Entitlement in Vodou and Other ATRS
Hello, today what I wanna talk about is entitlement. So that’s the topic here of this video – entitlement. And entitlement is something that I see unfortunately all the time, especially amongst the African Traditional Religions, the ATRs, whatever it is you want to call them, the traditions of the Caribbean, and the traditions that have come here. And there is unfortunately entitlement all the way round in many different ways and that’s what I want to come to today…
So first and foremost before I get into entitlement this is what I wanna say to you. I wanna say to you that you can’t buy the Spirit. I know that this is something that a lot of people don’t want to hear, a lot of people don’t wanna know, you can’t buy the Spirit. What that means is: maybe you could buy a bad Spirit, everybody knows that there is hot pwen that they sell, everybody knows that there are hot Spirits that they sell, that there’s negative entities that are sold and traded for Spiritual work…I’m not talking about that Spirit, I’m talking about the good Spirit. You can’t buy that. You can’t buy spiritual gifts and spiritual abilities, OK?
No matter how much you try, no matter how hard you want to, no matter what you do, that can’t be bought. And it’s something that you either have or you don’t have, something that’s either developed or not developed. You can’t buy those things. Those things are just not things that can be bought and sold. So that includes via initiation.
What do I mean by that? It means that getting an initiation doesn’t get you the Spirit. Having initiation doesn’t mean you’ll have the Spirit. If you don’t have the Spirit in you, you ain’t gonna get the Spirit via initiation. This is why a lot of people be running around from House to House, place to place, thing to thing…jumping here and there and everywhere, and don’t understand why – why their things don’t work, why it doesn’t work for them…It’s because it doesn’t matter what initiation you take. You can’t buy the Spirit.
It doesn’t matter what initiation you have. It doesn’t matter what ceremony you undergo. Only if you have the Spirit do those ceremonies really make much difference as far as your spiritual abilities, gifts and your overall picture of your life. I know that this is gonna bust a lot of people’s bubble. It’s gonna pop the balloon, you understand? But it’s something that quite honestly I’m a little bit tired about, tired of hearing about…tired of seeing, is that people think that somehow they can buy the Spirit. And they think that the Spirit is for sale.
Initiation ceremonies may be for sale because there’s labour, costs, materials, supplies, assistance etc that need to be paid for, and the ritual can be done. You can’t buy the Spirit, however. You can’t buy the spiritual gifts to help connect you to the Spirit. Initiation may help change your life, may cause changes in your life, etc, but…if you don’t have the Spirit, that’s through the power of your initiator. That’s not through your own Spirit that that’s happening. It’s through the Spirit that’s with your initiators.
We have a saying that everyone has Spirits. But don’t get this twisted with meaning that everyone has Spirits to work with, everyone has Spirits to work, everyone has Spirits that can read, do readings, do divinations, everyone has Spirits that they can communicate with, or even others can communicate with! So you can have a Spirit, that doesn’t mean nothing. That doesn’t mean that you will be able to work with that Spirit, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to contact that Spirit, OK?
So, I say that because a lot of people think that if they go somewhere and buy an initiation, and so now they have the title of this, and the title of that, and they’re a priest, they’re a priestess, whatever…that somehow that buys them the Spirit, that somehow that means something to me. It may mean something to people, but it means nothing to me. Because I know people that don’t have any ceremony done on them who have the Spirit (or had the Spirit), and that Spirit work, that Spirit do what it gotta do – with or without ceremony on them.
So when you are claiming that you are a Houngan or Mambo, a Priest or Priestess of this or that, a Bocor, a Santero, a Santera – whatever you wanna call yourself, OK – to me and the way that I grew up, in my culture, it’s experience, results and proof that validates that. It’s those things that validate your Spirit and your Spirit’s capacity to work. It’s that which makes you really the Priest or the Priestess, the Houngan, the Mambo, the Shaman…the Santero, the Bocor, the this or that. OK? It’s not having a ceremony. That don’t mean nothing.
How does that go along with the topic of this video which is entitlement? That goes along with the topic of entitlement because…a lot of people think that because they’ve been initiated, that that somehow entitles them to learning or information. Let me tell you something. That in other countries and the countries which these traditions stem from, it’s very different than out here. Out here, I mean US, Europe…outside of Haiti, outside of the DR, outside of Puerto Rico. In those countries, everyone who’s grown up in the culture, who’s in the culture, who knows the culture, knows that you’re not entitled to anything!
You’re not entitled to any information, even if you do have an initiation. That’s up to your mentor, your teacher, your godparent, your mama, your papa, whoever that is. You’re not entitled to go and work with any Spirit and just do whatever you want. That’s up to those people. Those people that you say you put your hands in, you put your head in, that you supposed to trust and follow that person’s guidance, etc.
And if you’re having a problem with your mentor, with who’s guiding you, in our culture, in our tradition, you check yourself first. What that means is, look at yourself first. Don’t go to look to blame that person who’s guiding you. Look to blame yourself. Find the needle in your own eye, the straw in your own eye, before going to look to pick something out of somebody else’s, OK? Because a lot of times you may not know why the teacher, why your mentor is doing things the way that they are doing things, for you. That’s why you put yourself in their hands. Because you supposedly, supertemente, trust them. So, that’s another thing. Don’t try to determine or base how things are in other Western religions, Eastern religions, etc, onto us. Because that’s not the way that these traditions work.
People think that they have a right to, deserve, or have an entitlement towards knowledge and information in these traditions, that’s not the way these traditions work. You earn that. You earn that via service in your temple, via what you do for the Spirit. The Spirit decides when it’s time for you to have what you need to have. That’s number two.
Number three is, another thing that people feel really entitled to, or entitled about, is their entitlement for what the Spirits should or shouldn’t do for them. So let me break this down a little bit for you. Number one: if you’re not a devotee of the Spirit, you can’t expect that much of the Spirit. So if you’re not somebody who’s a practitioner who serves the Spirit, who works with the Spirit, you can’t expect that much from the Spirit. If the Spirits say they’re gonna help you, yeah, you expect that they’ll help. But you can’t expect that the Spirits gonna carry everything for you, or that they’re gonna be working for you forever or helping you forever…
Number two…what you should expect from the Spirit, depends on the agreement that’s made with the Spirit. And what you should expect from the Spirit, should also depend on your level of commitment to the Spirit. There’s a reason why Houngans, Mambos, Priests, Priestesses, Shamans, Bocors etc, live the way that they do. There’s a commitment to the Spirit. And that Spirit has a commitment back. You can’t expect the Spirit to work with you your whole life if your whole life isn’t committed back to the Spirit. There’s certain benefits, just as there are certain cons, certain sacrifices that are made, to be a Priest, a Priestess, a Houngan, a Mambo, an initiate, whatever. There are certain benefits that come with that and only come with that, do not come with other things, do not come when you have a work done, do not come when you have a spell done, a wanga, take a spiritual bath, make an offering. OK?
…My grandmother used to say, and this is so true, never expect the Spirit to answer something that your brain should answer for you. Aka, if you either know the answer, have the means to know the answer or could by using your brain figure out the answer, don’t expect the Spirit to give you the answer to that. Or even give you sometimes the proper answer. Because…the Spirit is not here just to do your work for you. It’s not to live your life for you, do what you’re supposed to do on your own for you. God helps those who help themselves, that means you have to do your own work, your own figuring things out, your own knowing about what your life is about.
Number two is don’t expect a Spirit to do what you should do for yourself, what you have the capacity to do for yourself. Aka, don’t expect the Spirit to go put in job applications. Don’t expect the Spirit to go out at night to meet someone for you. These are things that you need to do yourself. Don’t expect the Spirit to substitute for hard work. Don’t expect the Spirit to substitute for actually making an effort in life, for actually making a plan and actually following through with things and actually doing things. OK? So, that’s the next level of entitlement.
Number three is, people who do serve the Spirit, work with the Spirit, etc, when there’s two or three things that you ask for, and you get them, there’s twenty other things that the Spirit did for you behind your back that you didn’t even know about. When a spell or ritual or work manifests, the manifestation that you see, the positive result that you see is only a small fraction of fifty other things that had to be done for that outcome to come together for you. So, when you don’t see things exactly this way or that way or whatever way you may want them, take into account everything else that’s always being done for you and that you don’t hear about, you don’t know about, you don’t get to know about. So, that’s the next level of entitlement.
The next level of entitlement comes from people towards the spiritual worker, towards the Houngan, Mambo, Priest, etc. Number one is, you’re not entitled to free information, free knowledge, free this, free that…Number two is, there’s a reason why our tradition were secret and many secrets still exist and many things are still kept secret, it’s because you have to be in to know. You can’t expect to know if you’re out. So there’s many powerful things that are very dangerous tools in the hands of the wrong people…
Number three is, expect to pay for your services. Pay for what’s done for you, pay for the help that’s done for you. Pay for the time that’s being spent on you, that’s being spent out of that person, that spiritual worker’s, time, their life, to help you – or to initiate you, to guide you, whatever. Honour your godparent. If you have a godparent you need to honour your godparent. I wish all my godparents were still alive. I have some living godparents but I wish that all of them were still alive.
