On October 29th, 2005, my wife, Amy, and I attended the Real Witches Ball in Columbus, Ohio. While there we attended a Voudon class and ritual, conducted by Frater Andrieh Vitimus. It was, without a doubt, a life-changing experience for both of us. Neither Amy nor I knew much about Voudon, and even though I was a practicing Chaos Magician, I pretty much stuck to the Psychological and Energy 'models' of Magick. I had never experienced anything that made me believe in the reality of spirits, Gods, demons, etc. Amy was basically Athiest. She expressed that she didn't have high hopes for the ritual, since she wasn't a very spiritual person.
About twenty people were gathered into the room for the class. We learned a little about the history of Voudon, and it's beliefs and practices. We were told about the major Loas, which are spirits that are called up, for different purposes, in the Voudon religion. There was an altar set up in the front of the room with various dolls, statues, etc. where, later, we would be able to make offerings to the loas.
As the class went on we were told what the ritual we would be involved in would consist of. A symbol, called a veve, would be drawn on the floor in corn meal, and Andrieh Vitimus would call on Papa Legba to possess him. Papa Legba is the loa who opens the gateway to the spirit world, and is traditionally the first loa called in any ceremony. The rest of us would be chanting an invocation that was posted on the wall in various places in the room for our convenience. We were told that we could go and give offerings to the loas at the altar if we wanted. Various things like rum, food, etc. were available to make offerings. We were also told that some of us may become possessed during the ritual, though it was unlikely. We were instructed not to bother anyone if they began acting strangely. There were a few people who had experience with this sort of thing, and they were to help if it was decided someone needed help. Other than that there wasn't much in the way of what to expect.
We took a short break between the class and the ritual, at which time the group went from around 20 to around 10. It seems that a lot of Wiccans don't like the idea of possibly being possessed. Those of us that remained took a few moments to relax, the drummers started drumming, and we all began chanting. The ritual was underway.
Our ritual leader drew the veve on the floor with the corn meal, we chanted, and after a while he began acting strange. He began hobbling around on a cane. Papa Legba is traditionally an old black man who walks with a cane. He walked around, offered many of us rum, touched many of us, grabbed many of us and flung us into the middle of the room coaxing us to dance. People went to the altar and made offerings. He grabbed me once and the energy was such that I fell to the ground, dazed. Amy later related the following, concerning her experience:
"After a few minutes my hands started to tingle. I thought, "They must be going to sleep." The preist came by and "laid hands on me." I went to the floor and sat there for a long time, looking at my hands. They were on fire, shaking and tingling."
After some time of watching others dance, chant, roll around on the floor, etc. from my dazed vantage point on the floor, I was picked up off the floor by our leader. He put his hand on my head, said some words I didn't really understand, and handed me his cane. I was Papa Legba.
I was conscious of what I was doing. It was much like I was seeing through a video camera or something, though. I walked around, gave people rum, made people dance, touched people and caused them to fall down...all the stuff I'd seen him doing earlier. I was aware of doing it, but it seemed more like I was watching it being done than actually doing it. My wife said she was in a state of shock, pretty worked up at that point. She didn't know how long she had sat on the floor. She said she wasn't aware of what other people were doing. At that point she remembers looking up and seeing me with the cane:
"I would not have been more shocked to see him actually, physically morph into Papa Legba. I was looking at Papa Legba. This terrified me."
After a bit, the drummers stopped drumming, and we all fell to the floor, exhausted, and laughed hysterically. The entire group then departed for a nearby restaurant. I felt incredible. I had a feeling much like "coming down" from LSD. It lasted for hours. Amy was noticeably shaken by the ritual, and Frater Vitimus helped her to get grounded before we went in the restaurant. During our dinner, I found it very hard to concentrate on anything. I was in my own world.
The next day, Amy and I mostly slept, exhausted from the event. When I got rested, I began researching Papa Legba. I found that he is associated, sometimes, with Tiphareth in Qabalah, which corresponds with the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Gaurdian Angel in some traditions. Given how I've felt since the possession, I think being touched by Legba, ever so briefly, may have had that effect on me...to a certain extent. I definitely feel as though it was an intense experience that has pushed me forward in my magickal practice. It also "shocked" me into belief in the spirit model of magick, which opened up alot of possibilities for me that I'd never thought of investigating before. Most importantly, the experience gave me a magickal partner. My wife was quite skeptical before that night, and has commented that the event changed her concept of reality. She has since went on to explore the areas of Magick that interest her, and we often work together magickally.