Studio Arcanis Member wrote:If you had a choice between Ifa, Palo, Santeria, Lukumi and Voudun, which tradition would you choose? Which tradition is the most powerful, effective and rich in the terms of knowledge it can offer?
Can one belong to several different traditions at the same time or is this conflicting?
I don’t feel as if you choose which tradition to follow consciously, I believe it has to choose you. This can be argued from a Yoruba perspective as it is believed that we each chose our destinies in heaven before birth. And while I don’t dispute this and believe it as well, I do feel we have to decide ourselves what tradition is calling us, or rather which one our ancestors are pushing us down.
I would urge anyone at this crossroads of deciding what path to go down look deep within themselves and find out what it is they are truly searching for. If you’re looking for “Power” and “Efficacy” from a Western Magical point of view, hypothetically speaking any ATR could provide that for you.
However, going on a quest to gain “power” is a fools journey in African Traditional Religions. To be involved in these religions requires one to remove themselves from ego driven actions and submit to something bigger than yourself. I as an Olorisha am a servant. First and foremost to Obatala, the Orisha whose mysteries I was initiated into. Secondly to the members of the Ile (religious house) I belong to, and tertiary to the community at large.
Many Americans and Europeans that become interested in these traditions (regardless of skin color, it’s a cultural deformity) do so out of a desire to be recognized for their inherent “Greatness” and validation that “God” thinks they’re special.
Here’s an example of what I mean: A friend of mine referred a co-worker to me after she had described some vivid dreams involving the Orisha. I am in a purgatory situation, wherein I am learning the ritual and ceremonial side of the religion as an Orisha Priest, but my calling is to be a Babalawo. There are many things that if I were to engage in as an Orisha Priest, they could derail me off the path to Ifa (throwing Diloggun – reading people with shells, giving someone Ilekes or Elegua and the Warriors as examples). So I took this lady to my Padrino for a reading to get a concrete answer as to what was going on in her life. My Padrino reads her and determines she is very ill, and that the Orisha want to help her regain her health. She was prescribed a few ebboses (offerings to do). My Padrino’s approach with everyone that comes as a casual client for a reading is to not stress them out if their reading indicates that they need some elaborate initiation. Especially if they are coming for health reasons. The objective is to address the health concerns first if possible avoiding initiations. This lady was also in financial ruins and I ended paying for her reading and buying the stuff for her ebboses. When asked if she had any questions or concerns, all she was interested in was being told she needed to make Osha, she just knew that she did, she could feel it and that she had so many spiritual gifts to provide the world once she became initiated. She had cancer of the uterus, breast cancer, about to die, was dead ass broke and got upset that she wasn’t told she needed to receive a minimum $8,000 initiation.
The overwhelming majority of people that HAVE to become initiated in these religions are fucked up in some way, shape or form. MYSELF INCLUDED! Yes, some are very spiritually gifted, IQ’s off the charts, myriad of talents etc, but broken and incomplete in some way without exception. That’s why it is advised one not share their initiatory signs with strangers as they can figure out your weaknesses and exploit them.
All ATR’s require the same type of devotion and self-discipline: SUBMISSION to forces bigger than ourselves.
As to which tradition would offer vaster amounts of knowledge? Ifa would. Ifa is the sum of the universes knowledge. Ifa is a repository of knowledge that a Babalawo gains access to upon initiation. Their Ori – head - is given an always on high speed connection to it, 24/7/365.
Babalawos are also given the ability (should they study and learn the formulas so to speak) to rearrange the threads of the universe in many ways: change people’s destinies for the better or worse, heal disease and sickness, change a person’s fortune for the better or reverse it. Essentially if they study and learn they are able to provide mankind and themselves with the prescriptions to remove every obstacle they and their adherents face and conquer their enemies.
Babalawo’s can work WITH ALL SPIRITUAL ENTITIES THRU IFA! It doesn’t matter if it is the Lwa/Loa, Nkisi, Orisha, Astral Entities (of which we have our equivalents of) or Elementals, Ifa works with and controls them all.
In the end, you must decide what you are looking for and be true to yourself. There is an old saying that I am going to paraphrase regarding Ifa: Orunmila says that if you come to Ifa looking for power, it will be yours. Orunmila promises, if you come to Ifa looking for money and riches, you will find them. Orunmila assures us, if we come to Ifa looking for the truth, we will receive it. But choose wisely which you will pursue, as you can only seek one!
|On Practicing more than one tradition|
Many ATR adherents do so. I am a Tata in Brillumba (Palo), an Olorisha and also belong to two other “cults” of brotherhoods: Osain and Orun/Oro.
My Godfather (who is both my Tata and Babalorisha) is an Abakua, Tata Enfumo, Vodunse Aliño (a Benin related title from the Arara in Cuba) and a Babalorisha in Lukumi as well as an Osainista, Omo Orun and Omo Aña.
By default, if you are involved in Hatian Vodou you are practicing a mash-up of traditions.
And despite the fact that others want to argue this, it ALL DESCENDS from Ifa! So, everything is related at one point in antiquity.
It is a problem for many people that practice more than one tradition that no single tradition is given the dedication of time to truly become educated and sufficient in it ritually. I know many people that were initiated into Palo as a stepping stone into Osha and this is a mistake in my opinion. These people usually never learn anything of significance about Palo and end up drifting along like plastic grocery bags in the wind, blowing here and there from one house to another.
TL;DR Santeria is a misnomer for Lukumi.
Orisha Worship underwent many changes in Cuba. For starters, slaves were prohibited from engaging in their ancestral religious customs by declaration of the Spanish Crown under penalty of death! These precarious conditions set in motion major changes in the way the Orisha were venerated.
Lets take for example the Orisha Eshu. In Africa Eshu was worshipped at the gates of the village. Most villages has an edifice of Eshu that the entire community used in veneration and placation of him. In Cuba, this was an impossibility. So the custom of making Eshu’s for the individual came about. This also allowed Eshu to be hidden from the slave masters easily, therefore saving themselves from corporeal punishment.
Through the Cabildo’s our religious traditions miraculously survived under much hardship and attempts to eradicate it. Cabildos de nación were African ethnic associations. The first cabildo in Cuba, called Cabildo Shango was created in Havana in 1568.
To the Spaniards the cabildos were a necessary evil, so to speak. The cabildos were a means of continuation of community for the slave population, and a means of social control alleviating the tensions between the masters and the slaves. Slaves were allowed to gather on holidays so that they could dance according to the customs of their African nations.
It was under this part-time social freedom that our religion was guised behind the façade of Catholicism. Orisha Worshippers could take to the streets on Dec. 4th when Cabildo Shango would drum and parade for Shango under the guise of “Santa Barbara” without fear of persecution.
It is in this manner, that our religion came to be known as Santeria, or Saint Worship. It was originally a pejorative term and not one unique to having been used in Cuba. We can find reference to Santeria and Santeros in the Philippines and Mexico as well.
The term Santero was used in reference to someone that made wooden Saint statues for the poor, who couldn’t afford the elaborate porcelain ones favored by the Spaniards. Santero/Santera became a colloquialism equated with Babalorisha/Iyalorisha [Father and Mother of the Orisha- one who births or bestows Orisha unto others.] As in the Orisha being hidden behind the masks of Saints, and Santeros (Babalorisha) made/birthed other Saints.
Pardon any digressions. If clarity is needed on anything, I will try to do so, just let me know.