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Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The raw data on initiation/ceremony costs

Aboru Aboye Aboshishe . . .

When I first proposed this idea, I had no illusions. Money is a delicate subject. People are apt to get irritated if there is a perceived threat to their livelihood. Likewise, people are apt to get upset if they appear to have been taken for a ride. These factors contributed to a pretty low turnout (less then 15 people responded). That said, I decided to publish the raw numbers with no analysis other then creating a column adjusting the numbers for inflation to 2007 dollars. My hopes are that this initial data will spur people to send me emails with their costs, which I will gladly keep anonymous (as you see these are). Should you be interested, please answer the questions listed at the bottom of this posting.

Now, I want to again preface this by saying:

1. This is only meant as a comparison, it is not meant to dictate what should or shouldn't be charged.

2. There are good, decent priests who earn their living through Orisa/spiritual works, please support them and don't use this as a means to "negotiate" a better price.

3. Like anything else, quality costs. There are many hard costs involved in these ceremonies, goats can run upwards of $80 each, and I've paid as much as $900 for one Jutia (African bush rat). This doesn't include the many people that need to be fed and given some compensation for their work. There are also hidden costs, remember if your Oluwo/Godparent is doing your initiation, it may mean as many as 7 days without the ability to work, and that's part of what you're paying for. There are also often several ceremonies or days of preparations that are not a part of the ceremonies that you see. Often you don't know about these, and while you should be told about the time used doing them, you can't ask what exactly they are doing.

4. As we say in the computer industry, "garbage in, garbage out" or "you get what you pay for". Remember, you shouldn't skimp, this is not the time to cut corners, and neither should your Oluwo/godparent (if they do, confront them). Finding a priest who will charge less, but has no experience, does not care, will not teach, or worse, won't do the ceremony correctly just hurts you in the end. The flipside is just because it's expensive, doesn't mean you got "more" then someone who paid half what you paid. If the ceremonies were done correctly, then you are equals. Fancy titles or someone who wears shiny bling and charges a bundle doesn't make them better then a modest priest who has no titles and dresses conservatively, but loves, lives and breathes Orisa. In the end, you should be paying for knowledgeable priest, and hopefully one that will pass on some of that knowledge to you.

5. Be wary of mass initiations. For some initiations/ceremonies, it is understandable to perhaps have a few people do them at once, this is often done to lower the price. If you have 10 people receiving a ceremony at once, this isn't right. This is not about production line ethics, and it has not place here. My Awofakan was done this way and it was simply wrong. As far as I could gather, 12 people at between 1500 and 2000 a person added up to alot of money to split 3 ways. My Ita was less then 10 minutes and other less then that. Don't do it. Even if there are a few people doing it at once, ask why, ask how it will affect things.

6. Respect. Respect Orisa, respect the Ori you have that no one can take from you and respect your priest.

I'll preface this with a verse from the Odu Obara Oworin
Oro banta a wuwo bi owu
a difa fun aye,
Nijo ti gbogbo omo araye npon owo pe
Kosi ohun miran mo ninu aye ti o tun ni iyi mo rara
won ni awon o ko ohungbogbo sile,
Awon o maa sare mo owo
Orunmila ni eyiti e nro niti owo beeni
Ati eyiti e nro niti owo beeko si
Ifa l'a ba maa ye
Ogbon l'a ba ma ye
Awon l'a ba bu iyin fun
Agbeniga laa pe owo; abiwaje l'aa pe owo
Eniti ba feran owo l'afeju, iwa re a baje
Iwa rere ni oso eniyan
Bi e ni owo l'owo ko wipe ki e ma di afoju
Ko wipe ki e ma di ashiwere
Ko wipe ki e ma di aro
Ko wipe ki e ma di olokunrin ati beebee
Abuku ara gbogbo le de ba yin
Ki e tun ero gba
Ki e mu iwa rere
Ki e mu ogbon
Ki e wa rubo
Ki ara le ro nyin tinutode

Heavy words have the weight of an anvil
This was the teaching of Ifa to the world
At a time when all the people of the world were overpraising money saying:
There is nothing else in the world that is more respected then money
They said they would give up everything
And they would continuously run after money
Orunmila said: what you think about money is so
And what you think about money is also not so
It is the teachings of Ifa we should honor
It is these we should regard highly
It is said money is a raiser of status and a corruptor of character
A person who loves money excessively, his character will be ruined
Good character is the finest beauty of a person
Even if you have money, it does not mean you will not become blind
It does not mean you will not go mad
It does not mean you will not become lane
It does not mean you will not become ill and the like
You still can become disabled in any part of your body
Therefore you should go and get more wisdom so that you may think deeply about things
You should cultivate good character
You should acquire wisdom
And you should come and sacrifice so that you may be at ease inside and out.

The data:

a. Orisha made
b. year made
c. geographic location of ceremony (city, state, country)
d. cost of ceremony (ie, what your godparent/oluwo/etc charged)
e. What this cost included
f. related costs (clothes/other misc. items not included in the original cost)
g. special circumstances
h. Orisha sect (ie lucumi, candomble, palo, Ifa/lucumi, Ifa/traditional, Orisha traditional, Egbe, Ogboni)
i. Were there other ceremonies that you can recall the cost of? If so, what was that cost/what was the ceremony/what was the year and location?


sondjata said...

