WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF SPIRITUAL INITIATION?
I feel this to be a powerful question because, for many, the process of initiation is misunderstood and the meaning is not clear in many modern-day, new age spiritual systems, particularly, here in the Diaspora.
The brief explanation is that initiation is important for you, the initiate, to obtain self realization of your true soul self. Initiation “is supposed” to open the door to you reaching your full spiritual potential. It enhances your current being, peeling away the illusions and false beliefs systems of the world around you. It is a process that is meant to illuminate and purify you. Initiation gives one a way to reconnect to the Divine self and to the Divinities and spiritual forces without.
The word initiation comes from the word “initium” which means entrance or beginning. This would mean that initiation is only the first step – the beginning – of a new spiritual or shamanistic journey. In many cultures, initiation is actually considered a “second birth” and a process for one to be born again. Now, many people are under the misconception that they are somehow complete by getting initiated. But as I said earlier, initiation is only the beginning and the first step in a series of steps. At this point, you are the baby – you know nothing, yet!
Many people have different motives for seeking initiation. One of the main reasons is to obtain spiritual knowledge of hidden secrets from those who hold certain secrets in a particular spiritual system. HOWEVER, initiations are not for everyone. Those accepted into initiation are usually those who either have something in them calling toward initiation or they have in them the potential to realize their true selves including the fortitude to carry out the conditions for obtaining those secrets which are not EASY. Those initiated can attest to that. Many people give up after getting initiated not realizing the responsibility and the arduous (difficult) tasks related to initiation and the path of growth afterward. So basically you have to have a certain quality within to even join certain initiatory systems.
The initiation process is one in which the initiate receives energy and the transmission of spiritual energy from higher beings. The energy coming from these spirit beings activates and opens the individual up helping them to enhance their already inherent gifts. The spirit energy you receive is “supposed to” support, protect, and help you to grow. This powerful energy from the spirit realm is “supposed to” give an individual illumination that will allow him or her to order their steps in life and develop their inner gifts and potentials.
Self development on a deep level, one of the most important aspects of initiation, is missing in many of today’s spiritual systems especially in the beginning stages. Because inner work is either missing or not adhered to, many people are becoming lost and confused within the system of choice. Inner work is an absolute must and is supposed to help the initiate grow step by step with the final goal being that you have fully realized your true soul self and can manifest your gifts at will. Mastery over the mind, thoughts, and emotions are essential if one is to garner power from the spirit world. Initiation is “supposed to” link the higher mind to the soul and then the soul to spirit forces. As a result, one is able to deal with everyday life in a purposeful and disciplined way.
“Spiritual initiation takes willingness – willingness to be different, to see further, to increase your experience of yourself and your reality. Initiation is an act of faith because we never really know where we will land as a result. We just know that we will be different.”
So summing it up, it’s not enough to get initiated. Steady development and growth must be happening every day, month, and year. Within your spiritual system of choice there must be clear processes for development that will help you on your journey. So to answer the question, initiation is important for those called toward this process as it will help them to develop, learn and actualize their potentials and true soul selves.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I SHOULD BE INITIATED?
Generally speaking, a person will seek initiation when they have a strong desire to know their true self. There is a feeling of wanting to be liberated from the everyday limitations and constructs of life. There is often a feeling of incompleteness or a void as if something is missing. Most people will start out on the journey inquiring and researching, reading books, and following specific teachers.
In most cases, a person is called by the spirit realm to be initiated or to become a shaman, guru, witch doctor, spirit medium, seer, healer, etc. This person will usually have a bloodline (other people) in the family that have been initiated in a particular system. This could be anywhere in the world. The spirit realm will call this person to continue in the family footsteps. It may be the soul’s calling/mission to follow a particular spiritual system and require you to become initiated.
For those who are aware of their spiritual mission, it may be better to accept the role voluntarily rather than having the initiation imposed and forced upon you. If one chooses to ignore the call or try to avoid their mission– the spirits will cause havoc in their lives or even make them ill until they do what they are supposed to do spiritually. Being initiated or becoming a shaman in many cultures is such a huge responsibility that the person called to the task will wait as long as humanly possible – trying to live and enjoy life before they have to give up so much. Then there are other people who just know that this is something that they want to do. These are usually individuals who have the fortitude, discipline, and inner strength to endure the arduous responsibilities of being an initiate and serving the people. In these cases, a person will need to make sure that they are seeking initiation (no matter the system) for all the right reasons.
Remember, initiation is supposed to align the initiate with powerful spirits or forces and give this individual access to secrets that are not openly or commonly known to the average person. The spirits or deities will recognize the new initiate as one of their own giving the individual access to many spiritual secrets including the ways of unlocking mysteries typically forbidden for those who are uninitiated.
If the initiation is done properly, the new initiate will have the ability to tap into the unseen and mysterious world of the spirits with authority and respect. If the initiation is not done properly or the new initiate is not taught the proper ways of dealing with the realm of spirit, many potential problems can occur – disturbing the life of the initiate.
Another way you can know if initiation is for you is through divination. However, this is tricky because in today’s time it is a bit difficult to discern if the elder doing the divination is telling you the truth or if they are pushing initiation just for the money, power, control, or using you as a trophy. These individuals will cater to your ego. They will say things like, “oh, you are going to big or you will have a thousand godchildren or you will be famous,” etc. I’m not saying that those things can’t happen, but before it does, you will go through many life changes and challenging circumstances that may not be comfortable. These people are dramatic and they love to romanticize the process of initiation. Many people fall for it only to later realize it’s not quite how it was explained to them. People will also hear things like “oh, if you get initiated things will get better – your life will change” or something like that. Yes, your life should absolutely get better, however, for many people it is not immediate although in cases where people are ill/sick I have seen a vast improvement. I’m not trying to scare anyone but many people have gotten initiated with high expectations only to find out that the picture was not exactly as told or things didn’t immediately get better as expected. And in some cases, if the initiation was done wrong or incomplete – things got worse. Fear tactics are also used to push people into initiation or multiple initiations in a short amount of time. There are good and trustworthy elders out there, but there are twice as many bad ones, so be careful.
So how do you know if spiritual initiation is for you? This is tricky. For some people, it will be crystal clear because the spirit world will send you all the signs and validate it for you. For other people, it may not be so easy to figure out. However, if you decide it’s something you would like to go through then you should definitely take your time (do not rush into it) and get to know the people who plan to initiate you. You have to look at the total picture and look into the lives of those wanting to initiate you. If things don’t look so good then that may not be the place for you.
Also, get it in your mind that after initiation, it will take many years for the energies of initiation to settle into you and for you to learn the secret knowledge of power, healing, protection, and commanding of the spirit realm. After initiation and while your spiritual journey unfolds it will require a lot of time and personal dedication on your part and may require a lot of money for your spiritual education. In many cases, in order to learn from the elders or your godparents you will spend a lot of time away from home. As far as the money, it is an investment into your spiritual future just like any other education like college or trade school.
My advise is to not fall for the romanticism of initiation and don’t get star struck by it. Don’t let your ego be stroked into initiation and don’t look toward initiation in a power hungry or drama-filled kind of way. There is nothing romantic about initiation or serving as a shaman. For cultures that take initiation very serious – it is a very difficult undertaking and in many cases will cause for much personal sacrifice. In some cases, the weight of the community will rest on your shoulders and the majority of you will be responsible for the wellness of other people’s lives. As a real calling – your life is no longer your own. It can be dirty, sweaty, gritty or physically challenging. You can have many sleepless days and nights. Your elders will be extremely strict and they won’t except excuses. It is a lot of responsibility. Again, I’m not trying to scare anyone – just telling it like it is. Initiation can be very beautiful and rewarding but not easy. Sometimes people get initiated and everything gets stripped from them and they begin to struggle through life – the tests begin. Individuals don’t realize that they will be tested a lot. How else would you grow your power? How else do you emerge victorious? The spirits will test your courage and your fortitude. Just put it this way – initiation is more than you may think so serious thought and careful consideration must go into your decision. I wish you peace on your journey.
UNDERSTANDING SPIRIT ATTACHMENT…
“Some of these spirits are in the bardo, who have no control over their minds, wander aimlessly like vagrants. This is a very sad and unfortunate situation. They are generally untrained in the laws of the spiritual world and as a result, they have no true idea as to their true predicament.
These bardo spirits utter to themselves, What is going on here? Where am I? How did I end up like this? The sky is always grey, with no daylight or darkness to mark the day. Where exactly is this place?
During the bardo state, a spirit may see his own corpse lying in the hospital and exclaim in shock, `I am dead!` The spirit usually cries, feels despair, and suffers in pain.
The deceased usually searches first for his home, his family, his place of work and his favorite things.
