emberleo: A forked crossroads symbol with the letters A M U H (umbanda)
2013-03-29 06:07 pm
Entry tags:

Update: Goodbye to AMUH

I have been removed from the American Magic Umbanda House, and all relevant contact lists.

Per Exu on Mama's instructions, I stepped back to Alumna status last August - essentially an inactive member-in-good-standing who generally acts as a Friend to the house. I had promised that I would help out at any event where I was requested (to the best of my ability, anyway - what more can anyone do?) and that I would come back to dance out for Senior Medium with my House-Twin when he was ready, as he requested and Mama had approved.

I had already decided that I should only attend events I was specifically requested or otherwise obliged to attend. I thought at first that might include events the Powers requested I attend, but it was made clear that They did not want me to attend rituals only for Their sake right now.

Although I'm aware of social gaffes, and some ways in which people were unenthusiastic about my manner of service, I'm not aware of having broken any house rules, or harmed anyone. If I harmed anyone, I am deeply sorry, as that was never my intention.

I'm not entirely sure why Mama felt the need to remove me from the house altogether, given that I had already stepped back, but it's her choice to make, and it's what she felt was needed.

I am very unhappy with this turn of events. I don't understand, and I'm not sure what I should do next, other than get out of the way. My head is swimming, and I've already stuck my foot in my mouth several times trying to make sense of this. I don't want to upset anyone else, so I'm making this general announcement that if anybody wants to know more about what's going on with me they are welcome to ask.

I still love my former house-siblings, and wish them all well. They all have my contact information and are welcome to call on me.

Be Well,
--Ember--
emberleo: A dark-haired woman weaving strands of light (dreaming)
2013-03-26 01:05 pm

A Dream Pataki

I dreamt this yesterday (Monday) morning:

I had to ford a slow-moving but very cold river that was about 4 feet deep, in my car. It was the kind of river that is near the sea, because the waves would periodically flood the car, so I couldn't stay dry. Finally I had to turn my car into a little boat and get out and kick-paddle to push us to the other shore.

On the other shore was a strange house full of wanderers, where I could rest for a bit. Once I was well-rested, I found myself in a bazaar, talking to an older woman with dark hair and caramel skin. I picked up a gorgeously-illustrated picture book, and looked at a picture of a beautiful older African man. The style of the painting was a sort of splotchy watercolor. I grinned and turned the picture around to show the woman. "This reminds me of Obatala!" I said, pleased, but not expecting her to know what I meant. She replied that it was Orunla.

She started to tell me the story, which was indeed about an Orixa. I wasn't quite sure of the name.
"Wait, you mean Oxala?" I asked.
"You're not LISTENING!" she replied sharply.
I was abashed, and apologized, explaining that I WAS listening, but I knew different names for the Orixa and wanted to make sure I understood her story correctly. She grumbled and told me to read the book myself, then.
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The book told the story of the first two Orixa, with Oludumare: a Man and a Woman, made to be immortal, to keep Oludumare company, and guard the world. Oludumare had created a world full of wondrous things that moved in cycles of life, creation, and death. The Man and Woman at first were occupied learning about all of the many things in Oludumare's world. They loved each other as husband and wife do.

One day, Oludumare came to the Man and said "She wants to die."

The Woman had made her case, that if she could not create, she had no reason for existence. She wanted very much to create children, as all the plants and animals do. Everything else in all of Oludumare's creation was part of the beautiful cycle, why not her?

Oludumare admonished that they had been created to be immortal and thus did not need children to carry on their traditions in their absence.
"Then let me die," she replied.

But the Man did not want her to die, and did not himself want to die. He loved the Woman and wanted her to stay with him. Oludumare was firm.

"You must help her die."
"You can't want me to kill her?!"
"Go out into the world and learn all there is to know of death."

Reluctantly, the Man did as he was told. At first he was angry with Oludumare, then resigned. Finally he began to see the beauty of the cycle that the Woman had perceived. As it moved before him and swirled around him in its mysterious glory, the Man understood the value of death in the cycle.

He returned to the hall where the Woman and Oludumare were waiting, his garments stained with blood, with mud, with salt water and sweat, with all the substances of creation and death marking his garments.

"I understand," he said.
Oludumare smiled. The Woman was relieved.
"Then I may die now?" She asked. And it was so.

