Baoule Spirit Lovers
Guest Post by Christy Gissendaner
The Baoule people of Africa’s Ivory Coast believe a parallel universe, called the Blolo, exists where the spirits of newborns waiting to be born and the deceased co-exist with the real world. Every spirit has a mate in the Blolo, who can be enlisted to save their mate’s problems while in our world. Interesting? I certainly thought so. Enough to write a Christmas novella centered on the Baoule culture.
Romantic problems, infertility, and general unhappiness in the real world can be cured by commissioning figurines of spirit mates. Blolo bian (males) and Blolo bla (females) are generally carved from wood and are created to the specifications found most desirable in a spirit mate. Food, money, and attention can be given to the spirit mate to keep them appeased, thus allowing a person to find happiness in the real world.
Active relationships are maintained between spirit mates, particularly in a dream state. It is believed that nocturnal visits from a spirit mate will initiate healthy interaction between a person and his or her physical mate.
Much detail is given to these figurines – plump bottoms, elegant necks, thick legs. All the attributes desirable in a proper Baoule mate. Social status and individuality is acquired by use of adornment, costume, and hairstyle. Even skin tone is considered when commissioning a spirit mate statue.
This very primitive…yet romantic…practice provided the inspiration for Christmas Spirits, a holiday themed novella set in modern-day Georgia. A chance reading in an old encyclopedia and Tedros, the “spirit” of Christmas Spirits, was born! The story is meant to portray the reality of spirit lovers, and I took a very atypical approach to most romance novels.
Keep reading to learn more about Kia’s quest for happiness and just what role Tedros plays in her search for happiness.
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary, African American, holiday romance
Publisher: Christy Gissendaner
Number of pages: 90
Word Count: 20,000
Kia Mays has little time for anything as her lifelong dream of being a fashion designer comes to fruition. For Christmas, she takes time out of her busy schedule to visit her family in Georgia where her beloved grandmother, Naya, reveals a secret of her Baoule heritage.
In Baoule, located on the Ivory Coast of Africa, the people believe in spirit lovers, which you are separated from at birth. Tedros, Kia’s lover from the spirit world, appears to her and reveals that he is there to assist her in finding a mortal lover.
Elliot Melton, the brother of Kia’s new sister in law, is also invited to share the season with the family. With the help of a meddling grandmother and an otherworldly spirit, Elliot and Kia soon find out that Christmas is the best time to fall in love.
Naya motioned her toward the living room with a smile. “Sit down. I’ll be right back.”
The couch was the same one that had been in the home Naya had shared with Geoff for decades. It was worn and threadbare, but still comfortable.
She settled into the cushions with a heartfelt sigh of relief, dropping her head against the crocheted afghan that always hung on the back of the couch. Not a thing had changed except the fact that her grandfather wouldn’t be there to greet her.
She blinked several times to clear her eyes. It was their second Christmas without Grandpa Geoff, and it still saddened her whenever she thought of him.
“Are you ready?”
Kia looked up expectantly when Naya appeared carrying an item wrapped in tissue paper. Naya glanced at the gift in her hands, then gave Kia a considering look. Her dark eyes seemed as if she held the secrets to all life’s mysteries. “I’ve never shared this with anyone but your grandfather. Not even with your mother.”
Kia sat up straighter. It wasn’t like Naya to beat around the bush. She was about as straightforward as they came. “What is it?”
Naya sat beside her, still cradling the item in her hands. “The others wouldn’t understand, but you…” She paused to touch Kia’s cheek. “You’re the most like me. You’ll understand the importance of what I’m about to show you.”
Kia was used to her grandmother’s dramatics, but this was different. A force inside her recognized the truth of it. She barely drew a breath as Naya unwrapped the tissue paper to reveal what was beneath. She didn’t know what to expect, but it surely wasn’t what was revealed.
She glanced at the wooden figurine with a puzzled frown. “A doll?”
“No, not a doll.” Naya’s wrinkled fingers stroked the figure gently. “It’s your soul mate.”
“Um, Naya? I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not really into wood. Rubber, maybe, but…”
Behind her bifocals, the rolling of Naya’s eyes seemed overly pronounced. “Hush your mouth. He may hear you and take offense.”
Kia’s frown deepened. Naya was getting on in years, but Kia had never suspected senility. “Perhaps you should rest.”
Naya gave her a stern look, one that brooked no argument. “I’ve not lost my mind, Kia LaShae, and shame on you for thinking so. This figurine…” she held it up to the light. “Is the physical reincarnation of your spirit lover, the one you’ve been separated from since birth. The one you will rejoin in death.”
“My spirit lover, hmm?” Kia tilted her head to one side and studied him. “He’s a bit smaller than I would’ve liked.”
Naya put a hand to her forehead and mumbled a few words of her native language, ones Kia doubted were very complimentary. “In Baoule, when you experience bad luck with your flesh and blood lover, it’s because your spirit lover needs to be appeased. You must show attention to him to end the bad luck.”
Kia took the figurine from Naya and turned it over in her hands. “Nice ass.”
“He’ll not like you poking fun at him,” Naya warned.
“Who’s poking fun? He does have a nice ass.” Kia pulled up his shirt and ran her forefinger over his ridged wooden abdomen. “Nice six pack also.”
“I created him according to your specifications.”
Kia lifted an eyebrow. “I didn’t say anything about a six pack, Naya.”
Her grandmother shrugged. “I took the liberty of adding a few of my own.”
Kia touched the waistband of the hand sewn, miniature jeans he wore. “Really? Exactly what sort of traits?”
Naya slapped a hand over hers. “Later, Kia. First I must know if you have any questions.”
Kia placed the figurine, her supposed spirit lover, on the coffee table and crossed her legs. “Yes, I do. Did you forget your medication? You don’t seriously expect me to believe this mumbo jumbo, do you?”
“Have I ever lied to you?”
“There was that bit about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.”
About the Author:
Christy Gissendaner is a paranormal and contemporary romance author who believes laughter and love should go hand in hand.
Christy lives in Alabama with her husband and three sons. She’s always hard at work on her next novel, but in her spare time she loves blackjack, karaoke, and anything resembling a vacation!
To find out more, please visit http://christygissendaner.webs.com