I started to write an article about yet another Fortean writer trying to drum up some business by offering some sensationalist tidbits related to a past book. I understand that these folks are trying to make a living and that self-promotion is the name of that game but, honestly, I get a little tired of reading and hearing re-hashed material from people who promote themselves as genuine field researchers. If these writers are really spending as much time in the field as they say they are, then why am I hearing the same stories from them? Methinks that, with some of the writers in this field, it is time to put away the computer and go out to find some new witnesses and explore some new places.
But enough about that little pet peeve. There are plenty of writers in this field who are out looking at new things. What I really wanted to do today is give my readers a little update on my ongoing spiritual quest.
A little background: about two years ago, I had a peculiar experience of a morning while hovering in that place between waking and sleeping. During this experience, a spirit appeared to me, unbidden and unexplained, cloaked in fire and smoke and asked me one question – what do you really want? I was a little taken aback. My life is reasonably stable and it was at that time but that single question set me thinking about what I really wanted and I discovered that I was profoundly dis-satisfied with my spiritual life.
So, as I have been writing this blog for you, over the past couple of years, I have also been going through the experience of being stripped down to the core essence of my belief system. My recent trip to Japan was a tipping point. During that trip, I experienced a culture where the spirits of the ancestors and of the land are an intimate part of people’s lives and, even though some of the younger generation seems to be losing that, I still found enough of that veneration to really have a strong effect on me. I noted the reverence with which the trees and plants were tended at the grave site for the 47 Loyal Samurai of Ako and contrasted that with how such a site would have been ‘maintained’ here. I came back from Japan with a strong desire to serve and revere the spirits as the Japanese did.
I started with the spirits that I know are always with me – the ancestors – and began a simple ritual of inviting my ancestors, of blood and spirit, into my life, of making a small offering to them and of asking for their protection and guidance as I sought my place in the world of spirit. I firmly believe that this guidance has been subtly forthcoming, not in dazzling revelation but more as a quiet ‘push’ every now and then to look into something.
A while back, when doing some research on Vodou (Voodoo to some), I had an opportunity to chat by email with Mambo Vye Zo Komande La Menfo, an American who has immersed herself in Vodou and has actually been initiated to the highest level of their priesthood. As I considered how to establish an even better relationship with the ancestors and what my next steps might be, I got one of those gentle pushes to re-contact her and, long story short, I ended up in one of the Sosyete Du Marche’s Four Circles classes on the Ancestors and the basics of Vodou practice.
I am not convinced that Vodou is a path for me but the spirits have certainly been using this opportunity to ring my bell. Recently, as I was reading Mambo’s book, Serving the Spirits , I was stuck by her words in the Basic Theology section:
The idea here is that you don’t go looking for spirits – you already have plenty of your own to work with. To adopt a spirit because you like them is to insult those who choose to be here with you. And that adopted one may not care about you at best or, at worst, turn and do something you won’t appreciate. These (the Lwa of Vodou) are not forgotten and remembered energies. They are sentient beings, alive and vibrant. Let’s not insult them by treating them as party favors, to be picked up one day and discarded the next as we flit from path to path. Commit to learning about and from them, and they will return the gift tenfold. Ignore them at your peril, for they will turn their back and deal with you accordingly . . .
Vodou actually teaches that we are born with a constellation of spirits that are willing and able to work with us, beginning with the Met Tet (somewhat analogous to a guardian angel) and the spirits that are associated with that spirit as well as the innumerable ancestral spirits that are a part of our blood line. Our job, as human beings, is to serve those spirits, that is, to develop a relationship with them through a process of offering and prayer (which is, as likely as not, done with song and dance).
I find this idea strangely compelling. I have an intuitive agreement that there are those spirits who are attached to me and, frankly, I have done a poor job of serving them to this point. I hope to remedy that deficiency as I go along and learn more about the spirits that walk with me. It will be an adventure and I will share my discoveries with you as I go along.