Determining the Guardian Angel or Tutelary Orisha: Dilogún or Opón Ifá?

Do we use Eleguá's dilogún or not?

Do we use Eleguá’s dilogún or not?

This is a complex subject that in all fairness requires more than a simple article to properly lay it out with all its pros and cons. However, the purpose of this post is to provide a quick set of references for those out there searching for guidance because they do not understand the process of determining the orí. I have recently gotten quite a few emails from folks who have faced this situation and rather than responding to many emails, I am laying out some no-nonsense parameters to help them find their way and determine what is best for them.

I will be very clear about one important fact, determining the guardian orí is not a game. This is a crucial step in the life of a person that is preparing seriously to be a priest. This is not done lightly just to find out which orisha claims your head and to go about boasting that you are an omó this or omó that orisha. This is not about belonging to a club. If a person does not have the need to become an olosha, then this person has no business going out to seek who rules or not their head as it is a waste of time and resources.

That said, history tells us that there is a way in which things are done in Yorubaland and there is also evolution in our practices in the New World, but then again we are a hybrid as Lukumí, thus we must be careful to stride the fence between Old World traditions and the legacy of our elders in the Americas.

The common practice in Yorubaland was to have initiates done through the “Head and Feet” method. What is that? This is the practice of having the initiate receive the Warriors (Elegua, Ogun, Ochosi and Osun) along with their head or tutelary orisha whichever it may be. This is described by Nicolás Angarica in his works and it was the way things were done in the early days in Cuba. The modern initiation evolved some say out of the need to give the initiate additional strength and support and to make the initiate a repository of the mysteries of additional orishas considered as pillars. These pillars are Yemayá, Obatalá, Oshún and Shangó. Thus, a person could have whichever the tutelary orisha, plus the warriors and then the 4 pillars (in many instances one of those pillars happened to be the head orisha as well). Only one orisha is mounted to the head, the other ones are presented to the shoulders as support.

The common practice for the Lukumí is to do the larger version of the initiation, however, as of the last two decades we have seen a resurgence of the head and foot method as it is less expensive and a reflection of the desire some people have to “seek out original practices.” Is there a need to re-work our current and functional practices? Do we need to re-store or retrofit our practices? That is something that requires additional and careful debate. From my point of view, there is no such need but I am always open to a good conversation on that subject under a separate article.

There are two schools of thinking when it comes to determining the head orisha for a person. One of those spouses solely the use of Ifá and the Table of Orunmila to do so. The other one spouses the use of the dilogún. I am not here to debate which is wright or wrong. The fact is that they are both correct. However, because of politics, the desire of influence and power some Ifá folks have, and, quite frankly the lack of humility in many practitioners who can’t abide by the principle that knowledge is indeed shared, there will be always debate around this subject.

I will speak from both personal experience and supported by scholar research.

1. Determining the Head Orí through Dilogún

The mouthpiece of the orisha is the dilogún, therefore it is through the dilogún of the tutelary orisha of the godparent- to- be that the head of the future initiate is determined. This is a matter of logic. If you do not trust the dilogún to guide this key step, why trust it to determine your itá or other decisions through the life of an initiate? Think about it carefully.

The first thing one requires to proceed to determine the orí is to have clear indication through a pattern of readings that a person indeed is destined to become an olosha. Patterns are crucial as they show progression and evolution. Think about the words of Aristotle, “One swallow does not summer make…” We need to make absolutely sure as godparents-to-be that a person selected will come in with full commitment and knowing that what they are about to do is for the rest of their lives. This is not a simple step; it is a commitment for life.

The dilogún of the future godparent’s tutelary orisha is the one to be used. Some people say that the shells of Elegua of the godparent-to-be are the ones that should be consulted. I always say this is a religion of logic. Thus, what is their logic behind always using Eleguá’s dilogún? If the iyawó is to be born from the orisha of the godparent then it is that orisha that needs to be consulted. If it happens to be that godparent has Eleguá crowned, great, those shells are then consulted; otherwise the orisha taking the brunt of the responsibility for the future olosha is the one that should assume the responsibility of speaking on behalf of that orí. Arguments can be made in favor of either, but logic should prevail over heated debates.

Here is the process through dilogún. An oriaté or the house elder feeds Elegua a rooster and two other birds to the guardian angel of the godparent-to-be. The orisha is allowed to rest and on the following day the shells of that orisha are consulted for the future olosha. The future olosha, the godparent, the future oyugbonakán and at least two other witnesses should be present.

For the sake of clarity let me illustrate this. In my case, since my tutelary orisha is Yemayá, first we feed a rooster to Elegua and then Yemayá is fed two roosters, which are her birds of choice. If my guardian angel was Oshún, it would be a rooster to Elegua and two yellow hens to Oshún. Get the picture?

I have yet to see this method fail. I have though, seen it failed when an olosha simply consults the shells of Eleguá to determine an orí (be it that Elegua is the guardian angel or not, of the god-parent-to be) and no sacrifice is made beforehand. The act of feeding the orisha has its purpose, it is propitiatory and thus opens the way to communication with that orisha while at the same time bonds the future initiate to the house. I can’t overstate the importance of establishing that bond.

If we think about the way things were in Cuba, which is my set of reference as the Lukumí is a diasporic religion, the first oriatés were women. Therefore there was no other way of determining the orí but through shells. With the arrival of awós to Cuba other means of divination become part of the practices. There is even a Pataki to sustain the neutrality of Ifá in the process of determining a guardian angel.

Determining the orí with opón Ifá

Determining the orí with opón Ifá


2. Determining the Head Orí through Ifá

Patakís are a wonderful thing as they allow oloshas and awós to explain their points of view and establish them as, well almost gospel. There is a Pataki that speaks of the greed of Obatalá who was being consulted to determine the head orisha of future initiates, but to the dismay of all orishas the only orí coming down the mat for future iyawó after future iyawó was Obatalá. Thus, the orisha protested to Olofi and he determined that since Orunmila is neutral for he is not crowned, it should be him to determine the guardian orí since had nothing to gain from the process.

Like I stated before, this article is not geared to pit Ifá versus Orisha in the determination of the orí. They both have their space. Setting aside the patakís as mnemonic devices and as a means to even justify some processes, let’s see why Ifá/Orunmila is also a logical choice to determine an orí.

(A) Orunmila as stated in the pataki I paraphrased was brought in as an arbiter. That is in many cases his role to set agreements and cool down the Irunmole/Orisha.

(B) Orunmila is also the witness of Creation, Elerí Ipín. He was there when each orí choses their faith/path at the foot of Olodumare.

(C) Orunmila is knowleable of present, past and future. This is an advantage point that most awós claim as superiority over dilogún. However, my logical question is, if the system is so superior why are the shells used to determine itá during a kariosha and not the Opón Ifá? Of course, I know the mechanics behind when to use Opon Ifá and it would not fit within the ritual parameters of the kariosha, but all the same, the question is still there. One can’t argue supreme knowledge and domain of one system over the other. The reality is that they both have their space and a person who would claim absolute domain is simply blind to the fact that we all have a variety of tools given by Olodumare for particular reasons. If Olodumare would deem that only Ifá is needed why allow other systems to be created and granted to the irunmoles?

In conclusion, Ifá can determine the orí during the process of granting awofaka (for males) and ikofá (for females). It is crucial to have at least three awós present during the process of consulting the Opón Ifá for the purposes of determining the orí. Not everyone needs to receive awofaka or ikofá, thus in theory not everyone would need to consult Ifá to determine their orí.

Once again, it is up to the godparent (in communication with the future initiate) to select the method of determining the head orí according to the practices of their house. Notice I am mentioning the communication aspect. No one should have his or her head determined without fully understanding the process and the logic behind it. It is after all their head and their spiritual future and if there is not be open communication and respect from the start, then why bother to initiate in the house?

I hope this article clears some of the questions I have received and it steers folks into having interesting conversations with their elders as I consider them healthy and conducing to growth and appreciation of the beauty of our religious traditions.

Omimelli
Oní Yemayá Achagbá

About Omimelli

I am a Olosha or Santera and for years I have been at the service of the Orisha and the community. I am initiated to Yemayá and my father in osha is Aganjú. I am also an initiate of Palo Mayombe and hold the title of Yaya Nkisi. As part of my daily devotional I spend time at my bóveda and work with my spirits on regular basis.
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32 Responses to Determining the Guardian Angel or Tutelary Orisha: Dilogún or Opón Ifá?

  1. Awo Ogbe Ate says:

    Thank you for a well balanced approach to this thorny issue. I’d like to add two points, that might seem contradictory.

    I believe in Nigerian IFA, an Olosha can determine the head Orisha for that person. If they can, why can Lucumi priests do so through Diloggun?

    Counter argument: since IFA’s stated powers in the Universe are the dominion of knowledge, wisdom, the system of 256 Odu, and the foreknowledge of everything that has been, is, and will be, why not go to the Orisha whose purpose in creation is to the be repository of such knowledge? Do we go to Oshun when we need to find and consecrate plants? (No, we go to Ozain). Do we go to Orisha-Oko when we need to deal with the shores of the sea? (No, we go to Yemaya). So, why is it that when the matter at hand is one of knowledge about the future or knowledge about a person, we want to include Ellegua or another Orisha in the matter? They did not see creation…only Orunmila did…this is why he was condemned by Olofin to being the only one to change people’s destinies and allow them foreknowledge of what was to come.

    You mentioned a logical point: if we don’t use Diloggun for divining the Head Orisha, why trust it in ITA? I would make the argument that, in the first place, the Diloggun should not be used (as it is used now) for ITA. The Diloggun was originally 16 signs. Somewhere along the line, there was an artificial creation of a “second toss” of the Diloggun, to make it speak up to 256 signs (like IFA). If we are to stay true to how the Diloggun was actually cast, we must acknowledge that it was designed to be an inferior system to IFA (16 vs. 256 Odu).

    Naturally, this is a point that will not make a dent in current practice…the second toss is here to stay, and it’s entirely possible that deities as powerful as the Orishas do not mind speaking more clearly as humanity creates “tosses”. In Nigerian IFA, they consider verses mostly related to the Odu Toyale….in Afro Cuban Ifa, three Odu are cast which are important (and two or three other Odu can be ascertained from the combination of these Odu, for further elaboration of the consultations). So, obviously, there has been an elaboration of the use of the Oracles, which puts into question which should be used, if both are currently AMPLE enough to speak a wide variety of matters and themes.

    Where do I stand on this? It will probably seem obvious, since I’m an Awo, that I will side with the side of IFA. I think the need for NEUTRALITY is paramount. As an Awo, I have no preference (and IFA has no preference) for any people I’m divining for. Whomever is their Orisha, is their Orisha. I have also worked at least one “plante” in which two people there were receiving IFA after having crowned their Saint. Their Saint had been ascertained through Diloggun and BOTH had been experiencing extremely difficult and problematic lives. The Odu that were divined through IFA gave the indication that many of their problems were due to WRONG Orishas crowned on their heads…so I would offer that cautionary tale.

    When the matter at hand is so important, I go to the Orisha whose task is to inform us about everything that is wisdom and knowledge….though I will respect anyone who does it through Diloggun. It is there life, their risk, and their decision.

    Great article!

    • Omimelli says:

      Awo

      One interesting point, it is the humble, less sofisticated and inferior system of dilogun the same one that many a times takes a newly initiate iyawo to the foot of Orunmila so he can claim its due place among the chosen ones to sustain the traditions of Ifá.

      Like I said, it is all a matter of perspective, balance and of looking at things without taking sides but rather with an open mind to explore possibilities, not absolutes.

      Omimelli

  2. Babañá says:

    Alaafia, E kaasan.

    I agree that this is a crucial topic for aleyos to have a clear understanding of before they make the choice of which route to go. I too am not here to fuel any babalawo/santero politics so I’m not going to privilege one divinatory system over the other but there are some very important topics brought up in this article that I have to take issue with…please accept these thoughts with open mind and do not take offense.

    1.) “If a person does not have the need to become an olosha, then this person has no business going out to seek who rules or not their head as it is a waste of time and resources.” — Here I have to strongly disagree. Tradition teaches that our Ori chooses a destiny for us in life, then based on the content of that destiny, our Ori chooses a specific Orisha to guide that person to their highest possible destiny. That’s why Orisha is translated as “Selected (or chosen) Head”. Therefore, to know which Orisha was chosen by your Ori to guide your destiny is the most basic, most crucial piece of information a person could ever know about themselves. In Yorubaland this is done at the 7th or 9th day of birth to everyone (the fact that to this day this is always does exclusively through Ifa is important to note, but again that is not my point). And while we are discussing practices done in Africa, we should also briefly point out that it is not totally accurate to say that the head-and-foot initiation is “the practice of having the initiate receive the Warriors (Elegua, Ogun, Ochosi and Osun) along with their head or tutelary orisha whichever it may be”. The warriors as we know them today in Cuba are not grouped together in Nigeria. A traditional head-and-foot initiation in Nigeria is: Eshu (not Eleggua) and the head Orisha. That detail is of little consequence to us Lukumi, but if we are doing to cite African practices then we should do our best not to misrepresent that branch of the religion either. I will also use myself as an example of why this needs to be known as soon as possible in one’s life. Before I initiated I wanted to be Omo Eleggua b/c Eleggua was (and still is) my favorite Orisha. The problem is that I was living an “Eleggua” type of lifestyle and that produced imbalance in my life. When I found out that Obatala was the Orisha that my Ori chose to guide my destiny before birth, then that forced me to ask myself why my Ori made that choice for me. Knowing everything that Obatala represents, and knowing that in order to fulfill my highest destiny I would have to follow Obatala’s example, I was then able to get my life on the right track simply by knowning that crucial piece of information. This was 3 years before my kariocha. If I didn’t change my life in the ways that I did, I would have never been able to make it to Kariocha in the first place. Knowledge is power. Everyone is not born to crown Orisha, not everyone chose that as their destiny. But everyone did choose a head Orisha and everyone has the right to know who that Orisha is in order to have a better understanding of their own life. To only have this knowledge available to those who have decided to crown is literally unjust and unfair to the people who didn’t chose that as their destiny.

