Archive for the La Sirene Category

Legba creates my vision

Posted in Agwe, Art, La Sirene, Legba, Religion, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2015 by cheshirecatman

Legba walkingI am coming up on the first anniversary of my Kanzo with Sosyete du Marche. Thus it seems like an appropriate time to reflect on the past year and what has (and has not) changed about me and my life.

Outwardly, there is not a whole lot of visible change. I am still at the same job. I live in the same place, in the same area of town. I haven’t gotten a spiffy new haircut nor remodeled my home.

Not all of my bad habits have changed. I still stay up too late on weekends, and have a tendency to procrastinate. I have an impatient streak, but it’s one that I continue to mostly control. I can be messy when I get busy or tired, especially when facing art deadlines. I still am fascinated with the afterlife, although in a much more positive way than I have been in the past.

What has changed outwardly is the official acquisition of my new family, the Sosyete. This is no small thing for me—my birth mother crossed over nearly three decades ago, I never knew my father and the one living relative I do know is permanently estranged. Now I have parents and many siblings I can turn to for love, advice and support. I took great delight in sending my initiatory mother a small Mother’s Day gift, something I have not been able to enjoy for many years.

So what about the less-obvious changes?

Many times I thought about writing this post but kept putting it off, uncertain whether there had been any changes interesting enough to discuss here. Apparently the changes kind of crept up on me. Some people’s experiences are more dramatic and obvious, but the majority of mine tend to be more subtle. My Lwa often speak softly, and in the language of images.

In March and early April I was engrossed in my usual springtime art frenzy, preparing to participate in a local sci fi/fantasy convention’s art show and another show at a local shop. I had quite a few pieces planned that were Vodou-related, including two sculptures of Legba, La Siren, La Balenn and Agwe, whom I’ve never sculpted before.

The first Legba I finished this spring was the Old Man walking along a road with one of his dogs, although I sculpted both Legba faces at the same time, and was very happy with them. This was a sharp contrast from the struggles I sometimes have with faces, which can result in me becoming so frustrated that I will toss them in the garbage and begin anew. I was particularly pleased that both of the faces resembled Legba as he appeared in one of my dreams.

Sculpting clothing is not always super easy for me, yet when I worked on his jacket and pants, I kept having what artists call “happy accidents”—my hand would move and create a fold or movement of the fabric that was unplanned, but looked good. Now, normally, I would never consider putting one of my own pieces on my altars, because I would sit there and obsess over the flaws and shortcomings. This time, however, I was so happy with the completed piece that I thought about keeping him for my altar if he didn’t sell at the convention. Also finished for the convention was a La Balenn piece whose face turned out unusually lovely. I received a lot of compliments on both of them when I showed them to friends.

La Balenn did not sell at the convention, but Legba sold immediately after to a couple of friends who saw him in the art show there. (They tried to buy him at the show, but due to a change in the art show hours, they were not able to purchase him before it closed.) It makes me smile to think of Legba in their home.

Then my focus shifted to finishing the pieces for the shop show. I decided to do a Native La Siren, as that is how she appeared to me the one time that I saw her. I was not sure exactly how to sculpt Agwe, so I had a loose plan to create him as a merman wearing an admiral’s jacket. However, he had other things in mind. I kept receiving flashes of images in my head, and realized that yes, he did want to be portrayed as a merman, but rather than the uniform he opted to have coral extruding from his back and crowning his head. Although I was working on my pieces up to the last minute, I never really got stressed out. It seemed that every time I got stuck on something, the answer would pop into my head and I was able to move on. Sometimes my hands felt guided, to the point that I don’t feel that I can take all of the credit for the way the art turned out. It was more of a collaboration between the Lwa and me.

When Agwe was completed, he also received many compliments. During the artist opening reception, one of my regular buyers whom I had never met before came in and bought the entire marine Lwa set (La Siren, La Balenn and Agwe). He wanted the seated Legba piece I had there too, but a friend had already spoken for it, so this gentleman commissioned a new one. (I have to smile when I think of Legba and the 3 marine Lwa displayed in his home; I won’t be surprised if they all start showing up there.) Another previous buyer whom I had never met came in and purchased a Sekhmet wall piece of mine. During the following weeks when my art was on display, a couple of local Santeria folks saw Agwe and loved him so much that they commissioned one like it.

