Lent 2013 Revisited.

I think I fail at sacrifice.

As a quick recap, on Ash Wednesday, I received the intense desire to sacrifice an item at the bequest of an unknown lwa. I have never ascertained who it was requesting this thing of me – the energy signature was different from my usual brood, which is how I knew it was someone new – but I’ve wondered if it could be Gran Bwa. I had dreamed of him two or three days before and two or three days after my decision to observe this Lenten season. Since then, nary a word, but I’ve kept up my end of the bargain…

…until now, anyway.

On Saturday, we all went to a going away and birthday party for TH’s step sister. She’s going off to some place in Afghanistan in a few weeks and her birthday was this past Wednesday. The birthday cake they served was chocolate on chocolate. I really wasn’t paying attention when I sat down with a piece and began to eat it. I honestly did not make a conscious decision to “fail” at my sacrifice. I really had no fucking clue what I was doing at that moment in time, thinking or otherwise. I definitely know that I didn’t consciously make the decision to fail and that it was only after TH said something like, “HOW IS YOUR CHOCOLATE CAKE, YOU FAILING FAILER FULL OF FAIL,” or along those lines that I realized I had made the mistake.

Now on the one hand, I can take this entirely at face value. I fucked up my sacrifice of chocolate for this Lenten season. This could mean that the lwa in question who had requested this of me is no longer interested. And as someone who is as fearful of making mistakes on this path as I can be (I find it odd how fearful I am with mistakes and the lwa and not nearly as so scared when it comes to my deities), I have a deep suspicion that this is the case. I had the initial belief that Gran Bwa showed up with this request to say, I’m here and if you succeed, we will take it from there. And now that I have failed this means that he will be leaving, no?

But, on the other hand, I can’t help but ponder at the fact that I screwed up without even realizing what I was doing. I don’t want to blame this failure because of an “out of body” experience” or anything like that. I can remember being hyper-focused elsewhere though. I can see myself standing beside the cake, I can see myself grabbing the plate, and I can clearly remember putting it into my mouth. However, I can’t recall being actually there when it happened either. So, does this mean that I’ve legitimately failed or is this something else entirely?

Since I can’t make up my mind in regards to what this failure means – since, you know, omens errywhere – I don’t know if this means if I can eat chocolate again. It would be nice if the lwa that requested it, either Gran Bwa or whomever may have done the requesting, would show up and give me a definitive answer. Hm. As I type this, I’m hearing laughter in my head, so I get the feeling that whomever actually did the requesting will not give me a definitive answer one way or another. I have to rely on intuition here, I suppose, but I’m horrifically lacking in that department at the moment.

The worst part about all of this is that I honestly feel like I’ve failed even though I never consciously made that decision. I may not have been consciously failing at the time, but the gist is that I did indeed fail. And this makes me wonder if I ever wanted to actively sacrifice anything in future – as I had been considering doing continuously in cycles throughout the year, honestly – if I would be able to succeed. Doubt; thy name is Sat.

But what if this failure isn’t my fault? What if it’s the cause of some other being that I ended up eating the chocolate? I honestly can’t remember what it tasted like. It didn’t even hurt my teeth, which is odd since I have bad teeth and sweets in large amounts will always do that. And I had been traipsing through cemeteries earlier in the day as well as mere minutes before the cake eating began. (TH’s step brother’s home is literally thirty feet away from a Catholic cemetery that had three worn headstones from about the 1790s – and a relative of people whose graves I tend regularly.) So, if some other being or OTHER™ caused me to fail at this… then did I?

And of course, it’s not like I’m going to get a definitive response from the lwa in charge on this one. This is definitely between me and Bondye.

Lent 2013.

As a baby, I was baptized into the Catholic faith. Honestly, I don’t know why I was since my mother was a single mother and had me out of wedlock; if I’m not mistaken, this is a rarity. But, my mother was born and raised in that faith, along with the rest of my maternal family (minus my grandfather who was raised in some other faith or another, but has proven to be the most devout Catholic of the whole lot). They are all either lapsed or faithful Catholics to this day. I, however, was never raised in it.

I often thought of it as a very interesting religion, but a religion that I had no access to as my mother is very much in the “lapsed” category. I learned a few things for weddings and funerals: how to properly cross myself; some of the saints and what to pray to them for; how to say their Lord’s Prayer as it does differ from the Methodist one; things of that nature. I always wanted to learn the Hail Mary, though not the Our Father, because it was something my mother would say whenever we would travel somewhere and that ritual was something I was intrigued in.

All in all, my interest in my mother’s homegrown faith had more to do with the ritual aspects to that faith and the beauty that those rituals can entail.

I will admit here that I’ve always been very intrigued by the rituals of the older Christian faiths, anyway. I could spend hours as a teenager, perusing image searches from the Russian Orthodox rituals as well as some of the older imagery as shown from the Catholic churches. Honestly? My art hard-on may be showing but The idolatric beauty of Russian Orthodoxy? I was so there. The ceremonial beauty of Greek Orthodoxy? I was definitely all over that. And the ability of Catholicism to just keep on flourishing? Mind fucking boggling. And while it is my fondest wish to one day have a ritual basis that can be as glorified as what I saw in imagery as a child, I know that no matter what I end up with, it will never even equate [in my mind] to those image searches. In the mean time, I’m left wandering and puttering about in that whole ritual world.

At this point, though, my puttering about as left me with the curious need to fulfill an OTHER™’s desire to observe Lent this year. Color my mother’s shock and surprise when I announced that I was giving up chocolate for the next forty days as an act of sacrifice. You could have knocked me over with a feather when it first entered my mind the morning of Lent.

I was driving by the Saint Catherine of Sienna Parish church when I was cut off by a car exiting the overly filled parking lot. What an oddity, I mused as I did my morning, angry-driver duty of cursing loudly at the car that had cut me off. That parking lot was never so full in the morning, so what… And that’s when I realized that it was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I don’t really know why I knew that, either, because I don’t pay very much attention to any of the Catholic holidays now that I’m not working in a public forum. But, my mind slipped into that and that’s when I felt someone say to me, “You should observe this.”

I had never felt the essence of the lwa asking, so I don’t know who it is that was requesting this of me. Instead of immediately just ignoring the impulse, I began pondering about what I could give up. This is completely unheard of in my world. I almost immediately question every possible response I have to something. This keeps, I feel, everything in check so that I can always claim, “I’m completely sane,” at my trial. But, I just went with the flow and settled on chocolate within a minute or two of pondering what to give up. (I debated coffee for two-point-five seconds before laughing at such a silly thing. If I’m going to be brewing coffee for Legba every day, then there’s no way I’m giving it up.)

Honestly, I really don’t know why I’m being asked this. I know what quarter the asking is coming from – this stems from the lwa and that particular part of my religious life – but I’m not really sure why I should observe this holiday. I’ve been very careful about not incorporating the Catholic aspects of that religion into my world. I haven’t quite figured out how to work it into what I currently practice. I mean, in all reality, how do I incorporate religious holidays from a monotheistic faith into the reconstruction of a polytheistic faith?

Obviously, it looks like I’m going to find out.

And I begin with giving up chocolate for Lent.