    2.) “I always say this is a religion of logic. Thus, what is their logic behind always using Eleguá’s dilogún? If the iyawó is to be born from the orí of the godparent then it is that orisha that needs to be consulted”…I totally agree that the head Orisha of the godparent needs to first be consulted, but that is done when we take coco, plato, velas, and derecho to throw Obi to the godparent’s head Orisha. The Orisha crowned to be crowned to the aleyo has nothing to do with the Orisha in the head of the godparent because each person chose a different destiny in life and different head Orisha. The aleyo’s Ori already chose his/her head Orisha before birth, the godparent’s head Orisha didn’t chose this for them, and neither did the godparent’s Ori. I’m afraid this implies a line of thought which mistakenly places the godparent at the center of this process, when the center of this process needs to be the person going through the ceremony. I also can’t agree with the following statement: “the orisha taking the brunt of the responsibility for the future olosha is the one that should assume the responsibility of speaking on behalf of that orí”… The godparent’s Orisha is not taking the brunt of the responsilbility of the future olosha. Those Orisha birth the new ones yes, but then when someone crowns and has their own Orisha, then these are the Orisha “taking the brunt of the responsibility” once the person does ebo meta. If the godparent’s Orisha is assuming all the responsibility in “spiritually raising” all their godchildern, then when is that Orisha taking care of the godparent? The godparent’s Orisha Alagbatori takes care of the godparent, just like the Orisha Alagbatori of the new olosha takes care of the new olosha. Then there is also the person’s own Ori which is an Orisha in its own right. So by logic we can see that it is not the function of the Orisha alagbatori of the godparent to decide the aleyos head Orisha. That decision was already previously made by a different Orisha: the Orisha that the aleyo was born with: their own Ori.

    3.) “However, my logical question is, if the system is so superior why are the shells used to determine itá during a kariosha and not the Opón Ifá? Of course, I know the mechanics behind when to use Opon Ifá and it would not fit within the ritual parameters of the kariosha, but all the same, the question is still there.” — if you know the mechanics of when it is appropriate to use Ifa, then why ask the question at all? If its a mute question…then why ask it, then dismiss it, and then ask it again? It doesn’t make dilogun “more legitimate” or make Ifa “less legitimate” to point out that Ifa is not used in the kariocha Ita. And actually the real reason it is not used was by proclamation of Orunmila himself in Oche Meyi…and let’s not forget that in Matanzas there are certain Orishas whos kariocha itas are to this day performed with Ikin.

    I could go on about several other things but will leave it at that. Please take notice that in all my comments I have not once said “This should only be one with caracol” nor “this should only be done with Ifa”. Nor have I mentioned how many godparents have a stake in which Orisha gets revealed in this ceremony. Remember that many godparents have taboos against crowning certain Orishas and have an interest in avoiding telling someone that their head Orisha is taboo for them to crown, which opens up a whole other can of worms which is too long and complicated to get in to here. However I do find it interesting that you site the patakin Osa Roso which states exactly why it should be through Ifa. I think the logic in this patakin speaks for itself.

    Alaafia, bogbo ire.
    Babañá, omo Obatala Oba Moro

    • Omimelli says:

      Alafia Babañá

      Thanks for taking the time to read the article and express your opinions. I have read them with the openmind you requested. Some of your points beg for more conversation.

      1. I do not think that semantics are misrepresenting the religion as it is practiced in Yorubaland. However, I am sure that since you have possibly had the opportunity to travel to Nigeria and observed first hand how things are done there then I humbly differ to your priviledged knowledge. I have to sustain myself for the time being citing known works from Angarica, David H. Brown and other authors which I happen to admire.

      I still do not agree with the point that everyone needs to be finding out their tutelary orisha. I have seen many times people having their head determined and years later having another orisha claim even as they sit doing their ebo de entrada. The issue here at hand is that many treat the process of finding out their head orisha too lightly and then boast about it as if it was a cool club to belong to. The concept of selected heads is not new to me, it is interesting that in your case the knowledge of which ori accompanied you made such a difference. It sounds to me more like an exception than a rule. Be that as it may, I still sustain that not everyone is ready or needs to find out, not until they are prepared to accept what it means.

      2. Your points are completely confused here. “The Orisha crowned to be crowned to the aleyo has nothing to do with the Orisha in the head of the godparent because each person chose a different destiny in life and different head Orisha.” But of course it has to do and a lot. There is no orisha for the iyawo until it is born from that of the godparent, only after that will the new initiate have an orisha to stand for them. In the meantime it is the orisha of the godparent the one that indeed is taking the brunt of the responsibility. After that the new orishas will lead te person, but not before because they are not materialized yet.

