Love + Bindings ≠ Freedom of Choice

Bindings, the heart of the matter.

Over the last few months I have received more inquiries about how to bind a romantic interest than I care to count. The person requesting this type of working seems to be in a desperate frame of mind in which all measures of logic and reasoning are ignored. It is at most times an exercise in futility to try to enlighten an individual so enthralled in their own desires as to ignore the basic dynamics of a healthy relationship. What are some logical parameters for a healthy relationship? If a romantic relationship is to be constructive and fruitful for both parties then it stands to reason that it should be based on two key dynamics: Attraction and freedom.

The attraction part can be enhanced by means of workings to highlight positive aspects in a person as to be more appealing to prospective partners. I have nothing against trying to spruce up spiritually to be “lit from within” and attract a mate. When a person is spiritually uplifted through workings or spiritual discipline, they become a center of light and positive energies and that in itself creates a desirable magnetism that will indeed make people gravitate towards said person. They key here is to focus on a desirable type of individual to attract, otherwise, one may end up attracting the unbalanced and undesirable type and squandering.

However, I draw the line on workings when it comes to retaining a romantic interest against one or both parties involved. The freedom of choice in a relationship should be respected at all cost, particularly in the practice of African Traditional Religions which in the Americas survived at the expense of the freedom of our elders. What sort of hypocrites would orisha and palero priests be if we emotionally enslave a person for money when we owe the freedom to practice our religions to the sacrifices and dedication afforded to us by our slave ancestors?

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Lava over the Ocean

Yemayá and Aganjú at their best


Recently, Willie Ramos (Ilari Oba), one of my most admired oriatés sent me an article from Modern Ghana. The article spoke about the preponderance of foreign religions in Africa and its impact on tribal and native religions. The author, Farouk Martins Aresa, also pointed wisely that the Santería community had managed to become a storehouse of faith and resilience that apparently seems to be lacking in today’s Africa in the face of growing Christian and Muslim spiritual domination. This is due to the fact that the people who came through the Middle Passage fought tooth and nail to preserve their religions. They were ingenious, tenacious and indomitable in their convictions.

Thanks to our ancestors, we have the jewels of practices like the Lukumí, Kimbisa, Umbanda, Macumba, Voodoo, and many other African Traditional Traditions (ATRs) in the Diaspora. I am including a link to the article at the bottom of the post, because I want you to read it and make up your own mind about this subject. However, here are two key paragraphs to whet your appetite.

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On Palo Monte and Free Will

What do Palo Monte and Free Will have in common?

Palo is a double edged religion that ultimately comes down to a very simple concept – Free Will.

Although we have an object, containing spiritual forces, that is bound to our service – and we must also serve and care for them. We make the choice to do so. We make the choice as to how to treat our spirits, what to do with them, and how we conduct ourselves in our mutual service to each other.

The amount of available power that exists in Palo can be frightening, and dangerous. However, this is not because Palo is a force of good or evil. Just like a hammer, it can be used to build a house, or it can be used to tear it down. It comes down to – again, free will. What choices do you make? Do you choose to take the high road and look for a positive resolution? Do you rely on yourself to accomplish goals? Or do you go before your Nganga with the intent to destroy an so called enemy, or to take advantage of others solely for your own personal gain?

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Waste Not, Want Not: Collecting Materials for Spiritual Work

Marie Laveau probably collected many items to make her famous packets and workings

Oftentimes I like to think about those who have paved our way for our religious practices. Some names are paramount for me in Santería, such as the great iyaloshas who now belong to the realm of the ancestors, like Aurora Lamar, Timotea Albear, Ferminita Gómez and many other great women that shaped Santería in the New World. Other great ladies distinguished themselves in Voodoo like the famous Marie Leveau and like her, countless other two-headed women have lived as root workers, voodoo and hoodoo practitioners . What did they all had in common, dare I ask, when putting workings together?

Well, I seriously doubt it was a well stock Botánica or Spiritual Curio Shop around the corner! No, they more than likely wasted not, wanted not. In other words, they collected items and kept a good supply of tools available to carry out their spiritual workings.

After all, Oyá teaches us that the world is a great market filled with fascinating items to help us further our spiritual journeys. However, commercialism and fancy wrappings simplify a process that should involve more forethought and dedication. Intention is key part of the process of doing a successful working and if when we lose touch with the process of gathering resources we also diminish a vital element of will.

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Final Chapter: 10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should not make

Leaving an ATR is a process that requires much finesse

10. I can get out as easily as I can go in

Coming into a religious group can be easy, leaving can sometimes be more difficult than just walking out on those people you have met and whom you perhaps saw as a family. Perhaps, it is not so much that you are leaving personal relationships behind you, if you ever decide to terminate a relationship in an African Traditional Religions (ATRs); it is more a matter of those spiritual connections you would also attempt to sever.

Too much too soon
One of the reasons why people leave Santería and other ATRs like Voodoo or Palo is perhaps because they come in with such passion and they want to have it and learn it all at once. That is a recipe for disillusion and disaster.

Tom Savage (this is a pseudonym to preserve his family’s privacy) was a most beloved friend and one of the best astrologers I have ever met. Tom was also Kal’s godson; he died of heart problems nearly five years ago at the age of 48. He came to the Orishas nearly two decades ago when we both still were affiliated to our ilé in San Antonio. Upon meeting our godfather Tom decided he wanted to receive the elekes, warriors and Olokun, as it had come up in a reading. I remember warning him about taking things one step at a time and spacing out initiations to allow the energies of each step to settle, but he had lots of money and an impatient heart. A few months after he got this triple initiation, his life was not doing great. I remember I went to visit him and I felt this nagging feeling to go and check on his Eleguá. I nearly fainted when I discovered that “Mr. Personality” as I like to call all Eleguás was surrounded by stale cakes, mountains of candies and was covered in ants, cockroaches and other unsavory creatures.

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Part 9: 10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should not make

Initiations should never be taken lightly

9. Nothing really bad can happen to me when entering an ATR

There are lines that should never be crossed and things I would really rather not address. However, practicing a religion no matter which religion is selected, should lead each practitioner to not only spiritual enlightenment but also moral and personal advancement. Therefore, I consider it an obligation to discuss pitfalls and realities that emerge when lines become blurry and are eventually crossed.

The Way of the Orishas, Santería or the Lukumí faith has plenty of success stories, so do other African Traditional Religions (ATR) such as Voodou and Palo; however, these are also littered with stories that give our religions a bad name. If you have read some of the posts on this blog, you have already noticed that people that rush into unfamiliar practices/cultures, can be the perfect victims of charlatans who want to make money out of commercializing our beliefs. Perhaps the hardest blow is to those who fall prey to unprepared initiates that are ill-equipped to lead their own spiritual lives, much less the life of others, but alas, they have an initiatory title and charm to amass followers.

What is the worst thing that can happen to someone? Material loss is chiefly what I have witnessed; but there is loss that sometimes not even time can mend, the devastation that comes with a loss of faith and a tarnishing of the purity of what started as an honest search for spirituality.

Let me give you a couple of examples and the outcome I have witnessed. One relates to Palo Monte and the other one to Santería.

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Part 8: 10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should not make

Secrets for Sale?

8. There are no secrets to be kept; all knowledge is shared and readily available on books and online.

Once upon a time, in a very distant land, there was a seeker who wanted to obtain the secrets of a mysterious and alluring spiritual tradition; they called it The Way of the Orishas…

Well, little has changed. There are hundreds of people who every day come in contact with the spiritual practices of the African Traditional Religions and thanks to the willingness of many to make some profit and position themselves as authorities, there is a proliferation of books, social networks and many other avenues to disseminate knowledge that otherwise was obtained upon entering as an initiate in any ATR. Not that everything that is printed or posted on-line is trustworthy material.

The lack of patience, and quite frankly of respect; coupled with a feeling of self-righteousness is the compass for the new seekers who stop at nothing to gorge on what we initiates consider secrets.

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Part 7: 10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should Not make

A Keeper of Traditions cultivates a Passion for Learning


#7 Everyone in the ATR communities is well read, stable and trustworthy.
There is not one religious group with a congregation that will homogeneously possess or manifest these 3 attributes: Education, stability and trustworthiness. Every religious congregation will be formed from people with different levels of education, and the African Traditional Religions (ATRs) are not the exception. African Traditional Religions base the core of their knowledge on oral tradition; therefore, anyone can claim expertise, stability and trustworthiness. After all, who is there to police them?

The availability of books on a myriad subjects on ATRs and the increasing reduction of the digital divide, has made increased exposure to knowledge that before was only transmitted from godparent to godchild, and only as newcomers were considered ready to learn. Does this make our religions any better and our leaders any more educated? We can make arguments on both sides of the fence. Quantity and availability of educational materials not necessarily imply their quality and not everyone can assimilate and analyze theology and theosophy at the same level, nonetheless apply it or for that matter, teach it.

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A Bilongo for Love

Nsasi in Action

Doing ceremony for love or to pull someone your way is not as easy as a lot of books make it seem to be. And there many reasons why people will buy these books and the success rate is not that high.

The first thing that must be done before doing any type of love spell is to do a ceremony to remove dirt of your aura or spirit. When I am talking about dirt, I am referring to negativity. Now, you might be someone who is doing spiritual cleansings all the time and feel that you are totally clean spiritually. Logically you have the right to feel so, but, if you are not attacking specific targets or issues in your spiritual quadrant you will never achieve ultimate success.

When we are dealing with our ancestors we invoking the bad and good luck they left behind for us to deal with. When the bad luck is not dealt with then it turns into a family curse in the lineage.

I had a client which who I will refer to as Thomas (to conceal his identity). He was a young man in his thirties, made close to six figures salary, worked out five times a week, drove a foreign car, and had his own place. Thomas is heterosexual, had no children, and being a desirable bachelor, still no serious woman came his way. He would have someone to date and have a good time with, but no good candidates for marriage. After doing divination for him, the working suggested in palo dealt with Siete Rayos who was claiming the bilongo to do. In his lineage all the men in his family had bad luck with women; almost all of them were married twice. The shadow of this family curse was following him as well. As the divination had gotten deeper, it was discovered that his great grandmother was cheated on, and she was making the men in the lineage pay for her anger. The shadow of her anger was preventing women from seeing him as a man worth investing their time in.

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Where did the spirit of Charity go?

Sarayeye or Spiritual Cleansing

The road to be a priest or priestess in Santeria, Yoruba, Haitian Vodou, Palo Mayombe, Ifa, Akan, is not an easy road. But, we should not let our personal trial and tribulation prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. That is not only to elevate our family and our lineage but to elevate people who come across our crossroad.

We meet people each day for a reason, each person that come across our path is a representation of a Loa, a Orisha, a egun, and/or a Nkisi.

I say this because if we keep this in mind then perhaps we would not always think about money when it comes to helping someone. I do not say that someone should not be paid for his/her knowledge. But, there are times were an individual just need a little boost to be where he/she need to be.

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