There is an old adage that states, “We are slaves of our words and masters of our silence.”
The study of the diverse kinds of ashé is a fascinating subject to me. One that particularly attracts me is the ashé semilenú, or the ashé placed on the tongue, on words. I would like to invite you to meditate on the power that this particular ashé has.
My secular life is marked by words because I am in the field of communications; therefore, I have always been aware of the power they carry. My religious life is also marked by words but on a broader range of levels because not only do I use words for my rituals, but also for creation of clothes and implements to protect iyawós- to- be and to bless those abures who will use them for their orishas. You may say I am fastidious about not only what I say, but when and to whom I say it. Words will never be light for me, or casual, they will always carry underlying meaning, reasons within reasons, and I hope they are always doorways to my soul and thought processes.
I am poignantly aware of ashé semilenú because as a Santera I realize that this ashé continuously is at work manifesting, transmuting and altering spiritual and material reality. Take for example the start of my day. Every morning I like to ask for blessings from my spirits, from my elders and as part of it, I like to stand at my doorway, gourd with omí tutu (fresh water) in hand to invoke blessings for my household, to freshen the roads I have to travel and the paths of those I love and honor. Words energize, words attract and repel, words manifest: Words are always alive.
Words emerge from the deep recesses of our being, from an innate desire to communicate from which few beings are alienated. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and people who at the time of choosing their orí also selected evolutionary challenges that impair for whichever reason a normal communication process. However, those are special cases and we can say that most of us have the blessings of having relatively normal ways of communicating.
When a person sits in front of a mat to get a reading, be it with an awó Orunmila or with a Santero, the process started therein is not just a liturgical chant in a mysterious dialect, no, the moyugba is an invocation of power. It awakens oddú, their energies and it is a sacred act that opens communications between the realm of the divine and the mundane. Concentration is crucial at that moment both for diviner as well as for the seeker who should be sitting completely focused on the matters that touch his heart at that particular moment.
The words spoken at an itá are also a prime example of power for they mark the life of an iyawó. Here is where you separate truly great oriatés from mediocre ones. I have sat at itás where the oriaté was a master of the shells and numbers and oddú, but where the lack of kindness and overall tone of the reading was indicative of a low level of respect for the power of words. Likewise, I have seen oriatés with lesser level of skills but with greater compassion and spiritual development and an innate understanding of the power being poured out from his mouth to bless and warn that iyawó. Thus every word and sentence was more than a mere regurgitation of knowledge, it was applied inspiration.
Abures, I invite you to be aware of what you say in your daily life. Because we have orisha seated inside of us, there is no possibility of separating this ashé semilenú—a powerful form of magic— from who we are. Take special care to keep at bay osogbo (bad luck) by not indulging in tillá tillá (gossip), take special care to avoid cursing others, for curses eventually will come and perch on your very own shoulders like bad news birds. I am not saying that you have to be paranoid now about all you say, just remember, a word placed with enough power and will, indeed will manifest. Those words are but a reflection of your inner being. What would you like to manifest today?
Words, contrary than what we think, are not carried away by the wind. Words are seeds that take root in the mind of those who surround us; because they express ideas and once an idea has taken root in the mind it is very difficult to dislodge it.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá