A few weeks ago I got a facebook invite for an event from Terry and with Terry you never really know what you're getting into. This event happened to be for a Voodoo Ceremony honoring Ogue Sen Jak Maja. I only hesitated slightly before clicking to accept the invitation. I know some of you are slapping your foreheads and shaking your heads at why in the world I'd want to go to a Voodoo ceremony of any kind. I think under normal circumstances I would agree with you. Voodoo is some dark a scary juju. I accidentally stumbled into a Voodoo shop in New Orleans once. It was on one of the trips Chris and I took with Todd. We may have been on one end of Bourbon street, but I don't think that's right, more like a street over. There was a record shop that Todd wanted to go into and so we all went in and browsed through the records. At the very back of the shop was a doorway that I thought led to another room of records, but when I passed through the doorway, I realized quickly that this was not a room of more records. It was dark and there was someone sitting behind a counter in one corner. The person just stared at me without ever saying a word or nodding his head. There were bowls of dried alligator feet and chicken feet, a shelf of dolls made from burlap, and walls of candles. That room didn't feel right and I sure as heck didn't feel safe. I turned on my heel and walked straight out of that room, on through the aisles of records and out the front door to gulp some fresh air.
I saw this voodoo ceremony invite as more of a something spooky to do for Halloween. Most people go to spook-houses for a Halloween thrill. I thought I'd mix it up this year and go to a Voodoo Ceremony instead. Also I have to admit that I was a bit curious and I can tell you that Kansas City voodoo is very tame to that back store voodoo of New Orleans. Our voodoo priestess of the evening is a lively Italian American woman with a thick New Jersey or Pittsburgh accent. She flew in her friend from New Orleans to be the head voodoo priest of the night's ceremony and he was the type of guy that you would never in a million years look at on the street and think "Oh...voodoo priest", more like "oh...choir boy." The venue was in the KC Conjure shop that is far from dark and scary with it's bright yellow walls. The chicken feet are decorated with rhinestones and mardi gras colored feathers. This is not your sacrificing chickens kind of voodoo.
Really...I'm not sure what was going on or why they were performing this ceremony in particular. There were lots of Haitian songs and there was a drum circle. Rum and cigars were placed in the circle as an offering and at one point we were all led to dance around the circle. No one became possessed even though there was a disclaimer about possible possession at the beginning of the ceremony and Terry's dance around the circle was very zombie. Was it all a little bit silly? Well...of course it was. But it was fun. Part of that fun was just spending the evening with Terry and Heather and part of that fun was just being open to experiencing something new. Participation in the ceremony isn't mandated. There were plenty of people watching from the edges of the circle. I knew that I could easily fall into being a watcher from the edge and so I pushed myself a little bit to actively participate. My "ayibobo" ("amen" or "hallelujah") reply to the voodoo priest's "ayibobo" was clear and strong. I swayed with the beat of the drums and I left a handful of old cigars that I'd found in Dad's desk drawer as an offering. I had a beaded shaker shook around me to shake up energy and rum spit at me to ward off bad stuff. When it was all said and done, we headed over to the 303 for drink.
And we laughed and talked and laughed some more.