“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”

•September 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. Rev 3:20

I have written this post at least five different times and thrown out each version because it misses what I want to write about. At the same time, I don’t know if what I want to communicate is actually able to be written about. How do you put into words the exact moment something drastic shifted as a result of the smallest, most gentle interaction from the most unexpected place? Does translating experience and thought into something that is read take away it’s importance and meaning and leave it impotent? I have no idea, to any of that.

What I do know is that this maryaj of mine has brought about a lot of big changes, little insidious changes, and shaken a lot of shit loose. In some ways, it has done bigger and more expansive things for me internally than kanzo did, because it has flipped my relationships with my spirits upside down and inside out and backwards/forwards/sideways, all in the best of ways and all in ways I couldn’t predict prior to having them put a ring on it. I knew going in that this was significant for me and it’s own sort of initiation, but even then I knew that, like all initiations of all sorts, I couldn’t see or touch those mysteries until I was on the other side and, even once I was, had a little time to really digest what had happened and how I felt about it. A lot of seemingly unrelated stuff got pulled in, and it has started manifesting in ways that continue to undo me and lay me bare. Initiation isn’t finished once the ceremonies are over, it continues on forever and evolves as we evolve.

The catalyst of all of this was not the maryaj ceremony itself, though that was a huge hinge and flashpoint. Instead, it was something that happened after and just before I left Haiti. It was something I asked for, but didn’t expect delivered, and it turned out to be one of the most meaningful experiences of my vodou ‘career’ so far.

Continue reading ‘“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”’


Time for some maryaj photos!

•September 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I was looking at some of my pictures from the wedding (more coming soon, as soon as I meet up with my sister, who juggled her camera and my camera during the wedding because she is a saint) and they make me giddy with joy, so time to share! I’ll explain as best as I can what is going on in the picture, but don’t hesitate to ask questions–I am SUPER HAPPY to talk about my wedding!

Continue reading ‘Time for some maryaj photos!’

Five things make a post.

•August 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

1. I have been purposefully silent lately, and it’s been working for me in a pretty meaningful way. I keep chasing understanding and knowledge on the bonds between humans and spirits, and it keeps leading me to reading a lot of Catholic mysticism and writings on contemplative spirituality. I am not about to run off and go full Catholic, nor is vodou or my understanding of it really that contemplative…but the tools of contemplation and silence are really, really useful. It’s led me to really consider how I spend time with my spirits and how/why I pray. I have zero desire to retreat into spiritual silence, but I am enjoying the time and space in my head.

2. Perhaps it’s a product of focusing inward or perhaps it’s how this maryaj has provided both a container and a capstone for how I relate to my spirits and how things move between us, but I am feeling super, SUPER at peace with all the things in my life. It isn’t that things are peaceful, by any sense of the word, nor are things perfect or easy, but I feel good about all of it these days. I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

3. That exact place is where the spirits put me. They have always and repeatedly given me a safe place to land and smoothed the way in front of me when I am putting in the work to do what they need and want me to do. They have provided everything, from beginning to end, and I know they will continue to do so when I keep putting one foot in front of the other.

4. I wear their rings daily. I have a bunch of them, so I generally rotate depending on the day of the week and who gets that day. A few I wear every day at their request/demand, for Reasons–which is dramatic for me, I don’t really wear much jewelry of my own accord-and only put all the husband bling on all at once when I am working for the spirits, either by doing things for clients or working ceremony. All of my rings are lovely and meaningful, but I have really been considering the importance of the simplest one which, in some ways, is the most important. It is the ring for all spirits, that represents the ceremonial bonds I have with all of them through maryaj, and it is a simple gold wedding band that they showed me ahead of the wedding, in a dream. It’s simple and easy to visibly overlook, since it goes on the same finger as some of the blingier bling, but it is Heavy.

5. In working through thoughts about contemplation and union with the spirits, I have been watching a lovely BBC series on religious and philosophical movements rooted in ancient history. I watched a piece about Confucius tonight, and there was something there that blew my mind open about why regleman/spiritual order and rules is so very important and is really the backbone of the community and practice, both personal and communal. I need to sit and chew on it for a minute but really what a brain breaker in the best of ways and what a gift from the spirits overall. Regleman often gets viewed either (from the outside) as a tiresome burden and why don’t we just cut to the chase, or is not even really considered as something more important than ‘it pleases the spirits’. I have totally thought all of those things at one point or another, but…man. Mind. Blown. I’ll have to write more about it when my brain sorts it out a little and maybe after I chat about it with my manmi.


