Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cantos para misa espirituale, learning songs for spirit guides, the dead and misa part 1

This is an affordable lyric booklet availiable at many botanica, which focuses mainly on Cuban espiritismo songs used to help call, honor and joyfully greet the spirits. There are songs for the congos, africanas, mama francisca, nuns, etc: spirit guides as well as for the eguns "dead" and coronation (baptism or crowning in espiritismo) that I would like to focus on.

Many are already familiar with the song "sea el santisimo" which we sing near the beginning of misa, and many of these songs are able to be listened to by spanish speaking artists, whose music groups arrange the words how they may differently or combine them. Most are familiar with the artists Los Nani, and their two albums: canciones espiritista & divina creacion, one I got on amazon, the other at a botanica. Oba Ire has a new album Espiritual. Beautiful album I purchased on itunes.
There are albums cajon pa muertos by Luca Brandoli Y Grupo Barracón

For this purpose it is important to learn the chorus. There is beauty in the spanish latin language, and how they have arranged them, but I will roughly translate in english so you will know what you are saying. By learning them you will be able to greater participate and practice the tradition.

The songs, for the most part share a similar beat, which are congo based called palos. In palo religion they call their songs mambos. They can even be stated as prayers.

Since I am partially writing this post for members of our temple, The first group is Los nanis
I will write out the sea el santisimo

Sea el santismio, sea                  Be it most holy (great) spirit, so be it
sea el santisimo, sea                  "
madre mia de la caridad,         My mother of charity
ayudanos, amparanos              Help us, protect us
en el nombre de dios               In the name of god
ay, dios                                     Oh god

Chorus for an africana or often with a mama Francisca song also called siento una voice:
I hear a voice

Siento una voz que me llama                          I hear a voice which is calling me
de lo profundo del mar                                    from the depths of the sea
y es la voz de una africana                              its is the voice of an africana
que me llama/ a laborar                                   which is calling us to work

Siento una voz que me llama de lo profundo del mar, es la voz de una africana
que nos llama a laborar. Siento una voz que me llama de lo profundo del mar, es la voz de una africana que nos llama a laborar. Ay, yo llamo a Mama y no viene, llamo a Papá y tampoco y yo ando buscando a un ser que venga poquito a poco Siento una voz que me llama de lo profundo del mar, es la voz de una africana que nos llama a laborar. Mama Francisca, te estoy llamando, ay Dios Mama Francisca no me responde Reina africana te estoy llamando, ay Dios te estoy llamando yo a laborar Mama Francisca, te estoy llamando, Mama Francisca no me responde Mama Francisca, te estoy llamando, te estoy llamando a laborar. Ay, corre el agua, corre el agua, corre el agua Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, ay con corriente espiritual. Corre el agua, corre el agua, corre el agua Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, con corriente espiritual. Es que corre el agua, ay corre el agua, ay corre el agua Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, con tu corriente espiritual. Mi Dios. Corre el agua, corre el agua, corre el agua Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, con corriente espiritual. Que corre el agua, ay corre el agua, ay yomi yomi mi Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, con tu corriente espiritual. Mi Dios. Corre el agua, corre el agua, corre el agua Yemayá. corre el agua, corre el agua, ay con corriente espiritual. A remar, a remar, a remar. A remar. A remar, a remar, a remar. A remar. A remar, a remar, todo el mundo a remar que la virgen nos va a acompañar. A remar, a remar, a remar. A remar. A remar, a remar, todo el mundo a remar que la virgen nos va a acompañar A remar, a remar, a remar. A remar. A remar, a remar, todo el mundo a remar que la virgen nos va a acompañar. Rema mi Yemayá.

I feel a voice calling me
From the depths of the sea,
Is the voice of an african
Which calls us to labor.
I feel a voice calling me
From the depths of the sea,
Is the voice of an african
Which calls us to labor.
Oh, I call Mom and she does not come,
I call dad and neither
And I'm looking for a being
Come a little bit
I feel a voice calling me
From the depths of the sea,
Is the voice of an african
Which calls us to labor.
Oh mama, I'm calling you, God
Mama Francisca does not answer me
I'm calling you, African God.
I'm calling you to work
Mama Francisca, I'm calling you,
Mama Francisca does not answer me
Mama Francisca, I'm calling you,
I'm calling you to work.
Ay, run the water, run the water, run the Yemayá water.
Run the water, run the water, and with spiritual current.
Run the water, run the water, run Yemayá water.
Run the water, run the water, with spiritual current.
It is that the water runs, and the water runs, and the water runs Yemaya.
Run the water, run the water, with your spiritual stream. My God.
Run the water, run the water, run Yemayá water.
Run the water, run the water, with spiritual current.
That the water runs, and the water runs, ay yomi yomi mi Yemayá.
Run the water, run the water, with your spiritual stream. My God.
Run the water, run the water, run Yemayá water.
Run the water, run the water, and with spiritual current.
Rowing, rowing, rowing. To rowing.
Rowing, rowing, rowing. To rowing.
Rowing, rowing, everyone rowing
That the virgin will accompany us.
Rowing, rowing, rowing. To rowing.
Rowing, rowing, everyone rowing
That the virgin will accompany us
Rowing, rowing, rowing. To rowing.
Rowing, rowing, everyone rowing
That the virgin will accompany us.
Row my Yemayá.

