How to Select Outstanding Godparents

Godparents are not disposable items.

There is no perfect way to select godparents when entering any African Traditional Religion. But I am a keen observer, a student of the University of Hard Knocks, and, since the idea of this blog is to share lessons learned from all sort of spiritual practices, here are my two cents on how to select outstanding godparents.

When a religion become a commodity, the truly devoted tend to suffer. I have seen over and over again how people that come with a true calling to be part of the Orisha community are let down by unscrupulous iyaloshas and babaloshas (mothers and fathers of the orisha). Neophytes are rushed through stages, intimidated and even coerced to receive initiations that can simply wait, because everything, everything is a process.

Long time ago, I took the time to type some of this material on an e-mail for a person looking for an Ilé Orisha (House of Orisha). Ever since, when someone approaches me for information on initiation, I dust my old e-mail and press foward.

What is a godparent and why do we need one? A godparent is an olosha (initiated priest/ess of the orisha) who has the attitude and maturity to teach an aborisha (outsider) how to worship the orishas. The godparent is there to protect and guide you, but above all, to keep the traditions alive and hand them over as intact as possible.

Not every olosha makes a good godparent. Being initiated does not mean that one must hurry and reproduce mindlessly. Quite the contrary, it means that there is a duty to learn to keep the rules and traditions, mature and allow the energies of the orisha that was lodged in that person’s head to settle. Perhaps after ideally at least 5 years of active practice and training, and under the tulelage of his or her own godparents, should they consider having religious offsprings.

However, there seems to be a generalized belief that everyone is meant to be an initiator and that an olosha has to accept every John and Jane that comes to the Ilé in search or initiation. Big NO. If you see an olosha that has more godchildren than he or she can responsibly educate and raise, stop and think. Do you want to be one more in an osha initiation mill? Or do you want to have godparents who are willing to devotes time to train you and help you develop?

Here are some things you could consider as you evaluate who is to become your main godparent and the second godparent known as oyugbonakan.

Godparents should be:
1. A bonafide initiate with no less than five years of experience.
It usually takes time for an initiate to integrate the orisha energy with their own.   It takes a lifetime to learn the rest.  Ask who their godparents and oriate were and what is his or her relationshio with their elders.
2. Willing to be patient with you.
3. Willing to teach you what you need to know when you need to know.  In other words, a person who understands stages of spiritual development and does not keep you behind or willingly or puts the cart before the horses and overteaches you, thus heating your head and bringing you close to initiation before your time.
4. Respectful to his/her elders and to younger members of their own ile (house).
5. Stable both emotionally as well as economically (someone broke, needy or simply greedy might sucumb to the temptation of seing you as a meal ticket).  It is even better if the godparent-to-be holds a regular job and does not make a living off the religion.
6. Devoted to his/her orishas.
7. Kind to his/her family members (bloodline).
8. Honest enough to admit when he/she does not know something.
9. Resourceful enough to seek the right answers to your questions, preferably from his/her own elders.
10. A fair judge of character and a detached and respectful observant of individual situations.
11. Someone who adds a value to your life.
12. Upfront and steadfast about how things are done in the ilé.
13. Upholds the Otrisha traditions and does not have the tendency to invent and change the legacy that has been handed down from countless generations.
14. A tireless student of Orisha.
15. A person with Iwá Pelé (sound moral character).

I could keep going….but then you would be looking for Super Olosha.  However, it is prudent to pay attention to details. Is this person clean and organized? Do they keep their shrine in order? What sort of godchildren are members of the Ilé? Do you think you have other things in common with them other than religion? Is the ilé peaceful or is there constant gossips, strife and drama?

Finally, before you commit to selecting a godfather/godmother and an oyugbonakán, follow the rules, ask the head orisha of each of them if you are fit to be part of that household. You may like what you see, you may feel comfortable, but Orisha always knows best.

More on protocol on the selection of an ilé osha coming soon. In the meantime I leave those of you who are actively seeking an ilé osha with a few questions:

1. What has brought you to seek the Orisha? 
2. How long have you been interested in it? 
3. Why do you find it appealing? 
4. What Orisha do you identify the most with yourself? 
5. Are you willing to be disciplined and takes things step-by-step to learn? 
6. Are you willing to respect and follow spiritual elders while still keeping your own identity and communicate openly and respectfully with them?
 
