2013: it’s been a year of old and new, ancestors and internet, and from where I sit, it’s up, up and away from here. This year my godchildren and I performed the first ever Zombie Voodoo Silent Rave for the ancestors. Now this sounds odd, and it was, but the ancestors and the living love a good party. It’s so hard to get everyone on the same ritual page at a large Pagan festival, and while my godkids and I are used to ritual, many of the participants have never seen or experienced a Voodoo ritual for themselves. And everyone is always doing their own thing at a ritual anyway, so why shouldn’t it be a silent rave, with everyone on their own wavelength. We started things off right with a Michael Jackson”Thriller” flash mob and proceeded with Haitian Kreyol chants for the ancestors and it was good. We had a ritual fire and sound synched led lights on the portable palm tree. This is how we roll, it’s the way we live. The way we worship has met the new world and there is no turning back. In Voodoo and Haitian Vodou we have a deity for technology and communication known as Simbi. This spirit is the snake, lightning fast, and ever purposeful. Simbi gets us where we are going and while the path we led in 2013 may have been twisted at times, we know we are headed in the right direction.
2013 saw the launch of my new blog Voodoo Universe which you are reading now. This isn’t my first online foray, we started Branwen’s Pantry, which was the product site for my newsletter Oshun, almost two decades ago, so i guess that makes us dinosaurs in cyberspace. I’d like to say I’ve seen the internet hucksters come and go, but mainly I have just seen them stay. Religion, and Paganism has become even more about hype and stereotype and less about honest understanding and compassion. When I started writing about Voodoo all those years ago, as many of you remember, our desire was to provide “respectful and accurate” information about Afro-Diasporan religions. That is still my mission today, yet for everyone who comes with an open mind and a open heart, there are still haters and that makes me sad. The blog attacks, Chango aside, haven’t been as rough as I thought, but it’s early days yet. I did manage to offend a Satanist, and anger Youtube, but obviously the devils need their due, and this Voodoo priestess is ready. So I’m proud of the lift off of the Voodoo Universe, it’s all up from here. I’m excited and honored to reach out in this new way and who knows what my hand will touch.
2013 saw the passing of many a soul into the realm of the ancestors. The Global African and African-American community large and small will feel the transition with the passing of great men like Nelson Mandela, Julius L. Chambers, and Chinua Achebe. The music world, in this realm anyway, is a little smaller without Lou Reed and Richie Havens. Who I personally believe should both have Voodoo Veves made for them asap. In my religious traditions of Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, and Santo/ Lucumi there is a strong belief that those who have passed live on energetically, not just in our memories but with guidance and support to the living. May we all be open to all of the wisdom this year has had to offer us in the days or daze, weeks, and months to come.
Where Do We Go From Here?
2013 was the year of my string theory Mardi Gras costume. I wanted to illustrate both the concept that everything is connected, “Everything is everything,” as Lauren Hill is want to sing, and the idea that the spaces we don’t see are just as vital. Tomorrow, like much of the Voodoo Universe is unknown until we get there. The spaces are unrealized potential, we will take the proper steps to fill them artfully with whatever the universe has in store. Here in my universe I hope to share more with you: more rituals, more keys to unlock the wisdom of the ancestors, more sacred recipes (some from my upcoming cookbook), more real voodoo, in all its weird wondrousness.