The Inga Stone

THE INGÁ STONE

Located in Brazil. It is over 6,000 years old and has hundreds of strange symbols.

The archaeological site of the Ingá Stone, also known in the Tupi-Guarani language as the Itacoatiara do Ingá and Pedra do Ingá in Portuguese, is near the town of Ingá in northeast Brazil. The meaning of the carvings remain uncertain, but may allude to astronomy, animals and fruits.

The site was one of the first monuments of protected rock art in Brazil, exceptionally recognised for its artistic and historical importance. The Ingá Stone site consists of multiple basalt stones covered with glyphs. The main outcrop, featuring the three main rock art panels, forms a wall 24 metres long and 3.5 metres high at its highest point.

The engravings are generally non-figurative, and created using a technique of pecking at the stone and then polishing the grooves. Some of the figures also retain traces of pigment, suggesting they may have been coloured.

The first reports of rock art in the state of Paraíba were made by European settlers in the 16th century. The rock art at Ingá are the most representative group of a particular type of engraving tradition in Brazil.

Austrian-born Ludwig Schwennhagen, studied Brazilian history in the early twentieth century and found strong connections in appearance from the Inga symbols to not only the Phoenicians but also the demotic writings (linked more closely to business or literary document-style writings) of the ancient Egyptians. Further groups found a remarkable similarity of the carvings of Inga to the aboriginal artwork found on Easter Island.

The Missouri Compromise

By 1819, the population of Missouri had grown to the point where it was ready for statehood. Ten thousand slaves already lived in Missouri. As such, It was assumed Missouri would become a slave state. On February 13th James Tallmadge, a Congressman from Poughkeepsie, New York, introduced a resolution in Congress making two modifications to the Missouri Enabling Act (The Enabling Act would give Missouri statehood). This act would ban any further importation of slaves into Missouri. It would also set in motion the gradual emancipation of the slaves currently residing in Missouri. Raising these modifications, a one term Congressman began a battle over slavery that was only ended by the Civil War. Obviously the Tallmadge amendment was not acceptable to the Southern states. The Congress was deadlocked until a compromise could be found. That compromise became known as “The Missouri Compromise”. Under the terms of the compromise, Missouri was to be admitted as a slave state, while Maine was admitted as a free state. The rest of the territory acquired from France (north of the latitude 36’30’) would be free states, while south of that point would be slave states.

The Missouri Compromise (1819) set a number of precedents. First, states would enter the Union in pairs– a slave state and a free state. This compromise helped the Southern states, as they were often admitted to the Union sooner than they would normally have been admitted (in order to keep the balance). Second, the Missouri Compromise delayed the sectional breakup of the Jefferson’s Republican party. The battle over Missouri signified a solidification of the Southern opposition to the eventual emancipation of the slaves. Until the fight over Missouri’s admission to the Union, there was some hope the South would follow the path indicated by many of the founders; a path leading to the eventual voluntary emancipation of all slaves. By the time the Missouri Compromise was reached, it was clear this was not meant to be.

What are Pork Rinds? Cracklin?

Pork rinds are pork skin that have been dehydrated and deep-fried (or baked) until puffy and crisp. They have a deeply savory, pork flavor and eat like a bacon-flavored chip. Several cuisines feature pork rinds, though they go by different names and vary slightly.

In Central and South America, pork rinds are called chicharrons, and often have some meat attached to the skin as well, often pork belly. They’re eaten as a snack and can be served with dips, salsas and tortillas. In the Philippines, the food goes by the name of chicharron, and can be made by frying pork skins or pork belly strips to be consumed as a snack or main meal, respectively. In Thailand, deep-fried pork rinds are called kaeb moo; they can be made with just pork skin or pork skin with a bit of fat attached.

In the American South, pork rinds are called cracklings, or cracklins, and have a bit of fat and meat attached. Because they have some fat attached, it prevents the pork skin from curling when it puffs. You can find cracklings at gas stations and grocery stores in a variety of flavors, at barbecue joints or in contemporary American restaurants where they might accompany pimento cheese or smoked fish dip. In the U.K., pork rinds are called pork scratchings, where they are a popular snack served at pubs alongside pints of beer. Pork rinds have found their way onto restaurant menus here too, where they add savory crunch and bacon-esque flavor to dishes ranging from roasted vegetables to desserts.

Source: Food Network

Gu: Vodun of Iron and War

They say Gu was born with a human body and a blade as a head. This perfectly portrays his role as the god of iron and war. The two things are related; iron ore is used to make weapons for war, among other things.

A title like the Vodun of War denotes a spirit who is angry or out for destruction or chaos, but that’s false. A god of war is not necessarily there to sow conflict and division. Still, they are there to bestow victory, wisdom, and protection in battle when facing your enemies. Immediately we run into trouble. Why does he favor one side over another? These reasons are privy to him but always in the interest of ultimate fairness.

