Tag Archives: voodoo

Night Offerings

Vodun F.A.Q. – What are the 7 Principles of Vodun?

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Night OfferingsThe 7 Principles of Vodun are something someone made up to keep things simple. There are many more than seven, and there is no “one true way” that is good for everyone. Much about what you should do in a given situation depends on your head, your devotional and professional egbe(s), your family including ancestors, and what is customary for your people. There are some universal rules and principles, but outside of these, it varies.

Common Rules and Principles

1. The Ori/one’s Personal Divine Essence is the most relevant Orisha in one’s pantheon.

2. The Egungun/Ancestors is the most relevant Orisha with your Ori.

3. Always run everything to do with spirits or spirituality through your Gatekeeper deity or ancestor. This protects you from intruders and impostors.

4. Don’t pollute your altar. Unless you have an exception (determined by your pantheon/culture) you don’t approach any altar or shrine while you are dirty, ill, or excreting any body fluids uncontrollably.

4a. You do not touch anyone else’s spiritual or ritual items, altar, or shrine without their express permission. If the permission cannot be gained by conventional means, divination must be done, and offerings given for it.

4b. Ritual and ceremonial items should be maintained according to the instructions appropriate to the deity. A neglected altar attracts misfortune.

5. Division is an illusion. Every atom in this Universe is sacred. Every thing or being is sacred. Personhood extends beyond humans and animate creatures.

6. There is no essential difference between good and evil in a general cosmic sense, but there is such a thing as appropriate or inappropriate or sustaining and harmful behavior for humans. It is important to be a person of Iwa Pele or good character.

7. Only those fully initiated into Ifa or an African system based in Africa may have a large Eshu shrine as a feature of their home. Others may have or build a small one. Exceptions are natural shrines left in their place or cases in the diaspora when they have been completely cut off from the African priesthoods and had to make due. Since the internet, no new cases like this exist, but there are still shrines built by those in the diaspora that are still legitimate. However, even a small stone in a bowl is sacred.

8. All bodies of water deserve protection. Do not pollute them. Do not allow others to pollute them when you can prevent it.

9. You must not litter or leave items behind that would harm the environment. Be mindful when leaving offerings to make vessels biodegradable, salvageable, or retrieve them to be cleaned and reused.

10. Be generous and compassionate to all to whom is is safe, especially those less fortunate, children, and the elderly.

11. You are not obligated to be kind to your enemies or allow them to harm you. Being a pushover or passively accepting oppression is literally against our religion. Just be intelligent about it.

There are a few more, but these are the ones I could think of that cover everybody. Even with these, the clarifications or specifics will vary though. If you have any others that you believe should be here, feel free to comment. Also comment on others’ comments to confirm whether or not this is true of your branch of ATR or diaspora practice as well.

Blessings and Ashe!

What is Four Thieves Vinegar and what is it used for?

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Four Thieves Vinegar is an infusion of lavender, sage, rosemary, and thyme in cider or wine vinegar.  It is widely used in the Voudou, Hoodoo, and Conjure in the African diaspora.  Like the Voodoo doll, its origin is European, but it has been very well adopted.  So the legend goes, four thieves during the black plague in Europe gave the recipe in exchange for their lives.  They said this is how they managed to rob plague victims without catching the disease themselves.

It is a very powerful antiseptic that can be used to heal, to purify, to bless, and to curse depending on how it is applied.  Recipes vary, and sometimes the ingredients are completely different.  So if you buy it from somewhere, and you need specific things to be in it, ask about the recipe used.

Aside of using it as an antiseptic and for root work, the non toxic recipes make an excellent salad dressing.  Just mix it with oil.

Making your own is relatively easy.  Just half fill a jar or bottle with herbs, then pour vinegar over it to fill the bottle.  Cap it tightly, and keep it in a cool, dark place for three months.  During that time, shake it vigorously every few days.  Strain out as much as you need, or strain all of it and store it.

