Leaving Santeria? Don’t throw your Orishas down the river…

La Lupe, did she make a mistake abandoning her Orishas?

I have heard over and over the same story, people who are initiated into Santeria and for their own personal reasons, whatever they may be, one day they decide they want to leave Santeria and simply throw away their orishas down the river. Capital mistake, huge mistake, a mistake that can cost a person their very own life.

Let me start with a case I know from firsthand experience. Timothy was one of my best friends and in time he became my godson, but his path to my Yemayá was not free of accidents and woes.

Tim, my husband and I all received the warriors, elekes and Olokun around the same time from the hands of Omi Oké in San Antonio, TX. Back then, Tim was in a huge hurry to amass initiations as he dabbled in many things from Kabalah to Ceremonial Magic to…Santeria. I used to tease him calling him ´degree collector´ but he never took offense to it and I held hopes that one day he would simply commit to one spiritual path. Contrary to Tim´s point of view, for my husband and I, the orisha are not a destination, they are our lifetime path to travel.

One day, I went to visit Tim and I had the most disgusting feeling as I stepped into his home. I asked to salute Elegua and to my horror I found the orisha covered in offerings, old stale candies and lots of nasty cockroaches and bugs. I immediately made him clean Elegua and disinfect the area. I was visiting Tim because he had had a series of mishaps and strange things happening, now you can see that Mr. Personality was upset and trying to get attention. A long conversation with Tim followed; I then discovered that he wanted to get rid of his orishas. I was shocked that he would consider that step after spending so much money on the initiations and being in such a hurry to get all of them. But in reality his reasons to return the orisha were very childish. Therefore, I advised him to simply take them back to our godfather and not throw them away. He followed my advice.

Less than a week later Tim had a terribly car accident after blacking out from a diabetic seizure and nearly lost his life in the process. The accident happened at a crossroads a block away from his home. I guess Mr. Personality was not very happy to have been returned in such haste.

Tim´s life was never the same after returning his orishas. Years later, I was already an olosha and he came to me wanting to receive the elekes again. I consulted with Yemaya, my head orisha and she blessed him with a second chance by allowing him to enter the ilé with an eye ife. Yemayá wanted to save him from what was coming: Ikú. I did all I could for Tim, from taking him to Ifá to doing very strong ebbós with my babá Iwori Oddí who warned him of impeding death. Tim had a bypass surgery and he came out well from it, however, his desire to live had dwindled and he did not follow up with the medical and spiritual advice that he had received. He died 48 hours after the surgery. I miss my godson and friend with all my heart for he was a kind human being, filled with complexities and a very talented astrologer.

Getting rid of the orishas is not a decision to be made lightly, having the blessing to come back to them and not heed their warnings is even worse.

There is another case I know of first hand. A lady was referred to me seeking immediate advice on what to do to turn her life around. She had received elekes, warriors and Olokun and after getting a reading with a self-righteous and meddlesome Tarot card reader she decided to get rid of them because the card reader convinced her that the orishas were ´evil.´ The card reader’s advise was to ´throw the orishas down the river.´ The nerve! So the woman who was not doing well to begin with made the huge mistake to follow the card reader’s advice. Her life went to hell in a hand basket and now she is in the process of sorting it out with the help of an experienced awó Ifá I recommended as they live in the same area and I don’t believe in long-distance readings.

If you are considering taking an initiation, do yourself a favor and think about it carefully as it is time consuming, costly and it means a lot to commit to a godparent, an ilé and mainly to the orishas to then decide years or months later to get rid of it all.

For those who have taken the step of doing kariosha (ceremony to become an olosha or priest in Santaria) I have news for you; there is no way of getting rid of the orisha once it is seated on your head. You can do as many ceremonies as you want, you can renounce the orishas until you are blue on the face, you can do a hunger strike, you can do as you please, but the orisha will be sealed inside your skull until you take your last breath and itutu follows.

What happens if you are an olosha and you get rid of your orishas? I would tell you to ask La Lupe, but she is long gone to live at the foot of the Egun. La Lupe was an extraordinary Cuban singer from the 1950s, she was also a devout Santera crowned Oshun. Her life was marked with fame as she was admired and followed by renowned people like Ernest Hemingway, Jean Paul Sartre and even Marlon Brando. Her career took a turn for the worse in the late 1970s when Fania Records dropped her after her performances became unstable, some say due to drug issues. The orishas and drugs are like a powder keg and a lit match. Those of you who are serious about the orishas know for a fact they do not mix with the underworld of drugs or of shady lifestyles and eventually they will punish those who transgress and not heed their advice. La Lupe injured her spine in 1984 after taking a fall while hanging curtains in her home, she was ‘healed’ during an Evangelical Crusade and became a born again Christian getting rid of her orishas in the process. She died in 1992 from a heart attack at the age of 52. Hmmm…Oshun rules over the blood stream and all things related to affairs of the heart… I guess La Yiyiyi broke her Yeye’s heart and perhaps, Oshun in turn, had La Lupe’s heart in exchange.

Are these stories examples of how the orisha can be slow to punish but crushing in their efforts? Are our orishas vengeful orisha or are these simply coincidences? I for once not going to be one to tempt fate and get rid of my orishas, only death can break this bond and ‘spiritual contract’ I have freely and lovingly accepted.

However, not all live in spiritual bliss with their chosen paths like I do, so if you are considering a drastic break, please do yourself a favor and take proper steps. Go to a competent oriaté and get a diloggún reading or go to an awó Ifá and get a consultation with Orunmila, but most of all do the ebbós marked, find ways to mitigate issues if you are wanting to get rid of your orishas due to clashes with godparents or other issues that may be fixable.

The orisha will bless you if you give them a chance and follow advice, otherwise you may find yourself facing a long road to heartache and loss. In any case it is your decision to make, may you always have the serenity of mind to make the right choices for your growth and the development of good character.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

About Omimelli

I am a Olosha or Santera and for years I have been at the service of the Orisha and the community. I am initiated to Yemayá and my father in osha is Aganjú. I am also an initiate of Palo Mayombe and hold the title of Yaya Nkisi. As part of my daily devotional I spend time at my bóveda and work with my spirits on regular basis.
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212 Responses to Leaving Santeria? Don’t throw your Orishas down the river…

  1. T'Mara says:

    These statues and beads are only symbols, projected focal points for the devotees OWN power. They do not have power in and of themselves. It is your intent and strength that you work with. It is safe to dispose of, give away etc ANY material possession you own. You have power over these objects, they do not have power over you. Thinking that disposing of them will cause you bad luck is superstition. You will look for things to label bad luck and ascribe this reason to it. True spiritual power is from the mind and the intent of the individual. To the woman who said all her husbands bad luck came from getting rid of these things, I ‘d ask her to look deeper and see what the REAL reasons were behind his issues. To the woman whose grandmothers beads are causing her mother concern, I would say respect your mother and dispose of the beads. Idol worship and superstition do not empower you. And do not control you.

  2. Vic says:

    Hello omimelli, this really gave me insight on a lot. I’m a new initiate and I love the religion. Some people will never understand as to why but we know the true meaning. I wish to be in contact with you. For advice, questions, & concerns I want to be at my best and fulfill my destiny to be spiritually connected with the Orishas. Thank you so much. please get back to me at the email. Blessings to you.

  3. Mc says:

    I think the example of LA Lupe may not be.the best..She was truly healed in another religion. The simple fact she died young..just means she went to another place and was spiritually elevated..sooner than most.Being in Ocha ..she had a horrible downfall before she found peace in another religion.Testimonies show she found peace in Christianity..something she never did in Ocha.

  4. I think Santeria is a spiritual lifestyle and path, and it is more than just beads and statues. They aren’t just statues/beads they are vessels for the spirits energy to be directed into. Any spirit is very powerful and influential in a life. Especially after a oath, or a initiation has happened to connect the individual to the house and to the spirits of Santeria or what have you.

    You don’t have POWER over the objects after they have been empowered with the energy of a spirit, that spirit has the power over that object and influences your life. And helps you on your journey.

  5. Jordan B says:

    To Omimelli and all other posters:
    About the fate of God child and
    A few other personal things to share….to vent:

    I Just want to say that first off, i truly respect this religion (some say ancient Yoruba people didn’t consider it religion, but a way of Life because African people couldn’t even imagine being inseperable from nature forces…we are the ones who religiousize d it .Not saying it’s a bad thing though because we are in the western world now.. So that’s just the circumstances.