However, the deceased will learn that everyone is unable to see or hear him. His home, his office, and his favorite things no longer belong to him, and he is left with no place to call home. Yet the deceased also discovers that he has gained a certain ability in the bardo state. He finds that his body is more refined than the physical body and he can move freely through all obstacles, much like spiritual traveling. He can roam at will through any rocks, earth, houses, as well as mountains and rivers with ease, with the exception of holy places. He can be anywhere by just thinking about it.
He can see other bardo spirits similar to himself. These spirits will often learn to move in packs. If the bardo spirits have some spiritual development, they can observe the celestial planes and see divine beings. However, most spirits in the bardo are rather lost and confused in their mind and could settle only in the second dimensional worlds.
Some of the bardo spirits are attached to their physical bodies and hence become corpse-bound ghosts. Others are attached to their graves and then become graveyard ghosts. Some spirits are attached to their homes and thus become home-bound ghosts. Then there are those who are attached to their spouses and consequently become spouse-guarding spirits. Still others are attached to their wealth and therefore become wealth-holding spirits. Some are attached to their children and become child-guarding spirits. These cases signify a further degeneration for these spirits in the bardo planes.
I have also observed that some bardo spirits attach themselves to the bodies of their romantic partners, while others cling to those they hate. Some have chosen to attach themselves to statues and idols. These instances are known commonly as spirit possessions (these are attaching spirits).
Some bardo spirits are known to have a craving for sleep, and are always sleeping. Hence they become sleep-addiction ghosts. Other examples are wilderness ghosts, tree ghosts, water ghosts, blood-thirsty ghosts, swift-moving ghosts, fragrance-consuming ghosts, sea-settling ghosts, lust-craving ghosts, meat-eating ghosts, dreaming ghosts, ghosts with magical powers, impure ghosts, human energy-stealing ghosts, alcoholic ghosts, gambling-addiction ghosts, etc.
These attaching spirits are the cause of more than 80% of all the mental, emotional, and physical suffering found in this world. Since we cannot see them, we take them for granted. Unfortunately, this profound spiritual ignorance allows this situation to become worse year after year.” by Dr. Mitchell Gibson
Are you wondering, what can you do to limit the affects of spirit attachment?
There’s plenty that we all can do. First, I think that we have to acknowledge that we are constantly influenced by spirits and other energies especially mentally and emotionally for good and for bad. People have to stop denying and/or pretending that the spirit world does not exist! On many occasions our thoughts are not our own and we take on thoughts and feelings that do not belong to us. Perfect example, millions are influenced by subliminal advertising ads – someone else is putting these thoughts into their minds and influencing their feelings to buy things they don’t even need. Because many people don’t TRULY know themselves, they tend to believe that every thought or feeling is their own but it is not. This is particularly true for children who haven’t developed enough of their own personality and character to be able to distinguish the difference. Spirits are constantly placing thoughts into the minds of the people. There are millions of people unknowingly being vampirized by spirits all the time. Therefore, you must analyze your thoughts and feelings to know if it’s truly YOU or are you being invaded by outside sources.
In my opinion, one of the most important things you can do to avoid spirit attachment is to keep your vibration high. Lower vibrational beings will not be able to attach to you if your vibration is high. Lower vibrational beings (wandering or lost spirits) will only attach to those individuals in which it finds something in common. A depressed spirit will attach to a depressed individual because there is something in common. A negative spirit will sexually violate a woman in her sleep because her will and self confidence is low, she has left herself vulnerable on some level, the spirit sees this and takes advantage. These spirits attach to our weaknesses and our vulnerabilities. I think the main issue is that people do not understand how spirits attach in the first place. They attach to your aura and feed off your conscious and unconscious thoughts. They feed off of negative thoughts/feelings, even old feelings, traumas, and fears. Some of these things are in the subconscious that you may not necessarily remember but the energy or frequency of that old pain still exists therefore a spirit can attach to it.
Maintaining your ORI, keeping yourself spiritually clean – using plants/herbs that build the aura, staying positive, being in prayer, listening to quality music, meditations, and studying spirit – all these things can help. You must study spirit and continue developing and strengthening yourself so you can discard anything that attempts to attach itself to you. Also using vibrational tools like tuning forks are extremely beneficial in quickly raising vibrations. I teach a course on this as well. Mantras and inspiring songs are good, too. Even with all this, the most effective is the state of your mind – your consciousness. Build your mind. Learn to control your thoughts and your emotions. Once people realize that they are not in total control of their lives and are apart of a bigger universal picture and all things are one in the same, they can have a happier, healthier, and spiritually strong and rewarding life.
HOW DO WE ATTRACT SPIRITS TO US?
We are energy beings and we attract spirits. All things are energy just in different stages of denseness. Spirits see our energy. They see the colors in our aura and in our body. They sense our vibrations, frequency, and our scent. Like bees to honey – this is what attracts them – this is how they can follow you. Like a dog they can track you. So keeping your aura clean and healthy is important. Keeping your thoughts and feelings positive and on a high note is important. We can’t be this way 24/7 but living in goodness everyday is a great thing and can help keep the bad spirits away. Treating people good and treating them the way you want to be treated will also help. However, use your sword when you need to defend yourself. Step on the dark side when it becomes necessary to survive. We are also electromagnetic beings and like a magnet we can attract spirits/entities by our deeds. If your are dark in your heart & in your mind, then this is what you will attract and vica versa. However, just because you live in the light and by goodness does not mean that you will not attract anything negative. The “light” attracts all types of pesky bugs like moths, gnats, mosquitoes, etc., and we can attract pesky spirits the same way…
For those who saw the movie, “Predator”, remember how the alien was able to track the army men? Remember, how the alien would stop and analyze the body and head of the person before he would strike? The alien saw the men by the colors of the thermal heat emitting from their bodies. If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out on YouTube. Well spirits, do the same thing. They look at the colors in our aura and if it’s a bad spirit it can attack you by the weaknesses in your aura. So spiritual cleanings are extremely important. Be aware of how you might be attracting some unwanted energies. When bad things happen, check yourself from time to time. Ask yourself, “Is it me, am I doing anything to attract these energies, or maybe I’m not doing enough to keep these energies from affecting me?” Also, check your state of mind – look into your thoughts, what is your conscious mind saying vs. your subconscious? All is relevant. All of these things are what pulls things to us: our mind, body, spirit, aura, thoughts, feelings, words – attract good and bad.
If you don’t trust yourself to make the correct decisions in your life then you have some inner work to do. Inner work means going inside your heart or your gut to find out where all your deep seeded trust issues are and then you work to heal them so you can regain your inner peace.
I ask you, “why don’t you trust yourself?”
For some, the answer could be simple. Maybe someone told you as a child that you will never be good at anything. Maybe they said, “you never do anything right”. They could have called you stupid, etc. You grew up believing that you would make a mess out of everything. In this case, your subconscious is playing a recording of the negative statements over and over in your mind and these negative statements continue to manifest in your life in different ways. Unfortunately, we are not aware that the subconscious is always at work.
Here you can simply reprogram your thoughts to more positive words that will build your confidence. And there are many ways to do this. Many will hold on to information, thoughts, and feelings for fear of being wrong only to find out later that they were correct. How I got over this was to tell myself that no one is 100% correct, and if I’m not sure about something, I just say I’m unsure.
There are parts of ourselves that are connected to the higher self and when it tells you in your gut and in your heart that something is wrong or right it will not miss guide you. You just have to be connected to yourself and learn to trust the feelings.
For others the answer may not be so simple because it requires them to look at some issues they may not want to look at. Burying issues will do nothing but fester and eventually come to the surface in another form which is usually unhealthy like a sickness. However, dealing with the matter will ultimately show you how to make better choices for yourself.
Inner work is apart of spiritual growth. This subject is not talked about much in many spiritual communities because these communities place their emphasis on doing lots of work with outer energies such as spirits, Orisha, etc… While working with forces outside of ourselves are helpful, a strong foundation of spirituality can only be built for a person who is strong and balanced internally because much of what manifests outside of ourselves is a direct result of what is going on inside. For example, a person who sleeps in a cluttered messy room would most likely be one to have a cluttered state of mind, a lack of concentration, and live with much confusion.
On the flip side, there are times when rituals (ebbo), spiritual work, or even spiritual baths can help to alter and strengthen us from the inside out. So I’m not negating this fact, I’m only emphasizing that in most cases it is up to the individual to heal themselves and to work to build trust within because no one can give you that – not even the spiritual forces, gods, and deities… Many of our trust issues are deeply embedded and suppressed, however, you can ask your guides to help and support you through the process of healing or maybe they can show you the areas that need to be worked on.
Trusting yourself is very important because once you gain confidence in yourself great things will manifest in your life and you will feel stronger and have a greater sense of well being.
I get many emails about negative spirits; people asking “how does witchcraft work?” I will try to keep my explanation short because this is a complex subject.
I feel that there are negative spirits bothering me. I’m being attacked and I feel that I may be the victim of witchcraft, what should I do?
The basic answer to this question is that you will need to make sure that you are actually the victim of foul play or you could have conjured up a mass of energy to attack yourself by thinking and acting negatively or being obsessive in your behaviors.
Many people do not realize that they can self-create a demon or attract bad spirits to themselves. You have so much bad thinking and feelings going on that the spirits that like that type of energy will flock to you. You must understand that all spirits seek out people, places and things of similar vibration or of similar interest.
For instance, if a person suffers from depression then it will be easy for that person to attract entities (spirits) that are depressed, sad, lost and confused. If a person is negative in mind and heart then their thoughts and emotions will attract spirits of similar vibration. Say that you are a descent person but you just have low self-esteem. You could potentially attract spiritual energies of low vibrations and these spirits will attach to and feed off of the low thoughts that you have of yourself. Simply put, a person will only attract energies similar to what exists within his or her self. As the law of attraction states, like attracts like. This is why it is important to remain in good character and have superior and positive thoughts.
Have you created your own demon with your thoughts and bad feelings?
Yes, this sounds crazy but it happens all the time. In Afrikan culture, a self-created demon is called “elenini” – your own personally created monster. Elenini is created when a person resists change; they hold on to thought-forms that resist self transformation. These individuals are not learning life’s lessons. They have restricted their personal growth on some level and is internally conflicted to the point of self-destruction. They live having obsessive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A self-created demon also happens when a person persists to hold onto problems. They worship the problem, complaining and making excuses to why the problem exists therefore keeping the problem alive in their hearts and mind. Energies are then created to support the distorted view of what’s happening in their lives. In this, they continue to suffer but only at their own hand. For these individuals, they have made themselves believe that it is easier to live this way than to deal with the painful truths that live at the core. This unresolved conflict eventually leads to tension in the body, tension in life, resentments and anger. Elenini feeds off of negative energies, thoughts, and emotions – getting bigger and more stronger by the minute. A person can create an elenini for any area of their life. Some people have created an elenini in the area of love; no matter what they do they cannot find a partner. The elenini has become the invisible partner “cock blocking” anyone who even dares to take an interest. Others have created elenini in the area of money and finance; their thinking about money is so negative that a monster was created to ensure their suffering and poverty. Eleninis have also been created out of fear and trauma.
“If a person is avoiding transforming ibi [inner conflict, resistance, or change], they will look for someone else to blame for their problems. If there is no one to blame [like in witchcraft] they will create an imaginary demon that they can claim is responsible for the disruption in their life. If the need to create a demon is strong enough the thought form will take shape and the monster will materialize in the physical world giving apparent confirmation the problem is external and not internal…In Ifa this phenomena is called elenini. Real spirits always respond to the power of the word. If you tell egun (general spirits) or Orisa (deities) to leave, they leave. Elenini does not respond to the power of the word. The more you try to dispel it in a ritual context the stronger it gets. If a ritual exorcism is effective, the old elenini is replaced by a new manifestation far more powerful than the original. The only way to destroy elenini is to starve it to death. By this I mean you have to slowly work away at the internal conflicts that feed this spirit.
The only person who can destroy elenini is the person who created it. This won’t happen until the person is ready to accept responsibility for the real problem. If you try and banish an elenini in a ritual context the person who created it will view the ritual as a threat to their identity, they will resist the process by attacking you. There is no easy solution to this problem. My best recommendation is to refer the person with the elenini to a mentor, someone who has effectively transformed the real issue. The ritual cleansing ends up looking more like a twelve-step program than an offering to spirit.” 2
Your thought-forms and your emotions have tremendous power and this energy is alive. Most people do not know how to use this power and they stay stuck in negative thinking about everything. These people are internally conflicted and self-destructive on many levels. Most times the destruction is slow and subtle. This is apart of their self-sabotage. They obsess so much in bad thinking and feeling that nothing goes right. This energy has to go somewhere, “so it stays home to roost”. These negative thoughts turn into masses of energy that manifests into the physical taking on a character or a personality; a character/personality that you have given it with your bad thinking. Millions of people love feeling victimized so a mass of energy is created to victimize them (the elenini). People don’t realize that they are doing witchcraft to themselves.
If you feel that negative spirits are bothering you or you may have an elenini, then the first step is to look at your attitudes and character and make adjusts accordingly. You must begin to do inner work at resolving core issues. Give yourself a good spiritual bath or seek out a spiritual professional that can help you to get your life back.
ALADOKUN CAN HELP YOU TO GET BACK ON TRACK
In the case of witchcraft, I teach my students that witchcraft is the vision or the thoughts of what someone else wants to impose onto an unsuspecting person. In witchcraft there are a variety of magical or spiritual items and techniques used to strengthen the vision of what someone else wants to impose onto the unsuspecting person. Not to mention all kinds of spirits and sacred tools can be used to ensure the vision (job) is carried out. For those who read my book, you will recall that I was going through a bad time and the good spirits said to me, “this is not your life – this is the life that someone else wants for you.” Meaning, there were those who wanted to see me in a bad way.
So if you don’t have clear, concrete, and precise visions, goals or plans of how you want your life to go then someone else’s vision can take hold of your life. You will live the life that someone else wants for you. In retrospect, I realize that I was living my life without a solid spiritual plan of protection and because of my naivety the witchcraft was able to get to me. This happened to me at a young age and I didn’t know I needed to protect myself from spiritual impositions or other people’s thoughts.
If your thoughts or feelings about yourself are NOT positive and strong, if you don’t have clear direction for your life then the spiritual energy sent in witchcraft will find a way to seep in and break down the small dreams and goals that you do have. Witchcraft feeds off of the weak areas in your life like insecurity, low self-esteem, or lack of energy. It will also feed off of things like confusion, drama, fears, frustration, indecisiveness, illness, lack of integrity, lack of money, anger, doubt, or guilt. These are but a few examples. For instance, if you are pessimistic and have consistent negative thoughts, it is easy for witchcraft or the bad spirits to feed off of your negative thoughts turning things from bad to worse. Not to mention, your negative thinking will make the witchcraft even stronger.
Let’s take a look at a love relationship. Say for instance you are in a relationship that’s going fine then it appears out of no where things just seem to go bad. Witchcraft could be the cause? Of course, there are many reasons why a relationship can go bad but in the case of witchcraft, the energy or contracted spirit will seek out vulnerabilities in the relationship like deception, insecurity, jealousy, or arguing over silly things, etc., and eventually the witchcraft will gain enough strength to break the relationship apart. To avoid this, the persons involved in the relationship will need to protect the relationship and maintain strong visions of happiness, security, and longevity as well as be willing to nurture the relationship in all positive ways and communications in order to make it hard for the bad spirits or witchcraft to succeed.
To minimize the effects of such energies you must take a strong spiritual interest in yourself, in your life, and in your loved ones lives. Think positive every minute, work to strengthen your character every day, cleanse your aura, and clear negative energy in your home to keep the vibrations high. It is better to do little things than to do nothing at all. There are many things that can be done and small things go a long way to minimize and neutralize any bad spirit or witchcraft coming from someone else.
If you need additional help, I’m available for consultations, clearing of negative energies in the home, and I can make you a spiritual cleansing bath. Just send me a message on my contact page and we can discuss further.
2. Excerpt taken from “Ifa Theology – Inner Peace” by Awo Falokun Fatunmbi
What is Voodoo?
“There is a voodoo mentality in the world that needs to change. Many people think that rituals, ceremonies, or candle burning can be dismissed as voodoo and hoodoo, or juju, and anyone who even tampers with these types of spiritual systems of devotion should be considered evil, a voodoo worker, or in some cases, a witch. This is what has been termed the voodoo mentality. Many individuals use the word voodoo with scorn and disdain, putting it into a negative context to refer to something evil or malicious acts, but the word voodoo derives from the word vodoun, which means “spirit” or the “spirit is present.” Vodoun teaches that we must recognize spirit in everything that we do. In every thought and in every action; the spirit is alive.
Vodou (this is the original spelling) is not hoodoo or juju, even though these words are used interchangeably by the uninformed. So what is hoodoo? The word hoodoo is a term or a nickname used loosely to describe rootwork or witchcraft in a negative context; however, hudu (this is the original Ewe spelling) is rooted in Afrikan ritual and magical religious practices, which are used mainly for healing and protection, whereas Afrikan witchcraft (practiced by women) and sorcery (practiced by men) have the sole purpose of being evil in nature. “Rootwork, or what many have come to be known as hoodoo, taken out of its original context, is a spiritual system born in the areas of the southern United States— Louisiana, the Carolinas, and Florida—and is based on Afrikan slave traditions mixed with a bit of Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, and Native Amerikan Shamanism. Hoodoo of the Amerikas (rootwork) is not a religion, nor is it considered religious, even though it can adapt to any one of many religious formations, like Christianity or Judaism.”1
“For root workers, known today as hoodoo workers, there are no governed structures or levels of hierarchy; it is more an individualistic study and practice of botany—herbs, roots, and minerals—blended with beliefs of myths and legends from many cultures, pagan and non-pagan alike, to spiritually manipulate the outcome of a person’s circumstance for either good or evil using supernatural means. Hoodoo practices are normally handed down from a practitioner or from an elder family member or teacher, with no need for initiation or ceremony.”1
On the other hand, vodou, totally different from hoodoo, represents a legitimate religion. It is a spiritual/religious system that derived from the traditions of the Afrikan slaves and upholds customary structures, levels of hierarchy, ethics, restrictions, and taboos; ceremonial initiations are mandatory. To truly understand the Afrikan spiritual background and heritage, we must first understand the extent of the slave trade, known as the Middle Passage.”
This is a complimentary excerpt taken from the book, Ancestor Paths – Honoring our Ancestors and Guardian Spirits through Prayers, Rituals, and Offerings by Aladokun. To learn more about the history of the voodoo religion and hoodoo traditions, you will need to read the book “Ancestor Paths”.
1. Referenced from “Hoodoo – In Theory and Practice – An Introduction to African-American Rootwork” by Catherine Yronwode
PERCEPTIONS by Aladokun
When we work and communicate with spirits or Deities like the Orisa, the essence of TIME works differently. Spirit and the universe does not operate per the human CLOCK. Time is an illusion. A matter of fact, there is no time in the invisible world at least not the way we would perceive it. The universe and nature operate in cycles. There are many cycles like planetary cycles and environmental/nature cycles that have to do with, for instance, the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. And within nature/the universe there are energies and spirits that are more productive and beneficial depending on a particular cycle. Humans operate the same way — for instance: some people are productive during Spring vs. Winter. So these energies within the universe, the atmosphere, and in your environment will need attending to and these energies (like Nature) depending on its cycle can either support you or seem to go against you.
So when you make any type of ritual, ebbo (offering), or even something as big as initiation to the Deities (like Ocha), you will want energies in the universe, the atmosphere, the environment, and the spirit realm to support you and benefit you. During different cycles, did you know that there are times when the planets are aligned in such a way that you should not start anything new because you will not receive the full benefit of what you are trying to achieve?
This is where patience comes in. First of all, what is patience? Patience is the ability to “keep trying” in the face of delay without getting frustrated or pissed off. So when we relate this to spirituality, patience can mean waiting for the right time to get the best benefits but in the meantime, you continue pushing forward without anger.
In the Yoruba religion, Ifa says in Ogbe-Iyonu (Ogbe-Ogunda), “there is benefit in patience, level-headedness and the ability to control one’s temper in the face of opposition, oppression, provocation, and outright intimidation. Ifa followers also need to exercise constraint at all times. It will benefit them in the end. Even though it is difficult to see others cheating one and for one to keep quiet, nonetheless, Ifa has a way of righting all wrongs. In Ifa, no wrong shall go uncorrected. It is good for one to fight for one’s right, but one must not be oversensitive to one’s right. Ifa is the greatest and most effective protector of people’s rights. Ifa says that with patience and level-headedness, all good things of life shall be inherited by Ifa followers.”1 Ifa – The Key To Its’ Understanding by Fasina Falade
In the case of being spiritually initiated like to the Orisa, or to the Lwa in the Voudou Religion or receiving some type of ceremony – some would say that you are being married to the energies that represent nature. When you partner with these energies, you must learn that there are universal laws operating in the background naked to the human eye. Once you commit to this type of relationship, you must train yourself to see through the eyes of spirit so that you can respond accordingly. Do not react to what is seen by the human eye for it can be deceiving and will make matters worse. This is what makes divination so important; it allows us to get proper and clear sight on a matter.
For instance, when we go through important ceremonies and rituals particularly in nature-based spiritual systems like Orisa or ancestor worship, we receive sacred shrines that belong to the Orisa/orisha. (The Orisa are Deities that represent forces of nature). Through divination it is revealed which Deity will oversee your destiny and then you plan for your initiatory ceremony. Now, the universe or God (Olodumare) knows what you are preparing for so the universe/nature needs to be in the proper alignment with your Ori (soul) and your human form needs to be ready to partner with it. In addition, there are sometimes delays that will make sure that things in your ancestral line, things in your atmosphere and environment are promising so things go well for you. If things around you or within you are off and not benefiting you, then these supporting energies have to work to clear the way for you – this means it may take more time than you originally thought it would. When things are not going as planned, it’s just a matter of timing and if you are working with a supportive group of people you don’t need to frustrate yourself because in the end you know you will eventually get what’s due to you.
