Celebrating an Important Anniversary

Open coconut and flowerSaturday April 28th was my 11th Ocha Birthday. That is to say it was the anniversary of my initiation as a Yoruba/Lucumi Priest  of Obatala (April 28, 2001). To me, it’s as important a date as my natal birthday. Traditionally, to mark the anniversary, we purchase food and cook for the Orishas (the divinities we worship), read each Orisha we have with Obi (4 quarters of coconut), and generally strive to have a peaceful and meditative day. Sometimes, if possible, we open our homes to other Orisha Priests to come and salute our Orishas and to offer their blessings. Since I was in a somewhat isolated location, I chose to spend the day with only one other person (my significant other).

My experience on the day of my anniversary was a very positive one. The Orishas were basically happy and were satisfied with my offerings of fruit, candy, and in some instances the food I had prepared for them. One or two wanted a bit more but nothing complicated.

Spending this day basically on my own, taking the risk of reading my Orishas on my own (previously I always had someone else do it) was a real boost to my confidence. I also prayed and sang and felt the presence of spirit. It reaffirmed for me that I was truly blessed. I felt truly grateful that the Orishas had guided me to them and had chosen me as their child.

Now I know this must sound kind of confusing to many of you; maybe even a little bit alarming. My religion is virtually unknown by many if not most Americans, despite the fact that there are millions of observers worldwide.  But my specific belief system is not the point of this article.

What I have in my life at this time in my life (I’m an Elder) is a solid foundation of faith, which is something I have never had before. I trust in the divinities to guide me, and I do what they say as I learn through divination. I feel protected and held. I have support and love that is unconditional. The Orishas are patient and giving as long as you are respectful and follow their advice (if you don’t, there can be consequences).

What this faith has done for me after decades of psychotherapy is help me heal. In treatment I gained a great deal of understanding, and the relationship with my therapists was healing in itself. There is great value in it. However, it was and is my faith that has taken me to the next level where I was able to finally forgive those who had wronged me; where I was able to either let go of or moderate my fear; and where I was able to accept myself and others as I am/they are.

For most of my life, psychotherapy was my higher power. That is different now. As I observe the patients I treat in my practice, I see that those who have some spiritual connection are those that make the most significant and lasting progress. Those that are what I would call spiritually bankrupt struggle the most for the longest.

People come to me knowing of my dual credentials as Psychotherapist and Ordained Yoruba/Lucumi Priest, and even though we talk about the issues and problems of the day, I believe some at least are seeking help in connecting to their spiritual selves. When they state this outright, I work with them on this. Otherwise, I am very patient.

Related articles:
Part 3: Source Energy Optimizes Life—Escalating Source Energy Through Trauma Resolution
Spirituality and Therapy: Opening the Portal with Prayer
Turning It Over

© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kalila Borghini, LCSW, therapist in New York City, New York

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Glenda

    Glenda

    May 3rd, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I love that you have chosen to be so open and honest about your own spirituality.
    There are so many people who may feel this very same way but they are hesitant to share those beliefs and feelings with others.
    I just love though that you are not ashamed of admitting what a powerful difference that this has made for you in your own life.
    This just goes to show that being enlightened on an intellectual level and being enlightened on a spiritual level do not have to be exclusive of one anothert, that they are things that can go hand in hand.

  • Ben

    Ben

    May 3rd, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    While I am personally a fan of how you have mamaged to inegrate these two parts of yourself into one, and can offer help with this via your practice, I would be curious to know how some of your clients will respond to this. Are there some for whom this drives them aawy, seeking a therapist who is a little more secular in nature? I guess I would really like to know too if you try to talk to them about spiritual things even when you know that is not what they are seeking, or what they think that they are looking for. And how do you keep thoose thoughts to yourself that they ARE going to struggle more and for a longer time if they are not willing to accept a higher power and give it all over to someone or something that is bigger than they are. I would love your hear your feedback.

  • Kalila Borghini

    Kalila Borghini

    May 3rd, 2012 at 1:57 PM

    Thank you both for your comments. I’d like to address some of your very good questions Ben. These days most of my clients come to me via the Internet which means they’ve read my website. They know in advance that I am both a Psychotherapist and Priest. The ones who might be driven away don’t come. I don’t try to talk to any of my patients about spiritual things except to ask them if they have a spiritual practice of their own. It’s not an unreasonable question I feel and it is really part of my “intake” about them along with family history, etc. Other than that, the patient guides the treatment as far as discussion of anything spiritual is concerned. If they open the door, I may walk in or not depending upon what I intuit they are looking for in this area. Sometimes the idea of spirituality comes in the form of a patient needing a 12-step program in addition to counseling. I discuss that with them and gauge their reaction. I had one patient who was so anti-spirituality that he managed to find AAA – Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous. I keep my views of healing to myself. It sometimes is difficult when I see how much some people suffer. This is dissimilar to thinking that medication might help a depressed person and they are resistant to it. My beliefs are mine and unlike other religions we are not looking to convert anybody. I’d like to hear what you have to say about the integration.

  • Floride

    Floride

    May 4th, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I CELEBRATE 25 years of sobriety this weekend!
    Every day is a special little anniversary for me, another day clean, but this one coming up is particularly important.
    Thank you for reminding me to remember this day, to be thankful for it, and to remember the journey that I had to take to get here.
    Here’s to another wonderful 25 after this one!

  • Kalila Borghini

    Kalila Borghini

    May 5th, 2012 at 2:38 AM

    Congratulations Floride. What a wonderful achievement, one day at a time.

  • Bob L

    Bob L

    May 5th, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    Floride that is awesome! I am so glad that sobriety found you and has been with you fo so long. How I wish that everyone could find that kind of peace. I struggled with my own falling on and off the wagon for many years, and while it has not been quite that long for me, I do understand how every day can be a challenge but that when you accomplish that it feels like a cause to celebrate. I am happy for anyone who finally finds that answer in life that they have been looking for, and it is comforting to find so many of you here to share with and cheer on.

  • Callie

    Callie

    May 6th, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Please forgive me but what is a Yoruba priest? I’m just a plain old Protestant girl so that is not in my vocabulary.

  • Kalila Borghini

    Kalila Borghini

    May 6th, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    Hi Callie. The Yoruba faith was and still is practiced in Nigeria. It was brought here during the Middle Passage and changed/adapted by the populations of Cuba, Puerto Rico and other countries and ultimately brought to the US. The faith has millions of practitioners world-wide. If you want more information, Google it and start reading. There will be hundreds of articles about the religion.

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