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Basic Questions

To: alt.religion.voodoo,alt.religion.orisha
From: "tribble" 
Subject: Re: Basic Questions (Terminology; was Clearing the ...)
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 09:13:38 -0600

"catherine yronwode"  wrote in message
> Mambo Racine Sans Bout wrote:
> >
> >  writes a series of good questions:
> >
> > >what does "to do 'rekouche'" mean?
> >
> > Okay, here we go - a person can be initiated at one of three ranks,
> > from lowest to highest they are hounsi kanzo (also called kanzo
> > senp, simple kanzo), sur point (on the point, or patronage, of a
> > particular lwa) and asogwe.
> I have always wondered how the initiator determines which rank to give
> -- must the candidate go through all three ranks in sequence, as with
> degrees in Freemasonry, or is a divination done to determine one's
> entry-position, or...??

The following is only "my opinion". LOL.

This differs from house to house. In some places you must go through an
entire sequence of services and initiations to get to asogwe. You may have
to take a Lave Tet first and then perform as a member of the house, attend
service, etc for a period of time before you are allowed to initiate at
hounsi kanzo. Then you must train with your "parent(s)"  until they feel you
are ready for the next rank.

Some may feel that this is done to squeeze money out of people. The
mambo/oungan gets paid for each service/rank - although usually not the
entire fee for each rank -  just the difference. Others feel it is the wiser

There are times when people attain asogwe on their first initiation. From
the folks I know who have done so - they are priests(esses) in other ATRs or
have been in the Vodou a long time serving the Spirits.

You might also hear some wonderful stories from Haitians who were told by
the Spirits that they must take the asson. The person fights these demands
(sometimes for years) only to suffer in their "real life". They will usually
go through a series of personal tests/trials and may have a hard time trying
to get the money for the initiation or even to buy the plane ticket to
Haiti. Usually a miracle occurs and the money is provided by the Spirit.
This scenario is one you will find in the book Mama Lola. I have also heard
this from a handful of other Mambos. This is another instance where one
might immediately take the asson.

> > The word "kouche" means "to lie down", and refers to the fact
> > that initiates spend a period of time lying down in seclusion.
> > To "kouche" therefore means to undergo initiation in Vodou.
> > To "rekouche" would be to repeat one's initiation at the same
> > rank.
> >
> > When a person is initiated at the rank of asogwe, they are granted
> > ownership of the asson, which is a sacred rattle emblematic of
> > priesthood, used to invoke lwa and direct Vodou ceremonies.  So
> > "to take the asson" is synonymous with "to be initiated at the rank
> > of asogwe".
> >
> > A person who is sur point is permitted to use the asson.  I gave
> > Michele initiation at the rank of sur point, which means I also
> > carefully taught her the ceremonial gestures of the asson.
> I sense a difference between "taking the asson" and "being permitted to
> use the asson" -- is that the case?

She has her own asson and shakes it like nobody's bidness. Maybe I will get
her a "Property of Mambo Michele" placard for it this holiday season. That
would eliminate all confusion, eh?

She can also bust a mean move on the dance floor.  When working her way
across a crowded peristyle to salute the drums, one can hear her say "Don't
hate me because I'm a Mambo" through sheer body language. It's awesome!

Okay back to all seriousness.

> > An initiate swears to go 41 days from the end of the initiation
> > without eating certain things and without having sex.  Michele broke
> > her vows the night she came out of the djevo, and I stumbled across
> > that event quite by accident.  I called two witnesses, male and
> > female, who saw the same thing.  Michele and her partner were
> > requested to surrender their kolye, or sacred necklace, which an
> > initiate wears for those 41 days. They refused, and I advised the
> > Haitians assisting not to take them by force, as would definitely
> > have been done to a Haitian initiate.  The man involved came back
> > and repeated his ceremonies, Michele did not.
> And i take it that Michele does not dispute this account of events.

Who knows? The whole issue is one of ethics. As far as I am concerned
posting such things on a public forum even IF true is like a priest
revealing things told in a confession.

You pay money for a spiritual service and then you have the details of such
services announced to the public. I give you a reading and blab everything I
discover on the net. I wash your head and then tell all your problems to
every person I encounter. That's shady.

> > >what is "kwakwa"? how can one have it, how does one get it? what
> > >does it take to get rid of it, if that is preferable? why would
> > >this be important as regards Mambo Racine's kanzo?

I am not in fact questioning Racine's rank in the Vodou. However, using
hearsay and her logic one could make such bold accusations on the net. In
fact, I think they have been made numerous times. The Vodou is not rocket
science. It's a spiritual journey and every one who is in the religion
serving the Spirits has a valid voice from the unitiated to the oldest Mambo
on earth.  All of this serves nothing but one's ego. Why does it matter?

Most know that in the larger scheme of things it is really not important
that people recognize or accept one's asson. Only the Spirits recognition is
important. You may have an asson and no Spirits - they have abandoned you
because of your actions. You may have no asson and PLENTY of Spirits. You
serve them well and they serve you well. So why the big deal?

When Racine went from statements of  "I think" and "I feel" to making
definitive statements of supposed fact, I had to speak up. We all know that
Aboudja is not the most popular person with some folks on this newsgroup. He
is/seems perfectly okay with that. However, Michele has never been a source
of antagonism here. Racine chooses to publicly discredit her because of her
associations with Aboudja. I suppose Aboudja is in some way fortunate (!?!!)
because Racine at least recognizes he has an asson - the one she gave him.
But knowing Racine's history we can look forward to her responding "Michele
is not a Mambo, etc. etc.", after any post signed  Mambo Michele.  That's
wrong. The woman passed the djevo twice. She has been tested enough.

By the way, Mambo Michele does not care about this - I guess she is a bigger
person than I am. It very much bothers me. Sorry to all.

While even discussing Vodou on the Internet is a  debatable question, Mambo
Michele brings a lot of rational  perspective to many, many discussions.
Not only does she suffer ( imo only -  not hers) ,  but we all suffer by
losing her voice to this madness.  Plus, she is my friend ;)

H. Aboudja: Well, he will tend to his own business very well. LOL!


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