This gift came to me as a surprise from my elder Orisha sister Kareline Hartwell Ocha Lobbi, Igbae Bayen Ntonu (prayer said for those who have died). Without my knowledge, she contacted on-line a series of iyaloshas and babaloshas who were kind enough to send gifts to me for my initiation. Karelina, who was an Olo Obatalá (initiate of Obatalaá) send me a package filled with letters wishing me well and checks that I was not expecting. I praise each and every one of those initiates, they know who they are, for their kindness to someone that they had never even met. May my elder sister be at the foot of Olodumare (God) and found the peace she longed for in life…but that is another story.
The fact of the matter is that there I was, still dressed in my work clothes and wearing stage make-up. I was tired from a long day at work and with my 3-month old son in tow. We had flown from Dallas, TX while my husband drove 5 hours to San Antonio bringing with him my warriors, my basket of white initiatory clothes and a million other items needed for the ceremony.
It was 40F outside and nearly 11 PM when we went to the river. Unortodox as the hour it seemed our Obá Oriaté Jorge Iturralde, has a preference for working his initiations late at night. Thus, my twin and I were about to get a very cold river bath. The process was memorable and quite refreshing to say the least. Coming back to my godfather’s house is all a blur, tiredness had settled in and I was cold and hungry.
The next thing I knew, I was sleeping comfortably on a mat on the floor. Other bits of the initiation happened in the process but I can’t recall what came when. Of course, after many years helping to initiate others I know all steps of the ceremony by heart, but I rather recount them as I remember them from my initiation.
On the morning of my initiation, I remember a tasty breakfast, lots of preparations going all about me but they are also a blur for I was doing penance with my head covered, my eyes closed and facing a lovely white wall. I went to sleep on the chair and woke up to be instructed and knock at the Igbodu door. I was on the verge of the precipice and did not know it. Once I crossed the threshold I was greeted by my godfather and life as I knew it ceased to exist. Fear settled in. The unknown has a way of gripping your guts with a cold grip. I had purposedly not read about the Kariosha initiation, I wanted to be a blank slate, and I was. I remember little from that moment on. When I finally was told to open my eyes, Yemayá was standing in front of me and Eleggua was dancing all around me. Two of the oloshas participating had been mounted by their orishas. Yemayá scooped me from my very hard wooden seat (a pilón or very tall mortar), and carry my like an infant in her arms. Then she sat herself in my ‘throne’ and placed me in her lap like I was a doll. She doted on me and told me I would have yet another son but not for some years, she told me many other things, but I want to hold on to those just for myself. Funny as it seems, I was really concerned about my weight on top of this olosha, you see, I am nearly 6′ tall and over 200 pounds and the olosha was short and rather slim, but I suppose those things are immaterial when a person is no longer there and the orisha takes over.
She has indeed taken over my life, no, I have gladly laid it out at her feet. My head touches the floor to my Orisha every day, my heart and every shred of my being belongs to her. There is no part of me that is not of Yemayá. This day was the awakening, but a chain reaction of profound changes were just beginning to unfold in my life. The saga is far from over.
Oní Yemayá Achagbá