I wasn’t raised Catholic as a child. My mother decided that Catholicism wasn’t for her after the war against birth control began really ramping up in the Catholic Church. At least, that’s what she’s told me. So, as a child, I went to a Methodist church and was raised in that faith instead. I think that since I wasn’t raised in this particular faith, this is why it has always fascinated me. The praying to saints; the ritualistic masses; the prayers specific to their faith; the going to confession… every bit that has added up to what we would now classify as “standard Catholicism” has always been something that’s fascinated me. Hell, the architectural beauty of some of the churches in my area has always been enough to entice me, as well. But as interesting as I find it – especially now with my delving into voodoo – I’ve realized I will never truly become a part of that faith. I am too entranced with my gods to leave them aside but I will mention this: by studying voodoo and its syncretism with Catholicism, I’ve come to respect the tradition, if nothing else.
I wanted to do something for All Saints’ Day, but I wasn’t really sure what to do. I did some light reading on the subject matter from both websites on voodoo and websites about Catholicism. Since the two are blended, it seemed fitting to try and find a sort of middle ground to walk while celebrating. In voodoo, the celebrations on All Saints’ Day tend to be relating to the ancestors. This makes sense since the next day, All Souls’ Day, is a celebration of all the Guédé, both ancestor and otherwise. In Catholicism, the point in the holiday is to pay homage to all of the martyrs who have been sainted, not all of whom have their own feast days. It’s kind of like a giant party with a bunch of saints, some of whom are wicked fun and some of whom are wicked boring, but all in all, it’s both solemn and interesting. Neither one of these ideas appealed to me.
It’s not that I don’t want to follow in the roots of what I’m trying to create here. I do. I don’t want to move outside of the box because I’m still learning. Even though I’ve been a servant of the lwa for two years now, I am still very much a fledgling on this path. This is the first year where I’ve begun to pay attention to the holidays specifically associated with the lwa whom I serve as well as the feast days for the saints that the lwa are associated with. And while I often want to do something in celebration, I may not be fully capable of doing what I believe would seem appropriate.
In the case of yesterday, I was pretty sure that I wanted to do a sort of feast. However, my financial situation has not changed. While things are in the worse to make changes happen, I’m still waiting on everything that will make my financial situation a tad bit easier. So, while I may have wanted to provide a meal for all of the lwa and the saints associated with them, I was unable to do so. So, it came down to thinking outside of the box, of which I’m pretty damn good. I thought about writing a feast of words for each of the lwa and the accompanying saint that is associated with them. As someone has told me, and recently, as I am constantly desiring to be a writer in some case or another, then I should utilize the written word more often in my religious practices. However, I wasn’t really sure if that would be good for me.
I turned to Papa Legba for some help here.
And I received a devil-may-care grin in response…
Recently, Cheshire cat Man wrote an entry about cool heads versus hot heads. Now, a cool head is someone who can enter into a situation and deduce how ably to handle that situation. They react to whatever is thrown at them with detachment and an ability to keep on, keepin’ on. A hot head is exactly as it sounds like – impetuous in reaction to a new situation, a person with a hot head needs to cool the hell down. Thus enter the lave tet (literally, head wash) ceremonies that are performed by mambo. Now, I know that not only a mambo can or will get a head wash going for someone. I’ve read of people in hoodoo creating a head wash for people, but in the realm of voodoo, at least from what I’ve read on websites and in books, this particular items is left up to a mambo. The mambo will do a reading for the person to figure out what it is that they need to be “cooled off” for and select an assortment of herbs to create a properly tailored lave tet. From what I’ve read at the Sosyete du Marche website on this subject, the entire point is to bring you more in line with the lwa and while I think I’ve been doing well on my own, I thought perhaps I could create my own.
Now, after asking Papa Legba for some help with what I should do for All Saints’ Day, my mind immediately went to the lave tet and that entry I just linked to. Since I don’t want to offend or second guess whatever communication may be happening with my lwa, I figured I should at least begin looking into what I needed to do to craft a lave tet for myself. So, last night, I did a reading for myself with my dual deck, The Hidden Path/The Well Worn Path oracle deck by Raven Grimassi. I’ve been using it more and more frequently lately and have shunted all of my Tarot cards into the cabinet until I feel that I’m ready to use them again. So, I was hoping that with a good shuffle and my mind highly focused on what I needed for this lave tet, I dealt myself three cards. I received the Athame, Air, and Art of Magic.
