Exu and His Work on the Soul

In order to start working with Quimbanda it is useful to make an effort to know your personal spirits and those spirits benign towards you. This knowledge is commonly revealed in a gira or session at the intervention of a Tata or Yaya that is already in connection with their guardian spirits able to see and discern the spirits that gravitates towards a given person.

It is my belief that these spirits seen by the Tata or Yaya during a consult, session or gira are spirits that was with the person in question from birth, that the Exus and Pomba Giras in their capacity of being guardians of places of power will also guard our soul as a place of power. These personal spirits do reflect in the mirror of the soul, hence one’s Exu and Pomba Gira is often referred to as a Tata and a Yaya, given the bond between  spirit guardians and the soul awaiting this knowledge.

We might see this as a way of understanding from where we are coming, as our personal spirits do reflect facets and aspects of us that we are aware of or try to hide. Nevertheless these qualities are with us and what we accept and deny as a part of us is still with us no matter denial or acceptance.  

What is often seen is the expectation of having some powerful badass Exu or Pomba Gira as ones personal patron. If expectation is met a new challenge present itself as much as having a spirit perceived as ‘inferior’ or ‘obscure’. No matter if you are a working class woman wanting a Queen in your life or you are a necromancer horny for Omolu or Meia Noite and realize that your Exu is something completely different, a soul search should start if the expectation is rewarded or punished. To have a Queen as your patron can be as challenging as having an Exu Pagão as your patron, the dynamic is always the same, to call you into awareness of who you are and where you are.  

When I gained knowledge of my personal spirits a profound increase in awareness of Self was caused and albeit with some initiate resistance I understood that this was myself teaching myself about mysteries important for my understanding of Self. It was strange times and the dreams were even stranger. A battle between confusion and understanding was instigated as I saw myself in my personal spirits in the form of a conglomerate of likes and dislikes. This went on for quite some time, until acceptance and understanding held hand with willingness.

Our personal Exu and Pomba Gira mirrors who we are in glasses darkly and brightly and we have a work to do there in a wide array of arenas. Some of us experience an immediate repulse of our personal spirit when it is revealed. This reaction just takes the pulse of our self awareness and addresses our lack of comprehension. For instance, if an Exu like Ganga/Mulambo is coming up in your session and you realize that this Exu is related to garbage, what people throws away.  You might enter into the entire garbage thing, which is a good spiritual exercise, but hopefully you will realize that a spirit like this is guarding a specific power that has to do with giving value and transforming this garbage into fertile soil. When these sentiments rises themselves and we enter into a field of negativism it is always because of a lack of understand and a failure in our appreciation and understanding.  Our personal spirits agrees with us and they challenge us, they serve as an awakening to realize who we are so we can understand Self and Fate better. So in concluding this analogy, Exu Ganga will enter your life question you if you are shit or if you have what takes to transform shit into something fertile and miraculously wonderful.

Then we have the spirits referred to as ‘working spirits’. They are not mirrors of who we are, but friendly spirits that do challenge us as our personal spirits do, but they are also spirits disposed to work for us no matter if it is good or bad for us. They are tricky friends, the kind of friend that never objects to your will and desire, but do what you want, no questions asked. But at some point you will ask the question and your working spirit will just say, ‘I did what you wanted’, and in this a different challenge is presented. These spirits are drawn to us by some sort of affinity, they are not mirrors of the soul, but variations of friends, and in this they remind us about the delicate order we find in the social world where friend meets friend and where a friend makes a foe as a foe makes a friend.

Spirit friends can be as deceptive as human friends. Sure they are turned towards making favours, but they give a social challenge and question how you deal with relations that gravitate towards you in following your wishes. Indeed they are tricky, but in their trickiness they also mirror how tricky you can be with your world and environment.  It is all about you, but in a different level, the social. You as the one you are, the one you think you are and the one you act out in the world are always so different that they meet...
Surely, Quimbanda is about Self awareness, but it is also about smartness and the failure of being smart. It is about the lesson of the street and tavern, the wrong card played in the face of five aces and what it teaches you, as much as realizing that a immature demand do tend to explode under your left big toe.  The working spirit is your true friend, the one that never question, but is ever willing to speak after you made a choice that just brought hurt. In giving a demand and reaping misfortune we often accuse the messenger – but this is only another form of self accusation.

Quimbanda is at root about becoming aware and assume responsibility. We have our mirrors and we have our friends, the personal spirits and the working spirits all have in common that they seek to challenge us to be the guardian of our soul and life, no matter what it takes... because they truly care, as genuine mirrors and true friends...

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The Poles of the Sphere

“I don’t want it, you don’t want it. Let us leave wickedness to walk alone”
              - Ifá proverb

Opinions, they be informed or not, makes part of the human interaction and we tend to share these opinions in the shape of advices and counsel if it is warranted or called for or not. An opinion is little more than a conjecture, a judgment, a synthesis of what is observed leading to a form of belief. Hence an opinion should never be presented to state truth, but be presented in the spirit of sharing, to avoid the act of stating truisms. None of us owns the truth and the truth will always look cross-eyed to any interpretation of what it might be.

We have all witnessed the atheist argument against the believer’s belief in a God, the battle between creationism and evolution and the polemic presented against opposing points of views aiming towards affirming objective truths rooted in opinions. Opinions is not only a conjecture, it is also an expression of a point of view formed by an individual with a particular experience and history that causes this person to view the world from a given angle. In this way, opinion tends to be a form of solipsism and arrogance. Opinions and advices are often given in response to a disagreement, an activity that is in itself useful to achieve a Hegelian synthesis, but it is rarely presented to arrive to a widen landscape; rather it is often given to prove a point and the error of truth in an opinion.   

It is kind of fascinating to see how so many chooses to be occupied with what they disagree in and challenge this with an opinion.

Ideally an exchange of opinions takes the shape of a debate. A debate is the word we use to give a format to the exchange of opinions, so that quarrels and disagreements can be subject for a decent format of exchange, as is done in the defence for an academic dissertation. The dissertation is presented to peers that will judge you and challenge you – bound by rules of formal presentation and response that aims towards challenging the argument – and in this the argument stay solid or it dies. If the argument dies it can be due to holes and lack in the work done or because of diverging opinions between the candidate and the peers elected to judge. No matter, form and design, we do like to entertain the exchange of opinions and quite often it takes the form of a quarrel. The difference between a quarrel and a debate is its format and the prepositions that is laid as base for the exchange of opinions.   

We humans like to quarrel. We are quarrelsome specie and the quarrels are always about one of three dimensions, horizon, belief or duty and any quarrel is born from a conviction or a burden. The burden and the conviction can at times merge in falsity leading us to exercise our falsity to see how strong or weak it is. These phenomena’s happens all the time, in domestic and professional life. Promises are made, appointments are failed and defences are made in the wake of anticipated accusations. The factors present in a debate or an argument is present in your social interactions, your domestic and professional life.

It all goes down to a premise, request, promise or statement being met in acceptance from another party. Failure to honour the promise stated will eventually lead to a debate. If this debate is about your domestic, spiritual of professional life is quite irrelevant for your sphere of being. We all instinctively act in the same way; if challenged we enter into defence and the defence can be an attack or a submission. It still doesn’t matter, the fact that we act upon it is what matters. In the moment we act upon something, it be negative or positive, we become a part of it.
Some examples might make this more salient. Let’s say you are a person who has decided to end with all forms of superstitions. Yes, I know it is a grand mission to appoint, but nevertheless some people do engage themselves in being bothered with is not a part of their point of view. What happens in this field of accepted mission is that you will be occupied with superstition and make yourself a part of what you agitate against, because in wicked ways the thesis and the anti-thesis is what makes the sphere full in its acceptance of the poles that supports it. It is almost like there is an energy pure and simple that holds a movement towards what it searches and what challenges it in such way, that energetically speaking, if you agree or disagree doesn’t matter, your involvement does.   

Giordano Bruno when he spoke of magical bonds in his to little read treatise about ‘magical bonds’, he was emphasizing exactly the energy between points and its quality – as well as its polarity – to cause something to happen. It is about the quality of the energy invested in a thing and not the opinions that directs the energy. To cut to the chase, if you involve yourself in something you are a part of it, and the bond is fed by your direction and energy, not the quality of your opinions. Opinions do not hold any quality as such, they express convictions from within a personal world of experience, secret and hidden for all but the one that holds this world under its skin (and often for the one who possess this intimate world as well).

It is all about ‘feeding’ a current. Let us speak of ‘the cause’. The cause can be whatever is considered important in a society, it really doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is that it caught your interest and was judged worthy of energetic investment. It always starts with an act and the opinions and interpretations colouring the act, giving the act direction and purpose, often different from what it had as it became manifest. The quality given by the one stating the premise is not necessarily the message embedded in the premise stated, and that is fine, and even better if we become aware of this mundane magic that happens all the time.

