For the last year, I’ve been paying semi-attention to the Marassa. I’ve been paying some attention to various other lwa as well, but they have unruly pair have been an ongoing amusement for me. It’s only been recently, with Papa Legba’s “learn some things” request that I decided I needed to pay closer attention to these two. After all, if I’ve been commenting on them, remarking on them, and thinking about them, it’s little more to add services to them. I’ve already prepared myself, I think adequately, with my ongoing daily services to Papa Legba. It’s little more to add a weekly homage to the sacred twins.Last Saturday, I prepared their altar space. As I do live in a very small apartment, I am unable to provide them with what I would truly enjoy. Honestly, I would prefer to have a table for Papa Legba with a side dedicated to the Marassa. According to my readings, Papa Legba is saluted first in a Fet, followed closely by the Marassa. It seems appropriate to my uninitiated self to have the two in close proximity to each other. Unfortunately, due to that whole tiny living space problem I have, I am unable to give either Legba or the Marassa what they deserve and can only give to them what I have on hand. So, as you can see from the picture, the Marassa have a shelf. It’s the third shelf – as the Guédé and the Bawon are on shelf number two. I had a feeling this was going to be an issue, but we make do with what we are capable of. And I was quite right, I think, in how large the issue would become.
As I said, last Saturday, I set up that little altar space for the Marassa. They each have the same things. The only difference is the color of the cars I gave them as they are loaners from my son’s gluttonous box of Hot Wheels. (I’m hoping I can find two identical cars.) I want to add more, like a small pink cloth and a small baby blue cloth, but that will come later. As I tend to associate the Marassa with the childish personalities they are famous for, I provided them with a drink of apple juice as that was the only thing I had on hand. I wasn’t quite comfortable providing them with juice but only because of the day in question. According to my readings, most services in their honor are done Wednesdays. (Source: Serving the Spirits by Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo.) However, since I was getting their altar ready this past Saturday, I didn’t think it would be harmful to provide them with a sweet drink until Wednesday.
When I went to offer them something new on Wednesday, the juice was moldy.
Now, mold is a hazard of leaving out offerings. Bacteria happens and then mold happens. However, I have to admit that it has been a very rare occurrence for any of my offerings to end up going to mold like that. I’ve left out rum for weeks and weeks with it drying up instead of going moldy. (Although, I’ve add alcoholic libations go moldy on me before, too.) I’ve left cookies and bread items out for at least a week one time and nothing like this happened to it. Hell. The flowers that have been sitting on Sekhmet’s altar for two weeks are only just starting to wilt and die. We’ve all noticed or remarked before that there seems to be a certain kind of “woo” going on when it comes to how long items can last on our altars, I have to admit that I’ve been extremely lucky, I suppose, in the fact that most of my libations and offerings do not go bad.
I really try not to read too much into things. I try not to think that everything I see or think or do is a sign from the spirits to whom I serve. However, this seemed like a very real indicator that whatever I had done was incorrect and left them unhappy. Unfortunately, no one stopped by to tell me what it was that I may have done wrong. I will admit that the jumping feet of two giggling children in my son’s [empty] room have all but stopped and the batteries have run down in the cars they would set off all night in the last six months. So, it’s possible that they are just not happy with me. However, I also provided a service on a day that I didn’t feel comfortable doing because it didn’t seem right. And they could have also been upset that they are number three on the bookcase I’ve retrofitted for all things voodoo related. And yet again, they could have been dissatisfied with what I had provided.
The problem here is that there are a lot of possibilities and very little to go on.
I have to believe that the Marassa to whom I am willing to serve would not punish me for only being able to provide juice. All in all, as much as I want to provide the very best for all of the OTHERS™ in my life, they are all fully aware that my financial situation is rocky at best. And they also know that when I have the extraneous funds, I will provide them with the best of the best. In the meantime, everyone has to make do with what I have on hand. If I’ve learned anything about the OTHERS™ to whom I’ve served in the last five years, whether they be from my voodoo portion or from my Kemetic portion, it’s that they are always willing to wait until the funds are available for the big ticket items, for the organic offerings, and for the ability to provide them with everything us lowly humans believe that they deserve. So while the Motts apple juice may not have been up to a particular standard, I don’t think they’d be angry enough to mold it.
