The Voodoo That You Do: Why I Voo-Don’t and a Spell to Papa Legba

DISCLAIMER: As always, everything presented here is for entertainment and semi-educational purposes only.  Please do not mistake this for mental health therapy or advice.  If you need mental health counseling or treatment, please contact your insurance company, local college’s student counseling clinic, county crisis line, or the Psychology Today Portal.

If you want a running list of COVID-19 resources and news, check out my list here.  Also, check out this running list of disaster hotlines by state.  **I have quite a few articles for the news and resources page, but way too much is else calling my attention right now.  I have 120 more articles that go through the end of May.  Beyond that, I haven’t been able to sort through the info coming out.  This is probably the best I can do for now.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: I’m fucking tired.  The burnout is due to a few things, such as politics, dealing with people post-election, work, and the free-floating COVID-19 anxiety around here.  Oh, and the holidays aren’t exactly my thing.  

I’m usually like a taller, less hairy Lorax, but you get the idea.  

Aaaannnnyyyyhoo, I did draw cards for the weekly readings, but I just couldn’t get the articles done.  As a peace offering, please accept this story time before we get back to business as usual.

Anyone who has been reading my posts for a bit can probably tell that I’ve done my fair share of spell work.  Although I try to talk a little bit about how I came to know some of these deities, I tend to only focus on my positive experiences.  This might be because I want to make magick and witchcraft more approachable, since paganism influences the way we think about psychology and spirituality in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  (I’m looking at you, vision boards, Easter, Christmas, and “amen”.)  

I may scoff at the ignorance and shitty behavior individuals and groups engage in, but not the paths they walk.  Their karma is none of my fucking business unless they act in ways that affect me.  That said, voodoo has been an elephant in my spiritual room for over half my life.  The short part of this long story is, I had a couple downright scary experiences with voodoo and pretty much chose to put that skeleton in my closet as a result.  

Until about six weeks ago.

Like all of my crazy metaphysical trips, this one started with weird dreams.  The subject of the dream was always a relationship I sabotaged, a situation with gossipping opportunists I have known, or unhinged authority figures.  I have enough experience with all of these things to write a coffee table book, but aaaannnnyyyyhoo, let’s get back to the point.  

I chalked these dreams up to some old patterns I need to work through and focused on my gratitude for the present.  However, each dream got more and more vivid.  The other people and situations involved got more and more realistic.  It was becoming like The Tell-Tale Heart inside my skull.

Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub…

All of the fears, shame, guilt, insecurity, anger, and powerlessness in those situations reverberated in my ears like earwax with a subwoofer.  The sticky, slimy, and suffocating feeling followed me around no matter what I did.  What’s more, the energy around it felt like a dust cloud of chaos.  I couldn’t feel any patterns or predictability, just an overwhelming sense that something was about to explode.  

Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub

I used the phone-a-friend option, as I couldn’t hear a damn thing my intuition was trying to say.  She took a deep breath and chuckled.  After a pause, she asked, “Do you remember all the spastic shit you did when you were a baby witch?”

I cringed.

She continued, “Mmm hmmm, we’re talking about that.  Is there a male deity you pissed off or quit working with?”

I gulped.  Yes, yes there was.

Why I Voo-Don’t

I first wiped the crust out of my third eye when I was a teenager.  It wasn’t much.  Maybe I would read three books on developing intuition in a weekend.  Or maybe I would draw Celtic runes on paper.  I had crazy prophetic dreams and was the creepy girl who answered questions that weren’t asked, but I was pretty much dabbling at that point.

Good times.

Long story short, Teenage Me was practicing remote viewing whilst listening to a friend talk about her relationship issues when she mentioned burning letters.  Some witch friend of her boyfriend’s who happened to do a lot of African root magic and voodoo was telling her about it.  (I learned later that burning rituals aren’t exclusive to voodoo, but I digress.)  Her quick instructions were:

  • Write down an emotional letter to the target
  • Smear it with a couple streaks of a significant perfume or oil. 
  • Read the letter.
  • Focus on your intention.
  • Burn that shit.  

She wondered if the both of us should coordinate a burning ritual from our respective houses to heal her relationship.  Not knowing shit from shine-ola regarding the pagan basics—setting intentions, grounding, protecting your space, and not letting pure emotion dictate a spell—I agreed.  We wrote the letter together, agreed to do the damn thing at midnight, and agreed she would not have contact with him for the next couple days.  One of us agreed to that one, anyway.

