Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Lesson of Poor Cow and his Shadow

In the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook, I take some time to discuss the relationship between Native Americans and Africans and African Americans on New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo. On pages 15 through 18, I introduce the Mardi Gras Indians and point out that they are perhaps one of the most unique aspects of New Orleans culture, particularly during Mardi Gras and St. Joseph's Day celebrations:
With their elaborate costumes and fabulous performances, the Mardi Gras Indians' flamboyant displays cause the average onlooker to miss the important role they play in the history and shaping of New Orleans Voodoo hoodoo. Their contributions to the enduring Voodoo hoodoo tradition lies in the transmission of cultural knowledge via chants, dance and music. Their authentic African rhythms are those that are used in the rituals and celebrations of major Voodoo holidays and rituals. (Alvarado, 2011, p. 15).

For this post, I am going to depart from the Mardi Gras Indians and further discuss Native American influences and similarities with African traditions. I would like to point out the use of story-telling as a means of teaching. For those in the African-derived traditions there are the patakis. For those in Native traditions, there are the medicine stories. As medicine people we learn these stories and share them in the appropriate times. When someone comes to us for advice, sometimes it is best to not give an answer but to provide some advice - often in the form of a story - that provokes thought and introspection. That way the person is directed to look inwards and to the Ancestors for the answers rather than outwards.  

And now, let me share with you a medicine story:  

Poor Cow felt very sorry for everyone in his camp. He saw Many-Horses, who had a broken leg and he said, "Oh poor Many-Horses, how will he get through the winter with a broken leg?" Then he saw Amy White Buffalo, who could have no children and he said, "Oh poor Amy White Buffalo, what will become of her if she cannot bear children?" And so Poor Cow was sad for everyone and felt pain for them all. He was the ultimate empath and intuitive. Then one day he noticed that he had lost his Shadow. He went to the medicine chief of the camp and asked him, "Oh Great Chief, I am sad for I have lost my shadow. What shall I do?" The Great Chief said, "Poor Cow, that is very sad. Why don't you go into the sweat lodge and find your shadow?"
And that's what Poor Cow did. He went into the medicine lodge, found his shadow, and died.

Lesson: Never walk in the shadow of a sorcerer or you will die. There are many ways to die. There comes a time when you have to own your own shadow. Poor Cow lost his shadow because he was weak. He feared too much for himself and others. He couldn't own his own power let alone his own shadow. He wanted to fix others so he didn't have to focus on fixing himself. When he entered the sweat lodge, which is a symbol of sacredness, his physical self merged with his spirit and he was healed. He died to what he had always been - a weak and divided person. He emerged from the sweat lodge a new man.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Making Magic Lamps

Magick lamps are some of the easiest and effective means of creating change through supernatural means. They are one of the oldest types of works in New Orleans Voodoo and Hoodoo.

What types containers do you use for your magic lamps? The first concern is that it is fireproof and can withstand the heat that is produced by burning oil. The second concern is the nature of the it for protection? love? money? You can use a variety of different containers for burning oil and some have properties that lend themselves to the particular work you are trying to do.

Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:
* For a work of protection, use a hollowed out pineapple with the barbs intact.
* To petition Eleggua, use a coconut shell
* To petition Yemaya, use a crystal bowl or a thick shell
* Use a coffee can or tin can for general purposes
* Use a hurricane lamp for all works (common in New Orleans for obvious reasons, i.e. hurricanes, but also because they are built for heat, you can fill up the base with oils and herbs and whatever else you want to use in the spell, put on the glass top and everything is nice and safely contained)
* colorful ceramic bowls

Once you decide on the container you will use, you then need to decide what to put in the lamp. Olive oil is a very good carrier oil for magic lamps and has been used for centuries for this purpose. Following is an example of a magic lamp for petitioning the Seven African Powers.

Magick Lamp to Petition the Orishas

The creation of magick lamps in hoodoo is utilized by old tyme rootworkers because they understand the power and effectiveness of magick lamps and they know how quickly they produce results. The reason they produce quick results is because they are hotter than candles and can be mounted by the Spirits. Once you recite a Saint's novena or utter the secret words of a Spirit over the lit lamp, you draw that Spirit down onto the work.

To create a magic lamp to petition the Orishas, you will need the following ingredients:

Coffee can
Palm oil
Olive oil
Magnetic sand
Seven African Powers Oil
Parchment paper
Piece of hematite
Seven cashews or pine nuts
Purple basil
Pinch of sea salt
Orange water
7 Peppercorns
Cocoa butter
7 bay leaves
7 rosebuds
Wicking material
Mixed bouquet of flowers
Coconut cake

Write your petition on the piece of parchment paper and set in the bottom of the bowl. On top of the petition paper place a pinch of magnetic sand, seven drops of orange water and Seven African Powers Oil, a piece of hematite, seven cashews or pine nuts, a pinch of purple basil, a pinch of sea salt, seven bay leaves, a pinch of rosemary, seven rosebuds, and seven peppercorns. Drizzle some honey over these base ingredients, and then cover with equal parts palm oil and olive oil. Place a wick in the mixture.

Go to the seashore and petition Yemay√° and all the Orishas to come to your aid as you light the lamp. Next to the lamp, place a glass of water with cocoa butter, a mixed bouquet of flowers, and a coconut cake.