Love and desperation are not really a good combination. When someone gets a whiff of desperation the immediate reaction is to bolt out the door. Desperation has a most unattractive vibe, one that smells of decay and sadness.
It must have been nearly three decades ago when I had to gather dirt from a cemetery for the first time; it was nerve wrecking to do so because I am not really fond of cemeteries. Besides, I felt like the whole planet was watching every single step I took on that morning. Little I knew back then that I would have to repeat this operation many times in my life. Well, it does get easier when you know what you are doing and why and not just following someone else’s brief instructions and getting it done, because it has to get done.
Let us begin with the ethics of cemetery-dirt gathering. Do it with a purpose, do it respectfully and without enslaving spirits. Let me address point by point these two guiding principles.
There are some practitioners of magic that simply go about from cemetery to cemetery collecting dirt from famous graves just to have them in their arsenal in case the needs arises to use them.
Here is what I think of that practice. Would you fill up your pantry with food that will expire and ingest it no matter what a decade later? I happen to think that when you operate with a purpose, an immediate purpose, the dirt you gather has more power and it will yield more effective results. If you do not believe me, then test it out yourself. Gather dirt, let it sit on a shelf and then, when the need arises, say 5 years later, use that dirt and see if you can solve the situation at hand just as effectively. There is a process of conscious gathering of strength and momentum as you prepare a magical working which should not be interrupted; it is like putting together a cake. Would you mix the batter and let it sit on a shelf a day or two before putting it in the oven? It could very well be that being a dirt collector is just your thing, ok then so be it, but the purpose and energy behind each collection must then be carefully catalogued and noted so when you finally decide to use that dirt you can recall that particular state of mind and get again into that groove to impart the working with the appropriate energy. Continue reading “Legal Employment for the Dead: Gathering Cemetery Dirt for Magical Purposes from the Hoodoo and Santeria Perspectives” »
I hardly need to establish my authority on this matter to write about it with full propriety, however, for the record I will. My professional and academic training is as a journalist. My career has afforded me ample on the job training and experiences in meeting people from all walks of life, from politicians to artist to everyday people facing extraordinary circumstances. They all had one thing in common; they trusted me to tell their stories with accuracy and respect. Besides being a journalist, I have also have the privilege to work with a well-respected publishing house and its writers in the field of religion, metaphysics and new age-oriented material to edit their books.
I have been editing books on the subject of Santeria and Afro-Caribbean religions for over 10 years. This has been an educating experience, and at the same time, one that has filled me at times with rage and indignation. I have come across manuscripts submitted to the publisher that were cut and paste versions of already published books. At first, when you start reading one of those manuscripts that potential authors are trying to sell as ‘new and fresh’ recently discovered collection of materials from unpublished libretas (notebooks kept by oloshas), you are excited and eager. Then suddenly you start to realize that these words are a touch familiar. A sinking feeling takes over me, then outrage as I walk to my personal library and find the book from where this ‘so called author’ has lifted word by word, chapter by chapter his/her new material. Of course, I make sure to document the plagiarism with the editorial house and the book never gets published because to do so is to honor a common thief, and of course a publishing house can be sued for plagiarism.
Sometimes life brings to us the most unexpected and delightful challenges. This time I got one of those knocking at my door thanks to http://blog.themysticcup.com where Ronnie Kantorik found me while doing a search on line on Afro-Caribbean spirituality. I do meet a lot of people through the blog, but something about his emails got my attention. There was an inherent sensibility and honest curiosity about Hoodoo, Santeria and Spiritism that I found quite refreshing and endearing, particularly coming from someone with very little background on any other of my chosen spiritual and magical paths.
So it is that Ronnie and I started to exchange emails and soon he shared that he was starting his career in acting. Acting is a difficult and demanding professional path, one that I do not profess to fully understand but that I am somewhat familiar from my times as news anchor. Well, TV and Hollywood are not the same thing, but they are at least good cousins. In any case, Ronnie had come to an opportunity recently that landed him some very good recommendations due to his earnest work on set as a stand-in actor for the movie Lawless (just about to be released this month). Professionalism, punctuality and an intense hunger to learn and better himself as a professional fuels this gentleman of strong vivacious character, bright hazel eyes and mischievous sweet grin.
I am not sure if you are aware that Georgia is becoming the darling of Hollywood as many movies and television series are being shot here, partly because of the huge incentives being offered to studios and producers such as huge tax breaks and availability of talented actors and ready to shoot crews. One of them, a favorite of mine, is AMC’s series The Walking Dead. Other recent movies that come to mind and were shot in Georgia are What to Expect when you are Expecting, Joyful Noise, and Flight starring Denzel Washington (to be released in November). In any case, Ronnie shared with me a bit of good news; he was going to a casting call for a film to be shot literally in his own hometown, Rome, GA. Excitement, passion and conviction were on his side. However, I suggested an additional step in preparing for this audition: Building a Mojo Bag.
Love is a child of Chaos. Its energies once released are impossible to gather back. Everything touched by love is unequivocally changed forever. Some people think that love needs sometimes a little bit of help. I would differ; it is love the force that helps us along the way. However, there is nothing wrong with enhancing time spent with a beloved one and with sharing cleanliness of body, mind and spirit.
Here is a bath that is meant to be shared with a special someone.