Overall, this is probably the most successful art show I’ve had to date, as far as sales are concerned. I reflected back on the nom vayan (“valiant name”) that my initiatory mother gave me at my batem (“baptism”). It translates into “Legba creates my vision,” and he certainly has outdone himself this time.

If you haven’t already read it, my lovely initiatory mother has written a wonderful piece on magickal names in Vodou, which explains them better than I can here. All’s I can say is it certainly worked for me! Honor to her, Papa and the Lwa. Ayibobo!

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Lave Tet follow-up and other updates

Posted in Divination, Dreams, Ghede, La Sirene, Legba, lwas, Religion, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2012 by cheshirecatman

I haven’t been posting much about myself recently because there haven’t been any earth-shattering things going on around here. It’s been fairly low-key for the past few months.

I hadn’t been feeling any dramatic effects following my lave tet back in August, or at least I thought I hadn’t. But effects can sometimes be subtle when it comes to metaphysical stuff, and true to form they manifest very differently from what I expected.

I’ve been strangely unproductive since August, dragging my feet on art projects and other tasks that need to be done. I didn’t really associate this with the lave tet until I had an unrelated conversation with Mambo C. During that conversation, she explained that when a person attends ceremonies and performs other activities that bring them into close contact with the energies of the lwa, things can get uncomfortable.

This isn’t a bad thing—in fact it’s quite the opposite. Vodou services expose us to energies that help to balance us, and sometimes this attempt at balancing can feel uncomfortable and awkward until the balance is actually achieved.

I’ve been feeling for a while that I need to make changes in my life, but I am procrastinating. Procrastination can be the bane of people like me who lean towards perfectionism. We want to do things right; we want to fix everything at once. Then we get overwhelmed and don’t even know where to start. And then end up doing nothing.

For example, I know I need to simplify my life and get rid of items that do not help me along my path. The problem is I have so much stuff—in the closets, in the garage, on my bookshelves. (I am a bit of a pack rat due to having been pretty poor at various points in my life.) I also know I need to prioritize how I spend my time and, if I continue dragging my feet, the powers that be may lose patience with me and start taking away the distractions. Recently I was planning to load a game I bought months ago into my PC (read, “major time-waster”) and then my CD-ROM drive spontaneously stopped working. I’m still trying to fix it and think I’m getting close, but am now having second thoughts about loading the game.

As I travel deeper into Vodou, I am going to have less and less time to waste. And the body dislikes change, even if it’s change for the better. As my friend Shannon Knight likes to say, the body views all change as death. It gets scared and resists. It’s that whole “the spirit is willing but the body is weak” thing.

But not everything has been struggle. I am happy that the energy around my shrine cabinet seems stronger since returning from Philadelphia. Sometimes I can feel the energy pressing against my head the moment my thoughts turn towards making an offering. I wanted to add more lwa to the shrine but the shelves were full. So I found a hanging candle holder at a thrift store for a couple of dollars and hung it on the inside of one of the cabinet doors. Then I scanned a few of the cards from Sallie Ann Glassman’s NOLA deck and hung them above the candles. Voila, three new mini shrines.

Also recently I received a message from Legba, who told me “If you feel like you should go, you should go. If you feel like you should stay, find the high ground so you can fight for what you love.” I think he was referring specifically to my preoccupation with death (and it warrants mention here that the Ghede showed up in the reading I had with Mambo Pat back in August, although I chose not to mention it in previous posts). I may elaborate more on this in a later post after I work out some issues for myself.

In other lwa-related news, it seems that La Sirene wants something more of me too, and has turned up in at least three readings I’ve received in the past several months. I am working on serving her better so I can figure out what that is.

And my dream life has been pretty active, with a lot of time spent wandering around old buildings in the astral realm. Sometimes I am looking for shoes, undoubtedly to help me find my way along this path.

Philadelphia Part Three: A fet and a lave tet

Posted in Agwe, Art, Damballah, Dreams, Ghede, La Sirene, Legba, Possession, Religion, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2012 by cheshirecatman

Note: These events took place on August 25-27, 2012. Please note that any errors contained herein are those of the author and not of Sosyete du Marche. The author generally does not take notes during fets and lave tets, and relies on observation and memory, neither of which is perfect.

The day of the fet and lave tet was a Saturday. I woke up around 8 a.m. and headed down to the hotel bistro for some breakfast. As I sat waiting for my order of scrambled eggs, a family sat down a few tables away. A mother, young daughter, and two boys–identical twins. I rarely see twins, but their appearance the day after my reading made me think of the Marassa again.

I had several hours to kill before heading over to Sosyete du Marche for dinner. I used that time to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The museum is amazing. From its historic exterior to its interior design (which changes depending on which section you are visiting), the place is not only aesthetically pleasing but impressively huge. This was like a real life review of my art history classes back in my college years. Seeing originals by such favorites as Degas and de Chirico was inspiring. Other cool highlights: a reconstructed European courtyard with a fake sky that looked like a movie set (if you stood directly under the ceiling, it was easy to convince yourself that you were outdoors under an overcast night sky), reconstructed Asian temples, and an Asian art section to die for. The Hindu, Tibetan, and Chinese statues were beautiful, and there were quite a few lions and lion people pieces. It felt appropriate for me to be there that day, as the night before both mambos and Legba reminded me that I needed to do more ancestor work. The only negative part of the experience was that, for some reason, I picked up a nagging headache at the museum. I usually carry Tylenol with me, but of course did not have it on me that day.

I was able to take some Tylenol before heading over to Mambo Pat’s, where all the attendees ate dinner and then got to know each other a bit before the fet, which was in honor of Met Agwe, La Sirene and La Balenn. My headache kept nagging me, so I took some more pills. Then we changed into our white clothes, wrapped our heads, and sat around the poteau mitan while Mambo Pat led us through the priyes.

It was interesting to experience how another house throws a fet. While the basic regleman was the same, in other ways this was very different from the fets I’d attended in Seattle. It was a little less free form, focusing more on songs and salutes rather than long periods of dancing. While I enjoy dancing a lot, the more structured format of this fet meant that I did not spend the evening trying to avoid getting hit and kicked by wild dancers, and that allowed me to focus on the lwa and the songs more. And the lwa were very much in attendance.

During his section of the fet, Legba came down into Mambo Pat and he went around greeting the celebrants. True to his word, he came over to me, embraced me and spoke words of reassurance into my ear. Again I was deeply moved to be so close to my met tet, and I felt very well cared for.

I also got to see my first Agwe possession. He entered the head of one of the houngans, and promptly sat down on one of the chairs and began directing the proceedings. Someone placed a black naval hat upon his head and he was kept moist with a spray bottle. One of the mambos went down a short while later–at first I thought it was a La Sirene possession, but I would later find out it was La Balenn. Like La Sirene, this lwa does not speak, so she mostly lay there with people attending her and keeping her moist. We sang and danced for Damballah, and he possessed one of the attendees. Then we took a break. The nine of us who were receiving the lave tet went upstairs and changed into our old clothes. I realized my headache had not bothered me since the fet began. I felt good.

After the break, the festivities resumed and the lave tet got underway. I went first. I was seated in a chair while the baths were poured over my head and rubbed along my arms. I could hear the houngans and mambos invoking the lwa while I focused on problems I would like to leave behind me. Then I was taken to a back room where I changed out of my wet clothes and into fresh white clothing. I was then wrapped in a white sheet and led to one of the low chairs in the altar area where I waited while the others received their head washings.

