*photo courtesy of Dr. E via Facebook*
January 14,2014 was the day the world lost one of the most extraordinary people I have had the honor of knowing; Dr. E.
Someone recently described him as that likened to a Diamond. Full of many different facets, and I couldn't agree more!
His talents spanned farther than just a Conjure Doctor... He was a Priest of Shango, Leader of a group of men called The Unnamed Path, a reader of the Diloggún, an Artist (in every area of his life), activist for what he felt was Right and True.
The list goes on...
A man who passed before his time, leaving behind a group of men whom followed him, found inspiration within to become leaders themselves rather than seek out a new one. To pave the way for others just as
Dr. E did for them.
A scholar in every sense of the word... The man was a brain on legs.
Once again, there really wasn't much that he did not know. He could have ruled the world.
*photo courtesy of Dr. E via Facebook*
Heavy hearts gathered today to pay their respects, share their love and memories of Dr. E, to say their final "farewell's" at Magnolia Memorial Park in Garden Grove, Ca. where he is laid to rest amongst other members of his family.
I personally could not be in attendance, however a floral arrangement with a note of heartfelt sympathy will be delivered in my place.
I was lucky to have been sent this video that was shown at Dr. E's services today.
*Buckle up folks... and grab a whole box of Kleenex*
You have been warned
As only Eddy knew how to make an entrance, he arrived in this world on January 1, 1976: the first day of the Bicentennial Year. Eddy was the younger child of Manuel Gutierrez and Vicky Sirgo Gutierrez, who migrated from Cuba in the sixties. He was an inquisitive child, who taught himself how to read from a set of Childcraft Encyclopedias, that Vicky had given him as a gift. When he ran out of encyclopedias to read, he read the Bible.
Eddy had a special smile, which in Spanish is called “picaro” – a kind of warm, open smile that can also be mischievous. And Eddy was always up to something. He adored his older sister, MaryAnn, and sometimes, that extended to sharing in mischief. When the two got into trouble, they both ended up being sent to their rooms — at the same time. At other times, he was helpful to his sister. When she started college, and was complaining about some geology homework that she and her friend Alex had to do, Eddy — who was only 13 at the time — patiently sat down and went over the lesson with both of them until they understood it, even though he’d never studied college-level geology before.
Eddy was a gifted student, and held Honor Roll status throughout his school years. He had a strong, beautiful Baritone voice, and was a member of his high school Chamber Singers and theater group. His gift for speaking followed him through Debate Club, Toastmasters, and the Honor Society. Eddy graduated from high school with high honors, and received a full scholarship to UC Riverside, where he took science courses. He intended to become a medical researcher, to find the cure for the Alzheimer’s disease that had claimed his grandmother.
Eddy loved science and technology. But he also loved art, and gardening. He collected and grew bonsai trees; he loved to cook, and made the best ice cream. When Eddy’s grandmother passed away, he worried that nobody else in the family knew how to knit and crochet like she had. As he felt it was important to carry on the tradition, he taught himself how, and his first creation ended up being a full-sized crocheted bedspread, with a very intricate pattern that amazed everyone who saw it.
Anything that Eddy put his mind to, he would learn. Eventually his school interests shifted. He had always been a talented artist, so he gained formal training and eventually a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Cal State Fullerton. Eddy then went to work in the IT and graphic design field, and was the Art Director of a large commercial advertising agency in Southern California until he began his own business.
Eddy was raised Catholic, but because he was gay, it led him to question the Church’s teachings and his calling in the world. During his teenage years, he became interested in Wicca, and he began studies with the Druidic Craft of the Wise, American Rite at age 18. Eddy studied, then mentored, and proceeded to rise in rank to a place where he would teach his own initiates. His specialties were astrology and divination, and he taught many classes on these subjects. Eddy was the youngest priest ever to be initiated in his chapter. In 2004, he was elevated to the High Priesthood, and he maintained that position until 2009. Eddy was also drawn to other spiritual paths that celebrated men who love men, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, and he participated in many of their rituals.
During the 1990s, Eddy decided to explore his Cuban roots. Like many first-generation Cuban-Americans, he had set them aside, in favor of more mainstream social and spiritual paths. As part of this search, he received initiation in 2001 into Santeria Lucumi, a Cuban form of the Yoruba Lucumi religion practiced in Africa. Eddy was initiated as a priest of Shango, the orisha of male power and strength. In order to officiate as a priest, Eddy studied the Yoruba language, and perfected his skills as a diviner with a well-known Lucumi teacher, Ochani Lele. This complex system uses cowrie shells, and requires a reader to memorize 256 separate stories that can be applied to a client’s situation. But this wasn’t the only way that Eddy knew how to divine for his clients. In addition to reading the diloggun, Eddy was a traditional Tarot card reader, an astrologer, a scryer, a bone caster, a geomancer, and a psychometrist. His ability to help others see what they needed to see, in an open and honest way, opened roads and comforted and educated many.