1 blood orange sliced
1 stick of cinnamon grated (yes freshly grated)
1 pomegranate (just the seeds)
5 cardamom pods (just the seeds)
5 drops of clove oil or 5 cloves crushed to powder
2 teaspoons of honey
1 red candle
Slice the orange, place it in a deep container, then grate the cinnamon over the orange slices, add the pomegranate seeds, cut open the cardamom pods and extract the seeds, mince them with a knife or crush them then add them to the container, add the rest of the ingredients and pour 5 cups of warm water over the ingredients.
Since this is a bath for lover, one thing you could do is to pour each other’s energies and intentions onto this bath by holding hands over it and speaking at loud your intentions or petition.
The slices of oranges are meant to be used in the bath as scrubbers. Light the candle once you are done speaking your mind while holding hands over the container with the ingredients.
Today is the one year anniversary of the launching of the mystic cup. During this past year we have seen a steady and rapid growth in our readership. We have also experienced a growth in the number of contacts with both individuals and groups. We have been encouraged by the many instances of positive feedback from readers. Our aim has always been to write about spiritual experiences, and most of us who are on the Mystic Cups writing crew are in some manner involved with African Traditional Religions (ATRs). Thus, most of our articles reflect this involvement. We also work towards connecting with other members of the broader ATR community and to discuss our shared issues, opinions, gripes and things learned along the way. We have also striven to provide clear and truthful information about the ATR experience so that people outside that community can get a better understanding and a sense of the flavor of practicing an ATR.
We have been especially pleased to see an increase of readership from outside of North America and the Caribbean. We have noticed an increase of interest in ATR’s and Spiritism within Ceremonial Magick, Wiccan and Neo-Pagan circles. We hope that our articles have been informative, thought provoking and entertaining.
In the coming year we will tackle some topics that we initially envisioned writing about but have not yet addressed, some will be rather hot and volatile so be prepare for some healthy debates, after all…the unexamined life is not worth living and certainly spirituality deserves careful and constant examination.
We would also like to see more submissions of articles from others about their own spiritual traditions and experiences. In closing, our core team Janus, Omimelli and I, would like to say thank you for your support and readership. Stay tuned… there is more to come.
Kal Olo Obatalá
P.S. Since Omimelli is our main writer, I want to post one of her favorite songs as a little present for all the long hard hours of gathering and preparing materials for The Mystic Cup.
One of my first memories of Spiritism comes from having visited an old lady who had a rather healthy reputation for her spiritual and herbal remedies. For me back then, to go visit her meant sitting for hours on end waiting to get spiritual advice, but it was also an opportunity to run my fingers over a literal forest of the medicinal plants that were planted in the little garden in front of her house. One in particular would awake my senses, its scent sweet and intoxicating, its color bright green and with happy little purple flowers. It was years later when I would learn about the true power of this herb as I started in earnest my path in Spiritism and Santería.
Some know it as the Queen of Herbs, in India they call it Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and in the Caribbean and the Americas most know it as Albahaca Santa or Holy Basil. This brilliant creation from Olofi has so many uses spiritual, medicinal realms, and of course, in the kitchen, no wonder it is known as the Queen of Herbs. In India, Tulsi has been used for centuries to heal body, mind and spirit.
#7 Everyone in the ATR communities is well read, stable and trustworthy.
There is not one religious group with a congregation that will homogeneously possess or manifest these 3 attributes: Education, stability and trustworthiness. Every religious congregation will be formed from people with different levels of education, and the African Traditional Religions (ATRs) are not the exception. African Traditional Religions base the core of their knowledge on oral tradition; therefore, anyone can claim expertise, stability and trustworthiness. After all, who is there to police them?
The availability of books on a myriad subjects on ATRs and the increasing reduction of the digital divide, has made increased exposure to knowledge that before was only transmitted from godparent to godchild, and only as newcomers were considered ready to learn. Does this make our religions any better and our leaders any more educated? We can make arguments on both sides of the fence. Quantity and availability of educational materials not necessarily imply their quality and not everyone can assimilate and analyze theology and theosophy at the same level, nonetheless apply it or for that matter, teach it.
A foole & his money,
be soone at debate:
which after with sorow,
repents him to late.
In today’s world of shysters, scammers and Internet merchants of religions—all religions—it is easier than ever to feed the entitlement mentality of ‘the right to initiation.’ In the case of African Traditional Religions, we are observing an influx of people who come to collect titles and then set shop as soon as they ‘feel’ they are elders. What a joke! Some of them have not even bothered to have a good understanding of the cultural background, the language or the history behind their intended target religion. Some others have only a superficial Internet relationship with their godparents –to-be, perhaps aided by some Skype or a few telephone conversations…
Misconception Number 5. I am entitled to learn and be trained.
Let us analyze one of the definitions of the Merriam-Webster dictionary for the word entitlement, it is the “belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges”.
If you are new to the African Traditional Religions, in this case to Orisha or Santería, I want you to do yourself a favor. Repeat after me: “I am not entitled to learn anything; I have to earn the privilege to be taught and trained and to be accepted into the house by both my godparents as well as by the Orisha that rules the house.”
I am absolutely flabbergasted to see so many newcomers so big for their breeches and so full of this delusional and irreverent attitudes that makes them think that elders of the religion need to open up all their libretas (notebooks) and place them at their feet on top of a red carpet and absolutely commit to share every secret of the religion because they deserve it. Yes, I have had people tell me that there should be no secrets and that all knowledge should readily be made available to them because they are worthy. When lobsters sing, cows fly and snakes walk!