Basic Four Thieves Vinegar

  • 1 part lavender flowers
  • 1 part sage
  • 1 part thyme
  • 1 part rosemary
  • 2 parts cider or wine vinegar

Internal Cleansing or Justice Vinegar

  • basic herbs plus:
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 30 peppercorns

Compassion Vinegar

  • 1 part lavender
  • 1 part tea roses or rose petals

Oshun’s Hot Love Vinegar

to put in your lover’s food/salad to make them more amorous

  • two handfulls tea roses or chamomile
  • two teaspoons fenugreek crushed or powdered
  • one teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • a half finger’s size ginger root
  • two heaping tablespoons of stevia
  • 1 liter of white vinegar

Psychic Protection Vinegar

Protects against psychic attacks.  Use it in the shower when you are preparing to go into an adversarial situation or a crowded place or when jealous or exploitive people may direct negative energy towards you.  It is also a great acid rinse for the hair and body.  Pour it on, let it soak in for a minute, then rinse off.

  • 1/4 cup lavender
  • 1/4 cup rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 chip dried garlic
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 liter of white or white wine vinegar

There are many kinds of vinegar infusions that can be used for many things.

What is a House?

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In the context of Vodun diaspora systems, a house is basically a community or subgroup of the community.  It may be a local community or an international collection of people united with a particular leader or style.  Some have strict hierarchies and delegations of duties, while others are more like a coven without a serious hierarchy.  Others still are the altar mates of a priest/ess who seldom or never meet each other, but by supporting a particular priest/ess or temple, support each other.

The main difference between a Vodun house and some other communities is that because of the nature of the faiths, there is a high degree of both honesty and forgiveness.  When someone makes a mistake, there is serious effort to solve the problem despite whoever’s pride, whether that person is a leader in the community or not.  The newest member or even non committed participant with no particular duty is of the same importance to the Orishas as the highest ranking one.  If they have been wronged, then it is important to make things right, and once they are right, they are right.  Period.

So members of a house may know one anothers’ greatest strengths and weaknesses, and yet still love and support them.  One of the reasons for this is that we understand that a person is not only accountable to other humans, but to the Spirits.  We have faith in the Spirits because they are not distant from us, and we have evidence of their power in our lives every day.  So when someone is doing something wrong, once they are aware that they have offended an Orisha or other Spirit, that is enough for them to want to correct their mistakes on their own.  The humans, if they are involved at all in that, are merely messengers.

The humans do not need or feel the need to punish people in their house for wrongdoing below the level of actual crimes, and sometimes not even then.  The Spirits take care of that, and they do really take care of that.

So house members have a high degree of loyalty to one another without the threat of explusion in most cases.  There are more ego driven houses, and some of them are very large, but generally, this is how a house works.  We work with Nature instead of against her, and this includes human nature.

Helping Your Root Worker to Help You

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Ceremonies and talismans work best when you respect the Spirits behind them.  Here is a guide for helping things along.

Offerings

Generally, you want your priest/ess to handle the more complicated things, but there is plenty you can do day to day to stay in reasonable awareness.  As a believer in the Vodun, you will find things in your life or at least your emotional state will improve with offerings of dressed candles and incense.  Some people do this as a daily observance, while others don’t have the time or energy to do it more than once a week.

I recommend that if you’re new at this and don’t have a specific cultural tradition around it, that you at least start to do something for Eshu on Mondays.  If you need to do more than this, he will actually show you through dreams and signs.

Opportunities

The Orishas may open a door for you, but you must walk through it.  Many of the complaints about a ceremony or spell not working are due to a person having their desires delivered to them but not taking the steps to receive the blessing.

I have seen many works for love go to waste because when the person they wanted comes to them, they chicken out.  Works for money go to waste when people get an opportunity, or are given a generous gift, they turn it down.

In general, you shouldn’t run from a blessing, but if you run from blessings you’ve specifically requested and paid to have work done about, this is a catastrophe.

One big problem is that many of us are westerners who are re-embracing a west African belief system or at least encorporating it into our lives.  Most of us are Christian, but were raised with a Eurocentric rather than African or Middle Eastern flavor.  So we have guilt about money because we don’t want to be greedy.  We hear words like “slippery slope” ring in our ears whenever we’re close to something that, in the eurocentric flavor of Christianity, might be a sin.

It is great if, due to your principles, you want to wait for marriage to have sex.  However, there is no sin in speaking up and holding hands.  If you slide down the slope, it’s not as if God doesn’t know that you are human and that we all have weaknesses.  So long as you are responsible about it, then according to the way Christianity is practice in the very home of Christianity, you’re in the clear.  It is God who joins people together, not man and his papers.

If there is a worry, it is in displeasing the force of Nature named Orunmila, also known as Natural Law and Rules of Honor.  So have no worries so long as you conduct yourself with honor.

The same goes for money and business blessings.  Not everybody has the luxury of operating  100% above board at all times, but you should honor your agreements and never forget those who helped you gain your wealth or get through a hard time.  So when the money comes to you, take it.

Timing

Vodun is about working with Nature, not against it.  So some things can move quickly while others more slowly.  Most works have been done so many times that it is well know how quickly or slowly things will move if there are no serious obstructions.  The initial readings also tell whether or not a work is allowed, or what may be in the way of its being successful.

When things take longer than expected, there could be many reasons aside of the work being ineffective.  A good priest/ess will do followup if something appears to be going wrong.  So don’t just give up and go to another without checking first.

Also, many if not most of us are active in communities of mystics.  If we don’t understand what went wrong, we will ask others who are either more experienced than us or who have a different expertise.  As an example, if the one doing the work for you is a child of  Eshu, they will have a different approach than say, a child of Oshun.  Different perspectives are helpful in getting the most consistent results because every case is different.

I hope that this helps you to get the most out of work that has been done for you.  If you have talismans or charms that you’ve put aside because you think they didn’t work, take them out and give them another look.

Vodun F.A.Q. Ridden By a Sexual Orisha

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Venus by Sis. Nicole T. Lasher An issue that comes up frequently is that a person is ridden or “possessed” by an Orisha who wants sex.  Because it is a benevolent possession, one has some control of their actions, and this may break the trance, causing the ceremony, dance, or the riding to end prematurely, which is no fun for the individual, and a bit of a killjoy for the other participants, if any.

Sometimes, it can be quite frightening for a person who is chaste in their normal life, to be overtaken by superhumanly intense feelings that they were not expecting.  Especially for those from Christian, Muslim, or Jewish backgrounds, a night of being Shango-ed can be difficult for a chaste person who is say, cisgender, female, and generally living by western societal expectations.  A night of being Oshun-ed can seem embarassing to a man who is cisgender and heterosexual, especially if he is usually very humble.

It’s not just about the sex.  It’s about the whole personality around the sexuality of Orishas or ancestors whose personalities or genetic line is still very strong and therefore still a prominent part of the Collective Consciousness of humanity.

So here’s my advice on the matter.

Be an Understanding Observer

Nobody should be made to feel embarrassed about the things they do when they are being ridden.  You should not gossip about ceremonies or really even discuss what happens during rituals with others unless it is to say something positive.

It is okay to discuss these things with other spiritual people who may learn something important or gain some understanding of Vodun from it.  It is not okay to joke or laugh about someone maliciously.  When you crack on people who are or have been ridden, you’re actually insulting the Orisha or ancestor possessing them.  So be respectful.

Have a “Trip Sitter” Attitude During Ceremonies

If you are one of the designated watchers during a ceremony, this is like being the designated driver for your friends at the bar, or the trip sitter for the otherwise intoxicated.  The Orishas don’t live by the normal rules of society, so there are things they may want to do while they have hold of a body that may not be exactly convenient for the person they’re riding.

If the Orisha is a deity of a force of nature who never had a human body, they are seldom actually sexual because their method of production or reproduction is not based on the physical body.  So if a person (or quite often group of people) is possessed with Yemaya, and they are making out with a person possessed with whoever, they’re just showing their affection, and it most likely won’t lead to anything.  They are just manifesting the water surrounding a person.

If, on the other hand, a person being ridden by Oshun is making out with someone being ridden by Shango, they were married when they were living on Earth, and will behave like a married couple if they make physical contact.  It is not a good idea to interrupt them, but in such a case, if the people have any issues with the results of the union once they are no longer being ridden, they should be made aware of what happened, and helped to cope.

One should also remember that some Orishas make very sexual gestures and are very playful, but this will not likely lead to anything irreversible happening.  Just let them do their thing.  If they tell dirty jokes or flash people, that’s just part of who they are.

Be Mindful of Age Appropriateness and Culture

Most kids in the west are not mentally prepared to see some of the things they might see in a Vodun ceremony.  For this reason, it’s probably a good idea to keep people under 16 away from ceremonies where something sexual might happen.  You might want to have special ceremonies separately, just for the kids that don’t involve being ridden.  With a few notable exceptions, most kids’ brains can’t handle it well anyway, so this is something they should be prepared for by the time they reach adulthood, but not pushed into.

Some people are never ridden, and for good reason.  So even adults should not be made to feel bad if it never happens for them.  They may have some psychological vulnerability that wouldn’t allow them to do it safely.  They may also just best serve the community as a watcher.  They could be a very nurturing person whose best role it is to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

Residual Effects

If the Orishas feel that a person needs to change their life, and would not do so under their own motivation, they may keep their hand on a person after they have been ridden.  If you feel pushed to do things you wouldn’t normally do, the solution is not to panic, but to pray.

For example, it sometimes happens that Shango may “invade” the life of a normally shy or overly humble man, and drive him to talk to more women, and be what he may think of as “rude”.  If he fights it, this may not work for him very well, but if he stays in touch with Shango, he will see the “method in his madness”.

Shango may be trying to tell him that he needs to be more manly, or that his shyness may cause him to miss the chance to meet his destined mate.  If the Orishas feel that someone is unduly miserable, especially those who started out as humans or lived through human avatars, they may act through a person to sort of “force” improvements.  The best thing to do is try to learn from it, and don’t fight Nature.

Orisha Babies

Children conceived as a result of the Orishas riding two people towards a union are special and should be considered children of those Orishas.  This does not mean that they should be spoiled or pushed into Vodun.  It should just be kept in mind so that if they show special abilities, this is normal for them.  One should take care that they are not recruited into religions that consider Vodun to be “witchcraft” in the negative way.

Regardless of how inconvenient they may seem at the time, they should not be aborted (unless medically necessary, and yes we do have grieving ceremony for this) or mistreated even before they are born.  The mother should avoid any of the taboos of the Orisha she was ridden by during the child’s conception.  For instance, if she was ridden by Oya at the time, she should not use any palm oil or smoke, or stand too close to people who are smoking or using incense.  She should also wear amulets or talismans in the Oya style, or wear or carry something purple, dark red, or the nine colors (rainbow + black and white or opalescent).

If she was being ridden by Oshun, she should wear yellow and avoid ever putting her head down in shame or embarassment.  She must behave proudly and try to get her way, and take special care of herself.  Others should assist her in this and try to keep her from getting dirty or being inconvenienced or uncomfortable.

It is even more auspicious for the father to live in awareness of the Orisha he was being ridden by at the time of conception.  Though it is good if the mother does, it is very important for the father to as well.  If the mother is slacking off or breaks a taboo because women who are pregnant sometimes get emotional or depressed, the father remaining steady will make things run smoothly despite her frazzledness.

When the child is born, he or she should be dressed in the colors of their parent Orishas for at least one year.  They should use natural cloth diapers or the parents should be excretion aware.  They should be breastfed if it is at all possible, for at least six months.  If the mother cannot, then someone who is a child of the mother Orisha should wet nurse if possible.

If the mother dies in childbirth or dies or leaves at any time during the child’s life, a child of the mother Orisha should step in as the godmother.  Same with the father.  If the father dies or leaves, a child of the father Orisha should step in.