Does everyone have to become a priest? Nope. In our Ile, you can only move into the priesthood if divination puts you on that path. There are many ways to serve the Orisha and many roles in an Ile and they are all important and necessary.

Isn’t the religion purer in Africa? No. In Africa the religion has also been influenced by Islam and Christianity – and the decimation of the slave trade took a heavy toll on African adherents. A better way to phrase this is that both African and New World traditions are not static and change to adjust to variances in history, and contemporary socio-political conditions.

Who is the symbolic or de facto leader of your religion, i.e. – Pope, Dalai Lama, Archbishop, Ayatollah, etc.? There is no one leader. The Lukumi system is organized around “iles” (houses of worshippers) or “ramas” (lineages of worshippers) and since the religion is hierarchical – the leaders are elders, or those with elder status from the various ramas or iles.

What is an ile (house)? A group of related priests, and godchildren (initiated and uninitiated) who come together to pray, to learn, and to perform ceremonies.

What is a rama? A lineage of priests – dating back to one common initiated ancestor.

Why do you wear beads, (elekes, collares)? What do the beads mean? The multi-colored bead necklaces represent the energies of the Orishas, and are consecrated (so please don’t touch). They provide spiritual protection for the wearer – and also serve to identify co-religionists. The bracelets (ides or manillas) are like the beads (elekes) – they represent different Orishas and are consecrated.

Why do you sacrifice animals? The ritual sacrifice of animals, though important, is not the main focus of Lukumi ceremonies. The animals are consecrated offerings, made sacred for communal meals, which are shared with the ancestors, Orisha and then consumed by the community. This is similar to Jewish kosher meat (ritually slaughtered) or Islamic halal meats.

About divination: Lukumi uses two types of divination; merindilogun (16 cowrie shells) and Obi (coconut). While some diviners will see clients that are not in the religion, we will not. The readings are religious in nature and for your evolution. They may obligate you in religious ways and therefore we only read people who are on this religious path.

What is an ebo? Ebo is an offering to the Orishas prescribed by divination -it may be cooked food, flowers, fruits, or an animal or an act of sacrifice or prayer to the Orisha geared towards cleansing, refining or transferring necessary ashe from one point to another for our progress and development. Ebos are marked in a divination session.

How much does it cost? The initial cost is in time – you have to be willing to spend time participating in ile functions. Lukumi ceremonies and involvement costs money. There really is no way around that. We charge an ashedi for everything. Money is sacrifice, it is work and it is labor. You should understand before you get too heavily involved in Orisha religion that no matter which branch of it you choose to be involved with it will cost you money and Priests are frequently not allowed to work for free.

Is Lukumi a Pagan religion and if not what makes Lukumi different? If you define Pagan as a pan-theistic folk tradition, then no – because Lukumi Yoruba belief is mono-theistic and urban.

Why do you have taboos? Because everything is a way of increasing or decreasing ashe – and Odu can indicate things that will be detrimental to your ache, just as it can indicate things that will enhance your ashe.

Why are people prostrating themselves to the shrine or to priests? Called Foribale, the act of prostration is saluting the Orisha of that persons head – not them – and by lifting you the person is giving you a bit of their ashe and health. It is performed by priests according to religious age and aborishas. There are elders who will stop you from throwing yourself. In that case, you simply cross your arms and hug and say “Agbe mi” (bless me). Non priests or non members can simply cross their arms to an altar or shrine and ask the Orishas for their blessings. Saluting a Babalawo is done differently. They are saluted by leaning over and touching the ground with the tips of the fingers of your right hand as you say “Iboru, Iboya, Ibochiche”.