In the 2000s, Eddy began to do shamanic work for the community of men-who-love-men. As Rev. Hyperion, Eddy founded a shamanic path for those men, called The Unnamed Path. This group performed public rituals at the annual PantheaCon alternative religion gathering, and held private retreats, culminating in this past year’s Stone and Stang retreat, for the spiritual development of its members and other interested men. David, one of the Path’s initiates who will have to share the responsibility to continue Eddy’s work, notes that Eddy’s presence, and his work, saved lives, both spiritually and physically. No matter how he presented himself, Eddy touched people. The love that Eddy held inside himself, and shared so freely, helped those other people to be comfortable in their own skin, and to be able to share their own love with others. His generosity with his time, and his knowledge helped take the fear out of everything, and touched everyone he encountered during his life. Eddy was always supportive. Carolina Dean, one of his colleagues, says: “Eddy was a cheerleader on the sidelines of my life. So many people in our lives tell us ‘no, you can’t.’ But Eddy would say, ‘You can do it,’ and not only that, but then he’d say ‘here’s how.’”
Eddy also became interested in African-American folk magic. He was trying to understand how the African cultural and spiritual experience had been retained among the descendants of slaves, and how that experience differed for people whose families had ended up in Cuba or in the United States. To take his interest further, Eddy enrolled in catherine yronwode's Hoodoo Rootwork Correspondence Course, and upon his graduation in 2008, Eddy embarked on a career as a root and conjure doctor serving clients in Southern California and via the internet. This developing career led him to join the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers (or AIRR), and to manufacture his own line of spiritual supplies under the name Dr. E. Products. Eddy joined and helped develop the Hoodoo Psychics, a telephone-based divination service offering spellcasting advice as well as readings. He also was a frequent guest and fill-in co-host on the Lucky Mojo Hoodoo Rootwork Hour, a weekly Blog Talk Radio program where a panel of 3 conjure practitioners provides guidance and prescribes rootwork spells and techniques to help call-in clients with their issues.
Eddy moved between many spiritual communities, yet he didn’t convert or disconnect from them as he moved. Rather, his spiritual practice grew, through bridges and additions. He remained an enthusiastic participant, and a valued member, of every spiritual path he walked. A friend described him as a diamond: “watching him, you could see a different face of that diamond, and the variety of ways that Eddy could reflect the light.” He had the ability to make everyone feel welcome, and important. Eddy was also more than a participant or a teacher in his various callings: he was a warrior, an ally, and a source of strength, who always fought for those he loved, and against anything that wasn’t right. He could touch people even without touching them in person, and bring together complete strangers simply by making sure they connected. As one friend described him at last weekend’s open house in his honor, “Eddy was blunt, but he was kind and wise. He was great with advice, and he always seemed to know what people were thinking.” It wasn’t the spiritual knowledge, or even the various spiritual paths, that called Eddy. It was the people that he was able to meet, and get to know, and share his life with, within them. One night after a ceremony, his goddaughter Liz recalled, everyone was sitting around eating a delicious dinner of arroz con pollo that Eddy had cooked himself. “Do you see this?” Eddy asked Liz, pointing at various people, eating and talking and laughing, and sweeping his arms to indicate the entire house, filled with friendship and love. “You see all this? I LOVE this.”
Eddy remained a dynamic, colorful speaker, and a consummate teacher, long after his high school days with the Toastmasters and the Debate Club. He was a renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. In addition to PantheaCon presentations and teachings he offered to his Wiccan students and his students in the Unnamed Path, Eddy offered annual presentations at the Hoodoo Heritage Festival, was a yearly presenter at El Camino College on alternative spiritual practices, and traveled around the country giving classes, conducting rituals, and helping people wherever he went. He was a loyal member of the AIRR Tech Team, and committed to writing new webpages about magic and spirituality every week. He had just begun to participate in the 2014 Pagan Blog Project, was managing numerous websites, and had been working on a series of Unnamed Path books, and at least two other books, at the time of his death.
Embodying (and often wearing!) the color of his orisha Shango, bright red, Eddy was an energetic, yet down-to-earth leader, who contributed to many Pagan, Santeria, and hoodoo gatherings from the ground up, offering all of his skills from his various spiritual talents to his more mainstream design and IT skills freely for their success. By 2011, Eddy was able to quit his corporate job and devote himself full-time to his online shop and candle ministry at the Santeria Church of the Orishas he also founded. Eddy was an honorable, ethical man, especially when it came to spiritual matters. As part of the church’s outreach program, Eddy developed the Santeros Against Fraud and Exploitation (or SAFE) blog, where he drew attention to people who were appropriating elements of African Traditional Religions, as well as fraudulent or disreputable people who exploit the religion to make money, or to gain power and control over innocent spiritual seekers. His critiques were always on point; he never attacked anyone personally, and laid out his arguments thoughtfully and flawlessly. It is a testament to just how fair he was able to be, that even some of the people that Eddy criticized or exposed in his work, have expressed sincere condolence for a person that they did not agree with, but could not fail to respect.
