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As I’ve said in previous articles, some things are best put in the hands of a priest/ess or someone of that level. However, I understand that not everyone is going to take that advice. Also many people in the diaspora live in areas with no priests, or they’ve encountered one too many charlatans. Whatever reason you want to take things into your own hands, there are some things you should know before you do that.
First of all, the Orishas are not Santa Claus. You need them every day to survive. They are in you, in your blood, in the air all around you, in the earth, and everywhere. If you think you might ever want to make a specific request from them, you should be doing daily observances.
Also, if you know who your head is, you should be walking your natural path, and living a life that glorifies them and glorifies God/Olodumare/Mawu-Lisa. You can’t be living counter to Nature and expect to get good things from her. It just doesn’t work that way.
For example, if your head is Oshun, you should be living beautifully. Even if you are dirt poor, the dirt should be elegant, organized, and the softest, nicest dirt anyone was ever poor in. Clean your house. Repair your clothes. Make what little you may have sparkle, and take care of yourself and the people around you.
If your head is Eshu, you might be able to get away with some trickiness and hustling, but you’d better treat the children and the elderly well.
If your head is Shango and you don’t stand up for yourself, you’re doing it wrong.
If your head is Ogun and you are lazy, you are messing up. Get where I’m going with this?
Next, there is community. If there is something specific you need from the Orishas, it helps to get the word out to trusted people. Don’t try to go it alone. Get others directing energy and offerings towards the same goal. If you are sure that you are not the priestly type, then forming a community may encourage someone to step up and put some time and energy into study.
Ebo or community feasts are very important. If there are no priests, you and other Vodun observant or friendly friends should still be having them. Don’t worry too much about formality so much as respecting the Orishas.
While you’re respecting the Orishas, don’t forget that the Egungun is important as well. You should keep photos or other tokens of your departed relatives and loved ones in a special place in your house or room. Visit their graves, bringing them flowers and some of their favorite foods from time to time.
If you do all this then your DIY workings will have a greater chance of success because you are at least being observant and living in line with Nature.