Archive for lwa

Ask and receive, in which the Lwa work with what is already around you

Posted in Legba, lwas, Vodou with tags , , , , on July 26, 2015 by cheshirecatman

I had the opportunity to sign up for an online class related to my various spiritual practices. I really wanted to take this class, and it was being offered at 1/3 of the usual price. I still could not really afford it and hesitated, knowing that it would make finances very tight for the next couple of weeks, and that I would have to postpone some bills. With a resigned sigh, I said to Legba, “If you think it would be good for me to take this class, any financial help would be appreciated.” The discounted price was only offered for a very limited time and I was up against the deadline, so I took the plunge and registered for the class. This was last Saturday (July 18). That same day we had a grocery delivery scheduled.

Now, Anne and I are city dwellers, and have not owned a car for over a decade. To reduce trips to the grocery store (and to avoid having to haul heavy items like cat litter on the bus), we regularly use a grocery delivery service. We select a delivery time, usually in the evenings or on a weekend. Most of the time the service delivers on schedule, and even when they are late, they are good about letting us know. In the 3 or so years we’ve been using them, I’ve only had to call them about late delivery a handful of times.

Grocery expenses add up quickly, and last weekend was one of the larger orders we’ve placed (over $200). So, the scheduled delivery window came and went, and about 15 minutes afterwards, I phoned the company. The customer service rep was very courteous and told me that they had been having a lot of delays that morning. She briefly put me hold while she tried to contact the delivery driver. When she was unable to reach him, she apologized and said that she would immediately refund our order. She then said that if the driver did show up we could keep the groceries free of charge.

What? I was kind of floored. Our deliveries have been late before, and I’ve never been offered a full refund. The downside: if the groceries failed to show up, then Anne and I would need to go shopping that day and I would be either hauling cat litter on the bus or ordering from another delivery service. I was really keeping my fingers crossed that the delivery showed up.

And it did, only about 30 minutes late. Which was not a big deal to me, and I would have been fine without a refund. We just wanted our stuff. As it turned out, we got over $200 worth of groceries for free, which was wonderful and kind of weird.

And then I remembered my comment to Legba. And realized that my share of the groceries came up to around $135, which was about the same amount of money that I was lacking to pay for the class and my bills. Whoa.

I also thought about how he brought about this windfall using situations that were already at play in my life. Not that the Lwa can’t bring results from unexpected sources, but I think they are practical and have no qualms about working with the tools most readily available.

So Saturday evening, I lit candles and thanked Papa. Ayibobo.

Advertisements

“An Outsider at the Crossroads” article by Alley Valkyrie at Wild Hunt

Posted in Ghede, Ghosts, Life Lessons, lwas, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2014 by cheshirecatman

I highly recommend this article by Alley Valkyrie on The Wild Hunt site. It’s a fascinating account of a white artist moving into a neighborhood heavily populated by Caribbean people as well as a commentary on race relations, privilege and gentrification. Vodou also included.

An Outsider at the Crossroads

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

 

Faith and signs

Posted in Religion, Vodou with tags , , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by cheshirecatman
dreamstimefree_187056

© Dawn Johnson | Dreamstime Stock Photos

A recent conversation with a good friend got me to thinking about faith and signs, and how hard it can be to have faith if you experience few signs.

I used to be like that, back in my Wiccan days. I had days when I wondered why I even bothered having a faith, when the powers that be did not acknowledge or speak to me. I thought maybe what little I did sense was all in my head. I know there are many people who experience similar struggles, as well as people who retain their faith in the absence of signs. A crisis of faith isn’t always a bad thing either. It can be an opportunity to re-evaluate and re-direct oneself, if necessary.

It took some pretty obvious and undeniable signs to set my feet firmly on the Vodou path, and for that I feel very blessed and will always be grateful. (Never let it be said that the Lwa are not patient.) But in retrospect, I can’t help but think that many signs were indeed there in my life already, and I was too distracted by my daily struggles or my own expectations to notice them. Signs can be as subtle as a song on a distant radio that carries a message relevant to you at that time, or the shape of a cloud, or the words spray-painted on a wall. The powers that be make use of what’s available to them, whether that is an object in your vicinity or the assistance of a mambo or medium.

With Vodou, I can’t stress the importance of community enough. While there IS a such thing as solitary Vodou, community is where you can experience more signs and receive validation of your beliefs. Even if you only attend a fet once in a while, the experience is well worth it.

And with that, I extend a heartfelt thanks to the local mambo, who has given me (and continues to give me) more than she will ever know, and I salute Mambo Pat and Papa Don of Sosyete du Marche, who hold the lantern that lights my way.

An interview with playwright Shawn C. Harris

Posted in Art, Legba with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2014 by cheshirecatman

crossroads_theatre_project1

On occasion, I like to feature artists, writers, filmmakers and other creative people on this blog. Today’s focus is on theatre.

Shawn C. Harris is a playwright from Richmond, VA who has written, developed, and produced plays in NYC’s indie theatre scene. A passionate advocate for improving diversity in theatre, her works consistently feature strong roles for women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.

Shawn’s plays include ENCANTA, TULPA, OR ANNE&ME, THE ROSE KNIGHT, and a variety of short pieces. Her work has been featured at The Cell Theatre’s Blackboard Plays reading series and WOW Cafe Theatre.
Since 2008, she has been writing essays and sharing resources about theatre, social justice, and diversity on her blog, Love’s Labors Lost.

In 2010, Shawn founded Crossroads Theatre Project to develop plays that challenge assumptions about what African diaspora theatre is and what it can be. Through Crossroads Theatre Project, Shawn’s full-length play, TULPA, OR ANNE&ME, received its world premiere at the 3rd annual Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.

Crossroads Theatre Project is currently developing her next play, ENCANTA, for production.

Thanks for being here, Shawn. In one of our conversations, you mentioned that the Crossroads Theatre Project was named after Eshu/Legba/Ellegua. Can you tell us a little bit about that? It seems fitting, Legba being the lwa of communications, among other things.

The way I make sense of it is that Eshu builds connections and exchanges between people, places, words, realities, and ideas. This can make him complex and sometimes paradoxical. Sometimes helping, sometimes harming. Sometimes fun, sometimes terrifying. I think that many times people simplify that by calling him a trickster, but I prefer to think of him as a guide into new ways of perceiving and understanding. Simply by being what he is, he challenges fixed notions of identity and perception.

It is likewise with Black identity. Black people, and therefore Black theatre, are not just one thing. Blackness is often seen as monolithic, so that tends to mean that people often simplify what Black humanity, and therefore Black art, is or can be about.

Crossroads Theatre Project is my way of giving space to the spirit of what Eshu represents while also rooting it in Blackness and in the intersections of Blackness and other identities.

I really love the way you just described him. You’ve obviously done a fair amount of research into African Traditional Religions. Is there one particular branch that interests you more than others, and do you see yourself one day traveling down that path?

I’ve committed to another path, but one of the things I wish to bring to my current practice is a sensibility rooted in African spirituality such as diunital cognition.

Let’s talk about your latest project, “Encanta.” I was trying to think of how to describe it and came up with romantic fantasy comedy with a touch of swashbuckler. How would you describe it? It doesn’t fit neatly into one category.

“Romantic fantasy” is a good way to describe it. I don’t particularly worry about how to label it genre-wise. I prefer to say what the play is about and let that speak for itself. Once people get to the part where the play is about a pirate and a sorceress falling in love, I hope it’s pretty obvious that I’m not dealing with a slice-of-life drama.

I love the humor throughout the script, even during the more dangerous scenes. Was it originally conceived that way or did you ever consider writing it as straight drama?

It was originally conceived to be lighthearted and funny.

At the beginning of the script, you mention that all parts can be played by trans and genderqueer people. I take it you put that right up front to keep that prominent in any potential director’s mind?

I wrote these characters so that trans and genderqueer people could play them, so that trans and genderqueer people can imagine themselves in these roles. A director grasping that point was a secondary, but still important, consideration.

For the record, it was not a Herculean task to make these roles inclusive of trans and genderqueer people. It wasn’t even difficult. So anyone claiming that it’s oh so hard to write roles for trans and genderqueer people is making excuses.

In your scene descriptions, you cast we the audience as part of the crowd on the street, or neighbors across the street, etc. We are participants in the world of the play. Is there a nonstandard way you visualize producing this play? Would you prefer to produce it in, say, a large room rather than the standard stage which separates audience from the cast? What inspired you to do this?

I don’t see it working well with a proscenium stage. I’d prefer something a lot more porous that combines the art with, say, commerce. A black box theatre can do that, but I would honestly prefer to stage this play outdoors in the midst of some arts and crafts fair or something.

Natural elements play a key role in some scenes. How do you visualize presenting those in your play, especially if you are in an outdoor venue? Would you use props, rely on dialog, or some combination of both?

There are ways to do it, but that’s the director’s job. It won’t work the same way it does in film, where the camera tells you everything. On stage, you’d have to use your imagination more actively.

One of the things I love about theatre is that the power of suggestion is much more potent. So you can take mundane objects like, say, a bath towel, and sort of transform them into other things. That same bath towel can be a superhero cape, a wig of long hair, a baby wrapped in a bundle, or something else entirely.

I really like the way romance and love is presented in this script. Women love women, men love men, and it’s just the way it is without any social stigma. The woman/man combo is not presented as the norm. Does your desire to contribute to a more accepting world affect the type of setting in your work (i.e., fantasy rather than contemporary)?

Not consciously. I just wanted fun, romance, and magic because I’m interested in that. I wanted something that came from my own experience and things I’m interested in without having to justify it.

I was far more deliberate about all the characters being Latino and Afro-Latino and opening all these roles to trans and genderqueer people.

You probably get this question all the time, but what advice would you give aspiring playwrights and other creative folks, especially those who are members of marginalized groups?

I don’t like giving advice. I find that most people have more wisdom about their situation than I ever could. But one piece of advice that has worked for me is to never take on debt to make theatre.

If you would like to read more from Shawn, check out her blog Love’s Labors Lost.

 

 

Highlights of a conversation with a medium

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

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

This session took place on August 11th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is that a Lwa in your Pocket (or are you happy to see me?)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2013 by cheshirecatman

Is that a Lwa in your Pocket (or are you happy to see me?)

Mambo Pat of Sosyete du Marche has posted an excellent essay on recognizing the Lwa.