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Black Like Me

As a medium and reader I am privy to personal information about my clients that they would never tell others and on most occasions I learn about information that even the client does not know about from their own ancestors.

Several months ago a man, who I will call Greg (story shared with client’s permission, name and state changed to conceal identity), came to me for a reading because he felt drawn to the Lwa and wanted to know if he as a white man should pursue learning more about the Vodun religion and how could he find more stability in his life.

The reading started off quietly as most of my readings do and then a whole bunch of his father’s family showed up to tell me exactly why Greg had no stability in his life and he felt a draw to an African Traditional Religion. They were upset that Greg was racist towards his own people and did not acknowledge his own Black ancestry.

To say that this reading was going to be interesting for me and startling for him would have been an understatement. His family was slaves and their descendants from Virginia. His grandmother was Black and passed as white. She moved to the northwestern part of the United States, married and raised her family, along with her husband, as white. Greg grew up not personally knowing any minorities and often he took part of taunting of the few Black kids in his school.  As Greg got older he explored several spiritual paths and is now currently in ******** but, the internet and his exposure to other cultures eventually lead him to discover religions such as Vodun, Palo and Lucumi. Vivid dreams as well as various incidents in his life that ********* rituals could not explain or fix, was why he said he felt a pull to Black religions to find answers.

Greg was referred to me for an ancestral reading in 2017 and during our reading I told him that his Black ancestors were not pleased with him and a few of them were causing his roads to close. He was given several suggestions by me to put into place immediately to help alleviate his situation, to start learning more about his family and the religion he was drawn to.  This revelation was, needless to say, a complete shock to him and was met with disbelief and accusations of me being a fraud.  Six months later I received an unexpected “love gift” and thank you for the reading from Greg with a letter explaining what he felt and had subsequently what he went through.  Below is a portion of his letter;

“Dear Ambrozine; I want to apologize to you for the way I behaved when you read for me last year. When you told me that I had Black ancestors, I didn’t believe you and I did not want to. I did an ancestry test and three days after speaking with you I got the result and they matched what you said. I sat with the information you gave me and the DNA result for weeks before going to my mother about what I had learned. My mom thought the result was wrong and she ordered tests from another company for me, my sister, dad and her. When we got the results back a few weeks later, that’s when we discovered that my dad was part black. This has turned my life upside down, it has turned my family upside down. I have many answers but also twice as many questions.”

As I read Greg’s letter, I thought about all of the people who walk around believing that they have exotic features, are a mixture of European and Mediterranean or think they have native in their family line.  I thought about all of the African slaves that had to survive and their descendants that decided to pass for white in an attempt at an easier life. I thought about all of the Indigenous people of this land that had their children taken away from them and placed into institutions to make them stop being a child of this tribe or that tribe. I thought about all of the things done to eradicate Black and Brown, to eradicate our languages, religions, our lives. I thought about the racism that is so deeply rooted and on full display in our country. Then I thought about the moment a white man discovers that the one drop rule does apply when it comes to the viewpoint of the ancestor realm.

The part of me that has to navigate in a world that loves Black and Brown cultures but not our lives, laughed at the irony of a man who truthfully wanted the perceived power that he thought could be found in Vodun to heighten his own magical practice was really being called out and put to task by part of his bloodline.  The part of me that seeks healing in a world that uses the skin tone color chart to determine the haves and the have-nots is looking to egungun and Orisha for the proper steps to take to help those that discover they are Black like me when it comes to Spirit.  I’m thinking out loud, wondering and on some levels am in awe of the universe’s sense of humor.

What a time we are living in, when one can seek out a particular thing only to discover that their journey should start at home.

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What’s in a Name?

In the online spiritual community, everyone knows someone who knows a person that knows someone’s cousin’s best friend’s sister that goes by a name other than their birth name.  In my case I have a few names, one is a name given to me by my parents, two names were given to me by my godfathers after my initiations, one was coined by a colleague as a term of endearment, another name is one that my children call me and the fifth name is what people who don’t like me refer to me as. I wear each name proudly as they all represent me and my unique journey.

When I navigate the strange and most times wonderful world of the online spiritual community I am often struck by the names that people create for themselves. I’m not talking about names given to those of us who have initiated into a religion and had our spiritual names divined on or those who have business names with special meaning but, those names that people think up in a moment of brilliance or ego-laced drunkenness. Names like Oshun Twerk Goddess, Papa Big G Dipstick or Cemetery Whore usually make me shake my head but, every blue moon I come across a name that makes me wonder if the person put any thought into the meaning of their chosen spiritual name. Sister Girl is one such name that has me asking the question, ‘are you serious?’.

When you step into the public arena and hang your shingle out as a rootworker, your name is a very big part of your identity. Choosing a coontastic name like Sister Girl is so deeply insulting that it takes a fair amount of time to realize that a Black woman purposely picked this name. A name that comes from a comedy about “the man” and racism. A name that stinks of the stereotypes Black women fight so hard against. Sister Girl what is you doing, I’m seriously asking?

It’s bad enough that there is a worker that thinks being referred to as a Sister Girl is some how admirable. Why would a grown woman want to refer to herself as a girl in private or in public? Then there is the darker side (pun intended) to this. A “spiritual worker” who did not believe in or understand why BLM is an important movement, who has a track record of calling legit workers for free advice and has now joined an organization in which one of the heads has made known her hatred of African Traditional Religions while profiting off of Black history and dollars this person now wants to spiritually help people. Yeah right, miss me with that bullshit Sister Girl.

Before you start questioning me and saying I am a hater, answer this questions for me, how can someone who does not understand the plight of communities of color be of spiritual assistance? How can someone with a name that is a joke or an insult, depending on the context, be taken seriously as anything? How about Sister Get Your Life Right or Sister Guide as a name instead of having a name that makes images of black-faced mammys come to mind?

Names are important, names identify and names have meaning. How a self-proclaimed spiritual worker doesn’t understand this basic concept is beyond me.

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As The Nganga Turns

On last week’s episode of As The Nganga Turns, the tug-of-war between munanso Casa de Caca and House of Bud heated up when the Yaya of the House of Bud announced her engagement to the Tata of Casa de Caca. Five months pregnant and uncertain of the father, Yaya has lied and said Tata Ain’t Shit is the baby daddy even though she’s been banging the hot ngeyo in her former munanso, House of Bud.

On the other side of town, an initiation gone wrong has left several unsuspecting new initiates fully mounted and Tata Wikipedia has hidden himself in his shrine room in the hopes that he can find an english translation of how to safely dismiss a group of spirits.

Meanwhile, Baba turned rockstar, turned reality show host contemplates airing a live initiation from the from the top of the Empire State Building.

Will Yaya continue profess her love for the 80 year old Tata of Casa de Caca? Will Tata Wikipedia find step-by-step instructions on how to remove spirits before they find his secret stash of 100 year old chamba? Will he find out what fula translates to in english? Will there be a live scratching on top of the Empire State Building? Tune in this week to find out?

Lmao… I crack myself up sometimes and other times I am saddened by the real life As the Nganga Turns that plays out online and via private phone conversations. Some days the online spiritual community is rife with all kinds of drama worthy of its own 24/7 novela. As I scroll through posts and listen to the stories of those who are victims of other people’s amoral and greedy behavior, I ask myself when did spirituality get reduced online popularity contests? When did it go from growth and service to a for-profit corporation and seeing how many people one can sleep with? Perhaps I am a bit naive but I still believe that Spirit, ancestors and living our best lives possible should mean something, should be what we work towards and fight for. Despite what I see and hear, I am going to embrace, hold on and believe in the greater good and do my best to stand on good sound principles. No petty dragging, no deflections, no inflating titles, no private group texts to defame someone who has found out your shady past, no to the things that seem to dominate the spaces where seekers come to learn and network.

If you can remotely see someone in my lamentation dressed as a funny blog post, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions. Hopefully you cannot relate to this.

Today is March 27, 2018 and I am, going forward, going to focus on the beauty and depth of the religions that I love and leave the soap stars of these here innanets to their own drama.

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When They Tell the Truth…

At least once a day I get a call from someone looking to find out whether or not their lover is really into them or not. I can honestly say that 90% of the time the object of desire is just there for the free Netflix, food and sex. The other 10% of the time the caller is just an annoying toad that is slowly eroding away the sanity of the person that really wants to be with them.

Recently I heard the following “I am only dealing with you because of your spiritual gifts”, damn that was beyond brutally honest. There was no ‘even though you are cute, it’s your gifts that I like’ or ‘let’s be spiritual partners and friends instead of lovers’.

What should a person do when faced with a brutally honest truth like this? Personal experience has taught me that no matter how difficult it may be to sever all ties with this person do so. They are only with you because YOU ENHANCE THEIR LIFE. You are bringing something to the table that they want and even if they bring a little something too, once they have all of your time and talents used to their benefit they are going to move on. There is no magic to make someone genuinely attracted to you, make them genuinely long to be with you. Recognize your worth, know that your gifts are so great that people are out here clamoring to get a piece of it. Be alone and lavish your gifts on you. Spring is here and it is a time of rebirth, move onward and upward, there is no need to stay where you are not wanted. Save your magic for those that truly deserve it.

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Moving with Spirit in Silence: Venting Via Blog!

It is March 12th and it feels like I’ve lived 8 months in 10 weeks. So many things have happened in such a short period of time that I have barely had a moment to rest and collect myself.  Landlords, creditors, clients, etc. do not want to hear that you are sick, tired or stuck in an airport a few thousand miles from home.  Recently, I had a reading from my Baba and was given instructions by Spirit on how to move.  Since recommitting myself to fully live my spiritual life and not just be a practitioner of a particular spirituality, I knew that to follow the life changing advice would be something I could do without question.  To say that I did not initially have my own personal fears and questions about the instructions would be a lie. When I heard first heard what my ancestors and Orisha had to say, I verbally said let’s do this but in my head I said what the hell, are y’all serious?  I have to do what? At the end of the day, I decided without hesitation to move with Spirit and to do so in silence.

Now unto itself this is nothing extraordinary, many people answer the call of spirit and move on it. What was interesting was the reaction of people who felt they had exclusive rights to know the who, what, where, when, why and how’s of my life.  Did I miss the memo that stated I must disclose what I am doing as soon as I know what it is I am supposed to be doing? Did I cut the class where the professor said that one must disclose the information your ancestors give to you, for your benefit, for public consumption?  Surely I missed something because the reaction that I got from elders (yes multiple elders) when I went radio silent for a few weeks while I healed and made changes was at best laughable and at its worst a indictment of true feelings.

Rupaul said the following, “my goal is always to come from a place of love but sometimes you just have to break it down for a motherfucker”. I actually had to break it down for one motherfucker and another motherfucker I simply decided to bow out gracefully rather than to call them out on their hypocrisy and their attempt to garner a confession about my movements and pull me back into their spider web.  Folks must have forgotten that I am a priestess and have been their reader, sounding board and confidant not the other way around.  To say that I was pissed is an understatement, when I went to my altar to pray about what I could have done differently to keep everyone happy the answer I got was a simple question “why keep those happy who do not bring you happiness and elevate you?”.  Why indeed.

Living a spiritually balanced life should be, in theory, something that a person can do without all of the external drama that people bring to the table. Everything from ego, deviant behavior, riding coattails, lies, power tripping and blocking spiritual growth is such a regular thing these days that people are afraid to seek out and explore different spiritual paths to help them live their destiny.  Under no circumstance should any person make demands on you especially when elevated ancestors and/or Orisha have spoken.

