Those dirty white doves lying by the curb alongside three little samurai hats made of coconut, their car-flattened heads some distance away — they’re not just some sick coincidence, a bored metalhead’s idea of art or a Hot Topic teen’s notebook dream rendered real. According to my neighbor, they’re part of a spell meant to discredit him in the DC Santeria community and rob him of some of his prominence and prestige.
We stood out in the road together Friday night, six beers deep into the evening as he explained, flicking the dead doves around with a stick. “This is sloppy work, too,” he said. “Amateur shit. This is some poorly hidden amateur shit and an embarrassment to everyone who practices Santeria. The spell was broken the second I laid eyes on this, and it should have been hidden better … in the bushes at least, or wrapped in some brown paper and then hidden where nobody could find it.”
According to my friend (who must remain nameless), someone else in the community is jealous of him and his standing. He believes this is an Anakin and Obi-Wan situation, an old former friend resentful of his spiritual growth, his influence over new initiates, and his role as an elder. If he is correct, the perpetrator of this spell owns a popular Botanica, a voodoo supply store that initiates new members into Santeria. Apparently, she charges for her services and for supplies.
“I don’t make any money off this myself. It’s my religion. I have my career as a network engineer and that’s separate. This is my life, my spirituality and to her, it’s her business, and I’m taking her customers.”
He adds “This was confirmed to me by both my Orisha and my high priest. That bitch wants to knock me down, to see me fail.”
That’s only part of the reason that there are two dead headless dove lying in the road by my house, in a direct line of sight from the friendly Santero’s apartment. There’s more. An offering of doves is an offering to Obatala, the owner of all heads who is always dressed in all white. See, the perpetrator of this spell was ordained under Yemaya, mother goddess and creator of the world, same as my neighbor.
Since they both have the same guardian angel, a direct attack via spells cast on the spiritual plane would harm both parties. By appealing to Obatala, the attacker hopes to knock off my friend’s “crown”, or cause him to publicly embarrass himself and lose status.
“Yemaya, she is the creator and the destroyer,” my Santero friend elaborated. “She’s a caring mother but defends her children like a she-wolf, like a grizzly bear or something. Yemaya Okoto is a pirate witch queen who defends her children by rampage, and that’s the the aspect I come under. Eleggua told her to go ahead with this spell, but he brought this to me through you, and now he’s told me to do what I need to do to defend myself.” He paused for a moment, looking into the sky, then continued, saying “Really, this is all so wonderful and it just reaffirms my faith in Santeria. This is so amazing, such a beautiful display of Eleggua’s power. I feel so blessed right now.”
Eleggua is the Santeria trickster-god, and, according to Wikipedia “plays frequently tempting choices for the purpose of causing maturation.”
“See here,” my neighbor said, “look at the coconut shells here, by the doves. It’s the divination she threw before she left the sacrifice … see how the whites are facing up? That’s a ‘yes,’ from Eleggua, he’s telling her to go ahead, but he’s bringing you past these birds yesterday and having you e-mail me about it after we hadn’t even talked for a whole year. That’s random as hell, man, and that’s Eleggua for you, especially considering how we even met, man.”
It’s true. I met my neighbor because he’s the best friend (and spiritual godfather) to a woman I met on Myspace about a year ago. We went out on a few dates and then it sort of fizzled, more due to work, timing, and baggage on my part than anything else. I ‘friended’ my Santero neighbor last year and then fell out of touch with him and her, although I had no negative feelings.
I can’t say that I’m converting to Santeria anytime soon, but the fact that we all met last year and then I happened to see these dead doves in the road a year later and be moved to photograph them and e-mail them … it’s pretty staggering. I remain an open-minded skeptic, but I can honestly say that I’ve felt Eleggua’s power firsthand.
After many divinations, many questions asked of the oracles and many coconut shells thrown, it all comes down to this. My friend the Santero is the victim of a vicious spiritual attack by an enemy who was willing to perform a blood sacrifice to see him fail. By discovering the sacrifice and alerting him, I was the agent of the Santeria trickster-god Eleggua. Once he saw the sacrifice itself, the spell was broken.
My friend will retaliate, and nothing’s going to stop him. He’s not telling how or when, only that “a shield is built and the divination said that the situation is ‘an eye for an eye.’”