Monday, November 28, 2016

Mange Yam & Yuca: Vodou ceremony

Mange Yam or Fet de la Moisson, is a Harvest family and community festival that honors agricultural Lwa Azaka in Haiti, but also is important to Ogun, because its history is of the Yoruban Nago nation, the Igbo tribe, as well as the region of Ghana in Africa. It is also a new years type event historically, for good prosperity, strength, health, to feed Lwa, for the ancestors and represents the continuity of life.

It can take any place the new yams are harvested from October to November, but the several day event is usually on November 25th in Haiti. It is one of the major ritual dates of the year for Vodou and represents the continuity of life. It is a major time of mange Lwa, one of a twice yearly major feeding the Lwa is at the ceremonie Yam.

The word nyam actually means eat, and mange is the french and creole word for eat, and to feed the Lwa spirits. Yam is also called igname or malanga and is about 30% of Haiti's crops.

An action de grace or Jou Aksyon-n Gras, is a thanksgiving, to show respects, prayer and offerings to God and the Lwa for what they have given to us. It is a small feast to feed the spirits. There is also Catholic prayer and litany which opens Haitian service to communion with the spirits. Like saying grace before dinner.

The timing is right after American Thanksgiving, and we decided to honor also the indigenous spirits of the land, ancestry, as well as the people's spirits indigenous to Hispaniola, some of whom became Lwa. The Taino were the first people that Christobal Colon came in contact with, and where we get many new world words such as hurricane, iguana, canoe, barbeque, baseball, guava. For inspiration we performed elements of the Taino Caney Circle's rituals. This is like a medicine wheel, however its center was designed as the makeshift poiteau mitan, or pillar in the peristyle. The three main groups of spirits worked with in Sanse are the african, european and indian Lwa and ancestors.

The pulling of the yams from the earth symbolizes a death, much like the Taino Indio of Hispaniola with their yuca cassava plant. The yuca plant is associated with Yochahu, who has solar and sky father aspects reborn at the winter solstice back into the mother earth cemi spirit Atabey.

Blowing the conch cobo shell flute for the indios.
The milokan veve was drawn for all Lwa: thousands of camps of Lwa families.

The first night, the yams are put to sleep: kouche yam. Water is sprinkled over them and prayed over, blessed, then covered with a white sheet under the badgi divisional altar. An Ayizan, palm frond, offerings and chair is also setup for the land of Haiti. Used are a symbolic number of 4 or 8 yams, since the wider community is bringing yams the next day to a different locale.

The second night they are awakened, piled high in bounty on leaves and the Vodou service starts, the Lwa called and saluted. The leaves traditionally were banana leaves, which transport the yams and service attendees back to the Lwa and ancestors in Ginen. The Lwa are called and saluted, the divisional lamp lit. We dance the yams, done traditionally also with dried fish.

We did a yam divination, it is cut in half and thrown up in the sky, if it lands one up one side down, the upcoming year will be good financially for the community. I nominated a yam king to assist because the service is traditionally done by a male. His met tet is Ogun Fegai, although has not undergone the crowning ceremony yet. The king is traditionally at least the one to symbolically cut the first yam and have a procession to the kitchen to bouye yam: cook them.

Now to prepare the foods. However you must not taste the dishes before the honor and Lwa are served. Also Azaka will think you are stealing if you do and get mad and suspicious. The priest and/or king gets to taste the yams next. We made some traditional recipes such as Tchaka: a salted beef and squash stew, as well as cassava bread, yucca with garlic and Fufu: mashed yams with palm oil, served with mango and guava juice.

Tchaka is the favorite food of the Lwa Azaka, it gives you strength

More libations were poured, and dry offerings scattered around for prosperity and feeding the spirits.
Ogun was made a plate of red beans and rice, and gunpowder was lit on a cavalery sword and his veve for his salute and the Nago. We held the event at a local metaphysical shop that supports some of our events to the larger community. I threw a handful of coins up to the sky for enough rain for the crops, and to rain down good finances for us to the Lwa Sobo and Bade

While some of those are cooking, we tell stories of the Taino, and of the Tobaku spirit, giving offerings to the land, and to the spirits. Hopefully they will grant our wish as we work with the permission of God and Tobacco. We look at our cigars for messages, and passed around Mama Juana, a Taino indio drink in which many roots and herbs are steeped in alcohol.

