Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dhamballah: the cosmic snake & creation

Dhamballah's feast or fet date is March 17th the day syncretized with St. Patrick. His colors are white or green, a very ancient, wise, calm, beneficent Lwa, associated with creation, rain, peace, wisdom, destiny, fertility, prosperity and luck. His offerings and area are kept really clean, usually are white and sweet, and he takes no alcohol. A common offering are depending on lineage white foul, almond syrup (orgeat), pompeya lotion perfume,white cakes and a white washed egg on a bed of white flour.




In honor of his day I decided to tell the story of Vodou creation.

The first version was taken from " By The Kingdom of This World ",by Alejo Carpentier:

Long ago, the serpent spirit Danbala created the world. He used his 7,000 coils to form the stars and the planets in the heavens and to shape the hills and valleys on earth. He used lightning bolts to forge metals and make the sacred rocks and stones. When he shed his skin he created all the waters on the earth. And when the sun showed through mist settling on the plants and trees a rainbow was born. Her name was Ayida Wedo.”(the rainbow snake)


I would like to share a similar oral mystery story passed down from a Houngan to our family:
Houngan Steve M has become Ghede to our local group, as well as in other temples, at least one other American Haitian temple I am aware of where his asson sits. I never got to meet him but his influence and his teachings continues to this day.

Dhamballah lay surrounding around the earth holding it together. He began to stir turn and twist the movements made mountains and valleys as he uncoiled it became shaped. He saw something in the sky which may have been the face of Bondye or a great star. He went into the sky and waters dripped off the body, he opened his mouth and it began to pour upon the earth. When he did that, the sun reflected off the waters and he saw Aida Wedo the rainbow serpent. They fell in love and intertwined. Aida Wedo coming up to meet him, and him coming down to earth began all creation.
.........

He carried the Lwa from the sky and she up from earth carries the dead as they rise on the world tree or temple pillar. In some stories he carried the ancestors on his back as the waves when the slaves came from Africa to Haiti instead of the story with the ship Immamou and Captain Agwe.

In the first story 7 is the celestial number of spectrum and planets of the universe. It mirrors the biblical story of creation in 7 days. Blacksmith spirits in several cultures are associated with creation, metals and magic. Water and Fire creates alchemical steam or air and the rainbow.

Some people see Aida Wedo and Dhamballah as the same entity in one, such as the hermetic beings or the mind which contains both polarities. They are viewed slightly different in Africa than Haiti. The 2 snakes also is similar to the healing rod of the Greek god Aesculapius and the mercurial wand. Seen in the medical symbol. Mercury being of air, the mind, magic, communication and sexuality.
Coils also bring to mind the spiral energy of DNA, and sacred geometry of creation. The snake movement of constricting and loosening is like formation of the universe and star systems. The movement of undulating, back and forth is like energy wavelength. The coils or spirals are like sacred geometry the Fibonacci sequence and divine ratio.

Some use Martha the Dominator for Aida Wedo or Mami Wata, a pantheon of snake like spirits or for La Sirene. But we use that for a river snake Lwa Lubana. We use the saint image Mary of (divine) grace for Aida Wedo the rainbow snake, Some use the Lady of Immaculate Conception image.
Sometimes she is pictured standing on a new moon or rainbow instead.
She is credited with holding up the world. The words, ma, material, matter, mother being interconnected. Snakes are images of ancient ancestors.

The rainbow snake also is a theme for creation with Australian Aboriginals, but also in central America the Quetzalcoatl "twins" solar multicolored feathered snake so these ideas are pre-christian. From Greece the image of the snake and egg oomphalos represented the navel or center of the world and communication with the gods, the pythoness divinitory oracle of Delphi. In Ireland serpent mounds were burial sites of the fae and ancestors.

It is not hard to see the procreation knowledge of sperm and ova, potentiality and seed, 1 and 0 binary creation.




