Vodou dreamachine schematics

i: axisward


Does reality have a center? If so, it is not somewhere 'out there' but within, subjective rather than objective. The world is like an onion - if I modify my behavior, I can access another level & thus inevitably become a different person: it is not the essential fact that one acts uncharacteristically when out of their element - it is rather that the easiest means to almost limitless change is to alter one's habits & thus, in time, to enter a novel environment. 


The first spirit to be called in Vodou ritual is invariably Legba, who is charged with opening the gate to the spirit world, or not opening it as the spirit decides. Legba is in this sense the central spirit in Vodou, & is even called the poteau-mitan or center pole.


ii: encountering the ally


a dream of young Petro Legba, showing me a golden spiral of all these versions of myself encased in bronze; they were laughing, crying, laying down asleep, etc in permanent stasis. We were underground and the clouds and sky were moving above this opening in the grass. His skin was in perfect molding, as if covered in oil, eyes fierce like Erzulie Yeux Rouge.

self-portrait as Legba Petro

an encounter with the wise old man archetype, right out of Jung, though you might just as well say it was Papa Legba. he had a sort of machine in his hand, a translucent sphere with similar spheres concentric within it. & he wasn't talking, but somehow communicating the idea that 'its all circles', or perhaps 'it goes all the way down'.

iii: postscript - a dream within a dream, shaped like a machine

Is the world a machine, do we live in a clockwork universe? This position is often contrasted with that of life as a dream, but is it possible for both positions to be true simultaneously? One can see each perspective as the endpoint of a series which also traverse questions of whether spirits are independent entities or aspects of oneself, & whether laws, such as those of physics, can predict human behavior. Perhaps an example can illustrate this further: Lord Kelvin is reported to have said, at the end of the 19th century(!) that "[t]here is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement". This unverified quote is often referenced to point to our ever-evolving knowledge of the world. Except there are two ways to interpret the statement. We have to keep in mind that Kelvin was working from within a Newtonian understanding of physics (i.e. classical mechanics) - Einstein's theories on relativity (with their electromagnetic, as opposed to a particle-based, understanding of beings) weren't published until early in the following century. So while Newtonian physics may well have been at its completion at this point, a whole new way of approaching the discipline was yet to begin.

It is most likely that our original question simply doesn't have an answer because it is badly formed. Thus while we can say on a conceptual level that 'all is one', experience is perhaps by definition of difference & variety. Even if there are experiences of a unitary world, these tend to be exceptional rather than being the norm. Likewise, while we can ultimately say that spirits are aspects of oneself (in the sense that they are primordial archetypes residing in some collective consciousness & which often appear to assist, to guide people), when one actually has an experience of interaction with these entities, just as when one interacts with another person, the emphasis tends to be on just how different from us they are.

Each position is true to an extent, or more accurately within specific situations. Existence itself can be understood as a dream that one, or rather the whole world, is having, but this does not in itself prevent an active engagement in the logic of the dream. This happens to include certain processes that can be calculated with a clockwork precision. The art is to know when to behave based on which of the respective understandings, a skill that can only come through a process grounded in direct gnosis.