      Thus at the moment of determining the head, it is that orisha of the godparent the one to be consulted.

      “Those Orisha birth the new ones yes, but then when someone crowns and has their own Orisha, then these are the Orisha “taking the brunt of the responsibility” once the person does ebo meta. If the godparent’s Orisha is assuming all the responsibility in “spiritually raising” all their godchildern, then when is that Orisha taking care of the godparent?” In your desire to find flaws in the material presented you have completely taken this out of context. I did not say that the orisha of the godparent has to be responsible for one or all godchildren forever, just at the moment of determining the ori. You are simply not understanding very well what was written. I think you need to re read it and you will see my points, even if you do not agree with them, which to be honest does not bother me at all.

      “That decision was already previously made by a different Orisha: the Orisha that the aleyo was born with: their own Ori.” At no moment did I say that the decision is not made by the ori of the person about to be initiated or that the orisha of the godparent makes it. All the orisha of the godparent is doing is being a mouthpiece, nothing more, nothing less. What a way to increase the meaning of my words to another level!

      3. “— if you know the mechanics of when it is appropriate to use Ifa, then why ask the question at all? If its a mute question…then why ask it, then dismiss it, and then ask it again? It doesn’t make dilogun “more legitimate” or make Ifa “less legitimate” to point out that Ifa is not used in the kariocha Ita.” Abure, you start with a cool head and by this point your words seem to have a hotter tone. I am still entitled to ask a question, particularly because it can open a healthy debates with cool heads and open hearts, but your tone is quite frankly a bit “interesting” to say the least.

      Yes, indeed….I can see the subject is one that makes people want to jump. However, this is why I leave it open to healthy conversation and opportunities to learn from one another.

      Alafia.

      Omimelli

  3. WanderingWaters says:

    Bendiciones,

    Omo Obatala Oba Moro here…..

    “Nor have I mentioned how many godparents have a stake in which Orisha gets revealed in this ceremony. Remember that many godparents have taboos against crowning certain Orishas and have an interest in avoiding telling someone that their head Orisha is taboo for them to crown, which opens up a whole other can of worms which is too long and complicated to get in to here. However I do find it interesting that you site the patakin Osa Roso which states exactly why it should be through Ifa. I think the logic in this patakin speaks for itself.”

    you have just mentioned what you said you would not. I have heard arguements like this before how Godparents have a personal stake in the outcome of of the tuletary Orisha of a person they may wish to Crown but I simply cannot see how if there is indeed significant flagrant manipulation of Shell Readings to benefit folk’s own personal interests as far as bringing down one’s Tuletary Orisha is concerned, how can Shell Readings be considered legitimate any time they are used. Why would willful manipualtion of Shell Readings be limited be limited to Head Readings if Orisha Priests and Priestesses are only looking after their own self interests. They could willfully choose who get Elekes, Warriors, or a washed Orisha as well if that is the case. To cast doubt on the sanctity of Shell Readings where Head Readings are concerned casts doubts on the entire divination system to me if you are saying Godparents are in significant numbers outright lying to their potential Godchildren. If the arguement rested soley on that Ifa should be the realm in determining Head Orisha, even if I did not necessarily agree with it, THAT I could understand.

    ” Everyone is not born to crown Orisha, not everyone chose that as their destiny. But everyone did choose a head Orisha and everyone has the right to know who that Orisha is in order to have a better understanding of their own life. To only have this knowledge available to those who have decided to crown is literally unjust and unfair to the people who didn’t chose that as their destiny. ”

    Is it generally thought that everyone did choose a head Orisha which basically means Orisha Cosmology is Universal. While in Yorubaland I could see where this might be more assumed, in the Diaspora I thought only certain people had Ori that enterened into a pact with a certain Orisha and that is what Shell Readings aid in discovering.

    • Omimelli says:

      Wandering Waters

      Thanks for your contributions and points of view to this conversation.

      I believe those godparents who are in the ‘santeria mill business’ are the ones that would have the lack of integrity to manipulate a dilogun reading even if they know it is not to the best interest of their godchildren. It is a shame to have lack of ethical people in our communities, but face it, we do have quite a bit of them. Thus my points on being selective about who we promote to olosha ranks.

      There is nothing more satisfying than being the conduit for the development of another human being, to be there to witness their growth and the act of finding their path.

      Omimelli

  4. Tanchela says:

    However, my logical question is, if the system is so superior why are the shells used to determine itá during a kariosha and not the Opón Ifá?
    Greetings!
    Dilogun is the mouth of Orisha. OgbeFun says that the Dilogun is for Ita. For divination you should go to Orunmila. What is Orunmilas role in our Faith? After you answer this question you will see that even thou Caurie divination is effective through the Ashe of Orisha, even Orisha go to Orunmila to get divined.
    Ogbo Ato!