Da or Dhamballah is associated with destiny, the star and godhead father of all, before Haiti he was the supreme Deity of life in some areas in West Africa, besides Sakpata or Heviosso who became the Orisha Babaluaye or the Lwa Bade of disease, healing and the dead who some identified as "God" where there was no word equivalent for such, although in Vodou we are monotheists, and the Lwa are high elevated mysteries and not gods and goddesses. Therefore Dhamballah in the new world is a creational Lwa, but that God is the ultimate mystery.

Snakes remain as the bridge between and identified both with earth and the celestial or spiritual. The spanish word culebra and culev or culeb mean both "snake" and "covering", the snake skin that covers the material world.

Ayahuascha a visionary plant, sees the rope vine as a snake, related to DNA and illusions or maya, spiritual axis ladder, light to be able to see the world in a "shamanic" way, beyond the veil or covering; in which they are taught many things. An Ayahuasquero and Tabaquero, says that snakes are the mother of the plants which explains why they see snakes when using the plant teacher, and that the vine is the mother of tobacco. This also explains tobacco's properties being able to draw and communicate with spirits.
RE: The cosmic serpent: DNA and the origins of knowledge by Jeremy Narby. The plant mixture contains DMT which has been dubbed "the spirit molecule", present at birth, death and during dreams, hypnogogic and other "hallucinations" written about by R Strassman.

In the bible it brings to mind Acts 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized...He had the scales or veil removed and he regained his sight and ability to see the truth and was initiated into the mystery.

***Sancista Siete Encruzhiladas****

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The baston de muerto: staff of the dead and ancestors

The original indigenous ways that people honored their ancestors and worked with their dead was not through the white table boveda, tableau espirituale. The white cloth table is from the seance traditions of European mediums in spiritualism, which crossed with folk traditions in the 1900's in Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Originally libations were poured upon the dirt ground. But since in many apartments and temples not being on ground level, people began to modify. Libations were then poured into a bucket, where they could pour outside after, or a few drops of water poured onto a clay tile (teja) in Yoruba faiths in the new world if it is prescribed by your reading. This was kept with an egun shrine near pipes leading to the ground such as in the bathroom or kitchen, usually with marigolds, flor de muerto: flower of the dead. Or was also kept outside by the back door and yard area.

This is also where a Baston de muerto can be placed, and can be indicated that you need to work with the dead this way through your readings, and which type of stick needed for example one or two faces, a skull, or snake can be featured. If the Orisha Oya is suspected to be close to a person, it may be recommended to get a stick or set up a boveda in a certain way. Oya or Yansa is a warrioress of the cemetary gate related to the dead, and not death the reaper herself, but she is related to how death, Iku got brought to earth out of compassion, because of suffering, starvation and disease. The stick again is indicated in a reading, and may be relate to the mysteries of earth and Oddudwa.

Other names in different traditions for this stick of the dead is Bakulu stick in Palo or Kumangongo. The stick must be taken from nature in a certain way.

The palo or baton de muerto: Opa or igi egun, pagugu, aumba, although Yoruban faith will add things to this altar like 9 bundles sticks of flor mar pacifico (hibiscus) with a red ribbon and approach their dead a different way than the Palero, Vodouisant or Espirista. The egun stick for eggungun, was the ancestral altar axis mundi, tree, between our world and the worlds of the spirits.
                                                                       From auctions609 store

 It is used for ancestral dead or other dead in the frame mostly and not spirit guides approached through spiritualism who are more elevated. In Yoruban spirituality, egun are the collective dead who are from different sources or types, such as some serve as guardians of a place. The egungun are technically the ancestors as far as I understand.

The dead are very important for many reasons, and without them there is no Orisha, the saying Iku Loba Ocha, the dead gave birth to the Orisha explains cosmology and from the Odu stories.
                                                artwork by Marietjie Henning

The staff represents the creative generative power of the dead, and as a phallic wand you will see the Ghede Lwa Baron dance with of life and death. It is like a family tree. The wand is like the body of Dhamballa, as Moses turned his staff into a snake. It is generative and spiritual fire of the Ace of wands.
                                                                tvtropes.org

In Puertorican Vudu, the staff of the dead is linked to base of the poteau or poto mitan or palo majeur (pillar, Ceiba world tree of the peristyle, caye, badji or hounfor), Papa Loko, and Papa Legba's cane (from us to the Lwa). I keep mine against my boveda, or by Legba's cane at the front door. Likewise we may use a sacred tree for our repository and tie 7 ribbons on it for the 7 Jefe Lwa Misterios of Sanse.

