The orisha does discriminate and so must we!

One Elegua tells the other..."Let's add a little chaos into the registro to see if the diviner is awake!"
Years ago, I was at a Batá to Oyá and while she mounted my godfather and dispensed advice to those at the event I was pleasantly surprise to hear her assert her discriminatory powers upon those who are part of the ilé. I remember quite clearly that she said to the crowd, “In this household there is one door to come in and two doors to leave.” There was no question in my mind that she sets the rules as the head orisha of the house. She made it crystal clear; those who do not conform to the rules of the ilé can expediently leave. To come in the house, there is a filter, one door, to leave…don’t let the door slam on your rear end…whichever door you choose. If I was to further analyze the implications of her statement, one could say that even leaving a household has a procedure. Either we leave in disgrace or we exit properly and following procedures.

Procedures are precisely what will save us from making mistakes. I am glad to see that the first post strokes a nerve on many who were inspired to post a response. I will address some of the points made by readers on this second part, starting with divination and its role on the discriminatory process of initiation.

Divination is not an absolute

The role of divination in the process of admittance to an ilé is never an absolute; it should not be the only guiding principle or the litmus test to admittance. Here is why. Divination in itself is an act of selective discrimination on the sharing of knowledge applied to a situation through the energy of Oddu. Meaning, for divination to be effective, it must first encounter an imperfect filter, the diviner him or herself, who is only human after all.

The diviner must not only be well versed in the oddú and its meaning, but also learn how to discriminate what information to apply and share with the person seeking advice. Of course, I have seen very good diviners advising someone to make osha and giving them a step by step approach on what to do to prepare. I have however, seen with more frequency the Spiritual Terrorism approach to induction into the Santeria ranks. You will find more often those diviners who warn of tragedies, illness and chaos if the person does not run right away to make kariosha.

Argue what you may, but the word of the orisha is frequently distorted. There are many who make kariosha who had no business whatsoever coming to our ranks as priests and priestesses. They enter out of desperation and fear, not out of love of the religion, devotion and making an intelligent and conscious decision. Some barely know what Santeria is all about but they are strong armed by astute diviners who seek money, godchildren and status. They could have resolved their issues by addressing character flaws, health issues with a physician and yes, a lot of them by joining even a support group such as the Alcoholic Anonymous or even by going to a psychotherapist.

Just because someone has a path in Santeria, it does not mean that it is the best thing for them. Life has many ways of solving issues that not necessarily must lead to the biggest sacrifice we make as oloshas—to pledge our life to the orishas. Many problems have solutions that do not necessary lead to making kariosha to fix them; sometimes a lesser initiation will suffice. I have seen people turn their life around just by getting the elekes and that is all they needed to thrive. But no, the greedy Santero will press on to sell more, the members of the ilé will knowingly or not join in as a peer pressure group where folks compete for rank and status. You can hear people asking, “So when are you making osha?”, “What are you waiting for?”, “Have you started saving money yet?” Peer pressure is wrong; godparents should nip that in the bud, but knowingly or not encourage it, particularly in the Santeria mills.

To further drive the point on why divination is not an absolute, I will offer some examples of my own. I have had godchildren who received wonderful divination sessions where they were selected to make osha. However, the iré thus received turned into osogbo by not taking the preparatory steps to come to kariosha and by deviating from the rules of the house. The person was admitted by Yemayá, but his actions drove him further from his goal. Yes, he had a destiny as a priest, but he destroyed it by refusing to follow house rules and by not improving upon his character. Had this person abandoned his vices, cleaned up his act like Yemayá demanded and lived a life of order instead of chaos, he would have blossomed into a wonderful olosha.
When I speak about something, I do it from a point of view of experience, not just to spin my wheels and make people waste time. Those who have ears will listen. Those who want to mindlessly take divination as the only consideration of admittance to a house and to the ranks of oloshas, without using discriminatory judgment, will learn the hard way. Divination is not an absolute.

Now, don’t take me wrong, I am not disrespecting diviners and their role or minimizing their importance in the process of kariosha. I am simply saying that people need to consider things carefully. Ask yourself the following questions when seeking advice from a diviner:

1. How well do you know the diviner?
2. Is this person the head of an initiation mill?
3. What is the track record of the diviner in solving situations and issues without recommending kariosha as the ultimate ebbo?
4. Does the person recommend a step by step approach to improvement of character?
5. Does the person foster Spiritual Terrorism?
6. Is the diviner objective?
7. Does the person request input from iworo (brethren) during the reading?

Divination can be a double edge sword used to lock the energy pattern of oddú into a path of action in favor of the diviner. Say that you are dealing with a Santeria or Ifa Mill and the diviner wishes to bring more initiates to the ilé. This diviner can manipulate the results of the reading to his or her benefit. The oddú is a living force called upon to manifest by the priest. Once this force is set into motion and ebó is marked, it can lock someone into an unexpected path of action. The words of the priest are just as important as the oddú set in motion. The ashé that people have in their words is called ashé semilenú. Words have power. Thus, divination and the oddú itself is not an absolute, it is coupled by the intentions of the diviner and can be amplified or minimized depending on the skill of the diviner.

I am glad to see that the article touched a nerve, I fully expected it. I think I had Elegua really close to me as I wrote. He is an agent of change and thought and communications are the beginning of change. Yes, I am still going to address the issue of the Internet… I am not shying away from it. If you know me, shyness is not my thing.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

5 Replies to “The orisha does discriminate and so must we!”

  1. on that point, I had a woman who came for divination from me…she came with fear (some of that Spiritual Terrorism you describe). She had been told that she “HAD” to scratch herself in palo to avoid certain death within a month’s time. She had found out about me and was very worried and hurried. I performed divination and confirmed many aspects about her personality and life experiences (many related to the underworld of prostitution), but most importantly, confirmed that there was no such “need” for initiation in a religion that is not part of the Yoruban tradition (she was already a member of an “Ile” in NYC, but she had no trust in her godparents, the very same ones that were urging her to pay $2500 to scratch in Palo).

    Her Ebo? A Sarayeye at the foot of Eggun with an egg and to take it to the cemetery, light a candle, and speak with her Eggun there. That was it.

    In my experience as an Awo, I had not had ONE single person need to be “initiated” to close a reading. Only one reading I can think of seemed to indicate that Guerreros initiation was very beneficial to the person (all three signs and the marco spoke of it), and I relayed the message to the person, but finished with, “of course, this is completely up to you…they are not saying you will have negative consequences…they are saying they would be beneficial for you”, and proceeded to close the reading with a basic Adimu.

    I go in this order, most of the time: Soro (speaking to the Orisha), Suyere (singing to the Orisha), Adimu, Aladimu, Sarayeye, Ebo Misi, Ebo Chu Ere, Ebo Shire, Ebo Edun Kedun…around here, I ask if the Orisha requires unyen eyerbale (an animal sacrifice), and start from jio jio upwards to 4 leg animals (never had to do anything more serious than a Guinea Hen or a rooster for a client…but my little lovely Shango got uppity one day and ordered a ram a la carte!). From there on, if it doesn’t accept this, if the signs seen to be speaking a lot about the presence of Eggun Buruku, I ask if a paraldo is required and if not, as a last “obra”, I ask if an Ebo Apayeru Ate will do the trick (no blood sacrifice). If it says no, I ask if an Ebo Ate with a rooster to Eshu does the trick, and so on….ending with an Ebo on the IFA board directly from the Odu that was divined with exact ingredients listed.

    If it should not take any of this, ONLY then would I consider asking the Orisha if it is warning the person should receive some initial initiation (Elekes, Guerreros, etc.). I have NEVER gotten this far and only have had to do 2 Ebo on the IFA board and one paraldo for clients).

    For Ori, I generally go straight to Kofobori….starting with just coconut, then fruits, then animals, then fish (Babalawo only).

    For Ara, sarayeyes with simple things, Ebo Misi Misi (no eyerbale), Ebo Misi (with eyerbale), and finally, a paraldo or Ebo of the IFA Board.

