One of the most passionate arguments I have heard regarding the practice of Ifa and/or Santeria is that practitioners are discouraged (to say the least) at the fact that each step of their progress comes with a monetary price. This leads to the creation of an image that their salvation is dependent on their financial standing. Such could not be further from the truth. However, to fully understand the role that financial charges play on the path of each and every individual, explanations must be provided by those who are charging. In other words, it is the obligation of those of us who have accepted the responsibility of assisting, guiding, and working with others to explain why the charges exist and what they cover.
This entry is an attempt to do just that, at least on a basic and introductory level. Let it be clear that each and every sentiment is intended to stand as a reminder that the salvation of one’s spirit and the evolution of one’s existence should not be contingent on their economic standing. The blessings of all that guide us are not owned by anyone… they exist for everyone.
What each and every practitioner must understand is that from the inception of time, as defined by our faith, their always existed a cost for the services provided by the Orishas and those initiated in their àsę. Often referred to as a “derecho”, the cost itself is not relevant to the potency of the work. Instead, it is relevant to the understanding that the individual must invest in the process of their own salvation and progress. When a ceremony is conducted, or an ebbo is offered, one of the greatest ingredients to its effectiveness is the focus put on by the individual for whom the work is being done. More than their time, their energy must also be provided. The event (ceremony or offering) should take the individual out of their daily routine and remind them that there is a greater agenda to be followed. The agenda of their Ori… their destiny.
Now, with the above said, it must be made clear that the practice of charging is not the practice of extorting. The latter has absolutely no place in the truth and beauty of Ifa and/or Santeria. Furthermore, when one pays, what they are paying for is not salvation. Rather, they are paying for the service of another to assist in their own individual path.
Many times I have witnessed individuals express their ill feelings towards the existence of monetary transactions in religious and/or spiritual events and/or activities. However, after delving deeper into the individual’s point, it is clear that their arguments are residual from negative experiences had with other faiths in their life.
At the end of the day, the most important point to keep in the forefront of your consciousness is that the services of another are rightfully charged for. However, there is absolutely no price that can be placed on spiritual salvation. With this said, it must also be understood that the Orishas and the Eggun are around us always. They provide an abundance of tangible examples confirming their existence in the elements of nature that paint our landscapes regardless of where it is on the planet we call home. Immersing yourself in their àsę via something as simple as standing in the ocean and allowing the waves to wash over you, is a spiritual cleansing by Orisha Yemaya herself and does not require the assistance of another whose services come with a cost.
Respecting the work that goes into earning one’s money should never transcend into worshipping the dollar.
No practitioner should ever feel as though they cannot ask for an explanation of the charges. Such would be a good practice to employ to avoid being placed in a situation where one is exploited rather than assisted.
Luz, Amor, y Àşę.
©Dr William Q Ross 2017