Spirits, spirits everywhere...
There are many mysterious forces at work in the world of which we are unaware. Some seem to take special delight in throwing up obstacles, setbacks, and creating general mayhem. The objective appears oriented towards obstructing progress in both our spiritual and mundane lives.
On the face of evidence, it would appear that there are classes of entities such as gremlins, fairies- call them what you will, which are malicious trickster spirits that bedevil our existence. I have long been convinced that there is indeed a specific instance of where these spirits take on the material form so as to carry out acts of wickedness more effectively on the material plane. I am speaking here of the dreaded Felis Domesticus: The common house cat.
This entity perhaps offers the greatest threat both to your sanity and the sanctified spiritual space known as the bóveda. Inexplicably, these creatures are drawn to your shrine, at first simply to investigate, later to return and wreak havoc.
Perhaps they have grown tired of sipping that delicacy of delicacies, that divine nectar (in the cat universe at least) of toilet bowl water. Now, things are different. They have their choice of waters -7 to 9 sparkling cups. Perhaps it is that beckoning fountain, with perfumed water that calls to them, so they can daintily dip their paw into, which they then withdraw and proceed to curiously sniff. How adorable you say?
Well, not just five moments ago the beast was in the cat box, shoveling reeking kitty litter on top their latest masterpiece. Before that, they were playfully mutilating a disgustingly large and filthy wharf rat. Did I neglect to mention that a said rat now lies in five widely scattered pieces? After becoming bored with this effort, it has moved on to greener and fresher pastures. Now your “adorable” kitty is dipping their paw in your lustral bóveda waters, which you will soon be –ahem- cleansing yourself with.
Besides effectively de-consecrating your ritual space, they also potentially offer the threat of physical destruction.
That special antique crystal that you devoted to a beloved grandparent or spirit guide? Gone in a flash; the victim of the little devil’s capriciousness. They seem to take special delight in deliberately tilting glass and watching it smash on the floor. Then there are the small, “accidental” breakages that occur. The cat nonchalantly sidles next to glasses, pretends not to notice that he or she is precariously close. Then disaster and an “oops” look to mask an inner glee. Then there is a grand catastrophe. The animal is perched atop your bóveda when it catches a glimpse of movement somewhere on the floor- a mouse, insect or dust ball wafted along by a breeze coursing through the room. In an instant, the cat leaps, but not before first clumsily crashing through the entire bóveda. In a brief moment in time (and if you happen to be watching, this event will seem to transpire in slow motion) the entire contents of the mesa will topple onto the floor to erupt in an explosive shower of glass. Gone, gone forever.
Cats constitute a devotional threat as well. There is little more disturbing and disrupting to your contemplative practices and prayers at the bóveda than the little ‘apports’ that they leave behind – a fur ball perhaps, or how about cat hair floating in your cups or fountain? The pungent aroma of cat urine is a sure counteractive force to your prayers and seems to be especially penetrating and distracting.
Those who have cats are familiar with the old “dinner ploy”. The beast can be asleep in the backroom and you begin your cycles of prayers. Amazingly, the cat has suddenly materialized at your feet with incessant cries of “feed me now”. You then may choose to ignore this and doggedly proceed to plow through your prayers in spite of this distraction. The arrogant little savage will have none of this. It will simply ratchet up both the volume and the octaves with what is equivalent of a shout. Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying in little interchanges such as this? I will help you to translate. I am an expert on such matters you see. The true content of its messages undoubtedly runs something along the lines of: “Hey you, you stupid brute. Are you deaf? I said I was hungry! Get a move on. Geez! What is it with the help these days? Feed me now!” You might as well call it a day. The session is now ruined. Throw in the towel and feed the damned thing.
