I was born and raised in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and after calling Washington, DC home for nine and a half years, I have returned to St. Croix after graduating from law school at Howard University. Like a lot of people, my journey to and in this religion has taken many twists and turns. It began with my exposure to a supposedly traditional ifa house that sent me my ilekes in the mail (don't laugh, I didn't know any better...but THEY should have, shouldn't they?), and that I later came to the conclusion was nothing more than an Ifa "priest factory". Everyone who went to that house was told they would be a priest. I later came to the conclusion that this was the case because the practices of this house were so outrageous that no reputable house would allow priests from this house to work at ceremonies, nor would other houses send priests to work at ceremonies organized by this house. So, to compensate, EVERYONE in this house had to be a priest. I then stumbled upon several houses that were headed by beligerent control freaks with too many issues to shake a stick at and who were anything but adherents to the doctrine of Iwa Pele, though in their own minds they were God's gift - the be all and end all of the Orisha ways, who knew everything and were smarter than God, the Orisha, the Irunmole, and EVERYONE'S egun combined. I came across people who mixed Orisha worship with other forms of worship, and were so confused that when I asked a question about Ifa I got answers about every religion in the world BUT Ifa. In the end I realized that there were a lot of crazy people out there, who regardless of their intentions and motives, are doing more harm than good and that neither priestly titles nor having years of study under your belt have anything to do with whether you are in fact a respectable elder who is furthering the best interests of the Orisha and humanity. In other words, some folks are just downright crazy, greedy and wrong, and need to be told so for their and everyone else's sake, whether they like it or not, if the ways of the Orisha are to be respected and sustained.
Finally, my egun steered me to the house that has turned out to be the right place for me, and I am now about to receive my warriors and my ilekes...the RIGHT way, NOT BY MAIL. I must give thanks to my ancestors and to the Orisha for leading me to this place. I mention all of this as a warning and as a lesson to others. There are many people who purport to know this religion, but that doesn't make them right for you. Listen to your heart and let the spirits guide you. Do this BEFORE you reach into your wallet and make any kind of commitment whatsoever. Remember that this religion is about healing, and is a way of life, not a way of controlling others or gaining access to their money. If Orisha worship is for you, you will end up right where you need to be. You cannot force it, and you must keep your wits about you so that you are not taken for a ride or led down the wrong path. Also, With all the information that is currently available on Orisha spirituality online, I've learned that just like life and ifa itself, you have to sort through many things that seem right at first but really are not, and that there are many obstacles and challenges which must first present themselves in order for one to come to one's own personal truth and the discovery of one's destiny.
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