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Vodun F.A.Q. – How can a person who is not a priest make workings more effective?

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Eshu on the balcony 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?

Live Vodun.

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.

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 didn’t my Voodoo spell work?

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Usually, the reason a spell or formula doesn’t work is that for some reason, it is against Nature.  Sometimes it is that the person doing the spell wasn’t prepared or qualified to do it.  Sometimes it is something that simply cannot happen, on the level of dropping a rock and having it fall up instead of down.  Sometimes the problem is that one’s Guardians or Head knows that getting what they ask for would be bad for them.

This is why you should do some research before attempting a work.  You would learn the basic use of tools and practice on smaller, less complicated things before you began to build a bookshelf.  You should learn about Vodun or whichever system you’re most comfortable with before attempting to do a working.

Learning is not enough though.  Lifestyle is important.  People who live at a priestly level have a better success rate because they live in a state of ritual purity.  They observe the obligations and taboos of their Head, and make regular offerings.  They don’t just jump into action when someone asks them to do a working.  24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they stay in active service to the Spirits.  Many also do psychic development exercises to enhance abilities that help them to increase their awareness and range.

So when they approach a working, they can do so with the confidence that to the best of their abilities, they are ready.  Then there is the necessary divination to find out whether or not the Spirits approve of a working being done at all.

Very few people who find spells on the internet take the time to prepare themselves or do divination before attempting a work.  They don’t ask if the work should be done, or if they should do it themselves or have someone else do it or some parts of it for them.

Other Reasons for Limited Success

If two people participated in a crime, and you went to the police to report it, but then told them to only arrest one of them because the other one was useful to you, what would they say?  If you ask for justice, but then want to tie the hands of the Spirits, then you don’t really want justice.

Similar things happen when people do spells for love.  They ask the Spirits to cause someone to love or be attracted to them, but don’t take that person’s personality or needs into consideration.  Just because someone is attracted to you or loves you doesn’t mean they will express it in the way you want them to.  Also, the Spirits may bring someone to you, but you must be brave and express interest in them when they do.

Too many people are too picky about how a blessing comes to them.  They ask for opportunities, and the Spirits bring them opportunities, but then the asker doesn’t take the opportunity.

In short, if you want to do workings for yourself, and want them to work, you have to do just as good a job as a priest/ess.  Research and respect the Spirits you’ll be working with, and don’t try to force or tie their hands.

Even if you did everything right…

Sometimes, even if you do everything right, a spell or working will not work because the other person involved actively resists Nature.  Assuming that you or your priest did divination first, got clearance, and gave offerings, there is no ceremonial reason it didn’t work.  Something else is going on.

In the case of many love workings, there can be counter magic from others who also want the same person, or that person has the wrong kind of protections, or they are willing to suffer to get what they think they want instead of what they need.  There could be any number of causes of resistance.

With young, sought-after people, the reason is usually counter-magic.  You are not the only one who has done a working or directed extreme will towards getting with them.  In this case, there is a kind of vortex of chaos around them, or whoever has the strongest innate spiritual authority/power will win.  It will be sort of metaphysically “Darwinian”.

So if there is resistance, your priest needs to know so that they can put more energy into it or find a creative angle.  Don’t just let it go and assume it was a wasted effort.  In some cases, if you didn’t do it yourself, you will have to start doing some things for yourself so that you are adding your energy to the effort.  If you did do the working yourself, you may need assistance from a priest or a good friend who also legitimately wishes this person would love you.

More hands in the pot may ruin the stew, but more guests in the dining room makes a better party.  So you may need to sponsor or host an ebo.  Remember, you’re dealing with Oshun and related Spirits.  Even if you or your priest lack the innate individual power to break through multiple people’s chaos, Oshun can certainly do this.

To be very blunt, most people are not going to put that kind of effort into getting a specific person, so you may win based on effort.  Another thing to consider is that in an ebo as opposed to solitary workings, there are more perspectives to draw from.  Someone may get a message that might have been missed by you or your priest as an individual.  No matter how strong a person is, they are just one person.

If there is no counter magic, and the person is resisting, the reason is quite often social or financial.  In the case of many women, it is both.  Young, beautiful women nowadays think they have more time than they actually do, to “field their options”.  Even if their heart pulls them to someone, they may resist because they are holding out for someone “better”.  This could mean someone more socially convenient or who has more money or “game”.

Unrealistic options cross the television screens and pages of romance novels and convince girls they can have it all and well into their thirties.  Even very strong magic can’t make someone smarter if they insist on believing the popular lies.  At the point that you know you’re dealing with a girl in aggressive denial of reality, you do have the option of controlling spells, but I don’t recommend this course.

If it takes all that, your best bet is to learn game if you don’t have it already, and get over your “one-itis”.  Obsidian has a great site on it that is, unlike most, geared towards men of color.  Learning game is very important in the African diaspora where the surrounding culture seeks to feminize men to make them socially acceptable.

The problem is that the Orishas are not buying the new, kinder, gentler Black or Hispanic man.  They are forces of Nature and to flow with them, you must behave like a Natural Man (or Woman if your object of affection is male or lesbian).  You are blocking the Orishas’ efforts if you are not behaving like you have some balls if you’re a man, or like you have some compassion and tact if you are a woman.

So here, we get back to another reason some spells don’t work: the person who requested or did them busily undoes the work of the Orishas.  If you spend your time or money doing a work, don’t mess it up by closing doors that the Orishas open.  If you’re a man who did or requested a love spell, don’t behave like a monk who just wants to be their friend.  If you’re a woman, don’t be overly proud, sarcastic, or cruel.

The closer you are to Nature, the closer Nature is to you and the more she can do for you.