You can never truly know the landscapes of my soul as little as I can know the towers and dark corners of your soul in the way you feel them and intend to communicate them.

When one person meets another we are in the field of mystery – and we can stay there in wonder and admiration – or we can judge and ask the debate. No matter what we do, if we do something or don’t do anything we are still a part of what we are within in the meeting with the other.

In the moment I see you and feel you and you do the same we share something, even if it was a microscopic second of a field of being, we shared something. I believe The Now happens all the time and all we can do is retrospection and retrospection is a form of contemplation and philosophical digestion of being. It is in this field we form opinions, an opinion is always rooted in a retrospective analysis, faulty or not, about an occurrence that then is chained one after the other in an attempt to make sense of what happened. But these explanations we give from our self to our self make part of a subjective world and not a shared reality, hence an opinion will always be a point of view presented on basis of some form of digestion of what has been experienced. This is very different from being in the Now.

To be in the Now is a good thing; because it invites wonder and not judgment, but even the wonder is participation, but a form of participation that generates distance and horizon. And in this a shared landscape where one world touches the other, before judgment and opinion happens, is opened up in a spirit of curious acceptance where one soul is turned towards another in interest.

The Now is difficult to stay in, because staying in the Now means to let go of making sense and shape opinions of everything that happens and just let it be. We are not so good in doing this. It is something we need to train and the best way of training this is to become aware of our reactions to what we experience.   

So in this field of becoming aware of our presence and what circuits we entertain in passing a judgment let us say you have been entertaining the beliefs of a conclave of votaries aimed towards a given ethos, doctrine and belief that you at some point feel is a lie to your soul.
At some point you decide it is in error, and what happens in this realization is that you can leave it or stay with it.

What usually happens in such equation is that the one feeling deceived will still be there feeding what is with a negative current, the energy that feeds what is from the negative pole is no different from the energy fed from the positive pole. If you exchange resentment with love or opposite doesn’t matter, what matters is the energetic intensity. It is all about direction, no matter the cause or debate, the quarrel or sodality; it is all about your investment, and not the direction of your investment. If you invest something, it is love or hatred you define yourself as a part of what you love or hate, so if you don’t want it, leave it to walk alone, so you don’t take the role of the cowherd, wicked or benign...

Illustration: Santiago Caruso


The Fools of Mercury: On initiation part V (final)

Initiation begun and broken, initiation done ineffective and initiation denied have one phenomenon in common, the rise of the Fools of Mercury. With this term I do have in mind the beginning of the arcana major of the tarot, known as the fool, as I have in mind the virtue of Mercury as a go between, bridge, linguist, falsifier and turncoat as much as his capacity of guiding the psychopomps and being the ruler of the intellect. We also know that Mercury tends to be “bad with bad and good with good” as stated by the astrologer William Lilly in his Christian Astrology. The air of the charlatans are readily available to embrace the ‘Fools of Mercury’, but before going to that direction let us take these matters step by step by step and start with an initiation being received and then broken.

Simplified we can say there are two factors that are in play; the personal and the collective. We need to address some varieties of this situation to illustrate the differences so we can arrive at the quintessence. Let us say you have been admitted to some Masonic Brotherhood. The criteria for entering is that you are a person in good standing, a good man who seeks to be better, and this intent is presented to a group of elders who will accept or deny your application. Let us say you are accepted and you take on initiation and becomes a Master Mason. After this you walk on into the Blue Lodge and at some point in your journey you decide it is enough. You generate doubts and seek answers and take your leave.

The way you leave is important, but so is the investment in the brotherhood you had until this day. For some pilgrims the realization of a different route emerging in a given journey turns into a rebellion towards what brought you to this crossroad of decision. We all heard the stories of people coming to the realization that the path they had been walking turned out to be a lie, it be Masonry, Scientology or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

And yes, I am lumping these denominations together as points on a triangle of extremes, because for the pilgrim the feeling tend to be the same no matter denomination that was falsified. The pilgrim seeks to strike down the ‘order’, ‘group’, whatever name give to the brotherhood in question because it was a misguider.


Out of Line: On initiation part IV

“if the medicine is bitter, know this bitterness holds the power of healing and when you are tempted to scapegoat don’t forget that you can always become the goat.

So there you are, you have broken with your family, your order or esteemed group of fellow seekers of whatever pursuit. You have seen your masters falling and your link severed or you have been cast out and exiled from what you held dear and vital to your life.
If you find yourself in this situation you are always left with some soul search to do – and I really mean soul search – because I have not here in mind matters of classic abuse, it be of power, position of desire, in a twain stream. I have in mind the situation itself, void for these forms of disgrace. This usually invites the feeling of another form of abuse, emotional and/or spiritual. No matter the reasons, the Now should be in focus. I am speaking of the condition where you are ‘left out’, no matter the reason and what it causes in the one that was not accepted or the one that was renegade or he or she who left for some reason. I am addressing the feeling of ‘what now’.

Whenever this feeling arises, the causes for your exile being perceived as just or not, you are automatically invited to the crossroad of choice and your first choice is if this condition is of fire or of ice. Should you entertain or should you refrain? The answer is to allow the fire to melt the ice and allow the water dripping down patiently to be your guide. Stay in the crossroad as you see doors and windows closing and highways and tracks opening. See the world spinning around you and find your center.  Don’t turn opportunity into disgrace.
Accept the crossroad and accept that what was denied or accepted by you was not of your Fate and allow yourself peace of mind, so you can reflect.

We think the human psyche is immensely intricate and obscure, but usually it is not, we are actually a quite simple organism. It is our never-ending contemplation that generate complications, because the human psyche is really a faculty that receives and gives; the qualities come after contemplation of too many variables. So yes, the psyche or soul gets complicated in this simple premise where Self awareness should be the focus.

But Self is quiet and its tongue is often the Ego and the Ego being our active social presentation will of course protect the Self from hurt. In this field we find action, to do or not to do. And it is here so many pilgrims make a million wrong choices, namely to sustain the bond with what became taboo and forbidden and in incestuous ways keeping this broken bond to pulsate.

Fine, the feeling might be one of scorn and injustice, but these feelings are a part of the defence we make so the Self can remain still and quiet as the Ego is tempted to dress swords and arrows.

But please forget this armour. Self do not need weaponry or defence. It will always be and nurture itself by the fumes of experience.

So, if you find yourself in this condition instead of overburdening yourself in defence take a step back and place yourself in the north of your crossroad and analyse in truth and openness what happened to you.

If you are the odd man, or woman, out or the one out of line that saw exile and horizons closing and are seeking a scapegoat, in this very act of pointing fingers and announcing scapegoats you are also addressing your own lack of judgment - your own lack of discernment – and most of all your intense hubris and inflated ego.

Allow me to take an example. Let’s say you received a Sur Pwen in Vodou and you want more. Let us say that your Bo Houngan and Mambo tells you it is not needed, but yet you insist on getting your Asogwe and they tell you, this will not happen here. A battle between ambition and aspiration is entertained in reflection of what you need and who you are. They might have seen you for what you really are or they can be roadblocks. They can even have been charlatans and liars. It doesn’t matter; they are still waymarks that cast all this responsibility and contemplation in the lap of the pilgrim.

We are speaking of this entire field that embraces the host, it be about the one who invites or the one who is invited. We are speaking of the one who turns into a ghost, a friendly stranger, a guest or family. Either of these categories and more so, is determined by the one finding him or herself in the crossroad. Whenever you find yourself there it announces a new end and a new beginning. It is a call not to hold on to the past with anchors, but with hooks of memory and remembrance.

Pilgrims take too hard on the exile as they take too hard on the denial. The denial of entry, it be partly or full, the exile, being temporarily or forever, still speaks the same message; it addresses your station in the Now.

It is a difficult station, the Now, and even more difficult to find the stillness of Now. But this situation is about this Now and what we do with it.

What we see is that disappointment often takes charge. Disappointment is really about failing the goal, and if you realize it or if you are told that you failed it should not make much difference. It is anyway an error that is realized. Of course the ego is in more pain being addressed its error by someone else, but in the end it doesn’t matter.

Take a step back and try to gain a perspective, there are right turns and wrong turns in the image of truth, because truth is a state, not a condition related to facts. Truth is a mystery whispered that breathes on your heart and in turn speak with the divine. It is about knowing who you are, your Fate or Wyrd, and if you know who you are you will never defile those who brought you to your station, by grace or error, you will see the waymarks they made in your track and you will be grateful as you swallow your bitterness as yet another waymark that points you towards your North.

So if you are there and are broken from your lineage, what is your Now and what is your North?

