Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Dance of Oya

The Dance of Oya
Acrylic on Canvas Board
11" x 17"

Beautiful, fearsome Oya.
She stands between light and darkness.
Her skin is the color of the blackest night.
She raises her arms heavenward,
Stirring up the winds and summoning forth the storm,
Her face blank and emotionless,
her mouth wide open, uttering a silent cry,
her legs are twisted as if in ecstasy.
Death lays upon where she walks.

Moddu pue Oya. Hekua hey Yansa!

Basbasan Nawa!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Morning Offering

This morning I invited my landlady's house-cleaner in for some coffee. But after taking a glance around my apartment she politely declined and smiling shyly, took nervous steps backwards away from the door.

I wonder why. The flowers are so pretty.

Basbasan Nawa!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Crystal Workshop with the Crystal Goddess

I must admit that I'm not really into crystals; but still I consider myself very lucky to have attended this private workshop conducted by the crystal queen herself, Riza Regis. Her books are actually among the first literatures that I read on the subject of magic, along with Tony Perez's, who incidentally came along with us to participate in the workshop as well.

The activities were not only fun to do but will also prove very handy. My favorite must be the one where we express different aspects of ourselves through dancing. I was a bit shy at first but after a while I just let it all go and went with the flow. The skrying and channelling sessions were interesting too, and in fact I came up with a very curious-looking artifact after tapping into the ether with the freebie crystal pyramid.

Advanced Crystal Workshop and Power Movement class

Riza Regis and Tony Perez

Isis Altar, in Riza's crystal room

A beautiful triple goddess altar chest

We were given a set of gemstones and a crystal pyramid (seen
here sitting atop my Bathala pentacle)
An autographed book from the author

Maferefun Orunmila!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Hex on You!

The tiger has come, and I shall face the ferocity of the tiger's year with the strength and boldness of the eagle.

A goat like me is basically tiger-food, so the Chinese horoscopes say that the first few months will be tough. The recommended feng shui was too darn expensive however, so I had to resort to some good ol' American magic from the other side of the world and counter the hex with a hex.

Hex signs are not only magical but they also add color to a place, which my drab, ancient-looking, dust-bunny laden room sorely needs right now. Hexcraft is associated with the Pow-Wow or Hexerei tradition of magic of the Northeastern United States. This oral tradition was limited to a small, isolated community called the Pennsylvania Dutch people [1], but it was popularized fairly recently around the world by famed Neo-Pagan author, Jenine Trayer, also known as Silver Ravenwolf [2]. Pow-Wow is similar to the Afro-American magical tradition of Hoodoo, which is more popular in the Southeastern U.S., in that it uses elements from the Bible and the 6th and 7th Books of Moses. But while the magic of Hoodoo focuses on the Psalms and veneration of Catholic saints, the key elements of Pow-Wow magic comes from yet another book: "Pow-Wow, or the Long Lost Friend" by John George Hoffman.

Rummaging through the internet I found a fairly easy-to-copy design of the traditional double-eagle hex sign. According to my source, the two eagles stand for strength and courage, the heart for love, and the three tulips for faith, hope and charity. Just what I need for the coming year.

This wooden disk was painted with a thin layer of 
white acrylic paint for drawing and using a compass, 
the center of the circle can then be easily marked. 
I drew a grid so that both sides would be 
geometrically proportional to each other.

Due to the simplicity of the designs, the "flat" painting style and 
the minimal palette of colors, anyone with an ounce of painting skill 
can make a basic hex sign.

Bathala Nawa!

[1] They're actually Germans, or "Deutsch" in the vernacular..
[2] Of course there are other authors who have written about Pow-Wow magic, like Scott Cunningham, but I have to admit, "Mama Silver" is the most famous of the bunch.

More Reading:
[1] Pow-Wow, or the Long Lost Friend
[2] Hex Signs:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Milk, Candle, Cross and Cradle

Little Ms. Biddy and her wand in bed,
and a cross to keep us safe from harm.
Some bread and milk to keep her fed,
and smoke and flame to keep her warm.

Paving the Way for Ms. Bridget

Today is Imbolc and the star of the season is Brighid: thrice-blessed goddess of the Sun and keeper of the sacred flames. In countless years she has reached cultures far and wide, taking many forms and known by many names: from the quaint island of Eire to the great empire of Rome, to the perilous New World and to our beloved home. She is mother of high wisdom, and watcher of home and bed, admired as Christian saint and feared as queen of the dead.

This Sabbat I revere Brighid, the Celtic triple-goddess of poetry, healing and smithcraft.

It may seem inapt for a goddess of healing to be at the same time linked with the art of smithing, a masculine profession usually associated with brawny gods as the Roman Vulcan, the Norse Weland or the Yoruban Ogoun. But then a coarse iron ore only becomes a beautiful shining sword when subjected under the forceful strike of the hammer and the blazing fire of the forge - in the same manner that our spirits become healed and our wisdom sharper after going through repeated trials of fire.

The Cross of St. Brigid

As simple as it may be, the Brigid’s cross is an artifact rich in story and meaning, and an example of an intermarriage of Pagan and Christian symbolism - just like the feast of Imbolc/Candlemas itself. The cross is most popularly attributed to St. Brigid of Kildare, an Irish Catholic nun who, as legends tell, gathered some rushes and made a cross out of them to tell the story of Jesus’ death to a dying man. St. Brigid’s biography is quite unclear as of to date, and her persona has now become almost inseparable from the Celtic goddess Brighid. As a symbol of the solar goddess, the equal arms of the cross correspond to the solstices and equinoxes of the Wheel of the Year.

Due to lack of time, for my Brighid's cross I just used paper twine, which is readily available in the gift wrapping section of department stores. I used the traditional seven strands for each of the four arms, which would equal to 28, the number of days in February, Brighid’s month. Brighid drops by for a visit on this day, so I also made her a place to stay. Screwpine (Pandan) is not only a great material for the doll and the bed, but also leaves a fragrant smell in the room as well.

Our Lady of Loreto (Oshun Ololodi), an image of the Virgin carrying the child Jesus, to represent the mystery of the presentation of Jesus at the temple. In the background is the veve (symbol) of Maman Brigitte, and a putat laut: this poisonous fruit is also called the "Heart of the Ocean" and is sacred to Yemaya, goddess of the seas and mother of Oya.

Je vous salue, Maman Brigitte. Maferefun Oya

In honor of the departed souls of Haiti, I also pray to her dark sisters in the West. It is said that Brighid reached the Caribbean islands by way of slaves and prisoners evicted from the British Isles. There she became a loa, a deity of the Vodou religion, and has been called Maman Brigitte. She eventually became far too different from her Irish lineage however: Maman Brigitte is described as an obscene, tough-talking woman who loves pepper-laced rum, a silent judge of the underworld as well as mother of the ancestral dead. Whereas the symbol of Brigid of Ireland is a cross made of grass, Maman Brigitte’s symbol is the cross of the grave, also representing the crossroads between the worlds of life and death.

Worshipped in Cuba and its neighboring countries is the orisha Oya, who is also guardian of the graves. Early African slaves were wise to hide their worship of the native deities behind the images of Catholic saints to protect their religion from Christian conquerors. The Yoruban goddess Oya, who is also lady of storms, is syncretized with the Christian figure of Our Lady of Candelaria, both of whom share their feast day with Brighid, and all of them representing fire.

Basbasan Nawa!

More Readings:

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