Some years ago, when I was still living in Texas my godfather Yeguede and I sat down to work on the content for some of the pages of the Yoruba Temple Omo Orisha. During the process, I brought up a set of rules I had drafted thinking of my own little ilé and my godchildren. Upon reading them, godfather thought they articulated overall the thinking and teachings of our lineage, thus they came to ‘live’ in the page for the temple.
This morning, as I woke up and did my moyugba and prayed for my godparents, godchildren and thought about the future, it occurred to me that I had never shared these rules on my blog. Granted, the blog is not an ilé, however in a way it has become for many a place to come and learn and share about their spiritual journey. Therefore, I consider that since I see so many people floating adrift without proper guidance, perhaps these rules may ease their spiritual journeys. Each line has been drafted with a purpose, not to be authoritarian, but because when we stray from the path we create arayé and that eventually becomes a problem for godchild and for the godparent who then needs to spend additional time fixing a situation of unbalance that could have been avoided by adhering to a simple set of regulations.
I have used some portions of the original essay as posted on the Temple, as I consider that it is still very much timely. I have made a few edits to make the text applicable to the blog, as well as some additions to the rules based on my experiences over the last 7 years.
Today our religion confronts new and diverse challenges such as the quick diffusion of information through both traditional methods of knowledge, like books, and non-traditional means such as the Internet. Please understand that our religion is one in which knowledge comes directly from babalosha and iyalosha, and is put into the hands of oloshas and neophytes. The divulging of information that before was destined just for the initiated, now imposes upon us a new task: that of having to deal with aleyos and aborishas as well as with initiates who may display both lack of respect and civility.
One of the cornerstones of our religion is the concept of “iwá pelé’ – having a good character. Each member should live according to these precepts. It is important that each member of the ilé behaves with honesty and integrity. As members of a religious house or ilé, we focus on doing the right thing to achieve our goals; as part of this process we ensure that our steps agree with our rules and procedures.
House Rules for Ilé Eye Ife of Georgia
1. We expect from each member, respect towards their elders and other members of the Temple. This implies that one must always perform “moforibale” (pay homage) to your elders and to any other person that is initiated as olosha or awó and is older than you in years of initiation. Babalawos and oluwos must always be properly saluted.
2. Each member must act with courtesy towards all members of the house and any visitors.
3. We require complete honesty. Lies or deceit either towards fellow ilé members or the community at large will not be tolerated.
4. We demand respect for private, public and communal property.
5. Each individual must conduct him/herself appropriately. This means that one must not be involved in illegal transactions, consumption of drugs, involvements in gangs, or in activities that are against the law or against public order.
6. Ilé Eye Ife of Georgia practices selective initiation. This means that we will not conduct initiations for people unworthy of being a member of our religious house, particularly to those that think they deserve it just because they have the money available to pay for an initiation. This house is not an initiation mill.
7. Initiations will only be performed if the person has an oddú establishing the need for said process and if the person has demonstrated readiness and responsibility to obtain said initiation.
8. We require that members maintain a balanced and prudent romantic life regardless of your sexual orientation.
9. We will not tolerate actions from members that tarnish his/her own image or that of the ilé, or that places obstacles in the path of anyone’s spiritual or material development.
10. It is a requirement that each member fulfills his or her promises. Never promise anything to an Orisha or Spirit that you cannot keep. Each member has to prepare a notebook where you can keep your notes and all information (such as agendas, minutes, fees, important dates, promises) that is liable to be easily forgotten.
11. Treatment of other members should be the same as how you would want to be treated. Every member has to treat with respect his or her bothers and the general public, observing always our rules of etiquette and mutual respect.
We expect that every person observes the rules of this religious house and follows those listed above. These rules can be amended by the house elders as the need arises. In the event of any modifications, the members will be informed by face-to-face, by memorandum and / or updates.
Remember that this religion is based on love, faith and respect. By being a member of the Ilé Eye Ife of Georgia your actions can reflect on or have an impact upon our household, godparents, brothers and sisters in Osha and the general public. Here are some additional recommendations.
1. Instruction – there exists on the market a huge variety of books and materials related to the religion from which you can learn and acquire some knowledge about the religion and various aspects related to it. Members should consult on which materials to acquire. Because the Ilé Eye Ife of Georgia does not sponsor all existing material, please ask to see our list of recommended materials and keep in mind that there are a variety of versions related to the purpose of our religion.
2. Fraternity – the Ilé Eye Ife of Georgia will inform the members about Osha anniversaries. It is the duty of members to visit or call our brothers and sisters in Osha to congratulate them on their anniversary, a practice that is ideal in extending fraternal bonds.
Omimelli Oní Yemayá Achagbá