More black women across the globe now prefer to worship spirits and deities of the oceans as in the pre-slavery days in Africa. They are leaving churches and becoming witches. Some Nigerian women are in the forefront. Let’s call them the Witches of Baltimore.
At a recent convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA more than 200 witches gathered. Many of them were blacks. They see it as a sisterhood.
Arguably, we can say that The Church is fast failing these women, else they wouldn’t abandon their churches if they found succour. But then again one could argue that they are hell-bent stray-aways who just wouldn’t submit themselves to church or biblical discipline.
WJZ’s Vic Carter found some of these neo-witches, who now practise what they call modern witchcraft and below is his story…
“That depends on how you look at it,” said High Priestess Iyanifa Oyadele Ogunsina, a Coppin State graduate. “I am whatever the situation calls for. If you come at me with respect, you get Glenda the Good Witch from the suburbs, but if you come at me with negativity, meanness, and disrespect, then you get Evilene, your worst nightmare.”
They have many names, titles, and ranks within their belief system. The women are college-educated professionals who have chosen to believe that witchcraft is a truer example of worship inclusive of the genders and connecting them to their ancestors.
It fills a need not found in [Christian] worship. Most of them, like realtor Shango Yemi, grew up in the church.
“I was Christian, I was raised Christian,” said the Morgan State graduate. “There are Christians in my family. In fact, my grandfather was a preacher in the south. I also grew up Christian. I grew up Anglican, in the Episcopal Church. The older I got, the more disconnected I felt with the church and not being moved by anything, Like it just felt like words, like really empty.”
Herbalist Iyawo Orisa Efunyale came from similar beginnings.
“I was raised Baptist,” she said. “My father is a deacon, my mother is a deaconess. I was in church all the time, three times a week.”
The women Carter spoke to are part of a sect, Ile Ola Afefe Osa Meji Spiritual Temple, where they worship and offer prayers to Osun, a deity – the Orisha of beauty, sex, and sensuality.
They are a part of growing numbers of African-American women who have chosen for themselves a new life, leaving the church in search of more meaning in their lives. They claim that their spells are for good, not evil.
In one ritual shown on YouTube, the women prepared an offering to Osun on behalf of a woman in California who is looking for a mate. The offering, an omelette-type dish, is sweetened with honey and believed to be a favourite of Osun. Prayers are said over the offering for the woman in need.
A portion is even offered to Esu, the male counterpart of Osun, and placed in a secret place beneath the stairs of the Odenton home.
Using shells, they ask the spirit if she is pleased. Four shells are tossed to the floor. Two land up, two land down, a balance. The gift is accepted.
The traditions may seem odd to most, and a mystery to some, complex and multi-layered but these ‘Dawtas of the Moon’, followers of Osun, women who are powerful and determined. They said that there is nothing to fear. They are here and they will be here for the foreseeable future.
“This is not a new-age type of thing, this is something our ancestors did,” said Iyawo Orisa Omitola. “and we are tapping back into it so that we can become our best selves individually and collectively.”
LAST WORD: Christian pastors and church leaders would rather label these women blacker than they already are, and call them backsliders. But would the Christian God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit simply pat them on the back those who once pastored these neo-witches as their church members, especially if they are secretly or openly responsible for their leaving the church for witchcraft?