Life is too short and the to do list far too long to waste time, energy and build up people that wear titles that they did not earn or have muddied with their personal behavior. Let the tongues wag once this post is read, the only folks I’m worried about appeasing as well as honoring are my ancestors and those that ride hard for me whether they know how I am moving or not.

Waiting to get back to the comfort of my home so I can continue playing catch-up and perhaps get some sleep.  Until then, pray without ceasing and follow the guidance of your ancestors.  For anyone that doesn’t like what you are doing or how you are moving, break it down for them, continue to move silently or just block their asses and DO YOU!

Thank you for letting this antibiotic popping, mile logging, doing readings on the go worker have a bit of your time today.

When your spirits speak do as Sun Tze has advised “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night and then fall like a thunderbolt.”

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When a Priest Leaves Home to Dance with Spirits.

Dancing with Spirits, truly dancing with them, requires that we strip away all of our layers and stand in truth. Even when that truth exposes your fears, your part in ignoring a wrong and/or leaves you feeling vulnerable.

Sometimes we dress the truth up. Give it a wig, makeup and talk pretty to it but, at the end of the day the truth is exactly what it is supposed to be.

There are times when a person will be sidelined and forced to stay still. Forced into a position where one has no choice but to sit and listen to their entire spiritual quad. Having the flu, bronchitis and being exhausted put me in the perfect place for my ancestors to correct and give necessary lessons about dancing with spirits and saying goodbye.

I had grown comfortable in my practice and home. Placed my loyalty, despite misgivings, with people that lacked the desire, ethics and fortitude to align themselves with Olodumare and the divine legions that seek to improve our lives. When presented with an ancestral mirror, I had to look at my own discomfort, silence and part in things that either did not sit right with my spirit and stood in direct opposition to the principals of Spiritual growth, healing and elevation.

As I looked in the ancestral mirror, I thought about what it means to truly serve and stand for what is right without an agenda. Serving and growing even when you may be the only one trying to do what’s best and right from the viewpoint of spirit and not one’s emotions.

It should be an easy choice to say goodbye to those who do wrong, use you or are morally corrupt but, it often takes a person time to walk away with just the clothes on their back.

In an age of quick fixes, title holders looking for rent money via buffet style initiations, sexual predators preaching to the desperate and folks looking for redemption through others once their muse is gone, I have to ask myself, what kind of woman/mother/friend/lover/priest/daughter am I? What do I stand for? Do I serve God, my house or myself?

I willingly asked for and stepped into a beautiful spiritual world. I made the conscious choice to live my spiritual life semi-publicly by teaching and being online and I have been blessed abundantly by this in many ways, so when asked if I would chose the hard and narrow path of truth and doing what’s right versus the easier path paved with likes, shares and fake-love from agenda holders, I paused. Paused to think about the time I stood alone because I spoke up and, then I remembered just how much peace, calm and abundance entered my life at that time. I paused only for a nanosecond because the space where love, charity and laughter resides is far more enriching and rewarding than the current home I have taken temporary residence in.

Once again I find myself on the road with just my dance clothes, heels and makeup on. I’m permanently leaving this home and moving into a house where the dance with Spirits is filled with life and love.

What kind of priest am I? The imperfect kind that listens to what comes from above and below, dances in the rain and tries to do what is right even when everything else seems to be going left. I’m okay with this and am waiting for Spirits to put the next song on.

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Born Again

There are few things in this life that surpass watching a new life enter into this world and take its first breaths.

I have had the good fortune to witness the births of several children (human and fur babies) and I can honestly say that seeing a live birth will forever rank as one of the most beautiful events in my life. Recently, I found myself a witness to another live birth, the birth of an Orisha’s omo.

Though I have witnessed and have participated in more initiations than I care to count, there was something so deeply moving about this particular initiation, I have found my face wet from the tears that I did not know were falling.

