They Called Me Olivia Pope (Part II): 11 Things I’ve Learned as a Priestess

12 thoughts on “They Called Me Olivia Pope (Part II): 11 Things I’ve Learned as a Priestess”

  1. Although this was posted a few years ago, it is timely for me today. Many things were confirmed and reaffirmed. Thank you for sharing.


  2. alafia Iya Obatala!!! I am crowned Shango for 20 years.. Many Many stories TO tell. Walk in light AND blessings ashe


  3. Reading through the article “11 things I’ve Learned as a Priestess” I could not help but notice similarities in the way we do things within our ‘supposed’ different faiths. RESPECT!!!

    Comparison of Ukuthwasa/ South African Ngaka/ Inyanga (Healer) to the Obatala priestess initiation.

    The initiation (Ukuthwasa) period varies, Some initiates are more in tune with the universe than others. Training may be for a week to a year wearing red and white or a kanga that represents their ancestral descent in the Zulu and Tsonga faith.

    Ukuthwasa period would be your Iyawo year (yah-WOE).

    Gogo for women or Mkhulu for men, is the Zulu title for an initiate, literally meaning grandmother/grandfather of the ithwasa.

    Baba/ Gobela, is the South African title for an initiated ngaka, meaning the mother/ father of idlozi.

    The amathwasa are spiritual children as Baba/ Gobela has a spiritual commitment to care for their spiritual needs and guide them beyond the training period.

    As uGogo/ an ordained spiritual leader, amathwasa will thokozisa (action where a thwasa/ devotee kneels at your feet in respect of your position, and to receive the blessing of your idlozi)

    An ithwasa (name for a non-initiated devotee) respects the ordained as an elder.

    Therefore, like in Yoruba “the novice and non-intiated devotee isn’t bowing to you, but to the Orisha/ Idlozi you carry. And not just honoring you, but the commitment you have made to lead in a righteous way”.

    I find guidance and learn much from elders I did not even know during my ukuthwasa process. I’m often told that I’ve a pure aura by the elders. As inyanga I’ve learned to respect people from all walks of life and never take the universe and what it presents to me for granted.

    In terms of wardrobe choice, well, for me it was just automatic to just represent idlozi that i carry and its spiritual representation. I feel uncomfortable wearing some of my pre-thwasa clothes.

    Life goes on.
    This past August was my 7th anniversary as inyanga/ Gogo so Priestess Washington would have to bow to my idlozi *chuckles*. I remember my first week back home, I still wanted to sleep on a grass mat. My bed felt so uncomfortable. As restricted as my diet was during initiation, to this day there’s still food I choose not to eat.

    I’m in total agreement with: “After initiation, the idlozi will begin to send work and people your way, and sometimes you just have to get spiritually down and dirty. Sometimes a person will cry out for help, and sometimes the Universe will determine that only YOU and your isipho (innate spiritual power/essence) are their answer”.

    I’m sometimes guided to places I’ve never been to heal. As a corporate executive my intervention is needed in the most awkward of places like the office or client meetings. At a time that the universe wants YOUR intervention, the call cannot be ignored. The consequences can be detrimental.

    Your reinforcements as a new initiate would similarly be your bab’omkhulu (godparent), your gobela/ ajubona (2nd godparent), or other elders in your mpande/ ile/temple/house.

    As Gogo (ordained priestess/ initiate) has already advised; when in doubt, ask Idlozi/ Eshu. “As you are an initiate now – you stand on your own foundation. Communicate with your orisha/ idlozi. Practice divination/ ukuhlola. If you don’t know how yet, make it a priority and meditate in your ndumba/ emakhosini, emsamo/ front of your /Elegba or your shrine.

    Oh yes, Charge for your work, or it won’t work.
    I often fall into the pity trap and forget the outcome. People come from all over the country to seek help. Some are so grateful they consider me to be family. I then feel bad for charging. In other cases when I devine I pick up a person’s struggles and feel pity.

    People that pay or insist on paying see results quicker so it seems as though “All good things are for those that have money” I am slowly learning to remind my clients to give thanks with whatever is possible.

    I have a family and I have left my professional job to dedicate my time to my calling. At times I work tirelessly throughout the day and occasionally get woken up during the night because there’s an emergency.

    I’m in total agreement that “payment doesn’t mean $1000. Sometimes payment is simply a sincere offering from the heart. Sometimes payment is labor, or time. Indeed, our initiation was not free. The work we do as spiritual people is real work, It can wear you out. Don’t throw your pearls away. And don’t ever let someone try to make you believe that existing as a spiritual being makes you a perpetual volunteer. Just because some spiritual crooks swindle people out of thousands of dollars doesn’t mean that the good workers do so for free”.

    Sometimes you will feel spiritually overwhelmed.
    I often ask “where do I send my resignation letter?”

    I’m only 35 years old. The responsibility of being a spiritual guide is ernomous. The Universe throws challenges at You daily. As a nyanga you have to reach far and beyond because idlozi will never give you anything too big to handle – if there is such a thing.

    Society judges you daily, Its as though you have to justify your existence daily. Your calling is demonised by lack of understanding and yes, at times “you may feel unworthy of your own crown altogether…”

    The sense of fulfillment and peace I get when I achieve successes supersedes the negativity.

    I then remember that my parents named me “NEO” (the calling/ gift) for a reason. Kganya, Lesedi (Let your light shine)

    I bow in Respect to your dlozi Gogo. Makhosi *the greeting we use in respect of your crown my african Queen*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Neo!!! How thorough! Thank you for sharing the congruencies! I had a corporate job as a iyawo, and I’m still a professional. My corporate and spiritual selves coexist now… Never compete.


  4. Thank you so much for your wisdom. Although I am not a iyawo, as an akomfwaa I can relate to all that you have experienced. I know that I am not alone.


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