    I follow that general guideline, and when stumped, I have a binder with lesser obras to mark…though I also guide myself from the obras listed on the signs or that I know from memory (example, Ojuani Shobe – rooster to Eshu at the front door of the house, or Kofobori if baba Eyiogbe, etc.).

  2. Excellent post. Even in the case of divination, it is only valid if the diviner is. People can say “this spirit or that said whatever” and it may be only their own ego speaking if their heart is not good, they are genuinely connected, and their head cool.

  3. Thank you for these two posts about ‘initiation mills’ and using discernment before granting initiations. You called it exactly what it is: GREED.

    I was one of those poor f*ckers who was terrorized into osha. I was a hoodoo practitioner who had been studying santeria for a year or two, but had no access to real godparents or an ile. My knowledge was limited to books I had read (Migene Gonzalez-Whippler, enough said).

    A series of very painful misfortunes drove me to an unscrupulous babalao who used Ifa to tell me that ‘you have to make osha as quickly as possible to save your life’. I received elekes, warriors, and osha within 6 months. The osha was done correctly by some very kind and sincere people, but the babalao didn’t even provide the herramientas or soperos to be washed with my otanes. He said he would give them to me when I got home, but he never did and we parted ways.

    So yeah that babalao was an asshole and a fraud. Not to blame the victim, but I was also too trusting and naive. And yes I learned a very hard and painful lesson about giving away your power to people and being too quick to trust others. But when things were done under duress and through terror, you don’t exactly have a cool head to evaluate and make good decisions.

    You are right to label it spiritual rape! It has taken me 15 years to be able to even pray to Oshun. If I had encountered a caring and honest person to take me under their wings (as you have mostly described in your posts), and plenty of time to grow and mature, things might have turned out differently. More than likely my problems would have sorted themselves out without any initiations. Maybe I would have gone on to receive osha with a clear head and proper motivation in my heart. Maybe I could have been a great olorisha.

    So your comments may piss people off, or raise eyebrows, but your words are true and need to be said.

    More than likely I am one of those people you talk about who have no business making osha or getting into santeria. Yet here I am. Once an olorisha, always an olorisha as you said in a previous posting. I have enough respect for the religion that I would never try to do any rituals or pretend to be something I am not, just as I would not try to go into a catholic church and do baptisms and masses just because I was ordained as a priest in name only.

    Why did the orishas choose me for that experience? Why did they allow the initiation to go forward knowing that things weren’t right, and that things were being done under false pretenses?

    I am left with questions and no answers.

    1. Lost Child of Oshun

      I can start my response with more questions. Why would the Orishas protect Fidel Castro or Chavez in Venezuela? Why would Orishas seem to protect drug dealers through unscrupulous oloshas and balalawos who do anything for money?

      I wish I could provide you answers, for those same questions plague me as well, but I still hold on to my what I know is right and just get it done, one day at a time. Know that religions (no matter which) will have bad apples and abusers and cheats. We should not point fingers at God, we should point them at ourselves first. The reality is that what happens to us, most times is because we allow it to happen. I think we are often times too quick to look for a source to blame our troubles when most are of our own making.

      There is something I want to share with you. I feel as though you have a sense of lack of worth because you have gone through a lot. You feel you could have been a great olosha. If you want to be great, nothing stops you. Be all you can be, study hard, fill in the gaps and bloom under the care of that new family that has taken you under their protection. The key here is to forgive yourself for having been naive and forgive that person that did you wrong. Leave it to Oshun and to the orishas, they will sort it out.

      Find your calling inside of the ilé where you are now. We all have something valuable, rare and special to contribute in our communities. Perhaps, yours is your hard experience. Maybe now you are able to share that and help others avoid heartache and frustration. Find your calling, your voice and make them count.

      Oshun kids have inner beauty and strength, I should know…my head may belong to Yemayá but I am shared equally by Oshun. keep that chin up and don’t let the pain of the past taint your present or your future.


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