Updated: Dec 19, 2022
I’ve written a bit before about my search for ‘something', for a place of belonging and a place that felt like home. I’ve always been so fascinated by the various cultures of humankind, and despairingly, felt that I had none of my own. I live in Canada, the culture native to here is of the various First Nations, though there are enclaves of many other cultures here as well due to colonization and settlement. I’m of mixed ancestry, though not Indigenous at all, and I didn’t grow up with any traditions really. My family came here from various places in Europe in the late 1880s/early 1900s mostly, and by the time I was born, most of our traditions had died out. Regardless, I have dabbled a bit in the magical traditions of my various bloodlines, though not quite finding though what I was looking for. Although certainly, everything I learn contributes to the whole. I’m not sure I can even explain what that “thing” is I have been looking for, but perhaps something which blends a full spiritual practice with magic and feels it is of 'my people'. Somewhere I would feel comfortable and feel belonging.
In spring 2020, several months after I started as the editor for Noumenia News, I had a new writer start. A lovely and warm-hearted woman named Emma who along with being a Traditional British Witch, was also an Obeahwoman, both these things reflecting her own English and Jamaican ancestry. Long story short, and much to my surprise of the way things may happen, since Autumn 2020 I have begun to be mentored by Emma on the path of obeah. Something which was unexpected in my life as I do not have any Jamaican nor African ancestry. Yet something that has felt so right too. It has given me much pause for introspection.
It is the synchronicities that I watch for in life to signal to me that yes, you are making the right choices, you are on the right path. After the initiation to the path by Emma and meeting Sasabonsam (an important spirit in obeah) I noticed some amazing effects. When I would call on Sasabonsam while out in nature everything would become more vibrant, more alive. Every leaf and every bird’s voice was somehow ‘more’. One day I was up island walking a train track (our train system is long gone so I was doing no harm) and I wanted to pull a couple of train spikes for some witchy purposes. But on this stretch of track, every spike was so stuck in, None would budge even an inch. After a while I gave up and walked a little longer, than decided to invite Sasabonsam to walk with me back to my car. A moment later I had an urge to walk to a section of track, I leaned down and immediately pulled two spikes! It was as if either that heightened awareness just guided me to the right spot, or magically two spikes were loosened. Sure, it may have just been a coincidence. But if felt different.
The next synchronicity was what I thought to be a small one but turned out to be part of a huge one. It started with noticing on Instagram that The Museum of Witchcraft in England’s latest issue of their journal, Enquiring Eye, featured Sasabonsam. All these years obeah had never been in my view and now, here it was appearing. The shipping was 3x the cost of the journal so I did not immediately get a copy, but my obeah mentor did.
Now to backtrack a little, and hopefully I don’t lose anyone in trying to explain. In the winter before I met Emma, I worked at a pagan shop and the tarot reader there, Lion Sun, had travelled a lot; being now in his elder years he was selling some of the statues, figures and art he had collected along his life's journey. in the shop. There was one small bronze figure I was so drawn too, I just couldn’t resist asking what did Lion want for it. Lion took only $10, and the figure was mine! I researched online and asked many people about the figure, but the most I could find out was that it he was Asante/Akan made and it was suggested he might be hunter/gatherer or a warrior , though that didn’t explain why he seemed to have wings. Regardless, the figure sat in a place of pride on my desk, with me every so often gazing at him and wondering "who are you"?
When Emma received her copy of the Enquiring Eye journal she found images of a figure nearly identical to mine within the pages! My figure was Sasabonsam! This Sasabonsam figure had been in my home many months before meeting Emma and many more before being initiated to the path. It seemed very clear that I had very likely been on this path long before I consciously chose it. And that Sasabonsam was ensuring that I was made aware of that fact.
The reason the figure had been so hard to identify is the bronzes are an earlier representation of Sasabonsam and not made much later then early 20th century. After that time the figures would be made mainly of wood and of a design based on the work of Osei Bonsu, a great Asante carver. So while searching for Sasabonsam all that shows in an internet search is the wooden carvings which look nothing like the bronzes. Previously when I researched Asante/Akan bronzes, I had found a figure like mine, but it was listed on an antiques site and as only a “Warrior”.
As an extra little thing of note; while doing the introductory journey-work to meet Sasabonsam under Emma's mentorship, I actually saw him as appearing very much like the figure I have, only at that time I didn’t realize it. I just wondered why I was seeing him so different then the common representation of him. It was pretty thrilling once all the pieces fell together!
Finally, I do want to mention that in my journey on this new path I am immersing myself in the history of the culture and the people themselves; from West Africa to the West Indies. I don’t take being on the path lightly, and with not having this heritage myself in this lifetime, I feel it is my responsibility to learn all I can. I surely did not expect to end up on a path so far from my own ancestry but all I can surmise is perhaps this was my path in my last life and somehow I have found it once again. Well, and with the help of Sasabonsam!
[Originally published Feb 5th, 2021]