Then there are the true horrors. Let me take a page from my own experience and illustrate what can await the unwary. One day I walked downstairs to begin my work at my bóveda. I was immediately struck by a most peculiar smell. Hmmm. I flipped on the light and my heart seized up with horror! There on the floor, directly beneath the mesa, one of my cats had left that most troubling of objects-a big, fat steaming pile of turds. The small hairs rose on the back of my neck and I felt I was being watched. With a sinking feeling of dread, I turned around and there was the culprit hatefully glaring at me, the fires of hell glowing in her eyes. “Bad Cat!!!” I screamed. It did not blink an eye. I then did the most egregious breach of “catiquette” (cat etiquette) imaginable. I pointed at it. In response, she made a rude gesture and snarled “go to hell!” (I am quite conversant in feline semiotics as you shall see). To add insult to injury, I quickly discovered that she had sprayed statues of my Indian guide with copious amounts of cat urine. She then gave a look that indicated she was quite proud of her work as if she were an artist who had labored long and hard throughout the night to give birth to her magnum opus. Here was the grand unveiling of her efforts. I had lost this round. I sighed and with a heavy heart set about cleaning and deodorizing every object in the shrine.
I then made a decision to safely remove the entire bóveda and reset the altar in another room, one which had both door and lock. The cat sat and watched me while doing this chore. She stared fixedly as I closed the door, thus effectively closing off a tantalizingly new potential toilet for her. For the cat mind, this was an unimaginable affront, an insult that could not go unanswered. She continued to stare at me, this time with pure unadulterated rage and hate. “We shall see who plays the last hand” I heard her mutter in cat language.
An hour or so later I began the preparations for cooking and serving my families’ meal. I began to feel ill at ease, but try as I might I could not locate the source of my unease. Then over my left shoulder, I spied the same aforementioned cat, glaring with resentment, all the while rapidly and with astonishing ease of effort she pushing out impressive volumes of “artwork” onto the kitchen rug. A few quick scratches on the carpet and she bolted out the open back door, but not before she gave me a look that I could easily decipher: “You can go eat shit” was what it said. I then paused to reflect on that old adage “revenge is a dish best served cold”. Except, in this case, it was served up body temperature. As I made the moves towards clean-up, I began to muse over the lessons offered by the day’s events: perhaps it is time to get a dog I said to myself.
Elefunké, Olo Obatalá
This article was published originally on blog.themysticcup.com and here are some of the original responses from that post dating from 2011.
Comments from Original Post
February 14, 2011, at 9:30 pm
Wow!! I’ve only had the opposite to happen! In fact, one of my cats loves to make offerings of its toys to my Eleguá on a regular basis. I’ll go to make my offering and there will be a catnip mouse or some feathered toy placed neatly by His cement head.
And whenever I service my Spirits this same cat politely and honorably comes to pay respect to Them. Lol, sometimes just by sitting quietly and watching the flames of the candles and sometimes by giving a very polite and well-mannered in volume “meow” of greeting.
Guess I’m lucky and I’m thankful that I am!
February 14, 2011, at 10:22 pm
One of our cats is very well behaved, she is actually my companion every time I go to work with anything Egún and Palo related. She likes to literally dance alternating one paw and then the other when I do my prayers to the Nganga and never touches any offering or messes anything up.
But like humans, we have all sort of tempers and personalities…and there are some mischievous cats @ home as well.
I think Elefunké was being humorous about many of the points made there. :-)
March 28, 2011, at 5:37 pm
Hilarious!! I have been thinking about getting a cat, but I just can’t get past their “attitude”.
Hermano Brujo Luis says:
September 6, 2011, at 10:25 pm
Thank you for the great read, I laughed so much, you are gifted in the arts of the written word. I keep both my Spiritual Tableau and my Fuente in a large walk-in closet. I have two Pomeranians who get into everything, lol so to keep my sanity I keep my altars in walk-in closets. I remember one time visiting a Brujo, Sancista who had two Chihuahuas and he also kept his altars in a walk-in closet. But to my horror, there was dog MIERDA everywhere and pee pads, that were drenched. I wanted to salute his cuadro and misterios, and seres, but all I kept thinking was how offensive. Then I kindly told him that I would aid him in cleaning the mess, as it was disrespectful in my eyes. How can I properly salute and ask for blessings from your seres, when my mind was in disgust.
September 8, 2011, at 3:02 am
Update…since Elefunké wrote this article the number of cats in our house had been reduced from 7 to 1. Yes, they all found loving homes, but only the beloved Nganga Kitty stays. She is well behaved and knows how to respect altar spaces…thus far…