Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Date with Chango

What Chango is best at is lighting a fire under our proverbial tushes and get us moving. Chango is the fire in our bellies, the spark that makes us want to get up off the couch and do something.

Chango showed up in my life full force 6 days after my first husband left me for an ugly woman. I was in total shock and disbelief. I felt alone, fat and ugly. In my worst moment, Chango sent “Matt.” Matt was several years younger than me, fun, full of life and great in the sack. He was Irish with bright red hair and played in a band. I had met Matt a few weeks before the break-up and as soon as he found out I was single, he called.

Frankly, this child of Chango was exactly what I needed at that moment to make me feel special. It only lasted six weeks (alas, Matt had a temper and frankly wasn’t very bright) but the relationship served its purpose. My spiritual light had been rekindled and I felt like a girl again.

Chango has the ability to make us feel alive again so that we don’t wallow in our own personal swamp hell. He sparks our inner spirit until we have enough energy to sustain our own inner fire.

The energy that rekindled my spiritual life is the same energy that makes a 40 year old man suddenly buy a Corvette, grow a pony tail and start dating 20 year olds. Feeling alive takes many manifestations. While I’m not gonna knock the Corvette, I do recommend channeling more of that energy inwards and less into screwing 20 year olds.

Chango’s energy is not permanent. Even when I was in my relationship with Matt, I knew it wasn’t permanent. Rebound guy never lasts long but I also knew to enjoy the ride while it lasted.

Every once in a while, Chango shows up full force in my life again. He always comes with a purpose (to give me inspiration, to help me heal, etc.). I know he won’t stick around long but I should enjoy his company while he’s here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Magickal Cooking

I have given a lot of offerings over the years and I have found that for me, those offerings that had the best energy were the meals I lovingly made from scratch. In many cultures, food is love and that certainly holds true in my house. Now, anytime you make an offering from scratch, whether it is a meal, a carved trinket or a piece of stained glass, that energy will be felt but today I want to focus on cooking.

I try to tell my students that giving a food offering, whether to one deity or ten, is like throwing a dinner party. When you spend your time and energy making something from scratch, that energy will shine through the finished product. If you invite me over for dinner, open up a can of something and heat it up on the stove, I will be polite but I will not be excited. However, if I walk into your house and smell something tasty that you have spent some real energy on, I’m gonna be very excited about dinner!

Now honestly, I don’t have the time to throw out a big spread for every occasion but I do try to make something nice for a deity’s special day or a big thank you after asking for something huge.

I grew up not wanting to cook. My mother is a fabulous cook but all I wanted to eat was junk food. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I found myself craving something better. Frankly, I got tired of eating crappy Thanksgiving dinners. I called my mom and asked for help. She sent 6 pages of instructions (that I still have) that covered the basics. It took me seven hours to cook my first Thanksgiving dinner and it wasn’t perfect but it tasted GOOD.

Over time, I realized that it wasn’t just the ingredients themselves that made the difference, but the energy I poured into making it. Not every offering needs to be a Thanksgiving dinner, but every step in the process will add more energy to the total. From the shopping, to the chopping, to the actual cooking, the more that you are involved in the entire process, the more of you will be in the final product.

For us, I firmly believe that homemade food is almost always better than eating out and ALWAYS better than anything in a can. Cooking seems to be becoming a lost art in our society and it’s really a shame. It’s not difficult and I truly believe anybody can learn. I’m not ashamed to admit it, after my wonderful Thanksgiving experience, I picked up a “Cooking for Dummies” and read it cover to cover. I was really busy with school and work at the time, but I tried to incorporate more and more cooking into my daily and spiritual life.

As a side note, I have found that organic products usually have a better energy than normal supermarket produce (and taste better). Also, if you have a farmer’s market available to you, take advantage of it. Produce and other foodstuff sold at those types of local markets are fresher and usually raised and harvested with more love and care than any factory farm could dream. I have also found that fresh herbs usually have stronger energy than dried.

