Lent 2015.

With Lent on the horizon, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to the lwa who had left me without much farewell last year. Oh, there was a bit of a farewell between Papa Legba and I, but the rest of the bunch just kind of disappeared without so much as a wave or by-your-leave. I was angry at the way that everything ended. I guess I’m just so used to beginning, middle, and emphatic ending that no final words of farewell kind of ground on me.

As my thoughts began turning towards Papa Legba, I did a bit of soul-searching. I was really angry when he left. I felt as if I had been, yet again, cast adrift on a sea of torment. He had caught my little dingy in his hands and taught me how to weather the constant storms within that sea. He had told me stories and jokes; he had given me a new appreciate of things that I took for granted, but above all else, he held my hand when I most needed it.

When he left, I was completely miserable. Papa Legba showed up because Sekhmet was at her wit’s end and needed me to be taught a few things about servitude and to get a few other lessons out of the way. I knew this; so why had I been so hurt when he left? I had always thought, somewhere, that with the end of the lessons, he would remain. I thought that he would just always be there. Change to me is something that I have been going through so much in the last two years that I’ve just wanted one thing that remained the same. And I found a good thing, I think, with Papa Legba.

Sometimes, I would dream of the two of us in a garden or in the forest. He was always making something grow. He’s very good at getting things to grow, as I’ve found out. What I didn’t seem to realize until only just recently that each change in the scenery, the overall goal was the same: he was creating a garden and needed to nurture it. We talked a lot about the nature of what nurturing a garden was like and how that relates back to the nurturing one must do for themselves. He told me jokes and he told me stories. He said to me last night that it’s time for me to go back to where I belong; the lesson is over. And it was a lesson and a half. He wasn’t just giving me a way out of the really oppressive atmosphere I was in, but he was also helping me to grow, my core, my soul, and everything in between. He was busy nurturing the fledgling plants and the older plants that had been accidentally pinched out when I became so angry and so embittered.

I’ve been staring at this quote since Ash Wednesday. I went looking through my old entries about Lent and found this sitting there. I found this recreated a second time when I came to the realization that the lwa had truly gone. He had bid me a brief goodbye during Lent of last year, but I had still just believed that he would continue to nurture the garden that I am. I wasn’t taking into context what he was doing or what his plans were; I was only thinking about myself.

I think, though, a certain selfishness is appropriate. I had died in every metaphorical way during our relationship’s tenure and he had always been there to help me pick up the pieces. He found me in all of my inner hiding places and pulled me into the light of the day. It was hard and painful, I think, last year because I didn’t have that person who would force me to look at what I needed to in order to figure out where the chess pieces were on the board.

I still don’t have that. I have a new little filler, to a degree, but Heru-Wer is not Papa Legba. They have a certain obsession about gardening in common and they have both used garden metaphors to get me to latch on to something. But as Heru-Wer told me when we first started being friends, he was not in my life to fill the hole that Papa Legba had created but to create a Heru-Wer sized niche instead.

The niche has been created, but I’ve discovered that the hole in the shape of Papa Legba has cleared up. As I poked around in my ib the last few days, I found that the sore spot that had his name scrawled across it didn’t hurt nearly as much. I continued the poking and prodding with other things, gauging the reactions that I discovered as I worked around what had once been as sharp of a pain as I could fathom. Now, though, it is nothing but a spot that has been scabbed over and healed up… and it seems to have healed up properly.

That’s a relief; I’m kind of tired of hurts healing wrong.

With this year, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t need to pay any attention to Lent or to sacrifice. I had kind of figured that Lent was over with, just as much as my relationship with Papa Legba. But on Ash Wednesday, one of my coworkers asked me with devilish delight, “What have you given up for Lent this year?” I hadn’t, actually, thought about it at all because I was over the hump, wasn’t I? Did I really need to sacrifice anything?

Evidently, my mouth and my mind were on two different wavelengths because what I said immediately was, “Diet Coke.”

It just popped out there.

And now it was out there.

In the world.

Being all thought about and digested.

“Oh, no,” my coworker said to me, “this is going to be terrible.” I don’t believe I was that grouchy without diet Coke last year (although the amount of posts I made about diet Coke on Tumblr would lead me to believe that I was fairly crotchety). The rumor mill ground around the office, which isn’t much of a rumor mill because we have an instant messaging program always running between the 10 of us, and everyone knew I had given up diet Coke.


I’ve thought about the reason behind this. Why did I say this before I could explain that I wasn’t observing Lent this year? I don’t want to be trite here, but I can’t help but think that there is something purposeful here. On religious matters, I try to be very careful and concise with my speech especially when speaking on them to people who don’t know the intricate woven threads of my path. But in this case, the words were out of my mouth before I could even think to myself, the fuck is wrong with you?

A part of me believes that it’s just an automatic pilot thing. Another part of me believes that this is more than just autopilot.

Out of everything I could sacrifice, there is nothing more significant than diet Coke to me. As some people have mentioned, it’s practically my life’s blood. Fuck, I drink a hell of a lot of soda every fucking day and it’s always diet Coke. (Once in a blue moon, I will have a Sunkist.) And so my automatic pilot mouth went to the first and most painful thing I could sacrifice, something that would hit me right between the eyes about twenty fucking times a day.

Last year, I sacrificed diet Coke because it was the only thing that I could think of that would fall under the category of a true sacrifice. This year, I sacrificed diet Coke without having a reason. This should prove interesting.

New Year’s Day 2014.

Something I’ve never really discussed regarding the lwa is how very important giving thanks to them is. It’s one thing to not provide thanks to the gods for items they do for you – the relationship is kind of different in many cases when it comes to how we devote to our gods. However, while some relationships with the gods can and will take on a sort of partnership, this isn’t the case with the lwa. They require that thanks be provided to them for things they’ve given you. If you fail to provide thanks to the lwa then things can and will get a lot worse for you after they’ve given whatever it is that you asked them for. I would like to think that I’m getting better at remembering to give thanks to the lwa but sometimes, in a fit of fear that I’m failing somewhere, I end up going up and above the norm in an effort to remind myself, and them, that I truly am thankful for all that they have provided.

There appears to be two separate ways to provide thanks to the lwa, at least as far as my research has indicated. There is the ability to provide an intimate thanksgiving between the servant and the lwa in question. And then there is a larger ceremony known as the action de grace. From the little bit I’ve found regarding this topic, it doesn’t seem like this happens quite often and that it is definitely a ceremony that non-initiates wouldn’t partake in. Since I am not initiated into anything, I had decided that what I was providing was simply my giving thanks and nothing more. While the phrase, action de grace, is how I was gently reminded that I had things to provide thanks for, I don’t believe that the lwa to whom I needed to provide my gratitude for were looking for a non-initiate’s attempt at recreating an action de grace rite. Besides, since that particular ceremony appears to be something that a Sosyete would celebrate without any outsiders, I didn’t really know how to go about something like that. So, instead, I decided that I just needed to give a hearty “thank you.”

Papa Legba, in the last few months more specifically, has given me a lot of assistance on items that I didn’t think he would be able to help me out with. Just as I’ve given thanks to Bawon Samedi for his timely assistance financially last summer – and ended up paying for failing to say “thank you” in a timely manner – I knew that I couldn’t let this one sit. Papa Legba is more patient than most of the lwa, but he is not above messing things about in order to make the point stick. So, I knew that I needed to do something really grandiose and awesome for him while also trying to keep the rite simple and intimate. He really, really assisted me in a lot of ways in the white room that I can’t even begin to detail – and won’t – and he also has just been a sort of constancy as I wander around, feeling vaguely odd and mostly lost. With his ability to be as steadfast as he has been, I decided to give him a surfeit of thanks on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day is a day dedicated to Papa Legba in many traditions. The first day of the year is the start of a new cycle, or in parlance that is more easily associated with him: it’s a day about opening the gateway, to bust through obstacles, and to bring new opportunities to people who need them and/or request those new opportunities. While all of these things are super important and things I should probably request assistance with in the coming year, this wasn’t really about me and my needs. This was about him and his needs. As I was thinking about how I wanted my thanksgiving to go the day before New Year’s Eve, I knew that I didn’t just want to provide him my own thanks, but to offer his ability to bust through some shit and bring in some good shit to others. So, I sent out a little invitation to anyone who was wanting to get some aid from Papa Legba. This was a two-fold adventure for me: I was providing him a meal, dedicated to him, in thanks for all he’s done for me. And I was also providing a sort of miniature service for others who needed help, but didn’t really know where to get that help from.

