Transformation: Yoga, Vodou, and Mass

Some elements from my writing desk, including the new Ametrine stone. Hey, just thought of something: Ametrine, Ambrose the Writing Mouse, Anne McClane?

I’ve been thinking a lot about transformation lately. Like the caterpillar-to-butterfly kind of transformation, the kind that transitions a creature from crawling to flying.

The “lately” qualifier needs a disclaimer. Truth is, I’ve spent a good bit of my life thinking about that kind of transformation. I’ve had an affinity for butterflies since I was very small—back then it was because they were pretty and delicate and seemed gentle. It wasn’t too long before I caught on to the symbolism of butterflies, and then I was set. Butterflies were going to be a thing for me for life.

Thoughts of transformation were somewhat inescapable this past Saturday.* I went to the New Orleans Healing Center for a yoga class. First aside: the New Orleans Healing Center is a location in both novels I’ve written so far—just seemed like a natural fit for a protagonist who discovers she has a supernatural healing ability. Second aside: I’ve been practicing more yoga as my body transforms (with age). I can no longer run as often as I might like, ever since my legs and lower back decided to shout out their displeasure over the prolonged pounding. The meditative aspects of yoga have helped fill one of the voids I’ve felt from running less.

After class, I asked the instructor to clarify one of the words he had used as part of an incantation. It was prana, the breath—the “life force” or “vital principle” in Hindu philosophy (it didn’t sound like prana to me). We chatted for a little bit, and he mentioned the particular Upanishad where I could find the incantation. But here’s the thing I found remarkable: how quickly I offered up the fact that I’m a writer. I said something like “I’m a writer, so words matter to me.”

There’s definitely some transformation at work. Even just a few short months ago, I’m not so sure I would offer up that facet of my life so quickly. Yeah, so, I’ve had this blog for two years; but bringing up my writing in this safe space is an entirely different matter than talking about it in public.

And I did it again; just moments later at the “Island of Salvation Botanica” shop on the first floor of the Healing Center. Third aside: a renowned Vodou priestess runs this shop. (She is ordained into the Haitian voodoo tradition, or “Vodou,” which is why I’m using that spelling.)

In addition to butterflies, I also dig rocks and stones, and I was perusing the nice selection of crystals and stones for sale. I picked out a piece of Ametrine, which the helpful card describing all the stones told me is “a very rare quartz based crystal in which Amethyst and Citrine have formed within the same crystalline structure allowing them to amplify and augment each other; bringing strength and luck in equal measure.”

I asked the Vodou priestess about the Ametrine and one other stone, I don’t remember which one now, but yet again, I volunteered something like “I’m a writer on the verge of publication, so the transformative properties of the Ametrine sound pretty good to me.” She agreed, and I am now the proud owner of a lovely piece of opaque lavender-hued Ametrine. (A bargain at $5)

Finally, late Saturday afternoon found me at Vigil Mass (the Catholic Church offers a Saturday church-going option). And wouldn’t you know it, it just happened to be the Feast of Transfiguration. I’m by no means an expert on these matters, but my understanding of the Transfiguration is that it was when Jesus’s divinity was revealed to the apostles.

I’m also by no means comparing my transformation into confessed writer with any kind of divine event whatsoever. I just thought it was interesting that Little Rabbit Foo Foo kept bopping this field mouse over the head with transformation stuff.

And finally finally, back to the beginning, what did I notice fluttering above me as I entered the New Orleans Healing Center? You guessed it—a butterfly. 🦋 🦋 🦋


* I can’t mention this past Saturday in New Orleans without mentioning the transformation of our roads into rivers on the very same day. A deluge was beginning just as I was leaving my neighborhood to go to Mass. While I was away, streets in my area of the city became impassable, and many businesses (and parked cars) flooded. In my neighborhood, several cars were totaled by the flood water and the sunken areas of a few homes took on inches of water. I hung out at my brother Jerry’s house, in an unaffected neighborhood, until I was able to return home late, late, in the evening. Thing is, this was not a hundred-year-event. A similar, though less severe “rain event” occurred just two weeks prior. Have you ever heard the song “New Orleans is Sinking”? Well, it’s true.

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