Honoring the Recently Departed

Praying the Rosary is one of many ways to honor the recently departed

When there is a death in the family, a strange mix of emotions will emerge for days and weeks after the death. These emotions are natural and are part of the grieving process. Recently our family lost a beloved family member, my grandfather. He had a long blessed life and as part of my duties, I was placed in the difficult position of honoring his last wishes against the desires of some members of the family who wanted to do it ‘their way’. Grandfather had stated in writing that he wanted to just to be cremated and placed to rest by my grandmother. No wake, no funeral, nothing involving his body but simplicity and rest.

This small but vocal fraction of my family was exercising pressure to divide the grandfather’s ashes in 3 parts to be distributed amongst his children and to perform an ecumenical service to be held in the presence of his ashes. However, there was an official document signed outlining in no uncertain terms what was not to be done. Grieving people do all sort of nutty things, but while in my guard, no one in my family would be allowed to disrespect the desires of an elder.

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To Every Problem, a Solution.

Hua Tuo a famous healer from the Han Dysnaty, an image of what at Chinese healer must have looked like centuries ago

3:30 a.m.
Living with spirits is no simple matter. For once, you never know when they are coming for a visit. Take for example last night. It was nearly 4 am and there I was placidly dreaming about my last visit to the U.K. I was guiding my family through a tour of the Skirrid Inn, a historic pub dating from Tudor times, when I get waken out of a sound sleep by a Chinese man. Correction. By a dead Chinese man who in life claims to have been a doctor living in Puerto Rico.

10 p.m.
Let me back track a bit, earlier in the evening I had gone to an Egún (ancestor) party, a gathering with drumming and dancing meant to call down the spirits of ancestors and guides. I had a blast at the party. Once or twice I felt spirit upon me, but right then someone else nearby me would get mounted by an Egún. What else is new? I am after all a mental medium. So, later on I came to the patio to enjoy the full moon night and chat for a bit with other guests. I told Kal how it would be fascinating for once being a physical medium. Since he is talented at that, he said he would gladly trade places and laughed because to him being away on a trance is missing all the exciting part of spirit communication, while I get to take notes and learn from them. I dropped the conversation since trading places with him was a matter easier said than done.

1:30 a.m.
We come home, children went to bed. They were tired as they danced along with us through the night. My youngest who is 5 made friends with a spirit who validated a request our child had made over summer—to be cut in Palo— and was handed a nice bottle of rum as a gift for his own spirits. He clutched the bottle with a serious expression and did not let go of it until we came home and it was placed on the family shrine.

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Are they Spiritual Guides or Egún?

Below is a fragment of a conversation I was having with Omimelli, whilst I was exploring the concept of Spirit Guides and Egun. I have reproduced it here because I think that it poses some interesting questions.

Omimelli says:
So tell me more about this concept you have in your head…

Janus says:
I have been thinking about ancestor reverence, it has been around for 1000’s years
practiced by some very old religions.
We shall take ancestors spirits as a fact for the following:
along comes spiritualism
only 100 years ago
Spiritualists contact some spirits
they proclaim them ‘guides’
when perhaps all they are doing is connecting to Egún
they just did not have the concept of Egún to realise…
there are more elevated spirits that guide many people
eg Jose Gregorio, etc…
but they are in the minority

Omimelli says:

Janus says:
I dunno, do you think the early spiritualists really understood who they were connecting with?

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Part 7: 10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should Not make

A Keeper of Traditions cultivates a Passion for Learning

#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.

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Where did the spirit of Charity go?

Sarayeye or Spiritual Cleansing

The road to be a priest or priestess in Santeria, Yoruba, Haitian Vodou, Palo Mayombe, Ifa, Akan, is not an easy road. But, we should not let our personal trial and tribulation prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. That is not only to elevate our family and our lineage but to elevate people who come across our crossroad.

We meet people each day for a reason, each person that come across our path is a representation of a Loa, a Orisha, a egun, and/or a Nkisi.

I say this because if we keep this in mind then perhaps we would not always think about money when it comes to helping someone. I do not say that someone should not be paid for his/her knowledge. But, there are times were an individual just need a little boost to be where he/she need to be.

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Illumination to Egun (Part 3)

St. Michael, Glastonbury Abbey

This is the third part of a series of steps meant to illuminate and energize the egun. It has been of benefit on my spiritual practices and I hope it also benefits yours.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, by the intercession of Mary, spotless Virgin and Mother of Jesus, of St. Michael the Archangel, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, and by the authority residing in our holy ministry, we steadfastly proceed to combat the onslaught of the wily enemy.

Psalm 67(8)

God arises; His enemies are scattered, * and those who hate Him flee before Him.
As smoke is driven away, so are they driven; * as wax melts before the fire, so the wicked perish before God.
See the cross of the Lord; begone, you hostile powers!
The stem of David, the lion of Juda’s tribe has conquered.
May your mercy, Lord, remain with us always.
For we put our whole trust in you.

We cast you out, every unclean spirit, every satanic power, every onslaught of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect, in the name and by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We command you, begone and fly far from the Church of God, from the souls made by God in His image and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine Lamb. No longer dare, cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute God’s Church, to strike God’s elect and to sift them as wheat. For the Most High God commands you, He to whom you once proudly presumed yourself equal; He who wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father commands you. The Son of God commands you. God the Holy Ghost commands you. Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh, commands you, who humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, to save our race from the perdition wrought by your envy; who founded His Church upon a firm rock, declaring that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross commands you, along with the power of all mysteries of Christian faith. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles commands you. The blood of martyrs and the devout prayers of all holy men and women command you.

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My First Day of the Dead

Calaca Catrina

Living in Texas opened my spiritual perspectives in many ways since I was exposed to a variety of cultures from many countries. One that I found particularly attractive was the celebration of the Day of the Dead o El Día de los Muertos.

Raised as a Catholic and a believer in Spiritism and the Orisha was in itself a challenge, it is like learning many languages at once, at times confusing, but eventually it all sorts itself out. However, one thing I did learn as an undercurrent is that the dead are never really far away from us. In the Orisha practices we ritually offer meals and offerings of various sorts to our Egún, therefore, when I learned about the Day of the Dead, I was overjoyed.
I invited a rather eclectic collection of friends to come to our home and to bring along with them candles, decorations and the meals and treats that their loved ancestors enjoyed in life. At first people were a bit shy about accepting my invitation, but I persuaded them that there was no hocus pocus about this. For me it was a celebration of who we are, where we come from.

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Illumination to Egun (Part 2)

Lamp for the egun

Ritual execution of Illumination to Egun.

To execute this ritual properly, it would be good to be as familiar as possible with the prayers, this way they will flow naturally and you will have the force of your emotions behind it.

Direction to orchestrate the illumination:

1) Cover the altar with a white cloth; make sure your seven or nine glasses contain fresh water. Pour some holy water, Florida water, and sprinkle some cascarilla in the nine glasses.

2) In a white bowl pour some river water, holy water, Florida water, cascarilla, some basil leaves, mint leaves, Prodigiosa, and some rum. Crush everything together, you can add anything in here as you see fit. Such as other herbs and/or fragrances to your liking.
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Illumination to Egun (Part 1)

Egun Devotion a Cornerstone of many ATRs

This is the first of a multi part series on dealing with Egun or reverence to ancestors. I decided to name this article illumination to Egun, because what I would like to discuss how to activate your spiritual quadrants with prayers.

In the Catholic Church there is a group of people known as charismatic. According to Wikkipedia Charismatic catholic is define as this: The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement within the church characterized by vibrant masses, it features ‘speaking in tongues,’ as well prophesy and healing. This movement is based on the belief that certain charismata (a Greek word for gifts), bestowed by the Holy Spirit such as other language communication and healing.
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Prayer for Seekers of Spiritual Illumination

St. Michael Protect Spiritual Seekers!

Finding a spiritual path is not an easy task. If you have found yours, then give thanks to your Spirit Guides by helping others who at this moment may be going through the motions and conmotions of a spiritual search.

Divine Spirit listen to the needs in the heart of those seekers who at this hour thirst for spiritual knowledge and hunger to break bread with kindred beings. Extend your protection to those who are confused, lonely, for those who thirst for the word that stirs their soul and gives them hope to keep on searching. Bless their efforts, give strength to their prayers. Merciful Creator, send guardian angels to protect their steps in lands of thieves, cheats and merchants of religions. Extend the Sword of St. Michael against those who try to steal their purity of purpose. Shield their minds from those who will want to plant seeds of doubt and distrust as they finally find a teacher to aid them in the quest for spiritual illumination. I ask you Divine Spirit, Fountain of Peace and Rock of Salvation to strengthen the resolve of the weak, to tear fear from the hearts of those who have been let down in this quest and to bless their search with the knowledge of Spirit, the joy of fraternity and the light of love. Amen.

Hope, Faith and Charity for all,

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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