Monday, December 20, 2010

Waste Not, Want Not: Collecting Materials for Spiritual Work

Marie Laveau probably collected many items to make her famous packets and workings
Oftentimes I like to think about those who have paved our way for our religious practices. Some names are paramount for me in Santería, such as the great iyaloshas who now belong to the realm of the ancestors, like Aurora Lamar, Timotea Albear, Ferminita Gómez and many other great women that shaped Santería in the New World. Other great ladies distinguished themselves in Voodoo like the famous Marie Leveau and like her, countless other two-headed women have lived as root workers, voodoo and hoodoo practitioners . What did they all had in common, dare I ask, when putting workings together?
Well, I seriously doubt it was a well stock Botánica or Spiritual Curio Shop around the corner! No, they more than likely wasted not, wanted not. In other words, they collected items and kept a good supply of tools available to carry out their spiritual workings.
After all, Oyá teaches us that the world is a great market filled with fascinating items to help us further our spiritual journeys. However, commercialism and fancy wrappings simplify a process that should involve more forethought and dedication. Intention is key part of the process of doing a successful working and if when we lose touch with the process of gathering resources we also diminish a vital element of will.
It is all too easy to go online or to visit a Botánica and get the supplies you need to put together any spell jar, mojo bag, gris gris, trabajo (working) or whatever you want to call it. However, in my years putting together things of this nature for myself and for others, I have found that most of the items required for successful workings are within reach and at none or little cost.
Depending on which spiritual path you follow, there will be variations on what items you consider essential. However, most people would agree that a well stocked spiritual cupboard must have items from the four elements: Air, Water, Fire and Earth.
Based on those four elements, I will share with you a list of the basic supplies I like to keep at hand as well as a list of some of the items I have collected, you may catalogue them differently, this is merely my system and I do not hold all the answers. Sometimes friends come to me in search of odd items because they know I am collector of oddities and things that strike my fancy, sometimes I share, sometimes I smile and don’t.

Some of the interesting articles I have collected over time include lots of zoological specimens such as bats, centipedes, spiders, spider webs of different kinds, cocoons, snake skins and bones, clippings of cat, dog, goat and other animal furs (it is not necessary or cool to hurt animals so I just use my scissors with great care as to trim just a bit of fur).
Other odds and ends are simply things that strike my fancy such as exotic herbs and spices, rocks, stones, interesting pieces of fabric, nails of all kinds, jars, salts, oils, brooms, pinwheels, compasses, baggies of different sizes, beads, different kinds of binding materials (hemp, silk, cotton, leather) and so on.
Next time you are taking a walk and enjoying nature, speak to the elements, speak to your guardian spirits and ask them to lead the way in a treasure hunt to find interesting materials.
I am sure that there are a lot of collectors like me out there, but for those who buy everything readymade, consider this article as an invitation to shop in Oya’s market…for little or no cost. Remember, it is always nice to leave a few coins where you find important treasures. Perhaps someone in need will find them, or find in them a sign of good luck, what comes around, goes around.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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