The old woman takes a swig of white rum, and spits in my face. I try not to grimace as I feel her saliva on my cheeks. She swats me with a bundle of herbs while summoning Chango, Yemaya and Elegua. Her chants are slow and deliberate. Rhythmically she sways, her eyes closed, as in a trance. She lights a cigar, and puffs its sweet, acrid smoke in my direction. I feel queasy and weak.
She leads me to the Orishas and their altars, and I place my offerings, carefully following her instructions. Toys and candy for Elegua, and he will show me the way without trickery. A white handkerchief for Obatala, so that he keeps my soul immaculate. Cornmeal and okra for Chango, to make sure he sides with me in difficult times. A box of matches for Ogun, who will grant me the strength to start anew. Coconut for Orula will secure wise counsel in my time of need. For Yemaya, molasses, may she remember me kindly on judgment day. And to my Ochun, liquor to lull him into communion with my elders.
The old woman whispers words I can’t decipher, as she walks in circles around me. Overwhelmed by the smell of alcohol and smoke, I feel faint and as I lose consciousness, my soul is carried away by a multitude of invisible hands. I laugh, happy.