How to Take a Spiritual Bath

In Emergence, Papa Moses instructs Sophie to take spiritual baths because she's crossed. I learned about spiritual baths and hoodoo from Rootman Venu when he gave a presentation about the topic in Joplin, MO, a few years ago. Because I was working on The Voodoo Butterfly Series, I scribbled pages of notes as Venu spoke, so that I could incorporate his information and make my series more authentic.

I asked Rootman Venu to conjure a batch of 13 Herb Bath.

Here's the instructions for taking a spiritual bath:

Rise before dawn with enough time to bathe before sunrise. In silence, draw your bath. Add minerals, teas or bath crystals. If desired, you can dress two white candles, such as tea lights, with Blessing Oil, & put on outer corners of tub. Pray the appropriate Psalm & prayer. Pour bath water over self a certain number of times (for Uncrossing, 13x) Save a portion of the bathwater. When exiting the tub, visualize yourself as passing through a gate of light, being reborn as you step out of the tub. Air dry. Dress in clean, white clothing. Go to the crossroads with bathwater. Throw to the East over your left shoulder, before or at the Sunrise, going home, and not looking back. In the case of Uncrossing/13 Herb work, you would pray the 37th Psalm & pour the water over your head 13x.

I woke around 5 AM.

The packet of 13 Herb Bath smelled like Ricola cough drops and looked like Papa Moses' Wacky Tobacky. As I tinkered around the kitchen and brought the pitcher of infused water up to our bathroom, Hubby was probably like, "What is she DOING in there!" But he stayed in bed.

After I poured the water over my head 13 times, it took a lot longer to air dry than I anticipated, so I was thankful for the warm weather. Decided to drive to a crossroads by the train tracks near my house because it's a quiet spot and kind of a double crossroads.

Here's me leaving my bad mojo behind.

My Experience with World Religion: Islam

Disclaimer: This was an incredibly difficult post to write. First off, Islam has so much controversy surrounding it: Jihad, 9-11, suicide bombings, and the list goes on. These terrible things are perpetuated by bad people. Secondly, I have Muslim friends (both in America and abroad) and I love them. They are good people. With that said, I feel compelled to speak out against the extremist factions of Islam that perpetuate violence against the innocent.

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People who perpetuate violence in the name of God really, really get to me.  So seeing news stories or films depicting the torture and killing of women and children in Islamic countries really gets me riled up. When I think about what it would be like to be a woman in a place like Pakistan or Afghanistan, I just don’t even want to go there because I am a woman and mother to a baby girl and a little boy.

Malala Yousafzai’s story comes to mind. In 2009, at 11 years old, she started blogging for the BBC, detailing her life as a young girl trying to get an education in Pakistan. The Taliban moved into her town and wanted to ban girls from attending school, so she became a young activist, promoting education for young women. In 2012, at age 15, she was shot in the face by a member of the Taliban. She survived and continues to speak out for the rights of women and children, especially on the subject of education. I hear a story like this and my mind gets this message: women are worthless and they must obey. Or else.

Subservient. Worthless. That’s the message I–and I think many Americans–understand about a woman’s place in Islam.

But this series of blog posts is supposed to be about my personal experience with the different religions, not about societal attitudes or philosophical arguments, so I’ll tell you a story about the first time I visited my husband’s home country of Malaysia. Malaysia is a Muslim country, so I felt anxious because all I had to go on was the media’s coverage of Islam. When we met up with a group of my husband’s Muslim friends, all the women wore head coverings. My chest filled with outrage and anxiety because, to me, wearing thehead covering was an act of submission.

“Why are they being forced to wear those?” I thought. “Why don’t they step out from behind the veil and stand up for their rights as women?”As if they’d rise up like the American bra-burning feminists of the 1960s. Right.

Before I even spoke with my husband’s friends, though, I had seen many, many Muslim women wearing the hijabin Malaysia. Just random people out in public: at the airport, at the grocery story, at a restaurant. But my American mind had only seen movies and news stories which showed the Taliban stoning women in a stadium or shooting girls for attending school. My mind imagined these Malaysian women to be meek, hidden, and oppressed.

