There are supposedly knowledgeable people in the African traditions that would like for you to believe that Orisas are prone to the same emotions and responses to emotions that we as humans suffer. If that were the case we all would have been in some serious trouble a long time ago. Thankfully Orisas are anything but emotional. Unfortunately, a lot of people within the various versions of the African belief systems are.
When dealing with Orisas a lot of senior priests and priestesses advocate treating them with the utmost respect through a lot of ritual, ceremony, pomp, and circumstance. Consequently a lot of stupid rules have been developed over the years that are rooted in little more than ignorance and silly superstitions. Never turn your back on an Orisa’s pot within six feet of the mat the pot may rest on. Always carry an Orisa pot on top of your head. Never look directly into an Olokun pot or you will go blind. Never put a Yemonja pot next to an Oya pot. Never look at an Orisa pot while it is being carried. Always stand on the tips of your toes when calling Sango’s name. And the list can go on and on and on.
Because many people’s ego is packed six feet deep in their insecurities they like to transfer the same insecurity to Orisas. Many think that because their own self worth cannot tolerate anybody showing them their back because they will automatically assume that it was intended as a sign of disrespect then an Orisas will see someone’s back as disrespectful as well. Indeed, many priests will pitch a fit if a younger priest or worse, an uninitiated person, turned their back or performed any breach of protocol in their presence. Ifa hell hath no fury like a priest of Ifa scorned. However, if one was to take a step back and look at things a little less seriously it would appear that a priest, or anyone who feels entitled to never see another’s backside, who responds to these perceived threats to their self-esteem really need to learn to think more of themselves and of the Orisas. Too much control of our well being rest in the hands of others.
Let it be said that an Orisa, or any spiritual being, who feels the need to be constantly feared by the very people who have already made the choice to respect and worship them is not fit to be worshipped. No disrespect intended to anyone’s belief system, but spiritual entities that need constant ego reinforcement are not very spiritual.
The Christians preach that their version of god is a deity that needs the constant reinforcement from people praying to him throughout the day and night, during good times and bad, through thick times and thin. Not only does he need constant prayer but he needs to conduct constant testing to make sure people will follow his principles when their feet are to the fire. He needs this constant support from us even through he’s the ultimate being of the universe.
But to put things into perspective our relationship to god would be similar to an ant’s relationship to us. We live at two very different levels of existence. We can’t expect an ant to relate to us so why do we feel that the lowly human can relate to god? If god can demand eternal and constant devotion from us we should be able to demand the same from ants. But good luck to anyone trying to get an ant to worship them. Then again, if god works in mysterious ways it would make sense that ants would worship us in mysterious ways as well.
There are serious doubts that the Supreme Being is or Beings are so petty. Maybe the spiritual entities aren’t the problem. Maybe the problem is with the people who have been allowed to guide, or manipulate depending on one’s point of view, the people through their spiritual development. These people claim to be so spiritual and other worldly that they have been empowered to guide the rest of miserable souls to a spiritually healthy place. Yet, in the same breath they will turn around and behave so pitiably petty and small minded.
Why do Orisa care if they see my backside? They don’t. My back is just as natural to them as my front.
Why will looking into an Olokun pot blind me? It won’t, it’s only the superstition that keeps one blind to the truth.
Why don’t Yemonja and Oya get along? They do. All Orisas cooperate together in the administration of nature and natural phenomenon.
Why do the Orisa work in such mysterious ways? They don’t. People try to manipulate spirituality for their own benefit. In the process they never consider all the possibilities and have to come up with a catch all phrase when things don’t add up. Orisa don’t work in mysterious ways. The ways of the Orisas are very clear and precise. Don’t spend time trying to understand them or their ways. Time would be better spent trying to teach an ant how to pray.
If a person can learn to resist the superstitious programming that they’ve been subjected to they will learn to see that many aspects of spiritual worship hold absolutely no water. There may be no rhyme or reason for their existence. It may seem to be a virtue to go through life with such a strong faith in a spiritual belief system powered by nothing more than faith fueled by propaganda. But aspects of one’s soul and one’s place in the universe are just too important to rely on superstition without comprehension.