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.

I took a tour of this fascinating island-community that since the 8th Century AD has been the seat of the Saint Michel monastery. Now, for those who have been on guided tours, timeliness is crucial. Tour guides do not monkey around with the schedule and I was not really aware of that. As you progress through the guided tour of the monastery, doors are locked behind you and others opened in front of you. Thus, when I got distracted at the oubliette trying to take some photos, I got accidentally left behind there, locked in the dark. The only source of light was a narrow opening nearly 30 feet above me. Its rays pointed to a large iron basin filled with spikes where I suppose candles would burn. I was terrified. Ten minutes later, or what seemed to me like an eternity in a dungeon, the tour guide realized there was a lost sheep and came to my rescue. I learned my lesson to stay with the group. However, I also took with me a sense of foreboding and a nearly religious experience. Solitude, quiet and darkness had left within me an indelible mark.

An example of an oubliette

I came back to America to deal with the remains of a messy divorce and with the pain of a rebound relationship that followed and its unavoidable heartache. I wanted to be rid of the pain, I had enough. I was tired of being miserable and ready to move on. While tending to my warriors and tidying up around Olokun (I was not yet an olosha), I was inspired to uncover Olokun. The light in the room filtered through the narrow opening casting a glow that reminded me suddenly of the solitude and quiet I had found at Mont St. Michel. I felt a force guide me; I bent in awe of this energy and placed my mouth over the opening of the ginger jar containing Olokun. I poured out my desire with all intensity. I did not asked for much, mostly I asked to be cleaned of pain, to be allowed to start anew, to simply forget all traces of the love that now had turned to stones in my chest.

Guess what? My prayers were answered. I was amazed of the degree of efficacy and speed this showed. I was able to face this person without a shred of lingering emotion. My heart was as neutral as Switzerland. I was blessed with a new beginning and indeed the orisha had surprises for me as I met my life’s partner in love and spirit later on that year.

I shared this ‘working’ with a trusted friend years later. She too had Olokun and is an olosha. She also experienced the same results I had. Different Olokun, different circumstances and certainly not my story to share out of respect for her privacy.

I am sure that the secret to our success was to go into it with purity of heart in our intent. We did not go to Olokun to seek vengeance or punishment or to request to have a loved one ‘enslaved’ to our own petty desires, we went to be cleaned of pain. Olokun heard our prayers and took the pain to the depths of its watery realm and recycled the pain into future opportunities.

I believe Olokun has an important role in the ‘recycling of souls’, but that is another subject of equal fascination and depth. However, you can make an extension from that role to a recycler of emotions.

Beware of one thing, I have found with my experience and that of my friend, that there is no turning back on the petition. Once it is done, the emotions are uprooted for good, or at least in our cases they were.

I can’t tell people what to do or not to do, but I can suggest to those of you out there that like to hoard knowledge and feel bigger and better because you think you have an edge over others with such knowledge, learn to be generous. The orisha is an ever balancing force and rewards equally those who share, as it may withhold future inspiration from hoarders. A generous heart is a clean heart.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

19 Replies to “Olokún: The Oubliette of Emotions”

  1. alafia,
    iba se olodumare
    iba se egungun
    iba se ori
    iba se olokun
    what a beautiful post, what a beautiful expression of faith!
    olokun is mighty!
    blessings to you while you walk your heart’s path!

  2. Omimelli,

    I was wondering – you talk a lot about orisha who you feel close to or work with. Are there others you feel less close to? Do you think certain orisha naturally hold certain people closer or do you think it has more to do with you’ve developed a relationship with over the years?


    1. Ann

      I think orishas are there no matter what. However, there are times at one’s life that some come to take a protagonic role as their guidance and protection maybe of particular need. I do believe that there is a third orisha that always walks with us at any given time. Meaning our tutelar orisha, the secondary orisha (mother or father, depending on which is the tutelar orisha) and then the marche ensemble or the one that walks with those two to increase your protection and impart special lessons.

      There are orishas that remain mysteries no matter how close we want to feel them or we look to develop a relationship. I guess it is the nature of their particular relationship with the initiate. Does that makes them any less important? That depends on circumstances.

      I have always felt Oya near me, go figure, I got adopted by an Baloyá. I always had a special thing for Oggun, go figure, my first born is an Balogun. Obatalá has always blessed my life, go figure…my husband is an Olo Obatalá. Elegua, well that rascal is always near me, I call him Mr. Personality. My mother´s father in osha is Elegua and I suspect my youngest son may be a son of Elegua as well.

      The orisha are all magnificent. I am just lucky enough to have been called to the priestesshood, I am glad to serve them and the orisha community.



  3. I ran across your site a few weeks ago as I was searching for “La Letra del Año” and thought it was very informative and decided to bookmark it.

    For some unknown reason, I suddenly felt the need to go online and I scanned my bookmarks and decide to check yours. When I saw your home page, the caption and vase captured my attention so I decided to take a moment to read the article.

    I am so happy I did, as this has moved me beyond words. I have a deep love for my Saints and my religion and each day they confirm that they are always with me.

    THIS article is what I have been searching for and just didn’t know it. I received Olokun 5 years ago because I was told my heart was like a bottomless pit and I needed to purge all that was in it. I never understood how I was going to accomplish this and never gave it another thought. My life has drastically changed since then and the pit is now full to the brim with no way of knowing how to release all this pain, anger, resentment, despair and hopelessness it has!

    As I read your article I actually started to cry because I finally found the light at the tunnel. I have such faith in my Santos so I know that this is what I need to do to be set free! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your wisdom.

    Que los Santos te lo paguen en salud!

    1. Ana Maria

      I am really happy that this article was able to put you on the path to let go of the things that are holding you back.

      It took me months to decide to finally share this experience, as I felt it was a very personal revelation from the orisha. However, like love, knowledge when not shared goes to waste and waste is not something that the orisha would condone.

      Keep your faith in the orisha and pour your love into them, you will always be guided and rewarded according to the cleanliness of your heart and actions. I can tell you that much from experience.

      Thank you kindly for your good wishes. Hope you visit the blog often and share when you feel inspired.



  4. Beautiful post! I am set to recieved initiation into olokun myself in the upcoming monthts! I dont know much about the orisha but my godmother said Olokun da salud. And I just quitted smoking for good after 12 year under the inluence and this achievement is what I wished to deliver Olokun as the offering of my life when I recieved kinda wishing she could recycle whatever wrong ive made to my body and my soul. Your post strenghten my faith.

    Blessings from the Orishas & Egun
    love and Light


    1. Ezel

      I know that by now you must have received Olokun. Cherish this orisha because it is a pillar for anyone who receives it. More than health, Olokun is a generator of balance, a regenarator for the soul and a deep companion in whom to trust your deepest secrets.

      You will learn in due time. Whenever you can, get a mat and take naps at the foot of Olokun. You will notice how refreshed you wake up.


  5. Beautiful post, thanks for sharing.

    I was initiated Oggun last December and in my Itá it turned out that because of my path of Yemaya (who is my mother in Osha) I needed to receive Olokun as quick as possible, preferebly even before coming of the throne! Unfortunately because of economical reasons it was not possible for me to do it that quickly, but I’m very happy that within 3 months my santos helped me not only with gathering the money for the Ebbo Eshumeta, but also for receiving Olokun. Maferefun a la Osha, I am happy to invite Olokun into my life.

    Alafia, Iyawo

  6. I have Olukun. My godmother suggested I put Olukun on a stand. I thought it belongs on the floor, preferably a dark corner? What do u think? Also what if you dont have a dark corner to put her? Also is Olokun a male or Female deity?

    1. Chola Guengue

      It is a blessing to have a godmother who cares to teach you. Follow her teachings, question her politely as to why place Olokun on a stand. I know the answer but it is for you to find it from her. Communication is key.

      Olokun’s gender is a mystery, like the depths of the waters it commands and the secret of the regeneration of souls it keeps. Most say Olokun is hemaphrodite.


  7. If your Godmother suggested to put Olokun on a stand, why wouldn’t you. Why would you want to put him in a dark corner?

  8. santo.. blessing to all from one moment to the next i decided to type in how often are you suppose to clean your olokun ? on my browser !!!..i recieved olokun years ago and was never taught how to attend her luckily for me im always reading up on the orsihas i love the santos but i really never came across on much about olokun as far as attending her and how often to clean her. what to present to her or anything. i go on istinct when i feel she wants something..to my understanding due to reading i understand that if you recieved your olokun from asantero she is a female and if from a babalawo it’s a male..i had her approximately 8 years when i clean her i drink a cup of her water to show my love and respect to her and when im not feeling well as well i present molasses with a dish of fruits on top of her basin with a candle lit when i can but what i would like to know is how often do i need to change her waters what do i feed her a blood offering ? and if so what do i give her a duck,chicken,hen,pigeon what? no i have not made ocha as much as i would love too i cant offerd it..i feel that is what i am missing in my life to help balance me out but i was initiated in palo mayombe and i did mita de asiento in ocha..now and days it is hard to find anyone who is willing to teach whole heartedly without them becoming intimidated of your ache or blessings that are comming to you becos i guess they feel u will excel more then them but for what ever reason you wind up with a dead beat padrino like i did..basically everything i know i learned it from reading but how am i to determin what is right from wrong how do i know if im offending the santos by presenting somnething someone suggested that would be good to give to them not knowing they dont like that.i just wanna learn the correct way things are suppose to be done once and for all when it comes down to attending the orishas and my santo’s thank u all for any input you may have for me..blessings and ache to all…raven

    1. Ok Raven,

      Lets take things a bit slow here. Let me suggest an attitude adjustment here for you. If you are looking for a teacher you should not go into the relationship with a mentality like what you express here. The teacher affraid of your ashe? Of the student surpassing the teacher? You immediately come off here with an arrogant tone that is so very unflattering for a student or for a person looking to be nurtured by an elder.

      Here is what I have learned the hard way: No one can drink coffee from a cup half filled with orange juice. Follow me? Forget what you know, be humble, be willing to listen, observe and learn. Learn to ask the right questions. Do not assume that your teacher is affraid of your ashe. Or that your teacher will fear you surpassing him or her. If that is the kind of teacher you are finding, you are finding the wrong kind. It is my honor to have my godchildren learning more than what I will ever know. Likewise it should be an honor for you as a student to learn the bits and pieces your godparents begin to forget. I always say I wish I knew a 10% of what my elders have forgotten due to old age.

      With regards to Olokun, you may not feed Olokun any kind of live animal. To put in your words, you do not have the ashe to do so. You do not have the licencia, permiso, initiation level, etc.

      No, Olokun does not have different gender based on who gives it to you. Where in the world did you learned that? I am amazed by the inventions people talk about and assume it is gospel.

      So I take it you are no longer with your godparents. Did you keep up with your oyugbona from the initiations you have received? Did you keep up with older oloshas from your ile who can take over your education. It is very healthy to stay within the rama where you started if possible

      Hope this helps


    1. Hello Oyita

      I take it that your head was determined and that you have godparents. Have you sat down with them and asked questions about your guardian orisha? If you are wanting to do some research, I would suggest you read the book by John Mason, Olookun. I am sure you can find it on line.


  9. Blessings. I want to thank you for sharing your story and for others who added their voices. My heart is happy. You see, I’ve been told in several readings to receive Olokun and finally will do so-in a couple of months. I’ve searched high and low for more information about this mysterious orisha and felt that Olokun is determined to remain a mystery bx I’ve been unable to find deeper information about this orisha. Just yesterday, I found the perfect home (beautiful porcelain) for Olokun. Perhaps this wonderful blog was the orisha’s way of reassuring me that I’m doing the right thing…

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