How I Came to the Ifa Orisa Path
For beginners on the path….
Been reflecting on my path. A lot of people ask..where do I start. I seriously forgot where I started…I’ve always been interested in the ancient mysteries. But to help some, I’ll share some aspects of study I underwent to get a feel of some things you may be interested in. Many things mentioned overlapped but they were Keys. Take what you are called to…Leave the rest. I did not include names because it’s the path and experiences that is most important.
In my teens, around 1985, I studied the esoteric aspects of the Bible. The Mezzerem… My grandmother was was what I now call a Christian witch… although she would say a lay healer… She payed hands with oil and healed people. She cast out demons out of folks and bound them! She spoke in tongues and anointed stuff with herbal oils. And man she could pray like no one I’ve ever known. Of course I was a reader and I found the Bible contradictions more than I could go with it…but I waited will I was out of my mama’s house and in college before I felt free to really explore. That sent me to Atlanta and Clark College.
My first read of Jambalaya came in 1988. That’s the first time I did Orisha and ancestor work. First time I could actually hear them speak clearly. Then numerology…first in the book Star signs… the Chaldean and Pythagoras systems. Always had deep dreams and I documented them. In college, I joined a pan African Kemetian organization. Went through a series of initiations with Kemetian divinities. Prior to that I hung with the Nation of Islam. Had a boyfriend in it. After a year, I knew it wasn’t my path. The Kemetic organization aligned the Kemeitan divinities with the Orisha so they kind of blended. Ausar was Obatala, Auset was Yemoja, Het Heru was Osun. They focused on the forces of nature within and personal development. Learned how to work with my ancestors there along with working with deities, invocations, possession and rituals, Divination, feeding, meditating, breathwork, mantras, mudras , chi hung, yoga, veganism, oracles ( Iching and Metu Neter) astrology… that was about 30 years ago. The head wrote a book called Metu Neter and a number of other like books. The queen mother in Atlanta nurtured my development at that time. It was truly a foundation I will always treasure even if it was not for a lifetime, I got lifetime jewels.
While in college, I also worked at a Metaphysical book distributor and managed an African book store. This was my real education. I had access to every metaphysical book and tool imaginable. I had the opportunity to meet many legends from all over the world because we promoted their books and they visited when they came to town.
I was introduced to the Orisha through a Babalawo in Atl in 1992. I was supposed to initiate as a Sango priest and by the odu Iyanifa but they were still new in the US so it was never offered as an option. Hung out with their Ile for some time but didn’t like the pettiness… judgements, and religiosity of it so I didn’t initiate there. I came to work with several powerful elder women living with each one for a time while I studied with them. They added to the Orisha, ancestor, juju, hoodoo, Vodu work. I moved back to Stl afterward and studied western mysteries and Rosicrucian stuff for a year… learned how to manifest more with it. Next deepened into Astrology… it was too much for me at once so I committed to learning a little every year. Only Astrology book you’ll ever need was helpful, spiritual Astrology by Jan Spiller was enlightening. Cosmic Astrology was another.
Coming to Stl, I got with another sister familiar with the traditions and we hosted community rituals for the deities every month. I guess we did that for a few years till we both got burned out, had families, and work… it was during that time that I first came to understand my role and the persecution of being a witch…although we just called ourselves priestesses. There was a church…African one at that, whose pastor accused me of being a witch because I taught his wife how to use oracles. Interestingly he knew before I knew…but he presented as a bad thing at the time. Lol…There were a lot of men who were scared of me at that time…Except the ones who actually knew me… and the sisters was down with me even more, lol.
I never had a negative view of the word witch. I always understood it to be a woman of power and wise woman. Many have corrupted its meaning based on Abrahamic interpretations but it never bothered me. People will always create a label and associate it with something undesirable when they are trying to discredit someone. That doesn’t make it true.
Anyway, I next I spent some years studying the tree of life from the Hermetic/ Kabalistic perspective. Golden dawn initiations, tarot and pathwork was helpful. I hung out with new thought…Spiritual centers, Unity Church, Science of Mind….I learned how to do spiritual and treatments and how to control my mind more. Went to theology school and became a metaphysical minister. I studied comparative religions and metaphysics there. I was a healer too though so I also trained in homeopathy with a German homeopath, massage therapy and naturopathy with a chiropractor. Those were my 20’s.