That the Man would not be lonely, Oludumare made another Woman. She was able to die, and able to create, both these things built into her being from the first. The Man, too, was given the possibility to die. He, too, could create now, his journey having initiated him into the mysteries of the cycle.

They soon had children, who became part of the cycle themselves. They multiplied, and spread across the world, and each in time took up guardianship of different aspects of Oludumare's creation.

Oludumare was never lonely again.
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I closed the book, and brought it back to the woman. I told her I MUST own the book, and asked its price. She was reluctant, as though she was obliged to let me have the story, but didn't believe I deserved it, and thus didn't want to sell me the book. I was in tears - it was the most beautiful story I had ever heard, and I could see myself the mysteries of the cycle moving through the artwork, the beauty of Death moving through the cycle. She relented, selling me the book for some strange fee I no longer remember. Not coins, certainly, but perhaps bites of bread, and a snippet of my hair, or somesuch.

I woke up not being sure if the story was about Obatala or Orunla, and knowing no name for the first Woman.

I thought the story was about Obatala until just now, when I looked up Orunla and saw that Orunla (Orunmila) was the first Orixa, who got to watch Oludumare create all things, and that's how He knows all fates. So I think yes, this story IS about Orunla, and I was given a gift of it, that the one sent to give it to me didn't really feel I deserved, but she was under orders of some kind.

Edit Note:
Although I must admit what I looked up after the story contradicts all the stories I knew before, where Obatala was the first Orixa under Oludumare, and Orunla was Obatala's youngest son, who spent most of his time growing up buried to the neck under the tree Iroko.... Have I got wires crossed, or is this just a place where mythology has multiple answers?

-E-
emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
2012-06-10 10:56 pm

Message from Midgard

"Earth to Ember! Earth to Ember! Please ground in!"

Oops!

Okay, I knew I'd hit a certain degree of radio silence, but it has been brought to my attention recently that said silence is being interpreted rather differently than I expected.

It seems that all the love and time and effort and growth I'm putting into and getting out of my time at the Rabbit Warren is looking somewhat more like I've gotten buried under a burdensome pile of bunnies.

Nope nope nope nope nope [/muppet alien voice]

Quite the opposite! )

Please bear with me - the Ember is Under Construction!

-E-
emberleo: A forked crossroads symbol with the letters A M U H (umbanda)
2012-04-13 03:08 pm

AMUH: After the Fire - Rebuilding the Lubisha

The American Magic Umbanda House currently holds most of our ceremonies in the back yard at House Kaleidacopia in North Oakland.

Some background on House Kaleidacopia and AMUH )

Last May the large stand-alone shed we used to contain all of the regalia and supplies that are used in our ceremonies - our Lubisha - burned out from the inside. It never became clear how the fire started. There were no candles or cigars lit inside or anything. The lubisha was quiet and locked that evening. Mama wasn't even home at the time - almost nobody was, which is part of why the fire had a chance to really get going in the first place. But of course between all of the devotional crafts, veils, candles, and rum in the wooden shed, once a spark flew there was plenty to feed it. The resulting fire was hot enough to melt glass and destroy metal, so of course it turned the multi-layered plywood shed to charcoal.

AMUH lost almost everything in the fire, but no one was injured. )

The most painful, though, is that we lost all our house-owned drums! Blessedly, many of our house members and friends filled in the gap with their own djembes, which is why this year's PombaGira devotional rocked every bit as hard as ever. But it's not the same as having our very own barrel drum and properly blessed djembe. Those can never be recovered, although in time we will likely acquire new House drums again as we are able.
--------------------------------------------------------
Why am I processing all this now, almost a year later? Well, it's finally time for us to replace the Lubisha!

We've been making do, but that's not enough. )

We have set up a WePay fund to replace the Lubisha. It is first and foremost for House members to more easily gather those funds in order to repay our Sister. However, we realize there are many friends of AMUH in the extended community who might be interested in helping us with this project, and we are grateful for any assistance that comes our way. After the Lubisha has been rebuilt, we will need to once again replace the pavilion covers which have been damaged by the winter winds. There is still cleanup to do and pay for. And of course, we are still slowly rebuilding our regalia collection and supplies. Eventually we may even begin to replace the precious, blessed drums on which all our ceremonies depend.

If you want to contribute, go here:

Donate to Lubisha for AMUH


Regardless, thank you for your time, and blessings upon you for your support!