Merciditas Valdez of cuban espiritismo starts with the egun song for the dead. The los nani song is called also sung in si la luz redentora.
Si la luz redentora te llama (buen ser)                  If the good redeeming light calls you
y te llama con amor a la tierra                            and calls you with love to the earth
yo quisiera ver ese ser                                       I would like to see that being,
cantandole al gloria divino manuel                    singing to the divine glory, manuel

Oye buen ser                                                      Hey good being
avanza y ven                                                      come forward and seen
que el coro te llama y te dice ven                      the chorus calls you and says you are


Ven buen ser                                                       Come good beings
avanza y ven                                                       forward and see
que el coro tel llama y te dice ven                      the chorus that calls you forward and be seen

She mixes and goes into other songs including sea el santisimo & a very pretty cleansing song at end
but at 3:45 my apprentices take notice to learn for upcoming baptisms. It is Oh venid, a version by Los Nanis as well.
the coronation song

Oh venid protectores                                        Oh come protectors
Oh venid                                                           Oh come
Seres guia de nuestra mision                             Spirit guides of our mission
Oh! venid protectores a la tierra                       Oh come protectors to the earth
a ver que linda coronacion                                 come to the beautiful coronation

En coronacion, en coronacion                           A coronation A coronation
bajan los seres                                                      lower (come down) the spirits

Oh venid

oh venid protector oh venid sere el guia de esta mission oh venid protector a esta tierra
ah esta linda coronacion eh coronacion, que coronacion para los seres tu dejastes la tierra mi hermano ahora vienes hacer caridad le pido al padre misericordia hara que venga la paz eh coronacion que coronacion bajan los seres que distantes se ven estos seres y sin embargo los tenemos presentes en un sal de amen que coronacion que coronacion bajan los seres san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion donde estan estos congos san hilarion potencia divina san hilariondonde estan estos muertos san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion yo los llamo y no vienen san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion con mision africana san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion donde estan las gitanas san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion donde estan estos indios san hilarion potencia divina san hilarion en el nombre del padre

Oh come protector oh come
Spirit guides of this mission
Oh come protector to this earth
Ah this beautiful coronation

Eh coronation,
What a coronation lower the spirits

You left the land my brother
Now you come to do charity
I ask the father
Mercy will make peace come

Eh coronation coronation down beings

How distant are these beings
And yet we have them present
In a salt of amen

What coronation coronation down beings

San hilarion divine power
San hilarion where are these congos
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion where are these dead
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion I call them and they do not come
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion with african comission
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion where are the gypsies
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion where are these Indians
San hilarion divine power
San hilarion in the name of the father
As well there are many other songs such as a simple congo verse to start learning, but you will want to start learning the song for eguns, sea el santisimo if you have not yet, as well as songs for spirit guides types you know you have first discovered from the misa sessions you have attended. Practice these songs, and when we meet, and at the misa we will rehearse a few.
With Love, Sancista 7 crossroads

On the subject of Tata, priest/ess chasers or spiritual groupies

First of all, there should be no sexual or romantic relationship between a godparent and godchild in the various African religions.This is a serious offense and viewed as abuse, and there is no exceptions or excuse.

You must earn your initiations and spiritual items and rewards. You cannot or should not attempt to get things in this way, and could make it go wrong. It is a personal commitment, exchange, and sacrifice. Or as I have seen one person make a crowd funding page for the public for their initiation. Personally as they were offering nothing in return I think this is disgraceful.

Even husbands and wives cannot initiate each other or make certain objects for each other, because of the energy transfer.

Family and loyalty is very honored and not to be taken lightly or your spiritual relationships when you join a spiritual house either. People have been kicked out of houses for betraying trust in the group, such as hitting on another man's wife. If your partner belongs to another spiritual house you must honor the pacts in your house, such as not to betray the secrets. Your word is your reputation, and the spirits will not listen to someone who easily breaks their word, or may not mean what they say.

It is looked down upon to get romantically involved with your godbrothers and sisters, even viewed as incestual. This is not a dating service, and not your focus at ritual. Sometimes partners such as myself and my husband will join a spiritual house together. That is not the same thing.

There are going to be interpersonal dynamics in every group. Adding dating just makes things more messy and not cohesive as a family. It is understandable that you would want someone who understand you spiritually, but to a certain extent we walk the path alone. Our paths are not the same.

Remember there are enemies of spiritualism and spiritual enemies who through their hatred seek to break up families, and spiritual groups, both incarnate and disincarnate.

I read one blog discussing polygamy in Africa, how it is traditional for the priests in Ifa, as priest kings had multiple wives, and many still do. It is traditional as well through the myomberos in the Congo. The thing is that you must be able to support them all, including any children, and in our society in America, does not work so well. Things may or may not work out so well in the situation in polygamy either, as it is mostly what causes witchcraft in the authors opinion and what she has seen, the wives and children on each other, due to power imbalances, jealousy, and people not keeping their duty. The wives throw witchcraft back and forth, at times the husband takes the penalty.

Well, the wives agreed to a multiple marriage, no judgements of the lifestyle or what personal situations might have happened. When you look at old fashioned spellwork a lot of the requests and work is based on love magic. Heartbreak, unfaithful partners, and threats to ones family and lifestyle, fairly or unfairly gets the emotions heated overruling the head.

As spiritual people we have to be careful of our actions, which affect our progress and development. We also all have our lines that cannot be crossed, and deserve to protect ourselves.

I remember in the days of my initiation, I went to the discount store with my godbrother and sister for drinks and supplies, wearing my whites quickly dried in the Florida heat from river water and sand. I was wearing no makeup with my bobcut hair. A man came up to me gushing and said, "you are the most beautiful woman, I have ever  seen!". I just blushed and stammered, thanks.

I told this to my Yaya, I certaintly had felt glowing with white and very beautiful, despite my appearance. She said " he sees the saint, your spiritual light".

Another Santero had said something similar in advice to priest/esses, "people are attracted to your Orisha". It might be a good thing like with business contacts, but to treat others fairly, and it might have nothing to do with you personally.

One of my spiritual teachers said, as we gain light and become like the sun, it is moths to the flame, or as orbit as the planets around the sun like our solar system, to acknowledge this, and use this egoic power wisely. Watch for cults of personality, and those relationship with power. Today's social media makes things even worse.

Why is it human nature to always seek the divine externally, but not not recognize its potential internally?

At the same time as priests we need to realize where our power comes from, and not to abuse it.

As a couple my Tata gave us advice as newly made priests. To my husband Palo is very machismo, and gets your head hot, to be careful with getting heated, and that women will chase after Tatas, Babalwos and Santeros. I can help him with baths and cleansing and coolness of espiritismo. The spirits have interest in our marriage contract and the spirits interested in me will bless him with financial prosperity.

For women it may be the same thing. I saw one attractive Mambo post on her page: I am not interested in dating proposals I use this page for networking.