In my 30’s I went on to teach massage therapy at local colleges for 15 years. That required that I certify in every healing art there was…Ayurveda, aromatherapy, Reiki, Pranav and energywork, Asian medicine…. you name it! I had to teach it. I came to head programs as dean but I hated administration work so I stepped down. But my interest in the divine feminine deepened and I opened a healing arts studio to do healing work and teach classes.
Studied goddesses all over the world. Was bothered by lack of info on African ones so I started researching the Vedic and prevedic ones. The Mahavidyas and Matrikas. I still worked with Kemetian and Orisha and the Vedic completed the circle of Dark mothers. I was passionate about how they were presented…. often Europeans and men cast them off as scary and foreboding… fear….They spoke and came to me often and took me on trips in my dreams. Astroplane work was common. I knew they were guiding mothers of love and while they didn’t take no shit, they were also super powers in themselves. At the same time, I took up bone Divination.. came natural and I learned from ancestors in my dreams who would instruct me.
The Goddess studies took me to the Fellowship of Isis because…I wanted to know what white folks were doing. I was surprised that I learned a great deal of how the Kemetic mysteries developed in Europe. It gave meaning to a lot of the European sysmbols we see and are used today. I switched teachers there and finished with a woman who understood black isis and African traditions so that was how I completed my training with FOI. I was inducted as a priestess of Shekhmet through the Isiuem of Black Isis. I began facilitating workshops and retreats and preparing women for Priesthood in my iseum. I hosted community rituals periodically. It was then I published my first book, Spirit Rising, intended for general beginners. Later that same year I publish Magical Calabash bringing together several authors to write on the ancestral mothers. They gave me an oracle to use for them and I wrote about it there.
However I also started having another calling back to West Africa and began to pursue Akan initiation. My inner circle had Akan priests, Sangomas, Kemetian, Hoodoo, people and Orisha priests. I began the first part of it but had an abrupt turn when the Orisha said…uhh…you sposed ta be over here! My resistance caused my world and body to crumble..They were already in my dreams… I was already working with them…but I wasn’t sure which direction to go with it because I didn’t vibe with all people or iles in the tradition. As a strong advocate of African women’s traditions, I knew I needed an Ile that would not inhibit what I knew was my path….Some houses will let women initiate as Iyanifas and some would not.
Sitting in the hospital after a freak accident and back injury that made it impossible to walk. I had a dream that told me where to go and who to go to in order to get back on track. I was siting in his house and he had a bunch of Ifa books and told me he needed to share this Sacred Technology with me. I didn’t know him at the time but later saw his face on FB. I contacted him and he did a reading. The reading revealed the Orisha were done waiting and I had to initiate in order to walk again. I was called to be an Iyanifa. Sooo… I agreed… and everything fell out of the sky to make it happen quickly. I was in Florida a month later for the ceremony. I was walking a week later without a cane.
That journey made me drop everything else I was doing and study full time as an Awo. I had the advantage of being able to take care of my mom so that allowed me to be able to be immersed in my studies and training like a full time job. I also had the support of several great Babas and Iya’s that completely supported me actually learning. Daily study of the Odus, the medicines, Divination, for 8 or so hours a day was…my life. Traveling to learn the rituals, how to perform the ceremonies, initiations, just sitting with the elders and talking on the phone with my Yeye and Baba separately 2-3 hours weekly was…and still is my life. I was blessed to have a number of other honorary elders from the book Iyanifa Women of Wisdom that I published. Those 20 women took me under their wings in one way or another and I still can call any of them for support at any time. They brought the Iyami… The women of power… Some have crossed over and they left precious jewels for me to take on my journey. I also acquired a Baba in the city I lived and started “living” at his house and he gives me a lot of old school training. I was blessed that I had many skills to offer to support what they gave so the lack of money (cuz caring for the elderly don’t pay much) was compensated by the fact that I knew how to publish their books, websites, host their classes, run errands…etc.
Through it all I continued to see clients, do some classes, and find new things to learn.
So that’s a small piece of my journey and things I’ve studied over the years. It may not all be for you but I hope it helps to know this is a lifetime work…not over a few weekends or years… Be patient with yourself and allow time to learn and grow. One thing I’ve learned is that there is always something to learn… Nothing is what you think it is…Perception is everything..and perception changes as your innersperience expands. As soon as you think you know, forget about it…You don’t. Things take time…It’s not instant or fast food spirituality… Everything is not for everybody…and it’s ok. Just follow what is for you.