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


The Spiritual Health of the Body

The body is the home of the soul, just like the head is the home of the consciousness (orí).  We can see in the movement of someone’s body if the person is happy, sad or gentle. The body is the mask of the soul and the body is the form of our soul we give to the world. But humankind is, as Òyèkú méjì says, “changeable, as a boat on water”, in other words subject to turning tides and changes of weather. Òyèkú méjì is an Odù that speaks of death and of ending cycles as much as it speaks of Onile, the earth, or rather the embodiment of the wisdom of earth. We are all children of earth and as earth enjoys adorning herself in the beauty of multiplicity and diversity, so should we. We all have experienced, I hope, these moments when nature takes our breath away and we grow humble in its presence. It is the soul of earth radiating through her body that is taking our breath away in these moments. But we, as her children do hold the same capacity. We all are impressive beings, if we are given the condition necessary for our beautiful blossoming. Naturally, we blossom in love, in conquest and in reaching our goals. We blossom in praise and satisfaction. We are like the earth itself, desirous of beauty and magnificence. 

We all know that our joy and happiness also brings the attention of the envy ones to our life. Not only this, but there is so much in the world of a negative radiance that at times is enough to pick up a newspaper to see ones satisfaction impaired by negativity, and in this simple act we invite these destructive powers into our life. Certainly it is the soul that experiences the grievance and sorrow, but it is still the body that is the sentimental, sensual and tactile fortress that invites enemies to the throne of the soul.

In the same way that we should be interested in keeping the appearance of our house and the clothes that dresses our body nice and clean we should also be interested in keeping the soul clean. We keep our soul clean by being conscious about our attitudes and to always seek what is good, but wickedness is everywhere. If it is in the shape of mindless words and senseless arguments, the presence of enemies or any form of disappointment or regret, it still stands that wickedness abounds and it insists on stealing our attention and turn us bitter.  

By taking care of the body with spiritual remedies we can lessen, eliminate and even change these negative rays, because spiritual remedies applied to the body is like fortifying your fortress and castle In taking spiritual care of the body we will guard better who and what we invite into our castle.

As a measure of guarding our gentleness and joy spiritual baths are wonderful and even more so spiritual medicines which Ifá calls Osé Èró, which means simply a ‘soap of herbs’ or Isé Ifá, which we can call a ‘part or work of Ifá’. These are remedies made from herbs we find on earth, that are infused with prayers and songs calling upon good fortune – and this in itself will guard our happiness against the intrusion of unhappy and negative influences, no matter its shape and form. What tries to influence us affects the way we move ourselves in the world, hence spiritual remedies applied to the body will have the capacity of warding the soul off from being impaired by negativity and retain its happy state.

I think it is important for us all that we keep a weekly regime of spiritual baths, because a spiritual bath will fortify the body and purify the soul – and in this negativity is hived off - like arrows breaking as they hit the walls of a solid castle.

The most simple of all solutions are baths made from sea salt and lavender. You can upgrade this to make baths of basil, coconut water, sea salt and lavender and of course many, many other herbal solutions. Such simple recipes will have a benevolent effect in their own right, and simple herbal baths taken with intent to bringing strength to the body and purity to the soul will help us to keep our spirit high.  

You can also use soaps and baths that have already gone through a spiritual process and this is what Sacred Alchemy Store is offering in what is called Osé Èró and Isé Ifá. The use of magical soaps is strange to many, so therefore, we would like to explain the process of producing this spiritual remedy that aids us in maintaining our spiritual hygiene.

Osé Èró, the Ifá herbal soap, is made in reference to earth itself. The process of making this medicine is in itself a process of bringing honour to Onile, the owner of our planet, and partake of this gift as the Osé Èró is used, so allow us to explain how the process is and this will hopefully make the spiritual dynamic involved to be clear.

At the break of dawn we will go to the woods and at its gateway we will give offerings to Osányìn, the owner of herbs, to gain permission to collect his gifts. We will then enter and collect herbs, preferably still with its night dew on and these gifts are then brought back to be macerate in spring water and alcohol. As this is done prayers and songs are given and the water is saved to be a part of the omí èró, or magical baths. The plants macerated, infused with prayers and songs, will then go to the cauldron - and together with a few other natural ingredients that have the purpose of making the àse/power fixed – they will be turned into ashes. These ashes are then brought to the Ègbé Ifá (the Ifá temple) and mixed with Iyerosun (sacred Ifá divination powder) and prayers and songs are given upon the powder as a sequence of Odù is marked to bring yet another layer of potencies to the ashes of the plants.

This charged powder is then brought to be fused with the ose dúdu. Ose dúdu, means ‘black soap’, and is in itself a composite of ashes from plantain, cacao and other plants. This fusion is done with prayers of good fortune, a cowry symbolizing Èsù and the talismanic worth and virtue of the soap is attached and in this moment it is ready for use.

The entire process is one of humble search for good fortune that is going through an alchemical process so it can become a blessing for the one who uses it. It is a process of gaining plant virtues and the virtue of prayers and songs to affix itself in a product of earth, suitable for the celebration of the body as the home of the soul.  

I wanted to detail this process, not only because I wanted to describe what constitutes a spiritual remedy and the efforts we are making in producing products of quality, but also to highlight how spiritual hygiene also includes care for the body. A spiritual remedy like the Osé Èró is specifically design to remove obstacles of a variety of forms and as such it is also a remedy those of great sensibility of soul will have great benefits from applying as a part of one’s spiritual regime and routine.

This product is offered by Sacred Alchemy Store 

The Devil and all his Saints

A review of:

We all can appreciate the feeling of getting far more than what we bargained for – and it is the same with books. When a book arrives and you hold some expectation of its merit and find that your expectations were not only met, but that the book also exceeded your expectations, generates a state of joy. My expectation was to find a sensible translation of one of the many Books of St.Cyprian of Iberian and Brazilian heritage and this I did find – and in excellence in its own right. No matter which one of the Cyprians you set out to translate, the outcome will inevitably be one that invites fragmentation and a book disparate, because this is how these books are experienced by virtue of their nature.

The many variations of this book do speak of a constant insistence of providing a collection of magical knowledge useful for the practicing mage, and as the various collectors and authors held different ideas and interest of what would constitute useful knowledge, in the same manner we have several books with the same title, ascribed to the same author, that diverge from one another. My favourite of the Cyprians has always been the collection known as O Antigo Livro de São Cipriano: O gigante e verdadeiro Capa de Aço collected by N.A. Molina, simply because of the amount of material encountered, but it is still a book disorganized in its enormous amount of knowledge adding to the magical arsenal of the mage. I thought some years back to start a translation of this book, but the more I thought about it the more the project became unappealing, because I realized this could not only be about a translation, it also needed a form of presentation and context that I certainly could tie to Quimbanda, but that would restrict the book and its influence in many other streams of the art. In the end I didn’t manage to arrive at a point that enabled the book to become organized in a way that did it justice. There were simply too many angles going on.

Leitão has however managed to identify the proper context for the presentation of his translation. And it is quite obvious – the proper route is naturally to pursue the very nature of St. Cyprian, the Faustian sorcerer who converts to Christianity. From this premise Leitão comments in his forward his concerns about the importance of bringing to light the cultural heritage tied in with St. Cyprian and his many books in Iberia.

Leitão follows up his promise with providing this book with an astounding translation and then continues with an impressive section of commentaries that are as long as the book he translated. In this section he takes us through the beliefs of the peasant dwellers and rural witches in Iberia and the roots St. Cyprian himself as well as the content of his books in a culture still alive with the memories of the saint and the many formulas found in his books. There is a lot in this section about the sorcerous use of saints – and the Devil as God’s earthly minister flows through this part of the book in a beautiful way that gives so much context to why the books of St. Cyprian are the way they are. It is a tour de force through Iberian witchcraft that casts shadows in the footsteps of St. Cyprian and enables the torch of magic to grow brighter by each turn of the page. Certainly what Leitão describes is a form of folk-Catholicism, but it is done with such sensitivity and loyalty to the saint who has clearly been hovering over his shoulders and filling his ink with a peculiar breath and sight. 

There is so much in this book that could be commented on that it feels unfair to just comment some parts. This work is impressive in its totality. The research is impeccable, the attention to detail admirable. This is not only a book that takes the legacy of St. Cyprian further, it is also a book that will enrich our understanding of the Western heritage of magic and witchcraft – and in particular the fine, grey and at times diffuse lines between the witch and the magus-priest.

Because of this, the book will probably provoke some. Here you will find so many examples of what Andrew Chumbley called dual observance, the worship of both hands where the sorcerer hold hands with the Devil as he placate saints. In this St. Cyprian becomes an icon of the Devil himself – but forged in a very different understanding of who the Devil actually is.

But I will not pursue this thick and blood red thread further. There is simply too much to comment on in this book on so many aspects of the art. The book is quite simply a masterpiece endowed with St. Cyprian’s vitality. It is truly a Sorcerer’s treasure.  

The book can be ordered from Hadean Press here and you can read more about the book itself here.


The ‘firmeza’ of Quimbanda

Quimbanda is a cult centred on the direct and head on interaction with spirit, hence developing mediumistic skills and capability in spirit trafficking is integral and vital to working Quimbanda. Possession is a phenomenon that intrigues and also scares. After all we have all seen movies like The Exorcist and other horror thrillers giving visual spectacles to how hostile spirits can take over the human body, mind and soul in intrusive and fatal ways. But possessions do find a counterpart in the shamanic rapture as much as in the prophet whose soul is filled with angelic light that makes him or her prophetic. Possession is not only about the full given over of your material vessel to a spirit that in turn uses the faculties of the medium to engage various forms of work. Inspiration, dream and to be ‘under the influence’ are potentially valid and worthy avenues for connecting with spirit. Yet another avenue for good spirit trafficking is the communion, or what Jake Stratton-Kent calls ‘a night in with the boys’ in defining this form of spirit congress performed with the ‘goetic’ spirits.

I have received lately so many correspondences asking the same question, namely, how to attend to one’s personal Exu and Pomba Gira, that I decided to write about this here as a reference for many.

First a distinction must be made given that many Quimbandeiros will advice against establishing a tronco/a seat of power in one’s home. This prohibition is largely due to the presence of graveyard dirt and other items inside a full assentamento (spirit vessel) that can bring hostile forces to be attracted and thus generate some turbulence in the life of the practitioner. Now there are ways of defining perimeters and eliminating this factor, but it is not full assentamentos I will speak of, but rather the private cult and work with one’s personal Exu and Pomba Gira, what is more properly know as ‘firmeza’.
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