Well this post may not stop any foolishness, but it is good advice to the newly crowned priest, and for noninitiates to understand.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hoodoo, folk magick and Voodoo differences

Hoodoo is a system of largely protestant based rootwork or plant work, combined with biblical passages such as the psalms. Some do work with the dead in terms of animal bones, and different dirts including grave dirt. There is believed to be spirits within the plants, and are the main spirits worked with outside of Christianity. There are allegorical teaching stories used such as briar rabbit and trickster spirits from the native american, african mix saw the similarities with their spider Anansi. Being protestant, there were no saints to preserve african spirits as well of the Orisha, Mpungo or Lwa, and the slave masters were less understanding of idolatry.

To facilitate this practice graveyard work including mediumship with the dead is employed, but it cannot be readily identified as necromancy. In modern times (the last 45 years) many who practice folk magic have joined the afro spiritualist or spiritualist churches which some are more Catholic based. Not all hoodoo or root workers are in the spiritualist church. This lead to the inclusion of spirit guides such as Blackhawk, 7 african powers and la madama from endless commissions of spirits incorrectly without reference, as practices and knowledge around these spirits were not passed on from the cubans and puertoricans from which they originated, known as espiritismo or the spiritualist church outside of the more european kardecian based.

 Many people want to use the items in a botanica, but they have no power sitting on a shelf. The 7 african powers are not Orisha, they are various dead warriors from different african tribes from puertorican espiritismo and not the Cuban religions. This was further confused with the image of the crucified jesus as the just judge, Ogun or Olofi. Many different images of the Jesus and Mary are used for various african spirits where there was Catholicism. The Cubans do not use saint images for their religious item for the spirits, it is just decoration. They receive the spirits in a pot in ritual. From what I have read about New Orleans, the catholic italians and irish kept to themself, although the pomp certainly was appreciated by the rest of the population, and welcome during open house feast dates of the saints.

There is some speculation at this time how someone from an American east coast european spiritualist church could found a southern afro church without having any public information about lineage, because they did not have our spiritual pots and teachings. It is possible that a congo based practictioner helped create this as Chicago is not far from New York where there is espiritismo. In which case Blackhawk no longer was a spirit guide and became more like a spirit of the dead in an nganga or nkisi which can be birthed from to another who already has it. Unless this pot was created because his spirit guide statue was unable to be prepared in the afro spiritualist way. We also have indian pots, if a person has several indian spirits or ancestry as do those in Dominican Voudou called a Tindjo as a portal, and this could have been appropriated or influenced this creation.

I have contacted a hoodoo author about this question politely with no response, who supposedly held the lineage of Blackhawk into introducing it into Hoodoo. Quickly glancing at one of her books online, she had a section on how to work with the spirit of la madama, which shows the lack of cultural connection, as she is thousands of different individual people who is a spirit guide to an individual, of which not everyone has one in this category, nor have the same indian guide. Hoodoo workers going out and buying a la madama statue is rediculous.

 In more European spiritualist churches good spirits have to acknowledge Jesus. These spirit guides are concerned with one person only. People may be attracted to the image of a specific historical indian perhaps because they have a spirit guide, no two will be alike however, and cannot be willingly passed to another person, or in life. Many people like the image of La Madama, but she is hundreds or tens of thousands of different dead people in that class, all with different real names. A person may have a Congo or an Africana, as black dolls are not all the same person, class or culture. Spirit guides come from seances, in which advanced mediums in community identify your spirit court or entourage, and no two people will have the same dead muerto or spirits. This is not something a person can do themself outside the traditions of spiritualism. People even have confused the Lwa statue of the african man Candelo as a folk saint, or these spirit guides as folk saints.

Hoodoo is folk magic that does not use african spirits, or pagan spirits, however in modern times the usage of Catholic saints has been added, again by going to botanicas and imitating african religions such as Santeria. Santeria is really magic with the saints, but came to also incorrectly be the term for the Orisha religions of Ocha, Lucumi and Ifa.

What most people think is New Orleans Voudou is in most cases actually folk magick, heavily congo based, incorrectly attributed by white ethnographers whose missionaries treked heavily into west africa and identified anything remotely african as Voodoo. Modern pracitioners in the area are mostly Haitian initiates, and the records do not identify Lwa as being ever mentioned or prevalent in this area. The slaves in the area were mostly Senegalese and Congo, and can be reflected in the usage of red and black for some Rada, the inclusion of european poppets with "nails" not understanding the congo nkisi, and they were not used of curses. Nails are used for differing reasons, but share the marking of intention. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A VOUDOU CURSE. It is outside the religion to do so.

Really voudou dolls do not exist. These things are not seen in any other branch of Vodou for the most part or have very different uses and meanings. Dolls are used throughout the Caribbean to represent an ancestor, a guide or spirit they love. In other african diasporic religions such as palo they may make a doll for a client to work in absentee, such as protection to keep in a temple, much like a pot de tete in voudou, items are made with personal hair clipping or nails etc is included as just one of the ingredients required.

 Also the emphasis on the color white is in voudou for rada Lwa, with red and black used only for petro. Black is rarely used otherwise, except for a few Ghede or Ayizan along with other colors or white throughout Voudou diaspora in the Caribbean. In Sanse we use purple and white for our chief Ghede Limbo, and black and white for the Ghede family. I do not think people understand the use of color, why they are used, its not just, those are their colors. Red and purple are considered hot, black and white are cool, with black being lower and darker. Black and purple is more so with riling up the dead to send them out, hot and dark, such as with bokor tradition outside of Voudou. Some Haitian hounfort are two handed. We try to make the influence of the dead more kindly yet active with the "choice" lineage of color. There is no preservation of Ifa with the Orisha either, or the inclusion of Ellegua. The Orisha mostly exist in a form of Ogun, and not many female Orisha survived in Vodou. If they do they are 1-3 from a family passed down. Red and black is also more congo with their crossroads Lucero spirit, or within congo based Quimbanda with their Exu and Pomba gira crossroad spirits. Unfortuenately people mess with what they do not understand and is beyond their egoic control, or knowledge level.

Unscrupulous uninitiated authors have tried to make an afro wicca out of new orleans "Voodoo", as there should be no pagan Greek or European spirits, they should not use spirit guides like espiritismo, and they should not have a whole pantheon of Orisha to choose from or Ellegua, and does not include western magick of hermetisicm. Most of any remaining west african practices have likely gone underground due to the tourists, or are practiced by Haitian lineage. Meaning they are Haitian immigrants who recently brought their religion, or Americans who went to Haiti as is required, not new orleans Voodoo. Any native new orleans Voodoo within the confines of one city that possibly existed largely left or went underground within Louisiana.

There was seldom any Caribbean to America transport of slaves by prohibition law. And there is no other indigenous Voudou or African religion diaspora origins in America. It has become a tourist collection of museums, gift shops, tours, and books to make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Just because there are cultural mixes in tradition doesn't mean people can just grab anything, and say "well they did it, they mixed things". Who's "they": the slaves who were forced to, and hundred to thousands of year old traditions these tens to hundreds of thousands of people agreed upon. They died over t preserve their tradition the best they could and made informed choices to changes or substitutions based on cosmology or philosophy.

Madam Marie Laveau was a Catholic, relatively middle to upperclass free buisnesswoman, of mixed ancestry, possibly part Haitian, said to be American born in some accounts. Written suppositions are often more fiction than fact at an apprasial of the wikipedia page. She possibly married a 3/4 white Haitian man who shortly left, and then she studied under a Senegalese man Dr John, a hoodoo worker. Her chewing peppers for justice in one story, crying with red eyes reflects the congo as in petro. And then there is congo square, where she was seen dancing with her snake possibly named Zombi, performance art or no, Nsambi was the congo god. Yes we have the snake dhamballah, but the congo makaya tribe is where we get the Simbi Lwa. The mojo or gris gris bags came from a Senegalese or wolof word. The original bag was red flannel, and only used or had access to white or yellowish tallow candles for the most part.

There is a system in which any venerated dead of any religion or people can become Lwa however, but would be within a religious framework of Voudou. There is also a seperate ancestral veneration by their own family or cultural group or tribe. Did Marie Laveau practice voudou?, its very doubtful. But if the stories of her nursing epidemic victims is true, she definately deserves veneration, and as a folk magick practitioner and diviner.

 The disgraced author Tallant is generally regarded as grandiose fiction, who again called all african folk magick and cursing voodoo, even Zora Neale Hurston was doubtful about the existance of a public or widespread voudou lineage as an ethnographer. She stated on her visit (sic), "the african rites, with names that rivaled those in Haiti", but they were not similar, nor recorded. My guess is they used the congo name for god, Nsambi. In our spiritual house, we hold secrets, all I can say is that Marie Laveau is venerated, and a congo spiritual worker through Palo Mayombe. JFK was made into a voudou Lwa by some Haitians. A bishop? who harried the folk practitioners in New Orleans was supposedly made into a Lwa, who hated any spiritual expression other than than Christianity. Both were not practitioners of voudou in their life as far as is known. Can a spirit guide become a Lwa? Yes by a legitimate voudou practitioner with legitimate reason such as connection, as we do not work with a whole pantheon. Scholars are now beginning to write about the difference in african tribes and their influences in the new world, previously inaccurate reports from largely white missionaries is what shapes most and outsiders viewpoints on this subject to this day.

Obeah from Jamaica has practitioners also in a tradition of spiritualism, pocomania or revivialism. Obeah is heavily folk magick based, and ceremonial magic based using the 4th and 5th books of Moses. Folk magick, ceremonial magic and sorcery is evident within the Bokor, secret societies, black lodges of Haiti, and is not considered religion nor Voudou, even if used for healing. They do use Lwa more so the congo based Petro, Baron Samedi and Kalfu (carrefour, four square).

Some people identify Hoodoo, conjure and appalachian magic as the same, but they have regional differences. As explained to me by my apprentice, Appalachia has more scottish roots, Granny or Hexen has more dutch germanic roots with hex signs etc that mixed with natives to use pow wow healing methods, and hoodoo is more african based. Conjure can be xonidered more spirit based. Although each region included european, native american and african practices, they settled into slightly different traditions and had different local plants.

These were family traditions, mostly practiced in solitary, or passed down one on one orally. Thus it is very difficult to learn accurate practices from books or the internet.

The spiritualist churches as in the african based espiritismo has baptisms, and some hoodoo practitioners say they have baptisms outside the catholic church. Hoodoo is not a religion however, and many have no such practice. This lave tet is also done in Vodou which is an initiatory religion and uses the Lwa, of which only a few concern the practitioner and not a whole pantheon. The Orisha people only possibly had one or two out of hundreds in Voudou passed down by family lineage and not generally within the religion. In New Orleans some Voudou houses say they have no clergy nor initiations which mark religion.

 Many people want to work with african spirits uninitiated, but this does not exist outside of lineage, whether family or orthodox. These african diasporic religions do not contain a bunch of spells, as the magic is inseperable from the religion's services, practices, spiritual point of access passed to you in intiation or blood lineage and rites. Voudou is life, largely in the moment and experiential in congress with spirits. The spirits come in physical mediumship and interact with the community, that is Vodou.

Many seek to keep the people of the culture and these spirits at an arms length with over intellectual approach, such as through a books, but this is impossible as a way to practice. You can study the culture, but not the religious experience this way. A Haitian American said, "voudou pas des livres". I agree voudou is 98% without books, leaving room for creativity and cultural study once you know the spirits you are supposed to be working with through your initatory rites and services.

People from Louisiana, shameless profiteer authors or newagers can get as mad as they like about what I have said. The unitiated authors neglect to address these issues I have raised, nor have the lineages to back it up, nor allow disagreeing viewpoints on their pages. In Africa there were royal priest kings, and there is no guarentee of this connection now, outside of unbroken family lines and religion. There is nothing wrong with hoodoo, it is awesome folk magic, but its not Vodou religion either.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

White ritual clothing, coconuts and cascarilla in the diaspora

Ritual Clothes

We dress in white at ceremony, or at least a white shirt and avoid brown or black. Sometimes the godparents will indicate a different color combination is acceptable, depending on spirits worked with at the voudou services. 

Bring your own white head wrap. head wraps are your responsibility: a cut pillow case, sheet or tshirt is not that hard to acquire which should cover your head completely. Do not share hats or head wraps because with the magical principle of contamination or sympathetic magic upon your luck and conciousness. Some people even bring their own hair combs to the hairdresser.  This seat of conciousness, or the concept of the head is the whole person and conciousness known to the Yorubans as Ori: the seat of luck and guidance. The head wrap filters energies and discourages but does not prevent possession, more so tying the waist with a white wrap which may be marked with white cascarilla chalk, and from other people's who are present energy. 

Wear white: no excuses as a godchild, initiate, or after you have attended a few misas it will be seen as disrespectful if you do not. Some people will refuse you entrance regardless. Brown and black are denser, earthen, heavy colors of vibrations, so lower unevolved spirits and earthbound entities match this as well as rogue elementals. Associated more with malevolent and violent spirits, and criminal elements as well as black magick. Black is not evil per se, but a color of restriction, blockages and resistance as per the planetary vibrations of saturn, or binah and the heavy metal of lead. Black is an absorbing and attracting color that can trap energy and attachments, whereas white is a reflective higher vibration of light, purity and spirit source, as well as the color of good ancestors. Think of wearing black on a hot day, versus being blinded by snow. 

Like attracts like, and gothic images, skulls etc, can attract darker, random, or more vampiric entities. Take a shower at minimum before you come, it is a good idea to do your own spiritual bath before and save half for after as do the espiritistas and sancistas hosting the misa. Be responsible for the energies you bring.

Neophytes, or witchy newcomers may think that black makes them feel oh so magickal and spooky, when really it is the color of the beginner from ceremonial magic which created wicca. It is the robe color of tau/tav theta T as the robe looks like a looped ankh or a T cross as was the original cross, which is of the darkest earth and lower astral of the lowest initiatory degree of the earth grade in term of planetary ascendance. Depending on degree or function. if organized and in these black lodges, they will were red, white or other colored robes. The druids highest order wore white, as does the "hidden ascended masters" of Mathers. This is only to explain to the western audience. This symbolized darkness and ignorance, as well as the physical body. The sign of Osirus slain, sun set. It is also associated with the tarot card the world which leads to the lunar sphere of the 32nd path on the tree of life which we travel in magic, dreams and death as we are loosened from our physical container.

 the judaic symbol of earth malkuth of which the black section leads to the dark roots of madness the qlippoth, evil tree of death. The other three sections lead to the higher planetary realms of our universe 3 rays of light to the white sphere of limitless godhead keter.

To help the spirits influence, do not wear tight clothing, or belts. Shoes are often taken off so the soles of the feet are upon the ground, or loosened, as rubber soles have an insulating effect.
Photo taken from national geographic in Haiti

Brazilian Candomble practioners, photo taken from brasse travel

It is traditional for women to wear long white skirts during initiation and as practitioners. You must wear white pants or leggings underneath. The dress code is modesty: no cleavage, belly or butts hanging out. White shirts are long sleeve or covering the shoulders completely. They can be simple white tshirts. I have found it comfortable especially during the week of initiation to wear white sports bras underneath. We wear white for a week during the Sanse initiation, but this time frame may take longer as when they pass the first espiritista ceremonies. It is also recommended to buy a white towel, and if possible white sheets and pillow case. Some of these clothes are ruined during the week of Sanse initiation so it is recommended that you save your nicer ruffled skirts for later. I recommend that women wear white skirts and men white pants during initation. But I do not mind personally if women wear white  cotton pants or men want to wear skirts at most services, even if it is not traditional. Some sects of Ocha make the new initiate wear white for an entire year. Our espiritista ceremonies take a minimum of 3 to 4 days depending on the candidate, may take longer if there are other issues present. You will want enough clothing to keep clean and comfortable for that time.

The coconut 

 The inside of a coconut is white and represents purity and the head, as it falls from the top of the tree. Coconut water or milk refreshes the head for better or purer contact with good spirits, as does the concept of head sweetening and certain spiritual baths. This area is also one of the parts of the body protected if one goes into the cemetary. Some people when they drive by will even do a prayer and put their hand flat on the top of the head as a hat or closed door: keep out! Coconuts are often used in cleansings or a spiritual barrier at entrances to the home, or as an energy filter in ritual, then kicked down the street or back door. The coconut is used to represent Obi, an Orisha in Lucumi faiths. Obatala is also associated with the head and the color white.
Cascarilla spiritual chalk

White is the color also associated with the ancestral dead, the dead such as bones, the spirit, spiritual light, clarity, peace and purity. The ghede will chalk or ash their face, supposedly in part as protection from the sun.

Warding agents such as camphor or cascarilla eggshell chalk also called efun or pemba may be present. Efun was originally a white clay layer in the earth of Africa. The chalk is made now of white flour binding agent and ground white eggshells and water, but may have other additives if homemade, or commercially by botanicas such as with florida water. Some make it with ground snail shell in the spiral cylinders. This chalk can be used as powder. White generally is viewed as having positive use, although cascarilla is a spiritual layer against both positive and negative energies, such as intense contact.

The chalk is used as a protective barrier at times as well by chalking the face in spiritual battle, or marking crosses on wrists, bottom of the feet, forehead etc on energy centers, where energy tends to accumulate and spirits pull or enter. The chalk is also for marking positive barriers and sigils or rarely veves for the Lwa. Although ground corn meal, white flour and other substances are usually the powder traditionally used to draw veve. I will use it more in espiritismo for making crosses, marking coconuts and barriers in terms of symbol making.

