Steps to Simplify the Path to Kariosha

Preparing the Trousseau for an Iyawó Orisha...White Basket Included

One of my godchildren wanted to talk to me today. His conversation was not a surprise; I had seen it coming for a while. He wanted to know the best steps he could take to prepare for kariosha.

Additional to the fundamental steps of (1) determining the orí of the individual, (2) taking the person formally to Yemayá (my guardian angel) for permission to initiate as priest in her house and then (3) repeating that process with head orisha of the oyugbonakán, there are a series of additional procedures that are customary. Some of those procedures can be done early on and some are done close to the kariosha day.

Before I dive into those steps, I want to share some things I told my godchild to financially ease the burden that kariosha will place on him. Most things to simplify your path can be summarize in one word: Preparation.

If kariosha is impending, the logical thing is to start gathering white clothes. In the case of my husband, I got a couple of large plastic containers and started filling them out with the items he would need during the seven days of the initiation and for the year after it. These things included mainly clothes, utensils and items that were harder to find out of season, such as summer and winter wear in white. If I knew there was a sale on sheets and towels, I was there to buy the best value items. If there was a sale in socks and underwear I made sure to get some and check them out off my list. By the time the date of the kariosha arrived, I had the equivalent of a trousseau but for a different kind of bride, a spiritual bride. I packed all items in a nice wicker trunk as it is traditional to have the iyawó present his clothes in a basket.

I suggested to my godson an idea to save money on buying white clothes which is to ask for the items he needs as birthday or even Christmas gifts, that way instead of him getting something he may not enjoy so much, he would get something truly needed.

My godson likes to raise animals, so one of my suggestions was for him to start raising his own birds, goats and sheep for the initiation. True, feeding the animals is an expense and there is significant work involved in keeping them, but he would never find better animals than those he raised himself with the express intention to feed the orisha. The value of such task and the dedication are in itself a sort of ebbó.

Going back to the other steps I mentioned early on, it is sad to see how some houses mainly from Palangana y Sancocho lineages, are cutting corners in procedures such as feeding the guardian angel of the main godparent and the oyugbonakán before the kariosha. I reminded my godson those ceremonies have reasons for being. Before kariosha the act of a godchild to bring three roosters, one for Elegua and two Yemayá serves a purpose: to strengthen the godparent in preparation for the birth a new orisha. This one of the most important propitiatory ebbós made, but sadly, some think that it is a step to be ignored. Then they wonder why health issues arise or difficulties and obstacles emerge during the kariosha process.

Respect starts for the future initiate from the very moment the path to kariosha starts, when so called elders skimp on procedures they set a poor example for the iyawó. Furthermore, since the iyawó is not privy to all the details of the ceremony, from the perspective of a new initiate all may seem well but the true story behind the scenes may be quite different and the iyawó will be none the wiser. After all, few godparents would like to admit that because they cut corners some things got messed up in the process. Therefore the iyawó and new priests participating in the process see that cutting corners is ok. It is not.

In summary, if you are getting ready for kariosha, get a full list of the things you will need and try to obtain them early on, be it that you buy them or that you request them as gifts from friends and family. If you can raise your own birds, great, otherwise leave it in the hands of your godparents who will no doubt try to obtain the best prices.

If you have any skills such as sewing or knitting, make yourself the aprons and hats given as gifts to participating priests. Knitting comes in handy to make hats and sweaters for those of you in cooler weather. Crochet hats are good for warmer weather.

I hope this helps you to ease your path into kariosha. May the blessings of Yemayá always be with you.

Oní Yemayá Achagbá

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3 Responses to “Steps to Simplify the Path to Kariosha”

  1. Maaike says:

    Dear Omimelli,

    thanks so much for your enlightning publications, it is a delight to read them. I have a few questions you might be able to help me out with since my padrino lives in Cuba and it’s not always easy to reach him by phone with bad connections and high phone bills!

    I am currently preparing for my initiation and collecting all the necesary things for the ceremony (I will be crowned Ogún) and my year in white. It’s not always easy to get things in Havana so I prefer to buy it here. Besides the obvious things like underware, shirts, skirts etc are there any special things I need to bring?

    Thank you very much, bendición!

    • Omimelli says:


      Thank you for visiting the blog and for your kind comments. There is a long list of items that are basics for iyawós to have, however, not all of them need to be taken to Cuba.

      Bear in mind as you prepare for this process that you will need a lot of support in your year in white from your godparents. I hope that at least one lives in the same city you do, for your own benefit. There are plenty of people who have what I call ‘remote’ godparents but this does not foster the kind of relationship that is important, one of direct knowldege and tutoring.

      I will post a list of basic ‘iyawó wear’ later on this week for your benefit and that of others who may have the same question.

      Ogún is a phenomenal orisha and I am sure he will bring great blessings into your life.

      Oní Yemayá Achagbá

  2. casino says:

    When I originally left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the same comment. Is there an easy method you can remove me from that service? Kudos!

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