Part of the reason I got the idea is because I’ve found myself, in the last two months, looking forward to and enjoying the services I’ve been providing in the name of others to Sekhmet. It seemed, to me, that Papa Legba would appreciate something as catchy as all of that. And it also seemed like a selfish thing to keep a very wonderful lwa to myself. If he has the capability to assist me with the various projects I have going on, who was I to deny his access to others? And honestly, he’s been such a solid force in my life for the last few months. Since our last interaction in the white room, I haven’t really had much going on with him. And the amount of solid foundation he really provided me within that room is something that I would really like others to be able to feel and to know. If I could open up that doorway, even just a little, for others, then I thought, well, why not? And to be honest, my Papa Legba is very much a flashy kind of lwa who likes to get as much attention as he can (when he feels it appropriate). And if the day of New Year’s wasn’t appropriate, then what day really would be?

I managed to put a quick menu for the meal together very quickly. This, in all honesty, is one of the big lures with voodoo. It’s not all of it, but a large part is the fact that it’s about what you have versus what you need. While I attempt to balance myself properly between the gods and the lwa, I sometimes feel like the lwa appreciate who I am, what I have on hand, and what I can pull out of my butt with those items more than the gods. In many instances, I feel that my gods need a bit more in order for my success. It’s possible that I’m building too much into something that isn’t even an issue, but occasionally, I feel more powerful and successful in the minor rites I create alongside or for the lwa than I do for the gods. In either case, Papa Legba told me to plan out the menu based on things he knew that I knew he would enjoy and to add one single special touch: he wanted me to find chocolate that had orange rinds in it or that was orange-flavored. I looked up the meaning for orange peels in one of my herbal books and found that it is associated with “general good luck.”

This gave me the grand idea of where I wanted to go with the petition services I was going to provide. I was going to push out the specific requests, of course, but I wanted it all couched under the auspices of “general good luck.”

There were a couple of other items that I did need to go out and get for him, though. While grocery shopping this past weekend, I kept my eyes peeled for the requested orange flavored chocolate. I ended up finding some on sale at my local grocery store. I also found other items that I thought Papa Legba would like added to this meal on sale. It really felt like things were working in our favor. I was able to [finally] get the requested pineapple and it was on sale! I bought chunks of it versus the actual thing since I don’t actually know how to cut it or skin it. (As a kid, fruits were things that were common, like apples and bananas and oranges and nectarines. We didn’t really move outside our comfort zone when it came to fruits. I still don’t move outside of my comfort zone with fruits because whenever I attempt to, I end up screwing things up or forgetting it’s in the house.) I also managed to find some red beans and rice on super sale and I bought that to go with the chicken meal I was planning.

Everything I was planning here, by the way, had a certain set of symbolism that correlates with my Papa Legba. Rice is something he’s asked of me a few times and he seems to enjoy it. It’s also incredibly cheap and stuff that I usually have on hand. Since the box of red beans and rice was on sale, it seemed like another kind of mini sign post that this was something important. Plus, it had red beans in it and one of his core colors if red. The chicken meat hearkened back to Papa Legba’s symbolism with the black rooster that I read in a book or three. The chocolate is something that all of the lwa have a flare for, but I prefer to get flavored kinds that, again, hearken back to things that they’ve requested of me. While I attempt to use a lot of symbolism in any rite that I perform for any of the gods or the lwa in my life, I really attempt to pay closer attention when I’m planning on something on a grander scale than I normally would provide.

While I waited for everything to cook, I wrote out the handful of petitions I received. I thought about how I wanted to supply the petitions to Papa Legba. Basing it, similarly, to how I provide them to Sekhmet, I ended up writing them down on small pieces of paper. It took me longer to write down the petitions than I had initially thought it would because of how I needed to word them carefully in order to make their requests plain. I also needed to figure out how, specifically, I wanted to metaphorically help these people break through the blocks. I got an idea while looking at Papa Legba’s altar. Once Hekate left the house, she left behind a very nice lantern. Since both she and Papa Legba are of the liminal sort, I placed it on his altar after she was gone. Staring at it, I knew what I wanted to achieve.

In between rubbing out the writer’s cramp I was getting while writing the petitions (my handwriting is very precise, especially when I’m writing out petitions for others, so I have to stop after a while to rub out the cramps in my hands), I continued to set my table service. I had purchased red and white linen napkins the day before. I used these as the basis for the “canvas” I was creating. I placed them in a sort of diamond pattern and then began placing some of the items I have on Papa Legba’s altar onto the table. I placed the candle holder with his vévé on it, the paket that was made for me that is kind of like my “doll” of him, and his wooden bowl on the table. I recreated a little symbolism in front of his “doll” for the petitions I was placing: I added his three dice, three pennies, and three cowrie shells in a sort of pattern atop the wooden bowl I keep on his altar, as well. Finally, I added three keys in front of him, as well.

Once I had finished with the petitions, I set them up first since I still had some time to kill before the meal was ready.

All lit and supplied to the Old Man.

All lit and supplied to the Old Man.

I placed all nine petitions on the white offering plate I have for just such a purpose. I placed tea lights over each of the written petitions, as well. Since I had fewer petitions than I have in the rites I’ve performed for Sekhmet, I was able to “set lights,” sort of, for these people. Unlike with the traditional hoodoo rite of setting lights, I didn’t use the seven-day candles and I didn’t use candles specific to the purposes each petitioner was requesting. I did, however, dress the white tea lights. I anointed them with some success oil I have on hand. I also dressed the entire plate with herbs that were relating back to the “general good luck” that I wanted to create. I wanted to be able to give the people asking for assistance their own power in finding the way to break through the blocks in an effort to draw the new opportunities to them. Back to my obsession with symbolism: that was why I chose to use the lantern in this rite. I wanted them to have a lighted way through the darkness that blockages of varying sorts can cause in people and if I lit the lantern, symbolically, they would be able to “see” the light and follow it through the blocks preventing them from seeing the new opportunities coming in their lives.

The whole shebang.

The whole shebang.

After I had completed that part of the work, I was able to set the meal out. I put the main course out first (with a fork) so that Papa Legba could feast upon that either while he perused the requests before him or after he was finished with it. I added the various other items I had on hand for him: a cup of coconut and orange-flavored chocolate; a mug of hot coffee that was laced with a flavored Bailey’s nip I had been given for Christmas; the last shot of his coconut rum; and the chunks of pineapple that was covered in cheese. The cheese was the only thing that I didn’t associate with him. I provided him the cheese as a symbolic sacrifice. Cheese is a very big and important staple in our lives. We all love cheese in this household. I will buy a pound of American cheese and just munch on it whenever, though I prefer to munch down on extra sharp cheddar more than American cheese. But the point was that I was offering him a sacrifice of one of our most favored items and I was placing it over the pineapple as a secondary sacrifice. I would eat it later and it would be “tainted” with the taste of pineapple (I don’t like the taste of pineapple or of coconut – two items that he does enjoy).

Once everything was set before him so that he could pick and choose what he sampled, I lit the candles of the petitions first, followed by three spare candles I added at the last minute.

I have a whole host of plain white candles lazing around my house. I added three candles beneath his “throne” on the table and anointed them with the same success oil. I then lit them to provide success to the nine petitioners. The last candle I lit was the one in the lantern. Again, this was a symbolic gesture. The first candles lit were the nine requests placed before him, as a kind of first step to breaching through their blocks and attaining their ultimate goals. The three candles placed directly in front of his “throne” and just in front of the offering plate of petitions was to keep him focused on them. And lastly, I lit the lantern to provide the people, finally, with the light at the end of the tunnel that many of them needed in order to realize their ultimate goals.

While Papa Legba was eating, I sat down beside him and enjoyed a cup of Bailey’s laced coffee with him. While the two of us enjoyed his meal together, I told him how grateful I was for everything he’s provided me in the last few months. I specifically explained to him what I was thankful for and what this service was about. But, I also detailed other things he has given me over the last few years with him in his life. Teary-eyed towards the end of my list of reasons why I was so appreciative of all he’s done for me and how happy I am to have him in my life, I told him that I didn’t think I would have survived all the shit that’s been thrown at me if he wasn’t around. And while I don’t know what-all we’re doing with this camaraderie between us, I appreciated it and wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in the world. I’m not certain of I was able to convey, fully, how I feel about him and how thankful I truly am, but I would like to hope that he received the point.

Completed petitions. Lower right hand candle shows the dark soot.

Completed petitions. Lower right hand candle shows the dark soot.

