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My friend Otis originates from Sierra Leone.  He's just moved flat.

I saw Otis on Sunday.  Wow.

The place he's living in is farther from the station than it looks on the map. 
The neighbourhood is heavier than it looks on the map.  There're no names on the streets round there.  It's austere.

The block he lives in is all double door, airlock style entry.  Both from the street and onto the walkway he lives on.  It all feels v.heavy.

Otis finds the neighbourhood refreshing and exciting. 

He's also moved church.  Goes to the Jehova's Witness joint in Shepherd's Bush, a few doors down from my Neph who often complains to me about the place.
Otis tells me they're a lot more relaxed in their services than the Pentecostalists.  None of that hand waving and shouting stuff.  More decorous and easy going, they don't ask for anything.

Few months time he could be knocking on yr door one Sunday and proferring The Watchtower.

So we talked about missionary work and religion in the Land of the Lion.  I gather the opium of the masses there is of the Christian variety and somewhat more excitable than the Pentecostal Church here. 

As all this was in the general context of his little documentary about his travails over his piece of land there, I asked him about Voodoo.

Definitely the right question.  If Christianity is big, Voodoo is total !!

When Otis first got the land, as a responsible landowner he got a  Voodoo-man (my expression) to do a survey of it.  The Voodoo-man's report was a bit mixed.  Otis' patch was part of the estate of a Genie, which would be bad news but, he'd given it to his daughter, who was a mermaid, and she'd seen Otis and was in love with him.

Now you don't have to be a Voodoo-man to see this could be a precipitous situation.
I raised it with him.  He said he often pondered if his relationships with women had been afflicted by the mermaid's jealousy  and she'd pulled "other world" strings on them.


Right next to where he built his house on that patch, was a tree.  And after a while the tree presented problems to his comfort so he thought about getting it cut down. 

A cut tree is a sought after commodity in his neighbourhood and he had no problem finding a guy keen to cut it down and take it away.

But when the axeman turned up, he could make no progress in cutting it down.  It was like iron and wouldn't cut.  The axeman was persistant though and over some time he'd turn up and have another go until his energy ran out.  He made no impression on the tree and eventually abandoned the project.

A while later Otis had occasion to call in a couple of Voodoo-men to do a bit of propitiating and prophesying.  While he had them around he brought up the matter of the tree.

They took a look at it and told him the tree belonged to a witch who used it as a landing pad when she came to that neighbourhood.  All three of them agreed that living this close to an airport wasn't a good thing and there would be benefits in not having a witch turn up in a treetop in the middle of the night.

So the decision was to cut it down.

The only axe to be had in the locality was at the house of the axeman who'd had no success in his attempts to fell the tree.  So Otis went and borrowed his axe and brought it to the two Voodoo-men.  They had it down in short order!!  The wood chips flew out as if they'd been waiting to be released.

When it was cut, they saw that the heart was a thick, dark red liquid.  Like blood.  They'd never seen anything like it before.

The trunk was taken away, and the stump continued to ooze the dark red liquid. It was noxious and smelled disgusting and it was a long time before he didn't have to live with these consequences.

I had to ask him, why did he think the tree was his to cut down??  Had he planted the seed it had grown from, had he nurtured it??

He said it was his because it was on his land that money had been paid for.

And I asked, didn't he think that if the witch thought it was hers, wouldn't that be for some other reason than money??  I figure that money is a people kind of thing and in the spirit world they probably don't have use for it like we do.  I'd guess that "ownership" would have some different kind of meaning to a witch compared to the one he'd just expressed.

I got the feeling from him that he hadn't thought about it that way.  More just the general way that spirits can send you trouble  the same as people can have spells put on you and you should guard against it. 

Who knows who sent that venemous snake into your house, you've just got to kill it before it does for you.

There's a bit of a problem round those parts with snakes.  And they fall into two categories.  The ones that just wander in or are sent;  and the ones that are spirits.
But don't worry, you'll know which are which when you see them.


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