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