Why the Babalawo get's compensated.
Updated: Nov 4
Sometimes people , wonder why Babalawo's need money to preform spiritual services. Or why the need ask for money at all. And although everything shouldn't be centered around money . It surely does play a big role. In and outside of the tradition as we all know.
The element of money is essential within this spiritual practice for many of reasons . Number one is that materials cost money. And there is NO WAY ! The Babalawo is going to incur said materials for a client . As this is not his responsibility , nor will it ever be. The seeker or client is and needs to at bare minimum pay for materials needed to make his or her sacrifices. That first and foremost
Also being a Babalawo is like being a spiritual doctor of sorts. Yet most people , are more than fine paying a western doctor ,for their services without question . Regardless if he is successful in healing them or not . The Babalawo is really no different, just like the western doctor . They also under go years of learning training . And just like the western doctor the learning and training never ends . Not to mention that very unlike the western doctor we undergo very rigorous and intense initiations into different spiritual areas within the tradition.
This is to end short in the long run , be able to render any legitimate spiritual services to the public or anyone seeking their help. Now, when I speak on this topic. We are not obviously speaking on the millions of unscrupulous people . Parading themselves as priests or Babalawo's . That are obviously abusing and taking advantage of people . Taking peoples money and preforming all types of atrocities under the guise of IFA and Orisa. So keep this in mind when reading this information.
In truth a Babalawo is a alchemist of sorts ,really and truly. And not so much a priest as some may seem to think. A Babalawo is a transformer of energy patterns. So when you hear someone say priest . Well its just a way to help people, be able to understand the role . That the Babalawo plays , which in many ways . Can be seen or interpreted as something that is similar to a priest . Just like some like to call our tradition of isese a religion. In truth it really isn't a religion at all. Athough it does have many aspects of what is know known as "religion" in it. But IFA and orisa is more of a spiritual practice more than anything else.
In any case , here below I will leave the ese ifa : ( ifa verses form our corpus) . From odu Eji ogbe . Which nirrrates , in ODU ifa and in itan or story . Why is it that we must as clients seeking IFA and orisas help . MUST!!! included the element of money to what we want to do in our spiritual tradition. And always remember that money. Also forms , part of the actually sacrifice . It not just all other items other than the money. Money too , is the sacrifice. Well with out further adue I leave you. With a write up , form one of a much respected. Babalawo's in Nigeria . And someone I admire and respect immensely as a high chief and a authority of sorts on IFA and isese as it is practiced in Nigeria today.
Why the element of money is essential in our beloved tradition.
A friend, Awo Ifasola asked me, "Baba, can you repost why people have to pay for services rendered by Babalawo?
There are different categories of people who come for divination. 1. Those who are serious with their problem and are ready for solution. 2. Those who have continuous problems but will never perform sacrifice. They are only interested in the orikis( Ifa chants) 3. The colleagues priests/priestesses who understand the importance of Ebo and are always ready to perform the sac rice by the diviners 4 The colleagues priests/priestesses who will divine from you and claim they have done the Ebo themselves 5. Those who are comfortable enough to perform the sacrifice but will refuse to do the sacrifice for the reasons known to them. They are called "adeja"(perpetual ebo injunction breakers") 6. The less privileged who are ready to follow divine instruction. 7. The ingrates who will benefit tremendously from the Ebo but will go to the churches/mosques for thanksgiving as Kareem Adetola Yusuf pointed out. 8. Others not mentioned above Whether you belong to one category or the other, the necessity to include money in the divination process as well as the ebo processes.This can be found in Odu Ifa Ejiogbe as follows Ifa lo dalarun barun waye Emi na lo dalarun barun waye Adifa fun Orunmila oun ti ikole orun bo waye pelu opa osun Esu Odara lo reru awo tele Orunmila. Adifa fun Alarun Nijo ti Esu Odara loun o gba gbogbo ere ise oga oun Translation Ifa says sickness follows the sick to the earth I also say sickness follows the sick to the earth Cast divination for Orunmila coming from heaven to the earth with his staff of Osun. Esu Odara carried the sack of priesthood and followed Orunmila. Also divined for the Sick When Esu Odara decided to grab all the gains of his master. The story:
When Orunmila got to the earth, he first met Oluigbo, the king of the forest who was crying that the forest did not have ears. Orunmila commanded the forest to have ears(Igbo leti). Oluigbo gave nothing as financial reward. Esu was not happy. He thought "what an ingrate".Secondly Orunmila met Olu Odan, the king of the desert. He was crying that the desert had no path. Orunmila commanded the desert to have path. It happened(Arin Odan). He too paid no money. Esu was not pleased because he was hungry.
