Dating is a natural process of discovery which in the case of people who do not share a same faith can become even more interesting and pose additional challenges and opportunities. Take for example the fact that not everyone has the verbal grace to explain a religious system where animal sacrifice is a fundamental need at one time or another. To that add the fact that there are no fixed Sunday services where your to invite your parents to share with your intended, and that at some time or another your date may need to dress in white and wear a bunch of beads around his or her neck making it impossible to stand inconspicuously in a crowd.
So what are the things that a non-Santería believer should consider when dating a santero(a)?
1. R E S P E C T. There is no sweeter word than respect when a couple is starting out, in the middle off or about to finish a relationship. If you do not share the same faith, do not try to proselytize, criticize or talk them out of it, it will eventually backfire on you.
2. T O L E R A N C E. This reinforces respect. Understand that there are events that will be closed to you and that your partner may have to devote a full day or more of backbreaking work when he or she is ‘lifted’ (invited) to initiations. Do not hound the person with cell phone calls or text messages if you do not hear from them. Religious events should not include a person with a mobile phone glue to their face.
3. C O U R T E S Y. If you are invited to attend a religious open ceremony make every possible effort to inform yourself about the protocol to observe, what sort of clothes area appropriate and what you need to bring if anything. If you go to a batá review the article on this blog on the rules of behavior so you make sure not to embarrass yourself or your partner. http://blog.themysticcup.com/santeria/santeria-etiquette-101-attending-tambor-de-fundamento-wemilere
4. S P I R I T U A L H Y G E N E. Santeros must strive to balance forces in their lives, mainly of heat and coolness. These forces can be manifested in many ways, but mainly we achieve balance through a regimented system of adimús, ebbós, kaworí eledás, ebbó misís and so on, all of these lead the olosha to remain tutu or fresh. If your life is disorganized, filled with turmoil and does not include any sort of spiritual regime, that state of unbalance will impact your partner’s efforts. Likewise, an olosha with a clean life should help to stabilize a willing partner.
5. S E X. Know that the body of an olosha is imbued with ashé, it flows through our veins and it is present in every bodily secretion. To take this ashé into your body in any way also brings you closer to his or her orisha. Know that this may in due time provide an incentive to the orisha to claim a stake in your life in one way or another.
Of course, there is much more to dating an olosha, this post is meant to be a thought starter and to highlight some fundamental aspects to ease communications. Still there is much more to be considered when opening up your life to an olosha, and those include that a practitioner of an African Traditional Religion has a different perception of the material and spiritual world, of the interaction between creator and creation, of the role of ancestors in daily spiritual practices, and of course, there are differences in culture and language depending what your background is.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá