It’s Legba Time (PBP).

For anyone who knows me, then you know that Legba has been bugging me since the letter C or D to write about him. “Is it time now?” “Are you going to tell them about me now?” “What are you going to say? You should plot that out because L is coming.” “Is it the L week yet?” Gritting my teeth, I did the spiritual equivalent to grinning and bearing it: I pretty much ignored him pushing and poking and prodding while giving him his daily offering of coffee, occasionally with a batch of rum in the mix. He knows just as well as I do that he had to wait until June before I could begin to write about him (since, you know, I mentioned it a time or two). He just wanted me on my toes and thinking about what to say about him. He’s just… That’s my Legba.

So, I’ve mentioned this once or twice when I did a little chatter about voodoo. I got interested in it because of a book series I was reading that took place in New Orleans. That would be one of the V.C. Andrews five book series that were coming out at the time. (Do they still come out? Even though she’s dead? And yes, as a teen, I was pretty fucking obsessed with her books.) I only vaguely remember the series anymore because I gave away all of my books when I realized they were keeping me pinned to the horrors of my past. In effect, there’s a woman in the book who takes to the female lead because she’s from the Cajun bayou and that girl’s grandmother was a something-or-other that people called upon to rid them of evil spirits and heal wounds and all that stuff. So the woman from New Orleans, teaches her a bit about gris-gris and she would mention the Old Man or Papa Legba quite frequently. At the time, I had no idea what the hell a Legba was, but apparently, this stuck with me. So, last July, after debating on it, I finally opened myself to a relationship with any of the lwa that so desired, though I had a strong suspicion that it was Legba who was coming on in. And guess what? Yep, it was the lwa of the crossroads, the opener of the way, who wanted me.

At first, I was pretty much of the mind that I had to sit around and be in his service all of the time. For a long time, I thought I had to venture more into the voodoo world than I was willing to commit to. I thought about how I should join a societe and have a reading about who my Head was. I thought about how I had to start giving him things on a regular basis, ask for his blessing, light candles in his name when asking for those blessings, and all manner of other things. After a while, I began to turn away from it because it seemed like so much work. I mean, it wasn’t; not really. It was only as much as the gods ask of me but sometimes I feel like all of that is so much work and I don’t do as much as I should. I was worried that in following that path – the path of thinking about how hard it would be to serve a lwa and give to my gods as well – that I thought it would be best if I put it all away. After having had Papa Ghede pushed into my presence and later on, Erzili Freda, I knew that I was doing something wrong. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t happening.

I was a Kemetic, for fuck’s sake, not a Vodouisant.

But, you know, wants don’t actually figure into this.

I never dreamed about it or thought about it much. I know that Legba was still walking beside me as I stopped doing anything with him. I felt his presence just as strongly as I felt him in the beginning. One day, he turned to me and said, “I’m walking beside you. The others are quaff. But I’m here.” And you know, I took a lot of comfort in that. There was no dream, there were no cards, there was no message. This was just him and me. My lwa phone was on and I’ve heard him since: giggles, jokes, sarcastic retorts, and I could feel/hear his eye rolling when I was being stupid. He likes to push me into things, thinking that I’ll do it. And since he likes to grant me headaches just as much as my gods do to get my shit in gear, I do them… at some point or another. One day, he might even ask the Big of the Big of me, but I know that whether I do it or not, he’ll still be walking beside me.

You see, I look to Legba a lot of the time. I stop at the altar that he shares with my other two goddesses and I talk to him on occasion. When I hear laughter in my head and I can’t figure out the reason, I stop to look at the candle holder and paquet there. I’ll stop over there and toss a penny into his big, black bowl of things. (He has four or five keys in there, a key charm someone made me, an old-fashioned skeleton key that means more to me than the charm, pennies galore, a beaded necklace that is black and red, and would like some cowrie shells when I start working again.) Sometimes, I stop by with a Mounds bar since he’s a big fan of chocolate and coconut. He likes the minis the best and will let them sit and wither on his altar until I’ve had enough – but mostly not due to rot, more like a child who wants those pieces for himself. He likes the coconut M&Ms but I haven’t bought him any since the last time since my son has a desire for those as well. (I found him sneaking them off the altar once and had enough. TS is not going to take the Mounds bars because he knows they’ll be noticed if they’re gone, but not so with a handful of M&Ms.) Legba seems happy and jovial, although I know that’s not always the case.

The Legba I see in my mind’s eye is an old, black man who wears a red and black skirt. It’s tied around his waist in knots. Three or four dogs wander around him as he moves through green hills as slow as can be. He has a crutch beneath one arm as he wanders around the beautiful green hills that are his home in my head. He has long gray hair that’s ratty and old and falls into clumps around his face. He also has facial hair, in abundance. He wanders around with his dogs and has a little bag across his chest. In there, he has all the things he ever desires: coconut, chocolate, rum, keys, pennies, and cowrie shells. I’m sure there’s more in that bag than what I would like to give him, but thus far, that’s all I can think that there would be. He wanders around, slowly so slowly, in his limping gait with his crutch as he makes sure the gate is guarded. Not everyone is allowed there. Once he turned to me with a toothless grin and said, “You’ll go there soon.” I don’t know if I’ve been to his gate yet, but I do know that I know he’s beside me.

My relationship with this particular lwa is definitely not what you would expect from someone like me. I don’t follow any precepts. In my relationship with him, I use entirely what I hear in my head from him as opposed to what I’ve read in books. Sure, the books have helped me with giving him things I wasn’t sure about: the keys, the pennies, and the like. But, it’s whatever he wants and he has no fear in telling me so. He is an old man but he has that old man’s strength and clever eyes: the old man who has seen war and birth, death and life, and possibly even held one or two in his hands. And he has that old man’s veritable mountain-large inner strength that nothing can subjugate. He is an awe-inspiring presence when he wants to be, but mostly, he prefers laughter and jokes.

This Old Man entered my life, truly, last July. He brought some friends with him to see how that would work out and it didn’t. He shrugged it off and said, “Okay. Not today, or tomorrow, but maybe some day soon.” It doesn’t really matter to me if he brings others to me, later or tomorrow or some time today. All I know is that he walks beside me. Sometimes, he holds my hand before tossing it away and telling me to be strong, be willful, be what I am supposed to be. Other times, he just walks in silence and puts a comforting arm or hand upon me. It doesn’t really matter what happens. All I know is that the Old Man walks beside me and he says, it’s a forever thing. That’s good enough for me.

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8 thoughts on “It’s Legba Time (PBP).

  1. Very nice post. Give me some things to think about. I do have a question though. The term “Old Man” is one I have heard for years, actually when I first started out as a Pagan. Is it something you came up with or a title he told you?

    • It’s a title I picked up from the book series I read about as a teenager. It just… fits. He seems to like it. That’s what TH calls him, too, if/when he talks about him with me. (The Old Man has a thing for TH.)

      Each relationship with the lwa is as good or as bad as you make it. Just remember that. :)

  2. I’ll keep that in mind. I was asking about the title because I’ve heard whispers for years about someone who called himself “The Old Man”. There was once a group I belonged to (when I was very new and naive) that sought to defend others from “outside” threats. They called the antagonist “The Old Man” which when I heard this term I would hear a chuckle in my head and a whisper that would say “That’s not Me.” I just ignored that whisper for years. A little while ago after reading this post I got the distinct impression that Papa Legba may have been around since my beginning, since before I studied any other path. It would make some sense because most of my path work has centered around the Cross Roads and most every deity has had some connection with that aspect of reality. I’ve also had a fondness for pennies and collecting keys. I have both all over my apartment and can’t seem to get rid of them. I also love Mounds (don’t care for Almond Joy at all), M&M’s and the occasional glass of Bourbon (one of Papa Legba’s favorite drinks). So it seems he’s been around far longer than I had originally thought. Much to think about, though the answer is rather obvious.

    As to your comment about what you read in books versus your own experiences.

    In my practices I have often found that what I read in a book is less important than what my own personal experiences are, because they MY personal experiences. I connect better with what I myself encounter, rather than with what someone else imparts to me through a book. My truth may not be your truth, but it is still truth to me and all that jazz. Books just give you someone else’s point of view and how they themselves relate to the universe, unless it’s a compendium or dictionary of a certain practice. I might incorporate certain ideas from an author into my own work, but on the whole I don’t. I prefer my own experiences as they have meaning to me.
    I suppose it’s like going to a group therapy session where you compare experiences with others and possibly gain insight into how others deal with certain situations or what experiences they have had, but it doesn’t change my experiences in the least, it just gives another perspective on whatever I may be considering. Or I may get some pointers on how to handle my own road blocks, but still my choices and perspectives are my own and aren’t overly influenced by what others think as we’re all different people with our own ways of handling things.

    Thanks again for posting this.

  3. This was a great post about Legba. You really captured his nature and the way he goes about things. It really isnt’ the standard fare of “give me an offering, do x y and z, and then I give you my blessing.” Legba really acts more like a friend or caring grandfather (in his own….unique way hahah).

    Also, that laugh. You know you’re in for “fun” times when you hear that laugh.

    It seems too that the relationships with deity that are less forced are really, the ones that last forever. No matter how much work you do for a certain deity, if they aren’t walking beside you and acting like they naturally own a space in your house, and they show up even when there is no teaching to be done, then they just aren’t that “special” deity for you. Who knows, but that seems to be the way it works.

  4. I love Legba! I’m also kind of in the same boat with my “Old Man” (Mannanan) – he’s of a different pantheon that I’m not too interested in beyond his glorious self. If I could, I would be a Hellenist, but It’s like the Universe randomly decided I should be a closet Jew plagued by tricksters and the Grim Reaper. But I guess, like most things in life, religion is anything but cut and dry.

    • Religion is definitely not cut and dry! I always say that “our wants and desires don’t figure into this.” And I would have to say that, if nothing else I’ve learned doing all of this, that’s the most important.

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