Today I read Denise Alvarado's wall on FecesBook and this is what she had to say: “I think I've been grilled and basted. But this is my thought. Why do people feel the need to be initiated into several different religions? I mean, it seems there are folks who just collect initiations like others collect degrees or fuzzy bears. Not my personal cup of tea to jump into every ATR and get initiated. Why would I want to do that? I have no desire whatsoever to do so. The initiations, or what we call rites of passage, I went through in the Native way is enough for me. My baptism as a child was not my choice but it is what it is and set me on a specific path. I have a lot to learn about Ifa and a very patient, and very good, Godfather. I don't need any more than that and I do not want any more than that. I take my time. I don't jump into things frivolously without understanding the cosmology of the tradition and whether it fits for me. I don't feel better than or less than others with more or less initiations. I also do not discuss the particulars of my religion beyond a certain point publicly. That is because it is personal and nobody's business. They are called mysteries for a reason. And just because we are on the internet or because I am a public figure, does not mean I forfeit the right to privacy.”
I've often wondered the same thing myself, Denise but I've come to the conclusion that there are some reasons why:
1. Monetary Motivation: initiates are told they must have these further initiations by the priests of their House or Ile because, more often than not, this reason is motivated by greed of the priesthood rather than by the need of the initiate. If the House system is powerful, one should not have to go and collect initiations into other systems to be effective.
2. Political Motivation: where some priests feel the need where they must have more of their spiritual children involved, all doing the same things the priest themselves claim to practice as a show of solidarity and strength against any outside influences.
3a. Initiate Insecurities: these are people who for whatever reason feel they need to know more even though they never scratch the surface of what they've been taught thus far. Many feel the need to have as many spears locked and loaded just in case shit hits the fan at some point in their lives. This is merely plain ol’ paranoia and fear at work.
3b. Initiate Insecurities: then there are those who are ego driven to know more than anyone else. The ARS has more than its fair share of these types running around pretending to know more than everyone else. Further they label themselves experts and they join societies in the hopes this will make them appear more informed. Usually these are little more than academics who want to impress others with all of the knowledge they've accumulated even though said knowledge is from a priest which may or may not be accurate.
4a. Incomplete Training: there are people whose teachers die off before their training is complete thus they never get the full benefit of what they should know. Thus many of these folks join other traditions in an attempt to learn something to brace those parts of their learning with supports even though much of this material is foreign and does not fit as a square peg into a round hole.
4b. Incomplete Training: sometimes initiates are thrown out of their ile or house for whatever reason and their spiritual parents refuse to teach them further. Again we have incomplete training so the initiate must try to find other sources to fill in much needed gaps.
For years I wondered why do so many African Religious Systems (because NONE of them are ‘traditional’ by any stretch) join Hermetic and Solomonic magic groups wanting to learn to summon spirits. By rights they should already know how to summon spirits but the bulk of them join anyway saying they’re just wanting to see how Western magic operates. Don’t you believe it!
Truth is these people join these groups because they have missed something in their training, are on the outs with their spiritual parents or have discovered that their initiation is bogus and doesn't work. Some things were withheld by their teachers and never taught to the initiate so when the teacher passes on without that knowledge Little Johnny Palero is shit out of luck unless he goes to a new palero to learn or try to find something different to replace what his palero was supposed to teach him.
I used to know a guy who was initiated into de Regla Ocha, NOLA Voodoo, Ifa, Palo, Wicca, Druidry and he studied Hoodoo and Cunning lore. Then he came to me wanting me to teach him Sorcery. I asked why and he said he felt the pull of the spirits to do so. Obviously he never questioned the reason for this because when I asked him to explain further, he couldn't and kept insisting the spirits told him to do it. He’s full of crap because when I ask my spirits for reasons, They give it to me. I turned him down and sent him away because my spirits said he was full of shit.
People like this boil down to one thing: they believe the grass is greener on the other side. None of them stick with what they've learned and work it in an attempt to learn more and take it further. Instead they prefer to pretend to want to learn it all which is wholly impossible.
I spent two decades researching, creating and developing my own system of sorcery. I got results with it and even helped numerous clients with it. Then I eventually found Jean and my Vodu house through a friend’s referral. I came to the ARS differently than what most initiates do. I resisted joining for fifteen years telling the spirits “When you bring me a teacher who’s worthy, I’ll go and learn but not until then”.
Most people in the ARS come to it first THEN they discover other systems of occultism. I did mine the opposite and really had little need to go and learn. Do not get me wrong, I am GLAD I did because I have grown by light years in my spirit work and my own sorcerous practices. So with me, the ARS open some new doors that were closed to me although it did not open all of the doors for me as I had opened a great many on my own prior to joining.
I have no desire to join Ocha, Palo, Ifa, Kimbanda, Macumba or any derivation thereof. I have enough on my plate with Fon and all of the technical details to learn. Have I been approached by Yorubans and Fon prior to Jean? Absolutely. However I am highly critical of who I team up with. Even when I was in school, I never wanted to work on join projects with popular kids, rather I wanted the nerds and brains as I knew I’d learn more from them as they’d coach me to better grades.
The ARS, just like lodge-CM and Wicca, is rife with popularity parades. “Let’s go see what we can learn from Manbo K!” or “I bet Palero J can teach us something new!” People often are impressed with polished smiles, status and other silly nonsense even when Manbo K and Palero J suck at getting results for their clients. Oh sure they may be able to initiate but there’s no money in initiation because the real money to be made is in workings for clients.
And a LOT of these suck-ass ARS priests are horrible at getting results for their clients so they don’t get much work and instead sit around on the Net reviewing websites and practitioners based on their limited knowledge. These people are ‘sexual intellectuals’ aka “fucking know-it-alls” who like to pontificate on who is real and who is fake. Self-styled experts who draw crowds not unlike the old snake oil salesmen by simply running their mouth about others. In other words, the blind leading the blind.
A successful Houngan/Palero/Santero/Babalawo won’t sit around on the Net all day let alone FecesBook doling out their decrees and pronouncements as if these came down from on high. What they really are is pathetic and it’s a poor attempt to make themselves look important while they spew character defamations against other practitioners and still get lousy results for their clients.
Overall, if you’re doing something right, you may want to stick with what is working for you rather than running round knocking what someone else does. Take what you've been initiated with and mine it for all of the gold you can get before you go off and invest in another mine.