New Vodun Calendar and Chat

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We now have a calendar and a chatroom.  You can browse the calendar on the site or subscribe to it using Google calendar.

If you want to add additional holidays or local event announcements, feel free to contact us or post a comment on the calendar page.

There are two chats you can use on the site, one pop-over chat in the bottom right corner, and the chat page.

Vodun F.A.Q. – What do I do if I can’t afford offerings to the Orishas?

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Cow by Ineke Van Rossum Vodun is not and never has been a rich person’s faith.  It is about the effort, sincerity, and alignment with the Forces of Nature, not how expensive a gift is.  Remember the story of Yemaya’s three crowns.

For your normal observances, if you do what you can afford, the Spirits will accept this.  Just don’t be cheap with them if you really can afford to do more.

What traditional priests charge for their services is due to the expense, time, and risks involved with doing things at an optimal level with maximum efficiency.  If you can’t afford this, then there are often other ways to get the job done.  They will just be less efficient and require more effort, time, and risk on your part than they would if you put the issue into the hands of a priest.

Some things simply cannot be done by someone who has not spent a sufficient amount of time studying and preparing themselves for the kind of work that needs to be done.  Things that would require the use of psychoactive plants to get into a particular trance state, for instance, should only be done by experts.  Same with other things that can lead to injury of the body or psyche.  A layperson attempting some things can die or permanently injure themselves.

Other things though, can be done relatively safely with the proper preparation and instruction.  The question of course is whether or not you are ready to do what it takes.

There was a young man who was wrongly convicted of a crime, whose sister studied law in order to save her brother.  If you have the level of dedication to go through all it takes to prepare yourself to do a working, then you can do it.

Please refer to this article for ways a non priest can make their workings more effective.

How Are Traditional Ebbo Priced?

Sometimes when people in the west see the prices for traditional services, they suspect that they are being scammed. What they don’t understand is that prescribed ebbo are not determined by the priest, but by the Ifa Oracle or traditions behind whatever method of divination was used. Most were determined at a time when most families ran a farm and also certain life problems corresponded with a certain level of income.

A typical traditional ebbo will often involve sacrifice of one or more animals, some wholesale sacks of grain and other supplies, perhaps a fair bit of alcohol, and require a gathering in which most if not all of it is shared with the community. Where I live, a really nice live chicken who has been raised worthy of sacrifice can cost between $40 and $100. Sometimes more. A goat or a cow, one can at least quadruple that. Then there is the sacrifice itself, which requires someone trained to do this, and the butchering.

A lot of the grain ends up being used in the ceremony as well. The deities love cake. They love it so much that out in the diaspora, we all have some kind of cake recipes for almost every deity’s offering. This did not get lost. Then there is the alcohol.

So if a traditional ebbo costs less than $1000, I would be very surprised. Before you get an Ifa or other traditional reading for anything other than to find out your head Orisha or deity, or if Vodun is the path for you, and even in those, bear this in mind. Whether the babalawo you go to is associated with the temple that will be performing your ebbo or not, once you get that reading, you need to do any ebbo that your results recommend.

So unless it is a really big deal or emergency, it’s better sometimes to go with a less traditional type of divination, or ask your Obi.

And just because I know it will make some gatekeepers angry, I encourage you to go out there and learn the Obi from wherever possible. The Obi belongs to everyone who respects African spirituality and cultures, and definitely everyone of recent or remembered African ancestry, and there is even a legend about why. It is incredibly inappropriate for humans to gatekeep about Obi. Eshu does this quite well, and doesn’t need our help.

Some will be better at it than others. Some, despite the hard answers Obi is known for, will try to spin or twist them how ever they like. Still, Obi is Obi.

Blessings and Ashé!

Why do people post Voodoo spells on the internet?

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There was a time I thought this was a bad idea, but then I saw how much fakery and misinformation there was out there. Someone needed to speak up for the witches who didn’t grow up in sheltered bubbles wherein they could afford to avoid the fact that witchcraft was spawned in the blood of the oppressed. There is also the problem that most of our parents’ generation moved out of the rural areas and into cities and suburbs. When they left behind their old towns, they also left behind what they viewed as the “superstitions”, and further dug into their oppressors’ style of religion to fit in. So it was time to share some knowledge, at least get folks up to speed to what everybody interested should know.