    My connection to It:

    I VERY HIGHLY respect Ifa, Lucumi, Santeria…and especially Elegua.
    I was a part of a house about 13 years ago, and received elekes and although i at first liked my god mother and god father and god children.
    I started noticing shady motives and unfairness etc, and i, as well as other god children eventually left at different times.
    Ironic about your post, is that as a couple of years passed and i didn’t know what to do about elekes, i did return them to the river, off of instinct, and from no ones advice.
    I did it out of respect with a prayer and told them , i am without a god mother now and the path didn’t work out so im returning you to the elements of nature.

    I didn’t have any evil calamities or such happen to me . But for years i dealt with my own darkness unresolved from childhood pain afflicting me, and definitely from parental Dna influences (their unresolved issues which i cleansed spiritually ) also from a few readers it was agreed that i been hexed once badly by a woman ( keep in mind this is before i became a part of house)
    Also supposedly, one other time i discovered many years late r from a palero something else about a evil put on me by use of a grave yard spirit to drive me mad to death eventually.
    This is a mystery, but truth is when i was younger i use to be a bragger , kind of arrogant and made people instantly jealous soon as i talked for one minute.
    Being born with spiritual power (and according to my God parents reading) being a child of Elegua, i was being reckless and abusing of my power, so had to pay for it many years later, with harsh trials from my own self inflicted psychological hells.. And unresolved pain from childhood .
    However despite that, my Luck, and very strong guidance and protection still remained always kicking in at the right time to this day (that is something i was born with, from my Ori, ancestor blessing, and certain guides)
    I don’t want to make it sound completely dark and gloomy because i truly appreciate my blessed luck and spiritual power (ability to see interdimensionally in the most shocking ways
    With countless stories to prove we are living in a dream realm, like the shamans always said)

    To the.point:

    Not to drift to far off the point, but what i want to say is that there is no proof that the Orishas punished me in my dark times of life.
    Being extremely perceptive, and intelligent i could trace back all my sources of pain to me! And DEFINITELY from Dna memory from parents (which i cleansed)
    The average person walking so unconscious can’t !
    Everyone claims, oh it was the devil that punished me, god, Chango that is punishing me, oh Elegua is tricking me/punishing me (

    (Lmao, speaking of Elegua, in my experience with working with Elegua i don’t see him as a trickster at
    But the most fun, interesting, Loving companion , and very wise but ironically a joking child..PEOPLE TRICK THEMSELVES! He just shows you what was the hidden agenda behind your fake claim of righteousness!
    Then him being merciful, will still give you an opportunity to clean up your act by learning from your mistake)
    So, for
    The example of your God child hopping all around with different spiritual endeavors . it was him that was bringing in too much energies around him.
    For anyone this can start to break down your body , mind and of course in the form of externalization of bad luck ,, bringing in too many spirits!
    Where is the proof that the Orishas brought him death???
    Just because the reading said Iku was approaching him?

    I do think Orishas can punish, but i doubt if any babalo, or santero can give any proof ever that they killed a person.
    Orishas are the externalized representation of primal energies connected to you.
    They are actually a part of our bodies that take a seperate very high conscious form.
    (similarly as we have a Ego, higher self and physical body that acts on their own but still all you)
    And indeed like over drinking, a overdose on cocaine etc or even good herbs for the body can be abusive to the point of your demise.
    So taking this analogy/ perspective in my opinion is more wise.

    I don’t know your full background etc, and don’t deny you are knowledgeable (maybe very)
    But i think that putting out this type of info in generalized way like this is a bit reckless.
    Its the same fearmongering that a lot of spiritual systems use like Christians with hell
    How about a thousand people that said they did leave after they were crowned or threw orishas in the river or gave to the earth and their lives remained normal , flourished etc??
    Ive read testimonies of people leaving even after crowned and are Christians or of another faith and are fine.

    Where i stand now, with Orishas:

    As for me i have a, pocket elegua that has become like a dear friend to me ,.
    Also, i set him on the dresser with toys , rum and candy like a received one. and i can tell you some MIND BLOWING stories on how powerful he has become, and what he shows me..i could bet just as powerful ly charged or more than a received /prepared one.

    There are things i won’t DARE SAY if i was in a spiritual house (ile)
    Itll be too much Jealousy, maybe even from God parent themself!
    Like “What, he does these things for you??!”

    Bottom line, conclusion, i told the ancestors and my dear Elegua, i love you guys but going to take a break from Shamanic world to half (50% less)
    Im going to be tuning more into my body with yoga, nutrition, fitness, hobbies, maybe entertaining a new soul mate :-)
    Down to earth for a minute.

    After a journey of a lot of emotional pain and strife, being stuck in my head,
    I made a 100% commitment to Loving and healing myself. I can finally look in the mirror eye to eye and say “I
    “I Love myself.”
    Well at least to a very higher degree.
    And im proud of that accomplishment. Because truthfully most people in the world , even Stars or people with titles of Success can’t say.

    As for my pocket elegua i debate on giving him back to the priest of Obatala
    I got him from. And just work with.him. At crossroads, parks, playground etc

    Only because after all that i been through, i now need to work with mainly my Ori. And my own self love.
    And because i feel i should calm down on strengthening of Elegua with out higher guidance from a god parent or commitment.
    I don’t feel it would be any bad thing but don’t know the repercus sions if you stop feeding him for a while.
    Im just using wisdom/precaution.
    i kind of feel since i didn’t recieve him personally that it won’t be a big deal.

    Every human being has a right to know himself more.
    So many people in the religion forget or ignore your Ori is considered higher then all Orisha
    (Oludamare, then Ori, then Ancestors, then comes Orisha respectively!
    Im a Aleyo, and hold this as common sense, but with delusion we all sometimes forget,
    And ask orishas for too much of what we supposed to sort out for ourselves)
    I NEVER EVER want to be like one of those people over-relying on saints for everything.
    Casting shells for every answer to my life.

    I will always leave some kind of offering out of respect ESPECIALLY for Elegua, my belovit gorgeous Ochun and Yemaya.

    Something to consider:

    I bet you ironically if you research a aleyo that gives his heart in a offering to a Orisha twice a year may get a far more powerful response than someone who projects too much of their life force into the religion.
    Ive seen santero, palero, initiate s etc with a gloom on their faces with a look like they almost bored with their way of life, and a look of strife .

    A house for me in the Future:

    As far as me finding a house, that may not be for
    A very long time…or ever.
    I know the religion definitely is a community thing ideally, but its a rock and a hard place with the petty jealousy, swindlers, selfish god parents etc…..its sad to mess up such a beautiful way of life, and the reputation is getting worse…smh

    Just wanted to.share my opinion on being more discerning of generalizing the fate of everyone the same in the religion, because the unfortunate fate of your godchild doesn’t mean its the same for everyone .
    And also to share my own reflections on my spiritual journeys related to ifa /santeria etc.

    Take care,
    Thanks for reading!

    • ASV says:

      Hi Jordan B.
      I just wanted to say that I agree with your opinion on being more discerning of generalizing the fate of everyone in the religion. I have to say that I found myself agreeing with mostly everything you said in respect to Santeria. As far as my involvement in Santeria, I was initiated and given elekes a few years ago by my cousin who was godmother. However, if I’m not mistaken after a certain ‘palo initiation ceremony’ I woke up early in the morning around 3am only to hear a flood of distorted voices in a language I have never heard before. I don’t know how to explain it really. It freaked me out so much that I guess you can say I chickened out and decided to altogether leave the religion. The very next day I found myself at my local Catholic church confessing what had happened the night before. I also ended up giving away my elekes to my dad and he threw them out. To this day, I still have respect for the Santeria religion because I know I witnessed some unexplainable things happen.

  6. CJ says:

    my husband in a new initiateI did not know how much he was involved. He is very sick now and I want him to get care elsewhere. Can his saints travel ( we have 2 homes) or do they have to stay in one place.

  7. mc says:

    Yes u can travel with your otanes and warriors.Bundle up Eshu and only bring otanes of Ogun with a few of his tools.
    @Jordan.yes I’ve experienced such horrible evil in this religion. .ocha,Ifa ..and of course been victimized by the evil sister Congo religion of Palo.They all can inflict horrible physical ,mental and emotional damage . unfortunately the religions are done in such way that the person initiating you has great power and control over you. Only if one s destiny is to be a priest in the religion and their road is blocked if they not follow it..should one enter it.IMO from experience. Although I’ve never felt malevolence from Orunmila or the Orisha. ..the religion gives those who initiate far too much power through witchraft over their Godchildren.

  8. mc says:

    If your Husband is I’ll . definitely see a competent Babalawo. .ifa knows what is necessary.

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