--Ember--
Little Mother
American Magic Umbanda House
emberleo: A forked crossroads symbol with the letters A M U H (umbanda)
2012-03-06 09:13 pm

What I wish people understood about the Pomba Gira Devotional

Every year for longer than I've been attending PantheaCon, the American Magic Umbanda House has put on a Devotional ritual for Pomba Gira. The last several years, I have been the lead singer for that event.

I have received quite a few compliments on my singing, for which I am deeply grateful. Every year I have been involved in the music we have worked very hard to make it the best we can for that year, and even better the next, so I am grateful when feedback reaches me that tells me we are succeeding, or how to succeed even more.

For a few years before I took up the singing, I helped coordinate the event and ward the ritual. We made many adjustments, some subtle, some blatant, to the balance of the ritual structure in order to better serve the needs of everyone involved. I don't think people realize how much we take to heart the critique we receive both directly and indirectly. We search for reviews of the Devotional and look at what people liked and didn't like, and more importantly, why they did or didn't like it.

We have put a lot of work into making the ritual structure more supportive for the inexperienced, while still being a positive, exciting experience for those who return each year to dance with us, and of course a pleasing offering for Pomba Gira Herself.

There are a few complaints I hear every time, and I want to address them now.

Why is the music so repetitive? )

Why are the lights so bright? )

Why are cameras not permitted? )

Why are alcohol and other intoxicating substances not permitted? )

Why is ID required? )

Seriously.

Yes, some of our rules are more strict than may seem necessary in any given moment. We need rules that we can apply safely regardless of the context in which they arise. It might be safe to dim the lights for you, and let you and your friends photograph only each other. You might only be a little buzzed. Maybe you're obviously of age.

It's not just about you.

It is NOT safe to dim the lights for the newbie soft head who has never attended before or to allow cameras in the hands of those who won't respect privacy. Not everyone is obvious when they're too compromised to be safe in a trance ritual. It's not up to our warders to determine the individual experience level and ethical basis for each attendee.

I don't think due caution is too much to ask for a couple hours once a year, for the mutual benefit of all.

Onward!

Can I have a necklace? )

Got a question about the AMUH Pomba Gira Devotional at PantheaCon? Ask, and I'll see what I can do to answer you.

--Ember--
emberleo: A dark-haired woman weaving strands of light (dreaming)
2012-02-22 04:11 pm
Entry tags:

Dream: A time to be born, a time to die - not necessarily in that order

I dreamt I was on the road into the neighborhood I grew up in, because I had to locate a particular woman. I don't remember right now if she was dead when I got there already or if she was going to die shortly, but either way it was my job to inform her, help with the transition, and deal with any complications.

The house was maze-like. Her mother did not speak English, and did not understand why I was there or that her older daughter was now dead. The younger sister was rebellious, a bit crazy, and refused to come out of her room until I'd gotten the body removed from the building.

I kept searching for an example of something that was the right hue and brightness of lime green to show the younger sister in order to convince her that her sister really was gone, and I really had been sent to deal with the situation.

Towards the end of the dream, I got news that the dead woman had done something untoward to skip ahead through the afterlife process and had jumped into reincarnation immediately before her spirit had a chance to really forget the previous life. Oh dear! Too late now.

I awoke to certainty that my friend's daughter had indeed died while I slept. The offerings I made to Papa Ghede last night asking that she either be saved miraculously by being held only very briefly or (admittedly more likely) taken quickly and as painlessly as possible seem to have translated into word that she has indeed passed on, but will reincarnate immediately. That's... not what I meant.

Oops?

-E-
emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)
2012-01-17 09:23 pm

Old Treasures - What the Queen of Beauty said

Going back over my journal entries from the past, and finding bits and treasures, messages that need to be remembered and shared.

Here's one from April of 2009, from a dreamt conversation with Oxun:

"I help people learn how to love themselves, and how to feel good about what they bring to the world. I teach people about beauty, yes.

But more to the point: When you go about in the world, how you look will always affect how people treat you. What I teach people is how to use this simple reality to their own advantage as much as possible. You don't have to be beautiful all the time, but if you are not conscious of your appearance, you are not taking responsibility for, control over, how others see you and treat you.

On a basic level, almost everyone comes to realize how they are treated according to how they look by default. Most people learn at least a few tricks they can use to manipulate people for their own advantage in the most immediate sense, based on using how they appear to others. Little girls recognize that they can wrap big men around their fingers to get what they want by emphasizing just how adorable they are. Big guys recognize that they can intimidate people. People who don't stand out realize they won't be noticed and can therefore get away with certain things. This is true also for those who look particularly innocent regardless of what they have done.