The Fon worshiped Gu to bring them success in war and protect them in conflicts, protect their wealth and community. At the end of the day, that is what a god of war is supposed to do—a more accurate title would-be protector of communities and nations.

There is also a building role. Iron is a symbol for minerals that can be mined and used to service those pursuits that strengthen and protect a nation. It stands for resources that can be used as weapons and defense. You can substitute nations with family, community, town, tradition, culture, city, or whatever you think is worthy of protection or strengthening. The Vodun of War resides over these matters. It dispenses favor, resources, wisdom, and advantage according to its divine wisdom and foresight.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

Cotton Gin Invented

After the Revolutionary War the South was looking for a new crop to replace Indigo, whose trade it had lost during the war to India. One possibility was cotton. However, traditional cotton, known as long staple, or Egyptian cotton, could only be grown on the Atlantic Islands of the US. It required a very long growing season and sandy soil. The alternative was short season cotton. Though that cotton has sticky seeds that were very difficult to separate. Then, Eli Whitney came on to the scene.

Whitney heard about how difficult it was to gin (or clean) cotton. He thought of a machine that would be able to do it. He studded a roller with nails, one half inch apart. The roller could then be turned and the nails would pass through a grid. The roller pulled the cotton lint through the grid, leaving the seed behind. The lint would then be pulled off the nails while the seeds would fall off separately. A single laborer could now gin what it took 25 laborers to get done before. This made farming upland cotton economically feasible for the first time.

The effect of the development the cotton gin was unprecedented. In 1793, the United States produced about five million pounds of cotton– almost all of it the Sea Island type. This represented less than 1% of the world’s production of cotton. By 1860, the US was producing 2 billion pounds of cotton– over 75% of the world’s cotton production.

The effect of the growth of the cotton industry on slavery was overwhelming. Before the introduction of the Gin, the need for slaves was modest, and slaves were not considered that valuable. Before the Gin, a slave was could be bought for $300. By the time of the Civil War, the cost for a slave was $3,000. Cotton farming was a labor-intensive endeavor– even with the Cotton Gin. However, slavery made the labor of cotton very profitable.

Agbe (or Agwe): Vodun of the Sea

Agbe is the third-born son of Mawu and Lisa. He is the one who is given dominion over the seas and sea life. There aren’t many stories based on Agbe, but as we look back to Mawu’s creation of the world, Agbe’s role within the world becomes obvious. When Mawu built the world, she was afraid that the earth would drown from the added weight, so her snake came in to save it. However, the waters can still be unpredictable, rough, and sometimes cause a whole host of problems.

The land is resting on an outline of great waters, waters that can engulf the land when disturbed. So Agbe functions to keep the waters at bay, provide safety, and protect from powerful storms. Agbe also has some effects on the land that the people experience. For instance, when earthquakes happen, they can be explained by his activity–he has made the water do something that makes the land shake. The serpent is primarily there to keep the world from sinking. The Fon being a fishing people, might have also worshipped Agbe for his luck.

So we see Agbe as the protector, provider, and calmer of seas. He’s not the only one who performs these roles, but he is one of the most powerful to do so. Again, we see how together each god’s roles feed on each other or strengthen each other. While Sakpata pushes for progress, Agbe is the one holding forces that threaten peace and the very land we live on intact.

You can pray to him for protection, maintenance, and calm in your life. These are, in a nutshell, where the spirit excels. But when displeased, it may be a source of chaos, destruction, especially the kind that upends people’s lives. So he is a potent spirit.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

The Louisiana Crawfish Boil Experience

1. When is crawfish season?
  • You’ll see them as early as December, and they hit their peak around March-April and disappear come July
  • New Orleans has four seasons: Mardi Gras (winter), crawfish (spring), snowballs (summer), football (fall)
  • When it’s festival season, it’s usually a great time for crawfish
2. In New Orleans they don’t call them crayfish, crawdads or mudbugs: they’re crawfish.
3. Breaux Bridge, La. is the “crawfish capital of the world.”
4. What to throw in the boil:
  • 4-5 pounds crawfish per person
  • Basic — garlic, boil seasoning, lemon halves, celery
  • Classic – add red potatoes, corn, sausage, artichokes
  • Classic redux – add sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, pineapple, pork chops
  • Asian-Cajun – add orange wedges, lemongrass stalks 
  • You’ll also need…
  • Newspaper = makeshift table clothes
  • Plastic trays
  • Rolls of paper towels
  • Dipping sauce for potatoes
  • Traditionally lots of beer
5. Random tips/facts:
  • Don’t eat the straight ones
  • Look for the rare blue crawfish and less rare white crawfish
  • Make crawfish étouffée with leftover tails (if you have any), spicy potato salad with leftover potatoes, or a garlic mash to spread on bread with the leftover garlic
  • Don’t forget to get some meat from the claws!

The Casket Girls of New Orleans

What exactly are casket girls? The filles à la cassette (“women with suitcases”) traveled to French colonies in America. They arrived in the New World with a trunk, or cassette, containing their belongings. The word “cassette” morphed into “casquette” over time, and that translaed to “casket”. History recorded these women as “casket” girls. The filles à la cassette were some of the original “mothers” of New Orleans. Here’s their story.

