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Monday, June 4, 2007

Ceremonies costs, updated with more numbers

Aboru Aboye Aboshishe, May Olodumare, Esu, Orunmila, Orisha and all Isheshe bless and protect us!

I would first like to thank all the people who took the time to trust me and tell me the costs of their ceremonies in the spirit of sharing and helping others navigate these difficult waters. I would second like to thank my apetebii for always supporting me. Lastly, thanks to all those who have sent email with words of support for my writing. SPECIAL NOTE: please also don't try and compare lucumi rituals to Traditional Yoruba rituals, they are two different denominations and have different rites.

I'll keep this post short, again, if you are interested in offering me your costs, they will be kept confidential and will provide (I hope) help in the decision making process for people. Plus I hope that it will help to make the financial transaction part of the process more transparent so people can understand what they are paying for and why. Feel free to email me through the page here. Or through my yahoo site

I came across a Yoruba proverb I think would be appropriate:

Ohun ti a ba fi eso mu, ki i baje
Ohn ti a ba fi agbara mu ni nni 'ni l'ara

An honest acquisition last longer, an honest approach yields positive results
A dishonest acquisition or a dishonest approach paves the way to difficulty

** SPECIAL NOTE: I've decided since some will get this for the first time I will repost the original article that accompanied this study, it's important to read so you can understand the basis and logic behind this study . . . If you've already read it, scroll to the bottom.

Posted May 8th, 2007
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. Don't forget to put in your overall costs (plane, presents, etc). this can add to your costs and make what was $4K in a third world country end up being really close to $7K with plane tickets, Visas, changing money, paying for things for others etc.

7. 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.

And with that:


Anonymous said...

Alafia Baba! Re Initiation Costs:
Made To: Obatala in Tampa, Florida
Cost: $10,500.00 which included everything EXCEPT the cost of my soperas and implements for the Orishas. Thus,
Related Costs: $749.00 (soperas and implements.
Plus,liquor, flowers, candles et al for one Misa at a cost of approximately $$150.
Special Circumstances: Not sure what is meant by this.
Path: Lukumi/Santeria
Thanks for Listening!
Ade Eggun

juancarlos said...



Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that the adjusted figures to account for inflation are of any use as those persons that give orishas or initiations at a set price, ie. ileke for $121 don't put up their price each year.
Also, more clarifcation is needed regarding some ceremonial procedures which reflect price differentials, such as if the ebo meta or receiving an adimu orisha is done with four legs and feathers or feathers only.

Anonymous said...

I was recently crowned Chango in the US. Cost of ceremony was $7500.00 This included everything except my Iyawo clothes and soperas which were either given to me as gifts or I purchased throughout the year. I've seen the running around the santeros do for a measley derecho, the pain and suffering my madrina endured not only during the ceremony but the 7 days I was under throno, the incovenience of cooking animals until 4am, all the animals involved, etc. Feeding everyone at my dia del medio, the guiro, etc. I know I got off cheap!

Believe me, I am grateful for the small price I paid and I am eternally indebted to my madrina, my yubona and all santeros involved in my initiation. I hope someday I can return the favor with labor!

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,

I have felt some unease about the simple price comparison post that we have here. We can easily compare prices but believe me prices can be matched or even cheaper but there are other considerations that need to be made. Here are just a few important considerations when receiving any orisha:

1) Will all ingredients be included? For example it is silly to pay say $121 for an eshu that does not have the full cargas ingredients. Believe me Cargas and ingredients can be difficult to obtain are often costly or may even be upsetting for those who make it their business to mind other people’s business. It is not unusual for a carga to have over ten ingredients.

2) Does the person uphold the full religious ceremonies and protocols? Are they seen to act with integrity towards their clients?

3) Do their ceremonies fully comply with the full ritual blueprint or are corners cut needlessly?

4) Will there be adequate aftercare service? A significant number of Iyawos report that they have been abandoned by their godparents after their Ocha.

You can see that these four factors are not exhaustive and the reader can probably think of a few more. I am not being absolutist or unduly rigid as the thing that underpins all of our religious work is the ashe of the celebrants. However, I cannot help but be suspicious if one or more of the four questions raised above is a firm “No”.

Anonymous said...

To that last poster who said anonymously:

I have felt some unease about the simple price comparison post that we have here.

Clearly you didn't read my article before going to the comparisons, as I mentioned the items you pointed out and stated that a "simple" comparison should not be made without asking some other questions...