These tricks are natural advantages of their appearance. But how many people use the positive advantages instead of only the negative? Well, almost everyone in society, actually. Think about it - everyone learns how to dress and keep their hair and body according to the culture surrounding them as they are growing up. Their fashion sense tends to fit somewhere within that range. They thereby identify themselves as belonging where they are. It is few who step entirely outside this range. This is far more noticeable in a tribal culture that has very specific rules about what to wear. Western culture gives a lot of wiggle room, but if you took your fashion sense out of National Geographic, do you think you wouldn't stand out as "Other"?

The real skill is not only using the tricks that come naturally to how you already look, thereby limiting yourself to only the stereotypes and roles at your disposal from the outside in, but to learn and understand the appearances behind the tricks beyond what is given to you. Anyone who knows how to dress to get a job has figured at least a little of this out. Honestly, who do you want deciding which role you fit into, how to treat you based on how you look? You? Or a bunch of strangers?

The thing to recognize is that you can't control their behavior. You can only control what you present to them. Their behavior is a natural response to that. You can let that control you, or you can recognize it for the process it is, and use it to your own advantage."


-E-
emberleo: A skull-faced woman with long black hair standing among callalilies (requiem)
2011-11-06 01:34 am

Zombie Jamboree - The Skinny

Today we had our annual Ghede Devotional, affectionately titled "Ghede Jamboree, Brigitte Tea, and Ancestors Revel! (not necessarily in that order...)".

It went not so much according to plan as about how Papa told me it would, which is to say that about half the people showed up than I had hoped, but twice as many as I'd feared. We had enough food, and it was good food. The altars were pretty, and looked He showed me, though again, not the way I'd planned. There were only two mediums, both for Ghedes, so Papa spent some time trying to decide whether to convince one or another of the lovely women to invite His wife down, to no avail, and the rest of His time flirting with all the lovely women He DID have at His disposal.

It did rain, as I rather expected it would right *after* I announced that we'd hold it in the not-raining location. *sigh* Murphy's law. Go figure.

I wasn't feeling too hot by the end there, for various reasons, but all in all I think it went pretty well, and I hope the intrepid souls who attended enjoyed themselves.

The one bit I really wanted to document, though, has very little to do with my Papa at all (which is why this post is here, and not in my journal for work with Papa):

See, two years ago when my head was washed to Papa, I had clothing specially made for Us to wear, tailored to my measurements at the time. Well, some of it was designed to be too big, for certain reasons, but the core garments - the britches and shirt - were tailored to my actual measurements.

Today when I went to put on those clothes again, I noticed that the pants had no beltloops. This was immediately apparent because without a belt, the britches were falling right off my hips when I moved! I had to hike up the britches and tie them tight with the sash, sticking ruffled up over the edge, and hope that Papa wouldn't think it was funny to let them fall right off my body in the middle of the floor! *blush*

We got through the day clothing and dignity more or less intact, and now I am gleefully informing my nutritionist that her good advice has contributed significantly to my health!

Wheeeeee!

-E-
emberleo: A dark-haired woman weaving strands of light (dreaming)
2011-10-31 11:32 am
Entry tags:

Dream: Oya Firestorm?

Getting dressed for today, I just put on my Oya-of-the-Graveyard necklace (I wore Papa's on Saturday. As usual, I follow my instincts.)

That prompted me to suddenly remember that my dream was full of altar dolls.

A lot of anxiety in these dreams - not much reality )

Analysis:
Well, most of it is obvious - I'm feeling down on myself, and I guess I'm expecting my loved ones to share my sentiments. For the record, neither my Mom, nor Chien have ever treated me like this in real life, nor do I go about yelling at them all that often!

But the main thing, to me, was the images of the dolls associated with various paths - that so many were Oya, specifically, and the two strongest images of the rainbow doll for my house-sister, and the Oya Firestorm doll for me.

I think I need to start working with a Path of Oya associated with Firestorms! I'm sure I haven't learned all I need from the Paths of the Rainbow, but I guess the first major round of lessons from Rainbows is concluded. This, although the rest of the dream was pretty unhappy, leaves me feeling energized and happy today. :D

-E-