Two Simple Offerings to Obatalá, the King of the White Cloth

Soursop and Rice Pudding
Getting to know Obatalá is a lifetime process. There is much to be said about his attributes, stories and different manifestations. However in one page I am going to show you two ways to please this orisha with simple and elegant offerings that I have prepared for my orisha and for the tutelar orisha of my husband Elefunké, which happens to be Obatalá.

Soursop and Rice Pudding

Soursop or Annona muricata is one of Obatalás favorite fruits and rice pudding is one of mine, so I decided to combine these two flavors to make a delicate dessert to offer Obatalá for my osha anniversary. I do get tired of the same old recipes and I like to experiment in the kitchen.

a) 1.5 cups cooked rice
b) 1 cup of soursop pulp strained and sweetened to taste
c) 1 cup whole milk
d) ½ cup of heavy cream
e) 1/3 cups sugar
f) ¼cups of white raisins
g) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
h) 1 egg, beaten
i) ½ teaspoon vanilla
j) ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

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Animal Sacrifice, a Right not Necessarily Guaranteed

Humane Treatment of Animals is Imperative
There are no absolutes when it comes to rights. The legal system in the United States allows for continuous challenge of all and any laws. Therefore, the hard earn right to animal sacrifice that took years and massive resources to be won at the Supreme Court level is and will always be open to challenge.

It is imperative that all practitioners of the Lukumí community and of all other African Traditional Religions are fully aware that their conduct and behavior when performing animal sacrifice will always be under scrutiny and that it affects not only those around their ilés (osha houses) but also the community at large. There is no way to circumvent this reality.

A recent event such as the arrest on July 11, 2011 of Raúl Armenteros, a Cuban porn star who was transporting animals in a van with the windows rolled up and under sweltering conditions in Miami, Florida, sheds a negative light onto our community, not once but with twice the power.

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A Tower of Power for Oshún

Oshún loves Sweet Treats
There is nothing that gives me more pleasure than cooking for the orishas, thus I want to share with you a really basic recipe that is sure to please one of the most beloved orishas of all: Oshún.

There are many things that can be said about Oshún. She is the darling of the Orisha pantheon because of her particular domain: Love, wealth, coquettishness, witchcraft, and craftiness in general. She is also the apetebí non-plus ultra and the only female orisha that could drag the Master of Iron out of his voluntary retreat from society into the jungle. Let me see what else I can add to the list of this orisha? Ah yes, but of course she saves Orunmila as well in another patakí.

However, that would be dwarfed by the time when she saved the world when Olofi was ready to destroy it based on his disillusion with the folly of orisha and humanity. Oshún decided to intervene and visit Olofin’s castle herself by transforming into a Vulture (what we Lukumí call Kolé or Igun) and flew for days upon days until she found Olofi and asked for mercy. She was granted her request upon the condition not to say she intervened in the saving of the world. She humbly returned to see that other orisha were laying claim to her success. Tired of seeing lies spread, she was about to break her oath to Olofi when the heavens opened and Olofi recognized her merits and established that even if she was the last and smallest of the Orishas, she would be from that moment on the most powerful due to her humble heart. Or so the story goes…

In any case, who can’t but to love her? Personally, I am nuts over Oshún and as you can see even in my “Omimelli” name, she is reflected, as it means twin waters, ocean and river.

Ok, so here is a little tribute to my beautiful Yeye, it is simple and chances are you have in your pantry and refrigerator all you need to put it together in a matter of minutes. It is non other than home made French toasts but I like to call it:

A Tower of Power (Torrejas)

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Words are always alive: Ashé Semilenú

Great ashé carries great responsibility
There is an old adage that states, “We are slaves of our words and masters of our silence.”
The study of the diverse kinds of ashé is a fascinating subject to me. One that particularly attracts me is the ashé semilenú, or the ashé placed on the tongue, on words. I would like to invite you to meditate on the power that this particular ashé has.

My secular life is marked by words because I am in the field of communications; therefore, I have always been aware of the power they carry. My religious life is also marked by words but on a broader range of levels because not only do I use words for my rituals, but also for creation of clothes and implements to protect iyawós- to- be and to bless those abures who will use them for their orishas. You may say I am fastidious about not only what I say, but when and to whom I say it. Words will never be light for me, or casual, they will always carry underlying meaning, reasons within reasons, and I hope they are always doorways to my soul and thought processes.

I am poignantly aware of ashé semilenú because as a Santera I realize that this ashé continuously is at work manifesting, transmuting and altering spiritual and material reality. Take for example the start of my day. Every morning I like to ask for blessings from my spirits, from my elders and as part of it, I like to stand at my doorway, gourd with omí tutu (fresh water) in hand to invoke blessings for my household, to freshen the roads I have to travel and the paths of those I love and honor. Words energize, words attract and repel, words manifest: Words are always alive.

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A Non-Nonsense Guide to Eleguá and the Warriors

The Warriors: Eleguá, Ogún, Oshosi and Osun.

If you have made the commitment to receive the Warriors from a Lukumí house proper training is important. I realize that from house to house there will be some variances as to how to do things, but the fundamentals remain the same.

There is no substitute to the direct relationship between godparents and godchildren, your first line of knowledge practice and instruction must come from them. Whatever you learn on the Internet, my words included, always take with the proverbial pinch of salt, particularly because I am not an ‘Internet Madrina’ nor I seek to substitute the guidance of any bonafide godparent.

However, I am concerned for those who have taken initiations and then do not know what to do with the warriors because either they are no longer in touch with their godparents and ilé or for a myriad of reasons. There is no excuse to slack on commitment to Eleguá, Osun, Ogún and Oshosi.

