Monday, June 25, 2012

The beginning of Conjured Cardea

At the request of a reader;

How this all got started...

Believe it or not, I was completely against selling my items on-line, and thought those who did were sell outs. In my tradition, if you wanted something, you learned to make it yourself. Once you've learned it, you never have to rely on another person again. So we did. We all knew how to make oils, salves, tinctures, candles, soaps, teas, etc. My philosophy with my items was that I made them for myself, family, friends, neighbors, students, and coven-sisters. And they were free or, at the very most, bartered for. Period. I worked liked this for over 10 years. Just giving my wares to the few people at a time who needed them.

Then, one day, a coven sister and very dear friend of mine said "you should put this stuff on Etsy". This was not only against what I believed but also, who the hell would buy my stuff? So I sat down and thought out my moral dilemma.

See, over the last few years I have changed a few major things about our tradition and I often wonder if my relatives are rolling over in their graves. For instance I changed the rule that new students are taught separately from elders. The new students went through their entire first year never meeting another member or being at ritual. What better way to get close and grow together as coven then to do it all together from the beginning?! So, I changed it and I know my relatives understand why I did it. Our tradition is so so small and slow growing that any path I see to encourage stronger growth, I am going to take it.

My thoughts became the same about selling my items. I realized, after YEARS, that not everyone was like me. Imagine that!  They were not INTERESTED in making their own items and if they were the supplies you need on hand are a huge investment for most. I'm not interested or educated in fixing computers, so if I need something for mine I can't just do it or make it. I need someone specialized and reputable. It's the same with my shop. I also realized that I could reach more people, teach more people, share and grow with more people after I opened this shop. I have been so blessed to hear from so many people, all over the world about their paths, practices, lives, trials, and triumphs. I love people.

Another issue. I LOATHE computers. I think people who sit at computers all day are drones and wasting their time. Why would I "virtually" do something when I could ACTUALLY do it? I always had jobs that worked with my hands or with people. The idea of being chained to a computer was hell, and I still feel that way. I don't like being controlled by a computer. I don't like that it is between me and the people I want to see and listen to. I don't like that I am stuck inside all day. This is the world we live in though, and for those few dislikes I have-I love so many more things about it. Like working with my hands everyday. I love corresponding with people. I love doing something spiritual everyday for others. I love living my dream. I love having a business and trade I can pass down to my children. I love working at home so I can care for my children. I am blessed that this is my life and profession

I still hate being on the computer and can't wait until my work day is over and I can shut it off.

So, the next day, I opened my shop. I didn't even know what Etsy was (I'm not big on shopping, especially since I can make most things I use) or that there were other people on there selling items like mine. I had never looked on Etsy. Which was a mistake and a blessing all in one. If I would have looked, I would have had a better feel for what I was getting into but by not looking I got to do MY own thing-completely. I had a couple sales in the first few weeks I think. Then one day I logged into my shop to find every listing missing. My shop had been deleted. Not really. Someone bought everything, but it never occurred to me this would happen so I thought everything had been eaten up by a glitch.

Many of those first clients are still with me to this day-13 years later. My entire shop is for, and is because, of them.

I am an extremely pragmatic person and even though the idea of an on-line shop went against what I initially believed was "right", it was not what was BEST for my witch community. As humans is is difficult to sort through that what we feel is not always what is right. I am a teacher first and foremost and my shop has opened a huge channel for me to learn and teach. It was also a way for me to stand up for the seasoned, hard working, authentic root workers out there. I didn't want to be considered a hack or a charlatan which is why I didn't want to have a shop that would be lumped in with those. That was the easiest fix of all; then don't-don't have a shop that is seen a joke or not reputable. My shop is reputable because I am.

The shops that sell "haunted" items or items "owned by a witch" for hundreds of dollars, personally, I find difficult to believe and that they make witches look bad. I also have an issue with "weight loss" items or "spell rings" and the like. If it seems silly and over-priced, then it is.

My shop has nothing in common with these. I don't make promises or guarantees because I can't. I can help tempt The Fates to smile upon you, but I can't make them smile.

For anyone wanting to start their own business;

 I began this shop while I had 1 and 2 year old babies. I worked a night job from 7pm until 3 am, breastfed through the night until 7 am when I had to get up to take my husband to work because we had only one vehicle. Throughout the day I cared for my children and made supply runs for my husband (he's a contractor) and listed items and filled orders until 5pm, made dinner, got ready and went to my night job. I did this for 3 years. You know how they say you can do anything you put your mind to? Well I am here to say, that it's true.

Owning a botanica was my dream. Once I changed the idea I saw in my head of my "shop", I was able to achieve my dream, just in another form. I just had to find another way to the goal- which is all life really is. One way doesn't work, so you try another.

 I will have my brick and mortar shop but beginning with the on-line business has made a way for me to obtain my original dream. Something I never would have seen If I hadn't had a dear friend point it out to me. I trusted her, made a leap of faith, and worked hard...

