Godparents: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I have several friends who are in La Regla De Ocha, but not crowned. We are Aborishas, devotees and practitioners with our own gifts and specialties. We’ve worked hard to get to where we are, regardless of why we got into this religion, we all got here the same way. Ceremonies, dedication, faith, and the desire to help others.

One other thing we have in common is that we’ve come across godparents who we thought would love us and guide us until our crowning ceremony only to betray us for the most common thing in this world: money.

Godparents who love-bomb their godchildren, filling their heads and hearts with false love and respect. Giving gifts of low monetary value demanding more expensive ones in return. Things like a $600 bottle of cologne. Or a $500 air purifier.

Godparents who charge fees for various reasons such as:
being late to a ceremony or Misa (attending) penalty for disrespecting the godparents (by asking questions)
penalty for “disappearing” or being “secretive” or what we recognize as working various hours, overtime, and not calling everyday and pouring ourselves out to them doubling the cost of a ceremony as a penalty for not paying everything in full, months in advance penalty for not understanding the difference between “giving” and “loaning” money to their godchildren

Money is an obvious necessity in this religion; some call it the “rich man’s religion.” The prices for each ceremony vary from $150 to as high as $20,000 for a crowning. It’s understood that godchildren don’t get to be crowned quickly, unless they’re rich, because in between ceremonies we are supposed to learn. We read books, we learn the language, we practice our craft, we practice what we are good at – reading cards, candle work, etc. We work for what we have received and what we will receive.

Back in my mom’s day (she was not crowned) she earned everything. Godparents had godchildren who would run errands, picking up animals, cleaning and preparing the space for ceremony, welcoming visitors, serving light food and drinks after ceremony or Misa’s. Basically, serving their godparent and most importantly the Orisha’s. They would see this as being a dedicated godchild; one who wanted to earn every ceremony or every blessed moment among the Orisha’s.

Unfortunately, we don’t have that in big cities like NY, it’s all about money now.

Not to mention the inevitable mental illness that appears after years of hearing the Orisha’s in one ear, and the Muerto in the other. The voices are 24/7 and we must learn how to balance them out over the course of our day. Some of us have jobs, children, spouses / partners, but with all that we still must listen to them. They guide us, they help discern who’s being honest or not, or who is trying to take advantage of us. Just imagine you’re at an event, standing on one side of a closed door and inside the room there’s a large cocktail party going on. You can’t make out full conversations, it sounds like a bunch of flamingos cawing with intermittent clanging of glassware. It can drive you crazy.

My paternal grandmother’s erratic and abusive behavior started when my mother was pregnant with my brother. She even tried to kill me when I was 5, but that’s a whole other story.

My former godfather was seeing a psychiatrist for over 20 years. I’m older than him by two years. One of the many red flags was that he had initiated his psychiatrist. So, she is his godchild, he’s in a position of power over her. She prescribes drugs for his anxiety, sleep issues, among other issues. This isn’t right, ethically. But our falling out came over $100 that he claimed I owed him. It was ten months from when he “gave” me the money to help me get something out of pawn. Never saying it was a loan, just saying over and over how he was here to help. How I was his godchild and it’s a godparents responsibility to help in any way they can. I didn’t realize that meant he lent me the money. I’m one who specifies verbiage so that there’s no misunderstanding. He didn’t care. He just wanted his money.

He accused me of giving this money to another reader. He accused me of abusing him and his wife.

The final straw came when his wife called me at work asking for the $100. I spoke to her briefly, after asking permission to actually speak. The entire time he was in the background spiraling out of control, yelling and screaming.

He called me a bitch, a liar, a secretive person, and he didn’t like the way I “moved.” Slang for how I live my life. Which really meant, he didn’t like that I hadn’t become dependent on him for my everyday life like another godchild had. She had money and constantly bought him things, got Botox from him (he is certified), took them out to eat anywhere they wanted.

My last question which he wasn’t mature enough to answer was “do you still want me as a godchild?” Of course, he didn’t respond. He simply stated he couldn’t kick me out of the (spiritual) house. So, I asked his wife. She also hemmed and hawed responding. I did what I knew would get an answer, I cut her off and asked for a definitive answer. Yes or No, no ambiguity. She finally said no that I was out of the house. The call then ended quickly with him still yelling and screaming in the background.

That was three weeks ago. It cost me $100 to get rid of two narcissist grifters. He kept one of my elekes, but that’s easy enough to replace under these circumstances.

I walked into his house with gifts, he didn’t give me anything other than being the person who performed the ceremonies I needed. I paid in full even though I lost two jobs during this time and owed rent arrears after covid made its appearance.

Now I spend my time reading the books he and other practitioners suggested. Waiting for the next godparent who will appear. Will they do the same thing? Maybe. Will I end up with another set of godparents after that? Probably. One of my friends is on his 4th set of godparents.

So, for those of you interested, get into this knowing full well that the godparents who bring you into this won’t be the ones you end up being crowned by. Don’t let red flags slide by. I saw some red flags early on, but I needed my elekes and warriors to save my life. But again, a story for another day.

Maferefun Oshun

LESSONS IN MAGICK: How Do I Do Shadow Work?

A lot of people talk about doing Shadow Work but they don’t explain how to do that. I’ve been doing Shadow Work since I was a teen, never realizing that’s what I was doing. I simply wanted to deconstruct things that I saw in myself that I knew weren’t healthy for me overall. Some I held onto longer than others as a crutch to protect myself until I was in a good place. Some I simply chose to never let go for whatever reason.

If you’re struggling with how to do Shadow Work, here are some prompts to start delving into yourself. Be 100% honest with yourself. It’s ok, no one will see this but you. But it’s important to really call yourself out on things. It’s the only way to get to where and who you want to be.