Or course the answers are for you to keep… or share as you wish.

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.
This entry was posted in Ceremonial Magic, Magic, Santeria, Spiritism, Vodou, Wicca. Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to How to Select Outstanding Godparents

  1. TROISPAROLE says:

    Bendicion:

    The problem is the religion is becoming a bussiness, alot of godchildren are paying for their god parents to have a brand new home. A new car, for their children to go to private school, etc.. I remember seeing a Babalawao wearing two rolex watches and had on three 24k gold chains with orisha amulets.

    Now there is nothing wrong with getting paid for your ashe at all. As long as it is done within reason, not to the point the person have to be behind three months on rent or mortgage to do so. Or to use his/her grocery money to pay for over price service.

    Alot of Ile are not teaching anymore, I was fortunate enough to had been taught and to be in a ile that had ocha classes every weekend. When Obatala took me out of that house, I found no one else was doing this. Than some elders want to give fine to their godchildren from learning information some where else.

    I remember when this singer who is an Omo Oggun name Randall. Was telling me a story about his god mother who is Omo Oya. His godmother had a terrible dream about Randall, she called his friend and made him bring Randall to her house. When Randall got to his madrina house, his friend locked the door. And Randall was slapped with a guinea hen, a broom of herbs and two duck eggs. It was after the cleaning she told him what she had dreamed. Were are godparents like this?

    • Omimelli says:

      Santo,

      One of the reasons why you are not seing godparents teach as they should is because they are themselves not fit to teach. There is a lot of pressure on having people crown others in a hurry, often without being trained themselves.

      There are of course other factors such as fear. Godparents want to remain in control and want the godchildren to keep coming to them for ebbo, readings, advice.

      It is up to us, who have had the benefit of being properly reared up to put a stop to this non-sense. There are many ways to do this. Stop initiating folks who are not ready and have no true calling into the Orisha practices. Place stronger house rules and implement them. Demand godchildren to not only learn but go through tests to demonstrate knowledged.

      I could keep going, but ashe is distributed and I do want to hear other priests share their points of view.

      Omimelli

  2. Queen Iawia says:

    I have longed to study and come into the religion but don’t understand why it is so expensive. I refuse to give money to unscrupulous individuals. I am wise and refuse to be taken because I want to study. Therefore I am still waiting for the right Godparents to appear.

    • Omimelli says:

      Hello Queen Iawia,

      The religion does not have to be expensive, demand and greed make it so. I think you are thinking on the right track, do not be a hurry and work in the meantime with your spirits so they put someone in your path.

      Omimelli

  3. Omimelli says:

    Queen Iawia,

    Congratulations for having the patience to wait for the right people to guide you and for being wise about your money. One of the things I most appreciate about my adoptive godfather Yeguedé, is that he is very transparent with how funds are used during a ceremony. When I went through Yoko Osha or Kariosha (the priesthood initiation) I placed a large sum of money in the care of my godparents never to know exactly how it was used– those were other godparents and another house.

    I have no issues with that to this date because all ceremonies were performed correctly. However what could have I done if they would not have been done right? There is no Better Business Bureau for Santeros is there?

    If you want to learn, there are dues to be paid and they do not all come in the form of money. There is just so much you will learn from books, and to date, I have yet to see one that can truly translate what goes on 100%. Even if there was such a book, they would never be able to convey what goes on in the spirit realm, inside the iyawó and to also cover the feelings and perceptions of all people present in the room and working on periferal tasks as well.

    I commend you for wanting to learn why the initiation is expensive and I am willing to tackle the subject on a future blog, or, off-line. How funds are spent is a matter of accountability and does not belong hidden in the shadows. Every priest should be accountable for every cent they are given in trust.
    Omimelli
    Oní Yemayá Achagbá

  4. JAY says:

    BENDICION: THE OTHER DAY I WENT TO A REGISTRO, A SANTERA PERFORMED IT.I WAS TOLD THAT I NEED A CUMPLE DE MUERTO AND I WOULD HAVE TO BE SEEN BY A BABALAWO. I THEN MAY NEED A PERSONAL MISA. IS MY DEAD ANCESTOR FORBIDDING ME TO ENTER THE YORUBA RELIGION? DOES THIS USUALLY HAPPEN? WILL I BE ABLE TO RECIEVE MY COLLARES? PLEASE FAMILY I NEED FEEDBACK FROM ONE WHO KNOWS. ALAFIA

    • Omimelli says:

      Alafia Ni Jay,

      Olurun n’agbe o. Jay, in order to be able to make an informed commentary about the reading a olosha must have the oddu (if she uses the dilogun) that came out on the reading. However, since that is personal information, I would suggest you do not post it on an open forum such as this.

      If you are looking for a second opinion on the reading, normally it means to me that you were not clear on what was told to you or that you did not trust the advise given.

      In any case, if you want to talk about this privately send me a note on info@themysticcup.com

      Omimelli

  5. quauhtyollo says:

    Thank you soooo much for this…have been in the Ocha community since 1983 and indeed integrity continues to be lost while Ocha seems to become more commodified…often stuff is just plain crazy…no one held accountable…quite often one feels like they are on their own – and sadly they are.

    It feels like this is a time on Earth when we need to be able to turn to the Oracle and glean direction, on a cosmic level, for our lives and survival…otherwise what is the point? But there is so much turmoil and dissension in and between our communities…who is holding integrity? Who is holding the sacred.

    • Omimelli says:

      Quauhtyollo

      So long as we hold the sacred in our heart and practices, we are the keepers of tradition.

      I am glad you found the article useful.

      Omimelli

  6. wateriorn777 says:

    Omimelli, i would like to share a story with everyone on this subject if you dont mind :],, Okay i used to go to a Botánica and got real close to the people that worked there as so did my family. However, the owner and i had a strange relationship, i say this because i always had a feeling that she didn’t care to much of me. I would get a smile some-days but others i would say hello & the owner would just walk right pass me. I didn’t pay to much mind, since im the type of person that over-think things, i let it go. Now fast-forward a few months i was known as a regular, always shopping, going to party’s they would host, helping clean, and just simple things you should do when you are apart of a home. I had developed a trust, i would be able to go into rooms where others could not. However, i guess i thought wrong after many readings i began to see the business side of the religion, that everything is about money, i started to get told by the owner buy, buy, buy, buy and i was promised to be taking under the wing by the owner to learn. More months went by & I continue to buy only supplies that i need. Well never once the things promised to me brought up unless we were alone, the last day i ever went back i remember me going from work. i had a long day & did not eat since it is unprofessional in my field of work. I went to get a reading for some reason and had to wait about an hour for the owner to get there, at the time it was fine since i would get to speak with the other workers and joke around. Finally the owner arrived & so did food, which i was happy to see both, i stand close to the door and say “Bendicion” to the owner.. no reply, yet i grown used to that. Everyone started to get offered food, yet i dont. You could imagine how i felt like an outsider. I just thought to myself what would i do in a place where other people consider “devil worship” show the opposite of that, even to a second time comer i would offer a plate of food because you want people to feel welcomed. I remember a voice telling me “Enough leave already!” but i wanted to give the benefit of the doubt. So i got my reading done and it felt so half hearted, only lasted two minutes which included small talk by the owners part which i could already see through. In the reading the subject on money came up again, that i had to do something BIG a party of some-kind for myself, which was already discussed and never money brought up. In fact the last party hosted that ceremony was supposed to be done for me or so i was told by the owner months ago. The reading was over and so i left gave my Bendicion to the workers, that did not seem to know anything about what was going on. I just wanted to share this story with you guys, so that you can follow your instincts when your Orishas are letting you know someone is shady listen, in my case i had to experience this for a reason and was only told last minute because i believe it started to interfere my connection to my Orishas. If you come back from a Botánica feeling negative not positive i believe that’s clear enough. Well anyway i spoke enough sorry Omimelli, again hope you dont mind :]

    • Omimelli says:

      Hello Waterion777,

      I would have stopped going to the place long before you decided to leave. That is all I have to say.

      I hope you have found a better group of people to trust.

      Omimelli

  7. Eileen says:

    Alafia,

    If possible amd with respect to Omimelli I would like to leave my experience.

