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The Truth about Veves

These winged hearts, by Wiseton Brutus, are adorned with veves.

These winged hearts, by Wiseton Brutus, are adorned with veves.

They say that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. With that in mind, I’m hoping you will find the following information, hip, cool, enlightening, or some combination thereof, but I will forewarn you that it may – despite my intentions – simply freak you out. Are you ready? These cute little winged hearts are detailed with voodoo veve symbols.
Voodoo beliefs encompass rada, or benevolent spirits, and petro spirits, which are anything but. To mix the metaphor, they are the yin and yang of voodoo culture. This is purely an issue of balance, though somewhat unfairly, Petro spirits get a disproportionate amount of the hype. The veve on the heart in front (photo left) symbolizes the spirit of Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love, and a rada spirit, if ever there was one. How perfectly appropriate that her veve should adorn a metal heart with wings. Not so freaky, right?
Veves appear on many of our Haitian pieces, on the flags, on paintings, and on the metal too. What is a veve, actually, and what purpose does it serve? Worthy questions, both. The short answer, according to Milo Rigaud, who is an expert on such things is this: “Veves represent figures of the astral forces. In the course of Vodoo ceremonies, the reproduction of the astral forces represented by the veves obliges the spirits to descend to earth.” This begs the further

Brilliant sequins of red and blue form the veve of Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love.

Brilliant sequins of red and blue form the veve of Erzulie Freda, the spirit of love.

question: What is an astral force? I hope you love the following definition as much as I did when I consulted the Cambridge Dictionary. It said, “Astral forces are those forces pertaining to the stars and are beyond human comprehension.” Ah, mystery.
Every voodoo spirit, benevolent or otherwise, has its own unique veve symbol. In ceremonies, the veve of the spirit whose presence is desired is sprinkled on the floor with cornmeal or colored sand. Personally, I have observed veves arranged in stone on the floors of voodoo temples. In either case, they are a visual supplication, used to summon the presence of a particular spirit. In art, they are representational symbols of honor.
So what’s the verdict? Not freaky at all, but very hip, cool and enlightening? Oh, I hope so!


Contributed by Linda for Its Cactus

Happy Earth Day 365!

"Children of the World Tree" by Winston Cajust, made entirely of recycled metal and proudly brought to your attention on Earth Day plus One.

“Children of the World Tree” by Winston Cajust, made entirely of recycled metal and proudly brought to your attention on Earth Day plus One.

Yesterday was Earth Day. I had failed to note it ahead of time and only realized when I had an email in my inbox from our garbage and recycling service with the subject heading, “Happy Earth Day!” I was caught with my pants down, so to speak, but found myself at a loss as to how to respond. It kind of seems like a day for school kids to read “The Lorax” in science class and follow up by dutifully filling cups with potting soil, gently pushing bean seeds under the soil to a depth of 1/2 inch, watering carefully, and anticipating the sprout. What does a middle-aged female such as I do to be observant? Send a note, written on recycled paper to my congressman, voicing my environmental concerns? Plant a tree? Make a donation somewhere? What kind of big deal is it, anyway, really?
Well, it turns out that it’s a pretty big deal, at least if you’re logged onto earthday.org. According to their website, “The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and establishment of the EPA soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.”
That’s all well and good. But I’ve thought it over and I’ve decided to play devil’s advocate here. I am of the opinion that Earth DAY is not a big deal at all. If we’re going to protect this planet we share, it’s going to take alot more than one day a year to do it. Earth DAY is a nice gesture, but we need to be thinking and acting pretty much 365 days a year. No breaks. No time off. Every one of us, every day.
I will make no pretense of being an “Earth Angel.” I am mindful of the impact of my actions, but I’m not perfect. One thing I am proud of, though is promoting our recycled oil drum sculptures through It’s Cactus. They are NOT part of a land-fill, they are repurposed as art, transformed from refuse into something beautiful. It feels good to hang recycled art in my home, and to share it as gifts with my friends and family. It feels good, because it does good. When you buy it, when you give it, don’t you feel it too?
What else shall we do? Walk to work. Take those shoes to the cobbler and have them re-soled. ┬áSpend two minutes less time in the shower. Shop the farmer’s market with a reusable bag. Today is Earth Day plus One!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Visit Us Online!

Casey in the new retail office of It's Cactus, your online source for the finest in folkart

Casey in her new office!

It is a fait-accompli: It’s Cactus, which started out as a brick and mortar store in Carmel, CA in the early 90’s, is now online only, operating strictly out of our Salinas warehouse. In February, this was an idea, quick to gel. Today, it’s the way we roll.
Or at least we’re starting to. This has not been a small task, and there’s still a good distance to go, especially in the way of re-vamping the website. Though you will continue to have unmitigated shopping opportunity in the meantime, we are only going to get better. Coming one

day in the not-so-distant future (July, hopefully) the website conversion will be complete, with

There's lots of recycled metal in the Salinas warehouse.

It is widely suspected that there is more Haitian metal in the warehouse than there is in Haiti. Care to count?

oodles and boodles of great folk art of every stripe. From Haiti of course, with new designs and creations in wondrous array, but also a much larger presence of our folk art from Latin America. It was in the shop, and locals had access to it there, but now it will have full representation online. Equal folk art opportunity for all – how great is that?
We’re also going to have what, in the biz, is known as a responsive website. (I confess to have learned that terminology….um……recently. Like last week.) That means that our website will be easily viewed from desktop and mobile devices alike. No more pinching and widening and shifting from side to side. You’ll be able to see every page in all it’s glory, no matter how or on what you choose to view it. Now, isn’t that a wonderful thing?
We’re pretty excited about it all. The wave of retail seems to be evermore about access and evermore driven by convenience. Our aim is to be all of that, convenient and accessible on a much broader scale, yet to remain the friendly, trusted, personable – and very fun! – purveyors of folk art you’ve always known and loved. Visit us online!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

Will These Sculptures Rust?

Our retail show flurry has wound down for the time being, but while it was running full-tilt, we heard time and time again: “Will my sculpture rust?” The sculptures are all made of recycled steel and if they are exposed outdoor weather untreated, answer is unequivocally, “Yes.” Like death and taxes, rust is inevitable.

Hatian metal sculpture one-of-a-kind by Michee Remy

Rust on this beautiful sculpture by Michee Remy does nothing to take away from it’s appeal.

We do assure shoppers that the metal comes with a clear-coat to protect it, but that the clear- coat will wear off sooner or later, depending on exposure. The sculptures can be retreated easily with spray-on clear coat enamel. (THIS or anything similar works fine.) Usually spending 5 minutes once a year to re-apply the protective coating is plenty and your sculpture will retain the same look as the day you bought it, pretty much forever.

HOWEVER, what if it does rust? What if you don’t get to it in time? Is that bad? What will it look

Haitian metal looks great with rust or without.

A rusted metal garden stake looks charming nestled amongst bright blooms.

like then? Well, I live in Arizona, and my sculptures outside are under the porch, so I haven’t had any of them rust. Casey has hers outside exposed to everything that the Central California Coast has to offer and this is exactly what happens. (Photos left.)

The rusted patina actually looks pretty great too! On the wall, leaning on a stand, or in the garden, like this GARDEN STAKE, they all are fine. Your sculptures won’t disappear and they WILL add artful interest to your landscape, rusted or not. Bottom line: Don’t worry. You can’t screw this up!


Contributed by Linda for It’s Cactus

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