In espiritismo or Sanse: The stick can be placed as an "outside" shrine, or boveda "astral", such as against a strong tree which can serve as your spirit repository. Astral doesn't mean in spanish what we think of in ceremonial magick as a lunar realm. It means outside in nature, or without a physical body. This area is usually marked and consecrated with a border of cascarilla chalk with 9 dashes or arrows. There can be kept ovoid river stones which are special repositories, otanes. To here you can place the items you normally would as a boveda such as white flowers and candles, multicolor bouquet, a sunflower, food offerings such as sweets, coffee, pork, fish, rice, stew, cigars, water, rum overnight.

                                               from ibuocantomi@blogspot.com

The staff is tapped 9 times upon the ground to evoke and give notice, of vibrations to the ground where the dead of the world are connected, while giving orations and prayers.
                                                                         
Some in Ocha have taboo on what a woman can do around egun, such as they did not wear the costume according to pataki stories, they can have the stick but some do not strike the ground with it. The stick also banishes negativity, and some place bells apon the lengthy (almost to the ground) 9 colored ribbons or cloth strips tied at the top to ward off misfortune (osogbo). Some do not place the bells stating it scares off egun. Some also just place one red ribbon to mark the staff is empowered by the dead. Can be multicolor beaded. The colored ribbons represent the egun dance dress costume, and as the number of the dead. The stick is straight, true as possible, and can be made of different or a specific type of woods.
Iku is the spirit of death itself
 
Not everyone should have this stick, which needs to be taken seriously. It will also be revealed to you if you are a medium, or have a spiritual court which deals more with the dead. You should have already begun a regular practice to attending to your ancestors.
                                                              army of darkness

However, you do not need to be initiated to get this stick, if you have guidance from a priest. The top can be drilled into, to pack the secrets into it and then sealed by a priest in Lucumi or Palo faiths. The stick is washed with different herbs and preperations, dedicated, consecrated, fed (animal blood in Ocha and Palo) and prayed over. In Sanse, I do this with various herbs, washing, colognes, and epo (red palm oil) with a service to the dead.


 I have also received my Bakulu ancestor necklace from my godfather, a Palero. In Sanse we also use a multi-color glass or crystal seed bead necklace consecrated to the dead of your court.
Sanse:
We do not use the 7/7 pattern unless you have the 7 african powers as guides or are an initiate of Sanse for Los 7 Jefe Lwa in our house.
These items are sacred and must be cared for. The necklaces are not worn during sleep, in the water, nor during sexual activity, or out at the club, and should be kept in a special place, preferably wrapped in a white satin or silk panel of cloth and put away.


If you would like either of these items, then you can contact our temple and start a consultation and rapport.

                  A qualified Santero, Palero or Espiritsta can make you a Baston de muerto.
                  We currently offer these items to the Bakulu or your spiritual court: ancestors and dead.
Whatever your tradition you receive the stick in, influences where and how you will serve your dead, because these religions have a different group of ancestors spiritually. So a Bakulu stick is not placed at the Boveda.
                     
                  The staff can be used in misa, or in working the boveda in Espiritismo,
                  and marks the officiant in rites to the dead.

                               Sancista 7

                                                            crossroads

Monday, March 6, 2017

Veve are Lineage

Veve are used for many actions.
They are used as a mouth or portal to accept feeding the Lwa. They are a portal through which forces can move, activated by the priest, their tools, and pwen/point/license/access given in initiation or through bloodline and given foundation. The closest english word I could come to is "attunement", alignment and agreement/oath. The spirits within African traditions are ancestors or ancestral spirits that followed a people, a tribe's culture and their land. Through joining a temple you are adopted into their lineage, along with any connections that you have which were somewhat broken (if you do not have an unbroken family line) and can be repaired. Usually temples are a gathering of families or run by family.