Just do it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Who I Work For

I have worked with many deities and spirits through out my life. Being raised Pagan it was normal and expected. Though it sounds crazy to talk to the average person about conjure or working with spirits (which is one reason I do no speak about it unless asked, also because I am a private person) it was normal in my family.  Though I could write a post about each of the spirits and deities I'm about to mention, I'll keep it concise as that would make for one LONG post:)

I hesitate to say "MY" deities and spirits because they are not mine. They are yours too.

First what I deem a "spirit" is a human who has passed (Saints, High John the Conqueror, etc.) and deity a force from "mythology";) Now, there are those who overlap, such as some Orisha. Take Chango for instance, he is reputed to have actually been the third king of West Africa. So here, there is overlapping. 

I will begin with the one's most present in my life-my Mother Oya and Father Ogun. Oya came to me as a mother and protector. I also work with her aspect Maman Brigitte whose feast day is my birthday. There was an immediate connection, nearly as if she had given birth to me and I loved everything about her and all that she shared and showed me. Many people fear her but I have never received anything but love, guidance, and blessings from her.

My father Ogun, I found a few years later. He came to me when I was in a real jam-mostly of my my own doing. I was homeless, in major debt, jobless, lonely after a 7 year relationship ending...everything that could go wrong had. He protected me, showed me that I was still strong. That even though I was down, I would never be out. He provided for me and got me through those dark years. 

I also work with Oshun often, (for clients and my family) though this is not always looked upon fondly, as daughters of Oya are assumed to not work with Oshun. Though I never feed them together, I do work with both though Oya will always be mother of my home. I often call upon Oshun for my clients wishing to be blessed with children-and by blessed I mean through any means-adoption, foster care, biologically, etc.

I honor Mary Magdalene as I was named after her daughter and I have named my daughter after her-Magdalena. I believe she was a true goddess and true teacher, misunderstood and slandered. She is a miracle in the lives of women who have been down on their luck, lied about, talked about, abused, and misunderstood.

La Madama/Madama-a beautiful mother spirit! Some worship these aspects separately but I worship them together. "Madama" was a cloth doll that was made for slave children who could not afford china dolls like white children. This doll was very precious, because even having spare cloth to make a doll for a child was rare for slaves. If the child was separated from her mother, as often happened during that time, the child was left with the madama doll that represented their mother. the child would keep the madama doll hidden away, so she could not be stolen or destroyed. During hard times, the child would take the doll out, and talk to her knowing that the doll was connected to the real mother's spirit. Then, magic would happen...
Madama's job is to set everything right, to provide protection, keep harm away, and to provide wealth, health, and luck to the home. She provides all kinds of goodies if you invite her into your home and call out to her for a favor. 
La Madama brings good fortune and luck and provides steady, paying clients and work. She helps my clients to find me so that I may attempt to provide some relief from their troubles.

Mamasita, my house's spirit:) She dwells only here and shelters us and helps provide for us. She is our dwelling familiar so I will keep her for us only:)

Saint Martin of Cabellero-provides my husband and I with steady work and clients. As we are both self employed, help in this area is how we survive. No clients-no food. His story-One day, while riding his horse, he chanced upon a near-naked beggar and cut his cloak in half to give the poor man a covering. That night he had a dream in which the beggar appeared to him as Jesus, so he quit the army and became a monk in Italy. He was later promoted to the rank of Bishop of Tours (in France) but always lived a simple life and gave a great deal to charity. 

La Anima Sola-The Lonely Soul who is named Celestina refused water to Christ when he was crucified. For this she suffers for eternity in purgatory. Weird spirit to work with huh? :) Not really, in her suffering she  realized her wrongs and now grants any aid to those who ask. No different than the rest of us:) We make a mistake, we suffer, we learn, and we help those who are making mistakes now.

Pomba Gira-a complex spirit who I turn to to help myself and my clients heal from the abuse we had/have endured. She also brings blessings of good fortune and business. She is also very close to my heart as I am a GLBT and HIV/AIDS advocate and these are considered her "people". My father, though I never met him, has AIDS and I try to pray for him...try...

And the numerous saints! Saint Lazarus I pray to for any that I know are ill or having trouble making ends meet. Santa Muerte is another whom I work with strictly for healing, though she has other aspects. Saint Anne, Saint Jude, and Saint Anthony for when a client has a dire need. Saint Martha for marriage and relationship issues for clients, Saint Joseph who protects my husband who is a carpenter. Obviously, I could go on...

So that is just a tiny portion. People often ask me if I get tired, working with so many spirits, having them around me, feeding them, and working on other people's issues as well as my own. No. It should never be "work" to serve a spirit and, and the risk of sounding cliche', I was born to do this. I have an incredible amount of energy and patience and love to serve my clients and the spirits and deities. I know that in order to serve one, I must serve the other. I can not help anyone with out the help of the divine and the divine will not help me if I do not serve others. Yes, I get run down and emotional from the hardships my clients are experiencing. Yet, I know tomorrow is another day and I know the sooner I start serving them the sooner the load will lighten for us both.