In case no one was fully aware, I tend to jump to the worst possible conclusion about things. It doesn’t matter what in the world the thing actually is, but if there is a worst-case scenario, you had better believe that my mind has entertained it. My mind has probably not just entertained it, but invented completely improbable probabilities to go along with said worst-case scenario. I try not to do too much entertaining of said improbabilities, but you know, your mind does whatever it wants. Usually, though, I try not to announce those scenarios until I have something definitive in which to report, which is probably why it took me years to finally say, “Oh, yes, that is Sekhmet calling, isn’t it?”

So, the worst case scenario – let’s entertain you with that first – is that the lwa have all up and disappeared. The best case scenario, as far as I can tell, would be that I am full of shit and just being a dumbass. The middle case scenario is that they need some time away from me, just as I probably need time away from them, and we’ll all come back together at some point in future. But, I actually suspect the worst case scenario is what may be going on.

It started just after Lent. I was pretty busy, of course, with Sekhmet-related things. This was to be expected because I (a) promised, (b) don’t break my promises, and (c) had some bonding to get done for the next phase in our relationship. As much as I may have not wanted to go back prior to Lent, I was willing to get to the new step after having learned what I could throughout Lent regarding Lent. It was easy, of course, to see similarities and to fit the dogma regarding Lent in a Kemetic standpoint and how to fit that into my relationship building exercises with Sekhmet.

Papa Legba left me at the bus stop, so to speak, and tooted on his merry little way.

I haven’t seen him since.

After Lent was over, I went through the motions of giving him his daily coffee. We would share a cup just about every day, either in companionable silence or while talking over things that were bothering me. Whatever the case would be, we would share the coffee. I often felt very upset that I hadn’t the ability to do more, but Papa would always remind me that I am one of those souls that feels the need to be demonstrative with my affections, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. He said coffee was A-Okay with him because he loved coffee and I made it just strong enough for him to enjoy.

But those morning moments, stolen amid getting ready for the day ahead, didn’t return after Lent. Even though I continued to give him coffee, I couldn’t feel his presence. I looked for him on my rides into work, even though they were shortened. I looked for him in the places that I thought he would be after I was bonded. I stole away in the middle of the night, uncomfortable with the golden thing around my neck, and looked in the gardens and forested areas where I thought he would be and I found nothing.

On those stolen evenings, I would look for other lwa who had been companions in this, as well. I often spent whole nights in that other place, going to the place where Bawon’s bonfire normally was held and found the place empty. Or, I would run through the forest, searching for Gran Bwa just as I always had but instead of catching glimpses of him laughing at me always, always ahead of me, there was no one there to laugh. I saw no one and nothing and Papa Legba was curiously missing.

In the morning of those stolen evenings, I would make his coffee and try not to worry that I had done something amazingly wrong by becoming a bonded servant. But it’s hard for me to not go to that worst-case scenario. I started this entry off with assuring anyone who is willingly reading this drivel that is who I am: I think in terms of, “IT IS ALL SHIT.” I don’t know if I do this in the hopes that things aren’t as shitty as I think they will be and so, therefore, am always surprised pleasantly when they’re not. Or if I just like to have worst-case scenarios (even with all of those improbable possibilities in the offing) completely covered just in case.

I was worst-case scenario-ing there. I was beginning to think Papa Legba had left me.

I, of course, went through all of the things that he and I had done together during Lent. Most of it was in dream form. He was always, always nurturing something and making something grow, while I whined at him about all manner of things. He would just listen and that was that. I couldn’t help but go back to that final Lent entry I had written and found something that I had dismissed in the writing:

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.

In a fit of pique, I cried out to a very small group of friends about this. Someone responded and told me to keep cool. They reminded me that things had been rough and that I was probably worst-case scenario-ing. Of course, of course, that made sense. That’s what I do. I go to the worst possible place in the fucking world and I just live there for a while, moodily sifting through the improbabilities. Okay, I decided, I would just keep at it because, you know, Dory has excellent advice. So, I just kept swimming and kept looking in those stolen moments.

When nothing came of my repeated cries for his attention, I told myself that he was probably busy. I’ve noticed, of course, that the lwa are reaching out more and more to new devotees across the board. Perhaps he had things to do regarding getting those new devotees? Why can’t the lwa and the relationships they develop with various servants also go through a fallow time? How many times had I very calmly explained fallow times to newbies and reminded them that there were so many possible reasons that the gods had gone on walkabout? Of course, I reminded myself, the lwa could just as easily do the same.

But I was uneasy with all of that. I don’t trust my instincts, which is probably why I end up in the worst-case scenario. But my instincts were telling me that my having woken up in the middle of Sekhmet’s palace, knowing that I had been literally dropped at her doorstep, meant something. Clearly, I just had to figure out what that something was. It didn’t necessarily mean that he was gone, but that I had to decide what it meant.

I couldn’t clear my head long enough to come to a conclusion, so I experimented instead.

I “forgot” to make his coffee. I hadn’t had the same emotional willingness to make his coffee anyway. His altar was looking pretty dusty and a bit forlorn. And I had absolutely no desire, whatsoever, to give Bawon a shot of rum on Saturdays, like I had been doing. I also felt no compunction, even though the weather was beautiful, to go to a graveyard for anything. I noticed that everything that I had wrapped up and stamped as “this is something to do with the lwa” had absolutely no fucking interest for me whatsoever. So, I “forgot” to make his coffee and heard nothing.

There was no “honey-child” in that tone of voice.

There was nothing.

I kept “forgetting” throughout the week and when Saturday dawned, I didn’t go to the graveyard. I didn’t even move from my bed for an hour upon waking, glaring angrily at the ceiling. I felt nothing, nothing and yet more nothing. None of the feelings of things that I had to do were stirring at all. So, I stayed at home and no one got any alcohol and I just moped about, doing nothing, while I threw all of the lwa related worries on the back burner.

Guilt-ridden that following Monday, I made a cup of coffee, but no companionable silence or conversations of epic proportions. There was still no one in the garden or in the forest; there was still nothing anywhere. My reasonable explanations were beginning to disappear in the face of all of this fucking nothingness. And of course, it’s not very much as though I could reach out to Sekhmet and ask her what the fuck was going on. I was supposed to be kneeling on a dais, doing nothing, while my body attempted to heal a newly installed seeping wound in my side. She would go on about exacerbating the condition and defying her: two conversations I wasn’t interested in having.

But above all else, I couldn’t have that conversation with her because I was worried about what she would say.

I couldn’t help but think that my bonding had done a lot of changing in relationships and the lwa were affected by it.

I went back through the memories of my bonding ceremony, trying to remember the last time I had actually seen Papa.

The last thing I remembered was crying to Papa, asking him to let me stay for a little longer. I had asked him to let me stay out of fear and anxiety. He, of course, denied my request as I had already knew he would. He could not allow me to stay. I had things to attend to. What bothered me most about this situation was that I had been left on her doorstep – I knew without even remembering that was the case – and now I was here. I had decisions to make, he had schooled me, and now I couldn’t run away to ignore those decisions.

Had those decisions that he knew I had to make changed our relationship so drastically that he was missing? That he, and all of his compatriots, weren’t allowed around me anymore? And maybe, they shouldn’t be around me anymore? Was my tear-stained begging of him my final fucking goodbye? What a shitty fucking goodbye.

So, the lwa have been missing since Lent was over. No matter how much searching I’ve done, either in my soul or in that other place, has brought them to me. I don’t know if my decision making caused this or if this is for my own good. I remember what it was like to say goodbye to Hekate – fear, worry, excitement – and know that other goodbyes with other deities are coming down the pike. I just don’t know if I have the strength and the ability to admit that the worst-case scenario has come to pass. And I just don’t know if I have the strength and ability right now to say goodbye on my end.

All I know is that they’re all missing.

And I have decisions to make.

Lent 2014 Revisited.

When I first decided to observe Lent this year, I didn’t really think anything would change. I figured, like last year, I would go into this with the intent of giving up something really important to me (diet Coke; diet Coke; diet fucking Coke) and take a much needed break from the craziness that was my relationship with Sekhmet. And then, on top of that, I would get to spend a bunch of extra time with Papa Legba, who is always a treasure to spend time with. It was a lose-win-win, I guessed, because I was giving up something really important to me (diet Coke; diet Coke; diet fucking Coke), but it was also a win because I could take about a trillion steps back from Sekhmet. And of course, Papa Legba. I have to admit, the amount of intensity I had reserved for looking forward to taking a break from Sekhmet was unparalleled by anything save the impending birth of my son. (Let’s face it – any pregnant woman will tell you how very much they are looking forward to the fetus within finally being removed.) I went into this with certain ideas and beliefs about what I was going to get.

The Road Not Taken by dusky-inc via dA

I didn’t expect to actually take the time to discover what Lent was actually about and find ways to apply it to the religious situation I live now. What was so surprising was how easy it was to pull the basic concepts behind Lent out of the dogma related to it and utilize it in a way that better helped me to define and remind myself what my religious life is about. I found that, while there are some aspects to Lent that are intrinsically tied to the Christian background from whence it comes, there are also aspects of it that anyone can use to help them realign and reinterpret what their religious needs should be and what their religious path should look like. I wasn’t expecting the amount of introspection that I delved into in a better attempt to understand why I needed the break, what I needed the break from, and what decisions, if any, I would make when it was time to look back at things.

What I wholly didn’t expect was the fact that as much as I was taking time off from Kemeticism as a whole, and Sekhmet in specific, I found myself thinking about it all too often.

However, it wasn’t as painful as it had been before the break happened. Leading up to Lent, things got incredibly painful for me. Thinking about my religious path ended, more often than not, with me burnt out, crying, and/or overly anxious. Things had been so difficult for me with Sekhmet and the initiatory rites she had me go through that to think about them was to leave me in physical pain from the amount of bullshit I felt I was being inundated with. The intensity with which I looked forward to my break was mostly because I was at my wit’s end, I was at the breaking point. I was seriously considering just giving it all up and shoving it away from me. I couldn’t seem to handle it anymore. I spent so much time, screaming unintelligibly or crying quietly to myself that the thought of even remotely continuing was too much. I knew that if something didn’t break, I was going to.

And then, like magic or more like the turning of the calendar, there was Lent. It was coming up and Papa Legba had said, “I need you to learn about Lent and I need you to not religion, can you do that?” And here I was thinking just to myself about how much I needed to not religion and there was an opening. Papa Legba was giving me a way out, temporarily at least, of the overload of emotions I was having regarding my religious tradition. And I went running to it so very hard and so very fast that I didn’t even stop to consider the nuance, the reason, or even what consequences might occur with what he was asking me. I didn’t stop to consider how this may or may not impact my religious path when I came back to it, if I bothered to go back to it. I was so focused in the idea of taking a break so that I could analyze myself and my feelings before making a, quite possibly, big huge and horrible fucking mistake by leaving everything behind on the spur of the moment. So, I went running ahead and I said, “I will not religion and I will learn about Lent.”

Every day, I would wake up and go through the motions. I still left out offerings and I still put on my religious-related jewelry, but I made a studious effort to ignore whatever emotional upheaval I was going through. With each passing day, the upheaval and turmoil grew less and less insistent. It began to fade. Just like with a wound – it started to scar. Only the healing took a good deal longer than a simple cut on the finger or on the leg. Instead of needing a few days for the wound to knit itself back together, I needed a couple of weeks. And in that time as I distanced myself from the hurt and the pain, I found that I could think more and more clearly about what steps, if any, I was going to take once I came back from the Lenten season. I found myself able to understand better what Sekhmet’s ultimate goals were, whether I knew specifically what they were, and what she was hoping to achieve.

I was becoming far more rational with each passing day and I hardly noticed.

As time went on, I began to look into Lent, as I had promised Papa I would do. When I started reading about baptism, I was shocked at the meaning behind what baptism was. According to what I found, it’s, more or less, an initiatory rite. And hadn’t I gone through one, not that long before? I felt, a little, as though I was being trolled. However, instead of just sighing in disgust and giving up, I kept up the research and ended up turning it back around to my own religious tradition. I had gone through an initiatory rite. Instead of having water placed upon my head, I had been forced to go through a very grueling and painful process, one that my soul has been building up to for many, many lives. And there’s something to be said here about the different types of initiations that one can go through. In Christianity, it is a simple decision. In Kemeticism, or more specifically in Sekhmet’s line of work, it is a death coupled with the re-forging of one’s soul to meet the needs and desires the deity in question has in mind.

I’m not saying, specifically, that this is what can be expected always when it comes to initiatory rites with Sekhmet or even with the NTRW. I’m just saying that in this particular instance, I had to die in order to be reborn into the instrument that Sekhmet wanted me to become. Death is never a pleasant experience and this particular death was not what I wanted. I understand the necessity of it, but that doesn’t mean I had to like it. I also understood and even accepted the necessity of the work I had to do in the pit at her behest, but that doesn’t mean I had to like it. And I didn’t. I was helping people, in many ways of course, but the work was dirty, painful, and hard to stomach day in and day out. The initiatory rite that I went through with her was so fucking painful and so distressing, but it was a necessity.

Just like a baptism is a necessity to enter into Christianity.

When I started looking into The Scrutinies, I found that while I couldn’t celebrate it the way that the Catholics could, I could at least take the message to heart. I found myself scrutinizing myself as deeply as I possibly could and found so much broken inside. Instead of just finding doubt, anxiety, and worry, I also found shards of broken glass in the middle of my heart and in the roots of my soul. I found that amid my very core, I could traverse the wilderness within and found that everything there hurt. It was a hurt borne of angst and anger; a hurt borne of confusion and fear; it was a hurt borne of not understanding and worrying; it was a hurt borne of the shattering of whatever illusions I had carved for myself in regards to Sekhmet. Everything within was a broken, discarded horror story that left me so filled with breathless sadness that I could barely stare at myself in the mirror anymore. What I saw was someone who was insufficient and quite possibly mentally unbalanced. I found someone who I didn’t like looking to.

So, I set about picking up the pieces the best ways I knew how.

I relaxed.

I calmed.

I told myself not to worry.

And when I broke those demands to stop worrying, I did everything in my power to toss myself away from those thoughts. I read heavily. I watched a lot of crap TV. I played games with the family.

I did everything I could to force myself away from all of that so that I could pick and choose what needed to be fixed and what needed to be discarded. The barren wilderness of my core was healing itself. From burnt out husk to partially green pasture in a few days. It seemed that by staying away from it all, I was doing far more work on healing myself and my broken promises. It was almost as if, by leaving it all alone, the mysterious inner workings of my soul were doing whatever the hell they needed to do in order to repair the damage. All I had to do was keep going and continue to make sure that I left that barren wilderness alone. I’ve looked back some since the moment that I walked out of my core and saw that desolation and have been shocked to find so many new things growing and even growth on older things…

With each passing day, as I would put on my heart-shaped ring, I would think about all of the things I wasn’t doing and wasn’t going to think about. With each night, as I would take my heart-shaped ring off, I saw the dark marks around my finger and sometimes, had to massage the feeling back into my finger. I was beginning to associate the heart, the ring, and the relationship with a heavy weight. And I think that the association with a heavy weight is important. By not taking it seriously, I could end up in hotter water than I’ve already been in or I could make things worse for myself. But with each day, instead of feeling angry or embittered about it, I began to feel calmer, cooler, more detached. And then as yet more time passed, I found myself feeling less detached and more intense. I was almost… looking forward to putting the heavy ring back upon my finger. I was beginning to remember why I had started all of this in the first place.

I went into Lent thinking that I was going to take time off, give up some diet Coke, see a whole ton of Papa Legba and learn about Lent.

I did take time off and it was worth it. I was able to remove myself from the emotional situation I was in and discover that I understood the nature in what was needed of me. And while I forgot, for a while, that my religion makes me happy towards the end of the initiatory rites I was going in, I remembered what it was about this religion that makes me happy. I was able to remind myself that while, yes I am in service to a god, I am also in this for me. And that includes doing the things that make me happy and make my feel worthy and remind me that I am living in ma’at. That includes reminding myself that while everything was really shitty for a while, it’s not always going to be that way. Rockiness is a natural part to any relationship, whether it is a relationship in the realm of the living, the realm of the dead, the realm of the astral, or the realm of the gods. Nothing is static and we can’t expect it to be. I needed to remember that everything changes and sometimes, it can be so hard to remember that as hard as the chaos of the initial change may be that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad change.

I did give up some diet Coke. I went the full forty days without having a single sip. I’ve been inundated with ads on Facebook and Tumblr for it. I’ve found myself surfing websites and there would be a diet Coke ad. I thought that perhaps, at the end of this, I could give up diet Coke completely. I found out that without having diet Coke around, I am more of an emotional mess than I was with it in my life. I also found that I have far less patience with work while drinking bottles of water versus diet Coke. It’s possible that the weight less I’ve experienced in the last month was due to giving up diet Coke, but I’ve also found that I am not a very good person without it in my life. It is an addiction and I understand the health risks wrapped up in that addiction. But it is my addiction and for fuck’s sake, I really like diet Coke.

I hardly saw Papa Legba at all this round. I felt his presence, occasionally, in the morning or at random times throughout the day. 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 learned a lot about Lent. I learned about how it relates to Catholicism, but I also learned that the overall lessons for Lent can easily be turned back to focus on anyone else’s religious path. I also found out that the goals behind the Lenten season can, also, be brought to bear in any religious tradition. And it was in that lesson that, I think, I was able to really overcome the aggression, the anger, and the bitterness that I had been feeling for the six months or so before Lent started. It was because Papa Legba had asked me to learn about it that I was able to achieve introspective heights and understand, remind myself, and remember what it was I had started this whole path for.

I started on this path, all those years ago, not just because I heard the call of a goddess whose songs have been sung in my heart for hundreds of years, but also because I found a place where I belong, where I am comfortable, and where I am happy.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


It should be no secret that when I decided to start observing Lent, I came into this completely ignorant. I honestly can’t remember what, if any, particulars were discussed about Lent in the Sunday school classes I took when I was a child, part of the Methodist church. According to my research, both regarding Catholic observations of Lent and other Christian cultures’ observations of Lent, I’ve come to learn that Methodist observations aren’t the same as Catholic ones, but there are similarities. According to Lent 101 from a Methodist perspective, there are sacrifices to be had in the act of giving something or some things up, allegedly ashes are placed upon the forehead on Ash Wednesday, there are fasts, there are Friday dinners held for parishioners, there are services provided to the needy, and they pray. According to everything in that 101, there really isn’t a large difference.

But I don’t remember much of church from my childhood. I don’t know if it’s because I went only for a few years to this church before deciding I didn’t believe and not paying any attention whatsoever to what was going on around me. Or, maybe I just didn’t have it stick. There’s quite some ceremony to even Sunday services, never mind major services like Lent and Christmas, in the Methodist church but maybe it was ceremonial enough to make a lasting impression. This, I think, is why I can say, confidently, that I know shit about Lent. From a Catholic perspective, I knew even less.

According to the Lent FAQ I’ve been reading, there are certain rites that happen during the Lenten season. Those rites are known as “The Scrutinies.” According to that page, “These ritual celebrations on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent are communal prayers celebrated around the elect to strengthen them to overcome the power of sin in their lives and to grow in virtue.” (The elect, or the catechumens, are people have not yet been initiated into the church.) However, these ritual celebrations aren’t merely to pray for the elect to overcome the power of sin. As the FAQ states, “There is a danger in celebrating the Scrutinies if the community thinks of the elect as the only sinners in our midst who need conversion. All of us are called to continuing conversion throughout our lives, so we join with the elect in scrutinizing our own lives and praying to God for the grace to overcome the power of sin that still infects our hearts.” In essence, these celebrative rites aren’t simply to pray on behalf of others, but also pray on behalf of the parishioners as well because fighting against sin and living by the grace of God is a consummate battle, or so it seems.

Sin is rife and people become infested with sin. Lenten season is, also, about removing that sin and recommitting to the original conversion to Catholicism.

This thing about sin is very strange to me. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding it. Sin, if I’m reading this correctly, is a constant battle waged, usually within the heart of the parishioners. According to the Vatican, sin is “an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.’ Sin is an offense against God: ‘against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight.’ Sin sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become ‘like gods,’ knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus ‘love of oneself even to contempt of God.’ In this proud self-exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.”

So, what kind of sins are committed that one may need to scrutinize their lives and get back to God? The Vatican went on to educate me, “There are a great many kinds of sins. Scripture provides several lists of them. The Letter to the Galatians contrasts the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit: ‘Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.'” Further: “Sins can be distinguished according to their objects, as can every human act; or according to the virtues they oppose, by excess or defect; or according to the commandments they violate. They can also be classed according to whether they concern God, neighbor, or oneself; they can be divided into spiritual and carnal sins, or again as sins in thought, word, deed, or omission. The root of sin is in the heart of man, in his free will, according to the teaching of the Lord: ‘For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man.’ But in the heart also resides charity, the source of the good and pure works, which sin wounds.”

Well, it kind of seems like anything can be a sin. If I recall correctly, the opening statement when a Catholic goes to confession should be something like, “Forgive me, Father, fore I have sinned…” And then they discuss how long it had been since their last confession. Well, if not talking about one’s sins with their spiritual adviser is a sin, then that kind of leaves whole vistas of possibilities as to what sins are? There’s no specific definition really about what could constitute a sin. Someone makes a decision about what a sin is, either on their own or through interpretations of theological thought, and so therefore, it is a sin. People say that being a homosexual is a sin because of a passage in the Old Testament. But the problem I have now is that, didn’t Jesus’s death technically negate all of that? His death led the way to the Kingdom of Heaven and forgave us of our sins… as long as we live our lives in obedience of Jesus.

But how do you do that? What is the obedience that Jesus gave, right? According to the Vatican, “‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.’ By his obedience unto death, Jesus accomplished the substitution of the suffering Servant, who ‘makes himself an offering for sin’, when ‘he bore the sin of many’, and who ‘shall make many to be accounted righteous’, for ‘he shall bear their iniquities’. Jesus atoned for our faults and made satisfaction for our sins to the Father.” So, if I’m reading this correctly, as long as we follow the Lamb of God, then we’re A-Okay. But in the Catholic Church, they acknowledge that people slip, people have crises of faith, people get stuck and muddled in the physical instead of the spiritual, and so you can go to confession and say some prayers that the priest tells you to say in order to atone of those sins.

But during the Lenten season, you can do all of that and partake (even silently) in the Scrutinies in order to combat whatever sins may be infesting the heart.

To an extent, this makes sense to me. I understand things that can manifest in one’s heart. Part of the Kemetic belief is that we must live within ma’at or our hearts will be infested with isfet. If isfet over takes our hearts, then when we enter our own form of judgment in the Duat, then we will be found wanting. Our hearts will outweigh the feather of Ma’at that it is weighed against and Ammut will eat the heart. According to the scholars, Ammut will eat the heart of those found unworthy and those souls will cease to exist. (This particular aspect of the ceremony – found to be wanting and the soul’s destruction by Ammut – are never shown, so this is guesswork. The thing is that it makes perfect sense that such scenes would not be shown since the imagery and writing of ancient Egypt were all tied in to heka. By depicting such a scene, one was giving it power enough to occur. By not depicting it, the ancient Egyptians were negating that power and forcing only good outcomes.) Another theory, at least as far as discussions with my Kemetic friends have come along, is that the soul doesn’t cease to exist but that they become muuet, or the unjustified dead. (Justified is the name given to those souls who have passed through the Duat and the ceremony successfully.)

In a way, I understand the need for scrutiny. I understand the need for praying against the sins of the heart, against the sins that can crop up. But I also don’t.

In Kemeticism, isfet is the only sin. Isfet is uncontrolled chaos. As Sard defined it, “Isfet is pure and total entropy, representative of the Void, and is the driving force behind wanton destruction and purposeless disorder which undermine the Ordered Creation of the Gods.” In ancient Egyptian belief, isfet and ma’at created a balance within one another, however it would appear that isfet was more powerful than ma’at. Ma’at needed constant defenders, usually in the form of pharaoh and the gods, to achieve the goal of maintaining ma’at whilst isfet was everywhere, always seeking for a single rip in the cosmic fabric of time and space to unmake the world and cast our reality back into the void from whence it came. We don’t have pharaohs any longer who can actively achieve ma’at, can maintain ma’at. Now, all we have are the diaspora recreation of people who have fallen to the path of Kemeticism and attempt to maintain ma’at in whatever ways they can. No overwrought ceremonies to achieve the course of the sun through the day time sky or formal words spoken to aid on its journey through the Duat each evening. No wars against foreigners, themselves the embodiment of isfet, in an attempt to reign ma’at upon their unrighteous heads. No such things exist anymore – just the solitary moments in which men and women and children of this faith attempt to maintain ma’at in their own ways.

In Christian religions, there are many more sins than all of that. There are physical sins. There are spiritual spins. I suppose there are also emotional and mental sins. None of that exists in Kemeticism. The religion was not orthodoxic the way Christian religions tend to be. The ancient Egyptians didn’t even care if you truly believed in their gods. Their religion was orthopraxic and so all that they needed you to do, in order to become like them, was to merely maintain ma’at, was to fight against the enemies of ma’at with your actions, and that was all one needed to do. There were no moments of intense prayer for one’s ability to overcome the power of sin, either by others or by themselves. There was simply the moments one took to maintain ma’at and everything else would be dealt with when the time came – in the Weighing of the Heart chamber deep within the Duat.

Even though sin is not quite defined the same within a Kemetic structure that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that I can’t take time to scrutinize my life in an effort to overcome the power of isfet. It doesn’t mean that I can’t take a few days out of the Lenten season to see if I am full of isfet even if I believe that I am full of ma’at. I have taken the time and I think that I am still walking the path of ma’at. Even with such thoughts as doubt and fear, which are almost daily reminders that I have no idea what I’m doing and perhaps, just maybe, everything is a made up story in my head – the gods, the path I walk, and the belief of what they want from me. Even with a constant inward battle regarding my faith in the gods and, more specifically, the ongoing work I have been doing for Sekhmet, I am still walking hand-in-hand with ma’at. I am fairly certain that my heart will not be found wanting and Ammut will not destroy me.*

* I would say that I am 80% sure. I do, as mentioned, still and always deal with doubt about everything. And remember, doubt may be a sin in Christian religions, but it is not one in mine.

But on the heels of scrutinizing my path and finding that, all things considered, I seem to be doing okay that doesn’t mean I can’t scrutinize in other areas. I have found that I am less angry than I originally was after the initiation process and more resigned, tired, and full of doubt. I have also found that I have become more easily susceptible to words from other people, not usually specifically regarding my faith but still promoting doubt about others’ belief systems, which cause yet more doubt. This in turn, leads to an anxiety attack the likes of which I cannot break out of, which finally leads to the ever lovely (and by lovely, I mean fucking shitty) shame-spiral that follows. I’ve been quiet, partially, because my own scrutiny has found holes within the aqueduct of my faith and I am trying to damn those holes with fingers instead of mortar and stone. I have also been quiet because, frankly, it’s incredibly fucking difficult to discuss how much pain I am in while I scrutinize my life, my path, and my thought processes therein only to find that my anxiety has trebled in the last three months and everything, whether religious or otherwise, is likely to set me off on an anxiety attack.

Quite. Fucking. Lovely.

I have scrutinized myself and found myself, well, I found myself wanting.

There is no prayer hear in which I can confirm my faith and re-confirm my devotion. I can ask for heka, or possibly do some of my own. But I tend to find it less than likely to succeed if I am doing heka on behalf of myself when doubt is at its core. Since, of course, if I do heka to remove my doubts and remove my anxiety, I am going to end up doubting that the heka I am doing will be successful. And it’s all just a sort of muddled mess where I end up moody and bitchy and on the verge of almost-tears. So, instead, I read books that are not religious and I shy away from the face in the mirror.

I have scrutinized myself and found myself wanting.

It is easier now simply to admit that I doubt, that I am anxious, and that things are fifteen days away from ending.

It is simply easier to deny myself diet Coke and to deny myself religion in a better effort to get in touch with the quivering soul beneath my breast.

It is just easier to ignore it all after coming to these conclusions and losing myself in a work of fiction.

I have scrutinized myself and found myself wanting.


I’m twenty days in to this Lenten season and I have to say that I am still dreaming about diet Coke… only now it’s literally. Since I can’t have diet Coke because, like an idiot, I gave it up, I’ve been having dreams about it. They’re not every night, at least. I don’t know if I could handle it if I had to do this every night where I wake up from a dream in which I’m scheming in an effort to take a sip. I don’t know if this is what addicts of things go through when they give something up, honestly. All I do know is that at twenty days in, I’m still fucking missing the taste of diet Coke. I thought that after forty days, I could just give it up. I would be done with this addiction and could move on to other addictions in the upcoming years. But I have to admit that I don’t know I’ll be all said and done with diet Coke after this. I also have to mention that I haven’t seen a damn change in my waist line because of giving up diet Coke, so even that bonus appears lost to me here.

Obviously, that’s not the point in this post, but I find it weird that I’m dreaming about diet fucking Coke.

I’ve been thinking about baptism a lot the last week.

It’s kind of an integral part of what Lent is about so it makes sense that I would be honing in on it. As I stated in my last post about Lent, I don’t really understand the requirement of baptism. I’m sure there’s more to it than just immersing a child’s head in water around the baptismal fount or dunking one’s entire body under a body of water for the same reason. Since I didn’t understand why people did that, I started looking up what the point in baptism, according to Christian theological discussions and dogma, happened to be. According to this page, “Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: ‘Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.”

Okay, but this didn’t really track with me. I mean, I can understand the point behind it when it comes to Christian requirements, however that still didn’t make sense to me. Why would Christ want people to cover their heads in water for a couple of minutes to mark them as being one of his followers? So, I went Google searching and found this answer. However, since I wasn’t sure if this answer was specific to a single branch or if it was true in all forms of Christianity, I had to read the response aloud to TH in order to verify that this was the case. As he pointed out to me, “Why in the world would Jesus want his followers to throw down serious money to convert people? Plus, oil wasn’t easily accessible, was expensive, and not commonplace. So, why not water?” The man certainly has a point and so did that response on ask-dot-com. Okay, so now I understand why water was used and now I understood why it was the whole point.

But I still had a fundamental issue: I still stand by the belief that baptism is something that people should decide on their own. But did that really negate what I was supposed to be ruminating about regarding Lent? I didn’t think so.

I started focusing on this quote, “”The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism. Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season,” as I found on this FAQ. Okay, so, what exactly is baptism? Maybe the reason why I couldn’t quite grok the issue had to do with the fact that, maybe, I didn’t understand what the hell the word actually meant. According to the dictionary, “Ecclesiastical; a ceremonial immersion in water, or application of water, as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian church. Any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc. A trying or purifying experience or initiation.” Okay, so this had to do with an initiation into the Christian religion. I was on much firmer ground here. I could understand initiatory rites and the like. Well, maybe not the specifics of the initiation into the religious tradition, but I could at least understand that baptism equates to initiation.

As my mind focused on the fact that baptism is a form of initiation, I started to understand it. I also found it very ironic that I was focusing on the act of the initiation after having gone through one not a few weeks previously. The difference here, though, is the fact that I was thinking about it in terms of Catholicism and Christianity, as a whole, versus how such an act would impact me. But the point in Lent is to renew oneself. It was a moment of rebirth for the tender flock. How they went about that is inherently personal, I would expect, but all in all, it still comes down to the fact that they are renewing their commitment to the choice of their religion.

Rebirth is a very common topic in Kemeticism, so I was on firmer ground here. I could understand the idea behind Lent as a form of renewal, rebirth, and recommitment to the overall goal. But in this particular case, what exactly am I supposed to be renewing? Papa Legba explained that I needed to be more philosophical in my approach than I was last year (which was just about giving up chocolate). And when I pointed out that I didn’t understand philosophy and had purposely ignored those humanities style classes because, you know, it sounded boring, he pointed out that I could at least be more thoughtful. I assumed that he was trying to point out that I jump whole hog into something without really looking into something a lot of times. (This isn’t always the case, but I am a Leo so it’s kind of the case sometimes.) I figured he just wanted me to be more aware of what Lent was about and that it was more than just “giving some things up.” Okay, I could handle that. But the more I’ve looked into this, the more I’ve realized that it’s more than just me needing to be thoughtful regarding what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

The facts don’t really line up here – there’s something more here.

Papa Legba tells me that I need to give up an addiction and my religious affiliations for a while. He admits that I can’t quite push all of Sekhmet out after a very grueling and painful initiatory process since I have obligations to meet in the form of my Kemetic laity articles, the rites and services I offer, and the Kemetic Round Table posts that I write. He admitted that these particular obligations would happen during Lent and that I had sworn to do them, so therefore, I had to do them. (I’ll tell you what, I seriously thought about just saying, “Fuck all of this shit,” and running away screaming but Papa Legba is really good about keeping me committed to the things I’ve committed to.) He then points out that I had to be philosophical about the point behind Lent. He also tells me that this isn’t really a sabbatical, as I’ve referred to it, but that it’s a time off to get perspective.

Okay, so what perspective do I need?

I kept coming back to baptism, though, and how it’s about initiation. But more specifically, this is a time of renewal of that initiatory rite.

Again, I was on firmer ground because Kemeticism is all about the whole rebirth process. We have a deity with a scarab on his head who rolls the sun – in the form of a giant dung ball – across the sky. The phases of the day are about the whole cyclical process, in my opinion, of birth (the initiation) and rebirth.

We start off the day as new and bright with a happy-go-lucky sun rising over the horizon. This is the form of Khepri. The sun matures into an adult to become the noontide sun. This is of the form of Re. The sun further matures into an older man, which becomes the evening sun. This is the form of Atum. Then Re goes through the Duat, slaying what beasts would get in his way, only to be reborn in the morning in his aspect as Khepri. And thus it happened over and over again, every day. Day in and day out. This cycle thing can be hearkened back to the whole point of Zep Tepi, which is in and of itself an act of renewal – the start of a new cycle.

Zep Tepi is one of those complicated, but not complicated topics that come up in Kemeticism. (Hell, this is the case with a lot of shit in Kemeticism, to be honest.) This whole thing is something that I’ve discussed once or twice before. Zep Tepi is the period of time when the gods walked upon the earth and ruled the humans that had been created. Discussions regarding Zep Tepi, in a modern context, tends to be more related to how the restart of a cycle. That moment of a restart – no matter what the restart is – hearkens back to that First Time on earth, that moment when things were, well maybe not perfect, but pure in its beginning, innocent at its start, and uncomplicated.

In a weird way, I can kind of see the actions taken during Lent to be a sort of hearkening back, in a Christian sort of way, to that Zep Tepi. The decision to commit to the tradition has been made, either by the person’s choice or through the choice of the parents during the initial baptism. And then, each following Lent is a recommitment to that choice, either of their volition or otherwise. They are bringing the cycle back, each year, to the original commitment of what their baptism meant; specifically, they are recommitting to being a part of the teaching of Christ and a part of the doctrine that He spoke to the people. Their original baptism creates that choice; the observation of the Lenten season brings them back to that moment. And just like the daily, the yearly, the momentary cycles of birth and rebirth in everyone’s lives that brings Zep Tepi into focus, so too does Lent bring Zep Tepi into focus.

But what, oh what, does this have to do with what I’m aiming to achieve this Lent season?

Well, if Lent is about recommitment, renewal, rebirth, etc. regarding the commitment the believers have made to their religion then why can’t that also be the same in my religious tradition(s)? They’re not the same as Catholicism, of course, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use that time to do the same. I think the point that Papa Legba was trying to make was that I need to observe the point behind Lent, specifically, but I need to formulate that in a way that keeps me true to my religious path. While I was baptized into the Catholic Church and raised in the Methodist church as a child, I made a conscientious decision to convert to Kemeticism. While there was no water upon my brow when I made that decision, I committed myself to this religious tradition anyway. But sometimes, things get tiring. I get fed up. I go through phases of deep angst and bitterness. And it can’t always be bitterness and angst. Sometimes I need to be spiritually reborn, too, through whatever process may be to hand.

In this case, that means observing Lent.

And getting more thinky-thoughts regarding the point of Lent.


I see what you did there, Papa. I see that.

All this time I was thinking about Lent as a break. And that is the case, of course, because I’m studiously not paying attention to the pushes that Sekhmet has been throwing my way. (I swear to the fucking gods, she is testing to see how much resolve I have here. And let me tell you: I got me some fucking resolve.) But it’s also a moment to make a formal decision regarding my commitment. For the last few months, I’ve been not doing very well regarding my faith, my belief, and what the next stage in the process, for me, is supposed to be. I’ve had a lot of hitches in the last few months, which is mostly why I thought of Lent as a break from the intensity of everything that was going on around me. When in fact, it’s a moment to recommit myself, to renew myself.

I said to Sekhmet, “This is my path and I will do these things.”

And now I have to remember why I said that and recommit myself to that.

I hope the reason why I said that was less about wanting to be accepted and more about wanting to be spiritually connected.

Lent 2014.

Last year, just prior to the Lenten season, I began to dream about Gran Bwa. I can remember those dreams – I was searching for him. He was walking ahead of me, wearing a mask, but I knew who it was. He never spoke to me, or if he did, I never remembered what it was he said or those parts of the dream. But I can remember following after him, attempting to catch up with him so that I could ask him what he was doing in my dreams. Around the same time, I began to dream about Papa Legba in that veritable forest-of-my-dreams that I now associate almost exclusively with Gran Bwa. On nights where Papa Legba showed up, we mostly sat in companionable silence around a large bonfire. Sometimes, we would talk, but he never answered my questions about Gran Bwa. All he would ever tell me was that it would be up to me to decide why I was following after him and what it was that was supposed to mean. I back-burnered those dreams because I couldn’t make heads nor tails of them. I figured when it was time for me to figure out what in the world was going on, then I’d figure it out.

On Ash Wednesday last year, I drove by the Catholic Church the way I did every day on my way to work. And I can remember seeing that the parking lot was very full and I remember wondering to myself, what in the world is going on? I did some quick calculations in my head and realized that the Lenten season had begun. I thought about what, to me, Lent meant. In my brain, it meant that you started everything off with ashes upon your brow and then gave things up that meant a lot to you. Most of my experience, to that point, with the whole concept stemmed from conversations I had overheard from my Catholic family members and from Catholic employees. One of my past employees … I remembered, on that drive, she had begged to go to church to get the ashes on her brow during her shift and I covered her shift while she was gone. When she came back, she gave up lottery tickets and swearing – two things that were inherently a part of her – for the next forty days and we all made sure she stuck to it. That moment was a turning point in my life, something I didn’t fully understand and even a year later, I hardly understand it now.

That was my first time attempt to celebrate Lent. In the grand scheme of things, I failed. And with it went a lot of other things that I ended up failing at. I felt, back then, that it was Gran Bwa pushing me to observe the sacrifice. And I still believe that it was him with those dreams and the odd music choices that would come on the radio when I was contemplating those dreams that led me to observe Lent last year. Since I ended up failing at sacrifice, I felt as though I was failing Gran Bwa. Twelve months later, I still feel more than a modicum of guilt at having eaten the chocolate cake. I started over, of course, after that failure but it felt less… pure and less willing. By then, it felt like I was wearing clothes too tight for me and I was uncomfortable. I had fucked up. I had to learn the lesson – I suck at the sacrifice shit – and move on. Gran Bwa stopped visiting me in dreams and I was pretty sure the two more than just a little tied together.

What I failed to understand was that the whole thing – Lenten season and what I saw it as – was incorrect. I had to do more research.

As I said back then, and I’ve commented on since, I wasn’t ever raised as a Catholic. Lent season, in my eyes, tends to be held in a different sort of reverence with Catholics than it does with other sects. I was raised in the Methodist church and I honestly can’t remember doing anything for Lent. I just checked out my childhood church’s website and noted that yes, there are things that they do for the Lenten season. Perhaps the amount of sacrifice or the amount of reverie isn’t as intense as it is with Catholics and that’s why I think Catholics feel it more intently? I honestly don’t know where this feeling stems from. I don’t remember my mother ever giving anything up for Lent when I was a child and whatever conversations I overheard from my maternal family about it are very watery and distant. Looking at all of this, I had to admit that I don’t know shit.

Why is this important to Papa Legba? Why is observing Lent important to the voodoo things that I do? What does all of this mean?

So, I started doing some research. I read this FAQ about it to get me going. I have to admit that a lot of what I was reading made me uncomfortable. I’m not a Catholic, nor do I intend on becoming one. There are bits and pieces of the religious tradition that I always found interesting and something beautiful, but the overall message that it sends out there has always made me uncomfortable. Hell, let’s be frank: organized religion on such a mass scale is the problem. I don’t like it. I think religion should be something personal and individual, but you can’t do that with the Christian traditions that I have taken part in. You have to have the community and the man or woman at the pulpit, telling you what to do and how to do it. That is what bothers me. God, Bondye, Super Nebulous Void Guy, whatever – whatever relationship that is built should be based on the needs and requirements of the soul looking for that connection. But that’s not all that has gotten me while reading up on this stuff.

