"I heard of old folk tales of jazz players in New Orleans, going to the crossroads at midnight to get their instruments tuned by an old man that hobbles over. Once tuned, the player would sound incomparable to any other player in the city and would be great."
I’d like to have a dialogue. An on-line discussion, if you will. An opportunity to inquire and learn, cause one never stops learning when serving the spirits. It is a lifetime of study and dedication. Aside from my service as a Manbo Asogwe in Haitian Vodou, I am a full time Educator, Professor in Dance + Healing Arts Practitioner, focusing on Movement Therapy. I research. Things, people, places. Stuff. I require my students to do so, as well. So this burning question, among others, is the Researcher/Manbo coming forth.
I’m using this social media platform as an educational tool to gain insight.
Legba. Papa Legba. Atibon Legba. Legba nan Petwo, among many others whom we may or may not know... is revered as the Lwa who opens doors & gates. Keeper of the Spirit Gate. Protector of the home. Divine Messenger. The Lwa of Communication. Opportunities.
Most often he is asked to: “ouvre baye” - open the GATE in his songs and in prayer.
Many Vodouyzan serve Legba on Monday, but as the Lwa of communication, he is always available when you need to speak with him.
My first question: When did going to the crossroads every Monday with offerings for Legba begin?
Is this Regleman, or is this Millennial/New Age Vodou? - Made up nonsense/ish, in the name of Lwa.
There is a distinct difference.
"My suspicion is that it may come from African American conjure and lore, conflating "the man at the crossroads" with Yoruba practices, and mixing traditions. I see this a lot coming out of New Orleans Voodoo as well." - Koki Doré Bon Manbo
"I have not seen this done in Haiti. What I'm thinking is people are mixing Vodou with Hoodoo. I have no idea when this started, but it's popular. I can't say if it's right or wrong, but I will say it's not the way of my elders or my ancestors." - Houngan Michael
In all of my years traveling to Haiti, I've yet to see a Vodouyizan make their way to a crossroad every Monday with Veves drawn on paper, candy, toys, drink and money. The beauty of Vodou is that it varies, and it is REGIONAL. I gave up using the words "right and "wrong" many moons ago, when speaking on Haitian Vodou. What is practiced in the Northern part of the country does not apply to the South or Central Haiti. What rings true is that there is specific information on how to serve Legba appropriately. This information will vary from lineage to lineage. I'm fortunate to have traveled throughout the country to document AND experience the differences. It’s beautiful, fascinating, confusing, frustrating and contradictory, all at once. Welcome to VODOU!
Since Vodou is Regional, how did THIS PARTICULAR ritual
of going to the crossroads make its way to the US?
Who brought it here?
Which Vodou lineage does it belong too?
Or... did someone just make this shit up, and now folks are following blindly, without researching, because “everyone is doing it” or my favorite:
"My Manbo/My Houngan told me to do it."
News flash: Everyone is NOT!
I personally do not follow this service, and don't need to.
Legba is with me. ALWAYS. In my house, right at my door. In my body when I dance, In my heart when I pray. In my soul when I sing.
"There is also the idea that unless your hands and head have the heat to knock in those metaphorical doors, you don't know what you're actually taking to the crossroads. Folks forget that a lot of stuff lives there, not all of it is nice, and a whole lot of it will happily be called by whatever name you put out there." - Bonkira Bon Oungan
It's real out here in these Spiritual Streets!
I’m told folks are going to busy crossroads in severe weather conditions - rain, sleet and snow!
Risking potential accidents with oncoming, passing cars and of course
on-lookers questioning "what the hell you doing in a busy intersection?"
The Lwa need us ALIVE and healthy in order to serve them, to be present for our family, community, and most importantly, to fulfill our destiny. I was genuinely curious about this Crossroad Phenomenon, and sought out Haitian Vodou practitioners for insight.
Folks on FB and Insta are bypassing sitting at the feet of elders to learn. Sure, you can post images, memes, talk about Lwa, and regurgitate the SAME information in these on-line Voodoo/Hoodoo groups, but are you LIVING this tradition? What internal work are you doing? What steps are you taking to further your knowledge and growth within the tradition? In this information age, the focus is on obtaining info quickly, without any desire to formally train for a period of time.
Thankfully, there ARE reputable elders who DO teach and train, but that also comes with a level of trust and commitment from interested individuals who more than likely want a "quick fix".
another thing... for those of us who are serious about this spiritual journey, who sacrificed time, energy and money, went to Haiti, been in the Djevo, received our tool from Papa Loko, and EARNED the RIGHT to call ourselves Manbo and Houngan, KNOW who embodies the Crossroads... It ain't Legba.
"I think people get sucked in by all the Insta Manbo's and think they can reap the benefits with zero training. Without planting a seed how can a crop be harvested?