    I want to thank Omimelli for this article. I have been part of two houses of Santos. I obeyed and respected my Godparnets as any Godchild should. When I was accuse of things that I did not do and I was humilated in front of my Godbrothers and Godsisters I did not return to either house.

    I was trying to clear a situation, so I consulted with my Godfather’s Babalalow, since I was told that my eggun are controling me. I went with my Godsister, my Godfather’s favorite Godchild. The Babalalow informed both of us, that in fact I get accuse of things that I do not do, in fact, and one of my eggun was sent by Yemaya for my protection, and I MUST respect that Eggun. After that she accuse of me of the horrible things.

    I bought books, helpped with parties, set up for offerings, I even visited my Godmother’s Godfather when he was in the hospital.

    I questioned, “Why, Why, Why?”

    I was so upset that I left the religion and I even move out of State, thanks to Yemaya, it was a blessing.

    Although I still have my Elegua and wear my necklaces I know one day I will meet a Godparnet whom I can trust.

    I dedicated my life to Orisha and my Godparntets and I left the religion four years ago. This year I apologize to Elegua and began what I could of what I remembered. I wept I missed Orisha so much.

    For those of us who lose faith, Orisha does not change, and yes we must be careful of people who only think of the money. I still dream with Orisha and that’s how they care for me. They find a way to help thier children.

    Many blessings,

    Eileen

    • Omimelli says:

      Eileen,

      Thank you for visiting the blog and for sharing your experience. Your situation is not unique. I have met many people along the way who have yet to find a place they can truly call home. However, that said, it is very important that you continue to keep one thing very clear in your mind: The Orisha is the orisha, and us humans are simply that.

      It is very possible that the dynamics on both houses where not what you needed for your spiritual and character developement. Always remember, the life worth living is the one we examine, and examine often. Do not be leery of taking a good look to what happen in each household and break it down by event if needed. Figure out where you went wrong (trust me, we all err) and where others went wrong. Sometimes we do things that impact our perception on an ilé, sometimes we are envied. But what does not change is that we are not flawless. I always start by looking into what I could have done better, then look at my actions and the ripple effects those have around me.

      I am not saying you did things wrong, simply inviting you to seriously analyze your path and see what can be done better so you do not drag things from the past in what can be a positive future.

      There is no need to leave your religion. The orisha always gets who they want. Do you still want them?

      Odabo

      Omimelli

    • Wallie Henry says:

      My name is Wally , my head orisha is oshun. Now I dont know anyone who is into the religion faithfully and consistent . Obedient to the orishas. How do I find someone to be my god parents especially I need to do the practice the right way.

      • Omimelli says:

        Hello Wally,

        Thanks for visiting the blog and posting. It is not an easy task to find godparents. The first thing to consider is geographical distance. I see a lot of folks with ‘remote’ godparents and ‘virtual’ godparents. This in my opinion is less than fruitful. However, for some it is all they can have and they have to make it work.

        Where do you live? State? Country? Perhaps I can offer some suggestions.

        Omimelli

  8. Gina says:

    Omimelli,
    I have a godfather who I feel is not giving me the teachings I need. My spiritual readings with him now are very vague and short, he tends not to be able to read me anymore. Am I able to have a spiritual reading done by another Santero?

  9. Omimelli says:

    Gina

    Lets start with the basics.
    1. What is your level of initiation into Santeria? Godparents are responsible to teach up to the level of initiation that the godson or goddaughter has achieved. It is up to the godparent to advance the individual provided he or she has shown maturity and committment.
    2. How often are you getting readings done? Readings should be done for a particular reason and not just because it is fun to sit down and peer into the future.
    3. You can certainly have a reading with another santero, once you sit down and talk to your godparent and tell him or her how you feel and why. I would consider utterly out of line to go about getting another reading without asking for permission from your godparent.

    There are practical reasons to ask for permission. If something of importance comes out, who will do the ebbo? Who will protect you if you need further help? The new olosha? Does that mean you would break with your godparent?

    Think carefully and communicate with your elder expediently.

    Omimelli

  10. Asinabi says:

    “…it is very important that you continue to keep one thing very clear in your mind: The Orisha is the Orisha, and us humans are simply that.” <<< THIS !!

