19 March 2018 5:14 AM Mood:
Meh. Headache looming on the horizon. Tired from a busy weekend. Went to bed too early last night and didn't go to bed happy. Had to write a Letter of Concern to a loved one. Listening to:
the furnace trying to make the 64 degree living room into a 68 degree living room. Clunk clunk clunk as the water moves through the old iron radiators. I am thankful we have a house and oil to heat it.
One of the things I busted my ass on this weekend was a proposal for a new book. I'm excited about this, but I really pushed to get it done (because it was pushing me). Here's an excerpt from the Introduction:
Tata Rodriguez was a tall, heavy set Cuban, and his desk—a gigantic and ornate mahogany dinner table, cluttered with papers and books and sprinkled with ash (cigarette combined with cigar, if my nose was to be believed)--was perfectly proportionate to him—and his enormous spiritual presence. The hot westering sun streamed through the window behind him, an impromptu halo for a man I would learn was well-versed in the habits of his saints. In the corner, a window air conditioner labored to keep his halo from giving us all heat exhaustion.
Eileen introduced us. Tata's sonorous voice accented his Cuban Spanish-accented softened English. Sometimes he positively rumbled. And his laugh— the round, hearty “Heh heh heh heh heh” I would come to associate with him—came so easily to him: there was no sign of pretense in his mannerisms. No, he could not be anything but the Real Thing.
Tata (even though that title implies that one is a godchild in a spiritual “house”, I found myself using it almost immediately) gratefully accepted my gift. While we seated ourselves in the two chairs across from him, he examined it closely. “Wow,” he said; his voice was reverent. He looked up at Eileen. “You said she was an earth spirit?” He pointed at the images on the portrait. “Look at these spirals and horses: she's air!”
I was dumbfounded. This was not really the direction I had expected we'd be taking on first meeting. Why? Because the people out at the camp talked about elements. This was a totally different spiritual mindset. Shouldn't we be talking about the spell Louise had cast? And since when was I an air spirit? Me? The girl who'd collected rocks and minerals since she was four years old, who loves mud and hikes in the woods and digging in the dirt? Air? Me? How could he know that? He hardly knew me! And what did it have to do with anything anyway?
Tata set my portrait aside and pulled out a long thin paperback volume about the size of a legal pad. It had a black cover and its pages were filled with some sort of sigils—lines and curves, arrows and spirals, plus and minus signs. As he flipped through the book, he told me they were called firmas and that they were associated with the different spirits, or Nkisi. Finally stopped and set the open book in front of me. “What do you think?”
I liked the feel of this book. A lot. The drawings guided my fingers around their lines, spirals and arrows. I turned the page, tried out the symbols there, and didn't like them nearly as much. Finally I pointed to one on the page he had first shown me and said, “I like this one.”
He chuckled and nodded. “I thought you would.” A moment passed as he searched under his papers until he extracted a handful of large cowrie shells. These he threw several times. I wondered if he was getting the answers he needed, and had just come to the conclusion that they had told him to kick me out of the house when he concluded with a decisive nod and set the shells aside. He got up and walked over to a sideboard as impressive as his desk, and started rooting in one of the drawers. “That's Centella,” he said as he extracted a necklace of brownish beads with white and black stripes. “Put this on. Centella is the Nkisi of the marketplace and the whirlwind and she guards the gates of the cemetery. She is a powerful protector. “Now,” he continued, pulling out a pad of legal sized yellow paper, “If you make this--” he sketched a skirt with panels, and labeled each one a different color, “You will be very happy to dance in it.”
I took the paper from him, folded it neatly, and stuck it in my purse.
“Okay,” he continued. “Go on over there and clean yourself off by the water altar.”
“Um,” I said.
Now he laughed, not mockingly, and pointed. “Pour some of that Agua Florida on your hands, then pretend like you're washing all over. It's just to clear your head, that's all. Eileen, you show her.”
The water altar was set up on another monumental piece of furniture—this time a bureau with a mirror. The altar itself was comprised of seven glasses of water set in two lines of three, with the seventh located in the middle. A nice looking quartz crystal lay at the bottom of each glass. Across the central glass was a large crucifix.
“What's it like over there?” he asked as I followed Eileen's directions for “cleaning off”.
The Agua Florida powerful scent had sent my head spinning, but I nodded. “Peaceful.”
“Good,” he remarked. “That's how it's supposed to be. Did cleaning off help?”
“I think so,” I said. My whole being was humming. Was that what it meant, to be “cleaned off”?
“Good,” he said. I'll be right back.”
Eileen looked like she was about to burst. “Isn't this amazing?” she enthused.
I looked around the room, at the shelves of papers and books, the statues—particularly the huge statue of the Virgin Mary presiding over three men in a boat that occupied a side table near the desk—and the odd assortment of materials that filled the shelves and the mantle of the old Victorian fireplace. It wasn't what I had expected—but what had I expected? An Important Man dressed in a leopard skin wearing a necklace of human teeth and holding a spear? A darkened room hung with herbs and rooster feet?
Then I remembered: in Jorge Amado's books, the priests are regular people.
Tata reappeared in the doorway. Let's go downstairs.”
As I followed him towards the basement, I glanced out a window and saw street lights. When had night fallen? We'd just arrived!
If it's accepted, this will be a non-fiction book about Palo, an Afro-Caribbean religion that is a cousin to Santeria.
Meanwhile, The Promethean Oracle was not chosen as Oracle Deck of the Year 2017, but it was still really cool to be nominated!!
Projects: Finishing up a costume for a friend of mine, a Sith. I love making Sith costumes! Jedi are so...brown.
Up and Coming:
The festival season
begins in earnest really soon! I have a new credit card processing company: www.nationalmerchants.com/
They are FANTASTIC.
I have been contributing to Fanlore, a website devoted, you might have already deduced, to All Things Fannish. Scrapbooking has many advantages, as long as you don't let it run your life--if spending money at Michael's becomes a daily thing, seek psychiatric help. For one thing, in my search for the stuff I wanted to go into the book, I recycled SEVEN document boxes stacked high with paper. Many things were thrown out or went to recycling or the Salvation Army. But I digress: here are some of the Fanlore links:
To the others I contributed commentary and images.
Scrapbooking also has me working in Photoshop Elements.
The photo is from 1987 and yes believe it or not that's me. In the background used to be my best friend's apartment door, but with much patience and learning-on-the-fly, I even got the letters at the top to look like they were carved in the background!
I like that the bottom looks like a painting!
Speaking of paintings I have a few of those on the horizon too. More on that later!