One of the most difficult aspects of any relationship is trust. Having a personal and direct experience with divinity is no exception, particularly when our communication often times depends on a third party interpreting for us an oracle.
True, Santeros can read for themselves and communicate directly with their orishas by means of the dilogún (16-Cowry Oracle) and obí (coconuts), and, Awós divine for themselves with the Ékuele, however there are matters that are so delicate that is wise to entrust to an experienced third party that can place those issues into perspective. Who is the right person for this reading? Ideally it should be one’s godparents, but even in occasion they will seek assistance from a specialist for their godchildren.
There are elements that are keys to success in the process of seeking oracular advice and resolving issues, mainly these are openness of mind, suspending expectations and ability to follow instructions. The best reader in the world will not be able to solve the problems of a person that suffers from a syndrome I call “Acute Selective Listening.” What are the symptoms of ASL? Allow me to illustrate this with an example.
A woman came to me for a reading. She wanted to know if her husband was being faithful to her. The Dilogún clearly indicated that there was a triangle and that she was in danger of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. However, the unfaithful party was not her husband, it was her. She was shocked and dismayed. The advice dispensed was to desist of her love affair and be true to her husband who also was at risk due to her folly. She was so annoyed at having her peccadillo exposed that she stormed off after the reading. Months later, this woman had contracted an STD and wanted another reading to see how to deal with the situation. I am not a person to bother my orisha to repeat advice twice, thus I sent her to find someone else where she could place her trust since obviously my interpretation had not been to her liking, but it had been after all, accurate.
There are matters that are sensitive and as such must be managed with direct and gentle words, but the message must come across clearly and the person seeking divination must come out of the session with a clear sense of direction, no matter how shocking the advice is. Anyone seeking advice from the dilogún must realize that the forces set in motion the moment that the Olosha or Oriaté starts activating that oracle are living forces that will impact both diviner and the person in need of help. If there are questions, they must be clarified as best as possible. However, trust in the abilities of the diviner is crucial because if there are no steps taken or ebbós done, a bad situation can be compounded and more than likely solutions will become more complicated if no actions are taken.
This is a page from my own experience. I had a potential godchild come to me to seek admission to my ilé. The reading was an itawa melli. Since Yemayá often times speaks through that particular pattern in obí, I took special attention to provide some advice to this new godchild. In my experience the best godchildren do not come from itawa melli, they are often times riddled with issues of discipline and ‘acute selective listening,’ this godson was no exception. Regardless of my advice to keep communications open and to follow the ilé’s protocol, within 3-months of his request elekes initiation he had violated rules far too many times to become a viable candidate for initiation. Needless to say, eventually he found his own creative way out of our household.
This does not mean that godchildren that come with a radiant ‘eye ife’ are exempt from folly and from ASL, it just means that their head is at peace at the foot of the orisha. It is up to the godparents to foment a healthy relationship and to the godchild to place full trust in the orisha and to allow themselves to be lead and mentored by their godparents. I tend to like to favor the odds, therefore in my ilé, only people with eye ife may enter the house. I make no exceptions.
In my experience the selective listening problem is one that emerges from having expectations when getting a reading. When a person comes to a diviner with an attitude of openness and respect for the orisha, most times their issues are resolved or at least ameliorated by the advice given. When desires for a particular outcome pollute the mind of the person seeking advice, ears tend to shut down if contrary advice emerges from the reading pattern.
It has not been easy to live with oracular advice. Over the years I have had to follow instructions I did not liked, but I have done them in full trust of my elders and above all respecting the voice of the orisha manifested in the oracle. In the end, the reasons behind difficult instructions became apparent and I was happy I followed what had been advised no matter how bitter the pill was to swallow. There is no selectiveness about advice; it is not a cafeteria menu of solutions to dish out according to your hunger. Either there is full trust or there is not.
Next time you seek the advice of a diviner, consider carefully if you trust the orisha and if you trust the person doing the interpretation before you stir the waters to see if you can get a glimpse of past, present and future.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá