AFRICAN VODUN: AN INQUIRY

Posted By on 30th October 2015

AFRICAN VODUN: AN INQUIRY

Today I had a particular inquiry that I answered which I thought would be useful to others; so, I decided to share it.

Q. How can I learn more about authentic Mami Wata worship?

A. The best way to learn about the Mami Wata pantheon of spirits is to have been found to be born of the Mami spirits, through authentic African divination and, if born to serve, go into the temples to learn after the initiation process. However, if one has a general interest, in Mami, one may learn a few generalities about her through those who actually serve these spirits.

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  1. Explanation: In African traditional society one only learns and trains in the secrets of one’s own personal voduns (spirits). In the diaspora we use the Eurocentric principal of knowledge gathering where one seeks to learn by finding someone to teach them through coursework or their own personal tutelage. But this is not the way of the spirits. The voduns are the creators of the universe and all it contains. Contained within them are the very secrets of the universe itself; and, only those born to serve them, agreed to before birth, and follow through by being ordained , through the initiation process, are privy to these universal mysteries. Therefore much in vodun is held secret to only those who are ordained or allowed to know. So, one will not find these secrets in books or readily given to “strangers”. That is why many who travel to Africa come and leave empty handed. A reputable priest will inquire of the voduns as to why you have come. And, if it is for naught or you were not born to serve them will send you away. Only unscrupulous individuals will give you something you are not supposed to have, which could kill you, or give you something you think you have yet has no power. In addition many in the diaspora do not understand that those priests who were not born to serve or initiated into Mami could be just as ignorant about her as someone here. So only those authentically initiated into a particular spirit can actually initiate you into that spirit in Africa. Just as the diasporan they may be only familiar with the generalities of who she is or the mysteries surrounding her. But do not be deceived by this most Africans are aware of her awesome power and ability to strike one’s enemies down with absolute finality. Mami Wata has a great deal of mystery surrounding her because of the secrecy; but, this is the same in all of vodun.

    Q. Do you mean only those born of the spirits can serve them?

    A. We are ALL born of spirits but not all are born to serve in the priesthood. There are many other ways that one may serve. It is through the divination process; however, that we find out, from your OWN personal spirits, as to who and what you are in the spirit realm, if you were born to serve the spirits and in what capacity. And, at Temple Behumbeza, if through our divination process we find you to be born of a spirit that we do not serve or is not our head we ask your personal spirits to whom they choose to perform your particular ceremonies.

    Explanation: It is the spirits, themselves, who ordain us. Therefore everyone serving them they know. They know the person’s character as well as their expertise in their work. Therefore, they are the ones that are to be asked and they are the ones that will tell us. For it is they who search the hearts of all and will choose the most appropriate, of those to whom they have ordained, to be their vessel in performing their specific work because, during the initiation process, they are to be consulted at every juncture. For it is they that prepare the person for the work and the priest is simply the vessel used in that preparation. Make no mistake; the initiation process is about the person and the spirits not about the person and the priest. It is the spirits that prepare us for our work and the priest or priestess helps to facilitate that process.

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