Deja Voodoo

So my friend calls herself by a spirit name. And by that, I mean, Willow Thunder. That’s not what it is exactly, but something like that. She is a spiritual type, probably what we might call a Wiccan, even though she doesn’t call herself that. Her mother is from the area around Naples (Benevento, I think), and got married to Willow’s dad when he was stationed there. So she is probably more of a Benedicaria and Stregoneria by upbringing. But I weary of these theological distinctions. Suffice to say, she believes in sympathetic magic, and is quite open about it. Has all the bumper stickers and charms.

She’s been asking me to come to her place of worship, and I finally got to go earlier this summer. I’ve been distracted and am just getting around to writing about it. But back to Willow Thunder’s friends. They have a some land in rural {SOUTHERN STATE, NAME REDACTED}. It’s rather pretty, with trees all around, mountains to be seen, and the sounds of life all around. Birds, insects, squirrels, deer. Occasionally the sound of cars or tractors can be heard, but not all the time.

So we arrived early, the car packed with travel essentials, and several wooden cases of ceremonial essentials. Some of the boxes were quite beautiful, made of inlaid wood. We also had a fair amount of wine. We parked in a gravel lot, threw everything into a huge wheeled cart, and trekked down a path through the woods. I was pulling the cart, and she walked ahead in a simple white dress. I must admit I was bewitched, watching her ass twitching beneath the thin cotton, no sign of panty lines. We left the cart in an open field and headed up a pine-needle trail past an ancient family cemetery to the area of worship.

The ceremonial area was simple, yet beautiful. There was a ring of high holly hedges, with four openings in it, facing each cardinal direction. Offset from each side of the opening was a small row of holly that blocked the view into the circle. There were various other plants and trees around the outside. Junipers, pine, sunflowers, little herb gardens. I didn’t pace the area off, but it was several hundred feet across, at least. Inside that outer ring was a large circle of white stones, with a circle of fruit trees just inside that. Apple, cherry, paw paw, some others. There were various geometric designs made of crushed stone or plantings that often-times resembled astrological symbols, and others that looked like they meant something, even though the mystery was lost on me. The center was a grove of ancient oak trees, large and full, but with space within and fairy rings of mushrooms sprinkled throughout. Circles were obviously a big thing with this crew.

We ritually cleansed ourselves by pouring water on ourselves from a seashell that we dipped in a wooden trough fed by a hand pump. It brought me back to my time in the Far East, performing ritual ablutions at the gates of temples before making an offering. I was raised Catholic yet–or perhaps because of this–am rather malleable in my faith. In Youngstown, where there is conflict between Catholic and Protestant, I was perfectly fine going to a Protestant church, or one of the various other denominations, such as Eastern Orthodox or Maronite. It’s a good way to understand where others are coming from, and become part of a community. And, in my case, get some tail. But I digress.

So Willow Thunder talked to the priestess, just to let us know we were there. Then we went back outside and set up our tent. On the way, we passed skyclad devotees and people setting up for the weekend, everyone sending cheerful greetings. They were very welcoming to me as a newcomer.

There were a variety of activities going on throughout the afternoon and evening. Some were quite organized, such as ritual purification and preparation for formal ceremonies, while others were more social, such as drinking around a camp fire. But there were ceremonial aspects to it, such as a gourd of hooch being passed around.

I was invited to take part in some of the public ceremonies, and generally napped or chatted with other outsiders during the private ceremonies. Overall, my favorite part of the stay was the artwork and symbolism of items used. The drinking cups were the best. Seashells, turtle shells, various gourds, a silver-inlaid cranium, hollow animal horns, cuir bouilli. Most of it decorated in a tasteful way with symbols, and treated reverently.

My biggest disappointment, I must admit, was my somewhat juvenile hope that this thing would involve an orgy, or at the very least, public sex. However, despite the rampant nudity, nothing of the sort happened. Sure, there was probably the average amount of banging going on in the tents, but nothing more than you would expect if people were on a vacation and drinking. The nudity was just a different standard of dress, and really the participants were a cross-section of society in terms of age and body type. In other words, there was no supermodel coven at this convergence.

Overall, it was a great weekend, and I learned a lot. I am struck, however, by the similarities between the various rituals and symbols in disparate religions. The skull worship of Naples, and the silver-inlaid animal cranium passed around the campfire that weekend. The ritual ablutions of Shinto shrines, the ablutions of Islam, the Catholic sign of the cross with holy water, the water of the general Christian baptism, and the Hindu crowds who bathe en masse in holy rivers. The worship and symbolism of the Sun and moon, which has probably permeated the religious thoughts of mankind since the beginning of religious thought. It certainly makes me wonder about the nature of the divinity, and our relationship with Him (or Her, per Willow Thunder).

I wish I could end this post on a Deep Thought, but the truth is, all I can say is that I’ve seen something that makes me think, something that’s hard to put into words.

Sincerely,

Finnegan

p.s. Yes, I realize that Willow Thunder’s religion is NOT voodoo.  And that voodoo, as practiced, is not the voodoo of the movies.  I just thought it made a nice pun.  Also, the description of this place is not EXACTLY as it is in real life…that is per a specific request.  This is a BLOG for goodness’ sake, not investigative journalism.

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