It has been about two months since Diana Rosado contacted me on email wanting advice. I am overly cautious to learn slowly the facts before sharing advice with a person or even recommending their case to a fellow orisha practitioner near the individual seeking assistance.
First, I want to make sure there is a real spiritual need. Second, it is important to match properly the level of skill of the olosha to be recommended to the needs of the person seeking help. If possible, I do try to find people whose temperaments are suitable to provide assistance to someone who has faced abuse. Dealing with someone who is hurt, whose faith has been shattered and trust violated, requires kindness, knowledge and a great deal of patience and empathy.
Maybe some would consider this too much caution, but when someone has been victimized, the least they need is to place their shattered faith and their mounting problems they face, in the hands of someone who can’t lead them to a proper solution.
In a nutshell, Diana made a few errors in judgment which lead her to trust an alleged Palera and Santera. I have no way to validate the initiation of the person who conned Diana. However, I can say that from Diana’s emails, the woman describes herself as gay and Palera. There lays the first warning bell for me, as no legitimate Palo house would initiate a gay woman or man. If you want to read more about that subject go to the area which highlights Palo articles, as this in itself is a complex and controversial subject.
The second warning sign I want you to pay attention as you read Diana’s story is about the ‘initiations’ and the constant feeding scheme the alleged Santera devised to conn money out of Diana. The third item of interest is the modality this person wanted to establish of having Diana pay ‘rent’ or ‘upkeep’
I do have photos of the person who allegedly extorted money out of Diana as well as documents (bills) the woman sent charging for payments to ‘feed’ her orisha. However, I have agreed with Diana to simply present her side of the story as a warning for others and not to make an accusation through the blog using names and evidence. If Diana wishes to place a claim, she can certainly do so through a Small Claims Court, she is in her right to do so.
This in itself should serve as a warning to those who may be out there abusing others and defrauding them of their hard earn cash, as they are legally responsible and can face the law for their actions.
Her story is still unfolding and hopefully it will have a good end as she now is being properly advised by an obá oriaté of solid reputation and experience.
Having made these observations, I leave you to her story:
“I write this story with the hope that my experience will prevent another person from making the same mistakes.
Four years ago I was having problems with my daughter. There was a lot of discord between my daughter and my husband. We had decided to let our daughter live rent free in our house in Orlando, Florida. She was struggling working part time and going to school part time and unable to keep up with rent and utilities on her apartment. In return, we wanted her to finish school and only pay her utilities and the property taxes on the house.
We added her to the deed so she could get homestead on the house’s property taxes. These taxes are due once a year and the homestead gave her a break on the amount of taxes charged on the house.
It all started out well. However, she soon quit working and was not maintaining the property as we had done. My daughter wasn’t taking care of the pool properly or keeping the grass mowed. The inside the house was no better than the outside. It was like she didn’t care about anything. This was the source of all disagreements between us and I became desperate about this situation.
I found myself seeking guidance from someone with a spiritual background. I found someone who claimed she was an active participant in the Palo and Santeria religion. She convinced me that she would be able to help me with my problems and I agreed to let her help me.
Soon I found myself receiving Warriors and Yemayá. My daughter also ended up with the same (Warriors and Yemayá) and also ‘received’ a Gitana.
Keep in mind that no ceremony was performed prior to us receiving the Warriors and Yemayá and my daughter’s Gitana. This should have been my first clue that something was not correct.
My first major mistake for not researching the person (who also happens to be gay and supposedly practices Palo) and what to expect before receiving the Warriors and Yemayá. The funny thing is a part of me felt uncomfortable but I thought I had found someone to help me.
My second error was not listening to my instincts. At first she was very understanding and comforting, but things changed. I could not keep my Warriors and Yemayá at home because my husband does not support my religious practices. He had a bad experience with a spiritualist he thinks that anything spiritual outside of the church is ‘evil voodoo stuff.’ I was unable to keep the Warriors and Yemayá in my home and she offered to keep them at her apartment for me. Thus, this woman was ‘tending’ to my Warriors and Yemayá and feeding them every three months with animal blood. This started a series of hefty payments done to keep up the Warriors. I had to pay both for my daughter’s as well as mine every 3 months. Whenever I could not meet the payments a fine or multa for ‘disrespect’ was added as well. The average payment each three months was of $2,600, plus a fine for alleged disrespect of $421.
The abuse did not limit itself to these feeding and fines. Part of the scam was that every month something wrong happened and she needed to do some additional spiritual work or another on my behalf.
Because my daughter was so reluctant to maintain the property I found myself hiring this woman on a monthly basis to keep the pool and lawn maintained. So she was getting paid to do house maintenance and for upkeep of orishas and for additional workings.
