(gods he hates his picture taken!)
Hey I woke up this morning and realized it was December 17th, the Festival day of Babaluaye or San Lazaro, and i did not have any beans in the house for an offering, so i had to run into town to get my supplies!
Now let me explain that i am a white guy of German and Scots-Irish blood living in the sticks of the Appalachians, so what the hell would i know about Vodoun (i like the French spelling) even though i practice Witchcraft? Well here is my story:
Well fact is i did not seek out the Lwa/gods but rather they sought me out. I had this rich girlfriend who took me along on a business trip to New Orleans back in the 1990s. We stayed in a modern hotel on the edge of the French Quarter and could actually see the cemetery where Marie Laveau is buried. We visited all the Voodoo tourist spots and shops staring at the bones and masks and taking in the history, and of course got drunk in the French Quarter at night. We also visited Marie Laveau’s grave and made out marks and offerings and prayers. On the next to last day there we went to a local market and there was this guy who had African (probably Haitian) statues and such and there was this 3 foot tall black wood carved statue of Babaluaye, whom i had no idea who he was, but i felt attracted to him. So i bought him to bring home. He would not fit in my little suit case so i actually stowed him under the airplane seat in front of me, which ironically was occupied by a Catholic priest! I bet he had some interesting dreams that night, lol.
I am not going to go into detail since you can research him yourself, but Baba, as i called him, is depicted as an old infirm man with a limp who uses crutches or a cane, is covered with skin sores, and has two dogs with him. In Catholicism they call him San Lazaro after Lazarus who rose form the dead. He is a patron saint who helps heal skin diseases and protect one from venereal diseases, once leprosy, now HIV. To me Babaluaye feels like almost a cross between certain traits in Legba and Ghede, standing between life and death.
Like i said i am Not a Vodoun student or expert, so i set him up on an altar hidden in a corner behind a door because he is rather shy and likes it that way. He is also known to be rather horny and i have seen these little statues with a barrel over his body and when you pull the barrel up his spring loaded phallus pops up, surprise! I bought him an eleke of his colors of purple and white and learned that he likes an offering of dried beans and 17 blue candles on his feast day and he seemed perfectly happy with the attention. But there was something missing – a big black phallus to match his tall thin black wooden form, Well one day on May Day, after a thunderstorm the night before, i went for a walk in the woods and found a small tree that had been broken in half revealing the pith of the tree which was about a foot long. So i broke it off, took it home, and carved into the soft wood a nice phallus for him. I painted it black, drilled a hole in it and in his groin and stuck a nail in there to hold it in place. And boy now he is Really Happy!
Ever since then some other Lwa (Oya, Legba, La Dominadora, La Sirene, Exu, Pomba Gira) have followed him here and i work with them much like i work with my Pagan Celtic gods and goddesses. But as i have written before the Lwa seem more alive to me than some of the older deities that were almost crushed to dust by the Christian religion. I think it is because so many million of people in Haiti, other parts of the Caribbean, Africa, and Brazil are actively worshiping them, so they may have more life in them. They feel more like friends, sometimes dangerous friends, than some high gods who demand worship like some Olympian god. At least that is my theory. And i am sure that the real Vodoun initiated purist practicers are spitting coffin nails the way i have done this saying it is not traditional and what does a white guy with no training know etc etc, I guess i should not even be using the word Vodoun but rather Hoodoo since this is more a gumbo of European and African religions. All i know is that this has worked for me.