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Speak Lukumí, Yoruba or Simply Tong Twisted in between?

Master Akpwón Lázaro Ros, Osha Niwé Igbaé Bayen N'ntonú

Oral tradition can be like playing telephone, the kids game when you pass along a message from one person to the next, and at the end of a long line of ear-to-mouth communications, the original message normally is pretty different than what you had at the start.

To a great extent that has happened to the liturgical dialect used in Santería known as Lukumí (some say this word means ‘my friend’). What we have today and what is used in many ceremonies is broken down, mixed with Spanish and in some cases with English and it is a huge goulash that makes no proper sense in many cases to people who know Yoruba.

I am going to illustrate my point with some travesties I have heard over and over during batá drumming and osha initiations, where even the akpwón or the oriaté, depending on the occasion is singing something that does not make sense.

Let me make clear that my intention here is transparent; there is simply no need to continue on repeating things like a parrot without understanding what we are saying when we have now more contact with Yoruba speaking people and there are many good quality books and recordings that can help us fill in the knowledge gap where needed.

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Eleguá in a Flash

Eleguá the King of the Roads

Dealing with Eleguá is dealing with succinctness. Yes, he can certainly like to make you go round and round in long elaborate ceremonies, but in my personal experience this orisha goes to the point, cuts through the chase and gets stuff moving pronto. So in honor of that speed I am writing brief today, June 13th, a day in which many salute the Orisha of the Roads.

Eleguá is my personal hero, the protector of my home, the one that walks with me and travels wherever I touch foreign soil. Eleguá listens carefully, acts swiftly and forgives my flaws, kicks me in the rear every now and then some, teaches me lessons in unexpected ways, blesses me just as well.

Our relationship is one of comfort but not of routine. It has the familiarity of decades yet remains fresh and flexible like new friends who seek each other to enjoy life and discover things with fresh eyes.

I don’t bother Eleguá with requests I can’t take care of by myself yet he is always aware of my needs. He has given me great proof of his impact in my life. Modupué babá mi Eleguá you placed your hands on the fire to defend my honor when slandered, you protect my home when required, and your love is the foundation of my home.

Babá mi you are the babá orisha of my iyá may you always protect her and keep her roads open. You are the strength of my husband may you always give him the wisdom to deal with life and the many challenges his beloved wife throws his way :-). You are the inspiration and joy of my children, keep them always in your heart like they keep you in theirs.

Babá mi Elegua fun mi iré, fun mi iré omá, fun mi iré arikú babagwa. Modupué!

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

When one door closes?

Spiritism ain’t for everybody. On a more personal note, it definately ain’t for me. Anniversaries make people do the strangest things… Like, looking back and evaluating their progress and achievements. Hmmm… Now let me see… OK, maybe some of us just ‘Look back’ 🙂

Still! It is the start of another year, and maybe the time to start afresh, and pursue something that I shall be able to write more about in future articles ^^


First Anniversary of The Mystic Cup

The Mystic Cup Celebrates its 1st Anniversary

Today is the one year anniversary of the launching of the mystic cup. During this past year we have seen a steady and rapid growth in our readership. We have also experienced a growth in the number of contacts with both individuals and groups. We have been encouraged by the many instances of positive feedback from readers. Our aim has always been to write about spiritual experiences, and most of us who are on the Mystic Cups writing crew are in some manner involved with African Traditional Religions (ATRs). Thus, most of our articles reflect this involvement. We also work towards connecting with other members of the broader ATR community and to discuss our shared issues, opinions, gripes and things learned along the way. We have also striven to provide clear and truthful information about the ATR experience so that people outside that community can get a better understanding and a sense of the flavor of practicing an ATR.

We have been especially pleased to see an increase of readership from outside of North America and the Caribbean. We have noticed an increase of interest in ATR’s and Spiritism within Ceremonial Magick, Wiccan and Neo-Pagan circles. We hope that our articles have been informative, thought provoking and entertaining.

In the coming year we will tackle some topics that we initially envisioned writing about but have not yet addressed, some will be rather hot and volatile so be prepare for some healthy debates, after all…the unexamined life is not worth living and certainly spirituality deserves careful and constant examination.

We would also like to see more submissions of articles from others about their own spiritual traditions and experiences. In closing, our core team Janus, Omimelli and I, would like to say thank you for your support and readership. Stay tuned… there is more to come.

Olo Obatalá

P.S. Since Omimelli is our main writer, I want to post one of her favorite songs as a little present for all the long hard hours of gathering and preparing materials for The Mystic Cup.

Into the Mystic by Van Morrison

African Traditional Religions Overexposed: How much is too much to show?

Fostering Understanding by opening the Igbodu Doors on a Día del Medio or Throne Day

Empowerment in the hands of fools will only lead to the corruption of traditions. I have spoken before about the double edge sword that the Internet represents. It can be a glorious instrument for education, networking and sharing of ideas, but it can also lead us on a slippery road to the destruction of core aspects of African Traditional Religions (ATRs).

There are some houses that want to show off their self-perceived might by plastering on the Internet photographs of rituals that are held sacred to the Santeria, Ifá, Voodoo and Palo communities amongst other ATRs. I find myself thorn on the issue of how much is too much to show. On one hand, some images can open minds and hearts to a better understanding of our religious cultures, but on the other, some images simply go beyond what should be seen by the eyes of those who have not pledged their life to the service of the Orisha, Lwá, Ifá or Nkisis.

Let us deal with some concrete examples to illustrate when it is necessary to open the doors of a temple to illustrate that there indeed is nothing dirty or shameful to hide in our religious practices.

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…Be Inspired!    "Focussing on the experience, not the dogma"