Bonswa zanmi! I know it’s been a long time since I chatted with ya (bad Manbo; no rice and beans for you!) but I’ve been a bit distracted; as of today, I completed all the course work for my bachelors degree in nursing(I’m already a nurse but I had a two year degree, so now I’ve completed the full bachelors)!
Now, I did all the human stuff you have to do to get something accomplished: studied, wrote papers (lots and lots of them), participated in class, etc etc. But I also made sure to ask my lwa and ancestors to guide me and help me do the work.
It’s important to note that when you serve the lwa, you have to communicate with them regularly. They *want* to hear from you and what’s going on in your life. They *want* to work with you, but you have to make sure to ask. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “Helping me with Little Thing is beneath the big spirits of the lwa, I don’t want to trouble them.”
Think of the lwa as your beloved elders, your loving doting older relatives who are always ready for you to pick up the phone and call them for a chat. And just like any relatives or friends, if they help you out they love to and need to hear the words “Thank you.”
How can you do that? Here are some ideas:
1. Prayer. It’s free! Say a rosary in honor of your spirits. Say a novena to the saint that represents the lwa who helped you (for example, if Metwes Ezili Freda helped you out, you could say a novena to Our Lady of Fatima or the Sorrowful Mother).
2. Light a candle for them; the seven day glass vigils are great. Again, you can light one in the color and saints image of the lwa you want to thank. Or just light a white one; white can be used for any lwa.
3. If you have a few bucks handy, go to a Catholic church and ask for a Mass to be said in honor of your spirits. Before you panic and say, “Manbo, if I go to a parish and ask for a Mass for Vodou spirits, the priest will chase me out and spray me down with holy water”, fear not! A trick my brother @hounganmatttaught me is to tell the parish to say a Mass in honor of the deceased members of your family. Tell your spirits that this Mass is for them. Try to attend the Mass if possible, or at least have the parish send you a Mass card, and you can put it on their altar.
4. Feed them. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate feast, but do something a little special if they did something especially nice for you. You can find out what foods the lwa in particular like and get it for them (in the example of Freda, she loves pink and white cakes, strawberries, rice pudding…think creamy sweet stuff). Just remember: don’t give them lemons, limes, or garlic. Present the food to them at their table and tell them this is for them to enjoy. Leave it out for a day or two, then dispose of the food out in nature.
5. Flowers! We use flowers a lot in Vodou. Remember light colors for the Rada spirits, and more hot/bright colors for Petwo. Gede would love white or purple flowers. Leave the flowers out until they wilt, then dispose of them out in nature
6. You can set a lamp for a lwa to give them a big dose of “thank you” energy. Non-initiates can make simple lamps for their spirits with the coaching of a priest/priestess, but we clergy can make lamps that are more involved with more special ingredients. These types of lamps cost money, but can be a great way to send energy and thanks to your lwa for a job well done.
7. If the lwa did something particularly big or solved a big problem for a person, that person may do what’s called an “action de grace”; it’s a party given to a spirit or group of spirits specifically to say thank you. This is something that of course you can’t do on your own; you’d have to work with a Vodou house to accomplish it.
My kanzo anniversary is in late July, so I will be cooking and feeding my spirits at that time for a big ol’ thank you for carrying me this far. But until then, I say “Mesi Bondye, zanset yo, e lwa yo!”