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I knew my mom didn’t have $200, and the idea of asking my father for the money was a joke, so she did what any good mother would do—she sold her bedroom set to a neighbor for $250.

A week later my mother took me back to the tarot card reader, who was a high priestess and medium in an occult religion called Santeria. Leaving my mother in the front sitting area, Cookie led me back to the kitchen where she initiated the cleansing ceremony by placing beads of different colors on the table, each strand representing one of the five main spirit gods that ruled the religion.

In the kitchen, I sat and talked with her until someone from behind me tied a blindfold around my eyes and led me to a room where together they tore off my clothes and bathed me with herbs and plants. Terrified, I shook with fear but kept silent. Why couldn’t my mother be with me during this strange ritual that was both frightening and humiliating? I had no idea what would happen next.

Suddenly the high priestess and her helper started singing songs to the five main gods of Santeria: Obatala, Yemaya, Ochun, Chango , and Oya. Although I couldn’t see because of the blindfold, I knew that two people performed this ceremony. Sometime later they dressed me in white and took me to another room where I was offered up to the five gods. When they finished singing, I was given five beaded necklaces to wear, each representing the color of a particular god. They told me to bow down in a certain fashion, repeat the names of the five main gods, and thank the gods for receiving me.

During the process the two women became my godmothers in Santeria. They wrapped my head in a white bandana and told me I must stay dressed in white for seven days. Finally they released me back to my mother, but I would never be the same innocent ten-year-old boy again. The world of Santeria had become real to me. My life would be controlled by the guardian spirits that rule over espiritismo and Santeria. I would no longer belong to my mother but to incredible forces beyond my control, for these entities had stepped up to fill the void in my heart that yearned for a father.

After this, every weekend one of my godmothers took me to what they called centros (espiritismo churches) to learn how to work the mesa blanca. I learned from the very best, people dedicated to Santeria and espiritismo for thirty, forty, fifty years of their lives. They called themselves mediums. As I made my weekly visits to the centros, I learned how to communicate with spiritual forces of different ranks, cast spells, and recruit others into the religion—spirits that I now realized were diabolical spirits, or demons.


Date: 2015-01-11; view: 471

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