•August 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I asked my mother what the spirits think of current events in the US. I asked her this in her kitchen, while she cooked and hovered over a variety of pans bubbling at full capacity on the stove. The act of creating and sustaining through every day process is part of her gifts in this life, and she lifts us up through this quiet, backstage work.

“I don’t know,” she says with a wooden spoon in her hand. “I haven’t asked them.”

I haven’t either, at least not directly. I have sat with them and asked ‘why’ over and over, though. Why are people like this? Why has this country prospered for so long on a foundation of genocide, enslavement, torture, and systemic inequality and racism? Why don’t they do something?

They are quiet in response, in the same way that they were quiet around the miscarriage of an election in November 2017. In the aftermath of the delivery of fascism to the highest seat in government, I took as big a step back from my utter rage and disappointment and asked the spirits why they were quiet. I spent a lot of time meditating on this and trying to see the larger picture for all the piles of stinking bullshit in the frame.

In the end, I think that this is not their problem to solve. It is not a situation that they have created–we are responsible for this in a myriad of ways and, while they grieve our suffering and the loss of lives associated with the addressing of a broken and unjust framework, we made this mess and we must clean it up. We bear responsibility and we must carry it. That is not to say that they are not with us in this–they are–but the solutions must come from our hands.

The history of vodou reflects this expectation of responsibility. It only takes a glance at Bwa Kayiman to see this particular truth. That rite and that beginning was not about the spirits swooping in to save their people, but was the people crying out that they could not take any more and that something had to change. It was only then that the spirits came to the table and offered a solution–do all these things and we will assure your success. An agreement was made and, after thirteen years (a not insignificant number) of bloody struggle, the people and the spirits were successful in liberating the island and ejecting the imperalist colonizers.

I don’t know that White America is at that point. Too many white people are surprised by the sudden exposure of the racist foundation of the United States and the systems that have both nurtured white supremacy, white nationalism, and fascism, and allowed those things to flourish in ways that white folks have refused to look at for a very long time. White folks have been comfortable with these systems and situations because we benefit from them each and every day, in every possible way. Even vodou reflects that–people finding out that I am involved in vodou will often be regarded as quaint or edgy or as me taking a walk on the wild side, whereas a Haitian or other person of color will be regarded as threatening or evil or not to be trusted.

As a priest, I can’t sit and ask my spirits what to do. That’s not what I was made for. Instead, I have to suit up and show up and know that they will have my back. That means a literal putting on of the boots and heading into the fray. When the Nazis arrive in my city this weekend for their masturbatory endeavor aimed at terrorizing people of color, Jewish folks, followers of Islam, LGBTQ+ folks, people with disabilities, women, and anyone who does not fit their perfect Aryan spankbank material, under the guise of ‘free speech’, I will be there as a visible reminder that this white person rejects any ideology that elevates whiteness by crushing and terrorizing others and that this systems of inequality in the US must be dismantled at any cost. I will support the immediate consequences to delivering hate messages and physical intimidation, and, if given the chance, I will punch a Nazi in the fucking face.

At the same time, I will pray protection on all those who show up to stand against fascism, white nationalism, and white supremacy, and especially for people of color who will be targeted above all. I will pray that the spirits of war, of revolution, of blood spilled, of a ravening thirst for destruction will deliver the righteous justice of the people upon the heads of those who seek to oppress, terrorize, and silence. I won’t pray for peace and will instead pray for a revolution that shakes the foundations of white supremacy until they crack and crumble to dust. I cannot do anything less.

In all of this, I continually return to my mother, a quiet and dignified woman who came to this country carrying the hope for a different life for her then-child and children to come. She left Haiti just after the Duvalier regime ended, having lived through state-sponsored terrorism and gaslighting. She immigrated at tremendous personal cause, leaving behind family and friends, some of whom will still not speak to her because of her departure. Once here, she began to work immediately and has not stopped since. She became fluent in her third language, earned three college degrees, raised three children on her own, and created the sort of community that draws people from all over the world to her door. She didn’t come here for any of this bullshit.

I have watched her instruct her natural daughter on how to behave if a Trump supporter should confront her. I have witnessed her tears after the election, and the fear of her daughter who has classmates who come to school in Make America Great Again hats. I have seen her worry about her son and what will happen to him out in a world where cops murder Black men and Nazis march in the streets. I love her, so how can I do anything but act?

I thank the spirits for the blessing of the unmasking of white supremacy in the United States in ways that cannot be ignored or dismissed by those who benefit from systems of inequality. I pray strength and protection upon the hands and heads of those who will not let white terrorism, supremacy, and nationalism go unanswered, and I pray as much safety as is possible for those who are targeted by these white terrorists, especially people of color. May your spirits and divinities feed you, nourish you, and hold you close as this war is fought, and may you find blessings of prosperity and hope among the bullshit and bloodshed.

Talk minus action equals zero. –D.O.A.

‘I chose you to marry.’

•August 5, 2017 • Leave a Comment

How do you quantify the most touching spiritual experience of your life and communicate exactly what it meant across a screen?

I’ve been chewing on this for a few days, and I don’t know that I have a simple answer…or any answer at all. Description in words is a cheap substitute for actual meaning in the ways that off-brand soda is a cheap substitute for champagne. It would be easier to shake my brain into yours and give you the picture of what was, in emotional technicolor and spiritual splendor. Memories are not like cornflakes, though, and no hinges exist on my skull. So, I write.

Kanzo gave me big things. Through the grace of my spirits, the work of my mother’s hands, and the support of the community, my life was saved. I gained a mother. I found a family. I solidified some spirit relationships as they relate to being a houngan. I have value and a purpose in a way that my brain can conceive of. None of these things are small or are to be overlooked.

However, these things pale in comparison to my maryaj lwa. Marrying my husbands was probably one of the most profound and spiritually significant experiences in my life. Kanzo is a community endeavor, maryaj is personal and solely for the individual. No one but my husbands can hold me accountable for my part in our maryaj, while the community and my mother and my godparents and my siblings can come down on my head if I am not living up to what they placed upon me and what I promised in exchange. It is strictly between them and me.

I really wasn’t the nervous ahead of the maryaj. My husbands made the lead-up rather easy for me, at least compared to everything that happened ahead of kanzo. Truth be told, I sat down in front of my table in early 2017 and told them that I needed this to be non-stressful and that I wanted to arrive in Haiti happy and excited to be getting married. They largely delivered on that and paved the way to the peristyle door as best they could.

The night my maryaj happened was heavy in all possible ways–the air was thick and chewy with unspent rain, the temple was full and sort of pregnant with anticipation (an admittedly odd-looking blan–one who looks kinda like a woman, maybe, but doesn’t wear a dress or cover their head–had returned and was now marrying an array of lwa in the first ceremony of the summer), and I could feel my husbands all around me before we even started. As the presiding priest prayed and blessed me with incense prior to the beginning of the service, I got goosebumps. They were there already, and they were there for me.

A maryaj proceeds like an elaborate fete. The regleman is adhered to, and the spirits are called. When the spirits who are to marry their spouse are called, they typically come down in possession and a pretty standard marriage ceremony takes place, complete with vows and rings and cake and champagne. I had been prepared for this, but was not ready for how intense a spiritual experience it would be.

It’s hard to really communicate the feeling of your heart being ripped open and love being placed deep inside. It’s hard to really find the words to describe the joy you feel when your spirits whom you have spent years developing relationships with arrive ecstatic to see you and proclaim their love for you loudly and without reservation. It is hard to describe the moment when reality tips and you suddenly see the mystery for all that is really is, in all it’s enormity, and it all clicks into place. It is hard to really describe what it is to know, without a doubt, how deeply you are loved, in public and in front of others.

The husbands came in force, and they came SERIOUS. Maryaj is big, serious business and they treat it accordingly. There is essentially no free spiritual lunch, and so they lay big conditions on the blessings they will give. Litearally: if you betray me/our oaths, I will kill you. If you do not respect my days (the days set aside for only them–no sexual activity otherwise), I will kill you. If you betray your mother, I will kill you. Ogou Feray–the screaming, howling mercenary soldier–took it one step further and placed the edge of his machete on my tongue–if I betray with words, he will cut my tongue out. They mean it, too–it is not hyperbole. It took me a minute and a discussion with my mother later to realize that this is standard maryaj talk and that I had not somehow committed a huge act of betrayal already.

