Olokún: The Oubliette of Emotions

My Olokún and personal Oubliette of Emotions
There are things that are revealed to orisha initiates as they go along in their life’s journey. Tradition has it that libretas (notebooks) would be the resting places of those discoveries. Those libretas would be guarded with great zeal and only passed along as a treasure chest of knowledge to one or few selected initiates in the ilé (Orisha household). However, some orisha initiates take their secrets to their grave.

I may not have very many pieces of information to share, nor many years yet to have accumulated a significant treasure chest of data, but I am about to share one which I sincerely hope can ease the pain of many who have loved and lost a loved one for whichever reason. Sometimes life deals us tough hands, but Olofi has mercy and also gives us the means to ease pain.

This is not the panacea for all love inflicted heartaches, but I have indeed seen it work like a charm twice in the last 20 years. I call this petition to Olokun, The Oubliette of Emotions.

The term oubliette originates from the Latin oblivisci to forget or oblivion. An oubliette is a construction in a dungeon where there is only one opening from the top. Does that sound familiar? Traditionally an Olokun is housed in a ginger jar or a tall Chinese style jar with an opening at the top. That was my first hint of inspiration to put together this petition, but more inspiration came from a trip to France, exactly to Mont Saint Michel in the Normandy coast.

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Celebrating 7 Years of Yoko Osha Oggun

A doggie cake for Oggun

As promissed, here are some photos of the celebration from Oggún Addá Araí. He outdid himself working all afternoon to have a great meal assembled with literally no help from me or his father.

He was careful in the preparation of the amalá ilá and the product was so good that it was hard not to want to eat all the tasty okra cooked in spices and epó or palm oil.

Amalá ilá

Sweet potato cacerole
Oggún Addá Araí also worked hard on getting a nice batch of coconut candy done for Yemayá, his orisha mother and also placed a small cake in the shape of a dog to honor Oggun.

Enjoy the photos!

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

Oggún in His 7 Year Simple Splendor

Oggún Addá Araí prepares his Shrine
Oggun is simplicity and he is also splendor. He is splendid in his love for his omó, in his strong and handsome disposition and in the way in which he devours life with great passion. Oggún is the simple pleasure of a hard day of work, of a task well done. Oggún is in the sweat rolling off the hot arms that forge humanity’s character.

Seven years ago my son had the blessing of becoming for life a member of the household of Yeguedé José Merced and his oyugbonakan Omíkuya, Modesto Martínez. His godfather worked tirelessly to ensure that every aspect of Oggún Addá Araí’s yoko osha was done by the book. I ran the kitchen, made the clothes for the iyawó and lots of brothers and sisters participated in the ceremony. Ventura Santana did a wonderful job with the pretty gourds painted as gifts for participants in the ceremony and we had really a wonderful time bringing Oggún into my son’s life. Every bit of work was worth it.

Today, I have left Oggún Addá Araí and his papa Elefunké do the shopping. Normally I do it, but this time around, the guys took over. They have been most of the afternoon running around markets brandishing their long list of fruits, candles and other things for tomorrow’s family feast. Traditionally we would do a huge to do about this day, but this year, since we are newly arrived to a new state and have yet to connect with the local Orisha community we have decided to keep it a family affair.

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One Year, Many Oddús: A Comparative Table for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States (Miami and New Jersey)

Rituals are of great importance in the Lukumí and Ifá practices, particularly those that are designed to serve as a religious compass or framework for the community at large. Each year docens of Ifá priests gather to determine which are the oddús or signs that are to set the tone for the year and what are the recommendations to avoid misfortune and maximize opportunities.

The following table provides a snapshot of such results for Cuba, Puerto Rico and for two cities of the United States. More tables will be posted soon gathering the results for other countries.

Double click on the table to be able to see it in full.

Have a blessed 2012 and remember to stay true to your eggun and to traditions.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

One Year, Many Oddús: Letra del Año 2012 for Puerto Rico and Cuba

Flag for Oddu of the Year, Puerto Rico 2012
One would wonder why there is a need to determine an Oddú of the year in each country where Santeria and Ifá are practiced, and sometimes, there is more than one oddú determined per country. Such is the case of the United States where the oddú of the year or ‘la letra de año’ is determined in California and in Miami. The other case is Cuba where two different groups of Babalawos also perform this yearly ritual.

There could be a simple explanation, or a few complicated ones. The simple route dictates that each country has particular regional challenges that need to be address as a community; this could also apply to vast countries like the U.S. A second point of view could lean towards which group is sanctioned by the political party in control versus the group which has been determining the oddú for five decades and has grandfather status, mass approval and the clout of respect and credibility that follows.

Be that as it may, the oddú of the year for Puerto Rico and Cuba made me think today of the most famous poem by Lola Rodríguez de Tió titled “Cuba y Puerto Rico son”. This poem compares Puerto Rico and Cuba with the wings of a bird, a bird that is wounded or that receives accolades over a shared heart. What would it be, accolades or wounds? That is still to be seen, but it all depends on the attitude and behavioral changes that the inhabitants of these countries apply over the next twelve months.

However, if matters continue to develop in Puerto Rico like they have, with an upsurge in the crime rate, increased abuse against children, promiscuity galore and the tarnishing of our religious beliefs, the course is set from the start for a disastrous year.

Cubans have their own set of challenges to face as a people and nation, and, I will not list them as I have not spent time there to speak from direct experience. I can speak about what Puerto Ricans face because I am a Puerto Rican who got tired of the day-to-day situation in the Island and the lack of resolve and direction to correct it.

That said, 2012 seems to be shaping as a year or trials and tribulations for both countries based on the Oddús determined today by the Council of Babalawos from the Yoruba Temple in Puerto Rico and the Lázaro Cuesta Organizing Commission of the Oddú of the Year in Cuban. However, I will let you draw your own conclusions based on this summary I am about to present.

Here is a summary of readings, more details such as the flags and ebbós are forthcoming:

Oddú 2012 Comparison Table P.R. and Cuba

In the days to follow I will post other oddús for other countries as they become available. In the meantime, I do welcome the interpretation from awós regarding their perspectives on the social, political and religious points of view associated with these two oddús from Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá