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Relationships 1: Basic House Sense

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

Authentic relationship dynamics with ancestors, the living, the Loas and oneself in my opinion are foundational to understanding spirit dynamics. Relationship dynamics as a topic is often neglected, hence this series of posts.

This is not definitive. Every House is unique and the topic of relationships is inherently subjective.

A House or lineage is a family... not a "country club family." It's cumulative practice of ancestors from various regions and traditions, generation upon generation marrying in, working with the loa, their spirits, and evolving. As every mundane family home is unique, every Vodou House and their relationship dynamic with the Loa will be unique.

No one's grandmother makes apple pie exactly the same. No lineage or families Vodou is exactly the same. Vodou is a direct experience religion of possession, not an organized religion.

There are different versions of us in everyones mind who has met us. If I ask Bob's wife, best friend, mom, clients, coworkers, and children to all describe Bob to me I will hear six personality descriptions. There may be common points but all will be unique, because we cultivate unique relationships with people naturally, based on how we feel, context, and situation. Spirits and their relationships are the same! Houses are the same. Houses may work with the same spirit, and have common points, but each will have an organically unique relationship dynamic.

Everyone's spiritual experience may be valid, but spirits are no more cookie cutter than people are, and no ones experience is guaranteed to be like another's.

Some houses cultivate a familial relationship with their Spirits, some are transactional and strictly business, some a combination of both, balanced or not. There are spectrums of relationship dynamics. None are right or wrong, only more or less authentic. If one cannot be honest with oneself about what relationship dynamic resonates best with their own personality because they do not know their self or have a good relationship with their self... no wholesome or constructive interactions typically even with the living, one should examine those relationship dynamics and behaviors first before trying to join a House or work with Spirits! How will you choose a House that fits you or your goals if you do not know yourself?

If one is initiated, questions should be directed to ones Ougan or Mambo. Initiation is an adoption into their existing working spirit relationships and one becomes like an adopted spiritual child.

When one is baking pies with grandma, how would it make her feel to see grandkid take a break to ask random grandma Gladys around the corner about a detail, just because? No. One asks ones own grandma why she prefers that flour. Gladys doesn't know why your grandma's grandmother prefered that specific flour.

When ones grandma is showing her grandmothers apple pie recipe from early 1800's should one interrupt her over and over saying,

"but Food Network said that this way is the right way."

"But Gladys said..." "But Gordon Ramsey said..."

There is a difference between asking honest questions here and there so you know what makes your recipe different or unique... and just being obnoxious and obstinant. Don't be aimlessly obstinant simply to test and argue.

This is my analogy for the relationships a lineage or House's ancestors create and pass down. The relationships with the spirits of that family lineage are like a living recipe book. That is what you are introduced to when initiated, or when someone does work for you. So you better make sure that House interacts in ways that resonate with you, because the spirit world is a mirror to the physical world, and people inevitably begin treating the people in their life how they treat their spiritual court, and vice versa.

You learn great grandma's recipe. It stays great grandma's recipe. You can change it and make your own however you want to and add to the recipe book, but her recipe stays there as hers, and you empty your mental cup when it's being taught, even if you are an Iron Chef apple pie champion... you hush, leave, or keep arguing and nitpicking about "Gladys said" and get head whalloped by her spoon.

When someone comes to you and asks for the recipe you say, "I'm sorry that is not mine to give." It's not about keeping secrets. It's about honoring spaces. That takes discretion and intuition to discern what's appropriate and not. If you have a moment of doubt, hush… ask yourself if this information belonged to my best friend or mother would I share their business? Or ask your Houngan or Mambo… simple minor consideration.

If someone walked up to me and asked for my best friends apple pie recipe she created herself I'd say, "that's not mine to give, go ask her." Then I may or may not introduce them. That's the equivalent of saying, go talk to my Houngan or Mambo... get a reading if you're interested in the apple pie recipe.

Why is this same consideration often not given to ancestors, as if just because they are among the dead this respect changes?

It is not gatekeeping. Ancestors are a cornerstone of Vodou and still honored with this same love, care, and consideration that many don't even afford their living families and friends! They and their things are special to the family, sentimental, and protected.

My hope is that this assists understanding in a vastly misunderstood religion.

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