Basking Under The Bayou Sun

It started with the dreams. I would have these vivid dreams of the village where the ancestors gather. In those dreams I would witness sacred ceremonies and rituals. At some point Shango and Ellegua started appearing with messages. Then the Guedeh and, later, Erzulie Dantor and La Sirene. Sometimes I would dream of snakes, or dogs. Or certain colors-red and white, black and green, red and black, white, blue, and green. All messages but the Spirits aren’t linear and often speak in riddles and I was receiving symbols from traditions that I was unfamiliar with. So I sought out an elder to divine the meaning of the dreams. I consulted with a few actually. Ultimately what was revealed to me was that I had ancestry originating from the bayou. It made sense as I know that I have family in Mississippi, which is technically the bayou along with other regions along the Gulf Coast. However it wasn’t just  Mississippi, the elders informed me, but New Orleans. Definitely something I wasn’t expecting.

Ancestor reverence is one of my spiritual practices and as such I am on a mission to connect with all the places that my ancestors walked. So when I found out that I had ancestry in the bayou I knew that I needed to go visit. Not coincidentally I have always been drawn to New Orleans. That place is a portal for sure and full of magic. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture, feel the city, and learn as much as I can about its history. When I would speak of this desire I discovered that others felt a similar draw to New Orleans. Many felt the call to explore this mysterious city. Itis this call that led to the inspiration for Bayou Sun. It became an invitation to explore the roots of African spiritual culture in the south.

The experience of Bayou Sun was like no other. I put a lot of intention into the planning of the trip and what manifested far exceeded my vision. From the moment we arrived in New Orleans that first night we felt the drumbeat of our ancestors. We had no words for what we were feeling and a ton of silent questions. However we got many answers the next day during our city tour with Voodoo Queen Kalindah Laveaux. Kalindah provided a thorough history of New Orleans and its indigenous people from a native’s perspective and as we walked Congo Square and the French Quarter we all caught sensations of dejavu as though we’d been here before. Later that evening we piled into the cutest botanica I have ever seen, The Dark Lady of New Orleans, to talk vodou and conjure with the store owner Matt. I know more than a few of us left The Dark Lady with herbs, oils, pretty shiny things, satchels of magic, and hearts filled with joy. Day two of Bayou Sun was action packed with our Dia De Los Muertos photoshoot at the historic Greenwood Cemetery,a  presentation on African and Diaspora traditional religions byTy Shaw, and a fete ghede at The Dark Lady. And, of course, we indulged in all the delicious creole food and drink New Orleans had to offer. Even I had to set my vegan diet aside. There was no way I was going to be in New Orleans and not taste real gumbo and shrimp poboys.

The last morning of Bayou Sun I led a closing ceremony at the beach with all the guests. We took that time to thank our ancestors and spirit guides for bringing us to New Orleans. For guiding and protecting us and for surrounding us as we connected with our roots. We’d been activated during the trip and every single one of us was glowing. Each one of us took away lessons that will forever change us. I’m still absorbing the magic of that weekend. People are already talking about Bayou Sun 2019. I’m ready.