Then I actually had a real conversation with them and what I actually encountered during that first meeting with my husband’s college mates was a group of empowered women who held Engineering degrees from American universities. They were mothers and wives. They were strong faithful women who spoke their mind and exhibited character. They came across as “normal” to me.

I even felt comfortable enough asking them about their head covering. They explained the difference between a hijab and a burqa; the hijab is a covering for the head and chest, but does not cover the face. They explained how Muslims in different countries practice differently. A Middle Eastern Muslim would have different attitudes than they might about how a woman should dress in public. These new acquaintances explained that they wear the hijab as an act of modesty. I’d never considered that and I felt kind of stupid when they explained it that way. Now, when I see Muslim women wearing a head covering, my brain registers “modesty” instead of “subservience.”

I can’t solve the violence in the Middle East. I can’t save a woman from being stoned or a schoolgirl from being shot by the Taliban. Most of my “crazy day” is spent doing mundane things like folding laundry or changing diapers. But I do know that I want my kids to grow up in a good world. The only thing I can affect is my little piece of this world: my family. So my hope is that I can raise my family to use critical thinking and common sense when formulating opinions. And when we don’t really understand something or somebody, we actually ask a person who knows the answer. I can teach my kids to use kindness instead of violence, but to also stand up against injustice (even on the playground). Then I can pray each night, with one baby girl and one little boy, for “peace in the whole world. Amen.”


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

My Experience with World Religion: Judaism

Judaism. Of all the faiths, it seems like the Jews have had the toughest go of it with regards to religious freedom. Throughout ancient history and into the modern day, the Jewish people have faced persecution and have even had to fight for their lives. All for being Jewish.

Which brings me to a very humbling experience that I had at a place where that sort of persecution happened to Jewish people not so very long ago.

During the fall of 2000, I studied abroad in London and was able to take several trips to nearby Europe. A few of us decided to visit Prague, Czech Republic. It was a fun trip fueled by Red Bull and Vodka and lots of cheap, delicious food. On that trip, we learned about the Velvet Revolution, where Czechoslovakia shrugged off the iron curtain of Communism with peaceful revolution.

We visited the Jewish Cemetery in Prague with its many, many headstones jabbing up out of the ground at odd angles (see above picture).

One of the other items mentioned in my tour book was a day trip to the concentration camp of Terezin, outside of Prague.

When I saw the sign above the entrance to Terezin (see picture to the left), it sunk in, “This all really happened. It’s not just in a movie or in a book. This is really still here.”

Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work Makes (You) Free,” was posted above the entrance to some concentration camps in Nazi Germany, giving Jewish people who entered, the false hopes that they could earn their freedom back through hard work and conformity.

Every person should go to a Nazi concentration camp once in their lifetime if given the chance. Experience the place. Let it sink into your body. Stand in a place like that and know the truth with each free breath you take.

 

Terezin was not a death camp, like Auschwitz, which means that people were not exterminated here. However, Terezin was a transient camp where they moved people from Jewish ghettos around Europe into the death camps. The picture above (with benches, bunks, and tables) shows a barracks for 400-600 people. Can you imagine what it would be like to sleep with that many people jammed into the bunks and on the floors? How could you sleep?

 

The picture above shows the showers at Terezin. These were real showers, not a gas chamber like the ones in Auschwitz.

 

The picture above is Terezin’s crematorium. Though mass killing didn’t occur here, people did die from natural causes and this is where they would be cremated.

Terezin may not be as infamous as some of the other Nazi concentration camps, but it still carried the heaviness of the Holocaust on its shoulders. Our tour group remained pretty much silent through the entire tour.

