Tag: palo (Page 1 of 2)

On “Respect” in the Occult Community(ies)

Respect is a funny thing, especially in occult circles.  People crave it.  People demand it.  People give it way too freely when it isn’t owed nor deserved.

Too often people walk around feeling as if respect is something they are entitled to, that should be automatically given them.  Funny thing about that.  It takes more than titles, or pretty altars or flowery prayers written on Facebook, or who you know, or what you write.  It’s about what you do.  It’s about how you do it.  Whenever I hear someone cry about being offended, about not being granted respect, I wonder more about the person doing the bitching than who they are actually bitching at.  People who genuinely deserve respect don’t need to stomp their feet and squall like injured babies.  They work hard, for their spirits, for their magic, for their community. Work hard, and the respect comes.  Give respect (and give it the right way, to the right people), and respect will be given in return.

It’s all about the spiritual umwelt of the magus or spirit-worker.  I am not a product of my environment, the environment is a product of me.  Now granted, there are a great many things–and people–that one simply cannot control in one’s environment.  The trick here is this: how do you choose to act?  Or, how do you choose to REact?  Time is precious.  So is energy.  It’s also valuable.  The village dog will bark and lunge at the passing lion, and to his brethren he may seem absolutely fearless, and the lion cowardly for not engaging.  And in the tiny world of the village dog, the lion is a coward.  But in the world of the lion, the little dog is not worth even a passing thought.  He has cubs to protect, and hyenas to kill.  He will not waste his precious time on a skinny, flea-ridden village dog.  He is entirely above that petty nonsense.

Too many people spend so much energy worrying about respect, when they should be worrying about the spirits and the community of people they’re in service to.  They should be worrying about themselves.  Otherwise, it really makes me question what the hell their motives are in the first place.  Where do you choose to channel that energy?  Arguing over who’s wrong on social media?  Worrying over your public image and whether or not you’re being respected as the big, bad magus/shaman/spirit-worker/tata/yayi/whatever?  Then I begin to wonder when a fervent prayer on social media becomes just a string of hollow words, and a pretty altar just that–pretty, with no actual substance.

Then again, there’s always what my dad used to say: Don’t write checks with your mouth that your ass can’t cash.  Conduct yourself accordingly.  Don’t call yourself a priest if the only altar you worship at is the one you built for yourself, using whatever god or gods or spirits as props for your swollen ego.  As a Leo, I’ve always said that having an ego is a good thing, if you didn’t you’d might as well be a reptile.  However–having an ego is much like having a penis.  It’s fun to play with and stroke on occasion, but you shouldn’t force it on someone else, and there are certain times and places where you should not be taking it out and playing with it.

It’s as simple as that, really.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/29WWrph

We Are Everywhere

We are everywhere. We are in your homes, your workplaces, your churches, covens, iles and yes, your munansos. We have been beaten, robbed, stabbed, and shot. We have been snuffed, silenced and mocked. Our blood is on the walls and floors of the only safe spaces we have. We risk everything–literally everything–just to love our partners and live our truths, and we continue to do so despite the awful violence being visited upon us. Ask yourselves: is this not what warriors do?

I am a transgender queer man who is in a relationship with another man. And, I am a Palero. I am unashamed of who I am and what I am. I am strong in myself and in my ancestors. I (along with so many others like me) have fought and endured a lot to live and love my truth. Contrary to popular images of hexing, blood and violence, my elders taught me that to be a Palero is to be a healer; to minister to the living and to the dead. Now more than ever we as spirit-workers need to step up to the plate, light our fires and raise our voices. We need to be as lions roaring in the night, broadcasting our truths, amplifying the voices of the living and the dead who have been silenced by violence and prejudice, in whichever hideous form it takes (racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, etc).

Part of what makes a warrior is one’s ability to step outside of one’s comfort zone. People all too often fear what they don’t understand, and Yoda was very correct that this line of thinking only leads to violence and suffering. So much suffering could be avoided if we spent more time trying to understand one another. The tragedy in Orlando should not be further dividing us along lines of religion or gender or skin color, it should unite us. It’s so much easier to harm than it is to heal. But this is the duty that has been left us. We cannot let fear, cowardice and the actions of the broken and corrupted control us.

So yes, light candles and say prayers, but go one step further.  Take to the streets, extend a hand, be there for someone.  To all of my queer sisters and brothers: You are not alone.  You matter.  Your life has meaning and value.  Stand strong in your ancestors and spirits, keep the faith, and reach out.  And know that you are not alone, because we are everywhere.

Resources:
*Pulse Nightclub Victim’s Fund
*Trans Lifeline
*Suicide Prevention Hotline
*Crisis Text Line

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1U4Qh4S

In The Lap of My Mother

I rarely have anything serious to complain about in my life, but today was a rough day.  The hearing for my cousin’s murderer was today.  Long story short, he’ll essentially walk.  To add insult to injury, I’m sick with some sort of crud I likely picked up at work, so I’m off for a couple days (thankfully I have a massive amount of sick leave accrued).  On top of it all, my bank is late depositing my check in my account.  It’s one of ‘those’ days.  Times like this it’s easy to sit around and stew in impotent rage, mope, or feel sorry for yourself.  I think I transited all those phases today.  Then I turn on the news or look online, and it’s a long slew of political posts and bathroom bill rants and generally humans being awful to each other.  It’s hard to feel positive or upbeat.  I question my faith, and feel like the whole world has gone mad around me.  So I need to fix this somehow.  I’ve decided to tell a story.  It’s a true story, and I hope in the telling it may bring someone else who’s having a bad day a smile, or some sort of kernel of hope.  I summon up this memory when I’m feeling down, and it never ceases to bring me a smile.

First, a bit of background: I live on the east coast, just a little bit inland from the Chesapeake Bay.  The bay is like a second home to me.  I’ve been speaking to the bay since I was a small child, playing in her waters, eating her bounty.  I called her Mother, and thinking back on it, after initiating into Palo, how ironic that would all come be.  My family had a wooden boat, an Owens Cabin Cruiser, and I’d spend many weekends at the marina with my father working long hours on the boat, playing along the docks, or cruising the bay.  I’d sit at the bow of the boat with my feet dangling in the porthole, because there it felt like I was a shorebird, skimming the water.  I was both flying, and at the same time one with Her. 

One day while we were out cruising the bay, we encountered an enormous ship cruising into port.  It was a merchant freighter, one of the largest of its kind.  A floating city; each one of its propellers the size of our house (a 2-story).  To this day it was the largest machine I’d ever seen up close.  I was awestruck.  My father gradually guided our craft closer, but it was a dangerous gamble, as our little toy boat could get dragged by the wake of this great leviathan.  We drew up to the port side of the ship, and looking straight up, the hull looked like an enormous wall shooting straight up into the sky.  But at the very top of this wall I could perceive dark faces and people moving about.  This ship had come from the African continent, and who knows how long it had been since the crew had seen other human faces other than their own, after being out in the open sea for so long.  For my young self, it was like seeing people from another world.  But see….that was the magic of the Chesapeake.  That was our Mother.  She was a liminal space where people from all over the world could meet.  I remember standing up on the bow of the boat and waving and waving.  To my surprise and delight, the crew looking over the side broke into smiles and waved back. 

I wonder how I must have looked to them, perhaps like some tiny monkey clinging to the front of a little toy boat.  But I wanted more.  I thrust my tiny hand in the air, making a fist at them, then pulled it down, gesturing someone pulling on a lever.  I wanted them to blow their ship’s horn.  For awhile I gestured, until one by one they left the port side of the ship, disappearing into it’s fast depths, presumably to return to their duties.  Several minutes passed.  Alright, I recall my father saying.  Show’s over.  For a ship of that size, blowing the horn on a whim was something that wasn’t done.  My heart sank, but I understood.  My dad started the engine, and made to angle the boat back out and away from the ship.

Then it happened.

The sound slammed down on us like a hammer, vibrating throughout the bay and bellowing through the air, drowning out the sound of other boat engines, the calling of the birds, our own voices.  It made a long blast and several shorter ones.  What I recall is a feeling that I can only express as utter joy and ecstasy.  I was laughing and crying at the same time, I threw my arms wide, looking like the character Jack from that “I’m king of the world!” scene from the Titanic.  And then there they were–smiling faces, laughing, dancing and jumping up and down and waving.  I waved back.  I bounced, I cried, I shouted.  And it was there, that singular moment, where people from across the world connected.  For them to break protocol in order to bring joy to a strange kid on a boat whom they’d never met and would never see again, it was at once paradoxically such a small and yet such an immense gesture. 

To this day I’ve not forgotten their kindness or their smiling faces.  But now that I’m much older I think about this and compare it to a darker time hundreds of years ago, when Africans sailed into the Chesapeake Bay not as merchants, but as chattel.  I compare that time to what happened when I was a child, and what a strange dichotomy it is.  But it’s one that gives me hope.  I think about the magic that is the Chesapeake, and I think about how strangers from another part of the world performed an act of kindness for a kid they would only ever see in passing.  I think about it over twenty years later, and I still smile.  It’s a precious memory, one of many such gems I keep tucked away in my heart.  But it’s also a learning experience.  When I find myself becoming too bitter, I summon up that memory, and I smile.

In the lap of the great Mother Chesapeake, in that moment, we traded not in goods or human bodies but in joy and smiles.  And also, maybe perhaps, hope as well.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/24nHX72

It’s Spirit, Not Meatpuppet Politics

I’m fortunate to know quite a few folk out there who have radio shows and so on.  Usually, due to my crazy work schedule and other rhythms of the day, I tend to miss these shows live.  I’m usually playing catch-up in the 1-2 hour daily commutes to and from work, in which I’m spending long periods of time behind the wheel.  One of the shows I frequently listen to is Candelo’s Corner.  Candelo has no problem bringing up controversial topics and cultivating much-needed discussion.  In his latest show, he invited the folks from Crescent City Conjure over to discuss a variety of important and interesting topics related to conjure and Palo.  One of these was homosexuality and the role of women in Palo.  This is a topic that’s been brought up more than once both on this blog as well as on Candelo’s show.  It’s an important topic.  Deeply important.  It needs to be talked about more.  It needs to be written about more.

As a transgender man I’ve faced the slings and barbs of both misogyny,
homophobia and transphobia.  As the rights of same-sex couples come more into the spotlight, us transgender folk still have a long haul when it comes to acceptance in various places, as the latest ‘bathroom bills’ in various states have come to show.  Some people out there may denounce me, may
call me invalid, or imply (or outwardly state) that I’m not a ‘real’ man and that nowhere else would I be taken seriously.  Their words mean nothing to me, and they won’t change who I am or how I view myself. I am strong in my
ancestors, many of which were men and women who went to battle together
for a common cause.  The true measure of a warrior is not what sits on
their chest or between their legs, or who they love, but in the strength they possess and
the skill with which they wield their weapon.  Ultimately, the ones that have the problem are the ones who point their fingers.  They have no effect on me, and it would be a waste of my time to address them.  I have places to go, and Work to do.

The endpoint, what it all boils down to, is Spirit.  As the speakers on the show pointed out–and something that my godmother and I have said time and again–is that while humans have their own agendas, Spirit speaks raw truth and comes out clear.  If Spirit calls you to a certain role or path, then that is that.  Gender politics have no place within the dictates of Spirit.  If Spirit says you are not destined for a particular path or role, then there has to be a reason behind it. As I’ve said before, biology is not destiny.  You are not defined by your genitalia or the structure of your body, but you are defined by Spirit by what’s inside, by who you are and what you’re capable of.  I often ponder about how much talent had been strangled, how many candles snuffed, all in the name of machismo and festering ego.  Look beyond the Meatpuppet Politics.  There you’ll find Spirit speaking, and there you will find the truth.  To do otherwise is to live in a darkness of one’s own making, and to impose that darkness on others is to feed the infection of ignorance and egotistical bullshit.  It stifles the flame, twists the soul, and any spiritual group with that degree of rot is bound to fail, one way or another.  Spirit alone is the final judge and arbiter.  When the Bakulu speak, it is our obligation and our duty to listen, especially if we dare call ourselves priests, teachers, workers.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1T42uYW

Lion claws available, plus a few notes

A few more of the lion claws from the batch have been posted.  These will likely be the only ones we’ll be posting for awhile, so get them while you can.  The others will be posted if and when they are ready.  Instead of testing the limits of my growing headache further by giving a detailed explanation as to why, I’m going to quote a friend and customer of BtP:

“To borrow from my Husband’s nomenclature for a moment, the “Average
Cadaver” cannot understand that to some , not all items from our fellow
creatures that walk among us are easily acquired. They must be cared
for, Honored, prayed over and given much love prior to parting with them
in any way.”

This rather explains the primary drive behind our philosophies here at Bones to Pick.

Of those claws that we posted, one is a fully cleaned specimen wire-wrapped in brass for use as talismanic jewelry.  The others that we posted are sold “as is”.  These claws came from an old, vintage Tanzanian lion rug.  These are all bone-in; some may have tanned flesh and fur still attached, some claws may show natural damage.  Please see photos.  I actually prefer relics like these over the sanitized ones, as they provide more useful materia to connect with the animal’s energies and also vibrantly express character unique to the living animal that once owned them.  Please feel free to check them out on our website and do feel free to get in contact with us if you have any questions.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1OOjTmt

RE: Lion Claws (More Info)

I’ve received a lot of inquiries about the lion claws I posted earlier this week.  Please note that these are not the only claws that I have, nor will I be posting these for sale all at once.  Remember that I am also a spiritworker, not just a peddler in animal parts.  I address each claw individually as it comes into my hands.  Sometimes divination or other work may need to be done.  Some may be worked into ritual jewelry pieces, some may be sold as is.  Please keep watching Bones to Pick for further info on when they’ll become available.  Thanks all for your interest and patience.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1lXnVzs

Ethics and the Work

I’m sure this probably doesn’t need saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: guys, I am not just a peddler in animal parts.  There is a significant amount of ritual work that goes into what I do–divination, purification, propitiation, offerings, and other related functions. Please understand this when getting in contact with me.  What I provide are not just products but also services–some of which goes along automatically when a purchase is made with me, some of it is not even listed on BtP.  Ask.  Counseling and spiritual work are part of the package of services I provide, but I prefer to sit down with everyone on an individual basis and jam with them about what they need.

Note too that I also have a “regular” job, one that pays my bills, keeps food on the table and a roof over my head.  So, you won’t have to worry about someone who will throw ethics to the wind and gouge you to pay the cell phone bill.  I am a human services worker, and I am a spiritual services worker as well.  The ethics I employ to the former I also do to the latter.  If you have a product or service you would like to request of me (or anyone else here at BtP), you can do so with confidence.  But also please understand that most of my work–spiritual or temporal–I perform offline.  I may be sporadic with messages, or even occasionally inconsistent in my communication.  Have patience.  I am here.

I want to thank you all for making Bones to Pick a success, as we’ve met some wonderful people and made some awesome connections in the short time we’ve been operational so far. 

Peace,

Joey Atreides

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1WKWObg

Growing Pains

So I’ve recently celebrated my first year in Palo. It’s been a very interesting year, and also a very difficult one.  It’s to be expected.  Initiations are rebirths, they are beginnings.  Starting from the beginning isn’t always easy.  In early societies (and even some contemporary ones in other parts of the world), a child wasn’t even given a name and fully welcomed into the community until they had reached two or three years of age.  Childhood is difficult.  Childhood can also be deadly.  Initiations are like second childhoods.  It opens you up to different energies and currents, you enter into a strange new world where everything (or everyone) will test you to the limits of what (you feel) you can handle.  This year I learned many hard lessons, and experienced some painful losses.  All these climaxed into one singular event that changed something deep and fundamental within me.

