Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Mojuba Olodumare, Mojuba Obatala

Hard to believe that it was fifteen years ago that I began the week-long ceremony that marked my initiation into the religion of Santeria as a priest of Obatala. I was crowned fifteen years ago tomorrow in the Bronx: it was a moment I will never forget, frozen in time. Even those elders who were there in that moment who have since passed on (ibaye) remain sharp in my memory.

As things worked out the Santeria community wasn't to be a great fit for me as a home, but I still have this sense of cosmic gears turning in that moment that blessed me, that changed me, that altered the trajectory and path of my life, and mostly in ways I had no way of anticipating. I gave up a lot: some good, some bad, some things I miss, some things I don't, but as I felt the spiritual mantle I had assumed deepen and internalize I have felt greater inner peace and balance I wouldn't trade for anything. Maybe it's the mellowing of age, or maybe the mysterious gravity of Obatala Himself, but I've found so many of the desperate empty places in my earlier life filled with centered calmness. While I can surely report both good and bad life experiences in the past 15 years, joy and happiness mixed with pain and loss in random succession — such is anyone's life — I feel grateful for a moment of cosmic communion that had so much profound and lasting effect. Even as I find myself less and less a participant in my religion, I can still connect my spiritual being with a sort of dizzying inner bridge to the sacred. I wouldn't have predicted what I would be doing fifteen years later: I know I wouldn't have come even close to a good guess. But I knew I wouldn't be filled with regret and that was about as prescient as one could be.

And I am eternally grateful to my spiritual path for the sharpening and deepening of my creativity as I strive for clarity of expression. This blog, even when I'm writing about subjects seemingly far removed from an obscure religion carried to this continent in the infernal bellies of slave ships, is I hope witness and testament to the power of eternal spiritual truths manifesting themselves in the physical world. To my less spiritually-inclined friends and readers, I don't mean that as magic or superstition or supposed favor from invisible beings, but as a hearty endorsement of connecting with the life force that animates us, a little suspension of disbelief, and a reminder that patterns and symbolism tap the human psyche with good reason.

Anyway I'll conclude with what is an apt lesson for many of life's transformations, courtesy of those high priests of quite a different religion, The Rolling Stones. Because indeed you can't always get what you want but you do get just what you need.


  1. i always love reading about your religion, ish. people think that atheists are all anti-religion. but, not beleiving in god doesn't make religion any less interesting.

    mutual respect is a tenant missing among many folks with various beliefs about deism. and as long as i'm not forcing you to renounce anything, and you aren't forcing me to proclaim anything, then i say we learn all we can from each other.

    i always treasure these essays.