It's about our community and our spirituality!

Ifa Initiation Is A Personal Decision


Alafia Brother,

My husband and I live in Trinidad. We came into the Ifa tradition about four years ago. We have since been blessed with a beautiful daughter who, according to divination, is a special messenger from Olodumare. Now herein lies our problem. We have been instructed to do Ifa initiation but we do not presently have the thousands of dollars being charged in our country—and we both have locks.

While we are prepared to make all needed sacrifice, how do we determine what sacrifice is necessary?

Additionally, how do we know that the initiation being done locally by visiting babas is the same that is done in Yorubaland? Right now there is much debate about which babalawo is really doing “full” initiation.

We will welcome the viewpoint of others on this matter. – Ifalolase


You and your husband have been blessed with a daughter who, according to some divination ritual, is a special messenger from Olodumare and an initiation ceremony costing thousands and thousands of dollars is now necessary. Why? If Olodumare made the child the special messenger, would she not be the special messenger regardless of any ceremony being purchased from any man? What would a babalawo from Yorubaland do for the special messenger that Olodumare didn’t do already, with the possible exception of sending the child’s parents to the poor house?

Who performed this divination ritual for you that said Orunmila requires an initiation? I would strongly suspect their ethics. As far as I know, divination is the voice of Orunmila. And in all of my conversations with the Baba, I have never heard him say that somebody needs an initiation or an occupation or a celebration or an inoculation or anything else that is strictly a personal choice for ones self. The sole purpose of divination is to help guide people in the development of their spiritual character.  How do you know for a fact that the babalawo is indeed a man of Orunmila and not just someone out to make money?  Why would you trust your life and your daughter’s life to someone you just met and is trying to charge you so much money?  The development of spiritual character rarely involves spending a lot of money.  But the way many diviners operate, people are often told they need to spend money fast and to spend it furiously.

Some people may feel like they need a divination ceremony to kick their spirituality into gear. Some people feel that they need to shave their heads in order to invoke or inspire their spirituality. That is a personal choice. The development of spirituality is a personal choice. People who develop spirituality based on the traditions and requirements of other people are not taking their spirituality into their own hands but are allowing others to determine the rules of their spirituality. How can this be personal spiritual development?

Your Ori, that little voice inside your head, is already trying to guide you. Listen to your Ori. If you feel that you or your daughter being initiated isn’t right, chances are it isn’t right for your spiritual development or hers. And I can guarantee you that if you proceed with these thousands of dollars rituals you will forever wonder if you had spent your money wisely. I strongly suggest that you do what you, and only you, feel is necessary for the development for your spirituality. If other people do not approve of your personal decision then that is their problem. They didn’t consult you with questions about their spiritual development. This isn’t about them and their feelings are not a factor. They do not understand your situation as well as you do.

But trust me, Orunmila does understand your situation. He, nor any other Orisa, would ever ask you to do anything that goes against your family’s best interest. And trying to figure out how to pay for an initiation ceremony from a babalawo or some other priest who honestly could not care any less about you is not something that sounds like it might be in your best interest.

No offense, but every child that is born is a special messager from Olodumare. A child is a special message to parents that you have an opportunity to help shape the future. The best thing you can do for your daughter is to give her a foundation of genuine spirituality by teaching her to respect herself, her parents and family, her community, and her environment. Don’t let her get caught up in status and the materialism. Wealth and materialism is the antithesis of spirituality. The accumulation of wealth in order to perform an initiation is not conducive to spirituality. That is illogical.

An initiation is a ceremony that celebrates your Ori and your primary Orisa. That bond is there whether you spend money to have someone perform the ritual and have it officially recognized or not. No man on this earth can initiate you into spirituality or take your spirituality away. True spirituality comes from within. Do not let anyone try and tell you what you need to be spiritual.

An initiation is like a wedding ceremony. The actual marriage takes place in a government office where you get a marriage license and the union of two people is recognized by the state. The ceremony with the gown and the cake and the preacher who blesses the couple is a ritual that is dependent upon how much money somebody wants to pay. The ceremony can be big or little. It can be expensive or done very economically. The same is true for an initiation. You have the right to say how much you want to spend to have it done, if you want to have it done at all. That is totally up to you.

