Tata Remi has told me that he did not cast a love spell on my mother - just one to help her find love. That she came to him was of the divine will of the Orishas! We still joke about this, but the fact remains that they are still together and happy even after all of these years. Tata Remi would like to share this history of our family with you.
My father Tata Remi always tells the story of when he first met his wife and my mother, Michelle. They had known each other for many years in school, but he could never get up the courage to approach her and tell her that he was interested. He also had little money – this would make it hard for her family to accept him. Traditionally he would be expected to offer them something and culturally it was very important for them to feel that Tata Remi would be able to support her. All of this kept him from contacting her for four years!
After a short period of time Tata Remi moved away to Kinshasa to study and Michelle stayed in the village. Each had forgotten about each other and it wasn't until a few years later that they met by chance accident in a market store. Tata Remi explained to me how they spoke. She was still unmarried and was living at home taking care of her mother, father and grandmother. Tata Remi was just finishing his studies. He asked her if she would be interested in going out to a dance with him, but she refused. She was not interested in him at the time.
This deeply hurt the heart of my father. Seeing Michelle again after all of those years had awoken feelings for her again. He asked around amongst his friends to see if anyone was still in contact with Michelle, finally finding a friend who would give him Michelle's phone number. Tata Remi called Michelle, telling her how he felt and that he wanted to see her. She still refused and apologized; she said she was not in love with him and was interested in someone else.
This broke my father's heart, but he was able to accept this. He felt very hurt that she was seeing someone else, but could also be happy for her and wished them the best. Tata Remi did his very best to put Michelle out of his mind and move forward. It was only a few days later, like a sign, that he would run into Michelle again. But this time under much worse circumstances. My father was in a minor car accident and had to go to the hospital. It was waiting in the hospital in Kinshasa that he saw Michelle. She was in much worse condition than he was. He only saw for a moment. She was unconscious and being taken to the emergency room.
Tata Remi's first thoughts were a car accident, as they are very common and often fatal in Congo. Many people ride together and often overcrowd public transportation and shared vehicles. He waited all day and all night until he was able to convince a doctor to allow him to see her when she awoke. When he was finally able to see and speak to her she seemed at first very afraid, then relieved. She explained to him that she thought he was someone else. My father asked what had happened and it was then that Michelle began to explain.
My father asked Michelle if she loved this young man and she first said yes, then started crying. She admitted no, but that she had no other option. My father told her that she could be with him, but she refused, saying that she still did not love him. Tata Remi's heart was broken again, but he vowed secretly to do something to help her. My father departed the hospital and began to develop a plan.
Tata Remi told me that what he did was cast two traditional spells from Palo Mayombe. One was to get rid of this other person from her life. To him this was the most important. He loved her deeply even though she did not return the feelings and he wanted her to be happy. The second was a spell that would make her find someone else that was better for him.
My father explained that he did not specify any specific person, but even today we all have our suspicions and inside jokes that he cast a love spell upon her. After two weeks the man that she had been seeing was fired from his position and imprisoned by the Mobutu government. My father told me that he never heard from the man again and that this was an indicator of the worst during those days. After two more weeks Michelle contacted him. And everything was, as they say, history from that point on!
Love Spells in African Magick
There are many Western notions on love spells that are not necessarily reflected in the African traditions. Many stem from Wicca, the New Age movement or European magical traditions. And there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these.
There are many who practice forms of Egyptian magic and sorcery that utilize the potent waters of the Nile river to form curses. There was one such individual who was a close friend of my father Tata Remi. He had an agreement with my father that my father would withdraw and stabilize water directly from the Semliki river and send it to him in Egypt. This was used to make the spells even stronger, as the water here is much more pure than the Nile further down in Egypt (being a source of the Nile itself).
One day this man told my father that he wouldn't need any more water from the Semliki from him. There was no hostility or bad feelings according to Tata Remi. But he did relate to me that he felt at unease and that he was sure he would see this man again.
That night the two men left and we stayed in the house of a friend. The day after we were listening to the radio and we heard that the very same airplane had gone down in the jungle. One of the survivors was being interviewed and he said that a man had snuck a crocodile onto the airplane and that it had caused the crash. All in all 19 people died in the airplane crash. The two men who decided not to get on the airplane with my father still visit us for coffee often.
Chance Meeting at the Semliki
Many months later my father did meet this man - in Ishango at the Semliki river. He and my father exchanged greetings and were very happy to see each other. They withdrew water together and prepared it for the use in rituals. My father, for a healing ritual, and his friend for a curse. They made plans to prepare a meal together and discuss old times.
During the meal my father's friend confided that he was preparing the water for a very special task. This is why he had come all the way to Congo from Egypt. It was not an ordinary curse, but one that he was required to do on another spell caster. It had to be as powerful as possible to work. The other spiritual doctor would certainly have protection. He wanted to know if my father would help.
My father agreed without haste to help his friend curse this other practitioner. This was required of him due to his vows of loyalty. My father also knew of the other sorcerer and his reputation as a particularly evil and wicked man. They would make preparations to complete the rituals during the next half moon. They would need all of the time up to that day to purify themsleves.
Purification is extremely important when casting the strongest of curses, because without a pure soul and heart the sorcerer or spell caster may be in danger. My father was well aware of this but tragically his friend was not. For seven days prior to casting the spell it was imperative to go without any food - only water and fruit juice is allowed. My father followed this portion of the ritual very strictly and his friend did not.
The curse they were using is a ritual that lasts for two days and must be completed without sleep. It was far too stressful for my father's friend because he had not strictly followed the purification rituals. During the casting of the curse my father's friend had a heart attack. Tata Remi was able to quickly bring his friend to a local doctor. My father's friend did not die, but was incapacitated and unable to complete the ritual. Tata Remi thankfully was unharmed. They would later complete the curse successfully, but this time following the reglas of African magick more strictly.