There are few things in this life that truly get me angry. One of them is abuse, the other one in fraudulent practices misrepresenting African Traditional Religions. There is absolutely no excuse for silence when confronted with a case of abuse and fraud.
The story which I am about to share happened in Venezuela, nearly four years ago. The person came to me through the blog, and after a series of personal emails, I learned the details I am about to share. I will call her Alicia in respect to her request for privacy. Her sole intention in contacting me was to learn the truth about her initiation status and what steps to take to correct the spiritual predicament which she now faces.
Here is what happened. Alicia met a spiritual worker, I am not calling her Spiritist, as I do not want to sully the practices of thousands of legitimate practitioners who may take offense as they read further. This woman claims to be able to transmit messages from the dead as a horse of spirits. In her spiritual channelings she seems to have persuaded Alicia that without kariosha her life was in danger and she would die. Nothing like spiritual intimidation to motivate a person who has health issues and is desperately seeking to improve her life.
Thus in 2009, this spiritual worker charged the equivalent of US$ 9,300 in Bolivares to perform a kariosha. Mind it, she is NOT an initiated olosha herself and the people who participated in the so called kariosha were herself, another spiritual worker, Alicia’s husband and Alicia. The process is highly irregular and it consisted of the alleged medium passing on the spirit of a babalawo who she says she knew in life and who died young. This spirit became Alicia’s spiritual godfather in the ritual, while the spirit of another dead santero became her oyugbona in this bizarre process.
Alicia was supposedly initiated to Elegua, her mother in osha is supposedly Yemaya and she was given no otás (sacred stones) no dilogún (the shells which are the mouthpieces of the orishas) and no itá was done, thus there is no notebook or advice to guide this woman. There are no other witnesses of this travesty either.
During the ritual there were some other entities who manifested their presence, one was identified as the Anima Sola or the Lonely Soul, and the other one was identified by those present (Alicia, her husband and the second spiritual worker) as Yemayá because she came asking for a duck.
Give me a break! This spiritual worker was like superwoman, channeling all these entities and doing a kariosha all on her own with the help of this collection of spirits! Anyone who is an olosha and has participated in this beautiful and sacred community ritual knows that it takes a village to execute it properly as well as weeks of preparation and tons of materials.
It makes me sick to my stomach to see how this spiritual worker who comes from the region of Sorte Moutain in the State of Yaracuy, Venezuela defrauded Alicia in such vile way.
The issue here, besides defrauding someone of approximately US$9,300 is that of cultural and spiritual theft as well. This woman appropriated not one but two religious practices, which are Spiritism and Santeria, to line her pocket. Now that Alicia is waking up to the reality of what happened to her and she is rightly seeking answers this woman will not respond to messages or calls from either her or her husband.
Alicia says she feels a lot of appreciation for this woman. It seems to me that there is a codependency element in this relation that needs to be addressed. Moreover, the crucial element is to correct the spiritual mess in which now Alicia is placed. She has lost her job, her health is not in great shape and supposedly, Elegua, her main orisha as per this shyster, says she cannot work.
I have seen a photo of the shrine erected after this fraudulent initiation. It is but a sad attempt to portray some of the offerings done during the Throne day, of course, I saw no Throne erected, just a matt with a plate containing a store bought cement Elegua, a few plates with fruits and a boveda right alongside with the offerings to the so-called orishas as well as a coconut on a plate sporting a white handkerchief.
Initiations all have an impact on the person receiving them, be it that they are properly conducted initiations or that they are frauds, like in the case of Alicia. This is because there is an exchange of spiritual energies and if the person does not know what they are doing, they can cause damage to the person receiving the initiation. As we can see Alicia’s life is not better, quite the opposite.
She has chosen not to get rid of the items she received from the so called godmother until she visits a babalawo or an olosha in the area. I have promised to share some local contacts in Caracas and warned her to take the time to meet at least three or four different people and to study them and their reputation before doing anything as it is her responsibility to sort out who will guide her either to truly enter into a proper Osha house, or simply, to move on to another spiritual path.
It is important to highlight that Alicia did not wanted at first to share her story. I pointed out that it was her choice to do so or not. However, I also pointed out that if I was selfish with knowledge and not had this blog, many would continue on in the dark like she was. It is not nice to be in her situation, but she finally understood that is even worse to have gone through it and not share it, thus allowing this fraudulent spiritual practitioner to go on stealing money and hurting innocent people.
For readers in Venezuela, if you know who this spiritual worker person is—I still do not know her identity—beware. Do not allow shysters to sully our ATRs.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá