Now offering for sale: Pakets!

A paket is a ritual item made by a houngan or manbo. It serves as the point for a spirit to reside in, or for a general purpose. The one pictured below is a love-drawing paket. They are made with herbs, spices, and perfumes, and other secret ingredients. If you want a paket for an individual purpose (love, money, success, etc), I will make one custom for you. The cost is $35. If you want a paket kongo for a specific lwa, contact me for individual pricing; those are more expensive since they involve more ingredients, but they can be a wonderful gift to your lwa.

 

Get to Know a Lwa: Ti Jean

Bonjou zanmi! Today’s spirit is one who is dear to my heart: Ti Jean.

Ti Jean is a member of the Petwo family, the family of hotter spirits. The saint that represents him is young St. John the Baptist:

 

 

He is also called Ti Jean Petwo and Ti Jean Dantor. He is the son of Ezili Dantor, the mother of the Petwo nation. He is also her lover (the lwa have complicated love lives).

When Ti Jean comes in possession, we give him a walking stick, a straw hat, and yellow and red scarves. He loves to dance and jump around. He is a fiery spirit who will eat fire and use fire to heal the people at a fet.

My experience with him is that at my baptem ceremony (the night that initiation finishes, there is a big party where the initiates are baptized), he gave me a big hug and told me that whatever I asked him to do for me, he would do. And he has come through for me wonderfully. So I just wanted to write a bit about him. He’s not one of the more well-known lwa like Ogou or even his mother/lover Dantor, but he is well-loved in my house.

Bilolo!

Feast Day: Our Lady of Fatima

Bonjou, zanmi! Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. She was an apparition of the Blessed Mother who appeared to three Portuguese children in 1917. She encouraged them to promote devotion to the Rosary.

Here is a novena prayer to her:

 

Most Holy Virgin, who has deigned to come to Fatima to reveal to the three little shepherds the treasures of graces hidden in the recitation of the Rosary, inspire our hearts with sincere love of this devotion.

By meditating on the mysteries of our redemption that are recalled in your Rosary, may we gather the fruits contained therein and obtain the conversion of sinners, the conversion of Russia, the Peace of Christ for the world, and this favor that I so earnestly seek of you in this novena….

(here mention your request)

I ask this of you, for the greater glory of God, for your own honor and for the good of all people. Amen

 

Say the
Our Father,
Hail Mary
Glory Be (three times each)

 

Note: This prayer was given at the time that Russia was going into non-religious Communism. Feel free to eliminate that bit, or change it as you see fit.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

 

 

Vodou and Christianity

Bonjou zanmi! Let’s talk about the role of Christianity in Haitian Vodou.

Haitian Vodou is a mix of African religious tradition, Catholic Christianity, and native Taino Indian religious practice. You can’t separate Catholicism from Haitian Vodou, not really; if you take it out, it’s not the same. Vodou uses Catholic prayers in its liturgies, the Catholic saints represent lwa, and we are even “baptized” and given godparents and a new name when we initiate.

That’s not to say that Vodou has an easy relationship with Catholicism, especially in Haiti. After the Haitian Revolution, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the revolutionary who became the new Republic’s leader, tried to limit jurisdiction of the Catholic Church; in response to this, Rome stopped sending new priests and missionaries into Haiti. Haiti went for many years without official supervision from Rome, and the syncretization of Catholic practice and Vodou religion got even deeper. Men who knew the Catholic liturgy, or who had trained as priests but weren’t officially ordained, became what was known as “pret savann”, or “bush priests.” Pret savann are still important in Vodou today; they oversee the baptem ceremony at the conclusion of kanzo, and say the Catholic prayers in French during other ceremonies.

The night before I left Haiti this summer, I went looking for my godmother to say goodbye. I ran into my mama hounyo (an official position in the sosyete; she manages all the needs of the initiates during the time they’re secluded in the djevo) and asked her where my godmother was .

“Oh, li prale a legliz!” (She went to church).

Many Vodouizants take the same attitude as my godmother; going to Vodou ceremony on Saturday night and then to church on Sunday. Most Haitians, even Vodouizants, identify as good Catholics along with serving the spirits.

As for Protestant Christianity, that can be a bit more complicated. Many Protestant churches rail against Vodou and some Protestants have been known to harass and assault and even kill Vodouizants, or destroy Vodou temples. Even my sosyete has been picketed by Protestants, praying loudly and singing hymns outside while we’re in the middle of initiations.

However, there are plenty of “good Christians” who publically will deplore Vodou and call it devil worship, but as soon as they have a problem they can’t solve, off they go to the local manbo or houngan.

I myself go to Mass and say Catholic prayers. That’s how I was raised. I do know people who practice other religions along with Vodou, but the important thing is not to mix traditions. Don’t cast a Wiccan circle and call the lwa into it, and don’t put Thor’s hammer on a Vodou altar (although I can’t help but think that Ogou and Thor might get along well).

In order to practice Haitian Vodou, you have to understand its Christian roots and the Christian practices that still influence it and are part of its function.

 

Vodou’s Response and Responsibility in the Face of Oppression

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.

Isaiah 62:1

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the horror that is Charlottesville. I am disgusted and horrified by the racism and terrorism being perpetuated by Nazis and other white supremacists.

The Abrahamic faith that is Christianity says that when someone injures us, we are to “turn the other cheek”.

Haitian Vodou, though it has some roots in Christianity (namely Roman Catholicism), has no such tenet. Make no mistake, Haitian Vodou was the original Black Lives Matter movement. It’s about freedom from oppression and slavery, and a faith born of revolution. We Vodouizants do want to live in a peaceful world, but we also recognize that for most of history that hasn’t been possible.

Our spirits believe in revenge. They believe in justice, and if you ask them for those things, they will be granted to you.

I, as a white American woman, constantly work to unpack my own baggage having been raised in a racist society. I know that my largely English family (on my mother’s side) owned slaves in Barbados and brought them to the U.S. I must constantly remember that I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors and I have to be better than they were.

The lwa demand that we be strong, and that we stand up to evil and oppression. We who practice this religion, especially those of us who are white, have a responsibility to speak out and act up. Because if you don’t stand up for your lwa, your lwa won’t stand up for you.

 

 

Get to Know a Lwa: Ogou

Bonjou zanmi! Today is Wednesday and so it’s Ogou’s day. I thought we’d talk about my Papa, the head of the Vodou house I belong to.

This is Ogou St Jaques, one of many members of the Ogou nation.

Ogou is a Nago spirit. This group of spirits came from the part of Africa that is now Nigeria. Some of you might be saying, “Hey, isn’t there a spirit like this in Lukumi?” Lukumi has an Orisha called Ogun, who has some similarities with Ogou: they both are associated with iron and metal. Ogun is more of  a blacksmith, whereas Ogou is more of a soldier.

Ogou is indeed every inch a soldier: brave, fierce, protective, and he expects nothing less than your best effort. Many Ogous carry a machete, but some favor a sword. His colors are red and blue, but some Ogou take additional colors: Ogou St. Jacques takes red and khaki. Remember: if you can’t afford anything else, you can use a white scarf to salute any spirit.

Ogou’s day of the week is Wednesday. The saints associated with him are St. James the Greater (that’s his picture above) and St. George the Dragonslayer. Most Ogous take rum as their drink, but depending on the Ogou they may take a different type of rum. Some like Barbancourt three star, some like five star, and so forth. Some Ogous like red wine. Your Ogou may want a different drink altogether.

He likes red beans and rice, and typically likes Florida water as a cologne. He also loves cigars. He will often blow smoke on people to give them blessings.

There is no better protector than Ogou. He will use his machete to cut away all evil and sweep your enemies away. But he is also a tender and loving Papa. I’ve seen him cry when his children are in pain. I’ve also seen him spank people (myself included) with the machete when they misbehave.

Ogou loves the ladies and he is one of the most commonly married lwa.

Awocher Nago!

 

Off to Haiti!

Bonswa zanmi! I’m leaving tomorrow for Haiti and will return on 7/29. During that time I will have little to no access to email or the Internet. Feel free to email me and I will resume readings and work when I return. Many blessings to you.

How to Spiritually Clean Your House

Hi everyone! I hope the summer is treating you well.

Spiritual hygiene is very important. We all attract spiritual “gunk” just by interacting with the world, and we can pick it up from other people. I’ll be posting a separate article on how to spiritually cleanse yourself, but this post is going to focus on your home.

Even if you live by yourself (as I do) it’s important to keep your home spiritually clean, in addition to being physically clean. Yes, I know, housecleaning isn’t the most exciting thing to do, but keeping a sense of order and cleanliness in your most personal space will be the best environment for your spirits to live in. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I physically and spiritually clean my house.

Here’s how I generally clean my house. Gather the following supplies:

-bucket of warm water

-Pine Sol (pine oil is a traditional cleanser spiritually, and Pine Sol has real pine oil in it)

-sponge or cloth

-regular cleaning supplies (like for the toilet and counters)

-Van Van or other spiritual cleansing type oil

-one tea light candle per room in your house

-straw broom with a wooden handle (optional)

PRO TIP: Add a few drops of the Van Van or other blessing/cleansing spiritual oil to all of your cleansing supplies and shake up the bottle, praying that your home will be cleansed and blessed.

Add the Pine Sol to the bucket of water and pray over it so that blessings and cleanliness will be in your house.

The first step is to physically clean: put away all the dirty laundry, books, papers, empty Domino’s boxes, etc. Get things organized. Then start from the top floor of the house in the back room; you’re going to work from back to front. If your place only has one floor, start in the back of the house. Dust and vacuum. Then use a sponge and the Pine Sol water to wipe down the baseboards of each room. If the room has hardwood or tile floors you can mop in there. But at the very least you should do the baseboards and the inside and outside of each door.

Work your way to the front door, then spend some time really cleaning this area; the front door of your house is where all your blessings enter; you want it to be especially blessed. Wipe down the inside and outside of the door from top to bottom.

When you’re all done with the bucket, take the water off your property and throw it out; don’t dump it down the sink.

Come back inside and get your bottle of blessing or Van Van type oil. Start at the front door and dab a five spot of oil on the inside and  outside of the door; a five spot is like the 5 side of a 6 sided dice:

1     2

3

4    5

Pray as you dress the door that only blessings will enter your home. Do this with all the doors in your house.

Once you’ve dressed the doors, take your tea lights and dress them with the blessing oil. Put one in each room of your house and light them, praying again for blessings.

And you’re done!

NOTE: If things have been icky or bad for you, an additional Haitian Vodou thing you can insert into this cleaning process before you begin cleaning with the Pine Sol water is: use the broom to sweep the whole house, even the carpeted areas, from back to front. Sweep all the way out your front door and out to where your property line ends. Then, break the broom and throw one half to the left and one half to the right. This breaks your cycle of bad luck. You don’t have to take this step every time you clean your house, but if things have been bad or unlucky you should try it.

In a future post I’ll talk about spiritually cleansing yourself!