And yet, in balance with such intense messages, they came full of passion. In some ways, the crowd was not even there and it was it’s own intimate encounter left between myself and them. Feray passed rum from his mouth to mine through a kiss. Ogou basically fellated my finger to put the ring on me–stuck it in his mouth and then slid it down my finger. Agwe all but climbed in my lap, and then made the bottle of champagne opened for him ejaculate all over me (really–the cork hit the roof and I wore about half the bottle, much to the delight of Agwe and amusement of the crowd), and then poured the rest over me himself. They all kissed me over and over (no tongue..get your mind out of the gutter) and I even kissed one of my best friends, who held one of my husbands in her head. And of course Gede showed up and graphically detailed what my duties as essentially his boyfriend (we don’t marry the dead) are, and then proceeded to refuse to place the rings on me until we danced the banda together. Several of them bathed me (over my clothes/on appropriately exposed body parts) and it was incredibly tender.

There was even a surprise in store for me–my Ezili Freda came down with blessings for me. She is a spirit who shows up big for me, but whom I struggle a lot with. I don’t do well with femininity or really understand it (go figure), and so I end up sort of at a loss with her. She has, however, made clear over and over that she is quite close to me and loves me a lot. She was saluted as part of the regleman, and no one was more surprised that me when she arrived with a big hug for me before she joined me at the niche. She fed me and I fed her, and she added material to the bath that my spirits collectively made for me as part of the wedding. We have Things To Do together.

One husband was unable to come to the wedding for a variety of reasons, but there was a beautiful moment with him later in my trip…and that is a tale for another blog post.

I had no idea how happy this would make me or how it would change my world. Joy is a choice, but also an experience.

And then..

•August 2, 2017 • 1 Comment

I returned from Haiti a few days ago, with my maryaj (and other things) completed.

I married the sea and the sky, the spine that holds up the space between our world and Ginen, the hurricane and the stillness of the deep sea, raving madness and utter calm, work and rest, fire and water, the scream of revolution and the very ground blood is spilled forth on, the resolution to do what is necesary no matter the cost and the reserved calculation that issues directives, and death, while not my husband, stands much-loved at my side.

I have a lot to write about, and a lot to process. The experience was incredibly meaningful and significant in ways that I can’t even begin to understand yet. I am blessed in so many ways.

Now, I sort out everything that went slightly haywire before I left (seems to be a common precursor to a big trip) and catch up on my naps.

•June 2, 2017 • 1 Comment

I’ve been spending a lot of time close to myself and purposefully quiet. Big things are coming, and it feels like I need to be still to soak it all in. Life in general has sort of followed suit as well–the active bit of my dayjob is over, and so I am spending the upcoming month just closing out the site, which necessitates a lot of solitude at the site, and then working a bunch of shifts at my side gig, which is solitude in it’s own as it is largely 3rd shifts.

I have been feeding my fascination with nuns, and have been particularly fascinated with a particular order based in Kentucky. My fascination is largely surface level (I have no desire to be a nun..)–they wear all black, are strictly cloistered, and one of the nuns pictured on their site looks very much like a dear friend of mine (it is not her). I’ve been reading their blog, and they detailed a particular nun’s preparation for her solemn vows, which are basically her permanent vows to be a spouse of Christ in her order. They specifically mentioned that ahead of what amounts to a big wedding, nuns make a 30 day retreat in preparation–a time of quiet and final discernment on what they are about to do.


I don’t have the privilege of 30 days of retreat from the world prior to my maryaj lwa–I have SO MUCH shit to do–but it makes sense that this is how my world is orienting itself. I am more than than 30 days out from the ceremony, but that sort of mindset is already in place. I want to do nothing but be still, and I’ll get that in short periods prior to the ceremony, where I’ll spend a few days in extended prayer to essentially make agreements with my to-be husbands about my future.

In the devouring of nun information, I have been watching vocation videos from nuns, monks, and priests on Youtube–they basically detail how a particular person developed in their faith and how they decided to enter their position. One in particular–a man who had been a farmer in the midwest with a large crop yield and associated business–detailed how he asked his god why he had been given all these things (farm, successful business, etc) if he was supposed to give it all up to enter the priesthood. He relays that the answer he received was that he had been in that particular situation because it was the right environment for him to finally be able to say yes to the call to priesthood.

I relate so much to that, in SO MANY ways. All my spirits basically did the same thing–they waited until my life had reached the tipping point where I was able to see that nothing would change unless I did what was presented to me. Had everything been good, I probably would have turned them all down. They really waited until I could say yes because they know how stubborn I am and, frankly, how much I did not want to be involved in any organized religion or have permanent ties to other people. The vision of spirits never fails to amaze me.

Today, I pick up the last two rings for the maryaj. I’ve already seen the bodies of them without the stones, but I will see them complete today and bring them home to my spirits, where they will sit on my table for the lwa until both the table and the rings get packed up.

I am so excited.