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Staying Clean: Being a Good Person as a Diaspora Spiritual Practitioner

Something on my mind of late that I’d like to take a minute to write about is this- it is important to stay “clean” and be a good person if you intend to walk a spiritual path within Diaspora religions. I was reading Baba Osvaldo Omotobatala’s book “Kimbanda: Myths and Secrets” and it had some things in it about staying energetically clean and being a good person that I really resonated with. By staying clean I’m not referring to physical cleanliness although that is very important. Bad energy is attracted to dirty environments for sure.

What I’m referring to is behavior. Lying, cheating, stealing, being arrogant, being slanderous, not keeping your promises, taking advantage of people, doing drugs, etc. There is not a concept of “karma” per se in our traditions as far as I’m aware. However, it is said that the ocean (Kalunga) that you swim in is what you will be surrounded with. In essence, if you surround yourself with bad behavior or bad people then that energy will be attracted to you. It’s simple really. If you behave badly, then bad things will happen to you and bad spirits will come to you.

Have you ever met a so-called “spiritual person” that always had terrible things happening to them? Or they act crazy? These sorts of things always happening to a person indicate that their life is out of balance. As an old South Carolina rootworker once told me, “Some people’s head be so high in de clouds, they feet don’t touch the ground and they ain’t good fuh nuthin’.” That old man could cut cards and had the sight like no one I have ever met.

All of us have challenges in life and sometimes stuff just happens. But a truly spiritual person who has a good relationship with the spirits he/she works with and exhibits good character will have support in those kinds of situations. Both from the spiritual world, and from the good people around them. As long as they are doing their best and working to overcome them things come together and they are okay. Their needs are usually met.

Many years back I saw someone close to me become the victim of an initiation mill Palo house. I will not name them. The prospective godparent had all sorts of bad things happen to them constantly. Their apartment caught fire, their car got taken away, items sent to them for consecration “disappeared”, the godfather did drugs and propositioned a friend of the prospective initiate, et cetera. It should have been a clear warning to to stay away. My friend could not see the signs due to inexperience and the cognitive dissonance created by their own investment in the relationship.

My acquaintance found themselves taken for a substantial sum of money and with a badly done initiation that caused them all sorts of trouble. As has been said money has no morals. When people are willing to ignore protocol and good behavior for money, problems will surely follow.

They had let someone with bad character scar them energetically. Their thirst for alcohol became strong and it began to have health consequences. Their relationship fell apart. Their job environment became very difficult. Once they decided to finally part ways with the negative house the former godfather and his madrina threatened the person with witchcraft. It took a long time and a properly done initiation in a legitimate traditional house for them to get completely right.

These were painful experiences for them to be sure but often the lessons we learn the most from in life are the hardest. It goes to show; take time to get to know a perspective godparent and see that they are of good character. Be sure they are “clean” and have a good heart and treat others well. And then you need to be that way also. Treat them with respect. Respect goes both ways. Treat others well. Keep your word, follow through, and keep a cool head.

Another situation I have seen is folks who want to be “spooky” in the traditions they practice. You may have met some of them. They get involved in Diaspora traditions like Kimbanda, Palo and Vodou and cultivate an aura of “spooky” around themselves. They talk about how powerful they are and seem to sling chisme (gossip) and witchcraft around everywhere. A lot of them drink hard and may be involved with drugs and negative relationships. They don’t call alcohol “spirits” for nothing. It leaves you wide open. The spooky types in my mind often feel some weakness within themselves and cultivate that image in order to feel or appear strong. It is best to avoid those people.

Our Diaspora traditions are not about being spooky. They surely are warrior traditions no doubt. Never mistake a calm and good hearted demeanor for weakness. Our traditions are about spiritual elevation and helping the community. Truth be told, the truly strong don’t usually look spooky. They don’t need to. Like Teddy Roosevelt said, it’s better to speak softly and carry a big stick.

Both of my current wonderful godparents have urged me in the past to be of good character and stay clean. Treat others well, keep your word, be honest, and other elements of good behavior. I’m grateful because following their advice has been of great succor in that regard. Though we all have challenges as human souls in a body being good makes it easier to be here on this earth. Not only for you, but for those you encounter and society in general.

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