Note: though I took pictures to share, Bawon has indicated I am not allowed to do so.
On Thursday, I watched the Wild Hunt roll through the neighborhood, on its way to wherever they go when it’s their time to be on the prowl. A novel and strange experience, but not wholly unexpected. As everyone else I’ve ever spoken with during this time of year has mentioned, the veil is thin. It’s this time of year when we can better feel the dead around us as well as interact more readily, I feel, with certain spirits. So, it wasn’t all that surprising as the fog began its lazy stroll across the road, impacting our visuals of the world around us that I began to notice the telltale signs of the Wild Hunt as well. I glanced at them surreptitiously so as not to draw attention to myself and continued with my evening.
There is something about the statement, the veil is thin, which speaks to some people on a very fundamental level. I think that there are some places in the United States where it’s almost standard for those of us more aware of other to feel this veil and to feel its thinning. I don’t remember feeling this way in Texas, though I lived on the coast and it was quite common for the fog to roll in. However, I never had a moment where I watched the fog rolling in on those early mornings, way up in the fifth story of the building I worked in, and thought to myself, ah, the veil is thin now. While I’ve only lived in two separate areas of the country, and so can’t possibly comment completely regarding different areas and the feels within, I can say with assurance that the veil and its thinness is something innate to the northeast, at least, and it’s something I’ve come to expect around this time of year.
Leading up to that thin veil, all manner of things can and do happen. I saw a 7-foot owl sitting on the side of the road last week. A little while later, I saw a black dog with pure white eyes slink out from between the cattails that line one of the more rural roads I drive down daily. He watched me drive by and then loped off into the fog that was gathering. I saw a forest spirit, similar to the spirit shown in Princess Mononoke, poke its head out of the trees lining the back lot of the parking lot at work and wink at me before walking away. I’m not shocked or surprised by any of these events, and if they happened to anyone else living in this area and feeling as an intense a connection to the other as I have, I don’t think they would be surprised either. When I mentioned, in passing, any one of these events to any of my pagan/polytheist/other aware friends, they would all just kind of nod and say, “Yep. The veil is thin.”
As that veil thins steadily, I find it far more easily to communicate with the lwa. They love this time of year, if my conversations with both Papa Legba and Bawon Samedi are any indicator on what the other lwa are thinking and feeling about this. They have both indicated that they don’t have to… try as hard to get my attention around now. While I’m more in tune with Papa Legba anyway for various reasons, Bawon has said to me, “It’s so easy now. I don’t got to wait.” What he meant, of course, was that he didn’t have to wait until I was listening carefully to him or until I was dreaming to get my attention. And I don’t have to consciously focus on him in order to make that feeling that is specifically Bawon to come to me. I can see him running around – not literally, he says running is “uncouth” – with his cylinder hat and his purple-and-black pin-striped tie, his golden skull tipped walking stick by his side.
Bawon was very much with me for most of the day on Saturday. Sometimes, it can be kind of disconcerting to feel a man in a severely cut undertaker suit sitting nearby and just offering you the glimmer of a smile when you realize he is watching. It’s even more disconcerting when that glimmer turns into a full-fledged shit-eating grin. The reason, of course, is because the promise in that grin is something you aren’t entirely aware of. What is it about this man and his smile that makes both my heart skip a few beats and pound faster? It doesn’t matter. The promise in that smile was of everything I was hoping for and things I couldn’t even name. And that was what was so disconcerting about it. I knew he was telling me secrets with those magnetic, fiery eyes and that grin, but what were the secrets? It wasn’t just the hopes and dreams I have for celebrations with him, but also all the unspoken words I have when I think of him.
Disconcerting seems like such an innocuous word for a being like him. But it fits.
While waiting around for the night to flow and the fog to roll back in, I ran some errands. I had to get peppers. For the last two years, I’ve been wanting to make a 21-pepper rum. Unfortunately, my money stores are not infinite – not like the Bawon’s eyes – and I was unable to get a full twenty-one. Besides, the decanter I was planning on putting these things in to make that rum didn’t have a very large opening, so I had to carefully size the peppers as I chose them. I was able to get seven that I felt would fit in the glass skull I had chosen. I added two more to the count so that I could leave them in offering later that night. Bawon was very much there as I chose the flowers I wanted to place at the graves of Bawon and Maman and very much there as I was choosing those peppers, but he was curiously absent when I chose the rum.
I guess the brand didn’t matter as much as the size of those peppers…?
Later, I spent a good deal of time on the phone discussing the metaphysical nature and desires of human souls. This was unexpected, but wholly appropriate for the night in question. I got a kick out of it, after I waxed philosophic to a sixteen-year-old for nearly an hour. While it’s incredibly draining to have to tap into a knowledge base that you’re not entirely sure how you managed to tap into in the first place, but it was thoroughly entertaining. Well, perhaps not to me, but definitely to a certain man in a cylinder hat and with a purple-and-black pin-stripe tie. Afterward, I felt like I had been drinking pea soup laced with rum for about two hours and had the headache and cotton mouth to prove it.
I poke fun at my mother-in-law, who voiced a deep fear of being in cemeteries at night. That was a little strange and oddly unexpected, as well. I frankly don’t understand why people are worried about entering cemeteries especially at night. I suppose this is a genetic fear in some, a sort of residual horror relating to either a childhood trauma or the belief in hairy spirits, ready to rip your throat out. All in all, it exasperates me at the least and irritates me at the worst. I told her I would bid hello to all the spirits partying on her behalf and I think she was both interested in what I was planning on doing as well as fearful on my behalf. I still don’t quite understand this fear or this interest. It is what it is, to me. It’s just something I do and something I do well. Also, aside from possibly being arrested by police, I’m probably safer in a cemetery, even at night, than I would be at work in the middle of the day, surrounded by well-intentioned guardians.
Per usual, I drove right by the cemetery. This is actually becoming a part of the ritual for Fet Guédé, so I really shouldn’t say “per usual.” What normally ends up happening is that I’m looking so hard, in the dark, for my turn off (that I take regularly since I tend this graveyard multiple times a year) that I miss that turn off. So, I ended up taking a large loop around and watched the fog roll across the road as I drove by. There’s something very calming about this drive, honestly, and something even more so when I can watch the fog crawl across the road. I don’t know why I enjoy mist and fog as much as I do – but I really fucking do. There’s something alive and magnetic about it when it’s strolling casually across the landscape, seeking with its white-gray fingers to enter every nook and cranny of that landscape. It’s both beautiful and haunting to me, but all in all, very calming and meditative.
I ended up at the cemetery later than I normally go.
I packed up my parcels and set off to spend time with Maman and Bawon. The cemetery was quiet. Many of the Guédé had spent their day, enjoying what time they could and doing what they needed to. Sometimes, they tell me what they do for the day. And sometimes, they just let me spend quality time with Bawon and Maman. Bawon dominated the area with his presence, looking and feeling larger than life, so to speak. Maman was a shadow in the background, watching over her children as she is often wont to do. She gave me a wink in greeting and a smile in response to my nod in her direction. We don’t get on much as my services are mostly dedicated to her husband, but she lets me complain to her when I think I’m feeling overwhelmed or if I feel like justice isn’t being done. She’s good like that and she says I’m good for her husband… whatever that may mean.
Upon arriving, I bowed to the two gravestones that are Maman’s and Bawon’s before sitting myself down. I felt, deep down, an ululating cry beginning to form in my throat, but I had to bite it down. In my mind, I allowed it free reign to caress the graves around me, to bounce off Maman’s tree and shatter across the night. But this cemetery has neighbors and is quite visible from the road – letting out yells didn’t seem like a good idea to a white woman, wearing white from head-to-toe and trying to best to remain as inscrutable as possible. I chattered at the tombstones and made pepper rum. I giggled as the rum already in the bottle shot all over my hand with each additional pepper and giggled as the scent of rum dissipated faster than it should have. I had nothing to wipe my hands off save my white dress – and I decided against using it as an impromptu napkin, thank you very much – and wondered if Bawon was licking it from my fingertips. Whatever the reason, the rum disappeared and the peppers found a new home.
I felt another cry deep in my breast and bit it back while I pulled out the Tarot of the Dead. Each year, I try to do a reading for myself and attempt to puzzle it out later. I haven’t puzzled out the two readings I did for myself yet, but that’s mostly because the Devil card showed up in both and I’m none too happy with that. I’ve decided to leave off on that until much later. Or maybe, never at all. All that matters is that I did the reading and found everything about it very unsatisfying and very sad. It made me feel like I’ve been living in bondage for so long and I keep getting to the point where I’m almost there and then I get sucked back into that bondage. Nothing I can do about all of that, really, except ignore the readings I did and move on with my tale.
Afterwards, I decorated the two gravestones with pretty autumn-esque flowers that I had brought with me. Maman was given the brown, yellow, and red ones. They made a happy little daisy chain across the heavily slanted stone that is hers. Bawon’s gravestone has little scrolled sides and I placed his flowers on either side of those scrolls. He received purple and red. He laughed at the choices I made. I kept a single purple flower for myself, which I placed in my hair. He said it made me more beautiful than I already am. I told him he was a liar, but left the flower there.
When I felt that my time was through – I was getting bone tired from being up so late and from that talk about souls earlier – I stood up. Bawon asked for one last dance before I left. And we slow danced to the patter of my heart.
The Fet Guédé that I celebrate is by and large definitely not canonical in any sense of the word. No possessions to speak of and definitely not enough food left behind. However, it works for me. He says it works for him, too, and there are days where I feel like it’s not quite a lie he tells me. Other days, of course, I doubt everything I feel and think and say with him. But, on that evening and even now as I recount it for whomever may be reading, I realize that those words are true. When I think on those true words, I think that he is only saying them as a suitor will say anything to the woman he courts. There is no denying that Bawon has a silvery tongue and beauty can be spewed from it right along with the nasty. But today, right here and right now, his words ring true in my heart. And I know that my intent, my devotion, is enough for him.
Besides, his wife says I’m good for him.