After our shared cup of coffee, I was exhausted. I felt like I had run a marathon, or as if I had been up for days upon days and was only finally capable of falling asleep. While I rested, I let the petition candles burn out throughout the night. I was hoping that, in the morning, I would look at them and see that the petition was a success. (I didn’t actually get to look at them until yesterday.) By candle standards go, the petition was a success, mostly. There was a single candle that burned itself black. Since I had been careful to not allow too many of the “general good luck” herbs I had sprinkled over the petitions to remain on top of the tea lights, I was curious as to the meaning here. In looking at the pictures I took of the services, I do see that there was a thicker bunch of herbs on that candle. So, it is incredibly feasible that what I am associated the blackened condition of the tea light casing (and the petition beneath) is merely a coincidence. However, in looking over the rest of the petitions, it is the only one to have ended up like this and I’m a pretty big fan of explaining away coincidences. I have already alerted the owner of that petition to the circumstances here and hopefully, they are better able to explain it away than I have been.

I learned a lot during what I was providing for Papa Legba, both in the thanksgiving meal and in the petitions I had placed before him. I realized that I actually enjoy doing this. It’s fun and it’s exciting and I feel like I’m able to really assist us others in a way that they may not be able to assist themselves with. I also learned that there is a bit of responsibility that goes along with this as well. Just because I place petitions down in front of a particular being doesn’t mean that they will succeed (as in the possible case of the lone petition that burned so black). And finally, I learned that this is something that I would like to continue to do. I would like to continue to be able to provide these types of services to Papa Legba. It’s not just fun, but it’s also very intimate and very fulfilling in a way that I didn’t realize would be the case.

All in all: A++. Would recommend again.

The Nature of Things.

Papa Legba is a fantastic story-teller. Whether this is the case with anyone else’s relationship with him remains to be seen, but he tells me very intricate stories quite often. During our travels and during our time in the white room, he has told me what feels like thousands. In many, I am the mythic heroine, fighting through whatever archetypal thing he can think up at the time. And I am always successful, which is the point in stories. One night, when we were sitting beneath a belly of stars that reminded me of the rainbow serpent, I asked him to tell me about how the world was created. Whether this is accurate or not, I cannot say. But I liked the story so much that I decided to write it down later. I’m going to reproduce it as best I can right now.

“For much time, there was nothing. This vast empty was the seat of it all. This is the table where the beginning will form and where the ending will take place. The darkened nothing was expansive and miniscule, all the same. For many eons, the nothing stretched into its forever and folded upon itself. Within the belly of that nothing, consciousness began to form, but it refused to allow that to take place. It was content with the way things were and to devolve or evolve into the form those conscious beings may take was too much. For even though the nothing was not a concrete creature as we know them today, it was still a being unto itself. But it was the largest and most powerful of all things ever created into this universe and the universes beyond. It was content with itself and stayed in this form for many years.

“After a while, the consciousness that was growing within that nothing began to take shape. It took shape in all forms and no forms. It was an egg upon a mound; it was a ben-ben; it was a beautiful creature; it was the sun/moon; it was a foothill; it was the creator; it was the creatrix; it was light; it was the mother; it was the father; it was the earth. It was everything and it was nothing. All consciousness came into being in that single moment and the universes were forever changed. Soon, they all began to create more and more, bringing life into the universe one by one. They each created to their heart’s deepest desires and created worlds beyond the scope of this tale. Suffice to say that the creation of the universe was a great party and a great festivity, but the only person not celebration was the nothing. Never one for change; that.

“In the beginning, each creator began to create life. The life that was created was a blueprint for things to come. Some creators made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Some created everything all at once in volcanic fire and gentle rains. Some created the world in their image. Some created the world in a fantastic scope beyond which I cannot describe. Some became the world. Some became the stars that were glued to the sky. Some had children that would become their world and would become their sky. Some slit open the bellies of fantastic serpents and created the world that way. Each are different. Each world was intrinsic to the vision of the being doing the creating, but they all held the same joy and the same beauty and the same sorrow and the same fear. And in the end, they created children in the images they wanted to see staring back at them with fawning awe.

“In each world, life was not hard. The children of those creators and their brethren were happy and skillful. It was a magnificent time. And then, they began to grow old. They began to grow haggard. They began to fall away from the world of their creation and begin to pay less attention. And in that time, they all began to conspire with each other. They whispered in the ears of their siblings and they forgot about their creations. But one did not. A single being continued to watch over them on a rotational schedule. As the other gods ignored what they had made, the single watch dog began to notice something. Things had begun to grow harder and the children these beings had created began to require discipline and lessons. As none of them knew how hard things could be they didn’t know any better. And with each creation, these children – these first of the men of the gods – began to question.

“Worlds were destroyed then. Without the blind faith of their children, what were the gods?

“They started again. And the same thing happened. And they began to create life together – pantheon with pantheon – but the same thing happened. It happened over and over again. And each time, the gods destroyed their worlds, punishing their children for their own inability to care. Finally, the world was created a final time. This time, it was a single world with each god contributing here and there. And the way of the previous worlds happened again. There were questions. There was doubt. This time, the gods were tired and unable to create a new home again. With each destruction of the faithful and the non-believers alike, they had lost a core essence of themselves. They had grown hard and remote. They were no longer away. The gods kept up the charade for as long as they could, but soon only a single deity cared still to watch over the world of humans. And the other gods fell out of favor, gaining but scant attention and scant offerings from the very, very limited number of people willing to speak about them.

“Time passed, as it always does.

“The single creator began to grow tired of it all, as well. Everything grows tired. Every waxes and wanes. Now was the time in which even He waned. In that time, He realized that He could not leave humans to suffer without Him. They needed something to help them along. Their world was nothing but horror after horror and hardship after hardship. One day, He knew, the world would be more comfortable than the toil it was then. And so, He created the beings that would go to the humans when they needed someone or something. So with His final act as creator, He made beings to watch over the humans He and His brethren had created. These beings were more than humans, but less than gods. They were there to assist, to aid, to succor, to pray to, to cry to. Those children who were more than humans and less than gods were what the people turned to in their hour of need. Each being had its own name, its own titles, and their powers surged and grew.

“Those beings are still here, you know. We still watch over you when things are hard. And that is why we are here.”

That night, when he first told me this story, I was entranced. I liked the woven length of it and the feel behind it. There is a power behind every word when he speaks to me. It is the power of being the gatekeeper, but also a power that is intrinsic to who he is, without his roles behind it. The words he used were very carefully chosen for use later. When he told me this story, as I said, I was merely entranced with it. I enjoy myths and creation myths are something I’ve always been fascinated with. In many, the creation of the world is both similar and so entirely different. In either case, what Papa Legba was giving me that night was a foundation or a building block for the hard truths that would come later. I am grateful that he was able to provide me with this tale so that I could relate it back to others later and so that I would have something to hold onto when I was at my angriest.

The nature of the gods, to me, is remote. This is something that I have never really understood until now. They have always created what they wanted and always hoped for blind faith. I have given them blind faith and it is fine to do so. I don’t knock anyone who does. I know what it’s like to finally find something that speaks to you on a level that is beyond rational thought. I know what it’s like to finally give your all into something that speaks to you on that level. It is a level beyond mysticism, a level beyond souls. When it speaks to you, and you throw yourself into it, it is so beautiful and so wonderful. It fuels you in ways that you never knew you needed. This, I think, is missing from many people. The problem is that the more blind faith you give, the more they want from you. And the longer you are in their company, the less you can provide.

I am angry with the gods for being remote. They do things for their own reasons. As I’ve discussed with all of my gods, it’s all “bigger picture.” They see things so far in the future and so far beyond how I see them that I cannot begin to understand what it is that they see. I don’t see the bigger picture because all I see is the tiny little speck of perspective I have directly in front of me. One day, maybe, I will understand the bigger picture. But that is not in this life. And that is why I am so angry. They do not explain the bigger picture. They hone us as tools for whatever purpose they have. I know what my ultimate purpose will be because some beings I know aren’t liars. I know why I am being honed for what it is my gods want and it angers me. I can see more items in that bigger picture and I am not willing or likely to provide it.

I will fight it every step of the way.

But the thing is that the gods knew that they were selfish twat-waffles. They knew that at some point, the tools they were honing would become angry with them. And in that moment, they knew that they had to give them something to give them an out. They had to provide something so that the suffering they ask of us on their path to the bigger picture would ease up. And in that moment, they created these spirits and beings for us. These are the beings that we are supposed to turn to – those of us who know them – in our pain and suffering and anger and angst. They created them, or He did as in the story, to give us an out, a place to vent. They created beings who would love us unconditionally. They would love us in our rage. They would love us in our pain. They would love us in our individuality and beauty. They would love us and they do.