On the internet with “Voodoo spells“, in some cases, it is a joke.  In some cases, the authors have co opted the convenient aspects of Vodun and put it in a western frame.  In some cases, they are workings that are common for laypersons and aspiring mystics to do for themselves, and only called spells because the term “working” isn’t as well understood.  In a few cases though, it is that a mystic and author wants people to know what is involved in doing a working, so that they appreciate the cost and effort of their priest.

So long as they are posted in the context of educating people, and spiritual and psychological readiness is taken seriously, it is not a bad thing.  The problem is that readiness is seldom approached because the author either takes for granted that anyone doing the working would be a consistent practitioner who is at least doing regular offerings to Eshu, or they are overly westernized and don’t consider it important.

Take amarres, for instance.  Most people who would search for how to do an amarre would be practicing Santeros/Lukumi or somewhere else in the spectrum.  They are wearing or carrying amulets, and do weekly offerings to Eshu and whoever is their head, if it is known.  So they would be ready to do a normal amarre.  Because they live in awareness, it would also have a better chance of working.

If they are not practicing consistently and giving regular offerings, because of a lack of time or because they are mystically aware, but not so mystically inclined, they would read the instructions and easily understand to put this in the hands of a priest.  So knowing how it is done lets them know that they are not equipped or should not try to do it themselves.  No harm is done.

However, for some people, posting the instructions leads them to believe that they can jump in without any preparation or protection.  Even worse, most of the instructions I’ve seen online do not begin with offerings and asking the permission of Eshu.  Without asking Eshu, all of whatever efforts and expenses people go through to do Vodun and diaspora like “spells” are wasted.

This is not to say that all spells anywhere must start explicitly with the name Eshu or Elegua.  People who are not Eshu aware may still have the equivalent in their belief system.  In some faiths, there is another similar Spirit or a kind of abbreviated word to open prayers.  What I’m saying is that something must always be done to approach the Spirits with the right mind, and in Vodun, this is the call to Eshu.

So if you come across a “Voodoo spell” that does not begin with calling Eshu, it is not going to work and probably posted by someone who knows nothing of Vodun.  If it does, then they are likely posting it with good intentions for the sake of educating the public and increasing appreciation of the work of priests.

Feast of Eshu and Shango September 29-30, 2011

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Last night’s festivities were very exciting and edifying.  Everyone got something good from it, and we even got a little blood shed in the battled for Shango.  I posted the photos on Facebook, but here are the highlights:

The Table

The table at the ebo with the plates of food for Eshu and objects for blessing.

 

Amdusias Wearing the Eshu Mask

Amdusias Wearing the Eshu Mask

 

Fireworks for Shango

Fireworks for Shango

Why do Christians call Orishas demons?

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Most practitioners of Vodun and diaspora systems are Christian, so I would say this is just a North American and culturally lost or disgruntled African thing.  Mainly, it’s because they simply do not know what an Orisha is.  For an educated or non eurocentric Christian, to call an Orisha a demon is like calling water or air a demon.  So please don’t lump all Christians into the same category.  Someone wearing a cross or going to church does not mean they are ignorant.  In fact, there are many Christian churches that explicitly embrace an African style of worship.

The problem among many Black people is that Christians called to ministry tend to be Obatala oriented people.  Without the proper guidance, they tend to be overly dogmatic, and will divide Nature into good and evil in small, limited, human terms instead of universal, natural terms.  I saw this play out in my own family, and though it caused me much pain in my childhood, understanding them in Vodun terms helped me to understand and forgive them.

So I hope that as I explain this to those of you who have asked this question, you will also understand and forgive the Christians who have broken away from their ancestral faiths.