So why would I choose to go to such a terrible place? Because we, as human beings, should never forget what the Jews of Europe went through before and during WWII. It’s good to recognize that, even though the Holocaust happened seventy years ago, terrible things still happen in this world. The best we can do is be aware of it and try to make the world a better place in whatever way we can.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

My Experience with World Religion: Buddhism

When I envision a Buddhist, I always think of someone very centered, in the moment, and peaceful. And I can relate to the need for inner balance because I have always been naturally drawn to Eastern practices like meditation and yoga. I grew up in the Midwest where I had very little exposure to other cultures, so I have no idea where that tendency came from.

Every time we visit Malaysia, we go to the Buddhist temple in Ipoh (my husband’s hometown). It’s a unique place because it’s built into a mountain and if you follow a walking tunnel, you end up in the center of the mountain which has been completely hollowed out by some geological process. The five-story building in the picture has more than enough room in this courtyard made by Mother Nature.

During one visit at the temple, I noticed this picture of the birth of Jesus:

I remembered iconography from Western art that included the Virgin Mary holding her baby surrounded by angels. All the holy figures pictured with halos to represent their divinity.

“How cool,” I said to my husband. “The Buddhists recognize Jesus, too?”

When I leaned in closer, the plaque labeled this painting as “The Birth of Buddha.” So if the birth of Jesus and the birth of Buddha are portrayed in such startlingly similar ways, how different can we, as humans searching for answers, really be?

Malaysia has an interesting dynamic, because it is a Muslim country with practicing Buddhists, Christians, and Hindus. My husband’s family has lived there for three generations and there has NEVER been war or terrorism in this tiny country where four major religions have to coexist. In fact, regardless of religion, my Hindu family will visit holy places and recognize the sacredness of the place. We go to the Buddhist temple and light incense, praying by the Buddha statue. Plus we get to feed these cute little turtles who live in the mountain.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church was next door to the Hindu temple where we got married. Muslim prayers from the local minarets echo through the valley at sundown. And I’ve gotten to see the bright colors people wear to the many Hindu holy festivals we’ve attended. I’m so happy that my kids will get to experience all the different types of beauty that these religions have to offer.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons

My Experience with World Religion: Hinduism

I’ve been married three times. Yep, three times to the same man. The first ceremony was at the courthouse to get our marriage license. The second was a Catholic ceremony at Paradise Cove in Malibu because I always wanted a beach wedding. The third was a Hindu one when we visited Malaysia for the first time. PS–I’d never met my husband’s family until that trip two years after our first (courthouse) wedding.

While the Hindu wedding was much different than the Catholic ceremony, I definitely noticed similarities between the expressions of the two faiths in my first trip to Malaysia.

The morning of our Hindu wedding, we went to the local temple to honor Ganesh (the elephant god in the picture), an important deity to my husband’s family.

Then we took the supplies and headed back to the house for a small, intimate ceremony. The nuptials were in Telegu, my Hindu family’s language, so I had no idea what was going on. However, I did think it was incredibly cool that the ceremony was performed by my MIL and FIL along with two other women friends of the family. Catholicism has such a strong, patriarchal tradition that it was refreshing to be honored by women during this process.

Certain elements of the Hindu ritual were very familiar to me as a Catholic. They used incense (note the smoke in the picture), which is used often during Catholic rites. There were also tiny oil lamps, like the candles used in Catholic marriages. And what wedding would be complete without flowers?

Obviously, there were some VERY foreign elements. Take the picture of the two bananas in a coconut. I have no idea what that meant, so I made up my own explanation. Instead of two peas in a pod, we’d be like two bananas in a coconut. Anyway, it was a cute little memory.

My wedding sari was much more colorful than the white dress for the Christian ceremony, but I LOVED all that jewelry, wearing fresh jasmine in my hair, and getting henna on my hands and feet.

In the evening, we ate lots of delicious Indian food with my new family and friends. And that is definitely familiar to me as a Catholic, because we marry in the afternoon and party all night.

 

All you need is love.


Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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*Originally posted on The Literary Ladies Blog

*Photos courtesy of Nic Walker from Flickr Creative Commons