Undoing and Reforming

My weekends have taken on an interesting rhythm. Saturdays are the days when I write and clean and study materials for kanzo, and Sundays are where I get up and head to Mass (sometimes) before I go into the city for kanzo school. I spend several hours with my soon-to-be kanzo siblings, and we practice veve and vire, ask Manmi a zillion questions (or maybe I just do..), and discuss vodou. After ‘class’ is Haitian food in the kitchen, where we sit around Manmi’s kitchen table and continue discussing questions and various sorts of vodou philosophy. It’s a nice sort of schedule.

Last weekend, I was the last one there and I sat at the table while Manmi cooked for the week. She told me stories of how she prepared for her own kanzo, with months of sleeping on the ground and praying to her spirits for their guidance and blessings. She talked about how her focus in the months prior to going into the djevo and how her world had narrowed to just that, essentially. I remarked how it seems my life has taken a similar turn, albeit somewhat unexpectedly.

And it has. These days, my life is dayjob and preparing for Haiti and kanzo. I don’t go out and I really don’t do much more than show up for work, do my job, and go home with Haiti and the Lwa on my mind. I eat and I pray and I plan and I dream, and that’s really it. I get invited to social things, but the drive to go is absent—I objectively want to, but there is the question of spending money (have to save for Haiti) and feeling distracted from what I really ought to be doing. I’ve started slowly telling friends that I am basically out of circulation until at least the fall, if not longer.

In a lot of ways, this is sort of sobering. My focus is on walking well to my death—I am going to Haiti to die and be reborn from the waters of Ginen, where the Lwa dwell and where my Manmi will pull me from. When I promised to go into the djevo, I promised to die. I promised to walk willingly into death and trust that I will be brought out on the other side, and that’s fucking scary.

Of course, this is not a physical death—though I know I’m physically going to suffer in some ways—but a more esoteric one. The Lwa have not put all this effort into me to dismiss me from my body, after all, as They could just as easily do that her. The person who goes in to the initiatory chamber to kouche will not be the person who walks out, though. I don’t know what will be left and what will grow in the newly made spaces. I have no idea who I will be on the other side. I can’t see how my life will shape up After. My future is being deliberately unwritten right now, only for the slate to be wiped clean and then re-scribed.

The wiping of the slate started months ago, I think, when I agreed to do this. I have continually been directed to look at the things I keep tucked away in my emotional and spiritual closet and don’t want to look at. There has been a lot of getting my hands dirty with the black stickiness of the soul that has accumulated over the span of my entire life, with the goal of me seeing the broad picture of who I am. None of this is being lifted away, at least not now, as They aren’t going to relieve me of the burden of my past. I must, however, drag all the shit out of the dark and look at it. I have to have some idea of the lay of the land before I go in, and I can’t look away. I don’t expect any of these things to be lifted away by kanzo or for my life to drastically change the second I walk out, but I know I will have the tools to deal with a lot more of my collection than I do now.

All of this has been super unpleasant, honestly. Things are in the closet because I don’t want to deal with them or look closely at why they hurt (good things don’t go in the closet, after all). I don’t know that I’m doing a great job at this, especially since I struggle to do the actual looking without flinching away.

If I am good at something, though, it is looking at the broader picture. I can see how all the current pieces are slowly spinning into one big ball. I see it as a giant ball of wax since I’ve been doing things with wax, and it’s like the pieces are getting heated until they are flexible and almost melty—like that second when you dip your finger into candle wax and it almost burns as it dries on your skin—and slowly being assimilated in a Borg-like manner to the greater whole. I don’t know exactly what this means—am I slowly connecting with all the various pieces of myself? Am I being made whole only to be undone?—but I know it is part of The Point.

A really hard area has been facing my gender stuff head on for what it is. I am brokenhearted in some really hard ways that I will be going in before I have chest surgery. I know it’s the right decision and I know why it’s the right decision, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. I know I will be in a better position to reconstruct an essential part of my Self after, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to now. Logic doesn’t speak very well to hurt and needing to go in as I am hurts a lot. My elder brother said something really important not that long ago that clicked deeply and that is that making kanzo and being baptized as a houngan is really the first public, permanent affirmation of my gender and identity. In a strange and twisted way (and I should expect nothing less), it is an Esu lesson. It’s really THE Esu lesson that has been banged into my head by Him over and over—I must be who I am no matter how hard or the cost, because my happiness and sanity will otherwise be compromised. He reminds me that I am His child in this, and that He stands as only who He is without worry for what it will cost Him because that is His àṣẹ . I am not Him and can’t embody the vast depth that He holds, but I can throw myself at His footsteps because I must, or I will be dragged. The hard way, or the harder way. I can’t live in a vacuum of what other people would project onto me. I can be sorrowful, though.

The other hard hit area has been dealing with my family-of-origin issues. I didn’t realize how deeply those roots go and I didn’t expect my relationship with my Manmi to really kick that hornets nest. It has nothing to do with her, really, except that she is my manmi—my spiritual mother—and that was all that was needed as ignition point. This combined with my ancestors really showing up in a heavy way has been hard to deal with. I found out how angry I am with my mother and with my family in general and how much I really resent how they treat and have treated me. If there is anything that is a tangled mess, it’s this. My gender seems simple and cut and dry in comparison.

My matrilineal background has come out of the shadows in a big way. They are the ancestors who have stepped forward—almost all women, interestingly enough—and they have unequivocally said that I am theirs and they accept me for who and what I am. They basically explained all the issues with my parentage and family in one fell swoop, and that has been enlightening to say the least. My mother’s side is heavily Welsh and Scottish, with strong ancestral ties to the actual land there and resulting heavy ties to the tylwyth teg, or the Welsh version of the Fair Folk or fairies or whatever you want to call them. They tell me that I’m a changeling, and it makes perfect fucking sense and only amplifies family stuff.

It’s really sort of ridiculous, honestly, when you look at me and my family and who I am. I am the only person in my family with light-ish hair. My gender is all weird. When you put me with my family, it is very clear that I am the cuckoo bird in the clutch of starlings. Fuck, it even makes sense with Esu stuff—the child whose soul was given over to the crossroads? Yup. It explains to the T why my parents sort of look at me with the general shellshocked ‘well, we know we’re supposed to love you, so…’.

There are a bunch of reasons why a changeling–where the tylwth teg take the soul of a child and replace it with something else–would be made and none of them are really pleasant. The soul that war born was too ill to survive, the soul suffered trauma that made it’s tie to the body dicey, the parents harmed the child in some way or neglected it, or there was a deal with the tylwth teg gone wrong, either directly or in the ancestor line somewhere. In each instance, the tylwth teg show up and take the soul that was born and replace it with a soul that already existed in annwn/under the hill, a soul that needed to be born, a tylwth teg that wanted to be human, or, depending on the folklore, a log or a stick that the parents thought was the child. I am not a log or a stick and the ancestors were pretty clear on the likely cause of this.

I was talking to other folks in my Manmi’s house about this and Manmi’s daughter by blood posed a really interesting question—what if whatever was originally supposed to be me was replaced by a soul that already had ties to Haiti or Ginen? That sort of set me back on my heels because I have never thought of it that way. It doesn’t really matter, in the long view, because it doesn’t change anything—I am not Haitian or anything—but it certainly would explain A LOT. Another melty piece attaching to the whole.

All of this has only created more inner turmoil for me with my family. It’s made ancestor work really painful, though I know that pain would lessen if I just fucking did it more. I haven’t yet been able to approach them without a lot of sorrow and anger and that keeps me from wanting to, even though they keep saying ‘come here, we already know and it’s fine’. They’ve done a lot for me, but I struggle to go sit with them because it hurts, a lot. Even the ancestors who I knew in life hurt—even though they loved me then and still love me now.

This is basically my world right now, with a side of Netflix and creating art and spiritual work. I’m basically a hermit for whom nothing else exists beyond Haiti and the concept of Before and After. I told my Manmi that the world basically ends the day before I plan to land in Haiti, and that’s sort of how I am living. All Ginen, all the time.

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~ by Alex on March 5, 2016.

3 Responses to “Undoing and Reforming”

  1. Intense. I wish you only the best as you move forward.

  2. […] didn’t get into my feeds all weekend, so it wasn’t until today that I saw Alex’s Undoing and Reforming. In a long and beautifully-written post, the line “I have continually been directed to look […]

  3. […] and I’ve spent a lot of time chewing on things that happened for me and how I felt about them. I’ve written recently about how life has become much more introspective as I prepare for kanzo, and that sort of played out this past weekend in a lot of various […]

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