I had just left the hospital with my brother, exhausted.  Being a spiritworker isn’t easy, and the job (and the obligation it comes with) is that much harder when the person you have to assist in passing over and elevating happens to be someone you have a deep emotional attachment to.  My grandmother was dying.  I should have seen it coming.  My paternal ancestors have been appearing in strikingly vivid dreams and visionary states.  What I was mistaking at first as a side-effect of initiation turned out to be them coming to call her back home.  She had recently celebrated her 93rd birthday.  It was her time.  But a mere four days before this, a good friend of mine died very suddenly.  I’d seen her alive maybe 48 hours before.  Four months before that, a cousin of mine whom I loved deeply was gunned down by a drug-dealer with two previous murders under his belt.  It was an awful year.  Leaving that hospital after witnessing my grandmother passing on was Strike Three.  I was weary down to the bone, from this and the other deaths that preceded it.  But the finale was yet to come.

About ten minutes down the road, we were approaching a crossroads, where we’d turn to reach our uncle’s house, to check up on our grandfather, who suffered from dementia and was unable to be at the hospital at the time.  I could faintly hear a series of popping noises coming from outside.  I had no time really to register what they were at first, when I saw an orange streak dart out from between two houses and into the road.  It was a big orange tomcat.  The cat ran into the opposite lane of traffic, where only a single black truck was headed down.  There was no one behind the truck, and enough of a gap between the two to where the truck could have easily stopped.  Instead, the individual driving the truck rammed the gas and sped up, running the cat down.  They did not once touch the brake.  The cat flipped like a ragdoll and thrashed, blood flying in the road.  I could hardly take that all in before a second figure darted into the street from the opposite direction–a boy ran into the road, quickly scooping the cat up in his arms.  I screwed my eyes shut, because at that point I couldn’t stomach seeing the kid hit,  it was all happening so fast.  Thankfully, he’d managed to get safely to the side of the road, with the cat bleeding and kicking feebly in his arms.  My brother, who the whole time had been screaming in white-knuckle terror at the scene as it unfolded (to be fair, we both were), swung the car around to the other side and parked at the curb.

I immediately took the cat from the boy’s arms and carried it over to the curb.  It was bad.  Very bad.  I’d seen animals die, many times, through various means.  This situation was bad because it was borne about from a deliberate act of sociopathic cruelty.  The person driving the truck had the option to stop, but chose not to.  It was clear this cat was probably someone’s pet.  He was very well groomed and heavy, and soft of body.  In no way like the feral cats I’d handled in the past.  Just a cat who’s owner made the poor decision to let him roam outdoors.  He was also dying.  The left side of his face was smashed in, and his eye was hanging loose.  It was a rare moment in my life that I was suddenly struck with pure revulsion and horror.  That this poor animal could be in such a horrible state of disrepair, and still live.  Blessedly, this didn’t last long.  I stroked his fur and soothed him as much as I could, whispered and told him what a good kitty he was.  Before his heart stopped, he’d tried to purr.  The sound of it broke my heart. 

So there I was, kneeling at a crossroads, the smell of blood thick in my nostrils, the sounds of firecrackers going off like gunfire, an animal bleeding and dying in my arms.  It was at that moment there that time for me stopped entirely.  I saw myself in my grandfather’s boots, a combat vet in the Phillipines.  I saw my deceased cousin in the shattered eye of the cat.  I felt his soul slip like warm velvet from my grasp.  Everything around me took on a surreal quality.  I prayed.  I prayed and I stroked the cat until the spasms died down and his breathing stopped.  The scars from my initiation burned.  My whole body burned.  I felt the cat’s blood seep into me, not just clotting on my skin, but seeping deep into my soul, changing something fundamental inside of me, yet again.  Again, I was going through an initiation, or perhaps this was only the next phase.  That next painful step, at the nexus point between life and death.

The boy explained that a bunch of neighborhood kids had been setting off firecrackers, and that he had been going to investigate when he saw the cat get run down in the road.  His house was close by, he was staying with his grandparents after school.  I told him to go home and tell them what had happened, and to thoroughly wash his hands and arms of blood.  I watched him until I was sure he’d reached home safely, and turned my attention back to the cat.  With whispered prayers, I laid the cat at the base of the tree by the crossroads.  I felt it the best I could do under the circumstances.  To sanctify his cruel death there.  I prayed for him, prayed that perhaps he should find my grandmother, seek out the ancestral procession leading her home.  That he should find and be at peace.

