Getting Involved in Candomblé Part II: basic Candomble comportment

by Iya Melissa

I’ve written earlier about what you should look for in finding a house, but I feel like it’s also important to share how you should carry yourself once you’ve found an ile (or an initiate who can introduce you to an ile).

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Manners (educação de axé) are extremely important within Candomblé. If you’re from a southern state, Candomblé manners may not take a lot of adjusting to. However, if you’re unfamiliar with southern hospitality, you may find yourself hitting a brick wall or two along your journey. To lessen your chances of injury, take the following into consideration:

  • Observe everything. Take mental notes and ask questions later. However, remember that…
  • No one owes you anything. Priests aren’t librarians that *have* to answer all of your questions. Be humble and you’ll go far.
  • Be responsible. Ile functions typically aren’t optional. If you constantly decide to hang with friends or do your own thing rather than participate in functions, expect to stop being invited. If you’re invested, show it by being present.
  • Leave the diva at home. No one is too good to pick up a broom, clean a bathroom or bust some suds. Don’t get sassy. Ever.
  • Listen. Listen to instructions, advice, feedback, lessons, and everything else (except for your ego and gossip).
  • Become friendly with the brothers and sisters of the ile. Treat everyone with respect.
  • It’s up above, but is worth repeating – show humility. If you err, don’t be too proud to apologize. If someone calls you out on something you’re doing wrong, take it and make adjustments. Remember, though, that humility =/= humiliation; no one deserves to made a fool of.
  • Don’t just leave. At the end of a function or feast you don’t approach your godparent and say, “Bye,” grab your bags and break out. Instead, you either politely ask if you can go, or you wait to be excused depending on the culture of the ile. Upon leaving, part with everyone in the ile according to its customs.
  • At the same time, ask before taking it upon yourself to do something. Whether it’s putting a dish in the cabinet where you think it belongs, lighting a cigarette, or touching something – asking first never hurt anyone.

There are a million unspoken rules that only experience will learn ya. YMMV using this list; for some folks the points seem like common sense, but we know that’s not so common. Above all, maintain your faith in Orixá, because they will always guide you no matter what difficulties you may face.

See also: Getting Involved in Candomble Parts I and III.

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