Author: Ahmadi Riverwolf

Airport Adventures or “Working Dog- Please Do Not Pet”

I figured I would post a few of the interesting adventures I’ve encountered. It’s particular story has also been published on the Cressona Paranormal page. But for all of you who have never seen it, and for those of you who have chuckled at it before. I have been told that this story is best done “live”, so if you are ever at one of our presentations on our encounters or our ways of working with the Dead, please just ask me to tell the story. If we have enough time, I’ll happily perform it…… AR

I’ve been asked if there has ever been a time that I’ve been tempted to think that “it’s all in my head”. Whenever I’ve been confronted with the thought either by another or by my own self doubt, I have my faith renewed by the little things, and sometimes the Big Things…

Airport Adventures or “Working Dog- Please Do Not Pet”

There is a time in every practitioner’s life when you get slammed in the face by the undeniable fact that This Shit Is Real. Sure I had been touched by my spirits, done healings, seen all kinds of weird things, but there was still a portion of my brain, however small, that still held an iota of “Yeah Right”. This small comforting thought that I was only pretending to be in a much bigger spiritual world than I could ever comprehend was obliterated by an unexpected airplane ride, a statue of a dog and a clueless security guard.

I was traveling from Dallas Airport to Harrisburg. I was supposed to have gone by train, but it turned out to be cheaper to fly. So there I was, with a bagful of clothes and a black canvas bag with my Villi Dog statue, Baku, cheerfully poking his head out like a chihuahua in a rich girl’s purse. I checked in my clothing bag and prepared to go through security. I was told to put the Bag with Baku in it on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector. Now, between bracelets, necklaces, ankle bracelets and the various charms in my hair, i was not surprised when it went off. Taking jewelry off and things out of my pockets was not making a bit of difference, so I was ushered through to receive a pat down.

While all this was happening, my carry on bag and Baku went through the conveyor and I saw that Baku had squirmed his way out of the bag. He was happily snuggling in the arms of a security guard and I saw a big doggy grin on his face. Suddenly, to my dismay, I see the security guard begin to twitch spasmodically. He knees were buckling and he was complaining that all the hair on his neck and e back of his arms was standing up. For those of you unfamiliar with the ATR paths of Palo, Santeria and Vodou these were the tell-tale signs of oncoming spiritual possession. The guard was probably sensitive and holding Baku probably triggered and excited the man’s spirits. The woman that was patting me down was done with me. I rushed over to the security guard, took Baku out of his arms, turned his face towards me and looked him in the eye.

“Do you trust me?” I asked.
The security guard looked at me with a groggy expression. “Yes.”
I quickly took off my hoodie, revealing my various tattoos. So picture this, please. I am here in an airport, my braids and dreds held back in a bright blue bandanna, multicolored thread weaved through them along with charms made of silver, bone and stone. Designs are inked into my shoulder and chest. I throw down my bag and rip it open, grabbing out a bottle of what we affectionately call La Bomba, some cascarilla and the wing of a snow goose. I douse the security guard’s head, muttering prayers as I continue to splash him, then I wiped him down with the wing, smeared his forehead and the back of his neck with cascarilla, then slapped him hard on the shoulders and sucked air in front of both of his ears.

Then I look at the grinning dog, now sitting on the conveyor belt, who looked genuinely pleased with the mischief he just wrought. “BAD DOG!” I say to him in my head. He simply grinned wider and thumped his tail.

I turned back to the security guard. The color had returned to his face and he was no longer twitching. He was sitting slumped in a chair. I handed him a bottle of water and he drank eagerly. “Do you feel better?”
“Yes,” he said, “thank you. Whatever that was you did.”
I nodded and put my hoodie back on. Then I put my naughty dog back in his bag and looked around to make sure I was good to get on the plane. The last thing I heard before I was on my way was the female guard who patted me down, a big black woman with a hearty laugh and a wide smile.

“GIRL!!” she called out to my retreating back, “You need to come on back to Jesus!!”

I waved, and handed in my boarding pass.

