Saturday, February 23, 2008

right in time

it's funny how time can circle back and show you the truth when you are ready to witness it. patience, solitude and reflection can get you there. i aint preaching. i am simply sharing what i've learned on this journey ... at least so far as my feet have carried me on it to date. there have been loves i've thought were lost to the frailty of human emotion only to realize that those who are meant to be in my life will be there ... in that moment when it matters, and nothing can change the strength of the initial connection ... that first love moment in time when you meet the stranger and find familiarity, home, and unconditional, time transcending recognition that somehow the two souls meeting will always be one. and separation over distances of land, water, and the linearity of the clock don't really matter.

and there are those other meetings with strangers, who though meaningful, are not supposed to last a life time. there is still a oneness, because circumstance will remind you ... you've seen that veil before, you've danced that dance, you've come to that lesson on some other leg of your journey. and in that circumstantial moment, if you are still and listen to the truth of your heart, you will know ... when and how to let go ... and if you're lucky, the pain will be less and the parting will energize you, because you will find yourself that much closer to where you are destined to be.

i have faith. i have not lost love. i am only more comfortable inside god's hands, trusting i will be delivered just in time.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

'This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.'


'All about are the cold places,
all about are the pushermen and jeopardy, theft -
all about are the stormers and scramblers but
what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?
Live and go out.
Define and
medicate the whirlwind.'


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

magic made simple (or maybe a little less scary?)

at the expense of making the mysterious and scary ordinary, i want to explore the methodology of what some might call ritualized magic or sorcery. as a yayi (female priest of the palo mayombe religion) and aleyo (uninitiated yoruba practitioner), i have experienced the painful fall-out of fear and ignorance from those who cannot fathom why one would choose to practice a religion rooted in traditions born across the atlantic in africa. i have felt the sting of would be friends and kin folk, who often shudder upon seeing the effects of my spiritual practice - the iron pots, the glasses of water, the life-sized dolls, and ornate pots holding secrets passed down through the ages to a chosen and courageous few of growing numbers but still smaller than the more popular christian/muslim/jewish lot.

though the salem witch trials are over and jimi hendrix immortalized the proverbial 'voodoo child," our world's history of silencing, colonizing, and murdering the ancient traditions of colored folk wreaks havoc on the minds and hearts of many, policing our spirits so that what was once as common as the morning ritual of cleansing the body with water, feeding the body with life-sustaining food, and telling our love stories of kinship and community, have become shadowy, feared and misunderstood ways of being we'd rather hush up and hide under a rug.

but i will not hide.

it took a simple conversation with a life time friend to fuel this particular turn in my attention: over the weekend, i visited my home town. i spent some time with a dear friend who often laughs when i mention a yoruba word. egun, which means ancestors, makes him giddy with giggles. orisha is 'um-sha-sha' and a shoulder shake dance taking one from d.c. to harlem. the water and food i leave as an offering of celebration and thanks for egun is an invitation for mice, 'why you feeding the mouses, shawty? is that for eguny and dem?' and the sacred pots housing the secrets and ase of orisha become cause for an impromptu palm reading . . . never mind the rites of palo mayombe . . . we haven't gotten there yet. the water at my boveda, a space of meditation and prayer, have been used for comical face cleanings and benign threats to drink it all on a hot day.

and i laugh ... i've long been one who sees the comedy in the sacred, the why and what for in human doing and being ... life is simply profoundly amusing, and laughter can open us up for dialogue. but on this particular visit, i mentioned my frequent ebos (or eboses en espanol) and took the time to explain, again, after chuckling over 'ashy elbows' and getting 'bow'd' at the club, 'cause it be so crowded.