You have to honour your godparent. When you go to Haiti, when you go to the DR, woah! Temples there, how things are run there, are way different than how they’re run here. There, they honour the Houngan, the Mambos, the Bocors, the Caballos de Misterio…they honour that person who’s running those ceremonies, who’s doing that…they make sure that everything is taken care of so that person is focussing on what’s the most important job in those ceremonies, that only they can do. So you need to honour your godparent. Honour your temple. Honour where you come from…otherwise you ain’t gonna get honour where you’re going. That’s how it works.
That’s why Honour and Respect is something we constantly repeat over and over in Vodou. Honour your initiation, honour your ceremonies that you’ve received, honour secrets. Secrets should be kept that way: secret. If you don’t know how to keep a secret these traditions ain’t for you.
We don’t haggle over money. Is it expensive to get spiritual work done in these traditions? If you want a good Priest, Priestess, Houngan or Mambo to do it for you, yes, it’s expensive. Just like if you want a good lawyer, a good doctor, you gonna pay top dollar for top doctor, top lawyer. It’s expensive. You get what you pay for. Why is it expensive? Because we know what we do works. You want cheap? There’s cheap people out there, we’ll see you later. When you go five million places and waste a whole bunch of money with cheap practitioners. Where it don’t work. Then we got to clean up a mess for you. That’s if they do the work at all. Our work works, it’s time-consuming. It’s energy-consuming. People who are really doing this work, are very drained from their energy very often to do this work.
Which comes to my next point on entitlement with the spiritual worker. People e-mail and call spiritual workers, and I know this from my own experience as well as many spiritual workers who are students of mine, godchildren of mine and also friends of mine, and they think that spiritual workers, we’re just sitting here to wait hand and foot on you, on your phone call, your e-mail…And I’m sorry to explain this to you, but in order for us to do spiritual work we’ve got to do spiritual work. It means we can’t be sitting on the computer, on the phone, all day, all night. We gotta actually do the work. And when we’re doing consultation, we got to do consultation.
If you have questions about something that needs the answer from the spirits then you should get a consultation. That’s the proper way of doing things. In these traditions, you don’t take out what you don’t put in. That’s how it works, you put in to take out…
So, if your spiritual worker takes some time to get back to you, be calm, be patient, take into account who you’re working with, how many clients does that person have on board, how busy is that person. Because after a day’s worth of magic or a day’s worth of sessions, appointments, consultations, all day long, your spiritual worker may be too tired because they don’t have the energy, because the energy’s been used up in the work and the consultations, to get back to you that day or the next day. It may take a while for that person to get back to you. Give them a chance to get back to you. Be patient.
The next thing is that people expect that the spiritual worker is on beck and call, the spiritual worker isn’t on beck and call, if they’re actually doing spiritual work, they’re not on beck and call. They can’t be sitting on the computer and lighting the candles and doing the prayers and the offerings and everything else that needs to be done.
And then, the last entitlement that I wanna talk about, actually has to do from people to other people. In general, people are really entitled. People for some reason expect or have a thought, a belief, and therefore an expectation that they deserve certain responses from other people, certain attitudes from other people etc…And that they deserve certain things from other individuals in life in general.
One thing that I was taught a long time ago, and it holds true, in life, don’t nobody owe you nothing. Meaning, even your own parents don’t owe you nothing. Meaning, if they don’t take care of you, it’s because technically, although they should have, although it might have been the proper thing to do…true debts, God finds a way to take, aka, don’t nobody owe you nothing. Otherwise, it would have been given to you…
What you have is what you work for but at the same time, nobody owes you to give you another chance, to be in a relationship with you, to give you a certain job, etc. You have to work towards those things…and nobody owes you certain things when it comes to personal interactions or relationships, and what I mean is family, friends, romantic relationships, business relationships, etc. And when you take those people for granted and have a constant expectation that you deserve or people owe you something, this is one of the very common reasons why people’s lives turn around and it don’t work, things don’t work out for them and they have issues and problems. If you take away that…many issues in a person’s life can clear up, not all, but many issues.
So, it’s something to think about, it’s something that I check myself, that you should check yourself, everybody should check themselves. What is it that I’m feeling like people owe me and what people give me rather than I give others? What is the experience that people have of me? What is the experience that I want others to have of me? What can I give to another rather than just take? How can I create relationships of balance? Symbiosis, symbiotic relationships? These are all things to think about.
So, those are just some meditations there, some thoughts on entitlement in our traditions, as well as life. And I hope you’ve enjoyed my video, we’ll speak soon, God bless. Until next time, keep the faith. Papa Hector.