Archive for Erzulie

Beautiful Vodou jewelry

Posted in Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2014 by cheshirecatman
Images © Black Water Siren Studios, used by permission

Images © Black Water Siren Studio, used by permission

Christians have their crosses. Pagans have their pentacles. What about Vodouisants?

If you’ve ever done an online search for Vodou jewelry, you’ve no doubt encountered mixed results, some with inaccurate veves. If you were persistent, you might have discovered Black Water Siren Studio.

Black Water Siren Studio is the creative brainchild of self-taught jewelry artist Cyndia Reddish. Her Vodou pieces are available in a variety of metals and price ranges. Several years ago I purchased a Legba charm for myself, and was impressed with its quality and intricate detail. It remains one of my favorite pieces to this day and I wear it frequently as a pendant. She has also started making veve rings.

If you would like to see more of Cyndia’s work, click any of the links below. I have also added a link to my Supplies and Stores menu on the right side of my home page. Enjoy!

Black Water Siren Studio website

Black Water Siren on Etsy

Black Water Siren on eBay

 

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Post fet energy

Posted in Agwe, Erzulie, Marassa, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2012 by cheshirecatman

Last night I attended a local fet for Erzulie Freda. It was a lot of fun. I saw some local Vodouisants I haven’t seen in a while, and met three new people who were pretty damn cool. The format of this fet was pretty similar to the fet in Philadelphia.

I’ve written at length about fets before, and don’t plan to again unless something really unusual happens. While this isn’t the first time I’ve felt energized after a fet, this is perhaps the first time that it left me unable to sleep for hours. This may not seem unusual for most people, but it is for me. I’ll explain.

I find socializing draining, even when I like the people. My friend Slinky and I met around 12:30 to join another friend for lunch. That lasted over an hour. Then we went over to the fet venue and helped the mambo set up. There were maybe a dozen people at the fet, and it lasted until midnight.

Now, I did wake up late yesterday morning, but with all the socializing I should have been exhausted when I got home. Instead, I stood up until nearly 5 a.m. I didn’t even feel particularly energized, but apparently I was because I had no desire for sleep for hours.

For a long time now I’ve believed that Freda was in my escort because she is married to Agwe. A discussion with a friend earlier today helped me understand that there could be another reason as well. Years ago, during a therapy session (before I decided that talk therapy is not for me, although I acknowledge it may help others), a therapist told me that “this life is just never good enough for you.” I think he said that after I made the mistake of opening up about some of my unconventional beliefs. The statement does seem to be true though; I am always searching for more and am often dissatisfied to some degree. And Freda is often dissatisfied. So we do have that in common.

I am also developing a theory why I now have the Marassa, but am not ready to discuss it at this time.

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.

Rada fet and exploding roses

Posted in Azaka, Damballah, Divination, Erzulie, Ghosts, Legba, lwas, Possession, Psychic, Religion, Ritual, Sekhmet, Spirit Guides, Spirits, Therianthropy, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2011 by cheshirecatman

(First of all, I apologize for the sensationalistic title—I couldn’t resist. The “exploding roses” refers to an energy exercise. Nobody blew up roses at the fet.)

Rada fet for Bossou and Azaka

Last night’s fet was quite interesting for me personally, both in terms of new experiences and things I witnessed. I think I’ve come a long way since last year’s Rada fet.  At that time, my head was more closed and the identity of my met tet was still a mystery to me.

Slinky picked me up at 5. During the car ride, she mentioned that she ran across a chicken not far from her home. She’d had the thought of picking it up and bringing it along to the fet, but then thought the better of it (tongue-in-cheek here). The fowl probably belonged to somebody, and would be missed.

Slinky and I arrived early to help with setup (around 5:40). There was a game going on at Qwest Field, near the fet’s location, so traffic was a mess. We ended up having to pay for parking, but that was okay. The plus side is that there were a lot of people around, so Slinky’s car was less likely to be broken into.

The altar turned out quite nice, I thought. The table was covered with banana leaves, with a satiny red tablecloth on the left half for Bossou and a blue kerchief on the right for Azaka. On Azaka’s side of the table were a framed portrait of St. Isidore and a 7-day candle with his image. Bossou’s half held red candles, a portrait of the Triple Ray Christ, a set of bull horns and a triple-horned figure made from fabric and decorated with sequins. The Bossou side was a bit fuller than Azaka’s, due to Bossou being Mambo C’s met tet. She did her best to make both sides equal (and Azaka ended up with a LOT of offerings before the evening ended), but it’s understandable that she would have more altar items for the lwa who rules her head.

Houngan D brought a spirit “box” that was under construction. He makes several of these a year and sells some of them. Last year I saw one that was a cube with round openings on 5 sides. Small statues were placed in each of the four interior corners representing various lwa. It was very beautiful. The one I saw last night was no less beautiful. It was a ruby-red transparent vase with graceful curves. An image of the Mater Dolorosa was affixed to one side, representing Erzulie Freda. When I looked at the vase from the opposite side, I could see the image through the glass. Setting inside the mouth of the vase was a huge faceted glass diamond.

It was nice being there early. I also got to talk to Mambo C’s boyfriend a bit; he’s an interesting guy, experienced in other magickal paths. He is also Jaxob’s (the tarot reader I met at Norwescon’s psychic fair) mentor. Jaxob also showed up early, and we hugged like old friends. Mambo C drafted her boyfriend, Slinky, another regular attendee and me to participate in the salutes portion of the ceremony, which we rehearsed before everyone arrived.

Between 6:15 and 6:45 more people began to show up. Among them was Ash, who I met at last winter’s Fet Gede (our mutual friend Greg brought him). I thought it was very cool that he came back, even though Greg did not attend. Ash is a tall youngish (mid-twenties to early thirties somewhere, I am guessing) man with a sincere smile and an appealing openness about him. We got to talk for a bit. I found out that Ash attended the March fet, the one that Slinky and I missed. Vodou is Ash’s only spiritual path at the moment. Up until last Sunday I would have said the same for myself, but then Sekhmet appeared (which I wrote about in a recent post). Another very cool thing is that Ash reads this blog (yay)! He was wondering if it was mine, and I confirmed that it was.

The service began with the drawing of the veves and the reciting of the priyes (a prayer in song for the saints and the lwa, sung at the beginning of fets). Lyric sheets were handed out, which was very helpful for the call and response segments of the priyes. As a result, the lyrics were much less garbled than at the previous fet. More guests arrived, including T who has been at most of the fets I’ve  attended. She has African ancestry and, although relatively new to Haitian Vodou, is experienced in another African-based faith (I think Yoruba but am not sure).

We moved on to the salutes that we had practiced earlier, which were led by Mambo C and V (a Hounsi). They would salute the four directions, the doorway, the altar and the drums, and then the four of us (Slinky, me, Mambo C’s boyfriend and the other regular), carrying lit white candles, would perform some simple steps and turns with Mambo C and V. During the drum salute, the four of us set our candles down in front of the drums.

Then the songs, drumming and dancing began in earnest. During one of the Legba segments, Mambo C felt Legba coming into her head. She surprised me by grabbing my head and pulling our faces together with enough force that it was actually a bit painful when our heads connected. I found this amusing though–I figured a child of Bossou is not going to be super gentle when butting heads. And I thought afterwards about the phrase, “no pain, no gain.” In this case it was very literal. (V also stomped on my foot accidentally when dancing, and it was kind of painful as well.) When I asked Mambo C about the head thing later, I found out that she was trying to pass Legba into my head. It didn’t quite happen this time.

As the fet continued, Houngan D proceeded to pull various people aside and either walk them around the circle or deposit them outside the circle where they either sat down, lay down or went up to the altar. Among the people he pulled out during the evening were various regulars, Ash and a few of the new attendees). For the first time in a service, he pulled me aside, and brought our heads together in the center of the circle. He splashed an herbal mixture on my head and then took me over to the altar, telling me that I have Azaka. As you may remember from an older post, Houngan D thought that Azaka might be my met tet. I am not sure if I feel Azaka is with me or not, but it is entirely possible. Mambo C told me later that when one has Legba as met tet, one can have a lot of lwa walking with you. (And now I’m worrying over limited shrine space *grins*.) But I have not forgotten my bee sting last year, and the subsequent research I did that revealed that bees are associated with Azaka.

There were a fair number of possessions throughout the evening. Not surprisingly, Mambo C became possessed by Bossou, and proceeded to lift at least three people, including Ash, who is a lot taller than her. V and her friend also became possessed during the evening, although I am not sure by whom. Houngan D was possessed by Damballah, who I believe is his met tet. There were a few times through the night when several people were in various states of possession at the same time.

T became possessed by Erzulie. I find T’s possessions interesting because they are not the same as those of other attendees. I remember her possession at my first Fet Gede, when she sat frozen with her arms in an almost dance-like pose. Last night I saw her holding Houngan D’s Freda vase and staring down into it. Shortly after that, she sat in a chair, her arms frozen in the gesture of a woman brushing her hair while looking in a mirror. (Afterwards, when T, Mambo C, Slinky and I were talking, T said she was surprised that, prior to possession, the lower half of her body felt frozen. This actually sounds very similar to some of the possessions that Maya Deren talks about in her book Divine Horsemen.  When she became possessed, Deren describes how one of her feet became rooted to the ground.)

Prior to attending the fet, I’d been curious how the chakra and energy work I’d been doing with Angel and Shannon would affect me during the ceremonies. Last night I did notice that my head felt more open than ever before. Early in the evening, a mental image of a small glowing donut-shaped ring popped into my mind, which I thought might represent my crown chakra. Throughout the evening, I was aware of this ring, which changed color from vibrant orange to mixed blue and green, to purple and black, to solid black, then to orange again.

Near the end of the service, during a dance for Azaka, some of the more spacious dancers (by spacious, I mean that their style of movements requires a lot of room) were going wild. I got sandwiched between two of them, where I could not move forward or backward without getting struck. This aggravated a shift in me (in therianthropy, a “shift” is when one’s personality, energy body, consciousness or spirit form changes into one’s animal form). This is the first such shift I’ve had at a fet, and it felt a little weird. I continued to dance for a bit, while my thoughts became less word-oriented (I tend to think in words, being a writer) and changed into a very visual, sensory and present-moment sort of consciousness). I left the dance circle and stood on the sidelines while the beat of the drums pulsed within my being and watched the spinning moving forms of the dancers as through they were primates with puzzling habits. I’ve playfully coined this feeling “leopard-head” because it felt mostly that my head had shifted and not so much the rest of me.

The drums at last subsided and Mambo C came over to check on me. I told her I was fine, but I felt a little funky as though I might get sick to my stomach later. (I never did get sick. This seems to be a somewhat normal reaction for me to strong doses of energy.)

One thing I always wonder about at the end of these local fets is why the lwa don’t interact with the congregation more. It seems to me that, along with accepting their offerings, they would want to take advantage of a flesh-and-blood body to communicate with those who serve them. Most of the possessions I’ve seen so far mainly involve the individual, with the lwa and that individual receiving most of the benefits. Possessed people flail about, lie down, laugh or, as was the case last night, eat. (We had about three Azakas eating food from the altar near the end of the fet. None of them spoke to the congregation, to my knowledge.) Slinky thought that perhaps our services are not strong or skilled enough yet to bring forth that powerful of a possession. And that made sense to me.

Roses

This morning was my second session of the Intuitive Bootcamp with Shannon Knight. She taught me how to visualize roses and use them for healing and divination. It was a lot of fun and, surprisingly, came fairly easily to me (I say surprisingly because most things energy-related have not come easily to me in the past). The “exploding” part is visualized as part of an energy releasing process.

I also told Shannon about Sekhmet’s appearance during last week’s session, and she mentioned that I have Egyptian energy about me, and that the guides (not sure if this was from hers or mine) told her that I was skilled at manipulating energy in past lives.

On a funny sidenote, I was reading an article recently. It said that the more intelligent a person was, the more likely they were to believe bullshit. I didn’t totally agree with the article here–although I can see how an intelligent person might fall for a scam because they are too cocky to do their homework, I would not consider belief in the paranormal or ghosts as “bullshit” (at least not in all cases).

Many of my intelligent friends believe in ghosts or the paranormal, but not because they’re gullible. Their intelligence means that they are curious about things and their research helps them to understand unusual phenomena. And sometimes they believe because of personal experience. Plus, if believing in the supernatural means you’re gullible, then everyone with any type of spiritual faith can be defined as gullible, including Ghandi, the Buddha and Mother Teresa. Which would be insulting if it weren’t such a silly assumption.

So, on that note, so long for now from yours truly, the gullible author 😛

Norwescon, card readings and tax refunds

Posted in Animal communication, Divination, Erzulie, La Sirene, Legba, lwas, Psychic, Religion, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2011 by cheshirecatman

Last month the person who is going to be a new mentor to me gave me a one-card oracle reading, which correlated quite accurately to where I am in life at the moment. Here is the reading in its entirety:

For every new ambition, relationship, and experience you seek at this time, there’s a commitment in place that must be eliminated to make way for the new. Current routines, habits and even types of free time must be sacrificed so that you can open up to new energies. Your Master Teacher is present, urging you to identify what must go. Be honest in your assessment, and be realistic and thoughtful in setting your goals so that you don’t overreach and fail. To reach for something greater, you must first let go of what’s in your hand.

I’ve been feeling this way for quite some time—the urge to throw stuff away and to prioritize my  interests, maybe even drop some of them altogether. This is difficult sometimes, as I have so many interests: art, writing, Vodou, the occult, some computer games, movies, reading, musical instruments (wanting to learn flute and drums), animal health, etc. In the past I’ve pushed myself in too many directions at once, which resulted in a little progress in several areas but great strides in none. As my commitment to Vodou and my artwork deepens, I am finding that my time management skills are in need of immediate improvement.

I spent last weekend at Norwescon, one of the larger science fiction and fantasy conventions in the Seattle area. I caught up with some friends, attended several panels and film previews, and participated in the art show (even selling one piece, which made me happy). On Sunday there was a paranormal fair in one of the ballrooms near the art show, which I’d been looking forward to all weekend. I arrived there just after they opened at 10 a.m.

The first thing I did was take a telepathy-based ESP test from Philemon of Elemental Entertainment. I scored rather average. Part of the reason for this might be because I suffer from performance anxiety, and have trouble focusing when others are watching me. I have materials at home for this type of testing and really should retest myself soon and see if I fare any better.

Next, I stopped at the table belonging to the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore to try out their spirit box, which is a small wooden box with a voice chip inside that can produce phonetic sounds. You ask it a question and then plug it in and listen. I decided to address my question to Puck which, in retrospect, might have not been the best idea. Initially I did not think it would be a problem because I talk to Puck through Tracy Ann with little difficulty; however, Tracy Ann is not a voice chip. Her brain can convert Puck’s message into language which humans can understand. After I asked my question, I placed my  hand on top of the box and plugged it in. What I heard was a long jumble of syllables which reminded me of  people speaking in tongues. I could not pick out many recognizable words among those sounds which contained many ‘y’ and ‘l’ combinations. Here is a list of words I may have heard, but none of them were clear: fuel, Uriel, lair, young, lua [lwa?], aerie or airy, a hair, omni, Jeremiah, admiral, lord, le ear. The experience was rather disappointing, but I’d be willing to give the box another try if the opportunity should arise again.

I had initially planned on staying at the Northwest Museum table and getting a tarot reading there, but while I was using the spirit box I noticed that there was a $5.00 fee for the reading. Now, normally I would consider that a very good bargain for a tarot reading, but I’d already spent most of my money at the convention and, seeing as how I was not in desperate need of a reading, I really did not want to spend anything there. (This would turn out to be one of those “coincidental” circumstances that pushes me in a direction that I am meant to go.) So I got up and wandered over to the table of the Seattle Metaphysical Library. A young man with a tattoo sleeve was sitting quietly there with a tarot deck. He introduced himself as Jaxob and said he was giving free readings. He told me to shuffle the deck while thinking about my question (I did not speak it out loud), and then to set the cards down and cut the deck in half. I decided to ask the spirits to show me what I needed to know about my spiritual path.

Jaxob picked up the two stacks, then laid out three cards: the Page of Swords, the Queen of Swords and the Ten of Swords. He asked me what was the first thing that I noticed about the cards, and I replied that there were a lot of swords. He explained that this represented someone who exists on the mental/intellectual level (which would be me–not by choice, but a strong intellectual/skeptical side appears to be part of my makeup). The Ten of Swords (the image is of a man lying face-down with ten swords sticking out of his back) represented the end of this type of existence, and the beginning of one more based on emotion. He interpreted the Queen of Swords to indicate that I should work with a female deity towards this goal.

He asked me if there was a particular female deity I worked with, and I told him that I used to be Wiccan but now practiced Vodou, and we had a brief conversation about Vodou. As it turned out, he is a friend of Mambo C’s. Small world.

He thought the Queen of Swords might represent Erzulie Dantor, but was not sure. I am thinking perhaps I should be paying more attention to La Sirene–partly due to the association of water with emotions, and also because of the watery sensation that Angel felt in my third eye when she aligned my chakras. Plus La Sirene has been with me on this journey all along, and I feel I’ve not been giving several of the lwa as much attention as they deserve lately, with the exception of Legba. But I will keep Dantor in mind, and see if anything else occurs that suggests I should be serving her as well.

Note: Any interpretation errors are likely mine and not Jaxob’s…I did not take thorough notes during the reading and am writing this largely by memory.

What struck me about Jaxob’s reading was that it reminded me of last month’s oracle reading…both with themes of change, spiritual growth and giving up old things to make way for the new.

In conclusion, I’ll mention that I got my tax refund today. For quite some time I’ve been planning to buy a Playstation. I enjoy computer gaming, but have never spent much time with console games. Plus it could double as a blu-ray player, which I’ve been wanting to buy. However, in light of this second card reading echoing the first one, I am thinking of passing on that idea and just settling for a simple blu-ray player. Besides saving money, I will be sparing myself of yet another time-consuming, income-chomping hobby that will take me away from my artwork and spiritual studies.

Unblocking my creative energies

Posted in Agwe, Art, Dreams, Erzulie, La Sirene, Legba, lwas, Ogoun, Religion, Ritual, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2010 by cheshirecatman

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve neglected the lwa somewhat since buying a condo last summer. It’s also been difficult finding the discipline to sculpt. I feel as if my rhythm is off or something.

I’ve also been analyzing my dream about the gloves. In the dream, I was worried about finding the lost blue glove. Perhaps I should have just accepted the mismatched red glove.

I’ve always been a daydreamer, and prone to living so much in my imagination that I neglect practical affairs. This daydreaming tendency, while it connects me to La Sirene, can sometimes be my downfall. I think the red glove represented Ogoun, and his determination and discipline. I need to attend to practical affairs.

On Saturday, Anne went to a birthday party for her mother, and I had the place to myself. I took advantage of the solitude to prepare some food and drink offerings for Legba, La Sirene, Agwe, Erzulie, Ogoun and my ancestors. There was a lot of energy in my shrine area, and afterward I felt the ache in my arms that I now associate with exposure to the lwa.

Attending to them has helped to ease my artistic block, and I’ve been sculpting every night since then. The two gloves seem to indicate a need to balance my dreamy nature with practical application. Nothing new there, but I feel as if my battery has been jump-started again.

My second Fet Gede

Posted in lwas, Possession, Religion, Ritual, Spirits, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 7, 2010 by cheshirecatman

Saturday evening I attended my second Fet Gede. Several of my friends also attended, including Slinky, Robert and Greg (who attended last year’s Fet Gede), and my friend Jacob. Jacob and I used to work together and, although he is a lot younger than me, we get along well and he is curious and open to new experiences.

Slinky agreed to pick Jacob and I up at my place at 6:30pm. Earlier that evening, it was pouring down rain, but fortunately it let up a bit before Slinky came over.

Prior to the fet, I took a nice hot bath and then sat with Papa Legba in front of my altar for a little while, sharing some rum with him. Then I changed into purple and black clothes and went downstairs to wait for Jacob and Slinky.

The fet was held at a dance studio south of downtown Seattle. We arrived close to 7:00. As we were carrying our offerings and potluck food toward the entrance, Mambo C waved to us. She’d just arrived herself and was unloading supplies from her car.

The Mambo was running late, so we helped with the preparations. Slinky and Jacob helped hang fabric and purple lights behind the altar and prepared the tub of basil water that would be used for blessings later on. Slinky also arranged flowers in vases while I helped position the items on the Gede altar to make them visually pleasing. Houngan D placed a spirit box that he had made upon the altar. It measured perhaps 12″ x 12″ square, and was quite beautiful. The outside was a metallic red and all of the surfaces (except for the bottom) had circular openings cut into them. Once he lit the candle in the center, you could peer inside. There were small mirrors attached to the inside of the surface, and a figure of a lwa sat in each of the four corners. One of them was Papa Legba.

The crowd this time was more diverse than at the other fets. Of about 30-40 people, four of them were of African descent: Robert, one of the drummers, and two women (one of whom attended the other fets I’ve been to). Then there was me, the sole Asian/Native guy. There were also some new people, most of them on the younger side.

Prior to the start of the service, we were allowed to place offerings to the Gede and the ancestors on the altar. The day before I’d baked some corn muffins based on a Native recipe and gave them, along with a pair of sunglasses with one lens popped out for the Gede.

