October Saint of the Month Box

Seraphin Station

Saints of the month for October are St. Teresa of Avila (a mystic author and Doctor of the Church, invoked against headache and heart attack, feast day Oct. 15) or St. Jude (neglected apostle, invoked for hopeless causes, feast day Oct. 28).

Looking to spruce up your altars, add to your chaplet or holy card collection, or just learn more about saints and spirits in folk Catholicism? The Saint of the Month box gets you a hand-picked and handmade bundle of saints’ goodies selected for you and shipped to you.

Whether you’re just starting to learn about saints and spirits in the hoodoo rootwork tradition or you’ve been working with them for years, I strive to delight you with something new and covetable to add to your collection with every box. (I have some pretty neat stuff squirreled away.)

This gives you a chance to get something new for an…

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Questions You’ve Asked: Patron Saints Playing Favorites

Seraphin Station

A client is getting set up with some Law Keep Away work, some of which involves physical items being installed at the front entrance where a St. Michael paket has been living. She wonders if she needs to move/remove St. Michael, whom she petitions for physical and spiritual protection, since he’s “the patron saint of police and general law and order guy.”

What a great question!

Short answer, no. No need to remove St. Michael.

A fixed paket of the type I used to make for clients/customers, when I could still source those detentes for reasonable prices. I haven’t been able to do that since reopening, but I like them very much and I hope I can offer them again one of these days.

Longer answer explaining my rationale: for one, human beings declared him the patron saint of law enforcement – he didn’t proclaim himself that lol… and even…

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Hoodoo Rootworker’s Seven-Way Rosary Chaplet – SOLD

Available through Seraphin Station, this rosary is handmade with a mix of pressed glass and Czech glass beads, each decade being separately attached to the center ring — a finger rosary — and embellished with a focal Pater bead of pressed glass, Czech glass, or in one case recycled sandcast glass. Whether you want to see this as a charm collection on a charm hanger displaying seven individual chaplets or single-decade rosaries, or as a sort of deconstructed All Saints’ rosary for contemporary rootworkers, this is a striking and unusual piece created by a rootworker with over 35 years of experience working with the roots, rosaries, and these saints in the folk Catholic tradition.

Large, sturdy, colored aluminum jump rings connect each decade to the center ring, so it’s possible, should you ever want to, to remove the individual decades and treat them as separate single-decade chaplets. This could be useful if you are working intensively with one or some but not all of these saints or if you’re traveling and need to cut down on how much spiritual stuff you’re lugging around.

Saints are chosen for their importance in the spiritual landscape of deep South hoodoo rootwork, with an eye towards popularity and contemporary usage (in the sense that while 100 years ago, St. Dymphna was probably not petitioned so often in conjure, today she is an enormously popular saint invoked by folks from all kinds of backgrounds and in all kinds of folk belief contexts. So she’s here!)

It’s made with strands or decades for the following:

  • St. Gerard, patron of pregnancy and childbirth in the Catholic tradition, also represents Baron Samedi of Haitian vodou in some houses and temples. He is the patron of communication with the ancestors and the dead. On the other side of this medal is Our Lady of Perpetual Help pictured with Christ and the angels Michael and Gabriel. OL of Perpetual Help is called on for all kinds of things – in hoodoo in my region, it’s often against sickness, income uncertainty, hunger, and unstable households. She’s known to help with all of those things. She’s also associated in some houses and temples with the lwa Erzulie Danto.
  • St. Lazarus is the patron saint of lepers and against leprosy, and by extension against plague and pandemic in contemporary practice. He’s also sometimes invoked by beggars, the homeless, people with HIV/AIDS, people with Hansen’s disease, and those who have unusually close relationships with dogs. He represents the lwa Legba, the patron of Yoruban divination and master of the crossroads, in many temples and houses, so he’s a powerful ally in road opening work.
  • St. Expedite is the patron saint invoked for fast luck, for help breaking through obstacles, for help with procrastination, and, increasingly, in desperate cases, much like St. Jude. He’s also the patron of computer programmers. In some regions and in some houses, he’s associated with the Ghuede lwa who rule the crossroads between life and death, esp. Baron Samedi.
  • St. Jude, the patron invoked for hopeless causes, is also called on more generally in conjure for financial prosperity and stability and is a good ally for those whose livelihoods involve working with emotional clients/customers and whose incomes can fluctuate for a host of reasons.
  • St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, children, and boat captains, invoked for safe travel. In some houses in New Orleans Voodoo, in which Santeria has had a noticeable influence, he is associated with the orisha Agayu. He presents his devotees with difficult obstacles but also grants them the inner power to overcome those trials and grow strong enough to carry all burdens.
  • St. Philomena is widely considered a miracle worker invoked by devotees for all kinds of things when other measures have failed. She’s the patron of babies and children and is considered the patroness of the living rosary. In some houses and temples, she is a lwa in her own right, seen as a helpful and pleasant spirit who helps those who make their livings as market sellers, removes negativity and evil from the surroundings, and grants the ability to have prophetic dreams.
  • St. Joseph is the patron saint of happy death, carpenters, stepfathers, and workers more generally, invoked in all kinds of situations to do with the financial wellbeing of a family and/or household, but especially petitioned by those seeking employment. He’s also called on by folks who need to sell their house. He’s associated with the lwa Papa Loko, the originary houngan and healer. St. Dymphna is on the reverse side of this medal. She is widely invoked against mental illness, anxiety, and depression, and she’s the patron of incest survivors and teenage runaways.

