Santeria 101: Keeping Records of Your Readings or Registros

Some of my libretas have notes on more than just advice and readings...

There is absolutely no reason to live a life of strife and heartaches, particularly when one follows the Way of the Orishas or in short, practices Santeria. Perhaps it is partly because I do not trust memory to be perfect, or because of the years I spent pursuing a career in journalism, but I value greatly the art of record keeping for posterity. Thus, you can find in my orisha room a catalogue of readings done for me, from the very first one to the most recent one. They are all compiled in notebooks, organized by ceremonies and they include notes of results from the ebbós or workings prescribed from those readings.

This trail of notes is not a meandering one, it tells the story of my life and of the many stages and transformations in this spiritual journey, pretty much like this blog in a way weaves moments of my spiritual journey with the spiritual journeys of family, friends and anyone who is willing to spend a few minutes of their life here, reading along and sharing as they see fit.

As I was saying, there is no reason for living a life of frustration. Most of the answers to life’s challenges and to our very own shortcomings are in the readings we seek. Even the poorest of readings may yield a nugget of wisdom, a flash of divine inspiration passed by Olofi to the diviner. It is up to the person seeking that advice to listen with an open mind and heart, to understand that message and apply the advice diligently.

How do you go about keeping good record of your readings? The answer is simple. Select your recordkeeping method of choice. Perhaps you are one of those people who love to take notes on a portable computer, smart phone or you may be traditional, like I am, and find a certain amount of peace and reassurance in practicing the art of penmanship on a plain old composition notebook. Whatever you choose, know that the right decision is to keep notes, and plenty of them.

Here is why. When you keep notes, you can track a series of things, from the issue at hand to the solutions prescribed in the form of ebbó, initiations, or simple advice. This is important because over the years, you will start to notice patterns emerging from those readings.

Do you have situations that seem to go unresolved in your life but have come up in multiple readings with different diviners? That should make you want to go…hmmm… am I missing something? Of course you are! It is called resolution. If you have been keeping good records, all you need to do is go back and review your notes, more than likely the solution to a recurrent problem or shortcoming or to iré that has not yet manifested is right there, plain as the nose on your face. Extrapolate the issues and the warnings given, as well as the results, that is, if you do keep notes on the progress you have made. In looking back to life’s challenges, I guarantee that you will find those patterns. It is up to you to use that knowledge and break out of repeating the same mistakes over and over or of wasting good opportunities because of not making decisions due to fear or a myriad of reasons.

It is of particular interest to me to see readings dovetail into one another when they are done by different diviners yet address similar issues in my life. For example, many years ago, before I made kariosha, I got a reading with my godfather Jose Bravo, Omi Oké, a week later, after finalizing the ebbó prescribed, part of the reading pointed out to sitting at the foot of Orunmila for a second reading or registro. I did as I was told and went to visit godfather Jorge Puig, Iwori Oddí. His reading picked up where the prior had stopped. I had made no comments about the reading with godfather José to godfather Jorge, and back then I was amazed to see two diviners so in tune in their advice. I remember it clearly and I made note of it on my notebook as well. I was floored by seeing these two readings speak with one voice for my benefit.

Of course, that was eons ago, now I have seen this in motion not once but many times. Particularly I have seen it a lot when comparing itás, which is the reading initiates get upon doing Kariosha and which acts like a spiritual road map of do’s and don’ts for initiates.

So here is what I do to keep track of my readings. I go beyond the normal note keeping that you may find. I want to have a full spectrum, a snapshot of what my life was the day I sat to seek advice. I also take note of some unorthodox (from the Santeria point of view) data because it may come in handy. An example of it is a Mercury Retrograde. I have noticed that ebbós placed in motion on a Mercury Retrograde (under astrological phenomena) do not manifest in full force until the next Mercury Retrograde, also it tends to point out to closing of cycles and it could impair workings related to communications between couples.

Date:____________ Time:____________: Weather:____________ Sun in:_______ Moon in:_____________
Astrological phenomena *if any*: ________________ Mood:______________ Health:_________________
Name of Diviner:_________________________ Orisha Name of Diviner:_____________________________
Ruling Orisha of Diviner:________________________ Time of Reading:____________________________

This is normally the heading of the reading, but depending on who does the reading, if an Oriaté or an Awó, the rest of the record keeping varies because in one you will have graphic representations of the signs and on the other one you will not.

Data to keep for reading with Santero:

Iré: ___ (or it could be) Osogbo:___ (Check mark whichever applies)
Type of Iré:_______________________ (or it could be) Type of Osogbo:_____________________
Ebbó prescribed:_________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
Advice given: __________________________________________________________________________

You will need to take ample notes from here on.

For a reading with an Awó the difference will be to include the graphic representation of the signs, starting with the oddun Toyale (main oddú) and then what is called the two witnesses. The main oddú is denoted with a cross on top of it. I have selected oddús at random only to illustrate what they should look like.

+
0 I
0 I
I I
I I
Witness 1
I 0
0 0
0 0
I 0
Witness 2
I 0
0 0
0 I
0 0

Iré: ___ (or it could be) Osogbo:___ (Check mark whichever applies)
Type of Iré:_______________________ (or it could be) Type of Osogbo:_____________________
Main orisha speaking on your behalf:_____________________________________________________
Does this orisha wants an offering?:_____________________________________________________
If so, what?:____________________________________________________________________________
Ebbó(s) prescribed:______________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________________________
Advice given: __________________________________________________________________________

Traditionally Libretas are kept by diviners on all the consultations they do. It is important for them to keep this sort of record because from their perspective it allows them to track their own development as diviners and it keeps a wealth of solutions that are unique to each individual and his or her situation. Thus, you may have two people with similar readings but the application of the interpretation and the ebbós that emerge can be quite unique and tailored to solve their particular predicament.

Libretas are handed from generation to generation and they are the backbone of many books available now in print on the mass market. Do not take record keeping lightly; see it as a legacy to yourself and potentially to others. I wish you happy note-keeping.

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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4 Responses to Santeria 101: Keeping Records of Your Readings or Registros

  1. Iya says:

    In my ile, I am the record keeper. We keep all notes on all the readings and ceremonies that are done.

    It also helps when a godchild comes back crying saying, “The reading did not work” LOL I can flip open a book, or now more recently, flip open my lap top, pull up their readings, and ask them, “Did you give the flowers to Yemaya? Did you take that bath? Have you been watching your temper?”, etc. People are sent home with a copy of their notes, but sometimes they don’t always follow through on them.

    So this system helps me to remind them, and keeps a modicum of accountability, where the information that they need to lean back on cabe easily accessed.

    Excellent post!! Thanks for sharing.

    • Omimelli says:

      Hello Iya!

      I am really glad you found the article useful. I love to keep notes as well. I remember when I was an aleyo I came up with the system I posted on the article and made sheets for my godfather J. Bravo. He thought I was nosy and trying to get ahead of myself in learning. I stood my ground and simply kept taking notes and being organized…I think it has paid off.

      Omimelli

  2. Chris says:

    Hello,

    I recently had a consultation with the diloggun and I requested the notes the oriate made during my reading. It has the odu number only that fell on the mat. He informed me what I needed to do and I wrote it down later. I’ve read that it’s not good to keep the odu that fell because it can work against you instead. Is there any truth to that?

    • Omimelli says:

      Chris,

      That is a myth. I have records of ALL of my readings for the last 25 years. Not sure where you got that misinformation.

      Omimelli

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