Archive for the Ogoun Category

End of summer update

Posted in Ogoun, Religion, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by cheshirecatman

My apologies for being absent for a bit. August proved to be a busy month.

Upon returning from Kanzo, I had to complete my 41 days of restrictions which, like Kanzo itself, were easier than expected in some ways and more difficult than expected in other ways. It was an interesting period and an exercise in self-discipline. Ironically, I think the food restrictions were more difficult for the girlfriend than they were for me. (She didn’t Kanzo, but ate dinner with me every night.)

Then the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO happened. Like many people, I could not stop thinking about that and you can bet that Ogoun was watching closely. I seriously hope justice is attained for Brown, or the social fabric of this country is going to deteriorate further and it will be bad news for everyone. We are seriously out of balance, and you can only tip the scales so much before something topples and breaks.

August ended on an upbeat note. Mambo Vye Zo Komande and the Houngan arrived in Seattle to visit their family here and we had a very nice private service in which I handed my kolyes (sacred beads) back to them (they now reside at the house in Philly). Mambo also had her art featured in the Esoteric Book Conference, held at the University of Washington Sept. 5th through Sept. 7th. Although I’d viewed some of the pieces while in Philly, seeing them all presented together formally at the conference was a real pleasure. You can view some of them here. The energy coming from one of the pieces was quite striking and stood with me until the following day.

The book fair was fun, and I walked away with a copy of “Shades of Ritual: Minority Voices in Practice,” which I can now remove from my Amazon wish list.

That’s it for now. I have some topics still percolating in my brain, and hope to post them soon.

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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.

“Real Voodoo” — A review

Posted in Haiti, lwas, Ogoun, Possession, Religion, Ritual, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2012 by cheshirecatman

Yesterday I received my copy of “Real Voodoo,” a documentary on Haitian Vodou by Canadian director Sandra Whiteley. I was eager to watch it so, in spite of a busy day of work, sculpting and miscellaneous chores, I decided to stay up later than usual and popped the DVD into my Blu-ray player.

This film runs about 52 minutes and was not exactly what I expected. Unlike two previous documentaries I’ve viewed (A&E’s “Voodoo Rituals” and the History Channel’s “Voodoo Secrets”), Whiteley’s film doesn’t follow an academic format. Instead, it has a more personal feel, as though we are visiting the people of Haiti along with her. It is worth noting that Haiti is personal for Whiteley; it’s the homeland of her husband Jaffa (who is a Vodouisant and featured in the film along with his hauntingly beautiful music).

“Real Voodoo” does not include quite as much ritual footage as Richard Stanley’s 2002 documentary “The White Darkness;” however, this film also lacks the annoying self-promotion present in the Stanley film. Whiteley’s narrative serves to add chronological structure to her footage, and she states at the film’s opening that she is no expert.

She does interview experts, however, including Houngan Max Beauvoir, Wade Davis (ethnobotanist and author of “The Serpent and the Rainbow”) and, most prominently, Mambo La Belle Deesse Jr., co-founder of La Sosyete La Belle Deesse Dereale, whose commentary provides a great deal of insight into Vodou beliefs and practices.

The Vodou interviews and footage are interspersed with those of evangelical Christian missionaries working in Haiti. At first I found this pretty annoying, as they expressed grossly inaccurate (and predictable) opinions of Vodouisants as devil worshipers and displayed their appalling lack of compassion by echoing Pat Robinson’s “earthquake-as-punishment-for-making-a-pact-with-the-devil” comments. But later I realized that Whiteley was making a point, which she does by contrasting these comments to those of the Haitians (both Christian and Vodouisant). It’s doubtful that Christianity can ever drive Vodou out of Haiti. A mambo named Mireille has a son (he looked about 13 years old) who is a student at a Catholic school; when asked how he felt about his mother being a mambo, he expressed great pride in the healing work she performed.

Ironically, it is the missionaries who come off as superstitious. One of them, a man named Bobby Boyer,  describes at length how, on his second day in Haiti, he found a Bible facedown on the floor. It was open to Jeremiah Chapter 19. He then quotes the passage about God proclaiming He will bring evil on this place because the people worshipped other gods, suggesting that God sent the earthquake to tell the Vodou spirits to leave. In contrast, Whiteley’s Haitian friend Nancy (who is also Christian) simply accepted the earthquake as a natural force.

Other post-earthquake problems were manmade. Some Christian leaders blamed the 2010  cholera outbreak on Vodou, when in fact it was caused by U.N. soldiers dumping human waste into a river. This unethical scapegoating led to the brutal lynchings of 45 Vodou priests.

