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.

Omimelli
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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204 Responses to Leaving Santeria? Don’t throw your Orishas down the river…

  1. Paul says:

    About La Lupe.

    After reading your post I decided to research what happened to her that would make her take such a drastic step. And I wonder why Oshun did not help her find another path, another house.

    She was victimized by the santeros and used in a way that was vile and ugly and shameful.

    I am a faithful practicioner of Lucumi and I am grateful that for whatever reason my fathers Eleggua and Orula directed me to the right House. Because my story could have been similar to hers.

    And this problem of cheats and con artists and users and abusers and imposters exists in every religion and any institution because people are human and most humans are not good.

    La lupe was so used that now I look at it the way she did and based on that I support her decision. And I feel she should have been forgiven too.

    Unlike the rumors, she was not a drunk or a drug user. It does appear that she may have been too naive about the religion, to generous to her entourage of mainly santeros who used her position to take from her without restraint. And it also appears that she may have also suffered from some type of mental disorder that made her prone to bad spiritual attachments. She was calling all kinds of spirits. She was lost, misguided and used.

    And for all that she suffered she must have (as anyone in her situation) blamed the religion. And in that case I understand her choice to cease and desist.

    There are punishments for doing such things. It’s like obtaining a driver’s license to drive based on the rules of the State. You take that driving license and decide to break the laws of the road. You get punished for that. Entering the spiritual whelm is like that, you sign an oath to keep to your spiritual engagements, to be good, to stay blessed.

    I love this religion with all my heart. There are times that I make bad personal decisions that I knew were wrong but did anyways. And I expect the Orishas to fix them for me. And I get mad at them for not fixing it. And I break from them for a while. And bad turns to worse. Not because they are hurting me but because I myself keep digging a hole. So they stand back and let me have my way.

    Sometimes we all get tired and hesitant and doubtful. Whatever you engage yourself to do, think it through carefully. Is it right for you? Can you keep this commitment? You are signing a spiritually legal document. Think it through.

    I am happy and my life is great. I don’t feel at all that the Orishas impose on me. They have but one request: be happy, do the right thing, consult in us whenever you’re in doubt, we’ll stand with you whenever you’re right, just remember us now and then.

    My family, dog, friends, employment, the State, impose more on me than the Orisha’s ever could. Yet why do we find it so difficult to invite the Orishas into our lives? They are honestly the least of person’s imposition!

    Is it that hard for us humans to be good and to choose to be happy? Is it that we want them to fix all the mess we created for ourselves?

    Anyhow, I wish La Lupe could have been forgiven for all that happened to her. They were not all her fault. She was seriously mislead.

    You are wrong to make her story a cautionary tale about religion. This is more to do with bad lifestyle choices. She surrounded herself with the wrong people who used the religion to misguide her.

    I feel awful that you have this posted here, after reading more accurate details of her life.

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