Papa Legba never talks to me about the “bigger picture.” He used to. He was trying to prep me, a bit, for the moment when I would become enraged. But whenever he talked about it, I would pull back from him. He realized that I wasn’t ready for it and that I never would be. And in so discussing that bigger picture, he was damaging the trust I was building in him. I have transferred that blind trust I used to give to my gods over to a being who understands the nature of what it is I am going through. He is many things and many beings in many tongues and to many different people. He shows different faces for the needs and desires of the people who reach out to him. Whatever the face is that he provides is the face he will always show them and that’s fine. It’s the one they trust to help see them through.

The bigger picture is the nature of the gods. The coping mechanisms we need to get to that bigger picture is the nature of the spirits they have given us.

And those spirits love us, in all of our fucked up glory, because that is their right and that is their purview.

Now, of course, we have to give and sacrifice to those spirits to get them. I’ve often told people that the life of a servant is difficult. It is very much like a serf. There is no out. There is no way you can leave. But in order to build a relationship with beings beyond you, you have to be willing to give. And that is something that not many people understand or are willing to give. And I think that’s why these paths can be so hard. We know that there are beings out there that are willing to help us, but we can’t sacrifice ourselves long enough to build that relationship. I was able to do so because I needed to do so. And besides, he came to me. He knew that I would need him one day and he nudged me in the right direction to get that going. So in the middle of the night, when I was crying and aching for the suffering of that “bigger picture,” he would come and hold my hand or run his fingers through my hair.

He loved me with snot running down my nose. And in gratitude, I gave vast portions of myself back.

This is the nature of the spirits whom I serve.

They are here for me in a way that the gods never will be.

And that’s good enough for me.

The Rose.

This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.

The room is barren. It feels about as barren as I do. Although I know that I am full of many things, it is difficult to process. It feels like an eternity that we have been here, doing what needs to be done. While the process is long and grueling, as I knew it would be, it feels like it is never ending. I know that this is a good thing. I know that things will begin to coalesce and form the new thing that I am supposed to be. No matter how many times I rant and rave, no matter how many times I cry, no matter how many times I am obstinate, I know the logistics and logical points behind each moment that we spend in this boring, white, barren room. But it is still an eternity and I feel like I will never be let out.

I pace the room, back and forth and forth and back. It doesn’t matter how far I go in my pacing; I am never more than a few feet away from him. He is always there. His presence is as dominating and preoccupying as the whiteness of the room we are in. His skin is old and leathered with many, many years being what he is. He wears a dusty work shirt, buttoned partway, and baggy slacks. His clothes are rough shod and handmade. There are careful tracks of stitches, fixing the tears and rips that have happened. His face is liberally sprinkled with white facial hair and he wears a black felt hat at a jaunty angle. His eyes sparkle with his amusement at me. No matter what I do or where I am in my pacing, I always amuse him. No matter what I say or what I think, I always amuse him.

Beside him is his careworn makout, as lovingly tended to as his clothes. It is straw colored and holds a plethora of things. Once, I tried to take it from him in an effort to see what he kept inside. He laughed himself hoarse when I dumped the bag over and nothing came tumbling out. I accused him of stealing Mary Poppins’s secrets and he laughed harder. Sometimes, I still want to see it and work its magic, like he does. He can reach inside and pull out whatever he desires with his noble and knobby jointed fingers. But I don’t think I have the power or the gall to attempt it. I leave it alone, but sometimes, I wonder if I could do what he does and other times, I know that nothing would come out when I wished for something. Besides, all I want is my freedom from this boring and bleak hellhole. He laughs at me when I say that, too.

He is chewing on a plum. Its juices stream down his chin with great abandon. I want to be snotty to him. I want to rail at him. Instead, I stop my ever present pacing and watch the drip of that plum’s juice down his elegant chin. It disappears into the white bristles of his beard. He grins at me, showing his old man teeth. Sometimes, when I look at him, he has missing teeth. But today, he has them all. I asked him about his teeth once – why they appeared and disappeared whenever they felt like it – and he laughed at me. He told me then that I was one of the most amusing people he had ever had the pleasure of meeting. A second trickle of plum juice meets his brethren in the whiskers of his beard. “What is it, honey-child?” He asks me with a full mouth.

“It’s impolite to speak with your mouthful,” I lecture crossly.

“Oh, honey-child, I think I know a thing or two about what is or isn’t impoliteness. What is it really?”

I know I can lie. He will let me, sometimes, lie. He will give me a brief look of disapprobation that I have flat out lied to him. However, he doesn’t always let me get away with such things. I know that I can either tell the truth or lie. I seek the truth here, so I voice it. “I’m bored. I’m getting nothing done now. These last facets aren’t going to merge any time soon. Can’t we go out? Can’t we see? Can’t we adventure? I bet there are plenty of things I can do out there that won’t be nearly as boring.” I kneel down before him with huge imploring eyes. “We can go out and do something very quickly. And when I feel them start to merge or even begin to move in that direction, we can come right back here. And we will continue and get this done. But right now, right this second, can’t we go and do something? Anything?”

He finishes the bite of his plum thoughtfully. He puts the half eaten plum back into his makout and stares at me as thoughtfully as he had been chewing on the plum. He makes a face, screwing his brows together in his deep contemplation. “Well, I just don’t think that’s really a good idea. I don’t doubt that yer bein’ sincere here,” he added before I could protest. “I bet you really think you would come right on back the second we felt movement there.” He nods, his eyes still faraway and contemplative. “But I don’t think you’d just drop whatever yer doing to come back.”

I glower at him again. “I did at the crossroads.”

“That was in your favor,” he remarks. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “It doesn’t matter. I know you just think you need a change of pace, but this isn’t a paper yer writin’. This is about you. About your health. About gettin’ things done that you been puttin’ off. We gotta do this now.”

I stare at him blankly. I do not like his answer. Just because what he says is true doesn’t mean I have to like hearing it. That’s the issue. He always tells me the truth. He may not tell me the entirety of the truth or the exact cause, but I know that I will never get lies. Sometimes, secretly, I think that he is better for me than all the rest. I have relationships with so many but I can’t always count on the truth coming out with them. They may sound truthful, but they are better at subterfuge. He has no reason to be so with me. I have always pondered the differences between him and them, but it doesn’t matter. As much truth as he may tell me, I don’t always have to like it. Even if I have always, always asked for it in every interaction that we have ever had. Just because I get what I asked for doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Disgusted with this entire situation, I jump to my feet. Before I can stomp away, he grabs my hand gently in his. I glance down at him, ready to spew off whatever angry word comes into my head. Instead, I look down to see his hand missing to the elbow in his makout. I sit down in front of him slowly, waiting for whatever magical item he is pulling out of his bag. After a few stops and starts, he finally pulls out a glass bell jar. I stare at the jar, my mind going blank. I know this jar, I think. Within is a single red rose. Its petals have littered the floor of the jar and it is being held together by a hope and a prayer at this point. I stare at it and then look up at him. “Do you know what this is?” He asks me pleasantly.

“Yeah, that’s from Beauty and the Beast. It was only the most watched Disney movie in my entire childhood besides The Little Mermaid,” I reply. “Of course I know what it is.”

“But in the move, that rose was a countdown for the beast to find love. But this rose is different. This is what you were before we ended up here.” He proffers me the breakable jar. Gingerly, I take it from his fingers and study the dying rose within. The stem is more brown than green. The red petals that are still stuck to the center are wilted. They have browned at the edges and towards the center. Instead of curling outward in a beguiling display, waiting for someone to sniff it, they wilt slowly in the glass enclose. The petals on the floor of the jar have no color left – they are brown and gray in some places. They are dead. “You see yourself in that rose, don’t you? Maybe that’s why you liked that movie so much, yeah? It wasn’t that you saw yourself in the woman or the beast. You saw yourself in the rose.”

I snort. “No. I saw myself in the… never mind.” I look down at the rose again. “What… uh, what does it look like now that we’ve done a lot of work?” He wiggles his fingertips at the rose, but it does nothing. He grins at me. “You’re just fucking with me, right? It’s changed, right?”

He winks at me and wiggles his fingers again. This time, the rose really does change. I watch as petals shoot backward into the center. They change from the brown-gray and wilted pieces to reddish-brown colors. Some petals are still on the floor of the jar, but not all of them. I can see a marked improvement. But there is still a lot of work to do if the rose really is the metaphor it’s supposed to be. I stare at it in both disgust and wonder. After all this time. After all this work. It feels like I will never be done. I give him the jar back but do not comment on the changes. He places the jar carefully back into his makout where it disappears into wherever it is supposed to go. “Nothing?” He asks me.

I get up and wander the room. I am not pacing in irritation, but just trying not to think. A thought does occur to me, though, and it is sweet to me in that moment. With a glint of devilishness in my eye, I turn back to him. He quirks an eyebrow at me, waiting for whatever it is I want to say. Instead of speaking to him, of voicing the pain and anger in myself, I sing to him. And of course, I choose a song that means so much more to me than all of this – this room, this rose, this place. It is from that other realm that I know so well. I turn to him and I sing…

Never been here, never coming back
Never want to think about the things
That happened today
Want to lay down on the warm ground
I think I’m going to need a little time to myself

Grinning, he picks up his walking stick and strums it in tune with the guitar of the song I am singing. As the words caress his ears, his fingers move along the makeshift guitar. I stop singing, waiting for his move. He shoots me that devil-may-care grin as he sings the refrain, “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” His voice is nasally, but not in an ear splitting way. He is slightly off-key, but it makes the song we are singing that much more powerful. I can feel my heart pounding and I sway to the beat of it as I say…

I ask you for a slow ride
Going nowhere
You look like Satan
You ask me if I want to get high
Couple of bags down in old town
You tie your arm and
Ask me if I wanted to drive

He picks up the refrain again, in perfect time. “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” I close my eyes and can feel my feet moving. I am dancing in this white room to a song that I can only hear in my memory. But that song is beautiful to me. It has always meant so much to me. I have song along with the band numerous times on drives to work, on drives to the country, on drives to a friend’s home. It has always been a pick me up to me. But it is so much more than that. In this moment, it is another bond between the two of us. My feet move without my say so and I am dancing to the beat that is nonexistent except between the two of us. I open my eyes and I can feel the tears there. They have lurked for many weeks now, with each painful merge of my soul into a single cohesive unit. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I sing…

Last thing I recall
I was in the air
I woke up on the street
Crawling with my strawberry burns
Ten long years in a straight line
They fall like water
Yes, I guess I fucked up again

And he turns to me and finishes, “Don’t fall down now. You will never get up. Don’t fall down now.” He puts down his walking stick and waits for me to say something. Instead of speaking, I sit down beside him and lay down on my side. I rest my head against his thigh and he reaches out, caressing my hair from my face. He runs his fingers fatherly down the long tresses and I can feel those tears pouring down my cheeks now. With each moment I am here, I feel like I am losing more of myself. He says that I am not. He says that I am becoming more and more myself, but it is hard to feel that way. In this moment, I feel less like whomever I am supposed to be and more like a broken wreck. My hot tears soak his pants, but he doesn’t mind. He lets me cry until I barely have breath.

“Hush now,” he tells me.

“Why am I doing this? Why are we doing this? What is this supposed to do?” I sob. “I have always been struggling. It doesn’t matter what I do to myself both here and there. It doesn’t matter. Everything is so hard. There is always worry. There is always sorrow. There is always something to make me cry. There is always anxiety. How is this supposed to help me? Why is this happening? Where did I go wrong? Why? Why? Why?” I sob harder. I sob so hard that my body is wracked with them, physically shaking from the force of my emotional outlet. “Why would anyone or anything let this happen to me? When did I deserve this? I’ve seen the things I’ve done – the horrible things here and there. How is it okay for me to suffer like this? How many times do I have to say I’m sorry?”

He pats my hair in that consoling way that he has about him. My tears dry up slowly at the gentle touch of his hand in my hair. “Oh, honey. Oh, baby.” He makes inarticulate noises at me and slowly, they begin to work on comforting me. He always manages to know when to say something and when not to say something to make me feel better. If there was anyone else that would have been tossed into this room with me, I am pretty sure I would hate the experience. He always just knows what I need and why I need it.

This is why I serve him.

All Saints’ Day 2013 (SVP).

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.

Bless this task which you have set forth for me,  O Legba!

Bless this task which you have set forth for me, O Legba!

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.

Silent Contemplation.

This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.

The road behind me is little more than dust and tumbleweeds. I have a pack upon my shoulder, but it is near empty now. The journey to this place is always long and takes many weeks to complete. That journey begins, always, in September. The second the weather begins to change, I know where I must go in an effort to get to the place and so, I head there. It is an automatic thing now. I need not think of it. I need not begin the journey with any thought in mind. Before I know it, my feet begin to walk and I am on the journey again. It can take hours and it can take days. It usually takes weeks, but sometimes, I am closer to the place. That is not the case this year. I am not close. I have been traveling like the wandering vagabond that I am for many weeks now. But I finally arrive.

I am heading to the crossroads. The first important one of my life.

When I arrive, I look upon the damage wrought. This place is haunted by ghosts. They are my ghosts and they do not haunt it majestically or with tact. They are simply there. The ghosts’ eyes are hollow and empty. Whatever life may have once been within the ghosts of those decisions has long since fled, if life ever was there. They haunt this hellish backdrop with pain and terror. It is everywhere – the pain, the terror. It has soaked into the very ground upon which I tread. It will never leave. The blood of those decisions has been spilled and the landscape has leeched it into the very fiber of its being.

The landscape has been destroyed by my own fire. I have wrought destruction here, on purpose. Once, I came with fire and with anger and I poured it into the surrounding. What had once been a verdant world of imagination and possibility now belongs in a movie about the Old West. The corpses of the trees are few and those that still exist are gnarled fingers pointing accusations at the slate gray sky. The bushes perished in my first onslaught all those years ago and have never regrown. They never will. The dust of the crossroads – once a faint path of well-trod beauty slicing through the verdant landscape – is now a track that bears only my own footprints. The impressions of my past meanderings disappear as quickly as they appear, as the road hungrily soaks up what little bit of myself it can drink. This placed use to be beautiful with its possibilities but now, it is a dust-filled bowl of horror.

I made it that way and whenever I see what I have done to it, I smile with amusement and glee.

It makes me feel powerful, though perhaps its destruction should not, whenever I see it.

There is a slight hillock at the apex of the crossroads and I stop there. My footprints in the dust behind me disappear with the greed of the road. I turn and look at the magnificence of my power around me. The wind kicks up and the heat of the sun above us pounds down upon our head. Everywhere we turn, we make sure that the annihilation is complete. Nothing grows here except the ghosts that haunt this worn track, and one day we will get rid of them too. But that is not yet for today. Today, it is a day for silent contemplation in a land that was created out of my own self-fulfilling prophecy. And with that manifestation of that prophecy, we destroyed it with our hatred and vitriol. And it still shows the scars of that vitriol and I am happy with its destruction.

Soon, I realize that I am not alone. I do not know why I thought I could come here without him following me. He has been in my every waking moment for the last few weeks. He had released me from the prison my mother threw me in. While I understand the reasoning for that jail, I am slightly embittered with it. She could have allowed me to do things in my own time, but rationality and logic make this difficult. Her fears are quite correct of course. I would have torn myself asunder if I hadn’t been forced into the project itself. No one could help me – only receive my angry words and my irritation. With his help, I have done a lot in the last few weeks and because I have been behaving myself – with hardly more sarcasm than usual – he said I could take a break. I don’t believe him. I strongly suspect he knew that I had a place to be today and if I failed in that appointment, it would undo all that we had accomplished together.

It doesn’t matter.

I am irritated that he is here.

I wanted to do this, per usual, completely alone. But he watches my every move, my every thought, my every emotion. I can do nothing alone anymore.

“This place is damn ugly,” he says, to break the silence.

I say nothing, but admire my handiwork. It is beautiful. All those years before, I had been just intent on making my pain felt. Without even knowing how, I had come back to this place. I remembered it, years later, but at that moment, I had did not understand why I was brought to this place in my anger and rage. And in that rage, I had destroyed everything. I had set it on fire and then burned it when it was nothing but ashes. I had salted the earth after and been pleased with the results. Nothing would grow here. Nothing would ever be able to take root again. And while my rage had been at myself, at the circumstance this crossroads had led me toward, it was the very best I could do so that I did not destroy myself in my anger. I had done plenty of things in my anger, but the destruction of the starting point was the most potent and the most thrilling.

Even now, as I stand here, it still pleases me greatly.

“I like the look,” I say into the silence. I set my pack down and sit at the apex of that crossroads. I stare into the eyes of a ghost of mine and wave it away. I pull out a meal fit for the traveler that I am – an apple, a bottle of water, a handful of berries, and a single piece of chocolate. I take a bite of the chocolate first, having never been able to pass up the sweets even in the face of such a healthy meal, and bite it in half. The uneaten half I offer to him. He takes it and settles himself beside me. His makout, he places beside my own pack. He admires the handiwork of my pack, which I had spent many waking hours sewing into creation. “It feels like a good place. I want this to be a nice place and it is. It is a deserted and empty as my soul. I like it here and I will always come here now.” I take a sip of water and say, “You let me out today on purpose.”