Talking “Ouija” Boards: A perspective

This is another piece that was originally done for our paranormal group, “Cressona Paranormal”.  It was also, thanks to Jim Achey, featured in the Reading Eagle in their “Bizarre Berks County” section…. AR

It has been requested of me to discuss Talking Boards and my experiences with them. Before I begin, I will say that these are MY experiences and through them, my opinions of the “Do’s and Don’ts” of using them. I am aware that there are people that use these boards with no ill effects, but I feel that being given some precautions hurts no one and helps everyone.

Talking Boards became popular as the Spiritual Movement gained momentum in the early 1900’s. Mediums were very popular, but not everyone could afford a medium so ways that the ordinary person could contact spirits and speak with them started popping up. It was at this time that the Talking Board became popular and was soon trademarked by Parker Brothers as the “Ouija Board”, “Ouija” being the combination of the words “oui” and “ja” which are the words for “yes” in French and German. Mass marketed boards and their accompanying planchets could be bought cheaply and used by every household.

Everyone has the potential to be a conduit for spirits. We all have latent psychic powers hiding somewhere in the deep recesses of our untapped brains. Using the Talking Board helps these powers come closer to the surface, allowing spirits to speak through us. We open our psychic door, inviting the proverbial Elijah to come through and eat at our table.

Sometimes this can be a wonderful experience. We feel we are talking to those that have passed and they get to tell us that they are all right and watching over us. But there are times when our experiences are not as wonderful. People are told horrible things by spirits bent on mischief out of malevolence or just plain boredom. Spirits can manifest pretending to be loved ones, famous people who have passed (I once supposedly was speaking to Jim Morrison) or even angels. And people believe them, opening up their psychic energies, their souls so to speak. They open their homes and invite them in. Now, one would not just open their door and invite in a stranger from off of the street, would you? But when you use a Talking Board without precautions, that is exactly what you do.

I’m not trying to scare you into thinking that “The Exorcist” is real. Frankly, that severe of a manifestation is rare indeed. Even the supposedly real story in the book by William Peter Blatty is different than portrayed in the movie. In the book, the entity is contacted by a toy phone. We think it was changed to a Talking Board in the movie for effect.

Your question now is probably: “What are the precautions of which you speak?”. Glad you asked. I’ll explain some of them…

DON’T USE A TALKING BOARD. It’s kind of like saying if you don’t want the countless consequences of sex, don’t have sex. And it’s as easy for me to tell everyone out there to not use a Talking Board as it is for a Health teacher to tell a bunch of preteens to abstain until marriage. And just as realistic.

For those of you that are going to do it anyway…

1. Light a white candle and say a prayer. If you are Christian, I recommend an Our Father. If you are Jewish, I’d recommend the Shema and the Kaddish. If you are another religion, I would say a prayer summoning the protection of your God and a blessing for the Dead. A prayer for your ancestors would not hurt either. The candle needs to be WHITE. Do not be lazy and substitute. The color is important. If you are going to go to the lengths to use a Talking Board, you might as well do it right.

2. Don’t use the Talking Board while drinking, using drugs or with anyone who is. These substances lowers inhibitions and opens you up to suggestion. Plus you won’t have the greatest judgement. If there is something there that is a bit mischievous, being drunk is going to tweak it and make it want to mess with you. If there is something there that is downright malevolent (or sometimes even just mischievous), being drunk can give it entrance into your body where it can possess you and it might be damn hard to make it want to leave.

3. Many have said that what happens when you use a Talking Board is all in the intent brought to it. I believe that is true. If you come to a session with the Board nervous and thinking that something horrible will happen, that is the kind of energy you will probably attract and you will have the negative experience you expect. Try to come into a session with a clear head and heart. This will provide you with a possibly wonderful experience.

4. That being said above, there is certainly no harm in taking precautions against things that might appear no matter how good your intentions may be. What many people don’t seem to grasp is that in using a Talking board, you are opening a portal. You are asking and giving permission for an entity to come through and manifest. You are most often not specific about what entity comes through. You do not know it’s name and most likely it will not be giving you it’s real one when it does come through (knowing an entity’s name gives you power over it). So you have opened a door, invited in someone you don’t know (or even a group of someone’s) don’t know it’s name to ask it to leave and have no idea on how to shut the door when and if it does leave. This does not seem to be an ideal situation, but a large percentage of Talking Board sessions end up just like this. A door remains open and entities continue to come through like uninvited party guests. This could end up costing money in the long run as you would have to call some one who could spiritually cleanse your house and you, close the door and give a stern lecture in taking precautions when using a Talking Board, or better yet not using them at all.

Possession is real. It’s not like the movies. You are probably not going to crab walk across the ceiling or projectile vomit pea soup. You will however, feel like crap. Your health might be affected, both mentally and physically. You may have crazy dreams, even nightmares. There could be physical manifestations in the form of unknown bruising or scratches.

When you use one of these boards, it’s best to use respect for the spirits present. Light your candle, say a prayer and declare your intent and invite them to speak. Have some holy water available, or positively charged crystals, blessed salt (kosher is good) or blessed oil. If someone in the party knows how to cast a sacred circle, it would be wise to do so. If someone in the party is a die hard skeptic, it might be best for them to not even be present. Spirits LOVE to play with skeptics. Same goes with anyone who is in a bad or angry mood. Spirits are attracted to that kind of energy like flies to honey.

All in all, the best thing to do is use common sense. If you’re unwell, drunk, high or skeptical, don’t use a Talking Board and for those of you that are believers, take some simple precautions. You may not alway need them, but it’s sure helpful when you do.

Respect for the Dead

I just saw on my FB page “The most haunted place in your state.” I didn’t even read it, actually. Why? Because I’ve been to many of those places and I never quite agree with the opinions of others on the quality of their “terrifying experiences”. My first thought, when hearing about a paranormal experience being particularly unpleasant to an investigator/medium/urban explorer/blunderer in the woods is this: “How did you approach this encounter?” We tend to forget (as the living often do) that the places that we have come to for an exciting time with the spooks are many times Places Where Horrible Things Have Happened. The best example I have of this are abandoned mental hospitals/insane asylums. These are places where people have suffered, THOUSANDS of people. The agony these people went through is soaked into the walls. As a visitor, you breathe it in with the crumbling dust in the air. Like a concentration camp, you have no idea where all of the bodies might have been buried over the years so any of the steps you take could be upon some individual’s only sacred ground.

Although I quip and inject humor into most of my writing, this is a sacredly serious subject. As a mental health professional, especially one who has spent time as a crisis counselor and in working with people in residential treatment, I have seen the plights of the mentally ill both in present time and in researching the sins of the past. The media has made a horror mockery of many of the stories surrounding incidents where people have died as victims of horrific abuse and torment, starved, neglected, physically restrained, electrocuted, sexually assaulted and treated as though they were less than human. Then after death, they were given little to no ceremony before being dumped in an unmarked grave in a field, their family possibly never knowing their true fate. My question is this: can you blame them for being angry and vengeful as spirits? Can you fault them for not wanting you to be there, to leave them alone. Is it understandable that these spirits might see any of the living as a threat? People coming into their space when they were living came only when they were going to hurt them, is it no wonder why as spirits they wield the only power they have to make them leave them alone?

In this instance, I’m speaking of a place local to those of us that live in the state of Pennsylvania. There is a documentary called “Suffer the Little Children” made in the mid-80’s about Pennhurst before it was closed in 1987. I personally would require anyone wanting to trespass there to watch it with me before I would take them there to go “ghost hunting”. Let them see the spirits that linger there because they feel as though they were forever forgotten. Let them gaze into those fuzzy images of hollow eyes and bare chests rising and falling like those of baby birds. Then I would ask them again how much of a thrill seeking moment this was going to be.

We ignore these people when they are living unless they commit a heinous crime and after they are dead, we mock their pain by making them into movie demons and their places of torture into entertainment venues. There are battlefields that no one can ever turn into developed land because “it’s hallowed ground, men died here fighting for their lives.” These people were fighting their own wars and these buildings were their battlefields, and yet these places of struggle are made into apartment buildings, their bones thrown into mass graves or worse, abandoned wells or midden heaps and forgotten about once again.

Is the thrill of poking around in these places getting less?

And honestly, I’m not trying to totally dissuade people from going. Many of the spirits like visitors. They get more attention paid to them now in death than they ever had in life. My emphasis is on being respectful. Know what these people have been through. Respectfully ask to come onto the property just as you would ask to come into a person’s home. Bring gifts of candy for the children and cups of coffee for the overworked, underpaid staff that tried to keep them safe and now in death feel too guilty to leave them. While you are there light candles, sing songs, anything to help these people to elevate, to get them back to the ancestors that miss them, anything that will help to chase back the darkness for a while.

