Me & St. Expedite: The Beginning, and First Feast Day Candle Service
Hey folks, if you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the many photos I posted from my recent St. Expedite candle service on April 19. For this post, I wanted to write in more detail not only about that experience, but also talk a bit more about that fabulous St. Expedite statue at the center of the service and how it came into my possession, as well as how my relationship with this saint has progressed over time.
My relationship with St. Expedite started about six years ago, but it was a bit of a rocky start. I petitioned him to help a friend get a job, not knowing what the hell I was doing and without a speck of a prior relationship with the saint, so, unsurprisingly, it didn't work. For a long time, I thought I'd made him angry, and I kept a respectful distance.
But a couple years after that, I saw in Papa Toad Bone's old rummage-sale Facebook group that he was kindly giving away two original folk-art pieces featuring St. Expedite to the first person who claimed them. They were a handmade plaque piece and a repainted Altoids tin that was essentially a tiny Expedite altar. Chalking it up to fate that I was able to snag them, I put them on my altar and tentatively started making weekly-ish offerings to Expedite (never asking for anything at this point), hoping to slowly forge a real connection. Over time, I could feel it begin to work.
Fast forward about four years. When I got the opportunity to buy an antique 1920s chalkware St. Expedite statue from Papa Toad Bone (and one that he used in his personal practice, no less) a couple months ago, I knew my relationship with this kind saint was being taken to a new level. As soon as I took the statue out of the box, I could feel a connection with it, and that connection only deepened over the following weeks. Oftentimes, during my weekly Wednesday devotional to Expedite, his presence was so strong in my home that it felt like having a friend over to visit.
All this made me want to really pull out all the stops for his feast day on April 19. I planned to make him homemade pound cake for the first time (not to dog the classic frozen Sara Lee pound cake that is definitely traditional), offer a bouquet of fresh red tulips from my yard, and really sit and listen at the altar for a while while the candles burned. But I also had another thought.
Since January, I've really been trying to put myself out there as a professional rootworker. It's been slow going. But I thought if I did a candle service and advertised it online, charging $5 per candle, maybe it could be a way to get in touch with future clients and start to put myself out there more. So I got out my cards and pendulum, lit a red candle, and asked St. Expedite what he thought of that idea.
He wasn't crazy about it.
"Well, shoot," I said. "Would you want me to just do a private devotional?"
Weak "yes" from the pendulum.
A bit discouraged, but willing to drop the idea of a service, I started to put my cards away. Then I got a thought, like an flash through my brain: The CHARGE was the problem.
"Is that what you want me to do? Do the service for free?"
"YES, YES, YES," from the pendulum.
Excited and intrigued, I thanked him for his input. However, if I'm being completely honest, as I put my cards away, a small part of me balked at the idea of paying for the whole thing out of pocket. I thought, "I don't make a lot of money, what's the matter with just charging even a dollar for a candle?" But I firmly put those thoughts aside and gave myself a little talking-to: "A saint just gave you instructions. How about you quit thinking about the money and try LISTENING to his advice?"
So I did, and got to buying supplies for the pound cake and baking pound cake and advertising the service online and cleaning the altar and cutting the flowers and doing all the other things I had to do to get ready. But most importantly, I responded to the MANY messages I got through Facebook, my website and through e-mail from all the people really needing help.
And I started to realize why Expedite had wanted me to do the service for free. If I had charged, there is a damn good chance I wouldn't have been put in touch with the people who needed help. And with that, I really learned something I thought I already knew, but now had gotten etched into my brain: Being a rootworker is about helping people. Not making money. And this saint was making sure I knew that.
So as I was taking my spiritual bath beforehand, compiling all the petitions, reading people's very heartfelt prayers, carefully writing them each their own petition paper, dressing the papers, dressing the candles, setting up the altar, arranging the offerings, and praying for each person one by one until I was exhausted and my throat was hoarse (the entire process took four hours just that day alone), I really started to feel like what it meant to serve people. And not just people, but total strangers.
If you're doing hoodoo expecting it to make you rich, you're doing it for the WRONG reasons. St. Expedite definitely helped me understand that. But he also taught me that to be a rootworker is to be a pillar and a force of good in the community. I can't hide in my cozy little house because I'm shy and crowds make me anxious. I have to get out there and interact with my community, including the online community.
And perhaps most importantly, just as St. Expedite is always depicted crushing a crow that represents a murky tomorrow (in Latin: "CRAS") and holding up a cross that represents the immediate today (Latin: "HODIE"), I can't wait to act sometime later, or when I feel like it. I have to carpe diem and get stuff done NOW if I want my hoodoo practice to grow.
Trust your spirit allies. They know what the hell they're talking about and what you need to learn. And those are lessons you can't put a price on.