ebo is a prescribed work done for the protection of a particular orisha (yoruba spirit/energy) or nkisi (palo energy or spirit) as related to a personal need. for example, if one is under-going intense stress of the head, one may be required to do ebo by having a rogation in front of obatala (an orisha/spirit energy of the yoruba faith). a rogation is simlpy an offering of cooling ingredients to the head (placed on top of it) while sitting in front of the spiritual energy which owns that coolness needed (perhaps housed in a pot . . . and definitely at a priest's shrine). it is much like a meditation and a nurturing of the head so that the individual can move forward peacefully, calmly, and with focus.

but before it got that complicated, my friend listened to the beginnings of my explanation and asked, 'is an ebo like a prayer.' and i thought about it for awhile, looked out the passenger-side window of his truck, and i said, 'yes, boo. that's exactly it.'

for those who are puzzled by the seemingly mysterious inner workings of the yoruba and palo traditions, come back to what is common in all of our spiritual quests - prayer. in every action of the witchy, voodoo children of this world, we are simply giving praise and performing prayer as we work. when we receive pots and dolls, when we make ebo and gris gris, we are simply putting bodily effort into that prayer, strengthening it, and marking it with our own special signature as a loving gift to the one force ...GOD - evidence of our reciprocity in this dance. what is prayer without acts? if our ritualized 'magic' makes you nervous, think of the holy communion or the prayers spoken with rosary beads in hand, think of the daily prayers toward the east, and the mixing of the sauce for the spaghetti - just the right mix of basil, oregano, sugar, and salt, bay leaves, and thyme; and don't forget to let it brew.

Friday, February 1, 2008

musings on obama as prez

i knew the comparison would come to matter. obama and kennedy. it was already written in his youth and demeanor, his campaign slogan, "change," the cadence of his speech, the political climate at home and abroad, his semi suave style in the sea of uptight, greying, stone faced usual suspects . . . his status as a democrat, his marked difference and lib platform. i could feel it coming. and then, the american press did the inevitable - he danced beside ellen and took a fun ride in a bumper car with his daughter - and the press jumped on it. the photo made its way online . . . and bam . . . first caroline voices the thing we could all see rounding the corner. then ted denies hillary his support. a crowned prince is born to become king. . . almost. and a black man at that.

what interests me most about this is the need for the familiar in campaigns. the public has got to be able to find a nostalgic and comforting space of acceptance for that which could be marked terrifying . . . change.

and what will the change be, if obama is elected? who knows . . . there is the readily apparent: a black male will be president of these somewhat united states. that'd be a nice merge between popular culture and political reality. for once, our consumer buying trends in music and sports will be reflected in our country's leadership . . . it seems that, perhaps, we have come to a point in time where we will actively consider putting our votes where our money has been. we will have knocked upon the door of truth and answered - not only do we love the culture of this particular people, but we trust our nation in the hands of one of its own . . . we believe in the intelligence and ability of an african american male. and perhaps this will begin to right the institutionalized wrongs of a nation still seething with the bodies of countless men and women of color behind prison bars. perhaps. his platform and promises do not strike me as much different from most dems on the blazing trail to glory. and like clinton (bill, i mean) he will have to prove his value to the masses of people in this country (colored and less so) through practice. i only hope that he is more successful at advocating for black and brown folk, folk much different to the status quo, than ol' bill . . . i am still moved to furrow my eyebrows more than a lil bit when i think of the comparison of bill to a black man, though toni morrison is a favorite author of mine. a pug nose and mediocre saxophone ability (and/or a seeming insatiable sex drive for young women) does not a black man make. 'cause though he appointed more af am federal judges than any president before him, his take on drug laws and the criminal justice system, and the fact that neither the standard of living nor education for masses of colored folk in this country (beyond the upper middle class) got better during his tenure as prez, leads me to believe that if he was the first "black" man to hold that office, he aint one i'd claim . . . ummm . . . he must have been passing.

at any rate, if obama is so blessed, he'll have to prove his worth. there is no litmus test but the being and the doing. i'd take the risk on him. why not? i voted for bill. and besides, i want to be proactive in this possible revolutionary moment . . . my vote could help shake this country up a bit . . . turn it on its side and set it to roll.