I was hemming and hawing as I added their items to the shelf the entire time. It wasn’t that I was setting things up on the wrong day, but as I had mentioned above, that I was making them “number three” on the list. The thing is that it’s really more of in numerical addition to the spirits that I serve as opposed to favorites. (Though, I will admit to having a certain cache for Papa Legba.) But there is also the possibility that my wants and desires are overshadowing things. I want to give them a big space. I want to provide them with a shelf higher off the ground so I can leave them with sweets and not worry that my dog will snatch them away. (Though there really isn’t any guarantee that a higher shelf would prevent that, honestly – if the dog wants it and the spirits don’t prevent her, then she’ll get it, sadly.) It’s not as though I am a mambo or anything and I have no desire to become one, either. So, as important as the Marassa are in the world of a society, does this mean that I should serve them with the same sort of gravitas and stipulations as institutionalized services?
On the one hand, I have to go with “no.” I am not part of anything aside from me. I can only do as well as I can with what I have to offer, which includes where a spirit may or may not end up in the grand scheme of altar-bookcases. While both Papa Legba and the Marassa are very important lwa to whom we should be very aware of, those of us with a solitary practice cannot very well be limited by the aspects designated by a society. However, on the other hand, I can’t very well go ahead and ignore everything I’ve read on the subject. Papa Legba is the very important first lwa of awesomeness and the Marassa are a close second, practically a one-and-a-half in some places. Since I am obviously conflicted on the subject matter, I need to pay closer attention to what my intuition is telling me here, but unfortunately, all I can get out of that quarter is, oh shit, oh shit, they’re mad at me.
Maybe I really do need to just pay attention to the days that I say I will do something. Even though I was setting everything up and it didn’t feel complete without a libation, I shouldn’t have done so. I mean, the offering is all well and good, however if I’m going to start seriously paying attention to other lwa in my life, then I need to pay closer attention to the days. Papa Legba gets every day of the week, like the netjer, except for Sunday. (Nobody gets anything on Sundays, ever. It’s my day off.) While I wanted to at least get everything set up and started, it’s feasible that I shouldn’t have gone beyond what I was doing: setting up. By shifting this work to a different day, it’s possible I threw something out of whack. After all, Saturdays are the day that I give attention to the Guédé, so by giving them something on a day reserved for the dead. This is a very real concern that, I think, I need to think on further.
But, there is also the fact that, as I mentioned, I haven’t heard from them in a while. They would play the sirens on some of my son’s more obnoxious toys to all hours of the day and night, irritating me and amusing me at the same time. I’ve heard them bounce around on my son’s bed when he’s staying over his grandparents’ house. I’ve heard them bound down the hall when no one is in the hallway and even seen them playing hide-and-go-seek from the corner of my eye. None of this has been happening in recent months. It could be a cause for concern, but I’ve had long periods where such intense contact has waned previously and it’s always started back up. So, while it’s feasible that they are upset with me over something and have yet to make me aware of what that is, this is something that I believe I would have been made privy to already, if this was truly the case.
And I don’t think it is.
I honestly have to wonder if the main cause of the moldy juice was merely because I went out of order here and screwed up on that front.
Just to be on the safe side, though, I’ll be looking into habitual offerings (aside from the sweet items) and see what I can purchase specifically for them when I go grocery shopping.
Hopefully, I’m reading too much into a situation. I try not to, honestly, but it can be very difficult when you are traversing an area that you are far from expert in. It’s also incredibly difficult when such things as regular communication is entirely based on such things like divination, intuition, or an active godphone. As things in my [mundane] life have made it difficult for me to do much more than go through the motions, none of those other options are currently fully functioning at the moment. All I can do is hope that I haven’t truly angered the spirits of some of the more important lwa out there and hope that this upcoming Wednesday, they enjoy what I provide.
I love this post. I’m just starting out and will be doing my first official ritual for Oshun tomorrow. One of the things I’ve been trying to keep on top of is particular days for the divinities. Like you, I also have limited space so it took me awhile to figure out where to put their altars/shrines and have moved things around a few times.
If they are upset with you right now, hopefully it’ll be short-lived. I have no doubt they understand that you’re doing the best you can but at the same time it’s hard for us not to internalize it as “oh I messed up”.
Is it perhaps that They have simply moved on and you have learned what you needed to learn from Them?
I’ve considered that. I was excited about the idea. You know, “one less to serve.” But I married into a family with twins, so I don’t think they’d up and leave. I just think I made them unhappy with apple juice. XD