Did I see $19,000?

Ifalola said...

Yes $19K is correct . . . sad . . .

Luis said...

Aboru aboye Baba:
Wow! Amazing how prices vary, from year to year, from place to place. I paid the following in 1997:

Elekes: $150.00

Warriors: $350.00

Awofakan: $500.00

(All of this done in San Juan, Puerto Rico)

In 2000

Olokun: $750.00 (Puerto Rico)

Idosu Osa (Elegba) $2000.00 (Cuba)
* including Osoosi (fundamneto), Ogun (fundamento-caracol-dilogun)

Ebo meta: $1500.00 (Puerto Rico)

Everything was done correctly, patiently & thorough. All my Itas were excellent, profound & detailed.

By the way, one of the best readings that I've ever had was done by your baba, Kolawole in Orlando, Florida.

Iyabode said...

Great work Ifalola...

Some prices seem arbitrary, others pretty standard +-...

I would love to see prices, city by city...


Ronke said...

I find it disgraceful that people are being taken for "greedy rides" by so-called Priest/ess. I was very blessed to have the connections that I had for my initiation(s).

In Florida, I have heard an initiation for an Iyanifa is $25,000, and that was years ago. The question one has to ask is HOW in the world can that cost that much from a sect who had totally eliminated the role of the Iyanifa from many years back. Also, had royally underminded the role of the Apetebi. If the Iyanifa does not exist, how can one charge anything? SMH

As I said, I was blessed to pay a very decent amount for both my initiation as an Iyanifa and an Ogboni. I even had a very good friend come from Togo to be with me during this time frame so I'd be very clear of most of the events. Like the brotha said in his article "you don't ask". I do NOT feel like I've been slighted in any way, in fact, I was totally watched over and made quite comfortable during my stay in Nigeria.

If there are any other "Aborigene" in this group, please feel free to contact me. I would love to chat with my brothas and sistas.


Chief Iyanifa Jokotifa Amufawuni

Anonymous said...

Ola I am Chilie From Los Angeles I paid 1000.oo Dollas 8 yrs ago to be rayada then 300.ooDollars for Elekees then that Padrino Became a Babalow and charged my mother 30.00Thousand american Dollars to make Santo crowned obatala she had it done alone and many other Babalows came to help from San Diego like 4 men .then I went to San Fransico to a man named Pete Rivera a babalow and paid 500.Dollars for my Exu and he would always charge me 50.dollars if I was late for a apointment i would travel 60 miles to see him now i wish i had a santo but dont know were to go or who to trust I just want to cry alot. My e mail is I love your site and have tryed to ask others what they pay all the time on the Santeria101 were I found you , i was even acused of being a reporter Im not im just Chilie209 , Bendicion.

mingorock said...

I truly want to thank so much for this information. I began the process of receiving my santa and embracing the spiritual aspects of the religion. I do not want to initiate to the level of santera, I merely want to open myself up spiritually to be able to communicate with my eggun and the my santa(Espiritisma). Anyway I halted my process because it became very expensive for me and I didn't have anyone to defer to.

I also became very concerned that my Godmother, whom I have never met face to face, was charging too much. Although I did not know the processes that she needed to go through. We met during a telephone reading. I have my collares (elekes)and I am ready to receive my guerreros(warriors) but she told me it would be 1200 to start. Then i have to recieve my santos.

I feel the prices are exorbitant.

Based on the information provided in your article, perhaps my concern over my Godmother and the cost of everything is unwarranted.

I think this will at least provide me food for thought and I can make a decision as to whether or not I should continue with my process.

Thank you so much for your honesty and frankness.

Marcos said...

Mingo rock,

based on your comments I would be concerned...

First, telephone readings are not standard in santeria, lucumi, or other Orisha worship, you need to be present.

second, $1200 for elekes and guerreros IS expensive and a bit outrageous.

third, you should never become someone's godchild if you've never met them.

There are many many bells that are sound, lots of warnings in this. Feel free to email me, I'm happy to answer more specific questions.

mingorock said...

Once again , thank you for allowing me further contact with you and asking questions.

As you have said...All kinds of bells and whistles have been going off in my head. I live in the Atlanta area and I don't know of any santeros in my area. I guess I will have to start from the beginning and take my time. If there are any referrals you can make.. it would be greatly appreciated.

My first question is how do I get started and get connected with someone who has my best interest at heart? I am not interested in the Palo Sect or becoming a Santera; as I said, I merely want to elevated to the level of espiritisma.

Marcos said...

Hi again,

"elevated to the level of espiritisma"... Unfortunately I think you may have some misconceptions that need to be cleared up. There are plenty of books, I have a list on here, and if santeria/lucumi is your interest "Cuban Santeria" by raul canizares isn't bad.

You should also check out the online community I believe there are several folks on there known in the community in the atlanta area...

GT said...

A lot of people I know have gone to Africa and received an incredible experiences with their initiations but have not paid this amount of money. I do believe that Orisha religion is an African religion and feels that it is always good to go to Africa to draw that energy. I am not saying that there is no energy in Porto Rico and Cuba but the Christians go to Israel and the Musslims go to Mecca and it is high time we start making effort to pay homepage to our ancestors who made this religion possible for us