Some have heard me say, “ Invoke your joy, not your damnation.” What does this mean, and why do I say this? Well lets begin to answer those questions with a story.
The Talking Skull
a Nigerian folk tale, translated by Leo Frobenius and Douglas G. Fox
A hunter goes into the bush. He finds an old human skull. The hunter says: “What brought you here?” The skull answers: “Talking brought me here.” The hunter runs off. He runs to the king. He tells the king: “I found a dry human skull in the bush. It asks you how its father and mother are.”
The king says: “Never since my mother bore me have I heard that a dead skull can speak.” The king summons the Alkali, the Saba, and the Degi and asks them if they have ever heard the like. None of the wise men has heard the like, and they decide to send guards out with the hunter into the bush to find out if his story is true and, if so, to learn the reason for it. The guards accompany the hunter into the bush with the order to kill him on the spot should he have lied.
The guards and the hunter come to the skull. The hunter addresses the skull: “Skull, speak.” The skull is silent. The hunter asks as before: “What brought you here?” The skull does not answer. The whole day long the hunter begs the skull to speak, but it does not answer. In the evening the guards tell the hunter to make the skull speak, and when he cannot, the guards kill the hunter in accordance with the king’s command.
When the guards are gone, the skull opens its jaws and asks the dead hunter’s head: “What brought you here?” The dead hunter’s head replies: “Talking brought me here!”
Some of you might recognize this story or an alternate version of the this story, which replaces the Hunter & King for Slave & Master, and Talk for Tongue. Those changes are associated with the history of slavery in North America. In the slavery period version, the lesson of the story that is often accepted is about knowing your place, and not speaking out of turn. Yet, reading the Nigerian version the lesson changes. This is one of the powers and properties of oral story telling. A story may change to suit the lesson that it needs to teach, good or bad. What is more, the lesson of any one of these stories’ versions, or any of the oral stories, is not in the surface reading of it. This is the moral that the slavery period story tells, which is about knowing one’s place and when to speak. This is a convenient message to tell the Master or his Overseer that is listening, but not the lessons in the deeper power of words to invoke the reality around us. ( Oh, and yes there are other lessons in this short story, that are equally powerful. But not what I’m talking about today.)
So what does this talking skull have to do with invoking joy, instead of damnation? Well it has to do with the power of “How we speak, Where, and What we speak.” I’ll get into the “What” in part 2 of this blog. So that leaves “how we speak” and “where”. I’m sure that everyone has read the sections on intentions when learning any of the diverse spiritual paths that exist from Christianity to Paganism, from Buddhism to Ifa. It is no different in Hoodoo conjuring.
In each of the verses of the story the skull only speaks when it is alone with Hunter/Slave, and only after they have asked, “ how the skull got there?” What they invoked in that moment is a request for knowledge. ( The subject of secrets and secret knowledge is a whole separate blog.) Did they think that their invoking of that question would bring them joy or damnation, no. Because they didn’t think about what they were saying or doing. They just reacted, from surprise and curiosity. Now consider, how often that happens in everyday life. You stub your toe and curse your spouse for leaving that chair out, and then they get into a car accident. Or they say that, “I can can do our coworke’s job better than they can,” and then find out they’re laid off and you are now doing that job plus our own. Simplistic, or random, you might say to these examples. What does that have to do with “How we speak?” It is about being aware of what we say. Are we speaking in a way that invokes the Universe to set events in motion that we can assign the means of joy or damnation too? How we ask for help, or say “I love you,” affects the response we get. Now as magical/spiritual people we have the Universe’s ear more often than most, which makes it all the more important about “How we speak.” Are our words bringing “joy or damnation” to us and our communities.
In the Nigerian version the Hunter speaks to the king and advisors with respect and concern for the strange thing he has found, and loses his head. The Slave, interrupts the Master’s meeting and makes the Master look a fool to his guest, and loses his head. Each of these individuals is unaware of what their words have set in motion, and due to their focus on making the skull talk, they are unaware of the sword that is about to take their heads. So “How do you speak,” you speak with awareness that you are invoking your joy or are you aware that you are speaking your damnation?
So as to the “Where we speak,” part , that is actual a combination of where/who. In both stories the Hunter/Slave goes to tell who they know or see as the authority in their lives. Once there they are before the King’s court or the Master’s guest. They continue to act from a place of being unaware of their words and how it will invoke those around them, thus causing them to bring about their damnation. The Hunter while doing his duty, is labeled a threat. Because what King is going to let a story of a talking skull spread in his land, and risk people believing it is cursed?s The Slave on the other hand spouts on about the money they would make. Unaware that even if the skull does speak, there is no chance in the Master is going to share it with him. In each case they invoke their damnation, by not considering and being aware of where/who they are speaking too.
Every day people are constantly invoking situation around them due to ignorance. Magical/Spiritual are no different. As I said earlier we on the other hand know how to get the Universe’s ear whether we plan to or not. So we must be more aware of what we are invoking, especially when we aren’t in a ritual space. I’ve learned from personal experience this very thing over the years, that when I’m not thinking about my words I will invoke things which become a damnation to me. I’ve also avoided those same damnations by stopping myself from speaking them, because I know that is the moment the Universe is listening to me. So I encourage you to take some time to ask. In Part 2 I’ll consider how many things have you set into motion not just in your life, but in your community’s life by throwing a curse without meaning it or meaning, and it has left things in a place of damnation.
Many of the events in the world today are lessons. Are we making those lessons harder and more painful because we chose to invoke damnation, because of the ignorance of our words? How can we invoke joy instead when we are aware of “How and where to speak.”