A congo symbol taken from blog amoretmortem, although these invoking symbols can be used for good or bad

Cascarilla is a positive agent only, as some tools can be two handed, meaning can call or work both positive and negative in magic or spirit. For example florida or kanaga water or lotion cologne, coffee, charcoal and brick dust is said to be two handed. White ash on a cigar is a clean positive sign in reading cigars, whereas black burning and chunks falling off is negative energy. Likewise we will usually use white rum. But I prefer dark spiced or flavored rum to drink mix :)

 Baby powder, flour and cascarilla is generally seen as positive and white in color. For that reason cascarilla is made with only white egg shells. It is nice to keep a dish of ground white egg shells or cascarilla on the altar. As well it can be added along with choice of perfume such as hyssop to spiritual baths or to the bluing water bowl on the floor in front of the white table, or used to cleanse misa attendees and/or yourself at your boveda.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mi Sanse: Our rama and keeping the traditions pure in the diaspora

Some people talk bad about Sanse's seeming eclecticism of borrowing from several traditions. These people are overall not really familiar with the tradition, and see or hear of our tools, rituals, statues, or pots and often mistake things for what they are in other african traditions because they look similar. While it is true some people of every tradition add or do things they are not supposed to in their tradition, it really is a disservice to blame the tradition itself which has some similar origin.

While it is true there are regional or house variances, some things do remain the same (for the most part calling the spirits with small variation, initiations and ways to make objects) which define the cultural branch, so it is not true to say there is no one commonality of tradition within a Voudou branch either. People will always say other people are not doing things right but these and certain things should remain relatively the same. Within a branch depending on lineage in Sanse or other branches of Voudou, they may have a different group of spirits served, depending on a) branch or b) temple, c) personal frame or entourage of spirits called a spiritual cuadro, court or frame, which is not chosen by the individual and revealed in ritual.

We should respect the traditions of the new world as being seperate localized mixes in Voudou, and their beautiful differences  in the diaspora which are no longer entirely the same as it was in Africa. In some such as in Palo Mayombe moreso especially, and various Palo branches are purely Congo. Whereas the Lucumi religions of Ocha who serve the Orisha, incorrectly termed Santeria (folk magic with saints) retained its Yoruban roots with varying degrees of Catholicsm. Some have gone back to Nigeria and practice Ifa, the root Orisha religion. In the diaspora, the saints are viewed as being on par with the misterios (Orisha or Lwa), or the misterios are viewed as saints, thus confusion, We are monotheist despite claims of how it might have been once in Africa at one time past.

Sanse is a puertorican branch of Voudou, roughly 100 years old, it is predominately west african and catholic in pantheon but has strong congo roots. Our music is all palos, congo drum beats. Voudou such as in Haiti honors the different african tribes, with families of Lwa, and nations, called in order with different dances and drumbeats. It is our belief that an exhiled dominican man who was a Papa Boko of 21 divisions, also called Dominican Voudou by nonlocals, came to Puerto Rico and pacted with Baron Samedi, a Ghede Lwa to form the tradition of Sanse when he saw the local spiritism with the dead. New Voudou lineages and changes in reglemen or rules cannot become created alone from a man or woman declaring it to be so. This is how some of the reglemen in Haiti with the asson lineage was solidified after the first revolution, with a Houngan and the Lwa Loko.

There is not largely a haitian inheritance into Sanse, although many in the north and border of Haiti still practice the tcha tcha lineage way of 21 divisions. We see their Lwa as cousins if not shared, but they can come through. And in the case of our house, many family members and great godparents and uncles were haitian. We stick mainly to the cool tolerant Ginen root Lwa of the Rada, although Petro can be present for a person and honored. They are otherwise not generally called or worked with in our branch of Sanse. We do have 21 divisions in our house and that would be more the route if to be a regular practice. Many haitian houses also do this, only serve Ginen.

Some houses in Voudou avoid the Ghede too, but Sanse deals more with the nonancestral dead like Palo, than some other branches of Voudou or Ocha, where there is some taboo or just not the focus. The ghede are important in Sanse because of voudou, and our focus with the dead. I was taught how to call and do some Petro Lwa management, but would not do this except in crises, nor readily teach this until a student could show responsibility and had learned everything else first in Sanse. I respect them no less than the other misterios, but know how hot even Candelo can be in his manifestations when irked in physical mediumship, or some ensclavos slaves or even dead in a misa or fete, that it is more than most people not raised in the culture can understand or deal with outside of speculation, nevermind purposefully invite.

 The dead when they operate this way are easier for an espiritista to deal with than the force of Petro Lwa, even by priests, who cannot really be controlled only guided or calmed. The Petro are revolutionary and warlike, outside social mandates, can be psychotic or demonic,  not evil, but can be unforgiving, be demanding, deal out punishments, act aggressively or be violent. To put a candle and do a spell infront of a statue or image and say it is an anima sola (tormented "purgatorial" or earthound dead) or Petro spirit is different than them actually being present or served, using necromancy or know how to deal with them safely. There is alot of wishing, hopeful thinking, foolish egotistical ineffective or unsafe practices, and over intellectual self gratification versus actual (oh shit) moment of actual work and of unimaginable feats, presence and fallout.

There was a greater movement between the caribbean islands than there was caribbean to America until recently. But this does not mean Sanse practices the same as the haitians or cubans. Nor do we practice the same as the dominicans, although we view them as our parent, and we are closer, markedly in my house. Cuban espiritismo is very close to the espiritismo in Sanse, but not exactly the same. They keep their ancestors and guides seperate on the boveda and on a spiritual table or tableau espiritual. I am not as familiar, but they seem more christianized.

European academics called everything african in the new world voodoo, adding to the confusion to the layperson. Sanse practices spiritism mixed with local ancestral practices, more correctly folk spiritism espiritismo, heavily influenced by Allan Kardec and Catholicism. However the seances, also called reunions, sessions or misas are kept seperate from the higher spirits called misterios such as the Lwa in Voudou services. The table of our dead of guides and ancestors is kept seperate than the divisional table with the Lwa. Most saints are kept off the boveda in my Sanse unless for a specific reason such as for light or as a cover for the main spirit guide. The saints are kept with some of the Lwa. It can be seen as two traditions in one, yet kept distinct.

It is rare but there are a few exceptions to this rule of seperation, as in cuban espiritsimo higher misterios but heavily related to the dead such as the form of St Lazarus or as Babaluaye, I have heard, has come to misa in physical mediumship or mounted a person, likely when there was Santerismo ( practioners of both espiritismo and Ocha present). I have not seen this but Candelo has come to a crowning in epiritismo with misa when there were sancistas, santeros and palero/as present. He is very important in our temple and although viewed now as elevated Rada, he has Petro aspects by being a new world or american spirit, and viewed as coming up through being a Ghede slave.

