Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Power of Prayer

Discipline is the highest form of devotion.
Prayer is one of the most powerful spiritual tools at your disposal. It has the ability to calm the emotions, focus the mind, and open doors that can lead to immense spiritual growth. The proper utilization of prayer can not only improve your life, but it may also add an enriching layer of devotion to your spiritual practices. When you pray with an open heart and mind, you are creating the perfect medium for manifestation of your spirits to enter into your life and create opportunities for positive change. 

There is more to prayer than simply folding your hands and speaking to the empty air. You will find at the core of all spiritual belief systems that there is a structure and discipline that outlines how to pray in an effective manner. Applying yourself to fifteen minutes of prayer and meditation daily will not only alleviate stress in your life, but also increase the influence of your magical practices and strengthen the bonds and relationships you have with your ancestors and spirits.

The opening of your prayer session will set the tone and also alert your spirits that you wish to honor them. Christians may wish to use the sign of the cross, while the mystic and magician may wish to use the Kabbalistic cross:

Stand upright and face east, touch your forefinger and middle finger of your right had to your forehead and say, “ATOH.”
Draw your fingers down to your sex and say, “Malkuth.”
Touch your right shoulder and say, “ve Geburah.”
Touch your left shoulder and say, “ve Gedulah.”
Fold your hands in front of your chest in a prayer position and say, “le Olahm, Amen”
The phrase “Atoh Malkuth ve Geburah ve Gedulah le Olahm, Amen,” translates to, “Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory, Forever; Amen.”
You should feel a sense of calmness within yourself, as well as, a sense of equilibrium in your prayer space. Now, you will wish to seat yourself comfortably and relax your whole body. Allow your thoughts and worries to gradually slip away. Don’t worry if you don’t feel completely relaxed during your first few attempts, in time it will become easy to sink into your chair and become relaxed in moments.

The next step in your preparations is an exercise known as The Middle Pillar Ritual. This short ritual calls divine light into your whole being utilizing Hebrew names of power.

Above the crown of your head visualize a white sphere of light.
Say or vibrate the name: "Eh-Heh-Yeh"
See the light descend to a sphere at nape of your neck.
Say or vibrate the name: "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh El-O-Heem"
See the light descend to a sphere in your solar plexus.
Say or vibrate the name: "Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh El-O-Ah Veh Da-Ath"
See the light descend to a sphere in your sex area.
Say or vibrate the name: "Sha-Da-Ee El Sha-Ee"
See the light descend to a sphere in below your feet.
Say or vibrate the name: "Ado-Nayee Ha A-retz"
At this point you should feel full of power and at the same time a great sense of inner peace. The time has come to offer your libations and incense to your spiritual court. You may wish to do so by performing the ancestor ceremony, or by lighting your incense and pouring a few drops of water on the ground for you court saying, “I give you libation and I sweeten the air for you.”

It is always best to open your prayers with a short confession. Confession does not mean recalling the guilt of “sins,” but rather the unburdening of the mind and spirit of the knowledge of your actions that may have been unjust to yourself or others. As we each have our own moral and ethical guidelines it is impossible to address what is right or wrong in a general sense, however, whatever brings you a sense of grief or guilt when you recall it should be brought up to your spirits in an honest and direct manner. You will find that your ancestors and spirits will not judge you, but in fact, love you and forgive you for expressing such a great level of humility. The sense of your burdens being lifted from your heart is a sign of their forgiveness for the errors of your thoughts and actions. Also, you will find that when you can forgive yourself, it becomes easily to let go of the wrong doings of others and be able to move forward in your life.

Freed from the anguish of guilt you may move forward with prayers of thanksgiving. Your ancestors and spiritual court are always at work for you in ways you may not have realized. Every stroke of good luck, every coincidence, and every blessing you have received comes through the actions of your spiritual court. For these reasons you should immediately express gratitude and appreciation. How many times have you seen your life appear to go off course, but a sudden change of luck brought your day back on track? You might have caught a nail in your tire and you think you are going to be stuck, suddenly a stranger pulls up and helps you change the tire and get on your way. Such is the influence of your spiritual court in your life, and not only should they be thanked for the blessings they have given you but also the blessings to come.

With your gratitude expressed earnestly to your spirits, you may now wish to spend some time making some requests for help in your life. Perhaps you need some extra income so that you can get caught up with your debts. Maybe you would like to bring some real love in your life from someone that appreciates you. Or you may simply like some extra luck in your day to day transgressions. Whatever it may be, you should be unafraid to ask for assistance. Remember, you are not asking for help from strangers, you are addressing the powers of your own blood and being, your spiritual court gains life through your prayers and actions and they want you to be happy! Your experience is a shared experience with them, and they do not wish for you to suffer. Speak earnestly and directly with them and express yourself with a sense of honesty in your desires, they will listen and they will seek to help you.

Finally, we reach the most important part of your session, and for some this may be the most difficult because it requires you to listen. Listen to the almost silent voices of your ancestors, they are speaking to you. They are offering their advice to your needs, and they may also be expressing their needs to you. Perhaps your great grandfather would like some Chivas poured for him, or maybe your great great aunt would like some lilies on the altar. Whatever it may be, it is up to you to interpret the messages being given and execute them effectively.

It’s important to note that you are not expected to give what you cannot afford, if money is tight then you should obligate them to provide for you. There is no shame in asking your ancestors to bring some extra income in exchange for offerings. In fact, that should be the foundation of building a balanced relationship with any and all spirits. You might be surprised how quickly things can manifest for you with the proper motivation.

Prayer creates a medium for inner peace.
Once you feel that they have expressed themselves fully, you may now close your session. Be sure to politely thank your spirits for their time and for all that they do for is all that is necessary to end your prayers. I like to conclude my prayers with this simple phrase, “Go in peace, let there be peace between us, and please come quickly when I call upon you again.”

The prayers now closed you may wish to perform the Kabbalistic cross again to balance and harmonize your energies. You may now go about your business with the full knowledge of their presence of your spirits in your life. Day by day, as you become more disciplined in your devotions you will notice that new paths in your life will become open and you will begin to develop a great appreciation for your life and all of its blessings.

For an excellent guide to prayer and devotion I recommend TheBook of Prayer by Jean Kent.

Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh Adonai Sabaoth

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Secret World of Dreams

When some think of spiritual communication they often imagine disembodied voices, apparitions, or eerie omens manifesting. Very few consider that spiritual communication happens every night while they sleep. The onslaught of images, symbols, and emotions that occur during dreaming is the preferred language of spirits to relay their messages and intentions to the dreamer. Even the lack of dreams is a message that the dreamer has something that may be blocking or a disharmony within their spirit court.

Much of the communication from the Lwa that occurs in Vodou manifests in dreams. Some dreams may be cryptic and symbolic, while at other times the spirits may simply show themselves and say exactly what they want you to know. It can be a confusing experience for new comers to Vodou when powerful dream images begin to manifest at night, some even find it disruptive. 

I can personally recall a powerful dream that set me on the path to Vodou during my time practicing ceremonial magic. During that time in my life I knew I was reaching a new level in my practices yet I was unsure where it was leading me. I remembered the ancestor ceremony given to me by a houngan years earlier and decided to give it a try and see if I could gain insight into my spirituality. What follows is a transcription of the dream that occurred that night:

I was walking down a hallway talking about work with a Haitian man I believed to be a co-worker. He tells me that there is an important company party happening and that I shouldn't miss it. I walk with him down this long alleyway that opens up to a small courtyard packed with people in dusty suits and tattered tuxedos.

In the courtyard there is a long well-made wooden table with lots of food on silver platters. Silver candelabras have black tapper candles grouped in threes around a roast and turkey. The food smelled very appetizing, but I knew it was not for me.

I found a seat next to an old man with a cane wearing a straw hat. He smiled warmly revealing with yellowing teeth and friendly eyes were deeply set in his worn face. I noticed he wasn't wearing any shoes as he casually picked up a guitar as if to play it saying, "I hope you like the show young man."

I turned my attention towards two men standing next to each other holding hands. I noticed they were identical save that one had dreadlocks while the other had neat hair. A narrator spoke in Creole and English telling the strange story of the twins: "Once upon a time there were two brothers identical in every way. All was in harmony and they lived in a garden of bliss. One day, they decided that the garden would be bigger if they divided it in two, and so they drew a line in the sand. Still unsatisfied with halving the garden they divided into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually the pieces were so small that they could no stand on one piece without standing on 2 others. They began to quarrel over the pieces and in their quarreling the slew each other. Mama sad for her children turned one brother into the earth and the other into the sky."

I turned and looked at the narrator he was a large black man with a ghastly pale face, drinking heavily, and wearing a tattered tuxedo and an old top hat. He puffed on a thick cigar and grinned at me. "What does this mean? I don't know 'tis a mys'try!" He giggled and laughed and his whole body shook.

The old man in the hat began to play some strange music and a low steady drum beat pervaded the party. A strong sexual feeling began to ooze through the crowd as laughter and dancing ensued. Straight ahead from me and there was a very sexy white woman with long thick red hair wearing purple lingerie. I watched as she gyrated her pelvis at me in a slow steady motion. Her eyes locked with mine and I fell into a trance, the drums got louder and strange rhythmic laughter filled my ears. Her crimson hair and lips were aflame, and her emerald eyes, like pools of fire, burned deep down into my soul. There was nothing beside her, and as the light began to fade and all I could see were her eyes.

Not every dream has such direct message, more often than not, they are obscure and vague leaving only remembrances of emotions and ideas. Part of the training in becoming a houngan is learning how to interpret these messages. It is not uncommon to spend long hours with your superior discussing the details of your dreams in order to understand what the spirits are attempting to communicate.

Sometimes, your personal spirits will utilize dreams to make special requests for what they would like for their offerings. This is most common for people that are not fully developed or lack the ability to hear their spirits clearly. It is often said that if you fail to listen while you are awake the spirits will tell you in your sleep. I have had numerous incidents where spirits have manifested in dreams and told me what they wanted. Here is a great example:

It’s the old west and I’m a bartender in a saloon, across from me is a man dressed like an undertaker. He is extremely pale and dressed all in black. With a grim expression he leans over the bar and tells me that he is thirsty. When I ask him what his poison is, he reaches inside his coat and produces a bottle of Red Stripe beer. I turn to grab a bottle of beer and I notice all the bottles behind the bar are Red Stripe bottles.

I made it a point to go out and buy Red Stripe beer for the spirit the following day, and coincidentally, a house brother gave me a call. I told him about the dream with the odd request and he paused thoughtfully and said, “That’s really funny because I didn’t have liquor to offer the spirit the other day so I gave him one of my Red Stripes and he seemed to really enjoy it.”

As the previous examples have shown there is a great deal of knowledge that can be acquired through the discipline of observing your dreams. If you would like to expand your practices it is recommended that along with a glass of water for your spirits you also keep a dream journal on your nightstand with a working pen nearby. When you wake from any dream you should immediately write down everything you remember no matter how vague or brief. Over time your journal will become voluminous, filled with strange visions and revelations. Eventually, even the most horrifying nightmares will be found to contain valuable information about yourself and your spirituality.

Sweet dreams.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ancestral Veneration

Ancestral Veneration: Honor and Respect

I am often asked, “Why do I need to honor my ancestors?”

The absolute foundation of your spirituality is your ancestry. They are the roots of the tree from which you have blossomed forth into this world. Within your veins flows the power of gained through the hardships your ancestors endured in life. Generation after generation toiling in hopes that their futures through their children may be rich and strong. The holiest of blood sacrifices made in your name came from the blood, sweat, and tears of their struggles. They are the allies that you may not have realized that you have always had, vigilant and ever watching protecting the blood that sustains their life.

Without you, your ancestors will cease to exist; likewise, without their positive influences all that you do will be for naught. To deny your ancestors would be to put yourself in opposition with not only the universe, but also the blood that flows through your veins. You are the vessel by which they are able to manifest in this world, and through you they are able to experience life. However small you may find your position in the world, to them, you are beyond scope and they are intimately involved in every aspect of your life. They become filled with pride at every small triumph and are ready to provide solace when life brings short-comings.

It is for all this and more that time should be dedicate to the honor and veneration of your ancestors. Their honor and respect is spiritual nourishment for your soul and the strength of your character. In the same way that you are sustained by food, your spirituality is sustained by proper care and appreciation of your ancestors. The most potent form of spiritual development you will experience will be through the veneration of your ancestors. As they elevate through your work and sacrifices to them, so will your mind elevate and open to their positive and restorative influence. They will show their appreciation with you by helping to shape your life with opportunities and as they heal so shall you.

When you begin to serve your ancestors you should begin with simple offerings of light and water. The offering of light is to bring forth illumination of not only the darkness that they dwell in, but also to bring light into the depths of your mind. Water is important as it evokes many symbols and connects you to your ancestors in many ways. The act of offering water to a guest in your home is not only to bring them something to drink, but also allowing your guest to cleanse and refresh themselves of their toil. It is also the medium by which they communicate, sleeping with a glass of water near your head will create a medium by which they can deliver messages to you in your dreams. Below is a simple yet powerful ceremony you can perform every Saturday to enhance your connection with your ancestors:

You will need: A white saucer or a white cloth placed on your nightstand or near your head where you sleep, a tea candle, and a glass of water.
Face east holding the lit tea candle and water in your hands and say, “Spirits of my family, father’s side and mother’s side, love honor respect.”
Pour a drop of water on the ground and bow by slightly lowering your knees without lowering your head. Turn right until you are facing west and say, “Spirits of my family, father’s side mother’s side, love honor respect.”
Pour a drop of water on the ground and bow again. Turn left until you are facing north and say, “Spirits of my family, father’s side mother’s side, love honor respect.”
Pour a drop of water on the ground and bow again. Turn right until you are facing south and say, “Spirits of my family, father’s side mother’s side, love honor respect.”
Pour a drop of water on the ground and bow. Take the water and candle and place them on the white cloth or saucer and go to sleep. If you are uncomfortable with having a candle burning in your sleep you may snuff it with a candle snuffer, but do not blow it out.

If you are seeking further information on proper service to your ancestors, I offer private consultations.