Some of these associations vary by region and the religious background of the practitioner, so I don’t mean to imply here that most modern rootworkers work with St. Gerard because of his association with a particular lwa in Haitian sevis. Most rootworkers do no such thing. Hoodoo and vodou are of course two distinct traditions, the former being folk magic and the latter being a religion. In Louisiana, though, especially New Orleans and surrounding areas, there is a strain of practice where the two are often blended to a greater extent than elsewhere as a result of the city’s unique history.

Continue reading “Hoodoo Rootworker’s Seven-Way Rosary Chaplet – SOLD”

Angry Angels and Saints Who Smite

I’m posting this as a blog entry 1. because I can’t seem to comment on Mama Cat’s blog (maybe she turned off comments or my browser is jacked up), and 2. I don’t want to take over her blog with my rambling anyway. Anyway, this is in response to her blog post here. I just want to chime in on the “saints punishing you” thing (if you read this whole thing, you’ll see that I am not disagreeing with her – I’m just elaborating).

People tend to think of saints as benevolent entities, close to God, involved in helping the devoted. Actually, there is an extremely long tradition of punitive miracles even in quite orthodox Catholic practice. I go into this a bit in this blog post. If you read the Old Testament, it’s full of them; God smote the hell out of all kinds of people, and he’s God. Saints and angels smite too. That isn’t the part people usually think of, though. As Tony Burke points out in his academic blog here, the study of punitive miracles is pretty much neglected by scholars as well. But such power to harm is part and parcel of the workings of saints, deities, and spirits in many different cultures and religions – absolutely including Christianity. Burke notes,

“Though not as plentiful in the sources as beneficent miracles, punitive miracles are nevertheless found in literature throughout Mediterranean antiquity. Holy men wield power, and sometimes that power is not used with mercy. Thus, to the ancient mind, it is reasonable for Elisha to call upon bears to maul annoying children, for Apollonios to threaten repressive corn merchants, for r. Eliezer to kill r. Gamaliel, for Paul to blind a false prophet, for Jesus to whither a fig tree, and so on. Of course, the power behind these curses comes from the gods, and sometimes the gods even curse directly—the Hebrew Bible, for example, contains numerous punitive acts perpetrated by Yahweh himself.”

My PhD work focused on this stuff in medieval England (and to a lesser extent, elsewhere), so this is obviously a favorite topic of mine. I don’t claim to be an authority on all world religions or even every Christian saint, but I think my training and research makes me pretty much qualified to call myself an expert on these “economies” and systems of circulation of relics, saints, angels, human beings, and how they all tend to interact and have interacted historically. I have published peer-reviewed academic articles on angels, saints, religious literature, and angelology. So I cannot in good conscience say that the popular image of angels as smiling feathered beautiful beings in gowns helping children over bridges is terribly accurate, nor can I say that punishment, smiting, punitive measures, retribution, etc are not a very important component of what sainthood is and has been understood to be for a very, very long time. If you think saints and angels are all benign and smiling and all about dropping everything to tend to whatever your little human issue is, you are a fool.

george
Creative Commons License, Some Rights Reserved: Jim Forest

However, I do agree with Cat: for today’s typical practitioner of folk spirituality, such things are not very common. And even when they happen, saying a saint has “attacked” you is not very accurate; that’s not really how it works. And anyway, the saints are more likely to smite you or screw you up if you have a deep, genuine relationship with one in particular — an obligation — and really drop the ball in terms of keeping up your end of things. They are NOT likely to starting raining hell down on somebody who is new to working with them and is making a legit attempt, and frankly I’ve found that they have better things to do than go around smiting people for making an honest mistake or being oh-so-humanly a bit of an ass. (The saints are human too – well, most of them.)

Many punitive miracles in medieval hagiographies and lore are due to somebody being a dumbass and not getting the original message, not doing something they were already told in less punitive or frightening terms to do, failing to do something they were being warned they were obligated to do. For instance, in the lore of St. Michael, there’s this idiot named Garganus who made one of his men shoot a bull that St. Michael was trying to send as a sign of where he wanted a chapel built. Thick-headed Garganus didn’t get the message; the bull wandered off near this cave and Garganus threw a little fit and ordered the bull shot. The arrow meant for the bull blew back and hit the servant (who was just following orders, after all). Garganus went to the bishop, being troubled by these strange events, and apparently softened his heart a little. Then later St. Michael appeared to him and said, basically, “This guy is dead because it is my will. Now pay attention; build my church at that cave the bull was sent to show you.” (Here’s a photo of the grotto chapel of St. Michael at Mt. Gargano.)

Gerald of Wales, telling of Ireland, wrote of a priest that encountered two wolves on his way Ulster. One spoke to him. The shocked priest reported that the wolf said, “There are two of us, a man and a woman, natives of Ossory, who, through the curse of one Natalis, saint and abbot, are compelled every seven years to put off the human form, and depart from the dwellings of men. Quitting entirely the human form, we assume that of wolves.” The priest gave the sick wolf-wife the last rites. Before leaving them, he asked the wolf-man if the island’s inhabitants would continue to suffer under invaders. The wolf answered, “For the sins of our nation, and their enormous vice, the anger of the Lord, falling on an evil generation, hath given them into the hands of their enemies. Therefore, as long as this foreign race shall keep the commandments of the Lord, and walk in his ways, it will be secure and invincible; but if, as the downward path to illicit pleasures is easy, and nature is prone to follow vicious examples, this people shall chance, from living among us, to adopt our depraved habits, doubtless they will provoke the divine vengeance on themselves also.” [*] Moral of the story for Gerald anyway: while saints and abbots may curse sinners, when we talk about great misfortune, we usually bring this stuff on ourselves somehow through wrong action or neglect of right action. He then goes on to tell of ravens falling dead for feasting on the carcass of St. Vincent, and of an archer who died miserably after innocently trying to shoot one of St. Colman’s ducks for his evening supper.

That is NOT to say that traditions of saints raining down hell on somebody do not exist in conjure lore, in contemporary folk Catholic practice, or even in people’s living rooms today. They do, just as they exist in the holy books of many religions. (Though as scholars like Stanko Andric have noted, these shouldn’t be understood as God or a saint throwing a fit, being unjust, or being cruel – these punitive miracles and intercessions have a larger role within the whole dynamic or system, are part of God’s will which is not always discernible to us in its entirety from our limited perspectives, serve a legitimate role in a community, and also serve as lessons to the faithful. See for instance Andric’s The Miracles of St. John Capistan, in which he notes, while discussing ultiones, that sometimes saints know that you are about to screw up, might try to warn you even, but you may be punished or mess things up *not due to the saint’s failure but due to your — the sinner’s — actions or lack thereof.* As I note in my earlier blog post that I linked to above, intercession of saints does not technically, traditionally involve any saint granting your wish or prayer – it involves the saint interceding with God for you; you thank a saint, technically, not for direct action but for going to bat for you in approaching God on your behalf, since God is the source of all this activity, power, etc.)

And while it is actually not super-common, there are some people who will warn you that St. Expedite (pronounced “espedee” or “expedeet” in the Southeastern US, by the way – think of how a French person would say the word, not an American person), among other saints, has a “call” behind them; that means that if you ask their intercession and mess up, or sometimes if you ask their intercession at all depending on what you’re trying to do, they will take somebody with them (meaning somebody around your home or family will die). Again, these are not typical views, but neither are they unique to just one person. I personally do not caution people that if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you should expect death to strike your family — the reality of working with saints in folk traditions these days is usually a lot less dramatic than that of late antiquity and the Middle Ages — but I absolutely do caution folks to learn about what they are doing, to form relationships, and not to treat their doings with saints lightly. If you piss off St. Michael by asking him to smite one of his devotees, and your desire is unjustified according to St. Michael, will he strike you down instead? Probably not. But this is no long-tressed, smiling, harp-playing cherub you’re talking about, so don’t be a fool. At best he might ignore you. At worst he might teach you a lesson. God, after all, taught Job some very colorful lessons, and he liked Job. St. Expedite was a Roman soldier. St. Michael struck down Satan. St. George and St. Martha took out dragons. So I urge you to think carefully before you ask petty things of saints or angels, or presume that your bull is more important than their chapel, so to speak!