Certainly to spit in your dish and curse who brought you to where you are will effectively voice a sorcerous break with what you once were a part of. And if you do this, all you have is the Now and your Self, with an Ego trying to defend what you hope to be. A lineage broken but adored from afar will always be bound to you in unique and mysterious ways. It will always take routes of renewed inspiration, where the anchor of steel releases marvels in its uprooting.

A broken lineage always leaves you broken and it is important to realize this fact as you remake yourself. But a broken lineage can still have left virtue within you that can serve as fertilizer for your growth. The demonstration of this virtue rests in a demonstration of you being able to hold it and avoid leaking essence, Self, Ego and virtue in all directions, but rather see the crossroad as a calling of Truth.

But in the end, if what is broken or of what you break, turns hostile the goat is at play and with this I mean ‘the goat’ in all senses, but in particular if the goat you blame is the goat of guilt or, if you are the goat that should be slaughtered next weekend.  


Broken Lineages and Falling Masters; On Initiation III

"Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.  It is up to you to give [life] a meaning." 
-         J.P. Sartre

There is a great variety of initiations that we can accept and take on. It can be with an order or fraternity or it can be with a conclave or family. No matter the level of exoteric presence it still remains that we will find a form of lineage present and someone being the wielder and protector of this lineage and its legacy.

These forms of initiations are different from the initiations we encounter in established religious denominations in its collective acceptance of your willingness to partake. For instance a Catholic baptism makes you a part of the Church, and there is really no threat in being excommunicated, unless you have assumed holy office, and it is here the strand between a spiritual denomination and a religious institution meet, in the commitment.

The deeper the commitment, the greater is the investment and when the house of cards falls like broken dominos in unthinkable shitstorms, the resentment and anger is getting its fuel in expectations broken and thwarted. We see this taking effect in groups consolidating to speak against some spiritual leader or denomination in the name of the suffering inflicted upon the pilgrim. The suffering is always about realization and in this experience of realization the pilgrim can become sentimental and judgmental.

A commitment is a pledge and a promise and holds the entire idea of committing yourself to something. As a free man or woman making a willing commitment to something it is not possible to scapegoat circumstances, as free actors in our life the blame can only fall on yourself or on the other. And to approach this in more distant and objective terms the bond between Self and the Other. Because let us face it, if the bee stings your hand as you reach for the sweet dish you bought, you will blame the bee, and not the sweetness in between. Because of reaction and sentiments we always misplace whatever happens around us in relation to our idea of Self worth. This can raise the voice of the inner Critique as much as it can erect shields and walls to protect the egoistically defined Self.

No matter the ambition embedded in the modern democratic world view, you are always better Self served in pursuing what you are instead of what you want to be.  


The Soul in the Track of Stars or; On Initiation part II

“...the path is made from wrong turns and good turns, ankles broken and moss between the toes. The first one who states Need is always the one who stays – waiting - in the lost echo of its own Need. Who answers the echo can bring salvation or burdens and becomes the Master of both. The Master doesn’t need the question as much as the Pilgrim needs the answer... but it is in the approach we discover who knows their shit and those who are shit and we see who is the guide and who is the tyrant of a myriad souls....

-          NdMF: On Initiation, The Starry Cave

We are all pilgrims and seekers; every ‘master’ is defined in relation to something of a social or noetic order where the mastery is recognized in relationship to these factors. As such, ‘mastery’ is not a hierarchy of value, but one of achievement; this achievement starts with conquering the awareness of Self. In this field the cunning ones and those of kin help one another on the road towards this important realization.

In our spiritual journey we meet bridges and borders, open landscapes and closed castles and this is how it should be, because our journey is guided by our daimons that seek what is good for us. The more we accept the denial to enter from the Tyler at the Door we are made free to not pursue the cul-de-sac of lost time. Still, some pilgrims insist in knocking on closed doors and trying to bribe doorkeepers. What happens in these instances, when resistance is not presented as a challenge, but as a closed door, is that the pilgrim has been charmed and intoxicated by sentiments and aesthetics. If we add to this the ultimate aim of any journey often being to find kin (no matter how deep in the layers of the journey this wish is seated), the pilgrim can enter an impasse. This impasse is often experienced as a denial of a calling and is naturally experienced as radical, a radical denial of a genuine calling.

So, let us have a closer look at this impasse. Let us say you are approaching an order or fraternity, a witchcraft family or a lodge of some sort and the reason for your approach is that you ‘feel’ a calling. That is fine, if it was about ‘the feeling’. Unfortunately, in a world that have adopted a democratic model as the blood of a society this feeling also comes with some ambition and expectation of acceptance, because in a democratic world whatever I want to do I can theoretically do.


On Initiation

We all try to make sense of the world. Often we find that the world have no other sense than our own. We perceive the world like this because our reference as an actor in the world is unavoidably a self reference. George Kelly in 1955 in his article about personal constructs, which came to have a huge impact on social psychology in the field we know as the theory(s) of attribution. This study ignited a lot of interesting research, but in a general we can state that what these studies found was that whenever our idea of Self is involved memory, recall and attitudes are enhanced in the affirmation of a Self that is in ongoing construction. In other words, our Self construct is something that is at the same time experienced as elastic, but is often in need of Self anchoring.

In my experience the search for spiritual, sorcerous or magical initiations are following similar rules. The pilgrim is in a phase where the Self construct is entering into a process where a need for something particular to fill the vacant field is sought. Magic and religion, politics and business can all be related to what fills this field to generate a feeling of fulfilment. It is about the experience of Self fulfilment and since the Self is always in construction we are in need of the anchors. These anchors are rudimental matters about our interests, physique, social statues and education and says little about who we really are, beside bringing attention to some preferences we assume is reflecting our Self.

This faculty of reflecting Self take the form of Ego or what we can understand as ‘I consciousness’. This faculty is doubly conditioned, from the environment the organism/being is functioning within and from the silence of Self that speaks through intuition and feelings of the ‘gut’. The Ego is often getting a bad rap, but it is not a bad faculty, it is the faculty that enables us to identify us as what we are and also the faculty that enables us to move effectively in an environment. The Ego is as such important, but can at times be misplaced in relation to Self. Since it is the Ego, the ‘I’ that is acting upon the world and experiencing the world it can also adopt ignorance of Self. Ignorance of Self is quite common for all human beings and we see this in the activity of the Ego to bind things and events to the ‘I’ in such way that Self reference is worked as a tool for solidifying our identity. So, in summary, Ego is the active, while our Self is passive. As we tend to notice more what is acting upon the world we are also more observant with the activities of the Ego that the Self, Ego is mediating.     


The Power of Stars and Herbs

When making talismans, they are in the shape of patuas, awuré or guias, precision, timing and virtue mediate the process. It can of course be as simple as calling the spirit of rue for the purpose of protection and embed the talismanic object with this virtue alone, and it will have some effect. If we relate to Bruno and his discourse on the nature of magical bonds between material magica of earth and the influence of stars and spirit we will end up with a precise construct that contain as much virtue as possible.

One example is the construction of a guia made for the sake of protecting the wearer from spirit intrusion. Before making such guia or talisman we need to assess the nature of the request. In this particular case it was both about the person being highly receptive to spiritual influences and had little control in keeping out spirits. It was like the spirits invited themselves in disregarding any invitation or denial to enter from the person in question.

Guia made for the purpose of warding of spirit intrusion 
At the first point we need to contemplate what an intrusion of spirit is and what material magica can be used to bring a halt to the intrusion, something that says ‘stop’. Iron, rue and sea salt would be natural choices for the warding off itself, but in extension of the protective element a piece of mirror, for reflective purposes and red choral for its property of warning was included. The strings of the guia were made on a Thursday in the hour of Mars, calling both of these potencies with appropriate incense and fire, bringing in the influences of protection and dominion. Not only this Thursday is a day important for the aesir Thor and Scandinavian folklore often advices us not to do any work on this day, in particular nothing that involves round things. And so, we invited in a breaking of boundaries in working with rounded beads and making a necklace. This act was not done as a provocation, but as a statement to the forces of this day to respect the bond that was made, which is why snake bones were invited in as a break in the rhythm, both in capacity of its own protective virtue, but also because of the association the aesir Thor holds with snakes in the shape of Jormudngandr.  The charge was placed in a sea shell because of its capacity of securing what is held and a bell, to ward off intrusions and a silver anchor was added and the sealed with Breu Branco (Protium heptaphyllum), a resin that holds powers of exorcism and healing. The talisman was then placed overnight in the Igba Oya (the shrine of orisa Oya) to benefit from these potencies of a warioress that sets boundaries.

A guia made for the combined purpose of healing and protection
Another case is a talisman/guia for health and protection where Tuesday and Moon hour was elected for stringing the beads. Certainly, choosing Moon can be risky, as her waxing and waning phases do have an effect on health. We choose however St. Johns day in a waning Moon, three days prior to her blackness. For protection and healing we worked with the spirit of lavender, classic repellent of poison and enemies along with rue and the magical powder called waji. Waji is a blue pigment, but it carries the virtue of fire and strength, being a good choice for inviting strength of health into the combination of material magica expelling poison and casting off poisonous animals.  

The charge was gathered in a snake head cowry given its association with protection and firmness and sealed with Breu branco and then consecrated at the feet of Exu Omolu, lord of sickness and dominion, in whose honour the yellow beads were also added.

In this way the power of all kingdoms, celestial, vegetal, mineral and animal were combined to embed in the talismanic guia as much virtue from all realms possible to give. 

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The Necklace of Power

Sacred necklaces, guias or elekes are a form of talismans with a rich and long history both as sacred decoration, as an extension of the witches ladder or cord and in the form of prayer beads, they be the Hindu mala or the Catholic rosary to Freya’s brisingamen. In Lucumi a set of elekes are given to mark the first step towards initiation where the candidate binds himself to the godparents responsible for giving the elekes. The elekes are consecrated in such way that they bring on protective potencies from orisa. Elekes can be received as a part of this commitment as it can be received due to need.

In Umbanda and Quimbanda these necklaces of power, guias, are given to mediums and practitioners to mark points of contact and others are given to invite possession, yet others to close the body for receiving spirits. It can be a tool for exorcism as much as for invocation. The guias are always consecrated and charged, and the method varies greatly, from simple herbal infusions and a prayer said upon the guia to more elaborated formats depending on the direction of the guia and what forces will be embedded within the beads.

Most common are probably guias for protection. These guias are always made in the presence of a spiritual force proper for the intent leading to a given virtue been fixed within the guia, like in any other talisman. The guia however can at times break, just like Freya’s brisingamen broke in the myth, when some form of energetic saturation occurs. In the case of a guia for protection, if it breaks, it is a sign of the guia having done its work and expelled negativity and protected the wearer.     

When we make a guia we use beads of wood, glass or plastic and natural thread to string them. Some guias hold charged pendants, it be tridents, ‘figas’, ‘patuás’, feathers, shells, bones and a host of other items depending on need and direction of the guia. The guias are always strung in a given numerical sequence in conformity with the spirit the guia will be washed in the name of. This means that a fully made guia will be washed in an herbal infusion and/or be offered Cachaça and tobacco in front of Exu to embed a certain virtue in the guia.

The process itself is done in a sacred ambient, where incense and tobacco, drinks and food are offered to the spirit so the process is at all times guided by spirit or at least done in the presence of spirit.    We are not only stringing some beads on a thread, we are choosing the thread that will bind the wish of the owner. The binding or firmeza of the guia is done by enchantment and song turning the guia into a rose garden of meaning and potency 
A guia is a necklace of power, a rosary; it is a garden of rhythmic flowers bent to your will and direction, the garland and noose of your desire in the form of a magical circle which it truly is.

To receive a guia do not mean that you receive the spirit, but rather a gift from spirit infused with a certain direction, such as protection, victory, attraction, presence of spirit and so forth. This means that a guia do not necessarily need to be made under the auspices of a given Exu or Pomba Gira or some other spirit, they can also be made as astrological talismans where stellar virtue is embedded in the charm at elected times and junctures.  

Some of our awuré or talismans also come in the shape of a guia, these talismans or patuás are charms composed of matter animal, vegetal and mineral that is bound within a tiger cowry in the presence of spirit summoned and sealed with the resin Breuzinho/Breu Branco (Protium heptaphyllum), a musky copal used in indigenous rituals for healing and exorcism.

This means, to wear a guia is like wearing a talisman, an object of power with a given direction that attracts specific influences. To wear a guia is a good thing and the possibilities nearly endless. 

You can obtain personalized guias and talismans/awuré from Sacred Alchemy Store.


On the ‘itch’ within the Witch

I believe Traditional Witchcraft is a poetic reality humming the nocturnal mysteries of Night. I believe the Witch is concerned with Solace and comfort, the same solace we find resting in the Night. I believe the Witch is a creature tied to the land whose heart is a crossroad where the fire of Need gushes forth from the fountain of the soul like a veiled spring of fiery droplets of gold and silver.