    It's very important to keep in mind that people can err on purpose or by mistake, but the Orisha always want the best for us. Potential godparents are, despite their years in Ocha, humans with their own issues, prejudices and flaws to that they are working through. The Orisha can only do so much, we have to meet them half way and do our part of the work of creating good charecter.If one feel that things are off in some way with a particular Ile or priest, you have every right to ask respectfully, about issues that concern you and get a sensible answer. No one should feel threatened or coerced to remain in a space or community where one cannot feel that they can trust their Elders and priests.It's ok to take your time choosing an ile and godparents as Omimelli said: "The Orisha always get who they want"

  11. celeste says:

    Hello ive been in the religion for about two years a child of oshun received my elekes, and thats about all. my godfather that gave them to me disappeared on me he was child of aganyu a babalow also and due to personal circumstances we lost contact, no hard feelings lost on my part. so recently i bumped into a woman who is a child of oggun it was very friendly between us so we exchange info it was hard getting a reading coordinated but we finally got around to it, i went to her house in jersey in which i live in ny with my son it was after her workday 8pm i traveled by train we did reading and everything went along it got late 1am i thought maybe she would say we can stay overnight and leave in the morning especially in my reading that she read stated i could not travel after 12am, but she really suggested we take the train 1am in morning i was tooken back and protested so she finally decided to drive us home, she took the money i gave her for the reading and paid for the gas and now i have to give another $30 sounds normal but not when i suggested we do it in the morning or another time to prevent me from leaving late and now i have to give money i don’t have, anyway from that situation negative thoughts started to creep up in my head, mind you its only been days/weeks since iknown her and im already feeling some type of way NOT GOOD, anyway so now she is calling me her god child and im like no not so fast lol, i need to evaluate the situation more meet the people of her ile and see how they operate they call themselves the house of peppers, now she warned me that she can be demanding, controlling and impatient, and snappy but she stated she has a good heart, a good heart is fine but being a child of oshun i don’t take to well to unecessary attitudes, hissy fits, ego driven atmosperes, and snappyness it just would make me feel downright uncomfortable. she seems to know her stuff though and appear very strong, helpful knowledgable she made osha claim to be in the religion 12yrs and then later said 22yrs but nonetheless she has been crowned oggun. at the same time im concerned about our chemistry and how we will get along personally because i don’t do well with dictatorship. am i overreacting? are godparents supppose to be no nonsense type of attitude? am i being to sensitive? i really want to get on and get my warriors and crown my reading said i would have my own ile someday but i don’t want to do it while my journey is uncomfortable your advice would greatly help.

    odabo

    • Omimelli says:

      Celeste

      Do yourself a favor, re-read your post, list the negative attributes this person has, list the positive ones and if the positive outweighs the negative, then take more time to study her and the dynamics of her household. If the negative attributes outweigh the positive ones, then you know just what to do. Yeah, walk away and do not look back.

      No, godparents do not need to be overbearing and dominating, they need to be well balanced, kind and willing to share their knowledge. You don’t want a pushover godparent, but you don’t want an abusive one either. A godparent is the parent you have the luxury to select.

      Omimelli

  12. Irie says:

    Hi,

    I am actively pursuing the Orisha because I have felt drawn to them for some time now. I live in an area where you’d think one might have no difficulty finding godparents and a house to belong to, but that hasn’t been the case. I thought I was being led to a particular godparent when I found a local botanica shop. But every encounter has left me feeling disappointed, anxious, and downhearted. For starters, my very first reading ever did not address anything about me. The next time I went to the shop, I inquired about getting an Eleggua head for my home because I have an affinity for him, and was told I needed to go to a ceremony to receive him. At this ceremony, I would get elekes and the warriors all at once. I was quoted a price, which was way more than I knew I could get in the time frame I had to work with. I was told we would all go to Florida and the ceremony would be given by someone coming in from the Dominican Republic. This is all the information I got. I was excited about receiving these things, but what disturbed me was the lack of information: there was no divination done to say I was to receive these things; there was no information about what lineage I would be getting into; I didn’t know anything about the man from the shop such as his level of initiation or who his godparents were; and I sure didn’t know who the person was coming from the Dominican Republic. I might add also that there is no local house to my knowledge, so I don’t know where these people get together with others who practice. When I got home, I started reading things and feeling that something wasn’t right. I wanted to continue because this was the only place I’ve found locally and I really wanted to start my journey on this path.