This quote is something that makes me uncomfortable: “The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism. Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season.” The act of baptism has always baffled me. In many traditions, we put some water over a child’s head and christen them into a set denomination. That, in and of itself, bothers me. My son is not baptized and he won’t be unless he makes a decision to do so. I think, part of the reason why baptism has always bothered me is because it’s a decision, again like the relationship with deity, in which someone should be able to make on their own and not be made by their parents. I think another reason why it baffles me is because, again, I think relationships with deity need to be a personal thing. While I do acknowledge that the laity need priests to act as intermediaries, I don’t think it’s on the same level that priests and reverends are utilized in many Christian traditions. (I’m sorry if this isn’t very clear. It’s all kind of a *speechless in an attempt to explain*.) Back to the quote: my discomfiture mostly stems from someone’s parents making a huge commitment on behalf of a baby and then forcing them to see it through until the end of time or until they’re finally old enough to make their own decisions.

But, let’s go back to that – the parents make a decision for their children. And then the children are expected to follow through on that decision until they are old enough to make their own religious decisions. But the quote doesn’t talk about that. It talks about a renewal of the baptismal commitment. So, in a way, it’s like the Church is openly acknowledging that baptismal commitments need to be reconnected. Okay, but is that because childrens’ parents make a decision for them or is that just because they may be lacking in a few key areas? I don’t know. And because this is all very new and weird territory for me, this is why it makes me very uncomfortable and I feel weird discussing it. But these are things that I have to address because I guess I promised to do this every year. So, I need to stop being uncomfortable and make some decisions.

One day.

Even though the first part of that FAQ had me questioning a million things, I kept reading. I had other things to look into, of course, because Lent is more than just giving things up, right? So, I kept going. And of course, there was a section about giving things up. I read the section on it, brow furrowed. Then I got to this part: “Lent is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ and his way of life. That always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever. Conversion means leaving behind an old way of living and acting in order to embrace new life in Christ.” Well, that actually explained it better than I ever could. And it made me understand things a little bit better. It wasn’t just an act of giving things up because, hey let’s do that! But it was about giving lives over to Christ and to his way of life as well as to give up sins. That didn’t sit well with me, either.

I know this is because, again, I’m coming at all of this from a different perspective than most. The concept of Christian sin has always confused me. It varies from sect to sect, honestly. Some people would see it as a sin to “be a homosexual,” (as if there is a choice involved) while other sects do not find this sinful at all. I mean, sins as they exist according to doctrine are pretty complicated things. It’s more than just breaking the Ten Commandments because there’s so much more in the world that constitutes as a sin. The thing is that some of the things other people give up don’t seem to be sins, in my eyes. Someone I know is giving up potatoes. (She’s not Catholic and this is actually an experiment or something for one of her college classes, but people give up food all the time. I gave up chocolate last year.) Is eating potatoes a sin? Is eating chocolate a sin? No. But there are people out there who give up eating certain foods. They give up drinking a certain drink. They give up all manner of things, but is it really an act of giving up sin?

How many people can really say that they come out of the Lenten season free of sin?

And again, I keep coming back to that word. I don’t like it. It doesn’t sit right with me at all. Maybe it’s because in Kemeticism we don’t really have a concept like that. We have living in ma’at and not living in ma’at. There’s no middle ground. There’s no accidental “sin” in which we may be isfet briefly and then go right back to being in ma’at. The 42 Divine Utterances are hardly even an indicator about what is or is not considered living in ma’at since they changed from person to person – but that’s my overall view on this religion stuff, isn’t it? Whatever constitutes “sin,” whether it be of a religious nature or otherwise, is up to the person who is giving up that sin. Minus the bit about Christ and his way of life, since I don’t follow that in any way, it makes more sense and that bit about sin makes me less uncomfortable.

I kept reading because the next part was very interesting. It talks about “The Scrutinies.” This was whole new territory to me because I had never even heard about that shit before. What was that about? This stood out to me: “To scrutinize something means to examine it closely. The community does not scrutinize the catechumens; the catechumens scrutinize their own lives and allow God to scrutinize them and to heal them.” But who were the catechumens and how come they were the only ones scrutinizing? Why can’t everyone scrutinize? Why can’t they all put everything under a microscope and make some mass decisions about what’s going on deep inside? “There is a danger in celebrating the Scrutinies if the community thinks of the elect as the only sinners in our midst who need conversion. All of us are called to continuing conversion throughout our lives, so we join with the elect in scrutinizing our own lives and praying to God for the grace to overcome the power of sin that still infects our hearts.” Well, that answered that question.

So, scrutinizing one’s life is pretty much a no-brainer, it’s part and parcel. And if you’re not part of the elect because you’ve already been baptized, then you get to go through the Sacrament of Penance.

And that’s when I kind of put it all together. I realized that this wasn’t really an act of sacrifice, although sacrifice is definitely a part of what I’ve been asked to do. But it’s also about Scrutiny and it’s also about Silence. It’s also about Patience and it’s also about Introspection and Reflection. But above all, this time is about me and my needs. This isn’t about Papa Legba. This isn’t about Gran Bwa. This isn’t about Sekhmet. This isn’t about Djehuty, Hetheru, Aset, Wesir, the community, the bigger picture, or anything in between. This entire experience is about me because I am important. My wants and needs are important. What I need to bring to the metaphoric table is absolutely fucking important. And I need to remember that. I need to take time away from the heavy hitters and away from everything that’s been pounding down on my head for the last few months, take a bunch of deep breaths, and reflect, introspect, scrutinize, decide.

This year, I went into Lent with a different perspective. I knew a little bit more about what the basis of Lent was, for starters. I had done what I should have done last year and actually looked things up. While I’ve admitted, here, that a lot of what I read didn’t agree with me or left me feeling uncomfortable, vaguely confused, and generally feeling like the overall message for Catholics didn’t quite fit with me, I’ve come to understand the basic premise in the tradition. I get it. Or at least I am beginning to.

This year, I went into Lent knowing that I would be giving up a major part of my life. I gave up diet Coke. People reading this might laugh at me, but I don’t think you understand how much diet Coke I drink. I drink a lot of it, every day. It’s a staple to me, as much as milk and coffee are. But I knew I had to do something bigger than just chocolate. I can handle not having chocolate for forty days (even if I’m too stupid to remember that I’m eating chocolate cake). Chocolate isn’t as important to me as diet Coke is. So, I knew that I wanted to give up a staple in my life. I gave up diet Coke and I’ll admit, every day, I think about drinking diet Coke. Someone said that it gets better after a while. It’s Saturday, so I haven’t had any diet Coke since Tuesday. There’s a bottle in the fridge and I open that refrigerator up, purse my lips in sadness, and move away. The caffeine headaches are a bitch, but they’re getting a little better each day. If I come out of this never drinking diet Coke ever again, I’ll be surprised. If I stop thinking about diet Coke longer than a few hours at a time, I’ll think it’s a miracle.

I miss diet Coke, damn it.

This year, I went into Lent know that I would be giving up another major part of my life. I gave up my religious side of things. I have rites and services scheduled for Sekhmet, of course, and Papa Legba is big on keeping one’s promises. But I’m not doing anything else. This isn’t about the netjeru anymore. This is about my life. So, I gave up my religion, so to speak, to incorporate a religious tradition that doesn’t sit well with me in an effort to better understand myself, my religious practice, and everything in between. I know that kind of sounds weird, right? But there’s something to that adage about letting birds fly free because if it’s meant to be, it’ll come back to you? I’ve always found that when I request a break from the netjeru, then they don’t live up to their end of the bargain for whatever reason. Things get pushed forward, things about the bigger picture usually, and I end up getting sucked in. But not this year, not for these next forty days.

No religion. No diet Coke.

For someone who was pretty big about faith and stuff just two years ago and for someone who was drinking three 20oz bottles of diet Coke a day, well, that’s a lot.

But this is about reflection, introspection. This is about fleshing out a more solid foundation for me, which includes the lwa.

And that, honestly, is something that I only just realized. Papa Legba, Gran Bwa – whomever – they weren’t really wanting me to pay attention to the religious observance, per se. They wanted me to pay attention to me. They wanted me to take care of myself. And part of that includes them. They always get sent to the backseat because there’s always something important going on with the netjeru. And that’s just no good. I’m supposed to be serving them and too often, I find my services lacking because I’m too caught up in shit for Sekhmet, shit for the community, and other miscellaneous horse shit. Last year, I said that it was all about balance, but the last part of the year and the first two months of this year have been everything-Sekhmet. And while I understand the need to push and get me to where I am today, I’ve kind of had it.

I chose Papa Legba as much as he chose me all those years ago.

The least I can do is remember that and act on it and say, “No,” when I need to.

Right now, I’m saying, “no.” I’m saying it to Sekhmet, my religion, my diet Coke.

And I’m reminding myself that foundations are important.

Foundations are always, always important.

And there is no foundation without me.

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 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.

Fet Guédé 2013 (SVP).

Note: though I took pictures to share, Bawon has indicated I am not allowed to do so.

On Thursday, I watched the Wild Hunt roll through the neighborhood, on its way to wherever they go when it’s their time to be on the prowl. A novel and strange experience, but not wholly unexpected. As everyone else I’ve ever spoken with during this time of year has mentioned, the veil is thin. It’s this time of year when we can better feel the dead around us as well as interact more readily, I feel, with certain spirits. So, it wasn’t all that surprising as the fog began its lazy stroll across the road, impacting our visuals of the world around us that I began to notice the telltale signs of the Wild Hunt as well. I glanced at them surreptitiously so as not to draw attention to myself and continued with my evening.

There is something about the statement, the veil is thin, which speaks to some people on a very fundamental level. I think that there are some places in the United States where it’s almost standard for those of us more aware of other to feel this veil and to feel its thinning. I don’t remember feeling this way in Texas, though I lived on the coast and it was quite common for the fog to roll in. However, I never had a moment where I watched the fog rolling in on those early mornings, way up in the fifth story of the building I worked in, and thought to myself, ah, the veil is thin now. While I’ve only lived in two separate areas of the country, and so can’t possibly comment completely regarding different areas and the feels within, I can say with assurance that the veil and its thinness is something innate to the northeast, at least, and it’s something I’ve come to expect around this time of year.

Leading up to that thin veil, all manner of things can and do happen. I saw a 7-foot owl sitting on the side of the road last week. A little while later, I saw a black dog with pure white eyes slink out from between the cattails that line one of the more rural roads I drive down daily. He watched me drive by and then loped off into the fog that was gathering. I saw a forest spirit, similar to the spirit shown in Princess Mononoke, poke its head out of the trees lining the back lot of the parking lot at work and wink at me before walking away. I’m not shocked or surprised by any of these events, and if they happened to anyone else living in this area and feeling as an intense a connection to the other as I have, I don’t think they would be surprised either. When I mentioned, in passing, any one of these events to any of my pagan/polytheist/other aware friends, they would all just kind of nod and say, “Yep. The veil is thin.”

As that veil thins steadily, I find it far more easily to communicate with the lwa. They love this time of year, if my conversations with both Papa Legba and Bawon Samedi are any indicator on what the other lwa are thinking and feeling about this. They have both indicated that they don’t have to… try as hard to get my attention around now. While I’m more in tune with Papa Legba anyway for various reasons, Bawon has said to me, “It’s so easy now. I don’t got to wait.” What he meant, of course, was that he didn’t have to wait until I was listening carefully to him or until I was dreaming to get my attention. And I don’t have to consciously focus on him in order to make that feeling that is specifically Bawon to come to me. I can see him running around – not literally, he says running is “uncouth” – with his cylinder hat and his purple-and-black pin-striped tie, his golden skull tipped walking stick by his side.

Bawon was very much with me for most of the day on Saturday. Sometimes, it can be kind of disconcerting to feel a man in a severely cut undertaker suit sitting nearby and just offering you the glimmer of a smile when you realize he is watching. It’s even more disconcerting when that glimmer turns into a full-fledged shit-eating grin. The reason, of course, is because the promise in that grin is something you aren’t entirely aware of. What is it about this man and his smile that makes both my heart skip a few beats and pound faster? It doesn’t matter. The promise in that smile was of everything I was hoping for and things I couldn’t even name. And that was what was so disconcerting about it. I knew he was telling me secrets with those magnetic, fiery eyes and that grin, but what were the secrets? It wasn’t just the hopes and dreams I have for celebrations with him, but also all the unspoken words I have when I think of him.

Disconcerting seems like such an innocuous word for a being like him. But it fits.

While waiting around for the night to flow and the fog to roll back in, I ran some errands. I had to get peppers. For the last two years, I’ve been wanting to make a 21-pepper rum. Unfortunately, my money stores are not infinite – not like the Bawon’s eyes – and I was unable to get a full twenty-one. Besides, the decanter I was planning on putting these things in to make that rum didn’t have a very large opening, so I had to carefully size the peppers as I chose them. I was able to get seven that I felt would fit in the glass skull I had chosen. I added two more to the count so that I could leave them in offering later that night. Bawon was very much there as I chose the flowers I wanted to place at the graves of Bawon and Maman and very much there as I was choosing those peppers, but he was curiously absent when I chose the rum.

I guess the brand didn’t matter as much as the size of those peppers…?

Later, I spent a good deal of time on the phone discussing the metaphysical nature and desires of human souls. This was unexpected, but wholly appropriate for the night in question. I got a kick out of it, after I waxed philosophic to a sixteen-year-old for nearly an hour. While it’s incredibly draining to have to tap into a knowledge base that you’re not entirely sure how you managed to tap into in the first place, but it was thoroughly entertaining. Well, perhaps not to me, but definitely to a certain man in a cylinder hat and with a purple-and-black pin-stripe tie. Afterward, I felt like I had been drinking pea soup laced with rum for about two hours and had the headache and cotton mouth to prove it.

I poke fun at my mother-in-law, who voiced a deep fear of being in cemeteries at night. That was a little strange and oddly unexpected, as well. I frankly don’t understand why people are worried about entering cemeteries especially at night. I suppose this is a genetic fear in some, a sort of residual horror relating to either a childhood trauma or the belief in hairy spirits, ready to rip your throat out. All in all, it exasperates me at the least and irritates me at the worst. I told her I would bid hello to all the spirits partying on her behalf and I think she was both interested in what I was planning on doing as well as fearful on my behalf. I still don’t quite understand this fear or this interest. It is what it is, to me. It’s just something I do and something I do well. Also, aside from possibly being arrested by police, I’m probably safer in a cemetery, even at night, than I would be at work in the middle of the day, surrounded by well-intentioned guardians.

Per usual, I drove right by the cemetery. This is actually becoming a part of the ritual for Fet Guédé, so I really shouldn’t say “per usual.” What normally ends up happening is that I’m looking so hard, in the dark, for my turn off (that I take regularly since I tend this graveyard multiple times a year) that I miss that turn off. So, I ended up taking a large loop around and watched the fog roll across the road as I drove by. There’s something very calming about this drive, honestly, and something even more so when I can watch the fog crawl across the road. I don’t know why I enjoy mist and fog as much as I do – but I really fucking do. There’s something alive and magnetic about it when it’s strolling casually across the landscape, seeking with its white-gray fingers to enter every nook and cranny of that landscape. It’s both beautiful and haunting to me, but all in all, very calming and meditative.

I ended up at the cemetery later than I normally go.

I packed up my parcels and set off to spend time with Maman and Bawon. The cemetery was quiet. Many of the Guédé had spent their day, enjoying what time they could and doing what they needed to. Sometimes, they tell me what they do for the day. And sometimes, they just let me spend quality time with Bawon and Maman. Bawon dominated the area with his presence, looking and feeling larger than life, so to speak. Maman was a shadow in the background, watching over her children as she is often wont to do. She gave me a wink in greeting and a smile in response to my nod in her direction. We don’t get on much as my services are mostly dedicated to her husband, but she lets me complain to her when I think I’m feeling overwhelmed or if I feel like justice isn’t being done. She’s good like that and she says I’m good for her husband… whatever that may mean.

Upon arriving, I bowed to the two gravestones that are Maman’s and Bawon’s before sitting myself down. I felt, deep down, an ululating cry beginning to form in my throat, but I had to bite it down. In my mind, I allowed it free reign to caress the graves around me, to bounce off Maman’s tree and shatter across the night. But this cemetery has neighbors and is quite visible from the road – letting out yells didn’t seem like a good idea to a white woman, wearing white from head-to-toe and trying to best to remain as inscrutable as possible. I chattered at the tombstones and made pepper rum. I giggled as the rum already in the bottle shot all over my hand with each additional pepper and giggled as the scent of rum dissipated faster than it should have. I had nothing to wipe my hands off save my white dress – and I decided against using it as an impromptu napkin, thank you very much – and wondered if Bawon was licking it from my fingertips. Whatever the reason, the rum disappeared and the peppers found a new home.

