Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Breaking Free

I wanted to write a bit of a personal post here to all of my friends and clients I have met over the last several years of being on Facebook, having my shop, and through various other Pagan or conjure affiliated groups.

The muse behind this post is recent events calling out my past, my authenticity, my credentials, my culture, etc. As I said, that was the muse. This post is not about proving anyone wrong. Everyone is entitled to their own thoughts and opinions and they are absolutely free to express those and that's a beautiful thing! This post is for those who have supported me, my shop, and my family. I hope this helps you know a bit more about who you have been sticking up for:)

Here are a few tidbits;

-I am ordained and initiated in my family's tradition.
-I am not initiated in Palo, Vodou, Santeria, Lucumi. I am a spiritualist and spiritualists, like Pagans, can pray and work for anyone who will listen to them and their community. I do not need an initiation to hear the divine because I heard it before I was ordained or initiated.
-I was raised Pagan. It sounds exciting but, just as any other cultural or religious upbringing, it was boring and made me feel different from my peers. This led to a lot secrecy as I felt that I could not be my true self or express my values or beliefs among my peers. What most of you are going through now, I went through too, just at a younger age.
-I use the descriptors of witch, hoodoo, herbalist and conjure woman.
-I have no other credentials because, at this time, no other initiations are necessary for me on my path. Though this can always change and probably will...I hope it will.
-I am all mixed up; Finnish, Hungarian, Jew, and Black.
-My family is from the Appalachian mountains. My great, great grandma Ruby was from Shady Grove, Kentucky. It's a dry county. We make moonshine. There is a general store, a motel, and a restaurant called Druther's. We all make fun and say it's called that because "you'druther not eat there". Ruby was a healer and my great grandmother (Lucy) was a seer. Then, they say, it skips two generations so my grandmother and mother got nothing, again, so they say.
-My secret dream and goal; to have either my business or my husband's eventually be a not-for-profit. We are on our way with my husband's carpentry/contracting business! Last year he worked nearly 50% pro bono. Our dream is to build and fix houses for those who need them, not just those who can afford them.

I've had a coven, (pictured above! That's me on the far right:) still with about 50% of it's original members, for nearly 13 years. 50% of your original members is a miracle after that long. Before I had children, I traveled giving lectures and workshops at Witch's Balls, women's retreats, Pagan Pride Days. etc. I try to be active in my Pagan community here and have been offered a position helping to run our PPD, which I am considering taking. So, for those saying that I "popped up of out nowhere". I guess I did...13 years ago.

My thoughts on initiations;
Initiation of any sort-baptisms, etc-can be wonderful, life changing, path lining experiences. However, they are not necessary in all practices or beliefs. For instance hoodoo is a practice, not a religion. Therefore, you gain rank through experience, practice, serving your peers/community, and by simply putting in time. I do not believe one needs to pay hundreds of dollars for a course to learn rootwork. Those classes are fun and educational I am sure. If they help you, then they are wonderful! But not necessary to live this path.

So if everyone MUST be initiated, then who initiated the first priests and priestesses of a path, religion, or tradition? I've always been confused by those who tell me that I MUST be initiated into the path(s) of the items I sell in my shop in order to sell them.

The "cultural appropriation" is sometimes accused of the items I make and sell for my clients practicing Santeria, Lucumi and Vodou. Which, I might add, are REQUESTED of me to make. I serve my clients in their paths of servitude. However, I find it odd that no one ever makes a fuss over the Norse, Celtic, and Egyptian items I sell. No one from Norway or Ireland is harassing me about how I'm not initiated in Celtic or Nordic traditions or that I am not from Ireland, Scandinavia or Egypt, therefore, I can't sell items representing their deities either.

This fuss is made without  actually knowing my race or culture, my families beliefs or practices. You know what they say about assuming...

I suppose I am only to make items for people who are Black, Jew, and Hungarian, since that's what I am. Since that is my "culture" and all I am "qualified" to do. Well, I guess that would just be me making things for myself then.

This is the deal; I make items for OTHER devotees to use. Because I'm a medium. I do not make items that ONLY my path would use. I make items to serve many devotees of many paths! That's your job as a medium. You are a go-between, making tools to aid others in their service to their deities and spirits.

As for culture and race. There is a lot going around about how "white" folks can't practice hoodoo and so on. Really? At this point in our history, and in this country no less, who in the hell can guess someone's race or culture?! We are all just big bags of mixed up mud from everywhere around this world. Anyone pontificating such things has no education in American history. No information of Maafa (the African holocaust), Marie Laveau, New Orleans Catholics, or New Orleans Vodou. Because once it all hit here, it melted with all sorts of new traditions, people, customs,languages, and colors. It's like saying that just because someone is from New Orleans that they know hoodoo, that they are the "real deal". Marie Laveau herself was 7/8 white and 1/8 black and our current Voodoo Queen, Sallie Ane Glassman, is white and fully initiated in Haiti as a Haitian Manbo.

Religion only survives by evolving, changing, and borrowing. Every religion existing now has borrowed or stolen traditions (and people!) from other geographies and religions. There is no pure religion. To say someone can't practice mojuba because they aren't trained or initiated is bullshit. They may hear the voice of the divine plain as day in their ears. Besides that, then who initiated the very first person who put gris gris together?

NO ONE. That first person received divine information and messages and they listened and they put it together. Then they shared it. Then it worked.

They spent their years serving their community, helping, healing, and teaching. Decades in and decades out they served their people. Because the proof is in the pudding. Talk is cheap-people know who is "real" by who listens and helps out. Who prays for their sick mother or dying child. Who helps them find work and who celebrates health, births, and life with them. That's the damn initiation. That's "for real".

So who comes up to this first rootworker and says "Hey, who initiated you anyway?" I imagine that rootworker gave a perplexed look and then laughed. Only an earthly ego would try to trump divine message and service.

You don't have to prove anything to anyone. You don't have to defend your beliefs, your culture, your race, your gender, your sexuality, etc. However, the sharing of yourself with those you love and care for, the volunteering of information, IS the best way to defend yourself. Truth, love, and peace will offend those who ask you to defend. Shake them up. Only when we are stirred do we stop settling. When we are offended we stop asking others to defend themselves. We break free from our same old congealed ideas and beliefs; our hardened hearts and minds break loose. Only then do we grow. Only then are we fluid. Only then are we free.

Help them be free. State who you are and own it.