Buuuttt I’m not bitter, so let’s continue.

I had my letter done, but I couldn’t figure out what perfume to use.  I wasn’t a major perfume person and it felt weird to use my perfume because dude wasn’t my boyfriend (thank god).  *ahem*  Aaaannnnyyyyhoo, I decided to use this lotion my friend mentioned she liked as well.  I followed the third hand instructions and made three smears on the letter after I read it in a dramatic, impassioned stage whisper.  (Not waking the parents is key.)  I held the letter in my hands and breathed as much emotion as I could into the letter.

Please find her.  Please see her.  Please listen to her.  Please don’t be an asshole for once…

I put this missive into the heaviest, microwave-proof pottery bowl I could find in the kitchen and lit a match.  I was able to light a couple corners of the letter before the flame almost caught up to my chipped nail polish.  I know my friend told me to close my eyes and visualize the smoke carrying my friend’s desire to her boyfriend, but Teenage Me was pretty terrified of fire.  

Don’t feel bad, Mowgli.  Teenage Me would’ve disappointed King Louie too.

So I kept my eyes open as I visualized, each pop and color change of the flame driving my anxiety through the roof.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow in my closet.  My cat was on the bed, also staring at the shadow.  My breath slowed to heavy inhales and exhales.  Radiant heat rolled down my hands, seeming to feed the popping flame in the bowl.  There was a sludge-like feeling behind my eyes pushing against my skull.  My head was pounding.

Over here, child.

I couldn’t see the shadow, but I could feel it smiling.  Nothing evil, just the amused grin of an uncle figure, watching a small child trying to ride a two-wheeler for the first time.  I stared back at the shadow, but it was gone.

I got so freaked out that I poured water on the 80% burned letter, cleaned up my shit, and went to bed.

My friend called me the next day, frantically asking if I burned the letter.  I left out a few key details, but said I totally did what I thought we both decided to do.  

“So, um, did you do it?”

She got quiet, except for her breathing.

Duuudddeee, you called him, didn’t you?”

More silence.

“Whyyyyyyy?!”

She sighed, “I don’t know.  I started burning the letter, but…  I just couldn’t, you know?”

“So what happened?”

“He just started freaking out at midnight, just started yelling and screaming…”

I went cold and decided never to burn a letter again.  In fact, other than tarot cards and a couple vengeful moments, I left spells alone for several years.  That’s not to say I didn’t have potential guides approach me.  There’s a pesky recruitment processes all baby witches know quite well.  You see, being a burgeoning witch is like being a star athlete in high school.  The more talent you have, the more you attract college recruiters.  Some of these recruiters are from good schools, others…  not so much.  

Choose wisely, young witch-thletes.  Research all scholarships that come your way before signing anything.  This will go on your permanent record.

Fast forward like 15 years.  Thanks to a perfect storm of financial failure, moving back in with my folks, a break up, and a couple recent deaths, I was not exactly in my right mind.  My fellow OG psychics will tell you that the Universe sees this as the exact moment to open your third eye. 

Maybe one day I’ll open up about how I found out love spells are a horrible idea, but I’ll give you a snippet of why I don’t do voodoo or love spells.  Yes, the formal voodoo spell I tried was an attraction spell.  Here are the bullet points of why I decided voodoo was a good idea:

  • I was out of my damn mind with grief, anxiety, and depression.
  • I felt like a failure with nothing else to lose.  I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, or what I even could do with my life.  I believed I was talentless, not too intelligent, less than everyone and everything, and possibly incapable of ever making my life work.
  • I felt completely alone and the recent deaths left me with a paralyzing fear of dying alone.
  • I felt desperate for a victory.  It didn’t matter what area of life it was in.
  • I felt completely unlovable and needed to run from that feeling.
  • Remember what I said about recruitment?  The potential guides were getting bolder. 

Flash back to the part of my story where I sensed a kindly shadow in my closet.  That shadow came back, only the amused amorphous uncle followed me everywhere.  His appearances started coming with the smell of cigar smoke and a powdery perfume smell.  The scent was like a combination of baby powder and a siren song.  I couldn’t place it.

Aaaannnnyyyyhoo, I left a browser open at home so I could get some water.  When I returned, there was an open Google search that brought me to Rev. Samantha Kaye and her crew at SpellMaker.com.  The shadow grinned at me from the corner, as if to encourage me to click around the site.  I complied, my spine tingling the whole time.

While I was waiting for my spell kit to arrive, the shadow’s presence got stronger.  I would also have weird coincidences, usually in the form of meeting people who knew about voodoo.  It turns out the shadow was Papa Legba, or the voodoo loa who acts as a gatekeeper between the human and spirit worlds.

His presence was never evil or threatening.  In fact, I found him quite warm and humorous.  Legba would show up in my dreams, smoking his stereotypical cigar and doling out nonjudgmental advice.  I remember having some great conversations with Legba about choices I would have to make.  He never once talked about my relationships, which I found weird because the spell kit I bought was an attraction one.  Just that I needed to choose wisely.

(SIDE NOTE: My rapport with Legba ended up being part of my inspiration for the character of Jeremy Brandt in Water Torture.  I don’t think I ever told Legba how much I appreciated his presence during that time in my life.)

By the time my kit arrived, I felt totally comfortable working with Legba.  So comfortable, in fact, that I totally glossed over the part of my research that showed loas are a little more, ummm, hands-on than other guides.  My first sign of this was the oil in the kit smelling exactly like the smell surrounding Legba.  Also, voodoo spells feel different than other spells I’ve done.  Normal spells set up a teacher-student dynamic between you and the deity.  Sometimes the teacher is a laissez faire Professor Snape type and sometimes the teacher is more motherly and kind.  Either way, there are boundaries.  You know where you end and they begin during the spell process.  Voodoo loas tend to get so enmeshed that it feels like they’re in your bones, driving your hands, heart, and emotions.  I found that doing the spell made me even more emotional, which was catapulting me into situations I normally would have avoided.  I also noticed that I would lose time and would operate on auto pilot at several points during the day.

I’m not an expert, but this seems to be due to voodoo spells drawing on emotional energy more than other types of magickal spells.  The more emotion you put into the spell, the stronger the energy behind the spell.  I had emotional energy to spare during that time, as my friend’s boyfriend certainly did back in the day.  Unfortunately, emotions are unconscious things.  You only get the tip of the iceberg when one is triggered, so an emotion-based spell is a recipe for all sorts of chaos and things going sideways.  Which is essentially what happened here.

I need to be concise, but I will say the turning point of this story was when a couple French dudes left me a voicemail, repeatedly asking, “Do you like zha-coo-zeeee?  We have zee hot tub.”  (I never gave them my real name or a phone number, btw.)

Almost 20 years after I buried the candle nubs from that kit and ran screaming, I can honestly say my time with Legba taught me a lot.  His methods were a little too chaotic for me and I’m not someone who likes others driving my emotional and spiritual car.  However, he pushed me out of my comfort zone, got me back into spellwork, and forced me to take control of my psychic gifts.  And he’s a great conversationalist.  I’m just the type of witch who believes spiritual possession is nine-tenths of the law and am unwilling to share my incarnate shell.

PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS PART:  I am not saying voodoo is bad.  I am not saying those who practice voodoo are bad.  Papa Squirrel said it best in this post when he cautioned against thinking there is only one correct way.  Seriously, you’re not some metaphysical Highlander.  There’s no need to intellectually and spiritually decapitate others for having different beliefs.  What I AM saying is, voodoo wasn’t for me.  I have too much free-floating mental and emotional garbage to make it work.  I also prefer the more traditional student-teacher relationship between me and my guides.  What I am also saying is, proceed with caution and do your research if you think voodoo is your jam.  (SIDE NOTE: Proceed with caution and do your research before doing any spell.)

So You Want to Work With Legba?  My Best Advice

Voodoo spells work totally differently than any other spells I can teach you on this blog.  Please keep that in mind.  I won’t be offended if you seek out a more experienced—and less anxious—teacher.  In fact, do yourself a favor and order your supplies from SpellMaker.com (not sponsored).  Their team is great for “tech support” and gets back to you quickly whenever you ask a question.  They really are there to help.  

Legba is kind of the Saint Peter of voodoo, since he’s in charge of the gate between the living and the deceased.  He is also associated with Saint Anthony, the patron saint of finding lost things and those who feel lost.  Here are a few things Legba can help with:

  • Legba can push you off your emotional fence, forcing you to make a move.
  • Legba is a great friend to anyone at a crossroads.
  • Call on Legba to bring you good fortune, whilst protecting you from that which would do you harm.
  • Need some evil spirits out of your home?  Call on Papa Legba.

