Imbolc, the Ascent from the Underworld
Letter from Olivia Robertson
To ascend from the underworld of the Matrix, domain of the Mother, is naturally to have descended there in the first place. And this we are reluctant to do, fearing the fate of the many who are trapped, in realms of delusion and fear.
In most rites, death is presented in a horrifying aspect. The name of the god Hades was no red by ancient Greeks. He was revered and dreaded as pale, melancholy, with never a smile...
The ancient Chinese had the unwelcoming habit of blocking the home door of the recently dead after the funeral, so that they could not come back. Worst of all, the holy goddess had been put aside - she who is mother - and been replaced by the Christian "devil" complete with horns and hoofs, sovereign over the fiery domain of torture, Hell.
So it was incredulous joy that I myself, brought by my friend Cathryn Rogers, actually met the King of the Dead, and liked him! In fact his devotees adore him! He cracks ribald jokes with them, as he possesses a medium, accepts cigars and rum and actually likes people.
How did I make this splendid discovery so late in my life? I was brought by Cathryn and Maury and Daniel Campbell to the Voodoo Festival of the Dead on November the First in -where else - New Orleans. I admired the ornate altars decorated with skeletons - the dead welcomed home. I had gone reluctantly, not being partial to skeletons, spirit possessions or cemeteries. But I underwent a transformation of mind and heart, and this is a very good awakening at any age. So I am deeply grateful to the presiding Sally- Anne Glassman, Voodoo Priestess, for organising the event, attended by over a hundred people of all sorts. I made up the following story about the God of the Dead, Ge De, drawn from seeing his insignia, a top hat and miniature frock coat, rum and cigar, on his altar, and his attributes healing, counselling and kindness. I observed him taking possession of a very tall Frenchman, and I watched the expression of the girls surrounding him! They plainly adored him - his jokes and his bonhomie. What a change from 'the Devil. " There was no duality here. Ge De was a god, like those Egyptian pharaohs who would return their temples as God, and help those who came to them.
My story is this: Hundreds of thousands of Africans were transported to America. Many went to New Orleans, during the last few centuries. However, these victims of exploitation had comfort. They brought their Gods and Goddesses with them - Oshun of love, joy and beauty, Nazna Buluka the Great Mother, and many more.
But sometimes the "bad Guys", the white people themselves, produced deities-logs. The gods were typified by top hats, the Saints, "Barons", by bowler hats, and the greatest of these , because the most powerful, was the white god of the dead, Ge De. He would have been canonised by the Roman Catholic Church for his good work as Doctor, but was rejected because of his enjoyment of girls, rum and cigars. His unhappy patient, the Africans, could only repay him with said rum and cigars. Followers still do - I put a cigar on his altar. Why god of the Dead? This was obvious to his thousands of clients. When they became corpses through over-work and disease, the Africans were offloaded into pit-graves in unconsecrated ground. The French Doctor proved his divine status by issuing the all important death certificates, mysterious documents as important for those who longed for suitable burial, as passports for refugees in our day.
This is a god I like. Hades has chosen well his Vice-Roy. When Ge de blessed me, his hand on my head, I accepted it as an honour.
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[Article from #106 Samhain 2002 Isian News.]
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