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Monday, March 4, 2013


As I've stated in a previous post, poet and decolonialism-scholar (& so many other roles) Leny M. Strobel and The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS)  are busily preparing for the Second International Babaylan Conference/Gathering to be held September 27, 28, and 29, 2013, at Westminster Woods near Occidental, Sonoma County, Northern California.  As part of the preparations for the conference, Leny hosted a retreat ... where SitWithMoi's "Books on Chairs" played a role!

At the retreat, Leny distributed blank mini-books for participants to inscribe thoughts and meditations.  There were two types of covers, including this one

shown back and front cover:

 and folded to just show the front cover:

With this post, we are delighted to feature Leny's own meditation book -- it's actually, ahem, a "second printing" (heh) as Leny kept her original but shared what she'd written for her meditations.  So we took the same blank mini-book she had used and tinkered about for creating the "second printing" (which, to moi amusement, is a one-off just like the "first printing").  Leny's 2.75" x 2.75" book is titled, "the whispers of She who called me here...", as shown on the title page:

Leny  had emailed me her meditations.  I printed it out, and cut the text into smaller pieces that I pasted into her book.  So, her first text page looks like this:

As you see, the pasted piece of paper is longer than the page width. So you'd have to unfold the piece of paper to be able to read the text:

The same thing occurs in the next pages:

The rest of the pages unfold per the above.  And, perhaps, some of you are asking why I oversized the print-out instead of fitting it to the book's 2.75" x 2.75" pages...?  Well, I did so because by designing (ahem) the book in this manner, I wished to indicate that Leny's thoughts cannot be constrained by page width -- that her meditations touch on a larger world than simply the boundaries of a particular book (for clarification, you can see the text of her meditations below). 

You'd then turn the page to the book's ending: a page that says "Retreat Meditations for 2013 Babaylan Conference."  This page faces a folded piece of paper attached to the inside (verso) back cover:

When you unfold the piece of paper, you end up seeing (1) a piece of paper larger than the book's page to hearken, again, how Leny is referring to a world larger than what is containable in a book, and (2) the image of hands, a tree and orange-peace colored butterflies.  As you see, I chose an ink that mirrors the color of these butterflies.  The image is actually from an advertisement I saw in a magazine, which caught my attention as it hearkens, for me, much of Leny's concerns over Babaylan’s ties to nature.  Also, for whatever reason, butterflies like Leny. e.g. here's her photo below from her Facebook (which often presents interesting and educational reading):

Here is the text of Leny's meditations:

"the whispers of She who called me here..."

"She said: If you lose your fears and cast aside your fear of the dark, you will come upon a bridge. In crossing the bridge you will leave many things behind; things you won't carry with you beyond this bridge. What you don't carry with you across the bridge will make your steps lighter, your mind clearer, your voice stronger. 

Across the bridge you will meet strangers who will become your friends. Some will become your teachers but mostly just other folks who would want to walk along with you.

Along the path beyond the bridge there will be challenges. Perhaps tricksters will step in front of you and puzzle you or mock you. Sometimes they will taunt you and that is okay as long as you don't get led astray. Always be focused on what lies ahead.

Down the meandering road of Beauty-making, the path of free minds and hearts, the path where we meet our ancestors, the path where we heal our ancestors so they become our spirit guides, the path of good remembering, the path of joy.

Oh dear one, this road is long but you do not walk alone.

This road is long but your life before the bridge has prepared you for this.

May you always be patient.

May you always delight in the golden rays of Kapwa-hood.

May you always remember the Ancient Ones who paved this road for you."

And so where shall we "shelve" Leny's moving, beautiful meditations?  Let's go with one of the two chairs lovingly crafted by Artesania D'Carela of the Dominican Republic:


  1. lovely! thank you so much for sharing Eileen and Leny.

  2. Wao, it's beautiful. My father is the craftsman of the Artesania D Carela seat in Dominican Republic, a big hug and thank you for having it so well cared for.