As time quickly goes by in our lives, we often forget the many blessings that are bestowed upon us. Too many times we drown in the trails and tribulations that come with existence in modern times. Probably the most powerful trails and tribulations are orchestrated by one single item…. Money.
The almighty dollar, as it is commonly referred to, can mask itself as the source of happiness as well as despair. It is very easy for us, in the capitalist society we live in, to believe that all can be solved with money and all that has failed, did so because there was a lack of money. Many find themselves overcome by a false sense of security and blessings when they have a dollar in their pocket. It is because of this, that I am compelled to remind you all that we are followers of a faith that came from slaves. A faith that was funded with sincerity, consistency, compassion, and heart. Salvation was not denied to any of the Nigerian slaves that were brought to the Caribbean during the slave trade, because they did not have the funds to pay the African priests.
In the present, there are many examples of Santeria, Ifa, and other indigenous faiths being exploited for financial gain. Many shops that promote instruments of these faiths do so with uneducated employees, who can only tell you the colors of the beads, and how much they cost. They are uneducated on the meanings of the colors, what they represent, what their purpose is, and the responsibility the wearer has to the Orishas when he/she wears them. This should in no way discourage any of you from entering a botanica, or religious shop as the materials we often need or usually found there and not all who are employed in one is not conscious of their responsibility.
What is most important is that we manage costs in this capitalistic world that we live in. We must understand that while there are legitimate expenses in our faith, there should never be an instance when we feel oppressed by cost. There is always a way to get things done with what we have.
One of the most important actions that we must take in our faith is the creation and maintenance of an altar for ancestral reverence. Not having this spiritual altar is detrimental to our success as practitioners of Santeria. We must always remember that there would be no Santos without Muertos. Our relationship with our Ancestors, those we know and those we do not know, is a relationship that guides us with passion.
In the equation of our lives, the Orishas and the Muertos are the values that add up to success, protection, guidance, and salvation.
Suggestion for setting up a simple altar for ancestral reverence:
Take a small table or stool and cover it with a white sheet.
Purchas a vase or bowl that attracts you, in the name of your Muertos (Eggun).
Place the vase or bowl on the table or stool that you have set up and fill it half way with cool water.
Surround the vase or bowl with any pictures of ancestors that you have. Be sure that the pictures do not contain the image of anyone who is still alive.
Change the water in the vase or bowl at least once a week.
Place a small white candle on the table (make sure that this is done safely and there is no danger present around the candle)
Place a small bouquet of white flowers on the table (occasionally)
Communicate with your Muertos (Eggun) in a personal manner as often as you like. While there are formal prayers that you can recite, I believe that it is imperative that a personal relationship, strengthened by personal communication be created.
Luz, Amor, y Àşę.
©Dr. William Q. Ross 2016