This birth was a birth of love and destiny being fulfilled. No crisis, no emergencies, no godchildren making mills, etc.. This was an initiation ordained by Egungun and Orisha, an event filled with the blessings of the ancients and the hopes of descendants yet born. Several days of stepping through the veil and living with love called Orisha.

Every time I think of the new Omo, I cry, laugh and marvel at the complex simplicity of this spiritual birth. I cry because to truly have been held by another’s ancestors and Orisha and invited to their private party is indescribable. To be counted among the few witnesses as the baby opened his eyes, was presented by his Godfather, surrounded by the elements and held lovingly by Sàngo has me longing for better days when everyone can feel the pure joy of being surrounded by love, your physical and spiritual family as well as having Orisha smile at you. If I close my eyes, even for a moment, I can still feel the energy of it all in every cell of my body. I’m longing for more invites to ego-free, love filled and Spirit lead events.

To be loved in heaven and on earth is truly a blessing and tonight, I am hoping that many more people during their lifetime get to experience the blessing of being a witness to life born from love.

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The Queen and her Magician

I stood at the gates of the King’s Tower for 5,009 nights resigned to my fate.  Each night I would look out into the darkness and wonder about everything and nothing. No longer caring if there was anything more past the armaments constructed to keep me hidden from the World.
On night 5,110 a Magician walked up to the Tower and said nothing.  He stood still and stared into my soul.
I was not afraid of this unknown man, a stranger with his own tales and scars of a past life hidden right below the surface of his smile.
His eyes were portals to the world. When he spoke I could only hear the sounds of the ocean. When he touched my hand through the gates, I felt no fear. I felt the calm that comes from knowing hidden truths. Within his robes were the secrets of a million days crossed with swords.
Though we never spoke I knew his name and he knew mine.
I cried a tear for everyday that I, the Empress, stood waiting to hear my name spoken.
When the Magician returned on night 5,111 he called to me, I unlocked the gates and disrobed for him to see me in the light of Stars.  He covered, shielded and renamed me Queen crowned me with Wands and then carried me to his Chariot.
When the Emperor eventually returns, he will be greeted by unlocked gates and an empty tower.
©Andrea Weston 2018
 
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A Scratched Foot

Sitting here on my couch, reading through what seems to be a never ending list of emails asking for spells, readings and my credit card number, I caught a glimpse of a faded cross on my foot. It seems like I was scratched into Palo ten lifetimes ago and last week all in the same moment. Some memories are fresh in my mind and others long forgotten. Looking from my foot to my various pots, I think of one of my last Lucumi ceremonies. The one where my spiritual grandfather became my god brother. Again some moments are a blur other things I can recall with such stunning accuracy how every hair on someone’s head looked at a particular moment.

Divine, Sacrifice, Initiate, Crown, Scratch, rinse and repeat.

I remember the first time I was mounted, the party where one of my god brothers danced without abandon, the night my god brother and I sat, held hands and cried, the afternoon my god sisters and I beat a bitch’s ass by shaking our pots, I remember these moments and I;

Divine, Sacrifice, Initiate, Crown, Scratch, rinse and repeat.

I look at my healed scratches and I remember sitting on my Madrina’s bed listening to her stories of Mantanzas and Miami, I remember my video calls with my Iya taking instruction for ebo, I remember that I tripped the light fantastic to go astrally wash my god brother’s head, I remember and I;

Divine, Sacrifice, Initiate, Crown, Scratch, rinse and repeat.

I take a moment to look at these badges of my spiritual journey on my body and I remember being wrapped in an energy so deep and vast that I had to give in and climb on its back to see the cosmos.

Divine, Sacrifice, Initiate, Crown, Scratch, rinse and repeat.

All of these memories and moments have been done with and in a community. An imperfect community filled with the ex-this and the I used to be that people. My community that I sometimes love and hate.

Loving and worshipping in Orisha and Mpungo traditions is far more than the personal politics and navigating the snake oil and get rich crowd. It is about family and community. Every scratch, every ounce of Asé on and in my body has a legion of blood and communal family members that support my alignment in this life. No one man is an island and this is true in the religions that have shaped me into who I am today.

I’ll leave the self-initiation, solidarity Orisha/Mpungo practice and ego house building to those who have yet to discover that the real power and joy lies in the reverence and worship that happens at the dinner table, in ceremony or on the phone with your tribe.

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What’s for Dessert?

Did you hear the joke about the African, Native American and the Scotts-Irish men that went into a kitchen to bake a cake but instead of making a cake they made hoodoo? No, you never heard that joke? Well, you are not alone! The first time I heard that joke was when I came across a post online written by someone that was attempting to explain why he is entitled to eat a piece of the “hoodoo cake”.

Most times I’m amused and fascinated by the heated arguments online about who can or cannot practice hoodoo, etc..  Amused in the way a parent is when their sons are about to have a brother fight or when you discover an abnormally long chin hair growing all proud and strong for the world to see.  However, something about the sense of entitlement and arrogance of the author of the “flour, sugar and eggs” puff piece had me all up in my feelings.

Why do people feel the need to define and question what is or what is not influenced by Africans and their descendants? There literally are thousands of people that genuinely believe that hoodoo is a hodgepodge of folk magic traditions.  These very same people will at the same time draw clear lines that allow traditions such as Pow Wow, Appalachian and Native folk magic to have clear distinct boundaries that define them. The belief that Africans, once here in this land, somehow gave up their practices and just adopted to whatever they could find and/or mix and match to fit their needs, is at best ludicrous. In today’s online spiritual community there seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge that what is now being touted as hoodoo actually existed and stood on its own in a totally different fashion within African American communities.  People are out here telling other people, in particular African Americans, what their traditions are made up of.  Trying to tell us that if the ancestors bless it then it’s ok for anyone to practice an African American religious tradition.  If God or one of the divinities give someone the spiritual ok to practice a religion that is not native to their own ancestral lineage then who am I or anyone else to question that divine decision BUT, if you are talking about the ancestral spirits of Africans and African American descendants of this land blessing your journey and giving you permission to enter into their religions and learn their survival traditions, I say this to you;

Africans were slaves, stolen and stripped of everything they owned and the people they loved. Some slaves were beaten, starved and froze to death or died from disease due to lack of medical care.  By law and under penalty of death or severe punishment slaves could not work for a doctor, dispense medicine without the supervision of a white person, could not read or write. Children born to a slave woman bore the condition of their mother.  Slaves bodies were not their own, women were subjected to rape, men beaten, children stripped away from their parents. Those who harbored runaway slaves faced fines as high as $1,000 or prison. Any white person who intermarried and/or had children with a slave within three months of said union took on the same slave status as the spouse/parent, etc. These are just some of the laws of America that were imposed on a stolen people. The work as it is known in African American communities was not some admixture of folk magic practices and knowledge picked up along the way. THE WORK was African religion hidden in plain sight and adapted to the land in which Africans found themselves in. The exchange of knowledge and information with Native Americans happened as a natural product of two peoples living under the yoke of forced oppression, slavery and colonialism. The African ancestors of this land are under no obligation to accept you into the religions and beliefs of their land, neither are their descendants.

An exchange of ideas and teaching one another about each others’ cultures and traditions is how we build bridges. Acknowledging and giving respect to those that came before us for their contributions as well as not attempting to impose a very colonial mindset to who deserves a slice of cake is how a person can come into someone else’s tradition as a guest and be invited to stay by the ancestral spirits and their descendants.

Showing up to a dinner party with a dozen of raw eggs and demanding three to-go-plates along with the deed to the house is one sure way to insure that you are shown the door, especially when your hosts have made sweet potato pie for dessert.