Thursday, September 9, 2010

Response to a Response to a Review of Vodou Money Magic

In response to my August 31 blog entry, AdeLokun wrote to Tristatevodou:
I haven't posted on this forum in many years, but this thread hits on an issue that I have been struggling with these past few months. I find this thread very troubling. I am not a vodou practioner but an Santero, but as a sister tradition we also make ebo sacrifice in the hopes of having health, strength and stability in our lives. And I have seen Orisha, and vodu and nkisi, create miracles again and again. However, if we are honest with ourselves and others we know that prayers are not always answered. For some illnesses there is no remedy except death. People have different destinies and the spirits bring tremendous wealth to some, while I have known many great initiates who have lived simple lives within very simple means.  
It is definitely important to note that Vodou is not a cure-all and that, as AdeLokun wisely points out, prayers are not always answered. Any practitioner who claims a 100% success rate in money magic (or any other kind!) is lying to you. We also should remember that the spirits generally give a hand up rather than a handout. Any magical stuff we do or purchased should be accompanied by material efforts to resolve our situation.

AdeLokun's comment about great initiates leading simple lives points to yet another great truth:  success is about comfort, not about some arbitrary set of numbers.  You are not a success if you are making $1 million a year, but spending $1.5 million in a vain attempt to fill some void in your life.  You are not a failure if you are paying your bills and living comfortably on a modest income earned doing something you love.  The lwa will help you to meet your obligations and possibly even help you with a few luxuries. But sevis lwa does not guarantee one a McMansion and a Mercedes.

The first step in doing money magic is determining how much money one truly requires. Lwa like Ezili Danto and Ogou can help you in making a realistic assessment of what you need, and in prioritizing what you want. They can help you to overcome counterproductive behavior. In this process, you may well develop a sincere, rewarding relationship with that spirit. I've known many people who came to the lwa in search of love spells or money spells. Their work proved very rewarding and spiritually fruitful whether their desired outcome failed to materialize.
I have a godson now who is struggling financially and we have made numerous offerinsg baths etc to help but at some level this may just be a trial he has to go through at this time. And my own life as an initiate has not been a bed of roses. I am deeply grateful but I face an army of challenges of all kinds every day. I mean to say that if working the spirit--vodu, orisha or nkisi meant that you could magically get anything you want none of our anscestrors in these traditions would have been dragged to the Americas in the first place. So there must be something deeper to our faith and tradition than simly reciprical relationships where everyone gets what they want. I always thought that African traditions have a deep sense of life's inherent tragedy. Which I find missing from this account. I mean this as discussion and not as an admonishment.
There certainly can be something much deeper than a simple "you give me X and I give you Y in return." But I also think there is and has always been a place in the tradition for those who simply want to call on the spirits for magical aid. This may lead to a closer relationship with the lwa or the orishas, or it may not.  This is not a path for everyone: someone who receives aid from our spirits may well provide a thank-you offering and then go elsewhere to fulfill their deeper spiritual needs.

I should also add that there is a degree of risk with this approach. Raven uses the term "lawful prey" to describe those who, by birth or through their actions, can be claimed by a spirit.  If you keep going to the lwa or orishas with your problems, they may decide you need to become one of their clergy. And they are not likely to be too concerned with getting your consent to this expensive and arduous process! I've heard plenty of stories from African Diaspora traditions about people whose lives were turned upside down until they did what the spirits demanded of them.