Friday, November 11, 2011

Pomba Gira and the Gods of Hustle

'Nightshade' by Silvia Ji

One day I too will hide among the Invisible Companies, you will call me with the names of Don Juan and Don Quixote, Ovid and Lucian.  Any lover or fool will do.  You will compel me with Gods like Apollo and Dionysus, Carrefour and Nfinda, you will tame my wild spirit with fetishes made for the altars and crossroads of the dark women of the earth.  One day I will live in the hearts of the audacious and my name will be sung in the Litanies of the Gods of Hustle.

Where Nicholaj entrenched me in the ambivalent intermingling of life and death that so thoroughly defines the worldview of the Palo with his Garden of Bones, in Pomba Gira that ambivalence is instead a socio-cultural thing. Instead of the shock of insight which is the occasional bedfellow of readers of occult tomes I was instead self-consciously impressed.  Not with Nick (who is nonetheless an impressive fellow) but with Pomba Gira because of course I knew her already, that woman is a hard one not to notice.  Have you ever been in a room with a self-possessed, beautiful and intelligent woman and just felt like a fool?  Just her presence there reduces you to a quivering awareness of your every fault and weakness?  Instantly inspired to heights of inexplicable confusion and feats of romantic daring.

Nothing matters except Pomba Gira, her presence is everything.  Where you’re from.  What language you speak.  The Gods your grandparents sang songs to on Sunday.  Who gives a shit, just fucking look at her.  You will give it all up for her, the land of your birth, the Gods of your family.  Who gives a shit, just fucking listen to her voice.  She is the secret transmission; her Gods are your Gods now.  She added me to her collection, placed me on her shelf next to Nick and the ghosts of old Jesuit gone native.  That cocktail of hers made from the souls of saints and rockstars wasn’t just right, she needed a splash of perverse Canadian hill-billy.  For bite, Cachacao is so sweet it goes best with something bitter or sour.  Every ritual I perform will be one of thanksgiving because she is the heart of my woman and that heart goes forever. 

The book itself is a treasure which any discerning student should possess. Unlike the seeming morbidity and secrecy of Palo and the seeming confusion and protectionism surrounding the Lwa, Pomba Gira and her Exu are immediately and viscerally available to the western student.  While many aspects of her cult might appear foreign to the western ceremonialist many other aspects will seem quite familiar.  In this way Nicks book can be thought of as a doorway through which one may pass into the creoles of the America's.

We will learn to tango like Exu and his Pomba Gira.
Our teeth clutching roses.
Our mouths breathing new languages.  

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