¿Why the Babalawos and Santeros charge for their services?
On the beginning the babalawos and santeros offered their services for free to all humanity. People got cured from terminal diseases, received warnings on accidents that would end their lives; others received money and happiness not only for themselves but their families as well. Despite of these blessings, humanity didn’t reciprocate the babalawos and santeros so they lived on charity and were content with this. But with time the poverty, hunger and cold started collecting their lives. Those people who were helped by them didn’t move a finger to help. So Orunmila spoke, he decreed that every action taken by a babalawo or santero in favor or a third person, with or without the help of the orishas, has to be reciprocated with something material. This is how the ‘right of the saint’ (derecho del santo) started. This payment didn’t mean that the consultant was buying the favors of the orishas but it does stand as a sacrifice. The money earn by hard work, money the consultant isn’t expending on his personal needs, this sacrifice elevates as spiritual energy letting the orishas know the level of necessity of the person. In the end the babalawo or santero receives the money left by the consultant for the orishas, this money brought home by the saints so the babalawo or santero can eat and cover his physical needs. This is the true meaning of the derecho del santo. Sadly, now days there are people who take advantage of the payment of the derecho and abuse the consultant. In the same way, there are people who don’t wish to pay derecho for the favors they receive from heavens. We must be careful not to fall in one of these situations, since the sacrifice we do giving our money away is also part of the obra, in the same way the santero must only charge the quantity the orisha asks.
Writen by Patricia González My Yoruba Head Translator