emberleo: A forked crossroads symbol with the letters A M U H (umbanda)
[personal profile] emberleo
The American Magic Umbanda House currently holds most of our ceremonies in the back yard at House Kaleidacopia in North Oakland.

Our Little Father Scott lives there with his wife Kate, one of their sons A, another lovely housemate, and my boyfriend David (whose photographs are linked below). I'm there most weekends as an extended member of the household, which rather makes my job as Little Mother easier to do. Mama Maeva used to live there too with her son R, as did my Headwash Sister Jess, but they had all moved out by midsummer last year, and Mama's son has gone away to college (woohoo! Go R!).

AMUH is one of a few different groups that regularly uses the yard and temple at House K. The primary "host" group is the Gardnerian coven Ratatosk - the Temple is theirs. In the backyard, AMUH had our Lubisha in one corner, and our sister Loa house La Rose Blanche has their Calle in the other corner.

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.

Burnt Out Lubisha Farewell to the Lubisha

Thank all the Powers that the fire did not reach the house, nor any of the neighbors' properties! The only living thing that was significantly injured was the nearest birch tree, and it has recovered nicely. The smoke and soot did cause a significant problem for Kate, who has Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (which is why AMUH is a fragrance-free House for all ceremonies). One of our Senior Mediums was able to pay for professional cleanup to get all that carcinogenic mess out of the yard, which helped a great deal, and House members, congregants, and friends of both AMUH and House K gathered together to recover what we could from the remains of the Lubisha, tear down the burnt out shell, and clean out the yard for dump runs.

There was significant damage to the adjacent plastic tool shed and the cover tarp for the central pavilion that covers the main ritual area. We were able to replace the cover tarps, as we have had to do almost every year after the stormy season ends. That's really starting to add up. The damage to the tool shed may not be reparable without replacing the whole plastic building, I don't know. I do know that rain has gotten into that shed and caused damage to some of the tools inside, much to Little Father's chagrin.

Recovered regalia Burnt Lubisha, Tool Shed, Pavilion, and Tree

All in all, we were left with a scattering of random regalia most of which is unusable even if it's intact, a badly burned birch tree, a blackened floor, a melted tool shed, a tattered pavilion, and a rather sturdy wooden platform where the Lubisha had once stood just in time for my necklace ceremony to Ayida Wedo last June.

It actually felt like our ritual space had been cleansed in fire. A lot of our house members felt that, despite our losses, it was for the better, because we have been in a phase of rebuild and renewal spiritually for a while, and this was in some ways a very appropriate physical representation of that renewal. Granted, it was very painful to lose over a decade worth of hand-made devotional crafts for the Powers. Our Senior Medium Bear had long ago crafted gorgeous altar boxes for several of the Powers. The fire left no trace of them, nor the elaborate crown I made for Yemaya several years ago. They're totally gone.

A surprising amount of PombaGira's supplies survived the fire, although we still had to rebuild most of Her devotional for PantheaCon from scratch this year.

Burnt Out Drum

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!

Up until now, individual house members have been filling in the desperate gaps in our ceremony supplies by bringing things from their personal supplies and taking them back home again after each ceremony. I acquired a minimum set of altar clothes for our 13 Major House Powers and the Ancestors as my gift to the house for my necklacing ceremony. A beloved house member created many little travel shrines for all the powers which have given us the minimum needed for altars, and as I said, our various drummers have brought their own djembes from home to fill that need. But none of this provides us with the space we require to begin rebuilding as a House together, nor does it patch the hole left in the yard at House K.

At our last business meeting, another of our Senior Mediums was able to temporarily float the cost of a pre-fab shed of the appropriate size to rebuild on the platform where the Lubisha once stood. It's even the right colors for Exu, a little red barn. But she cannot afford to gift us the entire price, nor would we expect her to bear the brunt of what is ultimately a community expense.

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!

Little Mother
American Magic Umbanda House

(no subject)

Date: 2012-04-14 12:42 am (UTC)
jamie: bitter panda saying not quite zen (Default)
From: [personal profile] jamie
Can I cross post this to FB, perhaps even the Pcon page?


emberleo: A rabbit with antlers eating blackberries (Default)

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