I know what you might be thinking. Vodun Batteries? What new kind of devilment is this? Please allow me to cast some light upon the matter.
Admittedly, I have coined this phrase myself. Up to this point, there has never been a reference anywhere in time and space to Vodun Batteries, as far as I am aware. Hopefully, I will explain the concept as best I can and you can decide the nomenclature for yourself…
If we are to believe what is divulged to us in the current model of classic Newtonian Physics, then one of it’s mantras has it that energy can neither be created or destroyed (according to Emilie du Chatelet). You will have doubtless heard this mantra as it seems to be one of the cornerstones of ‘reality’ of the scientific establishment. As it is, this works out rather well for us, even if we don’t know a great deal about physics, or find it difficult to get enthralled about it. The reason being, is that we – as outsiders – work on the perceived wisdom that there are many forms of energy which science cannot quantify, rationalise or acknowledge. Go back far enough in time and thunder, lightning, rainbows and marsh gas were a complete mystery to our earth grounded ancestors, let alone the conundrums of static electricity, bioluminescence and phantom limbs. But now, in the 21st Century, Science has ‘reality’ all sewn up right? Probably not.
I would argue that after many decades of state education, pushing the Newtonian model of ‘reality’, the differences between what is known and unknown are as stark and polarised as ever because there are no convenient solutions, only indifference and denial. Science, at any point in history, is just a snapshot of what we call folklore. Up to the 1850’s the consensus reality was such that our doctors believed in The Four Humors, which gave way to Germ Theory. Some people are still arguing about Germ Theory today. It is worth noting that if enough people sign up to an idea, it does become consensus reality, which eclipses all other realities. ‘Reality’ is a model which is forced upon us by academics and scholars. Sure, we all know that bread will develop green blotches after nine phases of the moon… but who are the anonymous characters who show up in our dreams, perfectly rendered, sentient and communicative? Do they live in that reality, or are they like us, asleep somewhere projecting their souls into a non physical reality within our reality? Should we turn to our establishment scholars for the answers to these questions? Probably not. There is little point. They don’t have the answers but I digress. My point is that despite our consensus ‘reality’, actual reality is probably more subtly complex and beautiful than people generally care to imagine.
It occurred to me a long time ago that ‘things’ only exist due to a level of concentration. By that, I mean an abundance of a particular thing in one place, be it physical or ethereal. By way of an example, a vacuum is an abundance of nothing in one easily defined location. Already this definition is open to interpretation and blurs the boundaries of empirical reasoning.
Anyway, to the matter at hand; Vodun Batteries. Similar in concept to a gris gris bag, a Vodun Battery could be described as the product of the cathartic, artistic and magickal act of thoughtfully combining old (but not exclusively) artefacts into sculpture and functional assemblies for ritual, meditation, gnosis and power.
Let us consider some real life elements that might be brought together in a Vodun Battery. Imagine strolling on a shingle beach with the purpose of finding something useful for this task and you find a block of wood. The block of wood is obviously man made, evidenced by it’s rectangular shape and uniformity of dimensions and angles. It also has obvious nail holes in some of it’s surfaces and the deep staining of iron oxide around the holes. It may even have some eroded nails protruding from it. The whole block is eroded and weathered by time in the sea, wind, sand and shingle. This poses some interesting questions. Where was it made and when? What was it’s original purpose? How did it come to be in the sea and when did this happen? Where did it enter the sea? How many beaches has it been stranded on before storms and maybe a human agent have returned it to the sea? Was it made by a carpenter or a fully mechanized process? How many people have handled the block before you? All unknowable mysteries. The block is enigmatic and now it is in your possession. Good fortune has smiled upon you and you have been rewarded. Perhaps you could embelish the block with some sigilized symbol or talisman of your own design?
Imagine securing to this block of wood an old lock mechanism and hinges found on a very old and distressed wooden trinket box you found in a junk shop years previously. Nobody knows how old the box is, the lock was broken and there was no key. It may have been an amateur woodwork project or it may have been manufactured but it is clearly old. Where was the box made and by who? Where were the lock and hinges made? Who has the key now or is it lost for all eternity? What was kept locked in the box and where? By who? Are the descendents of the trinket box owner alive to the present day? Where is the original owner interred? A wealth of unfathomable enigmas from a box of indeterminate provenance picked up for mere pennies.
Imagine now fixing to the block an ancient belt buckle, unearthed from a field after being found by metal detector. Who lost the buckle and when? When and where was the buckle forged? Is this the belt buckle of a person who worked in the field? How was the person not aware that their belt had snapped? Do they have descendents and where are they now? Questions with answers that elude us.
Then you could affix to the assembly the skull of a rat you happened across many years ago on a walk. The last surviving remains of a wily and intelligent scavenger. You must ask permission in some fitting way of course. Are the descendents of the rat still living in the locale or have they moved on through necessity of survival, or a sense of adventure? Is this the skull of a female or a male rat? How many siblings and offspring did it have? Where did it’s forebears live between the years of 1349 and 1353, in the time of the great plague? For that matter, where did your ancestors live at the time? Intriguing thoughts.
Lastly, you decide to attach to your block the head of a rusted hammer found by some means in a copse. Was the handle was lost in time centuries previously, decayed into the soil or perhaps found and used as firewood? Maybe it was fitted with another hammer head? Who used the hammer and how did it come to be in a copse? Is there an innocent or sinister explanation for it’s whereabouts? Was it lost or hidden? What happened to the last owner of the hammer? Does the owner have descendents alive today and do they own hammers?
This is just a simple example with a handful of found components to consider. Imagine such a sculpture / assembly with ten or twenty different elements. Give some thought to the combined histories and energies of these elements and their places in time and space from their initial creation to this point in time.
The elements could be found by a wide variety of methods. They could be items found in antique or junk shops. They could be mass produced or one off folk art curios. They could be organic in nature from places you have chosen to visit. They could be metal detector finds, magnet fishing finds or objects brought to you by mere chaotic chance, divination, dowsing or sigilization. The point is that their paths all meet with you as an agent to bring them together in one place in the present. How many miles and years have all these elements clocked up?
Consider this wealth of utterly unique energies now assembled into one whole. An object which just on a physical component level transcends time and space, before we even consider the remnants of living beings. And bear in mind also that our ancestors, even a scant two hundred years ago, were not short circuited by the media chaff, dross and mind controlling propaganda that is our backdrop today. Also, they were not shot through and bombarded constantly with microwaves and electromagnetism. Most of our ancestors actually pre-date the invention of the printing press and were illiterate, relying on intuition, hunches, superstition and folk wisdom. In a magickal sense, our forebears probably benefitted from a higher degree of neuroplasticity than their modern era descendents. Their energies were – and remain – potent. I believe we can facilitate these energies, with their permission, to assist us while we show them respect and appreciate the artefacts they have left for us to find.
Lastly, give some thought to the magickal act of creating such a Vodun Battery (or whatever you choose to call it) with your additional energy locked within and then interring it in a place of personal significance or power, perhaps for all eternity, or to be unearthed in a distant future Dark Age by someone else. Perhaps they will be an average person, inspired to turn to a magickal shamanic path adding their own energies to the battery. Imagine if they too either bury the object or it ends up in a museum? In this case (albeit a long shot but you could sigilize for it), you will have created a wonderful enigma, a tradition and in some sense, a form of immortality, since we are told – and understand – that energy cannot be destroyed.
Remember, ‘Reality’ is an occult struggle between the forces of good and evil: The misinformation and deception of Consensus Reality, versus our reality in which Magick is the operating system.