I have received the first two cards a lot since I bought this deck. Still, I took the time to look at the imagery of the Athame and write down the impressions I felt it was speaking to me. Specifically, my notes indicated, “change and transformation; creating own world.” This is the usual interpretation I receive from this particular card since I hardly, if ever, remind myself that I can create the world I want to live in. As much of a Leo as I may be, I still very much go with the flow and allow the punches to keep on coming to the point where I feel beaten down and trodden over. It’s only then that I begin to feel like I need to fight back. This card, in every reading and in this one, is a constant reminder that I need to stop letting everyone and everything walk all over me. I need to not be impulsive, per se, but I need to remember that I have the power, the ability, and the wherewithal to fight back.
I looked over the Air card and wrote down the impressions I gleaned from this reading. Specifically, my notes indicated, “actions to establish ideas and make them form in the conscious mind.” This is a problem that I have. While I may have ideas on what path I want to walk down or which direction I want my life to go down, I often feel adrift and incapable of making a conscientious decision. Too often, I take as much advice as I can from every possible quarter, both myself and my netjeru and the lwa and my friends and my family, and then never actually end up making a clear decision because every ounce of advice is clamoring in my mind. I definitely need to be able to not only carve out my own world, but to also feel that world solidify in my own mind’s eye so that I can make it happen.
The final card I honestly don’t remember having received at all, ever. Intrigued, I studied the imagery within the card and then began to take notes on what I felt it meant in this reading. Specifically, my notes indicated, “drawing upon both inner and outer resources to see something through; mastery of a subject.” I have to admit that after taking notes on this final card, I was heartily amused and it felt right. This final card was reminding me that while I am often too busy taking advice from every possible quarter, and I absolutely should do that. I forget to form all of that advice into a cohesive and solitary unit and create the world I want to live in from what I have created. Easily, I was able to see the general confluence of cards here to see what I needed to look for in the herbs I was going to select for the lave tet.I needed herbs for strength and better control over my own mind. I also needed herbs to manifest what I want in my life. I also added some herbs into it to help connect on a more psychic level (I really hate that word, but it’s the best I can do) so that I can better use my mind’s eye to bring into focus what I want to have happen. This wasn’t just about working with heka and magic, although I’ve noticed my life becoming more and more closely tied to both. It was also about manifesting what I want my mundane life to look like. So, with some cool water, I created a blend of herbs that called out to me. When they all passed the smell test – from a friend of mine who always instructed that whatever herbs I choose should end up smelling good for me when I mix them together – I added some Florida water to the watery blend so that I could better connect with Papa Legba.
I then left it upon my altar so that Papa Legba could do what he may need to do in order to make this a thing.
Today, I am a busy little bee. I am planning on going to the movies with the Hubby. And I also am planning on making 21-pepper rum in celebration of Fet Guédé, as well as doing a ceremony at my favorite cemetery for the Guédé. I also have a few plans to do some readings for friends with the Guédé to night, as well. After it is all over, I will listen to calming music and allow the wash I have crafted to do its work before going to bed tonight, with hair wrapped in a clean white towel to keep the power of that wash on my head.
Here’s to exciting prospects and fascinating new avenues.
A head wash is probably something I could use. Thanks for the inspiration.
Catholicism is funny the way it draws attention from those who are not Catholics. It’s mysterious that way. I was raised Catholic and so I am hopelessly tied to the practices no matter what path I have explored. All the solemn rituals, the saints (my childhood heroes) and gothic churches, candle lit and smelling of incense. I can’t get enough of that, not to mention The Virgin Mary (my adopted mother) never let me stray too far by granting me a miracle or two. I’ve always managed to work it into my beliefs and practices and I separate the stuff of The Church from the religion and its practices. It is a secret society, after all…
I’m glad you’ve been able to work your background into your current traditions. It’s always nice to know that it is possible to blend things.
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