This is something I’m doing in order to be mentally and emotionally stronger to continue my path in La Regla de Ocha or as it’s commonly known, Santeria / Lukumi / IFA. I don’t want any internal things holding me back from where I will eventually be. External influence is one thing, internal influence is one you can work on intensely.

So here are the prompts. I wish you luck and healthy behaviors. Don’t be afraid of what you find within yourself. This is how to crack yourself open and remove that which doesn’t serve you well.

Shadow Work Prompts

* What are your triggers and what caused them?
* Is there anyone you hold a grudge against? If so, what is holding you back from letting go and moving on?
* Do you feel misunderstood? If yes, what misconceptions do people have of you?
* What do you dislike about yourself most?
* What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done and why did you do it?
* Are you happy with where you are in your life? Is there anything that you can do to improve it?
* Was your childhood negative or positive? Outline the most prominent memories that you have of your younger years.
* What is your relationship like with your family? Has your connection strengthened since you were a child or has it gotten worse?
* What are your parent’s best and worst personality traits? Do you see any of them within yourself?
* Who are you closest to in your life and do they positively reflect who you are? Are you holding on to people that don’t deserve your time and affections? Are you honestly happy in your relationships?
* Are you comfortable in your skin? If there is something that you would like to change about yourself, what is it and why?
* Do you lie to yourself to avoid addressing your fears?
* What characteristics and traits do you dislike in others?
* When are you hardest on yourself and why?
* What emotions do you tend to avoid?
* Do you enforce boundaries with others or are you the type to let people cross lines?
* How did you deal with trauma in the past and what do you do to combat it in the present?
* Are you 100% yourself around others? Do you put on a persona or mask to blend into the crowd? Do you know who you are?
* Do you forgive yourself when you have done something wrong? When you make mistakes can you move on from them or do they continue to hurt you?
* What are your toxic traits?
* Are you happy to be alone in your own company? Do you use other people to fill a void?
* Do you respond well to constructive criticism? Are you over-sensitive to any form of feedback?
* Do you allow yourself to be vulnerable in your romantic relationships? Do you put up walls around yourself and your partner or are you completely open?
* Do you accept yourself as you are?
* What is your deepest, darkest fear?
* Is there anyone in your life that you are competitive with? If yes, what caused this rivalry?
* Do you feel as though people respect you?
* What is your biggest regret and why?
* Do you have any unhealthy attachments or habits? What are you doing to curb them and why have you continued to entertain them?
* Do you practice self-care? Is there more that you could be doing for your wellbeing?


30 Shadow Work Prompts

Of Garbage and Rebirth

All my life I’ve known some form of magick. Even though I had no idea what that meant. Things I overheard while at the kitchen table helping the adults make Puerto Rican dishes every weekend. From family involved in Santeria; a Shaman maternal great grandfather, a powerful paternal grandmother (who tried to kill me at the age of 5), my Mami who read people from toe-to-head, never the other way around. My childhood was filled with magick. And yet I struggled from early on for the recognition of Elders in Santeria. I wanted that moment of acknowledgement to confirm for myself and others that I was indeed, gifted in ways I couldn’t even begin to explain. There are memories that live inside me that are such a mystery, I’ve given up trying to figure them out and simply accepted them.

I was never initiated into anything my family was a part of. Mami wouldn’t allow it, telling me I had plenty of time to decide my path. So it was to her that I would tell my prophetic dreams to, but not the endless nightmares. It was her that I would tell who would be dying soon when the acrid smell and taste of death permeated the air and my food. It was her that I would tell the secrets the Orisha statues would tell me. But I would also listen to the advice she would tell those who came to her and kept a mental Book of Shadows written in my Mami’s voice, which I still hear even now, five years after her passing.

I would write things down in pencil on small pieces of brown paper torn from the bodega paper bags and stuff them in my shoes. Forgetting about them for as long as I had the shoes. I played with candles, I created spells, I played with fire – a lot of fire; called to the wind and the birds. I watched my Mami do workings for others, always listening intently to her warnings and instructions. I read all of my Papi’s books on symbolism and numbers in dreams, my Mami’s books on numerology, palmistry, even her book on Nostradamus. She taught me to read the Spanish tarot cards. And yet, I still longed for what would make me different but mostly, accepted. Truthfully and perhaps selfishly, I wanted to be honored, heard, and loved.

I often look back on my life, especially after learning about past lives and how they can affect our current life, and I’ve seen some patterns repeat over and over but none so much as suffering and loneliness. I’ve searched for the remedy to both to no avail. It was only after meeting the man I decided would become my Godfather in Santeria, that I learned of my path; I’m a daughter of Oshun, which surprised me, and one of the avatars of her path is called, Oshun Ibu Kole. He told me it was the path of the vulture goddess and to research it. He explained how this particular avatar was one of a beautiful Oshun who had the ear of Olodumare and other Orishas and yet fell so far down that she was often seen rolling around in the mud; dirty and in misery. She sacrificed herself for humanity and was left to pick up what she could to survive. He compared it to what I’d been through in life; I gave and gave and was always the one left behind to suffer and pick from what was leftover. This Oshun was powerful and honored because of her sacrifice. The vultures were her messengers. There’s also a story I’ve heard since finding out about this path, that says if one is ever out and gets lost in the wilderness or the desert and sees vultures looming and gathering overhead ready to pick at the carcass, they are to shake their arms or dance so that the vultures know they aren’t dead yet.

No one wants suffering and loneliness.

No one wants to struggle and feel as though they are alone in this world and on this path.

And yet I see the path of where I’ve been so clearly now.

The cycle of garbage and rebirth.

And maybe that’s why I’ve always danced.