In the years I’ve actively worked as a theriomancer and psychopomp,
there is one singular fact that I know all too well: Cats, whether they
be of this world or not of this world, always seem to know
exactly where they are going and what they are about.  It’s a simple
fact, yet a fundamental one.  A cat is born with an instinct for the
necromantic as the falcon is born with an instinct for the shifting
winds.  Hours later my mother had come home from the hospital to get some rest, she related a most curious story.  In the hospital parking lot, she’d seen a cat.  A big orange cat, sitting in the parking lot, staring at her and my father as they were walking to the car.  Much later on that same evening, I’d overheard my brother saying that that cat was sitting in our grandmother’s lap in heaven.  Good kitty.  You were such a good kitty.  You had found your way.  

In the year since I’ve been initiated into Palo I’ve had experiences both amazing and horrifying by turns.  Even painful.  Some of these I will relate here, with certain deeply personal aspects omitted, as these things shouldn’t be up for grabs on social media, both as personal and as sacred as they are.  Death can be painful and messy.  So can rebirth.  Have I found my way?  In a word, yes.  But the way isn’t always easy, the going is tough.  That cat and I, we met and parted at the crossroads of life and death, but we each took away with the other an exchange of ndoki that will remain with us.  My scars will always remember; my mind will never forget.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1UpmXvd

Growing Pains

So I’ve recently celebrated my first year in Palo. It’s been a very interesting year, and also a very difficult one.  It’s to be expected.  Initiations are rebirths, they are beginnings.  Starting from the beginning isn’t always easy.  In early societies (and even some contemporary ones in other parts of the world), a child wasn’t even given a name and fully welcomed into the community until they had reached two or three years of age.  Childhood is difficult.  Childhood can also be deadly.  Initiations are like second childhoods.  It opens you up to different energies and currents, you enter into a strange new world where everything (or everyone) will test you to the limits of what (you feel) you can handle.  This year I learned many hard lessons, and experienced some painful losses.  All these climaxed into one singular event that changed something deep and fundamental within me.

I had just left the hospital with my brother, exhausted.  Being a spiritworker isn’t easy, and the job (and the obligation it comes with) is that much harder when the person you have to assist in passing over and elevating happens to be someone you have a deep emotional attachment to.  My grandmother was dying.  I should have seen it coming.  My paternal ancestors have been appearing in strikingly vivid dreams and visionary states.  What I was mistaking at first as a side-effect of initiation turned out to be them coming to call her back home.  She had recently celebrated her 93rd birthday.  It was her time.  But a mere four days before this, a good friend of mine died very suddenly.  I’d seen her alive maybe 48 hours before.  Four months before that, a cousin of mine whom I loved deeply was gunned down by a drug-dealer with two previous murders under his belt.  It was an awful year.  Leaving that hospital after witnessing my grandmother passing on was Strike Three.  I was weary down to the bone, from this and the other deaths that preceded it.  But the finale was yet to come.

About ten minutes down the road, we were approaching a crossroads, where we’d turn to reach our uncle’s house, to check up on our grandfather, who suffered from dementia and was unable to be at the hospital at the time.  I could faintly hear a series of popping noises coming from outside.  I had no time really to register what they were at first, when I saw an orange streak dart out from between two houses and into the road.  It was a big orange tomcat.  The cat ran into the opposite lane of traffic, where only a single black truck was headed down.  There was no one behind the truck, and enough of a gap between the two to where the truck could have easily stopped.  Instead, the individual driving the truck rammed the gas and sped up, running the cat down.  They did not once touch the brake.  The cat flipped like a ragdoll and thrashed, blood flying in the road.  I could hardly take that all in before a second figure darted into the street from the opposite direction–a boy ran into the road, quickly scooping the cat up in his arms.  I screwed my eyes shut, because at that point I couldn’t stomach seeing the kid hit,  it was all happening so fast.  Thankfully, he’d managed to get safely to the side of the road, with the cat bleeding and kicking feebly in his arms.  My brother, who the whole time had been screaming in white-knuckle terror at the scene as it unfolded (to be fair, we both were), swung the car around to the other side and parked at the curb.

I immediately took the cat from the boy’s arms and carried it over to the curb.  It was bad.  Very bad.  I’d seen animals die, many times, through various means.  This situation was bad because it was borne about from a deliberate act of sociopathic cruelty.  The person driving the truck had the option to stop, but chose not to.  It was clear this cat was probably someone’s pet.  He was very well groomed and heavy, and soft of body.  In no way like the feral cats I’d handled in the past.  Just a cat who’s owner made the poor decision to let him roam outdoors.  He was also dying.  The left side of his face was smashed in, and his eye was hanging loose.  It was a rare moment in my life that I was suddenly struck with pure revulsion and horror.  That this poor animal could be in such a horrible state of disrepair, and still live.  Blessedly, this didn’t last long.  I stroked his fur and soothed him as much as I could, whispered and told him what a good kitty he was.  Before his heart stopped, he’d tried to purr.  The sound of it broke my heart. 

So there I was, kneeling at a crossroads, the smell of blood thick in my nostrils, the sounds of firecrackers going off like gunfire, an animal bleeding and dying in my arms.  It was at that moment there that time for me stopped entirely.  I saw myself in my grandfather’s boots, a combat vet in the Phillipines.  I saw my deceased cousin in the shattered eye of the cat.  I felt his soul slip like warm velvet from my grasp.  Everything around me took on a surreal quality.  I prayed.  I prayed and I stroked the cat until the spasms died down and his breathing stopped.  The scars from my initiation burned.  My whole body burned.  I felt the cat’s blood seep into me, not just clotting on my skin, but seeping deep into my soul, changing something fundamental inside of me, yet again.  Again, I was going through an initiation, or perhaps this was only the next phase.  That next painful step, at the nexus point between life and death.

The boy explained that a bunch of neighborhood kids had been setting off firecrackers, and that he had been going to investigate when he saw the cat get run down in the road.  His house was close by, he was staying with his grandparents after school.  I told him to go home and tell them what had happened, and to thoroughly wash his hands and arms of blood.  I watched him until I was sure he’d reached home safely, and turned my attention back to the cat.  With whispered prayers, I laid the cat at the base of the tree by the crossroads.  I felt it the best I could do under the circumstances.  To sanctify his cruel death there.  I prayed for him, prayed that perhaps he should find my grandmother, seek out the ancestral procession leading her home.  That he should find and be at peace.

In the years I’ve actively worked as a theriomancer and psychopomp,
there is one singular fact that I know all too well: Cats, whether they
be of this world or not of this world, always seem to know
exactly where they are going and what they are about.  It’s a simple
fact, yet a fundamental one.  A cat is born with an instinct for the
necromantic as the falcon is born with an instinct for the shifting
winds.  Hours later my mother had come home from the hospital to get some rest, she related a most curious story.  In the hospital parking lot, she’d seen a cat.  A big orange cat, sitting in the parking lot, staring at her and my father as they were walking to the car.  Much later on that same evening, I’d overheard my brother saying that that cat was sitting in our grandmother’s lap in heaven.  Good kitty.  You were such a good kitty.  You had found your way.  

In the year since I’ve been initiated into Palo I’ve had experiences both amazing and horrifying by turns.  Even painful.  Some of these I will relate here, with certain deeply personal aspects omitted, as these things shouldn’t be up for grabs on social media, both as personal and as sacred as they are.  Death can be painful and messy.  So can rebirth.  Have I found my way?  In a word, yes.  But the way isn’t always easy, the going is tough.  That cat and I, we met and parted at the crossroads of life and death, but we each took away with the other an exchange of ndoki that will remain with us.  My scars will always remember; my mind will never forget.

Originally posted on: http://ift.tt/1UpmXvd

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