    • Omimelli says:

      Tanchela

      No one is refuting the fact that Orunmila has a valid and important role in our religion. That is not the point of the article. We are all interdependent and those who do not see the usefulness of one another are simply blinded by ego or ignorance or both.

      Omimelli

  5. john says:

    have been a babaorisha for 35 yr and have lots of changes ,first ifa or dilogun both good both right I have use both ie gone to ifa as well as to an oba good in both bad in both why the taboo if the the babalwo wife have taboos then all will orisha heads will the ones she can crown yes I have seen that or if its in the better interest for the the babalwo for the iyawo to go straight it if that what will come out ,and taboos will change thing up on both side so to say that it only happen with the dilogun is wrong Ive been to Nigeria many times in life travels and had reading with ifa as well with olosha with dilogun and I have ask which is better the answer was always the ifa is ifa and olosha is olosha ,in Nigeria as well as in cuba and many other places need is what dictate how thing are done their have been many changes to the faith do to need ,to help some on there path,you need to have knowledge of all things or working on it lolololol to do right by some one, ifa, olosha passing to ifa don’t give you all the anwers you have to learn doing ocha don’t make you great and all powerfull it sould make both humble

    • Omimelli says:

      John

      The word humble is one that is sorely missing from the glossary of many awós and oloshas alike. Thanks for your comments and for visiting the blog.

      Onareo

      Omimelli

  6. john says:

    if in the best interest for the babalwo is for the iyawo to go straight to ifa that what will happen but al along he need his ocha first

    • M says:

      Orunmila knows all destinies..therefore he is the one to determine the guardian Orisha of humans on earth..and at least 3 Awos need be present.( I have some exposure via Ocha and Ifa to both YTR and Lucumi.) I do not say this because I am an Awo….but I know Orunmila to a certain degree..and that he is the final word in Nigeria (and should be in Ocha) ..in any important decision or matter. An orisha priest or Ifa Priest with “bad” character will /do make ” purposeful” mistakes with this /finding the guardian orisha…I know from experience. But a few bad apples who are Awos…does not erase the “Preeminance” of Ifa/Orunmila in this determination..in the hands of a capable and honest Awo. Ashe

  7. Lily says:

    I’m an aleyo and have been trying to gain an understanding of this topic for some time. I still have lingering questions. I will use a scenario to illustrate this. What happens when for example someone receives the awofaka or ikofa de Orunmila discovering their angel de la guarda and then years later is going through kariosha, finding out that they have a different tutelary Orisha. How can this change? And what happens when for some reason or another a person crowns the wrong Orisha ? Should a padrino/madrina always double check before the asiento?

    • Omimelli says:

      Lily

      I have heard of cases where the tutelar orisha changes, even after being determined by awos as part of awofaka or ikofa. It is not very common, but it is not unheard. There is a process that is done in the begining of Kariosha to double check that all things are in order, I have seen an orisha claim the head of someone even after it was determined tha osha was another.

      I have seen (and made the asho orisha)for a sister in osha who was going to be initiated to Obba. Well, Oshun claimed her and changes were made rather quickly to satisfy Oshun.

      When someone gets the wrong orisha crown their life is not usually peaches over cream to say the least.

      Godparents to be need to have full certainty that the orisha about to be made is indeed he right one for that person. If there is doubt regarding a head that has been determined, then it is their duty to make sure those doubts are cleared. When I say it is “their” duty I mean to involve the godparent, the oyugbona, the oriate and certainly the iyawo to be.

      I hope the answer helps.

      Omimelli

      • Lily says:

        Thank you for your reply. I really enjoy reading your blog and really like approach at tackling some of these issues.

        Are there particular reasons that another Orisha may claim the person’s head? And is there any way to help a person who was crowned the wrong Orisha?

        • Omimelli says:

          Lily

          The reasons can be varied. Sometimes the person is coveted by several orishas at once. I have seen Oya tell my husband ‘Obatala may own your head but the rest of your body from the shoulders down is mine’. She also says Obatala stole him right under her nose. It happens.

          There is not much to be done when someone is incorrectly crowned. The person may get pinaldo to address ita issues if there are any, most likely there will be some. Once the orisha is bound to that head is a matter of ’til death do you apart.

          Omimelli

  8. Hcg Drops says:

    You nailed it. Thanks for posting this. I will return back to read more and inform my friends about your site.

  9. tiffany says:

    Hi, I have a question regarding brujeria, I know someone who is having a hard time they did a brujeria to her and she had bad things happen to her she cleansed and taken care of it ,however she is so scared that she uses holy water for everything! She thinks that when you have a brujeria done to you it affects everything that you touch is this true? For example the couch, light switches, car, phone, ect. She blesses everything and she won’t go to any place store, restaurant, ect. that she went to when the brujeria happen to her!! She also goes through 3-4 gallons of holy water a week, Please can you give me some help because she is a great person and this is ruining her life she just doesn’t know how to get over what happened and well I am learning as well I am not sure what to tell her.

  10. AWO- OGUNDA-TETURA says:

    Alafia: Very good article and well written, as an awo in IFA I am seeing this being the most abused ceremony within the tradition. The only acception it should be done, to find out the guardian angel of a person is a) The god parent posses a taboo on a Orisha per Ita, for example if the God parent is omo obatala and have oshe meji on Oshun. So, he/she want to make sure they are not violating his/her taboo with Oshun or any Orisha he/she is closed with. B)You are Omo Chango, Omo Yemaya, Omo oya as a god parent, you need to know what is the guardian angel of your god child so you do not fall in violation. C) When the god child is preparing for kariocha or Idosu Orisha.

    In the odu of Eji-Ogbe meji orunmila is call Orunmil Elerin Ipin which translate Orunmila is the one who witness destiny. When we speak of destiny we are talking about Ori. Ori only speak through IFA, not the shells of orisha, there are plenty of odu’s in IFA that support this. I have done several guardian angel ceremonies with competent and well train babalawao’s. And found wrong orisha’s label on a god child by Oba’s. The odu’s of orunmila never change, when IFA speak on a situation, it is not to be challenge.

    If a person had gone to a babalawao ten year’s ago, and found out she was a child of Oshun. And now it is a child of Obatala, that mean’s the ceremony was done incorrectly. I know a case personally, were this young lady had her guardian angel pulled down by a babalawao I know 25 year’s ago. She came out to be Omo obatala, 25 years later she is ready to do Kariocha, when she did her entrada it was confirmed she is still omo obatala. Why? It was done by competent babalawaos.

  11. Kaleema says:

    How does one find out this information if one does not have an Ile or godparents to learn from? What if they have not been able to find anyone to help them along this journey, but know that they’re supposed to be a part of the religion and have learned everything through books. how does one find who has their head then?

    • Omimelli says:

      Kaleema

      The fact that there is an abundance of information on line and in books does not mean that Santeria is a religion to be practiced alone or in private without the benefit of community. It is an initiatory religion where community and godparents are crucial.

      The first thing you need to find out is if there is a community or group near you. Where are you located, this is the fist step towards finding a responsible group to foster your spiritual knowledge and involment.

      Omimelli

  12. Matt says:

    How would you go about verifying if an Orisha has contacted you if you do not come from an ATR at all and knew very little to nothing about the religions prior? Would some sort of divination be done to make sure?

  13. Eboni says:

    I read everything here and I really enjoyed it all. I think this is my calling, the structure, the connection I think will help to guide me in the way that I should go. I will seek a group nearby. Thank you so very much.

    Alafia!

  14. m says:

    Omimelli
    I was crowned w the wrong orisha ..and it originally at at awofakan w 4 awos present.that gave mee incorrect orisha.the oba at asiento kept hinting my true mother was crying for me and asked to talk to my oluwo after itan .but my ex oluwos ego would prevent him from questioning “his” Ifa.it was only after hell and much illness that another ocha itan w 4 legs would confirm this great mistake. So score one for the oriates over a not so humble babalawo.

  15. Sonia says:

    Hi everyone,

    I’m in a very difficult situation and I need your help. In 2008 I got with my boyfriend supposedly it happened by my godfathers guardian spirits. They brought us together so I could realize what a real man could offer and value me and truly love me. They also put me in his path so he could see that there is a woman that could truly love him unconditionally and is not with him for interest. Well he feel deeply in love that the same spirit of our godfather that brought us together told him he had to leave me for good cause I’m not for him and this could end in a tragic. We didn’t listen and we decided to continue with our relationship because of how deep in love we were. So when he crowned yemaya all they said to respect and be careful with the daughters of Oshun which that’s my guardian Angel but I’m not crown. So we continue being together and when he goes to any Ita that’s not his or in Palo that our godparents they bring up or relationship. So then in 2012 he went to Cuba to make a promise that he had to let me be and go our separate ways. And he went through with it because of fear that something could happen to him or his family. In my aunt confirmation of Santo of 45 years oshun spoke to me and she said she didn’t want me with him but she realized that my love and his love was real true love, so the Oba said well let’s see what could be done cause Oshun is saying this is true love. Well or godmother said no we need to move on and let it be. Now we are in 2015 he went to his nephew Santo and they spoke to him this time he said was Yemaya which is his guardian Angel and told him to stop swimming against the current cause he is going to drown and that this could get really ugly and it will be too late to fix it. When hee came back he was changed and he broke up with me cause of all this and I been sad like my other half have up and abandon me. All I want to know that if things as such as this tragedy that the spirits and the saints see could be fix and we could finally be together without worrying about this sign coming out one day and destroy us. I also wanted to know if we could have the blessing of the spirits and the Orisha in being together even though they might had said to let it go. Please I know this is long but I been lost and I really need him in my life cause we made a relationship full of love and understanding. Please let me know if or Destiny with this tragedy could go away so the saints and spirit give us the green light and bring us back together with their blessings. Thank you ahead of time.

