(Quote by Martha Graham.)
Early in the morning on Friday, I heard Papa Legba whispering about 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 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.
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.