When it comes to the etiquette of offering giving, it’s perfectly okay to make a meal meant for the deities and your family. Just make sure you make enough for everyone and that the gods get the first portion(s). Then feed everyone else.

However you show your love to the gods and goddesses, do it well. Take the time and effort to do it right. We aren’t all going to be gourmet chefs but I can tell you, Babaluaye will certainly appreciate you making a batch of black-eyed peas versus just opening a can…even if you did forget the salt.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dr. Strangelove: Or How the Orishas Learned to Love I-Tunes.

Music is very important to the Orishas. Like most cultures, the tribes that practice Orisha worship had their own music, involving drums and chants. The drum beats played in the traditional ceremonies in the New World evolved from the music in Old World. That traditional music is still incredibly important to the Orishas.

However, their modern followers like modern music. Your favorite songs are going to invoke certain emotions within you to which they will respond. Your favorite love song will hit a nerve that Oshun will find attractive. You get an upbeat, drum heavy song that gets you up and moving and Chango is probably going to feel it too.

That being said, if you don’t like a song, whether it’s the traditional beats or that new song by the latest artist, they’re not going to feel your emotional response and it will be lost on you and them. I bought several cds filled with Orisha music and chants and I felt nothing but you put on some New Orleans blues and I can feel several entities pop into my head.

So, I’m gonna go through a list of songs that I have found the Orishas like in my experience. Individual results may very. First off, “Rio” by Duran Duran, Oshun LOVES that song. It comes on the radio and I can almost instantly feel her. Blondie’s “Rapture” is great one. Besides the fact that he’s actually in the video, Baron Samedi adores that song. One of my students, who is a child of the Pomba Gira, tells me that she can feel the Pomba Gira show up when Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” is played.

Enya’s “Orinoco Flow” is a favorite of Yemaya. The song has a wonderful watery feel to it. Eshu is strongly attracted to the Rollons Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” (either the original or the Guns-N-Roses remake). There’s a lot of classical music that Obatala likes. He’s always liked “Principles of Lust” by Enigma. I think he likes the Gregorian chanting in it. I get the feeling he also likes the Beatles.

Ellegua likes a lot of different music, including Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and gangsta rap. Ogoun responds well to heavy metal like Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and Rob Zombie. Nana Buruku likes a lot of world music and Nine Inch Nails. There is something very primal about NIN’s music which Nana seems to enjoy.

There’s quite a bit of R&B that Chango really likes. If it’s been played in a club and danced to by sweaty, half-naked people, he’s probably shaken his booty to it. Oya seems to like music with a spiritual bent to it, like Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories.” “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks is another good song for Oya. (hehehe...)

Whatever music you enjoy, all that’s important is that you have an emotional response to it. Without it, they will (like you) will feel nothing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Working out with the Orishas

Well, it’s the New Year which means our gym is once again flooded with out of shape people who have made their New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get into shape. We’ve been going to our gym for several years now and we’ve gotten used to the “newbie season.” Most (but not all) of these folks will come to the gym for a few weeks and then we won’t see them again until next year. It’s a shame that not more folks stick with it. As I was sitting in my gym yesterday watching the newbie show, I got to thinking about exercise and spiritual paths.

I’ve read several books that talked about how a person on a spiritual path should spend at least a year taking some sort of martial art or yoga. I am a big fan of physical activity. I also believe that our bodies are physical channels to the spiritual plane and if your channel is clogged from junk food, drugs/alcohol, lack of exercise, etc., it makes it much harder for that channel to operate. However, making a blanket statement that only martial arts or yoga has a spiritual value is kinda stupid.

My husband is a child of Ogoun, the Orisha of iron. My husband loves to pump iron. He loves the feel and smell of the iron weights. The free weight section of our gym has become a sort of temple of worship for him. He’s not really interested in taking martial arts and I got a real dirty look when I invited him to my yoga class but he’s almost giddy sometimes when he heads to his free weight room.

My point here is this, the Orishas are going to respond to different forms of exercise. When I am in my yoga class I can feel Oya with me. I believe she also likes aerobics and the kickboxing classes. Oshun likes those exercise/dance classes. Our gym has one that’s based on some very sexy form of dancing and that is so up Oshun’s alley. Both Oshun and Yemaya like the pool. I would expect to find Yemaya in the water aerobics classes. My gym, like many others, have special classes for seniors. Nana Buruku can probably be found in one of those.

I personally have also caught site of Chango at our gym. He will spend time in the free weight room (especially in front of the mirror) but I have also spotted him following the ladies around on the machines. I would almost bet a paycheck that the best place to find Ellegua in the gym is the ladies locker room! Ellegua is very fast so he’s probably a runner.

Not all of the Orishas are going to be comfortable in the gym. As a general rule, all of the Orishas love the great outdoors but Obatala and Ochosi are going to be much at home in the wilderness than the gym. Obatala loves to hike in nature. He prefers the woods but the desert is good also. Ochosi is quite shy and likes to run so I picture him as one of those long distance runners or bicyclists.

I think sticking to a physical fitness routine (whatever it is) for a year (or hopefully longer) is a great personal goal regardless of whether or not it has spiritual implications for you. If you are spiritually minded, adding physical exercise that enriches your body and soul will add even more benefit to your life. If you are on a tight budget and paying for a gym is out of the question, just getting some quality time outdoors will be a huge benefit to you and perhaps give you a peaceful moment to commune with the higher powers.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Coffee with Baron Samedi

The Baron showed up in our lives a couple of weeks before Hurricane Katrina. He just showed up with no warning. He didn’t seem to want anything, he just hung out and drink coffee. Now, let me tell you...the Baron has a definite presence to him. Generally, he makes people horny and sleepy.

We got to know the Baron pretty well in those couple of weeks. He has a wonderful sense of humor and he loves coffee…Especially Starbucks coffee. And porn. He’s a big fan of porn. He is a jovial guy. He’s tired of black and purple. He feels that it’s way over done. He’s quite fond of bright, multi-colored clothing. He’s also likes green. I believe the Baron has a strong shamanistic origin and that could be where the green comes into it. He’s very earthy. Sometimes he’s hard to understand because he comes from a dreamy place. He commonly comes in your dreams. More than once I have woken up not being able to remember my dream but just knowing he was there.

The Baron has obvious connections to sex and death but really he can help end any situation. He’s also the last doorway between life and death so some people will ask him to intercede on behalf of a sick person. If the Baron doesn’t take them, they will not go. Don’t try to do spells to him. Just ask him to do something. He’ll either do it or he won’t. He doesn’t have initiates or priest/priestesses but I have heard him refer to his “favorites.” Besides coffee, the Baron also likes dark rum, cigars and tobacco and Starbuck’s coffee flavored liqueur. He’s very fond of the Blondie song “Rapture.” Watch the video.

So, for two weeks we sat around staring at each other wondering why he was around. And then the hurricane hit. We watched on the news as New Orleans drowned. It was surreal. The Baron watched with us, silent but present. Suddenly, he had nothing to say. San Antonio, Texas (where some of us reside) started accepting evacuees pretty quickly. Our city ended up hosting a large number of folks from Louisiana. After awhile I got tired of watching the news and crying all the time, so I went down and volunteered with the Red Cross for a couple of days. It made me feel better.

Quite a few of the folks from evacuation ended up staying in San Antonio. San Antonio is a city that’s always been pretty racially diverse and now we have the benefit of a little more New Orleans flavoring. We are lucky in that several new Cajun restaurants have opened (yeah!). Now, if we could just get a CafĂ© du Monde! The Baron has also stayed here in our lovely city.

I don’t know how much the Baron knew about the hurricane ahead of time. I do believe that’s why he came. I am glad he did, I just wish the circumstances had been different but my spiritual ohana is better for it.