There are many rules in Santería, some are respected by traditional houses or ilés, and some are simply ignored by those who are fond of bending rules. Spiritual incest is a subject that merits careful consideration because it is taboo for a good reason. There are different kinds of spiritual incest the one perpetrated when godparents take on the role of god parenting their own lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses, and then, there is the case of siblings who are in the same household but involved.
Let’s start with the godparent/godchild relationship. A godparent is absolutely not allowed to initiate his/her significant other, be it giving elekes, warriors or any other simpler or more involved ceremony. If a person has any inkling towards a possible godson or goddaughter the best thing is to come out clean and reject the possibility of a religious relationship all together because life has mysterious ways of testing people’s resolve and destiny.
People who are sexually attracted, involved or romantically involved are strictly forbidden to enter into a godparent/godchild bond because of energetic reasons and reasons that extend beyond that such as placing one partner in a dominance status while the other one remains spiritually (and voluntarily) subservient.
There are taboos that forbid couples from handling each other’s orishas, feeding each other’s orís, and in general having to do anything with the orishas from his/her partner or significant other. We could elaborate on fine points about this rule but they will not change the fact that people who bend this rule commit spiritual incest.
What to do if a godparent realizes that for example having given elekes to a godchild there is an attraction that develops between them? The proper thing to do would be to consult an elder who can break off the elekes, clean up the slate and refer that that person for re-initiation into another house, one not related to the same lineage.
This of course is a hypothetical that can get much complicated. What if a person falls in love with his/her godson/daughter after having done Kariosha to that person? This is a moral issue that boils down to a choice, a godparent cannot be the spouse or significant other of his/her very own godson/daughter. A forceful rupture in the godparent/god child relationship is on order but even that will not release that couple to pursuit a normal relationship because the bond between their orisha will only be broken upon death. This is a no win situation for either partner and it is why careful consideration must be taken before entering a godparent/god child relationship.
The second case of spiritual incest happens when siblings from the same ilé get involved or when a couple enters an ilé already as a couple. Couples do better when represented by different sets of godparents (main godparent and oyugbonakán) because it provides for impartial and fair treatment for god children. Say for example that a couple has marital issues and they need counseling. Who to turn to? Can you be sure that the godparent will not take sides and represent both godchildren with equal zeal? What if there is a war between the couple and the godparent needs to intervene? Who to favor? What if disciplinary actions need to be taken for any number of reasons? Would one of the spouses resent the disciplinary action taken towards his/her significant other?
As you can see, sharing godparents is like taking a picnic in a mine field, you never know where you are going to step onto a trap/situation and blam!
In my case, both my husband and I started in the same ilé under the same godparent. However, careful consideration and observation made us realize that only one of us could only do kariosha under Omí Oké, and that was me. My husband took a very difficult choice and left the house, under no small amount of protest, to become part of a different ilé, even if we are both part of the Pimienta lineage we are children of different godparents.
If you are looking to initiate with your significant other in the same house, my humble advice is to reconsider the choice and to be open to find another elder, if you wish it can be within the same lineage, but do not close yourself to the opportunity of having not only a set of godparents, but also godparents who will become hopefully confidants and mentors in every sense of the word without having to be concerned with stepping on the toes of your significant other.
These are my two cents on Spiritual Incest, your turn.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá