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The Difference between Inspiration and Delusion in Santería and Palo

If you don't know me why do you call upon me?

This will be a short and targeted rant. This week I have seen a few prime examples of people who act based on emotions; both in Santería as in Palo. I am not going to discuss the particular of each case because I want to respect privacy. People make assumptions. Because they feel something strongly they think that what they are feeling is correct and true and needs to be carried out. Nutty people in the loony bin also can have such feelings and ideas, these are called delusions. A delusion is a false idea about reality; keep this in mind as you read.

Let me point out a few things that should be food for thought.

Impulse and Inspiration

Santería becomes tontería (foolishness) when people read and imitate without thinking. It is lovely to have an inspiration but it does not mean you have to act impulsively and do what your inspiration is moving you to do. Because a book says that Eleguá represents phallic energies it does not mean that you have to surround him with phallic symbols and sex toys. How about engaging the brain before letting the body carry you away with meaningless acts? What an embarrassment to walk into someone’s shrine and find the Road Opener surrounded by such distasteful display.

Palo becomes a threat to personal freedom when people do not respect the law. A person who is barely trained feels an impulse to obtain a kriyumba. Having a dream inspiring you to get a kriyumba or other such objects hardly confers the right qualifications to deal with such responsibility. Furthermore, it does not confer the license to obtain one illegally. Grave desecration is against the law. There are legal ways to procure fundamental materials without risking personal freedom and the reputation and safety of the community at large.

I am not condemning inspiration, but all inspirations should be validated through readings before being put into practice, furthermore, they should serve a higher purpose, not just fancy. Responsible elders must be consulted and blessings obtain prior to action.

Emotions and Reason

Feelings do not confer authority or license to break or modify rules. When impulses and emotions rule religious practices, virtues are set aside for selfish reasons and logic is abandoned. The result is the corruption of religious traditions and the confusion of neophytes who follow the zigzagging path of so called ‘elders’ who do not know their nose from their tail.

Emotions are nice to have but loving the orishas or being devout to Palo is not enough. Adherence to the rules is fundamental. Knowing how to obey rules is a measure of self control, and self control is a key element in the development of good character. If a religious pursuit leads you away from good character, you are, plainly speaking, pissing out of the pot.

Reason shall set us free. An African Traditional Religions practitioner of self respect and virtue cherishes their relationship with elders. These practitioners behave appropriately by communicating with elders, sharing their ideas and inspirations to learn to sort out the validity of spiritual messages and the practicality of their implementation.

Some justify their impulsive actions by reference to inspirations from ‘spiritual’ communications and go about implementing anything they think has been shared by spirits. Wake up and smell the stench of foolishness. Just because you receive a message from the spirit world does not mean that the message is logical, intelligent or correct. Spirits do lie, manipulate and create havoc just because they can and it serves their needs. When spirit creates disruptions most times their aim is to have fun and to be fed blood and other offerings. Sometimes trickster, unevolved spirits and even spirit guides will create situations because they want to receive attention and the energies from an offering.

To belong to the spirit world is not equal to automatic wisdom; spirits just happen to exist in another dimension. Once again, having a person of experience providing guidance is fundamental to keep one’s path clear and to progress.

Omimelli, Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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