I can’t give you a complete report on this year’s workshops, because I only signed up for four of the twelve presentations. (If you attended any that I missed, please write about it in the comments!) And then again, I don’t want to steal my colleagues’ thunder. So just a few little tidbits here — lures to bring you to Forestville in a future year.
- The Sarayéyé cleansing/road opening got us off to a good start — banishing not only bad luck, sickness and death, but also legal troubles and other complex woes. Sophie the Portuguese Water Dog contributed a lively presence to the ceremony, jumping over the altar at one point — frisky but not at all inappropriate. I was told that Eleggua is the conduit of power from the divine to the material world & back, and that animals often channel him.
- After a very interesting lecture on Middle Eastern traditions and methods of trapping dangerous spirits, Conjureman Ali helped us make a simple and effective spirit trap — a witch-bottle similar to the British traditional type. He explained that a good spirit trap (like any trap, come to think of it) contains two elements: bait and snare. Since these traditions originate in desert country, water in a spirit trap functions as bait.
- Lou Florez took some of the Hollywood Ooga-Booga off Santísima Muerte so we could see some of her real magic. He brought red sugar skulls for each of us and gave us the recipe to make our own. She is most often called on for strong reconciliation work — we got an English translation of a novena for this purpose — but she is also a connection to our ancestors, and can help reconnect with unknown ancestors. And just as sure as grandmas want grandbabies, she can work with your ancestors on fertility issues.
The many varied images of her have different meanings: enthroned, Death as Ruler of life, because we all meet her; with an hourglass, to divine the hour of your death; with an owl, the traditional South American harbinger of death; there is even a joyous Santa Muerte, Alacala (google-fu reveals nothing; I’ll have to contact Lou Florezabout this).
She is strong and hungry, so work with a protector, too, so she doesn’t eat you — some work with St. Cyprian, others with La Muerte’s sister the Virgin of Guadalupe — the life force — but your favorite protector can help you, too. Keep La Muerte well fed with sweets, tequila, the sugar in sugar skulls, and — the spirits of your enemies!
- The Cursing Colloquium was a rapid-fire volley of methods for shutting down wicked people. I really don’t know how much of this I ought to pass on! I’m not sure I want just anybody to know what can be done with tar and feathers, a coconut and a baseball bat, or chili peppers and vinegar…
But I will tell you that Miss Cat demonstrated a good old-time trick: whip your enemy’s footprints. Get a literal whip — she used one of those many-thonged floggers — and whip their actual footprints while cursing them aloud. Turn the air blue with your curses and hit those tracks hard! That’ll run him out of town.Miss Cat put a lot of power into it. I didn’t think to see if the tent above her was singed afterward >:)