Our story begins likely around 1994, at which point I had turned 14, and my mother discovered me stumbling around the apartment late at night, looking for the moon, so I could pray to it. (I, naturally, thought this was a concept I had invented.) Fast forward to 1999: I'm a 19 year-old Sophomore in college, and have begun studying Wicca, and dating a woman. As I attended my Black women's Methodist institution of Higher Learning. To which my mother said, "are you TRYING to make your life more difficult?! And you were close, but we're not Irish." She haded me a copy of the text, "Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals" by Luisah Teish, a native New Orleanian. This book rapidly became my literary "woobie", so-to-speak, and so my introduction to Yoruba traditions, hoodoo and Voodoo began.
In summer 2011, I was finishing up my Master's Degree in Choral Conducting, going through romantic turmoil (my somewhat constant state, if you've known me at ANY POINT before I met my wife), and I was broke. I had been invited to perform in a Queerlesque show in New Orleans in June, was offered a place to stay, but the rest I had to figure out. I almost didn't go out of depression and general poverty. I put a blast on facebook, some dear friends let me borrow gas money and connected me with their own friends and lovers in New Orleans, promising I'd be taken care of, and I went. And I experienced, for the very first time, the miracle of being exactly where I wanted to be, at any given time, wherever I was in the city of New Orleans. I was comfortable in my skin. I was invited back the next weekend for Maafa, the Juneteenth celebration in New Orleans, and had been given the keys to two different people's homes and told to come and go as I pleased. It was home immediately, and I wanted to move immediately. But I had a job. And housemates. Oh. And a house. And bills.
I gave up on the dream. It found me again anyway, and I moved permanently to New Orleans on August 07th, 2016...and was plunged into hell. Or, rather, the New Orleans charter school system. I quit after two months, was an uber driver, my car broke down, "I" broke down, and I thought maybe New Orleans was trying to eject me. A dear friend simply listened quietly, not at ALL shocked, and answered, "Malika, think about how many people move to New Orleans; she can't keep everybody. This is your initiation."
I'll save the rest for my memoirs, but suffice it to say, New Orleans has blessed me in ways I could never have fathomed~ but it requires constant sacrifice and offering. My Awo tells me New Orleans is Esu~ and if you don't have a frame of reference for that, as my mom would say, "look it up!" lol (Look it up in "Jambalaya"~ there's a link on the page.)
I love ya'll, I can't believe I have found my home here in Algiers, New Orleans, and am providing people with quality ritual supplies of my own making. I hope you enjoy the items I offer as much as I've enjoyed designing them!
~Malika (Ifanike Oyagbire)