After the lave tet was finished, we sang some songs for the Ghede, and one of them came down into Mambo Pat’s head. This Ghede then proceeded to tease the various attendees, and at one point many of the lave tet recipients, including yours truly, got either the Ghede’s butt or boobs thrust nearly in our faces (fully clothed, the tone was very much ribald comedy).  Then she went around telling fortunes for a few coins, closing out the evening by asking each of us if we or someone we loved needed healing. If we said yes, she gave us a penny for that person (which now sits on my Ghede/ancestors altar, under a statue that resembles my cat Snowman, who is ill). After Mambo Pat’s Ghede (and another Ghede possessing a houngan) departed, we finished up the fet and it was time for the lave tet recipients to be bedded down in the altar area.

Air mattresses were laid out with sheets and quilts, and we were each assigned a sleeping area. At first I was assigned to the side of the room closer to the ocean lwa altar, but then I was moved next to the Petro altar. My head would be very near the Ghede altar (more on this later).

Prior to sleep, our heads were unwrapped. More things were placed on our heads, and then we were rewrapped and laid down to sleep. My headache, which had been absent all through the fet, was now back, and I looked forward to some dark and quiet. Then it was lights out, and the other attendees all went upstairs.

I had trouble sleeping, in part because of someone’s snoring but also because I generally have trouble sleeping if I share a room with anyone other than my girlfriend Anne. I lay there quietly for a couple of hours. Sometimes I would gaze at the Petro altar, where the statue of a grinning Asian man looked back at me. Other times I focused on relaxing all my facial muscles, which helps alleviate head pain.

After a while, I quietly went upstairs to use the restroom, and grabbed some ear plugs out of my totebag before returning back downstairs. Then I was able to drift into a light sleep. At one point I dreamt that I woke up and several of the houngans and mambos who were at the fet were sitting in the room. I asked them what time it was and they said, “5:30. Go back to sleep.”

A bit later I woke up for real, and could not go back to sleep. Being in the basement, it was hard to tell what time it was, so I just lay there. My headache was gone and I was enjoying the sweet absence of pain. And then, while I lay there relaxed but still awake, I started hearing bits of jumbled conversation. It got so inane and goofy that I was laughing to myself, and started writing them down on the paper next to my mattress (which we each had, to jot down any dreams we might have).

A sample: “I can’t touch my money, can I?” And then, “It’s like when no cat bounces it.” And, “Where can I get such a flash in the pan?” Initially I thought this was just my own mental noise, but it went on for quite a while and was not the usual type of internal chatter I hear.

In the morning, our heads were washed again and rewrapped, and then Mambo led us in a brief action de grace. We enjoyed one last meal together, and then it was back to Seattle.

A very late flight out of Philly resulted in me missing my connecting flight in Chicago, forcing me to stay overnight in a hotel (paid for by the airline). I was so exhausted from not sleeping well the night before and travel worry that I fell into a dreamless sleep. The following morning I boarded an early flight out of Chicago and was back in Seattle around 11 a.m.

It was wonderful to sleep in my own bed that night. However, I wasn’t alone. As I was drifting off to sleep, a voice said very clearly (for a nonphysical voice, that is), “Hell, yeah!” I rolled my eyes a bit, then went to sleep. Then I woke up around 3 a.m. to use the bathroom. As I was stumbling out of bed, someone said, “I can drink your father under the table!”

Things have quieted down a bit in the last couple of weeks, and I am using the time to reflect and decide on adjustments to my altars and service.

A beautiful offering for La Sirene

Posted in La Sirene, Mermaids, Religion, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2012 by cheshirecatman

A few months ago I performed some prosperity wanga with La Sirene on behalf of a friend. Since then I’ve owed her something nice as payment, as the spell has come to fruition.

My friend Slinky made this lovely paquet specifically for the lwa. The photos don’t really do it justice, but the various hues of blue are really gorgeous.

(Note: Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Gifts to and from Spirit

Posted in Art, Ghede, La Sirene, Legba, Sekhmet, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by cheshirecatman

This post was originally conceived as “Gifts of 2011” (I did this last year), but it’s now over a month into the New Year, and it felt a little late for that. Plus some gifts came after the end of 2011, and I want to include them in this post.

It was a good year for Papa Legba, I think. He received some very nice swag for his altar, courtesy of myself and two other wonderful Vodouisants (and friends), Slinky and Snow. Slinky knew I had been admiring her new altar tiles, so for Yule she gifted me with one for Legba, along with another one of her wonderful 7-day lwa candles. (She sells these at Edge of the Circle Books, call them to check on available stock.)

Around the end of the year, I also purchased a couple of items for Legba from my friend Snow in New Orleans. I fell in love with both her key charm and this lovely votive that she made to honor him.

She included a bonus in one of my orders: this very cool antique key (which Legba picked out himself) that I sometimes wear as a pendant on Mondays. Snow also gifted me with a message from both Legba and the Gede. The message was personal and I can’t post it here, but suffice it to say that it addressed something that had been bothering me and really put my mind at ease.

In December I scheduled another session with Tracy Ann, my animal communicator friend. I will post about that separately once I type up the notes.

Last Tuesday I did some candle work for some friends, and a couple of interesting things happened. I petitioned La Sirene for “Alicia” and asked her to make an offering to the mermaid lwa. Alicia chose to offer La Sirene one of her favorite crystals which was a light blue color. When she went to toss it into the water, La Sirene actually appeared to her! I thought this was very cool, and a sign that her petition was well received.

I also did some healing work with Sekhmet on Tuesday and had several candles lit on her altar. The candles were reflecting off her statue and everything looked really beautiful. I asked Sekhmet if I could photograph her altar (to show my friend and for this blog), and when I turned to pick up the camera it was nowhere to be found. I spent a fair amount of time searching for it, but it was gone. So I guess her answer was a definite “no” and I won’t be posting those photos.

Before I left for work the next morning, I snuffed the candles. Wednesday evening, when I went to relight them, I glanced down and there was the camera, just sitting on the floor about five feet away from the altar. I was surprised and then amused. I had been kneeling in that area of the floor the night before while I’d been searching for the camera, and if I’d somehow managed to overlook it, I likely would have stepped on it, knelt on it or kicked it by accident.

This reminded me a lot of the time when my copy of Mama Lola went missing, only to reappear days later in the same location.

The candle work left me feeling very energized and a bit giddy.

Working with the spirits is never boring. And while some people might find these types of incidents frightening or aggravating, I view them as evidence that the powers that be are nearby and do indeed hear us.

La Sirene

Posted in Agwe, Dreams, Haiti, La Sirene, lwas, Mermaids, Religion, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2012 by cheshirecatman

I’ve received a request to post some info about La Sirene. This lwa does walk with me, and I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been a little negligent of her and Met Agwe (her husband) lately. I need to make it up to them, and honoring the request to  post more info about her is a good start. I am also purchasing a beautiful spirit bottle for her from my friend Slinky in the near future; pics will be posted at that time.

I’ll start off with the quoted book info and then add some more personal stuff.

From Répertoire Pratique des Loa du Vodou Haïtien by Déïta:

She is Master Agouet Aroyo’s wife. Goddess of fresh and salt waters…She is the twin sister of “La Baleine” (The Whale).

SYMBOL: Gold comb and Horn of Plenty.

COLORS – CLOTHING: Pink.

OFFERINGS: Rice pudding; vermicelli with milk, corn-heart gruel, sugar-coated almonds, candies, pink cake and the roasted flesh of a white pigeon.

DRINKS: Sweet almond syrup.

(Note: This book also includes an image of La Sirene’s veve, which I don’t see often).

From The Hatian Vodou Handbook by Kenaz Filan:

La Sirene (literally “the Siren or “the mermaid”)…is as changeable as the sea, capable of great love and great cruelty..

In Haiti, many Vodouisants will avoid putting their heads beneath water while swimming in the ocean. They believe that if they do they may be captured by La Sirene, who will take them to Gineh. There they will stay for years, if they come back at all. When they return they will be powerful  magicians….

…La Sirene loves images of beautiful mermaids. If you want to create a shrine to La Sirene, be sure to include some mermaid imagery. Like Agwe, La Sirene also enjoys nautical materials and items. Seashells, driftwood, sea glass, sea floaters , and other things that have been taken from the sea or that are connected with marine or ocean imagery…You should also give her a comb and a mirror–the finest you can afford.

La Sirene likes sweet things, particularly cakes with white and light blue-green icing…You can also give her champagne, orgeat syrup, or other liqueurs.

From The Little Book of Vodou by Leah Gordon:

…a mermaid who possesses the wisdom of the water’s depths. She is said to make an eerie music on the floor of the ocean, and is held to be the patron of musicians.

Colors: Blue-green

Symbols: Mirror, comb, trumpet, shells

Offering: white doves, perfume, mirrors, sweet white wine

Catholic Counterpart:  Nuestra Senora de la Caridad and St. Martha

My own experiences with La Sirene go as far back as I can remember. For one, my favorite number was always her number, seven, and it used to follow me around. I’d look at a phone number and it would be full of 7’s, or I’d be standing in a public restroom and it would have 7 stalls. You get the idea. These days, the number 3 (Legba’s number) is the one that seems to follow me the most, but back then it was all 7’s.

When I was a child, I also had dreams where earth was a water planet, and we could breathe underwater and swim everywhere. As an adult, I’ve noticed her and Met Agwe’s presence is often indicated in dreams by the appearance of beautiful turquoise water. (See Dogs and dreams of water for more details.) She has also appeared to me a couple of times, wearing a blue and white dress. (See Unraveling the mysteries of personal lwa and the blue dress and What is it with the blue dress? for detailed accounts.) And of course, there was the mirror incident.

I also recommend the following link, which includes her veve:

http://www.sosyetedumarche.com/html/siren_balen.html

Think you’re not psychic? Think again!

Posted in Agwe, Animal communication, Divination, La Sirene, Psychic, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2011 by cheshirecatman


I just finished reading Sylvia Browne’s “Life on the Other Side.” I enjoyed it quite a bit, although I question her belief that there are no insects on the others side (when all other living creatures seem to be there). I am not a fan of insects in particular, but life is life. I also question her belief that humans do not incarnate as other species…that you are created as the species you are and stay that way. As someone who believes in therianthropy, that belief invalidates my own personal experience and that of people like author Linda Tucker, but who knows. There are a variety of explanations for differences in experience, and she could be right. Or perhaps cross-species incarnations are not common *shrugs.* I still enjoyed the book, and her descriptions of the other side are quite beautiful, even if they do appear to be viewed through a slight Christian and Eurocentric lens.

After reading two of Browne’s books fairly close together (the last one being “Afterlives of the Rich and Famous”), I was craving a change in viewpoint, so I started reading John Edward’s “Infinite Quest.” Like Linda Tucker’s book on the white lions, Edward’s book was also part of an introductory book club package (although I did choose this book because I loved John Edward’s television show “Crossing Over,” whereas I knew little about Linda Tucker before reading her book).

I did not realize that “Infinite Quest” is basically a 101 course in psychic development. This discovery both surprised and pleased me, as I am always interested in and open to suggestions on developing that muscle. However, as this book contains exercises you are supposed to do as you read each chapter, it is not a good book to read on the bus, where I do most of my reading these days. So, my bus book is now Edward’s earlier book “Crossing Over,” which is autobiographical. So now I am treating myself to a double-dose of John Edward, which is a lot of fun.

One of the things that really hit home for me in “Infinite Quest” is in Chapter One, where he talks about the five psychic senses:

Just as we have five psychic senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, and tasting, we have psychic ones that correlate…

Clairvoyance–clear seeing

Clairaudience–clear hearing

Clairsentience–clear feeling

Clairalience–clear smelling

Clairambience–clear tasting

I would like to be the first person to tell you that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CLEAR about any of the above experiences at all. I jokingly think that they should be called instead subtle-voyance, subtle-audience, et cetera . . . you get the point.

—John Edward from “Infinite Quest”

Ever since Puck crossed over and I began this spiritual journey into Vodou and attuning myself to the spirit world, I’ve been constantly reminded about how wrong my ideas about psychic experience were. Sylvia Browne hates the word ‘imagination’ because it’s used so often to dismiss experiences that don’t take place in the solid physical world. For many years I had the mistaken belief that I was not very psychically gifted at all. I knew that I had a very vivid imagination, however and, like most westerners, thought the two were very separate.

And that is where the learning curve gets a bit tricky. We all have some ability in imagination, visualization and, I truly believe, psychic ability. But how do we know what is imagination and what is psychic information?

When receiving a reading from a psychic, John Edward recommends you ask yourself if anything they said was validated by your experience. Did they tell you anything specific about your past, present or someone you know? If not, then you should probably take what they say with a grain of salt.

But again, this is trickier when you are acting as your own psychic. How do you know if the information you receive is real or just wishful thinking?

There are no easy answers to this and you will need to set aside your ego and emotions, which is not an easy task.

One of my truth vs imagination gauges is to ask myself if the information is something I’d be likely to imagine on my own. For example, at a Zimbate healing workshop, the students were asked to contact their healing guide and listen for a name. I did not get a name during the workshop, but did receive one the following day. I saw it in my mind’s eye, written on a piece of yellow notebook paper. It was a foreign-sounding name, one that I was completely unfamiliar with. And when I googled it, I found that it was indeed a real name, although there was some question as to whether it was Hawaiian or Meso-American in origin. Because it was a name so outside of my experience, I accepted this information as legitimate, more so than I would have if the name was one I expected to hear. While this particular “vision” was fairly clear, some of the information I receive is much less so.

During an animal communication workshop with Tracy Ann, we were instructed to ask one of Tracy’s dog for his nickname. I got an impression of the word “donkey” and immediately doubted it, thinking that it could not be right. As it turned out, it was not exactly right, but close. This time, I “heard” the word rather than “saw” it. The dog’s nickname turned out to be “monkey,” as he liked to climb up tall haystacks. While I did not interpret the information clearly, you can easily see the similarity in the two words. Neither word was one that I would associate with a dog. In this instance, I was lucky because the situation was one where another person could validate the information for me.

During the Intuitive Bootcamp workshop I took with Shannon Knight, I often found myself accessing personal information psychically that would be difficult to validate outside of myself. It has always been a challenge for me to get past my inner critic/skeptic and accept things as I experience them. I am getting better at it. I’m not saying that one should not question one’s experience; more that you should refrain from intensive questioning while you are receiving the information. Once the immediate experience is over there will be plenty of time to digest, question, analyze and reach your own conclusion. When you are receiving information about past lives it can be difficult if not impossible to obtain validation from the outside, especially if the particular life is a very old one or you lived in a remote area or the location is not specific. Most of us were not famous historical figures (and, honestly, if I saw myself as one I would be questioning the information like crazy). During many of the bootcamp exercises, images I saw in my mind’s eye did not feel much different from many of my more detailed imaginings (with the exception of one vision that had both visual and audio stimuli). The main difference was intention—when I am planning an art project (and this would not apply to the many projects that pop up in my mind on their own), I am deliberately visualizing color, materials, construction and methods of problem-solving and so naturally the images are largely what I expect to see. In the bootcamp, my intention was to receive an answer to a question, but then I would attempt to keep my mind open to whatever might appear.

In the Vodou realm, my experiences with both La Sirene and Agwe were subtle as well. The first direct experience of La Sirene that I am aware of was on a bus. I was lightly dozing when I felt someone sit down next to me. When I opened my eyes and saw the empty seat next to me, I fortunately had the presence of mind to quickly close my eyes and see what impressions I might receive. And I saw a lovely mulatto or Latina woman in a blue and white dress. This impression, while fairly clear, was still not too different in feel from what we call “imagination.” A brief vision I had of being on a beach with Agwe was very similar. In the past, my skeptical mind might have dismissed them as wishful thinking.

So before you assume that you have zero psychic ability, I would suggest that you examine your expectations about how such information manifests itself. Those subtle nudgings and images that you dismiss as daydreaming or imagination could be something more, and you may be more attuned than you think.