“Mirror, mirror upon the wall, break the spell or become a doll”(Vodou log2)

Let me start with where I have finished last time.

Damballa the great snake.

Most powerful of the entities in Voodoo cosmology.

Father of lwas.

Dangerous dude.

You don’t wanna come across Damballa… but I am afraid you already did. More than once.  He is quite common in our European culture although we know him under different names.

Lucifer. Satan. Devil.

Houngans – Voodoo priests communicate with him through mirrors.

You probably watched the horror The Mirrors, right? You also did hear of  this superstition so common around the world – the one which tells  that if you look at the reflection in the mirror with the edge of an eye, you can catch a glimpse of a ghost…

Well, now imagine that is not a fake story… At least not in Voodoo.

Those specially crafted mirrors, seem like an awkward piece of art, so surrealistic and grotesque in their design. Frames  carved with the images of the odd looking creatures hybrids of man and beasts.

There are also hair attached to it, human hair. As well as pieces of bones, nails, skin…

The gruesome ornamentations have their purpose. They make it easier to estabilish the connection.

Those mirrors, are kind of Voodoo IPhones, you see.

With unlimited contact list to the VIPs in the other world. No problems with the signal. Display better than 20 megpaixels,

And just one price for the user contract.

Your soul.

I have came across those mirrors once in Stockholm, on a special, temporary exhibition in the Museum of Etnography.

I was stuck in a long, shady hallway, watching my reflection in those damned artifacts.

I stood there with the camera in my hand, feeling the tempation hanging in the air. If I would make myself a photo in that mirror, would I catch on it, something I couldn’t see with my bare eyes?

I stood there with my finger frozen above the camera switch, when the words of the crazy, condemned philosopher trembled in my mind like an alarm siren.

“And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you…”

I walked away. No photos his time.

End of log

Shaman meets the hunter ( Tale 2)

Today shaman had a guest.


 A hunter would visit his shack.
– Greetings wise man – said hunter.
– Greetings hunter – replied shaman. – What makes you think I am a wise man?

Huntsman would shrug his arms:

– Look – he said, and pointed at what was below the cliff – Out there, there is a jungle. You are indeed wise man to stay away from it.
– What makes those cold rocks better than the place that is down below? – shaman kept asking.
– Jungle makes you filthy, shaman. – said hunter. – To survive in it, you need to become part of it. You need to step in, obey it’s rules even if your heart does not agree with them.
You see…. I have a big family, I have many women and many children. They all need me and my skills. They all need the food which I can deliver. They all depend on me. I don’t have the luxury of being myself anymore. I am part of a jungle now. I need to be a predator, and I need to be the cruelest one.
I set up booby traps, deceive, hide in the shadows, cover my face with mud. And eventually, at the end of the day I bath my hands in the blood of my prey. I cannot feel regret, I cannot feel compassion, I need to consume the others so the others do not consume myself. I dwell in the darkness, and my eyes hurt when they are approached by the light. I cannot escape the dirtiness of the jungle, as I live it every day.
In the end – I am becoming the jungle.
But up here, shaman… – hunter would make a pause, as he was dazed by the beauty of rising moon – Up here you can be liberated from all of the darkness below. Up here on top of the mountain you can remain pure, you can remain who you truly are. That’s why I think you are a wise man, shaman.
And a silence would occur.
Shaman would pick up his matte and took a long sip. For a moment he and the hunter would look at the stars. Both with the same affliction.
Than the shaman would say:
– Maybe you are right hunter. Maybe not. Once you are in the jungle you experience all it’s trouble, all it’s pain, but also you can taste it’s fruit. Once you are in the jungle, you are living among the others, you don’t feel cold in the night, you don’t feel alone. But on the other hand you have to sacrifice bit of yourself to fit into the tribe.
Once you are in the jungle you feel the thrill of the hunt, and the passion of your tribesman while joining them in a ritual dance. Up here, hunter, the only thing you can feel are – the cold embrace of the wind, and the enormous sense of the loss, missing all the things that you can see down below, but which you cannot experience. Once in the jungle you live the life, once above it, you are just observing it.
You remain pure, but for what cost?
-So what is the right way than? – hunter would ask.
– Maybe there is no right way. Or maybe both ways are right. Maybe we would find out if we would exchange our places…one day.
– A shaman would hunt capybaras, and a hunter would start telling a stories?
They both laughed at this idea.
And they they would go their ways.
One would pick up his spear and merged into jungle. The other other remained here on top of the hill, drinking his matte , listening to the wind which brought a new chant.

Shaman and his shack ( Tale 1)

Shaman built a shack.

But this happened later.
Before that, shaman would have a dream.In this dream he would see a mountain, and a light on a top of it.
Mountain was as high as heavens, it’s peek would soar up to the stars, shining a like lighthouse among the obscure seas of the night. Shaman would have know, that the light on the peek, holds the key to all the questions he would have gathered in his wearied heart.
However, it was only a dream.
When shaman woke up, he would discover that he sees the light no more.
That he is in a middle of the jungle. A jungle which was dark, dense and dangerous.
He would remind himself that he is in a strange land, among the people of a savage tribe. A tribe that would despise him. A tribe that would not want him.
There is no place here, for the ones like you, the people would say. You want to admire the beauty of the sky, while in a jungle you can barely see a sun ray, so thick are the tree leaves. You want to talk with the Spirit who dwells among the stars, while our only desire is the warmth of our women and our campfires. You want us to tell us stories, but all we need from you is to hunt down fat capybaras and catch big fish, like all the other man do. We do not need shamans here, a tribe would say.
Go away, and tell your stories somewhere else, maybe a wind would listen to you, they laughed.
And the shaman would go.
He would pick up his sack, and he would go. He would be casted away, forced to enter the deepest jungle. He would march away from his people into the abysses of the unknown. Away from the warm and safety of the campfires.
But he would not get lost. He would have known the way, as it was shown to him in his dream. He would find a mountain and he would climb on the top of it.
And once up there, he would discover that there was no light like he would have imagined. Just the cold rocks and a view.
Shaman would see a vast, green carpet, a labyrinth of a trees, full of dangers, full of rush. He would see the jungle from the above, he would see the place, which was his home no more.
And he would feel disappointed.
I was casted away, he would think, I walked through the deepest jungle and climbed the mountain high as the heavens but in the end I would find nothing but sorrow.
And shaman would sit and start crying. But after a while he would see a river flowing, down below and a light reflecting on it.
A light that wouldn’t come from the sun, as the sun was already hidden beneath the horizon.
Shaman would look carefully and than he would understand where the light had it source.
It would come from the top of this mountain, where was nothing but him alone.
Shaman would smile, because he would finally understand the meaning of his dream. He would, lay down his sack and he would say:
Once you are above your problems and your world, you can finally see where is your place in it.
And so shaman built his shack.
And he would start telling a stories.
And the wind would start to listen.

Vodou log1

Few are religions that would made such a deep impact on what we call pop-culture.

Voodoo or rather as spelled originally – Vodou with it’s black magic conotations, Voodoo dolls, and above all – zombies, conquered not only  Hollywood but also imagination of many artists, writers and game designers.

Becouse of this most of people know what the stereotype of Voodoo is.

But as I am not a person who likes to make his judgement on what people say, or what the stereotypes are, I was always wondering…

Is Voodoo really so frightening as it is used to be shown?

Once in Stockholm, in Etnographic museum visiting a special Voodoo exhibition from Hatiti, I had a chance to confront my previous assumptions with the reality.

And the conclusion were far more disturbing than I would expect.

If you want to feel the atmosphere before getting more into my story about Voodoo, see this:

Trailer for Voodoo exhibition from Etnografiska museet

One of the first things that the exhibition made me realise is that Voodoo is not a game of some dumb, adrenaline seeking teenagers who decided to do some black magic on Saturday night.

Voodoo is a real thing, and it makes an actual practice and influences the daily life of tens of thousands of people. Mainly in Haiti. But not only.

The roots of Voodoo come to 16th century, when European colonisators started bringing slaves from Africa to the New World.

Africans brought their beliefs to Haiti, and those were mixed with native mithology and catholicism.

That’s how Voodoo emerged.

Practicing Voodoo means to interact with lwas – spiritual entities or energies, which although dwell in a separate realm, can influence people in many ways. Lwas have many names and many powers, they are legions of them.

It is common for Voodoo practioners to become possesed by lwas, especially during the dancing ceremonies.

Below you can see  figures representing one of the lwas. The exhibition presented a few of them.

It was bit disturbing to get to  know that the artist that carved it, followed the images that haunted them in their dreams.

It got even more peculiar, when I got to know which of lwas is considered to be the most powerfull in Voodoo.

He is called Damballa – the great snake.

Europeans know him with a different name – Lucifer.

But this story will be continued in the next log.

End of Vodou log 1

Stockholm Impressions 4 – Walk among the spirits

Stockholm was amazing.

But it weren’t the treasures of Swedish land that I will remember as most astonishing.

It was something else.

Something which seemed to be … not entirely from this world.

Bizarre ritual costumes from Papua New Guinea.

Weird Siberian sculptures carved in bones.

Native American’s dream catchers, Japanese Theatre Masks and many more…

All of this awaited for me in Stockholm’s ethnography museum.

Walking through this exhibition was like taking part in one of the Indiana Jones adventures.

Mix of art, ritualism and spirituality, strange figures gazing at me through the glass,which seemed as thin as thin is the border between the world we can see and the realm of the spirits.

Photos: me&brother,

Soundtrack: by Dead Can Dance – Click me!

Ritual Masks from South America

A figure holding a skeleton, made of various animal parts and carved human skull. This sculpture  represents “cannibal dancing society”  I can’t remember where exactly was it from, but I am sure it is a “no go” area…

Golden statue of Budda Amida from India.

Carved elephant’s tusk from Kongo.

And a shaman’s robe from the same region.

I know the quality is bad. But those Siberian figures were really small. And really weird.

Something from the far East –  Japanese samurai armor.

And a gallery of Japanese Theater Masks. Some show people, some show demons…

A Totem from North America. When it glows it means that the spirits of the Ancestors are present…

As mentioned in last part of Stockholm Impressions, I wanted to write about Voodoo.

Well, this was the last and the best part of the exhibition. However, I won’t keep my promise  – and I will write about Voodoo in a complete, separate log some other time.

For today to close the last chapter of Stokcholm Impressions  – let’s have a picture of ritual costumes from Papua New Guinea.

And a practicing shaman.

Stockholm Impressions 2 – Knocking on the Asgard’s door

Maybe by chance or maybe by a fancy of Odin, one of the routes of my short Swedish voyage brought me to the ancient viking burial and ritual ground.

The place is called Anundshög, an it’s dated to the Iron Age… however some of the remains are supposed to be as old as 3000 years.

Regardless the age of the place, it is the scenery that makes it amazing.

Stone hedges formed in a shape of drakkars, surround burial hills.

Underneath lie bodies of viking warriors, whose souls might still wander among those cold, simple monuments…

At the very front Fågelbcken – majestic rune stone – raised by viking Tav to honor his brother Grimmund.

And above all – the amazing aura which for a moment made me feel like I was in a middle of an ancient saga…

Photos – almost all by Premislaus.

Soundtrack by Misteria: Click me!

It seems that if you look carefully, you can see a path leading to the Rainbow Bridge Bifrost, connecting the realm of the mortals with the realm of ancient nordic gods – Asgard.

Fog, some dirt on camera lenses or maybe a….lost viking soul dwelling on this ancient graveyard?

I do hope the vikings won’t mind…

Last but not least – incredible Fågelbcken.

… and I have no idea how to pronounce this name correctly.