Into the Unknown: Visayan White Magic [part 2 of 2]
As the news of lola inday's death settled upon us, and my abuela just got back from the doctor, her nanny rushes back from the local healer with a look of fear in her eyes...
According to her, when she got to the "surano" [local healer/witch doctor], the "surano" caught her by surprise. After taking the piece of clothing from the nanny, the healer then began scrying and recalling what happened to my grandmother that day while getting the ginger ready. She began mentioning details about the house, the renovations, the time of the accident, and what my abuela did. Now, the "surano" was not privy to this information, and the nanny never mentioned anything about these to her.
My abuela's nanny was shaking when she got back. She held in her hand a holy water bottle, and the piece of clothing with the ginger. She said, "May imaw ako." [Someone or something is with me]
-apparently the healer could not make it, but already gave her instructions what to do and sent an energy or entity to accompany her.
She asked to halt all activity in the house. And we did...
She took a bowl of water and asked for a candle, and the dried palm fronds blessed during palm sunday called "palaspas".
She went to where the old well used to be [which is now the new kitchen's island] and placed the bowl of water in the middle. She poured some holy water into it [ with hands shaking ], tore a few pieces of the "palaspas" and added them. After that, she took the candle, let the wax drip on the water four times and let it rest. She then proceeded to swirl the bowl counter clockwise.
She looked for that piece of wax that stayed in place, and that meant the direction pointing east, which it did. While the other wax pieces settled to the other cardinal directions.
She scooped up the wax piece that pointed east with a piece of the "palaspas" and threw it to the eastern end of the house, and did the same to the 3 remaining points of the compass that the wax drippings pointed to.
And suddenly, as if something had left my abuela's nanny, and she was her usual self again.
Look, I'm a child of the 20th century, and I understand the concept of a placebo. But I also did a stint with the occult and the spirit world not so long ago. And i do believe that there are things you just don't mess with. I do have childhood memories of having spilled some liquid or accidentally breaking a softdrink bottle at the old kitchen in the morning, and by the afternoon, would be suffering from a fever inexplicably. According to my mother, we have "other residents" in the house. The back part of the house was apparently split between two factions: the left, occupied by the friendly ones and the right, the mischievous ones. My abuela would always credit my late afternoon fevers to these unseen creatures. And after having the water well sealed up and digging at the back of the property for new foundations, they made their mischief upon my abuela when no one was looking. Perhaps to tell us that we have encroached upon their unseen world without permission. And some ritual was required to appease them.
After that, there was this uplifting energy in the house, and we proceeded with our day. And come lunchtime, as we were enjoying our meal, a group of devotees of Saint Vincent Ferrer going door to door doing a ritual called a "Pa-Lapak" literally meaning "to be stepped on"; came to our door singing and bearing with them a small broken down statue of Saint Vincent Ferrer. The "Pa-Lapak" is a ritual that dates back to pre-Hispanic times using the "tawo-tawo" or the idol. The foot of the "tawo-tawo" is placed over the head of an individual and is moved around the body in constant contact. A few conquistadores later, the idol is replaced by a catholic icon. The entire household was required to undergo this.
But what I would consider a freakish coincidence here is that the night before, after we had prayers, a relative of ours asked me if I could help out in acquiring a processional image of Saint Vincent Ferrer for their community chapel. A favor that I have agreed to instantly.
If that's not a sign from up there, then i don't know what else to make of it. And it's not the first time I've been led places before by some rather unusual circumstances and signs.
By 6:00 in the evening, i had to get ready for the "Pa-àso" or "Tuob". It was supposed to seal the house from further ill [Too bad I can't secure my home from the evil that is Erna, a second cousin's wife. Hahahahaha!] and to stop wandering souls from asking people to join them in the other world.
When the coals were burning at the right temperature, they were placed on this makeshift thuriber. A mix of "camangyan" [local brown resin incense], "alanghiran" leaves [no scientific name i can recall], wax drippings from a "Perdon" [a blessed candle from a shrine of our Lady of Candelaria], sliced ginger, and a piece of paper signed by the owner of the home which was folded and sealed with the names of the saints were placed to burn over the coals; and soon white smoke was dancing from the mouth of the thuriber.
By the primary entrance, an invocation is required for the protection of the home, the invocation is not standard. The one I was taught begins with calling forth the archangels and the heavenly hosts from their realms, the saints, the blessed mother, and the saviour himself. However, there are incantations I know, that are more pig-latin than anything else. And as a policy, if I don't understand it, i won't chant it out. I wouldn't know what I would be calling to my aid [then again, we must also fear the living]. When all of that was over, i had to sit down and think for a while. Pretty much how this posting began.
A lot of people would say, "Wala namang mawawala kung maniwala ka di ba?"
[ What have you got to lose?] -and that's very Pinoy. But there are those that would accuse you of being too superstitious and would like to drag you into the 21st century. And you can't blame them for not believing, it's just the way they are.
I think that I was born and educated at the crossroads of logic and superstion. And it's not that bad a place, come to think of it. I have this openness about the world with a thirst that is unquenchable. Some other people's delusions are much worse, i tell you.
And the unknown remains unknown, and i think it would prefer it that way.
"Things fix themselves..."
-Sondheim's The Frogs
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