In the past few weeks a troubling issue emerged in the Florida orisha community. Elders took matters at hand and gathered to create a treaty or agreement. This is how issues must be addressed, with respect, civility and with the support of elders at large.
The issue was re-initiations. Since The Mystic Cup is not a place to be dogmatic but to share experiences, as blog administrators we have decided to simply provide the information and let any users visit the link enclosed, read it and draw their own conclusions. Continue reading “Are Re-initiations Healthy?” »
Orisha, Ifá, Voodoo, Umbanda, Candomble, Kimbisa, Kimbanda, 21 Divisions, Sanse, 7 Divisions, Kumina, Obeah, Hoodoo, Palo Mayombe and the list keeps growing. What is it that is making followers of Western magic and other traditional religions become the new practitioners of African Traditional religions (ATRs)?
It is certainly not because they are thrilled to have to learn in many cases a foreign language, or because the practitioners of these spiritual traditions are very open to accept people outside their communities and culture. No, as a matter of fact, there are many shifts that a newcomer to these religions would have to make to accommodate and understand fully any of these systems. So, if the path is not particularly rosy, what keeps making Jane and John Doe want to become an Houngan, a Tata, a Babalosha, an Hounsi, a Yaya, an Iyalosha and to claim in due legitimacy any of these hard earned and until rather recent times hard to get titles?
The answer is as complicated as the question itself.
My grandmother Gloria passed away in 1987. She was a devout believer of Spiritism and believed strongly in the power of prayers. From this strong woman of impeccable character I learned many things, including how to make a mean Sancocho (stew with meats and root vegetables also known in the Caribbean as Ajiaco). This peasant dish fed our family many times, not because we lacked means, but because it was powerful.
The act of cooking for my grandmother was one of communion with her roots, with her spirits and with her family. Many in the family chose to ridicule her for being a devout believer in Spiritism while at the same time staying true to her Catholic roots. She saw no compromise in striding that religious fence to her spirit was spirit. I remember how she would sing the Hail Mary whenever she lost something. I would giggle at her singing, not because she could not carry a tune, but because it was strange to think that a Catholic prayer could act as a charm. For a charm it was, she would sing that song and things that were lost started to appear. Now, I catch myself doing the same unconsciously when I misplace something, and I think of her, my heart feels her, my spirit is caressed by her memories and what was lost shows up.
There is no perfect way to select godparents when entering any African Traditional Religion. But I am a keen observer, a student of the University of Hard Knocks, and, since the idea of this blog is to share lessons learned from all sort of spiritual practices, here are my two cents on how to select outstanding godparents.
When a religion become a commodity, the truly devoted tend to suffer. I have seen over and over again how people that come with a true calling to be part of the Orisha community are let down by unscrupulous iyaloshas and babaloshas (mothers and fathers of the orisha). Neophytes are rushed through stages, intimidated and even coerced to receive initiations that can simply wait, because everything, everything is a process.
Long time ago, I took the time to type some of this material on an e-mail for a person looking for an Ilé Orisha (House of Orisha). Ever since, when someone approaches me for information on initiation, I dust my old e-mail and press foward. Continue reading “How to Select Outstanding Godparents” »
As an iyalosha I have taken hard choices. One of them led me to lose a goddaghter, but there is no regret in my actions. She came to me from another house, claiming unhappiness and with stories of high derechos (fees) for ebbós (workings) and in general, she had grown appart from her godmother.
Godchildren are gifts life brings to you, gifts with strings of responsibility attached. The duty of an elder is to instill the concept of Iwá Pelé (good character). Iwá Pelé is built day to day with our thoughts, words and actions. I try to teach my godchildren to go to bed every night with a balanced score card of their own where they have done good for themselves, for others and harmed none.
All godchildren are different, and this one had her mind set on a man. The man in question was completely uninterested in her as a romantic partner, but she was obsessed. One day she told me about a friend who went to a babalawo in Miami who took pride in subduing anyone for the right amount of money. This babalawo supossedly had helped a male client to break a heterosexual marriage in order to sway the male partner for himself. I was disgusted at her implication.
Call them what you will. There are lots of types of spirits and they are around us in our material world every single day. Their force is felt in our magical rituals, in our moments of solitude and meditation and sometimes, while we are surrounded by every day people.
Dealing with spirits is second nature to me. There is no longer a fear factor involved to conquer, and through the years the sense of awe has faded away. But I am not jaded or take their presence for granted. There are spirits that are malevolent and one must be truly careful in our dealings with them, but fear should not be part of the equation, only preparation and discipline. I am still in awe of the things they can help us accomplish, but I am not longer in awe because they exist.
Since I started the blog, I have received several emails and instant messages from people who know I am a Spiritist and want to integrate spiritist practices and technology into their own practices and rituals. I am all for that. Every person has guardian spirits. However, most are not aware of them and go about life rationalizing odd feelings and sensations. Have you ever felt hair standing on the nape or you neck when visiting a place or meeting someone and touching them for the first time? Have you felt a chill and goose bumps or even a dizzying sinking sensation in the pit of the stomach while visiting an old place or a nature spot? Well, that is more than likely because your body has reacted like an antenna to spiritual presences, but you were perhaps none the wiser.
So how do we turn on this antenna? How do we apply spiritist techniques and concepts to your own practice?
One should not forget the steps taken when traveling on the road of spirituality. For as long as I remember I have been a creature of the Orisha. However, there are times in life when we stop listening. Times of searching for meaning in things and places, in people and faces, when all along meaning has been branded in our soul by the forces of spirit, it is a matter of discovering it. To get on the path of discovery or re-discovery, depending on your case, it is imperative to first remember to listen to those forces.
In my early-twenties I had forgotten to listen to the voice of spirits. There was no time for church (not that I ever really enjoyed my days as Catholic, nothing against those days, it is just not my cup of tea), there was no time for Spiritism or any other spiritual devotion. I was pretty much spiritually aimless and my existance was entirely devoted to studies, work, and my life as a newly wed.