Hi friends: Based on a great idea from my brother, Houngan Matt. I will be doing an illuminasyon (Vodou setting of lights) and saying the priye Ginen (the opening prayer we do at a Vodou party) at my altar to pray for peace in our world. If you would like to be part of this, please send me your prayers for peace (if you have a specific part of the world you’d like to pray for, let me know) to my inbox here on tumblr, or to me privately at manbomary at gmail dot com. I plan on doing this illuminasyon sometime this weekend. This service is FREE and anyone is able to send me their petitions.
Bonjou zanmi! Some of you reading this have had psychic readings before, either with tarot cards or runes or by some other medium. In Vodou,we also have a divination method called “leson”.
When you get a leson, it’s a bit different than other divination readings you may have had. First, you will be asked to pour out some water as an offering to spirit. Then, the priestess/priest will do some ritual acts: pouring out some alcohol and saluting the spirits, preparing a candle to be lit so we can hear what the spirits have to say, and shuffling the cards in a certain way.
The cards are then laid out in 4 rows of 8. Based on where certain cards land, we can then tell you what the spirits have to say.
The court cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) can either represent lwa or human beings. The numbered cards represent different aspects of a person’s life: love, money, etc.
Here are a few things the leson can tell you:
1. What spirits are walking with you; the priestess/priest can tell you how to serve them and what they may be asking of you.
2. They can warn of danger or bad luck coming to you, and conversely can tell of blessings and advice on love, luck, money, and jobs.
3. Reveal patterns in your life that are helpful or harmful.
4. Reveal humans in your life that are important or harmful; like I said earlier, the face cards can represent humans, and they are known by their skin color: some people will be represented as white, brown, or black.
There are some things that clients do that really annoy readers of any kind, and I’d like to pass those along:
1. “Testing” the reader. This is my pet peeve numero uno. Please don’t sit in front of a reader and, when they ask you what areas of questioning you’d like to ask about, say “You’re the psychic; you tell me.” NOPE. If you absolutely insist on not telling us why you’re there, the cards may or may not reveal it, or they will reveal the areas of life you don’t want to talk about.
2. Demanding answers or just plain rudeness. We readers are professionals, and many of us have trained for years to be able to do what we do. You wouldn’t be rude to your doctor if you went to them, right? We are offering advice and help just like a doctor would do, so please be nice.
3. Not listening to advice or warnings. When I do a leson, I am just the messenger for the lwa. You can choose whether or not to follow their advice, but then, why did you come for a reading if you’re not going to take it?
So that’s a bit about leson. Feel free to ask questions, or contact me if you’d like a leson of your own; they can be done long distance.
Here’s some things you can do between now and 11:59PM on Dec. 31 to start your New Year off right!
-Make sure all the laundry is done, folded, and put away.
-Clean the house!
-Throw out all the trash and put out the recycling.
-Clean out your car.
-Balance your checkbook, and make sure there’s at least 1 dollar in your wallet; that way, you’ll start the year off with money.
-Put clean sheets on the bed.
-Throw out any spoiled or old food.
-Got clothes to donate that are piling up? Take them to your local donation spot.
-Clean off your altars; remove old food and drink offerings, clean out incense ashes, wash any altar clothes, wipe everything down. Talk to your spirits or ancestors as you do it, thanking them for everything they did for you this year and ask them to continue working for you in 2018.
-Make a lucky New Year’s recipe, if you like to cook: some folks like Hoppin John. I myself, being a Vodouizant, will be making Soup Joumou, Haitian squash soup. January 1 is Haitian Independence Day, and it’s traditional to eat soup Joumou on that day. I’m going to share it with my lwa.
When you’re all done with that, take a good shower and then do your spiritual cleansing bath, then prop your feet up with a glass of bubbly (or beverage of your choice) and ring in the New Year! If you’re going out, please don’t drink and drive.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.