I felt another cry deep in my breast and bit it back while I pulled out the Tarot of the Dead. Each year, I try to do a reading for myself and attempt to puzzle it out later. I haven’t puzzled out the two readings I did for myself yet, but that’s mostly because the Devil card showed up in both and I’m none too happy with that. I’ve decided to leave off on that until much later. Or maybe, never at all. All that matters is that I did the reading and found everything about it very unsatisfying and very sad. It made me feel like I’ve been living in bondage for so long and I keep getting to the point where I’m almost there and then I get sucked back into that bondage. Nothing I can do about all of that, really, except ignore the readings I did and move on with my tale.

Afterwards, I decorated the two gravestones with pretty autumn-esque flowers that I had brought with me. Maman was given the brown, yellow, and red ones. They made a happy little daisy chain across the heavily slanted stone that is hers. Bawon’s gravestone has little scrolled sides and I placed his flowers on either side of those scrolls. He received purple and red. He laughed at the choices I made. I kept a single purple flower for myself, which I placed in my hair. He said it made me more beautiful than I already am. I told him he was a liar, but left the flower there.

When I felt that my time was through – I was getting bone tired from being up so late and from that talk about souls earlier – I stood up. Bawon asked for one last dance before I left. And we slow danced to the patter of my heart.

The Fet Guédé that I celebrate is by and large definitely not canonical in any sense of the word. No possessions to speak of and definitely not enough food left behind. However, it works for me. He says it works for him, too, and there are days where I feel like it’s not quite a lie he tells me. Other days, of course, I doubt everything I feel and think and say with him. But, on that evening and even now as I recount it for whomever may be reading, I realize that those words are true. When I think on those true words, I think that he is only saying them as a suitor will say anything to the woman he courts. There is no denying that Bawon has a silvery tongue and beauty can be spewed from it right along with the nasty. But today, right here and right now, his words ring true in my heart. And I know that my intent, my devotion, is enough for him.

Besides, his wife says I’m good for him.

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.

Sévis (SVP).


A lot of people don’t tend to realize how time consuming servitude can be. I understand. A lot of people tend to see the word “servant” in the realm of voodoo and tend to gloss over that. Or, and this is conjecture, I think they conflate it with a very common word found in paganism: devotee. Someone who is a devotee of a particular god can pull back, can take a break, and can easily just ignore the wants and desires of the god in question. They don’t have to make the sacrifice if they don’t want to. However, in the realm of the lwa ignoring a push from them, as their servant, can be incredibly detrimental on numerous levels. It can cause strife in your relationship with the lwa and a lack of trust. After years of being servant to both Papa Legba and Bawon Samedi, I feel like I am more able to put things off for one reason or another with little push back. They know that I mean well and they know what my life is like – just because I am their servant doesn’t mean I don’t fill their ears with my complaints or woes – and again, I’ve established the trust between us.

I think this is something that a lot of people just have a very difficult time understanding and this worries me.

I see a lot of interest, suddenly, in voodoo. This is understandable. There are a lot of people who think it’s pretty “neat.” It’s been arrested in the background for so long and it’s only been in recent years that there has been a surge of interest in America. I think the interest is a good thing. Voodoo has been a mystery for so long that people have come to fear it. And I honestly believe that demystifying is the first step to bringing a greater understanding. We see all of these movies and images on TV about what voodoo isn’t, but so many people don’t know any better. By such a rich and beautiful tradition coming into the limelight, people are finally able to realize that whatever we see and hear isn’t accurate. It’s all fear mongering and hate speech conveyed in pop culture and mass media. And I really and truly believe that in order for voodoo to survive, it needs to be explored in both anthropological and religious circles. I think, too, it needs to be recognized for all that it has done for the people who have been a part of this way of life for so long.

The thing is that many of the people who show an interest may only think of it as “cool.”

I’ve talked about this before, of course. But it’s a subject that bears repeating: voodoo should never be looked into because it’s “cool” or because “everyone else is doing it.”

I worry that when I get all these questions or when I see new people looking into it that they don’t realize how difficult things can be when you start down this road. As a white person, it’s difficult because it’s outside of my frame of reference, both culturally and religious wise. I wasn’t raised in any tradition that even remotely looks or feels like voodoo. Just because I was raised as a Christian and with Catholic roots does not mean that I even remotely can begin to deal with all of the rich nuances that make up this way of life. And that’s the key, the thing that makes it difficult for me and for others walking down similar roads as me: it’s a way of life. It’s so much a part of the culture of the people who have been raised into this tradition that it is part of their lives. It is in the air that they breathe, the food that they eat, the words that they speak.

I will never understand that. And I don’t know if anyone who has shown an interest in recent weeks, months, years will, either.

But, mostly, I end up worrying because of the lwa.

It’s not that they ask me to worry for them. They’re beyond my ken. They’re more powerful than me in a lot of ways and they’ve been at this a lot longer than I have been at this whole human thing. They shouldn’t need me to worry, but I can’t help it. It’s kind of in my nature to be a worry wort and Papa Legba laughs at me when I broach this subject. He says it’s “cute” and “endearing” but he also assures me that it’s unnecessary. Then, I change tactics and I begin to worry for the people who are interested. I begin to worry that they’ll bite off more than they can chew and end up stuck in something that makes them unhappy. Papa Legba laughs at me when I broach this subject with him, too. He tells me that I’m “worrying for no reason” and that the lwa wouldn’t go to someone that they “didn’t want around.”

But I still worry.

I worry for the lwa.

I worry for the people.

In this day and age, we don’t really have a lot of experience with being a servant. I tend to equate my servitude with what historians discuss in the Middle Ages. They say that it was pretty shitty for people who were living in the castles, providing for the noblemen and the royalty. There were some perks, of course, but over all, their lives were pretty lousy. I have to say that there are some perks to all of this, but it can be pretty lousy too. There’s a thing about repitition that will begin building foundations for you. And that’s a good thing because it will help you to solidify your relationship with them. But we forget about how much sacrifice can go into being a servant. I’ve been doing it for two years now so even I tend to forget how much sacrifice there can be with this. But that is the case.

This whole thing is about sacrifice.

There’s a lot of it.

And I don’t think a lot of people take that seriously or realize what it’s like.

In my first entry about this, I chose the following Haitian proverb, “beyond the mountains, more mountains.” This is exactly what being a servant is like. The first few years can be difficult because you forget about the services you have decided to provide. Or, maybe you don’t do them as often as you should and you start to feel really awful about it. But then you get back on the path and continue that hike up the mountain face. And you’re going and moving forward and you’re okay for a while because the repitition has built enough where it’s almost like you’re on autopilot. And then you back slide because you are sick or because life gets in the way. And then you start to feel your relationship with the lwa falling apart around your ears and before you know it, you have to start back at the very bottom of the mountain and start that hike all over again because you done fucked it up again.

This can, and will, happen a lot.

I came into this with a kind of leg up on the situation. I had years’ worth of fuck ups with my gods and the daily rites I provide for them underneath my belt before I entered the exciting adventure that is voodoo. But not everyone is as lucky as me. There are quite a few people who are searching for anything to give their lives meaning and they think, “Voodoo.” They’ll end up having to climb up that mountain face over and over again until it sticks or they give up. The thing that many people forget and that I never have – due to that whole daily rite to the gods – is that constancy is the key. If you keep on, keepin’ on then you build the relationship, you build the trust. And then the lwa are more likely to show up dreams, are more likely to provide for you, and are more likely to give you things back as you give to them.

But you have to start off somewhere and you have to begin somewhere.

And that beginning is usually tears, sweat, and screwing up.

I worry about the people who want to enter this and they think it looks so “cool,” so “neat.” They see it and they only look at the glitz and polish veneer that Hollywood puts over the false surface they’ve created. And I think that, above all else, is what worries me the most. I am legitimately frightened that people see the portrayals on TV and think that will be it. And that’s nothing like what this is. It’s everything – it is the air, the food, the words, the actions, and everything in between – and people may not be able to give it that everything.

And I worry.