10 Assumptions that New Comers to ATRs should not make

The Orishas are coming to America
Here are 10 interesting stumbling blocks that have put a halt on many well-intended seekers of African Traditional Religions (ATRs).

1. The community is pagan and thus understands all schools of thought in modern and ancient magical systems
2. The community will accept me and understand me
3. The entire ATR community is gay friendly
4. I will be treated fairly and equally.
5. I am entitled to learn and be trained
6. I am entitled to initiation
7. Everyone in the ATR communities is well read, stable and trustworthy
8. There are no secrets to be kept, all knowledge is shared and readily available on books and online
9. Nothing really bad can happen to me when entering an ATR
10. I can get out as easily as I can go in

Two perspectives, Kal as a Westerner and mine as a Hispanic will tackle 10 common assumptions related to African Traditional Religions. Over the next few days Kal and I will share with you some of the lessons we have accumulated from the perspective of both seekers and initiates with a combined experience of over two decades into two of the most popular African Traditional Religions: Orisha and Palo Mayombe.

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Are Re-initiations Healthy?

Initiations: A Delicate Subject
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.
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Why are more Westerners drawn to African Traditional Religions?

The Lure of the African Traditional Religions
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.

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Three Steps to Attracting Romance: Step 3 Expectations

Expectations can be shaped by the 6th Sense.
Communication is the best way to start a productive romance, communications in many levels from verbal to psychic. Be clear as to what your needs are and state them gently. However, also be realistic as to what you ask with regards to what you bring into a relationship. Be willing to negotiate. There is no relationship without tradeoffs. Expectations and communications are a two way street and if you want to receive you need to be open to listen and give.

I do recommend you keep your expectations in check and based on facts, not fantasies. Likewise, do not let someone create false expectations based on dreams, eventually we all wake up from them.

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Honoring Ancestors: The Dead do not Diet

My Grandmother Gloria
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.

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Personal Experiences with Chinese Spiritism – Part 3

Spirit Money with the image of the Jade Emperor surrounded by the the Eight Immortals.
On a more personal level, I did have one direct experience with Daoist spiritism, which I’ll narrate without commentary. This happened in the late 1990s (probably 1998; I’m sure this happened prior to the huge Jiji earthquake of September 21, 1999).

A big social aspect of Daoism is the religious procession. In Taiwan, the idols of a temple are placed on palanquins and wheeled through the streets, to the accompaniment of live bands playing drums, gongs and a kind of Chinese trumpet called a suona, which is extremely resonant. There are also people who wear god costumes that are twice the size of a normal person. Finally, religious processions very often include groups that are called the “Eight Generals,” which are usually (but not exclusively) young men who put on colorful, intimidating face paint, and wield hand weapons, such as hammers and saws and pikes. They often flog themselves with these weapons, drawing blood, and enter trances. As the name implies, they tend to gather in groups of eight, and often form circles, facing inward, where they dance and wield their weapons in circular motions.

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Three Steps to Attracting Romance: Step 2 Emotions

Wearing your emotions on your sleeve?
How you are perceived has a great deal to do with how people react to you emotionally. Continuing with this person I was talking about in the previoius post, she was perceived as overly emotional, and she was. Mood swings, passive agressive behaviour and such is completely unnatractive to a person who is well balanced and emotionally healthy, and hopefully that is what you are wanting to attract in your life.

Once again, take time to analyze your inner mechanisms. What are your emotions telling other people? Are you wearing your heart on your sleeve? What sort of signals are you sending? The following bath should help in your path to obtaining a cool mind.

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Three Steps to Attracting Romance: Step 1 Knowledge

Ready for a different perspective on how to start a romance?
If you are looking for a binding to control and dominate someone into loving you, sorry, this is the wrong post and blog for it. However, I can certainly guide you in three steps to improve yourself inside and out as to increase your personal magnetism. But it is not all herbs, roots and potions here, you need to diligently work on aspects of yourself as well. Attraction, like magic, involves the complete being.

Attraction has greatly to do with perception. Perception can be influenced by three aspects: Knowledge, emotions and expectations. You can certainly change the way someone perceives you by impacting those three areas at different levels.

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A Medium: Could You Become One?

Influence Mediumship Development Starting with Your Mind
Mediumship is not a fantastic gift that only a few special people can develop. Mediumship is a birthright that we all as humans possess in various forms and degrees. It is a meant to connect us with divinity. But our societal norms and upbringing, seldom allow for this expression to flow and develop naturally. Quite the opposite, mediumship and anything related with psychic skill development is systematically stomped out of a child by the age of seven. Have you ever seen a child have an imaginary friend? Did you have one? Children have the ability to see further spiritually because they are closer to the source of creation, they have passed through the veil much recently, they have less filters, they simply live, enjoy and observe. This begs for deeper debate and sharing of observations about why we see more children gifted with psychic skills as of late or those so called Indigo Children, but for the purposes of this post I will continue on.

I am not a child development expert or a psychologist, but my husband and I do have two children whom our family has openly raised in a nurturing spiritual environment allowing them to experience a wide variety of religious activity not restrictive to just Orisha practices, Palo Mayombe or Spiritism. Our children have Christian family members as well, and, are versed in Bible studies and currently working through learning about other main religions around the world. It is crucial for a child to understand that religious practices emerged out of the fundamental need to understand that which unites and moves us: Spirit.

What is Divinity but the Great Spirit? Call it what you will, no matter what religious inclination or magical practice you follow, there is a fundamental need to either embrace or deny this force. But the force of the Great Spirit (and I am using this term for Divinity as to try and remain neutral and respectful of anyone who reads this article) calls us to communicate. Observe those around your spiritual group, are they not yearning to hear and be heard by this magnificent Source?

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Understanding Orisha Through Kinetics

Yemaya dancers
There are different levels of understanding of Orisha. For the initiate, there are complex levels of understanding of his or her own tutelar orisha that are acquired over the years, and even then, this profound understanding is influenced both by internal forces and external circumnstances. One of the ways in which this understanding can be observed is through kinectics and dance aesthetics, in particular through the interaction of dancer, sacred music and attendees.

Caviat, I am no expert dancer. My godfather would readily agree that I indeed have two left feet when it comes to dancing for the Orisha. But the skill of the dancer is one of many elements to be taken into account when talking about the levels of understanding of Orisha through sacred music and dance, for Orisha can simply take over the body of a dancer and transform it in an instant, from uncoordinated (such as my lovely dance steps), to fluent and gracious. Once the motion start in front of the drums, anything can happen.

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…Be Inspired!    "Focussing on the experience, not the dogma"