Not sure how to start this because this is a little embarrassing for me. If I hadn’t gone through with this myself, I’d swear it was bull, but my conviction speaks otherwise. Before I go further, I can’t promise you won’t believe me or that you won’t be mad. However, this is the truth of how I left the occult, along with the Orisha Tradition. This is the truth of how I found God again.
In 2017, I survived a near-death that left me feeling unbodied and ethereal at the same time, especially after I heard a voice say, “You only have one life,” in my unconscious state. That was the same year I went to the beautiful New Orleans itself, home of Voodoo. Even though my mother was born and raised in Louisiana, she never liked that place. She said it made her feel uneasy. I was the opposite; it left me wanting to understand the workings of the world and the magic in it. Something I couldn’t get from Christianity due to a lack of understanding, along with years of feeling rejected and judged by a congregation and people I thought were my friends.
Two years afterward, I found an Ile in my hometown—it is a place of worship in the Ifa religion. I was greeted by an Iyanifa (priestess) who welcomed me with open arms. I was even met with familiar faces of women I went to high school with and attended dance events. The Iya held weekly workshops, which I attended. I would have never guessed that Iya would turn on me.
The Orisha Tradition is a mono-pluralistic religion of the Yoruba people. A closed practice teaching initiates the importance of nature and how Orisha intercedes on humans’ behalf. During the Atlantic slave trade, the tribe concealed their practice with Catholic figures, which weren’t detectable by their oppressors. In Brazil, it is known as Candomble or Umbanda. In Cuba, it’s Santeria or Lukumi. What is called Ifa in Nigeria and Benin has the most African retention. I later learned them to be unsound doctrine.
I went to these workshops for a total of seven months, and it felt like home for a bit. Learning this religion and the rituals was interesting, to say the least. I just hated how expensive the ceremonies were. I was surprised to find it conservative like Christianity, and even had similar tenets. I liked understanding the world of spirit. My favorite was the idea of paying homage to the ancestors; for a black American like myself, it meant a lot, considering the atrocities they’ve endured in America—healing the generational trauma many have endured.
While learning these methods, what I thought was good turned sour. Aborishas were initiated within a month. Most take longer so you can build a relationship with the Babalawo. Afterward, they had a complete personality change, oblivious and robotic-like, competing for attention and who was doing what task in the Ile. Olorishas started talking down to people…it was a mess. Finally, the Iyanifa began to behave passive-aggressive toward me—something I loathe. She would even go as far as to use scare tactics to enlist money by fake channeling at ceremonies. I’ve had enough and left quickly and quietly.
I thought I dodged a bullet, but it would only get worse from here.
The pandemic hit, and everything was on lockdown. I decided to hold off on initiating into Ifa, and dived into the occult. Everything seemed fine until it wasn’t. I wasn’t doing any damage control, and it worked fine before, except, now I started hearing voices, getting vivid dreams that would come true, and spiritual attacks. After consulting with several psychics, it was concluded that I was being attacked by the priest in the Ile. Now one thing about me is I always had the audacity, so I threw spells right back at them. I didn’t care about their titles or experiences. No one was going to spiritually attack me!
While this witch war was going on, things in my life went from bad to worse. I lost many job opportunities. My friends and family turned against me. My father and brothers were in several car accidents. My cousin got ill, and the doctors couldn’t understand why. Things in the house were breaking inexplicably; it was scary. Not to mention, I was seeing apparitions, and having nightmares. I had no one who understood what I was going through; I was defeated. Finally, I rekindled a long-time friendship with someone who brought me back to the Lord.
As I was telling her my story, I could see the sadness in her eyes. She told me to get rid of whatever the Iyanifa had given me because it was probably cursed before we fell out. She told me to get rid of every item from the occult, or these evils would come back. She came with me to a deliverance church, and I was amazed. I just started crying and saying sorry to Jesus for turning away from Him for so long. I was blind and stupid to believe the false ideologies that didn’t come from Christ.
I began watching and reading other testimonies that were similar to my own. What really scared me was seeing people delivered from other religions. I thought, how can these be good spirits if they’re being cast out in the name of Jesus? I’m lucky. Some people have died or lost their minds engaging with the occult and Orisha Tradition. I urge you to study your Bible and pray every day because He’s the only way. Watch things begin to change in your life for the better.
Day Sibley (b. 1992) is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from southern Nevada. She previously served as an extern for the Red Rock Review-Journal at CSN, and was the secretary for the Blue Sage Writers at NSC. She is the founding editor of Dream Noir magazine, and her work is published in Marias at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, The Drabble, Sand & Silver, and more.