Archive for Voodoo

Voodoo practitioners mourn the death of leader Max Beauvoir

Posted in Haiti, Vodou, Voodoo with tags , , , on September 16, 2015 by cheshirecatman

“Max Gesner Beauvoir, the “Ati” or supreme leader of voodoo, Haiti’s traditional Afro-Caribbean religion, died Saturday afternoon, aged 79.”
Video posted on the Daily Mail site

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Houngan Max Beauvoir, August 25, 1936 – September 12, 2015

Posted in Haiti, Vodou with tags , , on September 12, 2015 by cheshirecatman

Today Houngan Max Beauvoir joined the ancestors. He passed away at 1:00 pm at Le Peristyle de Mariani, founded in 1974 in Mariani, Haiti.

An interview from 2010

Philadelphia, Summer 2015, Part Two: Enter Simbi Makaya

Posted in lwas, Simbi Makaya, Vodou with tags , , , , on July 2, 2015 by cheshirecatman

fire-orange-emergency-burning_s

(continued from Part One)

Saturday night’s service was of the fiery Petro sort, in honor of Simbi Makaya. The sosyete’s drummer had other commitments, so we would be singing a cappella, with only our hands and assons for accompaniment. There were ten of us present: the Houngan and Mambo of the house, five other mambos, two sevis tets, and a hounsi Kanzo (yours truly).

We began, as always, with the Priye Ginen. It did not take long at all for the room to heat up. We sang for everyone’s met tets. Legba and La Balenn came but did not take anyone’s head. The Houngan then started to go under, but was told to “pass it on,” so he touched foreheads with Mambo Vye Zo, and then she was gone.

Enter Simbi Makaya.

Two of the mambos immediately attended to him, and tied red and black moushwas onto his arms. His throne had been set up prior to the fet, and he settled into it with the air of a man who is at once both regal and street smart. Mambo likes to refer to him as the godfather of Vodou, and that seems to describe this Lwa about right.

He wanted his Dewar’s and cigarettes immediately. He would smoke and drink throughout the evening. Those of us who were not attending to his needs sat or knelt around his throne. Then he immediately focused on Mambo CH, whom he’d recently visited in a dream. He was charming and tender with her as they talked. He could not resist asking for her hand in marriage, but the mambo politely declined. He bathed her feet, her hands and her head. When Mambo CH rose to her feet, she vired (performed a series of turns that is a salute), and Makaya was pleased that she was “well raised.”

Next, he called up one of the sevis tets, and they talked for a while before Makaya dabbed some of the bath water on their
forehead.

At some point after Makaya’s arrival, Simbi Andezo arrived in the Houngan’s head, and sat down next to Makaya. Andezo is not gregarious like Makaya, so he was mostly quiet. When he did speak, it was not loud. I wasn’t close to him so did not hear much of what he said.  I was sitting with a couple of the mambos a few feet to the opposite side of Makaya, trying to be small and invisible. I knew that Mambo CH really needed to speak with him, and figured I did not need to take up any of his time. My ploy was about zero percent effective.

“Azouke! You think I don’t see you? Silly man.”

I jumped a bit when he said my name. He gestured me forward. I don’t remember what all we talked about, but I do remember him complimenting me on my creativity and my hands, and that inspired me to promise him a sculpture. This pleased him a great deal. He said that God gave them (the Lwa) many things, but physical form was not one of them. He also told me he watches the redhead that I live with. I wondered to myself how she would feel about that. Anne, the former atheist. Sometimes Vodou scares her a little, but she takes it in stride and believes. When we were finished, he dabbed my forehead with the bath water, I vired and returned to my chair.

Makaya then proceeded to do all the gads himself. Originally there were only four of us who wanted them, but during the service more were inspired and also asked for them. The only people who did not receive one were those who already had them. When the final gad was done, he asked if there was food, and was served a piece of a chocolate cake that one of the sevis tets had baked for him. Then we all were served cake, and someone offered the Houngan a piece. But the Houngan was still out, and Andezo said dismissively, “Do I look like I want cake?”

After the cake, I kind of expected Makaya might leave, but instead he asked us if we had any questions. The room was silent, but he was having none of that. “So, no questions? Everyone knows everything!”

One of the mambos asked him if he got the scratches on his face from Dantor. Makaya smirked and replied, “No. But I should show you my back sometime.”

I asked him what he looked like, and he gave me enough of a description that I could start building my mental picture of him. (I will not share this now, but will post his sculpture when it’s complete.)

There were more questions, and more discussion, and then the Houngan was back and telling Makaya that it was time to leave. Mambo Vye Zo returned to us, exhausted and hungry. It was an amazing service, and the most time I’ve ever spent in the company of a single Lwa. I hadn’t expected to like Makaya so much. In some ways we are kindred spirits—we both have a realistic (and not always flattering) view of humanity, we both like ‘women who fight back,’ and I like his no-nonsense way of dealing with things. At one point during the evening, he’d stated, “Nobody fucks with my people.” As I’d mentioned in my previous post, I had not worked with Simbi Makaya before. Mambo Vye Zo thinks I may be mistaken, that we may indeed have worked together, just not in this life. After meeting Makaya and discovering how easily we interact, I am inclined to think she may be right.

Sunday evening, on my flight home, I received a text from Anne: “Some kind of disaster happened in the backyard in [annoying neighbor’s] unit. Firemen are there for a long time and appears like a hole is dug up. There is caution tape.”

What we know: Around 8 pm Sunday evening, Anne thought she heard a few explosions. A little while later, there was a fire  truck and about ten firemen by the neighbor’s unit. Their fence on one side is so badly burned that it will need to be replaced.

Now, there are times when my skeptical brain would write this off to coincidence, but not in this case. Look at the timeline of events: Saturday afternoon, neighbor’s kid is climbing over our gate into our patio, potentially damaging it. Sat night, during service, Simbi Makaya says he is watching Anne. Sunday, the neighbor’s patio is burned. I was and still am kind of floored by this. I had not asked Makaya to deal with the neighbors, and had not even been consciously thinking  about them during service. The only thing I can conclude is that he meant it when he said he was watching over Anne.

Mambo says that Makaya tends to be very “tit for tat.”

And the punch line? Each of the patios in our condo complex is separated from the patio next to it by a wooden divider wall. The divider separating the annoying neighbor’s patio from the next patio is only burned on the annoying neighbor’s side.

Gotta hand it to Makaya, he strikes with precision.

So now, I need to set him up some altar space, buy him a bottle of Dewar’s, and get busy on that sculpture.

On a final note, I would caution that it’s not a good idea to approach Simbi Makaya to work with him. This is clearly not a Lwa to mess around with. If he wants to work with you, he will let you know.

If you’d like to read Mambo Vye Zo’s thoughts on these events, click the links below:

Part One and Part Two

A new year, Bain Noel and Four Circles class

Posted in Religion, Ritual, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , on January 18, 2015 by cheshirecatman

So we are here in 2015 and I need to start posting regularly again. There are some topics I meant to post last year after Kanzo and I need to get those written. With the shortest day of the year behind us, it’s time to look forward to spring and growth.

Last night I participated in a small Kings Day fet. There were only ten of us present, and half of those had never attended a fet before. As a result, things were a little rough around the edges, but we still raised a good amount of energy. I am not the most energy-sensitive person in the world, but at one point during the Petro section I become uncomfortably hot, even though we were in a basement and had not been dancing enough to raise a sweat. Others felt it too. The presiding Mambo gave us the Bain Noel baths. We parted ways happy and the newcomers plan to return for the next event.

In other news, Sosyete du Marche has started up its Four Circles Year One class again. This is the 101 of Vodou and you have until the end of January to sign up for this quarter. More information here.

Ayibobo, and here’s to a prosperous 2015!