Veve and pwen are lineage, from lineages. A pwen also can be held by many things. Veve are passed down in the family and/or through temple lineages for the spirits that are served locally. The Lwa recognize these Veve as signatures, and recognize the priest because we also have these same spirits. My Veve belong to my lineage and I have never seen them publicly. They do have some similarity to other Veve of the same Lwa that other people have.

 If you are using a Veve off the internet or in a book, you are approaching the Lwa through or tapping into someone else's lineage. The Lwa will also expect you to greet them a certain way with songs and the tcha tcha, shekere or asson received by priests or passed down by families. This will notify them of who you are children of if you are branched farther from same roots. It can be thought of as a calling card, signature, or telephone number. Some Veve are created for artistic and not spiritual purposes or value. If you do not use a lineage Veve properly, this may upset some Lwa, or they will not answer.

 You also must be careful, a Veve for Dhamballah I saw on the internet was actually for his Petro version.

Some Lwa do not have Veve. Veve are not the only way we can work with Lwa, since the pwen, access is internal. Therefore we also have no absolute need of statues, representations and images. They help to manifest the energy of the Loases which flow internally through us in physical mediumship.

Veve were created in the new world, there were none in Africa. They probably created by Congo influence, indigenous Taino pictograms, and perhaps some European alchemist grimoires and sigils.
Taken from Miguel Sague, from Caney Circle

Public Veve for a type of Marassa Lwa: twins give rise to a third: triplets Petro or child born after
Some of the Veve for the drums also have a tri-medicine wheel motif


taken from palomontenegro

Technically as we salute the 4 directions, this is around the pillar in the temple as center. 
Where spirit and matter interact.

Congo cosmogram, Palo firma/petipemba for the 4 winds and a Lucero. Lucero is the Mpungo similar to the Lwa Legba or the Orisha Ellegua. The cross symbol is prechristain across many cultures. To the Congolisa the cross symbolized Nzambi, God, as well as the earth/universe.
Public Veve for Public Legba

Masonic Symbol: square and compass
Public Ayizan Veve

Public Erzulie Freda Veve

The same symbol can be seen on other veve such as to the loases of various Oguns, Sobo  Bade and Ghede & more

There is a Veve called Milokan (thousands/ mil of camps) which feeds or can call all the Lwa.
 It is a mega Veve in which individual Veve can be seen together. 
This is so no one is left out and has hurt feelings, it is more economical in terms of time, and it can be used to search a solution, or a persons spirits.

Veve have a sense of balance and imbalance that can created for a reason.They can be changed in the moment for specific energy needed.

Veve can be drawn in several materials such as ground corn, and other substances I will not discuss and sometimes for specific Lwa. I have never seen certain substances we also use mentioned in public. There has been some others mentioned in public such as wood ash. brick dust, gunpowder and wheat flour. The substances used are depending on the purpose of ritual and the Lwa being called. They can be traced in the dirt or sand with a stick or informally they can also be drawn in chalk but not traditionally. They are made by bending at the waist and pouring the material, not by kneeling or sitting. They can be danced over, and are usually scrubbed or washed over after the ritual is over.
                                           From Enchanting Scores

Veve have symbols that can be read, and contain usually the crossroads of Papa Legba, the Lwa spirit who for the most part, opens the way to the other rada Lwa. The veve also may contain other images such as tools, weapons, stars, points, crosses, and initials. There are points on the Veve on which certain items are placed such as plates of food, sacrificed animals in other lineages, candles and other things.

Different African tribes and people mixed in the new world to create different traditions and lineages, in Vodou we are predominately west African in spiritual heritage. Therefore we each have our own spirits, and ways of working with them. We do not use the firmas or petipembas from Palo which is Cuban and Congo based, nor do we use the ponto riscado as in Quimbanda in Brazil. Lucumi does have some symbols but they are also very different.

I hope this has helped your understanding of Vodou & Veve lineage!