Little Altars Everywhere

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As we progress deeper into the lessons here, one thing that is going to come across as a fairly repetitive idea is the notion of points of concentrated spiritual power or essence; in Kreyol, the word is ‘pwen’, from the French ‘point’, which if you’ll forgive the pun brings us back around to our own.

Pwen are places, objects, hidden messages behind songs; pwen are concentrations of spiritual energy that are made, launched, thrown, gathered, or gradually built, depending on the nature of the pwen in question. The concept of pwen is a very wide and complex idea hidden behind the simplest of words, but for today’s essay Id like to examine in depth a single aspect.

I want you to take a moment, breathe, and think about your favorite spot in your home. You know, that place where you’re instantly comfortable, the place where, when the grind of the workday gets to that spot where you just would give anything to be home again, that you’re envisioning. Is it the long part of the sofa in the livingroom, stretching out before the television? The armchair off to the side where the side table is in perfect reach? The computer desk with all your gaming equipment perfectly arranged to plunk you into your favorite world with no wasted time? If you’re reading this, who knows? You may actually be reading this from your favorite spot, you lucky duck. (Otherwise, well…. I promise I wont tell your boss.)

For most of us, we nest; we find the spot we like the most or which makes us feel the most ‘at home’, and our energy in a way claims it. (My stepfather used to be like that about his office; if I wanted to really mess with him all I needed to do was turn a single book around so the binding faced the wall…. he couldnt find the disturbance itself, but he knew *something* was off.)

For Vodouisants, this place is often our Altar.  Continue reading Little Altars Everywhere

How To Begin

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A great deal of the questions people have for me, in my role as a public Houngan and introductory teacher of this (AMAZING) religion, all revolve around the notion of where to begin the journey into Vodou. I’m a fairly typical American, not born to Vodou and not born to Haitian culture, so it makes complete sense to me that a great deal of my responsibility to this religion, its culture, and its spirits, boils down to being able to articulate the journey I’ve personally gone through so that others can use my experience to find their own way in.

Mine’s been an interesting journey; a few times I fell for things that, in retrospect, I really shouldn’t have, and in many ways put me farther away from what I was looking for than I knew at the time. Some of the lessons have been hard, and some have been downright humiliating… especially falling for frauds that, for a time being, I was even defending and advocating for without having the slightest clue that I was just another rube being taken advantage of and lied to. I’m far from a perfect being; it took me a while to realize what was going on, and right about that time the only explanation I can give is that my spirits led me through a series of seeming coincidences that led to me finding an utterly amazing House, and through that, taking initiation as a Houngan in my priestess’ Vodou family, Sosyete Nago. Continue reading How To Begin

Lies to Children

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“We cannot teach children the danger of telling lies to men without realizing, on the man’s part, the danger of telling lies to children. A single untruth on the part of the master will destroy the results of his education.”

-Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them as steps to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)
He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.”

– Ludwig Wittgenstein

As an educator, one of the subtle behind-the-scenes choices I have to make each time I’m faced with Continue reading Lies to Children

Well Hello There!

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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… and a subsequent venture at 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. Continue reading Well Hello There!

Black Arts Matter!

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For the inaugural post here at the Dark Lady’s teaching blog, of course I wanted something splashy, attention grabbing… a headline that would pull in and ignite conversation. Never did I think in my wildest imaginings that this, however, was one I needed to speak on. This one idea, to me, should be common knowledge and an area of deep respect, but in this current climate Ive been seeing a great need to speak and be clear with one particular idea and how it influences the magical community.

Black. Arts. Matter.

Continue reading Black Arts Matter!