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#5214: First Roots Without End international Vodou society dance - (from Kathy S. Grey) (fwd)
Roots Without End international Vodou society holds first dance
The first dance held in Roots Without End Society ceremonial space took
place last Saturday, Sept. 23, 2000. It was a blast, an absolutely
ferocious Petro dance with all the trimmings!
An amusing event took place a few days prior to the dance. We had
expected an American television crew, but they cancelled at the last
minute due to fear of country conditions in Haiti (they had just had a
crew abducted in Egypt, apparently, and were limiting their activities to
the United States). I returned home and informed the people in my lakou
(compound) that the TV crew would not be coming.
A few hours later, one of the laundry women came to me to announce that a
man had come looking for me, and that the man's name was Osanj! Osanj is
part of the Ogoun group, similar in many ways to the Nigerian Osanyin.
"Osanj came looking for me??", I squeaked, as the laundress rocked with
laughter. "Merciful God and all Guinea! It's not my fault, O lwa! I am
here waiting to receive the television crew, they are the ones who said
they are not coming!"
It turned out that the man was a local educator and political personality
named Monsieur *Aux Anges* (pronounced Ozanj), meaning "Of the Angels",
and not Osanj at all!
The dance was led by myself, Mambo Racine Sans Bout, and assisted by
Houngan Som, Mambo Ti-Noonoon, and Houngan Clement. Each assisting
Houngan or Mambo asogwe came accompanied by Houngans and Mambos sur point
and by hounsis, of course, so all together over one hundred people were
We began in the morning with the sacrifice of two hogs. I led the Priye
Ginen, and I tell you dear readers, it has been a while since I led that
long and intricate liturgical piece on my own. But it just seemed to
flow naturally, I didn't forget anything or get mixed up, thank goodness.
Then it was time to feed the Danti (ancestral spirits of that place). I
chose Houngan Som, who has some familial relationship to the owner of the
land, to lead this portion of the ceremony. And fortunately! After a
few opening songs, I do not remember anything more. I am told, however,
that the Danti came to my head in force, accepted both hogs by cutting
off the tips of their ears with a machete, and then sat at the poto mitan
waiting impatiently to be fed.
Also on the food offering menu were cooked bananas, "militon" (choyote in
Spanish, chocho in Jamaican patois), white yams, yellow yams, sweet
potatos, and rice and beans. The lwa also accepted this, I am told, by
slicing one of each item in half with the same machete. Finally the hogs
were killed, and the Danti smeared their faces (my face!) with the blood.
When the morning service was over, I was feeling rather empty-headed and
dizzy, not to mention in need of a bath) so I bathed and lay down for a
while. Late in the afternoon I went to the bakery to get three cakes I
had ordered. Each was decorated with a vever (goodness only knows what
the bakery staff thought!), one for the Danti, one for Cemetery, and one
for Simbi Makaya.
Anyway, back to the Petro dance. In the evening at eight o'clock we all
gathered again, and ate pork and sweet potatos and so forth. We were all
dressed in red, and I wore a fabulous flaming red satin dress with
brocaded lace and ruffles for miles. Two assisting Houngans, Houngan
Onel and Houngan Fritzner (both asogwe children of Mambo Ti-Noonoon)
served as my escort, dressed in tunics of the same cloth with blue accents and gold braid trim. We gathered under the tonnelle. Then, tummies comfortably full, we signaled to LeVoyel to start up the drums again, and let rip!
Mambo Ti-Noonoon was my principal assistant early in the evening. Mambo Ti-Noonoon had the asson before I was even born, and in her youth was known as the most beautiful mulatresse in Jacmel. She is still a fascinating and attractive woman, and a superb Mambo who knows how to "animate" a dance. Houngan Fritzner led the singing for her, and as we repeated the verses, he danced! He is a very good dancer, he knows the Petro and Makaya styles and steps, and thus encouraged we all channeled our energies into our feet! Again we fed the Danti with calabash bowls full of food, and again I can not related what happened, but apparently the Danti were satisfied because they quickly departed and made way for other lwa.
Houngan Fritzner and Houngan Onel were simultaneously possessed by Simbi Makaya, and began to dance matching steps with such virtuousity that we all stopped dancing to watch! Their red satin tunics gleamed as they spun and shook their shoulders, provoking LeVoyel and his team to greater efforts. It felt like the tonnelle had caught fire! The flaring red of our clothes seemed to swirl and flash in the air. I was completely disoriented, I couldn't have pointed the direction back to my house if my life depended on it.
At that point Houngan Clement made his contribution, opening with a series of humorous songs about how his parents had "forbidden him to serve the lwa, but he did so anyway, and now look what effort he has to make!" It was a well-placed moment of comic relief before we plunged back into the insistent Makaya and Kongo rhythms. Midnight arrived and we drenched the poto mitan with kleren (single distilled rum) and set it on fire! Blue flames leaped up to the roof and gradually died, without scorching the poto mitan.
At half past midnight we concluded because many participants had to go far to return home - but a sizeable contingent was in favor of staying until daylight particularly with a view to all the food available. In fact, as we concluded the assemby sang a very nice song to me, thanking me for all the food, rum, and other things I had provided. Feeding the congregation used to be automatic, and I hope I can revive that tradition.
Today my yard is a trampled mess, I have numbers upon numbers of huge dirty pots, and the soles of my feet have thorns and splinters stuck in them. I have slept most of the day, and roused myself merely to write this report and share it with you, my initiatory children and the Vodouisants of the cyber-community. :-)
Peace and love,
Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen
(Kathy S. Grey)
"Se bon ki ra",
Good is rare - Haitian Proverb
The VODOU Page - http://members.aol.com/racine125/index.html
(Posting from Jacmel, Haiti)