We live in the digital age where information is available at the touch of our finger tips. This level of accessibly has created an expectation in people of receiving things immediately and this mindset has been adapted towards spiritual matters too. Examples of this are people looking up rituals online without taking time to understand or research the philosophies that inform these practices. Or randomly accepting free readings offered on social media sites by individuals claiming to be authentic traditional priests/priestesses, without applying any discernment in the hope of finding quick fix solutions to problems. Another example is people who bypass developing a relationship with their own ancestors in favour of working with Orìṣà due to a lack of understanding.
Despite the advancements of modern technology, we have to remember that there’s no short cuts. You have to be willing to do the work and be committed to your own spiritual development! As the old saying goes you have to crawl before you can walk. It’s no coincidence that those who exhibit great knowledge and spiritual awareness are dedicated to researching, learning and constantly increasing their understanding and expanding their consciousness. Equally important is their ability to apply what they have learned, as spiritual growth comes through practise.
My journey of self-discovery through reconnecting with ancestral wisdom has been a rollercoaster to say the least. It has been phenomenal at times filled with magical synchronicities, amazing teachers and moments of divine clarity and understanding. On the flip side I’ve also experienced times of crippling insecurity, anxiety, self-doubt and vulnerability. Not to mention extended periods where it felt like I was barely functioning at all. I say all this to stress that committing to spiritual development is not is not an easy path and definitely not one that is “love and light” which is often depicted. In reality, it is the dedication to truly understand one’s self and that process is often not pretty.
Over the years I’ve had various readings, seen traditional practitioners and been in the presence of some great minds. However, my real breakthrough and personal transformation happened when I started to implement what is now commonly referred to as Shadow Work. Regardless of whatever path you follow the process of being honest with yourself and observing the different attributes of your character and confronting hidden aspects of yourself reveal so much. It allows you to delve deep internally to identify where these traits developed from. Often revealing hidden wounds from the past that you didn’t know existed. This process of going into the dark (unknown/unseen) and bringing it to the light (acknowledged/visible), is a very powerful healing and transformational experience.
In my case it took several years before reaching this understanding, therefore whenever I was told something honestly, rather than listening and understanding the point of the other person; I became triggered, angry and defensive, walking away without learning a thing. I look back at all those times now and see why situations had to repeat themselves as I was not paying attention to the lesson that was being delivered (in multiple ways might I add), as I was too busy being in victim mode and not seeing how my actions contributed to certain situations.
I can be honest now as I’ve been working through my own emotional baggage for some time and whilst still a work in progress, there is level of clarity now that never existed before. The process of self-reflection and working through hidden emotional wounds has really opened my eyes to how old wounds and personal trauma influence our perception of reality, emotions and behaviour.
There’s so much commentary around these days about “toxic people” etc., but how many people are ready to be held accountable for their own toxic behaviour? It is not always the other person. Cutting people off left right and centre still doesn’t address what is going on with you. Pointing the finger at others doesn’t address your own personal development. Instead, try exploring what is happening within your own thoughts and actions that allow these “toxic” relationships to be present in your life?
This journey so far has taught me many things and one that has been abundantly clear is that there is no one who can help me unless I’m prepared to help myself. You can venerate your ancestors all day, get all the readings in the world from the most spiritually developed Sangomas, Babalawos, Ngangas, Mambos..etc, and do a whole bunch of rituals, but unless you’re willing to do to the self-work you are limiting your own progress. Real spiritual development takes time, effort and dedication. There’s no short cuts!
Are you ready to put in the work for your own personal transformation?
By Verona Spence-Adofo (Ancestral Voices Co-director)
Further information on African Spiritual philosophies and practices can be found in our Home Study Course.