From another perspective, patience may enter your life when time is delayed for the purpose of assisting you in building your character. And how you deal with “patience” will depend on your personality and how you view situations in your life:
For instance, I needed to get a ceremony done and it took a year to get it done. The problem was not that it took a year, the problem I had was that it was divined to be done in three weeks. When I tell you I was pissed off, I was pissed mainly because I was told to have my ceremony done in 3 weeks and it actually took a year. I am making a very long story short but every time I would ask the Orisa and egun (the ancestor spirits) if it would get done, they kept telling me ‘no’ so I was practically losing my mind. BUT I have to tell you – there were many things that I learned during that year. First, I was looking at the situation from an unclear perspective and didn’t realize that the universe (the Orisha) had to set the stage for me to receive this ceremony and it would take a year to set that stage irregardless of my godparents involvement.
In not knowing how long it would take, I basically said to myself that maybe there are other things that I need to get done during the time. Maybe there are things that I need to work on within myself. I knew there was a reason I needed to be patient but that wasn’t making me feel any better. So one day I said to spirit I just want to understand why it’s taking so long. I had already thrown obi (divined) and I had already spoke to the ancestors but I didn’t have the clarity to why I had this delay. I don’t know the depths of Odu in Ifa or how to throw dillogun which would have most certainly given me clarity, so one day in my personal moment, I decided to pull my rune stones out. I keep them at my ancestral shrine/altar and I picked a stone called Jera. This is the stone that actually means “One Year”, it means Harvest and Fertile Season. Remember what I said earlier about the cycle of the Seasons.
Let me write to you exactly what this stone means: Jera applies to any activity or endeavor to which you are committed. Be aware, however, that no quick results can be expected. A span of time is usually involved; hence the key words “One Year”, symbolizing a full cycle before the reaping, the harvest or the deliverance.
You have prepared the ground and planted the seed. Now you must cultivate with care. To those whose labor has a long season, a long coming to term, Jera offers encouragement of success. Know that the outcome is in keeping with destiny so continue to persevere. There is no way to push the river; equally you cannot hasten the harvest. Be mindful that patience is essential for the recognition of your own process which, in its season, leads to the harvest of the self.
I wanted to type the exact meaning of “Jera” because it was so befitting of my situation and being patient can actually help you to build your character. Understand, although I’m speaking of patience in a spiritual/religious context, you can apply this scenario to any situation in your life. The flip side of this is that your situation may not have to do with patience at all but the irresponsibility of others. Sometimes other people (priests or priestesses) may be irresponsible in not upholding there end of the agreement. However, you will need to clarify this with spirit, Orisha, or Ifa. You would have to ask (divine) if your delay is of a natural occurrence and is there something you could do (like ebbo, adimu, ritual) to move/influence the energies in your favor, or is there something you need to work on within yourself or in your environment, or if the person who is doing your ceremony simply bull shitting? Once you have that answer you will know how to maneuver and proceed.
In my case, while being patient, I had to work on some things within myself. With patience there is an element of work (the part about continuing to try) and self-discipline. During that time I did meditation to build my mind, I learned to be more self-reliant and independent. So your character building may have to do with reflection, faith or trust building within self. Your time of wait can be a germination period (developmental phase) or gestation (growth) period, or there may be a lesson that’s letting you know that you can’t have everything you want when you want it and you can’t push the river (force the outcome). The time of delay can also be about sacrificing or changes you need to make. So how one deals or responds to patience will all depend on your personality, your temperament, and your situation.
I don’t remember where I got this but here is another view: Patience binds, heals, and supports relationships. Impatience is divisive. It severs friendships, dissolves marriages, breaks up families, and breaks hearts. So, patience is also about maturity. Patient people do not throw away pets and possessions or relationships and responsibilities simply because things aren’t working out as originally expected. Patient people bring out the best in them. Impatient people bring out the beast in them.
I hope this lesson has helped you and given you some clarity, but “a lesson in patience” is not always easy to acquire so you will need to think about what Patience means for you. Be well and in peace.