.

Doubt, rationalization and unexpected conduits

Posted in Animal communication, Art, Dreams, Ghosts, La Sirene, Legba, Mermaids, Psychic, Religion, Spirits, Therianthropy, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by cheshirecatman

The realization that I was called by Legba, even before understanding who he is or what that meant, has made me feel happy and confident about this path. (Thank you, Legba.) It has also made me excited to work with other lwa. Some doubt has crept in along with the excitement, and I am not sure if this is a bad thing or a good thing. Possibly it’s a little of both.

Back when I suffered from severe depression, my decision making was very impaired. Depending on how I felt at that moment, I was either stupidly impulsive or so overrun with doubt that I could not make a decision at all. These tendencies only added to my problems, leading me to do things that I later regretted.

Although I am no longer depressed, I still have those tendencies within me; they’re just much better controlled by a more objective point of view and my sometimes domineering rational side. I have a great respect and fondness for my rational side, as it keeps me out of trouble. However, it does sometimes make spiritual work more difficult.

At this time, there are about three lwas that I either feel drawn to serve or am interested in approaching. Generally, though, I’ve learned that the lwa choose us and not the other way around, although one can approach them and hope for a response. My problem is that I am having trouble distinguishing if I am being called to these lwas, or if I am simply attracted to them for other reasons. Initially I had my doubts with Legba too, until I reviewed my notes from last year (see previous blog entry).

I was trying to figure this out and leaning towards approaching two of these lwa last week. During a late night chat with an online friend (I will refer to her as Angie here), I received some much needed (if a little confusing at times) advice. What follows is a partial transcript of the conversation, which appears here with her permission. Very little has been changed except for our names  and the removal of information that was unnecessary.

In order for this conversation to make sense, I also need to mention here that I am Therian, or someone who believes I am part animal, in a nonphysical sense. The expalanations for this vary from person to person, but in my case I believe that I lived as a medium-sized solitary solid-colored tropical cat in a previous life. (Interested readers should google “therian” or “therianthropy” for more information. There are a lot of sites and forums out there.) This is hardly a new idea, and different cultures have different ways to describe this belief. My friend Angie is also Therian.

So, moving along:

cheshirecatman: I’m considering approaching two more lwas, but am starting to second guess myself like always. i annoy me

angie: i tell you what: find a nice shadowy spot which gives you a good view on the trail, and when they pass, pounce!

cheshirecatman: ooh, bad idea. you are going to get me into trouble

angie: *giggles*

cheshirecatman: i can’t tell if i’m meant to approach them or if i’m just choosing to or if it even matters.  i’m pleased with what’s happened with legba, but am unsure of everything else

angie: see, if you do the hiding in shadows and pouncing thing, then if they come by you’ll know it’s right

cheshirecatman: that’s actually kind of correct except the hiding part

angie: but you’re a cat. that’s what you do!

cheshirecatman: yeah

angie: they’ll know

cheshirecatman: that’s an interesting point

cheshirecatman: but they see me coming too far in advance i think. like, 16 months

angie: that why you need a good spot, where you can hide properly….

angie: a dang, that’s too long, yeah

cheshirecatman: i’m thinking i can approach them, and they can respond or not. if not, then that’s that. if they do, then yay

angie: you mean, not hiding in bushes, but sitting out in the path? is not good idea, sit too long in path

cheshirecatman: more like leaving them an offering and see if they like it

angie: many things come along path

cheshirecatman: i’m kind of thinking of two lwa that seem right, but i don’t know if they’ll think the same of me

angie: *shakes her head in confusion* damn, i hate when that happens

cheshirecatman: generally in vodou the lwa choose you. not the other way around. but i can’t tell if an attraction to these two means anything other than an attraction on my part

angie: …from “i tell you what” until “many things come along path”

angie: that was only kind of me. take it as you wish, because i don’t understand that

cheshirecatman: *looking back at previous text*

angie: i was mentally in a damn jungle

cheshirecatman: ok so this is interesting…by kind of you, do you mean as in shift type stuff or like possession or channeling?

angie: i don’t know. almost like shifting. but not really. and when i shift deeply i speak differently, and my fingers claw up

angie: and there were no freaking jungles where i came from, much less big black cats, and things wandering paths

cheshirecatman: interesting

angie: there was a strong impression that there were things coming along the path which were almost human, and other things which were not human at all

cheshirecatman: hmmm

angie: i mean, not human, but, not … physical? earthly?

cheshirecatman: i am almost translating that (looking over notes) that I should stop second guessing because i might end up with something i don’t want

cheshirecatman: that would make sense though, if they’re lwa, they’re not physical in the earthly sense

angie: …..my reading of it is, wait in the right place. watch. don’t wait in the path. wait next to the path.

cheshirecatman: not sure what the path vs the right place is though

angie: very very important

cheshirecatman: so do you get these kinds of impressions often?

angie: it means, not where everybody and thing coming by will walk right over you.

sometimes. not often.

I knew that Angie was good at sensing energies, but did not know that she could be a conduit for messages from the other side. I was a little surprised, but also glad for the advice, which seemed to indicate that I should step back a little bit and not rush things. The skeptical person might wonder how I know that this is in fact a message from the other side and not just someone’s tired rambling? My answer would be that, in this type of phenomena, it’s very difficult to provide hard proof, especially when the message is of a personal nature. At this point in time, I just rely on my own judgment. I take into account not only the content of the information /advice provided, but also how the information comes through and the character of the person who is the conduit. This is the first time this has happened while chatting with Angie, and she has never ever claimed to be a medium. I’d also like to add that most people possess some ability to receive these types of messages, whether that ability manifests in dreams, visions or “gut feelings.”

Regardless of where the information came from, it still is good advice, given the impulsive side of my nature.

I’ve stepped back some, but am still thinking about one of the three lwas I feel drawn to. I am trying to be objective when examining past dreams and occurrences for meanings. I am also trying not to over-rationalize, as both Puck (my cat helper on the other side) and another friend have told me to “listen to my gut.”

The lwa in question is La Sirene (meaning “the siren” or “the mermaid”). She can be helpful to creative people, including artists. I’ll say here that I have sculpted a few mermaids over the years, but that alone does not mean anything in particular, as a lot of  people like mermaids. A color that is strongly associated with her is blue green, which brings to mind the striking color of the water in my dream described in my previous blog post. The color of the dress of a spirit who sat down next to me on the bus was blue (although I’m not sure of the precise shade), with white flowers. Granted, I am not saying an association with color is necessarily enough to go on, but I have had spirits communicate with me using specific colors before.

I found this information on her at http://www.sosyetedumarche.com/html/siren_balen.html. I am not sure how accurate this description is, but it brings to mind again the water in my dream and its rejuvenating effects. I have indeed been feeling “overstretched” for the past few years and am in the process of focusing on what’s important to me and letting go of the rest.

La Siren is considered to be the “Mother of the Fish”. She shares this title with Yemaya of Santeria, whose names also mean “Mother whose Children are the Fish.  In both cases, the inner meaning is that since she is the mother of the world, her children are too numerous to count – not unlike the fish who inhabit her domain of the sea. Modern science has shown that life actually began in the oceans of the world.  And, as a fetus, we swim for nine months in our mother’s belly. So, the stretch to calling the Ocean our Mother is not all that big – a large body of salt water, rolling and moving with the tides. Not unlike being rocked in the womb of our mother. And, just as early life evolved out of the oceans, we too must change from little fish-like fetuses into human beings at birth.  We come from the waters and manifest ourselves into the reality of our world. This can be seen as an allegory of LaSiren, who brings her initiates knowledge from beneath her watery domain, helping them manifest their desires.

LaSiren is beautiful, but she also very powerful! It is said that if you fall under her spell, she will steal you away to her underwater kingdom. Here, she will keep you for a time (some stories say 7 days, other say 7 years). When you return, you are given the ability to perform feats of magic and divination. It’s said those who have spent time in her watery domain return lighter in color, because they have gone beneath the waters.

LaSiren represents the ability to nurture and  nourish yourself. To replenish your energies and to take time out for yourself. Her ceaseless motion  of waves and tides lends you endless energy. This can be a boon, but a burden, for others may see you as one who can perform miracles!  If you are hearing the siren call of LaSiren, stop and ask yourself this –  who or what is it that is taking all your time and energy? Whose problems are you trying to fix at the expense of your own vital energy? And why are you trying to fix them? LaSiren is calling to you, to remind you that you are in charge of your own destiny, not the destiny of others. She is inviting you to take the plunge into her cool dark depths, to find the answers within yourself. But that can only be accomplished if you are willing to let go of the mundane world around you and plumb your own inner seas of consciousness and talents. LaSiren invites us to dance with her, in an endless round of  ebb and flow, the give and take of life.

I am still questioning my interpretations of all this, and continue fluctuating between listening to my head or trusting my gut. More thought and research are required on my part. I will revisit this subject later.

angie: you mean, not hiding in bushes, but sitting out in the path?

angie: is not good idea, sit too long in path

Dogs and dreams of water

Posted in African culture, Animal communication, Dreams, Legba, Religion, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2009 by cheshirecatman

Tuesday afternoon, as I was waiting for the bus home from work, I was thinking about the altar that I set up for Legba on Sunday and also my hopes that he will help me connect with the other lwa(s) that I should be serving. I’ve been trying to stay open to communications from the spirits, and lately my dreams have been more vivid than they have been in a long time. (For several years I’ve only been remembering occasional dreams, which is not much fun since I enjoy dreaming a lot.)

On Saturday night/Sunday morning I had a long jumbled dream about shopping, a writing workshop and transportation problems. Much of it was not particularly exciting, but one vignette stays in my mind because of its vividness and the fact that it did not seem to have much to do with the rest of the dream.

I was dreaming that I was in some sort of class or workshop being held in a large warehouse or studio. It’s nighttime, and for no particular reason I walked through the large open doorway and into the night.

And then it was bright daylight, and I was looking down at a very beautiful canyon scene. I can see a man (not sure exactly what he looked like: dark hair I think, healthy-looking) standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a small lake. The water is blue-green and so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom. With him are two dogs, one looks like a border collie and the other is a smaller white dog with longer fur. The man makes a graceful dive into the water.

I decide to copy him and dive headfirst into a smaller pool of the same cool blue water. The pool is deep as I slice in, but it is also buoyant and I surface easily and hop out of the water to go back to my class. Even though I was only in the water for a few seconds, I feel completely rejuvenated.

Water has a very strong spiritual significance in some of my dreams. Some years ago I had a simple dream where I was effortlessly treading water in this gigantic claw foot tub that was the size of an Olympic swimming pool. The imagery seems kind of silly in retrospect, but the feeling in the dream was one of profound peace.

Flashback to an animal communication session I had with Tracy Ann back in April 2008. (I am reviewing my notes as I write this.) Through Tracy, Puck is telling me that I have a lot of help on the other side. One of these helpful spirits is a man who reminds Tracy of an old country doctor. He is wearing spectacles and jeans and has a jovial laugh. He has a roundish head with thinning hair on top and is magnetic to animals. He carries a cane, although he is healthy, stocky. Puck likes him. Tracy gets the impression of the letter “J,” a name perhaps. The man says, “I open doors.”

My notes at this point are a bit unclear. I wrote: “Puck sees him a lot. He’s around, but moving water. Clue?” Also, I seem to remember that Tracy said he had a dog with him, although I didn’t write that in my notes.

Tracy suggested that he could be a male on my father’s side, but I could not think of anyone who matched his description. Since then I have considered him a spirit guide, and talk to him regularly.

I used to be much better at recognizing symbolism and connections between seemingly unrelated things. Heck, Symbolism was my favorite art movement. So when I began connecting the dots between all these things (one of those rare “aha” moments) while I was waiting for the bus yesterday, I had to laugh at myself.

From Kenaz Filan’s “The Haitian Vodou Handbook:”

“At first glance, Legba looks like an unassuming old man. Accompanied only by his faithful dogs, he leans against his cane for support  as he limps down the road . . . He limps not because he is crippled but because his feet are in different worlds–the material kingdom and the land of spirit.”

“Before you ask Legba for any favors, remember that he has a keen sense of humor and loves taking you by surprise.”

From Sharon Caulder’s “Mark of Voodoo:”

“”The deity Legba, the protector and keeper of the life force, stands at the crossroads between the worlds, opens the gates to the divine realms, and communicates with the deities.”

From Ray Malbrough’s “Hoodoo Mysteries:”

“Legba, among the Fon people of Dahomey, is a trickster of entrances and crossroads . . . the symbols associated with Legba are the cross, keys, walking sticks, and crutches.”

Could the man that Puck and Tracy described be Legba? It would not surprise me in the least for him to be about a dozen steps ahead of me. As I review my notes from that session, I feel that funny tingle up my spine (it’s warm but feels like a chill too) that I often feel when something touches my spirit. Especially when I remember his words: “I open doors.”

Perhaps the reference to him being on “my father’s side” is meant to bring to mind the word “papa.” He is often referred to as “Papa Legba.”

As for my recent dream about the canyon, I think the man might again be Legba, saying “follow me” into the spirit realm (water). My brief dip into the smaller lake could be interpreted as a sort of baptism into this new path.

Animal communication, an altar and a brief editorial–my Sunday

Posted in Animal communication, Legba, Meditation, Religion, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by cheshirecatman

This morning started off with a phone session with one of my favorite people, animal communicator Tracy Ann (see Looking Back Part 2). We have fun during these sessions, and the conversation is always lively. Today I got to speak with my beloved Puck again, and I am happy to know he is onboard with my current religious path. Puck has his own small altar area on one of my bookshelves, which includes his old food dish. I often place items that I plan to use in future ritual work in his dish prior to using them. I feel that he will imbue them with his positive energy. Anyway, I had to laugh today when he remarked that his dish was getting rather crowded, because it is.

I am also excited because I got my altar for Legba set up and dedicated to him. It’s very simple and small, as space is an issue in my tiny apartment. A clean white washcloth that I purchased for him marks his area atop a pedestal. The reason I use the cloth is that I do at times have to move the pedestal for art shows. I feel that if I have to temporarily relocate him during those times, it will be less disruptive if I move the cloth and everything on it as a unit, the cloth itself serving as a sort of mobile altar surface. On top of this cloth are the framed card with his image on it, a chalice, a white candle, and a beautiful wood ritual knife that I bought a while back for Wicca use but never used. I mostly followed the instructions in Filan’s book (The Haitian Vodou Handbook) for setting up and purifying a sacred space, but also used a chanting technique I learned at a Zimbate energy workshop a while back. While I won’t describe this technique in detail here (this specific type of energy work must be learned from a practitioner, much like Reiki), it involves the use of certain syllables to invoke spiritual calm and remove negative influences. I find it quite effective to use this technique before meditating, and thought it could be helpful today as well. At the end, I brewed Legba a cup of hot black coffee and set it on his altar while I meditated for a while. The entire room felt filled with somewhat dense positive energy afterwards.

The last thing I want to discuss today is “The Serpent and the Rainbow.” If this sounds familiar to you and you are not someone who reads much about Vodou, then likely you’ve heard of the 1988 film with this name.

Predating the film by a few years is the book by ethnobotanist Wade Davis who, in 1982, traveled to Haiti to research zombi phenomena. Expecting to find a pharmacological formula to explain how people appeared to die and were later resurrected as zombis, what he found instead was a culture rich in history, magick and a very different worldview. The book is filled with fascinating discoveries and diverse personalities. I was always eager to find out what happened next. I don’t remember any particularly scary parts in the book.

The film, by contrast, is a somewhat cheesy highly fictionalized and often predictable B-movie by horror director Wes Craven. All of the names have been changed, which is understandable since this movie bears very little resemblance to the actual events, even though they stamp the words “based on a true story” onscreen during the opening credits. It should say “very loosely minimally based on a true story.” I originally saw this movie back when it was in theatres, and even then, with no knowledge of Vodou, I knew that there was no way on earth that the events depicted in the film actually happened.

The movie also changed the time period of the book. The author was in Haiti in the 80s. The movie takes place during the reign of Papa Doc Duvalier. I guess the film makers thought that would make the movie more exciting, and I guess it does in the sense that it creates opportunities for bloodshed.*

Having recently read and enjoyed the book so much, I decided to rewatch the movie to refresh my memory of it and compare it to the book. I now know that my memory of the movie was better than the actual movie. While I highly recommend the book, I don’t recommend the movie unless you have a couple of hours to waste on a marginally entertaining but unrealistic film. Even then, you’d be better off watching a film with more originality.

*Note added 9/29/09: The film likely depicts the reign of Duvalier’s son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, whose reign ended in 1986. I am slowly learning about Haitian history (sheepish grin).