However, communications diminished and ‘billings’ were made through my daughter which added to our friction. For the past 2 years the Santera/Palera had one excuse or another to avoid seeing me personally yet she saw my daughter every day. Then instead of asking for things she became demanding. Gradually I noticed my daughter pulling away from me. I finally started to question things and started researching on line for information.
It was then when I came across the blog The Mystic Cup that had a very interesting article that really caught my attention. I emailed them and asked several questions and the reply opened my eyes even more. From that day forward I started questioning my so called Madrina and she started to get angry and now took on a threating tone of do as I say and pay me or suffer the consequences of my actions.
Now I started to get angry and really seeing her in a different light. I refused to continue to pay her for anything.
In retaliation she sent my daughter to my home warning me I better pay her. When I refused my daughter attacked me physically and accused me of things I had not done. Her final words were she had ‘permission’ from her Godmother to attack me physically and she chooses her Godmother over me because I was a ‘liar who did not pay my bills.’
That day I realized I had allowed myself to get involved with a person without scruples. In my desperation I allowed myself to be conned and used as a personal cash cow. I did not bother to check out the person’s background and accepted all I was told as the gospel truth.
My third biggest mistake I had allowed my emotions to make decisions instead of thinking it through.
Since that day my daughter met with her father and gave him evidence of the work my Madrina had done for me. Then she betrayed me again by telling her father what I was paying her ‘so called friend’ for up-keep of the pool and house because I stopped paying for these services. Her father told her she didn’t need to pay anyone because he would cut the grass and keep the pool maintained for free. All she had to do was ask him to help her.
She never asked him and today must still be paying her Madrina for this work.
My daughter’s ill behavior didn’t stop there. One day my husband came and found a grey bin left on top of the wall surrounding our house in Clermont, Florida. He brought me outside to question me why this bin had my name on it with the words religion stuff and Ogún and Eleguá on it. I said do not bring that inside the house and he insisted on trying to open it but stopped when the smell hit him and he agreed that something very wrong was in the bin.
I had to scramble to find a place to dump the stuff. My daughter has since stopped going to school and is working at delivering pizza at night in bad neighborhoods. This was the job her Madrina found her. I am sure my daughter is still paying her an extremely high amount of money every 3 months for the feedings of her Warriors and other items. I know this because she took out a loan on her life insurance policy that I was paying. I have since cancelled my payments.
Now I found out that this person and her partner are living in my house rent free. I found this out because my daughter called her father crying that her light would be cut off and to talk to me about it. When he went over there he met the partner. When I checked out her account she was over $600.00 behind in light payments. I did not want to pay but he was insistent that we help her. I only paid her late charges and left her current balance.
My daughter needs to learn to be more responsible and smarter in her decisions. She needs to learn that there are consequences for her bad decisions and choices. I emailed her about this but she never answered me back. I am sure she is not reading my emails or she would have replied with some nasty comments.
Today, because of my stupid mistakes, I am currently working with an attorney to get my daughter’s name off the deed. Since she is under this woman’s influence and so totally against me I fear that she may attempt to give this woman my house.
In the end I was deceived and manipulated into an ugly situation which cost me financially and emotionally. All these things happened because I went out blindly seeking help. I bitterly regret my decisions and own up that I created the mess I am living in. I have since lost my relationship with my only child. This more than anything else is what is breaking my heart. Please learn from my mistakes what can easily happen to you.
To all parents take heed from my pain and suffering by avoiding my mistakes in seeking help for problems with your child. Please be very careful of whom you choose to become a Godparent for your child or for yourself. I am not suggesting that everyone is a fraud. Because there are some sincere and truly good people in the religion who can honestly help you. I am only saying that there are people out there who will take advantage of your ignorance and desperation and can manipulate you into making your situation worse.
I sincerely believe that God will put the right people in your life to help guide you along the way. After all that has happened to me I was blessed and very fortunate to be advised and recommended to a very honest, decent and caring gentleman who was willing to help me with this situation.
I was shocked at how little he charges for his help and guidance. After being so badly manipulated and conned my faith in the religion had been shattered. I didn’t know what to expect and was prepared to hear him quote an outrageous price for his work. I was shocked at how little he charges for his help and guidance. He actually told me the price he would pay for each item. I could see that he was not over inflating his price for the sole purpose of making a buck. This gentleman truly loves and respects his religion and believes in sincerely helping people. Today we are working together towards resolving my situation.”
I hope this helps to warn others in the Orlando area and elsewhere to keep their eyes open for potential abuse and scams.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá