Sunday, April 7, 2013

Erzulie Freda

Artist interpretation of Erzulie Freda's Vodou Veve

Spiritual and religious symbols are among my favorite sources of inspiration. This image is of the Vodou lwa Erzulie Freda's ritual symbol. 

erzulies, ritual symbol, erzulie freda, vodou veve, religious symbols, lwa, erzulie freda, Denise Alvarado, denise-alvarado
Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Spiritual Artist for Freedom of Expression

Pomba Gira...the One, the Many

Artist depiction of Pomba Gira

Pomba Gira: the name has a deep mystique. Pronounced "Pohm-ba Shira," She is the Great Witch, the mysterious power hidden within all women. She is a mistress of transformation, witchcraft, love, healing, and divination (Madrina Angelique). She can be one...but she is many.

Pomba Gira is an inspiration to many artists for many reasons. She is one of the people of the street, so people relate to her. There are limited perceptions of her and most of the artistic depictions of her emphasize her sexuality. I don't think this is a bad thing; in fact, it is her sacred sexuality that draws people to her. People who want more love and passion in their lives are drawn to her imagery and the message it brings. To each person a different meaning -  and that is the beauty of spiritual art. Or art in one piece means the same to two people. 

A lot of folks come to Crossroads Mojo asking how to work with her. My best advice is to get the book written by Nicholaj Frisvold, Pomba Gira: Pomba Gira and the Quimbanda of Mbumba Nzila to learn about who she is. Our products are inspired by her spirit and designed to help you connect to that which draws you to her - be it love, sexuality, sensuality, healing or change of some sort - but we don't sell Pomba Gira herself, and we never have. Spirits can not be sold. They will come to you if you know how to approach them, and if you have a relationship with them, and most importantly, if they want to. To work with Pomba Gira you should find someone in your area who is willing to teach you one on one -someone who has been formally introduced to her. In fact, this is my advice for anyone seeking to learn how to work with any Spirit. Information found in books and on the internet needs to be sifted through to find the real stuff, and it should be secondary to one on one instruction. So, be on the lookout, put the word out and open yourself up to the possibilities and the right person will cross your path if it is meant to be. 


Article and art copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Spiritual Artist for Freedom of Expressing Religion (SAFER)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Ancestors

The ancestral altar should be the first altar to create by anyone who wishes to develop a New Orleans Voodoo spiritual practice. This can be to honor your biological ancestors, the universal archetypal ancestors, or both. Any and all connection to the spirit world is dependent upon the strength of your ancestral connection.

The following are some guidelines for creating your own ancestral altar. Follow your intuition when creating your altar, and feel free to add to or subtract from the suggestions below.

To create an altar you will need:

  • A table, flat stone, or shelf
  • White cloth
  • Photos and momentos of your ancestors
  • White candle
  • Glass or crystal bowl of water
  • A portion of each meal of the day
  • A dish with 9 different types of earth, including graveyard dirt
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Incense

Drape the white cloth over the table or shelf. If using a stone, leave it bare. Place the glass bowl of water in the center of the table and the white candle behind the bowl. Arrange the photos and momentos, flowers, and bowl of earth on the altar in a manner that pleases you. The bowl of food should go in front of the bowl of water.

How to Address the Ancestors

First, light the incense to purify your surroundings. Sprinkle a little fresh water on your altar, on the items on your altar, as well as on the earth to give respect to the Ancestors. Light your candle and begin speaking to your Ancestors. Begin by introducing yourself. Say something like,

"Greetings Ancestors, my name is __________, son/daughter of ________ and ________ and I come with a pure heart to honor you with these offerings."
"I honor (say all of your ancestors names out loud). I honor all of those remembered and forgotten, who were associated with my ancestors as friends, companions, and loved ones. I love, honor, and respect all who have gone before me. I thank you for your guidance and protection, seen and unseen. I offer this special prayer so that you may rest in peace through the intercession of the four archangels and the Seven African Powers” (say the prayer to the Seven African Powers here followed by a heartfelt prayer of your own).

You can now talk to your ancestors about your problems and ask them for guidance. When you are finished, offer them the food and drink and thank them for listening. Take a moment and meditate on your life, focusing on your blessings, and abundance. Visualize passing on all that is good to your ancestors who have gone before you and to those yet to come. To conclude, pour water on the ground and say “Aché!” Let the candles burn out if possible.

Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.denise-alvarado 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau, Copyright Denise Alvarado All rights reserved.

Marie Laveaux, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. For such an important figure in American folklore, very little can be known certainly about her life. She is supposed to have been born in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana in 1794, the daughter of a white planter and a black/Choctaw woman. She married Jacques Paris, a free Black, on August 4, 1819; her marriage certificate is preserved in Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. M. Paris died in 1820 under unexplained circumstances; after his death, Marie Laveau became a hairdresser who catered to wealthy white families. She took a lover, Luis Christopher Duminy de Glapion, with whom she lived until his death in 1835. She is said to have had a snake called Zombi, named for the African God Nzambi.

More than anyone else, Marie Laveaux put New Orleans Voodoo on the map with her powerful magic and infamous ceremonies held in what are now Congo Square, Bayou St. John, and Lake Ponchartrain. Oral traditions suggest that the occult part of her magic mixed Roman Catholic beliefs and saints with African spirits and religious concepts. She is believed to be born in 1794 in a French and Spanish City, where the Catholic Church dominated the lives of its citizens. She is celebrated every year on St. John’s Eve, the foremost Voodoo holiday in New Orleans. St. John’s day corresponds with the summer solstice. This same celebration has taken place for almost 300 years; many of those years in Congo Square.

Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.
Spiritual Artist for Freedom of Expression (SAFE)

Three Day Ritual with Elegba

You Know Who in a You Know What. Copyright 2009 Denise Alvarado, All rights reserved worldwide.

Elegba, Ellegua, Legba, crossroads deity, road opener, giver of opportunities.
In Santeria, Ellegua is the official door opener orisha who opens and closes all paths to humankind. He resides between heaven and earth, and traverses all places in between. In this way, he keeps an eye on the events of humans and keeps Olofi and Olodumare informed. There is said to be 121 paths of Ellegua. His aspects range from a playful child who sits on mountain tops, seashores, cemetery gates, street corners and doorways of all kinds to an old wise man who uses a crooked stick to get around. In the Santeria tradition, Ellegua is among the first of three warriors (Ellegua, Ochosi, and Ogun) received as an initiate. The various African traditional religions all recognize similar spirits that go by different names such as Elegba, Elegbara, Legba, Eshu or Exu. Though they have similar functions, there are a great many differences between them as well. In this way, the door opener is known all around the world. 

This ritual is done every day for 3 days. Get 3 eggs, rub them with palm oil, and spray with rum and cigar smoke. Place these items in a paper bag then rub all over your body from head to toe. Ask Elegba to cleanse you of your negativity and visualize the negative energy leaving you. Take the 3 eggs and crush on 3 separate corners away from your home. While you are crushing the eggs ask Elegba to cleanse you of all negativity and to remove all obstacles out of your way the same way the eggs are being crushed. This is started on Elegba's day which is a Monday and ends on Wednesday.

Copyright 2013 Denise Alvarado All rights reserved.
Spiritual Artist for Freedom of Expression (SAFE)