The fet started in the usual way, with the recitals of the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary. Then we proceeded into the priyes, which are a sort of sung call-and-response  prayer to the various saints and lwa. This takes a while, as there are a number of saints and many lwa who are acknowledged. During the priyes, various attendees would either touch their hand to first their chest and then the ground, or drop to their knees and touch their foreheads to  the ground. As far as I can tell, this is done to acknowledge various lwa who they serve, but  I will need to ask Mambo C  for more details.

Then the active part of the service began, with live drum music, dance, and occasional songs to various lwa. Prior to the fet, Mambo C had sent us a link to a site where we could learn some songs. I  was rather proud of the fact that I managed to learn one song for Papa Legba well enough that I was able to sing along during the fet.

During a segment of the fet dedicated to Papa Legba, Mambo C grabbed my hand and led me into the center of the circle of dancers. She did a series of hand shakes with me, and then lifted my arm and turned me around. Sometimes this technique is used to help along a possession, but in my case it didn’t happen. But I will say that it was a nice feeling dancing in the center of the circle with the Legba energy around me. I am not sure if the Mambo did that to see what would happen, or if she actually sensed the Legba energy around me. Another thing I should ask her about.

There were a lot of possessions at this fet, and I am not going to attempt to describe all of them. The depth of each possession varied, and I am not yet skilled or experienced enough to recognize each of the lwa or to even be sure if all of them were possessions or if some were just near-possessions. But I will describe a few of the more striking ones.

Houngan D had more than one possession, but the one that is most prominent to me is the Damballah one. In a Damballah possession, the horse (the possessed person) lies on the ground, sometimes moving along on his/her stomach. They are often covered by a sheet, which is held above them by other attendees. As Damballah possesses Houngan D regularly, I assume that he is the Houngan’s met tet. It is worth noting here that Houngan D has a snake that he brings with him to some services.

Mambo C also had more than one possession. I am not sure of all of them, but I believe one of them was Bossou (although this time it was not as obvious as some of her previous Bossou possessions) and another was Ogoun. During the Ogoun possession, she stalked out of the circle of dancers and over to the altar, and returned wielding a big machete.

In one section of the service, she and a male attendee were in the center of the circle when Mambo C appeared to be possessed by Erzulie. She became very flirtatious and then she touched the male dancer, who then also became possessed by Erzulie, taking on a feminine demeanor.

Some of the less obvious possessions or possessions that did not completely “take” were interesting. One young man who danced with jagged convulsive moves and regularly shouted during the service, was convulsing quite intensely at one point and Houngan D clasped his arms to support him. Then he was laid down on the floor in the center of the circle while we danced around him. I don’t know which lwa possessed him, if it was indeed a full possession.

Another attendee, a plainly dressed woman with glasses, was bent over double at one point, as though the lwa were weighting her down with what may have been an attempted possession. I found this incident particularly interesting and believable, because the woman did not seem like the attention-seeking type, nor was she a flashy dancer.

Both of the African-American women underwent possessions too, although again I was not able to recognize the lwa. The most amusing possession of the evening, however, happened to V, an initiate who is a regular at the fets. She is married to Baron Samedi, so it was not surprising that she was possessed by the Gede during their section of the service. She went into a trance like state as she danced, then began laughing. At one point she was lying on the floor, and someone must have made some comment about her being vegan. At that point, a very deep male voice issued forth from her lips and said, “She only likes one kind of meat!” That’s the Gede for you—bawdy humor, but always in good fun.

After the service, in the car ride home, Jacob made an interesting observation. It was his first time at a fet, and he did not dance but remained on the sidelines as an observer. During the service, a fire was lit in a censor placed inside a large cooking pot. Jacob noticed that, whenever the drums and dancing intensified, the fire would burn more intensely as well.

After I got home, I stood in front of my home shrine and thanked Legba for a good service. Although I would like to someday be possessed, I told Legba that I understood that I might not be ready for it and trusted his judgment. A sense of gratitude flowed from me; it was so strong that it was almost tangible.

As for physical after-effects, I had a lot of energy after the fet and couldn’t sleep for a few hours, even though I got home around 1:30am. Today, however, I have slightly sore leg muscles and a slightly queasy stomach. I did not have any intense arm pain at the fet like I did last year, but today I noticed a slight feeling in my arms like a residue of pain. I think my body has largely adapted itself to the energy.

Ayibobo!