Five Years After My Ifa Initiation
I just had my fifth anniversary as an initiate of the ancient African tradition known as Ifa. It was five years ago I paid the fee to be just a little closer to god on what I believed at the time was the true path to enlightenment. It was five years ago that I paid good hard earned money for someone who had access to the Orisa’s inner sanctum to put in a good word for me and let me join the club. One night five years ago, there was a ceremony and a ritual and a party ensued on my behalf. It was five years ago that I woke up one morning changed for the world.
When I was initiated, the priestess who I selected to lead and guide me in my spiritual endeavors assured me that my relationship with the world had changed. I felt like Neo in The Matrix when Morpheus offered him the red pill for true enlightenment, or the blue pill. The blue pill was never an option. With my heart pounding and without any experience on what was expected of me or what I could expect of an initiation ceremony, I swallowed the red pill and jumped into the unknown with both feet.
Now that I look back to that time with the hindsight of five years of personal development, I have to confess that I anticipated things that the people in the ile couldn’t really deliver. When I was ready to discuss issues pertaining to spirituality, they wanted to discuss issues of the hierarchal order of the initiates, strict adherence to protocol, and unwavering conformity to the traditional ways that Ifa is practiced. My first year as an initiate was full of disappointment.
But with each disappointment came true enlightenment. In the first few months of my new initiate life, when I felt like my spiritual elders were neglecting my spiritual development, my spiritual understanding was allowed to take a divergent path. While a typical initiate would spend their year learning rote prayers and ceremonies and how to conform to the traditional way of thinking under the careful tutelage of an elder quick to correct an unorthodox thought, my conscious was free to develop without the interference of the traditional way of thinking.
The more time I spent with my spiritual elders and the rest of the family the more I realized that we were growing apart. It seemed like I was always breaking protocol. The house had rules that during any official activity, initiates had to sit in a specific order in a separate line away from non-initiates. And despite my attempts to sit where I wanted away from people’s focused attention, people would pull me back into the thick of things. It got to the point I really hated going there and putting up with such trifling issues like whether or not somebody wore an authentic African outfit to one of the official ile sanctioned events.
Eventually, one day I realized I was wasting my time. While the initiation itself was all that some devotees were after, I realized I needed something else. There were some initiates who were more than happy to simply gain the inherited enhanced hierarchal status that comes with initiation. Such focus on personal social gain couldn’t be very good for the development of spirituality. And it was my personal understanding that elders of any belief system who placed such emphasis on using a promise of enhanced spirituality for their own personal gain are no different than the average con man using snake oil to make a fast buck.
In the past five years I learned that there should be no such thing as paying someone to perform a ritual or ceremony to enhance somebody’s sense of spiritual strength. There’s no such thing. A flesh and blood human being cannot improve another’s spirituality. At our current plane of existence the human brain is incapable of understanding the true depth of nature’s spirituality. No dollar amount can change that fact.
But something else I learned in the past five years is that there are a lot of people who are looking for a quick fix to their real problems and are willing to pay good money for a spiritual solution. A lot of people are willing to pay a lot of good money for spiritual enlightenment from someone else. We will be willing to give our money to somebody in an authentic looking African outfit to tell us what we want most to hear. But that’s not spirituality. That’s more like making a wish and expecting magic to happen.
If I have learned one thing in the past five years it is that spirituality isn’t magic. It isn’t something that comes from someone else. Spirituality is something that comes from its own personal journey. People can’t buy spirituality. It is something that must be developed and nurtured on our own. We can pay others to help us on our journey. That’s totally logical. We should be willing to show gratitude to our teachers. But make no mistake, the journey is ours to make and it never ends.