Places where people have suffered should be places of pilgrimage, hallowed gardens of flowers and bones, not parking lots and college dorms.

And like places of pilgrimage, they should be visited. My issues are not with people going to these places, but in how they act toward the spirits when they get there. Shouting at them, challenging them, insulting them, daring them to touch them, make noise “prove that they are there.” When I see this behavior on certain TV shows, I want to reach through the screen and knock their teeth in. I want to write and ask them if they would do this at Auschwitz or a POW campsite. I want to ask those that express excitement at visiting these places to tell me why they are excited. If they are excited to interact and celebrate and elevate these spirits, then ok. But if they are all about “going to a scary place”, they can enjoy media sensation right in their own living room. If they want to “go talk to dead people”, I’d be asking “Why would they want to talk to you?” This goes for not only abandoned mental hospitals but battlefields, sacred native ground, sites of massacres and lynchings, hanging trees, old plantations and cemeteries.

“What are you offering the Dead out of respect? That they will appreciate? That shows that you come with good intent instead of gawking.”

Of course, as stated before, this is my opinion. people are going to do what they are going to do. This unfortunately just makes my job and that of my brethren more difficult. Those of us who feel a sacred duty to heal and elevate the Forgotten Dead are familiar with uphill battles, but those that feel that tormented spirits are entertaining are slightly more than simply sociopathic. They have put one more rock in the way of those that are suffering to find peace.

Hope this has been some food for thought. Please share this post and/or write down your opinions below. I am always up for lively debate and I know that while most people will agree with what I said, there are different extremes that encompass people’s perspectives on the issue. Just be respectful to each other.

Palo & Homosexuality— Another View

 

The subject of gays in in the Cuban ramas of Palo is a touchy subject. Discussions merely mentioning the fact that thriving gay paleros exist is to incite the most vicious of arguments and bring out such ugliness that it’s no wonder to me that it’s usually buried way underground.

But the simple fact is that they do exist. They practice. They thrive. They do readings, build ngangas, counsel people, heal the sick and bring justice to those that do wrong. We cannot ignore this, even if we wanted.

The  fact that men are the ones that do the birthing of ngangas brings a duality of the spirit into the forefront. How does a man give birth if he is not inviting the Divine Femeine within him? If he is in fact, not becoming woman? It is practiced fact that in many households that women cannot even be present when a Tata is building an nganga. But again, an nganga is birthed from another. BIRTHED, not constructed. I have always questioned: Why is it that a woman does not build an nganga? If an nganga is in fact birthed, should a woman not build it as she builds the child within her? Have the man come and “plant the seed”. Help to create the life by combining the essential elements within the cauldron and let her do the construction of the nganga as she builds the child in her womb. A man does not build the child. His job is done when the seed is planted. The woman holds the child. It draws energy, nutrients, blood nourishment and every else that it needs through her. She is the one then who births it, who gives the child it’s first sacrifice, it’s first taste of blood. She is the gateway and it is she who opens those gates to the first pathway a child ever journeys, the birth canal. She is the first crossroads this child ever visits.

But I digress, this is about gays. But the fact of the matter is, that gays are in touch with their sacred feminine. They embrace it. They are sacred in countless pre-christian religions as those that can access all genders and paths. They can See as those who view life solely through a single gender cannot. They see all paths leading from the crossroads.

When I (and my husband with me) entered into Palo, many years ago, I was taught that gays were not allowed access to Palo. I was taught that any ceremonies or initiations done when a homosexual was present were considered invalid. All ngangas built in the presence of a homosexual were “built wrong” and needed to be rebuilt “right”. That ngangas would “stop working” if a homosexual was presented in front of them and that the ancestors of the house would be “angry and turn their backs”. I heard that “the ancestors hate homosexuals because they do not have children”. “They are imbalanced, and our religion is too much for them”. I also could not help but notice the endemic homophobic comments and jokes told by the many Tatas. It occurred to me then that it was not all due to spiritual matters, but I was not at the point that I was questioning the rules yet. Over the years and further exposure to the culture in which most of Palo is immersed, I began to see where much of this thought process was coming from. If one looks back into the history of Central America, one notices that most of it was settled by the Spanish (hence Spanish being the main language of Palo). The Spaniards brought with them their religion, which was primarily Roman Catholicism. And the Spaniards, unlike the British, encouraged the conversion of their slaves to their religion. Thusly, it is logical that the descendants of those slaves (and natives) would be strongly influenced by Catholic Dogma.

Now, let me say, that I am not writing this to be disrespectful to these Elders that brought me into the religion, initiated me and taught me. I am, however, aware of the concept of “respeto” and the roles of men and women in Latino culture. Palo might have come from the Congo, but for five hundred years, it has been in Cuba and that is where it has been shaped by the Spaniards that brought the slaves and converted them to Catholicism. Palo is a religion also shaped by the will to survive above all else. It has morphed itself into a form that can both be hidden and in plain sight. It can appear both harmless and terrifying. It had to, in order to survive. So the concepts and dogma of Catholicism became part of Palo and brought with it the disempowerment of both women and homosexuals. The Congolese who survived the journey of the Middle Passage brought with them what knowledge they had about their spirituality. The spiritual leaders were usually elderly and were either killed, left behind or perished before arrival in the New World, and the survivors did not have the extensive knowledge necessary to pass on. Over the centuries, it has become unrecognizably different from its Congolese origins as the Congolese have themselves. Christianity and Islam have become entrenched and the older pre-Christian system has been mostly either warped or forgotten.

So the concept of pacts with ancestors being broken over the issue of initiating LGBTQ people due to them not being accepted by the ancestors of the house is just not true. The Ancestors don’t go back simply to the Middle Passage. They extend beyond until the beginning of life on the planet, to when the first primal being crawled out of Kalunga’s waters and breathed its first breath of air. With all of those thousands of generations, one cannot say that LGBTQ people did not exist, thrive, reproduce, pass on and then become elevated by their descendants and give their strength to the next generation.
Much of my Work is done with the Forgotten Dead, of which are Legion. I will be so bold to say that while we in Palo are supposed to be keepers of the Dead and the Ancestors, that we have also forgotten. We have forgotten to the point where we deny the very fact that these ancestors exist. When we forget, we do not elevate and so these Forgotten wander, voiceless, nameless, hungry. Is this not in itself a breaking of aa sacred oath? Do we not lessen our strength by denying them elevation? How dare we, as healers, as warriors, as Paleros pick and choose the pacts given to us by Nsambi to keep?
BUT…. Most Initiates do not ask their godparents these questions regarding the rules and tenets of the religion. It is disrespectful to question and could possibly even lead to punishment. This is what I was taught as well. But we were abandoned by our house. And by the Tata of the house that has since adopted us, we were told that we were from the house of Ill Wind. And indeed, all of us are named for a violent act of nature. But sometimes it takes a violent act of nature to cleanse and renew our beloved forest for regrowth and renewal.

Nsambi is above all. That the bakulu of the house are the deciders of who they want brought in. Out of the people brought to us, no matter what their sexuality, they have been brought to teach us, bestow us something or bless us. Some of these lessons, like those of the bakulu have been harsh, but all of them have been needed. How do we learn the things needed if we deny those Spirit has brought? As what many have said previously regarding the topic: “”How do we as flesh take it upon ourselves to flatly deny the gifts that Spirit is trying too give us?” Could that be what has been decreed? That Spirit brings a person that is needing initiation, that his ancestral line is supposed to be added to the house and that in denying that addition to the lineage is what weakens the Bakulu and ultimately has them turn their backs? Nature abhors a vacuum and will forever try to correct an imbalance. What if, instead of keeping Palo balanced and adhering to the bakulu’s wishes by not initiating LGBTQ, we are instead contributing to the imbalance by denying them their place in the natural, sacred order of things? By denying them acknowledgment as ancestors we are denying them elevation and by doing that weakening ourselves in a time when we need as much solidarity as a people and as a spiritual path as possible because Spirit knows this world is in desperate need of wisdom and healing.

I’m not asking for hundreds of years of hard won and preciously kept tradition to change overnight. I’m not demanding that houses initiate LGBTQ people. I am, however saying that they exist and that they are part of the natural order of the world that we have made oaths to protect and serve. I am saying that they have a place in the religion. I am saying they take and keep the same pacts and oaths to the Nkisi and to Nsambi as we all do. To deny this is to deny the past, to deny the Bakulu, to stand before your Muertos or Spirits or whatever you choose to call them and say “I deny you exist.”

It is long past time for us to light a candle and call these ancestors out of the water and welcome them to our table.

Nsala Malongo,
Yayi Nganga Tormenta Kalunguera

Self Care Tips for Mediums, Sensitives and Others

Originally written 4/21/13  and published on the website of “Cressona Paranormal”.   I’m doing a bit of revising  due to further experience and to reach a broader audience, but the main information remains the same…..

And now for a tidbit from Riverwolf…

This is written in order for paranormal teams and the assistants of spiritual workers to keep in mind what a Worker may need during and after an encounter or ceremony.  It’s also written as a reminder for Worker/Priests/esses to have on hand things to ground them and help them recover so that they can continue to do their calling.  I refer to mediums mostly in this post, but the word can be changed to suit any other Spirit Worker.

AR

After some intense spirit work, I figured I should post a bit on something we mediums tend to forget, Self Maintenance.

We tend to forget sometimes that what we do as mediums takes a great deal of energy, and we cannot rely on others to know when we are running low. Sometimes we cannot even rely on ourselves to know and so we must take steps to charge up  ourselves before we go to work and to take care of ourselves after a session.

1. Some think that coffee is the elixir of life, and it is a wonderful brew, but myself and my colleagues have found that water is of crucial importance. No only does being hydrated add to your level of concentration, but drinking during and after a session/investigation washes out any toxins that may have accumulated. Going without water can cause a toxic build up than can manifest in the form of headaches, migraines, body cramps, stomach aches, lethargy and general scatteredness.

2. Don’t push yourself past the point of no return. We as mediums and spirit workers can think that we can go like Energizer Bunnies until our spirits begin to slowly bring us down to earth. We need to recognize this limit, and better yet let our partners/team members know when this limit is reached. If we ignore it, we run the risk of having “the plug pulled” or begin to “run on fumes”. Any medium or spirit worker out there knows exactly what this feeling is and is nodding their head with a “been there, done that” smile. When we begin to run on fumes, then we can have a hard time bouncing back. Some of us can even fall into emotional depression or be physically ill afterward. No case is worth a medium needing to push that hard. Have a prearranged signal that everyone knows as their “The medium is getting tired” sign and let her wrap up what she is doing. If the family continues to try to talk to her, have another field member gently tell the family that the medium needs a break. Then hydrate and if you feel recharged, go on or go sit out in the car if you are completely drained. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP. This is your team and they care about you. If the team seems not to care about your welfare, you need to join another team.

(The above was written as if the Worker is part of a paranormal team.  As a rule, Workers should never work for the community alone, especially when there is a report of a possibly violent/malignant haunting.   Always go into a community home with at least an assistant unless you know the people well.)

3. Develop a “Spiritual First Aid Kit”. Again, this has been developed over years, trial and error and a dose of “damn, I wish we had -fill in the blank.” We never know exactly what we will be experiencing when we walk into a situation. We could be faced with anything from being overwhelmed by a waiting room full of frustrated spirits trying to communicate with their loved ones, to possession to being psychically attacked. We keep a bottle of “La Bomba”, in our kit, for spiritual cleaning of both ourselves and the possible client, some supplies for communicating with spirits, extra drinking water, protein (usually beef jerky or peanut butter cookies) for grounding and other things that help us. A First Aid Kit should contain anything you might think you would need to help yourself reorient and recharge. Other examples of what we have are bandanas to cover your head or clean people, ginger for nausea and pain killers for headache. If you work with another medium partner, it would of course be good to plan this pack together.

Hopefully, this little blog will give Spirit Workers ideas and reminders on taking care of themselves.  And PLEASE feel free to add your comments and suggestions and “tricks of the trade” to further ideas on how we can take care of ourselves.

Hollie Riverwolf
Medium/Spirit Worker

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