Legends:

“Caskets” conjure up images quite different from a suitcase of dresses and petticoats these woman were known to carry on the long voyage to New Orleans. These suitcases were relatively small, so that the women could carry them without assistance. Many of the photos of “original” cassettes stretch this concept, literally, so that the suitcases appear to be large enough to carry a body.

By the time the storytellers told the tale of these women, their suitcases took on a new perspective. Why did young women bring “caskets” to the new world? Did their luggage contain more than petticoats? Paranormal Fiction writers love old New Orleans. The city’s mix of Catholicism and voudon set in a location influenced by Africans, French, Spanish, British, and Asian is nirvana for writers. It’s natural for writers to run with this and tell vampire tales.

Most of the vampire-themed stories centering on the filles focus on two things: the caskets and the convent. Perhaps one of the most interesting legends relating to vampires are the stories about the third floor of the 1751 convent building. The legend is that the third floor was sealed off. The windows were permanently shuttered. While some stories say those shutters were nailed down with nails blessed by a pope, Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to visit New Orleans in 1987. One might assume these nails were brought to Rome for blessing, then shipped across the Atlantic. In spite of the holes in the stories, many are still fun to read. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Old Ursuline Convent to decide for yourself. In the meantime, here’s a little history about the casket girls.

History of the casket girls:

The founders of New Orleans were explorers, trappers, and traders who established encampments along the lower part of the Mississippi River.  The French established three main outposts along the Gulf Coast: Mobile, Biloxi, and later, New Orleans. Because the early explorers were mostly male, Catholic priests in the region became concerned that, without wives, the future of Christian evangelism in the French territory was at risk. They turned to bishops and mayors of French port cities, who gladly agreed to empty their jails and brothels. This was essentially “transportation” of “undesirable” women.

These women did not make good domestic partners for the colonial men. The priests sought an alternative plan. They asked King Louis IV for assistance. The King tasked the Bishop of Québec with appealing to convents and orphanages in France. They sought out young women who they could contract to come to the colonies. The bishop’s expectation was that virtuous women from the convents to be good candidates for marriage. The “casket girls” were contracted to be wives of men in the colonies.

Most of the Casket Girls didn’t see much of their spouses. French women used to working in convents and orphanages now took charge of households. The men of the colony in the 1720s-1730s were fur trappers and traders. The trappers spent long periods away from home, collecting the merchandise they sold for export. The traders took manufactured goods from Europe to the farms, plantations, and outposts for sale.

The climate of the colony also required a good bit of adjustment for these women. The weather was hot and the clothing they brought from France was likely wrong for the climate. They adapted to the city as they established households and raised children.

Source: https://gonola.com

Sakpata: Vodun of Earth

When Mawu was dividing the world between her children, Sakpata was given dominion over the earth, at the displeasure of his sister Sogbo. Sakpata came down from heaven with plants, crops, tools, and skills that humans could use for development. Because he had taken so much with him, he did not have space for other necessary elements like water and fire, which were stolen later.

Humans were excited when Sakpata descended from the heavens with these tools of wealth. There was a lot of promise in them, and they hoped they would see their lives improve. Legba, Sakpata’s youngest sibling, told Sogbo, who was given control of the skies, to withhold rain in the sky. Knowing that their mother noticed, Legba went to Mawu and told her water would not be enough for everyone on earth, including the plants. Alarmed, Mawu ordered Legba to tell Sogbo to withhold the rains, which he had already done.

Sakpata soon realized that his crops needed rain, but none came. A drought ensued that caused everything to become dry and brittle. Humans began getting angry with Sakpata. They harassed him and cursed him for lying to them about the prosperity and convenience he had promised. Legba came down and found his brother in a messy state. That was when he told Sakpata he would talk to Mawu on his behalf. He told Sakpata to watch for a messenger, wututu bird, who would say to him what to do when the time came. When the bird returned, it told Sakpata to instruct the others to light a great fire, so the smoke could rise to heaven, signaling their distress.

Because it was so dry, everything caught fire very quickly, and the fire leaped into the sky. When Legba saw, he went to Mawu and told her that the earth was burning and the fire was so high and powerful it might spread to the heavens. Alarmed, Mawu told Legaba to order Sogbo to release the rain. The rain put out the flames and returned fertility to the land. It was decided that although Sogbo controlled the sky, people can call for rain when needed.

What does this story reveal? In this context, it describes the role and power of the spirit of the earth, Sakpata. Sakpata is not the Vodun of Agriculture or fertility, but he is the god of progress and elevating society. When the spirit comes to rule over men, he brings them the tools of trade, crops they can domesticate, and abilities such as woodworking and carpentry skills. These are ways in which this spirit facilitates that mission of progress and growth by equipping humans with the capabilities to prosper, the right tools, and the right environment to do so.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak