Orisas are spiritual forces of nature. Orisas are not our personal possessions. Orisas are to be shared with each and every person who seeks them out. Too often the people who have been fortunate enough to have the funds to receive their Orisa pots keep them hidden away in a locked or private shrine room that’s off limits to anyone else. There is a philosophy that goes like, “I got mine…you need to pay your own money and get your own.” This selfish, narcissistic thought process is epidemic in the Orisa communities in the western cultures. Individualism and separatism is not an inherently Orisa concept. Exclusivity is a principle developed and nurtured through human ego and the short sighted need to establish dominance over others.
An Orisa pot is not a vessel that holds some supernatural entity. Orisas don’t live in these pots. Remember, Orisas are forces of nature. Nature is not only their home, but their realm; it is where they operate. What would make an Orisa leave the beauty of nature? Think about the realm of Olokun. The deepest part of the ocean is much vaster that we can imagine. There’s so much life outside the reach of humans. It is tranquil and mysterious. Now try to envision why in the world Olokun would abandon all this vastness and life and freedom to live in a pot. It could be a very nice pot. It could be the nicest pot ever to be made by the hand of a man with gold and platinum with diamonds and rubies that could energize the largest laser beam of the wickedest James Bond villain. As humans we would be impressed with the excess finery and luxury. But an Orisa doesn’t need gold or jewels. What would be the point? The pot is just a pot. Why would Olokun, Obatala, Oya, or any Orisa leave their world to come and live in a pot in our closet?
A pot is an anchor point. It’s like a beacon enabling Orisas to engage and interact with us without having to rely on our psychic energy alone. When an Orisa comes to visit without having a pot to help anchor and channel their manifestation, the person or people who are engaged with the Orisa are more likely to be exhausted and feel drained of strength once the visit is over. A pot properly charged with the energy of an Orisa is a wonderful thing. However, it is not something that requires worship, ritual bowing, or persistent praising as if it needs its sense of self-worth stroked. It is a tool to help us with our communications.
A priest cannot charge a pot. The blood from an animal sacrifice doesn’t charge a pot. Money cannot charge a pot with the energy needed to draw an Orisa. Only an Orisa can charge their Orisa pots. An initiate of Ifa doesn’t automatically have the skill, talent, experience, or intuition to communicate with the Orisas in order to get a pot activated on their behalf. Indeed, there are many initiates and non-initiates alike claiming to have what it takes to charge these pots. Many people will pay good money to purchase the stereotypical container and participate in the authentic looking rituals from people promising to deliver the genuine article. But the promise is empty. Not everyone who has gone through the initiation ritual is a true child of Orisa and many who are true children of Orisa don’t have the knowledge or even the desire to communicate with Orisas. The Orisas communicate with whom they want and they don’t communicate with whom they don’t want. In fact, it is quite possible for people who have never been initiated or even made aware of the African religion of Ifa to have an inherited but dormant knowledge waiting for the right circumstances for activation.
Many people feel that just having an Orisa pot entitles them to special privileges from the community. People buy them just for the bragging rights and collect them as if they’re collecting baseball or Pokemon cards. An Orisa pot isn’t even necessary for one to communicate with one’s own Orisa. An Orisa pot is very beneficial if one wants to keep in touch with that particular Orisa on a regular and frequent basis; something all Orisa worshippers should endeavor for. But it is not mandatory. Besides, if someone in the community is fortunate to have a pot or pots as part of their shrine it would be wonderful if they were generous enough, community minded enough, to allow others who may not be as fortunate access.