My name’s Houngan Matt, also known by my initiate name in Haitian Vodou, Bozanfe Bon Oungan, and welcome officially to the website of my lil’ shop in New Orleans, The Dark Lady!
I made my name over the last ten years or so with two award-winning blogs that sadly no longer exist, but which can probably still be found via the internet as nothing online really ever disappears… blog.vodouboston.com and a subsequent venture at blog.threekingsvodou.com. Neither are there any longer, which to be honest is OK… their content is being rewritten to be added to this one, so if you follow me there’s nothing you’re going to be missing out on. It’s all coming back online now that I own my own shop and domain again, but if you arent familiar with my work, lemme explain what it was and what you can expect to see here at The Lady’s Musings.
When I first started blogging at my original VodouBoston site, my major reasons (which haven’t actually changed) were fighting the many misconceptions about Vodou, fighting fraud, and putting safe non-initiate-level information about how to begin in this fascinating faith freely available online for anyone to be able to use. At the time, one of the Vodou-World’s major issues was that almost all information was either locked behind a language barrier or tightly controlled by voices with a major web presence who charged exorbinant amounts of money for the slightest pieces of practical information… it purposefully didnt help anyone, and only put their wallets ahead of the game as people struggled for crumbs and kernels of anything useful.
So, I began my blogging career putting actual ritual info, salutes, choreography, altar-building tech, basically everything anyone raised in a Vodou environment would know before taking the decision to kanzo/our word for our ordination process…. and, instead of faking it all or charging 500+ dollars for weekend intensives, I wrote it up in simple and easy-to-read articles (laced with a touch of sass, something I can’t resist) and put them online.
You can probably imagine the drama that resulted; the people who were tightly controlling their streams of information went *utterly ballistic*! Personally I thought it was both amazingly childish and incredibly fun to watch them melt down in such a fashion, but then they were the ones asking for huge sums of money to ‘’teach’’ information that in a real functional Vodou context is typically picked up by repetition and watching events that, while common in Haiti, are rare outside of the country (at least in the public eye). To say they reacted poorly would be an understatement; instead, where I think if my writings had simply been available to the small number of people who knew me they’d have just slipped under the radar, what ended up happening was the very people who thought my putting out for free what paid their mortgages and car payments threw the attention of all of their people at my writings by ‘’calling me out’’… and readership numbers skyrocketed.
Suddenly infamous, called a ‘’wanna-be Houngan’’, challenged on almost every front, I found myself with a curious sort of fame. At the time there weren’t many voices speaking from the insider’s perspective of Haitian Vodou, especially not voices that were open and honest about their own ethics, their journey into the faith at an ever increasing depth, or certainly any voices speaking about what the process was actually like of working the faith the real way… how to find a lineage one would be comfortable initiating into, how to proceed respectfully into the tradition in a way that was authentic, respectful, and verifiable (we’ll touch on that soon, I promise), of course laden with another heaping helping of sass, but also from the perspective of a friendly voice not pulling rank, but teaching from the side of ‘’I did this, it wasnt THAT hard, and I can show you how I learned to do it’’.
To use the words ‘’Overnight Scandal’’ would probably still be an understatement. I was pretty much instantly hated and villified…. after all, my words that were out there for no charge at all undermined the ability of others to collect hundreds of dollars for workshops that still left people incomplete. I marked out a map freely showing roads those people didnt want seen; after all, it cut deeply at their bottom line and their income. There have been people who called places where I was employed to demand the business owners fire me or ‘’face consequences’’… There’ve been folks who inisited that I didnt have a right to speak or who fell back on the worst word they could think of at the time (‘’shitstirrer.’’ lol) There were even folks who jumped on the then-popular trend of scam-reporting sites to claim that they were initiates of mine who’d been put in compromising or sexual situations to discredit me (when, to date, I *still* havent made initiates of my own, instead preferring to bring people to the Haitian priestess who ordained and taught me so people can learn from the source.)
Gawd, one person found pictures of me in drag for a halloween event and tried to smear me as… well, we’re still not sure what they were trying to say about those pictures of me as one UGLY girl, but hey; it was a silly costume and those heels gave me KILLER legs. Good times.
It is what it is…. but, it made for an interesting spot to be in as just about everyone suddenly turned to villifying me for no reason other than feeling threatened that I wasnt asking money for basic information. Instantly I was *THAT GUY*, which if you havent ever found yourself occupying that space before is a strange spot to be…. every word that comes out of you ends up triple checked, spun around, acidly spat back out by total strangers who assume you MUST be talking in code about them…. it gets old, but at the same time when nobody else is rising up to just say hey, these things are so minor, so trivial, and frankly free when the religion is celebrated in-country, being the guy who not only says the Emperor is naked-as-a-jay-bird but who also comes up with clothing patterns that’d make said fashion model actually look good in public? You get noticed… not just by the people who fight you for no reason, but also by the people who have been hungrily waiting for just the information that you’re out there giving them. THAT’s what holds value, knowing that people were actually helped by something you took time to give.
So…. that’s why Im still here.
Now that my new physical brick-and-mortar shop has finally settled into a pattern that’s starting to look like normal, stable, and long lasting, I can turn to my shop’s blog and continue doing what Im known for…. teaching the realities of Haitian Vodou in a way that makes sense of it to people who come from outside it’s culture. My mission is and has always been to put out the body of information that any aspiring Vodouisant (or word for member of the faithful) will need to know BEFORE choosing to become an initiate and gaining access to our deeper levels of knowledge. This blog (with, of course, its own good heaping of sass) is written to help you build a foundation of knowledge, a special form that we call Konesans, an inner knowing that authentic practice of the tradition and it’s ways helps every individual build.
…as always, for FREE. There is not nor has there ever been any money exchanged for the information I put on my blogs.
So be prepped for good knowin’, good info, hot Vodou, lots of sass, and probably some huge steaming piles of drama kicked up by whoever feels threatened by me today. It’s gonna be a fun ride!