The Witch is solace, it be the solace we see as we enter the door to the other side, the solace of peace given to self and others, it be the solace coming from the nightmare given by Beautiful Ladies and Man Dragons. The Witch is solace, but he or she, is a dweller of Night. Night is mystery and the shadowy forms of night will at times be perceived as terrifying and threatening in their guises of protectors of the witches’ solace.

In Yorùbáland the concept of witchcraft is understood to be a form of power some are born with, yet it can also be inherited, that is intimately linked with the presence and absence of chaos and cataclysm. This doesn’t mean that witches, or Ajé and Òsó, the Yorùbá terms for witches are destructive forces. It means that they are by birth and nature related to forces of a chaotic and disturbing dimension and can serve as doors that open for these powers or keep them at bay. In spite of the witch-hunt in Western Africa instigated by Pentecostal denominations, the traditional view upon the presence of a witch in one’s community was not about destroying the witch, but appeasing her. This done the entire community would experience abundance because the witch at peace would be a source of solace and absence of everything chaotic.

Everywhere in the world we encounter the witch he or she is liminal and enigmatic. Its presence ignites awe, fear and mystery. Gerhild S. Williams in the preface to de Lancre’s missive about the Basque witches writes: “Witchcraft, on the other hand, constituted an aggression against all living souls and against all public order” (On the Inconstancy of Witches: xxix, 2006. Arizona State university) de Lancre himself was occupied with the ‘inconsistency of the witches’ and his entire treatise is born from a confusion of these people he tried to place in a box, a people that refused to abide to his taxonomies.

Similar ideas are found in Scandinavia concerning the Völva and the followers of Odin. They are both related to the meaning and essence of witchcraft, the Völva as a prophetess and regulator or Seidr and Odin as a gandrmadr/trollkarl or wizard. The Völva made part of the organized religious and political order, but yet in a liminal way, as a figure accepted due to social need. Her presence on a farm was always subject to hardship and chaos infecting a farm, and thus her services were called upon. If she came unannounced, as was also the case with the followers of Odin, they always came with a sense of eerie terror, even thou solace was a promise in the end of their visit to the farm. If we add to this the classic treatises about the nature of witches and their craft given by Ginzburg in his book Ecstasies, Baroja in his work The World of the Witches and the presence of the Devil in amongst the brethrens of the Horseman’s word and in Craft traditions in the Balkan and picture emerges. This picture is pained with strokes of solace on a field of night and mystery. This picture is tied up on poles of fire, need and chaos. Fire, need and chaos are almost like the gunas, or energetic pathways, of the witch speaking of chaos black, fire white and need red as blood.  

This means, the witch is a creature, a being, which is lodged within the structure of creation. Creation reveals herself in nature and Nature is as Robert Graves wrote ‘red of teeth and claw’. This does not signal any evil, but it do often defy social orders – and the more profane they are – the more they are defied. As we see in de Lancre’s treatise about the Basque witches, his frustration was caused by using a good/evil dichotomy resting on a Christian framework of mythology and ideology to make sense of the witchy customs of the peasant dwellers in the Pyreneans and he did little but giving a presentation of what confused him, which was a lot, concluding they were all in error in the practice of diabolism. These people de Lancre studied were people of Land and Need. People who realized that was what revealed under the Sun had its source ultimately in the wonders and mysteries of the Night. And so, it was always about a different form of perception. And so naturally, for people giving attention to the fluid and foggy ways of night before the orderly roads made under the Sun, they were seen as inconsistent and flickering, like the ruler of the Night, the Moon.

The witch is always someone who knows more, not necessarily by knowledge, but by the wisdom that speaks in intuition. The witch is not a creature of superstition, or of linear profane logic and science. The witch is hope and terror. It is the child of the watchers, fiery earth dressed in the enigmas of stars. The craft of the witch is always about the land and of the stars, because land is riddled with fallen stars. Stars move as earth moves and times are changing. The witch is a friend of change and change occurs when the powers of the crossroad takes hold of her soul as she remains at hedge and borders, watching, while not making part. The ethos of the Witch is amoral and therefore she will often be invited in her absence.     

The Witch is involved, but in an aloof way, because she knows when you become involved you turn into a part of the problem and it makes solace impossible. The witch is not only what is at the end of a pointed finger, as Peter Grey wrote, but she is also a memory of flux, a warning against stagnation. The witch is not found in social codes and rules, she defies them in what she or he is, and in this the Witch becomes a motion restless to behold – a memory of something forgotten – that aim to inspire us to take three steps back and allow the Devil to hold us in our fall...

Illustration by Goya