Having only one god is easier than having many.  In Judaism, they call the one God by a plural name because He is all-encompassing.  They sought to remove the illusion of division among the Spirits because this is ideal.  It is however, too big a stretch for the vast majority of human beings.  The vast majority will, due to their psychological limitations, rather than have a God who is Eshu-Olodumare-Obatala-Shango-Yemaya-etc, will under these circumstances, choose one and raise him/her above the others.  For some Christians, this is basically a war god who, like a god, embraces and blesses those who believe in him and follow his commandments, but like a human, shuns and damns those who do not believe in him or follow his commandments, which are filtered not through Nature, but through the minds and wills of humans.

The Jewish God who commands Jewish people to force themselves to remove the division and still view Him-Her (Her&Him is, according to some scholars, the true and literal meaning of the word Yahweh) as all-encompassing, also commanded the Jewish people not to mistreat or look down on others.  Their leaders from Moses on, felt it would be best for them to separate themselves from others in order to achieve this, but all people are supposed to be considered by them sons of Noah.  So long as a person lives a righteous life, it does not matter if their pantheon is one or one billion, they are, for all intents and purposes, saved.

Monotheism was not to be forced upon people of other nations.  Monotheism was for sons of Abraham who, having a divine revelation, wanted to make a people who did not have the divisions that others did.  Just as the idea of monotheism has its vulnerabilities that can be exploited in the human psyche, so does polytheism.  A state religion could arise that twists thoughts about the Spirits just as a state religion can twist thoughts about the Holy Spirit.

The sons of Abraham were to make a state that was dependent on the All-encompassing God, not a king.  The priesthood was not invented until Moses, and even then they were under strict limitations.  It was about what sons of Abraham were supposed to do and believe, not enforcing their beliefs on the world.  The world, as everyone can plainly see, is not capable of functioning without human leaders.  Ultimately, the Jews were not either, so they chose Saul, and it was downhill from there.

Eventually, Elijah had to do something that I am sure would make Abraham weep, and fight what had become the state religion in Israel, the land nation with God as the only king.

Now you have the context for what has become Christianity in too many situations.  When Jesus came, he wanted to get the Jewish people back to that ideal of living in the Spirit, not just the law.  He never attempted to convert any of the Pagans he helped, to Judaism, or get them to worship him, even though this would not be wrong.  Jesus is a prime candidate for an avatar of Obatala.  If any man who ever lived on Earth could be said to be an emissary of the Almighty, it’s him.  So I have no problem whatsoever with people who focus on Jesus, especially when their cultures have been ravaged to the point that they no longer have the social context for other faiths.

The problems start when people are incapable of following the path that Jesus did, and wrap their brains around the idea of a One God.  So instead of embracing the ideals of Judaism, as Jesus did, they put limits on who God is.  Like the Jews lost their way in Biblical times when they chose to have a man as king instead of God, too many Christians today make God a man…a petty man who is somehow reduced or insulted by the equivalent of someone saying, “Wow, God, water is wonderful!  I want to make an offering to say how wonderful water is.  Water is where all physical life on Earth came from, and I want to make sure I am showing it the proper respect.  I want to call water Great-water and give her flowers…”

The idea of Yemaya takes nothing away from Obatala or the Unfathomable Omnipotent Be-ing he represents.  However, if a person has been taught that they must have only one god, and they are incapable of or unwilling to widen their view, Yemaya is a competitor.

Though the Orishas are not competing with God, and have in fact been assigned by God to specific purposes, and even in the true monotheistic sense are, at worst, a face or aspect of God, some Christians view them as competition.  Though like Muslims who do the same, they are dangerous, it is important for us to understand that they truly “know not what they do”.

For this reason, I take a sort of hard stance, and don’t get too embroiled in arguments with them.  Spiritually, it is like arguing with a 2 year old who refuses to see the world beyond their little bubble they wish was reality.  On the other hand, as annoying as it is, if it is keeping them sane and happy, I can’t knock it.  Where I draw the line is when it makes them insane, unhappy, and leads them to harm others.

If you find yourself in a situation of being vulnerable to or dependent on people who think you’re worshipping demons, treat them like kids who believe in Santa Claus, just with more power to harm you.  Do what you need to do to survive, and don’t try to wake up a sleepwalker.