    After a few weeks, I went back for supplies and asked questions. I kept getting reassurances that all was being done as was customary and not to worry. I still felt uneasy. What really threw me for a loop was that on my last visit there, when discussing the ceremony, it was told to me that I would also be “scratched”. I’m like whoaaa…this sounds like Palo. This was never mentioned before and now here it is. I’ve read enough to know that Santeria and Palo are two separate religions and also read that scratching isn’t done in Santeria to receive elekes and warriors.

    I left feeling as if I had been on a rollercoaster. I was so hoping that I had found godparents and a place to begin my journey with the Orisha. I told myself that I was just reading too much off the Internet, that every house is different, and I was just letting irrational doubts and fears interfere. I keep trying to convince myself that I should just continue with these people because I want it so bad…but then I get these feelings of things not being right.

    I would love to hear advice from those who have been in this position before. Am I over-thinking things too much? Do these things sound right or customary? I’ve heard that its ok to receive the elekes and warriors all at once and I’m ok with it, but would prefer to enter the path gradually and begin with the elekes. Plus I think it would be more financially possible to do it that way. Is there a mixing of traditions now where people are being scratched in Santeria to receive elekes and warriors? I was told getting scratched was “for my protection” and that “sometimes using the dark side was called for”- but isn’t receiving the elekes and warriors protection enough? And if there isn’t a local house, I would just be learning from this one person without benefit of a family of others on the path and this person isn’t exactly forthcoming with any information.

    My gut is telling me to not return to this place or get involved any further, but I feel there is nowhere else to turn. Then I asked someone online about this and was told that the Orisha “led me to this place and it would be rude of me to not continue there”. That statement made me feel even worse. If anyone has any advice or knows of any reputable houses in the Gulf Coast region (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida), PLEASE help me find them.

    Thanks in advance for any insight and advice given!

    • Omimelli says:

      Irie

      I believe that one should follow the inner voice that guide us through life. It is when we stop listening to that voice that we often times make huge mistakes.

      Today, I addressed a similar question on blog. This lady said she wanted to get the warriors. We may want many things in life, but not everything we want we need, or for that matter will suit or serve us well.

      You have indeed been led to the botanica to learn a lesson, count your blessings. Your lesson is to learn to listen to your own guiding voice. Whoever told you that you would be disrespectful for not continuing the involvment with the folks from the botanica is rather narrowminded. You are NOT being rude to the orisha, you are listening to your own ORI that seems to be telling you–STOP SOMETHING IS OFF HERE.

      By the way, there is absolutely no need to be getting cut in Palo and getting warriors and elekes all at once. Someone is really trying to make some money off of you, or at the very least to cheapen the cost of other folk’s initiations who are going along to ‘receive’ stuff on the same ceremony.

      I am not keen on mass ceremonies, I believe people need to have their own space and time for initiations. You have no need to fly anywhere to go and receive something from a person who you have not met ever or have a relationship based on respect as teacher/student.

      This situation is wrong on so many levels. My advice, walk away from it.

      Omimelli

      • Irie says:

        Thank you Omimelli for validating my feelings on this subject and for helping me to feel better about listening to my inner voice. The last thing I would ever want to do is to disrespect the Orisha. For now, I will continue to work with my ancestors and ask for their help in guiding me to reputable godparents. Thanks too for writing all these amazing blogs. I have learned so much from my limited time here and look forward to learning more. Many blessings!

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  16. Matt says:

    I have been looking for the right religion for a long time, and Lukumi and the Orishas really are the only one that have called to me so to speak. I love that in the religion you are hands on and you really connect to the Deities. I also love that divination and speaking with the Orishas is a major part. I want to learn the true traditions and how to truly honor and devote your life to The Orishas. I really feel I need them in my life to help me spiritually, which right now I am stuck. I want to make the commitments needed to honor them and make good character. Unfortunately I live in a small town so I know there are no houses in my town. I was wondering if you know any reputable houses around the Boston area of Massachusetts where I can get a reading done and maybe get to know so people if I’m welcome?

  17. John Garring says:

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