Cathleen McGowan

Reverend Cathleen McGowan (aka Cat, Firesong) is a professional artist and singer, certified art teacher, and Vodou practitioner. She has a master’s degree in Education and has been working with the Spirits of the African Diaspora and leading creative rituals for 14 years. Cathleen conducts regular chant sessions, Lwa services, rituals, and sweat lodge. She is Hounsi Bossale and does her Houngenicon, or choir leader, impression in the Sosyete du Marche, a Vodou house near Philadelphia. She has put out several teaching CDs of Orisha and Lwa chants and writes regularly for Oshun magazine. Her art can be viewed online at

The Priye Ginen: Prayer of Africa

Different tribes from all over Africa, as well as indigenous and European cultures merged in Haiti. With an overlay of Roman Catholicism, all these different groups decided to honor everyone’s Spirits, everyone’s ancestors. The Priye Ginen was born. The Priye Ginen is a group of sung prayers which sets sacred space for Vodou services. These prayers follow a certain set pattern, but individual songs may vary from place to place. Traditionally sung in French, Creole, and African langaj, the Priye is a journey, beginning with Catholic songs and moving back into African. Although Cathleen sings a traditional Priye in the Sosyete du Marche, in this workshop we will learn a few traditional songs and go back to its origins of inclusiveness by constructing a Priye for Pagans. Please bring writing instruments.

Chants of the Spirits

In the religions of the African Diaspora (Ifa, Santeria, Vodou, Candomble...), singing is a major part of ceremonies. In this workshop, everyone will get to sing to the Spirits. Word sheets and translations will be provided. We’ll learn chants to the Orisha, such as Ellegua, Obatala, Shango, Ogun, Yemaya, Oshun, and Oya. Cathleen learned many chants of the Lwa from Houngan Max Beauvoir and additional chants from the Sosyete du Marche, where she acts as houngenicon, or choir leader. Her own research has led her to even more songs. These spirits include Legba, Erzulie, Le Baron, La Siren, Ogou, and Damballa. Song word sheets will be provided and CDs will be available.

Veves: Portraits of the Spirits

Veves are sacred symbols of the Vodou Lwa. They are drawn in flour, or cornmeal, on the ground during ceremonies to act as a beacon for the Lwa. In this workshop, we will examine various aspects of particular veves, how they relate to individual Spirits, and their use and misuse. Cathleen uses existing designs and creates new veves on her pottery. Participants will have the opportunity to create designs for Dieties of different pantheons.

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