The United States of Hoodoo

Posted in African culture, Haiti, Movies and Media, Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2014 by cheshirecatman

USofH

This full-length documentary film is now available for rental ($2.99) or purchase ($5.99). I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailer looks good. You can see the trailer and purchase the film here.

For all the non-black Vodouisants

Posted in Social Justice with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2014 by cheshirecatman

I almost didn’t post this but then a link on an acquaintance’s Facebook page clearly indicated this needed to be said. The link was to one of those articles about a white person being killed by police with the remark that apparently white lives don’t matter (as in white lives don’t deserve media coverage, protests, etc). The implied comparison to the events in Ferguson is problematic to begin with, but I was really dismayed that it was posted by someone in the Vodou/Voodoo/Hoodoo community.

If you are reading this, then presumably you are a Vodouisant or have an interest in Vodou. Good. It’s a beautiful, amazing religion and I’ve never regretted walking down this path. I believe the Lwa call to people throughout the world. As my mama says, “Vodou includes, not excludes.”

However. HOWEVER.

I don’t believe in freebies—in taking without giving back. To do so is selfish and is cultural appropriation at its worst.

So, if you are not Haitian, have little to no African blood and are a Vodouisant–or even if you “just” take elements of Vodou into your own eclectic practice–then you owe a debt. If you live in the US of A then you are in a position to pay this debt at a very critical time in our history.

Surely you are aware of what’s been going on in Ferguson, the death of young Michael Brown and the fact that his killer has thus far gotten away scot-free, in spite of some glaring big holes in the case. If you don’t care, or spend more time criticizing people for protesting and rioting than you do thinking about how we arrived at the point where it’s okay for “law” enforcement to gun down unarmed teenagers, then now would be a good time for you to either  turn away from Vodou or start doing your homework. Peaceful protest is a nice idea, but in this case it’s proven wholly ineffective. I would ask you if you really believe that Haiti would be an independent nation if the slaves peacefully protested against their oppressors? The idea is laughable.

I am going to say this very bluntly, if you are a Vodouisant and don’t care about how black people are treated—how they are oppressed, misrepresented, targeted and killed—then you have NO business being involved in any faith that has African origins. And if you do care, then DO something. It’s easy to think it’s not your problem if you aren’t black but, trust me, if things continue in this vein the violence and the oppression will end up on all of our doorsteps.

As to WHAT you should be doing? At the very least, you should be educating yourself and others about black history (and be sure to include resources created by black people themselves), voting for candidates who are pro-active about civil rights issues, and supporting black people in whatever way you can (listening to their experiences without inserting your own; giving time, support or money to organizations supporting black lives; and, if you are white, learning to recognize your own privilege and how to use that privilege to promote equality). Let us not waste this opportunity, born of tragedy, to break this toxic pattern that results in the loss of young black lives.

Also try to be less sensitive when black people vent their frustrations at white people (resist the clichéd cry “But not all white people are like that!”). Your hurt feelings cannot compare with the grief of parents who have lost their children to racial violence. Attempting to replace “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter” may seem like a good thing to you, but to black folks and other POCs (people of color) it looks like an attempt to shift the focus away from the deadly profiling of black people. White lives have always mattered more than POC lives in this nation, and there is no history of Jim Crow laws against white people. So seriously, STOP SAYING THAT. At best, it’s disrespectful and reveals an appalling ignorance of history. At worst, you’re going to be seen as racist. Yes, racist.

May you find peace, Michael Brown, with the ancestors in Ginen.

Highly recommended reading:
What Have YOU Done for Black People Today?

When I don’t like Halloween: Universal Studio’s “Bayou of Blood”

Posted in Vodou with tags , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by cheshirecatman

Generally I like this season, but I am not crazy about bad ethnic-themed costumes (aka black/red/yellow-face), or this nonsense which reminds me of last year’s messed up “American Horror Story.”

Black Savagery and “Voodoo” Horror at Universal Studio’s Bayou of Blood by Saumya Arya Haas