Dance Is the Hidden Language of the Soul.

(Quote by Martha Graham.)

Early in the morning on Friday, I heard Papa Legba whispering about Photobucket shiny things. He just needed some shiny things. Please, can I see my shiny things? So, I opened up the little gold box that I placed all of the random spare keys into, along with the two random pennies that I happened to find laying about. He was pleased with this, but also wanted coffee. It’s one of his favorite drinks, besides rum. And since I’ve been drinking it daily, it only stood to reason that he should get a cup, as well. (I believe Sekhmet also requested a cup of black joe, too, but it may have been the next day that happened.) He was mightily happy with all of this. Think of the man at the head of the table on Thanksgiving, sitting back and burping contentedly because his stomach is full.

I was be-bopping along during one of my walks that day when he asked for a more formal relationship. I kind of paused in mid-step before going on. I was wracking my brain because, lately, I’ve had some serious Photobucket issue with trying to maintain my belief in the feelings and thoughts I experience in my mind. The other thoughts that stem from a connection with the gods: the sudden need to eat steak; the exceedingly impatient desire to find everything mother fucking key in the house and place them together; the sudden propensity for wanting to smell the green tea I bought; the burning need to donate blood for the first time; the exceedingly obnoxious demand for spicy taco meat to be set aside… I mean, the list goes on. And these are only the things that I can think of off of the top of my head.

For some reason, I’ve wondered if maybe I am crazy; maybe I’m full of it.

However, just like the Fallow Time is part and parcel to the path that I am on, so is doubt and disbelief. Without these, you cannot have belief and faith. It is the questioning and the doubting, I think, that makes it all that much stronger. It’s still hard to wrestle with when you’re walking alone by yourself and you get the: Psssst. What do you think about a more formal relationship? Let’s take this to the next level, neh? And imagine the image of the dirtiest, oldest man you can think of with a twisted foot, a crutch at his feet, and the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.

So, of course, I panicked.

I have no fucking clue what “formal relationship” is supposed to entail. I know from Shadow that there is a difference between the patronage of the gods and the servitude of the lwa.

When it comes to the gods, it’s like a relationship. Everyone says this and it is very, very true. It’s a dating game, so to speak. There is the honeymoon phase where you can do nothing more than gush about the absurdly awesomeness that is your patron/ess. Then there is the phase that comes immediately after when you realize that things aren’t all flowers and butterflies, but that it’s really going to take a lot of time and effort on both your parts to get this right. In all honesty, I think the burden lies with the person who is being patronized because a god/dess knows what the hell they’re doing; what they’re all about. In regards to us silly little humans, we haven’t a fucking idea. We’re just blundering about blindly on the path because it’s not like we would think to bring a flashlight or anything. This is when it gets harder: the Fallow Time and the Disbelief Periods go hand-in-hand. It’s a test, I think, to see how dedicated you are to the relationship. And each test comes harder and faster than the last, just like in a relationship.

When it comes to the lwa, you serve them.

I have yet to figure out exactly what that means.

When I think of a more formal relationship between Papa Legba and I, I think of a vodou ceremony. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen. I have not been initiated and will not be initiated. I can sing and talk at him and give him coffee, but I know that he is looking for something more in all of this. I just don’t really know what exactly that more is. I’ve been reading about exactly what a closer relationship with the lwa can entail: there’s the ritual and prayers (just like with the saints and stuff); there’s dream work and conversations and chatting and communication; there are monthly meals that are special because it is for you and the lwa and no one else… (Thanks be to the Swamp Witch for that website.) I mean, there’s a lot of helpful information on that website, but it’s couched in terms that I don’t quite agree with.

…which makes it a little more difficult to actually figure out what to do.

It’s like, here’s this nugget of information that would be beneficial. And it’s being held out to be on a pretty little platter. However, the nugget is still enmeshed in the matrix it was originally mined from. So, not only do I have this awesome information being thrust at me, but I also have to chisel it free from the portions that I don’t believe or find uncomfortable. The parts about praying to them as saints bothers me. They’re lwa; not saints. Also, I left the Catholic faith behind when I was a kid and besides, I was raised Methodist. While I will still ask St. Anthony to help me find lost things because it’s so ingrained in me from my mother, that’s the extent of my knowledge or connection with them. Reciting prayers that I don’t remember or don’t like doesn’t seem like a great way to get closer or deeper or more formal with Papa Legba.

Call me crazy, here.

I will admit that he’s cheekily silent at the moment in all of this, which is about as aggravating as it sounds. I think he likes to watch me flounder around when he makes requests just to see what kind of newfangled thing I’m going to come up with. I think it amuses him to watch me walking through this overly darkened forest, stumbling through all of the unfamiliarity. I also think it makes him pretty damn happy when I come up with something strangely different from what he’d get in a vodou ceremony or similar to what he’d get in one of those ceremonies, but with my own little twist on it.

I don’t know what the hell he’s grooming me for, but it’s going to be interesting.

In the mean time, I not only have to get more formal, but I also have to figure out what the hell I’m going to do. Books and websites all vary on anything to do with Papa Legba. They all will tell you what day of the week is his and every source will have a different day. I think since he asked me on Friday, then I’ll reserve Fridays for him. Also, every source and UPG will tell you about how he likes this, this, and this, but when you’re with him, he’ll intimate something entirely different. I think that, above all else, is why everyone thinks of Legba as a trickster. He changes from person to person so that you can’t really get an accurate bead on him. I know he likes it that way for whatever ineffable reason he’s got. It’s still confusing and nerve-wracking for those of us who serve him, though.

In all of this, I have… two days to figure out exactly what I’m going to do. I can do this. I can do this. If I can come up with a pretty awesome full moon ritual in less than twelve hours, then I can (A) do the same for the new moon and (B) do the same for Papa Legba.

Yeah. I can do this.

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14 thoughts on “Dance Is the Hidden Language of the Soul.

  1. I know jack about the Iwa. I know jack about PL. But from the sounds of it, you should take what you’ve read- and shelf it. He changes regularly, right? He is gonna ask you for different things than he asked of that person (and that other person, and that other other person). So why bother with what everyone else ‘says’ is right? Listen to your gut. It’ll probably lead you better than any book.

    When Set made the want of something more formal, it took time for the ideas to solidify. For me to understand what he really wanted. So I wouldn’t be too afraid to give it time. Let it grow on its own and see where it leads you.

    • I think I keep turning to the books because it’s just my nature. I equate books with knowledge, and knowledge with reality. The best book I have on the subject says that trusting your instincts is more important than any book.

      When Set asked for formal, did he want the daily rite or something similar?

      • Long story- here is the short…er version :P

        I had been doing the daily rite for Set for a while when he told me to stop and inspect Shinto. About 5 or 6 months after that, he told me that he wanted things to be ‘more serious’. The first step in this new srs me is a shrine box. But not any shrine box will do. It needs to be wood. No particle board and veneer. He has specifically stated that it needs to be solid wood. He’s given me an image of what he wants- but I haven’t found it yet. 4 or 5 months later.

        What will be the next step after that? I don’t know. But I am not to start up with the daily rite for him and O until I find this magical shrine box lol.

  2. I don’t know much about the lwa, but regarding your discomfort with the Christian aspects of Vodoun – have you looked into the original tribal African religions from which it came? Maybe that would give you some guidance without all the Christian baggage.

  3. A formal relationship, eh? That sounds like an adventure. Definitely take some time to think about it before making what seems like a big decision. And good luck.

  4. Maybe I’m the odd one out, but NONE of my situations with deities at ALL involved honeymoon or any relationshippy aspects. They don’t come and go for me, though there are times of the year that some are served more than others. But I never had a honeymoon or gushed about them. I love them, but that feeling has only deepened, and because of, I dunno, research, psychic foresight, something, I always knew it wasn’t going to be honey and roses, and in fact have felt many times intimidated by those calling me. Nor does it, for me, take ANY effort on Their part in a relationship with the Gods and Goddesses, only that they are understanding that I cannot do everything right away and that I am human. This, too, is an oddity, because if I ask for something, I get it 99% of the time. My deities provide, and almost instantly. So it’s ME who has to do the work and the effort, because the Gods are Gods, with tons of power.

    The Lwa are powerful, but they are not Gods, so they don’t have the scope of power that the Gods have. If you notice they have very specific jobs most of the time and in my experience, whatever they came to me for, they tend to do for me, and I usually don’t find myself asking them for something they’re not in charge of.

    You worship a God by placing them higher than you. You’re devoting yourself to them, honoring them as a Deity. Service means that you serve them, like you would someone in a respected position, but they are not God/ not a God or Goddess. It really comes down to more of a “If you do this for me, I will do this for you” type thing with the Lwa. I do not get offers like that from my Gods. They cannot be bribed or swayed. Their word is their word, and I leave it at that.