One would think that most Vodouisants would hate missionaries, but this was not the case. At one point  early in the film, Whiteley asks a houngan what he thinks about missionaries. Expecting anger or bitterness, his answer surprised her. The houngan appreciated their presence and acknowledged their importance to the future of Haiti’s children.  This, I felt, clearly demonstrated the pragmatic side of Vodouisants—contrary to being blinded by superstition, they are very cognizant of the world around them and the very real problems they face.

“Real Voodoo” is a glimpse into the lives of real Vodouisants as well as a snapshot of post-earthquake Haiti and the recovery work that still needs to be done. I definitely recommend this film and will be adding it to the Bibliography/Filmography page.

Fet Gede: Highlights and reflections

Posted in Ghede, Ogoun, Possession, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2011 by cheshirecatman

Saturday morning I awoke with a slight headache. Determined to prevent it from blossoming into major pain, I immediately took two Advil, grabbed a cup of coffee, and sat down in front of the computer to check for messages.

I had not been online long when my friend Slinky messaged me. She’d woken up with a cold, and told me she might not be able to attend the fet. She thought the timing of her sickness was odd, but neither one of us were sure what that meant, if anything. She decided to wait and see if she felt better later in the day, and would let me know by 5pm if she was going or not so that I could catch a bus if necessary. (She ended up not going.)

In the afternoon, I bathed and spent about an hour in meditation, clearing out my chakras and opening up my channels in preparation for the fet. One cannot force a possession, but one can attempt to be open to the lwa and their energies.

I arrived downtown early, and stopped at Uwajimaya to buy some bottled water and food for the potluck. I found a package of sugar-free blueberry bread that looked good. Then I made my way down to First Ave. Shortly after I passed the two sports arenas (Safeco Field and the horribly renamed CenturyLink Field, formerly Qwest Field), I paused at an intersection and my friend Greg was suddenly standing beside me. Greg went with me to my first Fet Gede in 2009, and I was glad to see him. Together we walked the remaining blocks to the studio.

Because I’ve described the past two Fet Gedes in detail, I won’t include a long description of the ritual here (interested readers can read my posts on the 2009 and 2010 fets). Prior to attending the fet I decided that I would try to be fully immersed in the fet and less of an observer.

There were a handful of people I recognized and a number of newcomers. Mambo C and Houngan D led the ceremony, assisted by at least two initiates and a few other regulars.

One thing that was great about this year’s attendees is that everyone danced for at least part of the evening. Before the first break, no one sat on the sidelines.

There were some obvious possessions and some instances where people were either lightly possessed or just very engrossed in the energy. During the songs for Damballah, V (an initiate) was walking in the center of the circle of dancers, carrying Houngan D’s snake. She had a very blissful expression on her face, and several of the women in attendance were dancing in a tight circle around her, including one newcomer who I think was of Haitian descent (I overheard her mention Jacmel later in the fet, and she knew the lyrics to a number of the songs. She was a fluid and natural dancer, and had a lovely singing voice). Shortly after that, V was lying on the floor, possessed by Damballah, while Mambo C and several other people held a white sheet over her. A few of the women who had been dancing around V were also kneeling and lying under the sheet, but I really could not tell if they were possessed or not.

Mambo C was possessed at least once during the evening, but I am not sure by whom. So was another young woman whose name I don’t know—she seemed to be somewhat incapacitated by the energy and was guided to a chair by several attendees.

There were another group of possessions in the middle of the evening; again I am unsure about the identity of the lwa, but I am guessing that it may have been Ogoun. This was another instance of several people occupying the center of the dance circle, including one middle-aged muscular guy who I have not seen before. He was tattooed and could easily pass for a biker, At first he was led around the inner circle by Houngan D, and then he stood in the center making a rhythmic grunting sound to every other beat of the drums. With him were three or four of the young men who tend to dance wildly at the fets, so wildly that at times I cannot tell if they are possessed or just dancing. I will note here that the wild dancing possessions, if that is what they are, do not resemble the possessions I’ve seen in films about Haitian Vodou. However, I have been wondering since the fet if the way in which a possession is manifested depends on the body of the particular horse (possessed person). This does not always seem to be the case, as strong possessions by some lwa have very identifiable characteristics (such as Damballah’s writhing on the floor or Bossou’s bull-like fierce charges).