Looking Back Part 2: The loss of a dear friend

Posted in Animal communication, Animals, Ghosts, Religion, Spirits, Wicca with tags , , , , on August 4, 2009 by cheshirecatman

It was New Year’s Day, 2008, when my girlfriend discovered the lump in Puck’s left jaw. Puck was my beloved Devon Rex, whom I’d had since he was weaned from his mother. Like others of his breed, he was an impish, pixie-faced E.T. creature who made everyone’s business his business. I adored him like no other cat before him.

For a few years prior to 2008, Puck had been having various health problems and could not seem to keep any weight on. I’d put him on homemade catfood, which seemed to help for a time. But this lump concerned me. I’d never felt quite so helpless as when I was given the news that the tumor was malignant. Over the next week or so his health declined. He couldn’t even stand up straight, tilting heavily to his left. I had to support him while he tried to eat.

He became bed-ridden. It was obvious he was getting worse by the day. I stayed home from work to be with him. When his pink nose turned a dark brown, I knew he didn’t have much time left.

Throughout his illness I’d been working with animal communicator Tracy Ann, initially to help with his diagnosis and later to determine whether he wanted to fight his illness or cross over. He badly wanted to stay with me and I was not ready to lose him. He had always been there for me during my darkest moments. It wasn’t until Tracy told him that he could still assist me from the other side that he began to consider crossing over.  After spending one last night with him, I took him to the emergency clinic. I sat with him, and told him not to be afraid, that he was about to go on a great adventure. Then I called in the vet and she gently inserted the syringe into his IV, and he went limp in my arms.

I had never cared so much about communing with the dead as I did during that month. It was a painful but interesting time. The morning after he crossed over, I woke up with the distinct feeling that he had been perched on the bed watching me.  Another night I had a vivid dream about watching him eat. This dream had a different “look” than other dreams and I was aware that I was dreaming even as I looked down at him. The texture of his fur was so clear, I could see the individual tufts of hair. I remember thinking, “If I can see him like this sometimes, then maybe this isn’t so bad.”

Tracy was a great help during this time, passing along messages from my dear friend. Puck knew that I talked to his photo every night, and even which hand I used when I reached up to touch his urn.

The following summer I brought a new Devon Rex kitten into our home, a female named Luna. She turned out to be a great comfort and distraction for me, although sometimes, when she’d curl up in my lap and I could just see the back of her head, she looked so much like Puck that it made my heart ache terribly.

A few months later, maybe September or so, Puck mentioned through Tracy that he had been on top of the refrigerator and knocked something off of it. I realized I had indeed found one of our magnets on the floor, and I’d assumed the new kitten had done it. Another night, more recently, I was relaxing watching TV with Luna under the quilt and my other cat C.C. beside me. Luna slipped out from under the quilt and I didn’t think much about it, until I glanced down to see what she was up to and couldn’t see her. I was quite surprised when I realized I could still feel her under the quilt.

Now, some people will say this is coincidence, and I can see why they would think that. There were more incidents like this, too numerous to describe here without going compleltely off-topic.

Sometimes it’s our most painful experiences that push us in directions we need to go. Losing Puck sparked my interest in energy work, specifically those involving healing. During an energy workshop I finally made contact with one of my spirit guides, and during meditation the following day I saw his name in my mind’s eye. I say ‘finally’ because, in all my years as a Wiccan, I’d never had a clear communication with a spirit guide like that. This was a major milestone for me, and might be one of the reasons why I became disconnected from Wicca. I think, perhaps, Wicca was never quite real for me.

I do think Wicca is a fine religion, and as a living religion works well for many people. But just as there are many different styles of clothing, there are many different religions and no single one of them is right for everyone.

I’ve never felt that I was a good spell caster, so the idea of assistance from the spirits is comforting to me.

I credit Puck with turning me to energy work, which in turn has started to slowly hone my ability to hear the spirits. Interestingly, while dozing on the bus on my way home from work, I was awakened by the movement of a body in the seat next to me. When I opened my eyes, the seat was empty. When I attempted to doze again, I “saw” with my inner eye a brown-skinned woman with long dark hair wearing a blue dress with a white floral print. I don’t yet know who she is, but am hoping to find out.