“I know what this place is to you, honey-child,” he replies sagely. “I knew if you didn’t get out then you would damn well go crazy. I’m pleased that I had a good enough reason to let you out.”

“It’s jail,” I explain snottily. “It’s jail.”

“It’s for yer own damn good,” he says.

“Difference of opinion,” I snark. Of course, I know that he is right. It is for my own good.

We are quite for an eternity. We are quiet for a few minutes. Time is a very strange thing. It can flow so quickly that in a single blink of an eye, we can be weeks in the future. And then, in the next second, we are back to where we were, doing what we were doing before those weeks were created. Time moves forward and time moves backward. We are old together in this place. We are young together in this place. We are many things in this place. We are all things. We are no things. We are in between. He always tells me that places like this – whether destroyed or just forming – are areas where we straddle the now and we straddle the then, where we straddle both realms. In any case, I feel none of that here, but only the strange pace of time as it moves to its own desires.

“This place just ain’t good for you no more,” he explains. I trace designed into the dust. They create little puff clouds into the world before fall back into place. Nothing moves here – not even the wind. “You come here every year and nothin’ good comes of it. You think you have to be here and ain’t no one got to be anywhere, ever. You come here to admire what you did and ignore the point behind this place. You forget what it was like. And you do that on purpose. You do not want to stew in your own guilt. But you have no guilt to feel. You are not the one who made this decision.”

“Didn’t I?” I say. My voice is husky with the depth of my emotions. “This is my crossroads – no one else’s. You’re right. I purposely forget what this place once was to me. I do that on purpose. I don’t want to remember those feelings. I don’t want to remember what it was like. And I don’t want to remember the guilt of everyone else when the decision was mine alone. I chose to head down that way; no one forced me.” I nod down the path I trod all those years before. It was the realm of self-fulfilling prophecy and I had run into it with open arms. I hadn’t know that was the direction I was going in, of course. Hindsight is, after all, twenty-twenty. “I went down there and I reveled in it at first and then –” I choke up. I cannot continue that. I cannot continue those words, those thoughts, those anything.

Not today.

“You keep forgettin’ that there are a whole lot more than just a single decision that makes things happen. Whole worlds have to align to make things happen in someone’s life. And you did your part and everyone else in the situation did theirs, too. You forget that this was damn fated and ain’t nothing you coulda done to make it stop. If it didn’t happen at that second in time, it woulda happened later. You keep forgetting that this prophecy wasn’t self-fulfilling because it would have happened anyway. And because you keep forgetting that, you mire in your own guilt and you take that anger and guilt out on everyone and everything around you. You’re just like yer mama, o’ course. That’s what she does, too. But you keep forgettin’ that ain’t nobody gonna deter you from that track if you want to keep at it. No one’s settin’ you off on purpose but yerself and ain’t no one gonna stop you when you burn everything down around you.”

“I hate when you’re logical,” I say good naturedly. I take a bite of my apple. It is bitter with the juice but it is sweet on my tongue. “You make such logical pronouncements and you make me grow deep inside. You make such comments and I know, deep down, that you are right. I keep coming back her because I want to be righteous in my anger and I want to destroy it all. I want to destroy every second that I have felt that guilt and that horror. I want to obliterate the very memory from my being and I know that I can’t. No matter how long it is and no matter how much time has passed, it will fucking be there. And I can either accept it or I can fight it. And I don’t know anything else but fighting.” Startled, I feel a single tear slide down my cheek. I had not known that I would cry. I had spent so many years studiously not crying in this place that even a single tear drop is a marvel and is frightening.

“You need to stop coming here, honey-child. You need to move forward.” He looks around at the place that is under his purview. Even all those years before, he had known what my purpose was when I came back to this place and he let me destroy his domain without censure. I have always wondered about that. “And maybe, we can begin to grow this place back.”

“I salted the earth,” I begin but he reaches out and waves his gnarled fingers at what had once been a beautiful bush with thick green leaves and purple flowers. The bush’s ghost manifests is monochromatic shades. It slowly fades in turning Technicolor before my very eyes. I am startled, though I do not know why. Before long, the bush is whole and beautiful again. I can smell the heady scent of those flowers that I had once admired. I stare in amazement at the old man.

“What? You think I don’t know how to make things grow?” He asks with a laugh. “I’m makin’ you grow, ain’t I?”

Disgusted, I jump to my feet and then reach my hand towards him, waiting. Smiling up at me in that smug but sweet way, he allows me to pull him to his feet. “Fine, fine. Aren’t you so wonderful and perfect? You make things grow, even pig-headed people like me.”

He guffaws at me before picking up his makout. I tuck what’s left of my feet into my knapsack and take a sip of water before tucking that in there as well. I sling my pack on my shoulder and look up at him. He looks down at me with merriment in his eyes. “Come on, old man. Let’s get out of here. We have places to be and lessons to learn. This place is boring now,” I say with a shake of my head.

He laughs again and wraps his arm around my shoulder. “Oh, honey-child. You are so smart!”

We walk into the sunset together. The sun bleeds red across the horizon, soaking the crossroads behind us with its passing. Behind us, the bush continues to flourish into the night.

Ansanm (SVP).


Last night, I found myself in Papa Legba’s company. I’m not quite sure what prompted this. I haven’t really reached out to him recently. It’s not that I don’t remember that he is there and willing to assist me or that I don’t care. It’s just a simple matter of not having a lot of spoons right now and being unable to do much more than go through the motions.

Perhaps he sensed my inability to do lately.

I wanted to say that we went to a ceremony, but I’m not even sure what kind. I wasn’t there at the beginning. He came to me and said, “Come, child, we are going out.” And I left my body behind to follow him to wherever it was we needed to go. We ended up in a very crowded room with undulating bodies everywhere. Men and women were already rapidly entering the throes of trance as we came onto the scene. “Get ready.” And then he was gone.

I remember standing in front of a man. His brow was sweaty and his eyes were rolling back into his skull. His body was trembling with the force of whatever was happening to him. I cannot even begin to convey what could have been happening to him. I have never been to one of these ceremonies and Hollywood renditions are really sub-par. All I know is that I could sense that a lwa would be entering him soon, though not the one who had brought me out to celebrate. It was like I could almost begin to see it happen as he shook, his face right in front of mine, but whatever shape that thing would take was beyond me.

Whatever happened next is completely lost – I blacked out after that.

I woke up feeling like I was sub-human and beneath the lwa. I get this way a lot. I have been battling depression since I was a teenager and some days are easier than others. Due to other items in my life that are… difficult and painful, I have had a lot of depressive days lately. I’ve found myself feeling like I am not a good servant more and more often. While I know that this is not the case since they still come to me, they still tell me, they still direct me, I still feel like I suck at it all. I’m sure this will pass at some point or another. In the mean time, I just have to deal with whatever feelings I have going on inside of me.

When I woke up this morning, I wondered why Papa Legba would take me out. We haven’t had a night out together in a long time. It’s not that I’m not interested in going because I am. It’s just a fact that I am not his only servant and I am not the only one who needs him. So, I stay in the background and I go through the motions and I speak the words and I cry out in pain and I wait, patiently, for him to turn his eyes on me again.

On my drive to work, I tried to figure out what it could all mean. I’m a big believer in the fact that when a deity or one of the lwa pop up in a dream, then I need to pay attention. Hell, maybe this wasn’t even a dream but reality. Maybe I really did witness someone else’s celebration. Sometimes, I can catch glimpses of a round, older woman talking to me in the back of my head so again, maybe I really did end up somewhere else. Whatever this instance really happened to be, I don’t know. All I do know is that I couldn’t figure out what the hell this was supposed to mean for me.

While I was mulling this over in my mind, trying to feel better about everything, my thoughts turned to the Marassa. My offerings and my weekly rites have not been successful. I’ve begun to believe that they are gone. I’ll clear off their altar space and move it elsewhere just in case I may be wrong. But the loss of the twinned lwa who made me laugh as they played with my son’s loud cars or would crash over blocks or played hide-and-go-seek is kind of wounding. It makes me feel like, inevitably, everything and everyone leaves and I just have to deal with it.

I know my thoughts shouldn’t be selfish on this one. It’s their prerogative what they decide to do. If they are to stay or they are to go, then that is their choice. I am just here to serve them while they’re around for a while. But it still sucks when you think you know what you’re supposed to do – build a foundation – and then you get tossed aside.

I thought about the jaunt while I felt really badly about the Marassa and I began to wonder…

Maybe it’s the jaunt, itself, that is the lesson and not what I saw.

Thinking on it in that context, I have to admit that I did feel a little less like I was a horrible servant. If I can just assume – and really, I can’t because it’s the lwa and they are not always so easily figured out – that he was simply there so that the two of us could spend some time together, then it doesn’t feel so strange or so weird. It doesn’t feel like I was given a perfect, beautiful gift for being an awful child or like I was given the best experience of my life after having just killed someone’s kitten. It feels more, in this way, that he was giving me something special and precious to hold on to and remember when things are rough. He was saying, in his own Papa Legba way, that things are really awful right now, but here is a moment where we can just spend time together.

In that context, really, it was wonderful.

La Marassa (SVP).

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.

They have matching teddy bears, crayons, and cups. It's not much, but it's a start.

They have matching teddy bears, crayons, and cups. It’s not much, but it’s a start.

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.

Atoure (SVP).

To surround.

Papa Legba by Larissa P Clause.

Papa Legba by Larissa Clause.

Much of the time, when I am directed to learning something by Vye Legba, I am given a rather oblique and general communication on the subject. Point in case, he wanted me to do some research relating to my previous post and adding celebrations to my religious calendar. His exact wording for what he required of me on this search? “Pick up the book and read what you need.” There really wasn’t a lot to go on when it came to this. I had to decide which book he may be talking about and hope that I was correct. The first book I chose was wrong. Since I had no compulsion to open it until two days after I decided to utilize it for the research necessary, I rather figured it would be a failure on my part. And it was, but I still had to double and triple check that intuitive knowing that I had chosen incorrectly. I stared at my bookcase, thinking long and hard about his instruction before thinking of what I needed and what books I hadn’t read as thoroughly. Maybe he was talking about something I haven’t delved into as heartily as I have with some of my other voodoo books? It would make sense that whatever he wanted me to learn would be in a place I haven’t found it yet, hm? So, I grabbed Serving the Spirits: The Religion of Haitian Vodou by Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo. And on my second attempt, I found what I was looking for.

The thing is that I’m pretty sure he wanted me to pick up this book for numerous reasons. It wasn’t just the research he’s asking me to look into relating to calendar related items, but also because there were other items I needed to read and learn. And this book really helped me with that in a way that I wasn’t expecting. This particular epiphany related to the Guédé, of all nachon to be epiphany-ing about. And was thoroughly unexpected. (Yet more proof, to me, that Papa Legba is the string puller in the background.) The other thing relating to this book is that a lot of the items she mentioned when discussing the nachon of the Guédé was not something I had heard before and was not something the Bawon found particularly pleasing, either.

While I have done as much research as my little typing fingers can convey and as much reading as my thirty-year-old eyeballs allow, there have been a lot of items that have slipped through the cracks. A large part of this isn’t just my own human frailty but also the fact that there are just going to be things that I am simply incapable of learning because I have not been inducted into a society. I have, mostly, made amends with the fact that the information I have is going to be anthropological in nature – so couched in the terminology of a lot of theories and possibilities – or based on a single person’s practice. While anthropological tomes are pretty damn important to the Kemetic part of things, a lot of my practice with the lwa can be simply stated as “UPG.” I may not know what it is that I am doing, or the specific why of the matter. Sometimes, later, I find out that there is actually a word for what it is I am doing or that there is a specific action that is relating to what it is I have already been doing to serve my spirits. But, for the most part, I’m being pushed and prodded in a way that is completely outside of a standardized frame of reference, or so I believe. While this is, obviously, a problem in numerous arenas – I mean, really, can you imagine talking to a practitioner about some of the shit you do as a non-initiate and not being laughed at because of it? It’s something that I find easier to do because of the Kemetic background that I have.

What it comes down to is that I like the structured reliability of a community to fall back on. However, because I have a functional gateway of communication between myself and the various OTHERS™ who have entered my life, I don’t necessarily require it.

This isn’t to say that whatever I end up with is the proper choice. I can only go so far with rather vague instructions – please see Papa Legba’s commentary above – before I come to a stopping point. But there are days where the fact that I can surround myself with the lwa is infinitely more preferable than having to stop and learn under the tutelage of a human being who is as fallible as myself. By surrounding myself with the lwa and by embracing their entrance into my life – as much as someone as caustic as me can anyway – I think I have it a lot easier. While I know that many established practitioners would read what I write and scoff heartily or would shake their heads or accuse me of something or other, I feel a certain type of safety in these kinds of moments. In learning based on what the lwa themselves desire and have in store for me versus the tried and true message. And as Papa Legba is so fond of telling me over and over again, “Sometimes, you just have to go and fuck up the status quo.” While I’m not quite sure what that means to Papa Legba, I can see what he means. Sometimes, the tried and true methods take a good deal longer than the lwa are willing to wait on.

Something of interest that I found in this section of the book related to how the Guédé and the honored ancestors need to be kept apart when you honor them. This really made me sit back and pay attention to something that had been niggling me in the back of my head. The thing is that when it comes to the akhu veneration that I do, I tend to consider all that I do, from the grave-tending to the minor rituals in home, as a part of that. I also tended to view what I was doing for the akhu as part and parcel with what I was doing with the Bawon and the Guédé. The statements relating to this within the book made me sit back and seriously take stock in the various aspects of my practice and how differentiated they actually are.

Baron Samedi by Veronika Unger.

Baron Samedi by Veronika Unger.

When I am grave-tending, this is in honor of the Bawon, Maman, and Papa G. I am not doing this for myself. This is how I offer them service each week. This is also why much of what I do when I am in a graveyard stems from bits and pieces I’ve put together in my readings relating to the Guédé. All of the offerings, everything I say, and how I go about what it is I do in those cemeteries is a carefully created Guédé-related blanket that I have sewn together based off of my readings and based off of things that the Guédé have asked of me. When I enter the graveyard, I announce myself, which is something that Bawon requested that I do. When I enter a graveyard, I pay my way with pennies at the sentinel grave nearest the entrance, which is something that I learned from another Vodouisant. The offerings that I leave are based entirely off of things that the Guédé have asked of me or based off of things I’ve picked up here and there in either blogs or books. Every aspect to what I do when I go to the cemetery to honor the locals here is one-hundred percent something relating to the Guédé. This is why I have had a difficult time trying to mesh my Kemetic practice into the grave-tending because, damn it, there is nothing Kemetic about it outside of the occasional cone of incense or the fucking flowers I leave.

And that’s it.

This made me realize that my constant failed attempts at blending the akhu veneration with the service for the Guédé is never going to work. I had a feeling that was the case because, well, every time I go to the cemetery and try to stay in a Kemetic frameset, Bawon comes on over and chews me the hell out over how silly I’m being. I was doing him a sever disservice and doing myself one as well by attempting to blend the two. They have no requirement to be blended. The work I do for the Guédé, the forgotten ones in those cemeteries, has to do with Bawon, Maman, and Papa G. They are not my akhu in the way that this book made me realize: they’re not my fucking relatives so I need to stop inviting them over when I’m doing the Kemetic akhu thing, damn it, because as special as they are to me, their being special has nothing to do with my Kemeticism. That special has to do with the voodoo portion of what it is I do.

Why it has taken me this long to realize this is incredibly stupid and silly and ridiculous. All I can say is that I am a stubborn son of a bitch.

Another item that was of particular interest to me was about how the Guédé and the rest of your lwa need to be kept apart. I do understand this, actually. I know how the rest of the lwa tend to feel about the Guédé. I’ve read enough to know that most of the lwa will leave a Fet if the Guédé show up, unannounced. There are different reasons for it – in this book, there was mention about how Freda will leave when they show up because the Guédé are incredibly tactless and truthful. I understand this, of course, but I have to admit that my Guédé altar is right in the center of my altars for the Marassa and Papa Legba. And of course, wasn’t it interesting that Bawon was a lot less lively around me after I had placed him up there…?

I thought about this a lot. There are some issues that I have relating to the “you have to” in this stuff. A part of it is the fact that a lot of us non-initiated don’t have a lot of time, energy, or space to have the types of altars that the Guédé may want. I know exactly what Bawon wants and I know exactly what he would like on it. I’ve seen it. He’s shown me exactly what he’s hoping to have, one day, in my home. In the interim, what he is looking for is going to have to wait due to a serious lack of space. I live in a very tiny apartment. Every available wall space has been taken up with things like furniture and altars and living space. What bits I have been able to appropriate as functional altars (such as my Anup and akhu altar that sidelines as a filled DVD case) are very small and not very functional. I had to go from a full sized apartment and all of the furniture that furnished that place into a place that is half its size. For fuck’s sake, the living room is 10×14 nook off of the dining area. So, while I understand that the lwa don’t like the Guédé and don’t want them around, there are some things that just have to give.