There were at least three Gede possessions. One of the regulars, a young man who I’ve seen at several other fets, was dancing and holding the cane out in front of his crouch (typical gede). A young woman also seemed to be possessed a bit later in the evening and also danced with the cane, but less lasciviously. The third gede possessed the body of another regular, a woman of African descent who might be around my age (40s). For part of the time, she was walking around the studio and in the dance circle casually smoking a cigar.

As for me, I find I am having problems letting go while dancing in the circle. Part of the problem is that I sometimes get sandwiched between a couple of the wilder dancers (I try to avoid them, but it isn’t always possible) and proceed to get kicked, nudged and hit as I dance. Again, I do not notice Haitians flailing so much in the videos I’ve seen (unless they are possessed), but we are not in Haiti. So I deal with it the best I can. Part of the time I danced with my eyes half closed, and this seemed to help me focus better. Perhaps I did something right because at one point Houngan D sprayed me and a few other dancers with rum.

Towards the end of the fet, I decided to take a break on a bench near the wall and it was then that I was able to finally let go. I opened up my head and felt the rhythm of the drums and, for a brief time, felt as though my consciousness was starting to go. Whether this was the beginning of a possession or simply a light trance (which I can fall into pretty easily), I don’t know, but it was an interesting sensation. I started to have a light tingling sensation in my head that was accompanied by the impression of sparkling white lights. Unfortunately, the sensation did not last and then the fet was over.

The four-piece drum ensemble (Blake Cisnero’s group) was fantastic, and one of the drummers generously offered me a ride home, even though he had been up early that morning (it was now around 12:30 a.m.) and driven from Bellingham to Seattle and back for another gig. We talked a bit in the car, and it was interesting to hear a musician’s perspective. The terminology he is most familiar with refer to the different rhythms (Rada, Petro, etc.) and he is just starting to learn the meaning of the words in the context of the religion.

I was quite energized when I got home, and did not manage to sleep until around 4 hours later. The following day, I had sore muscles in my lower legs and a very sore neck. I am not sure if I slept funny on it, or if it relates to what I thought might be the near possession (the lwa sometimes come in through the neck area). The pain continues today (Tuesday), although it is slowly dissipating.

While I enjoy the fets, I am feeling the need to learn more about individual service to the lwa. Part of this is because I get easily exhausted from social gatherings. While group gatherings are an important part of Vodou, my personality requires that I find my own path to some extent, while also showing proper respect and acknowledgment for tradition.

More altar upgrades and interdimensional conversations

Posted in Animals, Divination, Dreams, Erzulie, Legba, lwas, Meditation, Ogoun, Psychic, Religion, Ritual, Sekhmet, Spirit Guides, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2011 by cheshirecatman

Last Thursday I stopped in at Gargoyles Statuary to pick up my new Sekhmet statue. On Friday, a Sekhmet pendant I ordered off of Amazon (at a very reasonable price I might add) arrived in the mail. This morning I purified both of them and placed them on Sekhmet’s shrine, infusing them with the intention of aligning my energies with hers.

Sekhmet altar

Sekhmet's new statue from Gargoyles Statuary

Sekhmet closeup

A closeup of the wonderful detailing. A droplet of water is visible on her solar disk from the purification ritual.

(Note: If anyone wants one of these, there was another statue in stock at Gargoyles as of Thursday.)

Needless to say, I LOVE this new statue. The sculpt of her face and the texturing of her clothing and throne are quite beautiful.

This morning was also my last session of the Intuitive Bootcamp with Shannon Knight. I am sad the classes are over, but at the same time I am looking forward to working with these new tools and strengthening my skills. This session was all about communicating with guides and the angelic realm.

When the session began, I told Shannon about an inspiration I’d had earlier in the week. I’ve been wanting to work more closely with the lwa (and now, Sekhmet as well) and I know that I need a lot more practice with some of the techniques I’ve learned during the bootcamp. So I thought that I could involve the lwa and Sekhmet as I hone my skills with these techniques. For example, since Sekhmet appears frequently when I clear my 6th chakra (corresponding to the third eye), then I can work with her when I practice divination techniques. When balancing my male and female energies, I can work with Ogoun and Freda. When focusing on past lives, I can work with the Gede and the ancestors. Legba can help me communicate with my guides. And so on. As I explained this to Shannon, she said that the spirits around me became excited, as if saying, “We’re here and we’re ready!” This made me happy.

After a brief opening prayer and some basic grounding and energy clearing, Shannon guided me to connect to what she calls “the God of your heart,” or the supreme being. I was able to ask any question I wanted, so I asked for clarification on the sci-fi disguised dream I’d had recently. I still felt that the dream held spiritual significance in spite of its fanciful imagery. So I presented this question and waited, and almost immediately some pretty wild images began playing across my mind.

I saw a pyramid with the eye of Horus design (this seemed like it was a key to something), and then saw a ship floating through space, but it wasn’t your usual science fiction ship. This ship had ancient designs all over it. Like old seafaring vessels, this ship had a masthead–the face of a regal lion, possibly Sekhmet herself, in shining gold and black. (Comparisons to “Stargate” crossed my mind, but let me say here I am not a fan of the movie and cannot get into the series.) The ship was massive.

My view switched to the interior of the ship, which had spacious triangular corridors with many people walking around inside. Some of these people did not appear to be human, but had animal heads instead, much like the depictions of ancient gods you see in old Egyptian art. It was not clear whether these were costumes they were wearing or their actual bodies. During the entire time that I was viewing this ship, I was aware of a very powerful energy weighing down on me. It had an almost audible hum and reminded me of the feeling I’ve had when I’ve been inside electrical plants and stood near large generators.

All of my spiritual mentors keep telling me to accept what I see, and it’s this acceptance that enables me to move past the psychic block I’ve had for years. However, I know these images seem strange and I do not claim to fully understand them. Are they symbolic or literal? Personally, I suspect a bit of both, as can be the case with spiritual visions. More on this later.

Next I got to call upon the archangels, who are a group of beings I’ve never worked with before. These are not the angels of holiday cards, but powerful beings capable of both help and destruction, like the lwa. It’s not too surprising that some Vodou practitioners use images of the archangels to represent various lwa. This was an interesting experience and I found their energy to be very protective and strong. The archangels do not seem to require much from you in return, other than acknowledgement and gratitude, which is different from the lwa. However, serving the lwa in the physical realm (giving them offerings, performing rituals, etc.) is part of what I love in Vodou. I find the physical actions function as constant reminders of our connection with them. I don’t necessarily prefer one way or the other, and plan to work again with the archangels and of course to continue serving the lwa.

We moved on to the ascended masters, and Shannon asked me if there was any particular master that I felt drawn to. I decided to talk with my Zimbate healing guide, a spirit I’ll refer to as “A.” When I first learned his name, I did a Google search and found that it might be Hawaiian in origin, but I wasn’t sure. Today I wanted to know more about him, and as I thought that I saw images of what might be pre-Columbian art and then a spotted cat which could have been a jaguar or leopard. Then I got other, vaguer images of him wearing outfits that could be either Hawaiian or Central American in origin; I wasn’t sure. Shannon thought he felt more Hawaiian, but then there aren’t any jaguars in Hawaii. Then again, perhaps the cat was a leopard and he showed me that just to indicate that he was talking to me.  He also showed me a metal bell and I heard a ringing sound that made me think of Tibetan singing bowls. Tracy Ann had mentioned to me before that I should be working with sound. Another area to explore.

Lastly, Shannon helped me connect to my spirit guide. She asked me if I’d had contact with my guide before, and I did not think so (at least not consciously). I asked her if she thought we had one guide or many, and her beliefs were similar to those of Sylvia Browne: We each have a main spirit guide assigned to work with us before we are incarnated. We can have other guides as well that work with us at various times (such as healing guides, creative muses and such), but our main guide is with us always. So naturally I was very interested in meeting this person.

I was not sure at first whether it was a man or a woman, but then the image clarified into a slim, slightly androgynous young man, seemingly of Indian origin (this is Indian as from India, not Native American). This made me smile, as I love the music, art, dance, food, mythology and spirituality of India. As I got a better look at him, I saw that he had long black hair in a braid down his back and possibly a mustache. I asked him his name and got something that was similar to “Alan” but wasn’t Alan. At one point he changed briefly into Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu god, and then back into himself again. Remember earlier when I mentioned that spiritual seeing can be both literal and symbolic? Shannon thought that perhaps his changing into Ganesha was to validate that yes, he was indeed from India. This made sense to me, rather than thinking he actually was Ganesha.

I asked him to show me my life’s purpose, and he showed me an aerial view of a lush beautiful rainforest. When I asked for clarification, the view remained the same. I think this is because part of me consciously knew the answer to the question.

I’ve been feeling a pull to do more for ecological preservation. This pull originates in my desire to save the big cats from extinction, and was intensified by reading Linda Tucker’s “Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God.” However, saving any part of nature is part of a larger picture of saving the planet and ourselves. Mainstream industrial culture seems to be suffering from a sort of self-destructive mental illness that will be terminal unless more people wake up and stop allowing such wide scale destruction to continue.

