I'm gonna get heat for this. Never one to back down or stay silent regarding issues that matter...
Self proclaimed Internet Manbo's and Houngan's (priests in Haitian Vodou) are rampant on FB. It's sickening and I'm appalled. They are ready, available and anxiously awaiting to take advantage of folks who are vulnerable and searching for spiritual enlightenment and guidance.
Manbo's and Houngan's who are initiated (in Haiti) take an oath to serve their spirits, their community, and individuals who seek their counsel. A true BON MANBO or BON HOUNGAN will adhere to this duty and walk their spiritual path accordingly. Vodou is not about what you "think" it is. It's a complex system of rules, rites, rituals, prayers, gestures, langaj, and secrets that will never be readily accessible in a book. You are not authorized to change, fuse, or omit tradition because it's cute and fashionable to suite your needs. Haitian Vodou is not merging Freda and Oshun, Manman Brijit and Oya, or La Sirene and Yemaya together, because their energy is "similar" - It is not. Respect the fact that spirits have specific energy. What works for one spiritual tradition, doesn't apply to all. Understand and get to know this word: Regleman - rules. These rules are guidelines on how to appropriately serve Lwa. Regleman is also carried out for initiating an individual into priesthood, who will then receive proper training. News flash: You are not an expert because of an initiation. Although your level of consciousness will be heightened, you are still learning, growing and developing as a spiritualist. It is a life time of study and dedication. Self proclaimed Manbo's and Houngan's, if you have not passed through the Djevo, or sadly don't know what a Djevo is when questioned, you are faking the funk. If you have not gone before Papa Loko to receive the Asson, to communicate with Lwa, you are a fraud. If you are asked publicly "What is the Priye Ginen" a beautiful collection of prayers and songs, that are essential to a Vodou ceremony, and can't give an appropriate response, but claiming priestly duties, well... If you are out here charging folks for spiritual readings and giving inaccurate information and calling upon Met Kafou and other powerful Petwo spirits that can potentially cause harm if not appropriated correctly... You are doing a disservice to yourself and to others. I'm trying to keep you safe. Oh! And you wanna trace Veve's too, without having it activated?! Just. Stop. It. NOW! All of it.
If someone says they can "look" at you and tell by your mannerism who owns your head. Run. Fast. If someone says they can give you a reading to find out which Lwa (spirit) walks with you, please make sure that person is INITIATED into Haitian Vodou, with experience reading folks. There is a distinct difference between knowing your Met Tet (Master of the Head) and knowing your spiritual Esko, which will be MORE THAN ONE LWA, hence the term Escort. Your Met Tet can ONLY be revealed through various forms of initiation or divination. Period. We all love Metres Ezili Freda Dahomey. Who wouldn't? She is power, love and luxury. Womanhood personified... But...does she walk with you? Or is it her sister? The Ogou family is mighty, powerful and very vast! The energy is fiery and attractive. But WHICH Ogou walks with you? Feray, Badagri, Balindjo, Ashade, Sen Jak, Batala, Shango? They all manifest differently and are served to cater that particular spirits needs. It may seem trivial, but it is important to know WHO you are serving before you go out and buy that expensive pink lace for Freda or that dagger for Danto. Vodou is not a game! Before you start constructing altars in the name of Vodou spirits because you "feel" their energy and are attracted to the bells and whistles, get a reading by a reputable priest.
I'm passionate about this subject. My adventures in Vodou has had its trials. The journey towards spiritual enlightenment is never an easy road. I've trusted individuals, whom I'm thought had my best interest. I've trusted Manbo's for guidance. I've trusted a Manbo to do a service, which only lead to a disservice to my pockets, but fattened hers, which in turn, affected my finances, my relationship, my mental state...MY LIFE! Trust wavered, faith was tested, and unforeseen challenges occurred. My own traumatic situation forced me to go deep within the depths that I didn't know existed. I'm grateful for the lessons. Those hard truths. Grateful that I finally realized SPIRIT was, and has always been within ME.
Black folks are reclaiming our spiritual traditions, and I'm loving it. I'm thrilled to see folks embrace Vodou and give it the proper respect that it deserves. I am grounded because of Vodou. It has brought a substantial amount of peace, clarity, healing and purpose to my life. My suggestion to anyone on this spiritual path: connect with your ancestors first. Everyone, initiated or not, can connect with their ancestors. Develop a relationship with them and they will guide you. Listen. Meditate. Sing for them. Feed them. Pour libations. Play music. Dance. Dream. Journal. Sometimes, the messages will be right in front of you. If you choose to take your journey a step further and decide to seek guidance from a Vodou priest, take your time. Ask plenty of questions, inquire about their lineage, attend ceremonies that they are hosting, speak with members of the temple or Sosyete. Most importantly, trust your instincts.
Lastly, Onè ak Respè to the legit Manbo's and Houngan's doing the tireless and selfless work, upholding the tradition, serving, guiding and teaching.