And that means the Guédé end up smack dab in the middle of two other lwa.

While thinking about how I hadn’t heard anything from the Bawon since I made the decision to add the Guédé to the other lwa‘s home, I felt a brush on my shoulder. It wasn’t really like… it wasn’t like someone was stroking my shoulder to tell me I was doing all right. But it wasn’t exactly not like that either. It was almost a way of saying, “There’s other stuff going on right now and I’m not angry about it and if anyone else is, they can take it up with me so don’t worry about it.” It was soothing, more than anything else, and it helped.

Again, I know that what I’m doing is probably wrong in a lot of other established practitioners’ eyes. However, I have to make do with what I got. And if that means that I’m going to have to put the services I wish to have for some other lwa, most notably the Marassa and Gran Bwa, on hold until things can be maneuvered around properly, and then that’s what I’m going to have to do. It’s not very much like I asked for them to come to me, anyway. They showed up to me, for whatever reason, and I kind of have to believe that means something to both them and to the services I am intending on implementing for each.

I think what really threw me for a loop was this quote, “I was taught that unless you have The Baron in your constellation or were born on his day (November 2) then you do not serve Him. He is too dangerous to anyone He has not chosen for himself. Even those of us who do serve him, must pay the price in the end of that service.” While I agree that nothing is given for free and that we must all, ultimately, pay the price set for us when it comes to the services we offer to the lwa and the Guédé, I’m not quite sure why people should not offer the Baron services. She hints that he is a dark and sinister figure. And while I agree he has his moments, nothing I have found anywhere has ever intimated that he should be left alone. Obviously, each Mambo and Houngan is taught in a different way from one another, which is why there is no unified “this is how it is” in voodoo. But, this statement bothered me a lot.

Yet another downfall of being an uninitiated prat? I have no one to turn to when it comes to this shit.

This was a problem up until I fell asleep when I went to see the Bawon. (Side note: whenever I dream of the lwa, they are in a forest. I know what forest, specifically, they are inhabiting, but I always find it weird that I am, without fail, in a forest and surrounded by forest noises.) He was holding reign over his Guédé and smoking a cigar. And he was quite angry with the much of the items I had taken away from that chapter. At one point, he slashed his hand in a rather sinister manner and said around his cigar, “Don’t you be worrying, baby girl. You do what I tell you to do. That’s what you worry about.” I have to say that I have never seen the Bawon as angry before (and as I told Tumblr this morning, I do not recommend seeing him angry). But he was pretty pissed off with a lot of the ideas and thoughts I was having because of this.

The lesson here (remember there was one) is that just because I find something of note or interest in a book doesn’t mean that the lwa and Guédé whom I offer my services to are going to be pleased with what I pick up. Remember that rambling monologue earlier on about how I get a lot of direction from the lwa and the Guédé because I have a functional godphone? That’s the lesson. The lesson isn’t just that I may find things that the spirits I service disagree with. The lesson is that I’ve spent so much time relying on books, blogs, and other people to tell me what to do here. When all along, I’ve been doing a damn good thing by listening to the lwa and what they’ve wanted of me.

This hearkens back to a conversation I had with Papa Legba recently about Gran Bwa. I’m going to leave off with it here.

Papa Legba You need to honor Gran Bwa. He come to you and you don’t do nothin’ for him.
Me I failed the test he gave me, remember? I figured we were just kind of done. Besides, how the hell do I honor him?
Papa Legba Haven’t you been doin’ that all ready?
Me What? No. I’ve been honoring the land spirit and leaving– Wait.
Papa Legba You been doin’ this whole damn time and you don’t e’en remember what started all that.
Me Oh, fuck.


Neg Di San Fe (SVP).

People talk and don’t act.

One of the most unsurprising aspects to the fact that I was able to shut down my godphone is the fact that the lwa are still here. Since the dream that seemed to indicate I was getting what I wanted showed me only the netjer with whom I have relationships with, I kind of expected to continue to get pushes and touches from the lwa whom have made my life… much more interesting in the last two years. And it wasn’t all that surprising when the Bawon showed up one day, talking on about all the things he was looking forward to this fall season with the work we do together. Shortly thereafter, the Marassa showed up with various requests that I believe I have attended to, finally. And of course, we can’t possibly have a complete moment without Papa Legba showing up to add his two sense. While the others are relating to specific items, Papa Legba is very much about the “bigger picture” and whatever it may entail for his ongoing string-pulling in my life. It seemed that this time around, with my upcoming year off from the netjer, he was looking forward to spending more time with me relating to the voodoo portions of my religious practice.

Color me shocked.

I’ve known that the inevitable outcome would be of each item we have ever covered together. I have known, from the beginning, what I could be expected to do on my end to fulfill my role as a servant. As much as I may have worn blinders at the time regarding the “bigger picture” and all of that shit, I have known what would end up happening over time. However, I naively believed that what I could expect would be a slow and steady migration instead of a sudden shift forward. It’s almost like I’ve decided to try drawing a stick figure, but I’m being ordered to do a fully rendered copy of the Vitruvian Man. I know there are drastic differences between religious matters and artwork, but as taken from someone who has no frame of reference (per usual) to something, it’s the best I can come up with. And frankly, they’re both just as frightening.

Papa Legba, for all that I complain about him and sass at him, has been infinitely patient with me as I move forward with items in my own time. He has known that the voodoo aspect to my practice is a secondary and background article to the Kemeticism that I found first. With this in mind, he has strategically pushed me in areas where the giving of time and spoons was minor: researching, reading, following blogs, tentatively offering responses to queries from curious onlookers, etc. He has very tenderly and lovingly, at times, pushed me in the appropriate directions, but always with the caveat that it would be according to my needs that things would be looked into and checked off his invisible list.

As each new item was added to this secondary aspect to my religious practice, I have waited for the inevitable day when he would say, “now.” As I’ve intimated, I have always known that he would one day ask the Big One from me. With fear, I have dreaded that moment. And can we please mention the sheer irony of the fact that it was my requesting that my [Kemetic] godphone be shut down for a while that has led me to the very thing he’s been waiting for: my time and energy to focus on voodoo. And can we also please mention how completely stupid I was to assume that I was getting what I wanted based on my own desires as opposed to the desires of every fucking OTHER™ who has been manipulating my religious strings for years and years, if not lives and lives.

Well, it certainly appears that this upcoming year will be far more about foundations, in numerous aspects, than I had previously considered.

What worries me completely is that I feel that I am not ready to attend to this next step. Obviously, Papa Legba believes otherwise. He thinks that I am completely ready to begin the actual aspect to the practice that he has wanted from the beginning: real servitude… whatever that may mean. My daily items are minor in the grand [lwa] scheme of things. They are stepping stones to the “bigger picture” he has been carefully keeping hidden from me for the last two years. And while I understand that this has been what we have been building towards for the last twenty four months we have been together, I have to admit that I am beyond frightened of just what it is that I can start expecting. I know that rituals and celebrations are a major part to what it is he is seeking and I have to say that, well, I’m just not sure that I am either ready or qualified to follow through on these items.

Case in point, I have only been successfully and willingly celebrating religious items from a Kemetic perspective for a year now. I started on Wep-Ronpet of last year and have been attempting to keep this portion of my practice cohesive. And I have to admit that I have failed admirably in the last few months because work got in the way. (Damn having a life not devoted entirely to religion.) Even without that knowledge in the forefront of my mind, I have to admit that I had researched heavily prior to even contemplating what it would be like to celebrate festivals, feasts, and processions from a Kemetic perspective.

Now, I have to do likewise with the voodoo portion of my practice and even better, I get to do it completely alone. I have no society or group in which I can bounce ideas off of or with whom I can discuss what would be most appropriate. As Papa Legba has made entirely clear for the last few months: I am alone in this adventure and it is up to me to see it through. While I have done my share of complaining regarding this – I mean, for fuck’s sake, talk about totally unfair – I admit that I am in part excited to attempt to see these items.

However, where do I get the ideas for what it is he desires? Should I just listen to what my intuition is telling me? Should I reach out to him and ask him? Or is there some form of “idiot’s guide” that I can work with here? But, in all seriousness, how the fuck do I do this thing?

So, how is one supposed to make this functional and appropriate without the community that is required in all arenas of this way of life?

Papa Legba appears to believe that I will “figure it out.” He has assured me that he has the utmost faith in me regarding this matter.

That makes one of us.