Legba is pretty easy to keep happy, but expect him to bring the chaos if you don’t give him the recognition he wants.  Here are some things that Legba likes:

**Most of the Etsy links in the above section are sponsored.  I am an Etsy affiliate because they honestly provide spiritual products that are made with love at a fair price.

PLEASE NOTE:  Voodoo is a legit religion, just like Wicca or Christianity.  I know the supplies can get a little pricy.  Feel free to get the spell kits, as they combine everything you might need.  If you feel like voodoo is your path and you don’t want to shell out a zillion dollars, then you may want to consider making your own supplies when possible.  Making your own supplies will help you strengthen your bond with your chosen guide.

A Quick Spell to Legba

What You Need (see previous section for specific products and resources):

  • An offering candle
  • Incense
  • An offering in a small bowl (I suggest candy, pennies, and old skeleton keys)
  • A shrine or shrine art
  • An amulet of Legba
  • A small cup of rum
  • A cigar
  • Oil created for Papa Legba

What You Will Do:

  1.  PROTECT YOUR SPACE.  Clean your home, sage the crap out of it, visualize your body and home in a bubble of protective white light, and repeat the following three times: “I invoke the grace of the divine, which fills my body and my space with light.  Light dissolves all darkness.”
  2. Light your candle, incense, and your cigar.  Take a couple puffs from the cigar, if you’re so inclined.
  3. Anoint your offering bowl, your amulet, and the shrine with the oil.
  4. Center yourself and focus on the shrine art or altar.  As you do, invite Papa Legba to open the gates.  Use this invocation I got from SpellBindingSisters.com (repeat three times):  

Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children are waiting.

Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.

Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children are waiting.

Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.

Papa Legba, open the gates, Your children are waiting.

Papa Legba, open the gates. Your children await.

  1.  Ask Legba for his help.  Talk to him like you would an old friend or compassionate relative.  Invite him to smoke the cigar, take your rum, and take your offering.  The Luna Rose Diary has some great advice on this.
  2. Thank Legba sincerely and ask him to close the gates.  This is as simple as saying, “I appreciate your presence and help.  Papa Legba, please close the gates for me.”  Not surprisingly, SpellMaker.com has some great advice on how it’s done.
  3. PROTECT YOUR SPACE AGAIN.  See Step 1.
  4. Repeat the spell for three weeks.
  5. Bury the remnants of the candles or throw them into a body of water.
  6.   Pay respects to a deceased loved one—or any grave—by leaving flowers on their grave.

PLEASE READ:  I am not doing private readings for the foreseeable future.  I have way too much going on to create content and be an effective reader.  Please understand, this isn’t personal.  I just need to clean my own mental and emotional house for now.

If you’re looking for an inspirational poem on finding your place in the world amongst a million ghosts, check out Joan Carol Bird’s latest.  Hey, sharing is caring.  

Those wildfires on the West Coast displaced thousands of innocent pets.  The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) wants to help.  If you would like to help the pets affected by the wildfires, please click here.  Also, the American Humane Society is looking for donations for these pets.  You can donate here.

For those of you who can’t resist a little subtle virtue signalling, why not give to those sweet little animals in Australia?  Funko Pop is releasing a limited edition figure to support the animals hurt in the Australian wildfires.  Arm the Animals is also selling shirts to benefit the animals hurt in the fires.  You can get those here. 

If beanies or water bottles are more your style, check out the Piper Lou collection.  Proceeds from select items benefit the Australian Red Cross. You can see for yourself right here.  Or you can take the more direct route through GreaterGood.com

 P.S.  I managed to publish the first part of my first novel a few months ago!!  I’m excited and want to share it with you. Check out Water Torture Part One: Have You Checked the Children? Here.  Please read and review it.  Thank you!!

Did you like my buddy Marshall Delaware, aka G. G. MacLeod?  Check out our latest political collab.  He’s coming back next month, FYI.  If you want to read an awesome historical fiction novel, you can get your hands on his book here.  It may take place in Ancient Rome, but Augusta couldn’t be any more timely if it tried.  He actually dropped Part Two a while ago and most recently gifted the world with Part Three.  Part Four is right here.  I think you should go get it, Tiger!

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