    I keep an altar to the Goddesses and Gods because I worship them. I keep an altar to the Lwa because I serve them, most literally, with food and needed items. I very rarely leave any Goddesses food, they very rarely ask for it. Usually they ask for symbols of who they are or what they do, rather than a shiny thing they might like or coffee because they’re thirsty. The Gods do not hunger as the Lwa do.

    In Haiti animals are sacrificed to the Lwa because it is the energy of the animal that they take, the meat is then left for the Hounfor (the congregation, basically) to consume. They Lwa are called upon and do more menial work than the Gods and Goddesses at large, and because they are spirits of the once living (like the saints) they run out of that spirit energy and need it replenished. Rather like the dead in China, whom you feed and burn hell money for, because their ancestors can become hungry if they aren’t fed- co can the Lwa. So for everything you ask for, you must give something for. The Gods, being what they are, are sustained by worship and belief (read American Gods if you haven’t, it’s got some seriously good points on this) and while they might want something, they have an endless supply of milk and honey or nectar and ambrosia or mead and beer.

    It is the Lwa that I feel like there’s a honeymoon period and a relationship with, much more than the Gods (though once again I didn’t experience this, I have just seen others). Perhaps because the Lwa were once human is why they retain that aspect.

    There are a few things that pop into my head here. Maybe Papa is asking you to work more with him and to make him a bigger part of your life, or he might even be asking you to MARRY him. Maryaj Lwa (Marriage Loa) is a decently common thing, though usually only to initiates, but there are always exceptions- likely you (and most of the rest of us Americans) will never find a Hounfor to belong to or really even sit in on, they are far and few between and secretive to boot. Don’t get tricked into marrying ANY Lwa. If any of them ask for a ring, think it through long and hard and make sure you don’t wind up like one of the gals I’m helping out now- Marriage counseling with a Lwa is not pretty. So be smart about it! The Lwa like you to figure things out, and with someone tricky like Legba, he will want you to be clever about it. Likely you’re right, he wants to watch you squirm.

    Personally I think you defining your day you serve him and your own rituals that you work out will be more “right” than anything you read on a website. We serve him Monday, but if he came to you on Friday, that’s perfect (though others would tell you not so!). You do what works in Vodou, because as far as I can tell, EVERYONE has different opinions and services and days and whatever. Only the colors remain consistent. Do what you feel is right! After all, they get old school Celtic style offerings from me in our house, plus Mardi Gras crap and all sorts of weird things. They love the unusual, and they love anything you bring them (Provided that they’re appropriate things. Don’t bring Erzulie Freda bones, that will offend her, etc.). But Papa here shares an altar with Hermes, Angel Gabriel and Ganesh, per his permission, and he loves everything about it.

    A note on the saints. The Lwa are, like the saints, ascended humans. This doesn’t MAKE them saints, and the only reason they have saints associated with them is because the original African religion adopted the icons to keep their religion alive, so in a way, the Saints are to thank for Vodou and Santeria, etc, existing now! But if you talk to the Lwa, you DON’T have to talk to the saints or involve them in any way. They’re not the same people, they’re just the same type of beings. I work with both, and have had more than one prayer answered by a saint, so it works for me, but you don’t need to involve it.

    CHRIST that was long. Sorry!

    • You can be as long as you want with your responses. I don’t mind! I appreciate any and all information that you can possibly give me in all of this. I’m still floundering a lot of the time and am utterly confused about 79% of the time.

      I don’t think marriage is the thing he’s look for. Also, if he was, I’m not ready for that kind of a commitment with the guy I live with, never mind a lwa who has recently entered my life. (I have visions of him proposing to me and me going: “I’m sorry, Legba; I’m just not that kind of gal. You need to date me first.”)

      Now, the working more closely with him and with him more often… I can see that. He’s not peripheral in my life–I talk to him a lot–but he’s not a main focus. Sekhmet is still a very main focus with me. If he wants that kind of attention, I can do that.

      I know that Vodou is exactly what I make of it. I remember reading that and thinking, “Wow. That’s neat. I can do it however I want and not have to worry about doing it incorrectly?” That’s actually what pulled me in this direction in the first place. (I was coming from a trial at Recon into this.) However, I think I just need that reinforced now and again.

      Thank you, for everything you’ve done so far and all the advice you will give me in future.

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