Picture of Lwa Manifestation of General Candelo Cedife in waterglass smoking 3 candles
This is my original work .

Otherwise the Lwa do not come to seances. We can have any dead come, hopefully the good only if the session was set right, although part of our work is to help and process other spirits. This means dead houngans, mambos, mama mambos or papa bokos, santeros, paleros, africans of several tribes etc as priests can come. Most times they retain their religions, and will take on aspects of a higher misterio as they become like in energy stream. They may act like or give the name of a Lwa, which many outsiders or unpracticed will take for the Lwa themself, but they are really an emissary an emissario dead of this other spirit. For example they may say I am Ogun, or Charles Ogun or Ogun Charles or give some other combination of names. There are many ways of determining who the spirit is when they come and names are only a small part of our assessment as priest/esses. This is why some people mistakenly get upset that they think people are claiming Lwa are coming or being faked in seance, when it is still the dead.

Although any Orisha acknowledged are under Ogun in Voudou as the Nago nation, we do not view Ogun as the most part as being the same as the Orisha Ogun, and the Lwa are legion or many under a chief/tess, whereas the Orisha are seen as one Ogun but having different roads or paths like flavors to their aspects. For example there are almost limitless Legbas in the Legba or Lebane family, but most people have only heard of Papa Legba. Wheras to my understanding, as I cannot legitimately speak on the religion of Ocha or Ifa, there is only one Yemaya, Babluaye, or Ochosi but with different "appearances"or ways to come through.

Candle manifestation of my Legba during a simple offering. I never touched the wick to make the cross and staff arrangements.
I was using St Christopher at the time, still do along with St Anthony

Because slavery had a mix of african tribes in the caribbean plantations, some lineages retained a handful of familial or hereditary Orisha along with their Lwa in Hispanola or Puertorico. As there are hundreds of Orisha, not many made its way into the predominately west african influenced sect. There is not a whole pantheon to select from, neither is that the way Lwa or Orisha are worked with. In Hispanola they may still use just the ovoid smooth river rocks to represent their spirits, or throw the cowrie shells Ifa, which is not generally found within Voudou orthodoxy:temple religion. They can use special stones to represent Lwa. There are these family lineages who may retain only about 2-3 spirits they pass down to their children, who may never kanzo or initiate into the religion, but be associated possibly with temples, especially for larger issues. In Sanse we do not throw shells of the dillogun, Ifa. Nor the coconut or kola nut shells ncobo to the orisha, nor the chain, or chamalongo to the mpungo palo spirits.

In my lineage of Sanse which was recieved from a puertorican family tradition, we do not work with the Orisha at all. Our spirits are the 7 chief Lwa of our lineage, along with  handful of other lwa who may be personally interested in the individual. My godbrother who is also puertorican, came from another house in Sanse before joining ours, and does honor a few orisha in his spiritual court. I believe this is because of his bloodline, but also a few Orisha may call to a person regardless of race. The difference is in working with the spirits who are truely in our spiritual court, besides our 7 Lwa pantheon. I have no Orisha as a Sancista, however the congo do call me. 4 people therefore, within 2 temples and 2 puertorican family groups, have one or two each of Orisha that I know of. So that is about 5 percent or less that are known in my experience of people who have Orisha coming through Sanse or associated espiritistas. I am not saying this is generally true. When this happens that an Orisha stands for a person in Sanse we can give general offerings, petitions and fetes to the personally involved Orisha.

However we do not crown or give the Orisha.We do not make items under the Orisha such as macoutes (like a paket), elekes (necklaces recieved in ritual from the orisha religion rituals) or Orisha pots or in soup tureens as in Ocha. I recommend to be referred to a Santero in our community for further guidance with these spirits to serve them, for directives and any large issues if they are very present. If someone goes to a Santero outside of Sanse, with no prior contact with Orisha, now with direction honor their Orisha, they do not now include them in Sanse, they are kept seperate as Ocha. We can petition, but should consult with a priest to mediate the offering desired if serious to make them happy because the shells and authority speak for the Orisha, not just by psychic thought, and they do not always want the same thing all the time and for different work.

They are otherwise treated as a saint, but we know our spiritism can be 20% wrong if we are excellent, and to have humility and respect. One must receive Orisha in Lucumi religion properly to do work for others with Orisha, and empty statues are not the point worked with. Just because we have an africana spirit guide, does not mean we can give them things to make under an Orisha for another person. Our spirit guide would work for us only on these matters on their discretion with or without our request or without our direct involvement. We are Voudouisants and Espiritistas and not Olorishas.  Repeat: We are not Orisha priests. Even when people receive the Orishas in Ocha, there are levels that they can only work with them for themself, and not other people as priestclass. There are many many taboos in the regla of Ocha to be observed: rules. It does not matter that spiritualism has made is way into indigenous cultures all over the world, that we can now claim to properly work with their spirits either.

I will say that folk saints are the exception. We should honor and be sensitive to their cultural origin, but again, they are the dead. They will have more personal preferance who they want to work with or if they are in your court/ than cannonized recognized official saints who can also show interest or preferance. They mostly like to be kept by themself, and honored in specific locations. Official saints can be approached by anyone, but again they might just be a beneficial or random dead stepping into that mask, which is problematic for the unitiated working with african spirits through or with the saints or any images......without the spirit point, crowning or direct guidance. Official saints are venerated elevated dead, and the Lwa, not all of them have had human lives, nor the Orisha.

If a person has a frame with more Orisha, they should consider Ocha or Ifa instead or as well after Sanse. (perhaps due to the order sometimes desired by crowning Orisha). If they have alot of congo dead, they should maybe look into Palo. That doesn't mean they should not do Sanse however, which can only add ability or psychic sensitivity. Some like the purity, groundedness and coolness that Sanse can balance a more firey or lofty tradition, although these other religions are on their own and independent entirely. If a person has a lot of problems with the dead, or their dead require a misa, a santero may then refer them to an espiritista however, if they themself do not practice this, have them host a misa for the dead in their community. Some in Ocha, as stated, are also espiritistas, and so are some palero/as also espiritistas. Some in Ocha or Ifa are also in Palo, but we keep our religions and traditions clear and seperate when practiced. But when outsiders see a priest with various items or practices, even if seperate, might think them all the same culture or tradition. We have many traditions and african religions in our house and we respect each other.

As sancistas, we do not work with the Mpungo spirits, incorrectly called the fetish name Nkisi's of Palo. We do not use the symbols or sigils, the firmas, patipembas, or ponto riscados of Palo, or the Exu and Pomba Gira spirits of brazilian Candomble, nor any other diasporic cult. We do not wear the cross body bead sash, the bandera of Palo. Our spiritual cauldren, cardero or caldero resembles an nganga, kindembo or prenda, but is not built the same, neither is it under the guardian as in Palo. It is also a portal to the dead, especially congo for us. And in Sanse there is normally no animal sacrifice, which is needed to feed alot of these items, rituals and offerings made in the other branches of Voudou, and other religions of Palo and Ocha. So we should not claim or pretend we are the same, and it does not make us as sancistas, any less. Normally the Petro or sometimes Ghede rituals do require blood, and this can be outsourced within our community unless a Sancista is crosstrained.

 We have a clay pot called a tindjo that some lineages of Dominican Voudou have, as a portal for the indian spirits, especially the Taino and Arawak speaking first peoples who lived in many areas such as Puerto Rico and Hispanola, especially if this is represented in our guides or ethnicity. We do not make pots for every single Lwa or for Orishas, but we do have a head pot with our guardian Lwa which also links us to our frame. We do have some small pots beside guide dolls if they cannot be hollowed out to be prepared to contain their secrets.

When you see "new age" items, or other modern religions and ideas such as Wicca, added or other cultural influences it is a personal preference, heritage, or an addition, or under the personal preferance of a spirit guide such as astrology with an asian or arabian spirit guide. Our guides retain their folk practices or religions, such as you may see a Ganesh elephant god statue beside a Hindu spirit, on or beside the mesa blanca white table. That doesn't mean that kundalini, chakras, or now Hinduism, other paganism, their gods or polytheism is now Sanse. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't explore the teachings of these areas if your guide tells you. There is no one true religion revealed on the otherside once we die. It is my belief that we go and who we associate with as spirits is where we have spiritually aligned. This can change after lifetimes or incarnations. We rectify the idea of other gods as not needed in our framework, as demigods or on the mystery level, and that there is still one unifying manifesting source. That does not mean it is ok to keep greco-roman or european gods with the Lwa, although Thor is used by some for the Lwa Papa Sobo and Bade twins because of the goats and association with lightening. I mean, Barbies can be used, hair dressing heads, movie posters, or baby dolls too for some Lwa. The point is keep the traditions seperate, despite the imagery seen.

Many like the idea of ceremonial magic, but truely most people have a poor understanding of the grimoires. The inclusion of catholicism/christanity is heavily veiled mysticim and qaballah magic itself. We can practice all kinds of folk magic, hoodoo, or congo spells, even under our misterios or muertos/dead but this is not Voudou nor Sanse propers core. We do not do hurtful magic and call it Voudou. We can add what we like and have flexibility and in the way we do and interpret as we are not overly dogmatic as long as it is not claimed by anothers religion in which we have no right or authority which would be disrespectful. Be clear about what is original to be preserved. We need to be clear what is Sanse. And hopefully I have been clear what Sanse is, and what my Sanse looks like.

My godfather says, "you can add, but never take away, and be clear what you have added". Sanse is not therefore, anything and everything added including the whole fridge and kitchen sink.
That's why I teach 100% traditional, as I was taught, and then explain how I like to practice if any differences they might see, and the reasons why the change is acceptable. For example, heartfelt prayer in the right energy polarity and elements needed, yet nonchristian, can be used, although I do both in espiritismo. It is up to the child how to proceed traditional or their educated variant, yet able to pass on the tradition intact. This also helps one learning to understand the why of how we do things and what the words mean in code, instead of parroting memorized scripts, adds feeling and success to the desired effect.

It is true spiritualism or working with the dead is not a religion, but in my opinion Voudou is even if some say Sanse is a spiritual path and not religion, and is compatible with any religion that believes in a higher power, it still contains Voudou, is not a solitary practice, within a society. It is true that these religions are more a way of life than some, in comparison to leaving it at the church on Sunday, as a living tradition because it is so experiential. Some do practice espiritismo unbaptised (uninitiated), or by association, but the protection it can afford, and the inner teachings are imperative with a lot of involvement or when "unwanted" possession or getting ridden by spirits occurred that mediumship is happening. Inversely if no or limited experiences are happening it can help evolve your abilities and forge these spiritual relationships and connections.

Let's respect the traditions and keep them intact and alive, even if they evolve. The problem comes when confusing other people, when there is no training in these other traditions. People think Candelo, Orisha or espiritismo such as Mama Francisca is Palo Mayombe. Some Orisha did go into other branches of Palo and Christianity. People thinking spirit guides or Candelo are folk saints, or that La madama is one person anyone can work in hoodoo. People tagging Chango statues as Candelo, the list goes on.

This is understandably why some people get protective of their traditions, when it seems people confused are mudding the waters or straight fraudulent. People think they can do whatever they want uninitiated can fool themself, but its sad when misrepresented to others and then a game of telephone ensues. Especially when people have heart, respect, and faith and want to truely learn their spiritual path and religion, and want to pay their dues, which can only be done within a legit house and ceremony. It is the initiated priests job to be the bridge to the community and provide services. Respect these traditions people have died and sacrificed so much to keep them intact, and dedicate their lives to. Support the traditions by getting guidance properly.

I do not mean to offend any Sancistas, Espiritistas, or legitimate priest/ess in the african diaspora, and I do not need to defend myself or Sanse, but rather to explain how we do things and address the bias that I have seen people talk bad about Sanse, from my point of view, as it saddens me. Hopefully this will help the people that do this see what it is we really do, or in my lineage do.

Let there be peace between brothers,
as together we are stronger.
Sancista Siete Encruzhiladas