    • Omimelli says:

      Dear daughter of Oshun,

      People sometimes are brought together by spirits for a reason, and then for other reasons they are pulled away from one another. Perhaps the true test here is not about love, it is about the love and devotion that an olosha must have for their Orisha first and foremost.

      I know very well what is to swim against the current. The moment that you listen to your spirits and to the orisha, the current will not longer be against you, it will push you gently and carry you forth. Loving someone who is not optimal for our ultimate happiness and spiritual health can be a true pain.

      It is your choice to swim against the current or to simply listen to the orisha and trust their guidance. Remember, you can’t be selective about following the orisha, either you respect their guidance all the time or you don’t.

      I have selected to follow their guidance in my life, it works. I do not struggle, I exist in balance. Even in the face of situations like the one you are now facing. Been there, done that.

      Omimelli

  16. Jay says:

    Bendiciones,

    Hello, I have a few questions regarding this topic. I have 2 years in this religion and hopefully soon make asiento but I’m having some concerns of the debate between Ocha vs ifa on what’s the proper way to find out who’s is your orisha that owns your head. It had said that my father which is my guardian angel is Obatala by an oba through dilogun. My question is when I go and get my Mano de orunla through a Babalawo they might tell me something different? Is it mandatory to get the Mano de unrula?and when before or after asiento?Is it going to be a problem because of this debate? Can Santeros give the Warriors or babalawos are the only ones that can give them? Can you have 2 warriors meaning one through Ocha and one through ifa? … I have met babalowos that stated to me about getting the Mano de orunla and how they are the only ones through ifa of course who can determine your orisha not Santeros :/… And my godparents who are Santeros telling me other wise. I’m basically stuck and put everything at holt trying to find out what is the proper way for my path.

    • Omimelli says:

      Jay,

      Very good questions. I have one of my own? Why are you going to become an olosha?

      Here is the skinny on your questions:
      1. Dilogun can be used to determined the orisha to be crowned. Why would you trust dilogun for your ita if you can’t trust it to determine your head. Answer that one for me, with logic not with the passion that Ifa folks use to say that the word of Ifa is the ultimate on this matter.
      2. If you have your head determined through Dilogun, why do you need to run and get awofaka or ikofa, in the case of women? No, you do not need to get that initiation to make kariosha. It is a nice to have, not a must have.
      3. If there is debate over who owns your head after using Dilogun, then Ifa can use to settle the score. However, this can be done in a plante and it does not mean you need to receive the awofaka or the ikofa.

      Again, I ask, why are you making yokoosha? Think carefully of what and why. Also, you should be following the guidelines of your house and not be going around listening to various sources. It is nice to ask, but you need to have a relationship of trust with your godparents and live by the rules of the house.

      Omimelli

  17. Omo Oshun says:

    Greetings!

    Great article! I think many valid points have been made, in both the article and in the comments. I have been initiated in Lucumi tradition, and then did two initiations in Nigeria.

    One thing I experienced in Nigeria that gave me some food for thought, especially regarding how we in Lucumi view orishas claiming heads and initiation. One woman who was traveling in our group had not been initiated but had been in a diasporic African tradition for many years and worked closely with Yemoja, and had even been possessed by her (which is questionable for some in Lucumi, but it rather in common in some other places, like Brazil). However, according to Ifa, she needed to initiate to Oshun for healing, which she did. After initiating to Oshun, she still possessed regularly with Yemoja. So even though Yemoja “claimed her head,” so to speak, in regards to possession, her initiation was to Oshun.

    The concept of “claiming the head” doesn’t exist in many parts of Nigeria (I have not experienced it amongst Nigerians but hear that some Nigerians do have this concept). People initiate to their family orisha and then to some other orishas that Ifa says they need to initiate too. So is the head claimed by many orisha?

    Personally, I prefer for my godchildren to have their own ikin determine what initiations they need, if any. It’s not that I do not believe that diloggun cannot determine it (and, in fact, I would argue that if the Yoruba oracle is “Ifa” then all Yoruba-centric divinations are accessing “Ifa,” as in the corpus of knowledge, even the diloggun) but I do believe that one’s ikin is directly connected to one’s ori and destiny and that it is the best way to determine an individual’s path.

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