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Life Arts    H4'ed 9/20/15

Reclaiming OUr Inner Power and the Power of Community and Ancestory: Mami Wata's Work in Vodun

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Thy Name is Vodun!
Thy Name is Vodun!
(Image by Mami Wata)
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Could it be all religions are united at their core? As I have studied and researched the world's religions, I, alongside my wife, have had the unique and enlightening experience of interviewing a Vodun Priestess by the name of Mami Wata. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised after not ever considering to do research on Voodoo or what Mami has taught me is more properly referred to as Vodun. It really was all Merry's fault that I got into this! So, blame her!

In many ways, this prejudice against the practice spoke to the same prejudice propagated against Pagans and Witchcraft, which were spiritualties often based in Nature and also very ancestor oriented. It also, of course, speaks to our prejudice against African Americans or any non-Caucasian people. Mass media has brought only the darkest side of Vodun to light as voodoo hexes.

And what's so evil in understanding our-story, both his and hers and those who went before us? How do the genes of our ancestors affect us? How does their experience inform ours? And what is our DNA, if not a biological memory of past ancestors? Conferring with the spirits and ancestors to gain wisdom and guidance is what true African vodun, not barbarically cut off from its roots and heritage is about. Perhaps like all Nature religions, it is about grounding? Could we use that in this day and age?

In this article, I furthermore hope to get you to understand the ancient ways of identifying spells. They are not magical in the traditional sense. A Vodun Priestess does not twinkle her cute little nose like Samantha of the old television show, Bewitched. They are simply ways of enticing people to change, both on their behalf (good spells) and on the behalf of an adversary that wants control (bad spells). To understand, consider the term "spell" in relationship to the term "word".

Corporations, churches and governments throughout the world use the spell binding techniques daily. Just watch a commercial. Just listen to a "hell and brimstone" sermon. Just follow the "logic" and promises of a military recruiter. Every commercial is casting a spell that entices you to buy a product. Some buy it, some don't.

So you can't fall under the spell of an evil witch unless you are open to the spell or don't know you are being spellbound (e.g., watching television and not being aware of how you are manipulated). The memes of our culture are mass spells that get us to see and experience life in a given way. What but a major spell could get us to slave away at unfulfilling jobs just so we can buy back a living from the "company store"?

See how simple it is? No "woo-woo" to it. And you can say that it's BS. You don't have to fall prey to it. But even that, it's your inner conscious voice that's telling you its BS and thus it too is casting a spell against being spellbound! We are under the spell of our own prejudices, addictions, and habits. It's natural process. We do it every day for better and for worse.

Mami Wata has a mission to educate those interested in authentic African Vodun and to help dispel the myths associated with it. She assists folks in their own personal journey towards their service of the spirits regardless of race, creed, color, sexual orientation or gender. Mami (said "mommy") studied traditional medicine and psychology in Africa and became a priestess. She is author of the book Thy Name is Vodun.

Understanding that traditional African priests are healers as well as spiritual leaders, and aware that conventional psychology was inadequate for the African American in some cases, Mami wanted to examine that which had been lost to them as a people during the slave experience. Her goal was to re-integrate these things for the spiritual and psychological healing of African Americans. In essence, her work was in breaking the spell of the slave owners and fostering a spell that empowers people.

Perhaps in opening up these gates to African spirituality, we will see that spirituality reflected in our own? What is the Christian Logos, or Word, if not a speaking or vibrational essence that creates reality? What is a spell if not a word? "And the Word was made flesh," John 1:14. "Spell it out and be spellbound!"

Are the religions one as many say? If so, this could be for two reasons: (1) We all emerged from the womb of Mother Africa and (2) Reality is Reality and has been recognized throughout the world in all cultures. This does not mean God is some pie in the sky man or woman. It simply signifies natural processes, including processes we don't understand or negate.

It is interesting that author Paul Levy (who will soon be one of our guests) wrote a book titled Dispelling Wetiko: Breaking the Curse of Evil. Wetiko is a Native American word, indicating that evil is a kind of disease brought on by the fearful and power-hungry ego running rampant over the other, more communal aspects of human nature. I I bring this up due to the deep understanding in Vodun regarding the power of the Word. What is a curse if not a "word" that implies harm? What is a blessing if not a "word" that brings health?

Today's Wetiko epidemic has been spreading since day one of our lives through the avenues of media (e.g., television), religion (e.g., the church), education (e.g., standardized curriculums and teach to the test) and pretty much all the interactions we have with people in our modern culture. It's what we have been taught to believe. It is the 1%, the powerful Ego of "the Man", running rampant over the rest of humanity.

How is that working for us?

So this article is speaking primarily to the bad news regarding our conditioning or word (the current spell we are under). (Yes, the Word Made Flesh of the Bible's John 1:14 is right down this alley!) The good news is that we can change it.

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Burl Hall is a retired counselor who is living in a Senior Citizen Housing apartment. Burl has one book to his credit, titled "Sophia's Web: A Passionate Call to Heal our Wounded Nature." For more information, search the book on Amazon. (more...)
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