FAQs for beginners in the Ifa Orisha tradition
Question 1: Why do people have to pay for initiation and other experiences? Isn't spirituality free? I can learn for free through books and YouTube. Other religions don't charge.
Answer: The fact is unconscious Christianity (that's the belief system you operate under even when professing a different religion.) has convinced people that Everything is free. It's not...Not even any of the Abrahamic traditions... I'll start by taking the Biblical perspective 10% tithe. By the time you calculate say minimum wage $8.00 hr at 10% that is 320.00 and the tithe should be $32. For 1 year/52 weeks that's $1664 a year... After 3 years of attending if you never got a raise, that is $4992. Ten years in the church and you have paid $16,640...at minimum wage, not including the secondary offerings, any potential raises or if you actually make more...
Further that does not include the cost of becoming a licensed clergy-equivalent to a priest. Bible college or Theology school can range from $1500 for a certificate to $150,000 if you get a Doctor of Divinity from a prestigious college.
So since we got the fact that Abrahamic religions are not free out of the way lets go on..and even compare.
There is a law of reciprocity always at work. Never take more than you give. We pay for other readers..we pay for Reiki classes. We pay for books...we pay for clothes, jewelry...When a person wants to be a doctor, or theologian or engineer, they pay to go to school to do that work. They pay for licensing and continuing education and other professional fees. They invest the time to be proficient.
How many would really trust a surgeon to operate on their heart that primarily learned from a book and youtube? Just because you read how to drive a car doesn't mean you know how to drive a car....so it is both arrogant...and ignorant...to suggest that you know it all already and don't need to be taught and trained by experienced masters. A book can't tell you when you fucked up in the spiritual realm... and are playing with fire...You only find out when some stuff is on your ass you can shake... Mentors protect you from that... They teach you time honored skills and knowledge that help you be proficient and effective. They spend hundreds and even thousands of hours initiating you, growing you, nurturing you, supporting you, training you, answering your questions, listening to your problems, emails, phone calls over a period of years...and often at the sacrifice of their own biological family. A mentor becomes a spiritual parent, Doctor, Counselor, social worker, mediator, professor, and is often on call 24/7 to numerous other people. Time is money... it took them years to be where they are...to be able to give you what you are seeking... They still have to live, eat, pay expenses, rent/mortgage, utilities, sustain their households too.. So what kind of foolery makes you think they don't deserve compensation for that? I mean what if your employer or clients said that they weren't going to pay you for the work you have done for them? Would you be ok with that? The only people I know working for free are people who are generally novices just learning and who work somewhere else...or someone else else is paying their expenses.
What are the real costs of Orisa Initiation?
As for the cost of initiation. That can vary widely and from lineage to lineage. I've heard quotes from 1000 to 30,000...depending on the Ile, lineage, god parent, Orisa, extravagance of the ceremony,... While the associated fees and cost may vary, I will share what some of the expenses may be associated with to help you know where it may go. The cost will vary on everything from :
Amount of supplies,
Number of priests and people involved (drummers, singers, dancers, general helpers, and whatever fees they may ask for their time and expertise.
Ebo items (specified offerings such as animals and adimu involved),
lodging...either for yourself going to a place, or of the priests involved that must be sent for, ewe and herbs that may be imported or secured,
number of implements /icons/ritual pots received,
If done in America or another country..Cuba, Africa, time...number of days,
Training and education before and after (this includes experience of priest)Education also takes place over years without additional compensation although some do charge a separate fee.
Food- Everyone needs to be fed over days... and someone has to prepare it.
Clothing and Ceremonial Wear
Guide/escort fees if someone is taking you overseas
When you look honestly at what is involved, most reasonable people will see that many costs can be justified to some extent. Sometimes a bare bones initiation with the minimum may happen because a life is involved. In those cases some priest may take little or no fee at all. But that should not be considered the norm. Also some things may be open for barter or reconsideration with some Oluwo. You never know until you ask how you might be able to cut costs. In any case one thing has demonstrated itself. When it's really time, the money, Oluwo/godparent that's right for you and what is necessary comes. Sometimes it's just a matter of patience for the right time. Sometimes, you find that particular path just isn't for you because you are needed in another capacity.
That said, greed is another animal, so I'm not advocating greed.....as in asking way above the normal ranges and using the tradition as a cash cow. That is corruption not compensation. I don't advocate talking out Payday I am advocating being considerate when it comes to compensating priests and don't be so quick to take and not give or judge those who do ask for reciprocity. Don't be so quick to assume it's all about money and not realize where it's going.
This is a meditation and reflection journal on Ifa and African Spiritual Traditions. This is not intended to reflect popular or conventional beliefs so much as it is intended to explore the sacred wisdom of Africa beyond religious dogma. Like all traditions, there is a religious component practiced by the lay person, and then there is the esoteric tradition practiced by seekers of spiritual truth. The difference is in the approach. My approach is through understanding the laws of nature itself we can understand Ifa... and vice versa. Through understanding these laws, we gain insight into our very nature and can use these sacred tools and wisdom for our evolution and advancement as souls on the planet. They ultimately allow us to live in harmony on the planet and in alignment with our divine destinies and with nature itself.