There is saying about Voodoo—it finds you. There is also another saying about Voodoo: you take what you know and make it grow. I was called a long time ago and just brushed everything off. I should have known better. When the Lwa want you to serve them—they want you to serve them. Reflecting on the “signs” that I was being called—I can go all the way back to when I was 19. Most of you already know the story. I had a VERY vivid dream of standing near a lake (or some kind vast watery place) when a very large white snake slithered out and coiled around me. He gave me a message and I listened. Voila! I started working with snakes. I was involved in Wicca and Ceremonial Magick. I was in a Ceremonial magick based group. I got initiated and received my name Zehara Nachash (which means Bright Serpent). Of course, 2 years later I entered the world of belly dance. I became the Snake Lady and Boston’s Resident Snake Charmer. My snakes and I were partners and everything I did artistically (and still do!) Aside from doing workshops and classes to educate people on the spiritual and magickal aspects of working with snakes, I also began rescuing snakes from bad homes or situations. Snakes with burns, mites, malnourished, scale/mouth rot—you name it—I saved it. I had 14 snakes in my apartment at one point! I would get them better and find them good homes or keep them. This whole time, I would be visited in dreams by my white serpent guide. He was wise, kind, loving and guiding and again, just thought he was a totem animal guiding me. Around this time, I was performing at a restaurant with my sweet ball python Kaala. After the show, I was approached by a man. He loved my performance. He told me he felt the power of the connection I had with Kaala. It turned out that he was an African Shaman who was visiting his family. He then told me, “do you know you have two snakes above your head?” Of course, I was just thinking…yep they are my totem animal. It wasn’t until the end of 2012 when a friend of mine recommended I read the book “Mark of Voodoo.” I only had a passing interest in Voodoo, but, I am a major book worm so why not?! At this point in my life I was so embedded in Shamanism. I began studying Shamanic Reiki, started going to Shamanic drumming circles and shamanic workshops. I was sure that Shamanism was the path I was supposed to be walking. So, when I picked up a book on Voodoo, I wasn’t really thinking much of it. The book was fascinating! And I remember turning a page and seeing a large temple in Benin West Africa, FULL of ball pythons (those of you who know me---ball pythons are my favorites!). Naturally that peaked my interested even more. Then……then…. I read a line about Damballah. That was when EVERYTHING made sense. I mean everything. For those who are not versed in the spirits of Afro-Caribbean spiritual practices—Papa Damballah is one of the most important Lwa. He is the primordial creator of all life. He created the stars and all the water ways….and…. he is a represented as a white snake! His wife Aido-Wedo, is the Lwa of fertility. She is considered the most precious of the lwa. Their veve is two snakes facing the poto mitan (the main pillar in Voodoo that connects our world and the spirit world). Two snakes. Then I remember when the African Shaman told me I had two snakes above my head. And I finally was able to connect my dreams of the white serpent to Papa Damballah…. And then my journey started. I am a huge book worm as well as a huge history nerd, so the first books I read on Voodoo were on Haitian history and New Orleans history. I absorbed exactly what this religion represented, the people who practiced it and their journeys through from slavery to “freedom”. I understood the importance of Voodoo in their lives, their culture. I then began to read and learn about the religion itself. I began to feel a deep connection to the spirits. I felt them calling. After 6+ years of reading and setting up my own altars to communicate with the Lwa and to leave offerings. I have finally decided to start learning the ceremonies, songs, dances, rhythms that make up Voodoo. To start my spiritual journey and to work towards initiation. To find a House to become a part of and to study with. But, I can’t start that without being in the Voodoo capital of the US…New Orleans. I flew out here to be here for only three days – to absorb what I can—to attend a Voodoo ceremony—to add to what I know so I can keep it growing. And it’s amazing. I can feel the lwa here- I can feel their energy. I feel surrounded by love and guidance. My journey starts now.