The first story I will share in FAST FORWARD takes place in February 2006 and January 2008. I had been in Cuba to conduct some initiation rituals and to receive some spiritual tools for myself. My godfather/teacher is initiated in the Congo tradition, as am I. My first initiation was about 42 years ago. The Congo tradition is also known as PALO MONTE connects us with the ancestors and enables us to work with all spirits in the spirit world. In this tradition, we receive vessels with the energy of the spirits. Each vessel is prepared for a particular energy. On this trip to Cuba, I was going to receive the vessel of the spirit we call Zarrabanda, who is the spirit of iron and all metals who lives in the mountain forest.
Normally if you visit anyone, who has the vessel of Zarrabanda in Cuba the vessel is made of iron and somewhat large. The vessel of my teacher is no exception. His is so heavy it takes 4 or 5 strong men to move it around. I asked my teacher that I wanted something a bit more modest and manageable. He showed me the vessel he had chosen for me. I thought ok not to big I can manage.
As the days passed, we had gone shopping for all the implements needed for the spirit. As we are gathering everything, I begin to get a little concerned. Zarrabanda being the spirit of iron most of the items we needed were you guessed it IRON.
We returned to his temple, to build the vessel. This is where I learned how to build a spirit talisman or “prenda” as we call it. It took a few days and each day it was getting heavier. I was surprised as to how much can fit into a vessel that measures 30cm high by 20cm wide. More iron, stone, waters from various places and earth and let me not forget to mention the palm oil, honey, rum and dry white wine that went into it. Once it was completed I was very happy, it looked great. I could feel the energy coming from the vessel.
I had brought with me an extra suitcase on wheels in preparation to receive this spirit. The Day I was returning to Amsterdam I went to collect the vessel I had plenty of bubble wrap to cover and secure it in my bag, as small as I thought it was I almost gave myself a hernia picking it up. I wrapped it and with great difficulty placed it in my bag.
My big concern was that I would have to pay a small fortune in overweight. As I was pulling it up the hill from my teacher’s temple to meet my taxi the wheels buckled under the heavy weight. At this point, I decided that I could not take it with me on this trip.
Carrying back to my teacher house, the sweat was dripping like a waterfall. I told him that he would need to look after it for me because there was no time for me to find another bag or create in order to transport it with very little time before my flight. He would keep it for me until I returned. I felt that Zarrabanda wanted to stay a bit longer in the warm weather and settle into his new vessel before making the journey across the big pond to Amsterdam.
I returned to Cuba in 2008. My teacher had arranged to have a wooden box made to fit. This only made it heavier because the box alone was big and for some reason, the person who built it decided to paint the box LIGHT BLUE! All together between the vessel and box, the total weight was 45+ kilos.
Once again, I went to pick it up on my way to the airport. This time it had been in my teacher’s house so no hill to climb, I was grateful for that. I placed it into the taxi along with all our bags; I had been traveling with a goddaughter. I am always amazed how much I always carry back home to Amsterdam. Our big concern was where we going to have enough money to pay for overweight. KLM can be strict at times. We check in together and between to two of us, we had 6 bags and this giant blue wooden box. We had 100 kilos in overweight. I know we did not have enough to pay for it. I spoke Zarrabanda and said something had to happen because he would be left behind again. The agent at the counter did not even blink an eye all she asked with a poker face was “do you have any more bags?” she checked us in without having to pay not even a Paso. At Havana airport, the desk agents are used to people dressed in white having excess weight when traveling to Europe. We were lucky this time. I was very happy that the first hardtail went well.
My next concern was once we landed in Amsterdam. Here we are at Schiphol my goddaughter dressed all in white because of her initiation and we are stacking our bags onto the carts. My big blue box comes out in a separate area for large items.
It is 0830 and many flights from the Antilles, Suriname arrive about the same time. On this particular morning, customs agents were opening all bags. I thought to myself that is it “I am screwed”. If they open the box, I would be in trouble. There are all kind of iron tools and machetes sticking out of this vessel. Once again communicating with the Zarrabanda hidden in “big blue”. I spoke clearly to the spirit that something had to happen because if not he and I would not leave the airport that day. We are on the line and we are getting closer to the agents. I am trying not to look nervous, but there were 3 people in front of us before they would discover what was inside my big blue.
All of a sudden, you can hear the radios of the agents. Like magic, ALL The agents left running to another area of the airport. We were able to walk through into the main hall of Schiphol. That was when I was able to take a real breath and release about a gallon of sweat.
When I arrived home I immediately, open the box, gave my spirit a warm welcome to our home, and offered his rum and cigar smoke.
What I learned from this experience was to trust spirit, because the spirit will not let you down. Since that time, I never worry when I am carrying spirit vessels. Let me say this I have brought many with me since 2008.