Here is the story I told, taken from a facebook post by Brujo Luis:

In the beginning, Atabeira created the heavens, the Earth and other celestial bodies "The Cemi". Atabeira had always existed. Atabeira was the original mother. Atabeira was the powerful creator. But there was no life. There was no light. Everything existed as in a deep sleep, and so it was for a long time. Atabeira finally realized that something was missing, so she had two sons whom she crafted out of magical, invisible elements. The two sons were named Yucajú "the Light" and Guacar "the darkness".
Yucajú was preoccupied with the absence of light and life. Atabeira was content because Yucajú could now finish what she had started, and Yucajú created the sun and the moon to illuminate the earth. He took precious stones from the celestial gourds and placed them in the sky, these stones became the planets and helped the moon illuminate the night. The earth was fertile, and from it grew plants and trees. Yucajú then created animals and birds to live among the plants and trees. Then Yucajú decided to create something new, something different, a cross between an animal and a god. In this way, the first man and soul was created, and from the elements, earth, air, iron, fire and water, Yucajú created the eldest of men whom he named Papa Locuo.
Papa Locuo was happy on earth, with all the beauty that surrounded him, he gathered some herbs and placed it in a gourd and knelt before the holy Ceiba tree and offered it to Yucajú in thanks.
Now Guacar looked with envy at all his brother had created, he went away to a secluded place and did nothing for awhile. But his envy overcame him, and he began to taint the creations of his brother, so he to created a man with the strength of the Spirits and he named him, Juracán. (hurricane).
Juracán was powerful, and he carried the winds. Sometimes he carried them with such force that they destroyed what Yucajú had created. He uprooted trees and killed the animals, and Papa Locuo's happiness turned to fear.
He could no longer enjoy the beauty of nature, in addition to sending powerful winds, Juracán made the earth tremble, the ground quake and the skies rumble, ever foot shook the earth, and made Tierra tremble. This was one of his favorite games. During one of the most powerful quakes, the land divided into two then three and then four. This is how the continents came to be. But Papa Locuo continued living on earth, and Yucajú created other Cemi to help him. Papa Locuo learned to create images of these gods, which he called "Cemíes."
Yucajú presented Papa Locuo with fire and he learned to cook roots, herbs and meat and make his own food. He learned to make the sacred casava bread from yucca. But Papa Locuo lived alone on earth. One day, inspired by so much natural beauty, he pried open his belly button and gave way to two beings in his likeness: a man and a woman. The man was named Guaguyona and the woman Yaya. The descendants of these two people populated the islands of the Carribean and soon the world. But the descendants of Guaguyona and Yaya suffered immensely with the floods and strong winds that Juracán sent. And he sent Maboya "evil spirits" that caused problems in the lives of the people.
The spirits destroyed the canoes in the river, threw stones upon homes and hid the ball with which the people were playing. They also brought illness and strife to the people.
But Papa Loquo taught the eldest amongst man and woman how to speak with the Spirits and how to make offerings and appease the Spirits, these became the Behique and Bohitu the first Shamans, Priests and Priestess, so they could ward of illnesses and to help them understand natural disasters. All Shamans are children of Papa Loquo. "Loko." (Priests of Domincan 21 divisions Vudu are called Papa Lwa or Loko, as well Loko is the Lwa of Houngans in Haiti, such Ayizan is the Lwa of Mambo priestesses)

One by one those who wish address the divisional table to the african spirits, and thank the Lwa for what they have given them, as well as chat to them, and ask for help. One member was assisted this year from Azaka, who did not like the banks cheating their family out of property. The spirits are served, we recieved messages, and now we can eat.

Offerings were then deposited at the base of a tree beside their garden plot.
Moving into the new year our temple will be holding Palo rites, a misa espirituale seance and christmas fire Lwa service for luck and cleansings in December.

Thanks for stopping by, You can contact me through facebook, email or leave a comment
-Sancista Siete Encruzhiladas

No comments:

Post a Comment