You might think that Eddy was a hard worker, or that he was driven and serious, and there is no doubt that he was all of these things. His side eye was legendary; he did not suffer fools lightly, and he had no patience or tolerance for liars or cheaters. And yet, there was a light-hearted and fun side to Eddy as well. He loved to go to Disneyland, and to show visitors the occult, witchy side of Southern California. His sense of humor was renowned and his quick wit made every occasion special. The games of Cards Against Humanity he held with friends and family alike were legendary, both for their humor, and their ability to use that humor to bring people together, whether for a little mischief, or just for a good, shared laugh. He delighted in social media, sharing jokes and YouTube videos alongside teachings, using the Internet to bring even more people into his ever-growing circle of family and friends.
Eddy was not only a dedicated teacher and an impeccable priest. He was a loving son, a devoted brother, a proud uncle, and a loyal friend. Eddy’s partner, Clayton James Pfingston, was the love of his life. You may notice that in many of the photos of them together, Clayton is usually standing to Eddy’s left — which makes Eddy Clayton’s right hand man. They lifted each other up, and in doing so, their love was a powerful example to others. Their cats, Hedwig and Sid, completed their happy family, and tended to show up in family photos. Eddy was very proud of his family, and adored his nephew, Jordan. On a list of personal goals he had set out for himself to complete in 2014, Eddy intended to bring his mother into his business, after she retired from her day job, so that she would be taken care of. His next goal after that was to marry Clayton.
Eddy's death was unexpected. He died young, in the middle of an expanding career, and leaving behind many people whose lives have been touched by the love he shared. And yet he packed an entire lifetime into the 38 years he was given. Eddy had been scheduled to make presentations at PantheaCon next month, and the Hoodoo Heritage Festival in the spring, and he had planned to publish one of the two books he was working on in the Fall of 2014. As a testament to Eddy’s aspirations, and to the love, loyalty, and drive he inspired in everyone he met, both venues have scheduled memorial tributes to him, and his friends are hoping to bring his work to publication posthumously.
We will never have another Eddy Gutierrez in our lives on this side of the sunrise, but we can have faith that he will continue to be present, to teach, to connect, and to inspire us. May he “RISE IN POWER” among the spirits. We love you Eddy!
*Dr. E drumming at the MISC Hoodoo Rootwork Workshop Weekend 2013*
Another touching eulogy of sorts came across my Facebook feed that I felt should be shared. It is a beautiful tribute to a side of Dr. E most females would never know.
At the Queer Conjure Colloquium held at last year's Hoodoo Heritage Festival my friend Eddy Gutiérrez said something so profound and filled with Truth that stirred it me on a deep level. When speaking about the Queer Ancestors he used the phrase "They Do Not Rest In Peace - They Rise In Power!" This Truth inspired me to create the candle that you see on the left of his picture.
It was my intention to mail him this candle as a gift of thanks for bringing it into my life, but I never got around to doing it. I never would have believed that today I would be lighting this candle for him.
We always think we have more time...
Rest well my friend - we know that your power will rise!
*photo courtesy of Grey Wolf via Facebook*
I was so touched and moved by his status update and the candle that he created for Dr. E, that I asked him to make me one too.
So tonight, I will make a permanent place on my Altar to honor my Teacher, my colleague, one of my biggest "cheerleaders", my Friend.
I miss you Dr.E.... more than words can say. I can't believe you are gone, that I won't see you upon this earth again.
I am thankful for the many archived sources of your teachings, photographs, and of your loved ones still presently here that will continue to keep everything about you alive.
If I can be a part of that legacy, I will be happy to do so.
*photo courtesy of Dr. E via Facebook*
Before I conclude this blog post on my dear friend Dr. E, I want to share with you just how incredible this man is.
All night last night I was belly aching over getting The Perfect white roses for the funeral. And as my luck would have it, I hit all the local florists in the area right after they closed *Grr* so I had to rely on the internet and God above to help deliver what I wanted to send.
My initial choice was not available in the time frame that I had requested it by, nor was it what I had my heart set on, but it was beautiful.
Eddy must have clued in on this and come 6:30am this morning I got a call from the florist letting me know that they were unable to provide me with the arrangement that I had ordered online, but could make a beautiful bouquet of white roses.. YES! That is what I wanted but for some reason, it was not an online option. *facepalm*
OK... so I did end up getting what I wanted sent after all! Yay!
Still wanting to do something to honor Dr. E personally, I went about gathering some things up and making him a space amongst my loved ones on my Ancestor Altar.
As I was getting his photo printed, I glanced around the store and saw a floral section.
Wouldn't you know, as luck would have it, there it was.... 1 lone bouquet of white roses.
Not just any white roses.... African White Roses!
I thought of E right away... He representing the Lucumi Religion and all.
I knew that was him giving me that "spiritual tap on the shoulder" knowing that was exactly what I was looking for.
God, I miss him so much already...
*Thank You Dr. E*
Know that you were dearly loved, will be missed by many.
Remembered by all.
The nights sky just got quite a bit brighter as they gained a star.
Rest Well my Friend.
This candle is for you.
Rise In Power!
Until we meet again.