If you don’t like what I’m saying here, feel free to not work with saints. And you don’t have to be a Christian or Catholic to work with (most) saints, in my experience – but what you had better do if you have any sense is know what you’re getting into and doing. You cannot just strip away all the history, traditions, and roles of saints, pick out just the nice parts that you want and that make it “easy,” and pretend that things like sin, punitive miracles, obligation, traditional roles and temperaments, etc. do not exist. You cannot treat saints like they aren’t part of this economy and aren’t part of Christian lore and tradition. Doing that – rejecting the fabric and culture and religion of the very saint you are trying to work with — is what will get you a punitive miracle. (That goes for spirits, saints, and deities of any religion; if you strip away the culture and religion from which they came and give them makeovers in your own image, according to your own preferences, or act like you can pick and choose which aspects and components you want to incorporate and ignore the rest  — well, don’t go complaining that so-and-so saint didn’t work for you when your buffet-style approach gets you some divine smackdown. That was not on the saint – that was all on you.)

[*] Translation is by Thomas Forester, of Giraldus Cambrensis’ The Tophography of Ireland, In parentheses Publications, Cambridge 2000.

questions you’ve asked (in search terms): ratings, goofer dust, saints

Q: Who is rated the best on AIRR of hoodoo rootworkers? I have a complex problem that needs solved, who can do rootwork?

Every worker at AIRR can do rootwork. Every worker at AIRR has a minimum of two years’ experience working for the public, professionally; most have much, much more than that. We all handle complex cases all the time.

There is no rating system, and “ratings” and “awards” are two of the warning signs for scam artists and unethical practitioners. Anybody claiming to have received a spellcasting award or to have been voted #1 in something or other is lying or is misrepresenting the nature of the organization doing the awarding. There is no such organization that awards such things, tracks workers, assembles ratings, or anything like that.

AIRR-logo-140x140
I’ll just touch on a few of the numerous underlying problems with looking for ratings.

First of all, what are the established criteria by which to “rate” a worker? If you named yours, I can guarantee you that the next person to name their own will have different criteria and/or will weight them differently, and I guarantee that you two wouldn’t agree on what counts as meeting or exceeding the criteria in every case, too.

Every case is unique, every worker works a different way, and so much depends on “fit,” on communication and on the worker and client “clicking.” If you go read one of those forums dedicated to folks reporting on their experiences with spellcasters, you will quickly realize how ridiculous and often contradictory the various members’ criteria for rating or judging a spellcaster are.

Put simply, there are no rankings and there is no organization that would track such things. There are no criteria by which to “rate” workers that are logical, fair, verifiable, and able to be applied across the board. Workers, like doctors and lawyers, have different specialties, different criteria for taking cases and accepting clients, different styles, and different ways of working. There is no such thing as “the best worker” any more than there is such a thing as “the best lawyer” or “the best doctor.”

There are LOTS of criteria for choosing a worker or lawyer or therapist or financial advisor or anything else, and if you look at customer comments/ratings on some of those sites, you’ll see pretty quickly that “customer satisfaction” is usually the biggest thing people base a rating on. But that’s a pretty nebulous thing to go by, and it’s actually not a characteristic of the worker him/herself. On being told that the thing they’re pushing for is not going to happen, so the worker can’t take their case and they should consider letting it go, one client will leave 5 stars and mention the worker’s honesty and ethics. But another will be angry, leave 1 star, and write, “a fraud! couldn’t do the work, not a real worker!”

To be blunt, a client is often not in a position to rate a worker on anything other than bedside manner and communication style, which are part of the picture but certainly not the whole picture. The more a client understands about spiritual work and the more experience they have with it, the better, but even so, different people will have different criteria and priorities. You just can’t apply statistics to this kind of thing.

And workers have different skills, specialties, setups, policies, and preferences. For instance, if you are looking for a phone reading so you can have reconciliation work done, well, I usually don’t do phone readings and I usually don’t take reconciliation cases. I’ll tell you out of the gate I’m not the worker for you. If you want some good old fashioned smiting on your deadbeat ex, some workers don’t do work like that and some will (after a reading or intake appointment or consultation or something). I will do that kind of work if it’s justified, if it will benefit the client ultimately, and if the client is not a total stranger to me or comes recommended by a colleague.

But I have no patience with frantic lovers who think their breakup is an emergency and who will label messages “urgent” and then say “he didn’t call me last Friday!!!” You will not want to come to me about that kind of thing. The kind of client who would label this urgent is also the kind of client who rarely pauses to consider that their worker could be dealing with an actual emergency with a client whose child is being abused by the custodial parent, or who is facing eviction, or whose spouse has just died and left him with tons of secret debt which is all past due. So no, I’m not going to consider your boyfriend’s texting frequency an emergency, sorry. But there are other workers who work with those clients well and have the patience to deal with them and educate them about how reconciliation and return-a-lover work works.

Most professional workers will be able to tell you something about themselves, their way of working, and their philosophy and communication and reading style; you should find one who appeals to you and drop them a line. I’m sorry to say that that’s the only way to do it – there is no ranking system and no way to rate rootworkers in any kind of across-the-board system, no way to get reliable statistics (be wary of anyone who says they have a percentage success rate – that’s a warning sign that I’ve written about in another “questions you’ve asked” post), and no way to tell whether they will take your case or what they will say or do until you talk to them. I know some very good, very experienced workers who have a reputation for being “testy” or “bitchy.” I have been included in that number, in fact, before. But I have plenty of clients, some of whom actually like me. It takes all kinds!

For some people, being treated with kid gloves is more important than the truth or the bottom line (and what constitutes “kid gloves” or even “respect” varies wildly from person to person). For others, they can take a blunt response if they know the worker is being honest and has their own best interests at heart. No two clients will have the same criteria that are ranked in the same order of importance anyway. One client can get along famously with one worker and their best friend can be turned off by or dislike that worker. (Same with clients on the worker’s end.)

But I can tell you that every member of AIRR has been trained, vetted, investigated, and tested; interacts regularly with at least some of their AIRR colleagues; adheres to AIRR’s code of ethics; and will participate in mediation if the client has a legitimate problem with a contracted service. (“She hurt my feelings” or “my lover hasn’t come back yet” are not legitimate problems.)  Also, you can always contact a worker and, if they can’t or will not help you, ask them for a recommendation to a colleague. We are all colleagues and we know each other – if we think another worker will be a good fit for your case and your personality/communication style, we can probably suggest someone. But while some of us may like or dislike certain types of work or specialize in a handful of things and stick mostly to them, none of us is across-the-board “better” or “higher-rated” than another. There is no such thing as a legitimate rating system. And when someone contacts us expecting such a thing, we are cautious because we know they will need some educating on the basics if we take them on as a client.[*]

Why did my goofer dust fail?

There are way too many moving parts in any given working for anybody to be able to answer that without more information, or for any query you type into Google to be able to supply you with an answer. You might have made or deployed it wrong, you might have done everything right but your target has thorough protection from such tricks, or you might have done everything right and your goal is simply not the will of God.

How to make Martha the Dominator work in three days?

First of all, I would caution you that you can’t “make” a saint do anything. Second of all, don’t micromanage stuff like this. If you go to a lawyer for a problem, you tell him your problem, and he takes your case, and then you let him do his job. You don’t dictate the terms and you don’t tell him what day your court case is going to be and what the sentence is going to be, and if you tried, he’d at best laugh and he might just show you the door. You don’t go to a doctor or therapist with a problem and then tell them how and when to fix the problem; if you do, you’re a fool.

You don’t go to a family member or friend and ask for a favor and then demand that they carry out that favor according to certain details; you ask for the favor, and you politely let them know what you need (“I really need to have the car by 3 pm so I can pick X up at the airport and then I could return it on Sunday, if that’s ok with you”). They may tell you to get stuffed, or it would be fine but you need it back that night, or whatever. You need to prioritize your request and stick to the most important parts of it. Don’t get hung up on the how and why and details that don’t matter as much.

martha dragonYou petition a saint for their intercession, and you let them know what you need, and then you get the hell out of the way. If they grant your petition, you thank them. If they don’t, well, maybe it was the will of God, or maybe you were a jerk. Maybe there is a good reason that you can’t have what you asked for in the way that you asked for it. Maybe 3 days is unrealistic, and you screwed yourself by insisting on it – they could have done it in 7, but since you were a jerk about the 3 days, now they aren’t going to do a damn thing, because you need to learn a lesson.

The saints answer prayers, but sometimes the answer is “No.” You still treat them with respect because you have a relationship with them. If you didn’t have a relationship with them before you asked a favor, then that was your mistake right there. What would you think if a new person moved into the neighborhood, knocked on your door, and asked to borrow your car for the weekend? You’d think “who the hell is this guy and what is his problem? He can’t even introduce himself first?”

Sure, there is a long tradition of “compelling” saints and spirits through such measures as turning a picture upside down, whipping a statue, taking something off their altar to return when they come through, etc. But you had damn sure better know what you’re doing, have a pre-established relationship with the saint, and know that you aren’t risking extreme wrath if you go that route with this saint (not every saint is petitioned/treated this way). Traditionally, such coercive measures were used in emergencies – if the monastery crops were failing and people were starving and the continued existence of the Church and thus the saint’s home was threatened, it might be appropriate to set the statue on the floor and be a bit more emphatic about your needs. If it is not an emergency, though, and if you don’t already know what you’re doing, I would think twice about taking this route.

***
[*] I don’t mean to imply that the only ethical, experienced workers are AIRR workers. There are good workers elsewhere too, and I count plenty of non-AIRR readers and workers as colleagues and friends. I just happen to know the ethics and vetting of AIRR workers, so I can speak in detail and in confidence about them.

working with Maria Dolorosa, cont.

Ref. terminology, I’ll say this, though you all probably know it.

Maria Dolorosa — lit. Sorrowful Mary
Mater Dolorosa — lit. Sorrowful Mother
Virgen de Dolores — lit. Virgin of Sorrows
… and then there’s the English Our Lady of Sorrows etc.

The image frequently encountered for Our Lady Maria Dolorosa is the one in my icon – you can see the Mexican Catholic influence if you look carefully; she’s surrounded by milagros and that sword is really Spanish-looking.

If you’re Catholic, you’ll pray the Hail Mary, which I’ll reproduce for non-Catholic readers.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

And there are plenty of prayers to choose from in the Catholic tradition, some specific to Our Lady of Sorrows. There’s even a special rosary, which looks different than a regular five-decade rosary, for counting a set of prayers that deal specifically with Mary’s Seven Sorrows (technically a chaplet and not a rosary, but anyway). (I ought to make one of those one of these days.)

If you’re working with her, like many do in folk practice, for healing from sorrow and disappointment, especially in love, or maybe for drawing a healthy love into your life, or for nourishing broken dreams, then you will probably want to focus on the Sorrowful angle rather than a straight-up Hail Mary by its lonesome. 

If I were calling on her for help with keen disappointment, for example, I might say a prayer like this one:

Pray for us, O most Sorrowful Virgin, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen. Lord Jesus, we now implore, both for the present and for the hour of our death, the intercession of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother, whose holy soul was pierced at the time of your Passion by a sword of grief. Grant us this favor, O Savior of the world, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

In any case I would "talk to her," adding something about my own situation and petition.  The possibilities are nearly endless, and there are some very good Catholic resources out there in internet land.

I have no idea if anybody cares about medieval flower symbolism for Our Lady, so I’ll save it 🙂

working with Maria Dolorosa – a client’s question

Q:

Greetings, When burning a candle to Mater Dolorosa, how do you petition her? What do you give her as a offering? Thanks again!

A:

It depends on how "Catholic" you are. Flowers are *always* good, fresh flowers. The candle itself is an offering, too. Among less Orthodox "folk Catholics," especially around here, silver heart-shaped milagros and jewelry are used. I work with her as a face of the loa Erzulie Freda, which is yet another level of "unorthodox" :-), and I give her Freda’s offerings — perfume, pink and blue things (lace, cakes, candles, maybe candies, small heart-shaped pink boxes, stuff like that).

I find that the longer I work with a saint the more of a sense of what he or she likes comes through. I will sometimes be in a store and think "St. Patrick needs that for his altar!" and buy it 🙂 So flowers and candles are always a safe start, and you will probably find yourself inspired as you go and you can build from there. Roses and lilies are good, but there’s actually a whole complex system of flower and plant symbolism associated with her that date from medieval times (and probably predate) — so you can feel just fine about starting small.

Ref. the petition, again that depends on how Catholic you are. You can simply talk to her out loud or silently, in a heartfelt way, or you can pray a traditional prayer.

…to be continued…