Lastly, despite everything I said, if you want the ceremony performed and you feel like you need the high dollar package with all the trimmings, then go for it. Some people don’t feel like they are married unless they spend a huge wad of cash on a wedding ceremony.  If you truly feel that is what you need in order to develop your spirituality then by all means do it. But don’t rush into anything. Orisas can wait. Orisas have been on this plane of existence since the beginning of time. They will be here until the end of time as well. They are not trying to force you to hurrying into debt. And speaking of debt, it makes you wonder how our ancient African ancestors got initiated before there was such a thing as money.

Sunday, March 29, 2009 - Posted by | Divination, Ifa, Life, Orisa, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts, Yoruba


  1. Brother

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply. You have affirmed what Ori has been telling us. My husband is adamantly opposed to ‘buying’ spirituality by paying for costly rituals as is becoming so prevalent in our country. For me, I strongly feel that initiation should include training. We both did our “First hand of Ifa” with a visiting babalawo, who said that divination showed it must be done. Of course, we had to pay a high cost for the ritual. We were presented with ikins but were never instructed on how to use or care for them. Our Ifa
    pots are therefore little more than ornaments on our personal shrine. A close friend has had a similar experience.

    On another occasion, divination prescribed ebo for our daughter. We speedily gathered the necessary items. The babalawo then told us that if we wanted the assurance of maximum all-round success we should pay him $1500 to do the ritual. When we said that we did not have that amount, he said that he would accept all we had-$800. Does that mean
    only half success, we wondered. You can imagine that we became quite skeptical after that. After all why did he not divine to find out whether he should take all our money.

    We returned home materially poorer, but hopefully considerably wiser. We are presently focusing on building our connection with Orisa and Ancestors personally and as a family. We are confident that we are being guided, because we found your site just at the right time. As you probably can guess, we will be reading your blogs regularly from now on.


    Comment by ifalolase | Monday, March 30, 2009 | Reply

    • Ifalolase,

      I should be thanking you. Lately, I’ve been spending a great deal of time talking about the black community here in America. I have been writing more about black people’s relationship with President Obama and all kinds of issues that are affecting us hard and heavy. A lot of people are thinking now that Mr. Obama is in the white house we can take our eye off the ball and assume he will take care of us. But I see Mr. Obama acting just like the babalawos and the other priest that come to Trinidad and take advantage of people’s sincere desire to develop their spirituality. Mr. Obama could be here to only help himself and therefore we must stay vigilant.

      But nevertheless, with all that writing about the black community, I’ve forgotten that someone needs to continue to write about Ifa and the changes that need to come. We cannot be a tradition of African spirituality only for people who can afford spirituality. Spirituality should not be held for a king’s ransom. It is for us all. I spent a lot of money to be initiated and for all the other rituals. Like your experience, the people who initiated me took my money with absolutely no follow up. I became an iyawo without an ile. But the experience was wonderful because it opened my eyes and I developed an understanding free of the clutter of the traditional way of doing things. The next time I pay a babalawo a thousand dollars it will be for something I need like my house painted or to have my car repaired. But it certainly won’t be for “spiritual work”.

      More people need to become aware of this scam in the name of Orunmila. You reminded me that I need to do my part to wake people up. Thank you!


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, March 30, 2009 | Reply

    • Honestly dont waste your time with these Babalawo’s who dare to charge you these crazy amounts of money. That $1,500 that he was charging you, you could have gotten initiated in Africa the “REAL TRADITIONAL WAY” for less then that. Email me we”ll talk more about it.

      Comment by IfaWole | Sunday, November 21, 2010 | Reply

  2. BrotherP,

    I couldn’t agree more. These people are deceitful and sound like a bunch of crooks trying to take advantage. I can understand a Baba getting paid SOMETHING for their part in a ceremony. But THOUSANDS, good god what are they trying to do? Fund their children’s college education with these people.

    This is the garbage that has to stop. Spirituality is NOT about monetary gain.

    Thanks for the great article.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Monday, March 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi i need guidance i am also a Trinidadian who is confused i am definitely certain that i have a leadership role to play where ifa orisha tradition is concerned and i did divination to get direction and was told by ifa that i have to do initiation but i am afraid to go to anyone local as i was burned before by a shrine here where i paid thousands of dollars for nothing right now i even got rid of the vessels i was given because i was told that it has no essence of orisha in it please help me and give me some direction

    Comment by Tamara | Friday, August 7, 2009 | Reply

  4. please don’t believe any babalawo’s shit.they only want your money.the only one you should believe is god.the reason i say this is cause i paid a lot of money for some shit that no good.i was so mad cause the mother fucker said that i was going to die.bullshit the only one who gives you a destination is god.but i hope that mother fucker get arrested for killing innocent animals.and gets send back to Cuba.if you want something good to happen in your life,you should believe in god.thanks and don’t waste your money on bullshit.

    Comment by mando | Tuesday, June 28, 2011 | Reply

  5. i am trying to get initiated to ifa how much do it relly cost

    Comment by gabe | Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Reply

  6. Initiation in Nigeria can cost anywhere from $3000 to $5000

    Comment by Iyalode | Thursday, April 12, 2012 | Reply

  7. That Cubans are making bussiness with the religion should be clear to anybody as there are no jobs available and Babalawos have to feed their famillys. Beside the fact that black Babalawos are being racist, they will never share their secrets with anyone no matter how much money they took from you.

    Comment by Steve Jukic | Sunday, July 22, 2012 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Steve Jukic,

      “…they will never share their secrets with anyone no matter how much money they took from you.”

      What secrets? If Orisa want to speak to you and you are willing to listen they will to you. No secrets necessary.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, July 23, 2012 | Reply

  8. Brotherpeacemaker,
    Good evening, I have been looking for honest information on Ifa Initiation. I have my hand of Ifa and orisha. Which I stopped attending to about 8yrs ago due to misunderstandings and false mentors. I have recently taken out my ifa and orishas due to my father passing. Any info or direction would be greatly appreciated. I do not want to continue to spend hard earned funds for spirituality. Mislead time and time again.

    Thank you for your immediate response.

    I am from Chicago, IL

    Comment by Ramon | Monday, November 24, 2014 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Ramon,

      But the bottom line is that you cannot buy spirituality. Spirituality is something that’s cultivated within yourself. You can and definitely should get help from people around you. But you have to look at their spirituality and make a judgment if that person is somebody you want helping you. You should never buy spirituality. If somebody is charging you to help you find your path then my suggestion is to run far and run fast from them. How spiritual is it to charge people money to help them become spiritual. What are the package deals? If I buy the deluxe package and pay more money would that mean I would be more spiritual than if I bought the standard package?

      Now I know it’s a tall order to develop spirituality on one’s own. But that’s a far better arrangement than paying for it. And in the Ifa tradition, the vast majority of the people searching for spirituality are the ones who can least afford it. There are so many spiritual houses where the person or the people at the top of the group don’t hold jobs. They rely solely on the people they lead for their finances. They refer to it as the tradition based on the spirituality of our ancestors in Africa that was developed thousands of years ago. And the tradition requires strict adherence. But our ancestors knew nothing of money when they developed their relationship with the Orisas. Money was a concept that was introduced into Africa when people started participating in the slave trade. Think about that for a moment. Money came into our ancestors understanding right when our ancestors started losing their freedom and their connection to their homeland. And many of our ancestors who were left were forever tainted by the greed that money introduced into their lives. If anything a good spiritual leader would want to keep money out of any spiritual practice.

      But I also understand that we all need money to survive. If a spiritual teacher needs financial help it’s only natural to want to help them financially. As good students we would want to help our good teachers. But all too often the people we are giving our money to our not good teachers but managers of a pyramid scheme designed to enrich themselves first with helping develop true spirituality as the farthest thing from their minds. When we give money to our teachers we should come away from that transaction feeling good about ourselves. We should never come away thinking that we have been manipulated into being cheated.

      With all that said, my suggestion to you would be to take a good long look at what you are getting from your Ile and ask yourself if you are truly getting your money’s worth. If I had to take a guess I would say that you already have your answer. Your spirituality is already telling you there’s something wrong. Listen to your self and trust your self because spirituality comes from within and not from without.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, November 30, 2014 | Reply

  9. The story of Ifalolase is rather a very sad one, that Ifa religion has assumed the posture of other ‘world’s chief religions’ where religion is a money~spinner. The true awo/seers should not lose faith in Ifa. In Nigeria, there is a registered organization with the name, IFA SEERS MINISTRY. One of our aims for founding and registering ISM is to propagate Ifa religion. One other reason is to curb some of the excesses, eg: religious profiteering. My advice is that some other seers should come togher and found similar organizations. And let there be a good understanding and relationship among these organization. That, for me, is the only way to propagate Ifa religion and save other would be adherents from the hands of those whose sole aim is to commercialize Ifa religion. Many thanks.

    Comment by Olusegun Okedairo | Saturday, January 31, 2015 | Reply

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