I am not sure yet how I can help, but for now I will take baby steps, beginning with awareness in where my money goes and where my votes go. The rest I will have to figure out as I go along, with the help of the lwa, the spirits and the deities.

More thoughts on Sekhmet

Posted in African culture, Agassou, Animals, Art, Legba, lwas, Meditation, Ogoun, Psychic, Religion, Sekhmet, Spirits, Therianthropy, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2011 by cheshirecatman
Sekhmet shrine

My small bookshelf shrine for Sekhmet. The print is by artist Jeffrey I. Shaw.

I am amazed at how good of a “fit” Sekhmet is for me, and also incredulous that I never saw that before. I’m guessing the reasons were that I was too spiritually closed due to energy blockages and past depression, and also that my tendency to over-intellectualize everything got in the way. As a Wiccan, I felt free to pick and choose my deities, and I was enamored of Bastet and Anubis (and more recently Agassou), and for some strange reason did not feel compelled to serve Sekhmet. Although that is in some ways regrettable and embarrassing at this moment, it is also validating. It makes me less likely to dismiss her recent appearance as wishful thinking.

Sekhmet is associated with healing, creativity, destruction and blood. She is known as an avenger of wrongs. I am an artist whose work sometimes portrays “dark” characters and blood. I am an avid horror movie fan, obsessed with exploring our fears and the darker regions of the human soul. Some people have told me I have a very spiteful streak. I’ve toned this down over the years, but I don’t forget past wrongs, whether the wrongs were committed against me, those I love, or the innocent and helpless (no, Michael Vick, your public remorse is not convincing). I have an equally strong compassionate streak and am interested in various areas of the healing arts. In some ways Sekhmet reminds me of Ogoun Balindjo, whom I have in my Rada shrine–another entity who can be fiercely destructive or healing.

Thinking about Sekhmet and reading Linda Tucker’s book about the white lions is helping me to attune to her energy, which I believe I can feel coursing through me, particularly in my spine (which is where I tend to feel Ogoun as well).

Even though it was not my intent to diversify my faith at this time, perhaps the division between the entities is, to some degree, an artificial and intellectual construct in my own mind. I still feel that Legba had a hand in this, opening my head to Sekhmet. And, like Legba, Sekhmet’s roots are in Africa so, although they belong to different belief systems, they both are tied to the homeland of my theriotype (the leopard).

And on the topic of therians, I had to smile when I ran across the word “therianthropic” on page 20 of Tucker’s book. The author was discussing cave paintings and how therianthropic half-human, half-animal images represented shamans who were deeply connected with the land and its non-human residents. She thought the depictions might symbolize a shaman’s part human, part animal consciousness (as good a definition of therianthropy as any, I think). Mambo C has told me I likely have shamanic ancestors, and Shannon told me my energy is deeply rooted in the earth. One of the beliefs of the Shangaan people of Africa is that if you kill the white lions you kill the earth. I’ve long felt that I would lose the will to live if the day came when most of the wild creatures are gone (especially the big cats) and the world’s sole inhabitants are humans.

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start donating regularly to big cat causes (and I’ve mostly kept to this, save for a month and a half when I was barely keeping afloat financially). I’d planned to petition the lwa Agassou for his help with this cause, even though I have little information on him compared to many of the other lwa. I suspect that Sekhmet is offering her help in this area, for which I am very grateful. I plan to postpone setting up Agassou’s shrine for now, and focus on Sekhmet along with the lwa who currently have shrines in my home and the ancestors.

Back in March Puck told me that things would start moving much faster soon, and that there were surprises in store. The lesson? Always listen to Puck.

Lost pin and synchronicity

Posted in Agwe, Ogoun, Vodou with tags , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by cheshirecatman

The week following the session with my animal communicator/medium friend, I thought a lot about the thunder and lightning association. According to some of my books and some websites, Ogoun Badagri is associated with thunder and lightning. That got me wondering if he is the Ogoun I should be serving instead of Balindjo.

The following week, I decided to wear a pin decorated with the veve of Ogoun Badagri on my hat. Last weekend I went to a movie with a friend, and when I got home I noticed, to my disappointment, that the pin was missing. I cannot help but wonder if he is trying to show me that he does not walk with me.

I am not sure if Ogoun Balindjo also has a thunder and lightning association, but I know he is associated with water. Perhaps I am serving the right Ogoun after all. As I’ve mentioned before, he is a member of Agwe’s crew, and Agwe seems to be strong with me.