(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.
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 😛