Thirdly, Orunmila met Olu Odo, the king of the stream crying for the entry of the stream. Orunmila commanded the water to have entry. It happened(Oju odo) Orunmila met a cripple and used his staff of Osun to strike his legs and the cripple walked again but he gave nothing for the miracle. Orunmila set to go but Esu waited behind. He asked the cripple what he would donate for his recovery but the cripple said he had nothing and asked Esu to beg his master. Esu was really offended.
Orunmila called Esu and asked what was keeping him. Esu joined Orunmila and lied that the cripple who had just been healed had vowed to kill one thousand people who made him a cripple. Orunmila was surprised to hear this. He returned to the cripple to strike him with his osun and sent him back to the disability.
This still did not satisfy Esu because he wanted food and money. Orunmila met "Alarun"(Very sick person) who gave up the ghost on the arrival of Orunmila. Orunmila commanded him to rise again. It happened. This proved that It was not only "Jesus Christ" that made corpse to talk again. The family of the ex-deceased paid nothing for this miracle.
Esu could not accept this ingratitude. He told Orunmila that "the rise from the dead had threatened to eliminate two thousand people who contributed to his sickness which led to his death. Orunmila returned and sent him back to "the land of the dead".Orunmila met a man whose pregnant wife was finding it difficult to deliver. Before anything was done, Esu came forward and asked for food and other things.
They complied and Esu ate to his satisfaction. The woman delivered safely with the help of Orunmila. Esu confessed to Orunmila that he lied about the cripple and the dead man because of their ungratefulness. He advised Orunmila that it necessary that people put something for divination. Orunmila accepted. He returned to the cripple and made him walk again after money was paid for the divination and Ebo. He did the same to the dead and commanded him to rise again after money was paid for the divination and Ebo.
Yorubas say, "Dada ko le ja sugbon o ni aburo to gboju" meaning "Dada cannot fight but has a junior brother who always fight for him. Orunmila is very gentle but his junior, Esu Odara will not watch him to suffer. Stay blessed. Oloye Awodiran Okanlawon Ayinde Agboola Araba of Oworonsoki Kingdom, Lagos Nigeria. As you can see in the itan or story above . Orunmila was helping everyone at his own determent . As everyone was getting all there issues solved ,he himself . Wasn't even thanked , much less even paid in anyway. Esu his best friend and powerful deity . Could not stand by . And let Orunmila continue to suffer in this way. Esu ways to let Orunmila see that, hey baba you need compensation for your miracle services. And you will continue to suffer in the same ways you are suffering . If something doesn't change as it is currently. Were a bit unorthodox to say the least. But he got his message across in the end.
Orunmila truly understood that although he took great pleasure in helping others . He himself was continuing to suffer in many ways because of this. Esu made sure he form then on got compensated for spiritual services rendered. And so it stands today that all Babalawo are also rendered financial payments for spiritual services rendered.
Here is also yet another short story similar to the one above that gives the same example . From odu iwori oyeku.
When Iwori Oyeku was leaving heaven for the world, he went to two diviners called Tara ni'agboo and Tara nil'oju.
They advised him to serve Esu with he-goat to avert irresponsible behavior on earth and to avoid the risk of becoming temperamental.
He was to add all eatable materials to the sacrifice. He performed the sacrifice.
On getting to the world, he turned out to be a highly proficient Ifa Priest.
Those he helped prospered exceedingly but he remained poor.
One night, he had a dream in which his guardian spirit appeared to him, asking him whether he was behaving responsibly on earth as he was told before leaving heaven.
His guardian spirit advised him to persuade another Awo to live with him as an auxiliary.
He did as he was told and the assistant advised him to be levying charges on those whom he divined.
Before then, he used to divine and make sacrifices for people without charging any fees or being compensated for his works.
The Awo also began to divine for Iwori-Oyeku because no diviner can have a clear vision of his personal problems.
With the help of the assisting awo, he began to see the limelight of prosperity.
At the height of his prosperity he made an elaborate feast at which he, sang, in praise of his heavenly and earthly Awos including the assistant who taught him how to operate in a manner where he could sustain himself and not lived in poverty as an Ifa Priest.