Thursday, December 24, 2015

The boveda & The tableau espirituale: Part 1 Purpose

The white table practice or mesa blanca is so called for the white table cloth upon the altar used in misa or seance but also at home upon the ancestor altar or boveda in espiritismo or spiritualism. In Sanse, the tableau espirituale or spiritualist table differs from the Cuban boveda in that we also include other dead and spirit guides beyond just our current bloodline ancestors or family dead.

Before I began this path, I wanted nothing really to do with the dead, since they pestered me so as a youth, as well as being somewhat disconnected from my family and family history. I learned its better to be protected as a medium, because the dead will take notice of you whether or not you look for them. To a lot of people ancestral veneration does not seem very glamorous or high level, but it is very foundational in African traditions, as well as traditionally in most indigenous cultures. This connection has purposely been targeted to weaken the family and social structure of community, yet it provides independence, through cultural spiritual power, guidance and strength.

This altar is a sacred space, religious or not, a place of  contemplation, peace, power and stability. The difference is in institutional vs experiential home churches and lived personal daily living aspects and concerns. The official catholic church did not always approve of previous local practices, and certain groups of unsanctioned dead. The white table therefore became a place also to honor those unsanctioned or sanctioned, and placed hierarchy those personally chosen such as folk heroes and freedom fighters. Cuban 19th century criollos with Santeria after war for independence had a lot of dead plus previous customs that had this need, as well as the rest of the Caribbean, Latin America, Mexico and South America. Or you can say around the world where experienced colonization, and in Europe reinvigorated after the Victorian age because of the amount of dead in World War 1.

Our relationship with spirits can be strengthened or weakened by our actions. Colonization, socialization and dominant or popular culture has attributed to our losses of our cultural connections, and the methods to do so such as teaching stories, original language, songs, ancestral record, sacred dances, knowledge of ancestral spirits and gods. We outright may ignore them and deny them and our common heritage and like energies. They need us as much as we can rely on them. They help us to be grounded, address social concerns, and have a spiritual home and family, without them we are lost without anchor or guidance of compass at sea.

Some of the authors spirit court and tableau espirituale:

I will address the guides and the other dead at another time, as the initial focus is of the ancestors.
Part of them remains, their personality, to help us even if their soul has incarnated. The dead are intermediate spirits, such as saints between us and other or higher spirits. As well our ancestors are gatekeeper or permissive spirits to others. The current family line going back generations unknown to beginning of mankind (antepasados), as well as our bloodlines from past lives (difuntos). We can pass this tradition down to the next generation in hope they will assist, communicate and remember us when we have passed from this realm and we, continue to watch over them.These spirit links or chains (cadenas) make us stronger and resistant to being controlled and tell us the truth. Their altar is a microcosm of your life. It can absorb shock of negative energies  and protect you. It can help you feel peace and relief.

Common colloquialisms is without them we are nothing, we stand on their shoulders, we walk the roads they walked, they are in our blood. The ancestors stand behind us or encircle us, whereas our main spirit guide leads from the front or the right side, and other dead and guides on the left of us. They are our first and last defense. They are more invested in and interested in us than most other spirits, and our potential for offspring and possible reincarnation through,but not always along family lines.

  Problems in our lives or misfortune is potentially seen as a need for balance and to appease these spirits. Not all our ancestors are positive influences or agree with each other or our life choices. We can communicate with them and make peace with them, so we are both best served. Sometimes they are so problematic and not ready to be in our lives, therefore we only include loving ancestors and those willing to be a helpful positive influence in our lives to our spiritual or ancestral table. 

As we work with only good and helping ancestors, with their positive influences and advices, being a good person with shared values, such as family pride and respect will help you align with them and what they would wish for you to become. Show them that you respect them, and ask their permission and blessings. They may have very different ideas about what they think you should be doing, such as occupation or religion. Of course we have free will and choice to live our own lives, however some religions and cultures might have been in direct opposition to your cultural group. In ancient or more recent times they may have warred with each other or slaughtered your people, and may be viewed as betrayal. Perspective on the other side is much less limited to ours, however just because our dead have passed doesn't mean that they are now perfect or know everything. Some may have such strong or bigoted opinions or beliefs as they did in life, whereas others may have seen the errors of their ways.

This is especially a problem with fundamentalist Abrahamic religions such as Christianity, who may believe that regardless of your race you should not follow an African or indigenous tradition or religion. You can have factions of ancestors and dead disagreeing with each other and this can play out on the stage of your life and altar. Some ancestors, feeling dishonoured, uncared for, are in need, or betrayed may then very well place obstacles in your path, problems in your life and misfortune. This concept is called osogbo misfortune in the Yoruban cultures, that the ancestors are displeased. However obstacles and difficulties are learning experiences and  may be a way of revelation and freeing oneself from religious burdens placed upon us, possibly since birth.

 We can help those troubled ancestors in another way without having them make problems until they are ready to be in our life. Spirits suffering can be alleviated and help their progression and elevation. Ask God for their elevation and relief, to gain more light and empowerment through intentions and use of prayer. The feeling on your altar should be one of peace, or something is wrong. Assistance, guidance and direction is strongly suggested. Questions about the welfare, or whether or not to include dead family members who died violently or suicide should be approached after one year of resting, with a qualified spiritualist. The dead are generally given a period of one year of rest regardless of situation before approaching.

The white table is seen as a meeting place or conference hall in our homes and life. You can preface your call to your dead as only helpful elevated ancestors are welcome, willing to make a positive difference in your life, yet support our free will and life choices.

Protections: ask them to close the doors to danger of the street, accident and violence, disease, sorcery, ask them to protect your mind, body and spirit, ask them to keep people with bad intentions away from you.
Blessings: ask them for improved and new opportunities in employment and finances, harmony in relations, ancestral issues to be resolved, traumas and problems affecting you or your family line can be healed to make us stronger, ask them to guide you towards the appropriate spiritual teacher, and for good people to come into your life.

 The altar can also be used as a place of spiritual cleansing, and I will address this at another time.

The white candles give spirits in darkness and who are lost the ability to be guided and to see, as well as energy, warmth and light. When you hear EVPs the dead often say I’m cold, I’m hungry, and this table will meet their needs, as well as orient them if they are lost or trapped somewhere. I will teach you how to read the water glass and candle which will indicate their requests.

A fresh water glass full of spiritual fluids presence and blessings

Next blog post Part 2: How to set up the altar
Part 3 How to address and basic guide to work the altar
Part  4 Cleansings
White bath
 Part 5 how to read the candles and water glasses

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