6 Questions You Need to Ask Before Finding Godparents in Santeria or Voodoo

6 Questions You Need to Ask Before Finding Godparents in Santeria or Voodoo April 10, 2014

Priestess Miriam Chamani of the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, one of my Godmothers. Photo by Lilith Dorsey, copyright 2014.

Finding godparents is a really complicated process. You could end up with someone who manipulates you, takes lots of money from you and leaves you with nothing, or even lands you in jail. I have heard of all of these things happening when people end up choosing difficult Santeria (La Regla Lucumi) or Voodoo godparents. Now, I truly believe we all have our lessons to learn, but if we go into the process with our eyes open, and keeping a few key points in mind, the process of joining an ile (Santeria/ Lucumi) or hounfor (Voodoo/Vodou) spiritual house may go more smoothly. In Santeria, godparents will most likely be an initiated Santera or Santero, while in Voodoo they may be a Mambo (Priestess) or Houngan (Priest). Many houses are not actively seeking godchildren either, so keep that in mind as well.

Some of the questions to discuss beforehand are as follows:

  1. How long have you been crowned ? Discuss the person’s lineage. Some houses don’t traditionally give out entire spiritual lineage, but this is something you should definitely have access to if you are thinking about joining an ile and starting your initiations.
  2. What will be expected of me as your godchild ? Each house is unique, different, and correct, I can not stress this enough. Every ile has it’s own requirements for godchildren. In my house, we are required to abide by the reading of the year, keep our personal and house obligations, and participate in house events, either financially, or in person,  ideally both.
  3. How/When am I able to contact you ? Like most clergy, Santeros and Santeras need to be continually available to their congregation. Finding out in the beginning when is the best time to call or text, can make the whole process go much smoother for all involved.
  4. Can I meet, speak with other godchildren ? Did another godchild introduce you to the house ? I encourage my godchildren to speak and interact with newcomers, so everyone can start to feel like a family.
  5. Are they trying to poach godchildren from other iles (spiritual houses) ? I obviously wouldn’t ask this question directly but I have seen this happen at almost every large ceremony I have attended. It seems very disrespectful to me, but I guess that is the nature of the beast.
  6. What are their positions on controversial topics like animal sacrifice, homosexuality, etc. ? If these are oppositional to your beliefs, you can see how this could become a problem.
Cuba 2013 photo by Mary Newcombe. Licensed under CC 2.0

Finding the right godparents is an issue for a lot of people. I love all my godparents dearly and trust them with my life, you can see one in the photo above accompanying this post. My process however wasn’t a simple one. Finding godparents is not an easy task. I know one woman who followed her Madrina (godmother) into the bathroom so she could ask to join the Ile, I don’t recommend this, but it worked. I’ve heard every horror story imaginable, from people being required to give up their spouses, to godchildren being abandoned in foreign countries while on spiritual pilgrimages. Godchildren have to trust, respect, and follow the guidelines of their godparents. Once fully initiated by an Ile or Santeria/Lucumi spiritual house, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to leave. It’s like you have a chance to choose your parents, but realize this is the nature of relationship you are entering into and please choose wisely. Good Luck!

This is a very rich topic, and I would love to hear everyone’s ideas, suggestions, and experiences in the comments below. Be on the lookout for a follow up to this post, there is definitely much more to be said.

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